Although we are turning back the clock for daylight savings, you can’t turn back time on your teeth. Studies have shown that one in five Americans has untreated cavities, which is decay that has damaged a tooth’s hard, outer enamel layer and created small holes. Cavities can arise in people of all ages, including children and infants. Factors can include how well you take care of your teeth each day, what foods and beverages you regularly consume, and your family’s dental history. These can all play a role in developing cavities.
Dry mouth, or insufficient saliva production, is a common oral condition that places you at higher risk of cavity formation and is often accompanied by bad breath. Tobacco and alcohol users are prone to dry mouth as are those taking certain medications, aging, or undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Cavities form when sugary, starchy foods feed the oral bacteria that thrive in the sticky bacterial film you know as plaque. The bacteria produce acids that wear down the tooth enamel until they reach the softer dentin layer underneath protecting the tooth pulp. Cavities tend to form in the back of the mouth within the grooves of the molars, between the teeth and around the gum line, which are also areas that are harder to clean and get rid of plaque.
Signs You May Have a Cavity:
– Experience tenderness in the gums
– Tooth sensitivity when consuming hot or cold items
– Painful sensitivity in or around your teeth
– Having tooth pain that interferes with your sleep
– Dark stains
– Small holes
– Pain when you bite down
– Soft areas on your teeth
What You Can Do
The good news is, preventing cavities is very simple if you follow some of these basic rules:
– Limit your intake of sweets and sodas
– Brush at least twice a day
– Floss at least once daily
– Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash
– See your dentist for routine dental cleanings at least twice a year
– If you are cavity-prone, use products with fluoride that protect tooth enamel or consider having dental sealants placed.
Detecting cavities in the earliest stage – when they can be treated easily and less invasively – can save you pain, time and money. For example, cavities found early on can be treated with a simple dental filling. For bigger or deeper cavities, a root canal treatment may be necessary to remove damaged pulp or treat an abscessed tooth. A badly broken tooth may be fixed with a crown at the gum line. If a tooth is lost, a dental crown, bridge or implant may be needed to keep the surrounding teeth from shifting into the gap left behind.
The best way to prevent cavities is to take daily care of your pearly whites and to visit your dentist twice a year to support those daily efforts. To find out if you have any cavities or need to treat an existing one, please give our team a call, and we will be happy to set up an exam with our skilled team. We look forward to helping you keep your smile healthy, beautiful and cavity-free!
February brings National Children’s Dental Health Month! This is brought to you by the American Dental Association to create child awareness of the benefits of good oral health. This year’s month-long campaign is, “Brush and clean in between to build a healthy smile.”
First Dental Visit
Around their first birthday, or within six months after their first tooth emerges, visit our dentist to make sure the teeth of your child are developing properly. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, over 50 percent of children will have some kind of tooth decay before they turn five, so it is important for your child to attend early dental visits. We can address any oral hygiene questions you have and let you know when it is time to start using a toothbrush.
Let them see you brushing and flossing, and help them brush and floss their teeth. By following the 2-2-2 Rule (seeing the dentist twice a year and brushing and flossing twice a day for two minutes), you will develop healthy oral hygiene habits.
-Hold the toothbrush at a 45° angle and brush along the gum line.
-Brush each tooth in a back and forth, up and down motion.
-Clean the inside, outside, back and top surfaces of each tooth.
-Gently wipe the tongue to remove bacteria.
Brush twice a day for two minutes each, giving the molars some extra attention. If your little one wants to help, you can take turns brushing or let them start and you finish. Don not let them share their toothbrush, and replace it when the bristles start to fray.
When your child’s teeth touch, it is time to start flossing the areas that the toothbrush can’t clean. Whether it is dental floss, floss sticks/picks or oral irrigators, find a flossing tool that works best and use it!
-Using about 18 inches of floss, you can wrap an end around each of your middle fingers.
-Slide the floss between two teeth gently
-At the gum line, create a C-shape around each tooth
-Pull the floss tight to scrape against each tooth and repeat until all have been cleaned.
