Tooth decay (dental caries) is one of the world’s most common infectious diseases. Left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss. The best treatment strategy, of course, is to prevent it from occurring in the first place with a long-term approach that begins in early childhood and continues throughout our lifetime.
Here are some basic components for just such a prevention strategy.
Know your risk. We each don’t share the same level of risk for tooth decay, so it’s important to come to terms with any factors that raise your personal risk for the disease — your dental history, inadequate oral hygiene, absence of fluoride use, and lifestyle habits like smoking. Coming to terms with these and other factors — and altering those you can change — can lower your risk.
Reduce acid-producing bacteria in your mouth. Tooth decay usually arises from elevated acidic levels in the mouth caused by certain strains of oral bacteria. You can reduce these bacteria by removing plaque, a thin film of food particles that collect on tooth surfaces, with daily oral hygiene and regular cleanings in our office. In some cases, we may also recommend antibacterial mouthrinses like chlorhexidine to further lower the bacterial population.
Apply protective measures to teeth. Fluoride, a naturally occurring chemical, has been proven effective in strengthening tooth enamel and reducing tooth decay. In addition to fluoride found in many oral hygiene products and public water systems, children can also benefit from a direct application of fluoride to the enamel surface just after the teeth have erupted in the mouth. Many clinical studies have shown 99% cavity free results in over a thousand teeth receiving a fluoride application with sealants.
Control your diet. Bacteria ferment leftover sugars and other carbohydrates in the mouth; this creates acid, which can soften tooth enamel and lead to decay. You can limit this effect by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and reducing your consumption of refined sugar. You should also limit between meal snacking — constant snacking prevents saliva, the mouth’s natural acid neutralizer, from effectively restoring the mouth’s pH balance.
A prevention strategy for tooth decay will help you avoid unnecessary pain and problems — physically and financially. You’ll also reap the rewards that come from a lifetime of good dental health.
If you would like more information on preventing tooth decay, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay.”
Maria Menounos, an independent filmmaker, actress, and co-host of daily entertainment news program Extra, learned at an early age about the importance of maintaining good general and dental health when her father, Constantinos, a Greek immigrant, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As a result, her parents made sure the family consumed a diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which they produced themselves. Maria and her family also consumed little-to-no junk food.
Menounos is still committed to helping those with diabetes. In fact, because she saw first hand the power of communication in the lives of diabetes patients and their families, Menounos is an avid ambassador for the American Diabetes Association.
Maria's experience with diabetes is one that she shares with millions of people worldwide. And if you or someone you care about is suffering from this disease, it's important to be aware of the connection between diabetes and oral health. Recent research has shown a link between two chronic inflammatory conditions: periodontal (gum) disease and diabetes. Evidence consistently reveals that diabetes is a risk factor for increased severity of periodontal disease and conversely, periodontitis is a risk factor for worsening blood glucose control in patients with diabetes and may also increase the risk of diabetic complications. Periodontal inflammation is also associated with an elevated systemic (general body) inflammatory state and an increased risk of major cardiovascular (“cardio” – heart; “vascular” – blood vessel) events such as heart attack, stroke, adverse pregnancy outcomes (e.g., low birth weight and preterm births) and altered blood sugar control in people with diabetes.
If you are interested in learning more about periodontal disease, you can continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Diabetes & Periodontal Disease.” Or, if you are diabetic and fear you may have periodontal disease, you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination. During this private consultation, we will also discuss any questions you have as well as what treatment options will be best for you. And to read the entire interview with Maria, please see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Maria Menounos.”
Picture this: You’re feeling some mild irritation in your mouth, which seems to be coming from the area near your tongue. You go to the mirror, open wide… and notice a series of red patches on the tongue’s surface, which are surrounded by whitish borders. Should you drop what you’re doing and rush to get medical help right away?
Sure, a visit to the dentist might be a good idea to rule out more serious problems — but first, sit down and relax for a moment. Chances are what you’re experiencing is an essentially harmless condition called “benign migratory glossitis,” which is also known by its common name — geographic tongue. While it may look unusual, geographic tongue isn’t a serious condition: It’s not cancerous or contagious, and it doesn’t generally lead to more severe health problems. However, it can make your tongue feel a bit more sensitive, and may occasionally lead to mild sensations of burning, stinging or numbness.
The appearance of reddish patches on the tongue results from the temporary loss of structures called papillae: tiny bumps which normally cover the tongue’s surface. These patches may appear or disappear over the course of days — or even hours — and sometimes appear to change their shape or location.
What causes geographic tongue? Several factors seem to be responsible for setting off the problem, but as of yet the actual cause of the disease is unknown. Among these triggers are emotional stress and psychological upsets, hormonal disturbances, and deficiencies in zinc or vitamin B. The condition, which affects between one and three percent of the population, is seen more frequently in non-smokers, in women, and in those with a family history of the problem. It is also associated with people who suffer from psoriasis, a common skin condition, and those who have a fissured (deeply grooved) tongue.
Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for geographic tongue — but the good news is that treatment is usually unnecessary. If you’re experiencing this condition, it may help if you avoid foods with high levels of acidity (like tomatoes and citrus fruits), as well as hot and spicy foods. Alcohol and other astringent substances (like some mouthwashes) may also aggravate it.
While geographic tongue isn’t a serious condition, it can cause worry and discomfort. That’s why it’s a good idea for you to come into the office and have it checked, just to make sure. A thorough examination can put your mind at ease, and rule out other conditions that may be more of a concern. We may be also able to help you manage this condition by prescribing anesthetic mouth rinses, antihistamines, or other treatments.
If you would like more information about geographic tongue, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Geographic Tongue.”
According to NFL football legend Jerry Rice, “Football can be brutalÃ¢Â€Â”injuries, including those to the face and mouth, are a common risk for any player.” And if anyone should know, it would be Jerry.
During an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the retired NFL pro discussed his good fortune to have had just a few minor dental injuries during his pro playing days. He credits this success to the trainers and protective equipment professional football teams have to keep the players off the injured list. However, this was not the case during his earlier years in football. “There wasn't a lot of focus on protecting your teeth in high school,” he said. “You had to buy your own mouthguard.” He continued, “Things changed, though, when I went to college.”
Unfortunately, not much has changed since Jerry's high school days for young athletes. This is why we feel it is so important that parents and caregivers understand the risks and take proactive steps towards protecting the teeth, gums, bone and soft tissues of their children with a mouthguard. This is especially true for anyone — adults included — participating in high-contact sports such as basketball, baseball, hockey (field and ice), football, soccer, wrestling, martial arts, boxing and activities such as skateboarding, in-line skating and skydiving.
But all mouthguards are not the same. The best mouthguard, based upon evidence-based research, is one that is custom-designed and made by a dental professional, with the athlete's individual needs taken into account.
We make our custom mouthguards from precise and exact molds of your teeth, and we use resilient and tear-resistant materials. Once completed, it should be comfortable yet fit snugly so that you are able to talk and breathe easily with it in place. It should also be odorless, tasteless, not bulky and have excellent retention, fit and sufficient thickness in critical areas.
And while mouthguards may seem indestructible, they do require proper care. You should clean it before and after each use with a toothbrush and toothpaste, transport and store the mouthguard in a sturdy container that has vents, make sure not to leave it in the sun or in hot water and rinse it with cold, soapy water or mouthwash after each use. And last but not least, you should periodically check it for wear and tear so that you will know when replacement is needed.
To learn more about mouthguards, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and make molds of your teeth for your custom mouthguard. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Jerry Rice continue reading “Jerry Rice — An Unbelievable Rise To NFL Stardom.”
Have you heard the news about red wine? Every so often, the fruit of the vine is touted for some potential health benefit. Several studies over the past few years have suggested that it could help prevent heart disease and even certain types of cancer — only to have their conclusions called into question by new research. Just recently, newspapers trumpeted a new study from the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry suggesting that certain chemicals in the vino might one day be used to help prevent cavities!
So is red wine good for your health, or isn’t it?
The jury’s still out. But there’s one thing we do know: Regardless of whether it has any affect on cavities, red wine is one of the major culprits in tooth staining.
Of course, it’s not the only offender: Coffee and tea, tobacco in any form, certain foods and some types of medications can all cause extrinsic stains on teeth — that is, stains that affect the exterior surface of the tooth. In addition, intrinsic stain — those that arise from the interior of the tooth — may be caused by root canal problems, or by certain dental filling materials.
If you have stained teeth — whether from red wine or another cause — can you do anything to make them whiter?
Oftentimes, the answer is yes — but finding the best way to do so can be challenging. You can begin by identifying habits and dietary factors that could cause staining. Then, reduce or eliminate the stain-causing factors, and enhance the beneficial ones. For example: stop smoking, modify your diet, practice regular, effective oral hygiene… and come in to the dental office twice a year for a professional cleaning and check-up. In addition, check whether any of your medications could cause staining or reduced saliva flow — a major contributor to the problem.
If making these changes isn’t enough to control teeth staining, the good news is that a number of treatments are available that can help bring your teeth back to a pearly shine — or even give you the “Hollywood white” smile you’ve always wished for. Depending on the cause of your teeth staining, and your desired level of brightening, these treatments can range from professional bleaching to porcelain veneers.
If your smile needs a little help to look its brightest, contact us or schedule an appointment to find out what we can do. For more information, see the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Staining” and “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered.”
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