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MANAGING DENTAL FEAR AND PHOBIA


MANAGING DENTAL EMERGENCIES

MANAGING DENTAL EMERGENCIES


DENTAL CONDITIONS


TIPS FOR MUM AND DAD


PREVENTATIVE DENTISTRY


RESTORATIVE DENTISTRY

DENTAL JOKES

 

The information contained on this web site is for educational purpose only and is not meant to serve as delivery of professional care. The information in this Resource Page should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health that is Dental health. It is not a substitute for medical or dental advice.

Always consult your dentist about your individual condition(s) and/or circumstances.

CHOOSING A TOOTHPASTE

The majority of experts agree that a toothpaste is good for everyday use as long as it is ADA (American Dental Association) approved and has fluoride. Unfortunately for those of us trying to choose toothpaste from the endless shelves of options, this requirement is met by the majority of toothpastes on the market. Once that requirement is met, the only thing that matters is what the person needs his or her toothpaste to do.

People with sensitive teeth should go for toothpaste that is designed to desensitize teeth. These toothpastes should include either strontium chloride or potassium nitrate. These desensitize teeth by protecting the tubules in the teeth. These tubules are connected to nerves with trigger painful feelings in teeth.

If a person needs tartar control, tartar control toothpastes are the way to go. These toothpastes won't remove tartar that is already there but they will prevent new tartar from forming above the gum line. Look for a toothpaste with sodium pyrophosphate. These toothpastes may cause sensitivity.

Antimicrobial toothpastes, like Colgate Total, are designed to remove bacteria that cause gum disease. They don't remove existing tartar and should include triclosa or some other antimicrobial agent.

Baking soda toothpastes rely on baking soda to give a person a clean, fresh feeling after brushing. Beyond that, they aren't designed to do anything else. The baking soda is abrasive and so might cause gum irritation with prolonged use.

Whitening toothpastes include abrasive ingredients with lighten teeth. Unfortunately, they are also known for irritating gums and sensitizing teeth. While they may be cheaper than the bleaching trays found in a dental office, they are not nearly as effective.

CHOOSING A TOOTHBRUSH

Having good oral hygiene is very important. Gum disease not only affects your teeth, but it leads to diabetes and heart disease as well. Trying to figure out which toothbrush to use can be tricky. Below are a few recommendations.

Size is the first factor. For most adults, a toothbrush head which is a half-inch wide and an inch tall is most effective. There are larger sizes available, but they can be difficult to maneuver in hard to reach places.

Bristles come in soft, medium and hard varieties. For most people, soft bristles are the best choice. If you brush your teeth too hard, medium and hard bristles could damage the enamel, so it is best to be on the safe side. Look for bristles with round tips.

To ensure the toothbrush has passed dental standards, look for those which have the American Dental Association Seal of approval. For disposable toothbrushes, the seal indicates the toothbrush has been tested to have safe tips, bristles which do not fall out under typical conditions, a handle which withstands everyday use, and that the toothbrush reduces plaque in early stages. Powered or electric toothbrushes are tested for the above and go through additional testing to prove they are safe for use in the mouth and will not damage any dental hardware in place.

Along with the above criteria, one should consider cost, likeability, effectiveness, and safety. Choose the toothbrush you are most likely to use frequently.

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OVERBRUSHING

There is a common belief among those devoted to their teeth that is impossible to brush the teeth too frequently. It is also thought that there is no possible way that anything involving a tooth brush could hurt the teeth. Both of these beliefs are completely inaccurate. While it is still recommended that the teeth be brushed two times a day, a growing number of dentists are beginning to recognize the dangers of over-brushing.

Over-brushing has become a bigger problem as more people have become more concerned with their teeth. Americans have always had a peculiar obsession, almost, with the appearance of their teeth. In the past couple of years, the major dental companies have all attempted to capitalize on this craze by promoting an even larger number of products for the teeth.

Unfortunately, this has lead to more cases of over-brushing. As people use more and more abrasive toothpastes in an effort to get their teeth as white as possible, they are actually damaging the enamel of their teeth and exposing the less hard subsurface portions of the teeth.

