4 Ways to Care for Your Teeth When You’re Sick

It’s typically easy to remember to put your oral health first…until you catch the flu. Suddenly, rest becomes your number one priority, along with nursing a sore throat, upset stomach and an unbearable cough.

Here are a few ways you can keep up your oral health in times of illness.

1. Continue your oral health routine as normal. It’s important to continue to brush your teeth twice each day and floss once each day. If you find yourself sick to your stomach, rinse your mouth after vomiting. A store-brand mouthwash will also help to kill bacteria left behind.

2. Select a sugar free cough drop. If you’re dealing with a sore throat or frequent cough, sucking on throat lozenges can become a quick way to find relief. Even though cough drops are generally small, it’s easy to use a whole pack in one day. Pick a brand low in sugar so you don’t subject your teeth to too much sweetness.

3. Avoid a dry mouth by staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water. On this note, it’s also important to select the right fluids—to help boost your immune system, choose a low-sugar juice high in vitamin C or something with electrolytes.

4. Swap out your toothbrush. When you’re feeling better, it’s important to toss your toothbrush and swap it out for a new one that’s germ free.

Wondering what else you can do to care for your teeth when you’re sick? Ask us at your next visit.

5 Ways to Prevent Cavities

At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard these four little words from your dentist—“You’ve got a cavity.” While some people simply accept cavities as a normal part of life, we’d like to let you in on a little secret—there’s something you can do to prevent them. In fact, there are a few things you can do!

Consider these helpful oral health tips for minimi[z]ing the number of cavities you experience in the future.

1. Drink more water. Consuming high-in-sugar or acidic drinks isn’t the best for your teeth—in fact, they can cause enamel erosion, leading to cavities. If you find yourself frequently enjoying a cup of morning coffee or tea, remember to drink a glass of water after to rinse away acid lingering in your mouth.

2. Stop smoking. Most people understand the overall health risks relating to smoking cigarettes like cancer and lung problems. But smoking also damages your teeth—leading to gum disease and even tooth loss.

3. Use an anti-bacterial mouth rinse. Anti-bacterial mouth rinses help to reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth that may be left behind from beverages and foods consumed throughout the day.

4. Brush regularly and with the correct brush. This means making brushing “two times a day for two minutes” a staple in your life. Some people also don’t use the correct toothbrush—we recommend a soft-bristled manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush.

5. Schedule regular cleanings with our practice. A routine visit will allow us to deep clean your teeth and gums every six months to help remove built-up plaque and prevent gingivitis.

Think you may be dealing with a cavity that needs filling? Contact our practice today to schedule your next visit.

5 Common Causes of Jaw Pain

As your oral health experts, we care about more than just your teeth and gums. Have you ever woken up with a locked jaw that is difficult to move? Or how about jaw pain that seems to be deep and only getting worse? It’s important to get ahead of a serious jaw problem before it’s too late.

Take a look at these five common causes of jaw pain.

1. Teeth grinding. A popular problem that many people don’t know they have because it can take place during sleep, teeth grinding involves tightly clenching and moving your jaw. Causes include stress or anxiety, specific diseases and even side effects of medication. If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, try sleeping with a mouthguard specially designed for nighttime grinding.

2. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJD). If your jaw pain is associated with restricted jaw movement, you may be dealing with temporomandibular joint disorder. Other symptoms include tenderness in the jaw joint, face, ear and even the neck and shoulders as well as a “clicking” sound upon opening or moving the jaw. An oral exam can diagnose TMD.

3. Impacted wisdom teeth. Typically, wisdom teeth erupt between the ages of 17 and 25 and can cause trouble in your jaw—especially if they are impacted. Wisdom teeth can become infected and bring on acute swelling and pain.

4. Untreated cavities. Experiencing a cavity in one tooth doesn’t mean the pain will remain in that specific area. If a cavity goes a long time without being filled, an infection can develop and spread, causing pain in the jaw and other teeth.

5. Gum disease. Gum disease is often caused by poor oral health and as it progresses, can lead to problems with the tissues and bones that support the teeth.

