6 of the Most Common Mouth & Dental Issues

According to the CDC, more than 40% of adults have felt some kind of mouth pain in the last year and roughly 80% will have at least one cavity by the time they are 34 years old. While in some cases unavoidable, most of the common dental health issues are preventable.

When it comes to your oral health, your hygiene is of utmost importance. Being consistent with your at home care and scheduling regular dental checkups are critical in preventing major dental issues. Still, there are other factors that can impact your dental health such as genetics, medications, diet and other factors.

Here’s a list of six of the most common mouth and dental health issues we see. 

Gum Disease

Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection that damages gums and can destroy your jaw bone. Those with gum disease likely don’t floss enough or at all, causing buildup of plaque-causing bacteria. Periodontal disease can be treated by deep teeth cleanings performed by your dentist.

Tooth Decay

Failure to brush after large amounts of sugar or acidic foods and beverages can cause tooth decay and cavities. Cavities are treated by drilling away bacteria from the tooth and filling it with a composite material that matches the tooth’s appearance.

Oral Cancer

Usually presenting itself as a swollen or tingly red or white sore, oral cancer can target multiple places in the mouth, including your tongue, throat, lips or cheeks. Oral cancer is treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. 

Cleft Lip or Palate

Not a disease, but a developmental issue, cleft lip occurs when tissues in the upper lip don’t form completely at 6-9 weeks’ gestation. Surgery is performed within 18 months of birth to prevent future health issues. If it’s a severe case, a child may need to do speech therapy as well. 

Oral Thrush

A fungal infection that occurs in infants and those with reduced immunity, oral thrush presents itself as milky white lesions on the tongue and cheeks. A dentist treats oral thrush with antibiotics to kill the fungal spores, but oral thrush can be prevented with routine brushing and flossing. 

Bad Breath

A side effect of gingivitis or periodontitis, but can also be caused by smoking, bad dental hygiene and respiratory tract infections, bad breath can be treated by a strict dental hygiene routine and going to the dentist regularly.

The most important way to manage your dental health is to prevent issues before they happen. This is a combination of diet, oral hygiene and regular visits to a dentist. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us; we’re here to help. 

Your Teeth Explained: Incisors, Canines, Molars & More

We’re taught from a young age the importance of taking care of our teeth and how to do it. But not all teeth are the same. There are four types of teeth in a mouth, each performing a different function. These include: 

  1. Incisors: Eight thin straight teeth at the front of the mouth. Supports your lips, biting into food and pronouncing words.
  2. Canines: Four in total, on each side of your incisors on the top and bottom of your mouth. Canines are used to cut food, support the lips and guide your jaw in place when you close your mouth.
  3. Premolars: Located behind your canines, premolars have a flat top and help you chew food and maintain the height of your face. You have 8 total – 4 on the top and the bottom.
  4. Molars: Behind your premolars are your molars. Also used to chew food and support the height of your face, they are the flattest and widest teeth your mouth. With 12 total, you have 6 on the top and 6 on the bottom.

Primary vs. Permanent Teeth

During your life you have two sets of teeth: primary and permanent. Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, hold a place in the jaw for when the permanent start coming in. Children start out with 20 primary teeth, 10 on the top and 10 on the bottom, which then are replaced with 32 permanent teeth. 

The first permanent teeth to come in are the 6-year molars around the age of 6 or 7. These are extra teeth that are not replacing any primary teeth. By the age of 13, most children have at least 28 teeth; 4 central incisors, 4 lateral incisors, 8 premolars, 4 canines and 8 molars. The last teeth to come in are your wisdom teeth and that could take until 17-21 to push through the gums.

Anatomy of a Tooth

Now that we know about each type of tooth and how many we have, let’s discuss the anatomy of a tooth. Your teeth are made up of four different dental tissues – enamel, dentin, cementum and pulp. The first three mentioned, enamel, dentin and cementum, are hard tissues while the 4th, pulp, is a soft tissue. 

