How To Prevent Cavities & Tooth Decay

Cavities, often referred to as tooth decay, are tiny holes that develop in the hard surface of your teeth. They are most common in children and teenagers, but they can affect everyone including infants and toddlers. Take a closer look at what causes cavities and how you can prevent them.

Causes of Cavities

Cavities typically occur as a result of poor oral health habits but other various factors can increase the risk of getting a cavity, including:

  • Dry mouth. Dry mouth occurs when there is a lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps wash away food stuck on the teeth and it counters the acid produced from bacteria in the mouth, which reduces the chance for cavities.
  • Foods and drinks. Certain foods aren’t as easily washed away from saliva, making them more likely to cause decay. Foods you should limit include: ice cream, honey, sugar, soda, cake, chips, cookies, and hard candy.
  • Constant snacking or sipping. Drinking or eating frequently throughout the day results in increased bacteria in your mouth. This bacteria produce the acids that attack tooth enamel.
  • Lack of fluoride. Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps prevent cavities and can reverse the early stage of tooth decay. Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash to help reduce your chance of cavities.

Cavity Prevention

Regular dental visits and daily brushing and flossing are the best protection against cavities. If you get a cavity, it should be treated right away. But, cavities left untreated get larger and larger, affecting the deeper layers of your teeth. Deeper cavities result in higher chances of experiencing severe toothache and infection. So, when it comes to cavities, prevention is key. Below are some of our cavity preventions tips:

  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste. Brush and floss twice a day, ideally after each meal.
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Professional teeth cleanings remove plaque that builds up overtime which isn’t removed by regular brushing and flossing. Going to the dentist twice a year is one of the best cavity prevention options.
  • Dental sealants. Sealants protect the tooth enamel from harmful plaque and bacteria.
Learn More About Fillings and Sealants

What Is The Best Teeth Whitening Option?

Teeth can become discolored for a variety of reasons and many people want their teeth to be bright and white, so they look into teeth whitening. When it comes to getting a brighter smile, you can whiten your teeth at home or get a professional treatment. At home whitening typically includes over-the-counter products like whitening strips, pens, or toothpaste. Professional whitening includes custom-made whitening trays you take home or an in-office appointment. What might work best for some, might not necessarily work best for another. So what’s the best teeth whitening option for you?

Both over-the counter and professional treatments use peroxide bleaching agents as the main active ingredient. The difference between each option is the amount of peroxide it contains. Over-the-counter solutions use 3 – 20 percent where professional solutions contain 14 – 43 percent. Solutions with higher amounts of peroxide should be left on for a shorter amount of time. Keeping the solution on longer will dehydrate your teeth and make them more prone to sensitivity.

Professional Whitening

Professional teeth whitening options are much safer and more effective. Additionally, it ensures that all of the proper precautions are taken. So, when it comes to protecting your gums, the whitening agent only gets on your teeth.

At-Home Whitening Products

Over-the-counter products are cheaper, generally take longer to see results, and have limitations depending on your tooth color and health prior. If used incorrectly, at-home teeth whitening kits can lead to burned gums, tooth sensitivity, or pain. It’s always best to talk with your dentist to decide the best treatment option for you.

If you choose to go for an over-the-counter solution, we recommend that you use one from the list of bleaching products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Bleaching Products with ADA Seal of Acceptance Learn More About Teeth Whitening

What Are the Pros and Cons of Dental Implants?

One of the hottest topics in dentistry today is the use of dental implants. Implants have certainly revolutionized the field of tooth replacement . If you are considering dental implants for missing teeth, you need to know the facts. There are pros and cons of dental implants that are carefully weighed by your dentist before surgery can be scheduled.

Research continually shows that dental implants are the best long term solution to replace missing teeth. However, like any type of surgery, there are advantages and disadvantages.

Cons of Dental Implants

No procedure is right for everyone, including dental implants. While there are some risks associated with dental implants, they are relatively mild. The disadvantages include:

1. You have to meet a set of requirements

In order to have dental implant surgery, you first have to meet certain criteria. As the procedure involves anchoring the implant to your jaw bone, if you’ve experienced significant bone loss as a result of losing teeth, there may not be enough for the dental implant to be successful. You also have to be in good health so your jaw bone can fully recover.

2. The cost of the procedure

While dental implants are the best long term solution for tooth loss, they’re not always the most cost effective. However, dental implants are well worth the price for the comfort, confidence and natural feel they give you.

