Six Sign You Need to See a Dentist


Lora Cook, RDH

Six Sign You Need to See a Dentist

Life is so busy, between work, family, and social functions it is hard to fit everything in. Especially that annoying sixth month check up and cleaning. For some people who have had problems with their bone and gum tissue around the teeth more frequent cleanings are needed. However with all that we have to juggle these days regular check ups are sometimes put off too long. When nothing hurts it is all too easy to put a dental check up on the back burner for ‘when we have time’. Lets all face it, we will never feel like we have more time and delaying dental care and especially routine cleanings and check ups will only make the problem worse. Sometimes a problem that we never knew we had silently brewing. Here are five signs that indicate you need to see your dentist.

Inflamed Gums: If you notice that your gum tissue bleeds easily, is red, tender and sore. Make an appointment! These may be signs of gingivitis or possibly gum disease. Brushing harder or more frequently will not take care of this problem. You may have build up that cannot be removed by your toothbrush or floss at home. Left untreated this may lead to tooth loss.

White Spots on Teeth: The white spots on the enamel are the first signs of tooth decay. Decay or a cavity is the break down of the enamel caused by bacteria that weakens the enamel then erodes it away.

Temperature Sensitivity: This can be caused by different possibilities. A cavity can cause sensitivity to hot or cold. Also root sensitivity; this is when the gum tissue recedes down the root of the tooth exposing the root surface that should normally be covered by your gum tissue. Delaying an exam and treatment will only lead to more extensive problems if you are experiencing temperature sensitivity.

Color Changes in Your Mouth: If you have noticed any color changes to the tissue in your mouth see your dentist right away. Always do a little visual inspection after you brush your teeth. Look at your palate. Inside your cheeks, on top and underneath your tongue. Also the back of your throat. Any color changes, lumps or bumps in the tissue should be looked at by your dentist right away.

Headaches: If you are experiencing frequent headaches especially when you first wake up this may be a sign that you are clenching or grinding your teeth. This will cause irreversible damage to your teeth. Your dentist might recommend a custom night guard, this can alleviate your headaches and take that stress off of your jaw joint at night while your sleep.

Chronic Bad Breath: May be a sign of gingivitis or periodontitis. The sooner either of these can be diagnosed and treated the healthier your mouth will be and the less likely that this will lead to tooth loss.

 Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

https://www.verywell.com/top-common-dental-problems-1059461

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sensitive-teeth/ faq-20057854

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/teeth-grinding-bruxism#1

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FREQUENTLY ASKED FLOSSING QUESTIONS

Amanda Orvis, RDH

FREQUENTLY ASKED FLOSSING QUESTIONS

WHY SHOULD WE FLOSS?

It takes around 24 hours for plaque to form in our mouths, brushing twice daily and flossing once daily disrupts this plaque buildup. Floss goes between our teeth to reach those areas that are not effectively cleaned with our toothbrushes. Floss also goes below the gumline to break up those pesky bacteria that cause gum disease. Without flossing we are only cleaning about 60% of our tooth structure, the other 40% is between our teeth where our toothbrush bristles cannot get to.

HOW TO FLOSS

• Pull about 18 to 24 inches of floss from your floss dispenser, or as I always say, “pull an arm’s length of floss out.”

• Wrap the floss around your middle fingers, and use your thumb and/or index fingers to guide your floss.

• Hold about an inch of floss at a time. Slide the floss between your teeth and wrap the floss in a C-shape around one tooth at a time. Floss up and down against the side of each tooth. Hold the floss tautly to maintain the proper form. As you move to another tooth rotate the floss on your fingers so that you are using a new fresh inch of floss between each tooth.

• Don’t skip the back side of the last tooth in your mouth. Even though there is not another tooth touching the back side of that last tooth, there is still a pocket of tissue that can hide bacteria.

HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE TO FLOSS?

The average adult has 28 teeth in their mouth and each tooth takes about 4 seconds to floss. So keeping that in mind it should take at least 2 minutes to floss the entire mouth.

CAN FLOSS BE HARMFUL?

Flossing incorrectly can be harmful to your oral health. If you floss too vigorously or too quickly you can actually slice into your gum tissue. Try to make the C-shape as mentioned above and hug the side of each individual tooth when flossing.

