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Tooth decay (also called dental cavities or dental caries) –  The destruction of the surfaces (dentin and/or enamel) of a tooth and infiltration of bacteria into tooth structure. Tooth decay results from the action of bacteria that live in plaque. Plaque is a sticky, whitish film formed by bacteria and food debris which adheres to the pellicle (a protein layer on the tooth surface). The plaque bacteria sticking to tooth enamel breakdown the sugar and starch from food particles in the mouth to produce acid.

Only Cake, Candy, and  Sugary Drinks Cause Tooth Decay.

Myth, but it’s almost a fact.

Guess what sugar is? You guessed it a carbohydrate. White rice, french fries, bagels, chips and fruits are all carbohydrates. The stickier the carb, like white rice, caramel, or fruit gummies, the longer they stay lodged between teeth and stuck in grooves. The truth is that the acid produced by the bacteria while breaking down carbohydrates is what causes tooth decay. The bacteria makes the acid when you eat anything with carbohydrates that stick and stay on your teeth. The resulting acid melts through the strong outer enamel and allows bacteria to enter into the inner layer (dentin). The bacteria are not visible to the eye, and the breakdown is slow and steady forming a hole, better known as a cavity.

An important fact to know: It is not the amount of carbohydrates you consume that end up causing tooth decay, but the length of time your teeth are exposed. If you eat a high amount of carbohydrates for lunch, that’s one big exposure. But if you spend the day sipping sugary drinks, chewing on gummy bears, sucking on tic tacs, that continuous exposure is far more unhealthy for your teeth. Dentists have a saying, “sip all day and get tooth decay“.

All Dental Restorations Need to be Replaced Every Few Years.

Myth.

An amalgam or composite filling needs to be replaced only if it breaks down or a cavity forms around it, or if the tooth breaks or fractures. If none of those problems occur, you can keep the same filling for quite a long time. Most dental restorations do have a life expectancy but it depends on each individual. Tooth wear due to clenching or grinding, diet, and dental hygiene habits,  play a huge role in how long these restorations last, some last more than 50 years! Maintaining proper oral hygiene and maintenance  will help your dental restorations last longer.

Once You Get a Tooth Capped, the Tooth Can’t Decay.

Myth.

A Cap or a crown covers and protects underlying tooth structure. However, the area where the crown edge ends and tooth is not covered ( the margin), is where bacteria like to stick. It is the least smooth part of the tooth, and where bacteria can break the seal between the tooth and crown. Once the seal breaks, bacteria can move up and under the crown to slowly breakdown tooth and root structure. A dentist always checks margins around teeth to try to find breaks in margins, however, when breakdown occurs in between teeth it is harder to detect and  usually decays much further before it can be detected on an x-ray.

When You get a Root Canal, the Roots are Removed and the Tooth Can’t Decay.

Myth.

A root canal treatment does not remove roots, what is removed are the nerves, blood vessels, bacteria, and debris from inside of the roots. The dentist then fills and seals the roots with a rubbery filling and sealing paste. This prevents bacteria from re-entering a tooth. Once the root canal is completed, the tooth should heal, and usually be covered and protected with a crown to help prevent cracking. Tooth decay can happen, just as in any tooth.

Children are more prone to Tooth Decay than Adults.

Myth.

Advances in pediatric dentistry have allowed us to cut childhood tooth decay in half over the last 20 years. These advances include sealants, fluoridated water, dietary consultations, and preventive care. As we see advances in pediatric dentistry, and decreases in tooth decay a different population has had increases in tooth decay. Seniors have an increase in cavities due to an increase in advances in pharmacology, limited dexterity, insufficient professional cleanings, and dry mouth. Many medications have a side effect of causing dry mouth which increases the risk of tooth decay.

If You Have Tooth Decay, You Can Feel it.

Myth.

Tooth decay may or may not cause any symptoms. Everyone and each individual tooth varies in it’s pain threshold. The pain associated with tooth decay may be detected very early in some and when it is in a more advanced stage and is actually causing damage to the nerve in others. Allowing tooth decay to progress untreated can and will lead to much more expensive and extensive dental procedures, like root canals and oral surgery. That’s why regular dental examinations are so important.

Teeth can only repair themselves when initial enamel breakdown is occurring, and the bacteria have not entered the dentin. Some enamel can repair with natural calcium remineralization and some can harden and repair with fluoride . Persistent bacteria will cause a cavity to forms which will continue to grow and progress into the tooth, eventually working its way into the dentin and then the nerve of the tooth.

Cavities Are More Likely Between Teeth.

Fact.

Any place in the mouth where you cannot reach and bacteria can hide is a place for tooth decay to form. That is why brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial and fluoride rinse (such as Purple Listerine) are so important. They allow you to reach areas brushing alone cannot. Flossing is one of the few ways to get in between teeth and properly avoid tooth decay between teeth.

