Sunday, November 25, 2018

Different Types of Fillings

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Have you ever had to patch a hole in your home? What size hole was it? And where? For smaller holes, a little putty or spackle should do the trick. But for larger ones, well, you might have to patch them up with a fresh sheet of drywall. Just as you might need different types of materials to mend your walls, your dentist uses different types of filling material to fill cavities in your teeth.
Most people are familiar with silver fillings. But some folks may think that these types of fillings are outdated or dangerous.

Let’s sort out the facts and introduce you to the cast of characters your dentist works with on a daily basis.


Those silver fillings are really an amalgam of different metals, including tin, silver, copper, and mercury.

Don’t be concerned about the mercury in these fillings; when combined with other metals, it forms a safe, stable material. According to the American Dental Association, amalgam poses no health risk and is a safe and effective filling material. Toxicology International has a great report on amalgam safety if you’d like to read more.

Amalgam is less expensive than other types of fillings and is extremely durable. It is used to fill larger areas of decay as well as the teeth that endure a greater degree of stress on a daily basis (your molars, for example). Amalgam also hardens quickly, which can be useful for a patient who may be unable to sit still for an extended period of time, such as children and those with special needs.

Composite Resins

Also known as “tooth-colored” fillings, composite resins are composed of a glass or quartz filler. They can mirror the color, texture, and luminescence of your own teeth, making them a great option for those of us concerned with maintaining a white smile. They also help your natural tooth structure to remain intact and bond more securely with your tooth than amalgam fillings do.

Composite resins do have some drawbacks: they may create some mild sensitivity for patients, and may stain with coffee, tea, or other foods and beverages. Composite resins also may not last as long as amalgam.


The gold standard in terms of durability is, well, gold fillings. Able to last two decades or more, they are composed of gold, copper, and other metals.

Gold is used in inlays and onlays, as well as gold foil restorations. Most dentists these days do not offer gold foil restorations because the technique requires highly specialized training.

Most commonly made of porcelain, ceramic is used in inlays and onlays. They are tooth colored and more resistant to staining than composite. However, they are more brittle and more expensive.

Glass Ionomer
This is a filling material composed of acrylic and a component of glass called fluoraluminosilicate (bonus points if you can pronounce that one right!). One advantage of glass ionomer is that it releases fluoride within the tooth, which can help prevent further tooth decay.

However, glass ionomer is less durable than other fillings. For that reason, dentists use it in baby teeth or smaller parts of teeth that aren’t used for the heavy lifting of daily life (munching, crunching, etc.). Plus, this type of filling does not match the color of your teeth as well as composite resins.

Did You Ever Know There Were This Many Options?
When it comes to patching tooth decay, your dentist will help you decide your best filling or restorative options based on the severity and location of tooth decay, as well as your budget.

There may be only one type of filling that your dentist recommends for a particular area of your tooth, but at least you’re more informed now about what they’re recommending!

Visit our Restorative Services page for more information and videos.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Think You Can't Afford Braces? Think Again.

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Think You Can't Afford Braces? Think Again.

Planning for braces requires just that: a plan. Without one, you’ll find yourself in the awful predicament of having to make quick and uncomfortable budget adjustments at a time when your child is trying to move gracefully through adolescence. The thing is, though, developing a plan is more about knowing what sort of help is out there for you – the cost of braces may seem daunting, but it shouldn’t be. Doctors are here to help, and there are several options for payment. Let’s look at the specifics.

Option #1: Flexible Savings Accounts

Flexible Savings accounts are pre-tax savings accounts you can establish with the help of your employer. Essentially, you tally up your intended medical expenses for the year, and once you’re enrolled in the program, that money is made available to you (for those medical expenses) – typically via a debit card. You pay into the account by having those planned expenses deducted from your paycheck in amounts equally divided across pay periods. Also, because it’s extracted pre-tax, your spending power is increased. Put in terms of the cost of braces, if your orthodontist suggests a budget of 2K, because you’re taking that money out pre-tax, the actual cost to you (if you are in the 28% tax bracket) would only be $1440. Not a bad deal at all.

Option #2: Ask Your Orthodontist/Doctor about Payment Plans

Dental professionals understand consumers have limited insurance for dental care. As a result, payment plans are often offered to stretch payments over a longer period of time. Also, the larger the expense, the more creative doctors tend to be. So, if you ask, you’ll likely run into all sorts of payment arrangements to choose from, including discounts for pre-payment, early pay-off, and auto-debiting. All you have to do is ask! 

The Alternative?

Waiting to plan. Avoiding orthodontic care not only results in crooked teeth, it can also lead to more expensive future dental care because of the resultant difficulty in cleaning crowded teeth. Also, alignment issues are often due to concerns beyond the cosmetic. Braces may be needed to correct developmental concerns with a child’s jawbone and bite – both of which can affect speech, appearance, chewing and the proper digestion of food.

