Category Archives: Dental Procedures

Protect Your Enamel

protect your tooth enamelTooth enamel is the thin outer covering of your tooth structure, and is the hardest substance in the human body.

Enamel protects teeth from the daily stress of biting and chewing. It also insulates teeth against extreme temperatures, preventing them from being sensitive to hot and cold. Tooth enamel is strong and durable, but can chip or crack.

Once damaged, enamel cannot repair itself and the damage is permanent.

Acids Destroy Tooth Enamel

Altough strong, tooth enamel is susceptible to erosion by acids. Foods and drinks which contain high amounts of acids damage enamel over time. Some of the worst culprits for acid erosion are:
• Soft drinks and sports drinks which are high in phosphoric acid.   Even diet drinks contain acid.
• Fruit juices (some fruit acids can be stronger than battery acid)
• A diet high in sugars and carbohydrates
• Acid reflux disease
• Dry mouth
• Environmental factors

Environments Causes of Enamel Erosion

Habits and environmental stressors can damage tooth enamel. Grinding and clenching your teeth (bruxism) can place large amounts of stress on your tooth surfaces, causing the enamel to crack, chip or erode.

Bruxism can cause erosion of the enamel at the gum line, weakening your tooth structure and causing sensitivity.
Abrasion of tooth enamel occurs with aggressive brushing or improper flossing, or biting on hard objects such as biting fingernails.

Enamel can also be damaged from abfraction, or fracturing of the tooth due to cracking of enamel.

Corrosion of enamel occurs chemically with strong acids such as aspirin, vitamin c or frequent contact with stomach acid.

Protect Your Tooth Enamel

Avoiding enamel erosion is the best way to prevent these types of dental problems.

Avoid acidic foods and drinks. If you grind or clench your teeth, your dentist can help you modify your behavior or even reduce the stress of bruxism with a mouth guard.

Treat medical conditions such as acid reflux disease and other gastrointestinal problems. Avoid habits and behaviors that ca damage tooth enamel.

Treating Damaged Enamel

If you have damaged enamel, see your dentist. Your dentist can prescribe the appropriate dental treatment to repair the damage of enamel erosion.

In some cases, bonding of the teeth will help protect the eroded areas from decay and further damage. In more severe cases of enamel damage, a dental crown may be advised to repair and protect your tooth.
Contact your Saratoga  dental office for more information .

What Causes Dry Mouth?

dry mouthDry mouth can be caused by numerous factors or sometimes just increased age.  The most common causes of dry mouth are certain medical conditions such as diabetes, mouth breathing, sleep apnea and even rheumatoid arthritis.

Autoimmune disorders such as Sjogren’s Syndrome and lupus can cause dry mouth. Treatments such as radiation therapy can cause a reduction in saliva in the oral cavity.  Certain medications can inhibit saliva production leading to dry mouth as well.

Complications From Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is more than an annoying condition for people who suffer with it.  Your saliva acts as a natural cleanser for your mouth.  Saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria, inhibiting tooth decay.

When saliva production is decreased, the risk of developing cavities and gum disease increases.  In addition, reduced saliva can increase the risk of developing an oral candida infection (yeast infection).

Patients with dry mouth should see their dentist regularly to examine the teeth and gums for signs of tooth decay or gum disease, since the risk of both is increased for them.

Treatment of Dry Mouth

There are many ways to help reduce the symptoms of dry mouth.  Chewing sugarless gum can help stimulate saliva production.  Avoiding chemicals such as caffeine, tobacco and mouthwash containing alcohol can help alleviate symptoms.  Keeping well-hydrated can also help alleviate symptoms of dry mouth.  Sip water throughout the day and use a humidifier at night to keep your air passages moist.

Avoid mouth-breathing.  Over the counter products, such as Biotene, can also help.  Look for a product that is designed to help alleviate dry mouth symptoms.  These products are available in many preparations including mouth rinse, oral spray, gum and toothpaste.

For more information about the causes and treatment of dry mouth, contact Park Saratoga Dental.

Teeth Grinding Can Be a Painful Habit

headache-388870_1280It is normal for people to grind or clench their teeth (bruxism) from time to time, but for some people, frequent or constant grinding and/or clenching can have serious repercussions. Habitual bruxism can damage teeth and cause painful side effects.

What Causes Teeth Grinding?

Grinding and clenching of the teeth is often caused by stress and anxiety. Most bruxism occurs at night during sleep and can be caused by an improper bite, missing teeth or even sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Teeth Grinding

• Fatigue or pain in the facial muscles
• Dull headache
• Worn tooth surfaces
• Gum recession
• Erosion of tooth enamel at the gumline

Consequences of Grinding or Clenching Teeth

Habitual bruxism causes severe, prolonged pressure on your teeth and gums. Over time, the teeth can become worn down and very short. Gum tissue can receded severely, causing teeth to become loose or lost. Constant stress on the facial muscles can cause chronic headaches or even TMJ dysfunction. Over time, the stress from grinding can cause teeth to chip, fracture or erode.

