Don’t Believe These Myths about Dental Care

dental health mythsTaking care of your teeth and gums is important to keep them healthy and to protect your overall health, but many people have a misunderstanding of some important points about oral health. Here are some of the most common myths that people believe about their teeth and gums.

Myth 1: Sugar alone causes cavities. Processed sugar combines with bacteria in the mouth to produce acid that attacks teeth and causes cavities. It is important to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth after eating sugary foods. However, sugar is not the only thing that can cause cavities. If you do not eat any sugar but have poor oral hygiene habits, you can still get cavities.

Myth 2: Brushing sensitive gums can cause harm. The fact is that brushing your teeth is beneficial to them and to your gums. It removes food particles and plaque that can cause inflammation and gingivitis. If plaque is not removed, your gums can become sensitive and bleed when you brush. If you have sensitive gums, you should brush gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss daily.

Myth 3: You can skip flossing. Flossing removes food and plaque from between your teeth, places that a toothbrush cannot reach. If you skip flossing, you are not cleaning almost a third of the surface of your teeth. This can lead to cavities, gum disease, and pain. Flossing can help prevent these problems.

Myth 4: Teeth whitening is dangerous. Bleaching is safe if it is done correctly with the right products. Before 1990, acidic bleaches were used to whiten teeth. They could break down enamel and weaken teeth. Whitening materials used today have a neutral pH so they will not damage teeth. They use carbamide peroxide to oxidize teeth so light will refract more and the teeth will look whiter. Using too much of a whitening gel can cause sensitivity. The discomfort should go away after use of the product is discontinued.

Myth 5: If you have white teeth, they must be healthy, and darker teeth must be unhealthy. The truth is that white teeth can still have cavities or an infection. Healthy teeth should be whiter than unhealthy teeth, but there is a lot of variation in color from one person to another. Teeth can become discolored with age. In some cases, healthy teeth can be darker than unhealthy teeth.

Myth 6: If you have a toothache, you should put an aspirin next to your tooth. Aspirin can relieve gum pain if it is placed next to the gums, but that does not work for a toothache because the aspirin will not be able to get through the enamel to the nerve. Aspirin needs to be swallowed to get into the bloodstream to relieve a toothache. You should not use too much aspirin or oral gel to relieve gum pain because they can cause burning.

It is important to take care of your teeth with daily brushing and flossing and to get regular exams and cleanings. If you would like to schedule a cleaning or need to have another problem treated, contact Fried Dentistry today to schedule an appointment.

Is It Safe to Get Dental Treatment While Pregnant?

dental treatment pregnancy safetyVisiting the dentist while pregnant is important. Pregnant women are at risk for many dental problems, including some that are specifically related to pregnancy, such as gingivitis, tooth decay, and pregnancy tumors. Oral health conditions can contribute to premature delivery and other problems that can directly impact a baby.

Getting dental treatment while pregnant is safe. The American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend that women see a dentist for care while pregnant.

What to Discuss with Your Dentist

Discuss your pregnancy and any risk factors with your dentist. Tell your dentist’s office you are pregnant and how far along you are when you schedule your appointment. Let them know if you have a high-risk pregnancy or if you have received any special instructions from your doctor.

Common Concerns for Pregnant Women

Let your dentist know if you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, including prenatal vitamins and supplements. If you need painkillers or antibiotics, your dentist and physician may want to discuss various options to choose the medications that are best for you. Feel free to ask questions about any prescriptions you receive.

If you need to have a filling, root canal, or tooth extraction while you are pregnant, it is safe for you and your baby to receive a local anesthetic. The Journal of the American Dental Association published the results of a study on this issue last year. It compared two groups of pregnant women, some of whom received anesthetics such as lidocaine and others who did not. The researchers found no difference in the rates of miscarriages, birth defects, premature deliveries, or birth weight. They found no significant risks associated with the use of anesthetics during pregnancy.

About half of the women in the study referenced above had x-rays taken when they were pregnant. That was also found to be safe. Dental x-rays use low amounts of radiation. The dentist or hygienist will cover you with a leaded apron to reduce the level of radiation exposure in your abdomen and will cover your throat with a leaded collar to avoid exposing your thyroid to radiation.

Schedule an Appointment

Getting dental care while pregnant is important. Untreated dental conditions during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, low birth weight, and other problems. Receiving dental treatment while pregnant is safe for you and your baby. If you are pregnant and need to have a dental exam, cleaning, or other treatment, schedule an appointment with Fried Dentistry today.

