Signature Dental

Do I Need to Replace a Missing Tooth?

According to the American College of Prosthodontists, “120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth.” That’s more than 36 percent of the population!

The most common causes of tooth loss include:

  • Tooth decay (cavities)
  • Gum disease
  • Injury
  • Cancer
  • Aging

Complete tooth loss, or edentulism, affects more than 36 million Americans, mostly those in the geriatric population and the economically disadvantaged.

These statistics are staggering, and dental professionals are working around the clock to lower them. But, what happens when you’ve already lost one or more teeth? Do missing teeth need to be replaced?

Replacing missing teeth is highly recommended. In this blog, we discuss the issues associated with missing teeth and your tooth replacement options.

The Problem With Missing Teeth

Having one missing tooth, or even two missing teeth, shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Wrong. Any number of missing teeth can cause serious oral and overall health issues. Ultimately, tooth loss begets more tooth loss. So, if you have just one missing tooth, it’s very likely that more will follow if it isn’t replaced.

Here are a few of the most common problems people with missing teeth experience:

1. A limited, poor diet

Everyone knows we need our teeth to chew, but we rarely think about the consequences of not having a fully functioning mouth. What foods become difficult to chew if you don’t have all of your teeth? Mostly the healthy ones, like:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Meat
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains

This means that when you suffer from tooth loss, your nutrition will likely suffer as well. Soft and processed foods don’t contain the nutrients we need to live healthy, full lives. Replacing missing teeth can help you gain the ability to chew nutritious foods again.

2. Poor oral health

Each tooth acts as a support for its neighboring teeth. When one falls out and isn’t replaced, the other teeth will move toward that open space. This can cause the teeth to become crooked or crowded, making it much more difficult to clean them.

Difficult-to-clean teeth often lead to issues of dental decay and gum disease. You can avoid these issues by seeking an effective tooth replacement option.

3. Jawbone loss

Did you know that your tooth roots stimulate your jawbone and keep it intact? So, when you lose a tooth, that area of the jaw begins to deteriorate. This contributes to tooth movement, further tooth loss, and can even make your face appear caved in.

4. Difficulty speaking

Depending on which teeth are missing, pronouncing certain words can become difficult. Teeth are particularly important for fricative and affricate sounds. These include:

/s/

/z/

/f/

/v/

/th/

/sh/

/ch/

/j/

Losing the ability to make these sounds can cause problems with articulation and communication in general, which can be frustrating for the person speaking and the person listening.

5. Low self-esteem

Ultimately, all these issues can lead to low self-esteem. If you notice that your missing teeth are causing you to feel self-conscious or think of yourself in a negative way, talk to a dental professional about your tooth replacement options. You deserve to live a happy and fulfilling life without worrying about the appearance of your smile.

Tooth Replacement Options

When you visit a dentist’s office, you will likely be presented with these tooth replacement options: dentures, a dental bridge, and dental implants.

Dentures

Removable full or partial dentures are a common tooth replacement option for older adults. These are easily removed from the mouth for cleaning but may take some time to get used to. The denture may feel tight or uncomfortable for the first few weeks, but over time, it will feel more natural.

Dentures help support your natural teeth, restore your ability to speak and eat, and improve your appearance. However, many people complain that their dentures aren’t stable enough due to jawbone deterioration. Because of this, dentures may need to be relined or replaced every year or so.

Dental Bridge

A dental bridge is made up of two parts:

  1. Pontic: the replacement for the missing tooth (or teeth)
  2. Crown: the caps that cover the two teeth on each side of the missing tooth

Bridges are affixed to your natural teeth with crowns, and the pontic or pontics fill in the gaps. This restoration can be used for patients who have one, two, or three missing teeth in a row.

Dental bridges are a great tooth replacement option because they look, feel, and function like natural teeth. One major disadvantage of a dental bridge is that it may weaken the teeth that are used to anchor it.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are highly recommended because they are highly secure, highly stable, and highly successful. This is the only tooth replacement option that replaces the tooth root, which is responsible for stimulating and strengthening the jawbone. Implants are known to last for decades and often never need to be replaced. Crowns, bridges, and dentures can be attached to dental implants to replace one or several missing teeth.

