Taking Care of Your Smile
It’s easy to keep your teeth and gums in good health. A simple routine of daily teeth cleaning, good eating habits and regular dental visits can help prevent tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease.
Your teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque (sounds like PLAK). If you brush twice a day and floss once a day…
Even if you brush twice a day, there are places your toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between teeth and under the gumline. A simple routine of daily teeth cleaning, good eating habits and regular dental visits can help prevent tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease…
Do you sip soft drinks or other sugary drinks all day at your desk? Do you use breath mints or eat candy often? Instead of eating meals, do you snack all day? Do you often grab a sports or energy drink when you are tired?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be increasing your chances of tooth decay. Keep reading to find out why…
Some people think only children get tooth decay, but all of us are at risk our whole lives. The good news is that tooth decay can be prevented. By following a healthy oral care routine and making smart food choices, you can lower your risk for tooth decay.
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay is a disease that damages and breaks down teeth…
Why You Should See Your Dentist
When you visit the dentist, you get more than clean, shiny teeth. Regular dental visits are a way to prevent dental disease and to check for signs of other diseases. If your mouth or neck do show any signs of disease, your dentist can help you get early treatment. Here’s how.
You can stop tooth decay from getting worse…
Mouth & Throat Cancer
Cancer is a deadly disease. Each year in the United States, about 40,000 new cases of mouth and throat cancer are diagnosed. Almost half of those patients will die within five years.
Your dentist checks for cancer every time you visit. Cancers that are found early can be easier to treat-so these types of cancer screenings are one more reason to see your dentist regularly…
Restoring and Replacing Teeth
Tooth Replacement Options
you’re missing one or more teeth, you may be all too aware of their importance to your looks and dental health. Your teeth are designed to work together to help you chew, speak, and smile. When teeth are missing, it is difficult to do these things. Even the loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to shift and your face to look older. Fortunately, missing teeth can be replaced.
The following are three options your dentist may suggest, depending on your needs. Replacement teeth should last for years at a time, so it is important to choose a treatment that’s right for you…
Dental implants are an effective way to replace missing teeth. When teeth are lost because of disease or an accident, dental implants may be a good option. You may want to choose dental implants if you:
• hide your smile because you have missing teeth
• wear dentures that are uncomfortable
• are dissatisfied with your removable partial dentures
• want to keep your other teeth intact
Many people choose implants to replace a single tooth or several teeth, or to support a full set of dentures. Implants are posts surgically placed into the upper or lower …
Root Canal Treatment
Your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Years ago, diseased or injured teeth often were pulled. But today, even if the pulp inside one of your teeth is injured or infected, the tooth often can be saved through root canal (endodontic) treatment. Endodontics (end-o-DON-tics) is the branch of dentistry that deals with treating diseases or injuries to the dental pulp. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in root canal and other endodontic treatments.
What happens if the dental pulp is injured?
The pulp is soft tissue inside the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. When the pulp is diseased or injured and unable to repair itself, it dies. The most common causes of pulp death are…
What is a crown?
A crown is a cover or “cap” your dentist can put on a tooth. The crown restores the tooth to its normal shape, size and function. The purpose of a crown is to make the tooth stronger or improve the way it looks.
Why do I need a crown?
You may need a crown if you:
• have a cavity that is too large for a filling
• have a missing tooth and need a bridge
• need to cover a dental implant
• have a tooth that is cracked, worn down or otherwise weakened
• have had root canal treatment-the crown will protect the restored tooth…
What is a Bridge?
A bridge is a dental restoration that fills the space where one or more teeth are missing. The bridge restores your bite and helps keep the natural shape of your face. Before you get a bridge, your dentist wants you to know more about the steps involved. He or she can advise which type of bridge is best for you.
Why Do I Need a Bridge?
A missing tooth is a serious matter. Teeth are made to work together. When you lose a tooth, the nearby teeth may tilt or drift into the empty space. The teeth in the opposite jaw may also shift up or down toward the space. This can affect your bite and place more stress on your teeth and jaw joints, possibly causing…
If you have lost some or all of your natural teeth, dentures can replace your missing teeth and improve your quality of life. With a little practice, dentures can make eating and speaking easier. You can smile freely without feeling embarrassed.
Dentures can be made to look like your natural teeth. There may be only a small change in how you look. Full dentures may even give you a better smile. Dentures also support the cheeks and lips so the face muscles do not sag and make you look older.
Types of Dentures
Complete dentures have replacement teeth fitted into a plastic base…
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Preventing Periodontal Disease
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection. It affects the tissues and bone that support the teeth.
Healthy gum tissue fits like a cuff around each tooth. When someone has periodontal disease, the gum tissue pulls away from the tooth. As the disease gets worse, the tissue and bone that support the tooth are damaged. Over time, teeth may fall out or need to be removed. Treating periodontal disease in the early stages can help prevent tooth loss.
Periodontal treatments depend on the type of the gum disease and how severe it is. If the disease is caught early (when it is gingivitis), and no damage has been done to the supporting structures under the teeth, you may simply need a professional cleaning. The dental team can give you tips for improving your daily oral hygiene.
When your gums recede or pull away from your teeth, it is called gum recession. Gum recession can happen to people of all ages. Sometimes it happens even if a person takes good care of his or her teeth.
Gum recession can cause problems for your dental health. If you have gum recession, your dentist can help you understand the causes and recommend a treatment.
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
Taking good care of your teeth and gums isn’t just about preventing cavities or bad breath.
The mouth is a window into the health of the body. It can show if you are not eating foods that are best for you or if you may be at risk for a disease. Diseases that affect the entire body (such as diabetes) may be noticed because of mouth sores or other oral problems.
