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Bridging the Gap: Why Prompt Tooth Replacement Is Important for Adults With Missing Teeth

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Bridging the Gap: Why Prompt Tooth Replacement Is Important for Adults With Missing Teeth

Written by Schererville Family Dentistry on . Posted in Uncategorized

When you think about losing a tooth, you may think back to wiggling a baby tooth in the hopes that it would fall out sooner and summon a gift from the tooth fairy. Childhood tooth loss is a crucial developmental step toward a healthy adult smile, but it’s not the only type of tooth loss that may occur.

Why Prompt Tooth Replacement Is Important for Adults With Missing Teeth

While dental advances have made adult tooth loss less likely now than it has ever been before, many adults must come to terms with a gap in their smile.

In this blog, we discuss the common causes of adult tooth loss, how adults may replace missing teeth, and why prompt replacement is crucial for good dental health.

What Are the Common Causes of Adult Tooth Loss?

Adult tooth loss can happen to anyone. However, tooth loss disproportionately affects individuals who are over 65 years old, who are smokers, who live under the poverty line, or who are black or Hispanic.

These demographics are not causes of tooth loss but rather contributors. For example, age and smoking can weaken teeth, and those living under the poverty line, a group often including minorities, may have fewer dental and medical resources to combat the damage.

In adults, tooth loss rarely consists of wiggling the offending tooth back and forth. Adults are more likely to lose their teeth in the following ways:

  • Dental extraction, which becomes necessary when a tooth is damaged or infected beyond repair and could harm the teeth around it, oral soft tissues, or the jaw
  • An impact injury, such as would occur due to an airbag deploying in a car accident and dislodging teeth that are compromised by poor dental care

As we discussed in our previous blog, “Get the Facts: Common Dental Myths That Could Harm Your Teeth,” adult tooth loss is not an inevitability, even for seniors. However, it is important to care for your teeth properly and avoid damaging habits to reduce your risk of tooth loss.

What Options Do Adults Have to Replace Missing Teeth?

In dental emergencies where a tooth is knocked out, a skilled dentist may be able to restore the natural tooth. In order for this procedure to be performed, the patient must see a dentist within an hour of the incident. The tooth must still have all tissue and the root attached and preferably should be untouched.

In most cases, however, simply returning the tooth to its socket is not an option. Instead, patients may be offered the following replacement solutions.

Dental Implants

Dental implants consist of a strong titanium screw and a cosmetic crown. To put in the implant, a dentist places the screw in the jaw bone and attaches the crown to the screw’s anchor.

Dental implants may work better when a patient has lost only one tooth and wants the most natural-looking and natural-feeling replacement.

Partial Dentures

Partial dentures consist of one or more false teeth that either fit into the mouth like a dental retainer or are anchored to the teeth around them. In cases of extensive tooth loss, complete dentures would be used instead.

Dentures are usually used to replace multiple teeth but may be the preferred alternative if the patient does not have adequate gum health or jaw-bone strength to support implants.

The right replacement method for you depends on the extent of your tooth loss, your current oral health, your medical history, and your budget. Consult with your dentist to determine your best option.

Why Is Prompt Replacement So Important?

When a child loses a tooth, the new tooth usually begins to erupt soon afterward, filling the gap. When an adult loses a tooth, the gap must be filled with a false tooth as soon as possible. Lost teeth can change your appearance and the functionality of your mouth.

Adult tooth loss can cause the following issues:

  • Facial collapse—Loss of the front teeth changes the shape and muscle tone of the face. Individuals may exhibit sunken cheeks and a shorter facial profile.
  • Increased risk of future tooth loss—When an adult tooth is lost, the new opening exposes the enamel and roots of the teeth on either side of the gap. Many individuals with missing teeth that go unreplaced will experience future tooth loss.
  • Lower jaw-bone density—Bones stay strong through use. When a tooth is lost, that section of the jaw bone no longer receives stimulation, and the lack of stimulation can change the composition of the bone.
  • Misalignment—Without a false tooth to fill in the gap in your smile, your teeth may shift due to your altered bite alignment.
  • Reduced chewing capability—Dental experts estimate that each lost tooth reduces a patient’s chewing ability by 10 percent.
  • Unclear speech—Depending on which teeth you are missing, the gaps in your smile may also create impediments to your speech.

If you have gaps in your smile, consult with your dentist. Choosing a high-quality tooth replacement can get your dental health back on track and restore your bright, confident grin.

5 Steps to Improve Your Personal Oral Hygiene Routine

Written by Schererville Family Dentistry on . Posted in Uncategorized

Whether you just had a dental cavity filled or just wish you flossed more consistently, you may realize that you aren’t satisfied with your oral hygiene routine. This realization can come at any age and shouldn’t be a cause for embarrassment but rather a call to action.

5 Steps to Improve Your Personal Oral Hygiene Routine

To improve your oral hygiene overall, you’ll need to take small steps that build lasting good habits. Start with these five steps toward a more effective oral hygiene routine.

  1. Consult With Your Dentist

The first step in an effort toward better oral health should always be a trip to the dentist. During your next regular dental cleaning and exam, ask if you can address some of your concerns with your dentist.