You may not be a candidate for dental implants if you are not healthy enough to undergo surgery, don’t have adequate jawbone density, or are not willing to abide by post-surgery rules.

Schedule Your Initial Consultation

Are you ready to restore the health and appearance of your smile? Our friendly dental team is ready to help you achieve that goal! Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your tooth replacement options.

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Invisalign For Teens – Benefits, Concerns, and Candidacy

Since their conception, Invisalign® clear aligners have become the most popular orthodontic option among patients of all ages, especially teens. This product was created to help people with misaligned teeth and jaws achieve straight teeth without the need for unsightly and uncomfortable brackets and wires. In some cases, clear aligners work more effectively than traditional braces, using gentle and incremental force.

Invisalign for teens offers several benefits, but some parents may have concerns. We discuss those in this blog as well as candidacy requirements for Invisalign patients.

Invisalign for Teens Benefits

1. Convenience

If you or someone you know has worn traditional metal braces, you know how inconvenient they can be. What makes clear aligners so convenient is that they are removable. Invisalign aligners must be removed when eating, so your teen won’t have to worry about getting food stuck in his or her braces. They can also be removed shortly if your teen has to give a speech in class or at an event.

As long as the aligners are worn at least 20-22 hours per day, they will be effective.

2. Improved Oral Health

Because the aligners can be removed, it makes it much easier for teens to clean their teeth properly. Traditional braces require a special flossing tool and unique brushing techniques to be effective. Many patients who wear traditional braces experience dental staining and gum disease because their teeth are more difficult to clean.

With Invisalign clear aligners, teens can use the same brushing techniques and floss as they normally do. This will help them maintain good oral health throughout the orthodontic process.

3. Self-Confidence

The teenage years are hard enough without being labeled a “brace face.” Invisalign clear aligners are discreet and seamless, allowing teenagers to maintain their appearance. Instead of being a detriment to your teens self-confidence, clear aligners boost self-confidence as they work to improve his or her smile.

4. Less Irritation

Traditional metal braces are known for causing mouth sores and discomfort from the wires and brackets. Clear aligners are designed with your comfort in mind. The plastic is smooth and won’t irritate your gums or cheeks.

5. Fewer Trips to the Dentist’s Office

With Invisalign, your teen won’t experience broken wires or brackets. That means no emergency visits to your teens’ dentist or orthodontist office. They also won’t have to visit regularly for tightening visits.

Concerns About Invisalign for Teens

Compliance and loss are two of the main concerns about Invisalign for teens.

Compliance

The only way clear aligners work is if they are worn properly. As stated earlier, the aligners must be worn for 20-22 hours per day. If your teen has a tendency to forget things or if you think he or she may be too relaxed about compliance, Invisalign might not be the best option.

Invisalign Teen offers help to parents to ensure that their teenager wears his or her aligners properly. These aligners have blue indicator dots that fade as the aligners are worn. A bright blue dot on the aligners indicated to parents that their teen isn’t wearing the aligners as often as they should.

Loss

Because clear aligners are removable, they are likely to get lost. We’ve heard many stories of aligners being thrown in the trash at lunch time. While this and other instances of the aligners being lost are never done on purpose, it will require more money and time from you and your teen.

Invisalign Candidates

The best way to determine if your child is a candidate for Invisalign is to visit with an experienced Invisalign dentist or orthodontist. Until then, here are three factors that qualify teens for Invisalign:

  1. Minor to moderate orthodontic issues. Gaps and crowding, overbites and underbites, and other minor to moderate orthodontic issues can typically be addressed with Invisalign. More severe cases may require traditional metal braces and other orthodontic treatments.
  2. Healthy teeth and gums. For any type of orthodontic treatments, teens should be free of cavities and gum disease. These issues can be addressed or reversed before treatment.
  3. Age and responsibility levels. Younger teens and teens that aren’t very responsible may do better with traditional metal braces. These put the responsibility more on the dentist than the patient, ensuring the orthodontic process is as effective as possible.

Learn More About Invisalign for Teens

Invisalign clear aligners are a great option for many teenagers. If your child’s smile needs to be straightened, our friendly and experienced Invisalign dentist can help. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

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Teeth Whitening, Veneers, or Both?

