What are the effects of tobacco use and dentistry?
A: Many of us have smoked during our lives. Some of us have been lucky enough
to quit the use of tobacco products but there are others who still
struggle with banning the addiction from their lives. We know how hard it
is to quit and desire to offer information and assistance to our patients. Plus, any of our staff will be happy to discuss the risk of smoking with
our patients as it applies to dental health. The following link, tobacco and nicotine, will take you to the American Dental
Association (ADAOnline) topical index for tobacco and nicotine.
Q: Why do corners of my teeth break off?
Teeth break for several reasons, namely, a traumatic injury due to a hard
or foreign object in your food, severe clenching or grinding (Bruxism) and/or the presence of large amalgam (silver) fillings. Amalgam fillings,
as they have been done in the past, weaken the remaining tooth. Present amalgam fillings have less of a tendency to contribute to tooth breakage
if they are bonded.
Q: Are amalgam fillings safe in that they contain mercury?
According to the American Dental Association, they are safe to use.
Amalgam fillings do not contain free mercury; therefore according to the
ADA, they impart no health risk and need not be removed unnecessarily.
Q: Are tooth colored fillings as strong as silver fillings?
Using present day techniques and materials, a properly done tooth colored
filling (bonded composite) will wear almost as well as a silver filling.
In addition, bonding to the remaining tooth, strengthens the tooth rather
than weakening it. Newer composites, which require 2 appointments and are
laboratory processed, are even more wear resistant. Almost all of the
fillings that I do now are bonded composites.
Q: Are gold fillings still used?
Absolutely. Where esthetics allow, gold is still one of the best restorative materials. Unfortunately, it is a costly material to use.
Where cost is not a factor, it is recommended, especially in the 2nd molar
areas. I clench my teeth, especially while I sleep. What can I do and is
it harmful? Clenching and grinding (Bruxism) are habits that develop early
in life. It is our way of relieving stress. Unfortunately, the habit can
take it's toll on our teeth, our muscles and our temporo-mandibular joint
(TMJ). Bruxism is common in a great majority of the population. Symptoms
range from broken teeth to temporo-mandibular dysfunction (TMD). A change
in life-style may or may not help. An oral appliance, worn at night, may
help to relieve symptoms. Each patient must be evaluated individually.
Q: Is home bleaching safe and can I safely use store bought bleaching systems?
After almost 10 years of prescribing home bleaching, numerous clinical
studies have shown home bleaching to be safe, as long as the bleaching is
done under the care of a dentist. We make a bleaching tray (called a
stent) to exactly fit your teeth. It does not cover the gum tissue at all.
The bleaching gel is 10% carbamide peroxide, which can be irritating to
the gums. It can also cause temporary tooth sensitivity if not used
correctly. Since the bleach is in the form of a gel, there is little
chance of swallowing the bleach. Store bought bleaching systems have you
make the stent by heating a block of tray material and then having you
bite into it. There is nothing to prevent the bleach from sitting on your
gum tissue. The bleach used in store bought systems is more fluid and can
be easily swallowed.
Q: Can A Tooth Be Replaced? (Prosthodontics)
You can diligently floss and brush your teeth and still lose a tooth to
gum disease or an accident. If this happens, the tooth or teeth should be
replaced in order to restore your smile, regain your chewing and prevent
other teeth from shifting to an undesirable or less functional position.
There are three main types of artificial teeth and each one is designed
for a particular situation. They are dental implants, removable dentures
and fixed bridges. A DENTAL IMPLANT is made by surgically placing one or
more small metal posts beneath the gum into the jawbone. In a few months,
when they are attached to the surrounding bone, they are exposed and have
the artificial tooth or teeth attached to them. A REMOVABLE OR PARTIAL
DENTURE replaces all or some of the lost teeth in the arch with one
appliance. The denture is held in place by clasping some of the remaining
teeth - or by suction where none of the natural teeth are left. A FIXED
BRIDGE is a replacement that is cemented to the adjacent teeth and cannot
Q: What is the best way to brush?
