7 Common Terms to Know About Tooth Decay

7 Common Terms to Know About Tooth Decay

Even if someone practices great oral hygiene — brushing their teeth and flossing after each meal — tooth decay can still occur. Tooth decay can be scary and painful. As such, it is important to learn more about the condition to know how to spot and treat it should it happen to you. Below are 7 common terms to know about tooth decay.

Cavities

This refers to holes in the teeth. Cavities are usually caused by tooth decay and can cause pain and further decay if left untreated. As such, it is important to get treatment for cavities as soon as possible. Annual check-ups at the dentist are typically the best way to catch cavities and get them treated.

Fillings

This refers to how cavities are treated. Fillings are typically made up of silver but can be made up of other materials too. During the procedure in which a cavity is treated, the dentist will place the filling into the cavity. This allows the hole in the tooth to be closed. It also helps to prevent further decay and stops bacteria from getting in the tooth.

Floss

Floss is a chord made up of thin filaments. The floss is used to clean the small, hard-to-get areas between each tooth. Most people like to skip the flossing part of their oral hygiene routine, but flossing is a key component in preventing tooth decay. This is because food particles can still be trapped between the teeth and create bacteria even after brushing and/or using mouthwash. Flossing is extremely good for dental hygiene.

Fluoride

This is something found in most mouthwash and toothpaste. Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay by making the tooth enamel stronger. Fluoride can even replace tooth enamel. This is particularly important because the tooth enamel cannot regenerate if it is damaged in some way. The tooth enamel is something that covers the outer layer of each tooth. It is mainly made up of minerals and helps prevent decay in the teeth.

Mouthwash

This is a dental hygiene product that helps remove bacteria from the mouth that may cause tooth decay. Mouthwash can clean hard-to-reach places in the mouth, like the gum line or the back of the teeth. As such, it is an important part of anyone’s dental hygiene routine.

Periodontists

A periodontist is a healthcare professional that specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating tooth decay. They can also help prevent, diagnose, and treat other conditions or complications that tooth decay may cause. The dentist will usually refer their patients to a periodontist if the tooth decay is severe or if the patient has dealt with tooth decay for a long time.

Toothpaste

Like mouthwash and floss, toothpaste is a dental hygiene product that is essential in helping to prevent tooth decay. When applied and brushed onto the teeth, toothpaste works by getting rid of bacteria and its acids from the mouth. These bacteria and acids can cause tooth decay. Brushing the teeth with toothpaste is an important part of good dental hygiene practice. If you have sensitive teeth, you may want to speak to your doctor about which toothpaste you should use.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© rob3000

Causes of Tooth Decay and How to Prevent It

Causes of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is what happens to the tooth when bacteria gets through the enamel of the tooth and creates holes on the surface of the tooth. It is typically referred to as dental caries or cavities. If tooth decay is left untreated, the bacteria could cause infections and affect the nerves at the inside of the tooth. When this happens, a root canal will need to be performed. In other cases, the only course of treatment is to remove the tooth completely. So what are the causes of tooth decay and how can you prevent it?

Bacteria

As mentioned before, tooth decay occurs when bacteria creates holes in the tooth. These bacteria typically come from consuming too much food and drinks that contain lots of sugar. When there is too much of it, the bacteria will build up on the teeth and form plaque. The plaque will result in acid that breaks down the enamel.

Once completely broken down, the acid will then start to attack the second layer of the tooth or the dentin. Because dentin isn’t as strong as enamel, the acid will break through the dentin much faster. Once the dentin is broken through, the acid will reach the pulp, which can seriously damage the tooth. This is because the pulp includes the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth. When this happens, a person may experience severe tooth pain and, in serious cases, abscesses. An abscess can cause serious complications.

Other Causes

Besides bacteria, there are other factors that could increase a person’s risk of developing tooth decay. This includes smoking, low amounts of saliva, and high blood sugar. Because high blood sugar is one of the factors that could increase someone’s chances of getting tooth decay, diabetics typically are more at risk of developing tooth decay compared to people who aren’t diabetic.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay

When left untreated, tooth decay can lead to serious dental issues. As such, one must do all they can to prevent it. One of the most common ways to prevent tooth decay is to regularly brush the teeth and floss. Dentists and other dental professionals typically recommend brushing and flossing at least twice daily — once in the morning and once in the afternoon. If one wishes, they can also floss after every meal. Mouthwash is also a typical part of anyone’s dental hygiene routine.  It is also highly recommended to do a cleaning and dental exam with a dentist every six months or so.

