Drs. Tom Ryan DDS, John Athos DDS, Bohdanna Czerniak DMD and the team at North Creek Dental Care are pleased to provide professional and caring dental services to their patients from Tinley Park IL and the surrounding communities. Our dental services include: adult, children's, cosmetic, family, general, implant, laser, preventive, restorative and sedation dentistry.
If you have had a joint replacement and taken antibiotics before dental work in the past, you may not need to make a trip to the pharmacy before your next procedure. The American Dental Association has found it is no longer necessary for most dental patients with orthopedic implants to have antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent infection.
What Is Antibiotic Prophylaxis?
Antibiotic prophylaxis (or premedication) is simply the taking of antibiotics before some dental procedures such as teeth cleaning, tooth extractions, root canals, and deep cleaning between the tooth root and gums to prevent infection. We all have bacteria in our mouths, and a number of dental treatments—and even daily routines like chewing, brushing or flossing—can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream (bacteremia). For most of us, this isn’t a problem. A healthy immune system prevents these bacteria from causing any harm. There is concern, however, that bacteria in the bloodstream could cause infection elsewhere in the body.
Prior to 2012, premedication prior to dental procedures was common for joint replacement patients, even though there was little evidence to support the practice and experts recommended against its practice for most dental patients. In 2012, the American Dental Association and American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons published updated guidelines, stating that dentists “might consider discontinuing the practice of routinely prescribing prophylactic antibiotics”. In January 2015, the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs issued another guideline, which continued to discourage prophylactic antibiotic use for most patients with prosthetic joint implants. Guidelines are re-evaluated every few years to make sure that they are based on the best scientific evidence.
Why Don’t I Need Antibiotic Prophylaxis?
Based on careful review of the scientific literature, the ADA found that dental procedures are not associated with prosthetic joint implant infections, and that antibiotics given before dental procedures do not prevent such infections.
In fact, for most people, the known risks of taking antibiotics may outweigh the uncertain benefits. Risks related to antibiotic use include nausea, upset stomach and allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock (a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening). Other risks include developing antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which can complicate treatment of infections such as strep throat, pink eye and meningitis; as well as increasing the risk of C. difficile infection, which causes diarrhea and other intestinal problems. Patients over 70 years old are also at increased risk of experiencing adverse reactions to some antibiotics.
Who Can Antibiotic Prophylaxis Help?
Depending on your personal medical history, you may still be a candidate for premedication. For example, antibiotic prophylaxis might be useful for patients undergoing dental procedures who also have compromised immune systems (due to, for instance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, chemotherapy, and chronic steroid use), which increases the risk of orthopedic implant infection. It may also benefit others with heart conditions. Always talk with your dentist or physician about whether antibiotic prophylaxis before dental treatment is right for you.
The ketogenic diet has created buzz in the health community and for good reason. Many have found success in restricting their carb intake so that the body burns fat instead of glucose to lose weight. If you're following a keto diet, you might notice some unpleasant side effects that accompany the positive changes on the scale. For example, so-called ketosis breath is a common complaint. Understanding keto breath is the first step to ensuring your diet doesn't impair your oral health.
Ketosis and Your Breath
If a lower-carb lifestyle is supposedly healthy, then why does it result in foul-smelling breath? The answer is in how your body breaks down fats. After swapping a typical carb-heavy diet for one that promotes fats and protein, your body goes into ketosis. As the University of California, San Francisco explains, ketosis is a process wherein your body begins to burn fat for energy, since glucose stores (your body's preferred source of energy) aren't readily available. While in ketosis, your body converts fat cells into three types of ketones, which are fat byproducts. One of these ketones, called acetone, is essentially unusable for your body's energy stores.
Therefore, your body releases it via your urine and lungs, notes Medscape. It's acetone that gives your breath that distinctive "ketosis" smell, which, according to Medline Plus, can be compared to an overly sweet, fruity scent.
Keto Diet and Oral Health
When swapping carbs for healthy fats and proteins, your body undergoes several changes. While ketosis breath is often associated with a low-carb lifestyle, the diet may also have a positive effect on your oral health. After all, in avoiding carbs, you're also avoiding processed sugars, which the American Dental Association counts among the worst foods for oral health. Because oral bacteria thrive on sugar, reducing your sugar intake may reduce cavities.
A low-carb diet may also help reduce inflammation. A study in BMC Oral Health found that a diet low in carbohydrates and high in omega-3 fatty acids resulted in lower rates of gingivitis and inflammation in patients. So while going low-carb may make your breath smell, it may actually help improve your overall oral health.
If you've noticed that you have keto breath and you still want to continue your keto diet, consider some of these methods to deal with the smell:
Chew sugar-free gum to help stimulate saliva and freshen your breath.
Adjust your intake of complex carbohydrates, such as leafy green vegetables and whole grains, while continuing to avoid refined carbs.
Fill a water bottle and sip throughout the day.
Continue good oral health habits. A keto lifestyle, while beneficial for oral health, is not a substitute for daily brushing and flossing.
Starting and continuing a ketogenic lifestyle should only ever be done with the supervision and approval of a qualified health care professional. While it's true that a keto diet may offer benefits for oral health, it has a few drawbacks as well. By addressing some of the roadblocks, you can make sure that your keto diet is as healthy as it is successful. To keep you on track, lessen the smelly side effects by brushing with Colgate Total Fresh Mint Stripe Gel toothpaste. It has a minty blend of gel and paste that leaves your mouth clean and fresh.
Teeth stain for many reasons, including your food and drink choices, oral hygiene, and medication use. Teeth stains occur on the surface of the tooth or below the tooth enamel and some people develop both types of teeth stains.