According to a study completed by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, a beautiful smile can make a person appear more attractive, intelligent, happy, and successful. Would you like for those things to be said about you? We all would!

Even more important than what others will think is what you think and feel about yourself. If you have stained, gapped, or crooked teeth, you may feel self-conscious about your smile. This can lead to feelings of inferiority and doubt.

Thankfully, cosmetic dentistry offers several solutions to these dental issues, including teeth whitening and porcelain veneers.

Professional Teeth Whitening

Most dentists offer either in-office or at-home teeth whitening options. These are far superior to store-bought whitening toothpastes, trays, and rinses. Professional whitening treatments offer same-day outcomes and are much safer than over-the-counter options that can damage your dental enamel and take weeks to provide results. Continue reading to learn if professional whitening is the best option for your smile.

Candidacy: Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Dental Stains

Dark-colored fruits and vegetables, coffee, red wine, sodas, and smoking all leave extrinsic stains on our teeth. A proper oral hygiene routine can help reduce these stains, but even brushing and flossing multiple times a day won’t keep your teeth pearly white if you are consuming these types of substances.

If you have dental stains, in-office teeth whitening is your best option for achieving a brighter smile. However, professional whitening won’t help if you have intrinsic dental stains caused by certain medications, illnesses, and genetics. A dentist can let you know if you have extrinsic or intrinsic stains.

Risks

In-office whitening treatments are low-risk, especially when compared to at-home whitening treatments and other cosmetic dentistry procedures. Having a dentist whiten your teeth significantly reduces the risk of damage to your teeth and gums. Dentists use professional-grade whitening products and safe techniques.

To avoid dental sensitivity after the procedure, ask your dentist about the best types of toothpaste to use and over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce your symptoms.

Addressing Other Cosmetic Dental Issues

If you are looking for a cosmetic dentistry treatment to correct multiple issues, professional teeth whitening might not be the best option for your smile. However, even if you do have crooked or gapped teeth, a professional whitening treatment is an affordable and quick way to help you feel more confident about your smile.

Porcelain Veneers

Veneers are thin, tooth-shaped shells that are placed on the front surface of one or several teeth. These are a long-lasting, natural-looking solution to several cosmetic dental flaws.

Candidacy Requirements for Porcelain Veneers

People who are interested in porcelain veneers must be suitable candidates before moving forward with the procedure. Two non-negotiable requirements include having good overall oral health and plenty of tooth enamel.

If you currently have cavities or gum disease, your dentist will provide the proper restorative treatment so you can still have veneers placed. Teeth grinding and clenching may also disqualify you from having porcelain veneers. Additionally, if your dental enamel is already thin, your teeth might not provide a strong enough surface for the veneers to properly bond to.

The best way to determine if you are a candidate for porcelain veneers is to schedule an appointment with your local cosmetic dentist.

Porcelain Veneers Risks

Making the best decision for your smile requires that you know all of the risks involved in a procedure. While porcelain veneers are safe and reliable, patients should consider these risks:

  • The procedure cannot be undone. Once a veneer is placed over a natural tooth, that tooth will always require a veneer or crown because some of the enamel will be removed.
  • Veneers are more expensive than teeth whitening and some other cosmetic dentistry treatments.
  • Patients may experience dental sensitivity.
  • Though rare, veneers can fall off.
  • Veneers may need to be replaced every 7 to 15 years due to normal wear and tear.

Porcelain Veneers Benefits

Veneers address a wide range of cosmetic dental issues, such as discoloration, misshapen teeth, short teeth, chipped teeth, and gaps between teeth– much more than teeth whitening! The additional benefits of porcelain veneers include:

  • They look and feel natural.
  • The porcelain will not irritate your gums.
  • Porcelain veneers are stain-resistant.
  • They are stronger and more aesthetically appealing than dental crowns.

So, which option is best for you?

It could be both! Talk to our experienced dental team about your smile goals. We can steer you in the right direction. In many cases, patients opt for both porcelain veneers and teeth whitening as the combination provides incredible results.

To start your journey towards a more beautiful smile and greater self-confidence, call us today to schedule your initial consultation.

