Study Finds Americans Lie to Dentists about Flossing

floss teeth gum diseaseA study released on June 23 revealed that 27 percent of adults lie to their dentists about flossing their teeth. Some dentists believe the actual figure is much higher, based on the condition of their patients’ teeth and gums. The study also found that a third of people dislike flossing so much that they would rather do other unpleasant activities, such as clean the toilet, wash dishes, sit in traffic, or listen to small children crying on an airplane.

The survey was conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology. The AAP surveyed 2,021 adults in 10 major cities across the United States. New Yorkers were the most likely to floss every day. Another study conducted by the AAP found that only 40 percent of Americans floss every day and 20 percent never do.

Flossing removes plaque, a sticky film of bacteria and saliva, from between the teeth and below the gum line. If it is not removed, plaque can harden into tartar. Plaque contains over 500 forms of bacteria. Those bacteria cannot be removed from below the gum line by brushing alone.

Bacteria can cause inflammation, which can lead to periodontal disease. Untreated gum disease can cause receding gums, tooth decay, and tooth loss. Gum disease can contribute to many other health problems, including heart disease and some forms of cancer. About half of Americans have periodontal disease.

Gum disease can be prevented with proper oral hygiene. That includes brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting a dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.

If you have trouble flossing, there are other options besides traditional floss. Proxabrushes are skinny brushes that can fit between teeth, and Stim-U-Dent picks or toothpicks can be used to remove plaque. If your teeth are close together, however, you will need to use floss.

Some bleeding during flossing is normal because it means the floss is clearing out an infection. However, pain is not normal and means you are doing it wrong.

Altadonics Dentures Can Improve Your Smile

Altadonics DenturesDentures can restore the function and beauty of a smile for patients who are missing teeth or who need to have teeth extracted. Unfortunately, the process of having a denture made can often take weeks, making life difficult in the interim. Altadonics Dentures can provide an immediate alternative to allow a patient to leave the dentist’s office with a set of dentures right after teeth are extracted.

The A-Tran Denture System for Immediates can provide a patient with an immediate clear-based treatment denture, as well as a final pink denture created in a lab. The two dentures are identical in fit and comfort, which means the patient will always have a set of dentures available, even if one set needs to be adjusted or repaired.

The Very Best Denture maintains the original denture’s comfortable fit and allows the dentist to make cosmetic enhancements with set teeth that are longer and have a lighter color. This type of denture generally requires three appointments for an initial consultation and mold impression, try in, and fitting of the finished product.

Altadonics’ Assurance Denture is an exact copy of the patient’s current set of dentures. It can maintain the length and function of the patient’s original denture. The purpose of the Assurance denture is to have a spare copy of the original denture. This process takes two appointments for the initial consultation and mold impression and delivery to the patient.

Altadonics Dentures use a multi-patented system that allows a dentist to store a patient’s 3-D denture image indefinitely. This means that if the patient loses the denture, a new set can be made immediately, without the need to go to the dentist’s office and have impressions made and sent to a lab.

What Causes Tooth Enamel Erosion?

enamel erosionEnamel is the material that covers the crown, the visible part of a tooth. It is the hardest tissue in the human body. Enamel is translucent. The inner material, the dentin, givers a tooth its color. Coffee, tea, soda, red wine, and cigarettes can stain tooth enamel. Regular cleanings can remove many surface stains.

Enamel protects teeth from damage caused by chewing, biting, crunching, and grinding. It also protects teeth from hot and cold temperatures. If enamel chips or cracks, the body cannot repair it.

Erosion occurs when acid wears away tooth enamel. It can be caused by drinking soda and fruit drinks, dry mouth, a diet high in sugars and starches, acid reflux disease, gastrointestinal problems, medications, genetics, and environmental factors, such as friction, wear and tear, stress, and corrosion.

Saliva plays an important role in keeping teeth healthy. It coats the enamel in calcium and other minerals that protect it. Saliva also dilutes acid that can cause erosion, removes food particles and bacteria from the mouth, and boosts protective substances that fight bacteria and disease. However, saliva is no match for excessive amounts of acid.

Plaque is a sticky film caused by saliva, food particles, bacteria, and other substances that forms between teeth and gets into tiny holes or pits in the molars, around fillings, and next to the gum line. Bacteria in plaque can change starches in food into acid, which can erode tooth enamel and cause pits.