Your dentist can make oral hygiene recommendations based on the current health and strength of your teeth, as well as the condition of your oral soft tissues. This consultation can prove vital during the next step of determining where your oral hygiene routine habits are weakest because you’ll already have a professional’s insight.

  1. Determine Your Weak Points

Lasting changes start with small, manageable changes rather than complete overhauls. Give yourself some time to sit down and honestly determine which of your oral hygiene habits are the weakest.

Do you sometimes forget to brush your teeth on the way out the door? Do you skip flossing more often than you do it? Does your sugary diet undermine all the hard work you do when brushing and flossing? Once you’ve determined where your routine is weakest, make a plan to address that area specifically.

For example, to address the specific hypothetical problems we brought up, you could put two minutes for brushing your teeth on your daily calendar page. To improve flossing, make a goal to floss once more a week than you currently do and increase the number of sessions each week. Start reducing the amount of harmful foods you consume one at a time.

  1. Make the Whole Day Part of Your Routine

While it’s obviously essential to put in the time to brush and floss thoroughly, you can also begin other habits to keep your teeth healthier overall. To make your average day better for your teeth, your habit changes could include:

  • Avoiding food and beverages other than water before you go to bed
  • Chewing sugar free gum after you eat to reduce the amount of food particles that stick to your teeth
  • Drinking more water to encourage natural saliva production and wash away food particles

Altering your diet to include more tooth-friendly foods can also ensure that your daily activities support a healthy smile. Start with the recommendations in our previous blog, “4 Cavity-Free Cooking Tips.”

  1. Replace Your Toothbrush and Other Tools

For many individuals, their best efforts toward better oral hygiene are undermined by poor-quality tools. Your toothbrush should be replaced every three to four months, as well as after a viral or bacterial illness. If you haven’t replaced your toothbrush in a while, start fresh.

Choosing equipment that works for you personally can improve the quality of your oral hygiene dramatically. Use your dentist’s recommendations to decide on your brush bristle hardness. You may even want to consider using an electronic toothbrush.

Similarly, if you struggle using traditional floss, handheld “flossers” may be more comfortable for you. If you have particularly sensitive gums, you may even decide to try water flossing. Finding the right combination of at-home dental tools for your comfort and specific health needs ensures that your oral hygiene sessions are as effective as possible.

During your dental consultation, your dentist may also recommend adding a mouthwash or a fluoridated product to your routine to supplement your usual brushing and flossing.

  1. Time Your Brushing Sessions

One of the most common problems with inadequate oral hygiene routines in adults is that the individuals just don’t spend enough time brushing. Use a stopwatch to time one of your usual brushing sessions. If you come in at less than two minutes, start improving your oral hygiene by setting aside more time.

Set a timer when you brush to ensure that you don’t skimp or skip potentially neglected oral surfaces like the insides of your teeth, your tongue, and your gums. If you have trouble maintaining focus, pick a song that’s approximately two minutes and make it your new oral hygiene jam.

As you designate a small amount of time each morning and each evening for your teeth, you train yourself to include this full routine in your everyday schedule. It may take some time to build up the habit, but being consistent can ensure that you automatically prioritize your oral health for many days, weeks, and years to come.

 

Use these steps and the recommendations of your dentist to feel confident that you’re doing everything necessary to achieve your best smile.

Get the Facts: Common Dental Myths That Could Harm Your Teeth

Written by Schererville Family Dentistry on . Posted in Uncategorized

Unfortunately, even though basic oral hygiene should be straightforward, many people are still misinformed about the importance of regular dental care and proper brushing and flossing. Once you know the facts about dental health, you’ll be on the path to excellent dental health for years to come. 

Get the Facts Common Dental Myths That Could Harm Your Teeth

Here are some common dental myths that will keep you from choosing the best care for your teeth.

Myth: My Gums Bleed, So I Should Not Floss

This is a common myth, and it is very damaging. When gums bleed during brushing and flossing, it’s a sign of the early stages of gum disease. Gums start to bleed because oral health has been neglected.

So, the best solution is not to stop flossing or brushing but is to make flossing and brushing daily a priority. In the early stages of gum disease, the gums can recover. If you keep putting off good tooth and gum care, the disease can progress and could require expensive restorative dentistry.

The easiest way to fix bleeding gums is to keep them clean. 

Myth: My Teeth Don’t Hurt, So I Don’t Need to See the Dentist

Many people think that they need to see the dentist only when something is wrong. However, if you put off seeing the dentist until you’re in pain, the necessary dental work will be much more extensive and costly.

Cavities do not usually hurt. A cavity is preliminary tooth decay that breaks through the hard outer enamel and starts eating away at the softer dentin inside your tooth. You will not feel any pain until the decay reaches the nerve (or root) of the tooth. At this point, a simple filling will not solve the problem. You will need a root canal to save your tooth. 

Seeing your dentist regularly (usually every six months) for cleaning and x-rays helps to catch cavities when they are small. Proactive dental care is much safer and much more affordable for your oral health. 

Myth: Children’s Teeth Just Fall Out, So Dental Care Is Not Needed

Primary teeth, also known as milk or baby teeth, are actually essential for the future of your child’s dental health. Care for early primary teeth is important because:

Primary teeth mark the path for adult teeth. If a primary tooth is not cared for, it may decay so badly it will need to be pulled. Pulling out primary teeth sets a child up to have a crooked smile later in life because the primary teeth provide spacing and growth direction for permanent teeth. 

