Posts for: February, 2016
Other than the common cold, tooth decay is the most prevalent disease in the world. And while a cavity or two may seem like a minor matter, tooth decay’s full destructive potential is anything but trivial. Without proper prevention and treatment, tooth decay can cause pain, tooth loss and, in rare cases, even death.
This common disease begins with bacteria in the mouth. Though these microscopic organisms’ presence is completely normal and at times beneficial, certain strains cause problems: they consume left over carbohydrates in the mouth like sugar and produce acid as a byproduct. The higher the levels of bacteria the higher the amount of acid, which disrupts the mouth’s normal neutral pH.
This is a problem because acid is the primary enemy of enamel, the teeth’s hard protective outer shell. Acid causes enamel to lose its mineral content (de-mineralization), eventually producing cavities. Saliva neutralizes acid that arises normally after we eat, but if the levels are too high for too long this process can be overwhelmed. The longer the enamel is exposed to acid, the more it softens and dissolves.
While tooth decay is a global epidemic, dental advances of the last century have made it highly preventable. The foundation for prevention is fluoride in toothpaste and effective oral hygiene — daily brushing and flossing to removing plaque, a thin film of food remnant on teeth that’s a feeding ground for bacteria, along with regular dental visits for more thorough cleaning and examination. This regular regimen should begin in infancy when teeth first appear in the mouth. For children especially, further prevention measures in the form of sealants or topical fluoride applications performed in the dentist office can provide added protection for those at higher risk.
You can also help your preventive measures by limiting sugar or other carbohydrates in your family’s diet, and eating more fresh vegetables, fruit and dairy products, especially as snacks. Doing so reduces food sources for bacteria, which will lower their multiplication and subsequently the amount of acid produced.
In this day and age, tooth decay isn’t a given. Keeping it at bay, though, requires a personal commitment to effective hygiene, lifestyle choices and regular dental care. Doing these things will help ensure you and your family’s teeth remain free from this all too common disease.
If you would like more information on preventing and treating tooth decay, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay.”
In real life he was a hard-charging basketball player through high school and college. In TV and the movies, he has gone head-to-head with serial killers, assorted bad guys… even mysterious paranormal forces. So would you believe that David Duchovny, who played Agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files and starred in countless other large and small-screen productions, lost his front teeth… in an elevator accident?
“I was running for the elevator at my high school when the door shut on my arm,” he explained. “The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the hospital. I had fainted, fallen on my face, and knocked out my two front teeth.” Looking at Duchovny now, you’d never know his front teeth weren’t natural. But that’s not “movie magic” — it’s the art and science of modern dentistry.
How do dentists go about replacing lost teeth with natural-looking prosthetics? Today, there are two widely used tooth replacement procedures: dental implants and bridgework. When a natural tooth can’t be saved — due to advanced decay, periodontal disease, or an accident like Duchovny’s — these methods offer good looking, fully functional replacements. So what’s the difference between the two? Essentially, it’s a matter of how the replacement teeth are supported.
With state-of-the-art dental implants, support for the replacement tooth (or teeth) comes from small titanium inserts, which are implanted directly into the bone of the jaw. In time these become fused with the bone itself, providing a solid anchorage. What’s more, they actually help prevent the bone loss that naturally occurs after tooth loss. The crowns — lifelike replacements for the visible part of the tooth — are securely attached to the implants via special connectors called abutments.
In traditional bridgework, the existing natural teeth on either side of a gap are used to support the replacement crowns that “bridge” the gap. Here’s how it works: A one-piece unit is custom-fabricated, consisting of prosthetic crowns to replace missing teeth, plus caps to cover the adjacent (abutment) teeth on each side. Those abutment teeth must be shaped so the caps can fit over them; this is done by carefully removing some of the outer tooth material. Then the whole bridge unit is securely cemented in place.
While both systems have been used successfully for decades, bridgework is now being gradually supplanted by implants. That’s because dental implants don’t have any negative impact on nearby healthy teeth, while bridgework requires that abutment teeth be shaped for crowns, and puts additional stresses on them. Dental implants also generally last far longer than bridges — the rest of your life, if given proper care. However, they are initially more expensive (though they may prove more economical in the long run), and not everyone is a candidate for the minor surgery they require.
Which method is best for you? Don’t try using paranormal powers to find out: Come in and talk to us. If you would like more information about tooth replacement, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Crowns & Bridgework,” and “Dental Implants.”
Braces have become a rite of passage for adolescents around the globe. However, wearing braces comes with a set of hygiene rules which includes changes to most patients’ diets. Finding a balance of tasty foods which follow these new rules is often difficult. With help from your Mississauga, ON dentist, you can straighten your teeth and stay healthy with nutritious, delicious foods with no harm to your orthodontic appliances.
What foods should I avoid while wearing braces?
While braces are made to be durable during treatment, they can become damaged by certain foods. This causes complications to treatment and makes emergency visits to your dentist necessary. Dentists recommend avoiding foods like these while wearing braces:
- hard foods
- sticky or hard candy
- sugary foods in general
- chewing ice
- hard crackers or biscuits
- hard breads
- chewing gum
Good Foods for Braces
Avoiding these foods may sound hard to do, but there are plenty of great meals which can replace these damage-causing snacks.
- Breakfast: Smoothies are a great, healthy option for anyone’s breakfast. Those with braces find smoothies particularly appealing since they do not include any hard or crunchy parts and are easy to eat on the go. Soft fruits like bananas or oranges and yogurt also make for a delicious and healthy breakfast. Eggs and biscuits or croissants are a healthy, hearty option for breakfast.
- Lunch: Soft bread, meats and cheeses are great options for those wearing braces. This means a turkey or ham and cheese sandwich for lunch fills you up and keeps your braces from breaking. Tortillas are also good for braces wearers, meaning you can eat an avocado and shredded chicken wrap or soft taco for lunch.
- Dinner: Seafood and easy-to-chew meats like shredded chicken or meatballs make choosing an option for dinner easy. Pasta or other noodle-based dishes are also a good choice. Steamed vegetables are soft enough to chew easily and provide a nutritious side dish. For dessert, ice cream, frozen yogurt, jello or pudding are safe for braces.
Brushing and flossing after each meal ensures your teeth stay decay-free and allows your dentist to stick with their orthodontic treatment plan without complications such as cavities or gum disease.
For more information on braces and the best foods to eat during treatment, contact your dentist at Mississauga Dental Arts in Mississauga, ON. Call (905) 286-1569 to speak with an associate today!