Tower Dental Associates

Fluoride: Nature’s Cavity Fighter

Fluoride Natures Cavity FighterNobody likes coming to the dentist to have a cavity filled! Many of our patients ask us how stop a cavity before it happens. Many people have heard of fluoride but wonder how it works and if it is safe. We wrote this blog to answer your questions about fluoride and to help you understand its benefits and how to use it effectively.

Fluoride occurs naturally in certain foods. You might be surprised to learn that it can be found in black teas and raisins, and in our water sources, such as lakes and rivers. And, because it provides such good protection from tooth decay, it has been added to dental products to help prevent cavities.

Fluoride works for both children and adults. It’s true! Before teeth even erupt through the gums, fluoride taken in from certain foods and supplements makes tooth enamel stronger and therefore more resistant to decay. After teeth erupt, brushing with fluoride toothpaste helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel, reversing early signs of cavity formation. In addition, the fluoride you consume becomes a part of your saliva, constantly bathing your teeth with tiny amounts of the cavity fighter. While it is critical for infants and children to be exposed to fluoride when primary and permanent teeth are forming, new research indicates that topical fluoride is just as important in fighting tooth decay for adults!

Use the correct amount of toothpaste to benefit your teeth. While all toothpaste removes plaque (a thin film of bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay), only toothpaste with fluoride can prevent tooth decay by making teeth stronger. Make sure you’re using the correct amount of toothpaste with your children!

  • For very little ones, under 3 years of age, parents and caregivers should begin gently brushing teeth as soon as they come into the mouth with an amount of fluoridated toothpaste the size of a few grains of rice.
  • For children ages 3 to 6, a pea-size amount of toothpaste is best. Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day and make sure to supervise children to help instill good habits.

Some mouth rinses also contain fluoride. You may already be protecting your teeth with fluoride without even knowing it! However, mouth rinses should not be used with children under the age of 6, as they may not be able it use it appropriately. 

You may have fluoride in your water. Your community may have chosen water fluoridation (simply adding fluoride to drinking water) as a public health benefit. Water fluoridation is safe, effective, and healthy. The Center for Disease Control has noted water fluoridation as one of the ten best public health achievements of the 20th century.

For your best dental hygiene routine, ask us during your next visit about the right fluoride products for you and your family. Your oral health is our priority so we want to answer any questions that you have. Armed with the right information, your family can have healthy teeth for life. Contact our office to schedule your next visit! We can’t wait to see you soon!

Veneers- Be The Architect of Your Own Smile

Partnering with your dentist and choosing the shade and other aesthetics of your new smile!

 


Have you ever wanted to be the architect of your own smile?   Do you look in the mirror and pinpoint exactly what you’d change about your teeth, if you could? Veneers are your opportunity to do, just that!

There are certain qualities a veneer candidate’s mouth must possess. These qualities are as follows:

  • Good overall health
  • Absent signs of tooth decay and/or gum disease
  • Not a habitual teeth grinder
  • Properly aligned bite, teeth are more or less in normal positions
  • Sufficient tooth enamel in order to support the veneer

After you have become an approved veneer candidate, we will become partners in designing your ideal smile! Veneer qualities can be described as: durable, hard, strong, translucent and glassy. Most people may not know this but veneers actually are fairly translucent and act like a contact lens would on your eye. This translucence allows for the natural tooth color to come through, yet that the lab technician can bake your approved hue into your set of veneers can enhance the shade. There are three aspects to the shade selection process.

  • Color Tone – the natural tones of teeth are: red, blue and yellow
  • Chroma – the intensity of the hue
  • Value – the darkness or lightness of the hue

You will still be able to eat hard food (such as an apple) and maintenance of your new veneers will not differ from your current tooth care routine. Brush and floss as normal, simply avoiding abrasive toothpastes. A good home care regimen will insure your veneers lifespan.

If you’re thinking about veneers you should call us so we can help you decide if this cosmetic service is right for you! It’s never too late to get the smile you’ve always dreamed of.

What Color are Your Teeth?

What color are your teeth? Of course, there is no “right” answer. Teeth come in endless shades and ranges. When we talk about tooth color in our office, we try to break it down into no fewer than 40 shades (light to dark) and ranges (color). For example, you could have a very light shade of tooth in the reddish brown range, or a dark shade of tooth in the gray range. Everyone’s teeth are unique and the possibilities are endless.

