Monday, September 30, 2013

Have Missing Teeth Replaced

Most adults can expect to have 32 teeth.  the four third molars, or "wisdom" teeth, are often extracted because they do not grow into the mouth well or there is not enough room for them to remain in proper alignment.  It is very unusual to have wisdom teeth replaced.  But the other 28 teeth are needed.  Your mouth, jaw, and body developed together over millions of years.  They are designed to operate together at peak efficiency.  When you lose a tooth, the efficiency decreases and function suffers.  when you lose a tooth, you lose some ability to chew food properly.  This may mean that you either place more stress on the other teeth in order to chew all the food you eat, or you do not chew well enough and what is swallowed is not quite ready to be digested.  This can lead to digestive difficulty.  Or you might switch to a diet that consists of softer foods that do not have to be chewed as much.  You might have to eliminate certain favorite foods because you cannot chew them thoroughly.  For each missing tooth, you lose approximately 10% of your remaining ability to chew food.

Other Problems also occur.  The teeth adjacent to the space left by the missing tooth will eventually shift.  If for example, a lower tooth is extracted, the opposing tooth in the upper jaw will grow slowly (or sometimes quickly) longer in a downward direction into the missing tooth space.  This is called extrusion or supereruption.  The teeth on either side of the missing tooth space will move and tilt off their proper vertical axis and drift into the missing tooth's space.  This can make these teeth more prone to decay and gum disease because it is much harder to keep the teeth clean when they are not aligned properly.  Root structure that is normally covered by gum and bone become exposed.  All this can happen if one tooth on one side of your mouth to the back of the last tooth on the other side of your mouth.  With collapsed bite and loss of vertical dimension, the distance from your chin to the tip of your nose decreases, making your face shorter.  Extrusion and movement of your maxillary (upper) alveolar bone until the gum tissue from the upper jaw can touch the teeth or gum tissue of the other jaw causes loss of facial tone and shape.  The facial muscles of the cheeks and mouth sink into the edentulous (extraction) site.  There can also be severe cosmetic problems when the extracted tooth's space is visible when you talk or smile.  This is not a pretty sight to anyone.  There is loss of self-image and self-esteem and a feeling that you are getting old.  Once you start losing teeth, you can actually start to look old.  Losing a tooth is pretty serious.  The longer you wait after a tooth is extracted, the more difficult and expensive it can become to make the replacement you need.  With very few exceptions, it is better to replace missing teeth as soon as possible.  Evolution designed you to chew your food with 28 teeth.

We will discuss with you the type of replacement that would be best suited for you.  You can choose to do nothing at all and leave the space or spaces, but as you can tell, this is not usually recommended.  You can have a fixed replacement made that could be an implant, a conventional bridge (crown/caps), a bonded resin bridge, or a combination of implants and bridges.  You could also have a removable partial denture made.  The advantages of the fixed replacements are that they are not designed to come out of your mouth at any time, they are the easiest to live with, feel more like the original teeth, and are perhaps more cosmetic than removable dentures.  A removable partial denture is held in place by metal clasps that may be visible.  It is bulkier and may interfere with your speech for a period of time.  However, generally, dentures cost less than a fixed replacement.

Your chewing apparatus, jaws, and teeth were evolved to function in a particular fashion.  The interaction is complex and marvelous.  Loss of teeth degrades this function.  Preserve your health.  Replace missing teeth as soon as suggested.

If you have any questions about replacing missing teeth, please contact us at (512)250-5012.

Information directly from, "Dental Practice Tool Kit: Patient Handouts, Forms, and Letters," 2004, Elsavier Inc.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tried and True Ways to Get Cavities (If You Are Into That Sort of Thing)


Decay starts on teeth in specific locations in a fashion that is almost entirely dependent on what you do.  This primer will describe the different types of cavities and what YOU can do to ensure that you get all the rotten teeth you want.

1.  Cavities can start on the biting surfaces of teeth.  In order to get decay in these areas, do the following:
     a. Whether a child, teenager, or adult, do not get protective, painless sealants on your teeth.
     b. Daily and as often as possible, eat and drink foods that have high sugar content.
     c. Eat sticky candy as often as possible.
     d. Do Not brush your teeth daily.  Do Not use a fluoride-containing mouthrinse.
If you desire cavities, under no circumstance should you use mouthrinse and a toothbrush.

2.  Cavities can start between your teeth.  These are called nonflossing cavities.  To get this specific type of decay:
     a. Do Not floss your teeth properly every day.  Rationalize and find excuses not to floss your teeth.  If this proves difficult, only floss the teeth you want to keep.
     b. Do Not use a fluoride-containing mouthrinse on a daily basis.

3.  Cavities can start along the gumline (where the tooth appears to exit the gum tissue).  These are a special type of cavities.  They can progress very quickly to the point where you might even need a root canal!  To get quick and large cavities in these areas (especially back teeth):
     a. Be sure to suck on sugar-rich hard candies, cough drops, and breath mints throughout the day.
     b. Do Not brush your teeth properly.  Make sure the toothbrush bristles do not come in contact with the tooth-gum junction.  If you find this proves hard to do, let the dental hygienist show you how to do it properly and then do the opposite of what you are told.
     c. Do Not use a fluoride-containing mouthrinse.

4.  If you are missing teeth:
     a. Do Not get them replaced in a timely fashion.  The remaining adjacent and opposing teeth will then be able to move to new areas that are difficult to clean and be more prone, not only to decay, but to gum and chewing problems as well.

5.  Do Not see the dentist and dental hygienist on a routine basis (2-4 times per year, depending on your personal situation) to have your teeth checked and cleaned.  If you do go, the dental professionals may find and treat decayed teeth when the decay is minimal.  They are not inclined to let the cavities grow properly.  In fact, if we find the decay when it is really small, we may be able to treat and remineralize the incipient (beginning) decay without even using a drill or having to give an injection!

