Prevention

What Is A Sealant?

A dental sealant is a thin plastic film painted on the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars (the teeth directly in front of the molars). Sealants have been shown to be highly effective in the prevention of cavities. They were developed through dental research in the 1950s and first became available commercially in the early 1970s. The first sealant was accepted by the American Dental Association Council on Dental Therapeutics in 1972.

How effective are sealants?

Scientific studies have proven that properly applied sealants are 100 percent effective in protecting the tooth surfaces from caries. Because sealants act as a physical barrier to decay, protection is determined by the sealants’ ability to adhere to the tooth. As long as the sealant remains intact, small food particles and bacteria that cause cavities cannot penetrate through or around a sealant. In fact, research has shown that sealants actually stop cavities when placed on top of a slightly decayed tooth by sealing off the supply of nutrients to the bacteria that causes a cavity. Sealant protection is reduced or lost when part or all of the bond between the tooth and sealant is broken. However, clinical studies have shown that teeth that have lost sealants are no more susceptible to tooth decay than teeth that were never sealed.

How are sealants applied?

Sealant application involves cleaning the surface of the tooth and rinsing the surface to remove all traces of the cleaning agent. An etching solution or gel is applied to the enamel surface of the tooth, including the pits and grooves. After 15 seconds, the solution is thoroughly rinsed away with water. After the site is dried, the sealant material is applied and allowed to harden by using a special curing light. Other sealants are applied and allowed to harden much the same way nail polish is applied to fingernails. Sealant treatment is painless and could take anywhere from five to 45 minutes to apply, depending on how many teeth need to be sealed. Sealants must be applied properly for good retention.How long will a sealant last?Sealants should last five years, but can last as long as 10 years. One study reported that seven years after application, an impressive 49 percent of treated teeth were still completely covered. Sealants should not be considered permanent. Regular dental check-ups are necessary to monitor the sealants’ bond to the tooth.

Who should receive sealant treatment?

Children, because they have newly erupted, permanent teeth, receive the greatest benefit from sealants. The chewing surfaces of a child’s teeth are most susceptible to cavities and the least benefited by fluoride. Surveys show that approximately two-thirds of all cavities occur in the narrow pits and grooves of a child’s newly erupted teeth because food particles and bacteria cannot be cleaned out. Other patients also can benefit from sealant placement, such as those who have existing pits and grooves susceptible to decay. Research has shown that almost everybody has a 95 percent chance of eventually experiencing cavities in the pits and grooves of their teeth.

Are sealants covered by insurance?

Although insurance benefits for sealant procedures have increased considerably, coverage is still minimal. The trend is toward expanded coverage of this benefit, especially as companies start to realize that sealants are a proven preventive technique. This preventive measure can help reduce future dental expenses and protect the teeth from more aggressive forms of treatment.

Why Is Brushing With Toothpaste Important?

Brushing with toothpaste (also called a “dentifrice”) is important for several reasons. First and foremost, a toothpaste and a correct brushing action work to remove plaque, a sticky, harmful film of bacteria that grows on your teeth that causes caries, gum disease, and eventual tooth loss if not controlled. Second, the toothpaste contains fluoride, which makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before the damage can even be seen. Third, special ingredients in the dentifrice help to clean and polish the teeth and remove stains over time. Fourth, toothpastes help freshen breath and leave your mouth with a clean feeling.As long as your toothpaste contains fluoride, the brand you buy really does not matter, whether or not it is in paste, gel, or even powder form, or containing a certain flavor. All fluoride dentifrices work effectively to fight plaque and cavities and clean and polish tooth enamel. Your dentifrice brand should also bear the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of approval on the container, which means that adequate evidence of safety and efficacy have been demonstrated in controlled, clinical trials.If your teeth are hypersensitive to hot or cold, consider trying a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Dentifrices containing baking soda and/or hydrogen peroxide (which are both good cleansing agents) give the teeth and mouth a clean, fresh, pleasant feeling that can offer an incentive to brush more, but fluoride is the true active ingredient at work protecting your teeth. Some prefer a tartar control toothpaste containing pyrophosphates to prevent the buildup of soft calculus deposits on their teeth. New pastes offer advanced whitening formulas aimed at safely removing stains to make teeth brighter and shinier, although they can’t nearly match the effectiveness of a professional bleaching formula administered or prescribed by a dentist.

