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Defeating Bad Breath

Defeating Bad Breath

WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE BEFORE — sitting in the middle of a job interview or a first date and realizing that our breath is far from minty fresh. Even when everything else is going perfectly, bad breath can be enough to ruin your confidence and turn a good experience sour. Why do we get bad breath, and what can we do to stop it?

Oral Bacteria And The Food We Eat

In order to effectively fight bad breath, it’s important to figure out what’s causing it. The simplest and most common cause is leftover food particles stuck between our teeth after a meal. The bacteria in our mouths break down these particles, and the end result doesn’t smell good. We can combat this with a good daily hygiene routine, including daily flossing, twice-daily brushing, scraping our tongues clean, and chewing sugar-free gum.

Causes Of Chronic Bad Breath

Chronic cases of bad breath (also called halitosis) might not be solved by good oral hygiene practices alone. Halitosis may be caused by:

Chronic conditions. Sometimes, bad breath is linked to conditions that you wouldn’t think are connected to oral hygiene, such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, and acid reflux.

Medications. A common side-effect of medications is dry mouth. Without saliva to wash away food particles and neutralize acid, the mouth is vulnerable to problems like bad breath.

Mouth-breathing. Whether it happens by habit or because breathing through the nose is difficult, mouth-breathing tends to dry out the mouth, leading to the same problems as described above.

Mouth, nose, and throat infections. Bad breath can be the result of increased mucous when we have a cold or a sinus infection.

Pregnancy. Symptoms such as morning sickness and nausea can cause bad breath, because of the extra acid in the mouth. This is also a problem for people struggling with bulimia.

Tobacco products. Tobacco in any form leaves smelly chemicals in the mouth and can also dry it out. In addition, it increases the risk of oral cancer and gum disease, which negatively impact breath as well.

Tooth decay and gum disease. Poor dental health often goes hand-in-hand with chronic bad breath because cavities and periodontitis are caused by the same bacteria that produces those nasty-smelling chemicals.

Keeping Your Breath Fresh

Even if strict oral hygiene isn’t enough to keep the bad breath completely at bay, it will help to manage it, and treating the underlying cause may be able to eliminate it. If you are a habitual mouth-breather, try breathing through your nose more. Quitting smoking will eliminate a major cause of bad breath. If dry mouth is the problem, chew sugar-free gum and mints to stimulate saliva production, sip water, and use a humidifier to help keep up the moisture.

Your Dentist Can Help

Discovering the underlying cause of bad breath is a crucial step in fighting back, and the dentist is your best ally here. Schedule an appointment so that you can get the answers you need to fight bad breath the best way.

We want all our patients to feel confident about their breath

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Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?

Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?

IS A SIMPLE SPOONFUL of ice cream enough to make you cringe because of the pain in your teeth? Do you have to be careful when you drink hot coffee that none of it touches your chompers? If you know the feeling, then you’re one of millions who experience tooth sensitivity. Let’s take a closer look at what causes tooth sensitivity and what can we do about it.

How We Feel Sensation In Our Teeth

Each of our teeth is covered in a layer of protective enamel. Underneath this is dentin, which is a lot like bone. Dentin contains thousands of microscopic tubules that run through it from the inside of the tooth out to the enamel. At the core of each tooth is the pulp chamber, which contains nerves and blood vessels. Because of those tubules, the nerves inside the tooth can detect what’s happening on the tooth’s surface.

Common Causes Of Tooth Sensitivity

If the enamel wears away, the tubules become exposed and the nerves in the dental pulp suddenly get much more stimulation than they like. This is what makes enamel erosion one of the main causes of tooth sensitivity. Without enamel, the nerves get a nasty shock whenever anything too hot or cold, or even too sweet or sour, touches the outside of the tooth.

Root exposure from gum recession also leads to sensitivity. The enamel only covers the crown of the tooth, not the roots. Those are protected by the gums. If the gums recede (sometimes as the result of teeth grinding or improper brushing over time), it exposes the roots.

Cavities and tooth injuries can cause sensitivity as well, even if you’ve been taking great care of your gums and enamel.

Use The Right Tools To Protect Your Teeth

Fortunately for all of us, there are ways to fight back, even if our teeth are already sensitive. Using a soft-bristled brush will help prevent further enamel erosion or gum recession. There is also special toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Avoiding sugary and acidic foods and drinks (particularly soda) is another way to help your teeth.