Which Denture Materials Are Right for You?

denture materialsDentures can replace teeth that have been lost or that need to be extracted because of decay. Dentures can be made from a variety of materials. Each has pros and cons. You can discuss your options with your dentist to decide which type of denture is best for you.

Some dentures are made of porcelain, a ceramic material similar to glass. One advantage of porcelain is that it has a translucent appearance like natural tooth enamel, and the color can be matched to your natural teeth. Porcelain dentures also feel similar to natural teeth, so it can be easier to get used to them. Porcelain dentures are heated when they are made, which makes them harder and allows them to last longer than other materials.

The primary disadvantages of porcelain dentures are that they can break if they are dropped on a hard floor and they can cause natural teeth to become worn down if they bite against them. Porcelain is a better choice for full dentures than for partials.

Many dentists have recently begun to recommend acrylic resin for dentures because it adheres to the denture base more securely than porcelain. Acrylic dentures are also easier to adjust than porcelain, lighter in weight, and less expensive.

The disadvantage of acrylic resin dentures is that they wear faster than porcelain. They may need to be replaced every five to eight years.

Dentures are supported by a framework called a full or partial plate. It can be made from rigid acrylic resin or a flexible nylon polymer or molded from chrome cobalt.

Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth to create a mold, which will then be used to create a wax model. The model will be tested in your mouth to make sure it is the right size and color and to form a plate that will fit in your mouth.

Plates made from acrylic resin can be used with dentures that need an artificial gumline because the material can be made the same color as the natural gums. A metal plate is less likely to break, is stronger, and can fit better. Metal is a good choice for a partial plate that is hidden behind natural teeth.

The amount of time your dentures will last will depend on many factors, including the materials used to make them, your oral hygiene, how well you take care of your natural gums, and what products you use. Discuss your options with your dentist.

These Common Habits Could Be Hurting Your Teeth

habits that hurt teethYou probably care for your smile by brushing, flossing, and getting regular dental exams and cleanings. Taking care of your teeth and gums is important, but you may be harming your oral health without even realizing it. Some common habits that you might not think about could cause serious harm to your mouth, either suddenly or gradually over time.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is important, but you should not be overzealous and brush too hard. This can wear down enamel, irritate your gums, and increase sensitivity to cold. You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association and brush gently.

Toothpicks can remove food particles from between your teeth and improve your oral hygiene, but you need to be careful. Pressing too hard can hurt your gums and teeth.

Carbonated drinks like soda can harm your teeth because they are acidic and wear away enamel. Soda affects teeth even more if you drink it slowly over a long period of time because the teeth are continuously bathed in acid. Soda can cause decay around the gum line and loss of tooth enamel.

If you enjoy sucking on lemons, that can be harmful. Lemons contain acid that can erode tooth enamel and leave it with a rough texture.

Chewing on ice cubes may seem harmless, but it can actually chip or break a tooth. Teeth are not designed to crush against hard objects.

If you clench your jaw or grind your teeth when you are stressed out, it could be causing damage. This puts a lot of pressure on teeth and can lead to fractures and damage to dental restorations.

Biting your nails on a regular basis can cause your teeth to shift out of their correct positions. It can also cause them to break or splinter the enamel.

Holding objects, such as pens, pencils, or glasses, between your teeth puts pressure on them. This can make your teeth shift or crack and can damage dental work.

If you use your teeth to tear or open things instead of looking for tools, this can cause damage to dental work or crack your teeth. Teeth are meant to be used for eating, not as tools.

Many babies and young children suck on their thumbs and fingers. This is fine at an early age, but if children continue to suck on their fingers after their permanent teeth start to come in, it can cause them to become misaligned, which can lead to trouble chewing and breathing problems. Misaligned teeth may need to be corrected with orthodontic work.

Periodontal Disease Could Raise Pancreatic Cancer Risk

periodontal disease pancreatic cancerAbout 1.5 percent of American men and women develop pancreatic cancer, and only about 5 percent survive five years after being diagnosed. Research has suggested that periodontal disease may increase people’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center collected data from 361 patients with incident pancreatic cancer and 371 matched controls. The subjects were enrolled in the Cancer Prevention II Study and the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. The researchers controlled for other factors, such as age, race, gender, tobacco and alcohol use, body mass index, and history of diabetes, that could have increased the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

The researchers found a significant correlation between pancreatic cancer risk and the presence of the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. They also found that the presence of Fusobacteria lowered participants’ risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

The participants were mostly white and non-Hispanic, so the researchers are not sure if their findings are applicable to other racial groups. The findings did not demonstrate a causal link between oral bacteria and pancreatic cancer, but they have helped scientists identify a new potential risk factor. They believe this information could be helpful in developing new approaches to prevent and detect pancreatic cancer.