If you’re experiencing jaw pain that isn’t subsiding, we recommend scheduling a visit to our practice. We’ll help identify the problem and recommend a solution that’s effective for your needs.

Discover the Dental Benefits of Drinking Green Tea

If you’re a coffee drinker, you may want to consider swapping your morning java for tooth-friendly green tea. While green tea boasts antioxidants and yields a remarkable array of overall health benefits, it also can keep your pearly whites healthy.

Here are some of the top oral health benefits of drinking tea:

  1. May reduce oral cancer risk. According to one study, drinking five or more cups of green tea a day may reduce a woman’s risk of developing oral cancer.
  2. Diminishes decay. Thanks to green tea’s bacteria-controlling properties, it may help prevent decay and cavities. Green tea also reduces saliva’s acidity.
  3. Reduces risk of gum disease. Due to its high concentration of flavonoid phytochemicals, green tea may reduce symptoms of periodontal disease.
  4. Lessens plaque buildup. While consuming green tea is reputed to be able to cut plaque buildup in the arteries, it also may reduce sticky plaque on the teeth. That’s because green tea is high in polyphenols that either curb or eliminate plaque. Black tea also has plaque-prevention properties.

What Your Mouth Can Reveal About Your Health

Did you know that your mouth, teeth and gums reveal major clues about your general health? That means that every time you visit our practice for a general check or cleaning, you’re doing more than just protecting your teeth from cavities—in fact, you could be preventing an array of unwanted health problems in your future.

Here are five different ways your oral health and overall health are connected:

1. Studies have shown that gum disease appears to be more prevalent and severe among those who also have diabetes. Individuals with gum disease also have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.

2. Routine X-rays taken by your dentist can reveal periodontal bone density and tooth loss, which may be an early indication of osteoporosis.

3. Increased bacteria in your mouth can impact your immune system. The resulting inflammation can affect the entire vascular system, a potential precursor to heart disease.

4. White, yellow or brown spots and grooves or pitting on the enamel surfaces of your teeth may indicate intestinal disease.

5. Mouth ulcers are crater-like sores that appear inside the mouth. They are often signs of stress, hormone imbalance, allergies or a nutritional deficiency.

The next time you visit our practice, remember that you’re working on more than just your oral health. Periodic visits with us can catch little problems before they become serious!

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment.

Age One Dental Visit

Here We Go Round and Round” — Breaking the Cycle of Decay

These conditions form a cycle of events, even in babies, that slowly unravel oral health: decay causing bacteria interact with the carbohydrates (sugars) to produce acid; the acid in continual contact with the teeth slowly demineralizes (dissolves) the tooth enamel; as demineralization continues, cavities form.

Because all three of these conditions must be present for a cavity to form, there are at least three opportunities for intervention: (1) eliminate or reduce the bacteria through oral hygiene; (2) reduce the presence and frequency of carbohydrates by dietary changes; and/or (3) make the tooth more resistant through the use of fluoride.

Until a child is about seven years old, an adult needs to brush the child’s teeth for them.

Age One Visits provide insight into these three opportunities for both the child and parents. For example, Age One Visits can help parents or caregivers learn the proper techniques for cleaning their children’s teeth. Until a child is about seven years old, an adult needs to brush the child’s teeth for them. Parents can allow the child to brush his or her own teeth, but at least once a day, preferably at bedtime, an adult should carefully and thoroughly brush the child’s teeth.

The child’s dentist can demonstrate the proper way to clean a child’s teeth, a procedure that usually takes less than two minutes with a very small child’s toothbrush or by simply wiping the teeth off with a wet cloth.

Dental professionals can also provide important information on the types of food and their frequency that promote a child’s oral health. At first glance, many foods like cereals, granola bars, and similar snacks may seem healthy and good for a child to have throughout the day. They aren’t — and neither are foods like raisins or fruit juices, even though they contain natural sugars and are full of vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates in cereals, crackers, and granola bars will stick to the teeth where bacteria can easily interact with them over extended periods of time. And, regardless of whether the food contains processed or naturally-occurring sugars, bacteria metabolize both and form acid. Parents are advised to avoid giving their children sugary foods, especially in high frequency, that have any form of sugar listed as the first or second ingredient.