Caring for primary teeth forges the habit to properly care for permanent teeth. Good dental-care habits are learned early. It can be difficult to teach an older child to respect their adult teeth when they never learned to respect their earlier teeth. 

Neglecting tooth care can lead to infection. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for toddlers and young children to have decay so advanced that an abscess develops. These dental infections are very serious, and when they are untreated, they can spread to other parts of the body, including the bones and the brain. Good brushing and flossing will prevent this type of infection from ever developing.  

Care for primary teeth puts your child on the path of good dental health for the rest or his or her life. 

Myth: Brushing Harder Will Clean My Teeth Better

With all the emphasis placed on the importance of brushing well and often, many people over-brush. While brushing hard may give you the feeling that you are cleaning your teeth better, in reality hard brushing only serves to damage the gums. 

Your gum tissue is delicate and soft. With repeated rough strokes over the gum line, the tissue becomes aggravated, and it will start to recede, exposing the root of the tooth. Your teeth will become more sensitive to hot and cold. They’ll also be more prone to infection and decay.

With extreme recession, you will need restorative work like gum grafts to help replace the lost gum line. 

Instead of brushing hard, take care to use gentle, diagonal strokes to clean the teeth without aggravating the gums. Set a timer for two minutes. Soft brushing for the full two minutes will leave your mouth sparkling clean without any negative side effects. 

Myth: It’s Normal to Lose Teeth with Age

In decades past, it was common for seniors to lose their teeth. However, with current dental care and awareness, there is no reason why a healthy individual should lose their teeth with age. Proper dental care and good dietary practices during youth and young adulthood can ensure the survival of all your teeth.

Some medical problems can, however, lead to premature tooth loss. For example, those with acid reflux or specific medications can experience a higher rate of tooth loss. 

For more information on the simplicity of preventative dental care for your family, contact us at Schererville Family Dentistry.

7 Tips to Protect Your Gums

Written by Schererville Family Dentistry on . Posted in Uncategorized

Most people know the importance of brushing and flossing their teeth. But they might neglect caring for another important part of their mouths: their gums.

Gums are tissues that anchor your teeth to your mouth. They also protect your teeth from shock and damage. But just as bacteria can cause your teeth to decay, they can also cause damage to your gums.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to protect your gums from damage and disease.7 Tips to Protect Your Gums

  1. Brush Your Gums

We say “brush your teeth” but we should really say “brush your teeth and gums.” You should give your gums and gumline a thorough brushing to remove bacteria and the food particles that attract bacteria. But it’s important not to harm your gums when you brush them.

Many people brush using a rough, back-and-forth motion, which can actually hurt the teeth and gums. A better way to brush is to gently wiggle your toothbrush in a circular motion. This motion is a more effective way to clean your gums and gumline.

An electric toothbrush mimics this brushing motion and is a better choice to protect your teeth and gums.

  1. Floss Gently

Flossing removes particles that hide in between the teeth and at the gumline. If you don’t remove them, they can cause damage to both your teeth and your gums.

Along with flossing between the teeth, make sure to reach the space in between each tooth and the gums. Curve the floss into a “C” shape to gently floss in the small pocket above the tooth.

If you haven’t flossed for a while, your gums might bleed. You can prevent bleeding by moving the floss slowly and gently. Don’t snap the floss into your gums. Ribbon floss is softer than nylon or plastic and is less likely to cause bleeding.

  1. Use Mouthwash

Mouthwash doesn’t just freshen your breath. It contains fluoride and antimicrobial agents that discourage plaque and tartar and prevent gum disease. Some mouthwashes are more powerful than others. Choose a therapeutic mouthwash that’s approved by the American Dental Association.

  1. Avoid Smoking and Chewing

Cigarettes and tobacco are a direct cause of gum disease. Using them can cause your immune system to decline, making it harder for your immune system to prevent gum infections. People who smoke frequently or who have smoked for a long time have a greater risk of gum disease. Seek out a program in your area that can give you the support you need to quit smoking or chewing.

  1. Eat Healthy

Foods high in sugar and starch encourage bacteria growth, leading to plaque and gum disease. Harmful foods include many items you might expect, such as soda, candy, pastries, chips, and French fries. They also include some foods you might not expect, such as pasta, rice, bread, cereal, and potatoes.

Eating nutritious foods supplies your body with vitamins that protect your gums from disease and decay. Eat vegetables and fruits, healthy fats like butter and olive oil, and healthy proteins like beans, chicken, and fish.

  1. Watch for Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease is a potentially dangerous infection. When only your gums are infected, the disease is called gingivitis. When the infection spreads into your bone, it’s known as periodontitis.

You develop gum disease when bacteria start to eat at your teeth and gums, leaving plaque behind. When plaque stays on your teeth, it causes your gums to swell and become inflamed.

Look for symptoms of gum disease, such as:

  • Swollen gums
  • Receding gumline (your gums look smaller than they used to)
  • Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath

If you notice any of these signs, set an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist will perform a deep cleaning on and under your gumline. He or she will scrape a hard buildup called tartar from your gums. If your teeth are loose, your dentist can smooth your tooth roots to help reattach them to the gums.

