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Dentistry

Fun Tooth Facts

August 9th, 2018

We've come a long way in our dental knowledge through the years, and it's fun to look back and see what our ancestors thought about our pearly whites. We also know so much more about how teeth develop -- it may happen a lot earlier than you think! Thank you Colgate for this entertaining article!

3 Fun Facts About Teeth

by Wendy J. Woudstra

People today tend to know a lot about their oral health, but the humans of ages past relied entirely on conjecture for answers about their teeth. Here are some fun facts about teeth that our ancestors certainly did not know.

Cavities Are Not Caused by Tooth Worms

In medieval times, most people thought dental cavities were made by tiny tooth worms. These little worms were thought to bore holes in teeth and then hide, out of sight, beneath the surface. The wiggling they did inside the tooth was believed to cause the pain of toothaches.

Today, of course, science has told us the truth about cavities, namely that they are really tooth decay caused by enamel-eroding bacteria in the plaque that builds up around teeth. When we eat sugary or starchy foods, the bacteria feed on the remnants left on our teeth, while simultaneously creating an acid that eats away at enamel.

Thankfully, we also know a lot more about preventing and treating tooth decay today than our medieval ancestors did; with preventative dental care, good oral hygiene, and a tooth-friendly diet, we can keep our teeth healthy for a lifetime. You can learn more about maintaining good oral health in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Everyone Has the Same Number of Teeth (Mostly)

The great philosopher Aristotle believed that men had more teeth than women. Even though he was married, he must never have counted, because men and women both develop 20 primary or baby teeth, and when their permanent teeth come in, both sexes receive 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars, and 10 secondary molars.

Things get complicated, however, when it comes to the third molars, often called wisdom teeth. While most people grow wisdom teeth between the ages of 17 and 21 years old, in about 35 percent of the population, wisdom teeth never develop. Some scientists believe that in the future that percentage will continue to grow until humans no longer grow wisdom teeth at all.

Your Primary and Permanent Teeth Start to Develop Before You're Even Born

You may not realize that although you don't have any teeth visible when you're born, the tooth buds of your 20 primary teeth, as well as the 32 permanent teeth you will one day develop, are already present in your jaw. The only exception is your wisdom teeth, which don't begin to develop at all until adolescence.

All these fun facts about teeth serve as reminders that you can never know too much about taking care of your teeth and gums. Daily preventative care and regular visits to the dentist will ensure that you have a healthy smile for years to come.

The Truth About BPA and Fillings

May 17th, 2018

You have undoubtedly heard of the public concerns over BPA. Everywhere you turn there are new "BPA-free" products and packages. But what about dental materials? If you are concerned about BPA in your fillings, this article from MouthHealthy may put your mind at ease:

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Empty, clear plastic bottles

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that has been used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins for more than 50 years. Epoxy resins containing BPA are used in some dental sealants and composites.

Some scientific studies have suggested that BPA, like soy and phthalates (chemicals added to plastics to increase flexibility and durability), may affect reproduction and development in animals by mimicking the effects of the female hormone estrogen. This has raised concerns about its safety. To date, these effects have not been observed in humans. The amount of BPA to which people are exposed is estimated to be much lower than the amount of BPA exposure considered safe by government agencies.

The ADA believes any concern about potential BPA exposure from dental sealants or composites is unwarranted at this time. When compared with other sources of BPA, these dental materials pose significantly lower exposure concerns.

Osteoporosis

April 12th, 2018

Do you or does someone close to you have osteoporosis? The medications used to treat osteoporosis contain bisphosphonates, which help to prevent bone loss. However, bisphosphonates can also affect the bone healing process. For this reason, special precautions must be taken for patients using these medications. Some cancer patients may also be prescribed a bisphosphonate-containing medication to help with certain symptoms. Always tell your dentist the medications you are taking!

This article from MouthHealthy gives a great overview of osteoporosis and the medications used to treat it:

Osteoporosis and Oral Health

It’s important to let your dentist know about all the medications that you take. That’s because certain medications can influence dental treatment decisions.

In the case of antiresorptive agents—medicines that help strengthen bones—these medications have been associated with a rare but serious condition called osteonecrosis (OSS-tee-oh-ne-KRO-sis) of the jaw (ONJ) that can cause severe damage to the jawbone.

Some antiresorptive agents, such as Fosamax, Actonel, Atelvia, Didronel and Boniva, are taken orally to help prevent or treat osteoporosis (thinning of bone) and Paget's disease of the bone, a disorder that involves abnormal bone destruction and regrowth, which can result in deformity. Others antiresorptive agents, such as Boniva IV, Reclast or Prolia, are administered by injection. Higher and more frequent dosing of these agents is given as part of cancer therapy to reduce bone pain and hypercalcemia of malignancy (abnormally high calcium levels in the blood) associated with metastatic breast cancer, prostate cancer and multiple myeloma.

How do these medications affect dental treatment plans?

While osteonecrosis of the jaw can occur spontaneously, it more commonly occurs after dental procedures that affect the bone or associated tissues (for example, pulling a tooth). Be sure to tell your dentist if you are taking antiresorptive agents so he or she can take that into account when developing your treatment plan.

It’s not possible to say who will develop osteonecrosis and who will not. Most people (more than 90 percent) diagnosed with ONJ associated with these medications are patients with cancer who are receiving or have received repeated high doses of antiresorptive agents through an infusion. The other 10 percent (of people with ONJ) were receiving much lower doses of these medications for treatment of osteoporosis. It may be beneficial for anyone who will be starting osteoporosis treatment with antiresorptive agents to see their dentist before beginning treatment or shortly after. This way, you and your dentist can ensure that you have good oral health going into treatment and develop a plan that will keep your mouth healthy during treatment.

Continue regular dental visits

If you are taking antiresorptive agents for the treatment of osteoporosis, you typically do not need to avoid or postpone dental treatment. The risk of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw is very low. By contrast, untreated dental disease can progress to become more serious, perhaps even involving the bone and associated tissues, increasing the chances that you might need more invasive treatment. People who are taking antiresorptive agents for cancer treatment should avoid invasive dental treatments, if possible. Ideally, these patients should have a dental examination before beginning therapy with antiresorptive agents so that any oral disease can be treated. Let your dentist know that you will be starting therapy with these drugs. Likewise, let your physician know if you recently have had dental treatment.

