What is the Role of Fluoride in Dental Care?
Fluoride is one of the most researched nutrients, with over 50 years of peer-reviewed scientific studies confirming its various dental health benefits. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by remineralizing and strengthening your teeth. It also lowers the risk of cavities and strengthens tooth enamel
Fluoride, a component of saliva and the hardest natural substance found in the earth’s crust, when combined with calcium and phosphate to form tooth enamel, is often referred to as a cavity-fighting mineral. Nevertheless, water fluoridation has been around since the 1940s. And its importance has not diminished; today, fluoride continues to play a crucial role in dental care.
Why Do You Need Fluoride?
Fluoride is absorbed by the teeth and protects against tooth decay.Your teeth are constantly under attack by acids and bacteria. If these are left unchecked, these acids and bacteria will break down your teeth over time by causing tooth decay in the form of cavities. Cavities usually begin as microscopic damage to your tooth, but fluoride acts as concrete poured into a crack, protecting against such damage and even reversing early tooth decay.
How Do You Receive Fluoride?
Unfortunately, the amount of fluoride obtained through food is not sufficient to protect your teeth. Throughout both childhood and your adult years, your dentist will apply fluoride treatments at appropriate intervals. These fluoride treatments are put directly on your teeth and are usually in the form of a rinse, gel, or foam. You leave the fluoride in your mouth for a minute or so before either spitting it out or having it rinsed away. This is typically the part in your dentist visit where your dentist asks you the type of flavor you want!
Fluoride is an incredibly important part of your oral routine. You should go to your dentist every six months for a checkup, where you should get a fluoride treatment. This will help prevent tooth decay and help fight any decay that has already happened. Give us a call today at 978-534-9216 and we’ll schedule an appointment for you to come in and get a fluoride treatment with your cleaning.
How to Know If Your Tooth’s Enamel Is Damaged
Enamel isn’t something we think about every day, or even all that often. However, it is one of the most important things about your oral health. Enamel is the tooth’s outer covering. Over time, enamel can become chipped, worn or even lost due to dental trauma, dental procedures or problems with the supporting tissues of the mouth. While calcium can naturally repair to some degree, damage sustained over time may leave your tooth vulnerable to further enamel loss.
It can be difficult to know if your tooth’s enamel is permanently damaged. We’ve created a list to know if yours is damaged to make it easier for you!
One of the most common signs your tooth’s enamel is damaged is sensitivity. You may notice discomfort while eating or drinking something with hot or hot temperatures. The more your enamel gets damaged, the more extreme your sensitivity will become. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, make sure to talk with your dentist as soon as possible!
Another way to know if your enamel is damaged is if the color of your teeth has changed. This color change often occurs first on the central incisors, which are your very front teeth. Those teeth might become transparent around the outer edges. As the enamel continues to erode, your teeth might turn a gray or yellowish color.
If your teeth change shape, it’s a good indicator that you have enamel damage. Your teeth may begin to appear rounded, develop ridges, and often the gaps between teeth will become more substantial. Eventually, you may notice cracks in your teeth.
How to Stop Enamel Erosion
Tooth enamel loss puts your teeth at increased risk for tooth decay. Some tooth enamel loss occurs naturally with age, but you can help stop harmful tooth enamel loss by following a regular oral care routine of brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly. Your tooth enamel is the first line of defense for your teeth against the tooth decay.
Here at Leominster Family Dentists, we are always happy to help. If you think you are experiencing enamel damage, give us a call at 978-534-9216, and we’ll set up an appointment. We’ll look at your teeth for any signs of erosion, and talk with you about your options if you do have damage.
Why Are Baby Teeth Important?
Tiny, but important ― that’s how baby teeth are referred to, especially by dentists. While most parents would look at their babies’ tiny teeth and wonder what in the world they could be thinking about, dentists realize early on that these tiny teeth aren’t just for looking at cute smiles and giggles.
Taking good care of your baby’s teeth early on is crucial to their oral health now and for the rest of their lives. We’ve come up with several reasons why you want to keep your baby’s teeth in tip top shape.
- These teeth are crucial to your child’s health and development. They help with the development of permanent teeth by saving space for them in the jaw. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift to the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in.
- Baby teeth aid in speech development. Taking care of your child’s teeth will help them speak and communicate better.
- They help your child maintain good nutrition by permitting him/her to chew properly.
- Baby teeth help children feel good about themselves and their smile. It’s so important for children to feel confident from a young age and keeping their teeth healthy is imperative.
What happens if baby teeth aren’t taken care of?
