Can Brushing Too Hard Damage My Teeth?

Receding gums expose the more sensitive part of the tooth
Receding gums expose the more sensitive part of the tooth

Let’s face it. We all brush our teeth (hopefully at least twice daily). The ideal way to brush the teeth is using a small circular motion with a soft-bristle toothbrush.  The reason being that a hard bristle toothbrush can actually do more harm than good. Even though the enamel is the strongest and toughest part of our body, the gums are not. So even if the toothbrush doesn’t cause any damage to the actual tooth, it can cause recession for the gums (gums pulling away). You know your gums are receding when you look at your teeth and notice they look like they’re getting longer. Also, the neck of the teeth (the part just above the gums) looks more yellow/orange than the top part of the tooth. The reason is that once the gums recede, you are looking at the tooth root. And since the root is made of different materials (not enamel), it looks different and has a different color.

If you talk to a group of dentists regarding what causes the notching seen at the neck of the teeth you’ll get different answers. Some dentist will tell you that excessive rubbing or force while brushing the teeth causes this problem. Others will tell you that it is caused by how your teeth fit the opposing teeth (for chewing purposes) and by excessive biting forces (clenching or grinding).  Another factor that plays a role here is the foods and drink we ingest. Anything acidic (like orange juice) makes the tooth structure chemically weaker. That’s why dentists recommend against brushing your teeth after drinking that glass of OJ. So if you eat or drink acidic beverages, brush hard and clench your teeth, you are very prone to having your gums recede and your teeth notch.

What is important here is that all of these (brushing in a scrubbing fashion, hard bristle toothbrush, acidic foods or beverages, and excessive biting forces) are all risk factors for recession of the gums and the notching of the teeth. So the question remains: what can we do to minimize the damage?

Use a soft bristle toothbrush. Minimize the use of acidic beverages and foods. Avoid clenching your teeth. Use the correct brushing technique. Use toothpastes with fluoride to keep the enamel strong. Use of certain mouthwashes also helps protect the roots of the teeth from decaying. If you have teeth that have recession or have notching already, we can help. Give us a call and we’ll help you stop the recession and fix the damaged teeth.

Who Wants a Black Filling?

Amalgam fillings turn black and corrode over time
Amalgam fillings turn black and corrode over time

Ever wonder what the old “silver” fillings or “amalgam” fillings look after a few years in the mouth? Here is a good picture! Maybe they should be called “black fillings!”

Silver fillings were created decades ago to allow dentist to fix teeth that were decayed. And while a lot of scientific findings were used to create the filling material, they leave a lot to be desired by today’s standards.

Silver fillings have been placed for a long time (and still continue to be placed in some dental offices and clinics). However, they do pose several major problems. First of all, they look like crap after a few years of service. This is obvious to anyone, not just dentists. They leak and stain the tooth structure around them. Looking at the photo above you can see the gray shadows that’s spreading out from the filling inside the tooth. They cause teeth to break prematurely. Because of their metallic nature, they expand and contract differently than enamel and dentin when exposed to high and low temperatures. Because of this difference in expansion and contraction rate, they place a lot of unnecessary forces on the tooth. Looking at the photo above you can see 2 fracture lines starting on the left side. Oh, and one last minor detail is that they contain mercury. No biggie though!

White fillings are more esthetic
White fillings are more esthetic

This is the same tooth after the silver filling and fracture lines were removed and replaced with a white filling. White fillings are not just more esthetic and pretty. They resemble the tooth structure they are replacing making teeth less likely to fracture. Also, these white fillings are bonded to the teeth chemically. This helps solidify the tooth as a unit, instead of having something lodged in the center of the tooth causing it to split over time. These white fillings are also easier to repair and maintain compared to a silver filling.

The next time you are given a choice between a silver filling and a white filling, you’ll be better prepared to choose the white filling knowing it is a better material which not only looks better, but is better for the health of the tooth. At Platinum Dental, Inc. we only use white fillings when a filling is necessary. Follow this link to learn more about white fillings.

How Can a Dental “Nightguard” Help Save You Thousands of Dollars?

A mouthguard worn while sleeping helps protect the teeth.
A mouthguard worn while sleeping helps protect the teeth.

It is common knowledge that some people clench or grind their teeth during sleep. You yourself or a loved one may be suffering from this nighttime habit.

And while patients have been told that they probably clench their teeth in their sleep and they should have a nightguard, they don’t know what happens if they don’t get a nightguard.

When we bite down on our back teeth, our chewing muscles generate a tremendous amount of force. During waking hours when we eat our food we can control how hard we bite down.  While sleeping, we no longer have this control. So the forces generated by the clenching during sleep can be much higher which place a great amount of stress on the teeth. These repetitive periods of stress on the teeth result in the teeth developing micro-fractures. Over time, these micro-fractures lead to an actually visible fracture where a piece of a tooth breaks off.  At other times the nerve in the tooth gets damaged. There is a whole host of other problems that are caused by excessive nighttime clenching such as locked jaws and headaches.

