10 Fun Tooth Facts

Delta Dental has a great informational website called cavitiesgetaround.com, we recently came across these fun tooth facts on their site! We hope you enjoy them!

1. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body. It covers the outside of your teeth and protects them from decay. It might be incredibly strong but sugary drinks like juice and soda can eat away the enamel causing cavities to form.

2. Your mouth produces over 25,000 quarts of saliva throughout your life! You could fill 2 swimming pools with all that! Be thankful, saliva helps repair early tooth decay!

3. Brushing your teeth daily reduces tooth decay by 25%. It’s a very important part of your day! Make sure you are brushing correctly for the best results.

4. You can only see two-thirds of your teeth. Where is the other third hiding? Underneath your gums! This is why you must floss your teeth daily to clean the parts of your tooth you can’t see!

5. Teeth are as unique as fingerprints. No two people have the same set of teeth. Smile and be proud of yours, they are one of a kind!

6. You have only 2 sets of teeth during your lifetime. That might seem like plenty, but sharks get 40 sets. After your baby teeth fall out, the permanent teeth have to last the rest of your life so take good care of them!

7. Tooth brushes have existed for thousands of years! (Sort of) There is evidence of people using twigs to clean their teeth thousands of years ago and it seemed to be effective!

8. Everyone has the same number of teeth. Human mouths are designed to hold 32 teeth. That might seem like a lot but snails have 25,600!

9. Your teeth are forming before you are born. Teeth start to form when you are in the womb, but do not come out until you are between six and twelve months old.

10. Baby teeth matter. They guide adult teeth so they come in straight. Also, cavities can spread from baby teeth to adult teeth. Healthy baby teeth = healthy adult teeth!

September is National Gum Care Month!

We know that gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal disease, can be difficult to recognize. Many people don’t realize that bleeding and swollen gums are a precursor to gum disease. This month, a national campaign is under way to raise awareness about gum health and periodontal disease, and we wanted to help do our part to spread the word.

Dr. Glass and Cindie will tell you early recognition and action are the most important steps to healthy gums, and ultimately a healthy body! Studies are published every year linking oral health to the overall health of your body. Studies have directly linked heart disease and diabetes to oral health. One of the most important steps to improving the care of your gums is recognizing the warning signs for gum disease. These include:
– Gums that appear red or swollen
– Gums that feel tender
– Gums that bleed easily (while brushing or flossing)
– Gums that recede or pull away from the teeth
– Persistent halitosis (bad breath)
– Loose teeth
– Any change in the way teeth come together in the biting position

If you happen to notice any of these signs with you or your child, or if it has been longer than 6 months since your last cleaning please call today to schedule an appointment. It is important to take proactive steps to prevent gingivitis and gum disease.

Side Effects of Dry Mouth

Are you wondering why you are starting to get cavities when you haven’t had them in years? As we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. It is, however, a side effect of more than 500 medications including those used for asthma, allergies, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain and anxiety.
Dry mouth is more than just an uncomfortable inconvenience. Saliva plays a big role in protecting your teeth from cavities. Saliva not only helps wash away food and plaque from your teeth it also contains substances found to help counter the acid produced by bacteria and can even help repair early tooth decay.
This is just one reason why it is important to tell your dentist about all medications that you are taking. Dr. Glass and Cindie can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and protect your teeth from cavities.

Here are some common recommendations:

• Use over the counter oral moisturizing gel or rinse such as Biotene
• Consult with your physician on whether to change your medication or dosage
• Drink more water. Carry a bottle with you and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
• Use sugar free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production. Products containing xylitol have an added protective element
• Get a humidifier to use at night to keep your mouth and airway moist
• Avoid food and beverages that irritate or further dry the mouth. Coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices are all culprits
• Dr. Glass may recommend a prescription fluoride toothpaste or the application of a fluoride varnish in our office to protect your teeth from decay.

Keep Smiling All Summer Long!

If you are like most families, during the summer months your schedule can get a little crazy! We wait all year for the warm weather activities that we love, but that can mean eating right and maintaining good oral hygiene goes to the bottom of the list. Here are a few tips that will help you protect your family’s oral health this summer.

Don’t forget to brush!
Brushing twice a day and flossing daily is as important in the summer as it is any other time of the year. With vacations, kids away at camp and lots of days spent on the go, don’t be surprised if you frequently need to remind your kids to brush and floss.
Now is a great time to buy new toothbrushes to replace the old, worn out or “germy” ones. In fact, tossing a few disposable tooth brushes into your hand bag along with some travel sized toothpaste is a convenient way to always be hygienically prepared, particularly if your kids are in orthodontics!

Schedule your check-ups early!
Parents tend to schedule dental checkups in August, right before school starts. Keep in mind our schedule can get backed up so it’s best to plan ahead and get your family in while your schedule (and ours) might be a little more flexible!

