Crowns Versus Fillings: What is Best for You?

When you have to have a tooth repaired you have a few different options. The most common choices are to get a crown put on or to have a filling put in. Depending on the specifics of your situation, each option has its pros and cons.

Crowns

Crowns are structures that are actually placed over the top of the tooth. They are usually used in situations where the decay is more extensive. Occasionally, there will simply not be enough of the tooth left to adequately hold a filling in place, so your dentist may recommend the use of a crown.

Crowns are also used in situations where the entire tooth is weakened. As you can imagine, chewing places a tremendous amount of stress on the structure of the tooth, and if the tooth is weakened, then putting in a filling will do little to prevent further structural breakdown of the tooth.

Using a crown can sometimes save a tooth which might otherwise have to be pulled out. Crowns are frequently applied after a root canal in order to save the tooth and strengthen it.

Fillings

Fillings are usually used when the decay is not too extensive and the tooth is otherwise healthy. The dentist will drill out the decayed area and fill the gap with a composite material. In years past fillings were typically a metallic mixture, but with today’s technology there are many natural-colored alternatives available, including ceramic or porcelain.

Although a filling is generally faster and cheaper, it does require that the tooth in which it is placed be somewhat healthy and strong (aside from the area of decay). If the tooth is not strong, then putting a filling in place will do little to preserve the integrity of the tooth, and you will likely crack or break it at some point down the line.

What’s best for you?

Ultimately, each situation must be determined on a case-by-case basis. If your tooth is giving you pain you need to see a dentist immediately. If you catch it early enough, you could avoid needing more extensive—and more expensive! —work down the road.

Do You Have Gum Disease? Here Are Some Common Indicators.

Gum disease is a serious health issue in the United States today. While some of its effects—such as tooth loss—are obvious, many less well-known effects are equally pernicious. Gum disease can directly contribute to heart problems and infections elsewhere in the body. Because it tends to be undiscovered until it is in its more advanced stages—in fact, nearly half of adults have some stage of gum disease—it is something requiring vigilance to guard against. With this in mind, it’s wise to know the signs of gum disease and what you may do if you discover that you have it.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is caused when bacteria on the teeth forms a substance known as plaque. The plaque can cause trauma to the gums along with the earlier symptoms of the disease. At its beginning stages, gum disease is known as gingivitis and is easily reversible with proper treatment.

As the disease progresses, the symptoms become worse, and some of the damage may be permanent. Gums will pull away from the teeth and tooth loss may occur. People with advanced gum disease are at an increased risk for heart disease and even some forms of cancer.

Signs of gum disease

Some of the early symptoms of gum disease are bad breath which seems to persist regardless of remedial actions, red and sore gums, gums that bleed (this may occur when brushing or flossing, but can occur at other times as well), and pain in your gums when you are chewing.

As the disease progresses the symptoms will become worse. The teeth may begin to wiggle and your dentures may no longer fit properly. Further, your teeth may not fit together when you chew the way they once did.

Treatment

Prevention is of course the best treatment. Regularly perform oral hygiene tasks such as brushing, flossing, and having your teeth cleaned by the dentist at least every six months. If you do develop gum disease, your dentist may use antibiotics or other measures to fight it. If you have developed any of the symptoms noted above, you should immediately see your dentist and have the issue addressed before it progresses.

What Is the Best Toothpaste For You?

Walk into the store and go to the toothpaste section. The varieties of toothpaste are nearly endless: various flavors, sizes, and ingredients, not to mention the different functions the various toothpastes claim to serve. With so many choices in front of you, how can you hope to choose the right one?

Here are a few pointers to help you narrow down the section.

Things to look for in a toothpaste

First and foremost, you want to be sure that the toothpaste you are considering is approved by the ADA. You don’t just want to smear some minty paste around your mouth; you want to be sure that the product works the way it is supposed to. The ADA seal is an indicator that the toothpaste passes muster and is appropriate for cleaning your teeth.

Next, you want to be sure that the toothpaste contains fluoride. Fluoride strengthens your teeth and makes them less prone to cavities. Some municipalities add it to their drinking water; if yours does not, you need to make sure that your toothpaste has this mineral.

