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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fillings: The Basics

Determining If You Need a Filling

Your dentist may use several methods to determine if you have tooth decay, including:
*Observation — Some discolored spots on your teeth may indicate decay, but not all of them. Your dentist will use an explorer, a metal instrument with a sharp tip, to probe for possible decay. Healthy tooth enamel is hard and will resist pressure by the explorer. Decayed enamel is softer. The instrument will stick in it slightly. Explorers should be used with caution. Pressing too hard with an explorer can damage a healthy tooth.

*Cavity-detecting dye — This can be rinsed over your tooth. It will stick to decayed areas and rinse cleanly from healthy ones.

*X-rays — X-rays can help your dentist see decay that doesn't show on the surface. However, X-rays are often not accurate in detecting smaller cavities. Current fillings or other restorations also can block the view of decay.
Decay is not the only reason you may need a filling. Other reasons include:

-Cracked or broken teeth
-Teeth that are worn from unusual use, such as:

.Tooth grinding (bruxism)
.Using your teeth to open things

Steps to a Filling

When you visit your dentist to get a filling, you will be given local anesthesia to numb the area if necessary. Next, your dentist will remove decay from the tooth, using hand instruments or a drill. Air abrasion and lasers also can be used to remove decay.
A drill, which dentists call a handpiece, uses metal cones called burs to cut through the enamel and remove the decay. Burs come in many shapes and sizes. Your dentist will choose the ones that are right for the size and location of your decay.

At first, your dentist will use a high speed drill (the one with the familiar whining sound) to cut through the hard enamel. He or she will precisely outline the cavity with the drill, removing only enough of the tooth so the filling can be placed properly. Once the drill reaches the dentin, or second layer of the tooth, the dentist may use a lower speed drill. That's because dentin is softer than enamel.

Throughout the removal process, your dentist will test the area with the explorer to see if all the decay has been removed.

Once all the decay is removed, your dentist will shape the space to prepare it for the filling.

Once all the decay is removed, your dentist will shape the space to prepare it for the filling. Different types of fillings require different shaping procedures to make sure they will stay in place. Your dentist may put in a base or a liner to protect the tooth's pulp (where the nerves are). The base or liner can be made of composite resin, glass ionomer, zinc oxide and eugenol, or another material.

Some of these materials release fluoride to protect the tooth from further decay.

If your dentist is placing a bonded filling, he or she will etch (prepare) the tooth with an acid gel before placing the filling. Etching makes tiny holes in the tooth's enamel surface. This allows the filling to bond tightly to the tooth. Bonded fillings can reduce sensitivity. They also can reduce the risk of leakage or decay under the filling. That's because the etched surface of the tooth and the filling material form a mechanical bond. Bonding is generally done with composite fillings. It can also be done with amalgam.

Certain types of fillings get hardened by a special light. With these fillings, your dentist will stop several times to shine a bright blue light on the resin. This cures (hardens) the material and makes it strong.

Finally, after the filling is placed, your dentist will use burs to finish and polish the tooth.

After a Filling

Many people feel some sensitivity after they receive a filling. The tooth may be sensitive to pressure, air, sweet foods, heat or cold. Composite fillings often cause sensitivity, but other types of filling materials can, too.
In most cases, the sensitivity will subside over one to two weeks. Until then, try to avoid anything that causes it. If your tooth is extremely sensitive or your sensitivity does not decrease after two weeks, contact your dentist's office.

It's important to let your dentist know about any sensitivity you are feeling. The next time you need a filling, he or she may be able to use a different material and make changes to reduce sensitivity. People vary in their response to different materials. Your dentist has no way of predicting if your tooth will react to a particular material.

When you talk to your dentist about the sensitivity, try to describe it as precisely as possible. This information will help decide what should be done next. Your dentist may take out the filling and put in a new one. He or she may add a base, liner or desensitizing agent on the tooth as well. If the filling was very deep, you could need a root canal treatment to solve the problem.

Besides sensitivity, some people feel discomfort when they bite down. There are two types of pain, each with a different cause.

*The first type occurs when you bite, and worsens over time. This is caused by a filling that interferes with your bite. Once your anesthetic wears off, you would notice this right away. Contact your dentist. You will need to return to the office to have the filling reshaped.

*The second type of discomfort is a very sharp shock that appears only when your teeth touch. This is called galvanic shock. It is caused by two metals (one in the newly filled tooth and one in the tooth it's touching) producing an electric current in your mouth. This would happen, for example, if you had a new amalgam filling in a bottom tooth and had a gold crown in the tooth above it.
Your dentist polishes the filling after it is placed, but occasionally sharp edges may remain. If you find one, contact your dentist and arrange to have it smoothed as soon as possible to avoid injury to your tongue or mouth.

Temporary Fillings

You may receive a temporary filling (usually white, off-white or gray) if:

*Your treatment requires more than one appointment.
*Your dentist wants to wait a short period of time for the tooth to heal.
*You have a deep cavity and the pulp (nerve and blood vessels) becomes exposed during treatment.
*You need emergency dental treatment.

A temporary filling may make your tooth feel better. This is because the filling seals the tooth, protecting the pulp from bacteria and reducing sensitivity.

Temporary fillings often contain eugenol, an ingredient in over-the-counter toothache remedies. Eugenol is also a component of oil of cloves, which people use for toothache pain.

