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Sealants: Stop Cavities Before They Start

sealants

 

Few oral health issues can be preempted or totally prevented. There are many factors involved in whether or not you get cavities or develop dental complications, including genetics and daily hygiene. Sealants can help prevent cavities, to preserve your smile for up to a decade!

What Are Sealants?

Sealants are a thin plastic coating painted onto the chewing surface of your teeth to prevent decay, particularly on premolars and molars. They can prevent cavities by bonding to the grooves of teeth where most decay begins – even more effective thanbrushing, flossing, and rinsing alone.

Sealants are most often used on children ages 6 through 14, when they are most vulnerable to cavities. They can also be used on adults who don’t have decay or fillings in their molars, or for babies with deep depressions and grooves in teeth, to preserve them as placeholders for adult teeth. In all cases, your dentist will determine if sealants are age-appropriate and will tailor the treatment to each patient.

Applying Sealants is Quick and Painless

The best thing about sealants is the quick and painless application. In fact, there are four simple steps in the whole process:

  1. Cleaning – each tooth that is being sealed is cleaned to make sure the bond is as strong as possible.
  2. Prep – Once the teeth are clean, they are dried and surrounded by cotton to prevent saliva from getting the tooth wet. An acid solution is also applied to help the sealant bond to your teeth.
  3. Rinse and Dry – After the acid solution, one more rinse and dry is needed before the sealant application.
  4. Applying the Sealant – After the prep work, the sealants are applied. Your dentist or hygienist may also use a special curing light to help the sealants harden more quickly.

Sealants Can Stand the Test of Time

Few dental treatments are permanent and sealants are no different. But they can provide up to 10 years of protection – great for young children, babies and adults.

The best way to prolong the effectiveness of your treatment is regular dentist visits. They can check to see if your sealants are chipping or wearing, and replace them if needed.

Sealants Can Keep Your Smile Beautiful and Functional

Sealants are a simple treatment to prevent tooth decay and protect some of the most functional teeth in your mouth – a worthwhile investment for you and/or your children to keep healthy smiles for life.

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Fact or Fiction? Five Tooth Myths Debunked

fact or fiction

 

Far too many tales are told about teeth, ranging from scary to wacky and everything in between. Find out if they’re fact or fiction!

1. “White teeth are healthy teeth.”

Pearly white does not necessarily mean healthy. Some of the whitening ingredients in toothpastes and mouthwashes can also create an image of perfection, but cavities, gum disease and other dental issues could lurk beneath the surface.

2. “Pregnant women should postpone dental visits.”

Not at all! Regular dental care is strongly encouraged during pregnancy. According to the American Dental Association, pregnant women are more likely to develop periodontal diseases, gum infections that can result in bleeding, sensitivity and loss of tooth support. Mulberry-shaped lumps between the teeth, called “pregnancy tumors,” can also emerge. These are non-cancerous and should go away after pregnancy, but can also be removed.

Pregnant women should inform their dentist of their pregnancy so treatment plans can be adjusted accordingly. Certain procedures and medications may be postponed to avoid any health risks to the baby.

3. “Hot or cold food will crack your teeth.”

It is true that cracks or lines could happen from extreme changes in the temperature of your teeth, but these are usually too shallow to pose a major threat. If you spot a crack, it’s always best to have a dentist take a look. In the rare case that the crack is deep, chewing can widen it and expose sensitive nerves.

4. “Don’t worry about brushing baby teeth – they fall out anyway.”

While baby teeth will eventually fall out, starting with poor dental habits can cause a lifetime of oral health problems. Baby teeth are placeholders for permanent teeth and are important for healthy nutrition. Find out more about the importance of early oral hygiene. Teach children to brush and floss regularly to save them from painful cavities and gum disease, now and later in life.

5. “Bleaching your teeth is bad for you.”

Today’s bleaching treatments use PH-neutral solutions that are absolutely safe for you and your teeth. Treatments may cause tooth sensitivity, but just temporarily.

There’s a chance for an element of truth in any saying you hear, but unless the advice comes from your dentist, don’t let it impact your oral care. Get your dentist’s professional opinion on dental matters or questions that interest you during your next appointment. Or if you’re pressed for time, call us for immediate clarification.

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Understanding Dental Veneers

dental veneers

 

If you want to enhance the color, size, shape, or length of your teeth, dental veneers could be a great way to achieve your perfect smile. The dentists at Dental Design Studio can help outline your treatment plan, explain what veneers are, potential problems they help resolve, the advantages of this type of procedure, and the process for applying them.

What are Dental Veneers?

Veneers are thin, customized shells that cover the front surface of teeth. They are typically made with resin or porcelain, making them a durable and long-lasting solution for several dental and cosmetic issues:

  • Broken, Worn, or Misshapen Teeth: Veneers can cover teeth to hide misshapen teeth to create a new smile.
  • Discolored Teeth – Veneers can help brighten a smile to hide discoloration that often comes from coffee, wine, or certain prescription drugs.
  • Misaligned Teeth – Veneers can help with teeth alignment, and/or to eliminate gaps in between teeth.

