What should I do if I have bad breath?
Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many of us may not realize that we have bad breath, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning.
There are various reasons one may have bad breath, but in healthy people, the major reason is due to microbial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue reduced bad breath by as much as 70 percent.
In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy, but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your physician to determine the cause of the odor and an appropriate treatment plan.
How often should I brush and floss?
Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids. Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal (gum) disease. Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste.
Flossing – Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.
Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), up to 76% of dentists use silver containing mercury to fill teeth. The ADA also states that silver fillings are safe and that studies have failed to find any link between silver containing mercury and any medical disorder. The general consensus is that amalgam (silver) fillings are safe. Over the years there has been some concern as to the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc, bound by elemental mercury. Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years. The controversy is due to claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.
There are numerous options to silver fillings, including composite (tooth-colored), porcelain, and gold fillings. We encourage you to discuss these options with your dentist so you can determine which is the best option for you.
How often should I have a dental exam and cleaning?
Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend more frequent visits. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities.
Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health. These include:
- Medical history review
- Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs)
- Oral cancer screening
- Gum disease evaluation
- Examination of tooth decay
- Examination of existing restorations
- Removal of calculus (tartar)
- Removal of plaque
- Teeth polishing
- Oral hygiene recommendations
- Review dietary habits
How can I tell if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)?
The term “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a common inflammatory condition which affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth; also the jawbone itself when in its most advanced stages.
Periodontal disease is most often preceded by gingivitis which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. A bacterial infection affects the gums when the toxins contained in plaque begin to irritate and inflame the gum tissues. Once this bacterial infection colonizes in the gum pockets between the teeth, it becomes much more difficult to remove and treat. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and jawbone. If left untreated, it can lead to shifting teeth, loose teeth and eventually tooth loss.
Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
- Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
- Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
- Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
- Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
- Pus around the teeth and gums – Sign that there is an infection present.
- Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
- Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.
How can cosmetic dentistry help improve the appearance of my smile?
In the past decade there has been a dramatic interest in cosmetic dentistry. We all realize that having a healthy, bright, beautiful smile enhances our appearance and allows us to smile with confidence. Thanks to the advances in modern cosmetic dentistry, we are able to improve our teeth and smiles with quick, painless and surprisingly affordable treatments.
Cosmetic dental treatments can:
- Change the size, shape, and alignment of certain teeth.
- Fill in unattractive spaces between teeth.
- Improve or correct bites.
- Lighten or brighten the color of teeth.
- Repair decayed, broken, cracked, or chipped teeth.
- Replace missing teeth.
- Replace old, unattractive dental treatments.
If you are self-conscious about your teeth, or would simply like to improve your smile, cosmetic dentistry can help you achieve a beautiful, confident smile.
Cosmetic Procedures to consider:
Teeth Whitening: Bleaching lightens teeth that have been stained or discolored by age, food, drink, and smoking. Teeth darkened as a result of injury or taking certain medications can also be bleached. The whitening shade guides are used to measure tooth color. These shades determine the effectiveness of the whitening procedure, which may vary from two to seven shades.
Composite (tooth-colored) Fillings: A composite (tooth colored) filling is used to repair a tooth that is affected by decay, cracks, fractures, etc. The decayed or affected portion of the tooth will be removed and then filled with a composite filling. Composite fillings, along with silver amalgam fillings, are the most widely used today. Because composite fillings are tooth colored, they can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth, and are more aesthetically suited for use in front teeth or the more visible areas of the teeth.
Porcelain Veneers: Porcelain Veneers consist of thin shells of tooth-colored porcelain that are bonded to the front of your teeth to repair and/or improve your smile. Your porcelain veneers will cover and repair any cracked or chipped teeth. If you have crooked or misaligned teeth, porcelain veneers can be used to improve their alignment, shape and appearance to give you a beautiful new smile. Veneers are resistant to staining and discoloring, and in most cases will be stronger than your original natural teeth.
Porcelain Crowns (caps): A crown (or cap) is a covering that encases the entire tooth surface restoring it to its original shape and size. A crown protects and strengthens tooth structure that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations. Although there are several types of crowns, porcelain (tooth colored crown) are the most popular, because they resemble your natural teeth. They are highly durable and will last many years. These crowns are made to match the shape, size, and color or your teeth giving you a natural, long-lasting beautiful smile.
Dental Implants: Dental implants or “implant dentistry” is a safe, effective and permanent way to replace one or more missing teeth. The implant is a small titanium post that is placed into the jawbone. A custom-made porcelain tooth (or teeth) is attached to the implant(s) to restore your teeth and a stunning new smile that will look great and make you feel more confident in business and social settings!
Orthodontics: Orthodontics is specifically concerned with diagnosing and treating tooth misalignment and irregularity in the jaw area. There are many advantages to well-aligned teeth, including easier cleaning, better oral hygiene, clearer speech and a more pleasant smile. Less visible and more effective brackets and wires are making straightening teeth with orthodontics much more appealing to adult patients. Also, in some cases, teeth may be straightened with custom-made, clear, removable aligners that require no braces.
What are porcelain veneers and how can they improve my smile?
Porcelain Veneers are very popular solution for those seeking to restore or enhance the beauty of their smile. If you have crooked or misaligned teeth, porcelain veneers can be used to improve their alignment, shape and appearance to give you a beautiful new smile. Porcelain Veneers consist of thin shells of tooth-colored porcelain that are bonded to the front of your teeth to repair and/or improve your smile. Your porcelain veneers will cover and repair any cracked or chipped teeth. Veneers are resistant to staining and discoloring, and in most cases will be stronger than your original natural teeth.
What can I do about stained or discolored teeth?
As we age, the outer layer of tooth enamel wears away, eventually revealing a darker or yellow shade. Smoking, drinking coffee, tea, and wine may also contribute to tooth discoloration, making our teeth yellow and dull. Sometimes, teeth can become discolored from taking certain medications as a child, such as tetracycline. Since teeth whitening has now become the number one aesthetic concern of many patients, there are many products and methods available to achieve a brighter smile.
Professional teeth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the color of natural tooth enamel, and is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile. Over-the-counter products are also available, but they are much less effective than professional treatments and may not be approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).
It’s important to have your teeth evaluated by your dentist to determine if you’re a good candidate for bleaching. Occasionally, tetracycline and fluorosis stains are difficult to bleach and your dentist may offer other options, such as veneers or crowns to cover up such stains. Since teeth whitening only works on natural tooth enamel, it is also important to evaluate replacement of any old fillings, crowns, etc. before bleaching begins.