Air Abrasion Eliminates the Noise of the Dentist’s Drill

air abrasionFor many years, dentists have used drills to prepare teeth for dental crowns, treat cavities, and perform root canals. Many people feel anxious when they hear the sound of a drill. Fortunately, dentists have another method that they can use for many common dental procedures without the unnerving noise, heat, and vibrations of a drill.

Air abrasion is an alternative treatment that can be used to remove tooth decay. It uses tiny particles of aluminum oxide or silica to gently remove decayed material. Compressed air sprays sand-like particles at the teeth being treated, and an assistant suctions away excess material. Air abrasion does not cause the type of friction that is common with a drill. Air abrasion is also referred to as microabrasion or kinetic cavity preparation.

Air abrasion can be used to treat cavities or to prepare a tooth for sealants or bonding. The technique can also be used to remove old composite resin fillings and to remove surface stains from teeth.

Less tooth material is removed with air abrasion than with drilling. This can reduce discomfort and the need for anesthesia. More than one section of the mouth can be treated in one session, which can reduce the number of appointments required.

If you are treated with air abrasion, your dentist will probably provide you with goggles to protect your eyes from particles being sprayed. He or she will use a rubber dam or resin to protect other teeth from the particles.

A traditional drill is still needed for certain dental procedures. A drill is required to prepare a tooth for a crown, remove deep decay, or perform a root canal. Air abrasion can only be used with composite resin fillings because it smoothes the surface of a tooth. Amalgam fillings need a rough surface to adhere correctly, which means a drill needs to be used.

Air abrasion is a better choice than a drill for children and people who experience dental anxiety because it eliminates the sound, heat, and vibrations caused by a traditional drill. It may be more costly than using a drill, but for some patients, the extra cost is worth it.

The Wand® Can Eliminate Injection Pain

The Wand dentist injectionMany people avoid the dentist out of fear. According to the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington, 5 to 8 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of fear. The American Dental Association estimates that 40 million people are afraid of the dentist.

People have different reasons for being afraid of the dentist, but the most common is a fear of getting a painful injection. Fortunately, new technology can make getting an injection more comfortable and less stressful.

Pain from an injection is not caused by the needle, but rather from anesthesia being delivered and building up too quickly. The Wand® is an instrument that uses a computer to control the flow of anesthesia. This eliminates the inconsistent pressure of a manual injection and makes getting a shot of anesthesia virtually pain-free.

The Wand® is an instrument about the size of a pen. It delivers anesthesia to a specific place where it is needed, such as a single tooth, rather than a large area. This eliminates the feeling of a fat lip or numb tongue that is often caused when a large area of the mouth is numbed.

The device has an ergonomic design that makes it comfortable for the dentist to hold. This makes it easy for the dentist to provide patients with injections that are consistent, accurate, and painless.

The Wand® works quickly, so the amount of time waiting for anesthesia to take effect before the procedure is reduced. Patients are able to return to their normal activities quickly.

Dentists Could Detect Diabetes Early

dentist diabetesA small study conducted in New York City suggests that dentists might be able to test patients for diabetes when they have their teeth cleaned. This could allow people with diabetes who do not visit a doctor regularly to be diagnosed and treated sooner.

Almost one in 10 adults worldwide has diabetes. The World Health Organization predicts that it will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. Most of those people have Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity and aging and develops when the body cannot use or produce enough insulin to convert blood sugar to energy. Over 8 million people in the United States have diabetes and don’t know it.

The researchers who conducted the study tested blood that appeared on the gums of 408 patients who were having their teeth cleaned at dental clinics in New York City. In order to get enough blood from participants’ gums, the researchers only included people in the study whose gums bled when they brushed or flossed. They also limited the study to people at the greatest risk for diabetes. This included patients over 45 or younger people who were overweight and either had an immediate family member with diabetes or a sedentary lifestyle or who were Latino, African American, Native American, or Pacific Islander.

The researchers focused on hemoglobin A1c, a protein in red blood cells that can reflect average blood sugar levels over a two- to three-month period. They collected blood samples from the gums and fingers of the patients and tested their A1c levels to determine whether the patients had diabetes or prediabetes.

The results of the oral and finger blood tests matched in 97.8 percent of cases that diagnosed diabetes and in 92.9 percent of cases that diagnosed prediabetes. The oral blood test correctly ruled out diabetes 99.1 percent of the time.

