Category Archives: cavities

Inlays & Onlays Explained

Keeping natural teeth is important for reasons in addition to just creating an appealing smile. A natural tooth provides a number of advantages both above and below the gum line.

It has been shown that people who have their natural teeth live an average of ten years longer than people who wear dentures. And, it is a fact that, when a natural tooth is lost, the next to be lost will be one adjacent.

When most people think of having a cavity in a tooth repaired, a ‘filling’ is typically the anticipated procedure. However, large cavities of teeth that have an overload of decay or previous fillings are often crowned. A crown (or ‘cap’) covers the entire top and sides of the tooth to protect the remaining structure. This helps preserve the tooth along with its roots that are so beneficial to the health of the jaw bone that supports them.

In the past, many dentists used a silver ‘amalgam’ material to fill the portion of the tooth that was removed.  Because of the concerns surrounding the suspected hazards of amalgam’s mercury content, non-amalgam filling materials became the standard choice for most dentists.

Non-amalgam tooth-colored fillings contain no mercury and provide a more tooth-like appearance. Yet, there are times when a filling is not quite right and a crown may be more than is needed. This is where inlays and onlays are a better option.

Inlays and onlays are ideal when a large, biting surface area of a tooth needs repair. Inlays and onlays are like porcelain puzzle pieces. They are custom-designed to fit precisely into the tooth, similar to how a puzzle piece fits snugly into a jigsaw puzzle.

The procedure begins with removing the decayed area and preparing the tooth. You are fully numbed during the procedure. While you relax, a mold is made of the area to be replaced with the inlay or onlay. A temporary ‘restoration’ will be provided to protect the area while a dental lab creates your final porcelain inlay or onlay. Once the restoration is ready, you’ll return to our office to have it ‘seated’ into placed and secured with a special dental adhesive.

The porcelain used in inlay and onlay construction provides exceptional durability and provides a highly natural feel and function with exceptional longevity. During both appointments, your comfort is a priority. If desired, oral sedation can be added to treatment for added relaxation.

When a tooth needs repair beyond the adequacy of a simple filling (or less than the need for a full crown), an inlay or onlay may be the ideal remedy. If this is best for your individual situation, I’ll be happy to explain the procedure, comfort options, treatment time and estimated cost.

Call 586-739-2155 to request a no-cost, no obligation consultation.

Soft Drinks & Your Smile

It’s MAY already? The year is flying by. Not always a bad thing! After a Michigan winter, May’s warming weather reminds us that we’re ready for some fun in the sun.

With outdoor gatherings and activities, you’ll often find a cooler of drinks nearby. Before you pull that tab, though, consider that those soft drinks can lead to costly, time-consuming dental repairs.

“Soft drinks.” Now, that’s a misleading name for what they can do to teeth and gums. Colas can contribute to a number of health problems, including an ability to cause cavities and enamel erosion. Yet, most people are unaware of just how erosive the acids from cola can be. Even sugar-free soft drinks can cause a similar erosion level as those containing sugar.

The acidity levels in colas have been compared to that approaching the levels in battery acid. Colas are so acidic because they are infused with phosphoric acid that adds flavor. Phosphoric acid is inexpensive and widely available and is a common ingredient in fertilizers, detergents and industrial cleaners. In certain uses, it is accompanied by arsenic.

Phosphoric acid is so erosive it can remove rust from aircraft carriers and ships. Imagine the damage that can be done to your teeth and bone health.

When you add the erosive acids in a cola to the acids that occur naturally in the mouth each time you consume food or beverages, the boosted levels of acidity have tremendous potential to erode tooth enamel. Symptoms of dental erosion include temperature sensitivity, pain, transparent teeth, cracking and darkening of teeth.

As bad as the erosion factor is on teeth, it’s often the way colas are consumed that ramps up the damage. Take, for example, someone sipping on a cola for a period of time. Remember, every time we eat or drink, an acid attack begins in the mouth as part of our digestive process. This ‘natural’ acid flow is active for about 30 minutes after eating or drinking ceases.

So, when you sip a cola for a half-hour period, the acid attack lasts that long PLUS another 30 minutes. When you combine the sugar and acid in the drink to your digestive acids, you reduce surface hardness of tooth enamel for an extended period of time.

