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Change Your Diet for a Healthier Smile

June 7th, 2019

Have you ever heard of the smile diet? It’s the concept that by making simple changes to what we eat and drink, we can significantly improve the health of our mouth.

Most of us already know that too much sugar causes dental decay and acidity results in loss of tooth enamel. The latest piece of research by the Oral Health Foundation and GSK supports this. Findings show that almost nine in ten (88%) of us believe that healthy eating is important for maintaining good oral health.

This is terrific news. It shows that our knowledge about nutrition and its relationship with oral health is improving. The difficulties for many of us now are around the practicalities of changing what we eat and drink to match those behaviours that we know are right.

We are still a nation of grazers and snackers, continuing to consume sugar and other unhealthy food types, in vast quantities. This is having a negative impact on our oral health as a population. Rotten teeth are being routinely removed across all ages. The challenges are there for us all to see. These foods and drinks are all convenient, readily-available, cheap, easy and quick to consume. They are also decisions made as a result of habit and emotion.

It all means that if we want to improve the health of our mouth and truly adopt the smile diet, we are going to have to tackle the above barriers head on.

Say no to unhealthy snacking, sugar and sweets

Seven in ten (70%) of us believe that snacking has an impact on our oral health. And we are absolutely right. Sadly, there is enough evidence to believe that our snacking habits are harmful to our oral health. Sugary snacks and confectionary still manage to attract us. It appears our sweet-tooth is hard to ignore.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation says: “While chocolate, sweets, fruit juices and artificial milkshakes give us a short burst of energy and satisfy our taste-buds, they are packed with unhealthy ingredients that spell bad news for our mouth. Consuming too much sugar too often can lead to long-term problems like gum disease, tooth loss and tooth decay, as well as wider health problems such as diabetes and obesity.

“The good news is that snacking doesn’t have to be a bad thing – it all depends on the choices we make.”

Further findings from the nationwide study shows that most of us (87%) know that choosing lower sugar snacks is better for the health of our mouth.

“While snacking on the wrong things can be damaging to our health, the opposite can be said of healthier snacks,” adds Dr Carter. “Raw nuts, vegetables, cheese and even breadsticks are tooth-friendly choices that can do wonders, not only for our mouth, but our body too.”

Water and milk are best for oral health

While sugar is the cause of tooth decay, there is another diet nasty that is playing havoc with our smile.

Acids are commonly found across many widely-consumed drinks, including fruit juices, fizzy pops and alcohol. Acidic drinks can soften the enamel surrounding our teeth, leaving them vulnerable to wear, which can expose the sensitive dentine underneath. This is called dental erosion. Without our enamel, our teeth become more sensitive and can lead to pain and discomfort.

Dr Soha Dattani, Director Scientific & Professional Affairs at GSK Consumer Healthcare says: “Acidic foods and drinks can be very common. As consumers, this makes it incredibly difficult for us to avoid them. Even ‘diet’ and ‘sugar free’ drinks, that are being sold as healthier alternatives have remarkably low pH levels – making them especially acidic.

“For our oral health, even these are a no-go.

“While special toothpastes like Sensodyne Pronamel can help strengthen our enamel and make our teeth less sensitive, the best scenario is to avoid these drinks altogether. Milk and still water remain the best choices for healthy teeth.”

Although sugary and acidic may appear affordable and appealing, the consequences to our health may be both costly and unpleasant in the long run. This year’s National Smile Month is the perfect opportunity to focus on achieving our perfect smile. By removing unhealthier options and replacing them with deliciously nutritious alternatives, our physical health, mental wellbeing and our smile, will all feel the benefits.

Say no more to the potential damage caused by sugar and acid and give our mouth, teeth and gums the best chance to flourish. For National Smile Month, it’s time for all of us to truly embrace the smile diet.

Dental Hygiene for Kids

April 26th, 2019

We need help from parents and caregivers to continue the good habits our dentists recommend. Here are a few good dental hygiene tips for kids and easy ways you can help us help them:

Watch Those Drinks

While fruit juices and sports drinks can be a healthy alternative to soda and other artificial drinks, drinking too much can end up doing more harm than good in the long run.

The sugar in these drinks can quickly eat away the enamel on your child’s teeth, especially if he or she is consuming them all day long from a sippy cup or a refillable bottle. These drinks taste good and might be one of the only sources of sugar your kids have so weeding them out will not be easy, but it’s the best thing for their teeth in the long run.