Another side effect of brushing too much is that the gums become irritated and pull away from the teeth. This also exposes the softer portions of the tooth and can lead to even more damaging of the teeth. When the cementum is exposed to the abrasive qualities of whitening and other toothpastes, it is possible for it to become damaged and cause serious pain.

IMPORTANCE OF FLOSSING

Flossing allows teeth to be cleaned in areas where a toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing combined with brushing is the best method to remove plaque, which collects and solidifies over time. Because plaque deposits can lead to gum disease and tooth decay, it is important to clean it off of teeth.

Learning how to floss properly is very important. There are many different techniques which work well. You hygienist or dentist is able to demonstrate the best way for you to floss.

People have different preferences when it comes to dental floss. There are many types available, including waxed, unwaxed, flavored, unflavored, regular, and tape types. Generally, waxed floss will slide between teeth with greater ease. Flavored floss can be nice in times when brushing and rinsing are not options. Because taped floss is thicker, those with wider spaces between teeth often prefer it.

Dental floss made of "space age" materials has now become available on the market. The new material is stronger and smoother than typical floss. Your dentist will be able to recommend an ideal floss for you.

There are dental floss holders and intra-dental cleaners available for people who suffer from arthritis or have limited dexterity. Whatever your needs are, with the array of products on the market, you are bound to find one that will meet your needs.

HOW TO FLOSS CORRECTLY

While brushing twice a day does wonderful things for a person's teeth and mouthwash provides benefits as well, flossing should be added to the mix on a daily basis as well. In order for flossing to be effective, it needs to be done correctly. Like all things, if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

The first thing to do for flossing is brush the teeth with toothpaste. This removes a lot of the big stuff from between the teeth and lets the floss perform its job better when it is employed. Next, tear of about a foot and a half of dental floss. Wind a bunch of it around the middle finger of one hand. A lot more should be wound around the other middle finger.

While holding the center part of the floss between the thumbs and forefingers, direct the floss between two teeth by gently rubbing it back and forth. Once the floss reaches the gum line, curve the floss around one of the teeth and gently slide it back and forth in the crevice between the tooth and the gum. At this point, it is important to hold the floss against the side of the tooth. Then run up and down to ensure that the maximum amount of stuff is removed from between the teeth.

Repeat this process for all of the teeth, including the back side of the very last molar. As one part of the floss gets worn out, move along through the extra that is wound around one's fingers.

Some people have teeth that are very close together and so have issues getting floss to fit between their teeth. If this is a problem, there is dental tape. Dental tape is thinner and can usually solve this issue.

FOLLOWING A TOOTH-FRIENDLY DIET

We are all aware that the foods we eat can affect our energy levels, cholesterol, and even our overall mood. There is another very important aspect of our health that our diets can also influence: our teeth and gums. Some foods can help make teeth stronger, while others can attack enamel and lead to oral health complications.

Foods to Avoid
Sugar is present in many different kinds of foods, from sodas to vegetables. While it is a necessary part of a healthy diet, an excess of sugar can interact with chemicals in saliva to produce an acidic substance that attacks tooth enamel.

To reduce this risk, try to consume a minimum of very sugary foods, such as:

  • Soda

  • Candy

  • Any food or beverage containing high fructose corn syrup

Foods to Enjoy

Healthy food with not only contain a minimum of tooth-damaging chemicals; it can actually make your teeth stronger by providing calcium and other minerals that encourage healthy tooth growth. Try to make sure that you are eating enough of the following foods:

  • Dairy products or equivalent sources of calcium

  • Nuts for the minerals they provide

  • Crunchy fruits and vegetables for healthy, natural sugar

  • Meat, beans, or equivalent sources of protein

  • Plenty of water to wash away food remnants after eating

While chewing gum that is high in fructose can contribute to tooth decay, sugar-free gum can actually increase oral health by encouraging the production of saliva. Speak with a Family Dentist.

PREVENTING BAD BREATH

Halitosis, often known as "bad breath," is a condition which is both embarrassing and irritating, especially since it is often first noticed by other people. While the cause of bad breath may not always be a oral health condition, people worried about chronic bad breath are well advised to talk to their dentist about possible solutions.

