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Posts for tag: tooth decay

UnderstandingtheSignsandSymptomsofToothDecayandaDiseasedRootCanal

Tooth decay can be relentless: left untreated it can work its way into a tooth’s inner core — the pulp chamber or better known as the root canal. Once this occurs, the best course of action to save the tooth may be a root canal treatment to clean out the diseased pulp (nerve) and seal the canal from further decay.

So, what signs and symptoms might you encounter if decay has invaded a tooth’s root canal? When the pulp is first infected you may experience acute pain; over time, however, the pain may suddenly dissipate. This doesn’t mean the tooth has healed itself — quite the contrary, it may mean the infected pulp tissue, including the nerves, has died. Once the nerves die, they no longer transmit pain signals to the brain.

While the pain may cease, the infection hasn’t and will continue to travel from the end of the tooth root into the bone. At this point, you may encounter pain whenever you bite on the tooth. This time the pain is originating in nerves located in the periodontal ligament that surrounds the tooth root and joins the tooth with the jawbone. This can lead to an acute abscess (with accompanying pain) or a chronic abscess that may have no pain symptoms at all. As the decay progresses you may eventually suffer bone and tooth loss.

The important point here is that you may or may not notice all the signs and symptoms that indicate deep decay within a tooth. That’s why it’s important to undergo a thorough dental examination if you have any symptoms at all, especially acute pain that “mysteriously” disappears.

A root canal treatment and removal of the decayed tooth structure will stop the progress of tooth decay and preserve the tooth. The longer you delay, though, the greater the risk your tooth will eventually lose the battle with tooth decay and infection will continue to spread.

If you would like more information on root canal treatment, 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 “Signs and Symptoms of a Future Root Canal.”

By Drake Tollefson DDS
March 26, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay  
KeepToothDecayAway

Did you know that tooth decay (dental caries) is the second most frequently occurring disease — surpassed only by the common cold? It can start as soon as toddlers sprout their first teeth and by middle age, more than 90% of adults are affected by the problem! Fortunately, you can significantly lower your risk for decay. The key is to nurture health-promoting (protective) factors in your mouth while discouraging those that are disease causing (pathologic).

The top two traditional steps can't be stressed enough:

Good Oral Hygiene. Diligent brushing and flossing, along with routine professional cleanings, help limit a buildup of bacterial plaque (biofilm). This whitish film is attractive to decay-producing bacteria (among the many types of bacteria — including beneficial ones — that normally live in the mouth). These microbes like to snack on sugars and carbohydrates (perhaps part of that bagel you had for breakfast or the midafternoon candy bar), and in the process they produce acid. A healthy oral environment has a neutral pH — a perfect balance between acids and bases. But in a more acidic environment, minerals in the protective enamel of your teeth start to dissolve, exposing the dentin and root surfaces underneath that are even more vulnerable.

Sensible Diet. Keep decay-producing bacteria in check by limiting your intake of sugars and carbohydrates; the bacteria need these nutrients to grow and reproduce. Choose products containing natural sugars, such as those in fruits and vegetables, over those containing added sugars, such as sodas and candy. Be aware that Xylitol, an “alcohol sugar” used in some chewing gums and dental products, can actually help reduce pathogenic bacteria. And don't forget that frequent consumption of acidic foods and beverages, such as sipping coffee during the day, can create an acidic environment in your mouth that can contribute to decay by eroding tooth enamel and weakening its defenses.

Individual Risk Factors

You also may have individual risk factors as well that our office can help you identify and address. For example, the shape of everyone's teeth varies and some of us have more valleys, tiny grooves and pits than others. These likely places for bacteria to congregate can be the most difficult to reach with a toothbrush, but invisible sealants can be applied to prevent bacteria from reaching those areas.

If you would like more information about tooth decay and prevention, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Decay” and “Tooth Decay — How To Assess Your Risk.”

By Drake Tollefson DDS
April 28, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay   dry mouth  
DontKeepItASecretTellUsAboutYourDryMouth

Millions of people suffer from mouth dryness, but most people just never talk about it. As your dental care providers, we don't want you to keep it a secret anymore and mouth dryness really can be a problem.

Why? Saliva is a very important fluid that moisturizes, lubricates, and aids in the first stages of chewing and digestion. A normal flow of saliva provides antibacterial benefits that even protect against cavities by buffering the effects of acids. It can also make the surfaces of your teeth more vulnerable to abrasion and erosion. Without enough saliva, you may be especially at risk for not only tooth decay, but even yeast infections.

Causes of dryness include dehydration and even morning breath, both of which are normal. Smoking, alcohol and coffee drinking also cause dryness. It is also a side effect of many medications. Although mouth dryness is not a disease in itself, it could be a symptom of salivary gland or other systemic (general body) disease.

