Monthly Archives: September 2011

Play it Safe!

Long Island dentist, dentistry newsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are over 600,000 sports-related dental injuries treated in emergency rooms across the U.S. annually. Now that the kids are back in school and sports programs are in full swing, it’s a good idea to think about protecting their mouth and teeth from accidents with a mouth guard.

A mouth guard is a plastic device that fits over the upper teeth, cushioning and protecting them from impact. Generally, there are three types of mouth guards are available including:

  1. “Stock” mouth guard: These are preformed, ready to wear, and available at most sporting good stores. They are usually inexpensive and come in a few different sizes, but the fit is not adjustable. These devices are bulky, and can make breathing and talking difficult. Most dentists don’t recommend these, because the protection they offer is minimal.
  2. “Boil and bite” mouth guard: These are also available at most sporting goods stores often fit better fit than stock mouth protectors. The “boil and bite” mouth guard is softened in hot water, and then placed shaped around the teeth. Not always a perfect fit, these mouth protectors are an acceptable budget-conscious choice.
  3. Custom designed mouth protectors are designed and made in a dental office or dental laboratory based on individual needs and to fit individual anatomy. Your dentist will make mold of your teeth, and a mouth guard is then constructed from the model using special plastic material. The extra time and work involved in making a custom mouth guard means that it is more expensive than the other types; however, the benefit is that it provides the most comfort and protection possible.

Dentist Long Island, dentistry newsThe American Dental Association recommends the use of custom made mouth guards for anyone who participates in vigorous physical activity such as baseball, football, basketball, hockey, skateboarding, wrestling, bicycling, racquetball, skiing, and even weightlifting. Evidence indicates that a custom made mouth guard can prevent or minimize some of the most common oral and facial injuries which include:

  1. Lacerations. A custom-fit, professionally made mouth guard covers the sharp surfaces of the teeth to protect the soft tissues of the cheeks, lips, gums and tongue from cuts that can result from a blow. This is especially important for people wearing braces.
  2. Jaw and tooth damage. A mouth guard also helps to prevent injuries to the jaws and teeth, which can include but chipped and broken teeth or teeth that are partially or fully knocked out of their natural position.
  3. TMJ (jaw joint) Trauma. A mouth guard that fits well will reduce the potential for knocking the jaw out of place or fracturing the joint, because the jaws are cushioned against the impact. This is especially important for individuals with TMJ problems.
  4. Jaw Fracture. A custom made mouth guard absorbs and distributes impact forces so that jaws are protected. And it is this reduction in force that can help prevent the jaws from fractures.

dentistry news, long island dentistMake a dental appointment for your child (or for yourself) to discuss whether a mouth guard is important protection during your favorite activity. Prevention is always less expensive and less uncomfortable than treating damage or injury… Play it safe!

Advertisements

Do I Need a Root Canal?

People often have the misconception that root canal therapy is a painful experience and mistakenly believe that having an infected tooth removed is a preferable choice. Also known as endodontic (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) treatment, a root canal will relieve the severe pain that is caused when the tooth nerve has become inflamed. Unfortunately, extracting an infected tooth can introduce many additional problems that could be avoided with a root canal.

A root canal may be necessary if a deep cavity or trauma to the tooth has occurred, causing the inside pulp to become infected or inflamed. Often, pressure develops inside the core of the tooth which is the source of sharp, lingering pain when biting down or when exposed to temperature changes, particularly from hot foods and liquids. Sometimes, a dull ache may be present and the gum may be sensitive to pressure. Left untreated, an abscess may develop and infection can spread from the tooth to the surrounding bone, and even into the bloodstream.

Immediate dental treatment for a suspected endodontic infection is always the best course of action, and the treatment is relatively pain free and is performed under a local anesthetic administered by the dentist. First, the dentist will have to x-ray the suspicious tooth to diagnose the problem and will sometimes test the tooth to determine whether the nerve is in the process of dying. Once it has been determined that an infected tooth requires a root canal, and the tooth and surrounding area are numb, a small opening is made into the tooth, just as if one were having a filling placed. The infected, dying nerve and blood vessels are removed and the root canals are smoothed, cleaned, disinfected and filled with a rubber material. Some patients feel slight tenderness around the tooth for a day or two, but generally aspirin or ibuprofen will provide sufficient relief. After the nerve has been removed a tooth is no longer living, and the lack of blood supply causes it to become brittle over time. Your dentist will almost always advise you to have a crown placed on an endodontically treated tooth to protect it.
Most of the time a root canal can be performed in a single appointment and the crown will require two more visits to complete. The end result is that you will have kept your natural tooth and restored it to full function. Because bone loss and shifting of the remaining teeth often result when a tooth is extracted, the root canal avoids these complications as well.If you are confronted with the recommendation to have root canal treatment, or if you are experiencing unexplained pain when chewing or to temperature, don’t hesitate to inquire about your options or ask for further information about endodontic treatment to restore your smile and comfort. Have you had a positive experience with root canal therapy? We would like to hear your comments… and they may even help alleviate the concerns of others.