Talk to your physician before ending medications

It is not generally recommended that patients stop taking their osteoporosis medications. The risk of developing bone weakness and a possible fracture is higher than those of developing osteonecrosis.
Talk to your physician before you stop taking any medication.

Symptoms of osteonecrosis of the jaw include, but are not limited to:

  • pain, swelling, or infection of the gums or jaw
  • injured or recently treated gums that are not healing
  • loose teeth
  • numbness or a feeling of heaviness in the jaw
  • exposed bone

Contact your dentist, general physician or oncologist right away if you develop any of these symptoms after dental treatment.

Time for Some Spring Cleaning!

March 22nd, 2018

It is now officially spring and that means it's time for spring cleaning -- of your teeth! If your fall and winter holidays were full of sweets and other treats a check-up will be the perfect way to start out this spring. That way you're covered all summer long and your next cleaning will be right before the next round of yummy holidays! This article from Know Your Teeth provides great information on how to properly clean your teeth this spring. :)

 

Spring Clean Your Teeth

Add a dental visit to this year's spring-cleaning list. A professional dental cleaning at least twice a year can improve your oral health, reports the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.

"A prophylaxis, also known as a 'prophy' or professional dental cleaning, reinforces the at-home oral health regimen," says AGD spokesperson Anne Murray, DDS. "It is designed to preserve health, prevent the spread of disease and give the dentist an opportunity to locate other areas in the mouth that may need attention."

It is strongly recommended that a dentist or hygienist perform a dental cleaning every three to six months, says Dr. Murray. She discourages consumer use of over-the-counter tooth polishing instruments.

"People with healthy teeth and gums typically do not experience soreness after a cleaning," says Dr. Murray. Those with less-than-perfect oral hygiene habits may experience discomfort or heightened sensitivity during a dental cleaning. The dentist can use a topical anesthetic before the cleaning to alleviate pain.

What is a dental cleaning?

Diagnostic services may include:

  • Reviewing and updating medical history, including heart problems, cancer treatment, pregnancy, diabetes, joint replacement, medications, surgeries or any other major changes in health history
  • Blood pressure check
  • Oral cancer examination and screening
  • Evaluation of gum tissue
  • Checking biting, chewing and swallowing patterns
  • X-rays, examination of teeth to detect decay
  • Treatment planning
  • Referral to specialists for specific treatment

Preventive services may include:

  • Removal of plaque and tartar
  • Stain removal
  • Fluoride application
  • Sealants
  • Polishing of fillings or crowns

Educational services may include:

  • Tooth brushing and flossing instructions
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Recommendations for future treatment: when to return for following hygiene treatment, periodontal (gum) concerns, restorative options, etc.
  • Evaluation of possible cosmetic enhancements
  • Evaluation of self-care effectiveness
  • Tobacco-cessation counseling

Dental Anxiety Tips

June 22nd, 2017

Dental anxiety is more common than you think. Here are some great tips on relaxing in the dental chair! Even if you don't have anxiety about going to the dentist, these suggestions could help make for a more enjoyable visit. See the original article on MouthHealthy

Dental Anxiety: 3 Ways to Stop Fearing the Dentist

If you ever get nervous just thinking about going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Perhaps you’re scared the visit might hurt or you haven’t been in a while and not sure what the dentist will find.

Whatever your reason, the right dental team will make sure your dental and your emotional health are taken care of. The more you delay – or just don’t go – to the dentist, the higher your risk of developing dental problems that will make gearing up for future dental visits more difficult. In fact, seeing your dentist regularly can actually make the entire process – from making an appointment to sailing through it – much easier on many levels.
Use these strategies at your next appointment to help ease your anxiety and strengthen your smile.

1. Speak up

Anyone with anxiety knows sharing your feelings makes a world of difference. If you're tense or anxious, do yourself a favor and get your concerns off your chest. Your dentist and dental team are better able to treat you if they know your needs.

  • Tell your dentist about your anxiety. When you book your appointment, tell the receptionist you’re nervous about dental visits. Remind the dentist and dental staff about your anxiety when you arrive. Share any bad experiences you may have had in the past, and ask for suggestions on coping strategies.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes knowing what is going to happen alleviates any fears of the unknown.
  • Agree on a signal. Let your dentist know by raising your hand if you need to take a break during an exam.
  • If you experience pain even with a local anesthetic, tell your dentist. Some patients get embarrassed about their pain tolerance or don’t want to interrupt a dentist during a procedure. Talk with your dentist about pain before it starts so your dentist knows how to communicate with you and make it more comfortable.

2. Distract yourself

Taking your mind off the exam may seem impossible when you’re nervous, but there are some things that that can help distract your thoughts.

  • Wear headphones. If the sound of the drill bothers you, bring headphones so you can listen to your favorite music or audiobook. Some dental offices even have televisions or show DVDs.
  • Occupy your hands by squeezing a stress ball or playing with a small handheld object, like a fidget spinner.
  • Imagine your happy place and visualize yourself at a relaxing beach or garden.

3. Use mindfulness techniques

Relaxation starts in the mind. Try deep breathing exercises to help relax tension in your muscles.

  • Count your breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale for the same number of counts. Do this five times while you’re waiting for your appointment, or during breaks while you’re sitting in the dental chair.
  • Do a body scan. Concentrate on relaxing your muscles, one body part at a time. Start with your head and work your way down to your toes. For example, you can focus on releasing tension starting in your forehead, then your cheeks, your neck and down the rest of your body.

How Sedation Dentistry Can Help You Overcome Dental Anxiety

November 4th, 2015

Putting off your dental visit to Got Smile Dental Group because of fear or anxiety only increases the potential for tooth decay or gum problems. At our office, Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder and our team offer solutions that allow you to relax, without any pain, so you can keep your mouth healthy. Our solutions can help with many different anxiety issues for both adults and children.

Help with minor anxiety

Nitrous oxide is an excellent choice for most patients. Sometimes referred to as laughing gas, nitrous oxide can be regulated to provide you with the amount of sedation you need. When used before a local anesthetic, the injection will not be uncomfortable and you should not notice any pain during your procedure.

If you plan to use nitrous oxide, you can drive yourself to your appointment. In most cases, you will be fine to drive after your treatment: the sedation wears off quickly. Nitrous oxide can also be used along with other sedation techniques to produce a higher level of sedation.

Oral sedatives are available in a liquid or pill form. If you experience moderate anxiety levels, you can be given a tablet to take before your appointment. This type of sedation will be beneficial in relieving the anxiety that can build before your procedure. However, if you choose this method, you cannot drive yourself to your appointment.