When your child’s manual dexterity and coordination is developed around six or seven years old, you can let them start brushing on their own. At this time, our dentist can also speak with you about fluoride and dental sealants to prevent cavities. Your child can usually floss by themselves by the time they are nine or ten.
High schoolers are often busy with school, sports and extracurricular activities, work and socializing, so you want to help them stick to their daily oral hygiene habits. They may be wearing braces, having wisdom teeth removed and feeling self-conscious about their smile (and their breath), so good oral hygiene habits can support their goals.
-Encourage them to use a timer, listen to their favorite song while brushing and flossing for two minutes, or switch to an electric toothbrush with a timer.
-Keep plenty of dental hygiene supplies in stock such as soft toothbrushes, flavored flosses, toothpaste and a toothbrush for their backpack when they are on the go.
-Keep fruits and vegetables handy instead of junk food for healthier snacking.
-If they are active in sports, supply them with an athletic guard to protect teeth from being chipped, cracked or lost.
-Talk to your teen about peer-pressure activities that can damage his or her smile like smoking, drinking or getting an oral piercing.
Your teens want to look and feel their best, so support their efforts for maintaining those oral habits instilled in their childhood. This month is a good time to reinforce good habits and provide your children and teens with the tools and support they need for a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Have you been waiting for the right time to get teeth whitening treatment? There’s no better time than the New Year! In 2019, you are setting all kinds of new goals, and one goal you can shoot for is a whiter and brighter smile. Teeth whitening lightens teeth, helping remove discoloration and stains that have taken place over time.
The primary target of a teeth whitening is the tooth enamel, which results from the natural color combined with the color of the dentin underneath. The reflecting light off the dentin gives you the overall color of your smile. Other defining factors are the smoothness and thickness of the enamel, which is usually the result of inherited genes as well as the overall wear of the enamel over time. Some reasons your smile might not be not so bright may include:
– Poor dental care (not brushing and flossing every single day or not attending your biannual dental visits)
– Natural aging (wear and tear; dentin starts to yellow over time)
– Smoking or tobacco stains
– Dark-colored liquids (coffee, tea, soda, wine)
– Dental trauma (if the dentin is damaged, it can create a darker layer underneath the enamel)
– Medications (certain medications or medical care can cause discoloration or dental damage)
If these sound like reasons you have yellowing teeth, then we can help find the solution to give you a whiter smile. The teeth whitening process is simple; whitening products contain a safe tooth bleach that breaks up stains and targets your tooth enamel. There are three common options:
– Stain Removal Toothpastes: These usually contain mild abrasives and polishing agents, which remove stains on the enamel surface.
– At-Home Teeth Whitening: Our team can provide you with trays for at-home teeth whitening with instructions on how to whiten, for how long and how much solution to place in the trays. You can also purchase an over-the-counter bleaching product, but be sure to discuss options with our team.
– In-Office Teeth Whitening: Typically only requiring one to two visits, chairside bleaching is quickly done. A protective gel or rubber shield protects your gums, and then the bleaching treatment is applied to your teeth.
Before you get teeth whitening, there are a few factors to consider:
– If you have sensitive teeth
– White spots
– Tooth decay
– Infected gums
– Dental work (dental bridges, crowns, veneers, etc.)
– Previous tooth injuries
– Current medications
We invite you to speak to our team about whether you’re a good candidate for teeth whitening. We will work with you to figure out your best options. Of course, one of the best and simplest ways to keep your smile white and bright is to maintain excellent dental care. This includes brushing at least twice a day, flossing once a day and seeing your dentist at least twice a year (preferably every 6 months). Also, you should consume healthy, non-staining foods and drinks as much as possible.
To find which teeth whitening option is best for you or to schedule your next dental appointment, please give us a call. We will be happy to schedule a time for you and help you achieve your best smile today!
Your daily brushing and flossing routine is crucial to thwarting dreaded cavities and gum disease from invading your smile, but by itself, it’s still not enough to maintain top-notch oral health. There is a reason we recommend regular dental cleanings and exams!