What are the Differences in Veneer Materials?

Resin veneers are thinner and can be applied without removing as much enamel, but porcelain veneers are more stain-resistant and can have a more natural appearance to the teeth. The dentists at Dental Design Studio can help you decide the right veneer for you, with either option providing you with a better looking smile.

The Process for Applying Veneers

You will have multiple dental visits when choosing veneers.

First will be a planning session, to conduct an initial exam and to confirm if you are a candidate for veneers. If so, your dentist may take x-rays, photographs and/or impressions of your teeth to determine a treatment plan. You may even get a model of the veneers to see what the teeth will look like in your mouth.

The next visit will be a prep visit to prepare your teeth for veneers. Your dentist will remove approximately ½ millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface and make an impression of each tooth to send to a dental laboratory to make the veneers.

The final visit will be the bonding of the veneers, often one-to-two weeks after your prep visit, once the veneers are made. Your dentist will place and trim the veneers to ensure a perfect fit and apply each veneer with special cement, securing it quickly with a light beam. Once the veneers are all in place, your dentist will make any necessary adjustments to ensure your bite is comfortable and your smile is perfect!

What are the Advantages of Veneers?

Veneers offer several key advantages, including natural looking results that won’t contrast with your natural smile. The results are often quick, with only a few weeks from your consultation to a completed new smile. Veneers are also a natural, comfortable fit and provide long-lasting results.

Are You Ready?

If you would like to improve the shape, color, or alignment of your teeth, veneers could be the right solution. Visit with your dentist to see if veneers could provide the smile you’ve always wanted!

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Baby Teeth and Oral Hygiene: What’s to Lose?

 

brushing for babies

 

There’s a lot to lose by not taking care of baby teeth. Even though primary teeth are temporary, they still matter to your child’s oral and general health. If you’re questioning the effort to get little ones into an early dental routine, these facts show how adopting good habits early can pay off for your child’s oral health further down the road.

Baby teeth help shape speech

The alignment of baby teeth play a big role in forming and pronouncing words correctly. Losing any primary teeth early can increase the risk of speech impediments such as slurring or a lisp. These issues could require a speech pathologist, depending on the severity of issues.

Baby teeth enable proper chewing and eating

Chewing correctly is important to efficiently break down solid foods. In addition, tooth loss or alignment issues can cause complications over time from unnecessary stress to the jaw, and can also affect the development of key facial muscles. Chewing problems could also contribute to a nutritional imbalance if poor oral health starts to impact food choices.

Baby teeth are placeholders for permanent teeth

Primary teeth reserve a spot for a permanent tooth down the road, but the loss of this initial placeholder could cause shifting and result in misalignment of permanent teeth. Regardless of the cosmetic issues, misaligned teeth can result in crowded and/or impacted teeth, make brushing and flossing more challenging, and contribute to jaw disorders such as TMJ.

Healthy baby teeth instill effective dental habits

Teaching good oral hygiene can have a lifelong impact. Introducing healthy dental habits early can establish the importance of preventative dental care, making it easier to stick with these habits throughout adulthood. This promotes a lifetime of good oral health, while significantly reducing the chance for costly dental problems.

Oral Health Tips for Baby Teeth

There is no set timeline for baby teeth to come in, but the American Dental Association provides guidelines for cleaning and caring for baby teeth. While brushing and flossing may not be a favorite activity, introducing healthy habits from the time the first tooth appears can make it easier for the whole family to stick to a routine.

  • From birth (no teeth present): wipe gums clean with a moistened cloth
  • Ages 0-3 (as teeth become present): brush teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a small smear (the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste, twice a day (preferably after breakfast and before bedtime)
  • Ages 3-6: brush twice daily with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
  • As the teeth touch each other: add daily flossing to your routine

If you’re wondering about training toothpaste, you can skip it! There is nothing in those products to help to protect your child’s teeth from cavities, so begin using toothpaste with fluoride as soon as teeth appear.

And remember, regular dental health checkups are also crucial to a child’s oral health. Call Dental Design Studio to schedule an appointment to keep those baby teeth healthy and in place!

 

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Bridge Vs. Implant – Which Treatment Is Right for You for Tooth Replacement?

What’s the difference between a dental bridge and an implant? And which treatment option is right for you? Missing or extracted teeth raise concerns of drifting & possible misalignment of not only the adjacent teeth but also the opposing teeth. Proper replacement is the key to a healthy smile! Your dentist may suggest different options, including a dental bridge or a dental implant. Often the dental implant is ideal, but numerous factors will need to be considered, including the timing of the tooth loss and general oral health. Learn more about the differences in the procedures so that you and your dentist can decide the best course of treatment.

