Shrinking Jaws: Fact or Fiction?

Cosmetic Dentist NYCWhether we like it or not, every one of us faces the effects of aging on our bodies. Hair thins and whitens, taut muscles sag, wrinkles appear; but did you know that your jaw shrinks as you age? A study released by the Faculty of Dentistry at Malmo University is circling dentistry news and reveals that jaws do reduce in size, causing teeth crowding in seniors. Surely another sign of aging is not what we all wanted to hear!

The study was a fascinating one. Dental students in their twenties had molds taken of their teeth. Researchers repeated the molds in ten years, then again a full forty years after the first sample was taken. Comparison of the three different molds showed that the jaw size had indeed shrunk in that forty year time span. The lower jaw was affected more than the upper, and the shrinkage occurred whether or not the individuals had their wisdom teeth removed. Manhattan cosmetic dentist professionals are taking special note of this study because of the effect jaw shrinkage can have on the bite of their patients.

Dental news, ny dentalSo, how does this bit of dental news affect you? Regardless of your age, the inevitable effects of aging are already at work on your body. When you consider having cosmetic dentistry work done, it is important that you discuss jaw space issues with your dental professional. While continuous shrinking of the jaw is normal, dental reconstruction is not a natural occurrence. However, with proper planning, qualified dental professionals can still perform procedures that will enhance your smile, preserve the longevity of your bite, and give you more confidence.

dental implants nycA key to maintaining jaw size is dental implants. NY dentists have long recognized the value of replacing missing teeth with dental implants. If space from missing teeth is allowed to remain, atrophy of the jaw and gum tissue begins to accelerate the otherwise normal rate of jaw shrinkage. Removable dentures allow the atrophy continue, accelerating the rate of shrinkage. Most of us have probably seen an older person struggling with a denture that has become too large due to shrinkage in the mouth. This is due both to the normally occurring shrinkage of the jaw, but also to the accelerated shrinkage caused by missing teeth. In contrast, titanium posts used for dental implants are actually interpreted by the body as the bone of a natural tooth, reducing the risk of natural bone loss around the implant. Dental implants actually become a great tool to help reduce the effects of aging on your jaw.

When you start to think of the effects of aging, trusting the care of a dental professional can give you a healthy mouth for many more years of enjoying delectable meals with friends and family. Jaw shrinkage is not something to fear, but instead to face with confidence, knowing the options before you. Dental implants are no longer a luxury, but a means of keeping you smiling for your grandchildren and others you care about.

Advertisements

Feeding Your Teeth This Holiday Season

turkey, dentist, teethAre you ready to sink your teeth into Thanksgiving turkey? What about the Christmas ham? The meats you enjoy probably won’t make the dentistry news headlines, but all of those delectable sweets just might! You know the old saying, “You are what you eat?” This is true when it comes to the health of your teeth. Drinking and snacking on sweet or starchy things is not just a treat for yourself, but for the plaque building up on your teeth as well. And while we don’t want to become the Grinch that stole your holiday treats, we would like to offer a few suggestions to combat those goodies and promote a healthy holiday smile.

High Fiber Fruits and Vegetables

Fiber is exceptionally good for your teeth, acting somewhat like a detergent in your mouth, helping to scrub off that unwanted plaque. There are a number of fruits and vegetables that have good fiber content, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to include a few more veggies into your holiday menu. At the top of the list are:

● Artichokesplaque, saliva, teeth

● Peas

● Broccoli

● Kale

● Raw carrots

● Avocados

● Asparagus

● Apples

● Bananas

● Blueberries

● Raspberries

● Pears

Not only do fibrous foods act as scrubbers, they also promote saliva flow, which aids in neutralizing acids and enzymes which attack your tooth enamel.

Dairy Productscalcium, enamel, teeth, dentist

Incorporating dairy products into holiday meals is a cinch. Many recipes call for cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products. What makes them so good for your teeth? The calcium in milk helps to build stronger enamel, providing better protection from those less healthful holiday choices.

Green and Black Tea

Do you have a soft spot for a steaming chai latte? A Chai latte actually has a couple of good things going for your teeth – milk and tea. Both green and black teas contain polyphenols, bacteria, teeth, dentist, plaquepolyphenols that work to counteract plaque causing bacteria. Although tea is acid, the acidity is so weak that it does not affect your teeth. Rather, both black and green teas have been making dental news lately because they contain the properties that break down plaque bacteria, making them a good component of your healthy teeth arsenal. Just cut back on some of the sugar in that latte!