Seeing our dental team for routine dental checkups and cleanings supports your daily oral hygiene efforts by taking care of those things you can’t at home, like removing tartar (that hardened plaque of sticky film which destroys gum tissue and tooth enamel) as well as detecting problems early when they are the least invasive and costly to treat. Surprisingly, plaque and tartar can build up in a short period of time making your mouth vulnerable to all kinds of dental issues.
When you come in for a routine dental cleaning, our experienced team will scrape the tartar off of the gum line and below it, as well as give your pearly whites a thorough polish and flossing. Polishing removes stains on tooth enamel that builds up from the food and beverages consumed.
You will also receive a thorough examination of your oral tissues, including the gums and the throat along with your teeth. With the help of dental X-rays, we can detect problems that may not be noticeable to you right now, such as cavity formation, gum disease, oral cancer, jawbone issues, bite issues, impacted teeth, abscesses, diabetes and more.
Why You Should Come in Twice Yearly for Dental Cleanings
– Save tooth enamel from the destructive acids in plaque and tartar as well as the effects of bruxism (teeth grinding).
– Keep gum disease from inflaming your oral tissues and preventing tooth and bone loss.
– Make sure your jaw bone is healthy and supportive to prevent tooth and bone loss.
– Keep your teeth whiter and brighter by removing stains and discoloration.
– Keep your breath fresher and prevent halitosis.
– Detect oral cancer in the early and most successfully treated stages.
– Keep your body healthier as your mouth is free of disease, including heart disease and stroke.
– Maintain previous dental restorations such as fillings, crowns, dentures, etc.
If you are at increased risk for dental issues, it is crucial that you don’t skip annual dental cleanings and checkups. High risks include being 55 and older, male, a woman experiencing hormonal changes like menopause or pregnancy, being a regular tobacco user or regularly drinking alcohol. You are also at greater risk if you have diabetes or cancer, take medications that result in dry mouth, have poor oral hygiene, are excessively stressed or have a family history of poor oral health.
In addition to preventing oral issues, seeing our dentist for preventative maintenance can reduce the amount you spend on extensive dental work down the road, including lower dental insurance. Preventative maintenance is a wise investment in your oral health and overall health as well as your bank account. With the holidays in full swing, gift your loved ones and yourself with end-of-year dental cleanings and start your new year off with better dental health!
Do you know the important differences between full and partial dentures? Our team is happy to review both versions for optimal tooth replacement to help you better understand how they can restore your smile. Below we will review the main types of dentures, which are full and partial dentures, and the benefits they have to offer.
Dentures replace missing teeth in your smile to keep other teeth from changing their position. Dentures are customized for your mouth to fit comfortably and can be removed for cleaning. Today’s dentures are more natural-looking than ever so that your appearance and smile remain natural. Without dentures, missing teeth can cause the facial muscles to droop and you may appear to age prematurely. Dentures also help you chew comfortably and speak clearly again when they restore missing teeth in your smile.
Full dentures are designed to offer full tooth replacement by filling a full arch of missing teeth with a beautiful and natural-looking appliance. To place full dentures, it may be necessary to perform a tooth extraction to make space for this appliance if there are still teeth lingering in your smile. The conventional denture is made after your teeth have been extracted and after the gum tissue has started healing. These are typically ready to be worn about eight to 12 weeks after your teeth are removed. Your oral appliance is placed over your gums and held securely using suction to attach to the roof of your mouth. Full dentures are removable and can be taken out at night and for cleanings.
If you have a few missing teeth in a row, partial dentures can restore your beautiful smile. This removable oral appliance is used to fill the gap from missing teeth so that you can have a beautiful and functional smile again. These partial appliances clasp to the neighboring teeth in your smile to help you speak, smile and chew properly. These replacement teeth are attached to a colored plastic base that looks like your natural gums. If you have a fixed bridge to replace one or more of your teeth, crowns are placed on the teeth that border the space with artificial teeth and are cemented into place.
In addition to full and partial dentures, there is a third option for some. Implant-supported dentures are an overdenture which is attached to dental implants for support and are most often made for the lower jaw. These are often done if there are no teeth in the jaw but there is sufficient jaw bone material to support implants. These have special attachments that snap them onto the implant.
