What`s in Your Mouth?
To understand what happens when your teeth decay, it`s helpful to know what`s in your mouth naturally. Here are a few of the elements: Saliva — Your mouth and teeth are constantly bathed in saliva. We never give much thought to our spit, but this fluid is remarkable for what it does to help protect our oral health. Saliva keeps teeth and other parts of your mouth moist and washes away bits of food. Saliva contains minerals that strengthen teeth. It includes buffering agents. They reduce the levels of acid that can decay teeth. Saliva also protects against some viruses and bacteria.
It is a soft, gooey substance that sticks to the teeth a bit like jam sticks to a spoon. It contains colonies of bacteria and other organisms, clumping together with bits of food. Also in the mix are bacteria byproducts, white blood cells and body tissue. Plaque grows when bacteria attach to the tooth and begin to multiply. Plaque starts forming right after a tooth is cleaned. It builds up to measurable levels in about an hour. As time goes on, the plaque thickens. Within two to six hours, the plaque teems with bacteria that can cause cavities.
If left alone long enough, plaque absorbs minerals from saliva. These minerals form crystals and harden the plaque into calculus. Then new plaque forms on top of existing calculus. This new layer can also become hard.
We have many types of bacteria in our mouths. Some bacteria are good; they help control destructive bacteria. When it comes to decay, Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacilli are the bacteria that cause the most damage to teeth.
How Your Teeth Decay
The bacteria in your mouth need food to live and multiply. When you eat sugary foods and other carbohydrates, the bacteria use them as food, too. The bacteria then produce acids that can dissolve tooth enamel (outer layer of the tooth). It`s not just candy and ice cream we`re talking about. All carbohydrate foods eventually break down into simple sugars. These include glucose and fructose. Some of this process begins in the mouth. Prevention Bad breath caused by dental problems can be prevented easily with proper home and professional care. This means: Brushing your teeth, tongue and gums after meals Flossing daily Rinsing with a mouthwash approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) Visiting the dentist regularly (at least twice a year) for an exam and tooth cleaning.
You also can combat bad breath by drinking plenty of water every day to help your body make saliva. An occasional swish of the mouth with water can loosen bits of food. Other products can help you keep breath fresh and prevent plaque from forming. They include: Sugar-free gum Sugarless breath mints Raw carrots Celery.
It is the medical term for tooth decay or cavities. It is caused by acid erosion of tooth enamel. Many different types of bacteria normally live in the human mouth. They build up on the teeth (along with saliva, bits of food and other natural substances) in a sticky film called plaque. Plaque forms especially easily in certain places. These include: cracks, pits or grooves in the back teeth between teeth around dental fillings or bridgework near the gum line.
Some of the plaque bacteria convert sugar and carbohydrates (starches) in the foods we eat into acids. These acids dissolve minerals in the surface of the tooth. This erodes the enamel or creates pits in it that are too small too see at first. But they get larger over time.
The damage can occur anywhere the tooth is exposed to plaque and acid. This includes the hard outer enamel on the tooth crown or parts of the root that have been exposed because of receding gums. Once decay penetrates the protective enamel, it can enter the softer, vulnerable dentin. This is the main body of the tooth. A cavity can even penetrate the soft tooth pulp and the sensitive nerve fibers within it. No one really knows what causes the pain people get with cavities. Theories include: Inflammation caused by bacteria Exposure of the root surface Imbalance of fluid levels in tiny openings called tubules inside the dentin. Symptoms. Early caries may not have any symptoms. Later, when the decay has eaten through the enamel, the teeth may be sensitive to sweet foods or to hot and cold temperatures.
Diagnosis. A dentist will look for caries at each office visit.This will be part of the exam, whether it is a routine visit or an appointment made because of pain. The dentist will look at the teeth and will probe them with a tool called an explorer to look for pits or areas of damage. X-rays will be taken on a set schedule, or if the dentist suspects hidden caries.