Temporary fillings are not meant to last. Usually, they fall out, fracture or wear out within a month or two. If you get a temporary filling, make sure you visit your dentist to get a permanent one. If you don't, your tooth could become infected or you could have other problems.

Why Replace a Filling?

Fillings don't last forever. They can become discolored. For example, amalgam or silver fillings corrode and tarnish. Composite, tooth-colored fillings pick up stains, and yellow or darken over time. When you chew, your teeth and any fillings in them are subjected to tremendous pressures. Even if no other problems develop, some fillings will wear out over time and will need to be replaced. A filling will need to be replaced earlier if it falls out, leaks or cracks.
Food debris and bacteria can seep down under a filling that is cracked or leaking. Since you can't clean there, the bacteria feed on the food debris and form the acid that causes tooth decay. Decay under a filling can become extensive before you notice it or it causes you pain. This is why you should have your fillings checked regularly and get them replaced when problems are found.

Fillings That Fall Out

Fillings can fall out for several reasons:

*You chew too hard on a large filling, and break the filling or the tooth.
*A filling material was used that cannot restore the tooth to its proper form and function. For example, if you have broken a large piece of your front tooth, a porcelain (tooth-colored) crown is probably the best treatment choice. In some cases, a dentist may place a composite filling instead. This may look good or acceptable. However, if the composite is too large, a strong biting motion may break the plastic material.
*The cavity is contaminated with saliva when the filling is placed. For composite resins, this will disrupt the bonding of the material. As a result, the bond will not stick well to the tooth and it may fall out.

Cracked Fillings

Both amalgam and composite fillings can crack, either soon after they are placed or after the fillings have been in place for some time.
Cracks can occur soon after a filling is placed if the filling is higher than the rest of the tooth surface, and must bear most of the force of biting. Cracks also can occur over time, as the forces from chewing and biting affect the filling.

Small cracks also can occur at the edges of a filling. These usually are caused by wear over time. These cracks often can be repaired.

Leaking Fillings

A filling is said to be leaking when the side of the filling doesn't fit tightly against the tooth. Debris and saliva can seep down between the filling and the tooth. This can lead to decay, discoloration or sensitivity.
Both amalgam and composite fillings can leak. An amalgam filling sometimes leaks slightly after it is placed. You would notice this as sensitivity to cold. This sensitivity decreases for the next two to three weeks. Then it disappears altogether. Over that period, the amalgam filling naturally corrodes. The corrosion seals the edges of the filling and stops any leaks.

A composite filling could be contaminated with saliva. This would weaken the bond between the filling and the tooth and allow for leaks. Other times, there may be small gaps where the tooth and filling meet. These gaps are caused by shrinkage when your dentist places the filling. Sensitivity after receiving a composite filling may disappear over time. If it doesn't, the filling may need to be replaced.

Fillings also can leak as a result of wear over time. These fillings should be replaced.

Worn-Out Fillings

Some fillings can last for 15 years or longer. Others, however, will have to be replaced in as little as five years. Your dentist can determine if your fillings are worn enough that they need to be replaced.

Clenching and Grinding

If you clench or grind your teeth, you may have more problems with your fillings. The forces placed on your teeth can lead to tooth sensitivity and extra wear on your fillings. Clenching or grinding also can cause your teeth and fillings to crack or develop small craze lines. These are fine cracks you can see if you shine a light on your tooth.

Keeping Your Fillings

Although some fillings can last for many years, the average life of an amalgam filling is five to seven years. Some can last 15 years. Composite fillings may not last this long.
Your dentist will examine your fillings at your checkup visits. You may need X-rays if your dentist thinks a filling might be cracked or leaking, or if decay is occurring under the filling. Make an appointment with your dentist:

-If a tooth is sensitive
-If you see a crack
-If part of a filling appears to be missing
To help your fillings last, you should visit your dentist regularly for cleanings, brush with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss once a day. If you have many fillings or very large fillings, your dentist may prescribe a fluoride gel you can use at home. The fluoride will help strengthen your teeth and prevent future cavities. Your dentist or hygienist also can apply a fluoride varnish around the edges of these teeth at your checkup visits.

Replacing a Filling

Before removing your old filling, your dentist will discuss treatment options with you. It is often possible to repair an old filling instead of removing it and replacing it completely. However, if the entire filling has to be replaced, the dentist may reevaluate what filling material to use. Talk with your dentist about your preferences for appearance, form and function. Then he or she can select the material that is best for you.

Introduction to Dental Pain Control

Many people are anxious about going to the dentist. Anxiety about dental visits can be caused by fear of having dental injections (shots). Some people dread the sound of the dental drill, or even the sight of dental instruments, some of which are sharp and can look threatening. Most dentists offer ways to help you relax. You can listen to music through headphones or watch a movie.

Many patients are anxious because they fear pain. Long ago, dental fear about pain made sense. There were no numbing shots. If a patient needed anesthesia, he or she was hit on the head and literally "knocked out." Later, less violent methods included opium, belladonna and alcohol. Still, treatment had to be done quickly before the drugs wore off.

These days, no one should expect pain at the dentist's office. Many sedatives and types of anesthesia are available. There are more ways to experience pain-free dental treatment than ever before. Even the sting of the numbing needle can now be avoided: Dentists can use numbing gels and computer-guided injection methods.