How well you brush your teeth is more important than how often you brush.
Remember it's the spots you miss where the problems start. Here are five
tips to improve your brushing: Take the time to carefully and gently clean
each tooth, ideally twice a day. The average person brushes for less than
35 seconds. A good brushing takes at least two to three minutes.
QUICK TIP: Keep brushing for as long as a song. Be gentle, particularly when
cleaning where the gums meet the teeth. Hold the brush at a 45-degree
angle to the gum line, and gently work the bristles back and forth using
short strokes. Don't forget to brush your tongue, too. Use a soft toothbrush, which is less likely to
damage your teeth and gums. Choose a size and shape that enables
you to easily reach every tooth. Be sure to change your toothbrush frequently. Every three months is recommended -
more often if you've been ill. QUICK TIP: New season - New toothbrush.
Remember to floss too since no amount of careful brushing can clean
between your teeth!
Q: What is a Crown/Cap?
A crown or cap is a cover that fits over a properly prepared tooth that
has been damaged by decay or accident, or is badly stained or shaped. A
crown can be made of acrylic, metal, porcelain, porcelain and metal, or
resined metal. All-porcelain crowns look more like your natural teeth, and
therefore are usually used for front teeth, while porcelain with metal
underlay has more strength and is good for crowns in the back of the
mouth. Sometimes all-metal crowns are used for back teeth because of the
HERE'S HOW IT'S DONE: In order to prepare your tooth for a crown, you
require a local anaesthetic. Then the tooth is filed down so the cap can
fit over it. An impression of your teeth and gums is made and a temporary
cap is fitted over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. On your
next visit, the dentist will remove the temporary cap and cement the crown
onto the tooth. The crown will closely match your natural teeth and give
you back your smile.
Q: Is there a good diet for a healthy smile?
A: Here are three things you need to ensure good dental nutrition:
A HEALTHY DIET Strong teeth need a variety of foods from each of the basic
food groups including whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, lean meats or alternatives, and dairy products.
ESSENTIAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS In particular, calcium and phosphorus, and
vitamin D are needed for strong teeth and bones, as well as vitamins A and
C for healthy gums. Eating a varied and healthy diet will provide the
essential vitamins and minerals needed for your teeth and gums to stay
healthy and strong.
SMART SNACKING While everybody knows that eating sweets is bad for your
teeth, what you may not know is that the amount of sweet food you eat is
not as important as the length of time your teeth are exposed to sweets.
This means that you should avoid eating sticky sweets like toffee or hard
candies like mints, because they stay in your mouth longer. It also means
that eating sweet snacks between meals is much worse than with a meal,
because at mealtime the increased flow of saliva helps protect your teeth
by washing sugars away. Choose something without sugar like nuts and
seeds, peanut butter, cheese, plain yogurt, or popcorn for your between
meal snacks and save your sweets for mealtimes.
Q: Should I floss or not if I brush well?
A: Let's face it - many people are still not flossing. This is a big problem
if you want to keep your teeth and gums healthy for life. Flossing at
least once a day cleans between the teeth and under the gum line where
your toothbrush can't reach and where most cavities and gum disease start.
If you're not flossing, you're missing 35% of every tooth. If you haven't
flossed recently, it'll take a while before flossing becomes an automatic
part of your daily routine.
QUICK TIP: Floss every night before you brush, for maximum benefit. But
soon your teeth won't feel clean without it. Don't worry if at first
flossing causes slight bleeding, but if the bleeding continues for more
than ten days, contact your dentist. Here's how to floss: Carefully ease
the floss between the teeth, right down to the gum line. Gently wipe
plaque from both sides of adjacent teeth. The goal is to arc the floss in
a "C" shape following the contours of each tooth.
QUICK TIP: Beginners should start with waxed shred-resistant floss because
it slides between the teeth more easily.