Another study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of San Juan, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute involved 51,000 men between the ages of 40 and 75. Researchers adjusted for age, smoking, obesity, diabetes, diet, and other factors and found that men with periodontal disease had a 63 percent higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer than men with healthy gums. The study did not establish a causal link.

Periodontal disease is an infection that affects the area just below the gums. It causes the tissues supporting teeth to break down. People who smoke or chew tobacco, have diabetes, take certain medications, have bridges that do not fit correctly, have defective fillings, are pregnant, or use oral contraceptives have an increased risk of developing periodontal disease. People can reduce their risk of developing gum disease by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.

Dental Care for Patients with Heart Disease

dental care heart diseasePatients with heart disease have special dental needs. Heart problems and the medications used to treat them can increase the risk of developing dental problems and can contribute to complications during procedures.

Give your dentist a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you take so that he or she can decide on the best course of treatment for you. Provide your dentist with your cardiologist’s name and phone number so they can discuss your care. Discuss any concerns you have about your dental care with your dentist and cardiologist.

If you have had a heart attack and need to undergo a dental procedure, discuss it with your cardiologist first to find out if he or she recommends waiting. Tell your dentist if you are taking anticoagulant medication (blood thinners) because they can cause excessive bleeding during some dental procedures. Ask your dentist if the office has oxygen and nitroglycerine available in case there is a medical emergency during your procedure.

If you have had a stroke, tell your dentist if you take anticoagulants. If you cannot produce enough saliva because of your stroke, your dentist may recommend that you use artificial saliva. If the stroke affected your face, tongue, or dominant hand, your dentist may recommend using fluoride gel or strategies to make it easier to take care of your oral hygiene.

Some medications used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) or heart failure can cause dry mouth or affect the sense of taste. Your dentist may recommend using artificial saliva.

If you have angina (chest pain) treated with calcium channel blockers, they can make your gum tissue swell and grow over teeth, which can make it difficult to chew. You may need to get more frequent cleanings or have a procedure called a gingivectomy to remove excess gum tissue.

If you are going to have a dental procedure done and you have angina, ask if oxygen and nitroglycerine are available. If you have stable angina (chest pain that follows a predictable pattern), you can undergo any dental procedure. If you have new or unpredictable chest pain (unstable angina), you should not undergo any elective dental procedures and should receive emergency dental care in a hospital or an office that can monitor your heart.

If your dentist plans to use anesthesia during your procedure, ask if it contains epinephrine. If you have high blood pressure, epinephrine can cause dangerously high blood pressure, angina, heart attack, or arrhythmia.

What Are Your Options after a Tooth Is Extracted?

extraction dental implantWhen a tooth has been damaged by disease, action needs to be taken in an attempt to save it. In some cases, a root canal or other endodontic treatment can save a diseased tooth. In other cases, those treatments will not work and the tooth must be extracted. A missing tooth can make it difficult to bite, chew, and speak clearly and can also make you feel self-conscious.

If a root canal is not appropriate for the situation and the tooth needs to be extracted, you can have it replaced it with a dental implant. An implant is an artificial tooth that is placed in the jaw to hold a crown that resembles your natural tooth. The implant is designed to resemble the shape of your natural tooth’s root. It is usually made of titanium and other materials.

An implant is put in the jaw during surgery. Over time, it fuses with the bone so that a crown can be attached later. Dental implants have been used for many years in thousands of patients. Implants can replace one or multiple teeth and can also support partial or full dentures.

In some cases, an implant can be placed in one visit. Most implants require two or three visits. The first step is to place the implant in the gums and then secure the gums over it. The implant will fuse with the jaw over the next three to six months.

After the implant has fused with the jaw bone, the dentist may attach an abutment. In most instances, the implant and abutment are one unit. A second surgery may be needed in some cases to attach the abutment to the artificial tooth. After your jaw has healed, the dentist will make a crown in the same size, shape, and color as your natural tooth and attach it to the abutment.

Other options if a tooth needs to be extracted are a bridge or a removable partial denture. In order to perform these treatments, the adjacent teeth will also need to undergo treatment.

When Should You Brush Your Teeth?

best times to brush teethDentists recommend that people brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes to prevent cavities. However, many people are unsure when are the best times to brush. In some cases, brushing right after a meal can actually do more harm than good.