Types of Tooth Discoloration (Stains)
Tooth discoloration can occur as a result of surface stains, due to actual changes in your tooth material, or because of a combination of both factors. Dental professionals have identified three main categories of tooth discoloration:
Extrinsic sTeeth Stains: An extrinsic tooth stain is staining on the surface of the tooth. It occurs when stain particles, such as pigmented residue from food or drink, build-up in the film of protein that covers the tooth enamel. Extrinsic tooth stains are typically caused by tobacco use or by regularly drinking coffee and tea, wine or cola drinks. This type of tooth stain responds well to regular dental cleaning and brushing the teeth with whitening toothpaste.
Intrinsic Teeth Stains: An intrinsic tooth stain is staining below the surface of the tooth. It occurs when stain-causing particles work through the exterior of the tooth and accumulate within the tooth enamel. Excessive fluoride use and also have been associated with intrinsic, especially in children. An intrinsic tooth stain is trickier to remove, but it can be done. An intrinsic tooth stain may require bleaching using professional or at-home chemical teeth-whitening products, such as Whitestrips.
Age-Related Teeth Stains: Age-related teeth stains combine the results of both intrinsic and extrinsic tooth discoloration. Because the core tissue of your teeth, the dentin, naturally yellows over time, teeth discolor with age. As we age, the enamel that covers the tooth becomes thinner, allowing the dentin to show through. These intrinsic causes of discoloration combined with extrinsic causes such as the effects of certain foods, beverages, and tobacco, will cause most adults' teeth to discolor with age.
Stained Teeth Causes
Teeth stains have many causes. Certain foods and drinks can cause teeth stains, and as we’ve talked about, tooth discoloration is also a product of several biological factors, including the transparency of your tooth enamel.
There are many causes of discolored teeth—some of which could have possibly been prevented, and many of which are beyond your control. This comprehensive list can help you determine the cause of discolored teeth, and in many cases, help prevent further discoloring of your teeth:
Food & Drink: Coffee, tea, dark sodas, red wine, and even a few fruits and vegetables are proven causes of discolored teeth.
Tobacco: Both cigarettes and chewing tobacco can contribute to discolored teeth.
Oral Care: Poor dental hygiene, such as inadequate brushing or flossing, can lead to tooth discoloration.
Trauma or Disease: Any trauma, illness, or disease that affects enamel development in children—either in the womb or while teeth are developing (under the age of 8)—can cause discolored teeth. Trauma to adult teeth can also cause discolored teeth. In addition, there are a few diseases and disease treatments that can cause discolored teeth. Chemotherapy and radiation, for example, discolor teeth.
Medical Treatments: Sometimes medical treatments can contribute to teeth stain, and several classes of medications including high blood pressure medications, chemotherapy, antihistamines and some antipsychotic medications can cause teeth stains.
To know how to remove a tooth stain, it helps to know what type of stain you are dealing with. Paul A. Sagel, a Procter & Gamble Research Fellow, has conducted extensive research into the science of tooth stains. Research by Sagel and others have shown that some stain particles remain on the tooth enamel, while others work through the tooth enamel over time and set beneath the tooth surface, which creates dullness and tooth stain.
Are My Teeth White?
Tooth color is subjective, and it can be hard to tell how well teeth-whitening products are working to remove or reduce teeth stains. A 2004 study in the Journal of Dentistry showed that even professionals disagree on tooth color when evaluating the same teeth, and a single professional can rate the whiteness of the same tooth differently on different occasions. One method of evaluating the effectiveness of whitening products involves taking high-resolution digital images of teeth and assigning numerical values to describe the whitening effects three ways: a decrease in yellowness, decrease in redness, and an increase in lightness.
Teeth Whitening for Older Adults
While everyone knows you get better with age, tooth stains are one of the least-favorite body changes that take place during the aging process. In fact, one of the three main categories of tooth discoloration is age-related discoloration, which is a result of several factors.
Why Are Seniors Susceptible For Tooth Stains?
First, as you age, the outer layer of the tooth’s enamel gets thinner over time, revealing the natural yellow color of the core tissue of your teeth, called the dentin. This dentin also yellows naturally with age. In addition, years of drinking tea, coffee, dark sodas, and wine can cause progressive tooth stains over time. Finally, damage or injuries to your teeth, which occur over time throughout your life, cause discoloration that can become noticeable with age.
How to Remove Teeth Stains
Fortunately, there are many treatment options for teeth stains. Keep your teeth healthy and looking great by maintaining a consistent oral health routine including twice-daily toothbrushing and daily flossing, twice-yearly visits to your dentist, and by limiting your consumption of teeth-staining beverages. Regular whitening maintenance will help keep them looking whiter and brighter.
Regardless of the type of tooth discoloration you have, there are many safe, over-the-counter, teeth-whitening products available to help you makeover your discolored teeth into a beautiful white smile. Ask your dentist for recommendations on the best teeth whitening option to treat your age-related tooth stains and discoloration.
Mouth bacteria and viruses can lead to a number of oral health issues if not treated properly. Tooth decay, gum disease, and mouth sores are only a few of the conditions that may occur when an infection takes root. Learn more about the different viral and bacterial infections that may affect your tongue and mouth and what you can do to prevent them.
Common Bacterial and Viral Mouth Infections
Bacterial and viral infections on the tongue and mouth are relatively common, and in most cases can be taken care of with proper diagnosis and treatment. Several infections that may affect the mouth and tongue include:
Tonsil Stones – Also known as Tonsilloliths, are bacterial infections that affect your tonsils.
White Tongue – A condition where the lingual papillae on the tongue swell up and trap bacteria and food debris.
Oral Thrush – A fungal infection affecting the tongue and throat.
Coxsackie Virus – Most common in children, this mouth virus can cause painful blisters.
Strawberry Tongue Virus - Not a condition on its own but it can be a sign of a more serious underlying disorder.
Herpangina Virus – Another strain of the Coxsackie Virus, this mouth virus causes painful, red ulcers to form inside the mouth.
What are Tonsil Stones?
Tonsils are the gland-like structures located in the back of your throat. Their main role is to help support your immune system by keeping any viral and bacterial infections from entering into your throat. However, this may not be case for some people.