Help with major dental anxiety

If you experience extreme levels of stress and anxiety about dental treatment, you may wish to discuss deep sedation or general anesthesia. With these techniques, you will be barely conscious or unconscious during your procedure. You will not feel discomfort or pain. Once you have experienced dentistry with a sedation technique, your anxiety level may decrease on its own.

People are not born with the fear of a dental exam. Unfortunately, most anxiety issues are due to a bad dental experience or childhood trauma. Sometimes anxiety comes from listening to the tales of others, who may have exaggerated their story. Talk to Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder and our team about your dental concerns or fears. Let us help you so you can get the dental care you need for a healthy mouth for life.

For more information about overcoming dental anxiety, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder, please give us a call at our convenient Omaha, NE office!

What exactly is tinnitus?

October 14th, 2015

It’s estimated that about one in every five people is affected by tinnitus, which is a ringing or noise in the ears. But tinnitus isn’t a condition in itself; it’s actually the symptom of an underlying condition. Some of these underlying conditions could be hearing loss, injury to the ear, or some sort of circulatory disorder.

Another common cause if tinnitus is a dental injury or dental issue, whether it involves the jaw or the temporomandibular joint, better known as the TMJ. “Somatic tinnitus” is the term given to the version that is attributable to injuries to the head or neck area. Symptoms of somatic tinnitus may include noticeable fluctuations in sound volume, intermittency, headaches, memory loss or increased forgetfulness, and an increased likelihood of being depressed or sad.

Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder will tell you tinnitus usually isn’t serious and is more common in older populations. For that reason, many people won’t even seek an answer to what’s causing it. But people can also experience more severe cases of tinnitus that can affect a person’s ability to complete everyday activities, which has a larger impact on their lives. For people facing these more severe cases of tinnitus, treatment may be necessary to increase their quality of life. It’s also worth noting that tinnitus seems to worsen with age, so while symptoms might not be a problem one year, they may be more significant and distracting the next.

If you have tinnitus that is caused by the misalignment of the TMJ or an injury to the mouth, that’s a condition that can be corrected by Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder and our team at Got Smile Dental Group. We will work to relieve your symptoms by realigning the jaw or adjusting your bite with routine dental care. Sometimes we won’t even have to go this far, because an oral infection or gum infection may be causing your problem. We might also recommend other life changes, such as dietary adjustments and medication.

If you're experiencing tinnitus-like symptoms and have ruled out various other reasons for it, contact our Omaha, NE office today. Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder and our team will carefully analyze your situation and put you on a treatment course so that you can kick the symptoms for good.

Sleep Apnea: How we can help

August 12th, 2015

At Got Smile Dental Group, we understand that getting high-quality sleep is vital to maintaining your overall health. Insufficient sleep can lead to an inability to concentrate, motor vehicle accidents, and difficulty performing at work. Since approximately 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, this poses a significant public health problem. If you think you may have sleep apnea, talk to Dr. Mark Smith and our team about devices that can help you get a good night’s rest.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a relatively common disorder in which breathing stops or becomes very shallow during the night. These bouts of paused breathing may last a few seconds or as long as several minutes. When 30 or more breathing interruptions occur per hour, sleep apnea leads to dramatic reductions in sleep quality. In many cases, this condition is caused by your airway becoming blocked or collapsed during sleep.

Anyone can get sleep apnea, but there are certain factors that increase your risk. Having small airways, being overweight, being male, or having a family history of sleep apnea increases the likelihood that you will develop the disorder. If you think you have sleep apnea, visit highly encourage you to visit our Omaha, NE office for a thorough physical exam, comprehensive medical history, and a sleep study.

Treatment Options

Several treatment avenues are available for people with sleep apnea. One popular option is to wear an oral appliance. For example, a mandibular advancement device (MAD) looks like a sports mouthguard and slightly repositions your jaw, to keep your airway unobstructed. Another option is a tongue-retraining device (TRD), which holds your tongue in place to ensure that your airway stays open during the night.

For individuals with mild-to-moderate sleep apnea, dental devices are a smart option. Many patients enjoy improved sleep, reductions in snoring, and less fatigue during daytime hours. If you’re curious about getting an oral appliance to help with your sleep apnea, please consult our team at Got Smile Dental Group. After a consultation and examination, we can fit the type of device that works best for your condition.

You broke your tooth; now what?

August 5th, 2015

You may have bitten down on a hard food or object, or perhaps you had a cavity that weakened your tooth. Either way, your tooth is now broken, and the steps you take to care for it will determine whether you get to keep your natural tooth or not. Millions of people suffer from broken teeth every year, so you are not alone. However, that does not mean your newly cracked tooth does not need immediate attention.

What is a broken tooth?

A broken tooth is one that has been fractured, chipped, cracked, broken apart, or completely knocked out of the mouth. You may or may not feel your tooth break, depending on the extent of the break and whether your tooth was decaying prior to the break. It is usually very easy to diagnose a broken tooth, because the evidence will be visible. In the case of hairline cracks in the teeth, you may start to note a sensitivity to hot or cold in the neighborhood of the fracture.

The Right Way to Handle a Broken Tooth

As soon as you know your tooth is broken, chipped, or fractured, make an appointment to visit our emergency dental office. Even the tiniest fractures require attention: bacteria can infect the fractured area, which could cause you to lose the tooth altogether.

Until you are in our office, you can manage your pain using over-the-counter pain medication, such as Tylenol, or you can apply a cold compress to prevent swelling and inflammation. Be sure to rinse your mouth with warm salt water after every meal until you are able to visit us.

Keep in mind that while pain medication is an effective way to manage a broken tooth at home, it is only a temporary fix. Broken teeth should not be treated solely at home, and over-the-counter solutions are not substitutions for professional dental care. Failing to make an appointment with Dr. Mark Smith after breaking or chipping a tooth can place your health at risk.

Treatment

Treating your broken tooth will depend on the type of break you have and how much of the tooth is affected. A minor chip or tiny fracture line may easily be repaired with bonding. On the other hand, a more serious break that exposes the tooth's pulp may require a root canal or extraction to prevent infection. Ultimately, our team here at Got Smile Dental Group will explain to you the best treatment plan based upon our evaluation of the condition and extent of your break.

If you have broken, cracked, chipped, or fractured one or more of your teeth, don’t hesitate to contact our office immediately. We specialize in emergency dental care and are available to serve you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

How do I know if I need a root canal?

