7 Risk Factors that Increase Your Chances of Getting Cavities

Cavity Risk Factors - Kids brushing teeth

Cavities are small openings that develop from permanently damaged areas on the hard surface of your teeth. Also called caries, cavities are the result of decaying teeth and are one of the most common dental health issues in the world. If untreated, they can lead to infection, pain and even the loss of teeth.

The truth is anyone with teeth has the potential for getting cavities. Regular brushing, flossing and preventative dental checkups can help prevent cavities, but it’s important to understand the other factors that can cause them. Here are seven factors that can increase the likelihood of getting cavities.

Location of Teeth

Molars and premolars (your back teeth) are the most susceptible to getting cavities. This is because they have many grooves where plaque can collect and are more difficult to clean than front teeth.

Diet

Certain foods and drinks are harder to remove from your teeth because they cling to the surface for a longer period of time. Sugary drinks and hard candies are a few examples but even milk and ice cream can be difficult to remove from your teeth.

Snacking

Frequent snacking or drinking of sugary drinks simply acts as more fuel for the buildup of plaque which is the primary cause of cavities.

Before Bed Eating

If you eat or drink before bed and don’t brush, the food particles will remain on your teeth for the duration of the night and accelerate the plaque buildup, especially in children.

Poor Brushing Technique

The reason it is recommend you brush twice a day is because the tooth decay process can begin right when plaque forms. It is imperative to brush your teeth soon after eating and drinking.

Limited Fluoride

Fluoride and fluoride treatments are one of the best ways to fight against tooth decay. Often added to public water supplies and found in most toothpastes, fluoride helps protect teeth.

Dry Mouth

If you suffer from dry mouth, your chances for cavities are much greater. That’s because saliva can help to counteract acids that come from bacteria. Some medications can increase dry mouth symptoms and result in accelerated tooth decay that lead to cavities.

While other risk factors exist, these are some of the primary ones that precede cavities. In addition to brushing, flossing and dental checkups, you can counter these factors in a variety of ways. From dental sealants, to increasing the amount of water you drink, talk to your dentist to learn all the ways you can prevent cavities from forming.

If you have untreated cavities or haven’t been to the dentist recently, make an appointment today.

5 Tips for Getting Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth Twice a Day

When it comes to the health of our children, part of the role of being a parent is encouraging a healthy lifestyle. From the foods we eat to the amount of exercise we get, the habits that are formed at a young age can stick with children throughout their entire life.

Children’s dentistry is extremely important to the overall health of your child. Beyond regular dental checkups with a dentist, many other activities can impact your child’s dental health. Along with monitoring their diet by limiting sugary foods and drinks that result in cavities, daily brushing and regular flossing must also be part of the strategy.

But it isn’t always easy to get kids on board. Here are some tips for getting your kids to brush every day.

1. Soft bristle toothbrushes make a great teething toy for babies.

While it isn’t recommended to begin brushing your child’s teeth with toothpaste until around two years old, a soft bristle toothbrush can offer your little one some relief when teeth come through while also cleaning existing teeth. Like anything that goes into your child’s mouth, always monitor your baby when the toothbrush is being chewed on.

2. Show them that you do it.

Kids learn by example, so make sure that you’re practicing what you preach. The best way to teach your children how to brush and when to brush is to be there to show them what you do every day. If you’re not a twice daily brusher, having children is a great reason to become one! Now not only are you teaching your kids how to brush, but you’re making your own dental care a priority as well.

3. Make brushing part of the morning and bedtime routines.

When getting the child ready for the day and when it’s time for bed, make brushing their teeth a regular part of the process. The trick is to be consistent on when this happens each day and always be present to help them brush when they are just getting started.

4. Let them pick their own toothbrush.

There are a number of toothbrush brands that have superheroes printed on them, or have interesting shapes and even some that play music. The more your child likes the toothbrush, the more they will want to “play” with it. This will help make the process feel less like a choir and more like playtime.