Because soft drinks can weaken tooth enamel, they become more vulnerable to decay. In this state, it is also easier for teeth to become stained. The caramel color in many colas easily contributes to the yellowing of teeth.

The U.S. has the highest per-capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks in the world. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, Americans drink more than 50 gallons per capita of carbonated soft drinks annually. In addition to tracking the consumption of carbonated soft drinks, the organization also monitors consumption of bottled water, coffee, tea, milk, fruit drinks, beer, wine and spirits. Of all those they track, carbonated soft drinks make up the largest segment.

Health concerns about soft drinks have led many schools to remove sodas from drink machines and cafeterias. Obviously, dentists are also urging children, teens and adults to steer clear of sodas.

While it is important to stay hydrated, especially when participating in sports or working outdoors, colas are the opposite of hydrating. Colas not only contain phosphoric acid, they contain caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic that causes water depletion. It has been shown that consuming carbonated drinks during hot weather can result in dehydration and heighten the risk for heat stroke.

Don’t let the commercials about “refreshing” soft drinks fool you. You can do your smile and your overall health a favor by reaching instead for a bottle of water. If you prefer flavor in your beverage, add apple, strawberry, cucumber or orange slices to chilled, filtered water.

Rethink your cola consumption this summer and what you ice down in your cooler. Colas are no friend to your smile. Bypass the soft drinks for water and avoiding cavities, tooth erosion, and the need for fillings, crowns and other repairs that can be costly and time-consuming.

 

Vitamin C And Your Smile

I have always been health conscious and committed to a balanced diet. However, there was no other period in my life that I was more focused on what I put into my body than during my pregnancies,. Like most moms-to-be, I was very careful about my food choices and took a pre-natal vitamin to supplement what my diet may have lacked.

Today’s busy adults are not always diligent about eating a healthy diet that provides adequate fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Many eat too fast, not chewing our food properly for the digestive process to begin. Too, most of us do not drink enough water.

To supplement what we may not get in our diets, many adults take a multi-vitamin.  While vitamins bolster your overall health by making sure you’re getting the elements you need, remember that your smile needs an ample supply as well.

According to the Journal of Periodontology, consuming at least 180 mgs of vitamin C a day gives your gums and teeth a healthy boost. Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory that uses collagen to bind cells to build connective tissues – beneficial to gum tissues. Vitamin C has even been shown to increase bone regrowth, helping to restore healthy teeth.

Want to get your C the natural way? Good sources of vitamin C are coconut water, citrus fruits, broccoli, red peppers, brussel sprouts and tomatoes.

If you aren’t getting sufficient vitamin C through your diet, look for non-acidic alternatives available over-the-counter. These forms of vitamin C come in powder or chewing gum. We prefer you avoid most chewable vitamin C products, however, since they can be highly acidic. This level of acidity can damage tooth enamel, leaving you susceptible to decay.

Keeping your gums healthy is not only necessary for maintaining good oral health. Studies now show that the bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in gum tissues. As it travels throughout the body, it can trigger inflammatory reactions. This has been linked to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, some cancers, preterm babies, diabetes, arthritis and impotency.

Signs of gum disease are tender gums that bleed when brushing, swollen gums, gums that deepen in color, receded gums and persistent bad breath. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment and is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Keeping your mouth healthy means you enjoy fresher breath and helps you avoid periodontal (gum) disease and cavities. In addition to a healthy, balanced diet and vitamin supplements, your 6-month dental cleanings and exams give you added support.

If you have symptoms of gum disease, call promptly so treatment can be scheduled without delay. Or, if you haven’t had regular dental cleanings, call 586-739-2155 to schedule.

How To Enjoy Your Dental Implants For A Lifetime

What holds one of the highest success rate of all in-bone implant types? It may surprise you that Dental Implants have a nearly 97% success rate, surpassing knees, hips and other implant-in-bone procedures.

Over the years, the design and placement of Dental Implants have been fine-tuned, so much so that they’ve grown to be one of the most sought-out forms of tooth replacement.

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), more than 35 million Americans are missing all their upper or lower (or both) teeth. While 15 million have chosen crown-&-bridge combinations for replacing missing teeth were appropriate, 3 million have opted for Dental Implants and this number is growing by 500,000 a year. (http://www.aaid.com/about/press_room/dental_implants_faq.html)

 

In addition to its high success rate, the growing popularity of Dental Implants is due to their longevity. Made from titanium, a biologically-compatible metal originally created by NASA, Dental Implants are designed to last a lifetime.