Tonsil stones occur when bacteria and other debris combine together and get stuck in the nooks of the tonsils. If the trapped debris hardens, it turns into tonsil stones.
Common symptoms of tonsil stones include:
Inflammation or swelling of the tonsil
Persistent cough caused by the irritation from the stone
Pain in the ear because of the nerve pathways involved
White-like debris at the back of the throat
Bad breath caused by the sulfur gases which get trapped in the tonsils
In most cases, tonsil stones may be able to go away on their own. However, in instances where the stone has grown too large, medical treatment may be necessary:
Surgery may be required to remove the stones
More severe or persistent cases may require surgical removal of the tonsils themselves, this is known as a Tonsillectomy
Antibiotics to lessen the infection
Saltwater rinse for smaller tonsil stones
You can help prevent tonsil stones from forming by following a thorough oral care routine. The more bacteria you remove from your mouth, the less can get trapped in the tonsils. Regular brushing and flossing and rinsing with mouthwash after meals can remove the bacteria and debris that may lead to tonsil stones.
For people with chronic tonsil stones, it is often best to have the tonsils removed surgically to prevent the infection.
What is White Tongue?
White tongue is a condition that causes the tongue to take on a white-like hue. Lingual papillae are the small structures on the tongue’s surface that give your tongue it’s rough texture. When the papillae swell up they can trap more bacteria and debris, resulting in an appearance.
One of the more common causes of white tongue is a lack of oral hygiene, other causes may include:
Dehydration or dry mouth, a lack of moisture in the mouth can promote bacteria
Smoking or alcohol use which can dry out and irritate the mouth
Mouth irritations caused by braces or dentures
The best way to prevent white patches from forming on your tongue is to maintain a consistent oral care routine. Twice daily brushing and flossing at least once can help remove bacteria and keep the mouth clean. Rinsing with an alcohol-free mouthwash can further reduce the amount of debris in the mouth and promote a healthy tongue. To further remove bacteria on the tongue, a tongue scraper can help. Some toothbrushes come with a tongue cleaning feature to easily incorporate the step into your daily oral hygiene routine.
What is Oral Thrush?
Candida is a fungal organism that’s normally occurring in the mouth, however, if it overgrows it can cause a condition known as oral thrush. The most common symptom of oral thrush is the spread of white lesions on the tongue, cheeks, palette, tonsils, gums, and back of the throat. These lesions can be cottage cheese-like in appearance and may bleed when irritated. The lesions can be painful and turn red, making it difficult to swallow or eat.
Usually people with weakened immune systems are most prone to oral thrush. Maintaining a healthy diet, regular checkups with your doctor and dental professional, and a thorough oral care routine can help prevent the fungal infection from spreading.
To further reduce your risk of contracting a candida infection be sure to:
Brush your teeth at least two times a day
Floss a minimum of once a day
Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash
Limit your sugar intake
Clean your dentures daily if you wear them
Your doctor or dental professional may recommend a form of antifungal medication to treat a candida infection. It’s important to see your healthcare provider if you suspect oral thrush. Early treatment can help reduce the chances of the infection spreading from the mouth into the throat, which can lead to more serious health complications.
What is Foot and Mouth Virus?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease, also known as Coxsackie Virus, often affects children under the age of 10. The viral infection causes a rash of blisters to form in and around the mouth, feet, and hands. These blisters are often accompanied by a runny nose, sore throat, fever, and poor appetite.
The infection usually goes away on its own after about a week or so, and can be treated with proper oral hydration. A good oral hygiene routine can help, along with plenty of handwashing to help limit the spread.
What is Strawberry Tongue?
Strawberry tongue on its own is not a condition, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition or disease. The term “strawberry tongue” refers specifically to the tongue’s appearance—red, bumpy, and swollen. Strawberry tongue is often characterized by enlarged taste buds and an overly rough texture.
Conditions that can cause strawberry tongue include:
Allergies from foods or drugs
Scarlet Fever a bacterial infection as a result of strep throat
Kawasaki Disease which causes inflamed arteries, mostly affecting children
Vitamin B deficiencies
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) a life-threatening infection that requires immediate medical attention
It’s important to see your medical professional to diagnose the cause of your strawberry tongue for proper treatment. In some cases, strawberry tongue may be a part of a serious health problem and can lead to complications on your overall health.
What is Herpangina?
The herpangina virus is very similar to foot and mouth disease. The viral infection tends to affect children more often than adults and results in small blisters or ulcers along the top of the mouth and back of the throat.
Common symptoms of herpangina include:
Swollen lymph nodes
Loss of appetite
Additionally, infants with the herpangina virus may experience bouts of excessive drooling and vomiting. Since herpangina is viral and not bacterial, antibiotics will not work as treatment. Rather, your medical professional will determine which course of treatment is best based on age and severity of symptoms, though pain management is often a requirement.
Though mouthwash can’t treat viral infections, it can help soothe mouth sores by flushing out plaque bacteria. Alcohol-free rinses like Crest Pro-Health Advanced Multi-Protection Mouthwash can help promote a cleaner mouth by removing more food and plaque bacteria from the mouth without causing extra irritation—however, it is not recommended for children under 6.
A therapeutic rinse composed of salt and warm water is based for children. The rinse can help to safely relieve some of the pain caused by the infection in the mouth and throat.
In addition to a rinse, plenty of hydration is often recommended for recovery. It is also best to keep away from overly hot or acidic drinks as they can irritate the ulcers and cause symptoms to worsen.
Herpangina usually lasts for about a week but if symptoms persist it is crucial to see your doctor right away.
Preventing Spread of Bacterial Infections
A good hygiene routine is best when it comes to the prevention of bacterial oral infections.