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Avoid Tooth Extraction : How to Remove Plaque on Your Teeth

Something as small, and seemingly insignificant as plaque can wreak havoc on your oral health. In fact, failing to properly and continually remove plaque on your teeth can result in tooth extraction. Yikes!
The good news is that teeth don’t go directly from plaque buildup to tooth extraction. When plaque builds up on the teeth, it takes between 24-72 hours to turn into tartar (a hardened substance that must be professionally removed). When tartar isn’t removed, the bacteria eats away at the tooth enamel, creating cavities, and forms pockets along the gum line, resulting in gum disease. Tooth extraction may be necessary when cavities and gum disease aren’t treated in the early stages.
Thankfully, several simple and effective oral hygiene habits can help you avoid dental extraction. Of course, your local dentist is also an essential part of gaining and maintaining optimal oral health.

Here are five ways to effectively remove plaque on your teeth to avoid the need for tooth extraction: 

1. Brush daily 

You’ve heard it since you were little– brushing your teeth every day is essential. Most people know and understand this, but they rarely think about how often and how they should brush their teeth.

Typically, dentists recommend that people of all ages brush their teeth twice a day– once in the morning (before or after breakfast) and once in the evening (after dinner). However, people who suffer from chronic gum disease or tooth decay may want to brush three times a day.

How you brush your teeth could be the difference between having a healthy smile and needing a tooth extraction. Here are the most useful tooth-brushing tools and the most effective method:

  • Use a soft-bristled manual or electric toothbrush
  • Use fluoride toothpaste
  • Brush for at least two minutes each time
  • Use circular motions to gently scrub the front, back, and chewing surfaces of each tooth

2. Floss daily

Unfortunately, toothbrushes cannot clean between two teeth. Hence the need for floss! Tartar often forms between teeth because most people rarely floss. If you are one of those people, here are some tips to motivate yourself to floss more often:

  • Choose a convenient time. Flossing doesn’t have to occur at night. As long as you floss once a day at the same time every day, it should be effective. So, if you don’t want to add one more thing to your nightly routine, floss in the morning.
  • Don’t use traditional string floss. Many people struggle to properly use string floss. There are other options. Use a water flosser or floss picks to make flossing faster and easier.
  • Understand the benefits. Flossing helps prevent cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and may even help you maintain a healthy heart.

3. Chew sugar-free gum. 

While sugary gum can be a detriment to your oral health, sugar-free gum can benefit your oral health. Some types of sugar-free gum contain xylitol, a naturally-occurring sweetener found in vegetables and fruits. Unlike with sugar, the bacteria in the mouth expels the xylitol after absorption rather than using it to reproduce.

Chewing sugar-free gum can also help remove plaque and increase saliva production– both of which are beneficial to your oral health.

4. Reduce your sugar and starch intake. 

The bacteria in your mouth love sugar and starch (like most of us!). Sadly, eating too much of these can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria, causing plaque and tartar to form more rapidly.

To avoid this issue, pay close attention to your daily diet. Do you start your morning off with a sugary coffee and bagel? Opt for sugar-free syrups in your coffee and egg bites instead! Your teeth and the rest of your body will thank you.

If you do eat or drink something that contains sugar and starch, be sure to drink plenty of water between bites and sips and brush your teeth afterward.

5. Visit your dentist every six months. 

Even if you abide by all of these rules, plaque and tartar may still linger in some of the hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. However, six-month professional dental cleanings can take care of it. This involves using professional-grade toothpaste, professional tools, and professional methods to clean all surfaces of the hard and soft tissues of the mouth.

During these appointments, our team also checks for plaque and tartar buildup, cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, and other oral health issues. We also answer questions patients have about caring for their smiles, achieving an aesthetically pleasing smile, and how to help their children achieve and maintain optimal oral health.

Schedule Your Dental Cleaning Today

If it has been more than six months since your last dental cleaning, call us today to schedule your appointment. We will gently and thoroughly remove plaque and tartar from your teeth so you can avoid tooth extractions in the future.

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8 Good Toothbrushing Habits

Did you know that your smile is one of the first things other people notice about you? Healthy, beautiful teeth are essential to making a good first impression. And while there are many ways to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile, it’s important to start with the basics of oral health care–brushing your teeth.