As a first step in the treatment, we will assess your situation by taking a detailed habit, diet, medical, and drug history to properly assess the cause and establish whether this is a local condition affecting only your mouth or an indication of a generalized bodily problem.

It's always helpful to keep yourself well hydrated by simply drinking a sufficient amount of water every day and by using good daily oral hygiene to remove dental bacterial plaque. Chewing gum, especially containing Xylitol, will also help promote saliva flow and keep your mouth moist. Be careful not to suck on candy or mints, because they are likely to cause decay. There are also prescription medications that can be used to promote more saliva flow.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your dry mouth and what we can do to help. For more information read the article on Dry Mouth in Dear Doctor magazine.

SealantsTheProtectionYourChildrensTeethNeed

Protecting your children is one of your most important roles as a parent or caregiver. Dental sealants are one way you can protect your children's teeth from the ravages of tooth decay, drilling and fillings — and they can be applied simply, comfortably and quickly right here in our office.

What is a dental sealant?

A dental sealant is a thin, plastic film that is painted onto the tiny grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (usually the premolars and molars) to prevent caries (cavities) and tooth decay. And by allowing us to use sealants to seal these little nooks and crannies where your child's toothbrush can't reach, you will dramatically reduce their chances for developing tooth decay. This one, simple and quick office visit could save you both money and time with fewer dental visits and healthier, cavity-free teeth.

So will sealants guarantee no (or no more) cavities?

No, just like life, there are few guarantees. Your child's oral hygiene, regular dental visits, fluoride, sugar consumption and genetics are the other important factors that will determine to what degree your child experiences tooth decay. However, research shows that pit and fissure (chewing surface) decay accounts for approximately 43% of all decayed surfaces in children aged 6 to 7, even though the chewing surfaces (of the back or posterior teeth) constitute only 14% of the tooth surfaces at risk. This demonstrates the vulnerability of the chewing surfaces of the posterior teeth to decay. By placing a protective seal over the areas of teeth at risk, you can effectively and proactively protect your children's teeth.

How long do sealants last?

Research has shown that some sealants can last up to 10 years. However, if you opt for sealants for your children's teeth, we will closely monitor them with each office visit to ensure that they are still doing their job. As needed, we can apply more sealant.

HowMuchDoYouReallyKnowAboutKeepingYourChildrensTeethHealthy

Expectant mothers expect to deal with tooth-related milestones in their child's early years, such as teething and even the eventual shedding of those baby teeth to the Tooth Fairy. But there are many facets of children's oral health that may not be as well known. For example, did you know that using sugary fluids in your baby's bottle too frequently could promote constant acid production in your child's mouth leading to early childhood decay? Did you know that parents and caregivers who have decay transmit the bacteria that cause decay to their children?

Baby or primary teeth serve as guides for permanent teeth and, therefore, their health sets the stage for the health and proper function of their permanent successors. A comprehensive examination during a child's first visit can help uncover any underlying conditions that might be indicative of future problems, like tooth decay that can start as early as the age of six months when their first teeth appear. So the “Age One Visit” is the right time for a first dental visit.

What else do you know or want to know? Take our short quiz to help your child. The answers are listed at the bottom of this article.

The Quiz

  1. Mounting evidence suggests that a child's oral health is most closely tied to which relative?
    1. Mother
    2. Father
    3. Brother
    4. Sister
  2. Parents should bring their children to see a pediatric dentist:
    1. Once they turn two?
    2. Before they start kindergarten?
    3. Preferably before their first birthday?
    4. When they start to lose their baby teeth?
  3. Tooth decay that occurs in infants and young children is referred to as what?
    1. Primary tooth decay
    2. Early Childhood Caries
    3. Diapers to Decay Disease
    4. Pediatric Dental Caries Syndrome
  4. To help diminish the likelihood that your baby/infant will develop a cavity, you should:
    1. Restrict the amount of sugary fluids your child drinks to mealtimes
    2. Maintain proper oral hygiene to reduce harmful bacteria
    3. Use fluoride to make the teeth more resistant to acid attack
    4. All of the above
  5. Infants are most susceptible to tooth decay when:
    1. Breast feeding
    2. Drinking milk from a bottle during meal times
    3. Sucking on a pacifier that has been dipped in jam
    4. Sleeping on their sides

The Answers

1) a = mother 2) c = before their first birthday 3) b = early childhood caries 4) d = all of the above 5) c = sucking on a pacifier that has been dipped in jam

Your baby's first visit to the dentist will cover a lot of ground, including diagnosis, prevention, education, and treatment as we help start him or her on the path to long-lasting oral and dental health. Call our office to schedule an appointment now. You can also learn more about pediatric tooth decay by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Age One Dental Visit — Why It's Important For Your Baby.”