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Friday, January 12, 2018

Taking steps to stop oral cancer before its too late

Oral cancer hits more than 30,000 Americans every year but you can minimize the risk by taking steps to ensure its caught early enough.
The first indications of oral cancer may be a very small, but dangerous, oral spot or sore that you are not even aware of.
In a routine examination, your dentist will carefully examine the inside of your mouth and tongue.
If they notice a flat, painless, white or red spot or a small sore, this may be completely harmless. But harmful spots or sores often look the same as harmless ones.
To ensure that a spot or sore is not dangerous, your dentist may choose to perform a simple test, such as a brush test. This collects cells from the lesion which can them be analyzed.
Any positive results from a brush test must usually be confirmed by a biopsy before deciding the next step.
If precancerous cells are found, the lesion can be surgically removed if necessary during a separate procedure.
When caught early enough, the chances of preventing the cancer developing are high but only half of those diagnosed survive more than five years.
Thats why regular dental examinations are so important for your overall health and not just to have good teeth.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Caring for people who have special needs

People at any age can have a condition that makes it difficult for them to look after their own dental health.
This could affect people who suffer from a wide range of conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, mental retardation, Down syndrome, genetic disorders, Alzheimer disease or arthritis.
However, people in all of these categories have the same dental needs as everyone else – they need daily brushing and flossing, regular dental visits and a balanced diet.
There are some steps caregivers can take to make it easier to look after people in those categories.
If the person is uncooperative or uncontrollable, try to explain what you are about to do and schedule the task for a time of day when they are rested.
Move in a calm, slow, reassuring manner to avoid startling them. Give praise and encourage them when they help themselves.
Support the persons head, and take special care to prevent choking or gagging when the head is tilted back.
If the person is unable or unwilling to keep their mouth open, your dentist will explain how you can make and use a mouth prop.
Ask your dentist for advice on how to care for people with special needs and check if they have facilities for caring for these needs in the dental office.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dry mouth is a common problem that can harm your teeth

If your saliva flow is reduced, this can cause dry mouth which often leads to increased tooth and gum problems.
Dry mouth known as xerostomia – is a common problem especially among older adults. Its caused by certain medical disorders and is often a side effect of medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers and diuretics.
The common problems associated with dry mouth include:
– Constant sore throat
– Burning sensation
– Problems speaking
– Difficulty swallowing
– Hoarseness or dry nasal passages
When there is not enough saliva to lubricate your mouth, wash away food and neutralize the acids produced by plaque, there is a risk of extensive tooth decay.
If you are at risk from this condition, your dentist can recommend various methods to restore moisture.
For example, sugar-free candy or gum stimulates saliva flow, and moisture can be replaced by using artificial saliva and oral rinses.
As dry mouth is a potential side effect of many prescribed and over-the-counter medications it is a very common problem.
These medications can include antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, high blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants, drugs for urinary incontinence, Parkinsons disease medications, antidepressants and many others.
Fortunately there are many simple solutions available to reduce the risk to your oral health caused by dry mouth so talk to your dentist if you are on any kind of medication or you feel you may be at risk from this issue.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

How sealants can give your teeth extra protection

Sealants are made from plastic material applied to the back teeth to protect the enamel from plaque and acids.
The plastic bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of the back teeth – premolars and molars.
Although thorough brushing and flossing can help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, the toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque.
The benefit of sealants is that they protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Your dentist can apply sealants quite easily and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth.
The teeth being sealed will first be cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution which makes it easier for the sealant to stick to the tooth.
The sealant is then ‘painted’ onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens.
Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay.
They usually last several years before a reapplication is needed. Your dentist will check the condition of the sealants during your regular visits and reapply them when necessary.
Sealants are ideal for children because the risk of developing pit and fissure decay starts early in life. However, many adults can benefit from sealants as well.
Your dentist can tell you whether sealants would help your oral hygiene program.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Different types of dentist and how they help your oral care

While many people see dentists as the single group of people who look after the health of your teeth and mouth, there are various specialist categories that help you in different ways.
The categorization of a dentist will depend on their education, training and experience.
Here are some of the main specialist areas of dentistry:
Endodontics: Concerned with the dental pulp – the part in the center of a tooth made up of living soft tissue and cells and root canal therapy
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology: This deals with the identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology: Deals with the production and interpretation of images and data produced by radiant energy that are used for the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Diagnosis and surgical treatment of diseases, injuries and defects of the tissues including extractions, facial surgery and implants
Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics: Mainly deals with diagnosis, prevention and treatment of misaligned teeth and modification of midface and mandibular growth
Pediatric Dentistry: Provides preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence.
Periodontics: Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues. Most periodonitist place implants
Prosthodontics: Diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance associated with missing or deficient teeth and/or oral and maxillofacial tissues. Includes dentures, bridges and the restoration of implants.
Plus, of course, general dentists provide everyday care and many specialist services to maintain your oral health.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Caring for people who have special needs

People at any age can have a condition that makes it difficult for them to look after their own dental health.
This could affect people who suffer from a wide range of conditons such as stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, mental retardation, Down syndrome, genetic disorders, Alzheimers disease or arthritis.
However, people in all of these categories have the same dental needs as everyone else – they need daily brushing and flossing, regular dental visits and a balanced diet.
There are some steps caregivers can take to make it easier to look after people in those categories.
If the person is uncooperative or uncontrollable, try to explain what you are about to do and schedule the task for a time of day when they are rested.
Move in a calm, slow, reassuring manner to avoid startling them. Give praise and encourage them when they help themselves.
Support the persons head, and take special care to prevent choking or gagging when the head is tilted back.
If the person is unable or unwilling to keep their mouth open, your dentist will explain how you can make and use a mouth prop.
Ask your dentist for advice on how to care for people with special needs and check if they have facilities for caring for these needs in the dental office.

Friday, November 24, 2017

How mouth protectors can save your teeth

If you take part in sports that carry a significant risk of injury, you should wear a mouth protector.
Accidents can happen during any physical activity and, if you participate in sports such as football, hockey, basketball, baseball, gymnastics and volleyball, you might be grateful for the extra protection one day.
Something as simple as a misdirected elbow in a game, or a spill off a bicycle, can leave you with chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth or even tooth loss.
Mouth protectors usually cover the upper teeth and they can cushion the effect of a blow to the face, reducing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth.
In addition, if you wear dental appliances such as braces on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.
A properly fitted mouth protector will stay in place while you are wearing it, making it easy for you to talk and breathe. The three main types of mouth protectors are:
Stock: These are inexpensive and come ready to wear. But they often don't fit very well and they can be bulky  making breathing and talking difficult.
Boil and bite: These can also be bought at many sport stores and may fit better than stock mouth protectors. You first soften them in water, then insert them and allow them to adapt to the shape of your mouth.
Custom-fitted: Protectors that are specially made for you by your dentist are more expensive but are likely to fit better than one you buy off the shelf.
Choosing to wear the right mouth protector can help you avoid serious long-term damage to your teeth and mouth.