Chips and Cracks in Teeth Lead to Decay.

Fact.

Cracks and chips in teeth can create a hiding place for bacteria and make those areas more prone to tooth decay. Using a fluoride rinse can reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Sensitive Teeth Means You Have Decay.

Myth.

Tooth sensitivity could just mean you have hypersensitive teeth, or gum recession has exposed some root.

You could also have a cracked or broken tooth or could need a root canal. There are many things, including tooth decay, that could lead to sensitive teeth. If your teeth are sensitive you should schedule a dental examination to make sure it is not something serious.

Cavities Are the Only Reason for Root Canals.

Myth.

Root Canal treatment is caused by a variety of things including tooth decay. Root canal treatment is needed if the nerve inside a tooth is damaged which can be a result of decay or trauma.  Trauma can result from accidents, grinding, clenching, biting into a very hard object (piercings, hard candy, etc.), ice chewing, etc.

You Don’t Need to Worry About Cavities in Baby Teeth.

Myth. 

Baby teeth are needed to hold the space for permanent teeth. Also, tooth decay in baby teeth can develop into serious pain, dental abscess and serious infection. On occasion the infection can spread to other parts of the body and has even caused death if left untreated.

Brushing, Flossing, and Rinsing and a Healthy Diet Is the Best Way to Prevent Cavities.

Fact. 

Definitely. Preventive dentistry is the key to staying cavity free. The bacteria must be removed from the teeth.

Brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, and floss and rinse daily. Antimicrobial rinses target bacteria, reducing plaque, bad breath, and the severity of gingivitis. Rinses with fluoride make teeth more resistant to tooth decay. If bacteria are removed daily from every area of your tooth. Eat healthy foods, and limit exposure to carbohydrates.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

There are many misconceptions about what causes tooth decay and what doesn’t. The facts remain, A healthy diet, and proper oral hygiene will not only help you prevent tooth decay, but keep your whole body healthier.

Pancreatic cancer is a malignancy, originating from transformed cells in tissues forming the pancreas.  Pancreatic cancer is ranked #4 amongst  cancer related deaths today. Difficulty in detection, leads to diagnosis in later stages, resulting in a low cure rate. Pancreatic cancer is responsible for about 40,000 deaths a year in the United States alone. Early diagnosis is key to reducing the mortality rate of pancreatic cancer.  How can your dentist help?

Recent research has uncovered a link between various oral bacteria and pancreatic cancer risk. The research showed that people with high levels of various oral bacteria had double the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Those with lowered levels of harmless oral bacteria had a reduced risk for pancreatic cancer. This is another piece of evidence showing linkage between the mouth and your general health.

Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer

Family History/Genetics.  Between 5–10% of patients with pancreatic cancer have a family history of pancreatic cancer. The genes have not been identified.

Age. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Most cases occur after age 60, while cases before age 40 are uncommon.

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Marielaina Perrone DDS

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

Smoking. Cigarette smoking increases your chances of developing pancreatic cancer by a factor of almost 2x normal.

Diet. People with poor diets are at an increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer. The factors include diets high in red meat, high consumption of sugary drinks, and lacking fruits and vegetables in diet.

Obesity.

Diabetes Mellitus.

Periodontal Disease.

What Did the Study Show regarding Pancreatic Cancer and the Mouth?

The study (published in the journal, Gut) encompassed blood samples from over 800 European adults. The study found that high antibody levels for one or more infectious periodontal bacterium strains of  Porphyromonas gingivalis (bacteria common in periodontal disease ), were associated with a doubling of the risk for pancreatic cancer.

This is a significant finding.

There have been studies in the past, linking  periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer. The Gut research paper is the first to test whether antibodies for oral bacteria are indicators of pancreatic cancer risk. This was also the first study to associate our body’s immune response to commonly found bacteria, with pancreatic cancer risk. The physiological mechanism linking oral bacteria and pancreatic cancer is unclear at this time. The study just reinforces the theory that there is such a mechanism. So while we should not rush out and call this a risk factor it does deserve further study.

Conclusion

Ultimately, further research is needed but it further strengthens the theory that oral health is very important to a person’s overall health and a dentist plays a key role as well. So maintain a healthy mouth through regular dental examinations and professional cleanings, and in turn, you will probably stay a step ahead in your overall health.

 

Most people would love a bright, white smile. A smile is one of the first things people notice when they meet or greet us. Did you know there are ways you can achieve this at home during your regular schedule as well as with some help from your dentist?

A smile that is dull and lifeless tends to make us feel less confident about ourselves and in turn makes us look older than we really are to people we meet. Whereas a bright shiny sparkle, gives people a self confidence boost as well as change how people look at them. Studies have shown people with whiter, brighter smiles are almost always percieved by others to be younger than they really are.

