Posts for tag: tooth decay
Nothing grabs your attention like a sharp tooth pain, seemingly hitting you out of nowhere while you’re eating or drinking. But there is a reason for your sudden agony and the sooner you find it out, the better the outcome for your oral health.
To understand tooth sensitivity, we need to first look at the three layers of tooth anatomy. In the center is the pulp filled with blood vessels and nerve bundles: it’s completely covered by the next layer dentin, a soft tissue filled with microscopic tubules that transmit sensations like pressure or temperature to the pulp nerves.
The third layer is enamel, which completely covers the crown, the visible part of a tooth. Enamel protects the two innermost tooth layers from disease and also helps muffle sensations so the tooth’s nerves aren’t overwhelmed. The enamel stops at about the gum line; below it the gums provide similar protection and sensation shielding to the dentin of the tooth roots.
Problems occur, though, when the dentin below the gums becomes exposed, most commonly because of periodontal (gum) disease. This bacterial infection caused by dental plaque triggers inflammation, which over time can weaken gum tissues and cause them to detach and shrink back (or recede) from the teeth. This can leave the root area vulnerable to disease and the full brunt of environmental sensations that then travel to the nerves in the pulp.
Tooth decay can also create conditions that cause sensitivity. Decay begins when certain oral bacteria multiply and produce higher than normal levels of acid. The acid in turn dissolves the enamel’s mineral content to create holes (cavities) that expose the dentin. Not treated, the infection can eventually invade the pulp, putting the tooth in danger of being lost unless a root canal treatment is performed to remove the infection and seal the tooth from further infection.
So, if you begin experiencing a jolt of pain while eating or drinking hot or cold foods or beverages, see your dentist as soon as possible to diagnose and treat the underlying cause. And protect your teeth from dental disease by practicing daily brushing and flossing, as well as seeing your dentist for regular dental cleanings and checkups. Don’t ignore those sharp pains—your teeth may be trying to tell you something.
If you would like more information on tooth sensitivity, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treatment of Tooth Sensitivity.”
Cavities can happen even before a baby has his first piece of candy. This was the difficult lesson actor David Ramsey of the TV shows Arrow and Dexter learned when his son DJ’s teeth were first emerging.
“His first teeth came in weak,” Ramsey recalled in a recent interview. “They had brown spots on them and they were brittle.” Those brown spots, he said, quickly turned into caviÂties. How did this happen?
Ramsey said DJ’s dentist suspected it had to do with the child’s feedings — not what he was being fed but how. DJ was often nursed to sleep, “so there were pools of breast milk that he could go to sleep with in his mouth,” Ramsey explained.
While breastfeeding offers an infant many health benefits, problems can occur when the natural sugars in breast milk are left in contact with teeth for long periods.Â Sugar feeds decay-causing oral bacteria, and these bacteria in turn release tooth-eroding acids. The softer teeth of a young child are particularly vulnerable to these acids; the end result can be tooth decay.
This condition, technically known as “early child caries,” is referred to in laymen’s terms as “baby bottle tooth decay.” However, it can result from nighttime feedings by bottle or breast. The best way to prevent this problem is to avoid nursing babies to sleep at night once they reach the teething stage; a bottle-fed baby should not be allowed to fall asleep with anything but water in their bottle or “sippy cup.”
Here are some other basics of infant dental care that every parent should know:
- Wipe your baby’s newly emerging teeth with a clean, moist washcloth after feedings.
- Brush teeth that have completely grown in with a soft-bristled, child-size toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice.
- Start regular dental checkups by the first birthday.
Fortunately, Ramsey reports that his son is doing very well after an extended period of professional dental treatments and parental vigilance.
“It took a number of months, but his teeth are much, much better,” he said. “Right now we’re still helping him and we’re still really on top of the teeth situation.”