One can also prevent tooth decay by limiting the consumption of food or drinks that contain a lot of sugar. Eating healthier foods like fruits and vegetables is recommended. Not only is it good for the body, it also promotes saliva flow. Good saliva flow can help remove some food particles that can get between the teeth.

If a person is at a higher risk of developing tooth decay because of other health conditions like diabetes or chronic dry mouth, they may want to ask their dentists about further prevention methods like dental sealants. Dental sealants are plastic coatings that go on the back of the teeth. Additionally, the dentist may prescribe certain mouthwash that contains antibiotics for those who are at a higher risk of getting tooth decay.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© ocskaymark

Root Canal Overview: Procedure, Risks, and Benefits

Root Canal

Getting a root canal can be pretty painful and expensive — the tooth being treated is hollowed out, cleaned, and then sealed during this procedure. A root canal is typically done when there is an infection affecting the pulp of the tooth and the patient does not want to completely remove the tooth.

Why You May Want a Root Canal

A root canal is done to treat damaged nerves or pulp of a tooth. The damaged nerves may be caused by the tooth being cracked or chipped which lead to bacteria getting in the tooth. The bacteria can then cause infection and cause a great amount of pain. Abscess, or a pocket of pus in the root of the tooth, can also occur.

If an abscess does form, the bacteria and infection could get into the bloodstream. Once that happens, bone loss, swelling, and holes that could drain the insides of the tooth into the surrounding skin can occur. As well, other teeth may start to decay and the pulp of the teeth could get also infected.

Crowns, fillings, and/or other procedures can usually be done to treat cracked or chipped a tooth in order to avoid infections. However, if the procedure is done too many times or done incorrectly, it may worsen the condition and cause infection.

While an infected tooth can be treated by being removed, this may not be the most viable option as it may affect chewing or how someone’s smile looks. In situations like these, the patient may want to receive a root canal. A root canal not only treats the infection in the tooth, it does so without removing the tooth.

Getting a Root Canal

Typically, the dentist or endodontist will take some radiographs and examine the tooth before performing a root canal. If there are no problems that result from the initial tests, the dentist or endodontist will let the patient undergo the root canal procedure. Usually, a root canal will take a couple of visits to the dentist to fully complete.

During most of the visits during the procedure, the dentist or endodontist will apply a local anesthetic to the area surrounding the tooth. A small hole is then made to the crown of the tooth. The pulp is cleaned and removed through this small hole. Once the pulp is removed, the dentist will fill the tooth’s root canal with a rubber-like substance along with adhesive cement to seal up the hole that had been previously made, as well as any cracks or chips. During this stage, the dentist or endodontist may put a temporary filling on the tooth before replacing the filling with a cap or crown during a later appointment. This is particularly true if the interior infection of the tooth is especially serious. Before the final crown, the dentist or endodontist will ensure that the tooth is properly restored, fixed, and cleaned.

Benefits and Risks of Getting a Root Canal

If one decides to undergo a root canal to treat their infection, there is usually no need for more dental work like partial, implants, or dentures. This is because, in a root canal, the tooth is not removed at all to treat the infection. Not only will the patient get to keep their natural smile without more dental work, it will be easier to chew and bite.

Many people who have undergone a procedure have said that it is an extremely painful process. However, thanks to technological advancements, the procedure isn’t as painful as it had previously been. Any pain experienced is typically manageable with an anti-inflammatory drug that can be found over-the-counter, like ibuprofen. As mentioned before, a root canal can be completed in just a few visits to the dentist or endodontist.

Something to be cautious of after the procedure is eating. Try and use the tooth that is being treated as little as possible — for example, if the tooth being treated is in the back of the mouth, one may want to chew with the teeth near the front of the mouth. This will help prevent further infection or wearing down the tooth before it is fully healed.

While there aren’t too many risks of getting a root canal, some complications may still occur. These complications can include more root canals being needed, more cracks in the tooth, an infection that was not detected — usually caused by the poor removal of the pulp, and/or the material used to fill/seal the tooth breaking down.

Although there are little risks and great benefits, getting a root canal is costly. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why someone may not get a root canal. Not including the cost of getting tests and radiographs done, a root canal can cost more than $1000 when treated by a dentist. For an endodontist, a root canal can cost more than $2000.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© robertprzybysz

Finding the Right Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

A number of people experience irritation or pain due to sensitive teeth. They may find eating or drinking anything acidic, hot, or cold extremely difficult. In addition, they may also find that some brands of toothpaste can cause a lot of pain when used, as there may be abrasive substance in them. As such, having sensitive teeth can really affect someone’s life. Luckily, there are specific kinds of toothpaste that can be used to help people who experience issues due to sensitive teeth. So let’s take a look at some ways to find a toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

What is the Cause of Sensitive Teeth?