Wash hands thoroughly
Brush teeth at least twice a day or after meals to remove more plaque bacteria from the teeth, gums, and tongue
Switch to an electric toothbrush to ensure a more complete clean, the unique round brush heads on Oral-B electric toothbrushes surround each tooth for 100% more plaque removal than a manual
Floss daily to get rid of any trapped food that can lead to bacterial growth in the mouth
Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash to get rid of bacteria and keep the mouth clean
See your dental professional every six months for professional cleanings and checkups
Viral and bacterial mouth infections can affect your oral health as well as your overall health. Be sure to maintain a thorough routine to keep your smile healthy and see your medical professional in the event where symptoms are cause for concern.
If you have one or more missing teeth, it can be easy to develop oral health problems beyond tooth decay, such as speech impediments and even periodontal disease. A tooth bridge, also known as a dental bridge, provides the support you need to prevent surrounding teeth from loosening or moving out of their correct positions. But what is a bridge, and how does it differ from a tooth implant?
What Is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge is a fixed appliance fitted into the mouth to fill the gap caused by missing teeth, according to the Academy of Osseointegration. This bridge is cemented to the "abutment teeth" on either side of the gap, providing an anchor so that it can be attached to either your natural teeth or the crowns fitted over them. Your dentist places artificial "pontic teeth" onto the bridge, in the space between the abutment teeth.
How They Differ from Implants
Implants are posts made from screws or cylinders, inserted surgically through your gum into the jawbone. Prosthetic teeth are then mounted individually on each of these posts, explains the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), to take the place of natural teeth and prevent the problems commonly associated with dental gaps. Keep in mind fitting implants is a much more complex procedure that requires surgical training. If your teeth are in excellent condition, then you won't have to worry about placing crowns or fitting a bridge to them.
Reasons You Might Need a Tooth Bridge
Gaps of any size between your teeth can cause problems. For example:
The adjacent teeth begin to loosen, which causes them to shift out of their correct positions.
Loose teeth in children may complicate the eruption of permanent teeth, encouraging them to come through improperly.
Gaps and movement in teeth can affect your bite, according to Edward A Chipps, DDS, creating issues for your jaw and hindering your ability to speak and chew.
In the long term, a lack of dental support can cause other health issues as well, such as head- or earaches, as well as nose and throat irritation. This makes it important for patients to replace missing teeth as early as possible, rather than waiting to see whether problems go away on their own.
Types of Bridges
Different types of tooth bridges require different methods of fitting. Traditional bridges are typically made from porcelain or ceramic, and are fused to metal abutments. A cantilever bridge is supported on only one side of the gap. A bonded bridge is made from metal, and carries clips resembling wings on either side which are bonded to the back of the abutment teeth. This method often costs less than traditional bridges because the abutments don't always require crowns to cover them, but it may also be less secure than a traditional bridge.
Caring for Your Tooth Bridge
Good oral hygiene is important at any time, but when you're wearing a fixed appliance such as a dental bridge, it's even more crucial. Caring for your bridge appropriately gives it a lifespan of up to 10 years, according to the Canadian Dental Association. Just as you need to brush natural teeth daily using an appropriate toothbrush like the Colgate® 360°® Toothbrush, which has multi-level bristles to remove more plaque in between teeth, you also need to clean your bridgework thoroughly and use dental floss between each tooth.
Taking care of your bridge means taking care of your oral health. With this routine, you'll have the smile you want for as long as possible.
With Halloween comes ghosts, goblins and goodies—and the sugar in those treats can play some unwanted tricks on your teeth if you’re not careful.
Here’s why: The bacteria in your mouth are probably more excited to eat Halloween candy than you are. When the bacteria eat the sugar and leftover food in your mouth, a weak acid is produced. That acid is what can contribute to cavities.
But don’t hang up your costume just yet. “Halloween is about candy, dressing up and having fun,” says ADA dentist Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty. “It’s OK to eat that candy on Halloween as a splurge as long as you’re brushing twice a day and flossing once a day all year long.”
To help you sort through the trick-or-treat bag loot, we have a rundown of some common candies and their impact on your teeth:
Chocolate is probably your best bet, which is good because it’s also one of the most popular kinds of candy handed out on Halloween. “Chocolate is one of the better candies because it washes off your teeth easier than other types of candy,” Dr. Ferraz- Dougherty says. “Dark chocolate also has less sugar than milk chocolate.”
Sticky and Gummy Candies
Be picky if it’s sticky. These are some of the worst candies for your teeth. “This candy is harder to remove and may stay longer on your teeth, which gives that cavity-causing bacteria more time to work,” Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says.
Hard candies are also ones to watch on Halloween. “They can actually break your teeth if you’re not careful,” Dr. Ferraz- Dougherty says. “You also tend to keep these kinds of candies in your mouth for longer periods of time so the sugar is getting in your saliva and washing over your teeth.”
You might want to pass on things that make you pucker – especially if they are sticky and coated in sugar. “Sour candy can be very acidic,” says Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty. “And that acidity can weaken and damage the hard outer shell of your teeth, making your teeth more vulnerable to cavities.”
Have some floss handy if you’re enjoying one of these fall favorites. “Kernels can get stuck in-between your teeth," Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says. "They are also sticky, sugary and can be hard.”
How your smile looks plays a big role in how you feel about yourself and how you think others perceive you. As the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) notes, about 74 percent of people believe that an unattractive smile can get in the way of career success and nearly 100 percent of people believe a smile is an important social asset.
You may not like showing off your smile if you think your teeth are too yellow, crooked or chipped. Fortunately, you have a number of affordable dentistry options that can help improve your smile and boost your confidence. At your next visit, talk to your dentist about ways to correct any issues with your teeth and how much you can expect each option to cost.
1. Get Your Teeth Whitened
People's teeth yellow or become darker for a variety of reasons. It could be due to a diet of foods that stain, such as coffee, chocolate and berries. It could be due to the enamel becoming thinner as you age and the yellower dentin showing through. Some people are born with teeth that are naturally yellow or slightly gray. If you decide you do want to whiten your teeth, you have multiple options, ranging from at-home treatments to treatments performed at your dentist's office.