Treatment of Bruxism

If you grind and clench during the day, being aware of the habit will help you modify your behavior and reduce daytime clenching. In some cases, special therapy may be needed in order to break the habit. Avoid caffeine and alcohol which cause intensified bruxism. Don’t chew on pencils, pen caps, or other items.

If you grind and clench your teeth during sleep, your dentist can make a custom fitted mouth guard which will reduce the force of bruxism and protect teeth from damage. Relax your jaw and facial muscles with massage and/or moist heat prior to sleep.

Your Dentist Can Help With Teeth Grinding

The most effective protection against nocturnal bruxism is wearing a dental nightguard. Your dentist can evaluate your symptoms and recommend a course of treatment designed to prevent bruxism and protect your teeth and gums. Learn more about bruxism or schedule an appointment for a dental nightguard today.

Tetracycline Staining of Teeth

some medications stain teethWhen it comes to teeth whitening, there are two main types of dental stains that discolor teeth and cause cosmetic dental problems for patients. Extrinsic stains are those caused by food and drink or smoking. These stains reside on the outside of the tooth and stain the enamel. Extrinsic stains can often be removed with a thorough dental cleaning or professional teeth whitening.
Intrinsic stains are stains which are embedded within the tooth structure itself. One of the most common intrinsic dental stains occurs with the use of a prescription antibiotic called tetracycline. From the 1950’s to the 1980’s, the antibiotic tetracycline was commonly used in children for anything from an ear infection to acne treatment. The problem with tetracycline is that in young children, from prenatal through about age 8, the tetracycline became calcified within the structure of developing teeth, resulting in tooth staining from within the tooth itself.
Although harmless, tetracycline staining of the teeth is often severe and extremely unattractive. Because the stains cannot be removed with cleaning or dental bleaching, eliminating the stains is often not possible. Tooth discoloration from tetracycline staining is often dark gray or brown. It usually covers the tooth entirely or occurs in a linear pattern on the tooth structure. The most often recommended treatment for tetracycline staining on teeth is to cover the stains with cosmetic dental veneers or dental crowns.
Adults are not at risk for developing tetracycline staining on their teeth, because the staining only occurs during tooth development. Tetracycline is still commonly used today, although it is no longer prescribed for children under 8 years old or pregnant women.

Dental stains from antibiotics can be corrected with cosmetic dentistry. If you have dental discoloration caused by antibiotics or other factors, talk to your dentist about possible treatment options.
Only your dentist can determine whether your tooth discoloration can be corrected with professional teeth whitening or cosmetic dentistry. Contact Dr. Ban today to schedule a consultation and find out the best way to correct tooth discoloration and regain a beautiful bright smile today!

4 Things You Should Know About Gum Disease

ID-1001617051. Gum disease, clinically known as periodontal disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Periodontal disease is a chronic disease which, to some degree, affects at least 75% of American adults. Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes destruction of the bone and soft tissue which supports the teeth. Symptoms include reddened, swollen gums which bleed easily, gum recession and pocketing and eventually loosening of the teeth. Up to 30% of adults are genetically predisposed to periodontal disease, despite good personal oral hygiene.
2. Gum Disease is a Bacterial Infection
Periodontal disease is caused by a bacterial infection. Plaque and bacteria form on tooth surfaces, and harden into tartar. Regular brushing and flossing helps remove plaque, but only a professional cleaning can remove the hardened tartar.

Left untreated, the bacteria affects the gums, causing them to get irritated, swollen and tender. This is a condition called gingivitis. As the disease advances, it begins to destroy healthy bone and gum tissue, and results in a chronic infection deep in the gums.

Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. Signs and symptoms include deep pockets around the gums, bone loss around the tooth roots, tooth abscess and loose teeth.
Untreated bacterial infections can cause serious problems with overall health when they occur elsewhere in the body. An infection in the oral tissues is no different. Periodontal disease is not a “small” infection. In fact, the mass of the oral tissues is about the same as that on your arm, from your elbow to your wrist. If you had an infection which encompassed an area as large as your forearm, you would not ignore it, but seek medical intervention right away.
3. Gum Disease Can Be Treated And Even Reversed
As with any destructive process, the early identification of gingivitis and periodontitis is the key to successful treatment and even reversal. The goal of your dentist is to identify early symptoms and risks for susceptibility to periodontal disease before advanced disease occurs. Earlier stages of periodontal disease can often be treated non-surgically utilizing a targeted and specialized cleaning procedure which removes plaque and tartar from deep gum pockets. This procedure also helps to smooth the surface of the tooth root to remove and inhibit bacterial growth. Often, antibacterial therapy is delivered straight to the source of infection. When non-surgical treatment is successful, careful maintenance, more frequent professional dental cleanings and careful personal oral hygiene help maintain gum health.
4. Gum Disease May Be Linked to Systemic Diseases
Because periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, it makes sense that it can be linked to other chronic inflammatory conditions. Research has shown that oral infections can cause problems in other areas of the body. Chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular (heart) disease and Alzheimer’s disease have been linked to advanced periodontal disease in studies.
Prevent gum disease with good personal dental hygiene. Brushing and flossing is not enough.