Although the initial costs for Dental Implants are higher than dentures, partials, and crown-&-bridge, the investment is a wise one – a ‘one-and-done’ solution for missing teeth. Once placed, Dental Implants do not experience decay, need root canals, break or cause problems for neighboring teeth.

However, like any procedure that involves an implant in human bone, there is an element of risk.  Although it’s not a frequent occurrence, having an implant removed due to infection or malfunction is a loss for the patient in several ways.

When an implant requires removal, the investment by the patient is lost. To replace a failed implant, they must endure additional procedures, expenses and time.

While implant removal is not a common occurrence, the reasons for it lie largely in the hands of the patient. Surprised? Let’s look at some of the reasons for implant failure so you can minimize this risk:

First, one of the most important factors in any successful medical or dental procedure begins with the doctor you select. Your implant doctor should never be selected based on the lowest fee but chosen based upon his or her training and experience. Proper diagnosis means the implant system the doctor chooses is best for your specific needs .

You doctor should also have advanced skills in the placement of implants. Successful placement involves assessing for adequate bone mass to support an implant without interfering with adjacent structures.

While the doctor involved in your treatment is important, much of the risk falls into the patient’s hands after the placement process. The patient’s role in a successful implant begins once the implants are placed.

To begin, closely follow your post-placement instructions. For a few days after implant placement, we recommend you eat only cool, soft foods. This helps to minimize swelling and bleeding so gum tissue incision sites heal faster. Faster healing means reduced risk for infection.

Another risk factor to implant success – smoking. The chemicals in cigarette smoke are very drying to gum tissues, causing the healing process to take longer. For smokers, this creates a higher risk for implant failure. The longer it takes gum tissues to heal, the greater the risk for infection.

If you grind or clench your teeth during sleep, Dental Implants can become overburdened by the force. Clenching and grinding are typical symptoms of bite misalignment. Some clenching is so intense the force is likened to that used to crack a walnut. Clenching or grinding can also lead to worn, chipped or broken teeth. If you suspect you grind or clench, mention this prior to treatment so measures can be taken to resolve the problem.

Most important to implant success, however, is the patient’s commitment to good oral health. Although Dental Implants do not experience decay, the gum tissues and bone structures that support the implants are as susceptible to oral bacteria as before. When the infectious bacteria of gum disease reach implant sites, treating the infection may require removing the implant.

Along with a commitment to a thorough oral hygiene regimen at home, your exams and cleanings will likely be scheduled for every 3-4 months. During these visits, your hygienist will remove accumulated oral bacteria and assess the condition of your gums. These visits are proactive measures to help you avoid problems or catch any that occur at their earliest stages.

Dental Implants are a wonderful investment. Patients who opt for implants to replace missing teeth are able to eat healthy foods and enjoy social outings without worry. With proper selection, placement and care, your implants will provide you with a lifetime of benefits.

Our goal, for every patient, is to help each enjoy a confident smile for every stage of their life! If you’ve considered Dental Implants, let’s discuss the types that may be best for you. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Dental Woes From Sugar & Carbs Date Back To Ancient Ancestors

If your family’s Easter holiday was like ours, you’re probably still feeling full from chocolate bunnies, marshmallow Peeps, sugar-glazed ham and coconut layer cake. Like many American holidays, we surround celebrations with yummy eats, most laden with sugar with a big percentage in carbohydrate form.

As a matter of fact, there are few holidays that don’t include sugary and starchy indulgences. We go from homemade fudge and sugar cookies at Christmas to pumpkin pies and candied yams at Thanksgiving followed by cream-filled chocolates at Valentine’s Day, sugar-filled Easter baskets, summertime ice-cream and colas and finally roll our way into a Halloween candy high.

We Americans love our sugar. So, it’s no surprise that the University College London and the London School of Hygiene cited the United States as the world’s highest consumer of sugar.

