Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Anatomy Of A Tooth

TEETH ARE A LOT more complicated than they might seem from the outside, which is why we’re using this post to provide a brief dental anatomy lesson. Now let’s dive right into the structure of a tooth! The easiest way to do this will be to divide that anatomy into two main categories: the crown and the root.

Something To Chew On: The Crown

The crown of a tooth is the part that is above the gumline. It consists of three layers. The outermost layer is the enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body. It needs to be so that we can chew our food! However, enamel isn’t made of actual cells, which means it can’t repair itself if it wears down. Good brushing and flossing habits, regular dental visits, and avoiding sugary or acidic food and drink will help preserve that enamel for life.
Beneath the enamel is dentin, which is a lot like bone, consisting of living tissue that is calcified. It contains microscopic tubules that run from the pulp at the core of the tooth to the outer enamel. That’s why we can feel temperature in our teeth! If the enamel has worn down, that normal sensation turns into painful tooth sensitivity.
At the very core of each tooth is the dental pulp chamber. The pulp includes the blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and nerves that provide sensation — including pain receptors that let us know when something is wrong. If tooth decay becomes severe enough to reach the dental pulp, you will definitely feel it, and that’s a great time to schedule a dental appointment, if not sooner!

Beneath The Surface: The Root

The root is the long part of the tooth that connects to the jaw bone. Tiny periodontal ligaments hold each tooth in place, and gum tissue provides extra support. The roots are hollow, with canals that link the nerves and blood vessels in the dental pulp to the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
The main difference in the structure of the root compared to the crown is that the root lacks enamel. Instead, it is protected by a thin, hard layer of cementum. As long as the gum tissue is healthy and properly covers the root, the lack of enamel there isn’t a problem, but this is why exposed roots from gum recession are more susceptible to decay.

Let’s Protect Those Teeth!

Every part of a tooth’s anatomy is important to it staying strong and healthy so that you can use it to chew your food and dazzle everyone around you with your smile, and that’s why it’s so important to keep up a strong dental hygiene regimen. Keep on brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing daily, and make sure to keep scheduling those dental appointments every six months!

Thank you for choosing us to play a role in keeping your teeth healthy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

An Eating Disorder’s Impact On Oral Health

THE FOOD WE EAT provides our bodies with the building blocks to maintain healthy cells, tissues, and organs and the energy to work, learn, and do the activities we love. It is crucial that we eat enough food (and preferably the right kinds) in order to keep everything working properly, which is why eating disorders are such a serious threat.

Malnutrition And Overall Health

Eating disorders are a group of psychological disorders that can have a devastating impact on the mental, physical, and emotional health of those who suffer from them. No system in the body is spared, and that includes oral health. That’s why we want to educate our patients on the dangers of eating disorders and encourage anyone suffering from one to seek help returning to healthy eating habits.

Anorexia: Starving The Oral Tissues

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by extremely restricted food intake, and may also involve purging and compulsive exercising. The main risk to oral health with anorexia is malnutrition. Insufficient nutrients can result in osteoporosis, which weakens the jaw bones, leading to tooth loss. The gums may also bleed easily, and the salivary glands may swell up and produce insufficient saliva, resulting in dry mouth.

Bulimia: Stomach Acid Versus Teeth

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by periods of overeating (binging) followed by forced elimination of food through vomiting or laxatives (purging). Frequent vomiting exposes the teeth to stomach acid on a regular basis, which erodes the protective layer of enameland can lead to discoloration, decay, and even tooth loss.
Watch this video to see bulimia’s effects on teeth, as well as how dentist’s can help:

Preventing Additional Damage

Maintaining a good dental hygiene regimen is an important part of keeping teeth and oral tissues healthy in any circumstance, but particularly while recovering from an eating disorder. One important caution to take if your teeth have been exposed to acid (whether from acidic food and drink or from regurgitated stomach acid) is to wait thirty minutes to brush. Immediately after acid exposure, tooth enamel is weaker and can be scrubbed away by brushing, so it’s better to rinse with water and wait to brush.

The Road To Recovery

Eating disorders are very serious, and recovery is about getting the right help — from supportive friends and family as well as licensed psychologists. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, a good first step on the road to recovery would be contacting the National Eating Disorders Helpline. The dentist also plays a role in minimizing and repairing the damage from malnutrition and acid erosion, so make sure to schedule an appointment.

Your overall health and wellness are important to us!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Congenitally Missing Teeth

IT’S ONE THING TO lose a tooth, whether through poor oral hygiene, accident, or oral surgery. A tooth not growing in where it should is something else. Between 2-4 percent of the population will have at least one tooth missing from their adult set. This condition is called congenitally missing teeth or hypodontia. In the much rarer event that the full set of teeth is missing, it’s called anodontia.

It’s All About Genes

The most common teeth to be affected by this condition are wisdom teeth, upper lateral incisors, and lower second premolars. Since wisdom teeth are often removed anyway, not having them in the first place can save you a lot of hassle, but those incisors and premolars are more necessary.
Genetics are almost always the culprit behind hypodontia, which is why it tends to run in families. Missing teeth could be the only issue, or they could be the result of a broader genetic disorder, such as ectodermal dysplasia or Down syndrome. Whatever the cause, there are many treatment options available for hypodontia.

