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Tooth decay is a slow, destructive process. In its earliest stages, a decayed tooth, is easily treatable. If left untreated it will lead to dental infection and tooth loss. The best defense against tooth decay is good oral hygiene along with regular dental visits. These routine dental visits will give your dentist the ability to detect tooth decay in its earliest stages.

Signs Of Tooth Decay

-Pain/Discomfort. Having any kind of oral or tooth pain is not normal. It is usually a sign that something is wrong.

-Tooth SensitivityThis can be due to a variety of things but it is important to note the type of sensitivity present. Is it sensitive to hot temperatures, cold temperatures, or both? Is it sensitive to sugary foods? Is it sensitive to acidic foods? If the tooth or teeth are sensitive to most or all of the questions posed than it is cause for concern.

-Persistent Bad Breath (Halitosis). Bad breath can be caused by many things like the foods we eat, periodontal disease, and systemic disease (like diabetes). Tooth decay can also present itself with a persistent malodor due to the bacteria present in tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Treatment

Treatment of tooth decay usually takes two routes. One is when it is detected early enough to see if it will reverse itself through remineralization and the other is restoring the tooth to its natural form and function.

-Remineralization. Very shallow cavities in our teeth can sometimes fix themselves with a little help. These cavities must only be in the outer layer of our teeth (enamel). Once it passes theough this layer the tooth decay will not reverse itself. The repair process is known as remineralization. Application of fluoride to the teeth can reverse the process of early tooth decay. This is usually done using a fluoride supplement or through application at a dental office. Fluoride can be harmful at high levels so it is important to follow your dentist’s advice.

-Dental Restoration. Once the tooth decay enters the underlying layers of a tooth it is time for a dental restoration to restore the form and function of the teeth. Restorations can include dental amalgam, dental bonding, and dental crowns. Dental crowns (can be porcelain or gold) are necessary when the tooth decay is extensive.

-Root Canal Therapy. This treatment will be necessary if the tooth decay has entered the “nerve center” of the tooth. This allows the dentist to save the tooth preserving it for future use. Once a tooth receives a root canal it is generally recommended that a dental crown be placed.

-Tooth Extraction. If a patient decides to forego root canal therapy or the decay is so extensive that it is not able to be restored, the only option is to remove the tooth (or what is left of that tooth). This is usually a last resort option.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

It is important to remember that tooth decay is preventable and even if it does arise it can be treated with minimal care. The key is early diagnosis. The only way to diagnose tooth decay early is through regular dental examinations and routine radiographs. At the first sign of tooth decay call your dentist to evaluate the situation.

Dental signs and symptoms are often overlooked if they do not involve pain.  Ignoring the issues may cause much bigger problems for you if not treated. How do you know if you need to see a dentist right away? Below are some signs and symptoms that should give you an idea about when to make an appointment to see your dentist to have things checked further.

Symptoms That Dental Care Is Needed

-Tooth Sensitivity. When a tooth becomes sensitive to sweets, pressure, heat, or cold temperatures it is a sign of a dental problem. Tooth decay, tooth enamel erosion, gum recession, fractures, and nerve trauma are some common causes of tooth sensitivity. If left untreated many of these can lead to more extensive treatments like crowns, root canal therapy, or even tooth loss.

Dental Health Tip: Using toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help decrease the problem, but should still be addressed by the dentist. If the sensitivity is a more recent or sudden development, don’t try to just  mask the symptoms, see your dentist and he/she can help you find the best treatment.

-Bleeding Gums When Brushing. Healthy gums do not bleed when brushing and flossing. Bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal disease. In its earliest form, gingivitis,  is reversible. Once it progresses, it is becomes harder to treat to restore health. Periodontal disease will lead to gum recession, bone loss, dental infections, and eventually tooth loss. Your hygienist will deep clean around the teeth and gums and give you guidance for better at home hygiene.

Dental Health Tip: Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once per day to keep your gum tissues healthy.

-Bad Breath. Also called Halitosis. The most common cause of bad breath is poor dental hygiene. Other causes of bad breath include dry mouth (xerostomia), uncontrolled diabetes, decay, disease, or even diet. Mouthwashes and mints are a billion dollar business but they mainly mask the problem and do not fix the underlying problem.

Dental Health Tip: Maintain regular dental cleanings to keep plaque and food debris from causing bad breath.

-Oral Ulcers. These can be quite painful with causes ranging from infection (bacterial, viral, or fungal) to apthous ulcers (canker sores), or irritations from dental appliances. It is recommended that any sore lasting more than 5-7 days  or with high frequency of recurrence ,should be checked by your dentist to ensure your health.

Dental Health Tip: Choose a toothpaste that is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) free to limit canker sores.

-Pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make the gums more reactive to plaque and easily susceptible to the inflammatory process. Pregnancy gingivitis is a common condition that can be controlled or avoided with diligent at home care and professional cleanings. Periodontal problems during pregnancy have been associated with babies being born with low birth weight.

Dental Health Tip: As soon as you know you are pregnant seek dental care to ensure you do not have any underlying issues that could compromise the health of the growing baby.

-Loose Teeth. Noticeable movement of teeth is a sign of attachment loss of connective tissues. Whether due to trauma, infection, or periodontal disease, mobility of a tooth needs to be checked by your dentist.

Dental Health Tip: At first sign of a loose tooth see your dentist immediately. Healthy teeth should not be loose.

Conclusion

Most dental emergencies can be avoided with routine dental care. Seeing your dentist at the first sign of trouble can save you time and money. Prevention is the best medicine.