Keep your kitchen well stocked
Keep the summer from being a sugary free for all by investing in healthy snacks. It’s hard to limit snacking when the kids are home all day, but with the availability of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, you can stock the fridge with healthy options. Be sure to keep the fruits and veggies clean and ready to grab on the go. It’s much easier to keep your dental health in check when your family is reaching for blueberries and strawberries instead of candy and cookies. Be sure to swap out the sugary, acidic soft drinks, juices and energy drinks with bottled water.

Prevent Dental Emergencies
It wouldn’t be summer without lots of swimming, bike riding, sports and other playground activities. While these are great fun, they can occasionally result in a dental injury. Parents can prevent the worst by following these tips:
• Make sure your kids follow the “pool rules.” According to the Academy of General Dentistry, many of the summer oral injuries dentists treat are due to a pool accident. Running on slippery pool decks, diving into shallow waters or bumping the pool ledge with their mouth causes many children to either chip or knock a tooth loose.
• Wear protective mouth guards when playing any type of sport. They not only help protect your teeth from getting knocked out or broken, but many mouth guards offer a level of protection against concussion.

Have fun and keep smiling all summer!

Why Was I Prescribed a Night Guard?

Here you are, heading home from your most recent dental visit contemplating why your dentist prescribed an occlusal guard, also referred to as a night guard. After all, you sleep well and certainly don’t notice that you grind your teeth. The fact is, unless your bedmate tells you, you may be completely unaware of your destructive night time habit. It is estimated that 1 in 10 adults grind or clench their teeth regularly in their sleep and most of them don’t realize it until their dentist notices signs of worn down or cracked teeth. Symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches, a clicking sound in your jaw and sensitive teeth have all been attributed to night time grinding. The technical term for tooth grinding is bruxism.

Bruxism can not only impair your sleep quality and damage teeth, but in severe cases it can lead to TMJ (tempromandibular joint) disorders, and can cause gum recession and worsen periodontal disease. Grinding can not only cause damage to your teeth, but can also damage expensive dental work that you have invested in like crowns, bridges and implants.

Luckily there are ways to protect yourself from the harmful effects of night time grinding. Because bruxism can have many causes there is no single treatment to completely eliminate the condition. Stress is a likely factor, so practicing relaxation techniques can help. Smoking and drinking alcohol can also contribute, so it helps to cut back or abstain, at least late into the evening. The main treatment for bruxism is to wear a night guard during sleep. Your dentist takes impressions of your teeth and has an acrylic guard custom made for your mouth. A guard won’t prevent all grinding, but it can redistribute the forces exerted while grinding and protect your teeth and dental work. It may help you get used to keeping your jaw unclenched thus helping during the day while it isn’t being worn. Custom night guards can be costly and often times aren’t covered by insurance, but the protection they offer is invaluable. Inexpensive over the counter night guards are available at drug stores, but being bulkier and not custom fit they are likely to cause additional problems like an altered bite or mouth sores. Discuss such devices with your dentist before using one.

New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthy Smile

 

With the New Year right around the corner, you may have already begun to think about your New Year’s resolutions. You may be considering resolving to save money, get a better job or lose weight. Many people set new goals about having a healthier lifestyle in the New Year. Why not make 2015 the year you include better dental health in your list of resolutions?

Any of the following life style changes will go a long way toward giving you a brighter, healthier smile and may even help you stick to some of your other resolutions as well!

Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

Eating well is important for your dental health. Poor nutrition can affect the entire immune system, increasing susceptibility to many common oral disorders, including gum (periodontal) disease. Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts improve your body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, helping to protect your teeth and gums. In addition, crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath.

Quit Smoking or Using Other Tobacco Products

Using tobacco can harm your mouth in a number of ways, increasing your risk for tooth discoloration, cavities, gum recession, gum disease and throat, lung and oral cancer. Smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers. It’s not just smoking tobacco that has negative effects on your oral health: use of smokeless tobacco can be just as harmful to your oral health. The good news is that the risk of tooth loss decreases after you quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco.

Limit Your Alcohol Intake

You may already know that excessive alcohol intake can have an effect on your overall health, but did you know that it may also affect your oral health? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, those who smoke, eat poorly and consume excessive alcohol also have increased gum recession (periodontal pocketing). Their studies show that smokers who regularly consume alcohol are less likely to brush their teeth on a regular basis and are less concerned about their basic health than nonsmokers.

 Brush at Least Twice a Day and Floss at Least Once a Day

Brushing and flossing protect your teeth from decay and gum disease, which is caused by your teeth’s most persistent enemy, plaque – a sticky, colorless, invisible film of harmful bacteria that builds up on your teeth every day. Both brushing and flossing are equally important for good oral health: according to the Academy of General Dentistry, only flossing can remove plaque from between teeth and below the gumline, where decay and gum disease often begins.