The bottom line is that nighttime clenching and grinding of the teeth end up causing injuries to the teeth and the surrounding structures. These injuries could be minimized (or even avoided all together) with the use of a properly fitted custom mouthguard.

There are different kinds of mouthguards for different problems. For example, people who have headaches due to their nighttime clenching need a different type of nightguard versus someone who is cracking and chipping their teeth.

Mouthguards range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, they more than pay for themselves by saving you the cost of the dental treatment for fixing a broken tooth or a root canal therapy on one or multiple teeth.

Custom-made nightguards worn while sleeping have proven to be effective in reducing the damaging effects of clenching or grinding.  If you have been told in the past that you clench, or if you know you do even if no one has mentioned it, talk to your dental healthcare provider or contact us and Dr. Eslampour can help you determine if a nightguard is appropriate for you.

 

 

Why Does My Tooth Still Hurt After a Root Canal?

It is not uncommon for teeth to be sensitive after a root canal treatment
It is not uncommon for teeth to be sensitive after a root canal treatment

When a tooth is badly injured, treatment choices become limited. A badly damaged tooth can often be saved with a root canal therapy.

The damage to the tooth inevitably leads to nerve damage and often times pain. A root canal is performed to remove the source of infection, along with the damaged and diseased tooth and nerve. Once the root canal is performed, the body begins a healing process where the disease used to be. So if the nerve in the tooth is gone, why do some people still experience pain after the procedure is completed?

Pain or discomfort following a completed root canal therapy can be due to the irritation to the surrounding jaw bone that is caused by some of the medications used during the root canal procedure.  Sometimes this is more uncomfortable than the original toothache. But don’t fret. The body will heal itself if the source of the problem is gone. Sometimes antibiotics need to be used to help speed up the recovery and healing phase. In other cases only time and patience is necessary as the healing process is gradual.

If you have had a root canal treatment recently and you are still experiencing discomfort, be patient and discuss it with your doctor. If the discomfort is subsiding and getting less noticeable daily, then you’re on the right path.

For more information about this procedure or any other dental treatment, contact our staff and schedule an appointment with Dr. Eslampour for an exam and consultation .

 

How Often Should You See the Dentist?

dental visit
How often should you see your dentist

Most people wonder how often they should see the dentist to have their teeth checked.  Some people only consider going to the dentist if they have some type of pain or discomfort. Others only go when “the insurance pays for it” and still others don’t set foot in a dentist office for years without giving it a second thought.

Most people should see the dentist at least twice a year for a routine check ups and cleanings. Much like your car getting a tune up at recommended intervals, so should the teeth. Some patients need to see the dentist more frequently for treatment of chronic diseases (like gum disease) and such.

People often “fear the dentist” because of the anticipated pain. These same group of people often refuse going to the dentist ’til something is really wrong and hurting them. So they are already primed with pain and fear of what will happen even before they see the dentist.

Ignoring an occasional toothache or a small chipped tooth can lead to bigger problems in the long run. Visiting the dentist at least twice a year will help catch and detect these problem when they are smaller and easier to fix.

If you haven’t seen a dentist for a while now, follow the link to contact our staff and schedule an appointment for a dental check up.

Why Do I Need to Replace a Missing Tooth?

The molar has super-erupted due to missing its opposing counterpart
Super erupted molar tooth

Teeth are lost for a number of reasons. Sometimes a badly decayed tooth cannot be saved and needs to be removed. Other times trauma can cause tooth loss such as in a fight or sporting accident. But no matter what caused the tooth loss, replacement of the lost tooth needs to be seriously considered.

People often say “I have so many teeth, so what if I lose a couple?” We also have 10 fingers and toes. Have you ever considered losing a finger or toe since we have so many? NO. In fact, people will do anything to save their fingers and toes. So why are teeth treated any differently than another body part? No one knows for sure, but perhaps it’s like the saying “out of sight, out of mind”. After all, if we cannot see something, how can we expect to have any memories or feelings towards it?

Untreated tooth loss is the beginning of the journey to destination “edentulism”, which is a fancy word for no teeth. In the case above, the patient had lost a lower molar years ago but never got the tooth replaced. Fast forward to today, the same patient is going to lose the over-erupted upper tooth because of biting issues. Plus, the loss of the lower molar placed the rest of the adjacent teeth under greater stress from chewing. Since there were less teeth to chew the food with, they had to be used more. This led to faster breakdown of these teeth due to over use. These problems could have been avoided all together if the lost tooth was replaced.

Nowadays there are many ways to replace lost or missing teeth. The consequences of not replacing missing teeth has multiple negative health implications. If you have missing teeth but do not want to become totally tooth less one day, contact us for a dental consultation to see what can be done to stop the journey to edentulism.

Why Does My Tooth Need a Crown After a Root Canal?