Since the participants in the study were not a random sample, the results might not apply to a wider population. However, by limiting the study to people with bleeding gums, the researchers focused on those with periodontal disease or gingivitis, which are more common among diabetics.

The researchers hope that dentists will be able to routinely screen patients for diabetes in the future. More research is needed, and dentists will have to be trained to explain the results to their patients and to refer them to doctors for treatment for diabetes.

EasySmile LifeLike Veneers Can Be Made in One Visit

EasySmile LifeLike VeneersNew technology allows dentists to improve the appearance of a patient’s smile with veneers in a fraction of the time normally required.

A veneer is a thin piece of material, typically porcelain, that is bonded to the surface of a tooth to cover major imperfections, such as stains, cracks, chips, and gaps. It can completely change the color, size, and appearance of a tooth.

To apply a traditional veneer, it is necessary to remove an amount of enamel roughly equal to the thickness of the veneer. While this is completely painless, many patients would rather avoid removing enamel since the procedure is irreversible. A traditional veneer needs to be made in a lab, which can take weeks, and a patient needs to wear a temporary veneer in the meantime.

EasySmile LifeLike Veneers are natural-looking veneers that can be customized and created in just one dental visit. An innovative foundation, which is not made of porcelain, allows a dentist to create a strong and aesthetically pleasing veneer that can correct cracks, chips, gaps, worn edges, or discoloration caused by thinning enamel. The procedure does not require the dentist to drill or file down the tooth.

The process of making the veneer, attaching it to the patient’s tooth, finishing, and polishing can be completed in less than an hour. Since the procedure is quicker, multiple veneers can be applied in a matter of minutes. EasySmile’s patent-pending Smile Preview lets patients see how their veneers will look before committing to the procedure.

EasySmile LifeLike Veneers are much less expensive than traditional veneers. There is no lab charge because a technician is not required to make the veneer.

TruDenta Treatment Can Relieve Headache Pain

TruDentaChronic migraines, tension headaches, vertigo, tinnitus, and pain in the face, neck, and jaw affect millions of Americans. Unbalanced forces in the jaw can contribute to these problems. Unbalanced forces can affect muscles, which can cause chemical and nerve reactions that create chronic pain.

Many people have tried numerous treatments but found little or no relief for their symptoms. Dentists may be able to help. A dentist can use devices derived from the field of sports medicine to evaluate and treat vertigo, tinnitus, and pain in the head, face, neck, and jaw.

TruDenta is a treatment that can relieve chronic headaches, migraines, TMJ/TMD, and many other conditions. TruDenta treatment does not involve the use of drugs or needles.

Your dentist will have you complete a questionnaire that will ask questions about your pain symptoms, dental history, head and neck problems, and any accidents or injuries that may be responsible for your problem. During an exam, your dentist will take computerized measurements of the force balance of each tooth in your mouth. He or she will also take computerized measurements of the disability of your muscle movement and measure your mouth movement. These tests are simple and painless.

The results of these tests can help your dentist identify the cause of your symptoms. He or she can also identify other issues with your mouth, muscles, and teeth that will be treated with TruDenta therapy.

TruDenta is a type of in-office treatment that includes gentle light therapy, electrical stimulation, muscle manipulation, and ultrasound therapy. One to 12 weekly treatments will be needed, depending on your symptoms and their cause. You will continue your treatment at home with exercises and an orthotic to wear for a short period of time. Many patients report that their symptoms were significantly lessened or completely relieved soon after beginning TruDenta treatment.

MouthWatch Intraoral Camera Helps Dentists and Patients

MouthWatch intraoral cameraMouthWatch, which recently became a StartUp Health company, produces intraoral cameras that are important tools dentists can use to evaluate problems and communicate with patients. By showing patients problems in their mouths with the cameras, dentists can illustrate the importance of taking action and undergoing necessary treatment.

MouthWatch cameras are much less expensive than other companies’ intraoral cameras and can produce better images. MouthWatch lowered its price by removing some features that customers told them were difficult to use, such as autofocus and a metal housing. The company hopes to expand into the field of tele-dentistry. Mouth Watch also offers EHR integration and secure dentist-patient messaging capabilities.

While it is not intended to replace visits to the dentist, MouthWatch can make a dentist’s work easier and make communication between dentists and their patients more effective. Patients can view images, x-rays, and treatment proposals even after they leave the dentist’s office via browser, mobile app, and email reminders.

