A popular Sixties-era hair cream touted their product with the tagline, "A little dab'll do ya!" In other words, it didn't take much to make your hair look awesome.
Something similar could be said about fluoride. Tiny amounts of this "wonder" chemical in hygiene products and drinking water are widely credited with giving people a big boost in protection against tooth decay.
A Colorado dentist is credited with first noticing fluoride's beneficial effects early in the Twentieth Century. Although many of his patients' teeth had brownish staining (more about that in a moment), he also noticed they had a low incidence of cavities. He soon traced the effect to fluoride naturally occurring in their drinking water.
Fast forward to today, and fluoride is routinely added in trace amounts to dental care products and by water utilities to the drinking water supply. It's discovery and application have been heralded as one of the top public health successes of the Twentieth Century.
Fluoride, though, seems a little too amazing for some. Over its history of use in dental care, critics of fluoride have argued the chemical contributes to severe health problems like low IQ, cancer or birth defects.
But after several decades of study, the only documented health risk posed by fluoride is a condition called fluorosis, a form of staining that gives the teeth a brown, mottled appearance (remember our Colorado residents?). It's mainly a cosmetic problem, however, and poses no substantial threat to a person's oral or general health.
And, it's easily prevented. Since it's caused by too much fluoride in prolonged contact with the teeth, fluorosis can be avoided by limiting fluoride intake to the minimum necessary to be effective. Along these lines, the U.S. Public Health Service recently reduced its recommended amounts added to drinking water 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of water. Evidence indicated fluoride's effectiveness even at these lower amounts.
You may also want to talk with your dentist about how much fluoride your family is ingesting, including from hidden sources like certain foods, infant formula or bottled water. Even if you need to reduce your family's intake of fluoride, though, a little in your life can help keep your family's teeth in good health.
If you would like more information on the benefits of fluoride in dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Fluoride & Fluoridation in Dentistry.”
Find out how to better care for your smile to support the long-term health of your teeth and gums.
Everything from genetics to our lifestyle can impact our oral health. If you are looking for ways to protect your smile, you’ve come to the right place. By turning to our Cohasset, MA, family dentist Dr. Kevin Thomas and Dr. Aaron Chenette for routine checkups every six months, and by properly caring for your smile every day between appointments, you can prevent serious dental problems from happening. It’s important to understand what plaque and tartar are and how they can impact your smile.
What is plaque?
Whenever saliva and food combine they develop this clear, sticky film over teeth known as plaque. Bacteria within the plaque then take the foods and drinks you consume and turn them into acid, which will erode healthy tooth enamel and eventually lead to cavities. Leaving sugary and starchy foods on teeth all day long is particularly bad for your oral health, as this can increase the risk for decay.
What is tartar?
Tartar, also known as calculus, is hardened plaque. When plaque isn’t properly removed through regular brushing and flossing it will eventually harden into tartar. Unfortunately, once this happens, your toothbrush or floss will not be able to remove this deposit buildup. The only way to remove tartar is by visiting our Cohasset, MA, general dentist for a professional dental cleaning. We have the right tools to remove tartar buildup.
Are there ways to prevent plaque and tartar buildup?
The best way to remove plaque buildup before it even can harden into tartar is to brush and floss regularly. What does this mean, exactly? This means brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day, and you can’t have one without the other. Brushing alone isn’t enough to remove plaque and food from between teeth. You also need to floss.
Your diet can also have an impact on the health of your teeth and gums. Eating a low-sugar and low-starch diet can certainly help with not feeding the oral bacteria responsible for decay. Also, fruits and veggies with a high water content such as cucumbers and apples are nature’s little teeth cleaners and can stimulate salivary production to wash away plaque and food particles.
How can plaque and tartar impact my health?
Since plaque and tartar buildup can lead to decay and gum disease, it’s important to take control of your oral health and to make sure that you are brushing and flossing often and properly. You also don’t want to skip out on those six-month dental cleanings with our dental team.
If it’s been more than six months since you last visited our Cohasset, MA, family dentist for a dental cleaning, or you simply want to discuss ways to better care for your smile, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Chenette, and the team at Cohasset Dental are here for you. To schedule an appointment, call us today at (781) 383-9393.
During this year's baseball spring training, Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton got into a row with a steak dinner—and the beefsteak got the better of it. During his meal, the Gold Glove winner cracked a tooth.
Fortunately, he didn't lose it. Buxton's dentist rescued the tooth with a dental procedure that's been around for over a century—a root canal treatment. The dependable root canal is responsible for saving millions of teeth each year.
Dentists turn to root canal treatments for a number of reasons: a permanent tooth's roots are dissolving (a condition called resorption); chronic inflammation of the innermost tooth pulp due to repeated fillings; or a fractured or cracked tooth, like Buxton's, in which the pulp becomes exposed to bacteria.