One of the most common diseases worldwide is tooth decay. When the University College and London School of Hygiene researched public health records from around the globe, they found that almost 90% of America’s school age children have had tooth decay. Adults with cavities came in even higher – 92%. When compared to other countries with a very low sugar diet, such as Nigeria where only 2% of the population have experienced tooth decay, the problem – and solution – seems pretty simple.

Yet, denying ourselves sugar and carbs is tough, especially when they stare us in the face so often . You can’t even go to a gas station without having sweet treats, sugary beverages, chips and ice cream within arm’s reach of the check-out counter. Even my dry cleaner has a stand of Tootsie Pops by the cash register.

Here is where the problem lies, however, as far as your dental health goes. All food or beverages create an acid attack in the mouth. This is a normal part of the digestion process. However, sugar and carbohydrates (which also break down into sugar) give oral bacteria an added boost. As bacteria reproduce in the mouth, tooth decay can occur more easily.

Because of the way sugar reacts in the mouth, it becomes a particular problem for teeth. Oral bacteria eat, reproduce and thrive on sugar as they attack gum tissues and tooth enamel. This onslaught of bacteria causes the gums to become inflamed, instigating the initial stage of periodontal (gum) disease. Not only does oral bacteria create cavities and gum disease, it is the leading factor in adult tooth loss.

Sugar’s destructive force on teeth is nothing new, of course. You may find it interesting that an architect and his team discovered early attempts at filling teeth, dating back 13,000 years. It is believed that the Upper Paleolithic era introduced changes in diet, including the cultivation of grains and other carbohydrates. In the mouth, these carbs break down into simple sugars and feed cavity-causing bacteria. Hence, cavities and other dental problems appeared with much greater frequency. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/ancient/worlds-oldest-dental-fillings-packed-with-hair-asphalt-and-lots-of-pain/?utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_term=20170411&utm_content=857321840&linkId=36410650)

The World Health Organization recommends no more than 5% of daily caloric intake from sugar. Sounds logical until you consider that sugar is everywhere. For example, look at the sugar content on the label of your pasta sauce, catsup or salad dressing. Being bombarded by hidden sugary ingredients can make it challenging to stick to the WHO’s 5% guideline.

Even with our best efforts to limit sugar and carbs, we are battling a powerful foe. Sugar is addictive, so much so that MRI scans show sugar activates the same regions in the brain as those turned on by cocaine. The problem is made worse by our ability to develop a tolerance. This means that the more sugar we eat, the more we crave. Simply put, this is a trait of drug addiction and symptom of substance dependency.

Sugar should be a minimal part of our daily intake. In addition to the damage that can occur from oral bacteria, a balanced diet of proteins and fiber from fruits and vegetables is better for your weight, heart and digestive system.  To avoid dental repairs, be committed to twice daily brushing, daily flossing, and lots of drinking water.

If you are behind on your 6-month dental cleanings and check-ups, call toll free 1-866-9Smiles. During this time, we will remove bacterial build-up so you can avoid treatment time and expense in a dental chair.

When Mouth Is Dry, Oral Bacteria Run Rampant

Hot, parched, arid, dry… words that should not be used to describe the inside of your mouth. However, it doesn’t take much to dry a mouth out, and some of the ways this can occur may surprise you.

First, let’s discuss why a dry mouth is a problem, other than it just feels bad. Saliva is your mouth’s natural cleansing agent. It serves as a rinse that removes food particles from the mouth. Combined with brushing and flossing, good saliva flow helps to keep bacteria levels under control.

When saliva flow is compromised, oral bacteria are able to reproduce and multiply quickly.  As bacteria accumulate, a sticky film forms on teeth and gums from this buildup. As bacteria coat the interior of your mouth, bad breath begins.

If this film (known as plaque) is not removed daily, it can hardened into a concentrated mass of oral bacteria. This hardened form of bacteria is commonly referred to as tartar, or calculus. Tartar attaches to teeth and eats away at tooth enamel and gum tissues.

Oral dryness is one of the biggest influences in developing gum disease. Even though poor oral hygiene is a key factor when it comes to bacteria overload, dry mouth is a common contributor because it has many causes.

Common drying factors include smoking, alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine (coffee, colas, chocolate), and side effects of some medications. Other drying causes may surprise you. In addition to mouth breathing (most often from snoring and sinus problems), some illnesses or health conditions can lead to frequent mouth breathing.