Seeing your dentist for a check-up every six months is important for disease prevention and early detection. Your regular dental cleaning removes hardened plaque deposits (tartar) around gums which cannot be removed with brushing and flossing. If you have active periodontal disease, your dentist can recommend special treatment designed to halt the destructive process and in some cases, repair the damage.
See Your Dentist Right Away If:
• Your gums are red and swollen
• Your gums bleed easily
• Your gums are receding
• Your gums are painful or tender
• Your teeth are becoming loose

Schedule an appointment with your Saratoga Dentist.

How Does Sensitive Toothpaste Work?

sensitive toothpasteSensitive teeth are a bothersome and painful problem which causes pain in the teeth when they are exposed to certain conditions. Exposure to hot and cold, even pressure can cause tooth pain for people with sensitive teeth, causing them to avoid certain foods and even activities in order to prevent it.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

The cause of sensitive teeth lies in the anatomy of a tooth. Your tooth is made up of two main parts- the crown (above the gum) and the root (below the gum). A hard covering called enamel protects the exposed portion of the tooth from decay and sensitivity.

Beneath the enamel, the tooth is made up of dentin and pulp. The pulp is the vital, part of the tooth structure which contains the blood supply and the nerve. Extending from the outside of the tooth into the nerve canal are tiny, microscopic tubules or pores.

When sensitive teeth are exposed to heat, cold and pressure, the sensation of pain occurs as a result of the nerve detecting the stimulant through the tubules. People with sensitive teeth often have a thinning of the tooth enamel, reducing its protection against feeling pain. Gum recession with resultant exposed tooth root is also a common cause.

Sensitive Toothpaste Can Help

Sensitive toothpaste works by one of two means. In some sensitive toothpaste, an ingredient called potassium nitrate causes a mild numbing of the nerve, blocking the sensation and helping ease sensitivity. Other sensitive toothpastes work by blocking the tubules which lead to the nerve inside the tooth. An ingredient called potassium nitrate builds up inside the tubules, and over time works to block them, preventing the sensation of hot and cold from reaching the nerve.

Do You Have Sensitive Teeth?

Sensitive teeth can be a real pain. Your first step to solving the problem is to have a dental check-up with Dr. Ban.  A dental exam will help make sure that your sensitive teeth are not caused by another problem such as tooth decay, gum disease or injury. Dr. Ban can recommend a sensitive toothpaste and other treatments which may be available to you in order to treat your sensitive teeth.
Give us a call today to schedule your dental check-up!

Are Sodas Destroying Your Teeth?

We all know a healthy diet is important to maintaining overall health and well-being, but when it comes to your dental health, your diet plays an important role as well.

Avoiding sugary snacks and making sure to brush and floss every day is a good place to start, but what about the things you drink?  Many people are not aware that sodas and fruit juices are a leading cause of tooth decay in adults.

Sodas Are An Acid Bath To Your Teeth

Let’s take closer look at sodas to understand exactly how they can damage your teeth and lead to cavities.

Sodas, even diet sodas are extremely acidic.  Acids in foods and drinks cause damage to your tooth enamel- the hard protective exterior of the tooth structure.  When you drink an acidic soda, fruit juice, flavored water or even sports drinks, the acid bathes your tooth surfaces.  Normally, your saliva will wash away the acids and restore normal psoda factsH in the mouth, but when acidic drinks are consumed too frequently, or sipped on all day, there is no time between acid baths for your body to correct the pH.  Frequent exposure to acids wears on your tooth enamel, causing acid erosion.  Early symptoms may be excess sensitivity to cold or hot food.  As enamel erosion progresses, sensitivity increases as more of the dentin (interior of the tooth) is exposed.  As enamel softens and becomes more porous, pain can increase.

Porous and Softened Enamel Is Susceptible To Tooth Decay

When tooth enamel breaks down, it leaves the tooth susceptible to tooth decay.  As enamel breaks down, teeth lose mineral content.  Enamel erosion can change the surface of the tooth, leaving tiny weak areas for cavity-causing bacteria to take hold.  Simply avoiding sugar is not enough to prevent this damage from occurring.  Drinking water or milk are your best defenses against enamel erosion.

A study in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry concluded that nearly 79% of study participants showed signs of dental erosion.  The most common cause was frequent consumption of sodas and fruit juices.

