Fighting Back Against Oral Bacteria

 

A BATTLE IS CONSTANTLY raging inside your mouth for the fate of your teeth. The only one who can turn the tide and make sure your teeth win this battle is you.

The Defenders And The Attackers

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It’s like the castle walls, protecting the softer dentin and pulp inside each tooth. Unfortunately, it is porous and vulnerable to erosion by acids.

When the enamel loses minerals to acid exposure (a process called demineralization), it weakens the teeth and leaves them more susceptible to decay. However, we can fortify that enamel by getting enough minerals and nutrients, remineralizing our teeth. This is the battle our mouths are fighting every day: demineralization versus remineralization.

The invaders in this battle are bacteria. They feed on sugar and carbs left in our mouths after a meal, and they excrete enamel-eroding acid onto our teeth. Luckily, we have a natural defense against the bacteria, and that’s our saliva. If enamel is like castle walls, then saliva is like the moat. A lot of harmful bacteria falls into this moat and gets washed away instead of being able to attack the castle walls.

To learn more about what harmful bacteria can do, check out this video:

Which Side Will You Fight On?

While our enamel and saliva are built-in defenses, there is a lot we can actively do to make sure the good guys are winning the battle in our mouths. When we practice mouth-healthy habits, we’re fighting on the right side, but when we neglect them, we’re fighting on the side of the bacteria.

One thing you can do to fight back against harmful bacteria is cut back on junk food. Sugar-filled treats and drinks and other processed foods supercharge the bacteria that lead to tooth decay, but foods like apples, cheese, eggs, carrots, celery, fish, and dark leafy greens promote remineralization of your enamel. Choose your snacks with your teeth in mind!

You can also prevent demineralization by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride remineralizes your enamel too, and it also reduces bacteria’s ability to produce acid.

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

You are the most important part of the battle for your teeth, so make sure to do everything you can so that your teeth can win the fight. Your reward will be a healthy smile for life. Keep up the good work brushing, flossing, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, and don’t forget that you can always schedule a dental appointment to give your teeth’s defenses a boost!

We’re grateful for our awesome patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Your Next Dental Appointment

 

 

GOING TO THE DENTIST is something we should all be doing twice a year every year. If you’re already in the habit of coming in for regular cleanings, that’s wonderful! If not, here’s what you can expect from a typical cleaning appointment.

Your Check-Up

When visiting the dentist for a check-up, there are a few things that will typically happen. If you don’t have any existing dental concerns or conditions, the first step is usually dental X-rays. Your medical and dental history, your age, and your current oral health will determine how often you need these. Dental X-rays help dentists to find and diagnose tooth decay hiding between the teeth and other places hard to see with the naked eye. They also identify dental and orthodontic issues beneath the gums.

Next, the hygienist will begin cleaning the teeth. They use a small metal tool called a scaler to scrape away any tartar in between the teeth and around the gumline. Then they’ll polish the teeth using a lightly abrasive paste and a polishing tool. This gives your teeth a nice, deep clean and removes any remaining tartar. They finish the cleaning off with flossing.

Once the hygienist is done, it’s the dentist’s turn. They’ll review your X-rays, check your teeth and gums for signs of decay and gum disease, measure the depth of your gingival pockets, check for swelling and redness, test how well your teeth come together when you bite down, and examine your neck, lymph glands, and mouth for signs of oral cancer. When they finish, they’ll discuss treatment for any dental work you need and give you tips on improving your daily dental care routine.

Why Visiting The Dentist Is Important

Even for people with great oral health habits like brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily, visiting the dentist every six months is crucial to maintaining good oral health. The reason for this is that dental problems don’t go away on their own and tend to get worse, which also makes them more difficult (and expensive) to fix. Regular dental checkups catch problems early so that more intense treatment doesn’t become necessary.

We Can’t Wait To See You!

Whether it’s been six months or longer since the last time we saw you, we’re looking forward to seeing you again! Schedule your next appointment right away, and we can make sure everything in your mouth is healthy and clean!

We have the world’s best patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Oral Health Habits To Teach Your Children

 

RAISING A CHILD IS TOUGH work. There are so many things parents have to teach them so that they can succeed as they grow older. Included on that list are good oral health habits that will enable them to keep their teeth healthy and strong for life!