You may be wondering, what makes a tooth the color it is now or will be in the future? We all know about coffee and tobacco as being major culprits of stained teeth, but what else goes into the making of a tooth color?

Things We Can’t Control:

  • Genetics – Did you know that you could inherit your tooth color? You can also inherit your tooth’s propensity for staining.
  • Aging – We now know that teeth simply turn yellow, as we age.
  • Medicine Use – some medicines, such as certain antibiotics, can cause your tooth color to change.
  • Injury – Traumatic tooth injuries can cause intrinsic discoloration of the inner part of the tooth, the “dentin”, which is difficult to remedy. Have you ever seen a tooth that looks “dead”? That gray tone has most likely been brought on by a traumatic tooth injury.

Things We Can Control:

  • Food and Drinks – Certain foods and drinks, such as berries, sauces, coffee, dark soda, black tea and red wine, cause staining over time. Limit these foods and practice good oral hygiene habits!
  • Over-fluoridation – Too much fluoride in children, while teeth are still developing, can cause tooth discoloration. Be sure to follow guidelines for safe fluoride use. Don’t abandon the use of fluoride altogether though. Fluoride offers numerous benefits such as: preventing tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks and reversing early tooth decay. But, we’ve all heard that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!
  • Tobacco Use – It is well known that cigarettes and other tobacco products turn teeth yellow and eventually brown. Don’t smoke or chew.

What can you do about stained teeth? We’re glad you asked! We offer professional teeth whitening options for the best and safest results. No matter what tooth shade you’ve inherited (or created), we can help make it whiter. Give us a call today to find out more!

Five Foods for Healthy Teeth

food tips for healthy teethWe all know that foods high in sugar and acid are bad for teeth, but did you know that some foods are actually good for them? Incorporating these dental friendly foods into your family meals can both fight tooth decay and prevent gum disease. Here are five oral health friendly foods!

Almonds, Brazil Nuts, and Sesame Seeds. These foods contain phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and most importantly, calcium. Dietary calcium is not only good for your bones, it may actually contribute to tooth remineralization and fight tooth decay. Make sure to get the unhulled variety of sesame seeds, which are incredibly high in calcium.

Strawberries, Kiwi, and Citrus Fruits. These fruits have the highest concentration of Vitamin C, which helps to increase collagen in gum tissue and prevents gum disease.

Onions. Toss some raw onion on your salad or eat them on your hamburgers. Onions contain powerful bacteria fighters because of their sulfer-containing compounds and are natural cavity fighters.

Shitake Mushrooms. Recent studies show a natural sugar found in shitakes, called lenithan, specifically targets the bacteria which causes gingivitis (gum inflammation) and tooth decay while leaving non-harmful bacteria alone.

Apples and Celery. Water rich fruits and vegetables stimulate saliva production, which rinses teeth of bacteria. With their high fiber content, they act as natural tooth brushes, scrubbing your teeth as you chew, removing plaque and bacteria that may otherwise build up.

These simple everyday foods are great choices for snacks or to add to meals your family already enjoys. Put onions or shitakes as toppings on your pizza. Serve celery and apples with peanut butter and make a smoothie with your strawberries and kiwi. Nuts can be eaten as a snack on their own or try them as nut butter spread on toast. You can even throw nuts and sesame seeds in a stir fry for added texture and flavor as well as the nutritional benefit. 

Green Tea. Besides these five teeth healthy foods, you can even get a boost for your oral health by drinking this powerhouse liquid! Green tea contains “catechins” that actually fight inflammation and control bacterial infections. One Japanese study found that regular green tea drinkers had less incidence of periodontal disease compared with people who drank the tea irregularly. So try drinking green tea instead of that second cup of coffee or have a refreshing green iced-tea on a hot afternoon.

Besides brushing and flossing, what you eat can make a difference to your oral health. It’s nice to know you can eat foods that taste good and be doing something good for your teeth at the same time. Now that’s something we can all smile about!

Dental Implants- Learning the Basics

Dental-Implants-learning-the-basicsDid you know that over 69% of adults in America are missing at least one tooth?  Whether it is from an accident, neglect, or even being born without certain teeth, not everyone is supporting a full set of teeth. There are many solutions to replacing missing teeth, each with its own benefits. With the influx of technology and precision of modern dentistry, dental implants are becoming more affordable, and are the premier long-term solution for missing teeth. Dental bridges tend to be a cheaper alternative to dental implants, but over time a single dental implant is generally more cost-effective. Dental implants can last decades or even a lifetime, which allows a patient to treat the implant as they would their real teeth, and continue on with life without having to worry about them. Whether you’re in the market for one tooth, or multiple teeth, dental implants not only can lower your overall healthcare costs, but also increase your quality of life!