Local anesthetics provide you with a pain-free experience. The local anesthetics used today are typically lidocaine or carbocaine. Many years ago, Novocain was a popular local anesthetic. It is often used by patients and dentists as a general name for all local anesthetics that are given by injection.

Newer methods, such as electronic anesthesia, allow you to escape needles completely. This involves impulses sent through electrodes to help block pain. Usually, your dentist will test the numbed area to make sure the anesthetic is working before beginning treatment. But always tell your dentist if you don't think your pain control is working, or if you feel it starting to wear off. Your dentist can't always tell when you are uncomfortable.

You also can arrange a signal (such as a raised finger or hand) that will let your dentist know if you are feeling any pain or discomfort, or if you need a short break.

All About Cavities

What is 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.

Plaque — Plaque 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.

Calculus — 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.

Bacteria — 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.

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.

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.

In the early 1960s, fluoride also began to be added to toothpaste. This also had a major impact on cavity prevention. Now almost all toothpastes contain fluoride. Everyone should brush with a fluoride toothpaste every day. Dental offices sometimes recommend higher levels of fluoride in toothpastes, gels and mouth rinses for both children and adults.

More recently, agents containing calcium and phosphate have been developed. MI Paste and MI Paste Plus both contain Recaldent (the calcium-phosphate ingredient). Your dentist can apply them to your teeth. Recaldent also also can be found in chewing gum (some Trident products) and toothpaste. These agents help prevent and reverse early decay that has not yet led to a cavity.

Sealants are protective coatings placed over the tops of the back teeth — molars and premolars. They block bacteria and acids from sticking in the tiny grooves on the chewing surfaces of these teeth. Sealants can be placed in adults and children. Children can have sealants on their baby molars, and also on the permanent molars once they come in. Dentists can put sealants on molars with signs of early decay, as long as the decay hasn't broken through the enamel.

You can never get rid of all the bacteria in your mouth. But you can take steps to control bacteria:

*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.

Fluoride and Your Teeth

Fluoride's Importance to the Teeth

Enamel, the outer layer of the crown of a tooth, is made of closely packed mineral crystals. Every day, minerals are lost and gained from inside the enamel crystals. These processes are called demineralization and remineralization.
Demineralization is when acids in the mouth dissolve the enamel crystals that make up the outer layer of the tooth. These acids are formed by the combination of plaque bacteria and sugar in your mouth. The loss of enamel is balanced by remineralization. In this process, minerals such as fluoride, calcium and phosphate are deposited inside the enamel. Too much loss of minerals without enough replacement leads to tooth decay.

Fluoride helps teeth in two ways. When children eat or drink fluoride in small doses, it enters the bloodstream and becomes part of their developing permanent teeth. This also makes it harder for acids to cause demineralization. In addition, fluoride works directly on teeth in the mouths of children and adults. It helps to speed remineralization and disrupt the production of acids by bacteria.

Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride in foods, supplements and water enter the bloodstream through the stomach. From there, it is absorbed into the body. In children, the fluoride then becomes available to the teeth that are developing in the jaw.
Topical fluoride products are applied directly to the teeth. They include toothpaste, mouth rinses and professionally applied fluoride treatments. Topical fluoride treatments are in the mouth for only a short time. However, fluoride levels in the mouth remain higher for several hours afterward. Fluoride found in the water and in food products also works this way because the water washes over the teeth and some fluoride remains in the saliva.

Fluoride treatments are given in a dental office. They are applied as a gel, foam or varnish. The fluoride used for these treatments is at much higher strength than mouthwashes or toothpastes.

Fluoride supplements also are available by prescription. They usually are reserved for children who live in areas where the water supply does not contain enough fluoride. Children who need supplements receive them from ages 6 months to 16 years.

Fluoride Supplements: Who Needs Them?

Children between 6 months and 16 years old who do not drink fluoridated water should take fluoride supplements . They are available as liquids for younger children and tablets for older children. Either your pediatrician or your dentist can prescribe them.
All children should use fluoridated toothpaste. If your children are younger than 6, be cautious about how they use it, however. Young children are more likely to swallow toothpaste after brushing instead of spitting it out. Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when they brush. Encourage them to spit out as much as possible. Avoid flavored toothpastes that might encourage swallowing.

If your child has a history of cavities or is at high risk of decay, he or she should use additional fluoride. This will promote remineralization. Fluoride mouth rinses are recommended for children over the age of 6. They are found in the mouthwash section of most stores.

Your dentist can prescribe fluoride rinses and gels if your child needs a higher level of fluoride. Carefully supervise your children when they use any fluoride product. Keep fluoride out of reach of young children.

Can Fluoride Cause Harm?

As with other compounds, fluoride is safe and effective when used properly. It can be hazardous at high doses, however. All water-fluoridation systems are checked daily to maintain safe fluoride levels. Parents should supervise the use of all fluoride products in the home.
Fluoride-supplement tablets should be stored safely away from young children. These supplements are taken each day in small quantities. The dose can range from 0.25 to 1 milligram per day based on the child's age and the amount of fluoride in the water.

Dentists limit the amount of tablets they prescribe at one time to reduce the risk of overdose. To avoid any chance of overdose, do not stock up on fluoride tablets. If you have any questions regarding fluoride risks, talk to your dentist or physician.