Avoid Sodas For Dental Health

Avoiding sodas, fruit juices and flavored waters or sports drinks is good advice.  If you cannot kick the habit completely, then watch how you consume these beverages.  Drink a soda or sports drink at once, rather than sip on it slowly.  This will allow your body to correct the pH imbalance that occurs with acidic drinks.  Follow up your acidic beverage with water.  Some studies conclude that brushing immediately after an acidic drink is not a good idea, because enamel softened by the acid can be worn away by brushing.  Instead, rinse well with water and brush later.

Help For Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth can be caused by acid erosion.  See your Saratoga dentist for an examination if you have painful, sensitive teeth.  Treatments including fluoride application and preparations that can restore mineral content are available from your dentist.

How Two Hours a Year Can Save You Time and Money on Dental Care

dental healthHalf of American adults avoid going to the dentist unless they are experiencing a painful dental emergency. When many people think about going to the dentist, pangs of dread cause them to postpone an appointment even longer.  The problem with this kind of thinking is that postponement of dental care, especially when there is a problem, actually makes the problem worse, more painful and more expensive to repair.

The truth about dental care is that staying on track with regular dental visits actually prevents many dental problems from occurring in the first place.  In addition, seeing your dentist at least every six months makes it possible to detect problems while they are small, painless and easy to repair.

It is possible for a person with good dental hygiene habits, who sees their dentist regularly, to not experience serious dental problems, toothaches and extensive dental work.   In fact, regular dental care can help prevent serious problems like tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer.

Here are the ways a one-hour dental check-up and professional teeth cleaning can help prevent serious dental problems and have a positive impact on your overall health:

  • Regular dental cleanings remove plaque that cannot be reached by brushing and flossing alone.  This helps prevent tooth decay.
  • Regular dental cleanings are the only way to remove hardened plaque (tartar) which is proven to contribute to cavities and gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss.
  • Your dental examination includes an oral cancer screening.  Oral cancer is the 6th most common cancer in the US. Early detection of changes in oral tissue can save lives.
  • Maintaining healthy teeth and gums supports overall health.  Over 120 systemic diseases have oral manifestations that can be identified in the mouth.
  • A study conducted by the University of California, Berkley concluded that women who receive regular dental care reduce their risk of heart disease by a third.
  • Regular dental exams make it possible to detect tooth decay and gum disease early, while treatment or reversal is simple, painless and less expensive

The average dental check-up and teeth cleaning appointment takes about an hour, twice a year.  That’s 2 hours of your time, out of 8,760 hours in a year.  That’s .00023% of a year that you can use to maintain healthy teeth and gums,  improve your smile, support your overall health AND save money on the cost of dental care.

Give your Saratoga dentist, Dr. Kathleen Ban and associates, a call to schedule your appointment today.

 

Smile Enhancements- Porcelain Crowns vs. Metal

Which Smile Do You Prefer?  Traditional porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) dental crowns can result in a small edge of exposed metal along the gumline.  This dark line can be unattractive when it shows in your smile line.  Replacing porcelain to metal crowns with 100% porcelain crowns can improve your cosmetic results and give you a healthier, younger looking smile.

gray line on crowns
Porcelain to metal crowns can be unattractive

 

porcelain crowns
All porcelain crowns eliminate exposed metal along the gumline

Advantages of Porcelain Dental Crowns

There are several advantages to consider when replacing old crowns with porcelain restorations.  Over time, dental crowns can weaken or crack.  Your dentist can check for signs of wear or damage in older crowns and may recommend replacement if indicated.  Gum recession can cause the margins (edges of the crown) to become exposed, putting the underlying tooth at risk for tooth decay.  The metal in the margins of your crown can be unattractive, especially if is shows when you smile.  Some problems you might encounter with porcelain-metal crowns are:

  • A dark line at the gumline caused by the exposed metal edge of the PFM crown
  • Opacity of the tooth restoration because light cannot pass through metal as it does in natural teeth.  Porcelain restorations allow for natural areas of transparency in the crown.
  • Unnatural appearance of tooth restoration

Natural Looking Porcelain Crowns

You might consider porcelain crowns when a restoration is needed in the aesthetic zone (the part of your smile that shows most often).  Porcelain crowns are strong and durable, but allow for a more natural looking restoration that more closely matches the surrounding teeth.  Because there is no metal inside, light passes through the thinner edges of the tooth crown more naturally, providing a pleasing cosmetic result.  Porcelain dental crowns provide more options for cosmetic dental enhancement.

Should You Replace Your Porcelain-Metal Crowns?

The best way to find out if replacing your old dental crowns with porcelain crowns is to schedule a consultation with your Saratoga dentist.  Dr. Ban or Dr. Fox will perform an examination to determine whether replacing your crowns is the best option.  You can schedule an appointment with us here.