July 22nd, 2015

Tooth decay affects everyone, with studies reporting that 92% of adults have had a cavity at one point in their lifetime. In more serious instances of tooth decay, however, the nerve of the tooth may become infected. This type of infection requires a root canal, in which the affected nerve is removed, and the interior of the tooth is cleaned and filled.

Tooth Anatomy

Although each tooth is covered by a hard outer shell, the interior of a tooth consists of dental pulp. This pulp is soft, containing blood vessels that bring nutrients to the tooth. Each tooth also has an associated nerve, which resides within a root canal passing from the tooth’s root into the dental pulp. This nerve provides information about temperature, allowing teeth to sense heat or cold.

Symptoms of Nerve Infection

Damage to the dental pulp or nerve tissue leads to a rapid multiplication of bacteria within the interior of the tooth. The result may be an abscess, a small pocket near the root of the tooth that becomes full of pus. This infected area commonly causes the following symptoms:

  • Intense pain or sensitivity when pressure is applied to the tooth
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, even after the heat or cold has been removed
  • Darkening or discoloration of the affected tooth
  • A small, persistent pimple that forms on the gums
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Swelling in other areas of the face, neck, or head

Nerve infection may occur due to deep decay, although repeated dental procedures, facial trauma, chipping or cracking of a tooth, or large fillings may also contribute to an abscessed tooth.

What to Do if You Think You Need a Root Canal

Only a visit to Dr. Mark Smith can confirm whether a tooth’s nerve has become infected. We will perform an oral examination and X-rays to confirm whether the tooth is abscessed. If a root canal procedure is needed, a small hole will be placed in the tooth. The pulp and nerve tissue are removed from the tooth, which is thoroughly cleaned and filled. Then, the hole is sealed with a special compound to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth’s interior. The entire procedure is performed under local anesthesia to numb pain.

If you think you may have tooth or nerve decay, call our Omaha, NE office today to schedule a diagnostic appointment.

It’s been years since my last appointment; what should I expect?

July 8th, 2015

Feeling apprehensive or guilty for not visiting a dentist in over a year is common, but coming back to receive dental care is easier than you may think. Our dental team at Got Smile Dental Group provides caring, non-judgmental, personalized service, and knowing this you can truly feel at ease making your first appointment back.

During your first appointment back, we will focus on three prominent dental issues including gum disease, cavities, and wear and tear by utilizing a full mouth series of X-rays, a hygiene appointment, and a comprehensive exam.

The full mouth series of X-rays are taken every three to five years, or as needed. A full mouth series may be a panoramic X-ray and bitewings (a set of four that checks for cavities) or a set of X-rays that views the entire anatomy of every tooth. The set of X-rays will depend on your individual needs.

Your hygiene appointment will begin with a review of your medical history, personal concerns and questions, and an evaluation checking for any infection. After any necessary diagnoses are made, the appropriate level of cleaning is proposed and completed if time allows.

A comprehensive exam serves as a review of what the hygienist has already covered. Dr. Mark Smith will again review your medical history and dental concerns, and confirm any periodontal diagnosis. An evaluation of any decay, breakdown or broken fillings, or areas that are at risk for future problems will also be reviewed.

After the appointment, a team member at Got Smile Dental Group will review any recommended treatments, payment options, insurance coverage, and scheduling. The time spent at your first visit back is an important step in the right direction, and we are committed to making this visit as comfortable and easy as possible! Come see us in Omaha, NE.

Headaches, TMJ, and Dentistry

May 27th, 2015

That ache in your head may stem from your jaw. If your jaw falls out of alignment, you could have temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD.

It's not clear what causes TMD. Obesity may factor in. Stress and pressure on the jaw may also contribute. A misaligned bite (that is, where your upper and lower teeth don't fit together when you close your mouth) may cause TMD symptoms, too.

TMD can affect your life and your health by making it painful to eat and hard to sleep. Some people find the nagging pain difficult to bear.

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Recurring headaches with no other cause
  • Pain along and behind your ears
  • Pain in your cheeks or lower face
  • Clicking noises when you talk or chew
  • Tired or sore jaw muscles after eating
  • Limited jaw movement

If you experience the symptoms listed here, make an appointment with our office. We’ll take an X-ray to look at your bite, and determine if TMD could be the culprit. If you have TMD we can offer a number of treatments, including:

  • Relaxation and stress reduction techniques
  • Pain reduction recommendations, which might involve visualization or medication
  • Jaw joint exercises that can help reduce stress and improve your alignment

Left untreated, TMD headaches and other symptoms can become quite severe. If you suffer the symptoms of TMD, you do not have to live in pain. Make an appointment at our Omaha, NE office to learn how we can reduce your pain and restore comfort to your life.

Dentistry around the World

February 18th, 2015

From the clinical perspective, dentistry is similar around the world. Dentists, like Dr. Mark Smith, go to school, obtain a license, and work hard to prevent and treat tooth decay, gum disease, oral infections, throat or oral cancer, tooth loss, and other conditions that might limit a person’s ability to smile, bite, chew, or speak. The quality of dental care, however, and the payment method for dental services varies between nations.

Dentistry throughout the World

Developed countries have more dentists per capita than do developing nations, according to the World Health Organization. There is one dentist for every 150,000 people in Africa, for example, as compared to about one dentist for every 2,000 citizens of an industrialized nation. The lack of dentists in developing nations means that dental care is restricted to pain management and emergency care.

Dentistry often reflects the cultural views of a nation. Some cultures acknowledge only the functional aspect of teeth, so dentists focus on preventing tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. Other cultures emphasize aesthetic appearances, so dentists there provide cosmetic procedures in addition to essential oral care.

Each nation imposes its own education and licensure requirements for dentists but most require some college before four years of dental school. The graduate must then pass local or national exams to practice in that region. European schools and standards are similar to the United States.

From the business perspective, dentistry varies between nations. In the United States, a dentist presents to the patient one bill that includes all of the treatment costs, such as the dentist, his assistant, tools, and labs. This allows the dentist to charge a single, easy-to-pay fee for individual procedures, and gives him an opportunity to mark up items and make a profit.

Across much of Europe, a dentist presents two bills to her patient – one for the dentist and another for the lab. This approach may stem from a cultural belief that profiting from healthcare is unethical and that healthcare should be available to consumers at actual cost; public dental clinics and subsidies ensures all citizens have access to dental care, regardless of ability to pay. In most cases, the government is both overseer and provider of dental care.