5. Make it fun.

Every parent knows that it takes some creativity and persuasion to get kids to do what’s best for their health. Try to make brushing teeth a fun and playful event in the day. Make them laugh by letting the foam from the toothpaste spill all over your mouth and encourage them to do the same. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but whatever you can do to make brushing fun will help solidify it into their daily lives.

Those are just a few ideas but whatever creative ways you can think of to get your child to brush is great. The only thing we recommend is that they brush twice a day, for at least two minutes each time using a gentle circular motion an all areas of the teeth.

For any questions about children’s dentistry or to make an appointment for your child, contact us today.

The Benefits of Straight & Aligned Teeth Aren’t Just Cosmetic

Depending on your teeth and overall dental health, there are some aspects of your smile that are merely aesthetic with little impact on your overall health. For example, stained teeth don’t necessarily present a health risk. However, there are some seemingly visual aspects of your smile that actually can impact your dental health.

The alignment of your teeth is an example of that. You might have come to live with minor misalignment and crowding of your teeth because it doesn’t seem to be causing any issues overall. You might prefer to have perfectly straight teeth, but the dental work required doesn’t seem worth it to you.

The reality is that even minor misalignment can cause dental health issues down the road. When crowding or overlapping occurs in the teeth, these areas aren’t getting brushed properly, sometimes resulting in gum disease or tooth decay. Additionally, uneven distribution of your bite can result in jaw pain and trauma.

Thee medical term used to described misaligned teeth, crowded teeth, crossbites, overbites, underbites, etc., is malocclusion of the teeth. This simply means misalignment, but the potential health issues this can cause are serious. While most people with mild malocclusion won’t need any formal treatment, here’s how more server cases are handled:

  • Braces to help improve the teeth alignment/position
  • Extractions that address overcrowding
  • Bonding and reshaping teeth as necessary
  • Jaw surgery or wires/plates to improve jaw alignment

Not only does addressing alignment issues improve the aesthetic appeal of your smile (and your confidence), it also improves your ability to maintain the health of your teeth. One added benefit is that it improves the care your dentist is able to provide. Crowding and plaque deposits make it harder to see decay or cavities without the help of x-rays. Well-aligned teeth help your dentist spot potential issues quickly without the need for any testing.

Addressing misalignment early in life makes for better dental health and care in the future. This is why having a plan to address any misalignment should happen as soon as your dentist thinks it is right. For children, braces help to guide the growing mouth and teeth for a straight smile that prevents misalignment and crowding. However, every child is different and therefore the approach should be as well.

If you or your child have misaligned teeth or you would like to discuss it, make an appointment today.

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) Isn’t Just Uncomfortable – It Causes Tooth Decay

dry mouth image

One of the biggest contributors to tooth decay is dry mouth. Combine dry mouth with sugary drinks like juices, sodas, teas or sweetened coffees and the likelihood for tooth decay or cavities increases dramatically. While you may just see dry mouth as an annoyance, it’s much more than that, and if left untreated, it can cause further oral health concerns.

The technical term for those experiencing chronic dry mouth is xerostomia (zero-stow-me-uh) and is a condition impacting the production of saliva in the salivary glands. There are a number of symptoms for dry mouth, some of which include:

  • Dry, sticky sensation in the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Changes in your sense of taste
  • Saliva that feels more thick or stringy
  • Difficulty swallowing, speaking or chewing

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), 30% of patients 65 and older are affected by dry mouth. The figure increases the older a patient gets, but this isn’t merely because of age but because of other circumstances associated with aging like increased likelihood of being prescribed one or more medications.

As is often the case with health issues, dry mouth can be caused by a combination of factors. Some of those factors include: tobacco and alcohol use, aging, medications, nerve damage, cancer treatments and more.

The impact on your teeth and mouth can be uncomfortable if dry mouth is left untreated. Some of the complications include mouth sores, an increase in plaque, tooth decay, gum disease, cracked lips and more.