If you have small children who frequently forget (or just neglect) to brush, look for a toothpaste that they will enjoy using. As you probably know, getting a child to do a good job at something that he or she doesn’t want to do can be a challenge to say the least. By giving them a flavor they like (such as bubble gum) or choosing fun packaging and/or dispensers you can help your cause and head off any bedtime battles.

Finally, consider what your needs are. Do you have some tough stains that just won’t come out? Consider a whitening toothpaste. Do you have sensitive teeth? They make toothpaste especially for use on teeth such as yours. Do you prefer more natural pastes? Some manufacturers offer toothpastes made out of more traditional ingredients such as baking soda.

As far as the form of the toothpaste, both gels and traditional pastes deliver the same benefits. Functionally speaking, there isn’t much of a difference between the two, so just pick whichever form you prefer.

Why You Should Eat Sweets With Your Meal

It is typically frowned upon to eat sweets often, but we all know that everyone needs a little dessert now and then. As long as it is not a regular part of your diet, it can be acceptable to have a sweet to satisfy that craving. The key is when you eat that sweet treat as eating it at the wrong time can cause more damage to your oral health than necessary. The best time to eat desserts or sugary snacks is with your meal. This is when your body is producing the largest amount of saliva, which gives the sugars and acids the best chance of being removed from your mouth rather than left to eat away at your enamel.

Why Sugary Treats are Bad

Why is something that tastes so good so bad for your teeth? It is all thanks to the sugar that works in conjunction with the bacteria that naturally resides in your mouth. The sugar is instantly befriended by the bacteria, turning it into acid. The acid works away at the enamel of your teeth and since the enamel is what protects the interior portion of your teeth, tooth decay occurs and more dental work is needed. If you only consume a sweet treat once in a while and are good about brushing your teeth approximately 30 minutes after consuming that treat, excessive damage does not usually occur. If you eat sweet treats often, however, your oral health could be at risk.

Habits to Start

If you are among the group that loves those sugary snacks, try to get into the following habits:

  • Eat the sugary snack with other foods so that your saliva production is higher and the other foods can help to wash the sugars away rather than allowing them to pair up with the bacteria in your mouth.
  • Drink a glass of water after eating the sugary snack to further the benefit of removing the sugar from your mouth.
  • Brush and floss your teeth within an hour of eating the snack, but not earlier than 30 minutes after consuming it as the sugar can get further driven into your teeth as the acids weaken your enamel during that first 30 minutes after consuming the food.

Why Digital X-rays are Beneficial to your Oral Health

If you are worried about the risks involved with dental x-rays, you can rest assured that digital x-rays are a safe alternative. This new form of dental technology not only makes it safer for patients because it emits 90 percent less radiation than standard x-rays, but also because it provides us with a more detailed look inside your mouth, allowing us to detect dental issues in their earliest stages. Among these benefits, are many others that many patients enjoy:

  • The ability to see the results right away. With traditional x-rays, there was a time lapse between when the x-rays were taken and when the results were available. Digital x-rays, on the other hand, provide the results immediately, portraying them on a computer screen right in front of you. This gives everyone the ability to review the results together and to discuss a treatment plan right away.
  • The ability to manipulate the results to get a better view. With traditional x-rays, if something needed to be seen up closer or an area is not easily seen, additional x-rays needed to be taken. With digital x-rays, the areas can be viewed up close by zooming in or changing the contrast, making it easier to see the areas of concern.
  • The ability to transfer x-rays quickly. If you have a dental issue that requires the assistance of a specialist, we are able to transfer your images via computer in seconds. This gives the specialist time to review your images before you have your appointment, making better use of everyone’s time and eliminating the need to have further x-rays performed.

Digital x-rays are safe and can literally save your oral health. They can be used to detect tooth decay that is not recognized with the naked eye; gum disease; gum recession; bone loss; and even oral cancer. The earlier that you catch any of these dental health issues, the easier the treatment as well as more successful. You only get one chance at having your natural teeth, use today’s dental technology to help you keep those teeth in perfect condition for many years to come!