It’s not just baby drool; frequent snacking also inhibits one of the mouth’s most important cavity-fighters — saliva. Saliva neutralizes acid and supplies calcium and fluoride to protect and even reverse early decay. But it takes time — about two hours to neutralize the effects of acid. So, a snack every hour — which promotes the continual presence of acid in the mouth — won’t give saliva the opportunity to work effectively.

Baby eating.

Breast Feeding, Baby Bottles and Other Practices

  • Generally, breast-feeding is highly recommended for babies and doesn’t necessarily inhibit good oral health in young children. Breast milk by itself does not promote tooth decay any more than other forms of fermentable carbohydrates. On the other hand, once a child begins to consume foods or liquids in addition to breast milk, the combination of breast milk and other sugar-rich foods may potentially put the child at risk of developing ECC. Babies should be removed from the breast when they are finished feeding and children should not be allowed to nurse at will throughout the night.
  • Baby bottles are frequently used by parents or caregivers to modify the child’s behavior by giving it during sleep time to stop fussing or crying. Other methods of improper bottle-feeding include propping the bottle or round-the-clock feeding. All these practices promote the constant production of acid in the mouth, so the use of baby bottles should be limited to meal-times.
  • Pacifiers dipped throughout the day in a variety of different sweeteners, including jam, corn syrup or sugar, results in frequent exposure of the teeth to fermentable carbohydrates and promote higher acid levels in the mouth.
  • Children with chronic illnesses or special health care needs may also be at increased risk of ECC if their medication contains sugar. Also, certain medications such as antihistamines may cause decreased saliva production causing mouth dryness and diminishing the protective effects of saliva. Daily oral hygiene care for these children is critically important.
  • Every time bacteria are exposed to sugars, either refined or “natural,” they produce acid — so the more frequently a child eats sugar, the more frequently the teeth are exposed to acid. Frequent sugar exposures equals frequent acid exposures. Parents can therefore reduce the chances of their child developing cavities by limiting the frequency and amount of sugar their child consumes and not snacking on sugary products especially between meals.

Age One Dental Visit

When parents or caregivers mistakenly say, “They are only baby teeth, they are going to fall out anyway” they have the wrong impression. The Age One Dental Visit sets the tone for lifelong dental health. The fact is, primary teeth serve as the guides for the permanent teeth and are critically important to the health and function of their adult successors. What’s more, primary teeth are the child’s teeth for most of childhood — children don’t usually begin losing them until about age six, and the last primary teeth aren’t lost until around age twelve. It’s just as important to care for them as for the permanent teeth that come later.

An Ounce of Prevention

What really is prevention anyway? Prevention in the truest sense of the word means stopping an anticipated problem before it even starts. The importance of primary teeth and preparing for a lifetime of good oral health are the main reasons why parents should bring their children to see a dentist or pediatric dentist (children’s specialist), preferably before their first birthday. It’s more than just a casual visit: even a one-year old needs a comprehensive examination and even some preventive applications. Parents will benefit from the guidance of “Family Oral Health Education” including: risk assessment for decay; training (hands on) in teeth cleaning; nutritional counseling and use of cups for drinking; fluoride recommendations based on individual needs and important follow-up appointments for monitoring based on the level of risk determined by your dentist.

A baby’s first visit to the dentist sets the stage for lifelong oral health.

The Age One Visit may also reveal underlying conditions that may indicate future problems, and determine how often follow-up visits might be needed. Children with low risk for oral or dental disease might only be seen annually or semi-annually until the primary (baby) teeth are all fully erupted in the mouth and in occlusion (biting function). Children assessed at high risk might be seen as often as every two to three months.

Diagnosing and Treating Tooth Decay

One of the prime purposes for an Age One Visit is to examine the child for a number of forms of tooth decay that can affect babies and small children. For many years, health and childcare professionals have recognized a specific pattern of such decay, known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD). BBTD was believed to be primarily associated with the use of a sleep-time bottle that contains a liquid with natural or added sugars such as formula, juice or Kool-Aid. It generally occurs between the ages of twelve to eighteen months.