Addressing xerostomia requires a holistic, three-pronged approach:

  1. Dental Hygiene: Regular brushing, flossing and rinsing of your can help protect your teeth from plaque buildups and ultimately cavities. However, avoid mouthwashes that have alcohol in them.
  2. Diet & Food Choices: Drink plenty of water, limit caffeince intake, stop using tobacco products and limit the consumption of high sugar drinks.
  3. Professional Maintenance: See a professional dentist regularly to monitor and maintain your overall oral health, but also to get professional advice on how to best treat dry mouth.

If you think you might have xerostomia, contact us today to make an appointment and we’ll discuss potential treatments and strategies for addressing it.

The Importance of Preventative Dentistry for Long-Term Dental Health

Importance of Preventative Dentistry

From eating to smiling to talking, our teeth and mouth play a big role in our day-to-day life. So why not protect them for any potential issues or disease that could arise? This is the overall objective of preventative dentistry.

According to the American Dental Association, 42% of Americans said they don’t see a dentist as often as they would like. That’s almost half of the population who are likely not seeing the dentist every 6-months as recommended. These checkups have the potential to pinpoint issues before they become major problems.

Of course, things happen, and unforeseen problems might arise when it comes to our teeth. For example, injuries or chipped teeth must be addressed when/if they happen. However, when it comes to the more slowly developing problems like tooth decay or gum disease, you can minimize the odds of acquiring these kinds of issues by following a pretty simple preventative dental plan which includes:

  • Regular dental checkups and cleanings – every 6 months
  • Annual digital dental X-rays
  • Fluoride treatments for preventing tooth decay
  • Use of sealants as needed
  • Brushing twice a day and flossing regularly

This is a very simple and manageable dental approach and research shows that it pays off in the long run. According to a study from Cigna, every dollar spent on preventative dental care could save $8-$50 in restorative and emergency dental treatments. In other words, regular dental care and good dental hygiene practices minimize the chance of undergoing some expensive treatment or procedure.

Children have the most to benefit from this kind of preventative dental care. According the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 20% of children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth. The longer these cavities go untreated, the greater the likelihood for pain and other complications.

While we can’t guarantee the prevention of dental issues, we can at the very least decrease the odds of many of the most common ones. And when we catch issues in the early stages, we have a much better chance of treating them effectively.

If you don’t already have a plan for your long-term dental health, it’s time to make one. Make an appointment today and we’ll help you identify a dental strategy that works for you.

When Was the Last Time You Had a Digital Dental X-Ray?

Digital Dental X-ray

Radiographs, or X-rays were first discovered in 1895 and immediately the medical community was seeing the potential uses for understanding the inner workings of the human body. Since the discovery, roughly 5 billion medical imaging examinations have been conducted worldwide thanks to the use of X-ray technology.

For dentists, X-rays are extremely important for seeing the teeth in a way that human eyes simply cannot. Some of the most common issues dental X-rays can reveal include:

  • Cavities between the teeth
  • Cavities hidden by fillings
  • Infections in the bone
  • Periodontal disease
  • Abscesses, cysts and sometimes tumors

The X-ray is a critical component of preventative dentistry, and it’s important you see your dentist regularly to make sure nothing has significantly changed as it relates to the structural aspects of your teeth and mouth. The process itself is safe, simple and painless. View the video below for a general sense of what you can expect during a dental X-ray.

At our dental office in Monroe, MI we offer what’s called digital dental X-rays. These are slightly different in that we don’t utilize any film, but instead the images are viewed on a computer via an imaging program. This advanced technology allows us to see your teeth and surrounding structures with tremendous accuracy, enabling a better diagnosis and more precise treatment.

Typically, we’ll capture digital X-rays prior to any treatments but may also capture digital X-rays during and after treatments in order to track progress. Overall, digital X-rays require much less radiation than traditional film X-rays. Digital X-rays are safe, effective, fast and informative.

