Posts for: December, 2016
Learn more about keeping your smile healthy from your West Hartford dentists.
Clean teeth are the key to preventing tooth decay. Dr. John Rosenlieb, Dr. Robert Alexander, Dr. Bruce Abel and Dr. Joe Parets--your West Hartford, CT family dentists at Comprehensive Dental Care--share a few tips that will help you keep your smile sparkling clean.
Brush twice a day
If you've ever fallen asleep without brushing your teeth or forgotten to brush your teeth before you left the house, you probably noticed that your teeth felt a little rough when you ran your tongue over them. That rough feeling is caused by plaque, a colorless bacterial film that builds up on teeth. Plaque interacts with the sugars in foods to form strong acids that eat away at your enamel and cause tooth decay. If you skip brushing, plaque has plenty of time to build up on your teeth.
Brushing your teeth twice a day is essential if you want to remove plaque and prevent cavities. Choose a soft bristle brush and spend at least two minutes brushing every surface of your teeth. Be sure to brush your tongue too. If you don't, the bacteria on your tongue can contaminate your freshly cleaned teeth.
Floss to get rid of hidden plaque
Flossing is the only way to remove plaque that forms between teeth. If you don't remove it, cavities can develop between teeth. Floss once per day to keep plaque away.
Use antibacterial mouthwash
Antibacterial mouthwash, often labeled "anti-cavity" mouthwash, offers an important benefit. In addition to freshening your breath, it also kills bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. For maximum protection, don't rinse with water after you spit out the mouthwash.
Choose healthy snacks
Eating snacks that contain sugars or carbohydrates, such as candy, chips or crackers, increases your risk of cavities. Carrots, apples and other crunchy snacks help clean your teeth by removing food debris and plaque.
Make regular professional cleanings a priority
It's not always easy to reach every nook and cranny of your teeth with your toothbrush and floss. Regular dental cleanings remove both plaque and tartar, a hard substance that can cause gum disease.
How long has it been since you had your teeth cleaned? If it's been more than six months, call Dr. Rosenlieb, Dr. Alexander, Dr. Abel and Dr. Parets--your West Hartford, CT family dentists at Comprehensive Dental Care--at (860) 233-7514 to schedule an appointment.
If we could go back in time, we all probably have a few things we wish we could change. Recently, Dr. Travis Stork, emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors, shared one of his do-over dreams with Dear Doctor magazine: “If I [could have] gone back and told myself as a teenager what to do, I would have worn a mouthguard, not only to protect my teeth but also to help potentially reduce risk of concussion.”
What prompted this wish? The fact that as a teenage basketball player, Stork received an elbow to the mouth that caused his two front teeth to be knocked out of place. The teeth were put back in position, but they soon became darker and began to hurt. Eventually, both were successfully restored with dental crowns. Still, it was a painful (and costly) injury — and one that could have been avoided.
You might not realize it, but when it comes to dental injuries, basketball ranks among the riskier sports. Yet it’s far from the only one. In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are some two dozen others — including baseball, hockey, surfing and bicycling — that carry a heightened risk of dental injury. Whenever you’re playing those sports, the ADA recommends you wear a high-quality mouth guard.
Mouthguards have come a long way since they were introduced as protective equipment for boxers in the early 1900’s. Today, three different types are widely available: stock “off-the-shelf” types that come in just a few sizes; mouth-formed “boil-and-bite” types that you adapt to the general contours of your mouth; and custom-made high-quality mouthguards that are made just for you at the dental office.
Of all three types, the dentist-made mouthguards are consistently found to be the most comfortable and best-fitting, and the ones that offer your teeth the greatest protection. What’s more, recent studies suggest that custom-fabricated mouthguards can provide an additional defense against concussion — in fact, they are twice as effective as the other types. That’s why you’ll see more and more professional athletes (and plenty of amateurs as well) sporting custom-made mouthguards at games and practices.
“I would have saved myself a lot of dental heartache if I had worn a mouthguard,” noted Dr. Stork. So take his advice: Wear a mouthguard whenever you play sports — unless you’d like to meet him (or one of his medical colleagues) in a professional capacity…
While it's possible for a teenager to lose a tooth from decay, it's more common they'll lose one from an accidental knockout. If that happens to your teenager, there are some things you should know to achieve a good outcome.
Our top concern is to preserve the underlying bone following tooth loss. Like other tissues, bone has a life cycle: older cells dissolve and are absorbed by the body (resorption), then replaced by new cells. The biting pressure generated when we chew helps stimulate this growth. But bone around a missing tooth lacks this stimulation and may not keep up with resorption at a healthy rate.
This can cause a person to lose some of the bone around an empty tooth socket. To counteract this, we may place a bone graft at the site. Made of bone minerals, usually from a donor, the graft serves as a scaffold for new bone growth. By preventing significant bone loss we can better ensure success with a future restoration.
Because of its lifelikeness, functionality and durability, dental implants are considered the best of the restoration options that can be considered to replace a missing tooth. But placing an implant during the teen years is problematic because the jaws are still growing. If we place an implant prematurely it will appear to be out of alignment when the jaw fully matures. Better to wait until the jaw finishes development in early adulthood.
In the meantime, there are a couple of temporary options that work well for teens: a removable partial denture (RFP) or a fixed modified bridge. The latter is similar to bridges made for adults, but uses tabs of dental material that bond a prosthetic (false) tooth to the adjacent natural teeth to hold it in place. This alleviates the need to permanently alter the adjacent natural teeth and buy time so that the implant can be placed after growth and development has finished.
And no need to worry about postponing orthodontic treatment in the event of a tooth loss. In most cases we can go ahead with treatment, and may even be able to incorporate a prosthetic tooth into the braces or clear aligners.
It's always unfortunate to lose a tooth, especially from a sudden accident. The good news, though, is that with proper care and attention we can restore your teenager's smile.
If you would like more information on how to treat lost teeth in teenagers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants for Teenagers.”