How To Prevent Cavities & Tooth Decay

Cavities, often referred to as tooth decay, are tiny holes that develop in the hard surface of your teeth. They are most common in children and teenagers, but they can affect everyone including infants and toddlers. Take a closer look at what causes cavities and how you can prevent them.

Causes of Cavities

Cavities typically occur as a result of poor oral health habits but other various factors can increase the risk of getting a cavity, including:

  • Dry mouth. Dry mouth occurs when there is a lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps wash away food stuck on the teeth and it counters the acid produced from bacteria in the mouth, which reduces the chance for cavities.
  • Foods and drinks. Certain foods aren’t as easily washed away from saliva, making them more likely to cause decay. Foods you should limit include: ice cream, honey, sugar, soda, cake, chips, cookies, and hard candy.
  • Constant snacking or sipping. Drinking or eating frequently throughout the day results in increased bacteria in your mouth. This bacteria produce the acids that attack tooth enamel.
  • Lack of fluoride. Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps prevent cavities and can reverse the early stage of tooth decay. Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash to help reduce your chance of cavities.

Cavity Prevention

Regular dental visits and daily brushing and flossing are the best protection against cavities. But, cavities left untreated get larger and larger, affecting the deeper layers of your teeth. Deeper cavities result in higher chances of experiencing severe toothache and infection. So, when it comes to cavities, prevention is key. Below are some of our cavity preventions tips:

  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste. Brush and floss twice a day, ideally after each meal.
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Professional teeth cleanings remove plaque that builds up overtime which isn’t removed by regular brushing and flossing. Going to the dentist twice a year is one of the best cavity prevention options.
  • Dental sealants. Sealants protect the tooth enamel from harmful plaque and bacteria.
Learn More About Fillings and Sealants

What Is The Best Teeth Whitening Option?

When it comes to getting a brighter smile, you can whiten your teeth at home or get a professional treatment. At home whitening typically includes over-the-counter products like whitening strips, pens, or toothpaste. Professional whitening includes custom-made whitening trays you take home or an in-office appointment. So what’s the best teeth whitening option for you?

Both options use peroxide bleaching agents as the main active ingredient. The difference between each option is the amount of peroxide it contains. Over-the-counter solutions use 3 – 20 percent where professional solutions contain 14 – 43 percent. Solutions with higher amounts of peroxide should be left on for a shorter amount of time. Keeping the solution on longer will dehydrate your teeth and make them more prone to sensitivity.

Professional Whitening

Professional teeth whitening options are much safer and more effective. Additionally, it ensures that all of the proper precautions are taken. So, when it comes to protecting your gums, the whitening agent only gets on your teeth.

At-Home Whitening Products

Over-the-counter products are cheaper, generally take longer to see results, and have limitations depending on your tooth color and health prior. If used incorrectly, at-home teeth whitening kits can lead to burned gums or tooth sensitivity. Always talk with your dentist to decide the best treatment option for you.

If you choose to go for an over-the-counter solution, we recommend that you use one from the list of bleaching products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Bleaching Products with ADA Seal of Acceptance Learn More About Teeth Whitening

Root Canal Symptoms To Watch Out For

Each year, over 60 million Americans visit the dentist. Many of these visits can be attributed to cavities, which are small holes in your teeth that allow bacteria to get inside. But sometimes, other dental issues occur that require additional treatments. Root canals are considered the best option for saving a damaged tooth when an abscess is present. Below are some root canal symptoms to watch out for.

Signs You Need A Root Canal

1. Persistent Pain

Having persistent pain is one way to tell if you need a root canal. The pain might be constant, or it might go away, but it always comes back. You may feel the pain deep in the bone of your tooth, or it might be in your jaw, face or other teeth.

Tooth pain may have other causes, such as gum disease, cavities, or an impacted tooth, but it’s always a good idea to talk with your dentist if you have tooth pain.

2. Tooth Discoloration

An infection in the pulp of your tooth can cause your tooth to become discolored.Trauma to the tooth or the breakdown of the internal tissue can damage the roots and give the tooth a grayish-black appearance. While there might be other reasons a tooth is discolored, it could be cause for a root canal so talk with your dentist!

3. Sensitivity to Heat and Cold

When your teeth start to hurt from drinking a hot cup of coffee or drinking ice water, you may need a root canal.

The pain can be just a dull feeling, or it can be a sharp pain that lingers for an extended period of time, even after you’ve finished eating or drinking. If your tooth hurts when you eat or drink something hot or cold, it may be an indication that the blood vessels and nerves in your tooth are infected or damaged.

4. Swollen Gums

Swollen gums near the painful tooth can be a sign of an issue that requires a root canal. The swelling may come and go. It may be tender when you touch it, or it may not be painful to the touch.

There also might be a pimple like abscess on your gum, which may ooze pus from the infection of the tooth. This can give you an unpleasant taste in your mouth and make your breath smell bad.

5. A Chipped or Cracked Tooth

If you’ve chipped or cracked your tooth in an accident, in a contact sport, or by chewing on something hard, bacteria can set in and lead to inflammation and infection. Even if your tooth didn’t crack but you did injure it, the injury can still cause damage to the nerves of the tooth. The nerve can become inflamed and cause pain and sensitivity, which may require root canal treatment.

These are just a few signs that you may need a root canal. If you have any of these root canal symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk with your dentist. Call us at (617) 361-5020 and we can talk you through possible solutions.

Learn More About Root Canal Treatment

 

Insights On Invisalign and Other Clear Aligners

Braces can feel like a bit of a contradiction. You want a clean, straight smile, but you first have to wear a highly visible device on your teeth for months on end. You want a well-aligned bite, but for a while braces make some day-to-day tasks, such as brushing teeth and eating some foods, more difficult.

Fortunately, for those who want to show off their pretty pearly whites as they go AND show off the results of their realignment as soon as possible, one option is clear plastic removable aligners such as Invisalign aligner systems.

The Benefits of Clear Aligners

Clear aligners, as their name suggests, are clear plastic devices intended to straighten your teeth over time. They are nearly undetectable by observers. Not only are they more difficult to see (getting you closer to being able to show off that perfect smile), but they can be taken out temporarily when needed, allowing you to brush your teeth or eat without distraction.

The Clear Aligner Fitting Process

For most clear aligners, including Invisalign systems, your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and send it in. From there, orthodontic experts will determine the difference in positions between where your teeth are and where you want them to be and will create several stages of aligners to gradually move your teeth into the desired position. You’ll have to wear the aligners most of the time—about 22 hours a day. At certain points in the process as your teeth change position, you’ll move on to the next device, switching them out until your teeth are right where you want them to be.

Alternatively, there are kits you can order to take a mold of your teeth at home. This is an overall less expensive process, but you aren’t likely to achieve the same results and you lose the benefit of your dentist’s expertise. Clear aligners may not be the best solution for you, so it’s best to consult your dentist beforehand if you decide to go this route.

How to Pay for Clear Aligners

Depending on the degree of work your teeth need, an Invisalign clear aligner treatment can cost between $3,000 and $7,000. According to Invisalign’s website, your insurance may be able to pay as much as $3,000 of the cost. For the amount your insurance doesn’t cover, you have some options.

Many dentists offer payment plans, which allows you to split a large bill into smaller payments over time. This makes payment much more manageable for some people and can be useful in emergency situations when you don’t have time to save money for the treatment before you begin.

Of course, if you can save the money ahead of time, that’s probably the better option. If you’re planning to save up for an Invisalign clear aligner treatment or something similar, you may want to consider opening a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). Accounts such as these allow you to take a certain amount of money out of your paycheck, pretax, to pay for some expenses—including, in some cases, clear aligners. The types of accounts you’re allowed to open and the amount of money you can put into them will vary depending on your situation, so talk to your bank or another financial professional about your options.

For those who can use them, clear aligners such as Invisalign can be the least intrusive solution for straightening teeth. It’s nice not to have to worry about the looks and inconveniences of traditional braces! The initial cost of clear aligners may seem daunting, but options are available to help pay for them. If you have any questions about clear aligners or other methods of straightening your teeth, please give us a call at (617) 361-5020. We’ll be happy to walk you through your options and help you find the best possible solution for your smile.

Who is a Good Candidate for Dental Veneers?

Everyone wants an award winning smile, but very few people have one naturally. With all the new technology and techniques coming out, it’s easier than ever to get the smile of your dreams. One great option to achieve that is dental veneers.

It’s a well known fact that porcelain veneers are one of the most effective and popular solutions to cover up a single or several teeth imperfections. Dental veneers are a really great option for people who want to improve the appearance of their teeth. But who qualifies as a good candidate for dental veneers?

What Are Dental Veneers?

Veneers are essentially a thin, durable mask that can be applied to your natural teeth. Once applied to your teeth, they instantly change the appearance of your teeth. Veneers are made of a very thin shell of porcelain, which is carefully selected so it matches the look and color of your teeth.

Depending on how they are made and what your needs are, they can whiten your teeth, close large gaps between your teeth, change the shape of your teeth, cover up crooked teeth, or fix large cracks or chips. Each veneer will be customized by your dentist from the length and width, to the overall shape, thickness, and color.

Am I a Candidate?

Veneers are a great cosmetic dental treatment that helps people become confident with their smiles again. The following are signs you might be a good candidate:

  • You want to fix several cosmetic problems with your teeth at once
  • You want to fix discolored teeth
  • You want to correct stains on your teeth from old fillings
  • Ability to avoid chewing on your nails, crunching hard candy or food, or gnawing on pens – these bad habits can damage veneers.
  • Sufficient tooth enamel must be present – your natural teeth need to have enough enamel left after the small layer has been removed to create a strong bonding surface

Veneers are a great option for many people to correct their smile. Give us a call today at (617) 361-5020 to see if they are the right choice for you.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Dental Implants?

One of the hottest topics in dentistry today is the use of dental implants. Implants have certainly revolutionized the field of replacement teeth. If you are considering tooth implants for missing teeth, you need to know the facts. There are pros and cons of dental implants that are carefully weighed by your dentist before surgery can be scheduled.

Research continually shows that dental implants are the best long term solution to replace missing teeth. However, like any type of surgery, there are advantages and disadvantages.

Cons of Dental Implants

No procedure is right for everyone, including dental implants. While there are some risks associated with dental implants, they are relatively mild. The disadvantages include:

1. You have to meet a set of requirements

In order to have dental implant surgery, you first have to meet certain criteria. As the procedure involves anchoring the implant to your jaw bone, if you’ve experienced significant bone loss as a result of losing teeth, there may not be enough for the dental implant to be successful. You also have to be in good health so your jaw bone can fully recover.

2. The cost of the procedure

While dental implants are the best long term solution for tooth loss, they’re not always the most cost effective. However, dental implants are well worth the price for the comfort, confidence and natural feel they give you.

3. The procedure can be lengthy

Dental implants are not a quick fix and can take several months to complete. If you’re replacing an existing damaged tooth, this will first need to be removed. Your dentist will then need to prepare the tooth site before fitting the implant anchor. Once the anchor has been fitted, you’ll need to wait several months while it heals and the surrounding bone grows. The final stage of the procedure involves placing the artificial tooth.

Pros of Dental Implants

While there are some drawbacks to dental implants, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

1. They look and feel like natural teeth

Dental implants have the appearance of real teeth. In fact, once your implant has been fitted, you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference between your replacement tooth and your real teeth. Implants also won’t feel any different from your regular teeth. Since the implants are anchored to your jaw, they’ll feel just as strong as your regular teeth too.

2. You can eat and chew with ease

Unlike dentures, implants won’t feel any different than your regular teeth when eating and chewing. Once the dental implant procedure is complete, you can eat what you want! Whether you fancy crunchy snacks, chewy foods, or hot or cold drinks, you can eat and drink without concern — just remember not to overdo the sugary treats.

3. Dental implants can last a lifetime

Implants are a long-lasting tooth replacement solution. You may need to replace the crowns every 10-15 years, but if you look after the implants, they can last a lifetime.

4. They’re easy to take care of

You should take care of your implants the same way you would take care of your regular teeth with daily brushing and flossing, regular dental checkups and a healthy diet.

5. They prevent bone loss

Dental implants are anchored into your jaw, similar to your real teeth. The screw thread of the implant acts as the root of a natural tooth, so with dental implants, your jaw bone remains strong and you won’t experience bone loss.

You can see that the advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages. Dental implants have been proven to be a great option for people who suffer from tooth loss. We always want to make our patients look and feel great, and dental implants is a great way to do that. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have, so give us a call!

Celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month with Your Hyde Park Dentist

Every October the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program (WOHP) sponsor National Dental Hygiene Month to both recognize talented dental hygienists everywhere and to drive awareness to the importance of practicing proper oral hygiene. Of course this is a celebration our Hyde Park dental office can certainly get behind.

The Daily 4

Each year there’s a new theme surrounding National Dental Hygiene Month and for 2017, the focus is on the four crucial parts to a healthy oral health routine. Recognized as The Daily 4, the activities to build a foundation for great oral health include:

  • Brushing
  • Flossing
  • Rinsing
  • Chewing

In this blog, we break down each component of The Daily 4 and its benefits to oral health…

Brushing

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brushing is actually a delicate undertaking and you should use soft, gentle circles with your brush to effectively remove bacteria and plaque but not do harm to your teeth.

Flossing

When we brush our teeth and pass on the floss, we miss cleaning about 35% of each tooth’s surface. That leaves a lot of surface area free to bacteria that can cause decay. To make sure you’re getting the best clean possible, make sure to floss in between each and every tooth and up under the gum line every day.

Rinsing

Using mouthwash can also be an important part of your oral hygiene routine. Therapeutic mouthwashes contain ingredients that help protect or fight off bad breath, gingivitis, decay, and plaque. But not all mouthwashes are created equal. Look for one that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance, this means the rinse you’re buying has scientific evidence that supports the claim made on the label.

Chewing

After meals, it would ideal if you could escape to the bathroom and brush your teeth. But we understand that’s not always an option. Instead, carry sugar-free gum on you at all times and pop a piece in your mouth after eating. Chewing sugar-free gum causes you to produce more saliva. This increased saliva helps neutralize food bacteria that tends to linger around in the mouth after eating. Again, look for a gum that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Following The Daily 4 every day can really help keep your mouth healthy. But that doesn’t mean you can skip your dental cleanings at our dental office in Hyde Park. Make sure you maintain bi-annual visits with your hygienist to protect your smile.

Find Relief From Your Dental Fear

Dental fear is incredibly common among adult Americans. In fact, an estimated 80 million Americans have some level of dental fear. While the team at our dental office in Hyde Park certainly understands that being afraid of the dentist is a very real thing, we also always want to try our best to help our patients and neighbors understand how they can overcome that fear and, dare we say, start to enjoy visits to the dentist.

Top Causes of Dental Fear

Dental fear can be brought on by a number of different things, but some of the most common reasons include fear of pain, embarrassment, losing control, or a negative past experience. It’s important for you and your dental team to work together to try to identify the source behind your fear so you can work better together to overcome it.

4 Ways to Ease Dental Fear

  • Talk About It. Perhaps the most important way to combat dental fear is to establish trust with your dentist in Hyde Park. It may help if your dentist talks you through the appointment, letting you know exactly what is going to happen next and what you should expect. Discuss your concerns with your dental team to find what works best for you.
  • Distract Yourself. We understand that lying down in a dental chair while we poke around in your mouth can cause some people to feel uneasy, and that’s ok. Instead of focusing on what we’re doing, it may help to have a distraction handy. Consider bringing some music and headphones to your next visit or talk with your dental team to see if they have any amenities you can take advantage of.
  • Just Breathe. Practicing breathing techniques and focusing on breathing patterns has been proven to lower anxiety levels. There are numerous instructional videos online and even some courses you can take to help you. But essentially, close your eyes, take deep breaths, filling the lower part of your belly, and steadily release.
  • Bring a Friend. If it’s your first dental visit in awhile, have a trusted friend tag along with you. The presence of a trusted person can go a long way in helping you feel relaxed. Make a date out of it and treat them to lunch afterwards.

We Know You Can Do It

Maintaining regular dental cleanings and checkups every six months can be especially hard for those with dental fear. But keeping up with these visits is crucial for good oral health and to avoid more in-depth treatment in the future. Bi-yearly dental appointments help identify and treat any potential problems early and are key to keeping your mouth pain-free and cavity-free. Whether it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a dentist due to dental fear, or even if you’re just searching for a new dental home, we welcome you to call our Hyde Park dental office to schedule an appointment. Our entire team is dedicated to treating each and every patient with the gentle care they deserve and we’d be happy to work with you on easing any fears you may have.

Kick the Habit: Tips to Help You Quit Smoking for Good

Everyone is most likely aware of the countless health problems that can result from a smoking habit. But quitting isn’t always easy. This month, as we help recognize the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, held every year on the third Thursday in November, the team at our Hyde Park dental office is here to help provide some of the most helpful tips to quit smoking for good.

6 Tips To Help You Quit

  • Have A Support System

Getting your friends and family on board to help you quit can go a long way in making sure you succeed. Let people know you’re trying to quit and instruct them on how they can help. There are also tons of online sources you can refer to for an added boost of support.

  • Know Your Triggers

Write down when you have the strongest urge to light up. Putting your triggers down on paper will assist you in recognizing small ways you can change your lifestyle to either avoid them or find alternative coping mechanisms.

  • Toss Out Smoking Accessories

Gather up your ashtrays and lighters and toss them in the garbage. Removing things associated with smoking can help keep your mind off of the habit. Take it one step farther and freshen up your car or your house to remove the smokey smell.

  • Utilize Healthy Alternatives

Some smokers who are trying to quit find that having snacks available to occupy both the mouth and hands can really make a difference. Keep sugar-free gum handy, nibble on some carrots, and drink lots of water. These healthier options will make your dentist in Hyde Park happy, too.

  • Consider Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Going through nicotine withdrawal is one of the main reasons smokers find it so difficult to quit. Do some research on the various nicotine replacement therapy options available to you and give it a try.

  • Keep a List of Reasons to Quit

Knowing your motivations for quitting can also go a long way in keeping you on track. Whether it’s to save money, for health concerns, or for your family, remind yourself of the reasons you’re trying to quit as often as needed. If you or someone you know needs a little more motivation to stop smoking, or are concerned about oral health, we always welcome you to call our dental office in Hyde Park to schedule a visit with us. We’re happy to help our neighbors stay as healthy as possible.

Don’t Let Holiday Stress Affect Your Oral Health

Late November is when we gear up for a few weeks of feasts, family, fun, shopping, and all that the holiday season brings. Between arranging schedules to see everyone you need to see, fitting in all the parties you’ve been invited to, cooking large meals, and everything in between, it’s no wonder that stress levels tend to soar this time of year. As we all know, stress can affect our overall wellbeing. But at our dental office in Hyde Park, we also know stress can jeopardize oral health, too.

What’s With The Jaw Pain?

Our bodies react to stress differently, and we aren’t even aware of some of the things it does when stressed. Clenching and grinding our teeth tends to be one of those things. When we grind our teeth against each other, the forces put on the teeth can cause them to chip, crack, or break. Clenching can do the same thing, but it also affects the jaw. Habitually clenching our teeth may cause serious jaw pain and, if left untreated, long-term TMJ problems. If you’re experiencing clicking or popping in the jaw joint, jaw pain, or occasional jaw locking give your Hyde Park dentist a call.

Gum Disease

The main causes of gum disease usually include improper oral hygiene, dry mouth, or smoking. But one of the lesser known risk factors to developing this serious oral health problem is stress. Research has shown a strong link between prolonged stress and a higher risk of gum disease. Gum disease is a health problem that originates in the mouth but also can affect the entire body. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss, heart disease, and other serious health problems.

Stay Calm, Stay Healthy

At our Hyde Park dental office, we know that life can be super stressful, especially during the holidays. If you find your blood pressure increasing and your anxiety levels rising, try a few of these tips to relax and keep yourself healthy.

  • Eat Well. Fueling your body with the nutrients it needs can keep energy levels high and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
  • Sleep Often. During the holidays we try to shove so many things into our schedules that sleep is usually the first thing we sacrifice. However, getting enough sleep every night can help ensure your body will stay healthy enough to enjoy all the holiday festivities you have planned.
  • Exercise Regularly. Hit the treadmill, go for a walk, attend a class — whatever you choose to do, make sure you exercise regularly. Exercise is naturally stress reducing, so don’t skip your workouts

The team at our Hyde Park dental office wish you and your family a happy, healthy holiday season!