To schedule an appointment for a digital dental x-ray, contact us today.

Common Causes of Bad Breath & What You Can Do About It

common causes of bad breath image

Nobody likes having it or smelling it on someone else, but pinpointing the cause of your bad breath (halitosis), can sometimes be a challenge because there are some many factors that can contribute to it. In some cases, brushing and mouthwash simply isn’t enough.

Before you start cutting foods out of your diet or carrying a toothbrush with you everywhere you go, you must first get a sense of what could possibly be causing your bad breath. Especially if you seem to have bad breath on a consistent basis, you’ll need to consider the following commons causes:

  • Food: Some foods have more odor than others, especially when you start to break them down by chewing. Garlic, onions and others will make almost anyone’s breath smell and it won’t go away until the food is completely digested.
  • Not Brushing/Flossing: While brushing and flossing won’t necessarily remove the smell of the garlic you just ate, in the long term it will help minimize your bad breath. Food particles can get stuck between your teeth, gums and on your tongue and if you don’t brush, these particles will start to smell.
  • Tobacco Products: Smoking and chewing tobacco not only can stain your teeth and damage your gums/mouth, they are also often a cause of bad breath.
  • Gum (Periodontal) Disease: When plaque buildups on your teeth and goes untreated, gum disease may follow. Persistent bad breath could be a sign.
  • Dry Mouth (Xerostomia): Without an adequate supply of saliva, bad breath can follow. Saliva helps to neutralize acids that are produced by plaque and washes away accumulations of dead cells that will eventually decompose. Dry mouth can be caused by medications, salivary gland problems,
  • Other Causes: Poorly fitting dental appliances, cavities, mouth infections, and a number of other diseases and illnesses can cause bad breath.

Whether you’ve identified the cause of your bad breath or not, there are some things you can do to address it:

  • Brush twice a day and don’t forget to brush your tongue too.
  • Replace your toothbrush regularly. Try to every 2-3 months.
  • Floss regularly to remove those food particles from your mouth.
  • See your dentist regularly for dental cleanings and check-ups
  • Drink lots of water to help keep your mouth moist

If you’re having issues with bad breath, come in for a check-up and we’ll evaluate other options. Contact us today.

Teeth Whitening Not Enough? How to Know if Dental Veneers Are Right For You

dental-veneers-blog-image

When we feel comfortable with our smile, it shows. We have more confidence and we find more reasons to smile, which makes for a more enjoyable day. The opposite is true as well. If we don’t like our smile or don’t like the way our teeth look, we end up hiding our teeth.

For some, teeth naturally discolor and get worn out, even if we don’t regularly eat or drink foods that cause this. Sometimes it can be genetic as well. Regardless, modern dental technology and procedures allow us to revitalize a smile with minimal pain and inconvenience to the patient.

Porcelain dental veneers is one of those techniques that has revolutionized how we approach cosmetic dentistry. Like bonding, dental veneers go over top of the teeth, only dental veneers can last much longer, sometimes 10-20 years. Here’s why most utilize veneers:

  • Re-shape teeth that are misaligned
  • Eliminate stains that won’t come out with teeth whitening procedures
  • Fix gaps between teeth
  • Long-term fix for teeth that are chipped, fractured, crooked or broken

Ultimately, people elect to get porcelain veneers because they are unhappy with the way their smile looks and feels. Your dentist should take a personalized approach to this procedure in order to deliver veneers that fit your natural smile. The procedure is fairly simple:

  1. Veneer preparation involves the removal of a small amount of tooth structure.
  2. An impression is taken in order to fabricate custom veneers.
  3. During this time, temporary veneers may be placed on your teeth. (Note: Temporary veneers are very fragile and need to be treated gently during eating and cleaning.)
  4. Once your permanent veneers arrive, they are bonded to your teeth.

See below for an explanation of dental veneers from the American Dental Association (ADA).

If you would like to learn more about dental veneers, please make an appointment for a consultation.

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.