Treatment. The standard treatment for a cavity is to fill the tooth. First, the dentist will numb the area. Then the decayed material in the cavity is removed and the cavity is filled. Fillings usually are made of dental amalgam or composite resin. Amalgam is a silver-gray material made from silver alloyed with copper or other metals to make it more durable. Composite resin offers a better appearance because it is tooth-colored Abscess
When the inside of your mouth gets hurt or irritated, bacteria may get in. This can cause an infection. Sometimes you will see a painful swelling filled with pus (a thick, yellowish fluid). If the pus can`t drain out, the area will get more swollen and painful. This is known as an abscess. Your body forms an abscess to try to keep an infection from spreading.
Abscesses can form very quickly. Sometimes they form only one or two days after the infection starts. There are two types of abscesses: A gum abscess (also called a periodontal abscess) usually is caused by an infection in the space between the teeth and gums. The infection may happen after food gets trapped between the gum and tooth. In people with severe periodontal disease, germs can build up under the gums. A tooth-related abscess (also called a periapical abscess) occurs inside the tooth. This happens when the tooth`s nerve is dead or dying. This type of abscess shows up at the tip of the tooth`s root. It can spread to nearby bone.
Esthetic and cosmetic dentistry
In the past, dental work was often obvious and completed in bits and pieces, leaving patients with mouths full of unsightly silver fillings, ugly black gum lines, and teeth of various colors. But today’s technology allows Sensident Med to design sparkling, even smiles quickly, comfortably, and easily. With cosmetic options such as veneers, tooth whitening, and composite fillings, perfect teeth don’t have to be a pipe dream! Here are some of the procedures that we offer:
1. Laminate Veneers In just two or three dental visits, a veneer can reverse years of stains caused by foods, caffeine and tobacco use. Special thin laminates, called veneers, can also be used to correct discolored, worn down, cracked and chipped teeth. Veneers can also be used to close unsightly gaps between teeth. Stronger types of veneers made of porcelain, also called composite veneers, typically last longer because they are bonded to the tooth. An impression of the tooth must be made and a veneer molded by a lab technician. Because veneers require a small amount of enamel to be removed, they are permanent and non-reversible. The process involves buffing the tooth, removing an extremely thin layer of the tooth to allow for the thickness of the veneer, an impression of the tooth, and final bonding of the veneer to the tooth with special cement. A special light is used to complete the process; 2. Composite Bonding An alternative to veneers is a process called bonding, in which a tooth-colored material that looks like the enamel of your teeth is molded and shaped, and then hardened and polished. Bonding can be used to improve the color of a tooth, or close unsightly gaps. Bonding is generally not as permanent a process as veneers, and can vulnerable to the same kind of staining your natural teeth are prone to. Bonding can also be more prone to chips and cracks than veneers;
3. Caps are generally preferred to bonding when such a procedure isn`t deemed to be effective in the long run;
4. Tooth Whitening (Bleaching) People with stained or dull teeth usually benefit from whitening, which is a safe and effective way to brighten stained, discolored or dull teeth. Even a stubborn single tooth that is noticeably duller or less white than your other teeth can be individually brighten;
5. Teeth bleaching products, which contain peroxides, actually change your natural tooth color anywhere from five to seven — but even up to twelve — shades brighter. One process known as chairside bleaching involves applying either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect the soft tissues in the mouth. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth, and a special light is used to enhance the chemical action;
6. If your teeth aren`t very dark or very stained, you may need only one bleaching session. Tooth bleaching safely lightens the color of your teeth, and can last up to five years. In general, bleaching works for most people. Tooth bleaching is most effective if your teeth are darkened from age, coffee, tea or smoking. Teeth darkened with the color of yellow, brown or orange respond better to lightening. Other types of gray stains caused by fluorosis, smoking or tetracycline can be lightened, but with less-than-satisfactory results;
7. If you`re interested in brightening your smile, have your teeth evaluated by us. Not everyone is a good candidate for bleaching. In some cases of serious discoloration and pitted teeth, for example, veneers may be more appropriate than bleaching. Moreoever, crowns, bridges, and fillings do not bleach, so it may be necessary to replace dental work to make it blend with the new color of your bleached teeth. An X-ray of your teeth may be the only accurate way of making a true assessment;
