Brace Case

A predominate problem with orthodontic treatment (braces) is the increased risk of cavities.  Decay first shows in the form of a white spot that can then turn into a hole or a dark spot.  These are most often found around the brackets and in between the teeth.  These white spots don’t go away and can be a real esthetic problem after the braces are off!

How do you prevent decay while in braces?

1.  Brushing well around braces and wires.  Plaque builds up more easily and is harder to remove around brackets.  Point your toothbrush towards your gums first to get one side of the bracket and then flip it to reach the other side of the bracket as such:

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2.  Flossing, waterpik, proxybrushes etc.  Get between those teeth!  Brushing only reaches 60% of your tooth surfaces. 

3.  Fluoride.  Using toothpaste with high fluoride content and having in office fluoride varnish treatments strengthens your teeth and makes them more resistant to decay.  Fluoride can make the difference between white spots and full blown decay.

4.  Avoiding sugar and non complex carbohydrates.  Sweets, white breads, crackers and white pastas are easily broken down by the bacteria in your mouth to create decay quickly.  Braces tend to catch food so these decay causing foods will stick around longer and do more damage.

5.  Avoiding acid.  It’s not just about the sugar.  Many sugar free drinks are just as acidic as drinks containing sugar!  If ascorbic acid (or any acid) is high in the list of ingredients it is more likely to cause your problems.  Common drinks high in acid include diet soda, crystal light, sports drinks (with or without sugar), vitamin water, and energy drinks.  It’s important to even be careful with lemons, limes, oranges, and any drinks made from them due to their high acid content.

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Summer Time Activities!

As our Colorado summer comes into full swing, we see friends on the volleyball and basketball courts, kids skateboarding and rollerblading, and people out on their bikes. With all these fun outdoor activities comes the risk of injury.  It only takes one bad move to permanently damage your teeth or lose them, so why risk it?  Just as you’d wear your seatbelt to drive your car, wear a mouth guard while playing sports to prevent the unthinkable!

While a professionally fit mouth guard provides the best protection for your teeth, boil and bite mouth guards purchased in store also minimize the risk of tooth loss considerably.  This is a great option for someone who isn’t involved in these activities on a regular basis.  These function much better than ready-to-wear stock mouth guards because they are formed more securely to your teeth.

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Ask the Experts: Adult Cavities

As an adult, do I still have to worry about cavities?

This common misconception is likely from when fluoride treatments were only for children.  Adults and children of any age can develop decay.  Furthermore, recent research has shown that fluoride varnish treatments help prevent and arrest decay in adults that are high risk too.  Adults with old restorations, gum recession, or dry mouth are more likely to experience decay.  As gums recede, the softer dentin of the root surface is significantly more susceptible to acid and decay.  Saliva is also important for sweeping harmful acid and food from the mouth, so reduced salivary flow greatly increases risk for cavities.

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Ask the Experts: Pain Upon Biting

When I bite down, I have a sharp pain in my tooth, what could be wrong? 

Pain upon biting can have several causes, the most common of which is a crack in the tooth itself.  Cracks can occur suddenly or over time due to years of chewing.  Forces in biting will cause pressure on the crack resulting in pain.  It is very important to seek timely treatment from your dentist because bacteria and acid can leak into the tooth causing an even bigger problem.  The tooth could also potentially break and result in tooth loss if the break is too severe to repair. 

Pain on biting can also occur when one tooth hits the opposing teeth sooner and consequently much harder than the ones around it.  Your teeth are meant to bear the significant force of your bite by spreading it between them.  Therefore, the tooth is taking far more pressure for prolonged periods of time and this force can eventually kill the nerve of the tooth just by repetitive trauma.

If other symptoms are also present like swelling, sensivity to temperature changes, bleeding and/or swollen gums, or aching without stimulation, many other causes should be considered.

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Ask the Experts: Genetics

My parents lost their teeth at a young age and my grandparents were in dentures too.  I am afraid I will lose mine too.