Begin the balancing process by moving toward a 50/50 juice or sports drink to water ratio. The water will help wash out some of the sugar left over from the other drinks and help move your child’s palate away from sweet tastes. And, drinking more water is a great thing for all of us!

Lead by Example

When it comes to brushing and caring for your teeth, your children take more cues from you than you might think. This is one area where you really do need to practice what you preach.

Make brushing and flossing a family activity each morning and evening, or maybe only in the evening if your mornings are hectic. Either way, this will allow you to make sure that your child isn’t cutting corners and allow him or her to see that you are doing the same thing.

Brushing should last for at least two minutes and cover all surfaces of the teeth and tongue. Flossing should include every tooth every time, no matter how tempting it is to cut corners.

Remember that if your child is under age 2, then you should be brushing and flossing for them.

Again, this is an opportunity for you to establish a routine that your child will continue when it’s time for them to brush and floss on their own.

You can even make a game out of brushing and flossing each day. Create a chart to track progress and reward good behavior along the way. Eventually, the habits will become so routine that the rewards are no longer needed as an incentive.

Don’t Skip Dentist Visits

If you have anxiety about going to the dentist, you may be passing down those fears to your children without realizing it. Starting dental appointments as soon as the first teeth appear (around age 1) will help establish going to the dentist as a positive experience, rather than one that’s plagued with fear about cavities or other problems.

The more your child sees a dentist, the more we’ll be able to help reinforce the dental hygiene maintenance you are doing at home. We can catch problem areas before they become serious and create a plan for addressing them.

Identifying and Treating a Dead Tooth

March 22nd, 2019

 

Overview

Teeth are made up of a combination of hard and soft tissue. You may not think of teeth as living, but healthy teeth are alive. When the nerves in the pulp of the tooth, which is the inner layer, become damaged, such as by injury or decay, they can stop providing blood to the tooth. That can cause an infection and cause the nerve to die. This is also sometimes known as a non-vital tooth.

Read on to learn how to identify a dead tooth and what you should do if you see signs that your tooth is injured.

What are the signs of a dead tooth?

A dead tooth is a tooth that’s no longer receiving a fresh supply of blood. For many people, discoloration may be one of the first signs of a dying tooth. You may also experience pain in the tooth or gums.

Healthy teeth are usually a shade of white, though the color can vary depending on your diet and oral hygiene. For example, if you regularly consume foods that are staining, like coffee, blueberries, or red wine, or smoke, your smile may appear off-white or light yellow. This discoloration will likely be uniform, however.

If you have a tooth that’s discolored because it’s dying, it will be a different color than the rest of your teeth. A dying tooth may appear yellow, light brown, gray, or even black. It may look almost as if the tooth is bruised. The discoloration will increase over time as the tooth continues to decay and the nerve dies.

Pain is another possible symptom. Some people don’t feel any pain. Others feel mild pain, and still other people will feel intense pain. The pain is often caused by the dying nerve. It can also be caused by infection. Other signs of infection may include:
bad breath
bad taste in your mouth
swelling around your gum line

If you experience any symptoms of a dying tooth, it’s important to see your dentist right away.

What causes a tooth to die?

Trauma or injury to your tooth is one possible cause for a tooth to die. For example, getting hit in the mouth with a soccer ball or tripping and hitting your mouth against something can cause your tooth to die. A tooth may die quickly, in a matter of days, or slowly, over several months or years.

A tooth can also die as the result of poor dental hygiene. That can lead to cavities, which when left untreated can slowly destroy your tooth. Cavities begin on the enamel, which is the outer protective layer of your tooth. Left untreated, they can slowly eat away at the enamel and eventually reach the pulp. That causes the pulp to become infected, which cuts off blood to the pulp and, eventually, causes it to die. You’ll likely experience intense pain once the decay has reached the pulp.

Diagnosis

A dying tooth may be identified during a routine dental appointment that includes X-rays. It may also be identified if you see your dentist because of pain or concerns over discoloration.

You should always see your dentist following any tooth injury, or if you have any signs of a dying tooth. That way your dentist can begin treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment

It’s important to treat a dying or dead tooth as soon as possible. That’s because left untreated, the bacteria from the dead tooth can spread and lead to the loss of additional teeth. It could also affect your jawbone and gums.