CAN I FLOSS A FILLING OR CROWN?

Yes, you can floss around fillings and crowns. Both of these restorations are considered permanent in your mouth. They require flossing just like our natural teeth, to disrupt the plaque that can accumulate around them.

WHY AM I BLEEDING WHEN I FLOSS?

If you are flossing too aggressively or incorrectly you can cause bleeding. Most often bleeding is a sign of gum tissue inflammation, also known as gingivitis. Flossing correctly and flossing more often can help to decrease the amount of bleeding. In some occasions bleeding can be a sign of periodontitis, which is a form of gum disease that cannot be resolved without treatment from your dentist or dental hygienist.

DOES A WATERPIK TAKE THE PLACE OF FLOSS?

No, flossing gets below the gumline where a Waterpik cannot. Waterpiks are great adjunctive instruments in addition to flossing, to remove large pieces of debris as well as irrigate above the gumline.

 Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com
SOURCES

http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/brushing-and-flossing/article/how-to-floss

http://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2016-archive/august/statement-from-the-american-dental-association-about-interdental-cleaners

 

What is Gum Disease?

Morgan J photo

Morgan Johnson, RDH

What is Gum Disease?

You may have heard your Dental Hygienist talk about gum disease at one of your appointments, and been left feeling a bit confused! Hopefully we will answer any questions you may have about it. The first thing to understand is that there are two different kinds of gum disease, also called periodontal disease; one is called “gingivitis” and the other “periodontitis.” We will discuss what causes gum disease, the difference between the two types, and how to treat it!

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. The gums can appear red and swollen, and will most likely bleed when brushed or flossed. This is most likely caused by poor oral hygiene habits (not brushing and flossing regularly). But, it could also be caused by other factors such as smoking, aging, genetic predisposition, systemic diseases and conditions, stress, inadequate nutrition, puberty, hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV infection, and certain medication use.

Luckily, this stage is reversible. By brushing for two minutes morning and night, flossing at least once a day, and making sure you are visiting your dental hygienist regularly, this disease can be reversed!

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of gum disease, and occurs when gingivitis has gone untreated. The plaque eventually spreads below the gum line and irritates the gum tissues. When the bacteria eat away at our gums, deep pockets are formed. The body’s inflammatory response becomes stimulated, which in turn destroys the supporting bone and tissues, which hold our teeth. Without that underlying support system, our teeth can become loose and eventually fall out.

How is gum disease treated?

There are many different treatment options, depending on what stage of gum disease is present. A preventive cleaning, or Prophylaxis, is performed to remove the plaque and tartar build up on a healthy mouth, in order to prevent gum disease. A deep cleaning, or Scaling and Root Planing, is performed on a mouth that has active gum disease. This includes removing plaque and tartar buildup above and deep below the gum line. In addition, we will irrigate the pockets (the space in between your teeth and your gums) with a prescription strength mouth rinse that will help kill bacteria deep in those pockets. If a more extensive treatment is needed, we will often refer you to a Periodontist, a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease.

Hopefully this has been helpful in answering any questions you had about gum disease, and as always, ask us if you have any further questions! We would love to answer them.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/gum-disease-treatments#1

https://crest.com/en-us/oral-care-topics/gum-disease/gingivitis-vs-periodontitis

https://www.perio.org/consumer/types-gum-disease.html

Why Do I Need to go to the Dentist?

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Andra Mahoney, BS RDH

Why Do I Need to go to the Dentist?

How often should I get a dental checkup?

Dental health varies from person to person, but if you have a healthy mouth, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a visit to a Dentist one to two times a year. This enables you to get your teeth cleaned professionally on a regular basis and ensure that any potential problems are identified early.

If you have a history of periodontal disease, then your Hygienist and Dentist will determine the right recall schedule for you.  Based on the measurements of your gums, the Hygienist and Dentist will decide if your mouth’s health best fits a 3 month, 4 month, or 6 month visit.

There is no one-size-fits-all dental treatment. You are a unique individual, with a unique smile and unique needs when it comes to keeping your smile healthy.

Why are regular visits important?