Without proper brushing and flossing, you may develop bleeding gums, which may worsen to severely swollen, red, bleeding gums (gingivitis) and, eventually, gum disease. Because diseases of the mouth can affect the rest of your body, it is especially important to maintain good oral health.

See Your Dentist for Regular Checkups

By seeing your dentist at least twice a year, you can help prevent any dental health problems before they cause discomfort or require more comprehensive or expensive treatment. Regular visits allow your dentist to monitor your oral health and recommend a dental health regimen to address areas of concern.

For this new year, resolve to treat your mouth right: improve your diet, quit smoking and improve your oral hygiene habits – your teeth,  your body and your pocketbook will thank you for it!

Do you suffer from Dry Mouth? You are not alone!

Dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, is associated with salivary gland hypofunction where there is a reduced amount of salivary output. Many people with this condition are un-aware that it means more than just mouth discomfort or bad breath. Saliva is essential to lubricate and protect our teeth, tongue and tissues. It aids in chewing, swallowing and digesting food and also protects our teeth from decay. Saliva is 98% water but the other 2% is made up of essential electrolytes, mucous, antibacterial components and various enzymes. When we aren’t producing an adequate amount of saliva to lubricate the mouth, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque we become more prone to cavities.

Many people are at risk for having dry mouth, but are unaware that it can create an unhealthy environment for your mouth. In many cases, people that suffer from dry mouth are experiencing a side effect from some common prescription medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, anti depressants and high blood pressure medications. It may also be a sign of a disease such as poorly controlled diabetes or other systemic conditions such as anxiety, stress or dehydration. As harmless as dry mouth may seem, it is not a condition to be overlooked. Some common problems with dry mouth include a burning sensation, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, oral infections, gum disease, bad breath and tooth decay. A dry mouth also irritates the soft tissues in the mouth making them more susceptible to infection. Without the cleansing effect of saliva oral health problems become more common.

If you suffer from Dry Mouth there are ways to manage the ill effects and protect your teeth from suffering decay as a result of lack of saliva production.

• Drink water frequently and sip on water throughout the day.
• Suck on sugar free candy or chew sugar free gum, gum containing xylitol can help stimulate salivary flow while preventing cavities.
• Avoid mouth rinses that contain alcohol and avoid alcoholic beverages because they increase dry mouth. There are mouth rinses on the market that are made specifically for patients that suffer from Dry Mouth.
• Limit intake of salty and spicy foods
• Quit smoking
• Use a soft bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal and use a toothpaste containing fluoride.
• Floss your teeth daily
• Most importantly, visit us at least twice a year to ensure your mouth is in good shape. If you are more prone to decay due to your dry mouth, catching and taking care of cavities early can prevent more costly and painful procedures down the road. To ensure maximum protection we may recommend a prescription toothpaste with a higher fluoride content to keep your teeth strong and aid in the prevention of cavities.

The Buzz about Xylitol

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in fibrous vegetables and fruits, corn cobs and hardwood trees (like birch). It is used worldwide as a low-calorie sweetener, and has been clinically proven to reduce cavities and help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Our bodies make up to 15 grams (four teaspoons) of xylitol daily. It looks, feels and tastes like ordinary sugar (sucrose), but has 40 percent fewer calories and 75 percent fewer carbohydrates than sugar. Additionally, xylitol is not easily converted to fat and has almost no effect on insulin levels, making it a great alternative for diabetics and dieters and also is considered safe for pregnant and nursing women, babies and children.
We all know eating sugar causes tooth decay by creating an acidic condition in the mouth. Acidity strips minerals from tooth enamel, causing it to weaken and be more vulnerable to bacteria, leading to tooth decay or demineralization.
So, how does Xylitol help? Bacteria is unable to metabolize xylitol and therefore won’t produce the acids responsible for demineralization and decay. Secondly, xylitol interferes with bacterial polysaccharide formation, which significantly reduces the adhesive capabilities of the bacteria. The bacteria literally lose their main mechanisms to cause dental havoc! In addition, xylitol stimulates saliva which is beneficial to the neutral alkaline levels in your mouth.
To help prevent cavities, you need approximately six to eight grams of xylitol taken (chewed or ingested) throughout the day. If used only occasionally or just once a day, xylitol may not be effective, regardless of the amount. Use xylitol at least three times each day – five times is preferable – for at least five minutes right after meals and snacks. Between meals, opt for xylitol-sweetened products that encourage chewing/sucking to keep the xylitol in contact with your teeth. The xylitol effect is long lasting and possibly permanent. So go ahead… chew gum, use breath mints, just make sure they contain xylitol!