So what causes people to have bad breath? Sometimes, the cause of bad breath is not necessarily an oral health problem:

Eating Certain Foods

Foods such as garlic or onions contain chemicals which, after being digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, are carried to and expelled from the lungs, causing a generally unpleasant breath odor. This odor usually persists until the body has gotten rid of the food and the associated compounds.

Use of Tobacco Products

Not only do tobacco products stain teeth and damage gums, but they also cause breath odor which repels most non-smokers.

Medications

Certain medications have also been known to cause halitosis. If you think that this may be the case, consult your dentist for more information.

However, there is often a link between an oral health problem and bad breath. For example, simply failing to brush and floss regularly can leave food particles trapped between teeth and in the mouth. When these particles begin to rot, bad breath odors are produced. Keeping your mouth clean will eliminate this common source of bad breath. Some other oral conditions which may cause bad breath:

Xerostomia

Xerostomia, also known as dry mouth, is a shortage of saliva which makes it more difficult for your mouth to naturally clean itself of food particles. As noted above, food particles trapped in the mouth gradually begin to decay, creating unpleasant odor. If you suffer from xerostomia, your dentist may be able to help by prescribing artificial saliva, or giving you advice on how to remedy the condition through your eating and drinking habits.

Bad Breath as a Symptom of a Medical Disorder

Respiratory tract infection, sinusitis, diabetes, or gastrointestinal disturbances are all medical disorders which may result in bad breath, among other symptoms. If you have chronic bad breath, speaking to your dentist may help you determine if your bad breath is orally related, or if you should see a general physician to diagnose other medical issues.

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PERIODONTAL DISEASE - RISK FACTORS, PREVENTION AND TREATMENT

Periodontal disease, sometimes also called gum disease, is an infection of the gum tissue that supports the teeth. This infection causes the tissue surrounding the teeth to break down, resulting in tender gums, loose teeth, and, in severe cases, tooth loss. While gingivitis, a mild form of periodontal disease, is generally reversible, more advanced and destructive forms, known as periodontitis, are much more difficult to treat.

Tooth discoloration occurs over the years for various reasons. Stains come from internal and external sources, causing teeth to be discolored and dull. Although both types of stains can be treated, the external stains are the easiest to whiten. Before you decide to be a part of any whitening system, consult your dentist.

Good brushing habits are vital to maintaining dental health, and play a large role in preventing periodontal disease, there are other factors which may increase your risk of infection. They include:

  • Tobacco, either smoked or chewed

  • Diabetes and other systemic diseases

  • Certain medications such as steroids

  • Certain anti-epilepsy and cancer therapy drugs

  • Improperly fitting bridges

  • Crooked teeth

  • Defective fillings

  • Pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives

Internal stains are much trickier when it comes to tooth whitening. These stains begin as soon as your teeth start to grow. Children that were exposed to the antibiotic tetracycline during the time that their teeth were developing are much more likely to have discolored teeth as an adult. If your teeth are internally stained, your best cosmetic dentistry option is porcelain veneers, however there are other options. Consult your cosmetic dentist to learn about these options.

SMOKING PROMOTES GUM DISEASE

It has long been known that smoking cigarettes is one of the most significant factors leading to gum disease in people. New research suggests that smoking marijuana promotes gum disease, even in those individuals that do not smoke cigarettes as well.

In the new study, which was published by a New Zealand research organization, 900 young adults between the ages of 26 and 32 were examined by physicians and dentists. The results: one third of the individuals who had gum disease also frequently smoked marijuana.

This finding held true even for light users of marijuana (a mere once a week). They tripled their chances of developing gum disease by smoking a mere once a week. The increased chances of gum disease were also true for those that did not smoke cigarettes but did smoke marijuana.

The researchers involved in this study say that toxins in marijuana restrict blood supply to the gums which prevents the gums from healing as they should. Periodontist Peter Cabrera, who was involved in the study, says that if an individual smokes marijuana, they might not even know they have a serious case of gum disease until they start losing teeth. This holds true in particular for those that start smoking marijuana as a young adult.