The cost of teeth whitening varies based on location and the type of product used. As the Consumer Guide to Dentistry points out, an in-office treatment costs an average of $650.
At-home treatments tend to be the more affordable dentistry option, but the results you get from an in-office treatment are often much more dramatic and last longer. For example, the AACD points out that an in-office whitening treatment can lighten your teeth up to 10 shades in one hour, and the results can last for a year or longer, provided you take good care of your teeth. After a tooth whitening procedure, it's a good time to switch to a whitening toothpaste, such as Colgate® Optic White® to maintain your dazzling teeth.
2. Fix Chips and Cracks with Bonding
If you have a chipped or cracked tooth, or a tooth that needs a filling, dental bonding is often an affordable way to fix it. Dental bonding is typically made of either a composite resin or porcelain. The material can be dyed to match the natural color of your teeth, so you end up with a tooth that looks good as new and no one will be able to tell that you've had work done.
Bonding is one of the least expensive dental restoration options, too. While porcelain veneers can cost up to $1,500 per tooth, the average cost of dental bonding is $300 to $600 per tooth. The drawback of bonding is that it might not last as long as veneers, which are used to correct severely discolored or chipped teeth. If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to correct a damaged tooth, bonding may be the way to go.
3. Use a Retainer to Straighten Teeth
Not everyone with crooked or misaligned teeth needs braces. Typically, people wear retainers after they have braces removed to keep their teeth from moving out of position. But, if you have a small space between two teeth or your bite is slightly misaligned, you might be able to wear a retainer without getting braces.
An aligner, a clear plastic tray that fits over the teeth and helps push them into place or straighten them, can be another alternative to braces. Aligners are more expensive than retainers (for example, Invisalign® can cost between $3,000 and $8,000 while a retainer on its own typically costs between $500 and $1,000, as the Consumer Dentistry Guide notes). But, aligners do a lot more than retainers when it comes to correcting crooked teeth, which can make the higher cost worth it.
If you're not happy with your smile, you don't have to live with it! Schedule an appointment with your dentist today and learn more about what you can do to fix your smile.
Brushing and flossing are everyday ways to keep your teeth bright, white and healthy. Still, if you might feel like your smile is lacking some sparkle or is more yellow than it used to be, you’re not alone. When the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry asked people what they’d most like to improve about their smile, the most common response was whiter teeth. The American Association of Orthodontists also found that nearly 90% of patients requested tooth whitening.
Thinking about teeth whitening? Get the facts first. Here are five of the most commonly asked questions about the process.
Why Did My Teeth Change Color?
Over time, your teeth can go from white to not-so-bright for a number of reasons:
Food and Drink
Coffee, tea and red wine are some major staining culprits. What do they have in common? Intense color pigments called chromogens that attach to the white, outer part of your tooth (enamel).
Two chemicals found in tobacco create stubborn stains: Tar and nicotine. Tar is naturally dark. Nicotine is colorless until it’s mixed with oxygen. Then, it turns into a yellowish, surface-staining substance.
Below the hard, white outer shell of your teeth (enamel) is a softer area called dentin. Over time, the outer enamel layer gets thinner with brushing and more of the yellowish dentin shows through.
If you’ve been hit in the mouth, your tooth may change color because it reacts to an injury by laying down more dentin, which is a darker layer under the enamel.
Tooth darkening can be a side effect of certain antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure medications. Young children who are exposed to antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline when their teeth are forming (either in the womb or as a baby) may have discoloration of their adult teeth later in life. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation can also darken teeth.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Teeth whitening is a simple process. Whitening products contain one of two tooth bleaches (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). These bleaches break stains into smaller pieces, which makes the color less concentrated and your teeth brighter.
Does Whitening Work on All Teeth?
No, which is why it’s important to talk to your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth, as whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well and teeth with gray tones may not bleach at all. Whitening will not work on caps, veneers, crowns or fillings. It also won’t be effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by medications or a tooth injury.
What Are My Whitening Options?
Talk to your dentist before starting. If you are a candidate, there are four ways to put the shine back in your smile:
Stain Removal Toothpastes
All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives that scrub the teeth. Look for whitening toothpastes that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance for stain removal (it will tell you on the package). These toothpastes have additional polishing agents that are safe for your teeth and provide stain removal effectiveness. Unlike bleaches, these types of ADA-Accepted products do not change the color of teeth because they can only remove stains on the surface.
This procedure is called chairside bleaching and usually requires only one office visit. The dentist will apply either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect your gums. Bleach is then applied to the teeth.
At-Home Bleaching from Your Dentist
Your dentist can provide you with a custom-made tray for at-home whitening. In this case, the dentist will give you instructions on how to place the bleaching solution in the tray and for what length of time. This may be a preferred option if you feel more comfortable whitening in your own home at a slower pace, but still with the guidance of a dentist. Out-of-office bleaching can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Over-the-Counter Bleaching Products
You may see different options online or in your local grocery store, such as toothpastes or strips that whiten by bleaching your teeth. The concentration of the bleaching agent in these products is lower than what your dentist would use in the office. If you are thinking about using an over-the-counter bleaching kit, discuss options with your dentist and look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. That means it has been tested to be safe and effective for teeth whitening. Get a list of all ADA-Accepted at-home bleaching products.
Are There Any Side Effects from Teeth Whitening?
Some people who use teeth whiteners may experience tooth sensitivity. That happens when the peroxide in the whitener gets through the enamel to the soft layer of dentin and irritates the nerve of your tooth. In most cases the sensitivity is temporary. You can delay treatment, then try again.
Overuse of whiteners can also damage the tooth enamel or gums, so be sure to follow directions and talk to your dentist.
Thumb sucking is a common and natural behavior for infants. The pressure and sucking motion can make children feel more secure, calm them, and help them fall asleep. Children normally turn to thumb sucking when bored, tired, or upset. If your child is five years old or younger, it is not necessary to force them to quit. Most children will eventually give up this habit in their own time. One in five children will be sucking their thumb or finger past their fifth birthday.