Under no circumstances use sugar-free gum or mints.  Some of these products have an additive (RECALDENT) in them that has been shown to make enamel stronger and more decay-resistant.  The RECALDENT promotes enamel remineralization.  This could slow down the decay process or even keep some cavities from forming.

If you adhere strictly to the above rules, you will ensure that you get the most and biggest cavities you possibly can.  The responsibility for growing cavities is yours alone.

Information directly from, "Dental Practice Tool Kit: Patient Handouts, Forms, and Letters," 2004, Elsavier Inc.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bad Breath: Causes and Prevention

At one time or another, everyone experiences bad breath.  The occasional meal -- heavy with garlic, onions, or spices -- may leave a lingering odor, but it is a temporary problem.  Chronic bad breath is another problem entirely.  It can be caused by periodontal disease, decay in teeth, decay under fillings or crowns, as well as digestive system or sinus problems.  Foul breath odor caused by any of these conditions needs to be corrected by your dentist or physician.

Although there can be medical and/or systemic problems that cause the breath odor, most of the time bad breath is the result of things left on and around your teeth.  Your mouth is warm, moist, and dark -- the perfect place for bacteria to grow and decompose.  When this happens and the teeth are not cleaned properly on a daily basis, a chronic odor can result.  Bad breath can be eliminated fairly easily, or at least controlled, by removal of food debris, plaque, or calculus; replacement of broken fillings causing a food trap; restoration of areas of decay; and/or eliminating gum disease.  Plaque that accumulates at or along the gumline can also find its way into the deep recesses on top surface of your tongue, contributing to mouth odor.

Toothbrushing, tongue cleaning, and flossing correctly, at least once a day, are the best prevention and cure for bad breath.  Not only will these procedures prevent periodontal disease and decay by removal of bacteria, but they will also remove all food debris.  Manufacturers of toothpastes, toothbrushes, floss, tongue scrapers, and mouthrinses do make claims to help prevent bad breath and may provide temporary relief of that symptom.  No matter which product you use, be sure to thoroughly remove the bacterial plaque on a daily basis.

The key to preventing dental problems and preventing bad breath odor is to clean your teeth and tongue properly every day.  The best way to learn how to clean your mouth is by visiting us.  You have the ability to take good care of your mouth; it is just a matter of practicing the right hand skills best suited to your unique oral conditions.  Whether you have many fillings, crowns or bridges, removable partial or full dentures, implants, braces, or other appliances in your mouth, there is a method or tool that will work for you.

Also, to ensure fresh breath, have your teeth cleaned professionally, by us, on a regular basis.  The goal here is not only to correct any disease-related problems but also to prevent any problems from beginning in the first place.

Your bad breath problem does not have to be a chronic source of embarrassment.  Most often it is a sign of a dental problem.  The sooner it is treated, the easier and less expensive it will be to fix.

If you have any questions about bad breath, please feel free to ask us. (512)250-5012

Information directly from, "Dental Practice Tool Kit: Patient Handouts, Forms, and Letters," 2004, Elsavier Inc.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Junk Drink Alert: Diet Drinks

We have recently noticed a developing and serious decay problem.  What we are seeing in our dental practice is tooth decay that progresses much more quickly than we are accustomed to seeing.  This decay is seen around the margins of restorations (fillings) and crowns (caps) where the tooth and restorative material meet.  In some individuals these restorations were only placed a short time ago.  From discussions with the patients who exhibited this extreme and unusual type of decay, there seems to be two common factors.  First, by far and away, the majority of these people are female, and second, they drink diet beverages, mostly soda and bottled iced tea.  Their brushing and flossing habits appear to be adequate.  They are taking no special medication.  The age range is 12 to 55 years.  All seem to be concerned with their weight, which is why they are consuming the diet drinks.

Years ago, this type of decay was seen in patients who kept candy, mints, or other edible breath fresheners in their mouths for hours on end, causing decay at the gumlines of teeth.  Although another factor or factors may be the actual or contributing causes of this problem, the only currently detected causes are the diet beverages -- soda and artificially sweetened bottled iced tea.

Sugar in food and drink feeds the bacteria present in dental plaque, allowing the bacteria to produce lactic acid.  The lactic acid breaks down the minerals in the tooth enamel, which causes cavities.  Although diet drinks are sugar-free, they are also very acidic.  This acid also breaks down the minerals in the tooth enamel, causing cavities.  By the time the saliva dilutes these acids enough to bring the mouth back to its proper acidity, new or additional decay may already be in progress.  Or worse, before the mouth does recover its proper acid balance, the patient is already uncapping another bottle of that diet drink!

Suggestions for the reduction or elimination of this type of decay include reduction or cessation of the drinking of these diet drinks, rinsing your mouth with water as soon as possible after the beverage contact, use of fluoride mouthrinses, and stronger prescription topical fluoride treatments both in the office (four times each year) and at your home.  We may even need to recommend the use of special fluoride delivery trays to increase the time that fluoride can remain in contact with the teeth.  This will help make the enamel of the teeth stronger to resist the acid attack that starts decay.  It will also promote a better equilibrium in the constant enamel demineralization/remineralization process that occurs in everyone's mouth.  Decay lesions in the very beginning stages can be stopped and even reversed in this way.

Though most of us could stand to lose a few pounds, be aware that some of the things you put in your mouth, in the hope of losing weight, may actually have an adverse effect of losing teeth.

If you have any questions about this accelerated decay, please feel free to ask us at Omni Dental Group!

Article courtesy of: "Dental Practice Tool Kit: Patient Handouts, Forms, and Letters," 2004, Elsevier Inc, St. Louis, Missouri