Five Cavity Myths

WebMD did a great article recently that tried to separate some of the facts from the hype about cavities. In it, they point out that by the time they reach adulthood, most Americans have had at least one filling or some sort of corrective treatment to strengthen and repair a tooth damaged by decay. We thought it might be a good idea to talk for a moment about some of the common fallacies attached to cavities, as well as the truth about the damage they can cause.

Myth #1 – Cavities hurt.

Not always. One of the myths that may have lead to the damage from tooth decay is that many people don’t realize that they can have a cavity without pain in the mouth, tooth, or gums. In fact, by the time you’re experiencing pain, you could be working on a more serious problem such as an abscess. This is exactly why we recommend twice-a-year preventative checkups. Catching a cavity when it’s a tiny speck on a tooth is a much easier and less costly repair over waiting to have an abscess and root canal to save the tooth. Think of it this way: the longer the cavity goes, the most expensive it’s going to be.

Myth # 2 – Sugar is the only cause of cavities.

Yes, sugar is a big cause of cavities, but it’s not the only cause. Actually, any food, when stuck between the teeth, can cause bacteria and decay. If you’re not flossing every day, that means that food particles are getting stuck between your teeth. That attracts acids that can decay the teeth. Flossing, brushing, and rinsing, in that order, for about two minutes each in the morning and at night are imperative to keep a white smile.

Myth #3 – Sugar-free soda is fine for the teeth.

Sorry. Not so fast. In fact, sugar free-soda is terrible for the teeth. Sugar-free soda increases the amount of acid in the mouth. While sugar-free is always better than regular soda, which has enough sugar, literally, to cause diabetes, it still can cause a host of dental issues. Sorry! Instead of soda, try water. Water naturally flushes the teeth and gums, defending against cavities while promoting overall health.

Myth #4 – If a cavity starts, it’s going to ruin the tooth.

Not necessarily. The goal is to stop the decay. The process of filling a cavity includes cleaning out all the decayed sections of the tooth. Then we pack the tooth with an amalgam that helps strengthen the tooth while preventing further decay. While cavities don’t go away on their own a simple filling is a procedure that usually can save the tooth and prevent the decay from spreading. For teeth that are structurally unsound, there are other cosmetic procedures that we can accomplish to save the tooth.

Myth #5 – Fillings last a lifetime.

Fillings can last for 10 years or even longer. But eventually, they might need to be replaced. In older adults, we frequently see the older mercury amalgam fillings that actually can break down and spread mercury into the body. If you have these fillings, it’s probably time to have them replaced with a safer upgrade.

If you have any other questions about your teeth, please don’t hesitate to contact Preferred Family Dentistry, your Las Vegas dental experts.

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Teeth Cleaning – FAQs

A professional tooth cleaning is one of the most common dental procedures that our practice provides. The medical name for teeth cleaning is called “prophylaxis,” which is our standard process of using an oral hygienist to thoroughly clean all the tartar, staining, and bacteria from your teeth and gums. It’s a gentle, yet thorough preventative process that should happen throughout your lifetime in order to maintain your oral health.

We often receive phone calls from new patients who ask questions about this procedure, so we’ve assembled some of the more common questions and answers that we hear related to teeth cleaning. Please don’t hesitate to call our office if you have further questions about any of the procedures we provide.

Teeth Cleaning – Most Common Questions

Why is cleaning your teeth important?

Tartar is a hard mineralized build-up of plaque on the teeth. If allowed to stay on the teeth, it attracts bacteria that can build up and cause cavities and gum disease.

Can teeth cleaning affect my overall health?

Poor oral hygiene can lead to a whole host of health problems that extend beyond the potential for losing a tooth to decay. Gum disease can even break down the bone holding the tooth in place. These are all good reasons to follow your dentist’s advice and seek a dental cleaning and oral exam from your dentist twice a year.

What is the process?

You will sit back in one of our comfy dental chairs as the hygienist works on your smile. She or he will gently remove the soft plaque and harder tarter with professional instruments designed to gently remove these stains from your teeth. Then the hygienist will polish and floss your teeth to a glossy perfection. It only takes about 30 to 45 minutes and you’ll also have a dental exam and possibly, x-rays.

Will it hurt?

While teeth cleaning rarely hurts, it may be a little uncomfortable. But we do our best to make it a gentle, yet thorough process that prepares you for a lifetime of good oral health.

How often should I have my teeth cleaned?

We typically recommend a thorough professional prophylaxis every six months (twice a year). For patients who are having problems with their teeth or gums, we may recommend this more frequently.

Will I see the dentist during my cleaning?

Absolutely! The dentist will check the x-rays and look closely at your teeth and gums for any problem areas.

How expensive is it?

If you have dental insurance, the insurer often covers preventative care. Teeth cleaning can range from $75 to $200 typically, and that does not include dental x-rays if they are necessary.

Are teeth cleaning the same as periodontal scaling and root planing?

Actually, not. Periodontal scaling and root planing are a much deeper cleaning than regular prophylaxis. If you come to us as an adult and have never had prophylaxis, or if you are showing signs of gum disease, we may recommend this procedure. If your teeth are loose, or there are deep gum pockets, bleeding gums or plaque and tartar below the gum line, you may be a candidate for this procedure.

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Eating for Dental Health – Best Foods to Prevent Cavities

You really are what you eat. Especially when it comes to your dental health. Preventing cavities and promoting good oral health are tied closely to the types of foods you eat. If you’re constantly bathing your teeth and mouth with sugar, your teeth will decay and your gums and overall oral hygiene will be negatively affected.