Build Good Habits Early

For permanent teeth to be healthy and strong it’s crucial to start building good oral health habits at a very young age. These habits include brushing their teeth twice a day for two full minutes, scraping their tongues, and flossing daily. Being consistent with a daily routine will help establish these habits quickly. Besides, you want to keep their baby teeth healthy so that their adult teeth will come in where they should and have a healthy start!

Tactics For Teaching Oral Hygiene

Children love to imitate what their parents do, and they love proving that they are big boys and girls. Aside from letting them watch someone brush their teeth, here are a few other ways to help them form good habits!

  • Get them excited! Talking up good oral health will help them to get excited about starting to brush their own teeth as well as flossing and eating the right foods.
  • Let them choose their own “equipment.” When they choose their own toothbrush, it will them take ownership of their oral health, so encourage them to pick out their favorite one!
  • Use examples! Youtube videos, apps, children’s books, etc. are great examples, other than brushing yourself, to show your child that having good oral health is fun to do!
  • Praise their successes. If they know you’re proud of them for brushing their teeth, they’ll be proud of themselves and be happier to do it. You might even use a reward system until they get in the habit, like a sticker chart to build up to a prize.

Share this video with your children to show them why they should take care of their teeth:

Our Extra Expertise

If your child is still refusing to brush their teeth or is having a hard time grasping the concept of maintaining good oral health, that’s okay! Every child learns at their own pace. Just be patient and keep trying. You can also come to us for help. We can show them examples, talk to them, try to find out why they’re not so interested in brushing, and set up a routine with them! They’ll be tooth-brushing pros before you know it.

We look forward to seeing you again!

Top image by Flickr user Garry Wiseman used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Getting Your Smile Back With Dental Implants

SPORTS INJURIES, ACCIDENTS, and tooth decay are just a few of the reasons we might lose a tooth. Thanks to modern dentistry, however, we don’t need to settle for having a gap in our smiles for the rest of our lives. There are a few ways to fill that gap, and one of them is with dental implants.

Implants Or False Teeth?

Partial and full dentures have been a common solution for missing teeth for many years, but they have their disadvantages. They are prone to slipping and falling out if not properly secured, and they can lead to jaw pain and soreness in the gums. They also do not stimulate the jaw bones, so patients with dentures tend to suffer bone loss.

Implants, on the other hand, are metal posts surgically placed in the jawbone under the gums and are basically a new root for a replacement tooth that looks and acts like a natural tooth. The only advantage dentures have over implants is that they are cheaper. It’s important to fill in the gap with an implant as soon as possible so the bone doesn’t erode and the surrounding teeth don’t collapse into the hole causing alignment and bite issues.

Types Of Implants

The health of the underlying jaw bone will determine a patient’s eligibility for implants and which type they will receive. In a patient with healthy bone, an endosteal implant will be used. This is simply a titanium post surgically placed into the jawbone. After a healing period, the patient will have a second surgery in which a crown is placed on top of the post.

For patients with bone that can’t support an endosteal implant (or patients who don’t want the surgery involved with them), there are subperiosteal implants. Instead of a titanium post, a metal frame is placed under the gums but on top of the jawbone. Posts are then added to this framework, and they protrude from the gum line like endosteal implants so that crowns can be attached.

Check out this video to see how implants are made:

Implants And Braces?

In most cases where a patient needs orthodontic treatment as well as implants, the braces come first, because once an implant is in the jaw, it won’t move. On rare occasions, if the braces only need to shift the front teeth and the missing teeth are located in the back, the implant can be placed before or during orthodontic treatment!

Come Talk To Us About Implants!

Getting dental implants is nothing to be worried about! 3,000,000 people in the United States alone have at least one dental implant and that number continues to grow. If you need a dental implant, just talk to us! We’ll evaluate your situation and develop the perfect plan to get you the smile you deserve.

Keep taking care of those teeth!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

What Makes Our Smiles Unique

EVERY PERSON IS BORN with their own unique smile. Some smile with all of their teeth, some only show the top row, and some don’t show their teeth at all, and a smile can come in all shapes and sizes and still be genuine. We can also end up with smiles that look a lot like our family members’ smiles even if we have very different faces. How does this happen? What gives our smiles their shapes and makes them shine?