Toxic fluoride doses are based on weight. For example, the toxic dose of fluoride for a 2-year-old child weighing 22 pounds is 320 milligrams. For an 8-year-old child weighing 45 pounds, the toxic dose is 655 milligrams.

In comparison, an 8-ounce glass of water fluoridated to 1 part per million contains 0.25 milligrams of fluoride. Since these fluoride products are used in such small amounts, it is very difficult to receive toxic doses when using fluoride products at home.

Bad Effects of Smoking on Dental Health

Smoking is known to have many ill-effects on health and most of us are aware of the dangers of smoking on general health. What people tend to ignore is the impact of smoking on dental health.

Let us analyze some of the bad effects of smoking on oral health.

Tooth Discoloration: Most smokers are generally aware of the tooth stains that are caused by smoking. These tooth stains are due to nicotine and tar present in the cigarette. The staining ranges from yellow to dark brown (from years of smoking).The staining can be on specific teeth or general discoloration. These stains are hard to remove by normal brushing.

Bad Breath: Smokers are at a much greater risk of developing bad breath than non smokers. The nicotine and tar content gives rise to a typical bad breath known as smokers breath.

Apart from this smoking causes dry mouth which is a leading cause of Halitosis (bad breath).

Tooth Decay: Smoking puts you at a greater risk of developing dental caries due to plaque build up.

Gum Disease: Smoking also results in gum disease due to plaque and tartar build up. Smoking also interferes with the normal functioning of the cells in the gum tissue. A recent study published in the journal of Periodontology highlights that smokers are 4 times more likely to develop
advanced gum disease.

Tooth Loss: Advanced gum disease (Periodontitis) is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

Oral Cancer: We easily associate smoking with lung cancer but another major bad effect of smoking is oral cancer. Nearly 90% of all Oral Cancer patients are smokers.

Some other bad effects of smoking include:

*Jaw bone loss
*Mouth bores
*Shifting teeth
*Hairy tongue
*Altered sense of taste and smell
*Delayed wound healing
*Smokers lip

Smoking not only creates dental health issues but worsens already existing dental conditions.
The Journal of Periodontology reports a direct correlation between gum disease and number of cigarettes smoked per day. There was an increased likelihood of developing gum disease for people who smoked more.

It reports that people who smoked less than half a pack a day were three times more likely to suffer from periodontal disease where as people who smoked more than one and half pack were 6 times more likely for the same. Recent studies have pointed out the reduced ability of the body to heal itself after surgery. This is because the body’s defense system was weakened by years of smoking.

There are plenty of harmful effects of smoking on oral health which gives all the more reasons to quit smoking.
ToothBrush Selection

When was the last time you actually put some thought in to selecting a toothbrush? People generally rest their decision making on the attractiveness of the color, design and the claims made by the manufacturers. The basic function of a toothbrush is to reach and efficiently clean most areas of the teeth.

A popular misconstrued belief among people is that their powered tooth brush is much better than a ordinary toothbrush. Although an electric tooth brush makes the process much easier, there is no evidence to suggest they are significantly better at cleaning your teeth.

What kind of Tooth Brush should I use?

• A soft bristled tooth brush should be chosen as hard bristles tend to cause gingival recession. Soft bristles are more flexible, clean beneath the gingival margin and do not damage your gums.

• The head should be small allowing it to effectively clean hard-to-reach areas of the teeth.

• The handle should allow comfortable gripping by the user.

• The shape of the neck or handle does not play any significant role (as claimed by manufacturers) in improving the effectiveness of a tooth brush and should be chosen on your preference.

• Powered tooth brushes (electric toothbrushes) hold no significant advantage over the manual ones as believed by many. Powered toothbrushes should be used for handicapped or bedridden patients, children, Patients with Orthodontic appliances, patients lacking fine motor skills although they can chosen just on personal preference.

When should I replace my tooth brush?
*A toothbrush should be replaced every 3 months or when the bristles start to wear, whichever comes first.

*A toothbrush whose bristles wears inside a couple of weeks is indicative of overzealous brushing and should be discouraged as it causes gingival recession, bacteremia, painful ulceration of the gingiva.

*A toothbrush whose bristles show no sign of wear and tear even after 5-6 months indicates that the brushing is excessively gentle.

*Few toothbrushes have been introduced which are color coded by a dye which fades and reminds the person to change his/her brush.

*An important aspect which most people are unaware of is replacing their toothbrush after cold , flu, sore throat or mouth infection. The microbes can accumulate on the brush leading to reinfection.

10 Commandments for maintaining healthy teeth and gums

General Dental Health Tips

Healthy teeth and gums reflect a healthy personality. Poor Oral health damages our self-esteem besides the various other harmful effects it has. Here I have outlined the 10 Commandments which will go a long way in ensuring you have healthy teeth and gums.
1. Brush your teeth twice daily: Brush your teeth twice a day to avoid majority of the dental problems.

Brushing incorrectly may reduce its effectiveness. It’s important to know HOW TO CORRECTLY BRUSH YOUR TEETH.