Q: Do I need to brush up on my dental hygiene?
A: If you give your teeth the "brush off", you may suffer in the future from
gum disease and painful tooth loss. By following a few simple steps you
will be ensured to keep your teeth for a lifetime. Here's how: Floss daily
to remove bacteria and reduce tooth decay. Brush twice a day, holding the
brush at a 45-degree angle, and brushing for at least two minutes. Change
your toothbrush every three months (Quick tip: New season - New toothbrush). Avoid eating sticky foods. Choose sugar-free snacks, fruits
and vegetables whenever possible. Don't chew foods like ice or hard
candies, which can damage tooth enamel. Never use your teeth as a tool to
open bags, nuts, and bottle caps or to cut thread. If you play sports,
always use mouth protection to prevent injury. Taking care of your teeth
and gums is easier than you think when you form good dental habits.
Q: Are My Gums Healthy?
A: Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Why?
Because it occurs at an age when cavities are usually a thing of the past,
and the initial symptoms often go unnoticed.
HERE'S WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Gums that bleed when brushing; red, swollen or tender gums or persistent
bad breath. Periodontal or gum disease is a bacterial infection of the
gums, ligaments and bone that support the teeth and anchor them in the
jaw. The bacteria, which act mainly on certain carbohydrates in our diets,
are normal inhabitants of the mouth, living in a thin film called plaque.
If plaque is not removed, it may eventually harden into tartar, a hard
mineral shell that irritates and erodes healthy gum tissue. This early
stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. If left untreated, pockets
begin to form between the teeth and gum tissues and may erode the tissue,
which attaches the tooth to the jaw. This stage is called periodontitis.
Gum disease can be treated at all stages, but more importantly, it can be
HERE'S HOW: Brush twice a day, floss daily, eat a balanced diet, and visit
your dentist regularly - ideally every six months - for a preventive
checkup and professional cleaning which is essential in the prevention of
Q: Is a toddler's toothless grin charming?
A: Not always. Nursing caries in baby's first teeth occurs when babies
habitually fall asleep sucking on a bottle. The sugar in whatever they're
drinking (cow's milk, juice, formula or sugary drinks) turns to acid,
dissolving tooth enamel. Breast-fed babies are also susceptible if they
constantly fall asleep with breast milk on their teeth. Early signs of
nursing caries include white spots/tooth discoloration. If the process
continues, rampant decay and discomfort to the child results. Children
need their baby teeth to chew and to learn to speak properly. Fortunately,
you can protect your baby from nursing caries. Don't let your baby go to
bed with a bottle unless it contains plain water. Never let your child use
a bottle as a daytime pacifier because all-day sucking is as bad as
nighttime nipping. Clean baby's mouth and teeth after meals and breastfeeding. Finally, if you suspect your child has nursing caries,
contact your dentist immediately.
Q: What is involved in a root canal procedure? (Endodontics)
A: Today, with modern dentistry, root canal treatment has become a common
form of treatment for diseased (abscessed) teeth. Your regular dentist or
root canal specialist (Endodontist) can provide this treatment.
HERE'S NOW IT'S DONE: In healthy teeth, the interior of the tooth is
filled with tissue (pulp). Once the tooth is injured, cracked, or decayed,
it is necessary to open the tooth and clean out the infected tissue in the
center. This space is then filled and the opening sealed. During the
procedure the area around the tooth is frozen. Sometimes difficulties may
be encountered during or after root canal treatment. This may require the
use of medication or involve further treatment. A crown or cap may be
necessary to protect the tooth, once the root canal treatment has been
completed. Teeth that have had root canal treatment can stay as healthy
and last as long as other teeth. In most instances, you won't be able to
feel or see a difference.
Q: What is a sealant?
A: While cavity prevention starts with a healthy diet, brushing twice a day,
daily flossing and regular dental checkups, sealants can offer additional
protection against tooth decay. Sealants are thin, plastic coatings
painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars).