How much should I use?

Contrary to what toothpaste commercials show, the amount of paste or gel needed on your brush for effective cleaning does not have to be a heaping amount. Simply squeeze on a pea-sized dab of paste on the top half of your brush. If you brush correctly, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush inside, outside and between your teeth, the paste should foam enough to cover all of your teeth. Children under six, however, should be given a very small, baby pea-sized dab of dentifrice on their brush.

Is brushing with toothpaste enough to fight cavities and gum disease?

No. Although brushing thoroughly after each meal helps, flossing your teeth every day to remove plaque and food particles between teeth and at the gumline is just as important. Studies show that plaque will regrow on teeth that are completely clean within 3 to 4 hours of brushing.

What Is Halitosis?

More than 90 million people suffer from chronic halitosis or bad breath. In most cases it originates from the gums and tongue. The odor is caused by bacteria from the decay of food particles, other debris in your mouth, and poor oral hygiene. The decay and debris produce a sulfur compound that causes the unpleasant odor.

What causes bad breath and what can be done about it?

Bad breath is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene, but can also can be caused by retained food particles or gum disease. Proper brushing including brushing the tongue, cheeks, and the roof of the mouth will remove bacteria and food particles. Flossing removes accumulated bacteria, plaque and food that may be trapped between teeth. Mouth rinses are effective in temporary relief of bad breath. Consult your dentist and/or physician if the condition persists.

Does bad breath come from other sources than the mouth?

Bad breath also may occur in people who have a medical infection, gum disease, diabetes, kidney failure, or a liver malfunction. Xerostomia (dry mouth) and tobacco also contribute to this problem. Cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy may experience dry mouth. Even stress, dieting, snoring, age and hormonal changes can have an effect on your breath. An odor that comes from the back of your tongue may indicate post-nasal drip. This is where the mucus secretion, which comes from the nose and moves down your throat, gets stuck on the tongue and causes an odor. Bad breath originating in the stomach, however, is considered to be extremely rare.

Why is saliva so important in the fight against bad breath?

Saliva is the key ingredient in your mouth that helps keep the odor under control because it helps wash away food particles and bacteria, the primary cause of bad breath. When you sleep, however, salivary glands slow down the production of saliva allowing the bacteria to grow inside the mouth. To alleviate “morning mouth,” brush your teeth and eat a morning meal. Morning mouth also is associated with hunger or fasting. Those who skip breakfast, beware because the odor may reappear even if you’ve brushed your teeth.

Do certain foods cause bad breath?

Very spicy foods, such as onions and garlic, and coffee may be detected on a person’s breath for up to 72 hours after digestion. Onions, for example, are absorbed by the stomach and the odor is then excreted through the lungs. Studies even have shown that garlic rubbed on the soles of the feet can show up on the breath.

How do I control bad breath?

It is important to practice good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day. To alleviate the odor, clean your tongue with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper, a plastic tool that scrapes away bacteria that builds on the tongue. Chewing sugar-free gum also may help control the odor. If you have dentures or a removable appliance, such as a retainer or mouthguard, clean the appliance thoroughly before placing it back in your mouth. Before you use mouth rinses, deodorizing sprays or tablets, talk with your dentist because these products only mask the odor temporarily, and some products work better than others.

What is my dentist’s role?

Visit your dentist regularly because checkups will help detect any physical problems. Checkups also help get rid of the plaque and bacteria that build up on your teeth. If you think that you suffer from bad breath, your dentist can help determine its source. He or she may ask you to schedule a separate appointment to find the source of the odor. Or, if your dentist believes that the problem is caused from a systemic source (internal), such as an infection, he or she may refer you to your family physician or a specialist to help remedy the cause of the problem.

What Is Tooth Decay, And What Causes It?

Tooth decay is the disease known as caries or cavities. Unlike other diseases, however, caries is not life threatening and is highly preventable, though it affects most people to some degree during their lifetime.Tooth decay occurs when your teeth are frequently exposed to foods containing carbohydrates (starches and sugars) like soda pop, candy, ice cream, milk, cakes, and even fruits, vegetables and juices. Natural bacteria live in your mouth and form plaque. The plaque interacts with deposits left on your teeth from sugary and starchy foods to produce acids. These acids damage tooth enamel over time by dissolving, or demineralizing, the mineral structure of teeth, producing tooth decay and weakening the teeth.