Genetics only play a minor part in determining our dental fate.  Each person is susceptible to different dental problems.  They may, however, be similar to those of your family members, but losing teeth with age is no longer the norm.  We now know that almost all dental problems are preventable through diet, oral hygiene and regular professional care.  You are definitely not doomed to be in dentures!

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Gazette’s Ask the Experts: What is “laser dentistry?”

What is laser dentistry?

            Lasers are now used in every aspect of dentistry from detecting cavities to treating gum disease.  When an office does “laser dentistry” it includes some or all of these treatments.  The greatest benefit of laser use is allowing the dental team to provide less invasive dentistry.  Procedures done with lasers tend to cause less post-operative pain, bleeding, and swelling.  They also promote better healing in gum disease therapy because the laser kills bacteria in the treatment area and stimulates the gums.

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Retro Thursday: Top Three Causes of Tooth Loss

1.   Severe cavities are caused by a highly acidic environment in the mouth, either by frequent consumption of acidic food or drink (sugar-free soft drinks, orange juice, lemon juice) or sugar/carbohydrate heavy food (soft drinks, candy, coffee, bread, crackers, starchy foods).  It is an infection of your tooth that, if left untreated, can enter the nerve of the tooth and cause it to die. 

2.  Gum Disease — Redness,  bleeding,  and bone loss around your teeth  often called the silent killer of teeth.  Gum disease is an infection of bacterial plaque into your gums.  Bacteria hides around and in between your teeth,  invades the gums, and then attacks the bone.  Your body defends itself by trying to kill off the bacteria, but when that doesn’t work and the bacteria starts attacking the bone, your body starts to eject the tooth.  Most  bone loss seen in periodontal disease is actually caused by your immune response.  The body sees the tooth as the source of the infection and wants it out!  Bone loss can happen rapidly for this reason, or slowly over your lifetime.  

3.  Occlusal Disease –   Your “occlusion” is your bite and the way your teeth function together.  If this relationship is disfunctional, it can cause trauma to your teeth.  If you hit one or two teeth more heavily than others (or a filling is “high”), almost all the force of your bite is centralized on 2 teeth rather than spread out across all 28 teeth.  You can literally beat a tooth to death this way, irritating and killing the tooth nerve. 

Occlusal disease can also cause bone loss around teeth and can be closely linked to gum disease.  If your teeth regularly take excessive side to side force,  the ligaments and bone holding your teeth can be damaged.  This leads to tooth mobility, recession, and tooth loss.  Side to side force is often caused by traumatic fit to your teeth, clenching, and/or grinding. 

Side to side force can  cause notching in the enamel and root around the neck of the tooth called abfraction.  This force combined with abfraction can cause teeth to be extremely sensitive

What is your best defense against these threats?  Prevention

1.  Cut out acidic foods and sugars out of your diet or reduce how often.  For example,  do not sip your latte or soft drink slowly over time.  Also, limit the amount of carb heavy snacks you have throughout the day.  After eating, your mouth stays in a dangerous range of acidity for about 20 minutes.  Snacking or eating slowly turns 20 minutes into HOURS of acid attack.

2.  Chew sugar-free/xylitol gum after eating.  This helps sweep food and plaque out of your mouth, allowing it to return to a normal pH more quickly.  Therefore, the acid attack is shorter!

3.  Brushing at least 2x a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing 1x plus a day (or picks, soft pics, proxy brushes, waterpick, etc), and using an anti bacterial mouth rinse like CLO-SYS or alcohol free Listerine.

4.  See your dental hygienist at least twice a year for a cleaning.   If you have had gum disease in the past, three to four times a year is more appropriate.  There is no cure  for gum disease, but you can “arrest” the disease and keep it from causing more destruction.

5.  Ask your dentist about your bite.  Orthodontics may be necessary in severe cases, but often your bite can be adjusted in office during one or two appointments. 

6. A night guard or splint may be necessary to reduce the force on your teeth at night.  You put up to 10 times more pressure when you clench in your sleep than when you are awake!  This can add years of life to your teeth and protect against wear, breakage, cracking, and tooth death!

For addition information:
Springs Oral Health, Dr Matthew Burton
Website: http://www.springsoralhealth.com/
Phone: 719-593-9025

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