3. The procedure can be lengthy

Dental implants are not a quick fix and can take several months to complete. If you’re replacing an existing damaged tooth, this will first need to be removed. Your dentist will then need to prepare the tooth site before fitting the implant anchor. Once the anchor has been fitted, you’ll need to wait several months while it heals and the surrounding bone grows. The final stage of the procedure involves placing the artificial tooth.

Pros of Dental Implants

While there are some drawbacks to dental implants, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

1. They look and feel like natural teeth

Dental implants have the appearance of real teeth. In fact, once your implant has been fitted, you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference between your replacement tooth and your real teeth. Implants also won’t feel any different from your regular teeth. Since the implants are anchored to your jaw, they’ll feel just as strong as your regular teeth too.

2. You can eat and chew with ease

Unlike dentures, implants won’t feel any different than your regular teeth when eating and chewing. Once the dental implant procedure is complete, you can eat what you want! Whether you fancy crunchy snacks, chewy foods, or hot or cold drinks, you can eat and drink without concern — just remember not to overdo the sugary treats.

3. Dental implants can last a lifetime

Implants are a long-lasting tooth replacement solution. You may need to replace the crowns every 10-15 years, but if you look after the implants, they can last a lifetime.

4. They’re easy to take care of

You should take care of your implants the same way you would take care of your regular teeth with daily brushing and flossing, regular dental checkups and a healthy diet.

5. They prevent bone loss

Dental implants are anchored into your jaw, similar to your real teeth. The screw thread of the implant acts as the root of a natural tooth, so with dental implants, your jaw bone remains strong and you won’t experience bone loss.

You can see that the advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages. Dental implants have been proven to be a great option for people who suffer from tooth loss. We always want to make our patients look and feel great, and dental implants is a great way to do that. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have, so contact us today!

Learn More About Dental Implants

Root Canal Symptoms To Watch Out For

Each year, over 60 million Americans visit the dentist. Many of these visits are attributed to cavities—small holes in teeth that let bacteria in. But sometimes, other dental issues occur that require additional treatments. Root canals are considered the best option for saving a damaged tooth when an abscess is present. Below are some root canal symptoms to watch out for.

Signs You Need A Root Canal

1. Persistent Pain

Having persistent pain is one way to tell if you need a root canal. The pain might be constant, or it might go away, but it always comes back. You may feel the pain deep in the bone of your tooth, or it might be in your jaw, face or other teeth.

Tooth pain may have other causes, such as gum disease, cavities, or an impacted tooth, but it’s always a good idea to talk with your dentist if you have tooth pain.

2. Tooth Discoloration

An infection in the pulp of your tooth can cause your tooth to become discolored. Trauma to the tooth or the breakdown of the internal tissue can damage the roots and give the tooth a grayish-black appearance. While there might be other reasons a tooth is discolored, it could be cause for a root canal so talk with your dentist!

3. Sensitivity to Heat and Cold

When your teeth start to hurt from drinking a hot cup of coffee or drinking ice water, you may need a root canal.

The pain can be just a dull feeling. It can be a sharp pain that lingers for an extended period of time, even after you’ve finished eating or drinking. If your tooth hurts when you eat or drink something hot or cold, the blood vessels and nerves in your tooth could be infected or damaged.

4. Swollen Gums

Swollen gums near a painful tooth can indicate you need root canal. Even if the swelling comes and go. If it’s tender or painful to the touch, please contact our office.

There also might be a pimple like abscess on your gum, which may ooze pus from the infection of the tooth. This can give you an unpleasant taste in your mouth and make your breath smell bad.

5. A Chipped or Cracked Tooth

If you’ve chipped or cracked your tooth in an accident, in a contact sport, or by chewing on something hard, bacteria can set in and lead to inflammation and infection. Even if your tooth didn’t crack but you injured it, the injury can still cause damage to the nerves of the tooth. The nerve can become inflamed and cause pain and sensitivity, which may require root canal treatment.

These are just a few signs that you may need a root canal. If you have any of these root canal symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk with your dentist—contact us and we can talk you through possible solutions.

Learn More About Root Canal Treatment

 

Dental Savings Plans

Going to the dentist can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have dental insurance or your insurance isn’t in network for a certain clinic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get regular dental care. Many dental offices offer dental savings plans, sometimes referred to as membership plans, for those that don’t have insurance.