Your Evolving Toothbrush

If you are following your dentist’s advice, you are using your toothbrush faithfully twice per day, but how often do you actually think about the tool you are using? We thought it would be fun to explore how your toothbrush has evolved over the years.

It is believed that toothbrushing tools date back as far as 3000 BC when the Babylonians and the Egyptians made a brush by fraying the end of a twig and scraping their teeth. Tombs of ancient egyptians have been found containing “tooth sticks” alongside their owners.

Around 1600 BC the Chinese developed “chewing sticks” which were made from aromatic tree twigs to freshen breath. It was also the Chinese who, in the 15th century, were thought to have developed the first natural bristle toothbrush resembling what we still use today. They attached the bristles from a pig’s neck to a bone or bamboo handle and used the tool to clean their teeth. When it was brought from China to Europe, this design was adapted and often used softer horsehair. Some early European toothbrushes even used feathers as bristles. The first toothbrush of a more modern design with 3 rows of bristles was introduced in 1844 in England.

Natural bristles made way to the more modern bristles in 1938 when DuPont invented nylon. By the 1950’s the bristles became even softer followed by the first electric toothbrush in 1960.

Over its long history, the toothbrush has evolved to become a scientifically designed tool using modern ergonomic designs and safe and hygienic materials that optimize your oral health. Some more advanced electric toothbrushes are so smart they can tell us if we are brushing too hard, or not enough, they can time us and some can even communicate directly with your dentist! Today’s sonic toothbrushes are so powerful they deliver more brushstrokes in 2 minutes than a manual toothbrush can deliver in one month! They are able to remove far more plaque and bacteria from below the gum line and between the teeth than brushing and flossing alone. We offer a variety of models of electric toothbrushes for purchase in our office at a discount to you.
To find out which toothbrush would most benefit your oral health, talk to Cindie or Dr. Glass at your next visit!

Here They Are! The Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Dental Questions.

Q: I was told I have a large filling that needs to be replaced with a crown. Why can’t you just replace the filling?
A: When a tooth becomes structurally flawed from decay, a failing filling or a fracture there is often little tooth material left to work with. A crown becomes necessary because filling material can’t be sculpted to replace large amounts of tooth structure resulting in a quick failure. The tooth must be protected by a crown which encapsulates the remaining tooth to fit like a “cap” to protect and preserve the tooth.
 
Q: Can’t you just pull my tooth if its bad? Why should I pay to fix it?
A: It is always best to retain your natural teeth as long as possible. Pulling a tooth may fix the immediate problem, but it sets you up for future problems that can be far more costly. The space of the lost tooth will allow adjacent teeth to tip into the hole. This will affect how all your teeth fit and work together. In addition, missing teeth are not esthetically pleasing. In the event you do have to pull a tooth as a last resort, it is best to replace it in a timely manner. Something like a dental implant will maintain the integrity of the surrounding bone structure and will act much like your natural tooth did.
 
Q: My dentist told me that my tooth ache required a root canal, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. Did it go away?
A: When the innermost part of a tooth is injured or infected debilitating pain can result. The pain is caused by damage to the nerve inside the tooth. Over time the nerve will lose vitality causing the pain to dissipate. During this process, however, toxins are released from inside the tooth and will ultimately result in a painful infection known as an abscess. The only way to resolve the issue is by removal of the nerve during a root canal.
 
Q: I was told I have cavities but I am too busy to come back for another appointment. What will happen if I just leave them?
A: The short answer is: they grow. The longer a cavity is left untreated, the weaker the tooth will become resulting in a larger filling than would have been necessary, or a crown. If the decay grows until it reaches the nerve a root canal will be necessary. It is always best to address dental issues when they are small and manageable. Allowing treatment to remain un-done almost always results in further pain and expense.
 
Q: I was told I need a night guard. Is that really necessary?
A: Tooth wear on biting surfaces is very common, and very damaging. People commonly clench and grind their teeth resulting in significant damage to their teeth, the temporomandibular joint and facial muscles. Clenching and grinding may cause teeth to break, become sensitive or infected. Pain in front of the ear and at the side of the face are common. Clicking and grinding noises in the jaw are also noticeable. Commonly a night guard provides relief of symptoms and prevention of further damage or wear.

Q: I have noticed my insurance won’t pay the full amount for white fillings on my back teeth. Is it worth the extra money to have white fillings?
A: The benefit of filling teeth with white (resin) fillings instead of silver (amalgam) fillings is well worth the few extra dollars it will cost you. An amalgam filling requires far more healthy tooth structure be removed, while a resin filling can be done much more conservatively preserving the structural integrity of your tooth. A resin filling will actually help to strengthen your tooth as opposed to weakening it. There is always the controversy over the mercury contained in amalgam fillings to consider. There is some research that suggests the mercury can leak out and can affect your overall health.