Your toothbrushing habits can make or break your smile. We all know we are supposed to brush our teeth every day, however, it’s not just important that we brush our teeth daily– the details of that habit are imperative to its effectiveness.

So, are you brushing your teeth in the most effective way? Here are 8 tips to get the most out of tooth brushing:

1. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Using a hard-bristled toothbrush is a sure way to damage your gums and teeth. These toothbrushes have tightly-packed bristles that don’t bend easily, causing the erosion of dental enamel and irritation of gum tissue.

Soft-bristled toothbrushes are less dense, so the bristles bend while moving back and forth along your teeth and gums. Though this may not feel as effective as a hard-bristled toothbrush, it’s much better at cleaning your mouth without doing any damage.

2. Invest in an electric toothbrush.

Electric toothbrushes are a great option for children and adults, and they are especially great for people with limited mobilities due to arthritis, carpal tunnel, or developmental disabilities. An electric toothbrush takes some of the pressure off of you by doing most of the work. You simply hold the toothbrush against each tooth for about 10 seconds, and let it do the scrubbing!

Various studies, like this one, have also shown that electric toothbrushes reduce plaque and the risk of gingivitis more than manual toothbrushes.

3. Use the 2×2 rule.

The American Dental Association recommends that everyone brush for two minutes, twice a day. Most people brush their teeth in the morning to get rid of “morning breath”, but brushing at night (right before bed) is even more important.

In the evening, our teeth have plaque build-up along the surfaces of our teeth and gum line. Without removing it before going to bed, that plaque can turn into tartar, which leads to cavities and gum disease. Brushing at night also helps prevent surface stains from setting in so your smile stays bright.

4. Use fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride, a naturally-occurring mineral, remains one of the most important ingredients in toothpaste to prevent cavities and gum disease. Fluoride remineralizes tooth enamel, encourages the production of fluorapatite, and exerts antibacterial properties. Though fluoride cannot reverse cavities, it can slow down their progression.

5. Be gentle.

Be careful of how much pressure you’re using when brushing. Even if you use a soft-bristled toothbrush, pressing down too hard while brushing your teeth can also damage your enamel and gum tissue, leading to dental sensitivity, cavities, and gum recession.

To determine if you are using too much pressure, try brushing with your non-dominant hand and feel the difference! Then, switch back to use the proper combination of pressure and technique.

6. Brush your tongue.

The tongue harbors bacteria just like the teeth and gums do, so it’s very important to clean your tongue while brushing. Rinsing with water alone will not remove the bacteria or the biofilm. So, after you’ve brushed your teeth, one of the best toothbrushing habits is to brush your tongue front to back and side to side, then rinse with water. You can also use a tongue scraper, but both methods are effective.

7. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months.

There are several reasons why you should replace your toothbrush often:

  • Bacteria build-up: As a toothbrush removes bacteria from your teeth, gums, and tongue, it accumulates bacteria in the bristles. The longer you use a toothbrush, the more bacteria it accumulates.
  • Worn-out bristles: At about the 3-4 month mark, the bristles on your toothbrush will likely lose their stiffness, and consequently, their effectiveness.
  • Sickness: If you’ve been sick, especially with a viral or bacterial infection, it’s best to switch out your toothbrush once the sickness has passed.
  • Accidental sharing: If someone accidentally uses your toothbrush, buy a new one to avoid the transfer of cavity- or disease-causing bacteria.

8. Follow up with flossing.

Unfortunately, toothbrushes can’t clean between your teeth. Flossing is an essential part of any oral hygiene routine and should never be neglected. Use traditional floss, floss picks, or a water flosser to remove plaque from between your teeth. This is one of the best ways to avoid cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and a multitude of other oral health issues.

Get Personalized Tooth Brushing Tips

Have questions about the best fluoride toothpaste? Want to know if you’re using the right brushing technique? Need recommendations for an electric toothbrush? Our friendly dental team is prepared to answer your questions and help you achieve optimal oral health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Spring is the season of renewal! Trees are blooming, birds are singing, and…we’re reminding you about the dangers of oral cancer. We know it doesn’t really fit with spring’s eternal feeling of hope and optimism, but April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and early detection is a beautiful thing.