While the role of the dentist is nearly the same in every country – to ensure the oral health of the citizens – dental care is different in each nation. Regardless, you can rest assured that the care you receive at our Omaha, NE office is held to the highest standard.

How long will a root canal last?

December 10th, 2014

According to the American Association of Endodontists, root canals have a success rate of over 95% and in most cases they last a lifetime.

There are a few factors that ensure the root canal will last and should be followed.

  • You want to make sure you allow Dr. Mark Smith to perform a permanent restoration of the tooth. That means getting the filling and the crown immediately after the canals have been cleaned of all bacteria and debris.
  • Practice good oral hygiene; that means brushing and flossing at least three times a day especially after meals and before bed.
  • Just because a tooth has had a root canal that does not mean the tooth is safe for as long as it remains in your mouth. That tooth can still get a cavity. Since the nerves are no longer present in that tooth you will not feel any pain or experience any other signs of a cavity. That’s why it is important to get regular cleanings and checkups.
  • If the tooth becomes fractured or you develop an abscess, you will feel pain and know there is a problem with the tooth.

Why do root canals fail?

As mentioned above, only about five percent of root canals fail, and sometimes it is not actually a “failure.” In cases, of teeth that have more than one root, it is possible that only one root was infected and filled. If the remaining root(s) become infected in the future, they will also need a root canal performed on them.

There are a few other reasons why your root canal may fail:

  • The first reason is you may not have taken good care of your tooth (teeth). This is commonly seen in children and teens who often have inconsistent oral hygiene habits.
  • If the tooth has more than one root, and one of the roots has a minute infection that is undetectable and goes unnoticed it can cause the root canal to fail. While this scenario is very unlikely, it does occasionally happen.
  • Over time, the seal can become weak and bacteria can enter the tooth. This is also very uncommon but it does happen.

No procedure dental or medical comes with a 100% guarantee to last a lifetime, but if you take care of your treated tooth, the chances of success are great.

If you have any additional questions about root canals and your oral health, be sure to ask a member of our team at our Omaha, NE office.

Relax with Sedation Dentistry

November 12th, 2014

Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder and our team at Got Smile Dental Group understand that many of our patients have a fear of dentistry. You may be concerned about experiencing pain from sensitive teeth or routine procedures. General anxiety is also common. Do not put off visiting our Omaha, NE office; we offer various types of sedation to take the pain and fear out of your dental procedure.

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

For many patients, nitrous oxide, combined with local anesthetics, will both provide pain relief and reduce anxiety. Nitrous oxide is beneficial because the dosage can be regulated during treatment and patients are normally capable of driving shortly after the procedure is completed.

Oral or Injected Sedation

With oral sedation, you may be given a pill or liquid to consume several hours before your procedure. You will not be able to drive yourself to the appointment. An oral liquid is often given to children before any shots or intravenous anesthesia. An intramuscular injection may be given at the office that provides relaxation benefits for 20 to 30 minutes.

Nitrous Oxide with an Oral Sedative

If you experience higher levels of anxiety, an oral or injected sedative can be offered before nitrous oxide is started. This is also effective for reducing anxiety regarding the injection of local anesthetics. A liquid medication followed by nitrous oxide is beneficial for children. This combination can produce a deep sedation level.

General Anesthesia

This type of anesthesia can be offered as an inhaled gas or intravenous liquid. If no oral sedative is given before the general anesthesia is administered, you should wake up quickly after your procedure is complete. An injection, pill, or liquid medication can be offered to reduce anxiety before intravenous sedation begins. Intravenous sedation can also be used at moderate-to-deep sedation levels without complete loss of consciousness.

Do not hesitate to ask Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder about receiving sedation or pain prevention when you visit. We will be glad to explain the options we have available and answer all your questions to ensure that your exam is pleasant for you.

Oral Health Problems: An indicator of overall health problems?

November 5th, 2014

If you are like many people, you might think of your oral health as separate from your overall health. After all, most dental coverage plans are distinct from health care coverage. However, your oral health goes far beyond being able to chew nutritious and enjoyable foods. Oral health problems may be an indicator of a variety of other health problems.

Links between Oral Health and Overall Health

In the late 1980s, researchers noticed a trend among patients who had recently suffered from heart attacks. As the Journal of the American Dental Association reported, they observed that these patients were more likely to have dental caries or cavities, periodontitis or inflammation around the tooth, and other forms of gum disease. Later studies found similar results, and dentists and doctors now recognize poor oral health as a risk factor for a variety of heart conditions, such as heart attacks, atherosclerosis, and coronary heart disease.

There are even more links between oral health problems and overall health problems. Some individuals do not find out that they have Type 2 diabetes until a dentist sees that they have periodontitis. If you have diabetes, worsening periodontitis can indicate that your diabetes is not under control.

Poor oral health is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, poor oral health puts you at higher risk for respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, because harmful pathogens can enter your body through your mouth.

Take Care of Your Teeth

Keeping your teeth healthy remains important, especially as you grow older. Older adults are more prone to dental caries and other oral health problems, as well as to chronic diseases. While taking care of your oral health might not prevent a specific disease, a healthy mouth is a significant factor in your overall health.

You can take care of your teeth by continuing to brush twice a day and floss every day. Avoid consuming too many sugary and starchy foods, and drink water after each meal or snack to rinse your teeth. See Dr. Mark Smith for regular checkups, and contact Got Smile Dental Group if you have any concerns about your teeth or gums.

How to Prevent Bad Breath

October 29th, 2012

We all experience bad breath every now and then. Usually it’s a minor inconvenience resolved with a thorough brushing. There are times, however, when bad breath becomes a recurring condition that can be a major source of embarrassment. Fortunately, mouth odor is preventable. By familiarizing yourself with the causes of bad breath, you’ll be able to take action and keep it in check.

Brushing and Flossing Habits: Proper care of your teeth and gums will go a long way toward maintaining fresh breath. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice each day with a fluoride toothpaste. Don’t forget to brush your tongue; bacteria can gather there as well. To remove odor-causing food particles from between your teeth, be sure to floss once per day.

Diet: The phrase “you are what you eat” is especially true when it comes to mouth odor. Researchers at New York University list strong-smelling foods such as pastrami, garlic, and onions as common culprits of bad breath. If you’re dieting, you may notice that your breath is worse between meals. Infrequent eating results in lower saliva production, which can cause bacteria buildup in the mouth. Eating meals at regular intervals can help reduce this accumulation.