Baby teeth can get cavities, just like adult teeth. In addition to the pain caused by cavities, they can also lead to dental infections. Tooth decay is a serious, infectious, and transmissible disease that can spread quickly and lead to infection. If a tooth needs to then get extracted, this can cause the teeth to drift, which may lead to overcrowding and difficulty for the adult teeth to grow in.
Be sure to visit a dentist within six months of your child’s first tooth appearing and definitely by the time they reach the one year mark. Our team will check for cavities and any other pediatric dental problem. We’ll also help show you and your child how to properly take care of their teeth. Give our office a call today at 978-534-9216!
Tips For Getting Rid of Gingivitis
Gingivitis is a very common mouth problem among people of all ages. People who have gingivitis may experience little to no symptoms of this dental condition, while others may experience bleeding when flossing or brushing. Gingivitis can become worse over time and can need to be healed by a dentist if left untreated.
Here are some ways you can get rid of Gingivitis.
Rinsing your mouth with salt water has been shown to be very beneficial in healing gums inflamed by gingivitis. It can also help reduce pain and bacteria, relieve bad breath and remove particles of food.
To make the rinse, you can add one half to three fourths teaspoons of salt into a glass of lukewarm water. After mixing the solution well, you can swish it around your mouth for up to 30 seconds, and then spit out. You can repeat two to three times a day.
Be sure to not rinse for too long or too often as this could hurt the enamel of your teeth and cause them to erode because of the mixture’s acidic properties.
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family and turmeric gel has been proven to help prevent plaque and gingivitis. It’s also used in many home remedies as it has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Turmeric gel is available in many health food or alternative remedy shops. To use it to treat gingivitis, people should apply it to the gums and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing with water and spitting.
There are several home remedies you can make to help get rid of gingivitis. Follow these recipes to make your own:
Lemongrass Oil Mouthwash
Lemongrass oil has been shown to reduce gingivitis and the plaque that causes it. To make this mouthwash, dilute 2 to 3 drops of lemongrass oil in water. Swirl around the mouth and then spit out. Repeat up to three times daily.
Aloe Vera Mouthwash
Aloe Vera has been proven to be as effective as the active ingredient in traditional mouthwash at treating gingivitis symptoms. Aloe vera juice does not need diluting and can be used on its own, just as long as it is pure. Like other mouthwashes, you should swirl it in the mouth and spit out then repeat up to three times daily.
Tea Tree Oil Mouthwash
Tea tree oil mouthwash can reduce the bleeding associated with gingivitis significantly. To make tea tree oil mouthwash, you should simply add 3 drops of tea tree oil to a cup of warm water then use it in the same way as the other homemade mouthwashes above. Tea tree oil can interact with some medications, so it is best to speak to a doctor before using it for the first time.
These are some ways that can help you get rid of gingivitis. However, if your gums don’t heal or you continue to see symptoms of gingivitis, contact us right away. We’re always happy to help and we’ll answer any questions you may have. Give us a call at 978-534-9216 to set up an appointment.
The Different Types of Cosmetic Dentistry
What’s the first thing you see when meeting someone new? Oftentimes, it’s their smile. And if someone doesn’t have a perfect smile, it can be a source of insecurity for them. Luckily, there are ways to help you fall in love with your teeth.
Cosmetic dentistry is dentistry aimed at creating a positive change to your teeth and your smile. Whether your teeth are chipped, stained, misaligned, or worn, cosmetic dentistry can improve your smile and your confidence. Here are just a few ways cosmetic dentistry can help.
1. Teeth Whitening
Whitening your teeth is one of the most common and quickest ways to change your smile. This is the perfect solution for someone who doesn’t need anything more than a bit of brightening for their teeth or someone who isn’t quite ready for a huge commitment.
Fortunately, teeth whitening can be done in a dentist’s office, or it can be done at home. However, it’s wise to get the bleach from your dentist to make sure you’re getting the safest and best product.
2. Dental Veneers
Veneers, the gold standard for cosmetic dental procedures, are thin, custom made shells of tooth colored porcelain that cover the front surface of the teeth. About a half- millimeter of enamel from the tooth is gently shaved and then an impression is taken. Then, the impression is sent to a dental lab for custom veneers.
While you’re waiting for your permanent veneers, you’ll have temporary ones. Once you get your permanent set, they’ll be cemented to the front of the teeth and you can change the size, color, shape or length.
3. Dental Bonding
Dental bonding is a great option for people who have deeply stained or chipped teeth. During this procedure, a tooth- colored, putty- like resin is applied to the tooth and hardened with an ultraviolet or laser light, bonding the material to the tooth. Your dentist can then trim, shape and polish it.
