Why Water & Fluoride Treatments Are Vital to Your Dental Health

Fluoride Treatment Water

Fluoride treatments and fluoride intake are the most common ways dentists and patients can prevent tooth decay. From professional fluoride treatments to over-the-counter toothpastes and rinses with high fluoride levels, fluoride is one of the best treatments for a variety of common dental issues.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring in soil, water and many foods, but often not at levels to protect or improve the health of your teeth. However, most public water sources add additional fluoride in order to bring the levels up to what the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends.

Studies have found that in counties where fluoridation of the water supply was rare, the rate of fillings, root canals and extractions were much higher compared to counties where fluoridation was common. In other words, the absence of fluoride in water or fluoride treatments can have a major impact on your overall dental health.

Generally speaking, adults can benefit from fluoride when it comes to fighting tooth decay and strengthening teeth. Additionally, people with the following oral health conditions are more susceptible to decay and may especially benefit from fluoride treatment:

  • Dry mouth
  • Gum disease
  • History of frequent cavities
  • Presence of crowns and/or bridges
  • Undergoing orthodontic treatment

When it comes to the fluoride treatment itself, there are many ways to go about it. Fluoride can be applied to the teeth as a gel, foam or varnish.

We offer an in-office fluoride treatment, and you can also apply fluoride to your teeth at home via fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses. While there are some over-the-counter mouth rinses containing fluoride, they are usually at lower strengths. When appropriate, our dental office in Monroe, MI can provide prescriptions for higher strength fluoride treatments.

The American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends fluoride intake for infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years. During this time, primary and permanent teeth are developing and fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth. This makes it difficult for acids to demineralize the teeth. Consult your dentist before incorporating any fluoride treatments for your children.

Make an appointment today to see if a fluoride treatment could benefit your overall dental health.

Study: 35% of Americans Haven’t Visited the Dentist in the Past Year

Given all that we know about the importance of good dental health and regular visits to your dentist, a surprisingly large amount of people don’t regularly see a dentist for check-ups and cleanings. According a 2016 study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 35.6% of US adults ages 18 to 64 haven’t been to the dentist in the past year.

There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary reasons people avoid the dentist include the following:

  • Cost: Many don’t visit the dentist every six months because they don’t have dental insurance and/or they think a visit to the dentist is too expensive. The reality is that dental care doesn’t have to be extremely costly, especially if you are already taking good care of your mouth and teeth. This spans everything from eating healthy, to avoiding high-sugar drinks and smoking, to flossing and brushing regularly. A healthy lifestyle will minimize your chances for any major dental procedures down the line.
  • Anxiety & Fear: Whether it’s from portrayals of dentists in Hollywood, or the simple fact that you are letting another person put their hands and instruments in your mouth, some people get anxious when needing to go to the dentist. Regardless of what created these fears, most day-to-day dental procedures are painless. More importantly, patients should find a dentist and dental office that is comfortable, welcoming and offers a calming atmosphere. The right dentist and staff can go a long way in overcoming these dental anxieties.
  • No Time: The world moves very fast these days and people often find themselves with no time to spare. Between work, kids and a host of other responsibilities, the dentist is a distant thought for some. However, some dental offices are dedicated to driving down wait times for their patients. Ultimately, visiting the dentist is only a commitment of 30 minutes to one hour every six months.

While other reasons for not going to the dentist exist, the consequences of not seeing a dentist regularly can be great. Often when it comes to our dental health, complications and problems build slowly over time. That slightly uncomfortable tooth will turn into a nagging pain which can end up being a dental emergency. Preventative dentistry is the best protection from these issues.

Additionally, studies have found that poor oral health may be linked to heart disease and stroke as a result of oral bacteria making its way to the bloodstream. Dental check-ups every six months will help you prevent these issues before they become major pains both physically and financially.

If you haven’t been to the dentist in over six months, click here to make an appointment today.

What Is an Occlusal (Bite) Adjustment & How You Can Tell If You Need One

Occlusal Adjustment - Bite Adjustment

It definitely sounds more significant than it is, however, the potential symptoms that commonly precede an occlusal adjustment or bite adjustment procedure can be uncomfortable. From popping and clicking noises when opening and closing the jaw, to uneven wear on the enamel, more likely than not, you’ll be able to recognize when your bite isn’t aligned.