The Prevalence of Oral Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates approximately 54,000 new cases of oral cancer (oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers collectively) will be diagnosed in the United States this year. Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because it often goes unnoticed in its early stages when it responds most successfully to treatment. Early-stage symptoms frequently appear non-threatening and may present as a white or red patch of tissue in the mouth or a shallow lesion that resembles a common canker sore. Unfortunately, due to late-stage diagnoses, oral cancer is responsible for almost 2% of all cancer deaths in the US, despite accounting for less than 3% of all cancers diagnosed.

Risk Factors

Historically, the primary risk factors associated with oral cancer have been age (the average age at diagnosis is 62 years), tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, and the combination of the two (the risk being greater for people who use both tobacco and alcohol).

However, recent data shows that the fastest growing segment of the oral cancer population is non-smokers under the age of fifty. And, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, a quarter of cases have no risk factors for cancers of the mouth (i.e. tobacco or alcohol use). This shift coincides with an overall decline in smoking and an increase in the number of younger people diagnosed with oral cancer related to human papillomavirus number 16 (HPV16), a disease transmitted through sexual contact.

The Good News

Awareness is key to early detection and treatment. When diagnosed at an early stage, the overall 5-year survival rate for people with oral cancer is 85%. To help increase the public’s knowledge of oral cancer and the role self-exams can play in early detection, the Oral Cancer Foundation launched www.checkyourmouth.org. This website is packed with great information, including a how-to video on self-screening.

Prevention

Aside from avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, early detection is key. Patients should contact our dental team if they experience any of the following symptoms for longer than two weeks:

  • A sore that bleeds or doesn’t heal
  • A growth, lump, or thickening of the skin or lining of your mouth
  • Tongue pain or numbness
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Difficulty or painful chewing, speaking, or swallowing (the sensation of food getting caught in your throat)
  • Prolonged hoarseness
  • Numbness in the oral / facial region
  • Persistent earache in the same ear
  • Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause

Oral cancer screening is one more reason regular dental check-ups are vital to overall health. Not only do we examine the general health and appearance of your teeth, but also of your oral tissues. This is important because tissue changes in the mouth that might signal the beginnings of cancer often go undetected to the untrained eye but can be seen and felt easily by dental professionals.

It’s also critical for patients to have an open line of communication with their dental practice. Be sure to let us know if you’ve experienced any changes in your medical history – even if you think it’s not important. This is also where patient transparency comes into play. Be honest about your tobacco and alcohol usage; we’re not here to judge!

Contact Our Office

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms noted above or think you’re at risk for oral cancer, our team is here to help. Contact our practice to schedule an appointment.

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Dental Assistant Recognition Week

Dental Assistants Recognition Week™ (also known as DARW) is held the first full week in March (this year, it’s March 6-12), and we want to take this opportunity to give our hard-working dental assistants the recognition they deserve!

Our dental assistants are crucial to the success of our practice. They perform multiple functions, and we couldn’t provide the level of patient care we do without them.

One of the dental assistant’s most important priorities is providing patient care. As such, they often form strong patient relationships and act as the face of our practice. It’s not uncommon for patients to feel nervous or uncomfortable about visiting the dentist. In these situations, our dental assistants play a crucial role in helping to alleviate patients’ anxiety.

From preparing for procedures before a patient is even in the dental chair to following up with care instructions after treatment, dental assistants are essential players in providing an exceptional patient experience.

They regularly:

  • Welcome patients
  • Answer questions and alleviate patient anxiety
  • Educate patients about treatment options
  • Provide reassurance about upcoming procedures

Our dental assistants are also on the front lines of keeping patients and team members safe. Beyond managing sterilization of dental instruments, they have the uncanny ability to anticipate what’s next in dental procedures and what patients might need. As a result, they’re integral to ensuring the entire appointment goes smoothly and patients remain as comfortable as possible.

Beyond patient care, dental assistants help to maintain the practice’s schedule and keep everything on track. Consummate multi-taskers, dental assistants ensure patients are seated on time and provide the support dentists need to work through scheduled appointments in a timely manner.