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Smokeless Tobacco Is Still Playing with Fire

smokeless tobacco

There are many forms of tobacco without smoke, but no matter how it’s used, smokeless tobacco is still trouble. Cigarettes get the most attention for causing lung cancer, but many don’t realize that using cigarettes and other forms of nicotine can be just as damaging to your general and oral health. Get a closer look at what’s really being sold and how it could be more harmful than you think.

Smokeless Tobacco

There are many forms of smokeless tobacco, and even one try can lead to addiction and serious throat and mouth issues. You should also know that regulations differ by country, so the lack of clear warnings doesn’t mean the product is less harmful. Here are some examples of common smokeless tobacco products:

  • Chewing tobacco: loose leaves (sometimes in pouches) for placement inside the cheek
  • Snuff or “Dip”: ground or shredded tobacco stored in tins for sniffing or chewing
  • Tobacco lozenges: powdery, tobacco-infused candies that dissolve in the mouth

Risk to Your Oral Health

Your oral health is greatly affected by tobacco use:

  • Stained or yellowed teeth from contact with tobacco juices
  • Periodontitis, or gum irritation from exposure to tobacco
  • Bad breath as tobacco mixes with saliva and other food particles
  • Cavities due to the sugar found in sweetened tobacco products
  • Oral cancer

Other possible side effects include teeth sensitivity, enamel erosion and decreased sense of taste or smell. As bad and potentially costly as these dental problems may be, they pale in comparison to the lethal threat of cancer.

Symptoms Of Oral Cancer

Smokeless tobacco contains over 20 carcinogenic chemicals, which can result in cancer of the mouth, tongue, lip, and throat, as well as many other cancers of the body. Warning signs of oral cancer include red or white lesions inside the mouth that won’t heal, usually referred to by dentists as “leukoplakia.” However, not all symptoms are easily detected without the help of your dentist.

Kicking Your Tobacco Problem

Your best bet is to seek professional help to kick your nicotine habit, and prevent long-term and possibly irreversible damage to your health. Although it may be difficult to share your struggles, your dentist can offer guidance and point you to effective treatments. Regular dental care is critical to minimizing your risk for oral cancer and other serious health problems.

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Habits that Harm Your Smile

Healthy teeth last a lifetime, but only if you take care of them. You might not realize it, but some common habits could be harming your teeth and their durability.

By recognizing these behaviors, you can take steps to protect your teeth and the health of your smile.

1. Skipping Regular Dental Care

Some individuals avoid regular trips to the dentist for hygiene visits or procedures due to anxiety, busy schedules, or other personal reasons. But doing so puts your teeth at risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues. Be sure to visit the dentist every six months for a thorough cleaning, or as needed if you notice a change or issues with your teeth.

2. Brushing Too Hard

Brushing is the basic component of good oral health, but only when done correctly. If you brush too hard, you can wear down tooth enamel, irritate the gums, and further teeth’s sensitivity. An electronic toothbrush [link to past blog post on electric toothbrushes] can help you avoid damage while increasing brush strokes to remove more plaque. A soft-bristled toothbrush can help protect your teeth against aggressive brushing.

3. Using the Wrong Tools on Your Teeth

If you’re on the go, or out of floss, it can be tempting to reach for other objects like toothpicks, paper clips or paper to remove food stuck in your teeth. But these things can cause damage to your teeth and gums. We have small floss containers at Dental Design Studio that can easily go in your purse, bag or car – stop by the office for floss on-the-go!

4. Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw can cause many oral health issues, including fractures, headaches and jaw pain. There are many causes and solutions to this issue. [link to past blog post on teeth grinding] If the grinding or clenching happens while sleeping, a night guard can help cushion your teeth and reduce impact to your jaw. Chewing sugar-free gum may help to prevent teeth clenching during the day.

5. Biting On Your Nails, Ice, Pens or Other Hard Objects

Biting on your nails or chewing on hard objects such as pens, ice, or even hard candy, could cause cracks in your teeth and irritate the jaw muscles. But biting any foreign object can also introduce bacteria to your mouth, which could cause infections. Overcoming these habits can help protect your teeth and avoid additional germs in your mouth.

6. Using Your Teeth As Tools

You may use your teeth improperly without thinking about it and more often than you realize – to open a package or cut something with your teeth. Even biting off a shirt thread can cause micro cracks that can lead to more serious damage over time. Try to use the proper tools, not your teeth!

7. Drinking Soda, Sports Drinks, and Alcohol

Healthy nutrition is all about moderation, so be aware of beverage consumption with drinks that contain higher amounts of sugar that leave teeth susceptible to cavities. Sports drinks and soda contain acid and sugar that feed bacteria in your mouth and erode teeth enamel. Alcohol produces a similar effect and dries out the mouth, which reduces saliva production allowing bacteria and plaque to thrive.