No matter which type of denture you wear, you want to take good care of your oral health to keep your gum tissue healthy by practicing good oral hygiene habits. You will also want to make sure you see our dentist regularly to make sure your dentures fit correctly and ensure they are comfortable and that your gums are healthy.
Both full and partial dentures can be very functional and make excellent choices when it comes to tooth loss and tooth replacement. If you would like to learn more about your options for the types of dentures, please feel free to call today for a consultation with our team!
October is here and fall has officially begun, bringing with it Breast Cancer Awareness Month as well as National Dental Hygiene Month. This is a time to raise awareness for both and help to prevent problems by monitoring your health and being mindful of your lifestyle choices. Whether you are fighting cancer or dental problems, catching problems in their early stages helps stack the success rate in your favor.
When it comes to breast cancer awareness, you can find out about local and national outreach to educate yourself about steps you can take to help prevent and fight this disease. In addition, your overall health can have an impact on your oral health, and vice versa. According to the American Cancer Society, all women should have a breast exam by a physician every three years from the age of 20-39, and after that, yearly at age 40. The ACS also advises conducting breast self-exams every month. When it comes to your day to day habits, eating a balanced diet, limiting alcohol intake and avoiding smoking can help you tip the balance in your favor to prevent this deadly disease.
October is also when we celebrate the work dental hygienists do to protect your oral health and prevent dental problems. It allows us to stress the importance of regularly monitoring your oral health to catch problems in their early stage when they are most easily and least invasively treated. As with breast cancer, avoiding smoking (or tobacco in any form) and limiting alcohol can help you prevent oral cancer. There are also steps you can take to keep oral cancer away:
What You Can Do:
– Avoid smoking and tobacco in all its forms.
– Limit alcohol use or avoid altogether.
– Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, particularly between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Use sunscreen to help protect your skin.
– Shield your lips with a lip balm containing SPF 30 or more when you are outside.
– A daily diet rich in cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables for their phytonutrients and other unique compounds. Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes and garlic, and fruits like berries, red grapes and citrus.
– Keep up with all routine dental checkups.
When you see our dentist for routine cleanings and exams, we will also be checking for oral cancer. Cancer can show up on the lips, inside your mouth, on the salivary glands, your tonsils, the back of the throat, on your tongue or esophagus. If you are being treated for cancer anywhere in your body using radiation or chemotherapy, your dental health can be impacted so it’s especially important to check for problems.
When it comes to your daily oral hygiene habits, you want to maintain healthy teeth and gums to avoid oral cancer and other dental problems. As part of Dental Hygiene awareness month, we encourage you to follow the advice of the American Dental Association which promotes your best dental health.
Dental Hygiene Tips
– Brush at least twice a day with a toothbrush that fits into your mouth easily. Brush the surfaces of all your teeth – the front, back, and tops – and don’t forget the ones in the back. Also, brush your tongue to reduce bacteria in the mouth and fight halitosis.
– Floss between the teeth and around the gum line at least once a day with a flossing method of your choice. Be sure you clean between your pearly whites daily to avoid harmful build-up or the hardening of plaque.
– Rinse with a non-alcohol microbial mouthwash to remove bacteria and biofilm that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
– Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after meals can stimulate healthy saliva production which neutralizes harmful acids and washes away bacterial debris.
Daily brushing, flossing, eating healthy and checking your mouth monthly for signs of unusual activity can all go a long way in protecting your health for a lifetime of healthy smiles. For October, we encourage you to take stock of your overall health as well as your dental health and do what you can to live your healthiest life. You hold the keys to better health by detecting problems early on when the success rate is highest. We wish you the best of health and are here to support your daily efforts!
If you have ever lost a tooth, you might have more than just a gap between your teeth. If a lost tooth is not replaced, the bone in the jaw that supported the lost tooth starts to deteriorate. That’s because when you chew your food, there’s no more stimulation to the bone from the missing tooth’s chewing action. Over time, the gaps in your mouth change as the surrounding teeth shift into the empty space, causing your bite alignment to shift with it. When this happens, missing teeth can not only affect how you look but can cause problems when you chew and even when you speak.