Many dentists find the cameras helpful in their practices. They can be used to calm young patients who are nervous about their exams or treatment or to show patients why they should have recommended work done. The cameras are marketed to dental practices but are inexpensive enough that they can also be given to patients. Approximately 600 dental practices across the United States currently use MouthWatch intraoral cameras.

Using MouthWatch intraoral cameras can help dentists use their time more effectively. They can help dentists diagnose problems more easily, show the areas of concern to patients, and recommend necessary treatments.

Solea Laser Makes Dental Treatments Pain Free

Solea laserSolea CO2 lasers can make dental procedures easier and eliminate the need for anesthesia, which can make treatments simpler for both dentists and patients. Solea is the first carbon dioxide laser approved by the Food and Drug Administration for both hard and soft tissue ablation.

Solea is the first Computer Aided Preparation system to be used in dental treatment. Solea uses galvos – motors controlled by a computer that move mirrors inside the handpiece. The mirrors manipulate the laser beam to adjust to the tissue that the dentist is cutting. This gives the dentist more speed, accuracy, and control. The dentist can choose the proper spot size and does not have to readjust the laser. Solea has a navigational touch screen and a foot pedal that adjusts the speed of the laser’s cutting.

Other CO2 lasers only work on soft tissue, and erbium lasers only vaporize water and slowly chip away at tooth enamel. Solea is an isotopic CO2 laser that vaporizes enamel. This allows the dentist to work anywhere in the mouth at any angle efficiently and easily.

The laser numbs a tooth for 15 to 20 minutes, which is long enough to fill a cavity. Patients do not need to be injected with anesthesia, and dentists do not need to wait for it to take effect before beginning the procedure. This can significantly reduce the amount of time in the dentist’s office and improve efficiency. It also means less discomfort for the patient since there is no need for needles and the mouth and face are not numbed. Procedures done with the Solea laser produce little or no bleeding. The Solea laser is quiet and produces virtually no sensation.

The Solea laser system allows dentists to complete more procedures. A dentist can fill cavities in different quadrants of the mouth in one visit and fill cavities found during cleanings immediately, rather than scheduling another appointment.

The Worst Foods and Drinks for Your Teeth

foods drinks teethWhat we eat and drink can mean the difference between a healthy smile and tooth decay. Many people are not aware that common foods and drinks can contribute to serious dental problems. Here is a list of some of the most dangerous foods and beverages.

Processed carbohydrates, such as white bread, are sugars. Saliva has an enzyme called salivary amylase that starts digestion in the mouth and turns complex carbohydrates into sugars. Bacteria in the mouth convert the sugar into acid that causes tooth decay.

Dried fruit has just as much sugar as regular fruit, but it is worse for teeth because it is sticky and stays on teeth. If you eat dried fruit and then do not brush your teeth, it can lead to decay.

Sour candy can damage teeth more than sweet candy because it contains the same amount of sugar, plus citric acid. Since it is sticky, it stays on teeth longer.

Lemons and limes are also very acidic. Sucking on lemons or limes can wear away enamel on the front of the teeth, which can make them appear yellow.

Chewing on ice can easily break a tooth because it is so hard. The coldness can also make teeth brittle, making them more susceptible to damage.

Soda contains sugar and phosphoric and citric acids that break down the surface of the teeth. Teeth are coated with acid, and sugars combine with bacteria to produce more acid. Sipping soda slowly is worse than drinking it quickly because it keeps a low pH in the mouth over a long period of time.

Sports and energy drinks are full of sugar. Some also have a lot of citric acid. Sports and energy drinks can do more damage to teeth than soda.

Saliva dilutes plaque and acids and fights bacteria. Dry mouth can lead to tooth decay. Drinking alcohol can dry out your mouth. While a moderate amount of alcohol is not necessarily a bad thing, it can create problems if you already have dry mouth.

Kombucha is a drink made from fermented sweetened black and/or green tea. It has a very low pH, which means that it is full of acid that can damage teeth.

Cancer Treatments Can Affect Oral Health

cancer oral healthCancer treatments can affect the mouth in several ways. If you are undergoing treatment for cancer, it is important to take care of your oral health and to include your dentist in your health care.

