Archive for May 2011

Your Teeth Are What YOU Eat!

May 25, 2011 | Posted Education

You know the old saying “you are what you eat”? You might be surprised to learn that it applies to your teeth as much as the rest of you!

A healthy diet is of utmost importance for your teeth. Just as an unhealthy diet can have an unflattering affect on your physique, it can be just as unflattering to your teeth.

Most of us grew up quite aware that sugary, processed foods and candies were not good for our teeth. It is no secret that sugar is a major contributor to decay.

We have also been learning more recently about the detrimental impact acidic foods can have. High acid levels in food can erode the enamel of the teeth leading to decay.

Of course, sticky foods are a major concern as well. Whether natural (think of raisins) or processed (candies). The longer foods remain affixed to the teeth, the more time any sugars and acids have to break down the enamel.

But simply avoiding sugars and acids is not sufficient to create healthy teeth. Healthy teeth require healthy food. And one of the biggest impediments to a healthy diet can be… dieting. Crash diets in particular are not only a poor way to maintain a healthy weight. They are also a poor way to maintain healthy teeth.

People on crash diets deny themselves the important nutrition their body needs. These people commonly have reduced levels of vitamins D, B-12 as well as calcium.  Other minerals and proteins that are important for the health of the teeth and gums may also be missing in crash dieters.

Today, this problem is often aggravated by the use of diet pills. Along with many other potential unhealthy side effects, many diet pills reduce the flow of saliva in the mouth leading to dry mouth.

People who suffer from dry mouth tend to experience inflamed gums. They also tend to maintain higher levels of acid as the saliva is not present to dilute or even wash away acid that otherwise builds up on the teeth and gum line. As a result, they may experience greater levels of tooth decay and gum disease.

If you are considering going on a diet to help trim off a few extra pounds, you need to make sure that you still ingest the vital nutrients your teeth require. Don’t be afraid to talk to your dentist about your plans. You might be surprised to find out just how much of an information resource your dentist can be in this regard.

So take the steps to improve your diet. Healthy eating can improve your physique, making you look better and feel better. Feeling better makes you smile more. And since that healthy diet is also good for your teeth, smiling more will show off a healthy set of pearly whites!

All in all, eating the right foods is a healthy habit …and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon

 

 

What Exactly is Biofilm?

May 18, 2011 | Posted Education

Some of you might have seen certain toothpaste commercials on television talking about what appears to be the latest threat to your oral health…biofilm!

If so, you might have wondered what biofilm is.

The first thing to be aware of is that biofilm is not a new oral health issue! In fact, most of you are probably familiar with another term for biofilm as it relates to your oral health…namely, plaque!

The reality is that the plaque that forms on your teeth is a form of biofilm. As such, there is no need to feel that biofilm is some brand new form of mutated superbug that did not previously exist. It was always there! We simply did not have the technology to recognize it! More importantly, we did not understand how it develops and grows.

The good news is that today, we have that understanding. And that means we are better able to control and eliminate it!

Now that you know that biofilm on the teeth is essentially plaque, you may still be wondering what is biofilm?

Biofilm is a complex community of bacteria that has adhered to some sort of surface, such as a tooth. It is protected by an exterior surface of, for want of a better word, slime.

Believe it or not, beneath this slime is a well organized community of bacteria. As part of that organization, it is interesting to note that different types of bacteria will thrive in different locations within the biofilm.

For instance, deep within the biofilm, where it is harder for air to reach, you will find bacteria that survive better with less oxygen. Conversely, as you move to the exterior surface, the bacteria you find there need higher levels of oxygen to thrive. These different types of bacteria have found a way to meet their individual needs while surviving together in the same colony.

The colony also has an elaborate system for eliminating its own waste products. From our standpoint as dentists, the exterior slimy surface as well as the ability of these bacteria to adhere to teeth makes them difficult to remove. Antibiotics are ineffective at killing them while rinses cannot eliminate them.

Fortunately, biofilm bacteria can be wiped off the surface of your teeth. And that means regular brushing and flossing. Brushing has to be for at least two minutes each time in order to be effective at removing biofilm. It is such a sticky substance that casually wiping the surface is not enough to remove it from your teeth.

And even if you maintain good brushing and flossing habits, biofilm will grow underneath the gums where the brush and floss cannot reach. Regular trips to the dentist are essential to clean the biofilm from the area of the teeth beneath the gum line.

So there you have it. Next time you see that commercial, you will know that biofilm is nothing new. However, we now understand it better. That means we are in a better position to know how to eliminate it. Because understanding how to remove biofilm is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives!