If left untreated, the misalignment may result in you unconsciously clenching, grinding or gnashing your teeth while awake and during sleep. This is known as bruxism and can lead to headaches, neck aches, jaw pain and even cracked or worn teeth.

To prevent these uncomfortable symptoms, it is important to see your dentist at the earliest signs that something isn’t quite right with your bite. At each visit we check for any misalignments that might require adjusting. When Dr. Balog asks you to bite down and smile, among other things, he is looking to make sure the bottom and top teeth rest comfortably and evenly on each other.

Simply put, a bite adjustment corrects the alignment of your bite and evenly distributes it to eliminate irregular pressure on one side of the mouth. Sometimes tooth sensitivity may be corrected through an occlusal adjustment as the treatment reduces pressures on sensitive teeth.

The process for an occlusal adjustment is easy and convenient. We utilize articulating paper to mark the teeth where the points of contact are during biting and grinding. This allows us to notice the slightest irregularity and make only the adjustments that are necessary.

Once we have identified the irregularities, we eliminate the interference by smoothing the tooth or teeth until the bite is realigned, often resulting in improved patient comfort. However, to prevent any future wear on the teeth, we may recommend a bit guard for sleep.

If you’re noticing any irregularities when you bite down or general discomfort, please make an appointment today.

From Toothbrushes to Flossing Recommendations – Here’s How Dental Standards Are Born

At our office we are committed to staying on top of the latest data and research coming from the American Dental Association (ADA) as it relates to dental best practices, industry standards and product recommendations. Just recently we switched the toothpaste brand we give to our patients based on recent findings and research.

But to most, it probably seems like these changes are somewhat random. The truth is, our recommendations and shifts in procedure practices, don’t come quickly. There’s a very extensive amount of research and discussion that goes into these decisions.

According to the ADA:

Through comprehensive analysis, the ADA establishes baseline standards and technical recommendations for almost every tool of modern dentistry, from radiographic systems to sealants to manual toothbrushes. Our mission is to ensure the highest level of patient safety and professional satisfaction through the publication of clear industry standards for both dental products and dental informatics.

The ADA is constantly evaluating and revaluating products and procedures with the patient’s best interest in mind. The process by which this is accomplished is visualized in the graphic below:

More simply put, dental standards seek to do the following things:

  • Define or provide specific technical requirements for a material, product, process, procedure, service, policy, etc.
  • Provide definitions, dimensions, terminology, symbols, test methods, performance or safety requirements, etc.
  • Are clear, concise, unambiguous and easily understood by those not involved in its development.
  • Facilitate the improvement and quality of oral health and the safety of dental care.

Our office is committed to offering the most modern and industry accepted practices for our patients. Contact us today to make an appointment

Humans Have Been Utilizing Dental Fillings for Over 13,000 Years

Decayed or decaying teeth can lead to severe pain, making it difficult to chew. If left untreated, the decay is likely to worsen which can cause even more pain and increases potential for infection. This could result in a root canal or even extraction.

It’s not surprising that there has been evidence dating back thousands of years of humans using organic residue to fill cracked, broken or worn-down teeth. According to an archaeological team in Italy, in 2017 they discovered evidence of decayed teeth that were manipulated, using an organic residue filling dating back between 12,600 and 13,040 years ago.

The theory is that humans were shifting away from being hunter/gatherers as understanding for agriculture became more available. This shift resulted in a shift in diet as well, with an increase in carbohydrates that is theorized to have led to more teeth and mouth problems.

We’ve been doing Composite Fillings for over 30 years, and our practices have definitely come a long way compared to our early human ancestors. Fillings 13,000 years ago were found to resemble a “tar-like hydrocarbon mixture” that was accompanied by plant fragments and even hair! Luckily, we’ve moved away from hair-based fillings, and our dental fillings are made of tooth colored, composite resin that protect the tooth from infection and further decay.

Here’s a video from the American Dental Association that explains composite fillings:

Our process for placing a composite dental filling is as follows:

  • The tooth is isolated from saliva to keep it dry.
  • The infected part of the tooth is removed.
  • The composite resin is placed in layers over the opening.
  • A special light is used to harden each layer of composite resin material.
  • After the tooth is filled, the composite resin is shaped to resemble a real tooth.