8. Composite Fillings There are alternative, natural-looking materials to conventional silver-colored fillings – materials made from porcelain and composite resins, which are colored to match natural tooth enamel. Unfortunately, few materials can match the strength and durability of dental amalgam and such, may need more frequent replacement. Common amalgam alternatives include: Composite fillings — As stated, composite fillings are just what the name implies: a mixture of resins and fine particles designed to mimic the color of natural teeth. While not as strong as dental amalgam, composite fillings provide a pleasing aesthetic alternative. Sometimes, composite resins need to be cemented, or bonded to a tooth to allow for better adhesion. Ionomers — Like composite resins, these materials;
9. Ionomers are made from a combination of various materials, including ground glass and acrylic resins. Ionomers are typically used for fillings near the gum line or tooth root, where biting pressure is not a factor. They are more fragile than dental amalgam, however. A small amount of fluoride is released by these compounds in order to facilitate strengthened enamel in the affected area. Porcelain (ceramic) — This material is usually a combination of porcelain, glass powder and ceramic. Candidates for porcelain fillings are typically crowns, veneers and onlays and inlays. Unlike ionomers, porcelain fillings are more durable but can become fractured if exposed to prolonged biting pressures;
10. Crowns. If you are reluctant to smile because of yellowed, injured, cracked, or chipped teeth, you may want to consider crowns. Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth. Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth’s function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. When decay in a tooth has become so advanced that large portions of the tooth must be removed, crowns are often used to restore the tooth.
Crowns are also used to attach bridges, cover implants, prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse, or an existing filling is in jeopardy of becoming loose or dislocated. Crowns also serve a cosmetic use, and are applied when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance.
Procedures. A tooth must usually be reduced in size to accommodate a crown. A cast is made of the existing tooth and an impression is made. The impression is sent to a special lab, which manufactures a custom-designed crown. In some cases, a temporary crown is applied until the permanent crown is ready. Permanent crowns are cemented in place. Porcelain, gold alloys or combinations of materials are usually used to make bridge appliances. Bridges can correct speaking problems, making chewing easier, and provide added comfort. To learn more about bridges, please contact us today. Appliances called “implant bridges” are attached to an area below the gum tissue, or the bone.
It is the branch of dentistry that deals with diseases of the tooth`s pulp. The pulp is found in the center of the tooth and in canals (called root canals) inside the root of each tooth. Pulp includes connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels. Pulp nourishes the tooth when it first emerges through the gum. Once the tooth matures, the pulp can be removed without destroying the tooth. That`s because each tooth also is nourished by a blood supply in the gums. Removing the pulp is called endodontic treatment, but it is often referred to as root canal treatment or root canal therapy. Many people refer to pulp removal as having a root canal. Root canal treatments are quite common. Foods that break down into simple sugars in the mouth are called fermentable carbohydrates. These include the obvious sugary foods, such as cookies, cakes, soft drinks and candy. But they also include pretzels, crackers, bananas, potato chips and breakfast cereals. Bacteria in your mouth turn the sugars in these foods into acids. These acids begin to dissolve the mineral crystals in teeth. The more times you eat each day, the more times your teeth are exposed to an acid attack.
This attack can lead to tooth decay, also known as dental caries. First, the acid begins to dissolve calcium and phosphate crystals inside a tooth. A white spot may appear on the enamel in this weakened area. But the loss of minerals develops beneath the surface of the enamel. The surface may still be smooth. At this stage, the tooth can be repaired with the help of fluoride, proteins and minerals (calcium and phosphate) in the saliva. The saliva also helps reduce the acid levels from bacteria that attack the tooth.
Once the decay breaks through the enamel to cause a cavity, the damage is permanent. A dentist must clean out the decay and fill the cavity. Left untreated, the decay will get worse. It can destroy a tooth all the way through the enamel, through the inside dentin layer and down to the pulp or nerve of the tooth. That`s why it is important to treat caries at a very early stage, when the process can be reversed.