How Can Thumb Sucking Affect My Child’s Teeth?
If your child’s thumb sucking persists past the age of five, it can have a lasting effect on your child’s teeth. Thumb sucking can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth, alignment of the teeth, or changes in the roof of the mouth. The intensity of the sucking is a factor that will determine whether or not dental problems may result. For example, some children simply rest their thumbs passively in their mouths as opposed to sucking. This type of behavior is less likely to result in dental problems in contrasts to vigorous sucking. Thumb sucking may also cause your child to develop speech problems. Your child’s dentist may recommend inserting a fixed or removable device such as a “palatal bar” or “crib” in your child’s mouth to prevent sucking. However, there are other methods parents can try at home to rid their child’s habit.
How to Stop Thumb Sucking
Breaking a longstanding habit is challenging and can take six weeks or more. Before attempting to stop your child from thumb sucking, it is important to observe their behavior to fully understand why and when your child sucks their thumb. Be aware of activities that might promote thumb sucking such as TV or car rides. If you can identify the times when your child is most likely to suck their thumb, provide alternative activities to divert their attention. Reprimanding your child for thumb sucking will not help and could prolong the problem.
Parents can use a simple behavioral approach that engages their child in the process.
First, create a progress chart with the help of your child. It's a good idea to let your child help make it fun by helping to pick a color or the kinds of stickers used to track their progress.
Have a discussion with your child to determine how many slip-ups should allowed each week.
Provide a reward at the end of each week of no thumb or finger sucking. Make a larger reward for getting to the end of a month of no thumb or finger sucking.
If the above behavioral approach doesn't work, another method parents can try is placing a bitter-tasting liquid on the nail, but not directly on the finger. This should only be done at night to discourage thumb sucking while sleeping. Parents can also use mittens, gloves, or a finger-splint to be worn at night to discourage thumb and finger sucking.
Please remember with enough persistence and positive reinforcement, most children are able drop the thumb-sucking habit. It may take a while, but if you keep at it, you'll see the results you want over time.
If you are planning a trip out of the country it may be helpful to schedule a dental checkup before you leave, especially if you'll be traveling in developing countries or remote areas without access to good dental care. If you’re considering a vacation outside the United States for dental treatment in an attempt to save money, often referred to as "dental tourism," there are some things you should first consider.
Question: Is dental care abroad safe?
Answer: The procedures, equipment and drugs used by dentists in the U.S. are held to high standards. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has comprehensive guidelines on infection control procedures for dental health-care settings. They exist to prevent the spread of infections, including blood borne illnesses such as hepatitis and AIDS. U.S. dentists must abide by regulations for radiation safety (X-ray equipment and its use) and for proper disposal of biomedical waste. Also, the drugs and dental instruments and materials used by dentists in the U.S. are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure that they are safe. These standards are in place for your safety.
Q: What recovery time and follow-up care will I need?
A: Many dental procedures are surgical in nature and may require months of healing. This should be factored in to your travel plans. Significant dental procedures require follow-up care to make sure everything is healing and functioning properly. Post treatment risks after dental surgical procedures include bleeding, pain, swelling and infection. Continuity of care is important and should be a consideration when making treatment decisions. Establishing a "dental home" provides you with comprehensive oral health care so conditions such as gum disease and tooth decay can be diagnosed at an early stage when treatment is simpler and more affordable. A dentist who knows your case history can provide you with guidance on good oral health habits, preventive oral health services and diagnosis and treatment of dental disease based on your individual needs.
Q: What qualifications are required of dental professionals?
A: Dentists trained in the U.S. graduate from a dental school accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation. In addition, dentists must pass national examinations and meet state requirements before they earn a license to practice. Similar levels of training may exist in the country to which you are travelling, but this may be difficult to determine if that country does not have similar dental regulations.
Q: Will my insurance cover dental procedures in other countries?
A: If you have insurance for dental care performed outside of the U.S., you should confirm with your insurer and/or employer that follow-up treatment is covered upon your return to the U.S. You should consider arranging follow-up care with a U.S. dentist prior to travel to ensure continuity of care upon your return. If you do not have a dentist in the U.S., you can find an ADA member dentist in your area at ADA Find-a-Dentist. You should confirm with your U.S. dentist and the dental care provider in the other country that the transfer of patient records to-and-from facilities outside of the U.S. is consistent with current U.S. privacy and security guidelines.
Q: What about travel advisories?
A: The U.S. Department of State issues travel alerts to disseminate information about short-term conditions, generally within a particular country, that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens. In the spring of 2009, for example, the Department of State issued a travel alert cautioning people to avoid non-essential travel to Mexico because of an outbreak of H1N1 influenza in that country that resulted in a number of deaths. In addition, the alert recommended that travelers check the department's Web site for new travel advisories as well as the Web site of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for any additional information or recommendations.
Bottom line: If you’re considering travelling for dental care, remember, saving money overseas may lead to greater expense to your health and your wallet when you arrive back home.
The best way to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth in good health is through regular and effective teeth cleaning. In addition to your regular oral hygiene routine, most dental professionals recommend professional teeth cleaning. Not only will good teeth cleaning keep you in good oral health and hygiene, it will also help keep your mouth feeling fresh, prevent bad breath, and can help keep your teeth white and bright.
Brushing for Clean Teeth
Brushing your teeth is the most important and effective method for teeth cleaning. Most dentists recommend you brush at least twice a day, but brushing after every meal is even better. Whether you choose electric or manual, select a toothbrush that allows you to easily clean all surfaces and in hard to reach areas. And don't forget to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months.
Picking a Toothbrush: Make sure your toothbrush fits your mouth. It’s easier to achieve clean teeth if you aren’t using a brush that’s too big. If you have a small mouth, you may find it easier to clean teeth by using a toothbrush with a compact head instead of a full-sized head. Some people find that electric toothbrushes make it easier to spend the dentist-recommended two minutes on teeth cleaning. Oral-B Vitality Toothbrushes provide thorough teeth cleaning and help to remove plaque and surface stains.