While this information might have helped you understand what your mouth is made of, the health issues that can arise are just as important to understand. Every mouth is different and requires a personalized treatment plan, especially when trying to address any oral health issues. To start the process toward a healthier mouth and smile, make an appointment with your dentist.

What Is the Difference Between Dental Crowns & Dental Bridges?

In the event that you have a damaged tooth, a dentist may use a crown or bridge to strengthen the tooth as well as improve its appearance, alignment, shape and your overall bite. Before we look at each procedure, it’s important to note the differences between the two devices. A crown covers or “caps” a damaged implant or tooth while a bridge is used if you’re missing a tooth or teeth.

Crowns

There are several reasons your dentist may recommend a crown. A dental crown may be used to:

  • Cover a dental implant
  • Cover a discolored or misshaped tooth
  • Protect a weak tooth
  • Repair a broken tooth
  • Replace a large filling if there’s not a lot of tooth left

As far as the procedure goes, an impression of your tooth is taken by your dentist who then may place a temporary crown onto your tooth until the permanent one is created. The crown is cemented on top of the dental implant or tooth requiring no surgery.

Types of Crowns

If your dentist recommends a crown, you have four different types to choose from.

Ceramic: Mostly used on front teeth, ceramic crowns are best at blending in with your natural tooth color. They are highly resistant to wear but are less durable than the gold and metal alloy crowns.

Porcelain-Fused to Metal: Extremely durable and provides a stronger bond than regular porcelain because it’s fixed to metal.

Gold Alloy: A mix of gold, copper and other various metals, gold alloys have a strong bond to your natural tooth or implant and doesn’t fracture or wear away.

Base Metal Alloy: Made up of non-noble metals, base metal alloys require the least amount of tooth to be removed to fit and are very strong.

Bridges

Your dentist may insert a bridge if you’re missing one or more teeth. Bridges help to:

  • Fill in gaps and restore smiles
  • Prevent other teeth from shifting
  • Restore your ability to chew and speak properly

For a bridge procedure, dentists cement the device to natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space. Like a crown, this procedure is very non-invasive.

Types of Bridges 

Bridges also come in four different types.

Traditional Bridges: The most popular kind of bridge is made of ceramic or porcelain-fused to metal and is used when your natural teeth surround a missing tooth or gap on both sides. One or more fake teeth are held in place by two abutment teeth, natural teeth given crowns to support fake teeth. 

Cantilever Bridges: These bridges are also attached to an abutment tooth, but only on one side. Because they are only attached on one side, these have a higher chance of complications.

Maryland Bridges: Not as durable as traditional bridges, Maryland bridges are often used in the front of the mouth. They use metal or porcelain bands to bond a fake tooth to the backs of adjacent natural teeth. There are no crowns required but are only as strong as the bonding agent used.

Implant- Supported Bridges: Very similar to traditional bridges, implant-supported bridges are supported by the teeth surrounding the gap, but instead of them being natural teeth, they are implants.

Crown and bridge procedures are becoming more and more common and are easy to complete. Unlike a dental implant procedure that requires surgery and ample recovery time, these restorative devices are a quick, cost effective way to protect your teeth and improve your smile. If you have any questions regarding crowns or bridges, contact our team of dental professionals today.

When To Pull (Extract) a Tooth & When to Save It

Many don’t realize the importance of having and saving your natural teeth for as long as possible. In many scenarios, a patient might have a tremendous amount of pain or discomfort and will simply want the tooth removed. While this might be the easy solution to the problem, it isn’t always the best.

While your specific situation will determine how your dentist chooses to treat you, it is important to first understand the importance of your natural teeth. It isn’t always possible to save a tooth, but here are a number of reasons why dentists will advise against an extraction if saving the tooth is possible.

The Importance of Your Natural Teeth

There are many reasons dentist will do whatever they can to salvage an existing tooth and only see extraction as a last resort. Here are a few of those reasons, all of which might make you think twice about requesting an extraction for your tooth pain.