How the implant works: 

In place of the original root where the tooth was, a dental implant is connected to the existing bone, as a base, and can then stably hold the new (fake) tooth in place.

Am I a candidate for dental implants?

The quick answer is: “most likely yes.” Restrictions such as age do not apply to the possibility of receiving dental implants. There are very few restrictions that would prevent a patient from receiving dental implants and they include: Those who do not have enough existing bone in the jaw, and those who have had radiation to the jaw (from cancer or similar treatments), which could prevent fusion of implant to the bone. Recent studies have even shown that even patients with diabetes have little to no restrictions in the ability to receive dental implants.

If you are interested in dental implants, give us a call today and see how we can help you!

Invisalign®- Finally, a Straighter Smile for Anyone!

Invisalign Finally for EveryoneTen years ago, it was rare to see braces on the teeth of an adult. Options for straightening teeth simply did not exist widely for the adult population. It wasn’t that adults couldn’t have braces, it was just that they didn’t want to be seen in public with them. After all, it’s one thing to see a teenager with metal brackets and wires in his or her mouth, but it’s an entirely different matter to see an adult that way.

Not everyone has been presented the opportunity to have braces. For many people who did not have the option as a teen, they simply had to continue their life with crooked, crowded, or over-spaced teeth.

Enter Invisalign®. The invention of clear braces has opened up the door to an improved smile for adults no matter what their age. In fact, we have Invisalign® patients that span the entire range of ages, from teens to seniors in the later stages of life.

Why? Invisalign® knows no age. Because it is nearly invisible, it is a much more realistic choice for adults than traditional braces were in the past. Invisalign® is also removable, allowing you to live a more “normal” life in terms of diet, exercise and oral hygiene.

If you are interested in an enhanced smile, Invisalign® might be the right first step for you. Give us a call for more information!

The Many Faces of Tooth Pain

The Many-Tooth-PainMany people think that a painful tooth means they need a root canal treatment. While that is sometimes true, it’s not always the case. In fact, there are many other reasons that teeth can hurt!

Here, we offer a guide to some common types of tooth pain and what that pain may be trying to tell you:

Sensitivity to hot and cold foods:

If the pain is short-lived, you probably do not have a serious problem, but more likely a loose filling or a small amount of gum recession that has resulted in root surface exposure. Use sensitive teeth toothpaste and a soft brush with an up and down motion. If this doesn’t help after a week or so, give us a call.

Heat sensitivity after an appointment:

Some types of dental work can inflame the pulp inside your teeth, causing sensitivity for several weeks. If it lasts longer than that, let us know.

Sharp pain when biting:

Sometimes sharp pain can be caused by a loose filling, other times it may signal that there is a crack in your tooth. Either of these scenarios requires evaluation by a professional, so please give us a call.

Pain/Sensitivity lasting longer than 30 seconds:

Often this means that the pulp (innermost part of your tooth) has been damaged. Without intervention, you may lose this tooth so it is important to call us to find out if you may need root canal treatment.

Frequent, dull aching in the jaw.

This can happen when excessive grinding of the teeth happens (bruxism), or it could even be a sign of a sinus headache or infection. Please call us for more information.

Severe pain, pressure or swelling of the gums:

This may mean that you have an abscessed, infected tooth that may have spread to other tissues in the mouth. This is a serious situation that requires an immediate call to our office for instructions.

Children’s Teeth Timeline

Childrens-Teeth-TimelineDo you know when your child should be expecting their first new teeth as a baby? How about when they should be loosing those baby teeth? As with many things in development, every child is different and has a different time frame for each stage, but we’ll give you a general idea of when you can expect these different stages to occur: from the appearance of baby teeth to the arrival of permanent adult teeth.

BABY TEETH

4 to 7 months:

Usually the two front lower teeth begin to be exposed. Gums may become red and swollen where the teeth are cutting through.

Fun Fact: Lower teeth usually come in before the upper teeth.

8 to 12 months:

Upper middle teeth tend to come in next (it is common for girls to get their baby teeth before boys!)

9 to 16 months:

Teeth on both sides of the middle teeth begin to come in, for both the top and bottom.

Did You Know: Teeth usually erupt in pairs! One on the right, one on the left!