2. Use a Dental Floss: Flossing cleans the areas which are harder for a toothbrush to reach. It removes the food debris and plaque accumulated between the teeth. Flossing twice daily is preferable. Do also read the importance of flossing

3. Use of Mouth Washes: Mouthwashes such as Listerine or Chlorohexidine possess effective antiseptic properties. They kill the bacterial plaque known to cause bad breath, tooth decay and gingivitis. Use a mouthwash AFTER BRUSHING as per its directions.

4. Eating right: Maintain a balanced diet but reduce the consumption of foods containing sugars or starch. Sugary Foods( Candies, gums) and Starchy foods(potato chips, snacks) play an important role in causing tooth decay.

5. Avoid in between eating habits: Snacking between meals makes the teeth prone to tooth decay. The bacterial action is greatest at acidic Ph. The Ph is most acidic immediately after meals and gradually reduces and comes to a normal level. Eating in between meals does not allow the acidic level to come down increasing bacterial action leading to caries.

pop causes poor oral health
6. Avoid Cola and Energy Drinks: Cola drinks contain acids such as phosphoric acid and citric acid which have damaging effect on teeth. Energy drinks contain organic acids in addition to the above which directly damage the tooth calcium. ENERGY DRINKS AND COMMERCIAL LEMONADE ARE 11 TIMES MORE HARMFUL TO TEETH THAN COLA DRINKS. If you must drink, don’t sip on them for a long time and do rinse your mouth after drinking

7. Quit Smoking: Smoking not only stains your teeth but also damages your gums by reducing the blood supply. It also causes smokers breath
8. Chewing Sugar free Gum: Chewing Sugar free gum prevents bad breath and fights tooth decay by washing away the plaque acid resulting in healthier teeth.

9. Regular visits to your Dentist: It is essential to visit your dentist once in 3-6 months to diagnose any oral concerns early. Most oral health problems do not produce any symptoms till they have progressed to a later stage.

10. Oral Piercings: Oral Piercings such as tongue or lip are a no-no for good oral health. Tongue piercings can lead to allergic reactions, infections, nervous damage to tongue and gum disease.

8 Remedies for Bad Breath

Bad breath or Halitosis as it is medically known can be an embarrassing condition to contend with. It affects your rappo with colleagues or classmates.

There are plenty of causes of bad breath . The most effective way to prevent bad breath is by maintaining good oral hygiene by following the 10 Commandments of Good Oral Health. However, it should be noted that there can be extra-oral sources of bad breath and these underlying causes must be dealt with for the successful treatment of Halitosis.

Bad breath

*I will discuss the 8 remedies of bad breath which should help in curing your bad breath.

*As clich├ęd or repetitive it might sound, a large percentage of the U.S population do not brush 2 times a day in a correct way. So, learn brushing the right way and do it regularly.

*Tooth Decay is an important causative agent of Halitosis and should be treated immediately. There are various treatments for tooth decay including fillings and Root Canal Treatment (RCT).

*Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) reduces the saliva which is a natural mouthwash leading to bad breath. There are many possible causes of Xerostomia and people affected by Xerostomia should get this condition rectified to treat Halitosis. Generally, drinking lots of water and chewing sugar-free gum is helpful.

*Quit Smoking and Chewing tobacco as smoking and tobacco products accumulate in the oral cavity emitting foul smell.

*Using a mouthwash effectively reduces the bad breath but it may not treat the underlying cause.

*Rinse your mouth after every meal and drink as this reduces the amount of food debris and sugars that bacteria thrive on.

*Make sure you are not a victim of delusional Halitosis or Halitophobia which simply means you do not have Halitosis yet.

*In case, you are concerned after having bad breath when hungry, it’s normal and will go away when you eat something.

How Toothpaste Works?

It is a well established belief that brushing daily strengthens our teeth and makes them healthier and we use it daily never even wondering how it actually works. One must know not only the mechanism of action of a toothpaste but also the role of individual ingredients which will help in choosing an effective toothpaste. The mechanism of toothpaste action is as follows:

• Abrasive Action: The abrasive agent in the toothpaste physically removes the solid particles in the oral cavity by abrasive action. It also helps in removing food stains and polishing tooth surface. It is an established fact that Tooth Powders have almost twice the abrasive action of toothpaste.

Modern toothpaste gel
• Antiseptic Action: The toothpaste contains antimicrobial agents such as Xylitol which inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth which is especially helpful in gingivitis.

• Action of fluoride: Fluoride is an important aspect of a toothpaste. It replaces the hydroxypatite of tooth with fluoropatite which is not only much stronger but also resistant to caries.


Never swallow toothpaste as this can cause fluoride toxicity. Kids should be especially instructed against this.
Don’t use toothpaste for pimples or zits excessively. Although it does seem to help, there are no studies that rule out possible side effects or dangers. People with sensitive skin are prone to burns and irritation on using them.
You should brush for 2-3 minutes. Brushing vigorously for long duration does more harm than good.

Tooth Staining and Discoloration

Staining and tooth discoloration are among the most common aesthetic dental problems which in many situations are quite hard to get rid of by using only natural or home-made remedies. It is a known fact that a lot of people have naturally yellowish or slightly gray shades of their teeth, and up-to-date cosmetic dentistry can offer several effective treatments of such problem, including various teeth whitening procedures, tooth bonding, dental crowns and veneers, etc. Such procedures are very popular and demanded nowadays since every modern person dreams about having a perfect smile.