Aging is another common factor as our bodies produce less oral moisture in our senior years. People who have Sjogren’s Syndrome or are undergoing treatment for HIV or cancer are more susceptible to dry mouth.

So, how do you avoid having a dry mouth (and the subsequent bad breath and oral health risks associated with it)? First, be committed to a thorough oral hygiene regimen at home. This includes twice daily brushing (at least two minutes per time), daily flossing, limiting caffeine and having 6-month dental cleanings and exams. These visits are designed to remove tartar buildup that has accumulated between visits BEFORE damage can occur.

Rather than reach for a soft drink, choose bottled water instead. Most colas contain caffeine, which actually dehydrate your system rather than moisten it. Along with the sugar contained in most colas, you’ve got a recipe for costly dental problems.

Also, consider using an oral rinse to replenish moisture if your mouth is frequently dry. Certainly, DON’T smoke or use other nicotine products.

It is also important to be proactive when dry mouth becomes an ongoing problem. While oral bacteria can lead to gum disease, cavities and tooth loss, research has also found it is an inflammatory trigger for health problems elsewhere in the body.

Studies have found a correlation between oral bacteria and heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, pre-term babies, memory loss and even impotency. Obviously, oral bacteria is potent stuff.

If you don’t think oral bacteria is a problem, notice just how quickly the sticky film of plaque can form in the brief time between brushing in the morning and at night. Now, imagine the damage these reproducing organisms can do without the continual cleansing action of saliva.

Oral Bacteria Are Destructive Organisms. Oral Dryness Supports Their Reproduction.
Oral Bacteria Are Destructive Organisms. Oral Dryness Supports Their Reproduction.

Remember, oral bacteria are living organisms. This means they eat and produce waste – in your mouth! YUCK! That image, in itself, should be good incentive to keep oral bacteria levels to a minimum!

Rather than deal with dry mouth problems that can require expensive and time consuming treatment, let’s work together to help you prevent these problems in the first place.

Call 586-739-2155 to arrange an exam. Or, ask for a free consultation to begin. This will allow you to meet us and have your questions answered in a no-cost, no obligation conversation.

To Floss Or Not?

When it comes to removing debris and bacteria in the mouth, brushing your teeth doesn’t always do the job. This is where flossing can give your oral health a ‘leg up.’

Flossing removes food particles caught between teeth that a tooth brush cannot reach or dislodge.

When you eat food, an acid enters the mouth through saliva flow. As the initial stage of digestion, this acid is designed to break food down as it’s chewed.

Although beneficial to the digestive process, this acid is potent. It is so strong that it can soften tooth enamel. This is why it is wise to delay brushing for 20 to 30 minutes after eating. The abrasive nature of a toothbrush and toothpaste can wear away precious tooth enamel while in this softened state.

Food needs to be removed before it starts to rot. Food particles that remain in the mouth allow oral bacteria to thrive. As bacteria eat, they reproduce – rapidly. How rapidly? The sticky film you feel on teeth in the evening is actually a coating of oral bacteria that has accumulated since your morning brushing.

Known as plaque, this film coats the teeth, tongue and gums. When not removed daily, plaque can form into rock-hard bacterial masses that attach to teeth. This is referred to as calculus (or tartar) and is what your hygienist scrapes off teeth during dental cleanings. Once formed, it cannot be brushed or flossed away.

This is why it is important to keep oral bacteria levels to a minimum. The devotion of twice daily brushing and daily flossing helps you avoid problems such as cavities and gum disease.

For decades, brushing and flossing have been the tried-&-true techniques for maintaining a healthy mouth. However, like most things, proper techniques can mean the difference between somewhat helpful and very effective.

Brushing should be done with a soft to medium bristle tooth brush using a fluoridated toothpaste. You should use a circulation motion on the front and back of each tooth and a swirling motion along the tops.

Flossing also requires the proper technique to have a positive impact. For example, researchers at the University of Washington School of Dentistry found that when children between ages 4 – 13 had their teeth professionally flossed for five days a week for just over a year and a half, there was 40% decrease in cavity risk. A group of the same ages who flossed on their own saw no such benefit.

Yet, many people feel flossing is awkward. They claim it cuts circulation in their fingers and it’s difficult to reach certain areas in the mouth. For people with large fingers, this seems to be a significant obstacle. Too, people who have dexterity problems, such as arthritic challenges, feel frustrated by the movement required.