Sensitive teeth can occur for a variety of reasons and in many ways. Sensitivity to temperature, sweets, touch, or pressure are the main types of tooth sensitivity.  The pain and discomfort from sensitive teeth are generally a sign of trauma, tooth decay, or wear, and can range from mildly irritating to quite painful.  Did you know there are effective treatments against sensitive teeth?

Types Of Sensitive Teeth

There are two very different types of sensitivity:

Dentinal Sensitivity. This occurs when the middle layer (dentin) of a tooth is exposed. Dentin is usually covered by enamel above the gum line and by cementum (bone like connective tissue covering the root of a tooth) below the gum line. There are tiny openings called tubules in the dentin. Inside each tubule there is a nerve branch that comes from the tooth’s pulp (the nerve center of the tooth). When the dentin is exposed, these nerve branches can be affected by hot, cold, or certain foods. This causes tooth sensitivity.

When the outer protective layers of enamel or cementum wear away the dentin becomes exposed. This can affect one tooth or multiple teeth. Dentin exposure can be be caused in a variety of ways. These can include:

1. Aggressive brushing. The enamel layer can be worn away from brushing too hard.

2. Plaque build up. The presence of plaque on the root surfaces can cause sensitivity.

3. Tooth wear that occurs over time from clenching and grinding.

4. Untreated dental cavities.

5. Gingival recession. When the gums recede they expose the tooth’s roots. Receding gums are often caused by periodontal diseases or by aggressive brushing. Receded gums are very common and up to four fifths of people have gum recession by the time they are 65.

6. Periodontal surgery (gum surgery) that exposes the tooth’s roots.

7.  Tooth whitening.

8. Frequently eating acidic foods or liquids.

Pulpal sensitivity. This is a reaction of the tooth’s pulp. The pulp consists of a mass of blood vessels and nerves in the center of each tooth. Sensitivity of the pulpal tissue tends to affect only one tooth. Causes of this type of sensitivity can include:

1. Dental cavities or infection.

2. Placement of a recent filling.

3. Excessive pressure from grinding or clenching your teeth.

4. A cracked or broken tooth. If you feel a sharp pain upon biting, you may have a broken or cracked filling. Pain when you release your bite is a sign of a cracked tooth.

Your dentist will be able to diagnose the type of sensitivity you have.

Can Sensitive Teeth Be Strengthened?

Your dentist can strengthen your weakened teeth in two ways. These include the following:

-Attempt to rebuild the worn enamel. Fluoride treatments are highly effective at strengthening weakened tooth enamel. Fluoride contains minerals that can help to strengthen your teeth enamel. Exposing your teeth to more fluoride can be done in several ways:

-In Office Fluoride Treatment. This is the most concentrated fluoride treatment available. During this procedure, trays of fluoride gel, varnish, or foam are placed over your teeth, and allow the fluoride to take effect for several minutes to several weeks.

-At Home Fluoride Treatment. You can also use fluoridated toothpaste, gel, or mouthwash at home for gradual enamel maintenance.

-Create A New Enamel-like Layer. The cosmetic dentistry procedures that are highly effective are dental bonding, crowns, and porcelain veneers.

Dental bonding gives the dentist the ability to add tooth colored material to cover the areas lacking in tooth enamel. This effectively creates a protective layer between the sensitive areas of your teeth and the outside stimulants in the outside world.

Sometimes the sensitivity is related to the tooth nerve suffering from inflammation. This may or may not lead to a need for root canal therapy to stop the pain.

Porcelain veneers and crowns can act as a protective layer and decrease sensitivity or protect a tooth after root canal therapy.

Sensitive Teeth Conclusion

Dealing with sensitive teeth can be very frustrating. Oftentimes sensitivity can be treated effectively and quickly. If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, consult your dentist to see what can be done for you to relieve your discomfort and address problems which may be occurring. The sooner the sensitivity is addressed the less chance of more serious problems.

Most people do not consider the simple straw to have any bearing on their dental health but it can. Drinking certain beverages regularly can have a harmful effect on our teeth. These drinks include high acid beverages, sugary soft drinks, and coffee. The sugars and acid nature of these drinks can wreak havoc on your teeth damaging them permanently.

So How Does A Straw Help Protect Your Teeth?

The straw is a simple tool but it allows these drinks to bypass right past your teeth and limit the time your teeth are exposed to these harmful drinks. Below you will find the top ways a straw can help with your dental health.

-Tooth Decay Prevention. Sipping from a glass causes your beverage to wash over your teeth. The pooling of the liquid in the mouth keeps the teeth in harms way for an extended period of time. Using a straw allows you to drink without having much contact with your teeth. Limiting exposure can decrease your chances of tooth decay from developing over time.

-Keep Your Pearly Whites Their Whitest. Dark beverages like colas and red wine cause your teeth to absorb stains and change color over time. Once stained they become progressively darker. Using a straw allows the staining material to bypass your teeth and  limit contact to the staining agents. The only way to remove these stains properly is through the use of professional cleanings and teeth whitening.

-Tooth Enamel Erosion. Acidic drinks (like soft drinks, high citrus drinks, and energy drinks) can have a damaging effect on the out layers of our teeth. The saliva will attempt to neutralize these acids but over time your enamel will wear and thin allowing them to become permanently sensitive. Drinking with a straw can once again limit the damage from these acids and help keep your enamel intact and strong.

-Sensitive Teeth. Having teeth that are sensitive to hot and cold can be a real challenge for many. Using a straw can help alleviate those symptoms and make drinking your favorite beverages easier and more enjoyable.

Conclusion

Using a straw is not always the preferred or convenient choice when enjoying our favorite drink. However, making that small change can save you money and discomfort down the road. There are many types, sizes, and colors of straws. You may find that they are actually fun to use!  A little change can go a long way towards maintaining your dental health.