Filling In The Gaps

Having these missing teeth can cause a few problems, such as difficulty chewing, the existing teeth shifting, and poor jaw support that could lead to the loss of additional teeth. This is why it’s important to get the issue taken care of as soon as possible, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different options will be preferable depending on the age and sex of the patient and the length of time the tooth has been missing.
In most cases, orthodontic treatment will be the first step. Because missing teeth can cause the existing teeth to shift, braces might be necessary to correct the problem and open the gap wide enough to fit a replacement tooth. Replacements can come in a few different forms:
  • Removable partial dentures. These are the simplest solution in many cases. They use the surrounding teeth to anchor them in place, or might be attached to a retainer.
  • Dental bridges. As the name implies, a dental bridge “bridges” gaps by anchoring to the neighboring teeth. Unlike dentures, bridges are cemented in place.
  • Dental implants. These will function like normal teeth, with a post fixed in the jaw bone and a crown on top that matches the natural teeth. If multiple teeth are missing, implants can be used as support for bridges.
If you have questions about implants, check out this FAQ video by a woman who just got hers!

What Treatment Is Right For You?

Having congenitally missing teeth can be a struggle, but our practice is here for you. We can answer any questions you have and help you find the ideal treatment option so that your smile can be complete!

Keep being the wonderful patients that you are!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Your Pet’s Dental Health

YOU MIGHT BE TEMPTED to think that because wild animals can’t do much for their dental hygiene, pets like dogs and cats don’t need dental care either. In reality, keeping your pet’s teeth healthy will help them have a longer, healthier, and happier life!

Why Do Pets Need Dental Care?

Our pets need dental care for the same reasons we do. Their mouths contain bacteria that coat their teeth in plaque, which, if not removed, calcifies into tartar and can easily lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Your dog or cat can’t tell you if something is wrong with their teeth, so these conditions are often easy to miss, but they are alarmingly common. By age three85 percent of dogs and cats get periodontal disease. Common symptoms of periodontal disease in a pet are difficulty chewing, tooth loss, and even bad breath. You can also check for loose teeth, bleeding or swollen gums, and reduced appetite.

Taking Care Of Their Teeth

Even if your pet is showing none of the above symptoms, the best time to begin a dental hygiene regimen for them is now. If they are already suffering from poor oral health, your efforts will dramatically improve their quality of life. If they aren’t, then you’ll be able to keep them healthy!
Here are a few things you can do to keep your pet’s pearly whites in good shape:
  • Brush their teeth once a day. You only need to brush the outsides of their teeth, and it should take less than a minute, but doing it on a daily basis is crucial!
  • Regular fluoride toothpaste will make your pet sick, so make sure to only use veterinary toothpaste, if any. It might work better as a treat after brushing to encourage them to cooperate.
  • Give them veterinarian-approved dental treats to chew on. The right chew toys won’t just help with stress and boredom — they’ll also help with oral health!
  • Take them in for professional teeth cleanings! Your veterinarian might offer this service, and if not, they can recommend a good veterinary dental specialist.
For more tips on pet dental care, listen to the Dog Whisperer himself:

Your Pets Are Worth It!

We know that training your pet to get used to a toothbrush isn’t always easy, but there are plenty of resources available to help you, including your veterinarian and our practice. Keep persevering until it becomes a habit for both you and your pet.

Don’t forget to take care of your own teeth too!

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.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Is Your Frenulum Holding You Back?

YOU’VE HEARD OF being tongue-tied, but what about lip-tied? Both are actually legitimate medical conditions, and the culprits are pieces of tissue in our mouths called frenula.

Tongue Ties And Lip Ties

We all have a frenulum (or frenum) that connects our upper lips to our upper gums, one that connects our lower lips to our lower gums, and one that connects our tongues to the floors of our mouths. Normally, they are all thin and highly elastic, allowing free movement of our lips and tongues. If someone is literally tongue-tied, it means the lingual frenulum (the one under the tongue) is large enough to restrict the movement of their tongue, causing difficulties with speech, chewing, and swallowing.
Having a “lip tie,” on the other hand, means one of the labial frenula is so thick and/or tight that it restricts movement of the lip it’s attached to. Being lip-tied can lead to problems such as a large gap between the teeth, gum recession, and, in infants, not being able to latch while breastfeeding.

What Can We Do About It?

Luckily, a simple surgery called a frenectomy can reduce or remove an abnormal frenulum. Now, don’t let the word “surgery” scare you off. A frenectomy is definitely worth considering for anyone with these frenulum-related problems, particularly if they’re experiencing pain or discomfort.
Frenectomies are relatively quick procedures with short healing times. Periodontists (dentists who specialize in working with the gums) and oral surgeons are normally the ones who perform them. The way it works is that the doctor will numb the area  and make a small incision in the frenulum to make it smaller or remove it. Alternatively, the procedure could involve laser surgery, where the doctor removes the frenulum with a laser. Either way, that pesky lip tie or tongue tie will be gone!