The symptoms of enamel erosion vary depending on how severe the problem is. Erosion can cause sensitivity to sweets and hot or cold foods; yellowing of the teeth; cracks and chips; and cupping, or indentations on the teeth. If enamel erodes, teeth can develop decay, which can enter the main body of the tooth. The decay can affect tiny nerve fibers, which can lead to a painful abscess or infection.

In order to prevent enamel erosion, you should brush and floss your teeth daily and visit your dentist for exams and cleanings.

Avoid drinking acidic beverages, such as soda and citrus juice, or drink them with a straw and then rinse your mouth with water.

Snacking frequently increases the amount of time acid is in the mouth. Rinse your mouth or brush your teeth after eating snacks.

Chewing gum boosts saliva production up to 10 times. Chew sugar-free gum with xylitol between meals.

If you have dry mouth, you can reduce your risk of enamel erosion by drinking more water.

Brush with a fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your tooth enamel. You can also use a fluoride mouthwash and talk to your dentist about sealants. Be careful to avoid overexposure to fluoride because it can lead to fluorosis, or defects in tooth enamel.

Enamel erosion can sometimes be treated with bonding to protect the tooth and improve appearance. If the problem is more severe, it may be necessary to cover the tooth with a crown.

Drinking More Water Can Help Prevent Cavities

water prevent cavitiesBrushing and flossing every day and consuming less candy and sweets can reduce the risk of tooth decay. Nevertheless, even with proper care and a relatively healthy diet, many people of all ages still get cavities. One cause that many don’t often think about is acid.

Acid can wear away at tooth enamel and lead to cavities over time. Many beverages that seem harmless, or even healthy, are full of acid that can damage teeth. Orange juice, for example, contains citric acid. Tea has tanic acid, and soda, even the sugar-free kind, contains phosphoric acid. All of these drinks can contribute to tooth decay.

In order to prevent cavities, you should remove traces of these beverages and food particles from meals and snacks before the acid can attack your tooth enamel. If you can’t brush your teeth, there is another simple solution: drink water.

One of saliva’s main functions is to bathe teeth and wash away acid and food particles that could lead to decay. If you don’t rinse your mouth after eating or drinking, traces of whatever you consumed stay in your mouth and bathe your teeth with acid. Your mouth will eventually produce saliva that will wash it away, but that could take hours. You can remove traces of food and acid quickly simply by drinking a glass of water after eating or consuming other beverages.

Drinking water after meals and snacks is no substitute for proper oral hygiene. You should still brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and visit your dentist for regular exams and cleanings to prevent tooth decay.

Overcoming a Fear of Needles

needle phobia dentistNeedle phobia is a common problem that affects many people of all ages. It is estimated that about 20 million Americans suffer from a fear of needles.

Needle phobia is a problem that needs to be taken seriously. Fear of injections causes many people to completely avoid seeing a dentist, which can allow conditions to go untreated until they lead to severe problems. Untreated oral health problems can contribute to other conditions, such as heart disease, and can cause conditions such as oral cancer to go undetected.

People with needle phobia experience severe symptoms that go far beyond simple anxiety. They may faint, feel nauseated or dizzy, sweat, have a rapid heartbeat, have a rise in blood pressure followed by a sudden drop, have difficulty sleeping, resist violently, and have feelings of panic.

Many people do not know why they are afraid of needles. Experts believe their fear could be a response to past negative experiences. People with a needle phobia may have had a traumatic or painful experience involving a needle. They may have been physically or emotionally restrained and forced to undergo a painful procedure that involved a needle. They may have experienced a loss of control due to restraint or force, or they may have been affected by seeing or hearing about a parent’s or sibling’s painful experience with a needle.

If you suffer from a fear of needles, look for a dentist who has experience treating patients with needle phobia. Consider having a procedure done with a laser. This allows a dentist to perform the procedure without any needles in most cases. Your dentist can also sedate you with general anesthesia, which will put you to sleep, or give you conscious sedation, which will put you into a sleep-like state. Your doctor or dentist might also prescribe anti-anxiety medication. If your child suffers from a fear of needles, take his or her favorite toy to the dentist’s office or use distraction techniques, such as reading or singing songs, to help your child relax during the procedure.

What Causes Alveolar Bone Loss?

alveolar bone lossTeeth are anchored to the jaw by the alveolar bone, otherwise known as the tooth socket. This anchoring gives teeth the strength to support the pressure of chewing. The alveolus is the part of the alveolar bone that encases the root. A tissue called cementum at the base of the root holds a tooth to the alveolar bone. The upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible) both contain alveolar bone. A ligament holds the teeth in place and provides additional support.