Eating for the health of your teeth need not be a bothersome chore; there are plenty of tooth-healthy foods that are delightful to the palate as well. Incorporating a few of these ideas into your traditional holiday fare is an easy step toward promoting a healthy smile.


Dealing with Acid Reflux (GERD)? Watch Your Teeth!

acid reflux, Gerd, tooth decay, pain, diet

So, you have just come home from a great night of Mexican food – the bean dip was fabulous, chips and salsa were great, and the enchiladas, beyond compare! Now you are dealing with that familiar burning pain in your chest, those feelings of regurgitation: the symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). What you may not realize is that the same acid that is causing you such discomfort may actually be eating away at the enamel of your teeth, making you susceptible to tooth decay.

GERD is a common problem today and occurs when ring of muscle between the esophagus and the stomach fails to close, allowing the contents of the stomach to flow back up into the esophagus. The high acidity of the stomach contents is what GERD, acidity, esophaguscauses the burning sensation in the chest. Eventually the acid can eat away at the lining of the esophagus, producing even more serious complications.

What effect does all this extra acid have on your mouth? Saliva in your mouth is designed to maintain the proper pH balance (levels of acidity or alkalinity) in your mouth. For example, eating sugar causes the acid level of your mouth to rise, putting your teeth at risk. The saliva in your mouth works to restore the balance after sugar consumption. Imagine the effect of continual acid coming up from your stomach due to GERD and entering your mouth – the acidic assault should make dental news headlines as much as the warnings about highly acidic foods, drinks, and sugar.

Acid eats at the enamel that protects your teeth. When the enamel begins to wear off, the sensitive inner layer of your teeth, called dentin, is exposed. This can produce symptoms of tooth erosion, which include:

● Toothache tooth decay, enamel, dentin
● Bad breath
● Spots on teeth
● Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet

Tooth decay can lead to more serious dental issues which could lead to permanent damage or loss of teeth requiring the care of cosmetic dentistry. Because of the serious effects of excess acid in the mouth NY dental professionals recommend following a strict regimen to deal with GERD quickly. Certain dietary and lifestyle choices contribute to GERD, including eating chocolate, peppermint, fried or fatty foods, coffee, and alcoholic beverages. Smoking has also been shown to relax the muscle that contributes to GERD.

If you have been diagnosed with GERD, or you are experiencing the symptoms, you should let your dentist know. If you have already suffered damage to your teeth, you may want to visit a cosmetic dentist. Manhattan area dentists are well equipped both to protect your teeth from damage, and to help you recover your beautiful smile.


Tips Instead of Tricks for the Kickoff of Sugar Season

Halloween CandyThe real danger this season is not the spooks and goblins, but the sugary treats they bring. Halloween ushers in the season of high sugar consumption as the winter holidays follow close on its heels. The season always ranks high in dentistry news because of the assault all the sugar brings to the teeth of children, making them at risk for the development of cavities.

So, what is the real danger of sugar anyway? Our mouths always have bacteria present in them, and when that bacteria comes in contact with sugar, they produce acids that can break down tooth enamel. After sugar is consumed, it can take up to 60 minutes for the saliva in the mouth to neutralize the acid. This means that teeth are under attack for almost an hour each time sugar is consumed. Break down of tooth enamel eventually causes the tooth decay that results in cavities.

You have probably heard of the campaign this holiday by dentists across the country offering to buy candy back from kids and donate it to soldier’s oversees. This is a good start, and makes great dentistry news, but cavity prevention begins at home, and NY dental professionals offer some tips to help protect your child’s teeth.

Trick or Treat Since each exposure to sugar puts teeth at risk for up to an hour, do not let your child munch on candy throughout the day. When sugar is consumed continually, the mouth has no time to recover from the attack. If this takes place after the child has already started getting his permanent teeth, this can cause long term damage which could lead to serious dental issues later in life, including dental implants. NYC dentists recommend allowing your child to consume several pieces of candy in one setting versus spread throughout the day.

Another idea is to limit candy intake to around meal time. More saliva is flowing during a meal, allowing the mouth to neutralize acids more quickly. Make candy or dessert eating a special thing, reserved for a certain time of day following a meal. This will allow the mouth to recover quickly. It may also give mom a break from sugar-hyped kids all the time!Of course one of the biggest tooth decay fighters is proper brushing and flossing of teeth. Make sure that the busyness of the holidays does not cause a break in your child’s usual teeth brushing routine. This is a big factor in fighting tooth decay.