Regular dental visits are important because they can help spot dental health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable. They also help prevent many problems from developing in the first place. Visiting your dentist regularly is also important because some diseases or medical conditions have symptoms that can appear in the mouth.

I’m not in any pain, do I still have to see a Dentist?

Yes. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you can still have dental health problems that only a Dentist can diagnose. Regular dental visits will also help prevent problems from developing. Continuity of care is an important part of any health plan, and dental health is no exception. Keeping your mouth healthy is an essential piece of your overall health. It’s also important to keep your Dentist informed of any changes in your overall health since many medical conditions can affect your dental health too.

What do I do if something feels different?

In addition to your regular visit(s) throughout the year, you should schedule an appointment when you notice changes to your dental health, particularly when it involves pain. Chipped teeth, sensitivity to hot or cold, swollen or bleeding gums and persistent tooth pain are all issues to discuss with your Dentist as soon as you notice them. After all, when it comes to dental pain, letting the issue fester often makes the problem worse.

Remember, by seeing your Dentist and Hygienist on a regular basis and following daily good oral hygiene practices at home, you are more likely to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/dental-care-concerns/questions-about-going-to-the-dentist?_ga=2.236638209.1473254089.1503223579-330855655.1503223579

http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/dental-visits/article/top-10-dental-questions-you-should-ask-1015

http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/dental-visits/article/how-often-should-you-go-to-the-dentist-as-an-adult-0414

https://oralb.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/adults/the-importance-of-regular-dental-visits

What is Laughing Gas?

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Lindsay Olsen, RDH

WHAT IS LAUGHING GAS?

Nitrous oxide (N2O), commonly referred to as laughing gas, is a safe and effective sedative agent that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose to help you relax. Nitrous oxide is effective as a sedative because it relaxes patients with the pleasurable feelings it emits. Nitrous oxide’s common use in dentistry is due to how quickly it works and that its effects are reversible. For those and other reasons, nitrous oxide is widely considered to be a safe sedation method, even for children!

NITROUS OXIDE FOR CHILDREN

Not only is it safe for children, but laughing gas is a preferred sedation method for children who are nervous or anxious about a pending procedure. Discuss with your child’s dentist ahead of time to determine the appropriate sedation method. Some children may suffer from nausea or have difficulty wearing the mask needed to breathe it in.

Side Effects

The CDA reports that only a minority of patients experience any negative side effects. They can occur if the nitrous level is too high or if the amount being inhaled quickly changes. Potential side effects are as follows:

  • Headaches
  • Shivering
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fatigue

Once the nitrous oxide has been turned off, a patient needs to receive oxygen for at least five minutes to avoid a headache. The oxygen removes any remaining gas from the lungs while aiding the patient in becoming alert and awake. As soon and the patient is feeling alert, the dental professional can release the patient to drive oneself home.

Meals are another focus point when receiving nitrous oxide. It’s a good idea to eat lightly prior to your procedure and avoid a big meal for three hours afterward.

Contraindications for Nitrous Oxide

While it’s an effective sedative to ease your dental anxiety, nitrous oxide might not be the right choice for you. Tell your dentist or dental hygienist if you have any of the following conditions: first trimester of pregnancy, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency, or a cobalamin deficiency. Additionally, if you are receiving treatment using bleomycin sulfate or have a history of emotional issues or drug addiction, laughing gas may not be recommended.

Talk to your dentist about whether nitrous oxide would be a good option for you.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/n/nitrous-oxide

http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/procedures/anesthesia/article/what-does-laughing-gas-do-0117

To Floss or Not to Floss?