Dry Mouth: The American Dental Association attributes a condition called xerostomia, better known as dry mouth, to bad breath. Dry mouth is exactly what it sounds like: a decreased amount of saliva resulting from continuous mouth breathing, salivary gland problems, or certain medications. The lack of beneficial saliva can lead to a buildup of odor-causing particles in the mouth. To combat dry mouth, be sure to stay hydrated or try sucking on a sugar-free candy.

Tobacco Use: Yet another entry on the long list of reasons to kick the habit, tobacco products can also contribute to bad breath. The experts at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center attribute tobacco use to a wide range of problems with the teeth and gums. In addition to mouth odor, potential problems include periodontal disease, loss of taste, gum irritation, and oral cancer.

Medical Conditions: Bad breath can be a warning sign or symptom of another underlying health issue. According to the Wexner Medical Center, mouth odor can indicate a respiratory infection, diabetes, a gastrointestinal disorder, or issues with the liver and kidneys. Symptoms vary from person to person, so if you suspect that your bad breath might be stemming from a larger problem, make an appointment with your doctor to address your concerns.

Additional Prevention: Scheduling regular dental checkups will help keep plaque buildup and gum disease from developing. Contact our office about any oral health issues you may be experiencing. We can provide professional recommendations tailored to your situation that will help keep your mouth as fresh and clean as it can be.

When is the Best Time to Floss?

October 8th, 2012

We always encourage our patients to practice good oral hygiene between office visits! Part of that process includes flossing, which is the process of cleaning between the teeth to remove food and debris from the areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. When food is allowed to remain between the teeth, it provides a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause periodontal disease!

Should You Floss Before or After Brushing?

According to recent clinical findings, you can floss either before or after brushing, according to your own preference. By flossing first, you can brush away dislodged food debris afterward. On the other hand, brushing first allows you to loosen plaque between the teeth, making it easier to floss more effectively.

Whichever you choose, the most important goal is to floss thoroughly. That means using a fresh strand of dental floss each day, and carefully pulling it back and forth between all of the teeth. Do not skip flossing because your teeth look or feel clean.

When to Floss

Unlike brushing, you need only floss between your teeth once per day. Although you may choose to do it in the morning or afternoon, many prefer to floss at night to prevent food and debris from remaining in the crevices of the teeth overnight. This could prevent the build-up of plaque too, which is a cause of tooth decay.

Help with Flossing

If you have questions about your flossing technique or what type of floss is best for your teeth, contact our office. The staff will be more than happy to assist you in perfecting your home hygiene regimen. In most cases, you can choose between interdental cleaning picks or flexible floss strands to perform your daily flossing routine.

Smile! October is National Dental Hygiene Month!

October 2nd, 2012

Did you know that October is National Dental Hygiene Month? For our staff, that means only one thing: Reminding you that your teeth are an important part of your body, and keeping them clean helps keep your mouth and your body healthy. By taking care of your teeth, eating a balanced diet and visiting our office on a regular basis, you can have healthy teeth and an attractive smile throughout your entire life.

Has it been six months since your last visit? If the answer is yes, we encourage you to give us a call to set up an appointment with our team!

Proper Brushing and Flossing Techniques

September 18th, 2012

When it comes to the care of your teeth, proper brushing and flossing techniques do make a difference in the health of your mouth. Establishing a daily oral care routine should not be difficult. Unfortunately, you face an overload of information from advertisements touting the latest in brushing and flossing products.

Types of brushes:

Toothbrushes come in a variety of sizes and bristle styles. Here are some tips to help you choose.

- The ends of the bristles should be rounded; jagged ends can damage your gums.
- Most individuals will benefit from a soft bristled brush. Softer bristles will be gentler on tooth enamel, even if you have a heavy hand when brushing.
- The head of the toothbrush should fit comfortably in your mouth. If the head is too large, you may not be able to properly brush your back teeth.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Frayed or worn out bristles will do more damage than good.


Brushing techniques:

While getting your teeth clean is important, over-brushing can actually be damaging to your teeth and gums. Brushing too hard can wear away the tooth enamel and cause sensitivity.

- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface.
- Use short, gentle back and forth strokes.
- Clean all of the surfaces of your teeth. The inside, outside, and chewing surfaces are all important.
- To brush the inside surfaces of your front teeth hold the brush vertically. Use gentle up and down brush strokes.
- Do not forget to brush your tongue.
Types of floss:

- Floss is available as waxed or unwaxed string. Waxed floss may glide more smoothly between your teeth.
- The flavoring in floss is designed to make the process more enjoyable.
- Floss tape is used in the same manner as string.
- Floss picks can be useful in reaching back teeth or if you have dexterity problems.
Flossing techniques:

To use string floss you will need a piece that measures about 18 inches in length. Wrap the ends a couple of times around your middle or index fingers. Gently work the floss back and forth between each of your teeth. You should be making a “C” shape against the tooth surface.

Be careful not to cut into your gums while flossing. If you notice any bleeding of your gums, consult your dentist. We recommend that you floss your teeth once a day. The time of day and the brushing and flossing sequence do not matter.

Every individual does have different needs and we will work with you to determine what works best for your situation. If you have questions regarding brushing techniques or which floss or toothbrush to use, ask at your next visit. Keeping your mouth healthy will make your checkups a pleasant experience.

How to Prevent or Get Rid of Gum Disease Naturally

September 10th, 2012

If you have, or are at risk for gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) then you probably know about the traditional treatments that your dentist has to offer. Thanks to advances in technology, there are several options for treatment such as periodontal surgery, laser therapy and other non-surgical methods. However, according to the American Academy of Periodontists, non-surgical methods don't work for every situation. Also, not everyone is comfortable with these procedures due to possible pain, side effects and medicines that may be used in the process. Fortunately, nature has provided a solution in the form of a naturally occurring substance called xylitol.

Xylitol is a natural sugar found in the fibrous part of many plants including plums, strawberries, raspberries, and birch trees. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reports that xylitol can reduce unhealthy oral bacteria that are responsible for causing cavities and gum disease. Due to xylitol’s unique structure, it doesn't break down the way that regular sugar does and it helps keep a neutral pH balance in your mouth. Regular consumption of xylitol will prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to your teeth and gums, thus decreasing your chance of developing, or worsening, gum disease.


