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How Long Does it Take for a Cavity to Form

November 6th, 2019

 

A cavity is no fun. Fortunately, the one good thing about them is that they take time to form, giving you the chance to stop early-stage tooth decay in its tracks. But just how much time do you have, and how can you be proactive about stopping cavities from forming?

Cavities don’t form over night. Instead, the process of decay is gradual. As the bacterial plaque in your mouth produces acid after eating your dietary sugar, that acid slowly eats away at your enamel, taking months or even years to cause the type of damage that requires a filling, crown, and/or root canal therapy from your dentist. But there are certain factors than can accelerate the formation of a cavity.

Weaker enamel, as in children under six years old, for example, is more susceptible to decay, and thus cavities form in less time. Poor dental hygiene, an unhealthy diet high in sugar and low in tooth-strengthening nutrients, tobacco use, and teeth grinding also also increase a tooth’s susceptibility to decay. But when you’re eating well, protecting your teeth with an athletic mouthguard and/or a nightguard, cleaning your teeth every day, exposing your teeth to enough fluoride, and visiting our office every six months for cleanings and checkups, you can help stop the progression of a cavity. However, if you begin neglecting proper oral healthcare habits, that decay gets right back on track to causing permanent enamel damage.

How to Put the Brakes on Decay

If you don’t have a cavity, keep up the good work! But if your dentist tells you that you do have a cavity forming, there are ways to stop early-stage tooth decay from progressing to a full-blown cavity. Whether it’s to stop or prevent decay, it’s so important that you learn the components of a healthy dental care routine, and that you stick to it each and every day.
•Gently brush your teeth at least twice every day for two minutes each time with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
•Floss between your teeth at least once a day.
•Incorporate a fluoride and/or alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash into your oral care routine.
•Consider investing in helpful dental gadgets, like an electric toothbrush and water flosser, to spice up your routine, making it more effective and even more fun.
•Only indulge in sugary or starchy foods in moderation, and don’t snack on them throughout the day.
•Don’t constantly sip on a sugary, acidic soda. While it’s better to drink it all at once through a straw, it’s best to drink water instead.

There’s one more step that’s crucial to cavity prevention: a twice-yearly trip to our office for a professional dental cleaning and checkup. At your regular visits, we’ll eliminate cavity-causing plaque and tartar, identify any early signs of decay, and give you the tools and knowledge you need to combat cavities. We look forward to seeing you at your next visit!

Best and Worst Halloween Candy

October 8th, 2019

With Halloween comes ghosts, goblins and goodies—and the sugar in those treats can play some unwanted tricks on your teeth if you’re not careful.

Here’s why: The bacteria in your mouth are probably more excited to eat Halloween candy than you are. When the bacteria eat the sugar and leftover food in your mouth, a weak acid is produced. That acid is what can contribute to cavities.

But don’t hang up your costume just yet. “Halloween is about candy, dressing up and having fun,” says ADA dentist Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty. “It’s OK to eat that candy on Halloween as a splurge as long as you’re brushing twice a day and flossing once a day all year long.”

To help you sort through the trick-or-treat bag loot, we have a rundown of some common candies and their impact on your teeth:

Chocolate
Chocolate is probably your best bet, which is good because it’s also one of the most popular kinds of candy handed out on Halloween. “Chocolate is one of the better candies because it washes off your teeth easier than other types of candy,” Dr. Ferraz- Dougherty says. “Dark chocolate also has less sugar than milk chocolate.”

Sticky and Gummy Candies
Be picky if it’s sticky. These are some of the worst candies for your teeth. “This candy is harder to remove and may stay longer on your teeth, which gives that cavity-causing bacteria more time to work,” Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says.

Hard Candy
Hard candies are also ones to watch on Halloween. “They can actually break your teeth if you’re not careful,” Dr. Ferraz- Dougherty says. “You also tend to keep these kinds of candies in your mouth for longer periods of time so the sugar is getting in your saliva and washing over your teeth.”