There are various reasons of staining and discoloration, which include, first of all, poor oral hygiene and constant exposure to so called chromogenic agents, such as coffee, tea, cola, tobacco and other products. Regular users of such products have staining effects on their teeth. Also, this problem can be cause by aging, using low quality mouthwashes and certain medicines which affect the enamel (in particular, some antibiotics), excessive amounts of fluoride (especially in children) and other factors.

Modern specialists define two types of dental staining. Outside (or extrinsic) stains are the pigment that are located on the surface of the teeth. They are usually caused by smoking, drinking too much of tea, coffee, cola, etc., or as a result of a chemical reactions with some medicines. Extrinsic stains can have a variety of shades, starting from dark and greenish (tar strain) and ending with orange and yellowish. As a rule, outside stains can be easily bleached away, polished or removed by using other dental cleaning procedure.

Inside stains are connected with the staining inside of the tooth anatomy. Since such staining occurs much deeper in the tooth structure, it is usually much harder to combat with. Such type of straining usually has more serious effects on the teeth and can be caused by many reasons, such as worn out tooth enamel, excessive fluoride ingestion, traumas, bacterial infections or using some medicines (Tetracycline, Minocycline, etc). Heredity also plays an important role in developing inside stains.

According to recent studies, modern women are less commonly affected by tooth staining than men. However, it is necessary for every modern person to remember that such problem as tooth staining and discoloration can be prevented by following very easy and healthy principles of good dental care. Use whitening chewing gum, brush and floss your teeth on a regular basis, visit your dentist every six month for a check-up and use professional dental cleaning on time. This way, your teeth will be always white and shiny, and your smile will always be bright and attractive.

Tips for Developing Smart Eating Habits Ensuring Your Oral Health

As an important supplement for usual procedures of oral hygiene, effective dental care requires developing healthy eating habits. Unfortunately, the realities of our life and such social factors as our age, socio-economic status, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, housing and so on, impact our eating habits a lot. Besides, such phenomena as advertising and social trends influence our eating habits, too. For instance, many people eat Chinese food because it is considered to be trendy.

However, nowadays, social influences started affecting our eating behavior to a great extent. For example, we often have no time for cooking healthy homemade meals and choose to eat in fast food restaurants or have snacks, which seriously harm our teeth and digestive system. In addition, modern young people live their life at night like owls, and this makes them eat and drink very late. Is it a healthy eating habit? Certainly not! That is why, unfortunately, the majority of eating habits of modern youth can hardly meet the requirements of healthy nutrition strategies and dietary recommendations.

It is especially important to educate your children for healthy eating habits and make them watch what they eat in order to take care about their teeth and gums. Childhood and adolescence are the most important times in everyone’s life from the perspectives of formation of human body and human psychology. That is why all good healthy habits must be established since early childhood, and all parents have to monitor closely eating behaviors of their children and be concerned about their dental and overall health.

Tips for developing good eating habits as important elements of dental care:

•Try to decrease consumption of the foods and drinks with high content of sugar and acids, such as candies, chocolate, jams, various juicy deserts, lemons, and so on.
•Try to decrease consumption of carbonated drinks as they are harmful for your teeth.
•Avoid chewing hard foods, as well as cracking with your teeth such foods as nuts, dry beans, etc.
•Avoid eating snacks between your daily meals as snacking considerably increases your risks to get tooth decay.
• If you can not give up snacking, eat some fresh fruit and vegetables.
•Avoid binge eating and junk food.
•If you suffer an eating disorder, learn how to protect your teeth in every particular situation.
•Try to enrich your daily diet with fresh vegetables, berries, bread and cereals, cheese, milk and yogurt, meat, fish, mushrooms and other foods with proteins and xylitol.
•Finally, make it a habit to rinse your mouth with a mouthwash or drinking water after every meal or snack.
After you have started observing these simple recommendations, it will not take a lot of time for you to notice the improvements of your oral and general health. Eating the foods enriched with vitamins and proteins, as well as balanced and regular nutrition must become essential elements of your daily dental care. In addition, healthy eating behavior will help you to decrease the risks of obesity, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer. Stick to these simple principles of eating and your excellent health will be the best reward for all your efforts.

Nutrition and Dental Health

There is no need in mentioning the importance of proper diet for good oral and dental health. Having shiny and beautiful teeth is strictly linked to good eating habits, as well as eating a rich and balanced diet. Undoubtedly, for normal development and good health, our teeth need certain nutrients, minerals and vitamins. That is why a lot of people, who are on diet and limit consumption of one or another food, sometimes have such problems as cavities, gum related problems, etc. That’s because natural protection, which helps our teeth in fighting against aggressive influence of dangerous bacteria, gets weakened.

First of all, for keeping your teeth in a good condition it is very important to eat dairy products with some small content of fats. Fats help our body in calcium digestion. Eating some small amounts of low-fat cheese, or cottage cheese mixed with a little of fruit or nuts, not less than two times a week can be very useful for boosting your dental health. Besides, it is recommended to eat some seafood and small amounts of fatty fish on a regular basis. These foods are great sources of the fats, which also assist in calcium digestion.

Besides, it is essential to lower the consumption of foods which contain sugar and starch, especially such foods as sugary snacks or carbonated sugary drinks. When you eat such foods, they contact the existing bacteria in your mouth and favor the development of dental plague. There are also many foods containing dangerous acids, which can damage your teeth enamel. Certainly, you should not give up eating such foods completely, but remember that only regular brushing and flossing your teeth can help you minimize negative effects of these chemical substances on your dental health.