Finally, consider bringing your child in to see your dentist after the holidays. A quick check up will catch any tooth decay early, preventing major work later on. Follow these tips and keep the sugar goblins at bay this holiday season!


Drink For Your Health

Dry MouthDehydration is a serious problem in America. Depending on the source, somewhere between %60 and %75 of the nation suffers from some form of chronic dehydration. Although plastic water bottles have become a staple in the life of many Americans, consumption is still shockingly low. There are a myriad of health concerns associated with dehydration, aside from sudden problems such as: heatstroke, fainting, etc. there are many problems that can diminish your quality of life, and become serious over time. joint problems, dry skin, poor nails, stomach sensitivity, dizziness, low energy, abdominal bloat, poor heat tolerance, kidney stones, are all common effects of long term chronic dehydration. Proper hydration is also extremely important for dental health. Both the external act of drinking water and the internal body processes that it promotes are imperative in the fight against tooth decay. Before we continue, I feel it is necessary to state that water means water, not soda, not juice, not Crystal Light, I mean pure H2O.

Severely Eroded Teeth

Severely Eroded Teeth

The mouth is the first stage of the gastrointestinal system; therefore it is subject to the influence of diet. The mouth is a complex and changing environment which is subject to many external and internal changes. When certain external compounds are ingested, they can have a positive or negative effect on teeth. Acidic foods and beverages erode teeth. The acid breaks down tooth enamel, leaving the softer parts of the tooth more vulnerable. Acidic foods and beverages include: whole fruit, fruit juice, soda, carbonated water, coffee, wine, and many more. Drinking water with or immediately after acidic foods or beverages will restore a natural PH to your mouth. It is also important to minimize the amount of time teeth are exposed to acid, for example, it is best to drink a cup of coffee in one sitting, than to sip slowly throughout the day.

Man Drinking

Saliva production has been linked to hydration since the early 1900s. Proper hydration is an integral part of saliva production. Saliva comes from three paired major salivary glands (parotid, submandibular and sublingual) along with numerous smaller glands. Their secretions interfere in pathogenesis, (the beginning of tooth decay) in several ways. Quite simply, saliva is known to wash away harmful dietary acid, sugar, and bacterial acid that diminish tooth enamel. Saliva is also filled with ions that neutralize dietary and bacterial acids. These ions also work to remineralize the tooth, bonding with the enamel to support it.  Salivary proteins and glycoproteins form a small layer over teeth to help shield them from acid and bacteria.

Tap WaterThe best part is, drinking water is the absolute least expensive way to improve your oral (and overall) health. If you live in an area with poor tap water, it is best to buy a filter. However, New York City and Long Island are home to some of the cleanest tap water in the world. Long Island gets its water from underground aquifers that have stored glacial water for thousands of years. New York City uses a series of upstate reservoirs that are heavily protected through state regulations. So next time you’re in a restaurant, bar, or even at home, ask for a glass of water. They’re practically giving it away.

 


The Low Down On Natural Toothpaste

Flower Child SmileNatural products have been become a bit of a sensation over the last few years. Walmart, for example, has introduced organic vegetables and dairy alongside many other natural products in response to consumer demand. Natural toothpastes have been available for years, but have recently gained prominence as their conventional counterparts have come under new scrutiny. Previously, we have discussed conventional toothpaste, but the landscape has changed since then. Triclosan, for example, a powerful antibacterial agent found in conventional soap and toothpaste, has since been found to alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals and promote antibiotic resistance.

Chitosan comes from shellfish and insect cuticles. The mouth contains bacteria that organize in colonies called oral biofilm. Antibacterial ingredients in toothpaste are important for removing and destroying oral biofilm. It is important to have an antimicrobial agent in toothpaste. One such natural agent is chitosan, which recent studies have proved to be nontoxic and quite effective. Brushing with chitosan may sound off putting when you discover it is harvested from the shells of crustaceans like shrimp and the cuticles of insects. One of the only toothpastes that contains chitosan is a German brand called Chitodent, which is difficult to obtain in the US.

Herbal ingredients make up these toothpastes

A toothpaste with plant based, herbal ingredients called Parodontax, uses natural mineral salts as a detergent agent. It also contains healing herbs such as: Echinacea, chamomile, sage and myrhh. Many conventional toothpastes use sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) as the detergent. However, SLS causes mouth ulcers and tissue sloughing. Parodontax is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and is available on the internet.