Gum disease, in addition to causing teeth to fall out, also has been linked to heart attacks and stroke. If the disease is not treated, it will progress.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Symptoms of periodontal disease do not appear until the disease has progressed to the advanced stage. Abnormally bulging gums is a common symptom of periodontal disease. The other few obvious warning signs of this disease are as follows:

  • Swollen gums

  • Persistent bad breath

  • Gum bleeding

  • Sores and pain in the mouth

  • Loose teeth

  • Bleeding, while brushing and eating hard food

  • Pus observed between the gum and tooth

Causes of Periodontal Disease

Poor oral hygiene: Ignoring oral health is considered to be the main cause of periodontal disease. Bacteria in our mouth are constantly forming a colorless, sticky film (plaque) on our teeth. If brushing and flossing is not done regularly, plaque gets accumulated, which hardens over a period of time, to form bacteria harboring tartar. Unfortunately, normal brushing cannot remove tartar. Only a professional dentist will be able to remove tartar.

Bad habits: People who smoke or chew tobacco have higher chances of developing periodontal disease.

Illnesses: Patients suffering from diseases that damage the gums, or diseases that affect the immune system, like diabetes, HIV, cancer, etc., are more susceptible to infections, including periodontal disease.

Medications: There are certain drugs such as dilantin that is used for treating seizures. Intake of dilantin tablets can negatively affect the gum tissue. Antidepressant drugs and oral contraceptives can also affect oral health.

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

A visit to a periodontist (specialist in periodontal disease) is advised, to prevent any further damage. If left untreated, periodontal disease can become chronic (permanent health problem) and lead to tooth loss. Professional treatment can help eliminate dental plaque. Dentists generally go for non-surgical procedures to remove tartar. Following are some of the non-invasive therapies, commonly used to treat this disease:

Scaling: In this procedure, the dentist uses instruments and ultrasonic apparatus for scraping the tartar and plaque that is on the surface of the tooth.

Root planing: After the dentist scrapes the plaque from the teeth, the area is cleaned thoroughly to smoothen the rough spots of the teeth. This procedure ensures reattachment of affected gums and eradication of bacteria, if any.

Medication: Dentists use medicines to control bacterial growth. These medicines are generally applied during and after non-invasive procedures. They are often placed on damaged gums, to suppress bacterial infections.

Surgery is only recommended when the disease does not give any response to non-surgical procedures. Surgery treatments such as, crown lengthening and soft tissue grafting, are commonly prescribed to cure periodontal disease. Dental surgery to cure this disease, mainly involves removing the infected gum tissue.

Practicing good dental hygiene is the best and the most inexpensive way to prevent periodontal disease. Brushing and flossing twice a day, is essential to maintain good dental health. You can also use tartar control toothpastes to prevent its buildup. Rinsing with mouthwashes, prescribed by the doctor, can also help to reduce bacteria in your mouth.

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IMPORTANCE OF CALCIUM ON YOUR TEETH

From childhood, we are told to drink more milk so that we can grow healthy teeth and bones. As we grow older, we learn that it is the calcium content of dairy products which promotes strong teeth and strong bones. And yet, despite all the education we receive regarding this important mineral, research has found that, among Americans, calcium deficiency is one of the most common dietary deficiencies. Calcium, however, has more benefits for your body than most people realize.

Because we hear it so often, many people start to "tune out" the information about calcium and oral health. This is unfortunate; a lack of calcium in your diet can lead to much more than just a nagging dentist.

When teeth are healthy, they are protected by a layer of enamel, the hardest substance in the human body, which, incidentally, contains calcium. The good news is that, in most cases, the amount of calcium in teeth stays constant even when your diet is lacking. The calcium content of your bones, however, does not. When your body detects a calcium deficiency, it secretes two hormones in response. These hormones signal your bones to release some of their calcium content into the bloodstream in order to maintain a balanced amount. If this process continues for a long time, your bones will begin to run short of calcium, and will become increasingly weak and brittle.

