Posts for: June, 2016
Finally — your braces are off! A look in the mirror reveals a straighter, more attractive smile. Unfortunately, it may also show something not so attractive — tiny, chalky spots on your teeth.
These “white spot lesions” are created by acid remaining too long in contact with the enamel, causing it to lose minerals at those places. The acid comes from plaque (a thin film of bacteria and food particles) that brushing and flossing fail to remove. Snacking on foods and beverages with added sugar or high acid content may also make it worse.
Besides their unattractiveness, these spots can lead to tooth decay — so it’s important to try to prevent it. Limiting sugar-added snacks and acidic beverages to mealtimes will help, but the main key to preventing lesions is more thorough brushing and flossing.
Because of the braces, this can take longer to do than if you weren’t wearing them. It’s also more difficult maneuvering your toothbrush or floss around the orthodontic hardware. You can improve thoroughness and access by using a powered brush or one specially designed for use with braces. And, a water flosser that removes plaque between teeth with a pulsating spray of water is an effective alternative to string floss.
Even if (despite your best efforts) some lesions form, we can still treat them. Resuming normal hygiene practices after braces may take care of it — if not, we can strengthen the affected areas of the enamel with pastes, gels, or other topical fluoride applications. We can also use a technique called caries infiltration that injects tooth-colored resin (often used for cosmetic dentistry) beneath the white spot to harden it, and leave it more translucent in resemblance of normal enamel. If these fail to produce satisfactory results, we can use cosmetic bonding that permanently covers the tooth with resin or veneers.
It’s best, though, if you can prevent the lesions while you’re wearing braces. Besides daily hygiene, be sure to keep up regular dental visits for teeth cleaning. Your efforts will go a long way toward keeping your newly aligned teeth bright and blemish-free.
If you would like more information on dental care and hygiene while wearing braces, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “White Spots on Teeth during Orthodontic Treatment.”
Tooth decay can eventually eat away at your entire tooth if it isn't stopped. Fortunately, dental fillings offer a simple way to remove tooth decay and restore your tooth. Dr. Debbie Hibbeln and Dr. Mark Kowal, your Rochester Hills, MI, dentists explain how fillings can help you keep your smile strong and healthy.
How did I get a cavity?
Every day, plaque, a colorless film of bacteria coats your teeth. Plaque combines with the sugars in the foods you eat to create acids that destroy your tooth enamel. When a section of the enamel is destroyed, bacteria begins to attack the interior portion of your tooth, causing a cavity. Although brushing and flossing removes plaque and reduces your risk of tooth decay, sometimes it's difficult to reach all of the nooks and crannies in your mouth.
Why is a filling necessary?
In addition to preventing further damage to your tooth, a filling offers other benefits, such as:
- Pain Reduction: Biting and chewing on a tooth that has a cavity can be painful. When the tooth is filled, the pain will end, allowing you to eat without a problem.
- Healthier Tooth: When you visit your dentist every six months, they can spot cavities when they're still small. Treating tooth decay at this stage means that more of your healthy tooth structure will be retained when your dentist drills into your tooth. Filling cavities when they're small also reduces the chance that you'll eventually need a root canal or crown.
- No Tooth Loss: Filling a cavity prevents decay from spreading and threatening the health of your tooth.
How are teeth filled?
If you have a cavity, your dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb your mouth, then use a dental drill to remove the decayed portion of your tooth. After thoroughly cleaning the tooth, they will place the filling material in the space. Depending on the location of your tooth and your insurance, the tooth may be filled with silver amalgam, composite resin, porcelain, gold or ionomer. All of these filling materials are tough and durable and will last for many years.
Are you concerned about a possible cavity? Call Dr. Debbie Hibbeln and Dr. Mark Kowal, your Rochester Hills, MI, dentists, at (248) 608-1300 to schedule an examination today. Restore your teeth with fillings!
If we could go back in time, we all probably have a few things we wish we could change. Recently, Dr. Travis Stork, emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors, shared one of his do-over dreams with Dear Doctor magazine: “If I [could have] gone back and told myself as a teenager what to do, I would have worn a mouthguard, not only to protect my teeth but also to help potentially reduce risk of concussion.”
What prompted this wish? The fact that as a teenage basketball player, Stork received an elbow to the mouth that caused his two front teeth to be knocked out of place. The teeth were put back in position, but they soon became darker and began to hurt. Eventually, both were successfully restored with dental crowns. Still, it was a painful (and costly) injury — and one that could have been avoided.
You might not realize it, but when it comes to dental injuries, basketball ranks among the riskier sports. Yet it’s far from the only one. In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are some two dozen others — including baseball, hockey, surfing and bicycling — that carry a heightened risk of dental injury. Whenever you’re playing those sports, the ADA recommends you wear a high-quality mouth guard.
Mouthguards have come a long way since they were introduced as protective equipment for boxers in the early 1900’s. Today, three different types are widely available: stock “off-the-shelf” types that come in just a few sizes; mouth-formed “boil-and-bite” types that you adapt to the general contours of your mouth; and custom-made high-quality mouthguards that are made just for you at the dental office.
Of all three types, the dentist-made mouthguards are consistently found to be the most comfortable and best-fitting, and the ones that offer your teeth the greatest protection. What’s more, recent studies suggest that custom-fabricated mouthguards can provide an additional defense against concussion — in fact, they are twice as effective as the other types. That’s why you’ll see more and more professional athletes (and plenty of amateurs as well) sporting custom-made mouthguards at games and practices.
“I would have saved myself a lot of dental heartache if I had worn a mouthguard,” noted Dr. Stork. So take his advice: Wear a mouthguard whenever you play sports — unless you’d like to meet him (or one of his medical colleagues) in a professional capacity…