  • Strength: Natural teeth tend to be stronger than fake ones. Yes technology has advanced in this area, but when it comes to strength, natural still wins.
  • Pain: Not only does a pulled tooth often result in more pain than other treatments, some experience a dry socket which can be extremely uncomfortable.
  • Shifting Teeth: Whenever a tooth is pulled a gap is left that can result in shifting of the surrounding teeth.
  • Return Visits: In order to address the gap left from a pulled tooth, you’ll need multiple follow up visits depending on if your dentist recommends a crown, implant or bridge.
  • Your Appearance: When a tooth is pulled, often so is the root that supports your jaw. This gap can cause a collapse in the surrounding bone, make people appear older than they are.
  • Confidence: A pulled tooth and the resulting gap that is there can have a major impact on your smile and self-confidence. 

While many dentists see extraction as a last resort, it is sometimes necessary. Whatever the case, it is critical that you see your dentist if you’re experiencing any regular tooth pain. They will be able to offer treatment options, but ultimately, you’ll get to have a say in how you’re treated. Just make sure to keep in mind the importance of your natural teeth, as listed above.

Additionally, there is also a small chance of side effects related to a tooth extraction. These can include bleeding, fever or chills (infection), nausea, cough, chest pain, and swelling and redness. Your dentist will be available should you experience any of these symptoms after an extraction. Ultimately, your dentist won’t recommend an extraction unless the benefits are greater than the minimal likelihood of these kinds of complications.

If you’re currently trying to understand how to treat your tooth pain, make an appointment with your dentist ASAP. Typically, pain is a sign of a larger issue and if left un-resolved and further complicate your dental health.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe? Yes, But Here’s What You Should Know

One of the most common aspects of dental health that we talk about with our patients is teeth whitening. While mostly a cosmetic aspect of your dental health, a brighter, healthier smile supports overall confidence and mental health for our patients.

Still, there are many options when it comes to teeth whitening. Last year we outlined the various teeth whitening options you have, but here’s a quick recap:

  • Pastes & Rinses: There are many products that can help improve the brightness of your smile. We can provide specific product recommendations at your next appointment.
  • Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Kits: Coming in the form of liquids, strips, gels and trays, there are many over-the-counter teeth whitening kits. Results vary and the length of treatment does as well.
  • Professional-Grade Kits: There are some teeth whitening products that can only be purchased directly from your dentist. Ask your dentist if they offer anything like that.
  • In-Office Treatments: Under the supervision of a professional, your dentist can do a concentrated, safe and fast-acting treatment.

Before you decided how you will approach whitening your teeth, it helps to understand the main causes of tooth discoloration. There are two primary types of discoloration: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic discoloration is a result of foods, drinks and tobacco use that can result in stained teeth. Coffees, teas and other foods with dyes can result in this kind of discoloration. 

Intrinsic discoloration can occur from within the tooth itself. We often see this kind of discoloration as a side effect of medication use, illness, infection, trauma and aging. While teeth whitening can help, it is important to consult a dentist to make sure your discoloration is not a sign of a bigger issue.

We often are asked around the side effects and overall safety of teeth whitening options. While everyone’s mouth is different, teeth whitening treatments, when used as prescribed, are mostly safe. However, there are some side effects to be on the lookout for.

The most common side effect to teeth whitening treatments is tooth sensitivity. The sensitivity may lessen over time but there may be additional types of toothpastes and fluoride gels that can help to counteract the sensitivity.

The other common side effect is irritated gums. While you might feel this initially, the irritation should dissipate over time and is usually a short-term side effect.

Overall, teeth whitening is safe, but it is important to speak with your dentist to find the best teeth whitening option for you. Everyone is different and your dentist can help you find a healthy and safe way to brighten your smile and boost your confidence. 

Make your appointment today to discover your teeth whitening treatment options and check out our in-office teeth whitening options.

Dental Injuries in Sports: When You Need Emergency Dental Care

Sports and other fitness related activities are some of the most common things people do that results in the need for emergency dental care. While many preventative measures might be followed, accidents can still happen, especially when participating in higher contact sports like football and hockey. 