Editor Jenna Bergen of Prevention magazine recently spoke about all natural toothpaste. “It’s a really big marketing term right now because companies are realizing consumers are becoming savvier in trying to limit their exposure to unnecessary chemicals.” Said Bergen. “So if that matters to you, you can feel confident that when you pick up a natural toothpaste it won’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, and fragrances,” she explains.

There is emerging evidence to suggest that some natural ingredients such as cranberry extract and xylitol can fight cavities. However, natural toothpaste with fluoride is highly recommended. Any well-designed fluoride toothpaste will make enamel more acid resistant. The enamel-strengthening claims on the label are “a marketing gimmick,” says Dr. Featherstone, was a consultant for several toothpaste makers. It is important to choose toothpaste with a taste you like, as you will use it more.

Drink water after eating or drinking acidic foods or drinksRegardless of the toothpaste you use, it is important not to brush your teeth immediately after drinking acids as that is when enamel is most vulnerable to wear from brushing. It’s a good idea to take a few sips of water after drinking or eating acids, scientists add, and sugar-free gum can help by stimulating saliva production.


What Exactly Are Teeth Anyway?

A look at pulp, enamel, cementum, and dentinWith a few exceptions, teeth don’t heal by themselves. Every cartoon with an elderly character will show them taking out their false teeth. For many Americans, teeth simply don’t stand the test of time. They contain one of the few tissues in the body that is finite. Most people have heard of enamel from toothpaste ads, but that tissue is only 1 of the 4 that comprise a tooth. Enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp are the four major tissues that round out a mouth full of pearly whites. Most of the previous blog entries talk about a specific dental disorder or problem and offer remedies to it. This one will be a bit of primer, a basic introduction to what teeth are, and what can go wrong for each part.

Dental pulp is soft tissue in the center of the tooth; it contains the nerve, blood and lymphatic vessels, and connective tissue. The pulp forms the main bulk, or core, of each tooth and extends almost the entire length of the tooth. It is covered by enamel on the crown portion and by cementum on the roots. The pulp consists of cells, tiny blood vessels, and a nerve and occupies a cavity located in the center of the tooth. If the pulp becomes infected, it is removed by root canal.

Cementum in the tooth

Cementum is the thin surface layer of bone like material covering the tooth’s root. It is yellowish and softer than either dentin orenamel. The fibers of the periodontal membrane, which holds the tooth in lace, are embedded in cementum. Deposition of cementum continues throughout life, especially in response to stresses. When the tooth’s crown is gradually worn down, new cementum is deposited on the roots so that the tooth can slowly rise to maintain a good bite.

Elephant Ivory is almost entirely made of Dentin.

Elephant tusks (Ivory) are solid dentin. Ivory was the preferred material for billiard balls, as dentin has an elastic quality

Dentin is the yellowish tissue that makes up the bulk of all teeth. It is harder than bone but softer than enamel and consists mainly of apatite crystals of calcium and phosphate. Sensitivity to pain, pressure, and temperature is transmitted via the tubes to and from the nerve in the pulp. Secondary dentine, is a less well-organized form of tubular dentine, is produced throughout life as a patching material where cavities have begun, where the overlying enamel has been worn away, and within the pulp chamber as part of the aging process.

Veneers are often the only solution to severely worn enamel.

Veneers are often the only solution to severely worn enamel.

Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body. It covers part of or the entire crown of the tooth. Enamel is not living and contains no nerves. The thickness and density of enamel vary over the surface of the tooth; it is hardest at the biting edges, or cusps. Normal enamel may vary in color from yellow to gray. The surface enamel is harder and contains more fluoride than the underlying enamel. It is very resistant to tooth decay. Enamel is also finite. Worn enamel is a symptom of most dental problems: erosion, attrition, abrasion, and the first part of the tooth to decay from cavities. A loss of enamel over time can lead to transparent and fragile teeth. Sensitive teeth can be relieved with desensitizing toothpastes, which often contain ingredients such as potassium nitrate, potassium chloride or potassium citrate seem to make the tooth less receptive to pain. In the case of severely worn enamel, veneers are often the only option.

This concludes the reading for dental anatomy 101. I hope that it provides a greater understanding to the past and future blog entries. And if you didn’t much care for the anatomy of your chompers, there is good news. With good dental hygiene, the dentist won’t have to bother you with any of these terms and explanations; you can just take a free toothbrush and be on your way.