Let’s Take Care Of That Frenulum

For the majority of people, frenulums will never be a problem. If you think any of yours might be thick or tight enough to cause the above problems, schedule an appointment with us, and the same goes for your children if they seem to have these problems. We can take a look and see if a frenectomy would be a good option. If it is, then we can recommend a periodontist or oral surgeon to take care of it.

Thank you for choosing us to take care of that smile!

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.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Childhood Tooth Injuries

WHEN WE PICTURE the ideal childhood, we usually think of children playing on playgrounds and exploring nature with their friends. They discover the world around them, imagine fantastical worlds beyond it, play games, and make friendships that could last a lifetime. As wonderful as that image is, it often comes with bruises and scraped knees — and, sometimes, tooth injuries.
So what can parents do to minimize their children’s risk of tooth injuries while they play? It’s easy enough to remember a mouth guard during actual sporting activities, but sports games and practice aren’t the only situations that can lead to a lost or chipped tooth.

Home And Play Tooth Safety Tips 

Here are a few simple tips for keeping your children’s teeth safe around the house and when playing with friends.
  • With babies and toddlers, the most common culprit for tooth injuries is the bathtub. Never leave a young child unattended in the bathtub, because they could easily slip and hurt their teeth.
  • When your child is playing with friends and using objects such as frisbees or balls, have a discussion with them about safety. Make sure they know how important it is not to aim for each other’s heads.
  • Using playground equipment like the monkey bars, jungle gym, and swings can easily lead to tooth injuries. Make sure to talk to your children before they start playing so that they will know to be careful.
Adult supervision and open conversations about safety are the most crucial components of reducing the risk of injury. By utilizing them, you could help your child avoid the need for major dental work. Just as important in that regard are their daily brushing and flossing habits and their regular dental checkups, because healthy teeth are harder to injure.

What To Do When Accidents Happen

While it is possible to reduce the risks of your child injuring a tooth, not all accidents are preventable. In the event a tooth does get knocked out or chipped, don’t panic. If the tooth isn’t already loose when it gets knocked out, and especially if it’s an adult tooth, try to put it back in place and come straight to the dentist. This will give it the best chance for reattachment.
If it isn’t possible to put the tooth back in place, the next best thing is to place it in a glass of milk to keep the root alive. In any case, bring your child to the dentist as quickly as possible. The faster you arrive at the dentist, the better the chances are of saving the toothDo not clean the tooth or put it in water! This will kill the root!

They Grow Up So Fast

Childhood never seems to last as long as we, the parents, wish it would. Our practice can’t make it last longer, but we hope this advice will help make it a little safer. If you have any questions for us about child tooth safety, feel free to ask or come see us. If not, we look forward to seeing you and your child at their next regular check-up!

Be careful with those teeth, but don’t forget to have fun!

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.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Big Scoop On Tooth Sensitivity

DO YOU GET a painful jolt through your teeth every time you try to enjoy a bite of ice cream or a sip of fresh coffee? If you do, then you’re familiar with the woes of tooth sensitivity, and you’re not alone. More than half of adults between the ages of 20 and 50 experience some degree of sensitivity in their teeth, and children can have sensitive teeth too.
So why does this happen? Well, to understand tooth sensitivity, it helps to know about the structure of a tooth and how the different layers function.

The Anatomy Of A Tooth

The crown of each tooth is covered in a thin layer of hard enamel. Beneath the enamel is dentin, a bony substance with thousands of microscopic tubules running through it. These tubules are how the nerves in the pulp at the core of each tooth can detect what’s going on at the surface.

Causes Of Sensitivity

Most often, tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel wears away, which could be the result of teeth grinding, erosion from acid, or even improper brushing. Without enamel, the tubules in the dentin become exposed. Once that happens, eating or drinking anything hot or cold — sometimes even sweet or sour — will give the tooth a nasty shock.
Another major cause of sensitivity is root exposure. Teeth roots don’t have that layer of enamel; their main defense is the gums. Gum recession, which can also be caused by teeth grinding or improper brushing, leaves the roots vulnerable. Other causes of sensitivity include cavities and having a chipped or fractured tooth.

How You Can Protect Your Teeth

If you do have sensitive teeth, there are several ways to fight back. First, start using a soft-bristled brush if you aren’t already, because hard bristles may further damage the enamel and gum tissue. You can also switch to a toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth. Finally, avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks, particularly soft drinks.

What Our Practice Can Do

Make sure to come to us if you begin experiencing tooth sensitivity, even if your next regular appointment is months away. We can strengthen your teeth with a fluoride varnish, perform dental restoration work on areas with enamel loss, recommend a gum graft to cover exposed roots, or prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste. We’ll also make sure there aren’t any other problems with your teeth!

We’re here to make sure your smile stays healthy and strong!

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.

The Anatomy Of A Tooth

TEETH ARE A LOT  more complicated than they might seem from the outside, which is why we’re using this post to provide a brief dental anat...