Radiation therapy to the head or neck can cause dry mouth, tooth decay, loss of taste, mouth and gum sores, bone disease, or stiffness in the jaw that can be temporary or can last for years after treatment. There is a greater risk of developing these problems if you have underlying dental problems, so it is important to visit a dentist and have any problems addressed before you begin your radiation treatment. Your dentist may recommend special fluoride treatments that can prevent tooth decay and infection that can be caused by inadequate amounts of saliva due to radiation.

Chemotherapy often causes mouth sores, pain in the mouth and gums, peeling or burning of the tongue, infection, and changes in taste. Chemotherapy can temporarily reduce your body’s ability to fight infection, so you should get any source of infection treated before beginning chemotherapy. Fixed orthodontic appliances should usually be removed prior to chemotherapy. Oral side effects caused by chemotherapy usually go away soon after treatment is ended.

Patients who receive stem cell or bone marrow transplants also usually receive high doses of chemotherapy that can cause oral health side effects. Graft-versus-host disease can cause dry mouth, sores in the mouth, tooth decay, sensitivity to spicy or acidic foods, and difficulty swallowing. Palifermin (Kepivance) is a drug that can be given to patients with leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma who receive stem cell transplants to prevent mouth sores.

Bisphosphonates and other drugs can be used to prevent or treat bone loss caused by cancer. An uncommon side effect is osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) that can cause pain, swelling, and infection of the jaw; loose teeth; and exposed bone. Visit your dentist before beginning treatment to deal with any infection you might have.

Other medications used to treat cancer and side effects can also impact oral health. Pain medications can cause dry mouth, and some mouth rinses containing chlorhexidine that are used to treat infection can cause discoloration of teeth.

You should visit your dentist at least four weeks before beginning cancer treatment and have any problems addressed. If you need to have a dental procedure done, ask your dentist how long you should wait before beginning cancer treatment.

There are some steps you can take to minimize oral health problems during your cancer treatment. Gently brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. You can use an extra-soft toothbrush and soak it in warm water to soften the bristles. Your doctor may give you advice on other ways to prevent bleeding and infection. Avoid alcohol and foods that are extremely hot, cold, acidic, or crunchy. Be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D for healthy teeth and jaw.

If you experience any dental problems during your cancer treatment, discuss them with your doctor or dentist immediately. He or she may recommend a mouth rinse, pain medication, antibiotic, antiviral drug, antifungal drug, drinking water or sugarless drinks, or a medication or gel to stimulate the production of saliva.

What Is Burning Mouth Syndrome?

burning mouth syndromeBurning mouth syndrome is a condition in which a person experiences a burning or tingling sensation on the tongue, roof of the mouth, gums, cheeks, or throat. It can be accompanied by dry mouth, soreness, numbness, or a bitter or metallic taste. People with burning mouth syndrome can be so affected by it that they experience depression or have trouble sleeping. The condition can have many causes.

• Several oral conditions, including dry mouth, oral thrush, and Sjogren’s syndrome, can contribute to burning mouth syndrome.

• Menopause and hormonal imbalances can affect the amount of saliva that is produced. This can cause dry mouth, which can lead to burning mouth syndrome.

• Some medical conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid problems, can contribute to the condition.

• Deficiencies in certain vitamins, such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins, can lead to burning mouth syndrome.

• Stomach acid that is brought to the mouth due to acid reflux disease can irritate the mouth and lead to burning mouth syndrome.

• Some medications and treatments, including antidepressants, high blood pressure medications, chemotherapy, and radiation can contribute to burning mouth syndrome.

• Things that irritate the mouth, such as acidic drinks, smoking, some mouthwashes, loose-fitting dentures, bruxism (teeth grinding), tongue thrusting, and hard tooth brushing can irritate tissues in the mouth.

• Burning mouth syndrome can be caused by an allergic reaction to a food or other substance.

• The condition can be caused by nerve damage, which can cause pain.

• Anxiety and depression can contribute to burning mouth syndrome, and the syndrome can also affect a patient’s mental health.

Since burning mouth syndrome can be caused by so many things, you may need help from your dentist to pinpoint the cause. He or she can check for oral problems and may also recommend that you see a physician and have some blood tests performed.

Modifying your habits may help you reduce the effects of burning mouth syndrome. Your dentist may recommend that you eliminate smoking, alcohol, and acidic drinks that could dry out your mouth; improve your diet; drink more fluids; take vitamins or saliva replacements; adjust your dentures; improve your brushing; or possibly take medications to treat any underlying medical conditions that are causing your burning mouth syndrome.