Your dentist might prescribe something to treat your symptoms, including an oral medicine, an antibiotic gel, or a slow-release medicinal gel.

If these treatments don’t work, your dentist might recommend surgery. Through gum graft surgery, your dentist removes tissue from your mouth and uses it to cover your tooth roots. Through flap surgery, your dentist lifts your gums to remove tartar from under your gum line.

  1. Get Regular Dental Cleanings

Twice-yearly dental cleanings play a crucial part in preventing gum disease. Dental hygienists use advanced cleaning techniques to remove plaque and tartar. Dentists also look closer at your mouth and gums to spot any signs of gum disease before it gets worse.

Follow these steps and keep your gums healthy and disease-free. If you’re due for a dental cleaning, call Schererville Family Dentistry to schedule an appointment.

Tips for Protecting Your Teeth This Holiday Season

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While many people consider the holiday season “the most wonderful time of the year,” your dentist might consider it the most dangerous time of the year. Holiday treats, drinks, and snacks Smiling holiday shopper with good teethbecome commonplace, making cavities and other dental problems more likely.

Use these tips to protect your teeth and smile brightly for the holidays.

  1. Avoid Staining Drinks

When you attend parties and social events, you have many drinks to choose from. Unfortunately, many of these drinks can stain your teeth.

  • Coffee and tea contain tannins, which discolor teeth. Black tea stains teeth yellow, and green tea stains teeth gray.
  • Soda is acidic, and this acid can create holes in your teeth. It’s also high in sugar, which feeds the bacteria in your mouth.
  • Red wine contains tannins that turn teeth gray.
  • White wine can make tooth stains even more prominent.
  • Juice also contains sugar that can increase cavity risk.

When you’re out with friends or spending time with family, consider replacing these drinks with flavored water. You can make your own flavored water by adding fruit like raspberries, strawberries, and orange slices to your water. If you do drink any staining drinks, try drinking with a lid to avoid tooth exposure.

  1. Keep Treats Out of Reach

Are you tired of well-meaning friends dropping off plates of sugary goodies? With so many treats around you, you’re tempted to eat them every day. As sugar collects on your teeth, bacteria begins to eat the sugar. The bacteria creates acid in your mouth. This acid causes your tooth enamel to break down, creating cavities.

Instead of eating everything in sight, consider giving these treats to a friend or neighbor. You could also bring them to work or to a party or event. In any case, don’t keep the treats sitting out in your kitchen or another area you frequent.

Another strategy is to divide the treats into small servings. Set a goal for yourself, such as that you’ll only eat one serving a day.

Make sure to eat plenty of vegetables, protein, and whole grains. These foods provide important nutrients and keep you satiated so you’re less likely to reach for sugary treats.

  1. Plan Ahead for Parties

Even if you can avoid sugary treats at home, you might go overboard as soon as you arrive at a party.  Do your part to protect your teeth from sugary foods. Decide before you arrive at the party how many sugary treats you’re going to eat. When you arrive, follow your plan rather than loading your plate.

  1. Avoid Crunchy Foods

The holidays also bring many crunchy treats, such as nuts, popcorn, nut brittle, and pretzels. Although these foods taste delicious, they can easily damage your teeth. Don’t overdo it on these foods, and be careful as you bite into them. Also, don’t shell nuts with your teeth. If you do chip a tooth or filling, see a dentist right away.

  1. Don’t Use Your Teeth for Wrapping

Some people use their teeth while wrapping presents. For example, they might use their teeth to cut ribbon or tape. Despite their strength, teeth aren’t accustomed to performing these kinds of tasks. As you continue to put your teeth through this stress, you might experience cracks, fractures, and chips in your teeth.

  1. Avoid Grinding Your Teeth

For many people, the holiday season is the most stressful time of the year. A common reaction to stress is to grind the teeth and clench the jaw, especially while sleeping. These practices damage teeth and increase mouth and jaw pain. If you have this problem, talk to a dentist about a mouth guard. This device can help you avoid practices that damage teeth.

  1. Amp Up Your Hygiene Routine

Now more than ever, it’s important to take care of your teeth with regular hygiene practices. Even if you brush and floss every day, you might not be doing everything you could to achieve a sparkling smile.

Follow these tips to improve your brushing routine:

  1. Replace your toothbrush every few months. Frayed bristles don’t adequately clean your teeth.
  2. Brush every surface of your teeth, including the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, chewing surfaces, and the spaces between teeth. Brush your gums and tongue as well to remove bacteria.
  3. Set a timer to ensure you brush for a full two minutes.

You can also improve your flossing routine by going beyond flossing between the teeth. Curve the floss around each tooth and floss under the gum line as well.

Seeing your dentist every six months should also be an important part of your hygiene routine. Dental staff members use special equipment and procedures to remove hardened plaque that you can’t remove with mere brushing and flossing. They also check your teeth, mouth, and gums for any problems.

Follow these tips to maintain a bright, healthy holiday smile. If you’re due for a dental appointment, call Schererville Family Dentistry.