If You Aren’t Flossing, You Are Missing Out

Flossing is an integral part of every oral health care routine. It only needs to be performed once a day, but this simple act can help fight against gum disease, gum recession, tooth loss, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and respiratory illnesses. Those factors alone should be enough to convince you that flossing your teeth on a daily basis is crucial! You can floss in the morning or at night, whichever time you find more convenient and makes it possible to stick to a routine that you will not avoid.

Flossing Saves Teeth and Lives

Even if you brush your teeth regularly for two minutes at a time, twice a day, you could be missing a large part of the bacteria and plaque that reside in between your teeth. It is impossible for your toothbrush to get in between those tight spaces, which is why flossing is essential. When that plaque and bacteria are left to build up, they begin to infect your gums, which causes gingivitis or advanced stages of gum disease. If your gums get to the advanced stage, you are at risk for tooth loss, heart disease, and other illnesses as the infection passes from your mouth into your bloodstream.

Save Money by Flossing

Believe it or not, flossing on a regular basis can even save you money! Patients that do not floss have to have more invasive dental procedures performed, such as scaling and root planing to get beneath the gum line to remove plaque and bacteria or even procedures, such as root canals or dental implants, depending on the severity of the infection and its detrimental results. Rather than putting your pocketbook and mouth through these procedures, you can put an end to the risk by flossing regularly. The ADA recommends that you floss before you brush your teeth so that any debris, plaque or bacteria that you remove from in between your teeth is removed from your mouth completely from brushing your teeth.

Flossing is one step in the oral hygiene process that should not be avoided! Find a time that it works best for you and stick to it!

Do you Brush your Tongue?

If you are not brushing your tongue, you could be leaving thousands of germs in your mouth that can be wrecking your oral health. Even if you are efficient with brushing and flossing your teeth, removing all debris, bacteria, and plaque, leaving bacteria on your tongue can cause problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and even physical illnesses! Your tongue is a gateway to the rest of your body, which means that you can put your body in danger if the wrong bacteria are left to reside on your tongue. As an added benefit, brushing or scraping your tongue can make it possible to fight bad breath, which is impossible to eliminate if germs still reside in your mouth.

How to Brush Your Tongue

Brushing your tongue is a very simple process. You can use either your toothbrush that you use to brush your teeth or a tongue scraper, if brushing your tongue makes you gag a little. The tongue scraper is a flat tool that effectively scrapes the germs off of your tongue. The key is the technique that you use and that you are consistent about brushing your tongue rather than the tool used to do it.

It is important that you brush from back to front to avoid pushing the bacteria to the back of your mouth where it will cause more damage. Starting at the back of your mouth, scrape your tongue in a forward motion in order to remove the bacteria from your mouth. It is best to work from one side to the other and to work in straight lines so that you ensure that you hit every spot on your tongue. Once you are finished scraping your tongue, make sure to thoroughly rinse your mouth either with an ADA approved mouthwash or with warm water. Rinsing and spitting out the liquid will ensure that any remaining germs that are now loosened are removed from your mouth.

After scraping or brushing your tongue, you are left with fresh breath and a germ free mouth, giving you the best of both worlds – optimal oral health and fresh smelling breath.

Watch out for the Risks of Gum Disease in your Senior Years

Gum disease is one of the main causes for senior tooth loss, but it does not have to be that way. Gum disease can be prevented if you handle your oral health care appropriately. Even if you have lost some of your flexibility and cannot reach the far areas of your mouth or you lose the ability to remember when the last time was that you brushed your teeth, there are ways to get help so that you ensure the health of your mouth for the rest of your life. Gum disease does become more common during a person’s senior year, but for reasons that can be prevented.

The Issues as you Age

Aging comes with a variety of changes, including the needs for medications to manage illnesses, hormone changes, and a change in abilities. Gum disease can occur as a result of each of these changes for the following reasons:

  • If your medication causes a change in the production of saliva, your mouth harbors more bacteria, which puts your gums at greater risk for disease
  • If your hormones begin to change, especially for menopausal women, your gums become more susceptible to disease due to the change in blood flow to the gums
  • If your diet changes as a result of changing taste buds, inability to prepare and cook foods as before, or simply out of poor choices, gum disease can be a risk.