Proper Brushing Technique: You can maximize clean teeth by using the most effective techniques for teeth brushing. Hold your toothbrush at approximately a 45-degree angle to the teeth you are brushing. Use small strokes and brush your teeth in sections. Don’t forget to go all the way behind your last tooth on each side. Use small, tooth-sized strokes to brush the surface of each tooth, rather than large, sweeping strokes. Cleaning teeth includes cleaning all three sides—front, back, and top of the chewing surface.
Flossing for Clean Teeth
Picking Floss: A thorough teeth cleaning routine includes daily flossing. Oral-B Glide Deep Clean Floss, slides easily between the teeth to remove food particles and reduce the daily buildup of plaque and bacteria on the teeth.
Proper Flossing Technique: Flossing is an essential part of teeth cleaning. You should floss regularly to remove food particles from in between your teeth. This can help reduce plaque and tartar build-up between teeth. If you have trouble sliding floss between your teeth, try waxed floss or wide floss. The American Dental Association recommends using about 18 inches of floss, so you have a clean piece of floss to use on each tooth in the cleaning teeth process. Curve the floss into a C-shape as you slide it up and down along the side of each tooth. Don’t forget to floss the back sides of your back teeth on both the left and right of the upper and lower teeth.
Proper Rinsing Technique: Mouthwash is a great method for teeth cleaning and also leaves your mouth feeling fresh and clean. If you don’t like the burning sensation you get from alcohol-based rinses, look for formulas that are made without alcohol.
Get a Professional Teeth Cleaning
The happy, healthy mouth feeling you get after a good teeth cleaning is invaluable. Visiting a dental professional at least twice a year is an important part of your oral hygiene regimen. Professional teeth cleaning removes the tartar you just can’t get to at home, and regular exams will ensure your teeth and mouth are in good health. After cleaning teeth, a dentist will examine your mouth for signs of problems including:
Tooth loss: Cleaning teeth professionally helps keep them in good condition to promote better chewing and swallowing.
Gum disease: Gum disease can be avoided or caught early if a dentist sees problems while cleaning teeth.
Dental damage: You may not notice if you have broken fillings or damaged crowns, but a regular dental visit can identify these problems and fix them before they become serious enough to require surgery or tooth removal.
Oral cancer: Mouth cancer is usually treatable if diagnosed early, and a dentist can screen for oral cancer during a visit for cleaning teeth.
How to Maintain Clean Teeth
In addition to following a complete oral care routine, you can support your cleaning teeth efforts by avoiding cigarettes and other tobacco products, eating healthy, and visiting a dental professional regularly. Keep these other tips in mind to maintain clean teeth:
Rinse away stains: if you can’t brush your teeth after consuming food or beverages that may stain your teeth, preserve clean teeth by rinsing your mouth with water or a mouthwash.
Quit smoking: Smoking is one of the top factors that undermines clean teeth. You can go a long way toward having a healthy mouth if you avoid tobacco products. That includes not only cigarettes, but cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco (chew/dip). If you use tobacco products, it’s not too late to have a healthy mouth if you quit, or at least cut back. Studies have shown that smoking may contribute to gum disease by getting in the way when normal gum tissue cells try to do their job of maintaining a healthy mouth.
Eat right: Eating a balanced diet helps promote a healthy mouth, healthy teeth, and healthy gums. The American Dental Association recommends keeping between-meal snacks to a minimum to promote a healthy mouth. If you do need a snack, some healthy mouth choices include raw veggies, plain yogurt, cheese, or a piece of fruit, such as an apple or pear.
Benefits of Good Oral Health
Keeping a healthy smile is one of many benefits associated with teeth cleaning. If you keep your teeth and mouth healthy, you are sure to appreciate the following important benefits.
Good Oral Health: Regular teeth cleaning will keep your mouth and body healthy. Good oral hygiene can prevent plaque build-up, which can lead to gum disease. Numerous studies have suggested a correlation between poor oral hygiene, gum disease, and heart disease, so teeth cleaning is an important way to keep your entire body healthy.
Better Breath: Want to get a little closer? Regular teeth cleaning with any fluoride toothpaste can help freshen your breath. For a better breath bonus, choose mint toothpaste, and don’t forget to brush your tongue.
Brighter Smile: No one likes to have yellow teeth and an unsightly smile. Removing surface stains with daily teeth cleaning helps your teeth look brighter. Having a whiter smile helps improve your overall appearance, especially since your smile is an important part of making a good first impression.
Confidence: When you look great, you feel great. Flashing a bright, white smile after a good teeth cleaning will give you a new sense of self-confidence that is sure to show. Studies have shown that a bright, healthy smile gives you more confidence in both personal and professional settings.
Save Money: Following a regular teeth cleaning routine can eventually help you avoid costly dental visits to manage severe gum disease or tooth decay.
So, the next time you consider putting off your regular teeth cleaning for another month, remember all of this important information and think again before picking up the phone. You’ll be glad to have a happier mouth and smile once you’ve had a good teeth cleaning.
Even someone with a fastidious dental hygiene routine can be at risk for cavities. Certain people are simply more prone to dental caries due to the shape and structure of their teeth – not because they don't brush regularly. If your dentist notices you (or someone in your family) is prone to advanced decay despite good oral hygiene, he or she may suggest using dental sealants to help keep the teeth healthy.
Of course, concerns are normal: How long do sealants last? Will the application hurt? Here's a little more about why dental sealants may be a great option for a cavitiy-prone individual.
Why Dental Sealants?
Dentists don't suggest sealants to all of their patients. Rather, they're usually reserved for individuals who are especially prone to cavities, such as teens and young kids – including those who still have baby teeth. Sealants are designed to fill the deep pits and grooves of your molars, which are uniquely susceptible to caries because they're known to trap food particles in these areas of the teeth. When bacteria become trapped in this way, it's often a recipe for cavities, so the sealants protect the tooth from caries altogether.