What can you do to prevent this from happening to your smile? You want something to take that missing tooth’s place, and one of the best options available today is a dental implant. Acting like a tooth, implants stimulate your jawbone from the pressure they exert when you chew by acting as the base of a regular tooth. Because of this, they keep the jaw healthy and strong and your bite alignment intact. You can have a single implant done or multiple implants to replace as many teeth as you need.
The implant itself is a titanium post used to act like a tooth root. Once it is surgically placed into the jawbone under the gumline, it can hold a tooth replacement (or a dental bridge). Once the implant fuses to your jawbone it is sturdy and durable. It won’t shift in the mouth, so you can speak and chew without worry. A dental implant can be used to secure dentures, bridges, and crowns to replace your teeth to help them feel natural in the mouth.
To have an implant done for your missing teeth requires healthy gums and enough jawbone material to support the implant. You’re also going to need to keep up excellent daily oral hygiene, including routine dental visits to support the ongoing function of the implant. If you are considering dental implant placement, we are pleased to offer some insight into what you can expect from the procedure.
Many patients are concerned that the process will be painful, and while any surgical procedure has some degree of discomfort as the mouth heals, our team can provide a local anesthesia or another form of sedation to ensure you are comfortable during the implant placement process.
When it’s time to place your dental implant after you’ve been given the appropriate anesthesia, our team of professionals typically perform the following basic steps:
– Create an access point in the gum line to reach the underlying jawbone area.
– Create some space in the jawbone to create an anchor point for the dental implant to support a new tooth.
– Attach the titanium screw to the jawbone, which forms the base of the dental implant.
– Allow the jawbone time to grow around the metal base and fuse naturally with the implant, which can take a few months.
– Attach an abutment to the titanium screw after the bone has completed its regrowth process, which serves to keep the final dental crown or other tooth restoration in place.
– Allow your gums to heal and improve their health for a few weeks prior to placing the dental restoration.
– Create a detailed impression of your smile to serve as a guide for the creation of the restoration.
– Place it on the implant so that it looks natural and matches well with your surrounding teeth.
Depending on the number of teeth that need to be replaced, the overall process can take a few weeks or months to achieve final completion. To learn more about dental implants and how they can replace missing teeth, contact our team today for more information!
When it comes to protecting your teeth, your first line of defense against tooth decay and cavities is tooth enamel, as it is the outermost covering that protects the more vulnerable dentin and tooth pulp below. Your enamel comes equipped for the job as the hardest substance in your body. However, because it doesn’t have living cells it can’t grow back once it is lost.
The number one enemy of tooth enamel is acid. It eats away at the enamel leaving it vulnerable to decay as it weakens. Because tooth enamel protects the lower layers from acids and plaque, protecting it is vital to your oral health. Be sure to limit these harmful items as much as possible, and be sure to clean your teeth at least twice a day. Here are some items to avoid:
– Fruit juice
– Flavored water (has citric acid and other additives)
– Sugary snacks like cakes, cookies and candies
– Starchy snacks like chips, crackers, pretzels and bread
– Citrus fruit
Of course, it’s not just about what you leave out of your diet that protects tooth enamel. There are foods that can help strengthen tooth enamel, so let’s take a look at them.
– Probably the number one food choice for healthy teeth is rich in calcium which helps form strong teeth and bones. Cheese, which is high in calcium, also helps balance your oral pH which lowers the acids that attack the enamel. Besides cheese and other low-fat dairy items like yogurt, you can find calcium in fortified rice and soy milk, sardines and salmon in the can, almonds, and dark leafy greens like kale, broccoli and spinach.
– Foods rich in vitamin D help your body absorb calcium. Vitamin D is abundant in milk, salmon, margarine, as well as soy and rice beverages which are fortified.
– Your teeth also need phosphorus which you can find in eggs, meat and fish.
– Vitamin A, found in sweet potatoes, red peppers, mangoes and kale.
– Beta-carotene in fruits and vegetables which are orange.
– Magnesium rich foods like bananas, whole grains, and spinach.