Pregnancy, Oral Health and Your Baby
When you`re pregnant, it seems everyone has advice for you — on what to eat, how to prevent morning sickness, how to keep stretch marks at bay. It`s likely, however, that no one has ever told you how important it is to take care of your oral health. In fact, some people still believe that the state of your gums and teeth will decline during pregnancy and that there`s nothing you can do about it. The saying goes something like, You lose a tooth for every baby.
These beliefs are out of date. It`s true that the hormonal changes of pregnancy cause many women to experience pregnancy gingivitis – swelling Periodontal disease also may contribute to preeclampsia. This is a poorly understood and potentially dangerous condition that sharply increases blood pressure. P eeclampsia affects about 5% of pregnant women. The only cure is giving birth, which can put the baby at risk if delivery is premature. For the mother, complications can include stroke, kidney failure and hemorrhage. So far, a few studies have linked preeclampsia with periodontal disease. More research is needed to discover whether there is a cause-effect relationship.
Dental Caries. Tooth decay is a bacterial infection. Infants aren`t born with the bacteria that cause decay. Most acquire these bacteria from their mothers before their third birthday. Common ways to transmit these bacteria are kissing, sharing utensils, cleaning off a pacifier with your mouth, or an infant putting his or her hand in your mouth. Mothers with active tooth decay will have more decay-causing bacteria. Therefore, their children are more likely to acquire them early in life, and more likely to get tooth decay. If you are pregnant and have cavities, you can reduce your child`s risk of developing early tooth decay by improving your own oral health. This can greatly reduce the number of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth and reduce the chance that you will spread them to your child. Here are some important steps you can take: See a dentist for treatment of all untreated cavities. Brush and floss daily. Use products, such as chewing gum and mints, that contain xylitol. Research has shown that pregnant women and new mothers who use products that contain xylitol can reduce the number of decay-causing bacteria in their mouths. You need to use the products every day for months for them to work, but this is another way to reduce the risk of tooth decay in your young children.
Before You Become Pregnant If you are planning to get pregnant, visit your dentist for an exam. This way, you can receive any necessary treatment before you become pregnant. A dental visit before pregnancy will reduce your risk of having a dental emergency during pregnancy and give you a chance to schedule dental visits during your pregnancy. Visiting the Dentist During Pregnancy Many women steer clear of the dentist during pregnancy, believing that certain practices might be harmful to the fetus. But dental care during pregnancy is an important part of keeping you, and your baby, healthy. Having a healthy mouth during pregnancy may reduce the risk of delivering a premature or low birth weight baby.
Because of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, the chance of developing pregnancy gingivitis and periodontal disease increases. This is because during pregnancy the immune system may work differently than usual and alter the way the body reacts to the bacteria that cause gum disease. Cleaning the tooth surfaces often helps to relieve the symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis and improves overall oral heath. Types of Decay Young children can get a type of decay called baby bottle tooth decay or early childhood caries. It destroys enamel quickly. This type of decay is common in children who are put to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice. The bottle exposes the teeth constantly to carbohydrates through the night. Bacteria can grow rapidly and produce acid that decays teeth.
Decay can become worse if the parent does not clean the child`s teeth. It can eat through enamel and leave a large cavity in a matter of months. In older adults, the exposed roots of teeth can develop cavities. This is called root caries. Older adults are more likely to have receding gums caused by years of hard brushing or periodontal disease. They also are more likely to have dry mouth (xerostomia). The decrease in saliva results in less protection of the teeth. This increases the risk of decay. Many common medicines can cause dry mouth. Be sure to ask the doctor or pharmacist if any of your medicines cause dry mouth.
Decay can form beneath fillings or other tooth repairs, such as crowns. Sometimes bacteria and bits of food can slip between the tooth and a poorly placed filling or crown. This also can happen if the filling cracks or pulls away from the tooth, leaving a gap. Preventing Cavities Do you or your family members get cavities often? Dental research has found out that certain factors can affect your risk of tooth decay. These factors include: The current number of decayed or filled teeth Your fluoride exposure Family history of decay How well you take care of your teeth The amount of saliva and the balance of minerals, enzymes and buffering agents it contains How often and what types of foods you eat (especially carbohydrates).