Here are some additional benefits that xylitol provides for your oral health:

* Helps to reduce plaque formation
* Helps to reduce the development of cavities and aids in repairing them
* Increases saliva which helps to repair damaged enamel


Preventing Gum Disease

To maintain optimum oral health, a minimum of six grams is necessary to notice the benefits, but more than ten to 12 grams a day is no more effective than 20 grams. To prevent gum disease, make sure that you consume an appropriate amount of xylitol throughout the day in five to six doses, not all at once. Drinking water, with one to two teaspoons of granulated xylitol stirred in, is an effective way to get the recommended amount. Do this in addition to your usual brushing and flossing routine.

Eliminating Gum Disease
Xylitol is anti-bacterial and will help to make the harmful bacteria disappear and over time the pockets that you've developed in your gum line will heal and recede back to their normal condition. Since you already have a higher level of bacteria in your mouth, you'll want to be sure to get in at least ten grams of xylitol each and every day in addition to maintaining a good brushing and mouth rinsing routine. Use a toothpaste with xylitol, a mouthwash that is highly effective at killing bacteria, and floss daily. As your final step, you should drink some water with a few grams of xylitol, chew a piece of gum or eat a candy with xylitol. Make sure that you get your xylitol in small, frequent doses throughout the day in order to gain the most benefit.
Tips and Warnings
* To get enough xylitol, try eating xylitol candies and chewing gum made with 100 percent xylitol or drinking xylitol mixed with water.
* Consuming too much xylitol in a given day, usually more than 20 to 30 grams, often causes diarrhea and stomach discomfort.
* While it's perfectly safe for human consumption, xylitol is lethal to dogs. Be sure to keep your xylitol in a cupboard or high shelf so that your canine friends can't get to it.

The Truth Behind Six Popular Dental Myths

September 4th, 2012

Myths about dentistry and general dental care abound. These myths are passed on by word of mouth and are presented as being factual; although they are typically inaccurate. There are dangers associated with dental misconceptions. By believing in these dental myths, you are placing your oral health at risk and you may not be receiving proper dental care. Find the answers behind many popular dental myths.

Myth: It is not important for young children to care for their baby teeth.

Fact: Although baby teeth are not permanent, long-term problems with permanent teeth can develop if baby teeth are not properly cared for. The malpositioning of permanent teeth, misalignment issues, and early orthodontic treatment are just a few of the concerns related to losing baby teeth too early as a result of tooth decay. It is crucial that children learn the basics of proper oral hygiene at an early age. Doing so will help them form permanent habits that are essential for oral health.

Myth: If you are not having problems with your teeth, seeing a dentist is not necessary.

Fact: Most dental issues are not evident in the early stages. It is only when they have progressed further that you start to notice there is a problem. In most cases, only a dentist can detect when there is a problem. Scheduling an appointment in our office twice a year for regular cleanings and exams is a vital component to your dental health. In this way, dental problems can be treated early before they become a serious concern and require a more advanced form of treatment.

Myth: You should avoid brushing and flossing if your gums are bleeding.

Fact: If your gums are bleeding, it is usually a warning sign of gum disease or gingivitis. You should continue to brush and floss your teeth gently during this time since poor oral hygiene is a primary cause of bleeding gums. If the bleeding worsens or continues to be a problem, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Myth: Chewing sugar-free gum is a good substitute for brushing your teeth.

Fact: Although chewing sugar-free gum offers the benefits of freshening your breath and minor teeth cleaning between meals, it should not be considered a substitute for brushing and flossing. Dental plaque and food particles can only be thoroughly removed by brushing and flossing.

Myth: Cavities are only a concern when you are a child.

Fact: Cavities can develop at any age. There are many situations and conditions that place both adults and elders at risk for the development of cavities. As an adult, you are more prone to developing receding gums, which can quickly result in tooth decay. Many adults and elders also take prescription medications that cause dry mouth. This can cause tooth decay as there is an insufficient amount of saliva within the mouth to wash away bacteria and neutralize acids.

Myth: Once you treat a decayed tooth, it will not become decayed again.

Fact: It is possible for other areas of the tooth to become decayed; although proper brushing and flossing will prevent the treated area of the tooth from becoming decayed again. If a filling gets old and begins to break down, there is a possibility that bacteria can become trapped inside and cause tooth decay.

Four Common Causes of Toothaches

August 29th, 2012

If you have ever suffered from a toothache, you know how excruciating the pain can be. Tooth pain is usually caused by irritation to the nerves in the roots of the teeth, although there are other potential sources of the pain as well. Fortunately, there are ways to both prevent and resolve a toothache, regardless of its cause.

 

Causes of Tooth Pain

Some of the most common causes of tooth pain include:

1) Tooth Decay – Also known as cavities, tooth decay occurs when bacteria erodes the enamel of the tooth, which can eventually expose the nerve. This is the most common cause of tooth pain.

2) Gum Disease – Also known as periodontal disease, occurs when bacteria populate along and below the gum line.

3) Injury – An injury can include a small chip or a large break in the tooth.

4) Impaction – Teeth often become impacted beneath the surface of the gums. This condition is most common in molars, such as the wisdom teeth. An impacted tooth may cause no pain at all, or it could become extremely painful if it begins to affect the nerves and teeth around it.

 

Pain Resolution

Determining the source of your pain starts with a trip to the dentist. Usually, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination that may include X-rays. If your X-rays or examination reveal tooth decay, the solution may involve a simple filling, a root canal or even a tooth extraction. Your dentist will decide which option is best for you based on how advanced the tooth decay is, as well whether an infection is present within the tooth.

If, however, gum disease is causing your tooth pain, the solution may be as simple as a root planing and scaling, followed by administration of oral or topical antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing your symptoms. If you have a cracked, chipped or broken tooth, your dentist may resolve your pain by either filling the crack, or covering the tooth with a crown designed to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth.

If your dental X-rays reveal that you have an impacted tooth, you will most likely need to have it extracted to avoid causing damage or misalignment to the other teeth. Impacted teeth can also become infected, which is why it is important to remove impacted teeth before they begin to cause problems.

 

Prevention

Although there are ways of treating a toothache, the best way to treat it is by preventing it altogether. Some causes of tooth pain are not preventable, such as an impacted tooth or a predisposition to tooth sensitivity. However, tooth decay and gum disease are easily prevented by using good hygienic practices at home and visiting your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings. By brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing, as well as wearing protective mouthguards when participating in high impact activities, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing tooth pain in the future.