How are cavities prevented?

The acids formed by plaque can be counteracted by simple saliva in your mouth, which acts as a buffer and remineralizing agent. Dentists often recommend chewing sugarless gum to stimulate your flow of saliva. However, though it is the body’s natural defense against cavities, saliva alone is not sufficient to combat tooth decay. The best way to prevent caries is to brush and floss regularly. To rebuild the early damage caused by plaque bacteria, we use fluoride, a natural substance which helps to remineralize the tooth structure. Fluoride is added to toothpaste to fight cavities and clean teeth. The most common source of fluoride is in the water we drink. Fluoride is added to most community water supplies and to many bottled and canned beverages.If you are at medium to high risk for cavities, your dentist may recommend special high concentration fluoride gels, mouth rinses, or dietary fluoride supplements. Your dentist may also use professional strength anti-cavity varnish, or sealants-thin, plastic coatings that provide an extra barrier against food and debris.

Who is at risk for cavities?

Because we all carry bacteria in our mouths, everyone is at risk for cavities. Those with a diet high in carbohydrates and sugary foods and those who live in communities without fluoridated water are likely candidates for cavities. And because the area around a restored portion of a tooth is a good breeding ground for bacteria, those with a lot of fillings have a higher chance of developing tooth decay. Children and senior citizens are the two groups at highest risk for cavities.
What can I do to help protect my teeth?

The best way to combat cavities is to follow three simple steps: Cut down on sweets and between-meal snacks. Remember, it’s these sugary and starchy treats that put your teeth at extra risk. Brush after every meal and floss daily. Cavities most often begin in hard-to-clean areas between teeth and in the fissures and pits-the edges in the tooth crown and gaps between teeth. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush inside, outside and between your teeth and on the top of your tongue. Be sure the bristles are firm, not bent, and replace the toothbrush after a few weeks to safeguard against reinfecting your mouth with old bacteria than can collect on the brush. Only buy toothpastes and rinses that contain fluoride (antiseptic rinses also help remove plaque) and that bear the American Dental Association seal of acceptance logo on the package. Children under six should only use a small pea-sized dab of toothpaste on the brush and should spit out as much as possible because a child’s developing teeth are sensitive to higher fluoride levels. Finally, because caries is a transmittable disease, toothbrushes should never be shared, especially with your children. See your dentist at least every six months for checkups and professional cleanings. Because cavities can be difficult to detect a thorough dental examination is very important. If you get a painful toothache, if your teeth are very sensitive to hot or cold foods, or if you notice signs of decay like white spots, tooth discolorations or cavities, make an appointment right away. The longer you wait to treat infected teeth the more intensive and lengthy the treatment will be. Left neglected, cavities can lead to root canal infection, permanent deterioration of decayed tooth substance and even loss of the tooth itself.

What Foods Cause Tooth Decay In Children?

Many different types of food can cause tooth decay, not just candy. Foods that are high in carbohydrates, as well as some fruits, liquids, peanut butter, crackers and potato chips are culprits. Factors that cause tooth decay include the frequency in which the foods are eaten and the time they remain as particles in the mouth.Can decay affect infants?Yes. Tooth decay in infants and young children most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but also may affect other teeth. Sometimes parents do not realize that a baby’s tooth can decay soon after they first appear. The decay may even enter the underlying bone structure, which can hamper development of the permanent teeth. This problem is frequently referred to as baby bottle tooth decay. This kind of decay is caused by long-term exposure of childrens’ teeth to liquids containing sugars. When a child consumes a sugary liquid, acid attacks the teeth and gums and causes decay.

Are children safe from soda and other beverages?

Dentists believe that kids who consume too much soda and not enough nutritional beverages are prone to tooth decay in addition to serious ailments later in life, such as diabetes and osteoporosis. Drinking carbonated soft drinks regularly can contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel. Soft drinks contain sticky sugars that bacteria in our mouths use as an energy source. They break down into acids and adhere to tooth surfaces.