So how does this affect your teeth? While teeth themselves may not be directly affected by a calcium shortage, don't forget that your teeth are anchored in bone. When this bone starts to lose calcium, it can no longer provide adequate support to your teeth, causing them to loosen in their sockets. The resulting gaps are perfect places for harmful bacteria to fester and grow, leading to tooth decay. In other words, a lack of calcium may not harm teeth in a direct manner, but in the end, your teeth will feel the negative effects. If no treatment is obtained, you may even end up losing teeth.

On the other hand, though a lack of calcium has clearly negative effects, a good supply of calcium has several important benefits. Calcium has more than one purpose in your body; that is, it is not needed only as a mineral that strengthens your bones. Did you know, for example, that calcium is a key component in triggering many cell functions, as well as a substance which helps nerves transmit their electronic impulses? In short, your body needs a sufficient supply of calcium to carry out even the most basic functions.

Some recent study results highlight the benefits of a calcium-rich diet. According to some scientists, calcium may actually be a factor in reducing the risk of colon cancer. They postulate that calcium left over in the digestive tract after your body has absorbed all it needs has the ability to bind to cancer-causing substances and allow your body to excrete them from your system.

WHY DO YOU TEETH NEED CALCIUM

Calcium is a naturally occurring element which is very important for living organisms. In the human body, calcium is nearly everywhere - in your bones, your teeth, and your blood. It performs a variety of vital functions, including supporting bones, acting as a signaler for cell activities, and assisting nerve impulses. However, despite the importance of calcium, a calcium deficiency is one of the most common dietary problems out there. Why is this? At least in part, the problem is because people fail to realize the true importance of getting enough calcium.

Calcium and Your Health

Most people are vaguely aware of the fact that calcium "builds strong teeth and bones," to use the popular catchphrase. Oddly, this knowledge does not appear to translate into healthy dietary habits. Perhaps more information is needed. After all, having a vague idea that calcium "is good for you" is not nearly as compelling as understanding the specifics.

Whether or not you realize it, your body is keenly aware of its need for calcium. When it does not get an adequate supply of calcium, your body will immediately take action. It produces hormones which cause your bones to release some of their calcium content into the bloodstream. On a short-term basis, this allows your body to function 'normally.' However, when calcium deficiency persists for a long time, your bones start to lose too much calcium. They become weak, brittle, and prone to fracture. Furthermore, if you do break a bone, it will take much longer to heal.

This weakening of your bones also affects your teeth. While the amount of calcium actually in your teeth usually does not change very much, the bone that your teeth are supported by can. As the jawbone weakens, teeth become loose in their sockets, creating gaps and spaces where bacteria can fester and eat away at enamel and gum tissue. In severe cases, you may lose teeth altogether. Suffice it to say that dentists have good reason to encourage you to maintain a healthy calcium intake.

Other body systems are also affected by a calcium deficiency. Did you know that lack of calcium can result in weight gain and high blood pressure? This is because the same hormones that your body produces in response to a calcium deficiency also promote the creation and inhibit the breaking down of fatty tissue, as well as cause the walls of arteries to tighten and contract, forcing blood pressure upwards.

On the other hand, keeping your body well-supplied with calcium can yield "unexpected" benefits. For example, recent research has suggested a link between healthy amounts of calcium and a decreased risk of colon cancer. Scientists theorize that leftover calcium in your system binds to cancer-causing agents and allows your body to safely get rid of them. Without that calcium, this process cannot happen.

The message is very clear: your teeth - and your body - need calcium. The next time your dentist encourages you to watch your calcium intake, don't brush him off. He's only trying to ensure your health and well-being.

ACIDIC FOODS AND TOOTH ENAMEL

Many of the foods and beverages that we love the most do terrible things to our teeth. For example, coffee stains the teeth and leaves us with bad breath. Other beverages and foods are capable of destroying the outer layer of enamel on the tooth. Dental enamel is a very thin layer of hard tissue on the outside of the tooth that assists in maintaining shape and structure, while also preventing the tooth from wearing down.

Acid is the number one enemy of tooth enamel. A large body of dental research suggests that people who eat and drink foods that have low pH values, or high acidities, are the most likely to develop irreversible tooth erosion.