A person may have sensitive teeth due to a number of reasons. One of the more common reasons is something that, unfortunately, can’t be changed: genetics. Sometimes, a person may have very healthy teeth and practice good oral hygiene but are still affected by the issues that come with sensitive teeth.

Other people may have sensitive teeth due to a dental condition like an excessive buildup of plaque or tartar, tooth decay, tooth infection, cracked teeth, and/or some form of gum disease. If you have sensitive teeth and are experiencing some of the symptoms of one of these dental conditions, then you may want to see a dentist immediately.

How Does Toothpaste Work to Treat Sensitive Teeth?

One of the more painful things for someone with sensitive teeth is brushing their teeth with toothpaste that contains abrasive substance and/or chemicals. To help with this, healthcare professionals have created a toothpaste that doesn’t have any abrasive substances or chemicals in them. Instead, toothpaste meant for sensitive teeth contain chemicals like potassium nitrate to help numb and calm the nerves of the teeth. Strontium chloride may also be in toothpaste meant for sensitive teeth. Strontium chloride blocks the tubules of dentin or the middle layer of the teeth. These chemicals help people with sensitive teeth to brush their teeth without pain.

How Do You Choose Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth?

There are a number of sensitive kinds of toothpaste that one can use. Some popular brands of sensitive toothpaste include Sensodyne, Arm & Hammer Sensitive, and Colgate Sensitive Toothpaste. Other kinds of toothpaste that use more natural ingredients like Weleda and Jason Healthy Mouth Toothpaste are also available for people with sensitive teeth.

Since there are so many different sensitive kinds of toothpaste, it may be difficult for someone to choose one. Finding out which sensitive toothpaste is the best for you is similar to shopping for any consumer product. Be sure to read the ingredients that are in the toothpaste to ensure that it will treat your teeth sensitivity. You may also want to read the reviews regarding the product to see if they really worked for other people who have sensitive teeth. As well, you could also research the toothpaste further by going on the toothpaste manufacturer’s website. If price is a factor in how you choose which toothpaste to buy, you may want to compare at least three different kinds of sensitive toothpaste.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© StudioaMagica

Gingivitis Overview: Symptoms, Risks, and Treatment

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is one of the most common dental conditions that dentists treat each year. It is typically hard to tell whether or not someone has gingivitis, as there may be no symptoms shown. However, some people do experience certain symptoms like mild tooth or gum pain and bad breath.

It can lead to tooth decay and other dental conditions. As such, it is important to take steps to help prevent it. A way to do this is to learn more about gingivitis so a person can spot the condition and get it treated before it leads to other more serious conditions.

Symptoms of Gingivitis

A lot of people who have gingivitis might not know they have it. This is because, as mentioned before, sometimes no symptoms occur. However, when symptoms are experienced, they are usually so common or mild that most do not realize they have a serious medical condition. Some symptoms are inflamed and/or sensitive gums.

Inflamed gums can range from minor swelling to serious swelling that causes some pain. For sensitive gums, one might notice that their gums may hurt after brushing or while eating hot/cold foods. In more serious cases of gum sensitivity, the gums may change color to a darker red or purple. White streaks along the gum line may also signal sensitive gums.

In addition to inflamed and/or sensitive, halitosis is also another symptom. Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath. As well, bleeding gums — particularly after brushing — is also another symptom.

Risk Factors of Gingivitis

There are some things one can do that increases their chances of developing gingivitis. These things are typically referred to as risk factors. One of the biggest risk factors is poor oral hygiene. But even good dental hygiene, like brushing teeth and flossing, is not enough to prevent it. To effectively prevent it, one has to carefully brush the gums and/or use mouthwash.

Some other risk factors of gingivitis include smoking, aging, and people who have certain medical conditions

Treating Gingivitis

One of the first steps to treating gingivitis is removing any built up of tartar or plaque on the teeth. Tartar and plaque buildup is typically caused by consuming food and liquids. This food and liquids could break through the enamel and cause bacterial infection, or cavities. To remove tartar or plaque, one will need to schedule a teeth cleaning appointment with their dentist.

During the cleaning, the dentist will remove the tartar or plaque by using a number of tools, including pressurized water. The tartar or plaque is typically scrapped off each tooth. The dentist will also repair or replace any appliance that may be missing or damaged during this time.