If you think you need a dental filling, or want to know your treatment options for a decaying, cracked, broken or worn down tooth, contact us today to make an appointment.

5 Foods to Eat for a Healthier Mouth & Stronger Teeth

When it comes to tooth decay, your tooth enamel is your greatest defense. The enamel is the hard, outer surface of the tooth and is the hardest mineral substance in your body. While the enamel is the mouth’s natural defense against decay, your diet is what determines how strong your enamel is.

While there are a variety of treatments to address eroded enamel, the best treatment is preventative in nature. In addition to regular dental cleanings and checkups, avoiding acidic foods, alcohol, caffeine and foods high in starches and sugars is a step in the right direction. In addition to avoiding these foods, there are foods you should incorporate more of into your diet.

While there are many mouth-healthy foods to consider, here are five that can help improve the health of your mouth and increase the strength of your enamel:

Water

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), 75% of the US population has access to fluoridated water (water containing fluoride). This is important because fluoride is especially important for improving the strength of your enamel, providing a stronger defense against acids. Additionally, water helps to combat dry mouth, and with greater saliva production your mouth can naturally reduce plaque buildup.

Dairy

Dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are low in sugar and rich in calcium which is an important mineral in building strong, healthy teeth. Additionally, the protein found in dairy is also important for your teeth. However, not everyone can tolerate the lactose found in dairy, but there are other foods that offer a strong source of calcium such as canned seafood, soy/rice/almond milk and green vegetables.

Lean Protein

The ADA suggests phosphorous-rich foods for stronger teeth and some of the best sources of phosphorus come from lean meat such as poultry, fish and eggs. However, for those who don’t eat meat or fish, there are alternatives such as beans, nuts and dairy products which offer the protein and phosphorus needed to strengthen your teeth.

Nuts

The vitamins and minerals contained in nuts are great for your teeth. In addition to being a meat-substitute high in phosphorus and protein, many nuts are also high in calcium, folic acid, magnesium and vitamin D. Beyond the nutritional value, nuts also stimulate saliva production which is important for a healthy mouth. And finally, nuts are high in fiber, so eating them can help to clean the teeth.

High-Fiber Foods

Foods high in fiber require a lot of chewing. This is good because it creates saliva which is important for a healthy mouth and teeth, and as you chew, the food sort of brushes and scrubs your teeth. This does NOT replace your need to brush, but it does help you maintain your mouth health during the day. Specifically, leafy greens and vegetables are a great source of fiber that require a fair amount of chewing.

If you’re concerned about your tooth enamel or decay, contact us today to set up an appointment.

What to Expect from Dental Bonding for Fixing Chipped, Cracked or Stained Teeth

The most common way we treat chips, cracks, stains and gaps in your teeth is with dental bonding. First and foremost, dental bonding is typically a procedure that doesn’t hurt and doesn’t usually require anesthesia. This is because we often utilize dental bonding on an area of the tooth that has little to no sensitivity. There are some cases where the procedure may result in some slight discomfort, but this is not common.

We begin a dental bonding procedure by preparing your tooth with an etching solution. Next we add the bonding which is an application of a plastic resin that is intended to match the color of the tooth that is receiving the bonding.

We then shape the resin to align with that natural contour of your smile. From there the resin is hardened with a curing wand. The procedure can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. However, if you have multiple teeth that need bonding, you may have to make multiple visits depending on how close together each of the teeth are.

Check out the video below from the American Dental Association to see what an actual procedure looks like:

After the procedure, be on the lookout for any sharp edges or if your teeth don’t quite feel right when you bite down. These issues can be easily addressed to improve the overall comfort of the bonding.

The resin that is used for the bonding is strong, but there is potential for discoloration over time. We advise you to minimize tea, coffee, smoking and to abstain from these activities especially in the first few days following the procedure.

To keep your bonding looking and feeling good, make sure to have regular teeth cleanings and to consult your dentist if you come across any issues with the bonded tooth or teeth.

If you have any further questions about bonding, or if you would like to set up an appointment to discuss  fix a chipped tooth, request an appointment today.