For healthy tooth enamel, you also want to make sure are hydrated throughout the day. Water helps support saliva flow and keeps your mouth debris-free while helping all the bodily tissues.
Healthy eating habits, combined with daily tooth brushing and flossing and regular dental checkups and cleanings can help your teeth and gums stay strong for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
If you would like to have our team provide you with a thorough dental cleaning and exam, we invite you to call and schedule an appointment today. We look forward to providing you with the quality care you deserve.
When you come in for dental exams and we have cleaned your teeth and gum line and removed any hardened plaque, our dentist can look at them for any signs of trouble, such as cavities, loose or broken teeth, damaged fillings, and evaluate your risk rate of certain diseases which might also take into account your family history. We will look for swelling in the gums or redness and bleeding and even measure the depth of gingival pockets signaling gum disease. We will evaluate your bite, determine if you have bruxism (a sign of teeth grinding), check the contact between teeth and examine the lower jaw joints for problems. We will also examine the soft tissues in your head, mouth and neck, including the lymph nodes, for any indications of cancer or infection. If problems are detected, you may require further diagnostics followed up with recommended treatment options.
As you can see, this is one of the biggest reasons why dental checkups are so important, because spotting problems early on is crucial for providing effective, minimally invasive, and economical treatment. Using x-rays and other diagnostic tools, we can detect problems early when you may not even be aware of them, especially since tooth decay isn’t usually obvious or painful in the early stages. By the time you do notice problems, the condition has often already advanced.
While most of the time you may need to see your dentist twice a year, there are circumstances that might require coming in more often, particularly since your oral health is directly related to your overall health and vice versa. For example, if you have a disease such as diabetes or heart disease you may be at greater risk of gum disease. If you have a weakened immune system, you will likely have a diminished ability to ward off infections and diseases. If you regularly use tobacco or are a heavy drinker, you are at greater risk of oral problems. Taking medications that result in dry mouth – a reduction in saliva production – puts you at higher risk of developing cavities. So be sure to let our dentist know what medications and supplements you are currently taking when you come in for your routine checkups. You can also let us know if you are noticing signs of tooth sensitivity, pain or an unusual lump. Again, the earlier a problem is addressed, the better the treatment success rate.
If you would like to have our dentist and team provide you with a thorough dental cleaning and exam, we invite you to call our office to schedule an appointment. Our goal is to help you create the healthiest oral environment for your teeth and gums and we look forward to providing you with the quality care you deserve.
Are you familiar with the risks of mouth jewelry and why you should always exercise caution before implementing any new ones? Although you may think that lip and tongue rings are stylish and trendy, they do come with their downfalls. One of the pitfalls of mouth jewelry is that most forms can lead to some form of dental damage. Be aware of the risks of mouth jewelry before having any inserted into your mouth. Common risks include the following:
– Most mouth jewelry products are designed from hard pieces that can easily chip and crack your teeth as they slide around in your mouth. If they are not anchored into place, enamel wear can occur over time or even happen immediately due to an oral accident or injury.
– Lip and tongue rings are known to produce various infectious diseases due to the risk of open wounds. Serious infection such as hepatitis and endocarditis are possible through the use of mouth jewelry.
– If any pieces should ever break off, they can become immediate choking hazards. It is possible for your mouth jewelry to end up getting lodged in your throat and put your life at risk.
– Several individuals may have hypersensitivity to metals or allergic reactions to the product being used, which could cause your tongue to swell or lead to other severe health risks.
– When a tongue ring is directly inserted into your tongue, it could burst your blood vessels or even cause permanent nerve damage if it is not placed in the proper area.
– When mouth jewelry is in place, it is often very difficult to clean around your mouth, and even our dentist can struggle with regular cleaning routines.
Would you like to know more about mouth jewelry or other oral health risks that you should avoid? For more information about mouth jewelry and other oral health tips, you can speak with Dr. Damon Thompson and our team by calling us at 540-552-5433. If you require a comprehensive oral exam or bi-annual professional cleaning from Real Life Dental, our dental office is located in Blacksburg, Virginia.