We Can Help You Fight Tooth Sensitivity

Your best ally in the fight against tooth sensitivity is the dentist! Schedule a dental appointment as soon as you notice a change in your sensitivity level, or if you’ve been struggling with it for a while. The dentist can help protect your teeth with a fluoride varnish, perform restoration work to combat enamel erosion, and may recommend a gum graft for receding gums or prescribe a toothpaste to help with sensitivity.

Together, we’ll keep your smile happy and healthy!

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A Closer Look At Our Teeth

A Closer Look At Our Teeth

WE USE OUR TEETH all day, every day, for chewing, talking, and flashing big smiles at friends and family, but what are the structures that allow our teeth to do so much? Let’s take a look at what our teeth are made of.

Layer 1: Tooth Enamel

The portion of each tooth that we can see above our gum tissue is the crown, and it has three different layers. On the outside is a protective layer of enamel, the hardest substance in our entire bodies. It has to be so that we can chew our food effectively. Unlike bone, enamel isn’t made of living cells, so it can’t repair itself as easily. It’s also vulnerable to acid erosion. We can protect it with regular brushing and flossing, dental visits, and by cutting down on acidic and sugary foods and drinks.

Layer 2: Dentin

Underneath that hard layer of enamel is dentin, which is softer and more yellowish. Like bone, dentin is calcified living tissue. Microscopic tubules run through it from the pulp to the enamel, which is how we are able to feel temperature in our teeth. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, your enamel might have worn down enough to expose these tubules.

Layer 3: Dental Pulp

At the very core of each tooth is a chamber containing dental pulp, tissue consisting of nerves and blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and give sensation. This includes pain receptors that warn us when something is wrong with the tooth, such as tooth decay reaching the pulp.

Getting Down To The Roots

Like with icebergs, there’s more to teeth than we can see on the surface. The root extends deep into the jawbone, held in place by tiny periodontal ligaments and supported by gum tissue. The roots themselves are hollow. Nerves and blood vessels run through canals in the roots up to the pulp chamber in the crown.

Unlike the crown, the root of the tooth isn’t protected by enamel. Instead, it’s covered in a slightly softer substance called cementum. Cementum and healthy gum tissue work together to protect the root,but gum recession can leave it vulnerable.

Taking Care Of The Whole Tooth

We need all of these components for our teeth to stay strong and healthy, which is why we should keep oral health and hygiene as a high priority. Regular dental appointments and good brushing and flossing habits are essential for taking care of the outside of our teeth, and good nutrition helps keep them strong from the inside out!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

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Dental Care For Baby Teeth

Dental Care For Baby Teeth

THE SMILE OF a happy child is one of the best things in the world. Unfortunately, dental caries (tooth decay) is the most common chronic disease of childhood. We want those smiles to stay as healthy as possible, which is why we’re dedicating a blog post to baby teeth dental care.

Baby Teeth Matter

Because baby teeth are temporary, you might be tempted to think they’re not very important, but don’t fall into that trap. Healthy baby teeth are essential for speech development, building self esteem, promoting good nutrition through proper chewing, and saving space in the jaw for the development and positioning of adult teeth.

Avoid Sipping On Juice Or Milk

The harmful oral bacteria in our mouths that cause tooth decay love sugar. Every time we eat or drink something sugary, they have a party, and it takes about half an hour for our saliva to wash away the leftover sugars. However, when we give our kids sippy cups or bottles of milk or juice to drink over a long period of time, their saliva doesn’t have time to wash away the residue and their oral bacteria gets to party nonstop.

This is such a common problem that it has a name: bottle rot. You can protect your child’s teeth from bottle rot by only giving them milk or juice at mealtimes and only giving them bottles or sippy cups of water to sip on while they play or when you put them to bed.

Thumbsucking And Pacifiers

It is perfectly natural and healthy for babies and toddlers to suck on their thumbs or fingers or use a pacifier. Doing so helps them feel safe and happy, and most children will stop on their own around age four. However, if they keep going after that, it can begin to impact their dental alignment, creating problems like an open bite. Come see us if you’re concerned about your child’s thumbsucking or pacifier habit.

Sealants

One great way to give your child’s teeth extra protection from cavities is sealants. These are typically applied to the chewing surfaces of molars. They cover deep pits and grooves that are so difficult to keep clean. The sealing process is quick and easy, with no discomfort, and the teeth will be protected for years.