One of the best ways to prevent the condition from developing is to get the teeth cleaned after a number of months. This is why having a dentist is extremely important. They will also be able to answer any questions or concerns a person may have.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© Lighthunter

3 Ways to Help Prevent Tooth Decay

Prevent Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is an infection to the teeth that is caused by bacteria. When tooth decay occurs, the teeth’s enamel, dentin, and cementum are broken down. Tooth decay is often referred to as dental caries or cavities and can cause pain and fractures to the affected tooth or teeth. If left untreated and the decay turns severe, tooth death can occur. Luckily, there are many ways that one can prevent tooth decay.

Regularly Brushing Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening — is the beginning to all good oral health routines. It is also one of the easiest ways to help protect your teeth against decay.

Dentists typically recommend soft-bristled toothbrushes because they are the most useful in removing plaque and food particles from the teeth. Getting a small toothbrush can be helpful in cleaning some hard-to-reach places, like the back of the teeth. For toothpaste, one that contains fluoride is strongly recommended. Fluoride can help strengthen and even replace the tooth enamel. The tooth enamel is a key part of the teeth that helps to prevent decay. As well, any type of toothpaste that is labeled as anti-cavity can be helpful.

Regularly Flossing Your Teeth

While many people brush their teeth regularly, many people ignore flossing. This is a bad thing, as flossing is a key part of any good oral health routines. One should floss twice a day, typically after brushing. To really help prevent decay, some people floss after each meal as well. Flossing can reach places between each tooth that cannot be reached by simply brushing the teeth. Food particles stuck between the teeth that can result in bacterial infections.  As such, flossing is important in preventing tooth decay.

There are different sizes of floss that one can buy depending on how big the spaces are between a person’s teeth.

Using Anti-cavity Mouthwash

It isn’t as important as brushing or flossing, but mouthwash is another good way to help prevent tooth decay. It is important to note, though, that not all mouthwashes will be effective in preventing tooth decay. One should use a mouthwash that is specifically labeled as anti-cavity and/or anti-tooth decay. If the mouthwash contains fluoride, then that’s even better.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© robeo123

Root Canal Overview: Why Choose It, What Happens, and How Do You Recover?

Getting a root canal can sound pretty scary, but it can help get rid of excruciating tooth pain. If you are going to get a root canal, below are some details about the procedure to help you understand and hopefully minimize the worries you may have about it.

Why Choose Root Canal?

A root canal is a procedure done by a dentist or an endodontist to treat an infection in the tooth. Underneath the tooth, there is a soft interior known as the pulp, which is where the tooth’s nerves and roots are. When a tooth is affected by a decay, crack, or inflammation, an infection may get into the tooth and cause damage to the pulp. Repeated or poorly done dental work could also cause these kinds of infections. Typically, these things can be treated with a crown, cap, or filling. However, this can sometimes cause further damage to the tooth.

While the pain caused by an infection to the pulp can be easily treated by removing the damaged tooth altogether, this can make chewing difficult. If the tooth affected is one of the front teeth, this can also affect how a person’s smile looks. A root canal is done so that the tooth is not completely removed while at the same time treating the infection just as effectively.

What Happens During the Procedure?

As mentioned above, a root canal is done so that the infection to the affected tooth is treated without removing the tooth completely. During this procedure, the dentist or endodontist will apply a local anesthetic and then make a small hole in the affected tooth. The pulp — where the roots and nerves of the teeth are — is removed through this hole. The dentist/endodontist will then treat the infection and then fill up the hole they made in the tooth. They usually use a rubbery type of substance to do this. Once this is done, the dentist or endodontist might make other improvements to the affected tooth. Then, the tooth is sealed and a cap is administered to make sure everything stays in place.

The entire procedure takes place over the course of several visits to the dentist or endodontist. During this time, it is highly suggested that the patient try and avoid chewing with the affected tooth to prevent further damage.

How Does One Recover After A Root Canal?

After each visit to the dentist or endodontist to treat the root canal, the mouth may feel numb from the anesthetic for a couple of hours. It is typically suggested that the patient doesn’t eat any food before the anesthetic wears off completely to avoid unintentional damage to the affected tooth that was just treated. Additionally, the patient could also bite the tongue or the insides of the cheek without realizing, only to be met with additional pain later when the anesthetic wears off. Once the anesthetic has worn off and the patient can eat, soft foods like yogurt are recommended for the next few days after a visit to the dentist or endodontist. Avoid eating anything crunchy or hard.