For easy flossing tips, watch our short video: http://www.banrbarbatdds.com/dental_care.php

For situations where self-flossing is too challenging, we often recommend water flossers. These are easy to use, affordable and can be more effective than flossing when challenges exist.

In spite of daily flossing and twice daily brushing, other factors can impact your potential for a healthy mouth. As mentioned prior, each time you eat, the acid attack in your mouth places tooth enamel in a vulnerable position. For those who are frequent snackers, they are more susceptible to oral problems due to an increased number of acid attacks throughout the day.

People who sip sodas during the day also have a greater risk. The acid in the soda coupled with the drink’s sticky sugar is a double wallop when it mixes with the acid in the mouth. Often, people drink sodas between meals, which means the mouth is being bombarded by acid far too often to ward off potential damage.

If people who have lost teeth due to insufficient oral hygiene could go back, daily brushing and flossing would take on a much higher priority in their day. Adult teeth are a ‘one-&-done’ deal. Losing them opens the door for decisions that can be costly and even frustrating (just ask most long-time denture wearers!).

If you can’t get comfortable with flossing, consider purchasing  a water flosser and make it part of your everyday oral hygiene routine. In addition to reducing your risk for cavities and gum disease, you’ll be able to enjoy fresher breath and a more confident smile.

Behind on your dental cleanings and check-ups? Let’s get you up to speed before the year’s end. Call 1-866-9-Smiles to schedule an appointment.

Don’t Let Those Holiday Parties Compromise Your Smile

The coming holiday season is traditionally a time to gather with friends and family. Food is often the centerpiece of these gatherings, with cocktails opening many of the events. When it comes to your smile, certain precautions can keep you from having greater risk for cavities, bad breath and gum disease.champagneclink

Let’s begin with beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages. Alcohol has a drying effect on oral tissues, which means that saliva flow is not as efficient at rinsing bacteria out of the mouth. The more bacteria in your mouth, the faster they reproduce. This leads to bad breath and can progress to gingivitis (an initial stage of gum disease). When sugary mixers are added to alcohol, you up your risk for developing cavities and gum problems even more.

Although many people feel wine is a healthier choice, it isn’t beneficial when it comes to your smile. Not only can red wine can stain teeth, white wine has a tint and can contribute to discoloration.

Wine is also highly acidic. In the mouth, this acid mixes with digestive acids produced each time you eat or drink. This acidic double whammy can erode the protective shell of enamel on teeth, which ups your risk for cavities. This acid level is so high that it can soften tooth enamel within just ten minutes of consuming wine.

HELPFUL HINT: To minimize potential risks to your smile, ask for a glass of water and take a couple of gulps about every 10-15 minutes with your cocktail. Let the water sweep over the teeth before swallowing to dilute the acid buildup. Or, slip away to the restroom and swish with water after each beverage.

Now, let’s move on to hors d’ouevres and the nibbling that can go on for hours. The holidays are filled with delicious ‘finger foods’ that are easy to pop in the mouth as you mingle. As mentioned prior, every time you eat or drink, an acid attack begins in your mouth. This acid remains at a high level for 20-30 minutes.

This means that an acid attack began when you put that first sausage ball in your mouth and will continue – without a break – whenever you add in another goodie every 20 or so minutes. If the bite is sugary or carbohydrate-laden, the acid becomes even more potent.

HELPFUL HINT: Try to consume your nibbles in a short amount of time rather than draw eating out for hours. Fill a cocktail plate and enjoy it – and be done with nibbling for the evening. Consider loading up on the veggies and dip moreso than the candied pecans and cheese straws! (This is also better for your waistline!)

Because eating and drinking put teeth at risk for 20-30 minutes after consumption, wait that long before brushing. With enamel in a softened state, the abrasiveness of tooth paste combined with the scrubbing motion of a toothbrush can wear away enamel. Wait before brushing to give these acid levels time to subside.

Tooth enamel, once worn away, is gone forever. Do everything you can to protect it for the sake of your smile. Also, if you’ve experienced staining, ask us about our in-office Zoom 2 whitening system. This provides a high level of whitening in just one, brief appointment (and also makes a terrific gift for a smile you love)!

