Posts for: April, 2012
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) calls fluoridation of drinking water one of the ten most important public health measures of the 20th century, along with such measures as vaccination and motor-vehicle safety.
A fluoride concentration of about one milligram per liter (1 mg/L), or 1 part per million (1ppm), in the water supply is associated with substantially fewer cavities. This concentration of fluoride (equivalent to a grain of salt in a gallon of water) has been found to have no negative health effects.
The connection between fluoride and oral health was confirmed in the first half of the 20th century, and by 1955 the first clinically proven fluoride toothpaste was launched. Fluoride-containing toothpastes are common today, along with other fluoride-containing products.
Protective Effects of Fluoride
Ongoing studies have shown that fluoride has both a systemic (through the body) effect and a local effect at the tooth surfaces. Tooth decay takes place as part of a kind of active war between de-mineralization and re-mineralization, in which acids produced by bacteria in plaque (a biofilm in your mouth) soften and dissolve the minerals (de-mineralization) in the tooth's surface. At the same time, the saliva bathing the tooth acts to re-harden the tooth's surface by adding minerals back (re-mineralization). If fluoride is present in the biofilm and in the saliva, it protects against de-mineralization.
The fluoride you drink in your water is deposited in your bones. Bone is an active living substance that is constantly broken down and rebuilt as a normal body process. As this happens the fluoride is released into the blood, from which it can enter the saliva and act on the tooth surface. The fluoride in toothpastes and products like rinses is delivered directly to the tooth surface. Fluorides can also be eaten in foods with high fluoride content such as teas, dry infant cereals and processed chicken, fish and seafood products.
Problems with Over-use
Eating or swallowing too much fluoride can contribute to a discoloration of teeth called dental fluorosis, which varies in appearance from small white striations to stained pitting and severe brown mottling of the enamel. To avoid this effect, monitor children's tooth brushing to make sure they use only a small amount of fluoride toothpaste and do not swallow it.
Adding fluoride to water has been controversial because some people believe that it may cause other harmful effects. However, most health experts believe that fluoridated water carries no significant health risks and significantly contributes to public health by preventing tooth decay.
Studies have shown that as many as 75 out of every 100 people fear dental visits; and for 10 to 15 of them, the fear is so great that they never get treatment — leading to serious dental problems and worse. Untreated disease in your teeth and gums can negatively affect the health of your entire body.
How can you conquer your fears so you can get the treatment you need? The answer includes (a) working with us to overcome your fears and have a positive experience while undergoing dental treatment, and (b) using oral sedation or anti-anxiety medication to help you quell your fears and relax.
Overcoming Your Fears
People develop fear of the dentist when they have a bad dental experience themselves, or sometimes when they hear of a bad experience someone else has had. The more you are afraid, the more you feel the symptoms of fear, and the more you connect those symptoms with the experience. You need to stop this negative memory sequence and replace the feelings of fear and loss of control with memories of good experiences and feelings of being in control.
It helps to know that you are not alone in your fears and that you can do something positive about them. First, make an appointment to discuss your fears with us, your dental professionals. Start with small procedures that cause only mild anxiety, and give yourself adequate time to get over your fears.
Using Oral Sedation
You have already gradually reduced your fear through your discussions and previous appointments. When you are ready to go to the next step, consider using oral sedatives or “anxiolytics” (meaning that they dissolve anxiety) to help you feel relaxed and comfortable.
Oral sedation — so called because you take it by mouth — allows you to let your guard down and focus on feeling peaceful, yet you remain awake and in control. The medication is either placed under your tongue and dissolved there (sublingual) or swallowed whole. Since it is taken by mouth, it does not require an injection, so it is easily taken by people who are afraid of injections.
The oral sedative and anxiolytic medications dentists use have been subjected to rigorous research and testing and have a long safety record after decades of use.
By using this two-step process you can reduce your fears and begin to get the care you need. And we, your dental professionals, are able to work more efficiently because we can focus on the work at hand, knowing that you are comfortable and relaxed.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to talk about any fears you may have. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety” and “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”
Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition that occurs when the upper airway (back of your throat) collapses or is blocked, causing significant airflow disruption. A person with OSA continues snoring at a regular rate but is interrupted by long silent periods during which there is no breathing for atleast 10 seconds or more. Believe it or not, this issue affects millions of people worldwide. It can leave you feeling tired, depressed, irritable, as well as cause memory loss and poor concentration. And if you have OSA that is left undiagnosed and untreated you could fall victim to heart attacks, strokes, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart disease and even impotence. For these reasons, we feel it is important that you understand the real-world consequences that can occur if you ignore your OSA.
Reality is that most people are unaware that their dentist can be an excellent resource in helping to diagnose and treat OSA. However the first and most important step is to receive a proper, thorough examination and diagnosis with an appropriately trained physician and dentist. If after completing this process you are diagnosed with OSA, we will discuss treatment options. Some of these may include:
- Suggesting that you exercise and lose weight if you are overweight.
- Sleeping with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine that provides pressurized air into your airways through a mask that covers both your nose and mouth while sleeping.
- Sleeping with a professionally made oral appliance or mouthguard that can reposition your lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula (the dangling tissue in the top, back portion of your mouth) into a better position during sleep to relieve blockage.
If you are ready to discuss you questions and concerns about your snoring, or the snoring habits of another family member, contact us today to schedule a consultation. You can also learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options when you read “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.”
As the Boy Scouts say, it's best to be prepared. You may never have a traumatic injury to your teeth. But what if you do? Here are four questions and answers about such injuries and their treatment that may be helpful some day.
What are traumatic injuries?
We are talking about physical damage caused by a fall, an accident, or a blow to the face. The word trauma comes from the Greek root meaning “wound.”
A traumatic injury can also cause broken, cracked, or split teeth, or a fracture to the root of the tooth. A tooth may be dislodged from its proper position, pushed sideways, out of or deeper into its socket. It may even be completely knocked out of your mouth.
What should you do if your tooth is knocked out?
With proper treatment, the tooth can be restored to its original place. You must handle the tooth gently and seek professional help as soon as possible. Rinse the tooth in cold water if it is dirty, but do not use any cleaning agent. Avoid touching the root. While hurrying to your dentist, keep the tooth from drying out by keeping it in a container of milk or of your saliva, or by holding it in your mouth between gum and cheek. It is vital to keep the tooth's living tissues moist until it can be professionally assessed and replanted in its socket. If a tooth has been dislodged but not knocked out, it must be repositioned in its socket and may be stabilized with a splint.
Who can treat a tooth that is damaged by a traumatic injury?
A general dentist, an oral surgeon or an endodontist is trained to treat such injuries. An endodontist is trained to treat the root canal(s) inside a tooth. The word comes from “endo” the Greek word for “inside,” and “odont,” the word for “tooth.” After a tooth is replaced in its socket and stabilized, root canal treatment is often needed.
What is root canal treatment?
A tooth is composed mostly of dentin, a living tissue. The top part or crown is covered by hard mineralized enamel. The soft tissue inside the tooth, the pulp, contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues. It extends from the crown to the tip of the roots. Treatment of dental pulp injuries is called root canal or endodontic treatment and is usually needed to treat teeth that have been dislodged or fractured.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about injuries to teeth and related nerve damage. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Trauma & Nerve Damage to Teeth.”