12 to 19 months:

Molars come in on the top and bottom about the same time.

16 to 23 months:

Canines (sharp, pointed teeth) begin to emerge.

Tooth Truths: Baby teeth are usually brighter and whiter than permanent teeth, and are much smaller.

2 to 3 years:

Second molars come in, and by now your child should almost completely have a full set of 20 teeth! By 4 years old, jaw and facial bones continue to grow to allow more space for the incoming permanent teeth.

 NOTE: If your baby does not show signs of bottom teeth by 18 months, mention it to your doctor. Do not be alarmed, every child is different and some don’t begin showing teeth until after their first birthday, and catch up without any problems.

LOOSING TEETH/ADULT TEETH

6 to 12 years:

Children begin loosing teeth, they can be lost in any order, but it is common to lose them in the same order they came in, starting with the front middle, gradually going back further in the mouth.

12 years:

Once your child has lost all of their baby teeth, their mouth now consists of 28 permanent teeth. Four wisdom teeth will begin to appear between 17 to 21 years old, however 85% of people end up having their wisdom teeth removed, so don’t get used to them for too long!

It’s Alive! Your Tooth, That Is!

It's AlivePeople often wonder, “How does a tooth get to the point of infection?”

It’s a common misconception that teeth are not alive. That belief leads to confusion about how teeth become infected. Because you can’t “feel” the part that you can see (the crown), many people think that their teeth are not alive. Yet, the opposite is true. Most of the material that makes up your teeth is, in fact, made of living cells. Since the material is alive, it makes a great hosting site for bacterial infections!

Similar to hair and fingernails, there is a part of your teeth that is not alive – it is the outermost part, called “enamel”. This is the hard, white part that you can see. It is made of calcium phosphate, a very hard mineral that is perfect for breaking down food when you eat. Underneath that enamel, however, is where all of the live action happens!

Starting on the outside and working our way in, we find dentin (alive), and then the pulp cavity and root canal, through which nerves and blood vessels flow.

Generally speaking, if the enamel is intact, bacteria cannot get through to the pulp to cause problems. However, if there is a crack in the outer part of the tooth due to injury or decay, this creates a pathway for bacteria to enter into the innermost part of the tooth (the pulp cavity and canal) causing infection of the living tissue.

That is when endodontic treatment becomes essential! The only way to remove the infected material is manually, by accessing the canal itself, irrigating and then filling, or closing off access, to the inside of the tooth again.

Teeth Whitening- What You Should Know

Teeth-Whitening-What-You-Should-KnowTeeth whitening can lead to a brighter smile and a more confident you. Whether your teeth have been stained from drinking coffee and tea, or you are just looking to make your teeth a few shades lighter to match your new tan, teeth whitening is a great way to start with a fresh “you.”

When it comes to choosing your options of obtaining a brighter, whiter smile, there are a few options. We offer “in office” whitening (could be a single session, some could require multiple appointments), using bleaching or gels. Then there are alternative, “at-home” treatments, which include over the counter strips, gels, and other options. Each option has its benefits, whether it is convenience, price, time, longevity of brightness, quality, the list goes on and on. There is no perfect formula to obtain the ideal brightness of teeth. You definitely will get what you pay for. Although more expensive, in-office treatments will boast the highest results, but not everyone wants to dedicate the time or money. The benefits of an at-home remedy are that they are more wallet friendly, and can be done on your own schedule for merely minutes a day, as frequently as you desire.

What you should to know:
Regardless of which approach you take to making your smile brighter, there are a few things you need to know about dental health when it comes to teeth whitening. Your teeth (more than likely) will be sensitive. The sensitivity should only last a short while after bleaching, but some of the at-home strips do seem to leave a lingering feeling, especially when exposing your teeth to extremely cold, or extremely hot food and drinks. If your teeth continue to be sensitive for multiple hours or even days, it is recommended to avoid using those whitening products and consult us for the best alternative. In addition to tooth sensitivity, the gums may also become slightly irritated when exposed to the peroxide in the gels and bleaches. We generally use a rubber “dam” to protect patient’s gums from contact, but the at-home kits are usually one size fits all and may involve contact to the gums.

All in all, as with most things, there are general side affects, and will affect everyone differently. Be cautious and observant when considering whitening options. Read all instructions carefully and understand that some products will offer results quicker than others, and one product may work well for one person, but not for others.

Contact our office today to find out what the best whitening option is for you!