4. Enamel Abrasion
This procedure is a way to remove discoloration. The procedure uses a fine pumice in a micro-abrasion machine to remove surface stains. While this process doesn’t work for stains inside the tooth or intrinsic stains, it works wonders to remove stains caused by things like tobacco, wine, coffee and berries.
5. Invisalign Braces
These are perfect for not only kids, but adults as well because no one can tell you’re wearing them! They’ll help you get the perfect smile that you’ve always wanted.
While they’re great for straightening teeth, they also help with chronic pain caused by misalignment, such as headaches.
Whatever you want to do to improve your teeth, we’ve got you covered. We want all of our patients to be confident in their smiles. If you have any questions about different procedures used for cosmetic dentistry, please reach out to us at 978-534-9216. We’ll get you set up with an appointment and our team will get you the right process for your needs.
Dentures: To Be or Not to Be – That is the Question
Sometimes things happen to your teeth. Whether it’s the result of an unfortunate accident or just old age, you may have lost some of your teeth, as many people do. Unless you’re a shark (or under the age of six), you won’t be growing them back! Fortunately, thanks to modern dentistry, a well-fit set of dentures can help your mouth look and feel normal again.
The history of dentures goes back hundreds of years. They were a little crude at first. You’ve probably heard of Benjamin Franklin’s wooden dentures. They were better than nothing but still a long way from looking and working like real teeth.
The dental community has worked out many of the kinks since dentures were made of wood. Still, even with modern advancements, deciding to wear dentures every day is a big decision. It can involve making some permanent changes to the way you live your life. So, it’s good to know what to expect before you decide dentures are the right solution for you. Here are some of the pros and cons…
Dentures Pro: You Can Eat and Speak Normally
Tooth loss carries with it more than aesthetic consequences—after all, we grow them for a reason. When you’re missing a significant number of teeth, it can be difficult to chew your food or pronounce certain words clearly. Dentures can fix both of these issues, allowing you to speak and eat as you normally would.
Dentures Con: Unusual Feeling While Eating
Dentures can allow you to eat your food in a somewhat normal manner, but the sensation can seem strange when you’re first getting used to your replacement teeth. In addition, the presence of the dentures in your mouth may make food taste different. They cover your palette, so they can block the taste of food.
Dentures Pro: They Help Fill Out Your Face Where Teeth Are Missing
Dentures not only affect the appearance of your smile but also can change the look of your face in general. When you’re missing teeth, it may be difficult to hold your jaw in its normal position and your face might appear to “droop”. Even when your mouth is closed, dentures improve your appearance by providing needed structure for your jaw and face.
Dentures Con: Possible Removal of Additional Teeth
Depending on the condition of your teeth, to properly fit your dentures you may need to remove a few (or all) healthy teeth. If you’re considering dentures, chances are you’ve lost quite a few already. It might not be possible to wear dentures unless your dentist clears away additional teeth. However, this isn’t true in every situation or with every set of dentures, so talk with your dentist to see what your options are.
Dentures can be very beneficial overall for someone who’s lost a significant number of teeth. It can make their day-to-day experience more normal – speaking and eating are much easier with teeth or dentures. And the cons are mostly minor. If you’re sick of living with missing teeth and you believe dentures might be a good solution, give us a call at 978-534-9216 and we’ll be happy to help you decide whether dentures, for you, are to be or not to be!
What are the Signs a Root Canal is Needed?
Each year, over 60 million Americans visit the dentist. Many of these visits can be attributed to cavities, which are small holes in your teeth that allow bacteria to get inside. But sometimes, other dental issues occur that require additional treatments. If you experience severe tooth pain, bleeding, or swelling (other than after eating), you may need a root canal treatment.
Root canals are considered the best option for saving a damaged tooth when an abscess is present. Here are some signs you might need a root canal.
Having persistent pain is one way to tell if you need a root canal. The pain might be constant, or it might go away, but it always comes back. You may feel the pain deep in the bone of your tooth, or it might be in your jaw, face or other teeth.
Tooth pain may have other causes, such as gum disease, cavities, or an impacted tooth, but it’s always a good idea to talk with your dentist if you have tooth pain.
An infection in the pulp of your tooth can cause your tooth to become discolored. Trauma to the tooth or the breakdown of the internal tissue can damage the roots and give the tooth a grayish-black appearance. While there might be other reasons a tooth is discolored, it could be cause for a root canal so talk with your dentist!