A Whole Look At Tooth Decay

nyc cosmetic dentists“You need to brush and floss more.” That sums up most of the advice that American patients receive from their dentist. With advice like that, it’s easy to forget that cavities are not the cause of a problem, but rather a symptom of poor oral health. Cavities are caused by bacteria that live in the mouth on teeth and gums. The bacteria feed on remnants of food stuck on and between the teeth and they leave behind waste. However, their waste is highly acidic. That acid dissolves the enamel surface of the tooth and creates holes in the tooth or cavities.

 

While these bacteria aren’t picky eaters, they have a bit of a sweet tooth. Research shows that they get something like a sugar rush.  They can consume sugar and starch more efficiently than foods lower on the glycemic index. Once the bacteria are well fed, they can reproduce more quickly, and the cycle continues, creating a more acidic environment. An acidic mouth is ideal for bacteria, but not for teeth.

Sugar accounts for roughly 20% of the average American’s diet and according to Michael Pollan, a food journalist, “nearly 10 percent of the calories Americans consume now come from corn sweeteners; the figure is 20 percent for many children.”

  • Regular Visits To The Dentist.
  • Floss.
  • Mouthwash.
  • Toothpaste.
  • New Tooth Brush.
  • A Healthy Diet ?

A great way to fight cavities all day is to consume a diet rich in whole natural foods. The American or western diet is notoriously heavy on sugar and starches, while low in the vitamins and minerals that can strengthen teeth against decay.

Some food can be tricky, so it is best to read the label. The label lists all of a product’s ingredients in order of most to least. Fresh meat and produce don’t have labels because they are considered unadulterated or pure. Even foods that look natural can be hiding high fructose corn syrup and other additives that cavity causing bacteria thrive on. A traditional loaf of bread has about 6 ingredients: yeast, water, honey/sugar, salt, whole wheat flour, and butter/oil, most supermarket breads have closer to 30 including enriched white flour. For decades some NYC cosmetic dentists have theorized that the cause of tooth decay in western society has been a diet heavy in refined grains, including processed corn, wheat, and sugar products.

Make the healthier choice. Switch to a diet of whole, unprocessed foods. Your body and your dentist will thank you.


Mysterious Burning Mouth Syndrome

Burning Mouth SyndromeMost people have experienced the several days of discomfort that comes along with a pizza or hot coffee burn their mouth… just imagine if the burning sensation persisted all day, every day. Burning Mouth Syndrome is a frustrating and somewhat mysterious condition that affects about 5 percent of Americans, primarily middle aged and menopausal women according to the Academy of General Dentistry.

The cause of Burning Mouth Syndrome is not clear but there are several possibilities including systemic conditions such Diabetes, or Sjogren’s syndrome which causes a dry mouth; and diet deficient in iron, zinc, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamins D and B-12, or niacin. Recent research suggests that hormonal changes and possibly neurological damage that occurs during menopause may render the brain unable to turn off pain receptors in the tongue. Finally, cancer therapies including radiation and chemotherapy, as well as certain medications are also thought to be responsible for the characteristic symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome which are typically described as:

  • A dry, gritty feeling in the mouth
  • A scalded sensation often on the palate, lips and tip of the tongue
  • Bitter, metallic or other taste changes

nutritional deficiencyUnfortunately, because Burning Mouth Syndrome may have many contributing factors and manifests no physical signs, it can be very difficult to diagnose and treat. Currently there is no cure for this frustrating condition but there are medications available to help alleviate and manage symptoms. Patients may also find it helpful to:

  • Drink plenty of water to keep the oral tissues moist and lubricated
  • Avoid spicy and acidic foods
  • Chew sugar free gum (preferably with Xylitol) because it stimulates saliva flow
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol-containing products which can irritate the oral tissues.
  • Consult your physician if you are experiencing these symptoms prior to or during menopause.
  • Ensure that you are eating a balanced diet. Consult a nutritionist if necessary.

Burning Mouth SyndromeDon’t suffer in silence with this uncomfortable condition. Be sure to tell us about all of your medications, health conditions and symptoms and your dental team will work in collaboration with your physicians and other health providers to ensure that you are correctly diagnosed and that you receive the relief you need.