In recent years, similar cases of early and severe tooth decay have been found in children who do not fit the classic BBTD pattern of bottle use. The term Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is now being used to reflect a broader concept of the problem of tooth decay in infants and young children. ECC includes cavities associated with many causative factors, mostly sugars. These include continuous use of a “Sippy-cup,” at-will breast-feeding throughout the night, use of a sweetened pacifier or the regular use of sugar-based oral medicine to treat chronic illness.

For many years, health and childcare professionals have recognized a specific pattern of decay, known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD).

ECC develops rapidly — the progression from the hard, outer enamel layer of the tooth into the softer, inner dentin can occur in six months or less. It first affects the upper front baby teeth, which usually erupt at around eight months of age, followed by the primary molars (back teeth), which begin to erupt at about twelve months of age. At its most severe stage, ECC may then affect the lower front teeth.

The extent and severity of ECC can vary depending on culture, the child’s genetic makeup and socio-economic factors. On the other hand, ECC is really much like any other type of tooth decay, dependent on the presence of three conditions: specific bacteria in dental plaque on the teeth, unprotected teeth and the right mix of carbohydrates from food and drinks, such as natural or refined sugars.

Porcelain Veneers Without the Drill

The notion of adding materials to teeth in order to change the way they look is nothing new to dentistry. Traditionally, teeth are prepared in some way or fashion in order to place and retain a restorative material — typically a filling, porcelain veneer or crown. Not only is tooth reduction generally necessary to restore lost or damaged natural enamel as a result of the ravages of tooth decay or trauma, but it is also necessary to create room to place an aesthetic and functional “restoration.”

The purpose of this article is to introduce and provide a clear understanding of an alternative cosmetic treatment option, the “no-prep” or “prepless veneer,” whereby no drilling is required to enhance a smile. It also endeavors to bring clarity and understanding to the numerous areas of confusion regarding this treatment modality. Most importantly, it examines the case selection process; when prepless dentistry will work and when it won’t. As with almost all dental and medical procedures, there are risks, benefits and alternatives. It is with the help of a dental professional experienced in these advanced techniques, together with your own goals and understanding, that you can make decisions that are right for you.

No-Drilling: Reality Or Ridiculous?

“Prepless veneers” is a concept that elicits various reactions and opinions among dentists, ranging from absolute disbelief that they can facilitate effective restorations, to appreciation for these conservative and advanced works of art! This range of opinion about a novel approach to cosmetic dentistry is vast and with good reason. The concept of “additive only” restorations intuitively causes the experienced clinician reason for concern as visions of bulky, over-contoured teeth quickly come to mind. Unfortunately, some prepless techniques and products circulated heavily in the media have shown thick, bulky looking restorations, causing skepticism among some dentists and consumers alike.

And yet, despite these concerns, an undeniable trend is emerging among many esteemed cosmetic dentists to incorporate not only minimal prep, but also “no-prep” restorations into their compendium of viable treatment options and alternatives.

In recent years, new developments in techniques and materials have resulted in a fresh look at the aesthetic possibilities for the no-prep veneer option. Cases done by talented dentists and lab technicians have produced results which would meet the highest standards in cosmetic dentistry [Figures 1 and 2]. Part of the advanced level of training for prepless veneers includes the important aspect of proper case selection. Not every situation lends itself to a no-prep approach, but when it does, the results can be not only beautiful, but also stable and reversible!

Paradigms and Beliefs — A Shift

The promotion and endorsement of “prepless” veneers is predicated on the following paradigms and beliefs:

  • It is not necessary to prepare a tooth to create a border (known in dental terms as a “margin”). Highly skilled dental technicians can design a custom-fit veneer that feathers into the tooth just short of the gumline.
  • Aside from the other obvious benefits of prepless veneers, they are not placed under the gum tissue. This eliminates the risk of the restorations having a negative impact on the periodontal (gum tissue) health.
  • In many cases it is possible to use an additive-only approach to create aesthetically pleasing and natural-looking restorations without reducing the underlying tooth structure.
  • Consumers who are looking for a way to enhance their smiles are more likely to seek out and accept a no-prep approach with a highly-skilled dentist in situations in which they don’t need aggressive enamel removal.

