May 30, 2012

Correct Your Brushing Technique

Brushing your teeth at least twice daily helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease, the major causes of tooth loss. If you only brush your teeth once a day, then the best time to do so is at night, ideally before you go to sleep. When you are sleeping there is less movement of saliva and less clearance than when you are awake and swallowing more often.

Use a soft-bristle tooth brush. It is the kindest to your teeth and surrounding gum tissue. It is common to hear the recommendation of using an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste, and these toothpastes can be helpful in preventing decay, however, toothpaste is best used after you have removed plaque and food particles. Think about it, toothpaste is abrasive. The abrasive quality of toothpaste is somewhat helpful with keeping stain on the teeth under control, but abrasives can also wear away tooth structure and contribute to the possibility of gum recession.

Therefore, it is best to use a toothbrush without toothpaste. This way the bristles are in direct contact with the tooth and gum without the interface of abrasive toothpaste. The proper movement of the soft toothbrush bristles removes the plaque from under the gums. After plaque and food particles have been removed, the teeth are ready for a fluoride toothpaste.

On the outer and inner surfaces of the teeth brush at a 45-degree angle in a short jiggling motion to remove the plaque from beneath the gumline. Keep moving the toothbrush to the next group of teeth until all of the gumline has been cleaned of plaque. After this work at the gums, the cheek and tongue sides of the teeth can be brushed in an up and down motion. On the chewing surfaces hold the brush flat and brush back and forth. The tongue side of front teeth can also be brushed by holding the brush vertically and using a gentle up and down stroke with the toe of the brush.

Remember to brush your tongue in a back-to-front sweeping motion to remove plaque and freshen your breath.

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May 22, 2012

Plaque And Tartar Control

Patients often confuse plaque and tartar and how they relate to each other. Plaque is a sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that is constantly forming on teeth. Saliva, food and fluids combine to produce these deposits that collect on teeth and where teeth and gums meet.

Plaque buildup is the primary factor in gum (periodontal) disease.  Fighting plaque is a life-long component of oral care. Plaque begins forming on teeth 4 to 12 hours after brushing, which is why it is so important to brush at least twice a day and floss daily.

Plaque which is not removed by regular brushing and flossing can harden into tartar (also called calculus).  This crusty deposit creates a cohesive bond that can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist. Tartar formation may also make it more difficult for you to remove new plaque and bacteria. 

You can help reduce the formation of calculus by brushing with the correct technique so that the toothbrush bristles go beneath the gums and by flossing on a daily basis. Having the appropriate interval between professional cleanings is also important. Not everyone forms calculus at the same rate, so some people need more professional help than others.

If there is any sign of gum disease, the research has shown that the ideal interval between professional cleanings is 3 months. Plaque is a collection of different bacteria and as it matures it colonizes and reaches the stage of being destructive to gums and dental bone at 3 months. When you have a professional cleaning at 3 month intervals you are disrupting the bacterial colonies and are basically making them start all over again, thereby stopping or at least slowing down the harm plaque bacteria can cause.

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May 15, 2012

Understanding Tooth Decay

Tooth decay occurs when the enamel of the teeth is attacked by acid produced by decay-causing bacteria.  Every time you eat something with sugar in it, the bacteria are fed and they produce acid when they eat. The acid attack on your teeth lasts for 20 minutes after introducing the sugar into your mouth. That’s why it’s important to be aware of snacking and what’s in your snacks and in between meal drinks. Every time you eat or drink something with sugar in it, whether it’s a lot or a little bit of sugar, there will be an acid attack for 20 minutes after eating or drinking the sugar.

Think about your eating and drinking habits. Are you making your teeth suffer acid attacks for hours each day? It helps to swish and swallow some water after eating if you can’t brush your teeth.

Tooth enamel is the outside of the tooth and it is hard and porous. It consists of many closely-packed rods made of minerals. The acid I mentioned that forms after eating seeps into the enamel’s pores. This causes mineral to be lost from the enamel (a process called demineralization). When mineral is lost from the enamel, the enamel softens and this demineralized spot is a weak spot in the tooth’s surface. If the enamel doesn’t have a chance to remineralize, that is what the decay is – softened, demineralized enamel with bacteria in it. The decay progresses and forms a cavity in the tooth.

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May 8, 2012

Tooth Decay and Fluoride

When we detect a weak spot on one of our patient’s teeth we recommend at–home fluoride treatments to reverse the decay process. If the weak spot is left unchecked, a cavity may form, necessitating a filling. If decay is allowed to spread it may penetrate deeper into the tooth until it enters the nerve chamber of the tooth. Once this happens the nerve of the tooth is infected and the bacteria that caused the decay keep traveling through the chamber, to the roots, through the root canals and eventually can cause an abscess at the tip of the root. This can also result in the destruction of dental bone at the tip of the tooth root. Decay going through these stages results in the need for root canal therapy in order to save the tooth and stop the infection. If the root canal therapy isn’t done, the tooth needs to be extracted to prevent the spread of infection.

Tooth decay often begins on biting surfaces, between the teeth, and on exposed roots. Cavities left untreated become larger. The decay spreads beneath the enamel, which is the outer part of the crown of the tooth, and can destroy the tooth structure.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by slowing the breakdown of enamel and speeding up the natural remineralization process. Common sources of fluoride are fluoridated drinking water, toothpaste and mouth rinse. Most NJ water is not fluoridated, so it’s important to understand the best way to protect your teeth and your family’s teeth from decay with the help of fluoride. We discuss which sources of fluoride are best for our patients.

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May 1, 2012

More About Keeping Your Baby's Teeth Healthy

Baby teeth
Your baby has his first pearly whites - but is it really necessary to visit the dentist this early?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and many other dental authorities across the world, the answer is yes. It’s recommended you take him for a dental check-up at some point during his first year, or certainly by the time all his baby teeth are in his mouth (which is at about 21/2 years).

When you bring your young child in for their first dental visit at an early age it gives us an opportunity to spot potential problems at an early stage and also to decide upon a good prevention program. Plus, it helps get your baby accustomed to the sights and sounds of the dentist's office and can prevent him becoming anxious about dental visits in the future.
There are several cautions we mention to the parents of our youngest patients to help protect them.  We recommend that you do not dip your child’s pacifier into any sweet substance.  Don’t add sugar to your child’s food.  You don’t want your baby to learn a preference for sweet food.

Remember that bedtime is the most important time to clean your baby’s teeth.  There’s less saliva during the night, which means that there’s less rinsing action while your baby’s sleeping.  This results in harmful bacteria in your baby’s mouth settling more easily on the baby teeth.

Also, if you need to give your baby oral medication, you should do it before you brush his teeth, rather than afterwards. Did you know that most oral medications for infants contain sucrose (a type of sugar)?!
Last, but not least important, giving your baby water is always the healthiest option when he needs extra fluids.
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