While majority of these kinds of injuries happen to children involved in sports, the reality is that many adults participate in leagues and pick up games for a variety of sports that can lead to dental injuries. The most important thing to understand is what kinds of dental injuries, whether young or old, constitute a dental emergency.

For many, knowing the difference between an emergency and non-emergency can help you avoid costly and unnecessary trips to the emergency room. If you’re unsure, it is critical you speak to your dentist. But here is some info on common emergency situations and non-emergency injuries.

Emergency Dental Injuries

Pain, bleeding and nerve damage are the greatest indicators of an emergency situation. If you have experienced a dental injury and are experiencing any of these issues, you must contact your dentist immediately. Many dentists block time in their schedule 7-days a week to handle emergency requests or are “on-call” to handle your emergency needs.

If you’ve attempted to contact your dentist, but are unable to get ahold of them or they are not available to see you, you should immediately head to the emergency room in order to receive a professional opinion and get treated for the injury.

In some cases, even if there is no bleeding or pain, a severely cracked took will require immediate attention by a professional. Also, injuries that occur after a tooth extraction can be dangerous to the long-term health of your mouth. In almost all cases, you should consult a professional ASAP after a dental injury.

Non-Emergency Dental Injuries

Dental injuries that result in minor chips, cracks and fractures can sometimes be handled during the regular business hours of your dentist. There is no clear-cut rule for how to know if you have a emergency, which is why even if you aren’t experiencing pain, bleeding or and nerve damage, you should still consult a professional.

Some dentists even offer you the ability to reach them via text message, where you can share a picture of the injury during non-work hours and have your dentist examine the picture. In many cases, that could be enough information to allow your dentist to provide a recommendation that might save you the time and money associated with an emergency room visit.

Rule of Thumb – Speak to a Dentist

No matter the severity, any dental injury should be reviewed by a professional as soon as possible. If you’re unable to reach your dentist or they aren’t available to see you, see if there is a way to share a picture or speak with your dentist remotely. And if that isn’t an option, an emergency room visit might be required. Even if you find the injury is minor, at least at that point you can have peace of mind.

Sensitive Teeth? Here’s the Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Maybe you don’t have sensitive teeth every day, or the pain is manageable, but the reality is any tooth sensitivity could be a sign of a bigger issue that could get worse. Whether frequent or infrequent, painful or tolerable, you should not ignore tooth sensitivity.

The most common causes of tooth sensitivity can be cracked teeth, worn out fillings, issues with your gums, worn enamel and exposed teeth roots. However, the most common cause of sensitive teeth is tooth decay and cavities. No surprise here as cavities and decay is the second most prevalent disease in the United States, behind only the common cold.

The reason that tooth sensitivity happens is because the causes mentioned above expose the nerves inside the tooth. Enamel, cementum and dentin server as protective barriers between your teeth’s roots and the food you eat. When these layers are compromised, hypersensitivity is the result.

The good news is, in many cases this kind of sensitivity can be treated, sometimes without the need for any professional dental work. Of course, make sure to speak with your dentist so you can take the correct approach in treating your sensitivity. Here’s some of the ways your dentist might recommend treating sensitive teeth.

Treatments for Sensitive Teeth

Desensitizing Toothpaste: This specialty toothpaste includes compounds that can block the sensation of hot or cold foods from reaching your nerves. You will likely need to use the toothpaste several times before your sensitivity is minimized.

Fluoride Gel: To strengthen your teeth’s enamel, your dentist may suggest an in-office fluoride gel application. With a stronger enamel, the better you can block sensations from traveling to your nerves.

Crown or Bonding: In some cases, your dentist might see a flaw in your tooth or teeth that will only be corrected by improving the barrier artificially. This is where a crown or bonding can help, especially when dealing with a cracked or worn tooth.