Tooth Decay — How To Assess Your Risk

Tooth decay is one of the most pervasive diseases of our time but modern dentistry has made major strides in the battle against cavities. Based on years of scientific and clinical research, dentists are now moving towards an approach to dental caries (tooth decay) management that is tailored to your personal risk rather than a “one size fits all.”

The previous method of “drilling and filling” to treat decay does not actually change the conditions that lead to the disease and the risk for further infection still remains. By profiling the degree of risk and implementing individualized preventive strategies, today’s dental professionals are using a more proactive approach — that works.

Dental Decay — A Dynamic Infectious Disease Process

The mouth is an ecosystem — living organisms continually interact with every other element in their environment. The teeth are composed of an outer covering of enamel, a highly mineralized crystalline structure composed mainly of calcium and phosphate. They are also bathed in a remarkable fluid — saliva, which plays a crucial role in maintaining a neutral environment or balance between the acids and bases in your mouth.

Acidity is measured by the pH scale, which ranges from 1 – 14. A pH value of 1 is extremely acidic while a pH value of 14 is extremely basic. The pH of the mouth is generally 7 — neutral.

Specific acid producing (acidogenic) bacteria attach themselves to dental plaque, the whitish sticky biofilm that collects and forms on the teeth. When you eat sugars or carbohydrates, these particular bacteria break down the sugars and produce acid as a by-product, which also makes the mouth more acid. At about pH 5.5, the minerals just below the enamel surface of the teeth begin to dissolve or “de-mineralize.” During this process, more calcium and phosphate leave the surface of the teeth than enter it — the first step in the decay process. And because the layer beneath the enamel, and the roots of teeth are made of dentin, which is softer than enamel, it is more susceptible to decay. For example, the roots of an exposed tooth will de-mineralize quickly and easily with even weak acids at pH 6.2 – 6.8, which is closer to neutral saliva.

Why Me? Individualizing Risk Assessment

Given similar habits, you might wonder why some people get cavities and others don’t? Dr. John Featherstone, an imminent researcher, introduced the concept of the Caries Balance in 2002, in which he demonstrated that dental caries (tooth decay) and dental health are the result of a delicate balance between pathologic (disease causing) and protective (health promoting) factors. Each person has his/her own unique balance that is constantly changing. The challenge is to identify what is out of balance and how to tip it towards health and protection.

Caries risk assessment can be likened to that for cardiovascular (“cardio” – heart; “vascular” – blood vessel) disease wherein a physician reviews your health history, takes your blood pressure, monitors your heart, and provides an individualized treatment plan to reduce or manage risk. If your blood pressure is high, it doesn’t indicate that you have had a heart attack or stroke or that you definitely will one day. However, it does mean that you are at a higher risk and it would be wise to take preventive actions.

Teeth whitening options

Your smile is the first thing a person notices on introduction. Everyone smiles in the same language, and a smile represents humoru, joy and happiness around the world. But, the stained look of your teeth can devastate an otherwise gorgeous smile.

Is a dull, darkened, or yellowed smile preventing you from making the right first impression? At YOUROCDENTIST, tooth whitening can brighten your smile. Getting your teeth whitened is considered to be one of the safest and most conservative cosmetic dentistry procedures available. Giving your pearly whites a beautiful shine with tooth whitening  can often have the biggest impact on your overall smile.

Teeth Whitening in BrentwoodWhy do teeth darken?

Teeth darken for several reasons such as medication, certain foods, tannin-based beverages, dental traumas and even genetics. Other factors include using tobacco products, having severe decay or infections, the ageing process and not taking adequate care of your oral health.

Professional whitening at home

Our cosmetic dentistry patients can also opt for take-home tooth whitening kits. If you prefer the convenience of at-home teeth whitening, but you haven’t found success with over-the-counter teeth whitening products, you can get a professional teeth-whitening kit from our  practice.