Some foods that are seen as being healthy are also highly acidic. Fruit and fruit products are high in both citric and malic acids. This means that as healthy as fruits are for the rest of the body, they are not particularly good for a person's teeth. Other problematic foods include soft drinks because of their phosphoric acid; fermented products like yogurt for lactic acid; and wine because of tartaric acid.

Just because a person's teeth have already started eroding does not mean that all hope is lost. It is not a go-ahead to continue destroying one's teeth. If a person cares about their teeth and also loves acidic foods, there are things that can be done to prevent further damage. Using an alkaline or neutral tooth paste and mouthwash can help, as can chewing sugar-free gum after meals to help increase salivary flow dilute the acids on the teeth. Topical fluoride mouth gels and rinses can also help.

Tooth erosion is caused by acidic foods and drinks 'dissolving' away the surface of the tooth. It is becoming increasingly more common, especially due to greater consumption of fizzy drinks - including 'diet' brands.

Erosion caused by foods and drinks

Acids in the mouth can dissolve away tooth surfaces. Given the chance, teeth will repair themselves, using minerals from saliva. But if acid is in the mouth too often, teeth cannot repair themselves and the hard tooth surface (the enamel) becomes thinner - this is called 'erosion'.

The teeth can then become extra sensitive to hot and cold food and drink. Eroded teeth can also be more likely to suffer decay.

The main cause of erosion is too frequent consumption of certain kinds of food and drink. All fizzy drinks (including 'diet' brands and fizzy mineral water), all 'sports' drinks, all squashes and all fruit juices are acidic to varying degrees. Pickles and citrus fruits are examples of acidic types of food.

Some medicines are acidic and, therefore, erosive.

And people with some illnesses (such as eating disorders) may suffer from erosion because of frequent vomiting, as stomach acids also erode teeth. For this reason, dentists may ask about eating disorders if they see teeth that are very badly eroded.

Here are some key tips to prevent erosion

  • Try and avoid consuming acidic food and / or drink too often during the day. Try to have them only at mealtimes.

  • Drink acidic drinks quickly - don't sip them. And don't swish them round your mouth.

  • Between meals you should only have 'safe' drinks, which are not sugary or acidic. Milk and water are 'safe' drinks. So are tea and coffee if you do not add sugar to them (you can use non-sugar sweeteners).

  • You should try and avoid snacking between meals. If you do snack, only have 'safe' snacks, which are not sugary or acidic. Fruits, vegetables and products (such as sandwiches, toast, crumpets and pitta bread) are all 'safe' snacks. You should try and avoid snacking between meals. Some fruits, especially citrus fruits, are acidic and are known to cause erosion if they are consumed in large quantities. This is not normally a problem for most people; however, you could discuss with your dentist or hygienist the safest way of enjoying these fruits.

  • Because acids temporarily soften the tooth surface, don't brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking something acidic.

  • You should brush your teeth twice a day, and always use a fluoride toothpaste.

  • Your dentist can identify erosion, pinpoint the causes and advise you how to prevent further damage.

SOFT DRINKS AND STAINED TEETH

It has long been known that soft drinks such as Pepsi and Coca Cola are one of many commonly consumed beverages that have the ability to stain teeth. When it comes to stains, the darkly colored sodas in general are dangerous to your teeth's whiteness and well-being.

For starters, sodas and soft drinks contain a lot of acids. These acids include phosphoric and citric acids which are both extremely corrosive. These two acids, despite the enamel's reputation for being tough, are perfectly capable of etching the surface of the enamel. Once the enamel's surface is etched, the teeth themselves are more susceptible to being stained by any food that can stain teeth.

In addition to acids, sodas contain a lot of sugars. Sugars, as everyone knows, do terrible things to teeth, like causing cavities. Sugars have an easier job of causing cavities in people who drink sodas because the acids etch away at the enamel, which is one of the tooth's biggest defenses.

Dark sodas, such as Pepsi, Coca Cola, and Dr. Pepper, all contain a coloring agent to make them the dark color that they are. This coloring agent acts as a dye on the teeth. In this way, the dye is similar to the way coffee turns teeth yellow or brown. Sodas are more efficient at staining teeth because of the presence of the acid. The acid weakens the enamel's ability to defend the teeth from being stained.

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