8. Tobacco Use

Smoking cigarettes or cigars, or using chewing tobacco, also puts your teeth and overall health at risk. Not only does nicotine stain your teeth, but it also increases your risk for oral cancer. Chewing tobacco is worse as it puts the carcinogens directly in contact with your gum tissues for longer amounts of time.

Quitting tobacco can be difficult, but there are tools to help. It’s worth the effort when you consider the oral, and general, health risks of tobacco use.

Turn Bad Habits into Good

Transforming bad habits into protective measures can help keep your smile looking great for years to come. The first step is noticing the behavior, followed by alternative habits and practicing new behavior. Ask your dentist for advice on how you can eliminate bad habits that harm your smile – ensuring you keep healthy smiles for life!

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Composite Fillings – Tooth-colored Solution for Cavities, Broken or Decayed Teeth

Composite filling is a tooth-colored plastic and glass mixture used to fill cavities or reshape broken or decayed teeth. This procedure provides good durability and resistance to cracks in smaller to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth. Beyond cavities, composite fillings are used for cosmetic improvements by changing the color or shape of teeth. Watch how anterior and posterior composite fillings are done and how they might help improve your smile.

Composite Filling (Anterior) Video    Composite Filling (Posterior) Video

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Are You Ignoring Dry Mouth?

woman with dry mouth

Although it may not sound serious, those who suffer from xerostomia (dry mouth) experience significant issues. Many report having a parched, uncomfortable feeling in their mouth, but dry mouth can also lead to difficulty swallowing, talking, and bacterial or fungal infections. Insufficient saliva can cause multiple dental issues. Here are some causes of dry mouth, as well as tips on how to spot it, and treatment options for this common problem.

Causes of Dry Mouth

1. Medications.
Many medications list dry mouth as one of the most common side effects. These medications include both prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, antibiotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, diuretics, asthma inhalers, sedatives and more. The more medications that are taken, the worse the dry mouth effect.

2. Health Conditions.
Dry mouth can arise due to a variety of health conditions including diabetes, hypertension, cancer, obesity, pulmonary disease, depression or anxiety, fibromyalgia, arthritis, post-traumatic stress and more.

3. Damage to the Salivary Gland.
Saliva production can be reduced due to an injury of the salivary glands from chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or head and neck trauma.

4. Life Stage or Lifestyle.
Dry mouth can be attributed to everyday habits such as smoking or sleeping with your mouth open; health circumstances such as illness, diarrhea, excessive sweating, and other causes of dehydration; oras a part of natural health developments such as aging, pregnancy or menopause.

Symptoms of Dry Mouth

The condition varies widely among the population, but there are warning signs that everyone should look for. Talk to your dentist if you have experienced any of the following:

  • A continually parched or thirsty feeling that remains constant even after drinking water
  • Cavities, gingivitis, or bad breath despite regular brushing and flossing
  • Problems swallowing or speaking
  • Mouth pain, soreness and/or hoarseness
  • Pebbled appearances on the tongue, which may also be overly red or shiny
  • Mouth stickiness, with food particles often found in your teeth
  • Cracked lips or blisters, despite being well-hydrated
  • A perceptible change in taste, or newfound difficulty eating spicy or dry foods
  • Noticeable lack of saliva pooling underneath your tongue

Treatment for Dry Mouth

There are multiple causes and varying symptoms of this condition, so you should talk to your dentist about how to help relieve and manage dry mouth.

You can also try modifying your daily routines to help ease the discomfort of dry mouth:

  • Try breathing through your nose as much as possible with your mouth closed.
  • Try sugar-free lozenges or candies to combat extreme dryness
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water frequently to replenish moisture in your mouth
  • Use fluoride-fortified toothpaste and mouthwash to protect your teeth
  • Consider using a humidifier at night if you breathe through your mouth while sleeping

“Dry mouth is one of the most frustrating conditions we deal with in the dental office. There are no magical cures for dry mouth, and it is extremely uncomfortable. Unfortunately, dry mouth leads to a sharp increase in tooth decay and gum disease,” said Dr. Jenkins, the newest member to the Dental Design Studio team in Norman. “Patients who have not had dental issues in the past may start to experience cavities and periodontal problems quickly once dry mouth sets in.”

Depending on the underlying cause, dry mouth can be a temporary or long-term issue. But no matter how long you’ve been dealing with this issue, protect yourself against tooth decay and other costly oral health problems by talking to your dentist about treatment of dry mouth.

Call Dental Design Studio today at 405-321-6166 to schedule a consultation if you are experiencing any symptoms of dry mouth.  Let us help you keep healthy smiles for life!

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Dental Design Studio, LLC 561 Merchant Drive Norman, OK 73069 Phone: (405) 321-6166