It's understandable to be nervous about a dental procedure with which you have no prior experience. But dental sealants are virtually painless. The majority of them are made with liquid resin, which is then brushed onto the teeth so it can harden. The process only takes a few minutes, including application and drying. In fact, the procedure may be on offer in the dental center of some schools.
Once applied, the resin dries into a hard, plastic-like material in just a few seconds or when using a light to cure the sealant material. The material is invisible and won't feel any different than the surfaces of your natural teeth.
How Long Do Sealants Last? Can I Extend Their Wear?
Once your sealants have been applied, the NIDCR estimates they can last up to 10 years with proper care. You won't have to have them removed; instead, sealants gradually wear away over time, allowing you to receive new sealants as needed. Nonetheless, their hardened plastic material holds up remarkably well as long as you avoid behavior that puts undue stress on your teeth – such as using your teeth to open tough food packaging.
Once your sealants have been applied, your dentist will check on them each time you come in for a cleaning. He or she can even reapply if they seem to be wearing faster than usual, just to make sure your teeth are protected from the bacteria that can calcify into tartar when you're not in the dentist's chair.
Keep in mind sealants aren't the only way to ward off cavities, and are definitely not a substitute for regular oral care. If you or your child is especially prone to cavities, use products such as Colgate® Cavity Protection, which contains sodium monofluorophosphate fluoride – proven to protect teeth from the common cavity.
If you're wondering if dental sealants are the right choice for you or your child, ask your dentist about them during your next checkup. Provided you're the right type of candidate, sealants may be an excellent solution for warding off cavities and keeping your smile healthy.
What Is It?
A diastema is a space or gap between two teeth. It appears most often between the two upper front teeth. However, gaps can occur between any two teeth.
A mismatch between the size of the jaw bones and the size of the teeth can cause either extra space between teeth or crowding of teeth. If the teeth are too small for the jaw bone, spaces between the teeth will occur. If the teeth are too big for the jaw, teeth will be crowded.
Spaces develop for a few other reasons as well.
Sometimes some teeth are missing or undersized. This happens most often with the upper lateral incisors (the teeth next to the two upper front teeth). That can cause the upper central incisors to develop a space.
A diastema also can be caused by an oversized labial frenum. The labial frenum is the piece of tissue that normally extends from the inside of your upper lip to the gum just above your two upper front teeth. In some situations, the labial frenum continues to grow and passes between the two front teeth. If this happens, it blocks the natural closing of the space between these teeth.
Habits can also lead to gaps between the teeth. Thumb sucking tends to pull the front teeth forward, creating gaps.
Spaces can develop from an incorrect swallowing reflex. For most people, the tongue presses against the roof of the mouth (palate) during swallowing. Some people develop a different reflex known as a tongue thrust. When they swallow, the tongue presses against the front teeth. Over time the pressure will push the front teeth forward. This can cause spaces to develop.
Periodontal (gum) disease results in the loss of the bone that supports the teeth. In people who have lost a lot of bone, the teeth can become loose. This movement can result in gaps between the front teeth.
Children may have temporary gaps as their baby teeth fall out. Most of these spaces close as the permanent teeth reach their final positions.
A diastema that occurs because of a mismatch between the teeth and the jaw does not have symptoms. However, spaces caused by a tongue thrust habit or periodontal disease will tend to expand or grow with time. The teeth may become loose, and discomfort or pain may occur, particularly during biting or chewing.
You may notice a space when brushing or flossing. Your dentist can see spaces during an examination.
If the gap was caused by a mismatch between the permanent teeth and the jaw size, the spaces can be expected to remain throughout life.
Gaps caused by a tongue thrust habit or periodontal disease can get larger with time.
Not all spaces can be prevented. For example, if the reason for a space is a missing tooth or a mismatch between the teeth and the jaw size, the spaces cannot be prevented without treatment.
Maintaining your gum health is essential to good oral health. Regular flossing and brushing will help to prevent periodontal disease and its related bone loss.
People with a tongue thrust habit can re-learn to swallow by pushing their tongue up against their palate. Breaking this habit can prevent widening of the spaces between teeth.
Sometimes, a diastema is part of a set of problems that require orthodontic treatment. In other cases, a diastema is the only problem. However, some people may seek treatment for reasons of appearance.
Some people get braces, which move the teeth together. Often, no matter where the diastema is, you must wear a full set of braces — on both your upper and lower teeth. That's because moving any teeth affects your entire mouth.
If your lateral incisors are too small, your dentist may suggest widening them using crowns, veneers or bonding.
If you have a space because you are missing teeth, you might need more extensive dental repair. This might include dental implants, a bridge or a partial denture.
If a large labial frenum is causing the gap, the frenum can be reduced through surgery called a frenectomy.
If a frenectomy is done in a younger child, the space may close on its own. If it is done in an older child or an adult, the space may need to be closed with braces.
If the gap is caused by periodontal disease, then periodontal treatment by a dentist or gum specialist (periodontist) is necessary. When gum health is restored, in many cases braces can be used to move the teeth into place. A splint can be used to attach teeth to other teeth and prevent them from moving again. In some cases, a bridge will be required to close the spaces.
When To Call a Professional
If you have a space between your teeth or see one in your child's mouth, talk with your dentist. He or she will determine the reason for the space and may refer you to an orthodontist, a specialist in treatment with braces. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be evaluated by an orthodontist by age 7. Treatment (if needed) may not begin right away. You and the orthodontist will discuss the overall treatment plan.
If your space is the result of periodontal disease, your dentist may refer you to a periodontist.
If a diastema is closed through orthodontics or dental repair, the space will tend to stay closed. However, to help prevent the space from coming back, wear your retainers as directed by your orthodontist. Your orthodontist may also splint (attach) the backs of the teeth to other teeth with composite (plastic) and a wire to prevent them from moving. Learn more about tooth whitening here.