Foods that contain sugar, especially ones that are sticky or liquid, react with bacteria in the mouth to produce acid that wears away tooth enamel and leads to decay. Some people think that the best way to prevent cavities is to brush right after eating a sugary meal or snack. The problem with that approach is that many sugary foods are also highly acidic.

Eating acidic foods or drinking acidic beverages causes the pH in the mouth to fall. A neutral pH is 7, but soda can have a pH as low as 2.5, which is about the same as vinegar. Acid causes demineralization and weakens teeth, which can lead to cavities.

Brushing right after consuming acidic foods or beverages can speed up the process of tooth decay. Brushing can scratch acid into the surfaces of teeth and cause cavities. If you wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth, your saliva will naturally neutralize the pH of the acid, so you will not damage your teeth when you brush. After you eat or drink something acidic, rinse your mouth with water instead of brushing right away. You can use an antibacterial mouthwash to stop plaque from producing more acid.

You can also fight cavities by eating string cheese. This can make you salivate, which reduces the acidity of bacterial plaque. Chemicals in cheese can also cause teeth to remineralize.

Another helpful option is to chew sugarless gum. Xylitol in gum has been shown to help prevent cavities.

It is important to brush your teeth before you go to bed. Your mouth produces less saliva at night, which makes cavities more likely to form.

BIOLASE WaterLase Laser Can Eliminate Pain

BIOLASE WaterLase laserMany people avoid going to the dentist because they are concerned about the potential for pain. The BIOLASE WaterLase iPlus 2.0 system can allow dentists to perform many procedures with little or no pain, alleviating anxiety for patients who fear going to the dentist. Light energy removes bacteria without harming healthy tissues. The treatment is so gentle that many patients do not require anesthetic.

Plaque, a substance that consists of bacteria and acid from food, collects on teeth and hardens around the base of teeth and below the gum line. If it is not removed by good oral hygiene or by a professional cleaning, plaque can lead to cavities and gum disease.

A drill that is typically used to treat a cavity uses friction, which causes heat and pain. This requires the dentist to inject the patient with anesthetic and also creates the possibility of damage to surrounding tissue. A drill can also cause vibration and macrofractures. This can allow bacteria to penetrate the tooth and lead to further decay. The WaterLase laser cuts and shapes tissue without contact, heat, pressure, or vibration. It can be used on teeth, skin, gums, and bone.

The laser vaporizes harmful tissue and can be used to remove lesions. It causes little or no bleeding, and cuts and stitches are not necessary. When the BIOLASE WaterLase laser is used for soft tissue procedures, it minimizes bleeding, swelling, and pain. After periodontal treatment, the gums are more likely to fully reattach to the roots of teeth because the laser causes healthy tissue to regenerate. This reduces the risk of gum recession.

The BIOLASE laser delivers precise amounts of air and water that excite water molecules from the hand piece spray and inside the tissue. This creates an effective biological micro-ablation of the tooth and rehydrates it to prevent heat and pain. This can make common dental procedures painless and comfortable for the patient and alleviate stress and anxiety.

Prosthodontists Offer Tips on Caring for Restorations

dental restoration tipsMarch 20 has been designated as World Oral Health Day. According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 158 million people around the world have no teeth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 120 million people living in the United States are missing at least one tooth.

Many people who lose teeth or need to have them extracted receive dental restorations, such as crowns, bridges, and veneers, from prosthodontists. These restorations can be supported by natural tooth structure or by implants. However, many people do not know the best way to care for their restorations.

Taking care of restored teeth can keep them healthy and functional and can also protect an expensive investment. A 17-year retrospective study found that patients who participate in a maintenance program are 90 percent less likely to have their restorations fail than patients who do not. Following proper maintenance procedures can keep restorations, as well as the surrounding gums and bone, healthy and keep bridges, veneers, and crowns looking natural and white for many years.

The American College of Prosthodontists recently presented new recommendations from prosthodontists, general dentists, and hygienists. A panel of experts appointed by the American College of Prosthodontists, American Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, and American Dental Hygienists Association developed the guidelines. The goal of the first Clinical Practice Guidelines for Patients with Dental Restorations is to keep restored teeth healthy throughout a patient’s lifetime.

The guidelines recommend that patients with dental restorations receive an exam and cleaning every six months and follow individual at-home maintenance tips given by their dentist. Patients should brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, floss once a day, use mouthwash, and wear a night guard if their dentist recommends it to protect their restorations. Patients should also not smoke or use chewing tobacco and should try to eat a low-sugar diet to avoid cavities.