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Ann Clark, RDH
To Floss or Not to Floss?
Since the Feds removed flossing from their dietary guidelines I still get a lot of patients asking if they really need to floss.  The answer is simple:  only the floss the teeth you wish to keep.  How did something so basic and assuredly easy to understand become the subject of debate?  Does anyone really believe that after years of hearing your hygienists request you to floss that we had it wrong?  No.  It is one of the most universal recommendations in all of public health.
So, how has this happened?  Why would the Federal Government remove a guideline so firmly endorsed by the American Dental Association?  The Associated Press reported that the Federal Government removed the recommendation to floss from its dietary guidelines which was first recommended by them in 1979.  Long story short: when asked, they reported that the research supporting its effectiveness didn’t meet their standards.  Any recommendations recommended in its guidelines must, by law, be based on scientific evidence.  They focused on 25 studies over the past decade.  They found the evidence to be “weak/very unreliable”.  The studies sadly used outdated methods or tested too few subjects.  Some lasted only two weeks, too short for a cavity or dental disease to manifest.  One, actually tested people after a single use of floss.  The research focused on warnings signs like bleeding and inflammation, not dealing with gum disease or cavities. Unfortunately there just hasn’t been any great research done on flossing and it’s effects.  There is not only a lack of research done in this area but also it’s actually a difficult subject to produce clear research on for a number of reasons.  So, weak scientific evidence and brief duration of studies has gotten us into this mess.  When the Associated Press failed to get the research to back their recommendations and kept pursuing it…the Feds gave in and removed it from their latest guideline postings.  It’s respectful that they require evidence-based research, and until someone does the work, it just is what it is.
As a dental hygienist of long-standing who sees the difference of a flossed mouth and  a non-flossed mouth on a regular basis, I highly recommend flossing.  Regular flossers can attest to changes in their oral health for the better.  24 hours a day we build a fuzzy film of plaque bacteria in the mouth.   Above the gumline we can clear them with a toothbrush on 3 of the 5 sides of your tooth.  These bacteria also grow below the gumline where the toothbrush can not reach.  Then, let’s say you have deeper pocket depths, places for bacteria to hide?  And what about the 2 sides of the tooth where teeth touch?  How will you get those cleaned?  What small, flexible aide would make sense to use under the tissues to remove that thicker, smelly film?  Unremoved plaque is known to cause redness and inflammation.  Unremoved debris after a period of time lets those conditions fester away eventually eating its way to the bone and subsequently:  causing boneloss…the root of periodontal disease.
The American Dental Association still recommends that you floss.  Regular flossers can attest to changes in their gum health and tooth health.  There are just common sense benefits to flossing.
Questions that I have heard:
     -Can I just use my water pick? ( Or water flosser?) This is another great aide but does not replace floss.  Plain and simple the bacteria on your tooth above the gumline are mechanically disrupted by the motion of the toothbrush.  You need the same between the teeth and below the gumline.  Floss is small enough to go under the gum and extend down the side of the tooth, bend into a “C” shape, stay tight against the tooth structure and physically disrupt the plaque in it’s formation.   Also the very small spot where the 2 sides of your tooth touch together is usually the exact spot where cavities form.  The only way to clean it?? Yes! With floss.   Always floss in conjunction with this great aide.
     -Do I still have to floss?  Lack of strong evidence does not equal lack of effectiveness.
The dept. of Health and Human Services reaffirms the importance of floss in an August 4th statement to the ADA.  “Flossing is an important oral hygiene procedure.  Tooth decay and gum disease can develop when plaque is allowed to build-up on the tooth and along the gumline.  Professional cleaning, tooth brushing and cleaning between the teeth (with aides) have been shown to disrupt and remove plaque.”
Sources:

Why Do I Need “X-rays” Today?

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Why do I need “x-rays” today?

Many patients are concerned about radiograph frequencies, fearing they are receiving too much radiation.  While too much radiation is not good, I want to clarify what is too much and share some important facts about the purpose and benefits of radiographs.

Why do we need to take radiographs?

Radiographs can help dental professionals evaluate and diagnose many oral diseases and conditions.  Radiographs can be used to evaluate cavities, bone levels, calculus deposits, abscesses, root apices, wisdom teeth, cysts, sinuses, growths, foreign objects, jaw joints, and/or jaw fractures.  Much of what goes on in the mouth is not viewable without a radiograph.  In most cases, treating patients without radiographs would be performing below the standard of care.  Exceptions can be made in certain circumstances regarding pregnancy or patients who have undergone extensive radiation treatment for other reasons.

How often should radiographs be taken?