Broken molar tooth following root canal therapy
Broken molar tooth following root canal therapy

Teeth, especially our molar teeth (the back ones) get tremendous amounts of forces exerted onto them as a result of normal day to day chewing and eating. Pair these forces up with say crunchy foods or snacks and the force that is exerted on these teeth increases dramatically.  All of these forces can lead to fracture of healthy teeth, let alone teeth with large old silver fillings.  Another reason a crown is necessary for a back tooth is following root canal therapy. After the root canals therapy is done, the tooth becomes considerably weaker. This weakening process leads to the tooth being more susceptible to fracture. This is what happened in the picture above. The patient had his molars root canal treated, but because of insurance limitations, no crowns were placed on the teeth. Patient presented 3 months after the root canal completion with a cracked tooth.

Cracked molar after root canal therapy
Cracked molar after root canal therapy

Unfortunately not much can be done to salvage the tooth. It needs to be extracted.

All of this could have been avoided by placement of a crown on the molar tooth. To learn more about root canal therapy or crowns follow the links above.

Why Won’t my Insurance Cover my Treatment?

Dental insurance woes
Why do I pay insurance premiums when they don’t pay for my care?

Dental insurance has really not kept up with the cost of living increases since its inception some 80 years ago.  Back in the 20’s and 30’s at the very beginning of the dental insurance era, insurance companies had benefit amounts equal to $1000 per year. Back then this amount was a lot and it covered all of the dental needs of the patient. Fast forward to today and you’ll be surprised to see that most insurance plans are still offering this amount for an average plan.  Maybe they think that dental care has been immune to changes in our economics.

And, to top it off, insurance companies place ridiculous restrictions and a lot of exclusions on some benefits.  For example, you may think that since you have dental insurance it can pay for you if you had a tooth knocked out. Nope!  The insurance will typically help pay for the least costly treatment forcing the patient to choose a less desirable treatment (e.g. partial denture) if they expect the insurance to help pay for the treatment.

Bottom line with dental insurance companies is expect disappointment, and then you will be not be as surprised at the outcome.

To learn more about dental insurance be sure to read our article on dental insurance.

 

Snoring and Sleep Apnea- What’s the Big Deal?

Snoring and Sleep Apnea cause more than high blood pressure
Snoring and Sleep Apnea causes more than high blood pressure

Snoring and sleep apnea are 2 separate forms of sleeping disorder with serious medical, professional as well as social implications.

Snoring at its most benign form places a strain on the social life. Whether it’s the bed partner or the kids in the other room, those people who live with someone who snores dread going to bed in the same room (and sometimes even in the adjacent rooms) to sleep.

People who snore are typically more tired during the day that non snorers. This leads to lowered productivity at work.  For a student this means falling behind at school and performing at substandard levels. Other responses seen in young children is inability to pay attention or sit still during class. These children are usually diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and are placed on strong medications.

Social and professional implications aside, there are serious medical consequences associated with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea places a greater load on the cardiovascular system throughout the night. Over time this leads to heart disease with an increase in risk for heart attacks and strokes. Diabetes is also another serious medical disorder which is seen in patients with sleep apnea.

As you can see sleep apnea and snoring place a great deal of stress on the body and social life. To learn more about these group of disorders visit us online. >Learn about sleep apnea and snoring

Your Teeth and the “Holiday Candy” Feast

What Can Be Done to Help Protect Your Teeth From Cavities
What Can Be Done to Help Protect Your Teeth From Cavities

With the holidays fast approaching it is easy to over do it with the candies and the sweets. Whether you like to sink your choppers into some candy or sip on a sweetened beverage (with or without alcohol) here are some tips to help defend your teeth against cavities.

  1. If given the choice between candies, choose the ones that are easier to bite into. Hard candies can not only crack healthy teeth, but they can also break crowns and fillings.
  2. Avoid sticky candies. These tend to “stick” to the teeth and the nooks and crannies around the teeth causing more damage to the teeth.
  3. Avoid candies that are both hard and sticky. See the reasons above.
  4. Try to consume your candy or chocolate bar within a reasonable period of time. You want to minimize the total time the sugar is in contact with your teeth.
  5. Drink non-carbonated water afterward. This helps wash away remnants of what you were eating without harming the teeth anymore.
  6. Avoid candies and sweet drink combinations together. Have some tea with your cake instead of a sweetened Frappuccino for example.
  7. Don’t brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking sweets. The healthy tooth structure has had some of its “good” contents sucked away and damaged by the sweets. Brushing now would harm the remaining tooth structure even faster because you can “brush away” these weakened areas of your teeth. Wait at least 30 minutes before you brush.
  8. Buy some ACT which is sold over the counter and start rinsing daily now. This helps strengthen your teeth against cavities. This is like shoring up your defenses.
  9. For more protection, you can get a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste or rinse.
  10. Floss once a day at night time or for those who work at night before you go to bed.
  11. Brush twice a day, using a soft bristle brush with the correct gentle circular motions pointing the bristles 45 degrees towards your gums. Brush and massage your teeth and gums instead of abrading them.

Cavities can happen despite of your best efforts. But the steps above will help you minimize the risk of developing cavities at a fast rate.

If your teeth become sensitive contact us and we’ll get you in to take a look and see and nip the problem before it becomes a bigger headache.