Also, you should remember that even if you use a toothpaste with good amounts of calcium and fluoride, it does not mean that your teeth do not need to receive more of natural fluoride or calcium with the foods you eat. No toothpaste can help you to achieve the same positive effects, which can be achieved by a healthy nutrition, because everything you take with meals stays in your body for much longer time, than your toothpaste. Therefore, brushing your teeth assists you in maintaining proper oral hygiene, and healthy nutrition should be your effective tool to prevent many possible risks and dental problems.

Effective Brushing

Good Old Tooth Powder: A Natural Alternative for Modern Toothpastes

Many people consider dental powders to be something old-fashioned as the effectiveness of modern toothpastes is very satisfying for proper dental care. However, sometimes tooth powders do their job better than any toothpaste. The composition of tooth powders is based on finely powdered abrasive elements (such as chalk or calcium phosphates) and a detergent or sweetening agent (essential flavored oils, sugar, menthol, etc.). Some tooth powders also contain bicarbonate which is perfect for whitening our teeth. At the same time, in contrast to so popular toothpastes, dental powder does not contain fluoride and xylitol: important chemicals that can prevent tooth decay.

The first examples of dental powder appeared in the end of the eighteenth century in the Great Britain. The powder was made of calcium carbonate (powdered chalk), sometimes mixed with magnesium carbonate, brick dust, porcelain dust and other abrasive substances. To make the taste of the powder more pleasant and soft, the pharmacists and dentists used to add menthol oil, anise oil, cinnamon oil or oil of cloves. In those times such tooth powders were quite expensive because only rich people could afford using a toothbrush for oral hygiene: poor people were still cleaning their teeth with their fingers.

Nowadays, advanced technologies of contemporary dentistry allowed receiving very powerful dental mixtures from only natural elements that are as much effective as chemicals, but do not harm our health. Modern tooth powders contain therapeutic essential oils (such as tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint, etc) that reduce bad breath, have very good antiviral and antibacterial effects, as well as different sea salts with useful microelements and micronutrients. Some dental powders are enriched with the vitamins and minerals that can rejuvenate the tissues in mouth.

Therefore, the advantages of dental powders include lower costs, greater cleansing power and the absence of dangerous chemical agents (which are sometimes carcinogen and very harmful to our organism). Many specialists underline that modern toothpastes contain a great variety of dangerous chemicals (including the soaps, mutagens, toxins, etc.) and using such pastes can bring to various allergies, problems with digestive system and other serious diseases. That is why some dentists tend to recommend children below 6 to use only tooth powders based on natural elements.

Nevertheless, toothpastes with their moderate abrasive effects, more effective chemical content and a great variety of tastes remain unbeatable competitors of dental powders. Moreover, being more popular and highly demanded, toothpastes can be considered as generally more effective against various new resistant dental bacteria. There are a number of large powerful manufacturers such as Colgate, Unilever and the others, which spent millions of dollars for medical researches and improving the quality of their products. Taking into account all the above, it is possible to come to the conclusion that the best strategy for effective oral hygiene can be keeping both modern soft toothpastes and natural powerful dental powders in your bathroom. By using a toothpaste one day and dental powder the other day you can enjoy the specific benefits of both these mixtures for effective dental care and keep you teeth clean and healthy.

Dental Care for Every Day

Aloe Vera, A New Remedy For Sensitive Teeth
Many effective dental care and dental cosmetics products include herbs and natural remedies as they are safe and can be used by almost everyone on a long-term basis. Recently, a group of scientists studied and analyzed therapeutic properties of such popular herb as aloe vera. Numerous scientific tests showed that this natural remedy can play an important role for treating many dental problems, including periodontal disease and dental cavities. The results of the study were published in such reputable magazines as Cosmetic Dentistry and General Dentistry (a journal of the Academy of General Dentistry).

Aloe vera is known for its rich content of useful elements and nutrients. During the experiments it became clear that aloe vera extract can not only heal small skin damages, have calming effects on our skin and prevent sunburn, but also fight against common dental problems. In particular, aloe vera extract can effectively assist in treating bleeding gums, help to reduce bad breath and prevent the development of dental plague, as well as some other dental diseases.

Dr. Dilip George, one of the leaders of this study, underlines that aloe vera products contain anthraquinones which have perfect anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties, as well as excellent pain-killing effects. In addition to that, dental gels and other products based on this natural remedy will be less irritable and suitable for people with sensitive teeth. Thus, producing and marketing aloe vera dental gel is considered to be a new innovative approach in cosmetic dentistry and oral health care.

At the same time, Dr. Dilip George points on the necessity to continue the researches in order to find a special effective technology for manufacturing dental products with aloe vera. He underlines that using high temperature technology can “..destroy or reduce the effects of certain essential compounds, such as enzymes and polysaccharides“. Aloe vera dental gel will be more natural, safe and less abrasive denta care alternative perfectly suitable for everyone who faces he probem of sensitive teeth.