Signing up for a membership plan with your dental care provider can help make sure you get the dental care you need- even without insurance!

What Are Dental Savings Plans?

Dental Savings Plans are membership based discount plans for dental health care. These plans are a great alternative to dental insurance, and plan members typically save between 10-60% on the regular price of dental care and treatments. By joining, you gain access to member only discounts that participating dental care providers have agreed upon. You pay the discounted rate directly to the dentist- no insurance needed!

What Do These Plans Cover?

This all depends on the practice, but typically they cover the following:

  • Cosmetic Dentistry
  • Restorative Dental Care
  • Specialist Dental Care
  • Preventative Dental Care

Talk with your dental office to see what they provide with their own membership plan.

Choosing a Plan That’s Right For You

One big plus of having a dental savings plan is that you have options. Simply by searching for the following, you can choose a plan that’s right for you:

  • By savings: Choose the plan that has the best overall savings
  • By dentist: Choose the plan that your dentist accepts
  • By procedure: Choose the plan you want based on your dental care needs.

Here at Moorehead Family Dentistry, we want to make sure everyone has the option to get dental care. That’s why our dental savings plan can help you have peace of mind when you come to the dentist. To find out more about our membership plan, click here or call one of our three offices. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t get the dental care you deserve.

4 Signs You Need Emergency Dental Care

Damage to teeth and gums can’t be ignored. It’s always important to act quickly if something is wrong, but some dental issues are more pressing than others. How can you know the difference between a dental problem that needs to be solved soon and a problem that needs to be solved now?

We never want our patients to put off a dental procedure when it could lead to lasting harm, so we’ve compiled a list of important warning signs that mean you should get your teeth checked out as soon as possible. After all, you’ve only got so many teeth — it’s best to keep them all in good shape.

1. Broken or missing teeth

It goes without saying that obvious physical damage to your teeth is one of the most urgent dental emergencies you can experience. If your tooth has been damaged, rinse your mouth with warm water immediately and call us as soon as possible. If your tooth has come out, gently try to put it back into the socket (without touching the root!) or keep it in your mouth to protect it until we can see you.

2. Dental abscesses

A dental abscess is a small collection of pus inside of a tooth or gums that is caused by a bacterial infection. If your symptoms include shiny red swollen gums, a fever, or pain that spreads to your jaw or neck, you may have an abscess, even if you don’t see it. Try to see us as soon as possible, but, in the meantime, you can reduce the pain of the abscess by avoiding cold drinks. Use a soft toothbrush to very gently clean the area until we can get you into the office.

3. Lost filling or crown

A crown or filling can become loose or even fall out for a variety of reasons. If you lose a crown or filling, it’s important to try to save it — we may be able to reuse it. Rinse the area with warm salt water and continue to brush the damaged tooth (gently!) until we can see you.

4. Significant pain or swelling in the teeth, gums or jaw

Constant pain or swelling in your mouth is never normal! This symptom may seem vague or common, but it could be a sign of major damage or an infection that could have nasty results if left untreated. Don’t tough it out. Call us and we will decide together whether you need to come in for an appointment.

 

Ignoring any of these four dental problems could result in the permanent loss of teeth. Infections can even spread to other parts of your body and cause serious general medical issues, so it’s extremely important to get your teeth examined if you experience any dental emergency on this list!

We want your tooth pain or mouth pain to stop.

First and foremost, if you are in pain, we want to help you get some relief. Then we can address any underlying causes to solve the problem using dental best practices. If you believe you’re experiencing a dental emergency, give one of our three convenient locations a call as soon as possible. We’ll get you an appointment in the near future, so you can go back to your life and leave tooth pain behind.

Are Dental Implants Safe?

Dental implants have become many dentists’ go-to procedure for replacing missing teeth. Dental implant surgery replaces tooth roots with metal, screw-like posts and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones. This surgery is a great alternative to dentures and can offer an option when a lack of natural teeth roots don’t allow building denture or bridgework tooth replacements.

What are the risks?