Surgical Treatments: If none of these less invasive treatments will correct the problem, your dentist may suggest other surgical treatments. For instance, for those who have sever gum recession, a gum graft can help to cover the root. Somewhat of a last resort, a root canal is also an option your dentist may recommend.

Talk to Your Dentist

While you might be able to stand the discomfort of your sensitive teeth, if left untreated, it is possible your situation will worsen, and the method of treatment will be more involved. With a strong dental hygiene routine, regular visits to the dentist and a good diet, you can keep your protective layers strong and prevent sensitive teeth. But if you’re experiencing it, make an appointment with your dentist and get a professional’s opinion on how to treat the issue moving forward.

The Link Between Mental and Dental Health

The health of your mouth and teeth can have a drastic impact on your mental well-being and vice versa. Many don’t think about this, but there’s confidence and self-esteem associated with knowing you are taking good care of your mouth/teeth. The power of a smile is contagious, and when we feel good about our teeth, we smile more. But it’s also important to note that mental health can have an effect on your mouth as well.

How Your Teeth Affect Your Mental Health

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), 36% of adults experienced anxiety because of the condition of their mouth and teeth in the last 12 months. That’s only anxiety; 40% feel embarrassed. Furthermore, 22% of young adults reduce participation in social activities due to the condition of their mouth and teeth. These negative views of teeth are impacting people’s ability to interview, hang out with friends and have caused them to find life less satisfying. 

How Mental Health Can Affect Your Teeth

Anxiety and depression can affect your oral health. From a biological standpoint, the stress anxiety and depression create increases the amount of the cortisol hormone in your body. As your cortisol levels increase, your immune system gets weaker leaving you more susceptible to gingivitis and gum disease. In addition, anxiety can lead to canker sores, dry mouth and teeth grinding while depression can cause you to forgo your oral care all together.

Anxiety and depression medications may also cause dry mouth. The lack of salvia means that food particles, plaque and bacteria aren’t naturally getting rinsed from your teeth and can increase your chance of cavities.

What You Can Do

Now that we know about the connection of oral and mental health, what can we do? If you’re experiencing anxiety or embarrassment from your mouth, seek dental help. Fifty-nine percent of people state cost as the main reason they don’t go to the dentist, but there are affordable ways to get help:

  • Find a dental school in your area; costs are much lower than private practices
  • Look for dental hygiene training programs for free or low-cost routine dental care
  • See if your community health center offers low-cost dental care
  • Check to see if your dentist offers a payment plan or financing option

If you’re suffering from anxiety and depression and it’s impacting your teeth, talk with your doctor or behavior therapist about stress management and coping skills. Be sure to keep your dentist in the loop, too. They can help you deal with the toll anxiety and depression take on your oral health by providing night guards to prevent grinding or prescription toothpaste for increased cavity prevention.

Conclusion

There is a real connection between oral and mental health. If you’re looking to fix your teeth, regardless if for cosmetic reasons or pain relief, contact our office today. We’re here to help you improve your oral health and increase your well-being.

Mouthwash – Should You Use It & Does It Help?

Many use mouthwash as an extra step in their oral hygiene routine, but does it really help? Yes and no. It has the power to freshen your breath, whiten your teeth and kill the bad bacteria in your mouth, but in some cases it can destroy the good bacteria too. And despite popular belief, your mouth does not need to burn to confirm the mouthwash is working. At the end of the day, it is beneficial for your mouth, but not all mouthwash is created equal.

Types of Mouthwash to Choose From

There are several types of mouthwash brands to choose from, but there are only two main types of actual mouthwash: Cosmetic and Therapeutic.

Cosmetic mouthwash temporarily reduces bad breath and leaves a nice and fresh taste in your mouth. Therapeutic mouthwash has active ingredients that help kill bacteria and help control or reduce plaque, gingivitis, cavities and bad breath. Those that contain fluoride can even help prevent tooth decay. 

Both cosmetic and therapeutic mouthwash can be bought over the counter with the exception of some therapeutic formulations; therapeutic formulations containing chlorhexidine are only available by prescription.