One of the biggest reasons, though, is advanced tooth decay. Triggered by acid, a by-product of bacteria, a tooth's enamel softens and erodes, allowing decay into the underlying dentin. In its initial stages, we can often treat decay with a filling. But if the decay continues to advance, it can infect the pulp and root canals and eventually reach the bone.
Decay of this magnitude seriously jeopardizes a tooth's survival. But we can still stop it before that point with a root canal. The basic procedure is fairly straightforward. We begin first by drilling a small hole into the tooth to access the inner pulp and root canals. Using special instruments, we then remove all of the infected tissue within the tooth.
After disinfecting the now empty spaces and reshaping the root canals, we fill the tooth with a rubber-like substance called gutta percha. This, along with filling the access hole, seals the tooth's interior from future infection. In most cases, we'll return sometime later and bond a life-like crown to the tooth (as Buxton's dentist did for him) for added protection and support.
You would think such a procedure would get its own ticker tape parade. Unfortunately, there's a cultural apprehension that root canals are painful. But here's the truth—because your tooth and surrounding gums are numbed by local anesthesia, a root canal procedure doesn't hurt. Actually, if your tooth has been throbbing from tooth decay's attack on its nerves, a root canal treatment will alleviate that pain.
After some time on the disabled list, Buxton was back in the lineup in time to hit his longest homer to date at 456 feet on the Twins' Opening Day. You may not have that kind of moment after a root canal, but repairing a bothersome tooth with this important procedure will certainly get you back on your feet again.
If you would like more information about root canal therapy, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment.”
Here's some good news: Teenagers are less likely than adults to lose teeth to dental disease. But there's also a flip side. Teens can still lose teeth, more likely from traumatic injury.
Fortunately, there are several options for replacing lost teeth like dentures or bridges. But the choice considered best by most dentists and patients is a dental implant. An implant tooth looks and functions like the real thing—and it's durable, capable of lasting for years, if not decades.
But there's a hitch with teens getting an implant: Even though they may have all their permanent teeth by adolescence, their jaws are still growing and developing. Natural teeth, with their attachment to the jaws by way of a periodontal ligament, can keep pace with this growth—but implants can't.
That's because an implant doesn't have this attachment to gum tissue like natural teeth, but to the jawbone alone. Hence, an implant tooth can't keep up with jaw development, and may eventually look like it's "sunk" into the gums in relation to the teeth around it.
It's best, then, to wait until a teen's jaws have fully developed before attempting an implant. In the meantime, though, they don't have to endure a smile marred by missing teeth, but can replace them with a temporary restoration. The two most common options are a partial denture or a modified bridge.
The partial denture is a lightweight version that's quite affordable. Although not as durable as other types of dentures, the appliance is only intended to last until the patient is old enough for a permanent implant.
The modified bridge is a prosthetic tooth with strips of dental material extending behind it that are bonded to the backs of the teeth on either side to hold it in place. It's likewise not as durable as a traditional bridge, but it can fill the bill until time to place an implant.
Although this adds an additional step in a teen's restorative journey after losing a tooth, it's necessary—waiting to place an implant after jaw maturity will help ensure a long-lasting result. In the meantime, a temporary tooth replacement will help them to enjoy a normal smile.
If you would like more information on dental restorations for teens, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants for Teenagers.”
Dr. Kevin Thomas and Dr. Aaron Chenette of Cohasset Dental are your cosmetic dentists in Cohasset, MA. We can help you get to your brightest, whitest smile with teeth whitening treatments, but you need to take great care of your mouth if you want your teeth to stay free of stains. Keep reading for tips on protecting your teeth from stains, and come see us if you're unhappy with the shade of your smile.
Daily hygiene routine
To keep your smile at its brightest, you need to take great care of your teeth every day. Your cosmetic dentist in Cohasset, MA, will recommend brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Daily brushing and flossing keep plaque from building up on your teeth, preventing tooth decay and gum disease, and keeping your teeth free from stains.
Making good choices
Certain drinks like coffee, tea, soda, and wine can lead to staining on the teeth. Enjoy these beverages occasionally, and with water so your teeth get rinsed at the same time. You can also use a straw, which limits your teeth's exposure to the liquid. Smoking can lead to heavy staining on your teeth, and your dentist will always recommend quitting smoking to prevent oral cancer. Most people can't quit on their own or on their first try, so don't get discouraged! Commit to quitting to give yourself a beautiful smile.
Regular professional cleanings
If you want to keep your teeth bright, it's important to keep up with regular teeth cleaning appointments from your cosmetic dentists in Cohasset, MA, twice a year. At a tooth cleaning appointment, all plaque and tartar are removed from the surfaces of the teeth. This helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease and keeps your teeth free of stains.
Dr. Thomas and Dr. Chenette of Cohasset Dental offer cosmetic dentistry in Cohasset, MA, to help keep your teeth their brightest! Call us for an appointment at (781) 383-9393.
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