Like any type of surgery, there are a few risks to getting dental implants. However, the problems that come with dental implant surgery are rare and typically minor and very treatable. Risks include:

  • Sinus problems, when dental implants placed in the upper jaw protrude into one of your sinus cavities
  • Injury or damage to surrounding structures, such as other teeth or blood vessels
  • Nerve damage, which can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips or chin
  • Infection at the implant site

The advantages of using dental implants

Dental implants are one of the most reliable dental procedures with a 95% success. They also offer advantages that other missing teeth solutions do not, such as:

  • Appearance – Implants look and feel like your natural teeth.
  • Speech – No need to worry about slipping dentures or loose bridges that can cause slurred speech.
  • Comfort – Implants are permanent and stable, so no chaffing or discomfort will happen like with dentures.
  • Oral health – Implant placement does not require modifying surrounding teeth as a bridge does. Also, implants stop bone deterioration and stimulate healthy bone tissue growth.

Dental Implant Procedure

When considering having a dental implant procedure, a patient will typically go through the following steps:

  1. First, the patient will go through a thorough exam and consultation with the dentist. The dentist will then make an individualized treatment plan.
  2. At the next appointment, the team will place your implant, which acts as a substitute tooth root.
  3. Then, the tooth is given time (about 2-3 months) to heal and integrate with the bone tissue.
  4. Once the implant has bonded to the bone tissue, a small connector called an abutment is attached to the implant.
  5. Impressions are taken of your teeth to create either a custom crown to replace one tooth or an implant-supported bridge or denture for multiple missing teeth. Crown restorations are custom tinted, so they blend in beautifully with your natural teeth.
  6. The finished crown, bridge, or denture is attached to the implant(s).

Once you get the finished implant, your new teeth are ready to use! If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at any of our three locations. We want your implants to look and feel like real teeth and you smile looking its best!

Sedation: Making Your Dental Procedure as Comfortable as Possible

As we get older, we figure out that many things we didn’t like as children really were for our own good. Sometimes, we even end up liking some of those things, such as vegetables or early bedtime. But let’s be honest – sometimes when you’re sitting in your dentist’s waiting room listening to a poor eight-year-old boy throw a fit, you’re right there with him. Dental visits rarely end up being anyone’s favorite thing to do!

Even if going to the dentist doesn’t terrify you, the idea of a dentist visit can be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable for some people. About 15% of Americans are so intimidated by going to the dentist, they avoid it altogether – unfortunately for their teeth. Waiting to go to the dentist, or never going, can turn small dental issues into bigger, more complicated problems that are potentially more painful, too.

At Moorehead Family Dentistry, we want you to know we understand coming to see us can seem intimidating, and we are committed to making your visit as comfortable as possible. Among other things we do to welcome you to our office, we can make most procedures relatively painless, thanks to the power of modern medicine.

Usually, a local anesthetic is enough to manage your pain. However, for some people pain isn’t the only concern. Patients who suffer from anxiety, for example, may be concerned the discomfort of a procedure will cause elevated anxiety. If that’s the case for you, don’t worry! Sedation can make your visit a breeze!

Controlling Dental Pain: Local Anesthesia vs. General Anesthesia vs. Sedation

Dentists use three primary methods to manage patients’ pain and stress during procedures:

  • Local anesthesia: numbs the immediate area being worked on
  • General anesthesia: makes you unconscious for the duration
  • Sedative medication: calms you – dentists can choose different levels of sedative

Local anesthesia is applied with a swab or syringe directly to the skin or muscle in the area the dentist plans to work on. Some sedatives are released into the patient’s bloodstream through a needle or catheter inserted into a vein. Unlike general anesthesia, where the patient is entirely unconscious and may need assistance with their breathing and heartbeat, sedative medication can leave the patient in a semi-conscious state. This means the patient can respond to verbal commands and doesn’t need to be watched as closely.

Many sedatives leave the patient with no memory of the procedure, so they don’t have to worry they will have traumatic memories of the procedure. A combination of local anesthesia and sedative medication makes a patient’s experience both painless and more emotionally comfortable.

Oral sedatives (by mouth) often simply calm a person’s nerves a bit. These sedatives leave the patient fully conscious but help them relax during the dental procedure.

The type of sedation a dentist uses depends on individual needs of each patient.

Going to the dentist may not ever be one of your favorite things, but at Moorehead Family Dentistry we have ways (including sedation) to ensure your dental visit is as comfortable as possible. If you have questions about how we can accommodate you during your visit, or if you have specific questions about any procedure, give us a call at one of our three convenient locations, and we’ll be happy to ease your anxiety!