The Structure Of A Smile

Part of the way we smile is of course based on our personalities. Some people laugh easily, while others maintain an unbreakable poker face. Some people’s smiles light up their whole faces, spreading from ear to ear and changing the shape of their eyes. Others are less dramatic, even if their smiles are sincere.

Another component is our genes. We inherit facial features and even some of the shapes of our facial muscles (which control our expressions) from our parents. We also all have unique teeth, which is why people can be identified by their dental records. Nobody else has teeth shaped and aligned exactly the way yours are!

The Role Of Oral Health

Essentially, our individual smiles are one part personality, one part genetics, and one part oral health and hygiene. The color of our teeth plays a big role in the impression our smiles make, as does the health of our gums.

When we know our teeth and gums look good, it makes it easier to unleash our full smiles because we aren’t worried about how people will react. Taking good care of your teeth and gums by maintaining good oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits will ensure that your smile always looks its best!

Gummy And Toothy Smiles

In some cases, smiles are either very “gummy” or very “toothy.” This can happen because of the way our lips pull back over our teeth and gums, which is perfectly normal. However, some gummy smiles are the result of abnormal eruption of the teeth, leaving an undesirable tooth/gum ratio.

Likewise, some toothy smiles are the result of gum recession, where the jaw bone wears away and the gum tissue draws back, exposing the roots of the teeth. There are many options for patients with gummy or toothy smiles, including same-day laser treatments, surgical lip repositioning, braces, surgical sculpting of the gum tissues, and gum grafting.

Check out this video for a few tips on getting the most out of your smile:

 

What Can We Do For Your Smile?

If your teeth are stopping you from sharing your smile as much as you want to, come see us. Whether the problem is overgrown or receding gums, tooth decay, or misalignment, together we can make a plan to get your smile to what you’ve always wanted it to be!

Make someone’s day by sharing your smile!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Getting Wise About Wisdom Teeth

WISDOM TEETH REMOVAL is a major rite of passage for many in their late teens and early twenties. They post images of their swollen cheeks on social media, share videos of themselves acting loopy from the anesthetics on YouTube, and enjoy an excuse to drink as many smoothies as possible. But why do we have these teeth in the first place if most of us just get them removed?

Vestigial Third Molars

The prevailing theory about why we have a third set of molars is that our ancient ancestors needed them to effectively grind up the foods they ate. Unlike a modern diet of softer cooked and processed foods, theirs consisted of roots, fibrous plants, and raw meat, so they actually needed their wisdom teeth.

Some theorize that it is our diets more than our genes that determine whether or not we have room in our jaws for all thirty-two teeth. Eating a prehistoric diet during the developmental years might stimulate enough growth to accommodate them, while a modern diet does not (but we don’t recommend testing this theory).

Why Wisdom Teeth Are Removed

A small (but growing) percentage of people never get wisdom teeth at all, or have fewer than four, but for most, they show up between ages 17 and 21. With enough room, they can come in with no trouble, but many people experience problems that necessitate extraction.

The main reasons for wisdom tooth extraction are impaction(meaning they are trapped beneath the gums, where they can form cysts and damage nearby teeth and bone) and insufficient room in the jaw, which causes damage, crowding, and pain. Some dental work may require wisdom teeth removal as well. If your wisdom teeth come in correctly and you are able to clean them properly, you might not need to have them removed, so enjoy your extra chewing power!

Tips To Remember Before You Get Yours Removed

If your wisdom teeth do need to be removed, be sure to rest up before the big day so that you’ll be able to heal as quickly as possible. Afterward, stay well hydrated and avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, and hot beverages for the first day or two, because these can all cause problems with the extraction sites. However, you can enjoy as many soft foods like ice cream, yogurt, and applesauce as you want! After a couple of days, you can add in soups, but wait a week or two before you go back to hard or chewy foods.

We’ll Take Care Of Your Smile

No two cases of wisdom teeth removal are exactly the same, which is why we approach them on a case-by-case basis. We watch their progress as they come in to determine whether extraction will be necessary. Some discomfort is normal for any teeth coming in, but if you’re experiencing what seems like an unusual amount of pain from your wisdom teeth, come see us right away.