Ask your dentist about the best ways to reduce your risks and limit dental decay. To prevent your teeth from decaying, you can do two things: Strengthen your teeth`s defenses with fluoride, sealants and agents that contain calcium and phosphate ions. Reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth.
Fluoride penetrates into teeth. It strengthens them by replacing minerals that acid has destroyed. The benefits of fluoride to teeth were first discovered in the 1930s. Dentists started to notice that people who drank water that naturally contained fluoride had less tooth decay. In 1945, communities started to add fluoride to water supplies. Adding fluoride to water systems has been the most successful cavity prevention method to date. Brush twice a day. Floss daily. Reduce the number of times each day that you consume fermentable carbohydrates. Some prescription mouthwashes (those that contain chlorhexidine) reduce bacteria in your mouth. This can help prevent decay. Chewing sugarless gums, especially those with xylitol, can help reduce bacteria levels and increase the flow of saliva. Most importantly, visit your dentist regularly. Then the dentist can find any decay early, when it can be treated and reversed.
Smoking: A Danger to Healthy Gums
You`ve probably seen the warning on cigarette packages: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health. What smoking-related diseases come to mind? Lung cancer Periodontal (gum) disease
It is a bacterial infection. It destroys soft tissue and bone that anchor your teeth to your jawbones. Bacteria grow in the dental plaque that forms in the pockets around your teeth. Your body`s reaction to the plaque leads to the breakdown of soft tissue and bone. In early stages of the disease, you may notice that your gums bleed when you brush or floss. As the infection worsens, your gums begin to break down. They pull away from your teeth, forming pockets. Later, the pockets between your teeth and gums deepen as more of the supporting structures are destroyed. Ultimately, your teeth may become loose and painful. They may even fall out.
Oral Cancer Tobacco`s
It is the greatest threat to your health may be its link to oral cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that: About 90% of people with mouth cancer and some types of throat cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing these cancers increases as people smoke or chew more or for a longer time. Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop these cancers. About 37% of patients who continue to smoke after cancer treatment will develop second cancers of the mouth, throat or larynx. This compares with only 6% of those who stop smoking. Tobacco smoke from cigarettes, cigars or pipes can cause cancers anywhere in the mouth or the part of the throat just behind the mouth. It also can cause cancers of the larynx, lungs, esophagus, kidneys, bladder and several other organs. Pipe smoking also can cause cancer in the area of the lips that contacts the pipe stem. Smokeless tobacco has been linked to cancers of the cheek, gums and inner surface of the lips. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of these cancers by nearly 50 times.
What Are X-Rays?
X-rays are a form of energy that travels in waves. X-rays can enter solid objects, where they either are absorbed or continue to pass through. X-rays tend to be absorbed by denser objects. They pass easily through less dense objects. Teeth and bone are very dense, so they absorb X-rays. X-rays pass more easily through gums and cheeks. That`s why cheeks and gums appear dark and without detail on a dental X-ray, but teeth show up much lighter. Restorations such as crowns and fillings are even denser than bone. They show up as solid, bright white areas on X-rays. Dental decay and caries (cavities) appear as darker patches.
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Bad breath is breath that has an unpleasant odor. It`s also known as halitosis. This odor can strike from time to time, or it can be long-lasting, depending on the cause. Millions of bacteria live in the mouth, particularly on the back of the tongue. In many people, they are the primary causes of bad breath. The mouth`s warm, moist conditions are ideal for the growth of these bacteria. Most bad breath is caused by something in the mouth.
Some types of bad breath are considered to be fairly normal. They usually are not health concerns. One example is morning mouth. This occurs because of changes in your mouth while you sleep. During the day Poor dental hygiene — Infrequent or improper brushing and flossing, which allows bits of food to decay inside the mouth Infections in the mouth — Periodontal (gum) disease Respiratory tract infections — Throat, sinus or lung infections External agents — Garlic, onions, coffee, cigarette smoking, chewing tobacco Dry mouth (xerostomia) — Caused by salivary gland problems, medicines or mouth breathing Systemic (bodywide) illnesses — Diabetes Respiratory tract infections — Sore throat, swollen lymph nodes (swollen glands) in the neck.