Dental Care and Medications

We all know so well that a good dental care includes a proper daily oral hygiene, regular dental check-ups and a low sugar diet. However, recently, Australian specialists point on one more important element of everyone’s dental care routine. After one of the researches carried out by dental experts in Sydney, it became clear that a great deal of medications and drugs we use on a regular basis are actually harmful and damaging to our teeth. According to the statistics mentioned at Perth Now, up to 40% of modern people regularly take at least one type of medications which are harmful to their tooth enamel.

In particular, there are a great number of medications which cause saliva reduction or ‘dry mouth’. This condition is quite dangerous for our normal oral hygiene because dry mouth brings to increased number of bacteria population on our teeth and tongue, slows down the processes of de-mineralization and tooth enamel reconstruction, this way creating a favorable environment and speeding up tooth decay. Also, our saliva contains special substances that can neutralize mouth acids which make our teeth decay. Therefore, using too many medications causing ‘dry mouth’ (like antihistamines, etc.) is connected with increased risks of having dental problems.

Some of modern medications are extremely acidic and can cause serious tooth decay. Those include some asthma medicines and others, and if taken for long period of time, they can be very dangerous for our oral health. Also, some medical syrups have a very high content of sugar, which is also harmful for our tooth enamel. If you are taking syrups on a regular basis, it is recommended to brush your teeth every time after your medicine is taken. In addition, such medicines as diuretics, immune-suppressive medicines, oral contraceptives and others are associated with increased risks of having various gum problems, oral ulcers, inflammation, etc.

It is also very important to remember that young children and teenagers are more vulnerable to the above mentioned negative effects of medications and drugs on their teeth, than grown-ups. That is why parents must control the use of antibiotics and other dangerous medicines. A special attention should be paid on the medications which contain fluoride, because it can be very harmful for the developing permanent teeth of children if taken in excessive amounts. Always consult your doctor or a health care specialist before giving your child one or another medication.

Stewed and Roasted Vegetables Can Harm Our Teeth

The Naked Chief Jamie Oliver made the people throughout the world like vegetable stews and oven roasted vegetables. If cooked with love, such meals are very tasty and, in addition, they are considered to be very healthy and useful for our body. In particular, stewed and oven-roasted vegetables are beneficial for our digestive system. However, according to a research carried out two years ago by a group of specialists at the University of Dundee, Scotland, eating a lot of stewed and oven roasted vegetables can be harmful to our teeth and stimulate tooth decay.

The researchers were analyzing chemical content of stewed vegetables cooked in oven for 45 minutes and in a traditional way (boiled in a pot on the top of the stove). They discovered that stewed squash, eggplant and green belly pepper have increased acidity, which can be compared to the acidity level in sodas, the most powerful destroyers of human teeth. Red peppers should be also associated with increased acidity and negative effects on our teeth enamel. At the same time, such vegetables as tomatoes and onions do not have high acidity levels whatever way of cooking is chosen.

“The acidity of ratatouille prepared by oven roasting is the same as that of some carbonated drinks that, when consumed in excess, are believed to contribute to the development of dental erosion,” Dr Graham Chadwick of the School of Dentistry, one of the leaders of the research, comments. The results of this interesting study were published in 2006 in European Journal of Prosthodontics and Restorative Dentistry. Acid erosion is one of the most common and dangerous dental conditions which affects modern people of all ages.

The Causes Behind Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth is a very common problem nowadays. If you feel dental pain and discomfort when eating ice-cream, biting a chocolate bar or sipping your morning coffee, as well as while brushing or flossing, there is a probability that your tooth sensitivity increased. Sensitive teeth can make you hate your favorite meals and turn your life into a misery. Fortunately, modern dental technologies can solve this problem very effectively, but in order to receive lasting effects of any treatment, it is essential to find out the roots of the problem.

There is a number of causes of tooth sensitivity (also called as dentin hypersensitivity). In the majority of the cases, the problems start when the gums that cover our tooth roots reduce and make our underlying teeth tissues (dentin) exposed. Those tissues are not as strong as tooth enamel or cementum, therefore, our dental nerves can be stimulated easily. That is why drinking or eating hot, cold, acidic or sweet meals causes pain and hypersensitivity.

The main causes of tooth sensitivity can be put to the following:

•It is estimated that about 60-90% of tooth sensitivity is caused by improper and too hard brushing, or brushing with too hard brush. This frequently causes gum recession and dentin exposure.
•Untreated cavities and plague also lead to sensitive teeth.
•Gum disease and dental inflammation that is linked to gum disease may cause reduction of supporting ligaments, resulting in exposure of the tissues under the gum line.
•Due to poor oral hygiene, tartar can from at the gum line, making tooth root more sensitive.
•Experts say that prolonged mouthwash use can also cause sensitive teeth.
•Tooth cracks, as well as cracks or leakage of old feelings can bring to increased tooth sensitivity.
•Regular dental procedures, including gum surgery, tooth restoration, crown placement, etc., can make the tooth root exposed.
•Excessive tooth whitening frequently leads to increased tooth sensitivity.
•Bad habits like teeth clenching or grinding can wear out tooth enamel and bring to tooth sensitivity.
•Consuming too much of acidic foods and beverages is another factor that can cause enamel erosion and sensitive teeth.
•Specialists say that age also can play a role: it is estimated that tooth sensitivity peaks at the age 25-30.
•Pregnancy and PMS are connected with increased tooth sensitivity in most of women.