Dr. Wayne Perron

Dental Surgeon

Nobody likes to have braces to correct an overbite or a crossbite. So often, the age when people have braces is right in the middle of those awkward teenage years. Already feeling self-conscious about their appearance, most teenagers dread the thought of having braces.

But if a crossbite or overbite develops, it really is in their best interest to have the issue addressed. And the earlier it is looked after the better. That means if you see the signs of developing bite problems in your child, the sooner you have them looked after, the quicker they can be corrected.

There is no one single cause for a child to develop problems with his/her bite. It may be a hereditary issue. Sometimes, adult permanent teeth erupt before the baby teeth have fallen out. The jaw may respond by slipping in a different direction to accommodate the extra row of teeth.  The longer this situation is allowed to persist, the greater the likelihood of your child developing a crossbite or overbite.

Children who are mouth breathers are more likely to develop problems with their bite. Normal breathing through the nose allows the tongue to rest in its normal position along the roof of the mouth. When mouth breathing occurs, the tongue falls away from this position and the lateral development of the jaw is adversely affected.

Often, enlarged tonsils can be the cause of mouth breathing. If that is a problem for your child, you may need to have it addressed before treating the bite. In fact, you may have to consider removing the tonsils before treating the bite.

A similar problem occurs in children who suck their thumbs. Thumbsucking also affects the lateral development of the jaw and can result in problems with a child’s bite. Many children find thumb sucking to be comforting and a difficult habit to break. But if you can find a way to break your child’s habit, they will thank you down the road!

Bite problems usually do require orthodontic treatment. The severity of the problem will determine the nature of the treatment. Minor problems may be dealt with far more easily than you might expect!

Regardless, we strongly recommend that you obtain whatever treatment you require. Not only are there the obvious cosmetic concerns about crossbites and overbites. There are very real health issues as well.

People with a poor bite may find it difficult to chew some of the more nutritious, whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. As a result, they may elect not to eat these foods, thereby denying themselves of the health benefits they provide. Bite problems can also lead to serious TMJ problems, with persistent headaches.

So if you notice your child’s teeth are not coming together the way you think they should, mention it to your dentist. The sooner you address bite problems, the easier they are to correct. And maintaining a proper bite is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. Bao Nguyen

Dental Surgeon

 

 

We all know how unpredictable life can be. The best laid oral health care plans and practices can seemingly be undone by an accident or trauma that leads to a dental emergency.

Dental emergencies can come in many forms. Accidents can result in people biting their tongues or lips. They may lead to broken or chipped teeth, or even to teeth being knocked out.

Prompt action in all these circumstances can be highly beneficial. In fact, you might be surprised to discover that it can even save a tooth you might otherwise have given up on!

If some form of trauma leads to you biting either your tongue or your lip, you will want to keep the area as clean as possible while controlling the bleeding. Use a cloth to try to clean the area, and then apply a cold compress to control the bleeding.

This will usually be sufficient to deal with minor cuts. However, if the bleeding proves difficult to control, you may require medical attention. You should get to an emergency clinic, hospital or dentist as soon as possible as you may require stitches to close the wound.

A cracked or chipped tooth can also benefit from prompt attention. Again, you will want to ensure that the area is kept clean and that a cold compress is applied to deal with any swelling. Once you have dealt with those immediate needs, get to your dentist right away!

Treatment options will vary depending upon the severity of the crack. Minor ones may be sealed quite easily. More serious cracks may result in the need for a root canal and crown to protect the pulp or living portion of the tooth. Let your dentist make the assessment and discuss the treatment options with you.

If a tooth is knocked out, you might be surprised to know that you still might be able to save it! The first ten minutes from the time it is knocked out are crucial. If you can replace the tooth into the socket within ten minutes, there is a good chance it will take root again. The more time passes, the less likely you will succeed in saving the tooth.

When handling a knocked out tooth, try to touch only the crown. Do not touch the roots. If the tooth is dirty, rinse it in water to clean it. You can then try to replace the tooth into the socket.

If you are unable to do this yourself, or you are concerned that the tooth might be swallowed, place the tooth in a glass of milk. You then need to seek the help of a dentist immediately.

Of course, sometimes we have to accept that an accident does mean the end of that tooth. However, it does not mean the end of an attractive smile or a healthy mouth. With options such as implants, crowns and bridges, nobody needs to ever know that you have had a tooth replaced.

Regardless of the outcome, the best way to protect your oral health in the face of an emergency is to make sure you take quick action and get to your dentist. Because acting quickly in an emergency is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos

Dental Surgeon