Smile with confidence as you enjoy the holidays with others! Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to discuss whitening or cosmetic enhancements. We can also help you achieve a healthy mouth for fresher breath as you prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Begin with a free, no obligation consultation.

Smoke? Lecture-Free Ways To Keep Your Smile Healthy

If you smoke, the last thing you probably want to hear is a lecture on why you should quit. Chances are, you know a number of reasons why. We understand that smoking is addictive and not easy to quit. As a matter of fact, it’s very difficult.

The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that “more people in the United States are addicted to nicotine than to any other drug. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.”

The majority of smokers who try to quit do so without assistance, though only 3 – 6% of attempts to quit without assistance are successful. So, whether you plan to quit or are content with your habit, we want your smile to stay in good condition. And, it can with proper care and regular check-ups.

First, let’s deal with a dire issue. Because smoking (as well as smokeless tobacco) is responsible for nearly 90% of oral cancers (lips, mouth and throat), it is paramount that you have an annual oral cancer exam. We do these as part of your six-month cleaning and exam appointments.

Oral cancer has one of the worst survival rates of all cancers because symptoms rarely emerge until it is at rampant stages. Before symptoms are obvious to you, we may be able to detect signs of oral cancer visually and by touch.

Smoking is drying to oral tissues, which creates an environment where oral bacteria are able to actively thrive and reproduce. Periodontal (gum disease) begins with persistent bad breath, tender gums and gums that bleed easily when brushing.

As gum disease progresses, pus pockets form at the base of teeth. Teeth loosen as oral bacteria attack the bone and tissues that support tooth roots. Eventually, these teeth will require removal.

The bacteria of periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, some cancers and impotency. This occurs because the potent bacteria can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues, causing inflammatory triggers elsewhere in the body.

Smoking also gives you an increased risk of bad breath, increased plaque and stained teeth. By keeping oral bacteria in your mouth under control, you can avoid the treatment time and expense for gum disease, cavities and whitening. (Our Zoom WhiteninZoom_Logo copyg system works wonders for our smoking patients, by the way!)

Be aware that smokers have longer healing times following extractions, gum treatment and oral surgery. When healing takes longer, there is a higher risk of bacteria settling into incised tissues. It is a fact that smokers have a higher risk of implant failure.

The best way to avoid many of the problems mentioned above is to keep oral bacteria under control. How do you do that?

First, be very committed to your at-home oral hygiene routine. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Use a fluoridated toothpaste and soft to medium bristle tooth brush.

Brush your tongue after your teeth. This dislodges a vast amount of bacteria from the tongue. Be sure to get to the back area of the tongue, where most bacteria are embedded. Gently run the brush over the roof of the mouth, under the tongue and inside of the cheeks before rinsing.

If you use a mouthwash, check the label to make sure yours contains no alcohol. Alcohol dries out oral tissues, which makes bacterial growth easier. And, to combat dry mouth, consider using a mouthwash especially formulated to replenish oral moisture. These are available over-the-counter at most drug stores. Be consistent in using these products.

Floss daily. I can’t stress this enough. If flossing seems awkward, ask our hygienists to help you with your technique. We have a flossing video on our web site you may want to check out: http://www.banrbarbatdds.com/videos.php#flossing_tips

You may want to try one of the water or electronic flossers now available. There are also floss holders that make the process easier for some people. Just be sure to avoid ‘popping’ the floss between the teeth onto tender gum tissues. This can cut into the gums, leaving them vulnerable to oral bacteria.

Be sure to keep your 6-month check-ups. These cleanings and exams remove buildup that can occur between visits and help you avoid problems before they occur or catch others while still small.

Drink lots of water — not coffee, tea, colas, sports drinks or energy drinks — most contain caffeine, which is very drying to the mouth.

Limit sugar and carbohydrates. These are oral bacteria super boosters. Instead, opt for crunchy fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and cheese.

We don’t lecture our patients. It is our job to help patients have the very best smile they can regardless of our own preferences and opinions. If you smoke, we care just as much about your smile as our patients who do not. Know that we are here for you regardless of your needs or goals.

If you’re past due for a dental check-up and cleaning, call 586-739-2155. Let’s get you in so you can have a clean slate with your renewed commitment to a healthy smile!