Sour Candy
You might want to pass on things that make you pucker – especially if they are sticky and coated in sugar. “Sour candy can be very acidic,” says Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty. “And that acidity can weaken and damage the hard outer shell of your teeth, making your teeth more vulnerable to cavities.”

Popcorn Balls

Have some floss handy if you’re enjoying one of these fall favorites. “Kernels can get stuck in-between your teeth," Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says. "They are also sticky, sugary and can be hard.”

It's Back to School Time!

September 4th, 2019

 

Going back to school is an exciting time for every child. It’s a chance to start fresh with a few new school supplies and maybe an updated look. A new school year can also remind kids about healthy habits that may have fallen by the wayside during the summer. After all, great oral health and overall health allows your child to focus on learning and having fun at school, instead of worrying about problems with their health. Help your child have a healthy smile this year with the following dental tips:

1. Buy a New Soft-Bristled Toothbrush

Amidst all the new school supplies, don’t forget to stock up on dental supplies too! We recommend switching out toothbrushes after three months of use, or earlier if the bristles become frayed or smashed. A new toothbrush with your child’s favorite character, design, or colors, particularly if it’s an electric toothbrush, will make their everyday oral hygiene more fun. Be sure you also have plenty of floss and fluoride toothpaste for daily use.

2. Maintain a Daily Oral Hygiene Routine

This school year, don’t fall behind in your family’s dental hygiene. Daily oral care is the best way to combat bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease! Regularly check in with your child to make sure they are brushing and flossing properly. They should be gently brushing twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing at least once daily. Children under the age of six will need parental help when brushing and flossing, and even older kids may still require supervision.

3. Eat Healthy Snacks & Meals

Provide a variety of nutrient-rich foods for your child’s breakfast, lunch, and after-school snacks. We recommend a balanced diet of dairy products, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. All of these items are high in nutritional content that will aid in overall health and the health of your kiddo’s teeth and gums. Additionally, encourage your kiddos to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

4. Visit Us for Back-to-School Checkup!

You’ll be able to rest easy if you know your child has started the school year off with a clean bill of health! At their dental visit, we will examine, clean, and polish your child’s teeth, and can recommend even more tips to promote a healthy smile. We tend to fill up quickly around this time of year, so contact us today to schedule an appointment.

The Difference Between Dental Implants and Bridges

July 12th, 2019

A single missing tooth (or multiple missing teeth) can ultimately affect proper chewing and speaking, not to mention having a significant impact on the appearance of your smile. Thankfully, advanced options such as dental implants and dental bridges can replace missing teeth with results that address both functional and aesthetic concerns. With that in mind, what exactly are the differences between implants and bridges?

Let’s compare these two advanced treatments:

Dental Bridge

Dental bridges have been a popular restorative dentistry option for many years. This treatment is designed to literally “bridge” the gap caused by one or more missing teeth. A dental bridge is made up of a customized artificial tooth (or teeth) that is placed between the original teeth that are adjacent to the gap. There are different types of bridges; some are removable, while others are “fixed” into position. Dental bridges typically do not involve oral surgery. For patients who are not candidates for dental implants, bridges can often provide an effective alternative.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are also designed to replace missing teeth, but hold several distinctions when compared with dental bridges. These advanced treatment options are essentially designed to mimic a natural tooth down to the root. An implant consists of a titanium post that is surgically inserted through the gum and anchored to the jaw bone. Once it has fused to the bone, a custom-designed dental crown is affixed to the top of the post to provide results that both look and feel as much like a natural tooth as possible.

While implants and bridges are very different methods of treatment, it’s not uncommon for them to work together. In fact, many patients have what’s known as an “implant-supported” bridge to provide greater stability for the new teeth.

Ultimately, each individual’s needs and goals are unique. Our experienced dentist will meet with you for an initial evaluation and consultation to talk with you about your missing teeth replacement options and determine the ideal treatment plan.