Your dentist may treat a dead or dying tooth with a procedure known as a root canal. Alternatively, they may remove the entire tooth.

Root canal

With a root canal, you may be able to keep your tooth intact. During the procedure, the dentist makes an opening into the tooth and then uses small instruments to remove the pulp and clean out the infection. Once all of the infection has been removed, your dentist will fill and seal the roots and place a permanent filling in the small opening.

In many cases, you may need to have a crown following a root canal. This may be a good option if the enamel was damaged or if the tooth had a large filling. With time, a tooth that had a root canal can become brittle. That’s why crowns are usually recommended for posterior teeth (due to grinding and chewing). A crown is a covering that’s specifically molded to your tooth. Your dentist will file away part of your existing tooth and then permanently fit the crown over the tooth. A crown can be made to match the color of your surrounding teeth so that it’s not noticeable.

If your doctor determines that you don’t need a crown, you may be able to use tooth bleaching to treat any discoloration to the affected tooth. This is usually seen on anterior teeth only. Alternatively, your dentist may recommend covering the tooth with a porcelain veneer. Talk to your doctor about the different aesthetic treatments available.

Removal or extraction

If your tooth is severely damaged and unable to be restored, your dentist may recommend completely removing the dead tooth. During the procedure, the dentist will completely remove the tooth. Following the extraction, you can replace the tooth with an implant, denture, or bridge. Talk to your dentist about your options. Some questions you should ask are:
Will it need to be replaced over time?
How much will it cost? Will my dental insurance cover it?
What’s recovery like?
Will I need to do anything different to take care of the replacement tooth?

Pain management

If your tooth is causing lot of pain, there are somethings you can do at home while you wait for treatment:
Avoid hot beverages. They can increase inflammation, which can make your pain worse.
Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
Avoid eating hard things. The force of biting down on them may aggravate the damaged nerves.

It’s important to see your dentist right away. Home treatment should not be used in place of professional medical treatment. Instead, you should use these methods while you wait for your appointment.

5 Facts About Cavities

March 8th, 2019

 

 

1.Cavities are a form of tooth decay

Tooth decay is a scary term. It brings up images of rotting, yellowing and crooked teeth that most of us don’t like to think about.

While it takes a lot of decay for teeth to end up like that, tooth decay does have adverse effects on our overall health. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 26 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have some form of tooth decay that has been untreated.

When left like this, the decay can spread and cause a much bigger problem than a cavity and simple filling.

2.There are no age limits to cavities

Cavities can form as early as your first tooth and as late as your last tooth. For infant children who are first starting out with teeth, it is important to get them to the dentist within 6 months of their first tooth sprouting. A dentist will keep an eye on their tooth development and help teach you how to care for your infant’s teeth as they progress.

On the other hand, more mature patients are seeing an increase in the number of cavities in their teeth. This is oftentimes because of medicines that dry out the saliva in their mouth – and saliva protects the teeth from damaging bacteria.

3.Sugar (sort of) rots your teeth

Sugar and other carbohydrates often kick-start acid production from bacteria in your mouth. This acid is what wears down your teeth and their resistance to cavities. Surprisingly, carbohydrates can be found in almost anything but protein – so just take care of your teeth after you eat.

4.Prevention is your best defense against cavities

Once you have a cavity, the decay can be stopped and the tooth patched – but the decay cannot be reversed. That is why it is so important for you to maintain a good oral hygiene routine.

Brushing, flossing and using a mouth rinse will help ensure you are cleaning as much bad bacteria off of your teeth as possible. Regular check-ups at the dentist will help clean any areas you missed (and keep you adjusting your brushing and flossing to account for those missed spaces).

5.You cannot always tell when you have a cavity

In fact, if you wait until you think you have a cavity to sit in the dentist’s chair for a check-up, the decay has oftentimes done more damage than if it was caught when it started at a regular check-up. Dentists have years of training and practice looking for signs of tooth decay in your mouth. Plus, they can really examine every surface of your teeth up close.

Experts recommend you visit your dentist at least once every six months for a thorough cleaning and just to be sure there’s nothing that needs to be fixed.

Tooth decay can be scary – but it is controllable. With a proper oral hygiene routine practiced regularly, bi-annual check-ups at the dentists and treating cavities right away, your adult teeth can last you a long time without giving you any major problems. If you’re behind on your check-ups, give our office a call today!