How does bacteria hurt teeth?

Decay is caused by bacteria that feed on any food that contains sugars and carbohydrates. Decay occurs when solid or liquid food particles are left unswallowed and cling to the teeth or gums for long periods. Bacteria in the mouth use sugars to produce acid that attacks the enamel of the teeth, softening and then eroding them. Enamel breakdown leads to cavities. If erosion spreads beneath the enamel, pain and sensitivity may eventually result. This can cause nerve infection, which can result in the need for a root canal.My children rarely drink soda.

Are they still at risk for tooth decay?

Yes, any prolonged exposure to soda can cause damage. Sipping a soft drink all afternoon is more harmful to your teeth than drinking a large soda with a meal and then not drinking any soda for the rest of the day. While many dentists advocate drinking nutritional beverages, such as milk, many agree soda should be consumed from a can rather than a bottle with a replaceable cap to discourage prolonged exposure to soda.

How can children prevent damage to their teeth?

Children at school should rinse their mouth with water after meals, leaving their teeth free of sugar and acid. Children also should seek sources of fluoridation. If you purchase bottled water, be sure that it is fluoridated. Encourage children to drink tap or fountain water. Use a straw when drinking soda to keep sugar away from teeth. Remember, bottled juices are not a good alternative due to the high sugar content. Regular dental check-ups, combined with brushing with fluoride toothpaste also will help protect children’s teeth.

How can you help your child prevent tooth decay?

Parents should take their infant to the dentist just after the first tooth appears. Brushing teeth after meals, regular flossing and fluoride treatments are the best ways to prevent tooth decay. Children should also be supervised as they brush. A good rule of thumb is that when children can dress themselves and tie their own shoes, then they are ready to brush unsupervised. Children should be supervised in proper flossing techniques until the age of 10. If you have any concerns about your child’s dental health or want some tips on preventing tooth decay, ask your dentist.

Flosses And Waterpicks

Plaque is a sticky layer of material containing germs that accumulates on teeth, including places where toothbrushes can’t reach. This can lead to gum disease. The best way to get rid of plaque is to brush and floss your teeth carefully every day. The toothbrush cleans the tops and sides of your teeth. Dental floss cleans in between them. Some people use waterpicks, but floss is the best choice.

Should I floss?

Yes. Floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath. Floss is the single most important weapon against plaque, perhaps more important than the toothbrush. Many people just don’t spend enough time flossing or brushing and many have never been taught to floss or brush properly. When you visit your dentist or hygienist, ask to be shown.

Why should I floss?

Flossing is the one most important step in oral care that people forget to do or claim they don’t have time for. By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chances of keeping your teeth a lifetime and decrease your chance of having periodontal or gum disease. Flossing cleans away the plaque from between your teeth, decreases the chance of interproximal decay and increases blood circulation in the gums.

Which type of floss should I use?

Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. Wide floss, or dental tape, may be helpful for people with a lot of bridgework. Tapes are usually recommended when the spaces between teeth are wide. They all clean and remove plaque about the same. Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight restorations. However, the unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you know your teeth are clean. Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss, but does tear more than waxed floss.

How should I floss?

There are two flossing methods: the spool method and the loop method. The spool method is suited for those with manual dexterity. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and wind the bulk of the floss lightly around the middle finger. (Don’t cut off your finger’s circulation!) Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger takes up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed. Maneuver the floss between teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Don’t pull it down hard against your gums or you will hurt them. Don’t rub it side to side as if you’re shining shoes. Bring the floss up and down several times forming a “C” shape around the tooth being sure to go below the gum line. The loop method is suited for children or adults with less nimble hands, poor muscular coordination or arthritis. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and make it into a circle. Tie it securely with three knots. Place all of the fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Use your index fingers to guide the floss through the lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth, going below the gumline forming a “C” on the side of the tooth.

How often should I floss?

At least once a day. To give your teeth a good flossing, spend at least two or three minutes.What are floss holders?You may prefer a prethreaded flosser or floss holder, which often looks like a little hacksaw. Flossers are handy for people with limited dexterity, for those who are just beginning to floss, or for caretakers who are flossing someone else’s teeth.Is it safe to use toothpicks?In a pinch, toothpicks are effective at removing food between teeth, but for daily cleaning of plaque between teeth, floss is recommended. Toothpicks come round and flat, narrow and thick. When you use a toothpick, don’t press too hard as you can break off the end and lodge it in your gums.