Sensitivity to Heat and Cold
When your teeth start to hurt from drinking a hot cup of coffee or drinking ice water, you may need a root canal.
The pain can be just a dull feeling, or it can be a sharp pain that lingers for an extended period of time, even after you’ve finished eating or drinking. If your tooth hurts when you eat or drink something hot or cold, it may be an indication that the blood vessels and nerves in your tooth are infected or damaged.
Swollen gums near the painful tooth can be a sign of an issue that requires a root canal. The swelling may come and go. It may be tender when you touch it, or it may not be painful to the touch.
There also might be a pimple like abscess on your gum, which may ooze pus from the infection of the tooth. This can give you an unpleasant taste in your mouth and make your breath smell bad.
A Chipped or Cracked Tooth
If you’ve chipped or cracked your tooth in an accident, in a contact sport, or by chewing on something hard, bacteria can set in and lead to inflammation and infection. Even if your tooth didn’t crack but you did injure it, the injury can still cause damage to the nerves of the tooth. The nerve can become inflamed and cause pain and sensitivity, which may require root canal treatment.
These are just a few signs that you may need a root canal. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk with your dentist. Call us at 978-534-9216 and we can talk you through possible solutions.
What are the Different Stages of Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is the progressive loss of the attachment of the gum tissue to the teeth. It occurs when harmful bacteria in the mouth continuously produce toxins that irritate and inflame the gums and bone that hold teeth in place.
There are several different stages of periodontal disease including gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Keep reading to learn more about each stage.
Gingivitis is the only stage of periodontal disease that is reversible because it hasn’t yet attacked the bones yet. Typically, gingivitis is caused by a buildup of plaque around the teeth. One of the first signs gingivitis is bleeding gums, however, many symptoms are painless, which is what makes this stage of periodontal disease so common. Good oral hygiene and regular dental visits and cleanings can help treat and reverse gingivitis successfully.
If gingivitis is left untreated, the disease will progress and the gums and teeth will start to separate even further from each other. This will lead to the development of deep gingival pockets, which can promote bacterial growth even further. These pockets are prone to calculus, which can cause damage to the connective tissues responsible for holding the teeth in place.
At this stage, aggressive dental treatment is the only way to stop the disease from progressing even further. In these cases, the preferred form of treatment is what’s referred to as root planning and if necessary, antibiotics.
If you’ve reached the stage of advanced periodontitis, you are at risk for tooth loss and for their teeth to fall out at any time. At this stage, the teeth will have to be removed to prevent the disease from spreading even further. Surgical grafts may also be required to help compensate for the loss of both bone and gum tissue.
Losing teeth is not the only thing you have to be worried about, though, if you have advanced periodontitis. There’s been growing evidence of a link between periodontal disease and other types of complications, such as that of the heart, brain and even lungs.
At this stage, aggressive dental treatment and regular checkups, treatments and intake of certain medications is required to help slow down the progression of the disease. Further treatments may also be necessary to try to reverse as much of the damage done by periodontal disease as possible.
Periodontal disease can be reversed if you catch it quick enough. However, the longer you wait, the worse it gets. You should get in contact with your dentist right away if you believe you have symptoms of periodontal disease. Call us today at 978-534-9216 to schedule an appointment. We’re always happy to help!
Tooth Extractions: 4 Steps to an Easy Recovery
There are more than seven billion people in the world, and every one of them has a set of teeth—32 of them, in fact. Unfortunately, from time to time, some of them have to go. It’s not something anyone’s looking forward to. After all, your teeth have all been with you for years, reliably chewing anything you asked them to. Most of us are pretty attached to them!
Many patients dread the recovery period after an extraction, but as long as you know how to take care of yourself, an extraction can be one of the least troublesome medical events of your life. Today, we’ll tell you what you can expect, and what you can do to make your recovery as comfortable as possible.
The main concern in the period after a tooth extraction is the possibility of a dry socket. This is when a blood clot fails to form over the extraction site, or when the clot comes loose and exposes the wound, possibly even leaving the bone underneath exposed. Fortunately, it’s not incredibly common (it occurs in less than 5% of routine dental extractions).
The pain of a tooth extraction can be avoided by following these steps.
Step 1: Clear your schedule
The most important thing you can do to prepare for this procedure or any other is to make sure you’re ready for the recovery period. If you were thinking about going on a ten-mile bike tour or pushing a new one-rep-max at the gym, you’ll have to postpone it. Clear your schedule of strenuous physical activity for a few days after the extraction, so you don’t risk loosening the clot before it has a chance to heal.