We look forward to seeing your smiling faces!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

The Battle Against Bad Breath

THERE’S NOTHING WORSE than being in the middle of a social situation and suddenly realizing you have bad breath. Whether it’s a first date or a job interview, having bad breath can steal away a person’s confidence and ruin a wonderful moment. But why does this happen?

How Bad Breath Works

Sometimes bad breath is the temporary result of eating a particularly pungent meal. Bacteria in our mouths break down leftover food particles, resulting in unpleasant smells. Simple dental hygiene practices like daily flossing, twice-daily brushing, tongue-cleaning, and chewing sugar-free gum will minimize the bad breath effect of food. But some struggle with a more chronic form of bad breath also called halitosis. Halitosis can be caused by a variety of factors and isn’t always easy to get rid of:

  • Tooth decay and gum disease. Cavities and periodontitis are both caused by the bacteria that produce nasty-smelling chemicals, so poor dental health and halitosis often go hand-in-hand.
  • Medications. Many medications can cause dry mouth, and dry mouth leads to a host of oral health problems including halitosis because there isn’t enough saliva to wash away food and neutralize acids.
  • Mouth, nose, and throat infections. Infections that cause an increase in mucous can also increase the amount of oral bacteria and contribute to bad breath.
  • Tobacco products. No matter what form it comes in, tobacco leaves smelly chemicals in the mouth and can cause dry mouth. It also increases the risk of gum disease or oral cancer, which are other causes of bad breath.
  • Pregnancy. Pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and morning sickness can cause bad breath, as can eating disorders like bulimia.
  • Mouth-breathing. Breathing through the mouth dries out saliva and leads to all the usual problems of dry mouth, including bad breath.
  • Chronic conditions. In some cases, bad breath can be linked to conditions that have little to do with your oral hygiene, such as acid reflux, diabetes, or liver or kidney disease.

 

How To Stay Minty Fresh

The first defense against halitosis is your regular oral hygiene habits. Brushing, flossing, and cleaning the tongue all help get rid of smelly plaque and bacteria lingering in the crevices between and around teeth. Sugar-free gum and mints are great solutions for when you’re on the go (but they aren’t substitutes for brushing and flossing). Quitting smoking will also eliminate a major source of bad breath. If you’re in the habit of breathing through your mouth, try to breathe through your nose more.

Come See Us

If you’re still struggling with halitosis even when maintaining an impeccable dental hygiene regimen, there’s no reason to suffer in silence. Schedule an appointment with us so that we can discover the cause. We want to help you stay healthy and confident!

Thank you for being part of our practice family.

Top image by Flickr user fiverlocker used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Supernumerary Teeth

 

MOST PEOPLE WILL develop a total of twenty baby teeth that are gradually replaced by a total of thirty-two adult teeth. Sometimes those teeth don’t all appear, a condition called hypodontia. In even rarer cases, all the normal teeth will be present, plus at least one extra! These extra teeth are supernumerary teeth, and the condition is called hyperdontia.

Why Do Extra Teeth Form?

There are two main competing theories about what causes supernumerary teeth. One possibility is that an individual tooth bud might divide abnormally and result in two teeth instead of one. Another is that extra teeth could result from hyperactivity in the dental lamina (the tissue in our jaws that forms tooth buds). Heredity might also play a role.

Supernumerary teeth can come in various forms. They might be conical (peg-shaped), tuberculate (with multiple cusps), supplemental (duplicates of normal teeth), or odontoma (a mass of dental tissue that doesn’t quite form a tooth).

Who’s Most Likely To Have Them?

Hyperdontia affects far more men than it does women. One study done in southern China showed that only 2.7 percent of children had supernumerary teeth, with a ratio of 6.5 affected boys for every 1 affected girl. They’re also more common in permanent teeth than baby teeth. Several developmental conditions increase the likelihood of having at least one extra tooth, such as cleft lip or palate and Gardner syndrome, but there’s still a lot of debate about what actually causes hyperdontia.

How Do These Teeth Affect Oral Health?

The most obvious effect of a supernumerary tooth is on the appearance of the person’s smile, but not all of the concerns are cosmetic. They often remain impacted in the gum line and can cause crowding and alignment problems for the normal series of teeth, sometimes making it harder for them to erupt. In serious cases, they can cause root resorption in the surrounding teeth.