Radiograph frequencies are recommended by the American Dental Association.  A “full set” of radiographs is generally 18-20 images, depending on the office.  A full set is usually taken at a patient’s initial visit to the office and then every 3-5 years after.  Panoramic radiographs are helpful in assessing when/if wisdom teeth need to be removed and in viewing eruption of permanent teeth in children.  In these cases the dentist uses his/her clinical judgment to determine if a panoramic radiograph is necessary.  “Check-up” radiographs usually consist of bitewings and anterior peri-apical radiographs.  Frequency of these radiographs will vary from patient to patient but can be prescribed anywhere between 6 months and 36 months.  Radiograph frequency is prescribed by the dentist based on a patient’s risk of caries or history of caries.

Am I getting too much radiation?

On average, Americans receive a radiation dose of about 0.62 rem (620 millirem) each year.  We live in a radioactive world.  Radiation is part of the environment and some types can’t be avoided.  These include the air around us, cosmic rays, and the Earth itself.  About half of our radiation dose comes from these sources.  The other half of our yearly dose comes from man-made radiation sources that can include medical, commercial, and industrial sources.  Medical radiographic imaging causes more radiation than dental radiographs.  One dental intraoral radiograph has a radiation dose of about 0.005 rem.   Similarly, a full set of radiographs at a dental office has the same amount of radiation as flying roundtrip from L.A. to New York.  In this day and age many dental offices are using digital equipment to process radiographs.  Digital imaging emits even less radiation (as much as 80% less) while still producing diagnostic images.

Radiation Safety

As dental professionals we are aware that patient’s are exposed to radiation.  We take proper precautions and cover the neck, thyroid, and chest with a lead apron.  We also make sure our radiology equipment has regular checks to ensure it is functioning properly.  Radiographs are prescribed with the patient’s best interest at heart.   

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Member%20Center/FIles/Dental_Radiographic_Examinations_2012.ashx

http://www.dentistry.com/treatments/dental-exam/dental-xrays-and-digital-technology

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/dental-x-rays

http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/around-us/doses-daily-lives.html

http://www.livescience.com/10266-radiation-exposure-cross-country-flight.html

http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/safety/?pg=sfty_xray

Oral Cancer Awareness

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Oral Cancer Awareness

  • Oral cancer is on the rise.
  • One person an hour dies from oral cancer.
  • The most common risk factors for oral cancer are HPV-16 (Human Papilloma Virus- Version 16), Tobacco, and alcohol.
  • In its early stages oral cancer can be painless and often go unnoticed to the patient. The good news is that your dentist can often see and feel changes in your tissue, or notice irregular patterns in the early stages of oral cancer.
  • If caught in its early stages, oral cancer has a survival rate of 80-90%.
  • The most common sites for oral cancer are the sides or base of the tongue, and the floor of the mouth.
  • There are several different types of oral cancer. The most common type of oral cancer is squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Common symptoms of oral cancer can include:
    • A sore that does not heal
    • Pain in the mouth that does not go away
    • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
    • Numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth
    • Swelling, lump, or mass in the neck or jaw

If you notice any of these symptoms that do not improve or go away within 10-14 days, please contact our office.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/

https://www.ahns.info/resources/education/patient_education/oralcavity/

http://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/oral-cancer

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/oral-cavity-and-oropharyngeal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html

Why are My Teeth Sensitive?

Cortney Davis, RDH

Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?

Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints among dental patients. It’s estimated that around 40 million people suffer from sensitive teeth in the United States. There are many reasons why your teeth can become sensitive and we are going to be discussing some of those reasons.

A common reason teeth are sensitive is because of exposed areas of a tooth. This happens when movement of fluid goes through tiny tubes located in the dentin (the layer which contains the inner pulp, found beneath the hard enamel), which results in nerve irritation. When enamel is worn down or gums have receded, pain can be caused by eating, drinking hot or cold beverages, or exposing them to cold air. There are different products that can help with tooth sensitivity due to worn down enamel or gum recession. There is toothpaste, such as Sensodyne toothpaste that contains desensitizing agents that protects the exposed dentin by blocking the tubes in the teeth that are connected to nerves. Most people that use sensitive toothpaste notice a difference around 2-4 weeks. Dentists also have a variety of regimens to help patients manage tooth sensitivity as well, so if you’re experiencing frequent tooth sensitivity be sure to talk to your dentist.