Dentist Recommended Mouthwashes

Every dentist has a specific mouthwash they recommend, but if you’re unable to talk to your doctor, look for the American Dental Association (ADA) seal on the bottle. Those with seals have produced scientific evidence demonstrating the safety and efficiency of their product.

How & When to Use Mouthwash

Although you should always follow the instructions on the label, using mouthwash is easy. Simply pour a small cup of mouthwash into your mouth, swish it around for 30-60 seconds and spit it out.

The timing of when you should use mouthwash seems to be the more popular question. Short answer: It doesn’t matter. However, if you are using a fluoride toothpaste, wait at least 30 minutes before you rinse (yes, even a fluoride one) as it’ll wash away the fluoride from the toothpaste before it can do its job. If you do use a fluoride mouthwash, wait 30 minutes before you eat or drink.

It’s important to note that mouthwash is not recommended for children under 6 years old. They may swallow large amounts accidentally.

What is Commonly Found in Mouthwash

Ingredients vary by brand, but the active ingredients in therapeutic mouthwashes typically include:

  • Cetylpyridinium Chloride (CPC) – Reduces bad breath
  • Chlorhexidine – Helps to control plaque and gingivitis
  • Essential Oils – Helps to control plaque and gingivitis
  • Fluoride – Prevents tooth decay
  • Peroxide – Whitens teeth

Dental Issues That Can Be Treated with the Right Mouthwash

With the right mouthwash, and direction from your dentist, you can treat a variety of dental issues, including but not limited to:

  • Bad breath
  • Plaque
  • Gingivitis
  • Tooth decay
  • Topical tooth pain
  • Whitening

Conclusion 

Mouthwash can have a permanent spot in your oral health routine, but it is not a replacement for brushing or flossing. Using therapeutic mouthwash in conjunction with brushing and flossing will leave your mouth feeling happy and healthy. If you’re looking to add mouthwash to your routine, make sure to do your research or ask your dentist about which is right for you.

Protect Your Teeth: 10 Tips for At-Home Dental Care

Most of the time, after a routine dental visit you will most likely leave with a new toothbrush to replace our old one. We recommend changing your toothbrush every 3 – 4 months, depending on how rigorous you brush and how worn the bristles are on your toothbrush. But as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Monroe, MI residents aren’t seeing their dentist and therefore aren’t getting a new toothbrush to replace the old one.

This is just one example of how you need to think differently about your dental health. When you might have relied on that dental visit for your next toothbrush, you need to make it a priority to change your toothbrush on your own. Not a huge issue, but home care is the most important line of defense you can have against dental health issues.

While the dental community’s advice for home care isn’t any different, it does require much more attention to detail in order to be as effective as possible. After all, it isn’t clear when you will be able to schedule your next appointment. All the more reason to do everything you can to protect your teeth from plaque. Here are 10 important aspects of your home dental care.


  • Replace your tooth brush every 3-4 months
  • Don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth
  • Brush for two minutes, twice a day
  • Hold your toothbrush at 45-degree angle and use short strokes
  • Floss or clean between teeth once a day
  • Make sure to use a fluoride toothpaste approved by the ADA
  • Drink more water
  • Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables
  • Limit sugary and acidic foods
  • Don’t use your teeth to open bottles or rip packages

While you might be following these tips exactly, accidents happen. Our office is still open to handle emergencies. We are following the American Dental Association’s (ADA’s) recommendation as it relates to emergency and urgent dental treatment. Here’s how the ADA characterizes each:

Emergencies are “are potentially life threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding, alleviate severe pain or infection.”

Urgent dental care “focuses on the management of conditions that require immediate attention to relieve severe pain and/or risk of infection and to alleviate the burden on hospital emergency departments. These should be treated as minimally invasively as possible.”

For more information on the difference between emergency and urgent dental care, click here. If you have questions about a particular dental situation you have, contact us today and we will reach out ASAP to determine if we can treat you. Stay safe!