During the time in which the root canal procedure it taking place, the patient’s mouth may feel quite painful. Thanks to technological advancements, the pain from the root canal procedure can typically be treated with ibuprofen, which can be bought over-the-counter. Having an ice pack against the face can also provide some relief to the pain. If the patient grinds or clenches their teeth when they sleep, a mouth guard is recommended. Grinding or clenching of teeth causes unnecessary pressure to the teeth and could cause further pain to the affected tooth.

The tooth being treated with the root canal may feel a little different a few days after the complete procedure. However, if there are conditions like swelling, an uneven bite, or more pain caused by the affected tooth, call the dentist right away.

It is important to take the antibiotics prescribed and directed by the dentist or endodontist during and/or after the root canal procedure. If the patient doesn’t take the antibiotics as prescribed, the infection may return as the bacteria can adapt to the antibiotics and render it useless. The patient should also be sure to brush and floss their teeth in the morning and evening. Practicing good oral hygiene can help prevent further complications and/or an unsuccessful recovery.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© stasique

How to Treat Wisdom Teeth Pain

Treat Wisdom Teeth Pain

Developing wisdom teeth can sometimes mean a lot of pain. This is especially if the teeth cannot grow out normally due to the fact that there isn’t enough room for the teeth to appear on the surface. This results in parts of the wisdom teeth to stay within the gum line, growing at weird angles that may put pressure on other teeth. So how can you treat wisdom teeth pain?

Wisdom teeth pain can be irritable and annoying. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways someone can treat this pain or even completely get rid of it. Below are some ways a person can deal with wisdom teeth pain.

Removing the Wisdom Teeth

This is one of the most common and effective ways to deal with wisdom teeth pain. Removing the wisdom teeth means that the pain caused by it will be completely eliminated. It should be noted that whether or not a person is experiencing wisdom teeth pain, the dentist will typically recommend wisdom teeth removal.

The dentist may begin the removal procedure by numbing the area where the wisdom teeth are growing. However, general anesthesia could be used if more than one tooth is being removed, which is often the case. After this, the dentist will cut into the gum line to get to the parts of the wisdom teeth that weren’t able to appear. The tissue that connects the teeth to the jaw is then separated by the dentist in order to extract the wisdom tooth. The dentist may break the tooth into smaller parts for easier removal. After the tooth is removed, the dentist will then close up the gumline using stitches. These stitches will often be the kind that can dissolve after a period of time. If the dentist does not use these kinds of stitches then the patient will need to set up an appointment to remove the stitches.

After the wisdom teeth are removed, the patient will have to recover. Recovery can be a little painful, but it will only last a few days. The dentist may prescribe painkillers to help with the discomfort and antibiotics to avoid infections.

Over-the-Counter Medication

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a kind of medication that can be bought over-the-counter, meaning that no prescription from a doctor is needed to obtain the medication. NSAIDs may be referred to as painkillers, as they can help with relief from pain caused by many types of conditions — including wisdom teeth pain. Some common NSAIDs are Advil, Aleve, Bayer Excedrin, and Motrin.

Although these medications are commonly taken by a number of people, there are still a number of side effects to be wary of. For example, those that have health conditions like asthma are more likely to suffer from an allergic reaction to NSAIDs compared to those who don’t have asthma. It is also important to note that high dosage of NSAIDs can cause damage to the kidneys, as these drugs lower the amount of blood getting to the kidneys. As such, if you have asthma or kidney problems, talk to your doctor before using NSAIDs to treat any type of pain.

Specific Medication for Relieving Tooth Pain

A type drug that can be used treat tooth pain — including wisdom teeth pain — is called benzocaine. Benzocaine is a mild anesthetic and can be found in several topical medications like Orajel. These medications work by numbing the nerves of the teeth and gums for a period of time.

If used as directed by the label of the medication, a doctor, or a pharmacist, medications that have benzocaine in them don’t typically have a lot of potentially life-threatening side effects. However, if you have any sort of allergies, it is highly recommended that you speak to your doctor before using topical medication that contains benzocaine to treat your wisdom teeth pain.

Avoiding the Pain

Sometimes people only feel wisdom teeth pain when there is pressure placed on the areas where the wisdom teeth are growing. In these cases, it may simply be best to avoid putting pressure anywhere on or near the wisdom teeth. For example, one may want to chew with the front teeth or with the side of the teeth that aren’t causing pain. Unnecessary chewing — like chewing gum or soft candies — should also be avoided in order to lessen wisdom teeth pain.

Featured Image: Depositphotos/© belchonock