Even though March 6-12th is dedicated to recognizing dental assistants, they play an important role in our practice year-round. We’re grateful to our dental assistants for the hard work and contributions they make to keep our patients and team happy and safe!

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Why Do I Have White Spots on My Teeth?

Everyone wants white teeth, but not so much when that color appears in spots or blotches. Technically known as white lesions, white spots can develop on your teeth due a range of factors from diet to ingesting fluoride as a child.

Common causes include:

Fluorosis – Though fluoride is essential for strengthening teeth and preventing decay, too much fluoride in developing teeth can lead to low amounts of calcification, which causes spots of softer enamel and discoloration. Fluorosis occurs when children consume too many fluoridated beverages or swallow fluoride toothpaste when the enamel layers of permanent teeth are being formed. Most commonly, this happens before the age of 8 when permanent teeth come in, or around the ages of 1-2 when baby teeth appear. Fluoride is safe but should only be consumed in proper amounts. That’s why it’s important for parents to monitor their children’s brushing habits during the stages of tooth formation, to ensure they aren’t accidentally ingesting large amounts of toothpaste or mouthwash.

Enamel Hypoplasia – This condition is an enamel defect that results in thin or missing enamel. Enamel hypoplasia is generally caused by a nutritional deficiency that leads to mineral loss in the tooth. Taking certain antibiotics, or conditions such as celiac disease, can make it difficult to absorb nutrients resulting in enamel defects. Additionally, smoking while pregnant may cause this condition in children. In some cases, enamel hypoplasia occurs on only part of a tooth’s surface, resulting in white spots, or pits and grooves in the tooth’s enamel. In other cases, an entire tooth may have an overly thin layer of dental enamel or no enamel at all.

Diet – A diet high in sugar or acidic foods can also cause white spots on your teeth. Highly acidic foods and drinks, such as soda and citrus fruits eat away at your tooth enamel. A diet high in sugar also causes the formation of acidic plaque, which can erode enamel. Acid reflux is another trigger because it produces acid in the stomach, throat, and mouth. As tooth enamel breaks down, patients may also experience other symptoms like sensitivity to cold or hot foods and beverages.

Plaque Accumulation – White lesions can also form due to an accumulation of bacteria plaque. Frequently the result of poor dental hygiene, plaque accumulation can also be a side effect of wearing braces. Lack of effective oral hygiene or an inability to thoroughly remove plaque between brackets cause demineralization of the tooth, which results in white areas of decalcification These white spots are early cavities but can generally be reversed if treated quickly.

Treatment for White Spots on Teeth

While some patients don’t mind the aesthetics of white spots on their teeth, others are extremely bothered by it.  Fortunately, for those concerned there are a number of treatment options to eliminate the spots, including:

Enamel Microabrasion – This procedure removes a thin layer of enamel from the tooth’s surface using mild abrasion. This can remove white spots and improve the appearance of teeth.

Bleaching – Performed under a doctor’s supervision, bleaching helps balance the color of your tooth’s enamel. This treatment lightens the entire tooth, so that it matches the color of the white spots. However, since this treatment can further bleach white spots, resulting in the spots taking on a different shade of white, it’s not an effective treatment for people with fluorosis.

Veneers – Depending on the extent of the white spots, your dentist may suggest concealing them with a porcelain veneer. This involves the creation of a custom porcelain that is permanently bonded to the surface of your teeth, effectively covering any discoloration.

Contact Our Dental Team

Whatever the cause of the white spots on your teeth or on your child’s teeth, you have several options for treatment. Please call our team to discuss the best options.

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Benefits of Chewing (Sugar-Free) Gum

Chewing gum may not have gotten your school teacher’s approval, but as long as it’s sugar-free, it will get a nod from your dentist! In fact, sugar-free gum is the only item in the candy aisle that can actually improve your oral health.

Adding sugar-free gum to your day can help:

Increase Saliva Flow

Saliva plays a critical role in your overall oral health. In addition to washing away bacteria, saliva keeps your mouth at the correct pH level. A dry mouth causes an imbalance in the mouth’s pH level. This can lead to acidic saliva (when the pH drops below 5.5), which breaks down tooth enamel, creating the ideal environment for cavities. When you chew, muscles compress the salivary glands in the mouth, which release saliva to keep the mouth moist. Increasing saliva production by chewing gum after eating will help keep the mouth clean.