Good Oral Health Habits

No matter what your child eats or drinks, if they have sealants, and if they grow out of using a pacifier or sucking their thumb on their own, nothing can replace good oral health habits like daily brushing and flossing. While your child is too young to do it themselves, you can do it for them and with them and explain why it’s so important for keeping their teeth healthy and happy.

Regular Checkups

Don’t forget that one of your best resources for keeping your child’s teeth healthy is the dentist! With regular checkups, we can make sure that everything is going well and answer any questions you or your child have about good dental care.

Let’s keep those teeth happy and healthy!

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Canker Sores: Causes And Treatment

Canker Sores: Causes And Treatment

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED to enjoy one of your favorite foods, but that angry, swollen lump on your gums or the inside of your cheek kept stinging and hurting? Then you know what it’s like to have a canker sore.

These sores are round ulcers that can develop on the inside of the lips and cheeks, on the gumline, or even on the tongue, and spicy, hot, or acidic foods can painfully agitate them. Let’s take a look at what causes these sores, how we can avoid them, and how we can help them heal faster.

What Causes A Canker Sore

Canker sores can develop for a variety of reasons. They can be the result of a viral infection, a food allergy, or a mouth injury, but other factors like stress, hormonal fluctuations, and vitamin or mineral deficiencies can also make them more likely. Another factor that can contribute to the frequency of canker sores is braces. Dental wax can help shield sensitive oral tissues from the protruding pieces of an orthodontic appliance.

Treating A Canker Sore

If you have a canker sore, you want it to go away as quickly as possible. One way you can do that is by brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush, because it is gentle on the gums. If your current toothpaste is painful, try swapping it out for a toothpaste without the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate.

To relieve the irritation, you can use a topical medication, a special mouthwash, or oral pain relievers. Rinsing daily with salt water is also a great way to reduce inflammation and encourage faster healing (just make sure you don’t swallow it).

Preventing Future Sores

A few foods, such as salmon, kale, carrots, parsley, spinach, and yogurt, can help reduce future ulcer breakouts because of their high vitamin B12, iron, and folate content. Flossing daily and brushing your teeth twice a day also help reduce ulcer breakouts, because a clean mouth is healthier.

The Dentist Can Help Too!

If you’ve been struggling with canker sores, schedule a dental appointment! There may be an underlying cause that needs diagnosis and treatment with prescribed medications.

We love to see those healthy smiles!

Top image by Flickr user Matt Biddulph used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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Relief For A Burned Mouth

Relief For A Burned Mouth

HAVE YOU EVER SAT down to a plate of lasagna from your favorite Italian place and immediately taken a huge bite without waiting for it to cool down? Or taken a swig of hot chocolate too fast? Maybe it wasn’t lasagna or hot chocolate for you, but we’ve all burned our tongues on foods or drinks we love, and we’ll all probably do it again. We want to make sure you know what to do for your mouth when that happens.

Step 1: Sip Cold Water

What you do immediately after burning your tongue will determine how quickly you recover, so instead of persevering with your hot food or drink, drink a glass of cold water. Not only will it help the burn feel better, but it will keep you hydrated so that your mouth can produce enough saliva to protect the burned area from bacteria.

Step 2: Keep Things Cool

Soft, cold foods will help to numb the sting of the burn, so open up the fridge and grab a yogurt, fruit cup, or applesauce. It might even be a good reason to spring for a smoothie or some frozen yogurt, and make sure to keep drinking cool water as well.

Step 3: Salt Water Swish

You might have learned from your grandma to gargle salt water when you have a sore throat. Well, she was right! Swishing or gargling salt water is also a great remedy if you have sore gums, have recently had a dental procedure, or even if you burned your tongue.

When we swish salt water, it temporarily makes our mouths more alkaline, which makes life difficult for harmful oral bacteria. To make your salt water rinse, just add half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and stir. Swish it around your mouth for about thirty seconds, spit, and repeat!

Step 4: Tasty Relief

Another way to speed up the healing process for your burned tongue is to apply sugar or honey directly to the tender area. This is another remedy that predates modern medicine. Sugar is a quick source of energy for the cells that are trying to heal, and studies have shown that honey is even more effective at promoting healing than sugar. Just make sure to drink some water afterward to rinse away any sweet residue.