WebMD cites studies that show increased consumption of sugar is linked to an increase of bacteria in the mouth. This article looks at the best choices you should make in the foods you’re eating and how eating right can positively impact your oral health.

Top Five Foods to Eat for Oral Health

Believe it or not, good oral health starts with one simple practice: Drinking water. Water not only hydrates our bodies nearly insatiable need for liquid, but it also serves to flush away bacteria that sticks to our teeth causing tooth decay and gum disease. Studies show that fully 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests that fluoridated water is really the best medicine to maintain oral health. The fluoride in our drinking water helps our teeth stay resistant to the acid and bacteria causing cavities.

The ADA also suggests dairy products to help strengthen your teeth and bones. Dairy products have calcium and are typically low in sugar (read your yogurt label!), which make them good between meal snacks.

Lean meats, which are rich in phosphorus, are good for your oral health. Red meat, chicken, and fish are beneficial to the teeth. But, like all things, moderation is key. A diet high in red meat can cause other issues, so make sure your daily intake of these rich foods is also combined with plenty of vegetables.

Speaking of veggies, the ADA says the more you eat, the better off you’ll be. Vegetables and fruits are high in water and fiber, which not only helps your overall health; it helps in the fight to eliminate the bacteria caused by sugary foods. Chewing your vegetables carefully also helps stimulate saliva production. Saliva is nature’s best defense for keeping your teeth and gums healthier.

Finally, nuts are packed full of protein. Nuts are a great substitute if you are vegetarian, too. They are low in carbs and don’t add sugar to your diet that can lead to cavities. Like vegetables, chewing nuts can stimulate saliva, too.

Top Tips for Oral Health

Your Las Vegas dentist has another important tip; always practice good oral hygiene by flossing at least once per day. Brushing twice a day with ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and then rinsing with mouthwash will also help prevent decay. Scheduling a routine check-up twice per year is imperative, no matter your age.

A person’s oral health is irrevocably linked to their overall physical health. Even though the temptation can be strong to pick up a candy bar or a sugary drink, resist the urge. It’s simply not worth the pain and suffering that comes from ill health or a dental problem requiring more advanced treatment.

Contact us if you’re experiencing any difficulties, and as always, take better care of you!

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5 Common Signs of TMJ

Did you know your Las Vegas dental team can also help heal the pain associated with a very common ailment called TMJ? TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and it is the hinge connecting the jawbone to your skull. It frequently causes a whole host of painful symptoms, and the American Dental Association (ADA) says about 15% of all Americans experience extreme discomfort when this complex series of bone and muscles get out of whack.

This article will walk you through TMJ and five of the most common signs of problems that could signal your need to visit your Las Vegas dentist.

Signs of TMJ

The TMJ joint, which is located inside your face and just in front of your ear, is an important ball and socket mechanism that lets you talk and chew food. When that joint becomes inflamed or irritated it can cause facial pain, headaches, and you will hear a distinctive popping noise as you try to move the joint. TMJ causes jaw tenderness and you may not even be able to open your jaws very wide if the joint is highly inflamed.

TMJ can happen to children, but we most frequently see the disorder in adults. Typically there are five common reasons for TMJ, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Jaw dislocation
  • Injury
  • Tooth and jaw misalignment
  • Stress and grinding of the teeth

TMJ can be chronic or can flare up unexpectedly. Your Las Vegas dentist should be called immediately; there are easy ways to mitigate the problem and lessen your pain. There are all kinds of obvious reasons for TMJ, but a few that may surprise you, including:

  • Stress from a heavy academic workload. We see high school and college students frequently in our practice. Many times they’re not even fully aware of their high stress – until TMJ flares up.
  • TMJ can flare up in the casual drug user. Some drugs like amphetamines can cause the user to grind their teeth and tighten the jaw muscles. This can lead to a wearing down of the teeth and ball and socket joint, causing great discomfort.
  • Oddly, poor posture can contribute to TMJ. Slouching or hunching your back can cause misalignment of your jaw. That can lead to a permanent jaw alignment issues that could cause the pain of TMJ.
  • The stress of tax season could cause many of us to grind our teeth more frequently. Anytime there is financial stress, the body can react negatively, and tax season is generally the time many of us are awash in worry. We actually see an increase in TMJ cases just after tax filing deadlines.
  • Don’t laugh – but eating giant sandwiches can cause TMJ. While you may be tempted to “supersize it,” opening your jaw wide enough to accommodate some of the big burritos and sandwiches sold today can actually put stress on the jaw muscles.

If you’re suffering from jaw pain, don’t hesitate to call your Las Vegas dentist. We can easily diagnose the problem and provide you with solutions to eliminate the pain and suffering you feel from TMJ disorder.

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Transitioning to Dentures: What to Expect

Dentures can help you retain a lovely smile throughout your lifetime. They can help you eat, talk, and live a fuller, more confident life. Transitioning to dentures can feel like a big step for many adults, so we’ve prepared a short article to help you feel more comfortable by understanding what to expect.  

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New Year New You: Easy Dental Cosmetic Makeovers

If you’re like most people, you’ve set some New Year’s resolutions that could include getting healthier and looking better through losing weight. But if you’re trying to look more attractive in the New Year, it might make sense to also work on the first thing other people notice about you: your smile.

This article looks at some of the least costly but most impactful things your Las Vegas dentist can do to improve your smile.

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