Family & Cosmetic Care in a Comfortable, Relaxed Environment.

Serving Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada since 1999.

Tooth decay is an age old problem that has affected generations of children and adults. Tooth decay is preventable, we just need to understand what causes it so that we may then prevent it from occurring.

Tooth decay is caused by a bacterial intrusion into the tooth. The bacteria feed on the buildup of food debris on teeth. The bacteria then secrete acids which breakdown tooth enamel. Once the acid forms a hole in the enamel, the bacteria can then enter the tooth and progressively breakdown the tooth, causing a cavity.  Understanding this process is critical to maintaining oral health and preventing tooth decay.

Best Tips To Prevent Tooth Decay

-Maintain Proper Dental Hygiene. This is the first step to preventing tooth decay. Proper dental hygiene should include, brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash. Toothbrushing should be done at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time. Brushing more often during the day will enhance your dental hygiene. Flossing should be done at least once a day (preferably before bedtime) but it can also be done more often.  The goal in dental hygiene is to not only keep down the amount of debris in the mouth but also to keep the environment from becoming acidic which will allow bacteria to more agressively break down teeth causing tooth decay.

Use of an antibacterial/fluoride mouthwash (such as purple listerine)is often overlooked but is also important. These oral rinses are designed to decrease cavity causing bacteria in the mouth while utilizing fluoride to strengthen enamel against breakdown. If brushing and flossing is done properly, use of an oral rinse should complete the protection against tooth decay.

-Sugarless Gum. Sugarless gum is important because it stimulates salivary flow. The increased saliva in the mouth will help to keep our teeth clean. Saliva is the mouth’s natural defense against oral bacteria. Choose a sugarless gum with xylitol. Bacteria can not feed on xylitol, because it cannot be metabolized. This helps keep the acid levels lower. Xylitol has also been shown to help remineralize our teeth’s enamel.

-Maintaining Proper Nutrition. Choosing foods and drinks wisely is important to your overall health as well as your dental health. By eating properly, you are able to keep your body as healthy as possible allowing your body to fight off any attack. The best snacks for your dental health include raw vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Avoiding sugar is not always an option so it is important to minimize the damage. Apples are actually the perfect snack for dental health as they act as a tooth cleaner and whitener. They are able to clean your teeth by the abrasive action of the skin and hard inner surface of the apple, malic acid in the apple helps to remove surface stain and keep teeth whiter. You can actually squueze juice from an apple and mix it with baking soda to brush on and whiten your teeth. So next time you are looking for a midday snack pick up a shiny apple.

-Drink Fluoridated Water. While fluoride is a controversial topic for many. It has been proven time and again to protect our teeth from tooth decay. Fluoridated water is important for children to drink. The fluoride becomes a permanent part of the tooth when it is consumed during tooth development.  Drinking at least 16oz of fluoridated water each day will help prevent tooth decay. Another option is to use a supplemental fluoride prescribed by your dentist.

-Dental Sealants. Many believe dental sealants are just for children but that is not so. If an adult has no tooth decay on the tooth in question nor any previous dental restorations a sealant can be placed and be effective. A dental sealant is designed to cover the chewing surfaces of premolars and molars. This keeps the grooves of our teeth from developing tooth decay. In many of us, these grooves are quite deep and are an inherent weakness in the fight against tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

Tooth decay is preventable with diligent dental hygiene and maintaining regularly scheduled dental visits. Maybe in the future, we can eventually wipe out tooth decay . Until then, we need to follow the steps above to maintain good oral health.

Here we are in that time of year when coughs, colds, and flu symptoms can make our lives miserable. Most people turn to over the counter medication to either relieve some of their symptoms or lessen their effects. Did you know that these medicines can result in tooth decay?

Ingredients in Medications that Cause Tooth Decay

Many cough drops and liquid medications contain a variety of ingredients that make you and your child more susceptible to tooth decay:

-High Fructose and Corn Syrup. These high sugar ingredients contribute to tooth decay. These are generally sticky sugars which cause your mouth environment to become more acidic and also give the bacteria in your mouth the sugars to break down and attack the enamel of your teeth. When you combine the sticky sugars with dry mouth, high carbs ingested while ill, and decreased oral hygiene you are putting your mouth at high risk for decay.

-Citric Acid. This type of acid can cause tooth enamel to erode and wear down. In addition, the higher acid levels allow bacteria to do their work at a rapid pace.

-Alcohol. The addition of alcohol in some popular cold and cough syrups also has a drying effect on the mouth. Saliva helps to naturally rinse the sugars and acids away from your teeth. With alcohol present it means less saliva will be present, the sugars and acids remain in the mouth even longer, leading to increased risk for tooth decay.

These risks can be magnified if medication is taken just before bedtime. The effect of taking liquid medication before bedtime is not very different from drinking juice or soft drinks right before bedtime. This is because you produce less saliva while you sleep, sugar and acids remain in contact with the teeth longer, increasing your risk for tooth decay.

What to Do?

-Take Medicine at Meal Time. Take liquid medication at meal times instead of bedtime so that more saliva is produced to rinse away the sugars and acids.

-Brush. Try to brush following each incidence of using these medicines. This will remove any excess in your mouth as well as neutralize the acidic environment these medicines can create. Not only will you be doing your teeth some good but you probably will feel better with a cleaner mouth.