If you would like more information on dental care for babies and toddlers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Age One Dental Visit” and “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”
CAMBRA — Caries Management By Risk Assessment
Worried about tooth decay? Dental Decay is one of the most common and infectious diseases known to man, but it is also very preventable. Today, it is even possible to determine your risk for getting tooth decay. There are disease indicators and risk indicators that can be assessed and used to determine your chances of getting tooth decay. And more importantly, they can be used to prevent and reverse early decay.
Essentially, the difference between healthy teeth and tooth decay is a matter of balance and keeping the balance tipped toward health. That means controlling the factors that tip it toward health and away from disease. Here's a little about how it works:
Disease indicators, as the name implies, are indicators of disease. For example, the presence of white spots on the enamel of your teeth, early signs of decay, which can be detected by your dentist, your past experience of cavities, and whether you currently have tooth decay.
Today, with a “simple saliva sample,” we can test the bacteria in your mouth to determine your decay risk with a simple meter reading.
There are also certain risk factors for tooth decay that you can change by modifying what you do. The ways in which you can help yourself include:
- Reduce the amount of bacterial plaque (biofilm) build-up on your teeth. If plaque is actually visible on your teeth with the naked eye, it means there is a large amount that needs to be removed professionally. High levels of bacteria leave teeth more susceptible to attack from acid-producing bacteria that cause decay.
- Stop snacking on foods containing sugar between meals. Reducing the number of times your teeth are exposed to sugary snacks, and those that contain high amounts of refined carbohydrates, will help lower your risk of tooth decay. Stop feeding the bacteria sugar, which is turned into acid.
- Use fluoride toothpaste. This toothpaste will help strengthen your teeth, making them more resistant to acid attack. Deep grooves in the biting surfaces of your teeth, which we call pits and fissures, increase the likelihood of tooth decay making it impossible to reach with just a toothbrush. However, sealing these areas with “sealants” will prevent these areas from decaying.
- Always ask your doctors about the potential side effects of all medications. Certain drugs reduce the production of saliva and lead to dry mouth, which is one of the main contributors to tooth decay. Saliva has important buffering properties, neutralizing acids in the mouth, helping to reduce risk of decay.
- If you have an eating disorder, get professional help. People suffering from both bulimia and anorexia frequently vomit after meals, which creates a highly acidic condition in the mouth. Getting control over these conditions can help you also gain control over your risk for tooth decay.
We can further help assess your risk for tooth decay by using low dosage x-rays, microscopes, innovative laser technology, and other modern means. Call our office today to schedule a screening. To learn more about the diagnosis and prognosis of tooth decay, read the exclusive Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”
Protecting your children is one of your most important roles as a parent or caregiver. Dental sealants are one way you can protect your children's teeth from the ravages of tooth decay, drilling and fillings — and they can be applied simply, comfortably and quickly right here in our office.
What is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic film that is painted onto the tiny grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (usually the premolars and molars) to prevent caries (cavities) and tooth decay. And by allowing us to use sealants to seal these little nooks and crannies where your child's toothbrush can't reach, you will dramatically reduce their chances for developing tooth decay. This one, simple and quick office visit could save you both money and time with fewer dental visits and healthier, cavity-free teeth.
So will sealants guarantee no (or no more) cavities?
No, just like life, there are few guarantees. Your child's oral hygiene, regular dental visits, fluoride, sugar consumption and genetics are the other important factors that will determine to what degree your child experiences tooth decay. However, research shows that pit and fissure (chewing surface) decay accounts for approximately 43% of all decayed surfaces in children aged 6 to 7, even though the chewing surfaces (of the back or posterior teeth) constitute only 14% of the tooth surfaces at risk. This demonstrates the vulnerability of the chewing surfaces of the posterior teeth to decay. By placing a protective seal over the areas of teeth at risk, you can effectively and proactively protect your children's teeth.
How long do sealants last?
Research has shown that some sealants can last up to 10 years. However, if you opt for sealants for your children's teeth, we will closely monitor them with each office visit to ensure that they are still doing their job. As needed, we can apply more sealant.