Improving Your Smile
Improving Your Smile
• Do you like the way your teeth look?
• Do you dislike the color of any of your teeth?
• Are there spaces between your teeth?
• Do you have any chips or cracks on your teeth?
• Are you missing any teeth?
• Do you have any crooked teeth?
• Do you feel your teeth are too long or too short?
• Are you pleased with the shapes and position of your teeth?
If your answers show that you might want a change in your smile, talk to your dentist about Improving Your Smile.
People generally think of teeth as being white. But tooth enamel can be many different shades. Over time, tooth enamel can change color or become stained. There are many reasons why teeth become discolored:
• genetics-tooth color can run in the family
• injury to the teeth
• medicines, such as some antibiotics
• tobacco use
• contact with stain-causing food and drinks over time (such as berries, sauces, coffee, cola, black tea, and red wine)
• getting too much fluoride…
If you want to improve your smile, dental veneers are a simple option. Veneers are thin coverings that are placed over the front (visible) part of the tooth. They look like natural teeth. Veneers can be used to correct a wide range of dental issues, such as:
• teeth that are stained and can’t be whitened by bleaching
• chipped or worn teeth
• crooked or misshapen teeth
• uneven spaces or a large gap between the upper front teeth
Veneers are made of either porcelain or composite resin material. Your dentist will help you choose the material that is best for you. Each type of veneer has its own benefits.
Braces and Orthodontics
People with crowded or crooked teeth are said to have a “bad bite.” Even when the teeth look straight, the upper and lower teeth may not fit together properly. This could happen when the lower jaw and teeth are either too far forward or too far back to fit the upper teeth.
Crooked teeth and bite problems are often solved with orthodontic treatment. Braces are the most common way to correct crooked teeth and major bite problems. For less severe cases, there are other types of orthodontic treatment.
The good news is that orthodontic treatment can lead to a healthy, beautiful smile at all ages, especially with early treatment. And although orthodontic treatment takes time and patience, the end result is worth it.
Kids and Babies
Your Child’s First Dental Visit
Baby teeth, also called primary teeth, are just as important as permanent (adult) teeth. Strong, healthy primary teeth can help your child chew and speak. They also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums.
When babies are born, they usually have 20 primary…
Tooth Decay in Baby Teeth
Did you know that tooth decay is the most common long-term childhood disease? Children of any age can get tooth decay, even babies and toddlers. And tooth decay is five times more common than asthma. The good news is that tooth decay can be prevented!
What causes tooth decay?
Mothers and Babies
Pregnancy and the first year of your baby’s life are very special and important. You’ll want to take good care of yourself and get your baby off to a healthy start. Your dental health is an important part of your overall health. Good oral health habits not only help prevent problems during pregnancy, they can also benefit the health of your unborn child.
A healthy mouth is part of a child’s overall health. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and smile. Your child’s teeth also help give his or her face its shape.
A baby’s teeth start to come in (erupt) when the baby is about six months old. Baby teeth will later be lost (shed) one by one. This makes space for…
Our teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria, called plaque (sounds like PLAK). When we eat or drink anything that contains sugar-such as cookies, candy, soda, juice, or sports drinks-bacteria turn the sugar into acids that can attack tooth enamel. Over time, these attacks may cause tooth decay, or cavities. The good news is that there is a way to protect teeth and prevent decay: dental sealants.
Healthy Smiles for Kids
There’s nothing as beautiful as a child’s smile. With good oral care at home and regular dental visits, children can reach adulthood without suffering from tooth decay and other oral health problems.
Diet and Your Child’s Teeth
Plaque (sounds like PLAK) is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. When plaque is not removed from teeth every day, it builds up. Plaque bacteria use…
Other Dental Issues
Knowing how to handle a dental emergency can mean the difference between saving and losing your child’s tooth. Here are some tips to help you cope quickly and calmly with a dental emergency…
A Few Simple Guidelines
Sometimes teeth need to be removed due to decay, disease or trauma. Having a tooth removed or “pulled” is called a tooth extraction.
When you have an extraction, it’s natural that changes will occur in your mouth afterward. Your dentist may give you instructions to follow after the extraction, and it’s important to talk to your dentist if you have any…
Understanding Your Insurance
Having dental insurance or a dental benefit plan can make it easier to get the dental care you need. But most dental benefit plans do not cover all dental procedures. Your dental coverage is not based on what you need or what your dentist recommends. It is based on how much your employer pays into the plan.
When deciding on treatment, dental benefits should not be…
Mouth Sores and Spots
Mouth sores can be painful, annoying and unsightly.
Some appear inside the mouth – on the gums, tongue, lips, cheeks or palate (roof of the mouth). Others, like cold sores, can appear outside the mouth, such as on and around the lips, under the nose and on the chin.
Mouth sores can be caused by oral cancer or bacterial, viral or fungal infections. Some other causes include…
A tooth that is cracked can be painful. It also can lead to disease of the tooth.
How do you know if you have a cracked tooth? Look for these signs:
• sharp pain when biting down that quickly disappears
• pain that comes and goes
• pain when eating or drinking
• feeling that something is stuck between your teeth
Or you may have no signs at all…
TMD – Temporomandibular Disorders
Do you have frequent headaches, earaches, tender jaw muscles or a dull, aching facial pain? Does your jaw lock or stray to one side when you open your mouth? These aches and pains may be related to the jaw joint, called the temporomandibular joint or “TMJ,” and the muscles that work to move the joint. These painful conditions are often called “TMD” for temporomandibular disorders.