As you age, keeping your regular check-up and cleaning appointments every six months is the best way to ensure that you do not suffer from gum disease or if you do that it is caught in its earliest stage. Gingivitis, which is the first stage of gum disease, is reversible, while periodontitis, the advanced stage, is not. You can get help with proper cleanings, advice on how to manage your diet, and ways to make your oral hygiene easier in order to put the risks of gum disease and subsequent tooth loss behind you just by keeping up with your regular dental appointments as you age.

Tooth Whitening or Dental Veneers: What’s Better?

If you have a discolored, slightly crooked, or otherwise unsightly smile that makes you hide in embarrassment, there are simple ways to fix it without forcing you to endure months of procedures and pain. Today, dental technology has made it possible to create a beautiful smile without a lot of hard work, making it easy for everyone to get the smile that they deserve. The two most popular options are tooth whitening and dental veneers. Both procedures are a successful way to fix a smile, allowing you to gain your self-confidence back once again.

Tooth Whitening

Tooth whitening is one of the least invasive and easiest ways to love your smile again. If you have discolored teeth due to aging, hormones, medications that you take, or lifestyle habits, professional tooth whitening can help to bring the white back to your smile. This procedure is done right in the office and simply requires the use of a whitening gel that is applied to your teeth after your cheeks, lips and gums are protected from the gel. After the gel is applied, a special light is used to activate the whitening, scrubbing away the stains that are on your enamel.

Dental Veneers

Dental veneers are typically the next step if tooth whitening does not work. If your stains are intrinsic, meaning that they are on the interior component of your teeth, rather than the exterior, whitening will not help. Dental veneers can though, because they are sheets of porcelain that are shaped to match the shape of your teeth, which are placed directly over the enamel of your teeth that are discolored, misshapen, or chipped. The procedure is non-invasive and simply requires that a small portion of your enamel is removed in order to ensure that the veneers fit appropriately, allowing you to open and close your mouth with ease.

Tooth whitening and dental veneers are both effective ways of perfecting your smile. They are non-invasive and yet provide incredible results, allowing you to talk and smile without embarrassment. They can make a huge change in anyone’s life!

The Types of Dental Crowns

If you have experienced excessive tooth decay or trauma to a tooth in your mouth, you might need a root canal. This procedure eliminates the decay and dead material beneath your gums and replaces it with material that will fill the area, allowing you to keep your tooth’s natural roots. Once that occurs, the enamel of your tooth needs to be strengthened in order to keep up the ability to chew, talk, and smile with ease. This is done with a dental crown. There are a variety of crowns available, each of which serve their own purpose and provide their own aesthetic appeal.

Posterior teeth – Generally, the teeth in the back of your mouth need the greatest strength and the aesthetic appeal is not a big issue. This is where metal crowns are reserved for as they provide the greatest durability and serve as the best replacement for a natural tooth without the worry about how they look.

Molars and incisors – The other teeth in your mouth, aside from the posterior teeth will need a dental crown that is durable, yet attractive. The most common option is the porcelain fused to metal crown. This appliance gives patients the durability of the metal crown with the attractiveness of the porcelain crown. The porcelain is the exterior of the crown and is what anyone would see when you talk, chew, or smile.

Front teeth – The final option when it comes to choosing a dental crown is the porcelain crown. This option is strictly reserved for front teeth as it is not nearly as durable as the metal or porcelain fused to metal crown. This option is aesthetically pleasing as it is made to mimic the look of your surrounding teeth, yet cannot be used for heavy or excessive chewing.

When placed and used appropriately, dental crowns can last for many years to come. You must make sure to practice proper oral hygiene to prevent an infection from starting below the crown or from further decay occurring. In addition, choosing the right type of crown will ensure that it does not crack or fracture while you are chewing, requiring you to obtain a subsequent crown or an artificial tooth altogether.