Step 5: Pain Medication

For particularly bad mouth burns, these measures might not be sufficient to relieve the pain. At that point, it becomes a job for over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Luckily, oral tissues heal more quickly than any other part of the body, so even a particularly painful burn to the tongue should be gone within a few days.(

Burning Tongue Syndrome And Your Dentist

Some people feel like they have a burned tongue even when there is no actual burn, a chronic condition known as burning tongue syndrome. If you’re feeling the burn for no apparent reason, schedule a dental appointment. Otherwise, follow these steps to get your burned tongue feeling good as new as soon as possible!

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

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Root Canal Myths: Busted

Root Canal Myths: Busted

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD someone begin a sentence “I’d rather have a root canal than…”? The negative portrayal of root canal treatment in our culture isn’t just a cliché; it’s a myth! That’s why we’re using this post to knock down some of the most common root canal myths out there.

Myth 1: “Root Canal Treatment Is Painful”

Many adults struggle with dental anxiety. The prospect of going to the dentist may fill them with dread, even for a simple cleaning appointment, so we understand why a patient might expect something horrible and painful when they get the news that they need root canal treatment. However, thanks to modern technology and anesthetics, root canal treatment can be performed quickly and comfortably. The best part is that the pain of your infected tooth will be gone!

Myth 2: “If My Tooth Doesn’t Hurt, I Don’t Need Root Canal Treatment”

A common assumption people make is that if their teeth don’t hurt, they’re healthy. This isn’t always true. In some cases, the tooth may already have died, but it still needs root canal therapy to prevent a dangerous infection.

Myth 3: “Root Canal Treatment Is Only A Temporary Fix”

Some patients are skeptical of root canal treatment because they think the benefits won’t last very long. This is not true. A tooth does become brittle after root canal treatment, and the grinding forces from chewing and talking may cause the crown on the tooth to break, but this is only a problem with the restoration, not the root canal itself.

Myth 4: “It’s Better to Just Pull The Tooth”

It might technically be easier to yank a problem tooth than to carefully remove infected pulp, fill in the root, and place a new crown, but that doesn’t mean it’s betterOur natural teeth are nearly always preferable to any kind of false teeth. They look and work better, while an extracted tooth may result in future problems for the surrounding teeth, in addition to a lengthy replacement process.

To learn about the steps of root canal treatment, check out this video:

The Root Canal Reality

The truth is that root canal therapy is a great way to save a tooth, and modern dentistry has made the process comfortable and pain-free. If you’ve been avoiding root canal treatment because of one of these myths, do the best thing for your tooth and schedule a dental appointment today!

We love our patients’ healthy smiles!

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Sleep Apnea And Dental Health

Sleep Apnea And Dental Health

OVER 18 MILLION ADULTS in the US alone, as well as up to 20 percent of habitually snoring children, have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that results in brief but repeated interruptions to normal breathing during sleep. Not only is this a potentially life-threatening disorder, it also has a significant impact on oral health.

The Three Types Of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can occur in three different ways. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the result of a blockage in the airway, typically the tongue collapsing against the soft palate, which in turn collapses against the back of the throat, closing off the airway. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to signal the muscles of the respiratory system to keep breathing. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the first two types.

Each time breath is interrupted, the brain causes the person with sleep apnea to wake up. It happens so quickly that they usually don’t remember it, but the interruptions severely impact their overall quality of sleep, as they can happen as often as hundreds of times in a single night.

What Does Sleep Apnea Have To Do With Teeth?

In addition to leaving you with all the usual symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, and morning headaches, sleep apnea has a number of effects on oral health. There is a significant association between OSA and moderate to severe periodontitis (gum disease), but the most common dental health complications are temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD).

Studies have shown that the jaw reflexively clenches to prevent the airway from becoming blocked when the throat relaxes during a sleep apnea episode. TMD leads to other problems like worn, cracked, or broken teeth, pain when chewing, chronic headaches, and neck and shoulder pain.

How The Dentist Can Help

The dental effects of sleep apnea are so common that your dentist might be the first one to spot the signs and diagnose the disorder.This is just one way your regular dental appointments will benefit your overall health. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, common treatment options include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines and nighttime dental devices that push the tongue or the lower jaw forward.

Healthier Sleep For Healthier Smiles

If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms described above, there’s no reason to continue living with interrupted sleep and the health problems that come with sleep apnea. Give us a call or drop by our practice today to schedule an appointment so that we can see if sleep apnea is the cause and get you on the path to more restful sleep and better oral health.

