Posts for: March, 2012

By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
March 27, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: fluoride  
UnderstandingtheLatestNewsonFluoride

Guidelines regarding the concentration of fluoride in water have recently been changed by the US Government's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These agencies recommended a reduction of fluoride in water supplies to 0.7mg/L, modifying the original recommendations provided in 1962 by the US Public Health Service.

What is fluoride, and why add it to water supplies?
Fluoride is a chemical form of fluorine, a naturally occurring element. For decades, scientists have carried out studies on the effects of fluoride in water, and they have proved that fluoride strengthens tooth surfaces and makes them resistant to decay. A fluoride concentration of about one milligram per liter (1 mg/L), or 1 part per million (1ppm), in the water supply is associated with substantially fewer cavities. This concentration of fluoride (equivalent to a grain of salt in a gallon of water) has been found to have no negative health effects.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that fluoridated water is one of the ten most effective public health measures of the 20th Century. The optimal amount of fluoride necessary to make teeth resistant to decay turns out to be between 0.7 and 1.20 milligrams per liter (mg/L). A certain amount of fluoride occurs naturally in water supplies, and communities have added fluoride to bring the amount up to the optimal recommendations.

How does fluoride you drink get into your teeth?
The fluoride you drink in your water is deposited in your bones. Bone is an active living substance that is constantly broken down and rebuilt as a normal body process. As this happens the fluoride is released into the blood, from which it can enter the saliva and act on the tooth surface.

What about fluoride from other sources?
Americans now have access to many sources of fluoride in addition to the water they drink. These include foods, beverages and toothpaste. As a result, dentists have begun to notice an increased prevalence of a condition known as Dental Fluorosis.

What is Dental Fluorosis?
Dental Fluorosis can occur when teeth, particularly in children, receive too much fluoride. This condition is a mottling or uneven staining of the tooth surface enamel. There may be small white spots or extensive brownish discolorations. The mottled enamel is still resistant to decay, but it may be unattractive in appearance.

What is the idea behind the new guidelines?
With the new guidelines, fluoride is kept at the lower end of the scale of the optimal concentration for strengthening teeth against decay. At this end, there is room to add consumption of fluoride from other sources such as foods or toothpaste. In short, it is the best of both worlds.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about fluoride. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Fluoride & Fluoridation in Dentistry” and “New Fluoride Recommendations.”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
March 19, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: denture  
FullDenturesFrequentlyAskedQuestions

If an adult has lost his or her teeth (a condition called “edentulism”), full removable dentures (false teeth) can restore the person's appearance and ability to bite, chew, and talk properly. Even with our current extensive knowledge about tooth care and restoration, over 25 percent of Americans have lost all their teeth by the time they are 65.

How much do you know about dentures? Test yourself below.

How does tooth loss affect your bones?
Bone is a living substance that is constantly changing and rebuilding itself, depending on signals it receives from surrounding tissues. The bone that surrounds your teeth is called alveolar bone (from “alveolus,” meaning sac-like). To keep healthy, alveolar bone needs stimulation or function such as chewing and your teeth touching your opposing teeth. If you lose your teeth, bone begins to melt away (resorb).

How can we minimize bone loss during tooth extraction?
We can maintain bone volume by using bone grafting techniques. While this sounds scary, it is a relatively easy procedure. The principle of bone grafting is to build a sort of scaffolding on which your body begins to build and maintain its own bone. Bone loss can be prevented by the placement of a few dental implants.

How are dentures designed and created?
The dentures that look best and work best for you are based on your original teeth. We often utilize photographs of how you looked with your natural teeth, along with your input about possible changes you would like to see. First we take detailed impressions (molds) of the residual ridges in which your teeth once rested. From these we make denture bases of a light cured plastic resin. We attach horseshoe-shaped rims made of wax to the bases, to simulate the position of the teeth as we work out their design and spacing, based on both appearance and function. The prosthetic teeth are then tried out in your mouth, adjustments are made, and the dentures are processed in a dental laboratory. The final product substitutes a pink colored plastic (methyl methacrylate) to represent the gums and white plastic material as the teeth, created to make them look as natural as possible.

What is your part in the denture fitting process?
As a patient with new dentures, you must learn to use your jaw joints, ligaments, nerves, and muscles in new ways to help stabilize your dentures and to relearn to speak, bite, chew, smile, and laugh with these new structures. It takes a little practice, but with your removable dentures you can once again enjoy a complete and normal life.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about full removable dentures. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Removable Full Dentures.”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
March 11, 2012
Category: Oral Health
FactsYouShouldKnowAboutToothWear

You may have noticed, as you get older, that the enamel of your teeth is looking worn in certain areas. Sometimes tooth wear takes the form of a minor chipping or fracturing at the incisal (cutting) edges of the teeth, or a loss of tooth material from the area near the gum line. In more severe cases, worn teeth look quite a bit smaller than they used to. Why does this happen?

Some wear with age is natural. But too much wear can interfere with your bite, expose more sensitive inner parts of the tooth to decay, and give you a more aged appearance.

There are things you can control that affect wear:

Your habits: Clenching or grinding habits, also called “bruxism,” is a major cause of tooth wear. The motion of teeth sliding over each other with forces that are beyond what's normal for biting or chewing causes a mechanical removal of tooth enamel. This can happen during sleep or periods of high stress. In either case there are therapies available, such as a thin, professionally made mouthguard that prevents your teeth from coming into contact with each other. Holding foreign objects, such as nails and bobby pins, between your teeth can also cause wear.

Your diet: Tooth enamel can be eroded (dissolved away) by acidic beverages, such as sodas, sports drinks and juices. Frequent snacking on sugary foods encourages the growth of oral bacteria that produce acid as a byproduct — also leaving your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay. Your saliva can buffer the effects of the acid in your mouth in about half an hour; if you consume these types of foods and beverages continually, there won't be enough time for this to work.

We can restore the appearance and function of worn teeth in a variety of ways. Porcelain crowns and veneers, for example, can re-establish the normal thickness and length of teeth while improving their color and giving you a more youthful appearance.

If you have any questions about tooth wear, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about tooth wear by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How And Why Teeth Wear.”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
March 03, 2012
Category: Oral Health
TestYourDentalInjuriesIQ

Every parent, caregiver, coach, sports fan and especially injured party dreads the moment when an injury to the mouth occurs during a sporting event. The first thought observers have after looking closely to see if it is their child or someone they know is, “I hope someone knows what to do!” Do you know what to do in case of a dental sports emergency? Test your dental injury IQ with this simple, quick quiz. The answers are listed at the bottom of this article.

Dental Injury IQ

  1. If a tooth (including its root) is totally knocked out, what can you safely store it in while finding a dentist within 5 minutes of the injury?
    1. Water or salt water
    2. Milk (preferably cold)
    3. Inside the cheek (mouth) of the injured person
    4. All of the above
  2. True or False: Immediately following the injury, fresh cold tap water or bottled water is the best way to remove debris from where a tooth was knocked out.
  3. If a tooth has shifted from its original position following an injury, you should...
    1. See a dentist within 5 minutes
    2. See a dentist within 6 hours
    3. See a dentist within 12 hours
    4. Only see a dentist if the tooth is not better in a few days
  4. True or False: You treat a knocked out baby tooth in the same manner as you do a permanent tooth.
  5. The most important thing to do to save a tooth that has been completely knocked out of the mouth is to…
    1. See a dentist as soon as possible
    2. Replant the tooth within 5 minutes
    3. Stop the bleeding before re-planting the tooth
    4. Rinse the tooth with fresh, clean water

The Answers

1) d = all of the above, 2) true, 3) b = see a dentist within 6 hours, 4) false – baby teeth are typically not replanted, 5) b = replant the tooth within 5 minutes

Want To Learn More?

Contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about treating dental injuries when you read the Dear Doctor article, “The Field-Side Guide To Dental Injuries.” Or, you can download a FREE, pocket-sized guide for managing dental injuries.


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
March 01, 2012
Category: Oral Health
TakeOurQuizAreYouAtRiskForToothDecay

Dental caries (tooth decay) is similar to the pesky bumblebee that invades your lovely summer barbecue. You can find temporary solace from this intruder by eliminating that very first bee that you see, but if you are situated in an area that is close to the bee's nest, it won't be long before the next bee buzzes along. This is similar to tooth decay. Having one cavity-laden tooth drilled and filled is really just a temporary fix. The underlying conditions that led to tooth decay in the first place need to be addressed in order for your risk of future infection to decrease.

Researcher Dr. John Featherstone created the concept of the Caries Balance in 2002, in which he explained that tooth decay and overall dental health are dependent upon a proper balance of disease-causing and health-promoting factors. Discovering what the fundamental problem really is (and getting as far away from that hornet's nest as possible) can help both determine and curb your risk for future tooth decay.

Here's the issue in a nutshell: Susceptible teeth, in the presence of acid producing bacteria when fed by sugar from your diet, basically, will create all the conditions necessary to cause tooth decay.

To determine your risk for tooth decay, see how many times you answer “Yes” to the following questions:

  1. Do you brush your teeth twice a day to reduce bacterial plaque sticking to the teeth?
  2. Do you use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the teeth against acid attack?
  3. Do you use a fluoride mouthrinse?
  4. Do you floss daily?

Every affirmative answer decreases your risk of getting cavities, but even doing all of this may not be enough!

Now, how many times can you answer “Yes” to these questions?:

  1. Do you smoke? Smoking causes mouth dryness, and creates a host of other health problems.
  2. Do you snack frequently between meals? One sugary snack and your mouth is acidic for the next hour. One snack per hour and your mouth is acidic all day.
  3. Do you frequently have acid reflux or heartburn? Reflux creates extreme acidity in the mouth and directly erodes tooth enamel.
  4. Do you drink soda, sports drinks, or acidic beverages frequently? These beverages are very acidic.
  5. Is your mouth frequently dry? Do you take any medications that cause mouth dryness? Saliva is nature's own defense against acidity and helps neutralize acid in the mouth.
  6. Have you had frequent cavities in the past and/or have you had any crowns or fillings in the past three months? The best indicator of future disease is past disease!

Every affirmative answer increases your risk of getting cavities!

Now that you are a little more knowledgeable about your personal risk for tooth decay, make an appointment with us to discuss the preventative measures that can give you some control over the future condition of your teeth. Ignoring the risks and then ending up with a mouth full of rotting teeth when you knew better could really sting a little!

To learn even more about the delicate balance between the disease causing and protective factors related to tooth decay, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”




Dentist - Fort Worth
2551 River Park Plaza
Fort Worth, TX 76116
817-732-4419

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