Do I need a waterpick (irrigating device)?

Don’t use waterpicks as a substitute for toothbrushing and flossing. But they are effective around orthodontic braces that retain food in areas a toothbrush cannot reach. However, they do not remove plaque. Waterpicks are frequently recommended for persons with gum disease when recommended by your dentist. Solutions containing antibacterial agents like chlorhexidine or tetracycline, available through a dentist’s prescription, can be added to the reservoir.

Fluoride

What Is Fluoride, And Why Is It Good For My Teeth? Fluoride is a compound of the element fluorine, which is found universally throughout nature in water, soil, air and in most foods. Existing abundantly in living tissue as an ion, fluoride is absorbed easily into tooth enamel, especially in children’s growing teeth. Once teeth are developed, fluoride makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before the damage is even visible.”Systemic” fluoride is ingested when added to public and private water supplies, soft drinks and teas, and is available in dietary supplement form. Once systemic fluoride is absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract, the blood supply distributes it throughout the entire body. Most fluoride not excreted is deposited in bones and hard tissues like teeth.

What’s a “topical” fluoride, and when should I use it? “Topical” fluoride is found in products containing strong concentrations of fluoride to fight tooth decay. These products, including toothpastes and mouthrinses, are applied directly to the teeth and are then expectorated or rinsed from the mouth without swallowing. Dentists recommend brushing with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day or after every meal, combined with a regimen of flossing and regular dental checkups.

Professionally-administered topical fluorides such as gels or varnishes are applied by the dentist and left on for about four minutes, usually during a cleaning treatment. For patients with a high risk of dental caries, the dentist may prescribe a special gel for daily home use, to be applied with or without a mouth tray for up to six weeks.

Why is most of the water we drink fluoridated? Fluoridated water protects against cavities and root caries-a progressive erosion of adult root surfaces caused by gum recession-and helps remineralize early carious lesions. Thanks to these preventive benefits, public water fluoridation is considered the most efficient and cost-effective dental caries prevention measure available. More than 144 million United States residents in more than 10,000 communities drink fluoridated water, most from public water supplies with sodium fluoride added artificially. A small percentage get water from private wells with naturally fluoridated water.

The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the accepted “optimal” range of fluoride in water lies between 0.7 and 1.2 parts per million (ppm) or mg per liter. The limit allowed by the EPA in public water is 4 ppm. Backed by results from more than 140 documented studies undertaken in 20 different countries over the past several decades, fluoridated water adhering to these standards has been scientifically established as safe for drinking. Water fluoridation is endorsed by nearly every major health and safety-related organization. Fluoridation of community water supplies is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay and to improve oral health for a lifetime.

Can I get too much fluoride? In general, the use of fluoride is considered safe unless it’s misused or overconcentrated. Drinking excessively fluoridated water can cause dental fluorosis, a harmless cosmetic discoloring or mottling of the enamel, visible by chalky white specks and lines or pitted and brown stained enamel on developing teeth.Avoid swallowing toothpaste, mouthrinses or other topical supplements, check with your dentist on proper dosage, and be careful not to accidentally take too much. If you are concerned about the fluoride levels in your drinking water, call the local public water department. If the source is a private well, request a fluoride content analysis taken via a water sample through your local or county health department.

Are children more sensitive to fluoride? Children are more vulnerable to dental fluorosis because their developing teeth are sensitive to higher fluoride levels. They are at greater risk if they swallow or use too much toothpaste and fluoride supplements, or regularly drink water containing excessive fluoride levels. Monitor your child’s intake and use of fluoride, and consult with your family dentist on the matter.