Dental problems and habits can lead to the loss of alveolar bone over time. This can cause the bone to resorb, or dissolve, and can eventually lead to tooth loss if it is not treated.

If a tooth is extracted and not replaced, the jawbone can deteriorate. Natural teeth stimulate the jawbone through chewing and biting. If a tooth is missing, the alveolar bone no longer receives stimulation in that area, which can cause the jawbone to resorb. The rate and amount of deterioration varies from person to person. It is worst in the first 18 months and continues throughout life.

Gingivitis and periodontitis are gum diseases caused by plaque, a sticky, colorless film caused by food particles and bacteria that adhere to teeth at and below the gum line. Untreated gum disease can lead to pockets, or spaces, where the gums separate from the teeth. If gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, the gum tissue and alveolar bone can deteriorate, which can lead to tooth loss.

Unanchored dentures are placed on top of the gums and do not stimulate the alveolar bone. This lack of stimulation can cause the bone to resorb over time, which can lead to loosening of the dentures and problems eating and speaking. It may become impossible to hold dentures in place, even with strong adhesives, and a new set may be needed. Some dentures are supported by anchors that stimulate and preserve alveolar bone.

With a bridge, the area without a natural tooth does not receive stimulation in the alveolar bone. This can be corrected with a bone graft procedure.

If a tooth is knocked out or broken, that can lead to bone deterioration. A bone grafting procedure can restore function and promote new bone growth.

If teeth are misaligned, a tooth without an opposing tooth structure can over-erupt and cause deterioration of the alveolar bone. TMJ problems, normal wear and tear, and lack of treatment can also contribute to bone deterioration.

Osteomyelitis is a bacterial infection that affects the jawbone and bone marrow. It can lead to inflammation and a reduction in blood flow to the bone. The condition usually requires antibiotics, removal of the affected bone, and a bone graft.

Both benign and malignant facial tumors generally require removal of a section of the jawbone and reconstructive bone grafting.

Some birth defects cause missing portions of teeth, facial bones, jawbone, or skull. A bone graft can be used to treat these conditions.

If the upper molars are removed, air pressure from the maxillary sinus can cause resorption of bone. This can lead to enlargement of the sinuses, or hyperneumatized sinus, a condition that can be treated with a procedure called a sinus life.

Why Do Some People Get More Cavities Than Others?

cavities oral healthA new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one-quarter of Americans have at least one untreated cavity and that almost all adults will have tooth decay at some time in their lives. Adults get cavities just as often as children.

The study found that some people are more prone to cavities than others. According to the CDC, African Americans and Hispanics have more untreated cavities than Caucasians and Asians, although tooth decay was noted in significant percentages of all populations. The researchers noted several reasons why some individuals and groups are more likely to get cavities than others.

Biology can affect the prevalence of cavities. Some people have teeth that are naturally better able to absorb fluoride, which contributes to strong enamel. Some people naturally produce more saliva than others, which allows healthy bacteria to thrive, bathes teeth in calcium and phosphates, and neutralizes acid. A healthy immune system can reduce the risk of developing infections. The shape of the mouth and problems like crowding can also affect the rate of cavities. Some people may have dental problems that run in their families.

At-home care and nutrition also play important roles. Eating a diet high in sugar and smoking can contribute to oral health problems, while regular brushing and flossing can reduce the risk of getting cavities. Good oral health care can overcome genetic factors that could contribute to dental problems.

Other factors that seem unrelated can contribute to cavities. Drinking non-fluoridated bottled water can make teeth more susceptible to cavities. People who snore tend to have dry mouths, which allows bacteria to thrive. People who grind their teeth wear down their enamel and are more susceptible to tooth decay. Those who snack throughout the day are constantly exposing their teeth to sugars. Acidic foods and beverages like soda can cause demineralization. Sticky foods can get caught between teeth and lead to cavities.

Routine dental care is necessary to maintain good oral health, but some people put off visiting the dentist until they are in pain. One reason is that insurance plans vary widely in terms of coverage for dental care. Many people also have fear and anxiety related to visiting the dentist.

Routine oral care is essential to prevent cavities and other problems, such as gum disease. By the time a person experiences pain, a problem is often serious, which can mean that more extensive and more expensive treatment will often be needed to correct it. Poor oral health can also contribute to many other serious health problems.

CEREC Tooth Restorations in One Visit

CEREC restorationTooth decay is a problem that affects millions of people. An older metal filling can become damaged, weaken a tooth, or get additional decay under or around it. In that case, the filling needs to be replaced. In some cases, it might not be possible to fill a cavity, and a crown or veneer might be needed.