4 Cavity-Free Cooking Tips

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You already know the old, tried-and-true tips for maintaining a healthy smile. You brush and floss daily. You rinse with mouthwash. And you schedule bi-annual appointments with your dentist to clean your teeth and check for developing problems.

But did you know that these habits aren’t enough to prevent cavities entirely?

Your diet also plays a key role in whether you suffer from tooth decay and oral disease. The foods you choose and the ways you prepare them could make or break your teeth, literally.

If you want to keep your teeth and gums healthy, consider the following changes when you cook your food.

1. Rely on Natural Sweeteners

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting sugar intake to 6 teaspoons of sugar daily for women and 9 teaspoons of sugar for men. Yet despite this recommendation, the average American adult consumes nearly 19.5 teaspoons of sugar every day.

Although sugar doesn’t cause cavities directly, it does feed the bacteria already living in your mouth. As bacteria eat available carbohydrates, they produce acids which wear away your enamel.

While you don’t have to ditch sugar entirely, you should follow the AHA recommendations and limit the refined sugars you eat daily. As you cook, look for recipes that rely on natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar.

If you don’t have access to natural sugars, look for recipes that use significantly less sugar than their traditional counterparts. A quick Google search for “healthy chocolate chip cookies” or “apple pie less sugar” will bring up plenty of fun combinations that won’t compromise your teeth.

2. Choose Dark Over Milk Chocolate

Many dentists consider candy and sweets as the bane of teeth. Hard candies, such as jawbreakers, can result in loose, chipped, or dislodged teeth. Softer, stickier candies, such as taffy and caramel, lodge in the cracks and crevices and supply steady amounts of sugar for oral bacteria.

But if you have a sweet tooth, chocolate may just save the day.

Chocolate contains helpful polyphenols that fight oral bacteria and prevent sugars from sticking to teeth. Additionally, cocoa contains oxalic acid that reduces bacterial acid production.

However, for best results, you need to choose chocolate with higher amounts of cocoa and lower amounts of sugar whenever you cook, bake, or snack. Look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao. If possible, incorporate cacao nibs into your recipes, as the nibs do not undergo processing and offer the most nutritional benefits.

3. Substitute Avocado for Butter

While sugars wreak havoc on your smile, certain fats can have a positive impact on your oral health. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, have anti-inflammatory properties that significantly reduce your likelihood of periodontitis.

To easily increase your omega-3 intake, add a healthy serving of avocado to your diet. A single cup of avocado contains 8% of your daily recommended value of omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, avocado also supplies an impressive amount of calcium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin D, and other essential vitamins and nutrients for maintaining teeth and gums. Better still, studies show that avocado contains phytonutrients that attack oral cancer cells, stopping pre-cancerous growths without damaging normal cells.

Avocado makes a great addition to sandwiches, salads, dips, and burgers. However, if you don’t like eating avocado raw, consider swapping butter for avocado in your favorite recipes. Avocados have a smooth, creamy texture that makes them an effective substitute for butter, and they don’t significantly alter the flavor of your breads, cookies, muffins, or cakes.

When cooking, substitute 1 cup avocado for 1 cup butter. If your recipe seems a little dry, add a little more milk to compensate. Don’t forget to lower your oven temperature by 20 to 25 degrees to keep your foods from over-browning.

4. Soak or Sprout Your Grains

Whole grains such as corn, wheat, and brown rice offer a lot of undeniable health benefits. They supply plenty of fiber for improving digestion, and they contain plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals that keep you in great shape.

But whole grains also have phytic acid, a compound that binds to minerals and reduces their absorption. Although research is limited, some experts have found that individuals who ate a diet rich in phytic acid (via whole grains such as oatmeal) had a greater likelihood of developing cavities than those who chose a grain-free diet and supplemented with vitamin D.

Fortunately, you can still enjoy the fiber and health benefits that whole grain has to offer without compromising your teeth. When you prepare your grains through soaking, sprouting, and fermenting, you can significantly reduce phytic acid content in your food. If you don’t feel comfortable preparing your grains yourself, you can purchase sprouted wheat flour at many health food stores.

Enjoy Your Food and a Healthier Smile

When you incorporate these four tips into your cooking habits, you can reduce your chances of tooth decay without sacrificing your favorite flavors or recipes. Better still, these cooking tips will also help you cut unnecessary fats and calories from your diet, so your overall health receives a natural boost.

But remember that these tips should only add to (not replace) your current dental regimen. Even if you eat a healthy diet, don’t wait to schedule a cleaning with your dentist.  

Your Ultimate Guide to Dental Sealants

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When you go to the dentist for a regular checkup, aren’t you hoping to hear the magic words? You know the phrase: “No cavities.” That declaration from your dentist usually means you don’t need any restorative dental treatments and that you’re free to make your next appointment for six months down the road.

As a parent, you also hope to hear those words said about your children’s teeth. Even though you know from personal experience that having a cavity filled is a painless, simple procedure, you still hope to help your children avoid cavities. To keep their teeth strong, you limit their intake of sugary foods and make sure they brush and floss their teeth.

There’s another cavity-prevention measure that some parents don’t think of very often: dental sealants. Dentists often recommend these strong toothcoverings as a way to minimize a child’s risk of tooth decay. This blog will familiarize you with the value of this standard dental treatment.

Why Get Dental Sealants?

The outermost layer of every tooth is enamel. The minerals in enamel make it the hardest, strongest substance in your body-even stronger than your bones.

Despite its inherent toughness, enamel isn’t indestructible. It faces quite a few potentially destructive forces, such as the forces created when you bite down on hard foods and the chemical reactions that occur between the bacteria and acids in your mouth. In some cases, those forces break through enamel, creating cavities or other forms of tooth decay.

Your teeth also naturally have quite a few fissures, or tiny grooves. Those fissures are particularly common on the chewing surfaces of your molars and premolars (the teeth between your molars and your front teeth). Tiny food bits can hide inside those fissures and encourage cavities to develop, and even thorough brushing might not adequately clean out the fissures.  

Dental sealants provide a single solution for both of these potential problems. Sealants are typically made from the same composite material your dentist uses to create tooth-colored fillings. This material is strong, so it acts like suit of armor that protects the tooth below it. The sealant material also creates a smooth surface, reducing the number of fissures on the surface of a tooth.

How effectively do sealants keep cavities from forming? The American Dental Association reports that they reduce risk of cavity development by almost 80% in molars.

Who Should Receive Dental Sealants?

Dentists typically recommend dental sealants for kids and young teens, but adults can also have dental sealants placed if appropriate.

Kids Under 6

Although sealants are most often used on permanent teeth, some children may benefit from having sealants placed on their primary teeth. Dentists usually recommend sealants for kids this age when their primary teeth have quite a few deep pits that would encourage cavity development.

In patients this young, the dentist wants to prevent decay, particularly decay that would lead teeth to fall out prematurely. Primary teeth are important as placeholders for permanent teeth that will grow in later.

Kids Age 6 to 14

Between these ages, most kids lose their primary premolars and molars. The premolars fall out first, around age 6. The molars fall out later, usually when the child is between 11 and 14. As soon as the permanent teeth emerge, they can have sealants placed on them. Many dentists prefer to place sealants as soon as possible to minimize the amount of time teeth have to develop cavities.

Teenagers and Adults

Some people who didn’t have sealants placed during their childhood or early teen years may still be good candidates for this preventative measure. A dentist may suggest sealants for people in this age group if their teeth have particularly deep fissures or other decay risk factors. However, sealants cannot be placed over teeth surfaces that already have fillings.

What Does It Feel Like to Get Dental Sealants?

If you’ve never had sealants placed before, or if you worry about how your child will feel during the procedure, this section should help put you at ease. First, you should know that the patient doesn’t need to have any anesthesia to have sealants applied-you won’t have to prepare yourself or your child to receive a numbing injection.  

Second, it takes only a few minutes for the dentist to put on a single sealant. You can have multiple sealants applied in a single, short appointment. You or your child won’t have to spend a long time in the dental chair.

As your dentist places each sealant, expect him or her to follow this basic pattern of steps:

1. Clean and dry the tooth.

2. Put cotton or a similar material around the tooth to keep it dry.

3. Apply a roughening solution to the tooth so the sealant will stick effectively.

4. Rinse and dry the tooth again.

5. Apply the sealant with a tool that is similar to a paintbrush.

6. Give the sealant time to harden. Your dentist may use a special light to speed up the hardening process.

These steps are painless, so most patients feel comfortable through the entire sealant placement process. Of course, if you have any questions or worries, just talk to your dentist about them before the procedure begins. He or she will help put you at ease.

Use this information to prepare yourself or your children to receive dental sealants. Get ready to enjoy the extra tooth-decay protection they offer. 

Bad Breath? What You Need to Know About Halitosis

Written by Schererville Family Dentistry on . Posted in Uncategorized

When you meet with people, whether for a work meeting, family reunion, or social event, you want to make the best impression possible. You’ve carefully chosen your outfit, hairstyle, accessories, and anything else you might need to put your best foot forward.

But have you put as much thought into your breath?

Sure, your teeth may look white and you have no qualms flashing a pearly smile. But if you suffer from chronic bad breath, you may be embarrassed to smile at anyone-or even talk in front of them. If you do have bad breath, you aren’t alone.

In fact, about 95 percent of adults will suffer from bad breath at some point or another. However, 25 percent of adults suffers from halitosis and deals with its effects regularly.

Not sure if you have halitosis? Read on. Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about halitosis so you can treat your bad breath and feel confident in your smile-and your breath-the next time you meet with your family, friends, or colleagues.

What Is Halitosis?

As mentioned above, halitosis is a form of bad breath. However, the condition is more than just a temporary case of mouth odor. If you have halitosis, your breath seems to stink consistently. You can chew gum or suck on a mint to slightly cover the odor for a small time, but the foul odor never goes away. Additionally, the odor doesn’t usually dissipate after you floss, brush, or rinse your teeth.

To determine if you have halitosis, you can take a few steps at home. For example, you could cover your mouth with your hands, exhale, and smell to see if an odor is present. You can also lick your wrist, let the area dry, and then sniff it to see if it smells bad. However, the most effective way to determine if you have halitosis is to visit your dentist.

While you may feel embarrassed about your bad breath, you shouldn’t hide this issue from your dental professional. During your visit, he or she will ask you questions about your eating and oral health care habits and determine the source of your bad breath. Without your dentist’s recommendations, you’ll have a difficult time treating the condition on your own.

What Causes Halitosis?

Most commonly, bacterial growth in your mouth causes halitosis. After you eat, and especially if you don’t care for your teeth properly, bacteria can remain on the back of your tongue, in between your teeth, and under your gum line. The more you eat and the less you care for your teeth, the more the bacteria grow. As a result, you’ll have chronic bad breath that just won’t go away.

However, bacterial growth isn’t the only cause of halitosis-certain health conditions can have this odorous side effect. If you suffer from any of the conditions below, you’ll likely experience halitosis as a side effect:

  • Diabetes
  • Allergies
  • Liver disease
  • Chronic acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Respiratory or sinus infections
  • Ulcers

Additionally, medical experts have discovered that cancer patients also suffer from halitosis.

Another way you can develop halitosis is if you have any tongue or mouth piercings or if you wear dentures. A form of yeast called Candida albicans grows around piercings and under dentures and leads to chronic bad breath.

Yet another cause of halitosis is heavy use of tobacco products, alcohol, and medication.

Is Halitosis Contagious?

Some people believe that they can catch bad breath from kissing or sharing a drink with someone who suffers from the condition. However, the condition isn’t contagious. The bacteria that cause halitosis usually stay in the affected person’s mouth, and other conditions that cause bad breath aren’t contagious either.

The only ways you’d develop halitosis are if you stop caring for your teeth, tongue, and gums; if you drink more alcohol than normal; if you heavily use tobacco products; or if you develop a health condition that causes bad breath.

Is There a Cure for Halitosis?

Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for halitosis. This condition, however, can be treated. Take the following steps to treat bad breath:

  • Limit foods that induce odorous breath, such as garlic, onions, and spicy foods.
  • Practice good dental care. Brush your teeth twice daily, floss at the end of every day, and use mouthwash.
  • Use a tongue brush to clear plaque and bacteria off the back of your tongue.
  • Get a new toothbrush every two or three months. Throw away your old one after you’ve recovered from a short-term illness as well.
  • Clean your dentures nightly if you wear them.

If your halitosis stems from another health issue, meet with your primary care physician and seek treatment as soon as you can. Once these illnesses have been treated, your chronic bad breath should go away.

You should also visit your dentist regularly for routine cleanings and exams. Your dental professional can also provide you with additional tips for treating halitosis and caring for your teeth.

Grind Your Teeth in Your Sleep? Why a Night Guard Is the Solution

Written by Schererville Family Dentistry on . Posted in Uncategorized

Do you ever wake up in the morning with tenderness or pain in your jaw? Or, do you often have headaches when you get up? This discomfort is usually a sign that you grind or clench your teeth in your sleep. On average, everyone grinds or clenches their teeth in their sleep at some point in their lives, but some people have a tendency to grind or clench their teeth more than others.

Unfortunately, there is no real cure for grinding. However, many dentists recommend night guards to lessen the impact of teeth grinding and clenching. Read on to discover how this dental device is the solution to your source of jaw pain, headaches, and other pain in your mouth.

What Is a Night Guard?

Like a mouth guard, a night guard protects your teeth from damage. And like the name suggests, a night guard is a device you wear at night when you sleep.

You wear the guard over your top or bottom row of teeth. The device prevents all of your teeth from coming into contact with one another. As a result, your teeth are protected from grinding-caused damage and you don’t feel pain in the morning. The guard also corrects your bite to keep your muscles relaxed and loose.

Night guards are typically made from the following materials:

  • Soft plastic. This kind of night guard is ideal for patients who suffer from mild teeth grinding and clenching. It’s also perfect for individuals who only grind their teeth occasionally rather than every night.
  • Dual laminate. This night guard works best for people who grind their teeth more often or with more force. It’s hard on the outside and soft on the inside, providing dental patients with better protection and a stronger night guard.
  • Hard acrylic. This material is more rigid than the other two, and it’s the most durable option for night guards. If you suffer from severe teeth grinding, use a guard made from this material.

Additionally, these materials require regular cleaning if you want the device to last. To determine which kind of guard will work best for you and how to care for it, visit your dentist.

Why Should You Get One?

As previously mentioned, if you grind or clench your teeth, you likely experience jaw pain, headaches, ear aches, or other pain when you wake up in the mornings. But this pain is just a minor side effect of grinding and clenching.

However, if you continue to grind your unprotected teeth, you could accidentally chip, crack, fracture, loosen, or lose some of your teeth. Or, the grinding could cause your teeth to wear down to stumps. The only way to treat these dental issues is to receive more costly dental treatment like root canals, crowns, bridges, implants, or full or partial dentures.

And, you’re more likely to experience severe headaches, migraines, neck pain, back pain, and shoulder pain as well.

A night guard is the best and quickest solution for teeth grinding. While you could undergo other forms of treatment like stress reduction and prevention, diet changes, and teeth straightening, night guards provide a long-term and more cost-effective treatment.

What Benefits Will You Experience?

We’ve already mentioned that sleeping with a night guard reduces the pain you feel in your mouth, jaw, or head when you wake up. These devices also protect your teeth from damage, but night guards also provide another great benefit.

By wearing a night guard as you sleep, you can improve how you sleep. Grinding and clenching cause you to tense up the muscles in your jaw. And, the motion puts a great deal of force on those muscles. As your muscles tighten and use consistent force, you tend to experience more stressful and restless sleep.

The night guard reduces the pressure and helps your muscles relax. When your muscles are more relaxed, you can sleep much better.

Who Should You Work With to Obtain a Night Guard?

While you could purchase a cheap, boil-and-bite guard at your local grocery store or pharmacy, the best solution is to schedule an appointment with your dentist to get fitted for a night guard.

During your appointment, your dentist will first examine your teeth, then take a mold of your mouth. The mold is then sent to a production lab, and the technicians in this lab use the mold to create a custom night guard that perfectly fits your mouth. Once the night guard has been made, you’ll return to your dentist. He or she will then ensure the device fits properly so you get the best results when you use it.

Your dentist will also teach you how to clean and care for your night guard. When properly maintained, your night guard can last up to 10 years.

If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw, call your dentist and get a night guard as soon as possible.

Root Canals: Are They Actually Painful?

Written by Schererville Family Dentistry on . Posted in Uncategorized

When someone utters the word “root canal,” most people can’t suppress the niggling urge to cringe. Many imagine a whining drill and a constant throb of pain. And if your dentist suggests a root canal, you may instantly feel anxious and nervous about the procedure.

But root canals aren’t nearly as bad as many believe. So, what can you expect from a root canal procedure? Below, we’ll discuss what a root canal treatment is, why it’s necessary, and what the procedure is like.

What Is a Root Canal Treatment?

Our teeth are fairly strong, but they can sometimes meet an ill fate. Rough sports or a smack to the mouth can crack teeth or cause other trauma. And if decay sits too long, it can result in cavities or other dental issues.

When a tooth’s roots are damaged through decay or physical trauma, they can become inflamed or infected. To keep this infection from becoming problematic, the affected roots and pulp are removed from the innards of the tooth, which is generally what a root canal treatment is.

If your dentist has determined you need a root canal treatment, your root canals will be cleared of infected roots and pulp using a drill and other tools, and the canals and hollow portion of the tooth will be filled and sealed off to prevent future damage and decay.

Why Would Root Canal Treatment Be Necessary?

As mentioned before, a root canal treatment is meant to clear infected roots and pulp from a tooth and prevent more extensive dental issues. But why would this be a better option than removing the tooth entirely?

Extracting the tooth is much more traumatic than a root canal treatment, and doing so can actually get more bad bacteria in your bloodstream. Also, it’s always best to preserve the natural tooth as much as possible to prevent potential problems with your biting, chewing, or jawbone strength.

Getting a root canal is also more cost- and time-effective than a tooth extraction. When you get a tooth extraction, you may have to take several trips to the dental chair for the extraction and for an implant, and an implant can be costly compared to a root canal treatment.

With a root canal procedure, you spend limited time at the dentist, and you save a lot of money while keeping your natural tooth in place. And you’ll find it’s actually much more pleasant than you expected.

What Is a Root Canal Procedure Like?

If your roots are inflamed or infected, you might experience a sensitivity to hot or cold foods, or you might have a toothache. Your tooth may also change color and the surrounding tissue might swell. However, damaged roots don’t always result in pain or discomfort.

In any case, if the dentist suspects there’s a problem with a tooth’s roots, he or she can take an X-ray and perform other examinations to determine if a root canal procedure is required.

If a root canal is necessary, don’t fret. Before the procedure, you’ll be given a local anesthetic to dull the pain. And if the nerves in the tooth are dead already, you might not feel any pain in the tooth at all.

The dentist will then drill an opening in the tooth and use a specialized file to remove the pulp and roots and shape the hollowed areas for filling. Before filling the space, the dentist will clean and irrigate the area to ensure all the debris is removed.

Once the tooth has been filled and sealed, a crown will cap the tooth to protect the filling. Sometimes, if the dentist thinks the crown needs additional support, he or she may insert a post into the natural tooth for a more solid crown.

The great news is that you should feel minimal pain, if any at all, and if you do have increased discomfort, you can tell your dentist right away. The filling that comes with a root canal lasts a long time, and it won’t result in lifelong pain or discomfort. You won’t even know it’s there unless a rare problem arises.

If you do feel any pain or discomfort after your root canal treatment, schedule an appointment with your dentist to take a look.

 

Familiarizing yourself with the procedure before undergoing a root canal treatment can help you feel more at ease. But if you have any questions or concerns, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist. He or she can walk you through the process and help you feel more comfortable.

At Schererville and Chesterton Family Dentistry, we understand that some dental treatments might seem intimidating. We do our best to accommodate your needs and address your concerns, and we make the extra effort to create a comfortable environment for all of our patients. If you’re feeling any tooth pain, give us a call today, and we’ll help determine what the problem might be.

Schererville Family Dentistry

1050 Caroline Ave
Schererville, IN 46375
Call or Text Us: 219.322.3232

Chesterton Family Dentistry

751 East Porter Ave, Suite 1
Chesterton, IN 46304
Call or Text Us: 219.929.9289