Why do I snore?
Medical experts estimate that more than 30 million American adults snore. Snoring or gasping sounds during sleep is caused by the vibration of relaxed, floppy tissues that line the upper airway (or throat). When you sleep, muscle tone decreases throughout your body and your throat muscles relax, causing the soft palate and the uvula (fleshy structure that dangles from the roof of your mouth) to vibrate as you breathe in and out.
Is snoring harmful to my health?
The severity of this disorder varies: It can be a mild nuisance that disturbs a restful night’s sleep or a symptom of the more serious, progressive sleep apnea syndrome. A history of snoring may precede development of more serious sleep disorder symptoms, including excessive daytime sleepiness, memory impairment, morning headache, poor work performance and loss of sexual drive.
While snoring by itself is not life threatening, it can interfere with a good night’s sleep for you, the snorer, and also affect your partner’s ability to get quality sleep. Scientific research has found that partners of snorers lose up to an hour of sleep a night because of the nuisance.
How can I minimize my snoring?
You can make positive lifestyle changes to minimize your snoring such as: Lose weight. Quit smoking. Get treatment for allergies if you have them. Limit or avoid alcohol use and sedatives. Sleep on your side instead of your back (when you sleep on your back, your tongue falls backwards into your throat, which can narrow your airway and partially block airflow).
What is the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?
Both fall into the category of sleep-disordered breathing. Simple snoring represents a mild disorder where breathing becomes very loud but the upper airway is only partially obstructed during sleep.
Snoring is a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. However, unlike mild snoring, sleep apnea is a serious medical disorder that occurs because the airway is totally obstructed during sleep and the patient stops breathing completely for 10 seconds or more. In one night, a sleep apnea patient may experience 20 to 30 or more “apneic events” (or involuntary breathing pauses). If your partner hears loud snoring punctuated by silences and then a snort or choking sound as you resume breathing, this pattern could signal sleep apnea.
Why are sleep apnea sufferers at risk?
An estimated 18 million Americans suffer from undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea. This disorder may raise your blood pressure and decrease the flow of oxygen to your brain. Studies have shown that patients with this potentially life-threatening disorder are so fatigued during the day that when driving, their performance is similar to a drunk driver. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to impaired daytime functioning, high blood pressure, heart failure and possibly stroke.While snoring and sleep apnea are related disorders, not all snorers will develop sleep apnea and not all sleep apnea patients snore.
What treatment options are available?
Oral appliance therapy is one way to effectively manage snoring and sleep apnea, and may be used in conjunction with other therapies. Some appliances such as a tongue-retaining device hold the tongue forward via a suction bulb to open up the air passage. Mandibular repositioning appliances reposition and maintain the lower jaw (mandible) in a protruded position during sleep. Nasal sprays also can provide relief for snorers whose nasal passages are blocked due to swelling or increased mucous.
Therapy may last for several weeks or months and require follow-up visits. The cost of oral appliances ranges from $50 to $2,000, depending on whether you opt for an over-the-counter or custom-made appliance.
In some cases, surgery may be required to eliminate snoring. Procedures can include any of the following: traditional surgery, outpatient laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) to cut away the uvula (this is not recommended for sleep apnea patients), and nasal surgery to remove obstructions in the nose or to correct a deviated septum.
How can my dentist help?
If you experience any symptoms associated with snoring or sleep apnea, consult with your dentist so he or she can properly diagnose your condition or, if necessary, refer you a specialist. If your dentist suspects you suffer from sleep apnea, he or she may refer you to a physician or a sleep specialist. For a proper diagnosis, you may have to undergo an overnight sleep study, which measures heart rate and how many times breathing is interrupted.
If you have been diagnosed with snoring or obstructive sleep apnea, your dentist can work closely with the diagnosing physician to implement and manage the prescribed therapy.
X-rays