This clear, plastic coating bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits
and fissures) of the chewing surface effectively sealing out the decay-causing bacteria, and reducing the risk of cavities and tooth decay.
HERE'S NOW IT'S DONE: The application of sealants is easy, painless, and
takes only a few minutes to complete. First, the tooth is thoroughly
cleaned and then etched with a solution to help the sealant adhere to the
tooth. The sealant is then 'painted' onto the pits and fissures, where it
bonds directly or is hardened with a high-intensity light. Sealants
usually last several years before a reapplication is required. Your
dentist will monitor your sealants during your regular checkup. Although
children and teenagers will benefit most because they have the highest
incidence of pit and fissure decay, adults with difficult to clean molars
or wisdom teeth may benefit, as well. Ask your dentist if sealants can
help with your preventive care.
Q: What Are TMJ (TMD) Disorders?
A: Temporomandibular joints (TMJ), that is your jaw joints and muscles, are used to open and close your mouth when talking, chewing, singing and
swallowing. Temporomandibular disorders (TMDS) are a group of conditions which can affect the jaw joint or muscle causing facial, tooth and ear aches as well as "clicking" in the jaw, "tension headaches" and even neck, shoulder or back pain. You may experience pain (ranging from minimal to severely debilitating) especially when chewing and opening your mouth wide or, your jaw may lock or be prevented from opening fully. TMDs can be caused by injuries to the face and jaw regions, whiplash, poor posture, bite problems, badly fitted dentures, grinding teeth, and clenching your jaw resulting in damage to the joints or misalignment. Systemic diseases, which effect the joints of the body (like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc.), can also affect your jaw joint, causing degeneration. Ask your dentist about examining your TMJ, if you are experiencing any of these
symptoms. Special tests, including x-rays or MRI scans of the joints, are sometimes carried out. Most patients benefit from simple forms of
treatment, including physical therapy, dental bite guards, and anti-inflammatory medication. Patients with persisting, severe pain may require surgery and may be referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for consultation. See your dentist for more information.
Q: Can I Improve My Smile?
A: Are you self-conscious to smile because your teeth are chipped, discolored, or poorly spaced? Cheer up, your dentist may be able to apply a porcelain laminate veneer to your teeth and give them a whole new appearance. Veneers are strong, thin pieces of porcelain that are bonded to the teeth, making them stronger. They are used to repair chipped, decayed or stained teeth and for closing gaps between teeth. With a bit of contouring, veneers can also rectify crowded or overlapping teeth. If your teeth have discolored with age, a veneer may improve their appearance. Veneers can also be used for cosmetic reasons instead of crowns, which are more often used for badly damaged or decayed teeth.
HERE'S NOW IT'S DONE: Typically, the front and edges of the tooth are selectively removed and the veneer replaces the removed surface. Veneer
preparations frequently require the use of local anaesthetic and, depending on color and shade, may take two or more appointments for completion of the procedure. Ask your dentist if veneers can help improve your smile.
Q: Do I have to have my wisdom teeth out?
A: Wisdom teeth don't make you smart, but they can create problems. These
third molars are the last teeth to erupt and usually appear between the
ages of 17 and 21, but can begin causing problems as early as age 13.
Sometimes the teeth don't always have enough space at the back of the
lower and upper jaw and develop at an angle causing the tooth to jam and
become impacted. When this happens, a cyst can form in the tissue
surrounding the tooth causing deterioration of the jawbone or the tooth in
front. Sometimes the wisdom teeth only partially erupt and become prone to recurrent infection and decay. This condition can lead to swelling, pain
and difficulty opening the jaw. The development of wisdom teeth can be
painful and is often associated with sore throats, headaches and gum
infections. By checking the development of your wisdom teeth during
regular checkups and dental x-rays, your dentist can determine whether
your wisdom teeth have enough space to erupt through the gum or if they
should be removed.
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