 

Treatment For Hyperdontia

Sometimes, an extra tooth won’t cause any problems for the rest of the teeth, in which case it can remain where it is. If it is causing problems, however, the typical treatment is simply to extract the extra tooth or teeth so that the normal teeth will have enough room.

Let Us Take Care Of You

If you or someone you know is experiencing oral health problems because of supernumerary teeth, give us a call! We’ll be happy to take a look and determine whether or not extraction is necessary. In the meantime, keep on brushing and flossing to keep your teeth healthy, no matter how many you have!

Remember to smile! It’s contagious!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Weight Loss And Oral Health

MAINTAINING GOOD ORAL HEALTH is a goal we should all be striving to achieve each and every day. Not only does this help us to feel like our best selves; having good oral health is reduces our risk of developing a variety of conditions and diseases! Brushing, flossing, tongue cleaning, and regular dental visits are all crucial ways to keep your mouth healthy, but did you know that a healthy diet and weight management can also have a positive impact on oral health?

How Weight Loss And Oral Health Correlate

One way our oral health correlates to what we eat and our weight has to do with our blood glucose levels. Sugar (glucose) is the favorite food of the bacteria in our mouths, and when we eat, our blood glucose goes up, particularly when we aren’t eating healthy foods. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which makes blood sugar even more difficult to regulate and puts oral health at risk.

Inflammation in the body due to being overweight can also be harmful. It can make people’s bones lose density and they can even lose teeth because of gum disease! Maintaining a healthy diet and weight is important because our teeth and gums need the proper nutrients and vitamins from the foods we eat to be strong and work properly!

Crash Dieting Versus Oral Health

While we recommend healthy diets and lifestyles for oral health, crash dieting can do more harm than good. People want to see results fast and don’t always know the best ways to do it, so they turn to things like the internet or friends’ experiences to learn of the latest diets they can try. One example of a harmful crash diet is the grapefruit diet, which is bad for oral health because it can erode the enamel on our teeth due to high acid levels. Another “easy” solution that causes problems is weight loss pills, which can lead to teeth grinding.

The Right Diets For Your Teeth And Your Health

When dieting is done right, it isn’t a problem for the teeth. Diets that encourage eating more whole foods and reducing added sugars will properly nourish your body and help oral health rather than hinder it. Vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats are all crucial to having good oral health! Eating a large amount of vegetables can help aid in healthy gums and oral tissues. Drinking whole milk will also help to provide our teeth with the calcium they need!

Continue Building Healthy Habits!

Eating and providing our bodies with the proper nutrients improves our lives in many ways, not just by improving our oral health. Conversely, maintaining a healthy weight through a nutritious diet isn’t the only way to keep your mouth healthy, so don’t forget about those other oral health habits!

Keep up the good work in living your healthiest lives!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Meet Our New Hygienist!

IT’S ALWAYS EXCITING to add a new member of the team, which is why we want all of our patients to get to know our new hygienist! We are proud to introduce Misty Hughey!

New Hygienist Spotlight

Misty may be new to our office, but she is not new to dental hygiene.  She comes to us after spending 23 years with another practice in Catawba County.  Living in Cherryville she had grown tired of the travel and was excited to find an opportunity closer to home.  She has a wonderful husband and two great children.  She can’t wait to tell you all about them!  Be sure to watch tomorrow for her official Wisdom Wednesday introduction!

A Great Team To Join

Our team of hygienists could not be more thrilled to have Misty as part of the group.  Katie, Candice, Lauren, Leah, and Hayley have all been excited to have Misty join them.  Everyone here at Cornerstone is thrilled to have such a highly trained and motivated staff that work wonderfully as a team to bring the highest level of care to our patients.  Dental hygiene is more than just “cleaning”, it is a key component to general overall health and our crew of intelligent, motivated hygienist work tirelessly day in and day out to meet our patients’ needs.

Not sure what a dental hygienist does? Check out this video:

Don’t Be Shy; Just Stop By!

Reading about someone is one thing, but it’s another to get to know them in person! Now that you know a little about our new hygienist, come say hi! We can’t wait to see you again, and we can’t wait to introduce our new team member to our wonderful patients!

You’re the reason we do what we do!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.