A Healthy Mouth Starts With What You Eat

August 20th, 2012

Most people know that visiting the dentist is an essential part of caring for their teeth. Regular checkups and cleanings are, of course, very important. But what some people don't realize is that good dental hygiene starts long before you get to the dentist's office. You may be saying, "I know, it starts with my toothbrush and floss." But actually, oral health begins even before that. A healthy smile starts at your grocery store.

Dental checkups can detect problems early on and address them, but only good nutrition can give your teeth and gums the healthy foundation they need. If your diet is rich in tooth-friendly nutrients, you will be less prone to gum disease, tooth decay, and even jawbone loss.

So, which nutrients are the most important? Here are a few tooth-building superstars.

Calcium:
We all know that calcium builds strong bones and teeth. Most expectant mothers are even aware that the calcium-rich foods they eat during pregnancy will ensure that their babies develop strong, healthy teeth later on. But did you know that calcium is important to your teeth long into adulthood?

On its "Milk Matters" page, the National Institutes of Health tells us that calcium can protect teeth against decay. Furthermore, a 2001 study published by the US National Library of Medicine found that elderly people who had adequate amounts of calcium in their diets were more likely to retain their teeth as they aged.

Good sources of calcium include yogurt, cheeses, milk, and leafy green vegetables. If you can't get an enough calcium from your diet alone, talk to your doctor about adding a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because your skin can synthesize it during exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D could also be called the healthy smile vitamin. It not only helps your teeth, but it also keeps your gums healthy. Another study published by the National Library of Medicine has shown a connection between low levels of dietary vitamin D and gingivitis. People in the study who had more of the vitamin in their diets had healthier gums.

While most of us get plenty of vitamin D from sun exposure, people who live farther from the equator may need to take a supplement during the winter months.

Vitamin C:
Long ago, British sailors were called "Limeys" because their superiors made them eat limes on long ocean voyages. Why? Because limes are rich in vitamin C and without it, the sailors got scurvy and often lost their teeth. While there's little danger of developing scurvy today, a study in the year 2000 of people who ranged in age from 20 to 90, showed that vitamin C is still necessary for healthy gums. People in the study who had the lowest dietary intake of this essential vitamin were at the highest risk of gum disease.

Vitamin C is perhaps the easiest of vitamins to get from your diet. Rich sources include strawberries, apricots, oranges, lemons and, of course, limes. Red and yellow peppers also have lots of vitamin C, as do tomatoes and brussel sprouts.
Never put off regular dental checkups and cleanings, but in between appointments, watch your diet. Making sure these essential nutrients are a part of your daily intake will ensure that your teeth and gums are as healthy as they can be.

Fun Ways to Encourage Children to Brush Their Teeth

August 15th, 2012

It's that dreaded time of day for many parents — the nighttime routine. As kids whine and stomp up the stairs as you send them off for pajamas and bedtime, you face the daunting task once again of trying to get your children to brush their teeth. While this is certainly a chore for many parents across the country, the following are several tips you can use in order to make brushing teeth a fun, enjoyable time.

1. Give them exciting toothbrushes
By buying your children special toothbrushes in their favorite colors, or decorated with their favorite TV characters, they will see their toothbrush as more of a toy than a tool. By keeping things fresh and fun, children will be excited to use their toothbrush since it represents a little bit of who they are and what they enjoy.

2. Make a rewards chart
For each night your children willingly — and without argument — brush their teeth, give them a sticker. After a week of stickers, give them a special reward.

3. Keep it fresh with different toothpaste
While adults may not care too much what flavor their toothpaste is, children are a different story. Be sure to purchase flavored toothpaste that kids will enjoy. Mint is always a good option, but many toothpaste companies create other flavors as well, including fruit flavored toothpastes and even bubble gum toothpaste.

4. Buy a fun flossing tool
Flossing is an essential part of good oral hygiene, especially for children. Encourage this habit along with tooth brushing by purchasing a fun flossing tool. These colorful contraptions get children excited about flossing their teeth, and if you find that they prefer flossing to brushing tell them that the only way they can floss, is if they brush their teeth first.

Instead of making children feel like brushing their teeth is something to be dreaded, parents can make this ritual a lot more fun and exciting using these tips. According to Parenting Squad, the more fun parents make this routine, the more children will be encouraged to brush their teeth. We all know that a healthy mouth and healthy child begin with healthy teeth — so getting kids in the good habit of brushing often is essential in the long run.

Sensitive Teeth? Try Changing Your Toothpaste

August 10th, 2012

If you have noticed that your teeth are starting to feel more sensitive than usual, you might initially avoid foods and drinks that seem to cause discomfort. For example, you feel some dental pain when you drink a hot cup of coffee in the morning or while chewing on a cold apple. While it’s a normal reaction to avoid foods or drinks that lead to pain or discomfort, it’s better to determine the cause of the problem and take steps to improve the health and quality of your teeth.

 

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

- If only a single tooth is sensitive, it could be caused by a cavity. In other cases, the tooth might be cracked. These situations require care from a trained dental professional. You may need to get a filling, a new crown, or a root canal to reduce the tooth sensitivity.

- If many or all of your teeth are sensitive, you may have recently begun consuming increasingly larger amounts of foods or drinks that are high in acid. The acid dissolves the protective enamel of your teeth, exposing the dentin. The tooth’s dentin is sensitive to heat and cold as well as sticky or acidic foods that can trigger pain.

- Teeth whitening treatments can also cause tooth sensitivity.

- Increased stress in your life also can indirectly lead to tooth sensitivity. High stress can cause you to grind your teeth while you sleep. If you suffer from teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, one treatment option may be a special night guard appliance to wear while you sleep.

- Weather changes are another factor to consider. If it starts getting cold suddenly, the cool air you breathe in may trigger teeth pain, especially when enamel has been eroded from your teeth.

 

Reducing Tooth Sensitivity

- Avoid consuming foods and drinks that are high in acid. For example, citrus fruits and their juices can wear down your teeth’s enamel over time. Taper down your consumption to minimize teeth erosion. Try using a straw when drinking acidic juices in order to minimize their contact with your teeth. Rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and drinks.

- Start brushing your teeth with the softest available toothbrush. Use gentle motions to brush your teeth to minimize abrading their surfaces.

- You may be interested in switching to a new toothpaste to help you with the discomfort. Select a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. You can find a variety of brands at your local pharmacy or supermarket. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, particularly paying attention to how long you can use the product. If your teeth are still sensitive after using the special toothpaste, you should contact our office so we can rule out a more serious underlying problem.

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