CEREC (Chairside, Economical, Restorations, Esthetic, Ceramic) is a restoration method that has been used by thousands of dentists around the world since 1987. The method can be used to replace a damaged filling or to restore any tooth that is damaged, weakened, or broken. It can restore a tooth to its former strength and beauty in just one appointment.

Your dentist will examine your tooth and decide if you need a filling, full crown, or veneer. Then he or she will administer an anesthetic and remove decayed or weakened tissue to prepare your tooth for the restoration. This is the same type of preparation that would be done for many other restorative procedures.

Instead of filling a tray with a substance for you to bite into to take an impression, your dentist will take an optical impression of your tooth. He or she will coat your tooth with a non-toxic, tasteless powder and use a camera to take a digital picture. This process only takes one or two minutes.

A machine using CEREC 3D software converts the digital picture to a 3-dimensional virtual model. Your dentist can then use the software to design your restoration. The design data is sent to a milling machine, which is also located in the office. The dentist will place a ceramic block that matches the shade of your tooth in the machine, and in 10 to 20 minutes it will create an all-ceramic, tooth-colored restoration.

Your dentist will check to make sure the restoration fits on your tooth and will polish and bond it to your prepared tooth. There is no need for a temporary restoration or a return appointment.

Dental Sedation and Pain Relief

dental sedation pain reliefDentists have several types of medications available that can be used to make patients more comfortable during procedures. Your dentist can use drugs to control pain, help you relax, and possibly put you into a deep sleep while you are having a dental procedure done. The medication chosen will depend on the type of procedure being performed, your overall health, your level of anxiety, and any allergies you might have.

Local anesthesia prevents pain in a specific area of the mouth by numbing those tissues. Your dentist may apply a topical anesthetic first, followed by an injectable local anesthetic. A topical anesthetic can also soothe pain caused by a mouth sore. Injectable anesthetics are used for procedures such as filling cavities, preparing teeth for crowns, and treating gum disease.

Your dentist might decide to sedate you for your procedure. A sedative can be administered before or during your procedure. A sedative such as nitrous oxide can be inhaled. Your dentist might also give you an oral sedative in the form of a pill or an injection. For a complex procedure, your dentist might use deep sedation to relieve your pain and anxiety. In some cases, general anesthesia might be necessary.

You might need an analgesic, or pain reliever, after your dental procedure is completed. Pain relievers fall into two groups: non-narcotic and narcotic. Non-narcotic pain relievers include aspirin, acetaminophen, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen. Narcotic analgesics, such as opiods, are used for more severe pain. They work by acting on the central nervous system.

Ask your dentist how to secure and dispose of any unused, unwanted, or expired pain medications, especially if you have children. Talk to your children about the risks associated with using prescription medications for non-medical purposes.

Dentists safely use sedation and pain medication to treat millions of patients every year, but every medication carries with it some risks. Talk to your dentist about your procedure, medications, overall health, and level of anxiety to decide what types of sedation and pain relief are best for you.

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

oral cancer screeningApril has been designated as Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Oral cancer is the largest group of cancers affecting the head and neck. It includes cancers of the mouth, tongue, tonsils, and throat.

The Oral Cancer Foundation predicts that 45,750 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States in 2015. This includes cancers in the mouth, oropharyngeal cancer in the back of the mouth, and cancer on the exterior of the lip. The rate of oral and oropharyngeal cancers has been rising for over a decade. Over 450,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed worldwide each year.

Oral cancer has two main causes. One common cause is the longterm use of tobacco and alcohol. Another common cause is exposure to the human papilloma virus version 16 (HPV-16), which is also responsible for most cervical cancer diagnoses. Less than 7 percent of people who develop oral cancer do not get it from any of these causes. It is believed that those individuals are genetically predisposed to the condition.

A person dies from oral cancer every hour. The death rate is 43 percent five years after diagnosis. About 12,000 new cases of laryngeal cancers are diagnosed every year, and death rates are significantly higher.

Oral cancer can usually be treated effectively if it is detected early. The survival rate is 80 to 90 percent if the cancer is detected in its early stages. Unfortunately, in most cases the cancer is detected later, which is largely due to a lack of awareness about oral cancer and screenings that can catch the disease early.

Your dentist can conduct an oral cancer screening at a routine exam and check for early signs of disease. If it is caught early, your chance of surviving oral cancer increases dramatically. If you are due for your routine dental checkup, schedule an appointment and ask your dentist to screen you for oral cancer.