Posts for: April, 2012
A number of factors can lead to dental caries (tooth decay). To find out if you are at high risk, ask yourself these questions.
Is plaque visible in my mouth?
Dental plaque is a whitish film of bacteria that collects on your teeth. If it is clearly visible, it means that there is a lot of it. Among the bacteria in the plaque are those that produce tooth decay, particularly in an acidic environment. (A normal mouth is neutral, measured on the pH scale, midway between the extreme acidic and basic ends of the scale.)
Do I have a dry mouth?
Saliva protects your teeth against decay by neutralizing an acidic environment and adding minerals back to the outer surface of enamel of your teeth, so reduced saliva is a high risk for caries. Many medications can cause dry mouth as a side effect.
Do I eat a lot of snacks, particularly unhealthy ones?
Frequently eating sugars, refined carbohydrates, and acidic foods promotes the growth of decay-producing bacteria. The more frequently you eat, the longer your teeth are bathed in sugars and acids. Acidic foods not only promote bacterial growth, they also directly cause erosion of the tooth's hard surface by softening and dissolving the minerals in the enamel.
Do I wear retainers, orthodontic appliances, bite guards or night guards?
These appliances are recommended for various conditions, but they tend to restrict the flow of saliva over your teeth, cutting down on the benefits of saliva mentioned above.
Do my teeth have deep pits and fissures?
The shape of your teeth is determined by your heredity. If your teeth grew in with deep grooves (fissures) and pits in them, you are at higher risk for bacterial growth and resulting decay.
Do I have conditions that expose my teeth to acids?
If you have bulimia (a psychological condition in which individuals induce vomiting), or GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease), your teeth may be frequently exposed to stomach acids that can cause severe erosion to your teeth.
Do I already have cavities?
Visible cavities can range from those only visible with laser technology or x-ray examination to those a dentist can see with a naked eye. If you already have small cavities, you are at high risk for developing more.
Do I have white spots on my teeth?
White spots are often the first sign of decay in a tooth's enamel. At this point, the condition is often reversible with fluorides.
Have I had a cavity within the last three years?
Recent cavities point to a high risk of more cavities in the future, unless conditions in your mouth have significantly changed.
If you have any of these indications of high risk, contact us today and ask us for suggestions for changing the conditions in your mouth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay.”
Having a whiter, brighter smile can do wonders for improving self-confidence, career opportunities, and interpersonal relationships, as demonstrated in numerous scientific studies. In fact, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the following was revealed:
- 99.7% of Americans believe a smile is an important social asset.
- 74% feel an unattractive smile can hurt chances for career success.
- 50% of all people polled were unsatisfied with their smile.
These statistics demonstrate why you should have a solid understanding about any cosmetic procedure — even teeth whitening — before making your decision to proceed. To help you ensure that you have the facts, we created the following list of questions.
- Am I a good candidate for tooth whitening?
- How much will the entire process cost?
- Does my insurance cover the cost (or any portion of the cost)?
- How does teeth whitening work?
- Is bleaching teeth safe?
- Will the bleaching agents damage tooth enamel?
- Can whitening treatments make my teeth sensitive?
- How does your professional bleaching differ from home whitening?
- What type of bleach and strength will you use?
- How long can I expect the results to last?
- What will the bleach do to my gums, filings, crowns, veneers, and/or bridgework?
Please note that we may cover most or all of these questions during your initial consultation; however, we encourage you to bring this list with you to ensure you get the answers you need so that you can make the best decision. To learn more now, continue reading the Dear Doctor article, “Teeth Whitening: Brighter, Lighter, Whiter....” Or, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
When it comes to sports, all athletes need to know how to assess their risk for experiencing a sports-related injury as well as how to prevent one. The first step to accomplish this is learning how sports and activities are classified, as they define risks from little-to-no chance of injury to highly susceptible for injuries. These categories include:
- Low velocity, non-contact sports: These sports and activities have the lowest risk, as they typically include sports where the athletes perform individually at reasonable speed without physical contact. Examples include: golf, Nordic skiing, weight lifting, running and swimming.
- High velocity, non-contact sports: These sports and activities are those where athletes move at high rates of speed but with no contact with other participants. While there is no contact, anytime you are moving at high rates of speed, accidents can happen. Examples include: bicycling, motocross, skateboarding, skiing and snowboarding.
- Contact sports: As the title states, these sports and activities include frequent body-to-body contact or body to equipment (e.g., a ball, glove, etc.) contact. Examples include: basketball, soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball.
- Collision sports: With these sports and activities, strong, forceful, body-to-body or body-to-equipment contact is a primary goal of the sport. Examples include football, ice hockey, rugby, and boxing. Without the proper protective head and mouth gear, participants are highly likely to experience an oral-facial and/or head injury.
The good news is that you can dramatically reduce the odds of serious dental and oral-facial injury by ensuring that you wear a professionally made mouthguard in addition to a helmet, facemask, or other protective gear that is appropriate to the sport. This is especially true if you participate in the high velocity, contact and collision categories. These simple steps can help reduce worries for not only players, but also for parents, caregivers and coaches. For more information, read, “An Introduction To Sports Injuries & Dentistry.” You can also download a FREE, pocket-sized guide for managing dental injuries.
We tend to think of aspirin as a harmless medication. It is dispensed over the counter and is the most widely used OTC medication in the U.S. We take it without thinking we may be exposing ourselves to risks. But in certain situations aspirin can cause dangerous side effects.
What is aspirin, and how does it work?
The chemical name for aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid. It is used to reduce mild pain, inflammation and fever. When you take an aspirin, it blocks the formation of prostaglandins, substances your body creates that are associated with inflammation. Prostaglandins cause inflamed tissues to become red and swollen, but they also serve protective purposes, such as forming a barrier that protects the stomach from the acid it produces to digest your food. That's why long-term aspirin use can sometimes cause stomach bleeding and ulceration or other health problems.
Why do cardiac patients take aspirin?
Another effect of aspirin is to prevent blood platelets from clumping together. Blood platelets are structures in the blood, smaller than white or red blood cells, that aid clotting by sticking together at the site of an injury. This effect of aspirin can cause prolonged bleeding, but it may be beneficial to people who have cardiovascular (from cardio, meaning heart; and vascular, meaning vessel) disease with narrowed blood vessels.
Aspirin can keep blood flowing in the obstructed vessels and thus prevent heart attacks and strokes; but it can also increase the risk for strokes that are caused by bleeding in the brain. Most physicians attempt to lower such risks by asking their patients to keep their daily aspirin consumption to a low dose 81 mg “baby” aspirin.
How does aspirin affect your teeth and gums?
Be sure to let your medical and dental professionals know you are taking aspirin, and how much you take. Also tell us about other OTC medications you take, including herbal medications and supplements, because they may interact with aspirin to cause side effects.
If you have been told to take aspirin because of a cardiac condition or procedure, be sure to follow your recommended treatment. Do not suddenly discontinue aspirin therapy; doing so can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Ask us if you should stop taking aspirin before a major dental or oral surgery, but do not stop taking it on your own. We will consult with your physician about your medical condition and let you know our recommendation. In most cases you can continue your aspirin therapy without causing excessive bleeding during the dental procedure.