Why Do I Need X-rays?
Radiographic or X-ray examinations provide your dentist with an important tool that shows the condition of your teeth, its roots, jaw placement and the overall composition of your facial bones. X-rays can help your dentist determine the presence or degree of periodontal disease, abscesses and many abnormal growths, such as cysts and tumors. X-rays also can show the exact location of impacted and unerupted teeth. They can pinpoint the location of cavities and other signs of disease that may not be possible to detect through a visual examination.
Do all patients have X-rays taken every six months?
No. Your radiographic schedule is based on the dentist’s assessment of your individual needs, including whether you’re a new patient or a follow-up patient, adult or child. In most cases, new patients require a full set of mouth X-rays to evaluate oral health status, including any underlying signs of gum disease and for future comparison. Follow-up patients may require X-rays to monitor their gum condition or their chance of tooth decay.
What kind of X-rays does my dentist usually take?
Typically, most dental patients have “periapical” or “bitewing” radiographs taken. These require patients to hold or bite down on a piece of plastic with X-ray film in the center. Bitewing X-rays typically determine the presence of decay in between teeth, while periapical X-rays show root structure, bone levels, cysts and abscesses.
My dentist has prescribed a “panoramic radiograph.” What is that?
Just as a panoramic photograph allows you to see a broad view such as the Grand Canyon, a panoramic radiograph allows your dentist to see the entire structure of your mouth in a single image. Within one large film, panoramic X-rays reveal all of your upper and lower teeth and parts of your jaw.
Why do I need both types of X-rays?
What is apparent through one type of X-ray often is not visible on another. The panoramic X-ray will give your dentist a general and comprehensive view of your entire mouth on a single film, which a periapical or bitewing X-ray can not show. On the other hand, periapical or bitewing X- rays show a highly-detailed image of a smaller area, making it easier for your dentist to see decay or cavities between your teeth. X-rays are not prescribed indiscriminately. Your dentist has a need for the different information that each radiograph can provide to formulate a diagnosis.
Should I be concerned about exposure to radiation?
All health care providers are sensitive to patients’ concerns about exposure to radiation. Your dentist has been trained to prescribe radiographs when they are appropriate and to tailor radiographic schedules to each patient’s individual needs. By using state-of-the-art technology and by staying knowledgeable about recent advances, your dentist knows which techniques, procedures and X-ray films can minimize your exposure to radiation.

Mouthguards

What Is A Mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a flexible appliance made out of plastic that is worn in athletic and recreational activities to protect teeth from trauma.
Why should I wear a mouthguard?
To protect your mouth from injuries. The dental profession unanimously supports the use of mouthguards in a variety of sports activities. More than 200,000 injuries to the mouth and jaw occur each year.
Do mouthguards prevent injuries?
A mouthguard can prevent serious injuries such as concussions, cerebral hemorrhages, incidents of unconsciousness, jaw fractures and neck injuries by helping to avoid situations where the lower jaw gets jammed into the upper jaw. Mouthguards are effective in moving soft issue in the oral cavity away from the teeth, preventing laceration and bruising of the lips and cheeks, especially for those who wear orthodontic appliances.
In what sports should I wear a mouthguard?
Anytime there is a strong chance for contact with other participants or hard surfaces, it is advisable to wear a mouthguard. Players who participate in basketball, soft ball, football,wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, in-line skating, martial arts as well as recreational sports such as skateboarding, and bicycling should wear mouthguards while competing.
Why don’t kids wear mouthguards?
Parents are sometimes uninformed about the level of contact and potential for serious dental injuries involved with sports in which the child participates. Some, though not all schools, reinforce the health advantage of mouthguards for their contact sports. Cost may be another consideration, although mouthguards come in a variety of price ranges.
What are the different types of mouthguards?
tock mouthguard: The lowest cost option is a stock item, which offers the least protection because the fit adjustment is limited. It may interfere with speech and breathing because this mouthguard requires that the jaw be closed to hold it in place. A stock mouthguard is not considered acceptable as an facial protective device.
Mouth-formed protectors: These mouthguards come as a shell-liner and “boil-and-bite” product. The shell is lined with acrylic or rubber. When placed in an athlete’s mouth, the protector’s lining material molds to the teeth and is allowed to set.
Custom-made mouth protectors: The best choice is a mouthguard custom-made by your dentist. It offers the best protection, fit and comfort level because it is made from a cast to fit your teeth.
How should I care for a mouthguard?
Clean your mouthguard by washing it with soap and warm (not hot) water.
Before storing, soak your mouthguard in mouthwash. Keep your mouthguard in a well-ventilated plastic storage box when not in use. Make sure the box has several holes so the mouth-guard will dry.
Heat is bad for mouthguards, so don’t leave it in direct sunlight or in a closed automobile. Don’t bend your mouthguard when storing. Don’t handle or wear someone else’s mouthguard. Call your dentist who made the mouthguard if there are any problems.