Wishing all our patients a good night’s sleep!

Top image by Flickr user Kevin Jaako used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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Bad Oral Health Fads

Bad Oral Health Fads

FADS AREN’T ALWAYS ABOUT hairstyles and slang; they can also be about the way we take care of our bodies, including our teeth. It’s important to be able to tell the difference between something that is popular and something that has the support of the dental health community. That’s why we’re going to take a critical look at a few of the recent oral health fads.

Charcoal Toothpaste

You might’ve seen this seemingly paradoxical product in the store: activated charcoal toothpaste, which will turn your teeth black when you brush but supposedly whiten them in the long run. If you haven’t seen it in the store, you’ve probably seen people using and singing its praises on social media.

The problem with these products and home-made pastes is that there is no scientific support for the claims that they are safe to scrub against our teeth, let alone effective at whitening them. On the contrary, there is actually significant concern that they could do more harm than good. Charcoal is highly abrasive, so it could be eroding away tooth enamel. Loss of enamel exposes the more yellow dentin beneath and leaves the tooth much more vulnerable to decay.

Non-Fluoride Toothpastes

Fluoride is the active ingredient in ADA-approved toothpastes, but in recent years, we’ve seen a lot of claims and conspiracy theories about the evils of fluoride, which have given rise to an array of fluoride-free toothpastes. This mistrust of fluoride is not supported by science, and there is a wealth of scientific data on the oral health benefits of fluoride when used in small amounts.

When fluoride was first added to the public water supply in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it reduced childhood dental caries by a whopping 60 percent, with no adverse effects except for occasional cases of mild fluorosis (harmless white patches on the enamel). Avoiding fluoride won’t do anything except put your teeth at greater risk of cavities.

Bring Us Your Questions About Dental Fads

These are just two of the fads out there. If you encounter another one, make sure you let us know about it before you try it out. We’d love to hear about these trends so that we can offer patients our professional opinions and advice. In the meantime, stick to tried and true dental health practices like brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and scheduling regular checkups!

When it comes to your dental health, always trust the science!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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An Intro To Veneers

An Intro To Veneers

MANY OF US ARE unhappy with the way our smiles look. Maybe our teeth aren’t as white as we’d like, they have unusual shapes, or they’ve suffered some damage like chipping or fractures. Veneers are a great, long-lasting solution we can use to fix these problems and get the smiles of our dreams.

How Do Veneers Work?

Veneers are thin, tooth-colored porcelain or composite resin shells that cover the natural teeth. Because they are as resilient as tooth enamel, they protect the teeth from damage and can last many years. Veneers are custom-made to the contour of the patient’s teeth and bonded to the enamel over the course of one or two in-office procedures.

The Veneer Placement Process

Veneer placement follows these steps:

  1. If the patient’s teeth are particularly sensitive, local anesthetic may be used, but it usually isn’t necessary. The dentist cleans the tooth and determines the ideal shade, then removes a thin layer of enamel to make room for the veneer.
  2. The dentist takes an impression of the tooth and places a temporary veneer.
  3. Once the custom veneer has been delivered, the tooth is cleaned and the veneer is etched, rinsed, and dried, and finally cemented onto the tooth.
  4. A curing light helps harden the adhesive to attach the veneer to the tooth. The dentist polishes the veneer and removes any excess material.

Are Veneers Right For You?

Veneers are a fantastic option to address certain esthetic issues with one or more teeth, but they are not the best solution for every dental problem, as they can be pricey and some amount of natural enamel must be scraped away to make room for them. The best candidates for veneers are patients with chipped, broken, badly discolored, or worn teeth.For patients with alignment issues or less severe discoloration, orthodontic and whitening treatment will usually be preferable to veneers.

Taking Care Of Your Veneers

It’s important to take good care of your veneers once you have them so that they will last as long as they should before they need replacement. This mainly consists of the same good brushing and flossing habits you maintain for your natural teeth, and you can minimize the risk of the veneers becoming stained by avoiding foods and drinks that stain, such as coffee and red wine.

Bring Us Your Questions About Veneers!

If you’re considering veneers, we’re sure you have plenty of questions. Just give us a call or stop by to set up an appointment. We can tell you everything you need to know and make a plan to get you the smile you’ve always wanted!

We love when our patients love their smiles!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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