Another common cause of tooth sensitivity is brushing with too much force or using a hard-bristled toothbrush. Overtime, people can wear down the protective layers of their teeth. The simplest solutions are to switch to a toothbrush with soft bristles and to be gentler when brushing.

The third thing that causes tooth sensitivity is grinding your teeth. Even though your tooth enamel is the strongest substance in your body, excessive grinding can wear down the enamel which can also expose the dentin. It’s important to talk to your dentist about getting a night guard that helps people stop grinding on their teeth. The best guards are custom-made to fit a patient’s bite.

Another common cause of tooth sensitivity is excessive plaque left on the tooth. The purpose of brushing and flossing is to remove plaque that forms on your teeth. An excessive build-up of plaque can cause tooth enamel to wear away, which as stated previously can cause your teeth to become more sensitive. If gingivitis or gum disease is the problem, your hygienist alongside with the dentist will come up with a plan to treat the underlying disease.

A cracked tooth or decay can also cause tooth sensitivity. A chipped or cracked tooth can cause pain that goes beyond tooth sensitivity. Your dentist will need to evaluate the sensitive tooth and decide what treatment is best for you. Also, if you have a cavity and it is left untreated it can become larger causing tooth sensitivity.

If your sensitivity persists or is extreme, be sure to visit your dentist for an evaluation. The dentist and hygienists can determine the most likely cause and give you the best solution for your particular situation.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/tooth-sensitivity/article/what-causes-sensitive-teeth-0714

us.sensodyne.com

http://www.everydayhealth.com/dental-health/10-biggest-causes-of-tooth-sensitivity.aspx

If You’re Not Whitening, You’re Yellowing!

AnnC

Ann Clark, RDH

 

If You’re Not Whitening, You’re Yellowing!
Every year our offices participate in a whitening opportunity that benefits not only our patients but also children and people in less fortunate areas of Africa.  Smiles of Hope is a non-profit organization where volunteers pay their way over to Africa to selflessly provide their services to benefit the less fortunate with eye and teeth assistance, while experiencing a life-changing adventure.  The whitening opportunity consists of products donated to our offices and we  happily donate our time.   100% of the money goes to the charity for product and supplies.  We offer 3 ways to whiten through trays and take home product,  In-office, Dentist supervised  applications to your teeth and the third option is through In-office Dentist supervised  applications with the trays and take home product as a package.  The prices are always at our lowest financial opportunity for you, the patient, during the months of March-June.
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What is whitening and how does it work?
Tooth color is the result of genetics, drugs and meds during pregnancy,  the child during the tooth development stage, or an environmental factor such as increased fluoride uptake or maternal infections such as tetracycline stains, postnatal infection, measles, chicken pox, strep infections and scarlet fever.  Your tooth is made up of an outer hard enamel layer over the softer dentin. The enamel is porous and  will absorb stain from anything with color you put in your mouth…coffee, cigarette, foods.  Another layer basically forms on top of the enamel which we call a pellicle film.  We can clean this film with scaling and polishing, you can try to clean it with abrasive whitening toothpastes but this is like a scouring pad cleaning a dish.  As the film sits on your teeth, after years, is absorbs through the tooth’s pores.  Although these deeper stains are harmless they are unattractive.  This is when you need the “good stuff”.  Whiteners use bleaching chemicals to get down into the enamel and set off an oxidation chemical reaction that breaks apart the staining compounds.  Whiteners use either a carbide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide agent.  When used in the mouth, carbide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea, with hydrogen peroxide being the effective agent.
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Is whitening safe?
Most studies confirm that whitening is with effective and safe.  Whitening products with less than 10% carbide peroxide (3.6 hydrogen peroxide), have not been shown to cause any concerns to tooth enamel.  Higher concentrations can cause some weakening to the enamel but these also contain fluoride which counter-acts this potential side-effect.  If tooth sensitivity or gum irritation occurs it is best to reduce product frequency and time spent whitening.  Prescription  fluoride is used to treat sensitivity sometimes associated with whitening.  Gum irritation can result from any of the whitening options but is reversible and usually mild.  Over the counter oracle can also treat these symptoms.
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Before any whitening service it is always recommended to have had a dental examination and any cavities filled or other dental work accomplished.
Sources: