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

 

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!

National Pet Dental Health Month

Every February, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month to raise awareness of the importance of proper dental care for our furry best friends. While our Hyde Park dental office doesn’t treat these cuddly critters, we know a lot of our patients have pets, and we’d like to provide them tips on how to care for the furrier members of their families.

Brushing Your Pets Teeth is Important

You know your dentist in Hyde Park encourages each and every patient to brush their teeth twice a day, every day. Now while it’s not necessary to brush your pet’s teeth that often, it is important that you do it occasionally. Typically brushing two to three times a week will do wonders in keeping their mouths healthy. While brushing your pet’s teeth may be a challenge at first, doing it regularly can help make it a routine. When you start, take a piece of gauze and a pet-friendly toothpaste to gently massage your pet’s teeth in tight circles. This small step can really help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. But good brushing doesn’t end there. You should take your pet to get a professional dental cleaning once a year for a thorough job.

Encourage Chewing

We don’t necessarily mean that you let your pet take control of the house and nibble on anything he wants. But most vets do encourage you to let him chew on toys or treats specifically designed to help scrub away plaque. While bones may seem like the obvious choice, these tough treats can actually do more harm than good. In fact, chewing a hard bone increases the risk for dental damage. Instead, consider buying toys or treats that strengthen teeth, stimulate gums, and remove plaque and tartar. Whatever you and your vet choose, remember that brushing is still crucial for optimal oral health (this applies to you too!).

Know What to Look For

Just like humans, knowing the signs of a potential problem and seeking treatment sooner rather than later is key to successful treatment. What’s also similar between humans and animals are the signs of a dental concern. Keep an eye out for:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Bleeding

If you notice any of the above in your pet, call your vet. If you notice any in yourself, call your Hyde Park dentist. Following the tips above and being open with your vet can help keep your pet’s teeth healthy for life. The same applies to you. Make sure to practice a proper oral health care routine and maintain regular visits at our dental office in Hyde Park.

How to Get Rid of a Canker Sore

It all started with a slight tingling sensation in your mouth. Then all of a sudden, up pops a canker sore. Now you’re stuck with this uncomfortable and painful blister-like sore. What can you do to get rid of it? Even though there’s no official cure for canker sores, there are some things you can do to help reduce discomfort. Join our dental office in Hyde Park as we cover some common canker sore treatments and talk about how you may be able to prevent one in the future.

Canker Sore Treatment

While there isn’t any cure that will quickly and easily get rid of canker sores, you don’t have to stay feeling uncomfortable while the sore runs its course. Your first go-to treatment option can be buying one of the several over-the-counter products designed to numb and ease the pain associated with canker sores. If that doesn’t quite cut it, you can schedule an appointment with your Hyde Park dentist. They may be able to use a laser to speed up healing time or may even suggest a corticosteroid or prescription-strength antimicrobial rinse.

Symptoms of a Canker Sore?

Canker sores can start with that weird tingly or itchy sensation before you can even see any signs of a sore at all. Other signs of a canker sore can include a blister-type sore inside the mouth. Canker sores are typically small, red and can have a white or gray middle. They’re usually found on the tongue, cheeks, or roof of the mouth. Sometimes canker sores can also cause a fever.

Causes

Unfortunately, there isn’t a known or proven cause of canker sores. But many people can identify triggers to what caused one to develop. Some common explanations behind canker sores include:

If you can find out what seems to be causing canker sores, do your best to avoid them. Doing so can help prevent canker sores or limit how often you get one.

Unlike cold sores, which are very similar to canker sores but affect the outside of the mouth, canker sores are not contagious. They’re mostly just annoying. But if you’ve been dealing with a canker sore for longer than three weeks or you notice any other changes to your mouth, don’t hesitate to call our Hyde Park dental office today.

Avoid the Flu with These Five Easy Things

Flu season has officially begun and will continue through February, or maybe even later. Nobody wants to catch this ache-inducing, sneezing-causing, and overall yucky-feeling sickness. While sometimes the flu is unavoidable, there are easy things you can do to reduce your chance of falling ill. Join your dentist in Hyde Park in practicing these top tips all flu season long.

Clean & Sanitize

During flu season, it’s wise to clean and sanitize your living and workspace more often than usual. Germs can live on surfaces for quite some time, and all it takes is touching an infected surface to come down with the flu. Make sure to clean the areas you use most often or that are touched by multiple people like the kitchen, bathroom, and conference room tables at work. Don’t forget about the little items like remote controls, toilet handles, doorknobs, and keyboards.

Wash Your Hands

Your dentist in Hyde Park and all medical professionals will tell you that washing your hands often is one of the best ways to avoid the flu and the common cold. Scrubbing your mitts with warm water and antibacterial soap is an effective way to remove any germs you may have picked up throughout the day. Cover your palms, fingers, and even fingernails with soapy water after using the restroom, before eating, and after you touch anyone. If you can’t get to a sink right away, an alcohol-based sanitizer can work in a pinch.

Keep Hands Away from the Face

According to the CDC, another common way to transfer germs from person to person or from surface to person is by putting our hands on our face or near our mouths, eyes, or nose. Since these areas of the body contain mucus, anything that gets into them is easily transported into the rest of the body, including germs.

Choose Healthy Meals

While we always recommend trying to eat a well-balanced diet all year round, it can be even more important during flu season. Fueling your body with all of the good stuff it needs to function optimally puts it in good fighting shape if germs do find their way inside. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins and avoid sugar as much as you can.

Increase Your Water Intake

Besides eating well, it’s also important to drink a lot of water throughout the day. When a body is properly hydrated, it’s better prepared to fight off anything that may try to make you sick. Follow the 8×8 rule by drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day.

These tips can go a long way in keeping the flu away from you and your family this season. But if you do happen to get sick, the team at our Hyde Park dental office recommends treating your symptoms with sugar-free medication to protect your teeth. Also, don’t forget to swap out your toothbrush for a new one after any illness.

Let’s Talk About Lip Biting

Many people repeatedly bite their lip (or cheeks or tongue) as a way to deal with nerves or stress. It’s a habit that some may find relieving, although sometimes also painful. However, to your dentist in Hyde Park, constant biting of the soft tissues in the mouth can certainly raise some concern. Let’s take a closer look at lip biting, why we do it, why it’s bad, and how we can stop.

Why is it Bad?

The truth is, biting our lips, cheeks, or tongue may cause more harm than many of us may have ever thought. When we constantly bite these delicate, soft tissues it can cause painful sores. These sores can become infected if not treated or if reopened repeatedly by even more biting. Any infection in the mouth should be considered serious as it can create additional problems. Constant biting can also lead to inflammation, swelling, redness, and of course, pain.

Why Do We Bite in The First Place?

Of course, we’ve all experienced the pain associated with the occasional accidental bite. These one-off bites are usually nothing to be concerned about and typically heal on their own in a few days. However, when biting happens often, we should look further into why. There are several reasons why someone may bite their lips, cheeks, or tongue a lot. One possible cause of lip biting is psychological — the habitual biting as a response to stress or nervousness we mentioned earlier. Another explanation can be physical in the form of a bad bite. When we don’t purposely bite our lips, cheeks, or tongue, yet find ourselves accidentally doing it a lot while chewing or even talking, our bite can be to blame. Malocclusion, or bad bite, increases the likelihood for our tongue, cheeks, or lips to get stuck in between our upper and lower teeth. The result? A painful chomp to these soft tissues.

Ways to Stop Biting

The best way to stop biting your lips, cheeks, or tongue depends on why it happens. If the cause of your biting is psychological you can try to:

  • Become more aware of when you do it. Knowing your triggers can help you be more conscious of the habits and allow you to work to fix it.
  • Find a support system. Talk with trusted friends, co-workers, or family members about your habit and determine a way that they can support you in stopping. It can be as simple as kindly telling you when you’re doing it so you can become more aware.
  • Behavior therapy. There are various types of behavior therapy available that can help change habits.

If the cause of your biting is physical, it’s best that you schedule an appointment with your dentist in Hyde Park. Your dental team can help identify if your bite may be causing you to accidentally bite your lip, cheeks, or tongue and discuss the best dental treatment to help you. If you suffer from chronically biting your cheeks, lips, or tongue, call your Hyde Park dentist so you can start getting some relief or so you can have any existing sores examined or treated before they have a chance to cause bigger, more serious problems.

Bad Breath & The Keto Diet

One of the most popular weight-loss diets today is the Keto Diet. Many people find it to be effective and watch the pounds drop off. But what does this have to do with dentistry, and why is your dentist in Hyde Park talking about a weight loss diet? The truth is, what we eat affects our oral health, and the Keto Diet is no exception. In fact, many Keto Dieters notice a change in their breath after following the program. Let’s take a deeper look at why this happens.

The Science Behind The Keto Diet

Before we can understand why some people on the Keto Diet get bad breath, we need to understand how the Keto Diet works. The Keto Diet encourages increased consumption of high-fat foods and the decrease of carbohydrates. When carbs break down during digestion they produce glucose, which is the body’s preferred energy source. However, when there are no carbs to create glucose, the body burns fat instead, hence the weight loss. But when the body burns fat, it gives off three ketones called acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone. The acetone is what causes bad breath.

Acetone

Acetone is a byproduct that occurs when our bodies burn fat. And it smells. But since the body can’t use acetone to store energy, our bodies get rid of it through urination or the lungs. When acetone is released through the lungs, its odor comes out as bad breath, also known as halitosis. But there’s good news — the longer someone is on the Keto Diet the more likely it is that they will become “keto-adapted,” which means your body adjusts to the diet and the bad breath goes away. In the meantime, you can fight off bad breath by practicing good oral hygiene such as brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and seeing your dentist in Hyde Park every six months.

How the Keto Diet Can Help Your Teeth

Even though the Keto Diet commonly causes bad breath, there are actually some oral health benefits associated with it. Since carbs contain a lot of sugar, which everyone knows is bad for teeth, decreasing the number of carbs you eat also limits your teeth’s exposure to damaging sugars. When we eat foods with high sugar content, our mouth bacteria feed on the sugars. As a byproduct, these bacteria release acid. This acid is the main culprit to decay and cavities. In fact, some research shows that limiting the number of carbohydrates can lower the likelihood of cavities and even gum disease by more than 50%.

Talk to Your Doctor

Despite the fact that the Keto Diet can help people lose weight and may also protect teeth against cavities, the truth is, like all diets, it may not be beneficial for everyone. Before starting a diet, talk with your doctor and even consider talking with your dentist in Hyde Park. After all, what we eat not only affects our overall health, it also affects our oral health. Advice and input from both your physician and your dentist can help you find the diet that’s best for you.