Luckily, there are some ways to maintain a white bright smile both on our own as well as with help from your dentist.

Top Tips for a Whiter, Brighter Smile

Focus on Maintaining Proper Oral Hygiene. It is amazing how little time it takes in our day to keep our teeth brushed, flossed, and rinsed and still many of us do not find the time to do it right. Brushing at least twice a day is recommended (but brushing after every meal is even better!), flossing at least once a day and rinsing with an antibacterial or fluoride rinse. Flossing reaches areas even the best brushers and rinsing cannot ever dare to reach. If a build up of plaque is allowed to go unchecked it will make it easier for stains from foods, red wines, or tobacco to accumulate. A great product to try is Periogen, it removes stains, tartar, and plaque between dental cleanings.

Keep Away From the Enemy. Avoid or minimize the intake of sugary drinks and foods, especially sticky candies (like gummy bears or fruit roll-ups). Acidic foods (like citrus juices) may appear healthy but are not very good for maintaining a neutral balance in your mouth or for your teeth. High intake of sugar and acids, and repetitive intake of them, can weaken tooth enamel and create an environment for cavity causing bacteria to grow and thrive. This can eventually result in enamel wear, tooth decay and discoloration on the teeth.

There are many foods and drinks that are known to stain teeth. These include red wine, coffee, tea, and sodas. A big no-no if you want to keep your teeth white and bright, is tobacco use. Smoking will yellow your teeth and age you very quickly.

Change your Diet. Maintaining a healthy mouth is directly connected with keeping your smile as bright and white as possible. You need to start with a balanced diet with certain nutrients to help keep away oral health problems that can take away from a beautiful smile. These problems include, tooth cavities, tooth erosion, and periodontal disease. Some of the best foods for teeth and mouth are foods high in calcium and low in fat. These include milk, cheeses, cruciferous vegetables (these are mainly green leafy vegetables like broccoli), or soy products.

Vitamin C is another very important nutrient that helps maintain strong teeth by working as an antioxidant to repair tissue and prevent disease-causing bacteria from penetrating the gums. The cruciferous veggies (particularly broccoli) will do a double job, since they are rich in both calcium and vitamin C.

Any crunchy fruits and veggies, like apples and carrots, are also good for your teeth. This is because chewing them will increase salivary production which can help protect the teeth from plaque-causing bacteria by breaking down food caught between teeth and rinsing the mouth by neutralizing bad acids.

Drinking lots of water also helps rid your mouth of such bacteria (especially after meals) while also helping to prevent stains and protect your teeth from the harmful effects of acidic foods and beverages. Chewing sugarless gum is another easy way to increase salivary production. The saliva is a natural way to fight acid and keep your teeth looking bright and white.

Use Makeup to your Advantage. This is mainly for the women but choosing the right shades of makeup can make a big difference to how your teeth look to others.

1) Choose a Color that Contrasts with natural tones.  A punch of red or pink tone on your cheeks and lips stands out from your dazzling smile while beige or orangey shades blend into discolored teeth. Bright orange and yellow toned reds, actually emphasize the yellow tones that can be in your teeth.

2) Choose lipsticks with blue undertone shades (bright pinks and reds). They pick up the reflective edging on your teeth making your smile appear whiter.

3) Experiment with bronzing. Darker complexions can offset white teeth. Sweep bronzer over the high points of your face. These areas include the hairline, bridge of your nose, cheek bones and tip of your chin. Your teeth will receive an instant benefit and appear whiter.

4) Sparkle it up!. Dab an opalescent illuminator on the Cupid’s bow of your mouth. This allows the white luminescence to pick up reflection off your teeth.

5) Save the gold tones for your eyelids and avoid gold tones near your lips or teeth. The shine from gold too closely resembles yellow. This will accentuate stains and make teeth appear darker yellow.

Teeth Whitening for a Whiter, Brighter Smile. Teeth whitening can be done a few ways. These can include Do It Yourself (DIY) teeth whitening or in office professional teeth whitening.

1) DIY Teeth Whitening. This is a more inexpensive method but can be very effective depending on the individual. This can include, teeth whitening toothpastes and teeth whitening strips. Using the teeth whitening strips and whitening toothpaste in combination can be very effective as the whitening toothpaste removes the out stains and the teeth whitening strips are able to penetrate deeper into the tooth to remove deeper stains.

2) Professional Teeth Whitening. This type of teeth whitening is definitely more expensive but the teeth whitening results are usually much more effective and achieved in a much faster amount of time. The concentration of the teeth whitening agent is much higher when used by a dentist and therefore will get better results in a shorter period of time.

So there you have it, some very effective tips to keep your smile whiter and brighter. A whiter smile will make you feel better about yourself and change the way people look at you. It can open a whole new world for you.