Fight Bad Breath

We’ve all experienced bad breath on occasion. Strong-smelling foods like garlic, onions, and spices that linger in your mouth can be masked quickly by popping in a piece of minty, sugar-free gum. Aside from the refreshing flavor, chewing gum increases saliva production, which removes odor-causing oral bacteria. It’s important to note that frequent bad breath can also be a symptom of more serious oral health conditions like gum disease or dry mouth. If you have persistent bad breath, it’s a good idea to schedule a check-up with your dentist.

Whiten Teeth

Many of the most common food and beverages in our diet are highly pigmented and can stain teeth. Some of the worst culprits are chocolate, coffee, tea, cokes, red wine, dark beer, and berries (yes, even though they’re healthy). While whitening toothpaste and treatments can dramatically reduce stains, whitening chewing gums are a great on-the-go option. When chewed after meals, whitening gum helps wash away stain-causing food particles by stimulating saliva production. In addition, these chewing gums also coat the teeth to help prevent stains in the first place.

Prevent Tooth Decay

In a study noted in the Journal of Oral Science, participants who chewed gum with the sugar-free sweetener xylitol had fewer oral bacteria in their mouth after chewing. This, combined with the fact that saliva carries nutrients and chemicals like calcium and fluoride that strengthen tooth enamel, reduces the risk of tooth decay. While chewing gum is NOT a substitute for regular brushing and flossing it, can complement a healthy oral hygiene routine.

Contact Our Office

Remember, while chewing sugar-free gum is a great way to clean teeth and freshen breath, chewing gum that contains sugar can actually damage your teeth, so choose wisely! To ask our team any questions about chewing gum or ways to improve your oral hygiene in general, contact our office.

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Holiday Foods that are Good for your Teeth

The holidays are here, and with them come all the joys of the season – lights and decorations, time with friends and family, and those special treats we only get this time of year. The best way to enjoy the holiday festivities and keep your oral health intact is to balance those sticky, sugary foods with some that actually benefit your teeth and gums. We promise it’s not as hard as you might think!

Fruit & Vegetable Platter

Every gathering has one! Not only do fruits, such as apples, strawberries, and kiwis, add some natural sweetness to your plate, they also scrub your teeth when you eat them. The natural fibers of the fruits combine with saliva in the mouth and help wash away food particles and stain-causing bacteria. Vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumbers also help clean your teeth and gums by removing food particles that can build up into plaque.

Deviled Eggs

We all have that one relative who swears their Deviled Eggs can’t be beat! This year, let them know that those delicious bites actually boost oral health. The egg yolks are a great source of vitamin D, which strengthens bone, and the selenium in eggs helps cure and protect oral lesions. Additionally, eggs have vitamin b2, also known as riboflavin, which plays an important role in preventing mouth sores and reducing inflammation.

Turkey

Often the holiday table centerpiece, turkey contains more than tryptophan (the nutrient blamed for after-dinner drowsiness). It also has phosphorous, which works in tandem with calcium to help produce strong bones and teeth. So go ahead and get your share of the bird!

Nuts & Cheese

As if we needed another reason to love a good charcuterie board! Not only are nuts loaded with vitamins and minerals, they also contain fatty acids and protein that benefit your brain and general health. Plus, the fatty acids in nuts help gum health. One word of caution – try to stick with non-cooked, unsalted nuts when possible. Cheese strengthens tooth enamel and increases saliva production. Bonus – the calcium and high levels of protein in cheese are also great for your overall health.

Salmon

Many holiday gatherings include salmon or Lox with cream cheese. Cream cheese has the same benefits to your health as other cheeses, and salmon is fantastic for your oral health. Salmon has vitamin D, phosphorous, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which improve teeth health and strength, gum health, and the overall health of your body.

Pumpkin Pie

We saved the best for last! Even though most pumpkin pies have a lot of sugar, pumpkin also has lots of vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy gums. Just be sure to brush after enjoying your piece!

Contact Our Team

As your dental care provider, we’re here to help you create and maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine all year long. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our dental team.

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