-Rinse. This is just as important as brushing in this scenario. Rinsing with water will neutralize the acids as well as “wet” your mouth so it does not dry out as quickly.

-Sugar free gum and lozenges. consider chewing sugar free or xylitol gum following taking your medicine or when your mouth feels dry. Choose sugar free lozenges instead of the sugar loaded ones that sit and stay in your mouth for hours on end.

-Drink Water. When we are not feeling well, we tend to drink sugary beverages such as juice and carbonated beverages. Drinking plenty of water will neutralize acids, wash away sugar, and help you heal more quickly.

-Choose Pill Form. If it is available, choose a pill form of the medication instead of syrup.

Conclusion

Medication is usually unavoidable when we are sick.  While you are sick, try to avoid inflicting further complications.  Use good judgement and try to maintain your dental health even when not feeling your best. Managing the type of medication you take, when you take it, and how you neutralize the effects,will go a long way to keeping you healthy and happy.

For many people, eating disorders are part of every day life. These  abnormal eating habits may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual’s physical and psychological health. The resulting effects of the dietary issues involved directly and indirectly relate to oral health problems.

Common Types Of Eating Disorders

-Anorexia Nervosa (commonly called,  ”anorexia”) -  This eating disorder is characterized by a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight, an obsessive fear of weight gain, and an unrealistic perception of current body weight. Anorexia can cause menstruation to stop, and often leads to bone loss, loss of skin integrity. It is a big stressor on the heart, there is an increase in the risk of heart attacks and related heart problems. This disorder also presents with an increased risk of death. Peer pressures play a role in an individuals’ obsession with their outer appearances. Recent research suggests it is not only about a person’s outward perception but genetics may play a role in the disease process.

-Bulimia Nervosa (commonly called, “bulimia”) – This eating disorder is characterized by recurrent binge eating followed by purging. The purging can include self induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives/diuretics, or excessive exercise. Fasting may also be used as a method of purging (self inflicted vomiting) following a binge.

-Compulsive over-eating- This eating disorder is characterized by eating large quantities of food even when not feeling hunger. The food is generally consumed quickly and often with little to no regard for proper nutrition.

Dental Issues That Arise From An Eating Disorder

Tooth Enamel Erosion and Tooth Decay – It is quite common to see an increased incidence of tooth decay in all forms of eating disorder. It is also not unusual to see very extensive decay that leads to tooth loss. For bulimic and over-eaters, high calorie, high carbohydrate foods put the enamel at risk due to increased sugar levels in the mouth. Vomiting (either self inflicted or from eating an enormous amount of food) exacerbates the problem by incorporating stomach acid into the oral environment. Anorexics are also prone to regurgitation of stomach acid due to lack of food in the stomach.

It is quite common in patients with an eating disorder to need extensive dental work over and over again. This is especially true to the backs of the teeth, (facing the tongue) since these surfaces would be exposed the most to the stomach acids released from vomiting. The gum lines of teeth are also prone to decay when habits of snacking through the night and not brushing occur frequently.

Soft Tissue Damage – The force of repeated vomiting also takes a toll on the soft tissues in the mouth. This can result in swelling of the tonsils and the uvula in the back of the throat. Another indicator of an eating disorder may be a red and swollen tongue or a lacerated palate caused by vomiting induced by placing a finger into the back of your throat (fingernails and other implements will damage the palate).

Other Eating Disorder Dental Issues Include:

-Gum pain

-Chronic sore throat

-Inflamed esophagus

-Palatal hemorrhages

-Decreased saliva production - leading to dry mouth (xerostomia)

-Enlarged Parotid glands

-Problems swallowing

-Jaw alignment abnormalities

Dental Treatment Options

An eating disorder is a major health issue and create all kinds of problems both to our dental health and systemic health. Communication is important to not only get help to overcome the disease but also to get proper dental treatment.

Dental hygiene becomes extra important in patients with an eating disorder because some of the damage from stomach acids in the mouth can be minimized if patients brush, floss, and rinse following vomiting. This can lessen the effect of the acids on the teeth. Damage will still be done if the habits remain for long or short periods of time.

Standard dental treatment for an eating disorder can include:

-Dental Fillings

-Root Canal Therapy

-Tooth Extractions

-Periodontal Surgery

Eating Disorder Conclusion

An eating disorder is a very difficult disease to diagnose and treat. Dentists need to know the warning signs to be able to get patients in need to seek proper help. Eating disorders can ultimately kill and should not be taken lightly. The dentist should be able to speak openly about oral symptoms of eating disorders if signs are present. This is a difficult topic to discuss for most but is nevertheless important. The patient must feel comfortable enough with their dentist to tell them they think they have an eating disorder. The dentist should  be clear about everything, portray empathy and care at every opportunity. Body language is very important. Trust between the dentist and patient is very important to establish before moving on.

Once habits are addressed, treatment and restoration of healthy teeth and smile go hand in hand.. The power of a beautiful, healthy smile can do wonders do our emotional well being. A positive self-image and self-esteem are critical for recovery from bulimia and a restored, healthy smile is evidence of those feelings. Does having a new smile help that process? Absolutely. It has been shown time and again to be life changing. Even more important is restoration of the teeth to a healthy state so that the patient can eat without pain and regain health.

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.