Step 2: Stock up on soft foods
Avoid eating anything you’ll have to chew or suck. Stock up on soft foods like yogurt and applesauce. Or you could make a smoothie—but be careful not to use a straw. Sucking up any liquid may dislodge the clot and leave the wound exposed. Eggs can work too, if you’re craving something a little more substantial.
Step 3: Manage your pain
After the procedure, your poor gums are going to need a bit of babying. You’ll probably want a painkiller of some kind. The extraction site might not hurt badly right away, but you can manage the pain best by taking a Tylenol or similar drug early. The pain likely will increase for the first three days or so, but don’t worry, that’s normal. If pain continues to increase after the third day or doesn’t decrease, it’s possible you have a dry socket. Contact your dentist, and they’ll decide how to handle things from there.
Step 4: Be gentle with your teeth
Your nighttime routine will have to change, too. For the first two days, avoid rinsing out the extraction site so the wound can heal. After that, you should rinse gently with warm salt water to encourage healing. Brush your teeth gently but avoid teeth right next to the extraction site for the first couple of days. Even after the first couple days, be very careful not to brush the site itself. When it’s time to go to bed, it’s best to prop your head up with an extra pillow or two.
Tooth extraction is a little uncomfortable for the first few days. But with just a little care, you can minimize the pain, and your teeth will be chewing reliably for you once again in no time. The key is to be patient with the healing process and gentle with your mouth for a few days. Putting up with the pain and inconvenience of an extraction is much better than living with the pain and infection risk of a cracked or impacted tooth!
Leominster Family Dentists is here to support you through extractions and all your dental needs. If you’re having tooth pain, or if you have questions about tooth extraction or any other procedure, call our office at 978-534-9216, and we’ll do everything we can to help.
Invisalign® Systems and Other Clear Aligners: A Path to Better-Looking Teeth
Braces can feel like a bit of a contradiction. You want a clean, straight smile, but you first have to wear a highly visible device on your teeth for months on end. You want a well-aligned bite, but for a while braces make some day-to-day tasks, such as brushing teeth and eating some foods, more difficult.
Fortunately, for those who want to show off their pretty pearly whites as they go AND show off the results of their realignment as soon as possible, one option is clear plastic removable aligners such as Invisalign aligner systems.
The Benefits of Clear Aligners
Clear aligners, as their name suggests, are clear plastic devices intended to straighten your teeth over time. They are nearly undetectable by observers. Not only are they more difficult to see (getting you closer to being able to show off that perfect smile), but they can be taken out temporarily when needed, allowing you to brush your teeth or eat without distraction.
How to Pay for Clear Aligners
Depending on the degree of work your teeth need, an Invisalign clear aligner treatment can cost between $3,000 and $7,000. According to Invisalign’s website, your insurance may be able to pay as much as $3,000 of the cost. For the amount your insurance doesn’t cover, you have some options.
Many dentists offer payment plans, which allows you to split a large bill into smaller payments over time. This makes payment much more manageable for some people and can be useful in emergency situations when you don’t have time to save money for the treatment before you begin.
Of course, if you can save the money ahead of time, that’s probably the better option. If you’re planning to save up for an Invisalign clear aligner treatment or something similar, you may want to consider opening a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). Accounts such as these allow you to take a certain amount of money out of your paycheck, pretax, to pay for some expenses—including, in some cases, clear aligners. The types of accounts you’re allowed to open and the amount of money you can put into them will vary depending on your situation, so talk to your bank or another financial professional about your options.
The Clear Aligner Fitting Process
For most clear aligners, including Invisalign systems, your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and send it in. From there, orthodontic experts will determine the difference in positions between where your teeth are and where you want them to be and will create several stages of aligners to gradually move your teeth into the desired position. You’ll have to wear the aligners most of the time—about 22 hours a day. At certain points in the process as your teeth change position, you’ll move on to the next device, switching them out until your teeth are right where you want them to be.
Alternatively, there are kits you can order to take a mold of your teeth at home. This is an overall less expensive process, but you aren’t likely to achieve the same results and you lose the benefit of your dentist’s expertise. Clear aligners may not be the best solution for you, so it’s best to consult your dentist beforehand even if you decide to go this route.
For those who can use them, clear aligners such as Invisalign systems can be the least intrusive solution for straightening teeth. It’s nice not to have to worry about the looks and inconveniences of traditional braces! The initial cost of clear aligners may seem daunting, but options are available to help pay for them. If you have any questions about clear aligners or other methods of straightening your teeth, please give us a call at 978-534-9216. We’ll be happy to walk you through your options and help you find the best possible solution for your smile.