Teeth aren’t in our mouth for cosmetics. They are the first tools of digestion, the designers of our face, and the protectors of our gum tissue. In order to work correctly, they need to fit together correctly. And, unless your children are gifted with a perfect bite, the best thing you can do to care for your children’s teeth is to plan ahead.
Visit our dental blog for more fun and informative articles.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

When a Dry Mouth Is Caused by More Than Just a Lack of Water

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July 23rd is World Sjögren's Day. It’s named after Dr. Henrik Sjögren (pronounced SHOW-grin), the Swedish ophthalmologist who noticed a connection between patients he was seeing with dry eyes, and patients who suffered from a consistently dry mouth. Further investigation resulted in the discovery that these symptoms where caused by an immune system attack on these patients' moisture-producing glands. Today, approximately 4 million Americans live with this chronic disease, and many more go undiagnosed. Let’s take a quick look at the symptoms, and learn more about this disease that causes more than just the occasional parched mouth.

What is Sjögren's?

Sjögren's is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease in which people’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands. However, it has also been known to cause dysfunction of other non-exocrine organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. While you may not have heard of Sjogren’s, you’re likely aware of world tennis star, Venus Williams, who discovered she had the disease herself in 2011.

What are the primary symptoms?

Among individuals with Sjögren's, the most common symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, and dry eyes and mouth. However, since these symptoms can also point to other illnesses, Sjögren's is often misdiagnosed, or not diagnosed at all. This is such a pressing concern for medical professionals involved in diagnosing and caring for Sjögren's patients, they have made it their mission to cut the time to diagnosis in half by 2017. Currently, the diagnosis isn’t typically made until a person with Sjögren's has been suffering with symptoms for 4.7 years on average – a fact that often leads Sjögren's patients to experience complications related to the disease like cavities, oral thrush, and vision problems.

When does it develop? Can kids be affected?

Sjögren's can develop at any time, affects women more commonly than men, and (while rare) can also affect children.

If I have Sjögren's, does my dentist need to know?

Yes, without a doubt, your dentist plays an important role in the management of Sjögren's. They may also be the first person to suggest you see a specialist for further examination. Since Sjögren's affects the body in a variety of ways, patients often work with a team of medical professionals, including rheumatologists and ophthalmologists, who work together to help patients control this complicated illness.

For more on the importance of saliva, and how it affects your teeth and overall health, read perhaps the best article on saliva you’ll ever read in your life, on the European Food and Information Council’s website. Saliva is indeed, amazing stuff!

Visit our dental blog for more fun an informative articles.


Friday, May 4, 2018

Yes, Coffee Might Actually Be Good for Your Teeth

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If you have a desire to stain your teeth, consuming multiple cups of coffee a day is a sure way to get you there. That much you likely already know. What you may not know, though, is that drinking coffee in moderation can actually help you protect your teeth,  because of coffee’s unique anti-bacterial properties. And, coffee isn’t alone in this regard. Tea, too, has some pretty marvelous properties, despite its propensity to stain teeth as well! So, if you’re a fan of a cuppa’ warm joe or tea in the morning, read on … you’ve got one more reason not to give it up!

The main reason coffee and tea are good for you? Antioxidants.

Scientists believe antioxidants (polyphenols and catechins, specifically) help reduce inflammation in the body, aid in reducing cholesterol and high blood pressure, and protect against heart attack and stroke. They also help reduce inflammation in your mouth.  Find ‘em in fruit, vegetables, red wine, coffee, and chocolate to name a few.

If you do want a good reason to keep drinking coffee and tea, though, the trick is to consume each without cream and sugar (sugar and cream feed bad bacteria). You may also want to enjoy them “warm” as opposed to excessively hot. There is some speculation about how the temperature of your beverage can affect the lining of your esophagus. Visit this article for more on that concern.

Fluoride, trigonelline and caffeine
  • Tea: The benefit? Fluoride!
    We all know that at prescribed and monitored levels, fluoride is good for our teeth. But did you know black tea contains fluoride because of how its leaves absorb fluoride from the soil? More, it seems, than the plain glass of water coming out of your faucet, even! This, of course, can have good and bad complications for your teeth. If you drink from a non-fluoridated water source, ask your dentist or physician if they think it may be beneficial to drink a bit of tea from time to time. Over-consuming black tea, though, has been shown to affect rates of skeletal fluorosis.

    So, as with anything in life, moderation is key. And any time you want to start doing more of something you’re not doing already, from ingesting new foods to ramping up the exercise, always consult with your family physician first.
  • Coffee: The benefit? Trigonelline!
    Trigonelline is what’s known as an alkaloid. And this alkaloid appears to be of specific benefit to our teeth. It’s found in its highest levels in Arabica coffee beans, and research suggests it interferes with cavity-causing bacteria’s ability to adhere itself to tooth enamel. Research is ongoing, but it does seem to be another feather-in-the-cap of your morning “joe.”
  • Tea and Coffee: The benefit? Caffeine!
    Ah, caffeine – beloved and vilified. Yes, we know. And, we know that caffeine can cause some people to experience anxiety and increased stress, which could lead to teeth grinding and clenching. And that is most certainly NOT good for your teeth. Or, jaw. Or, bone structure, in general.

    Where caffeine is a benefit, though, is in its apparent ability to impact longevity in patients with oral cancer. And, that’s something to think about. Read up on the study yourself and make a decision that’s best for you. Recent research also suggests caffeine in coffee may help protect individuals from liver cancer as well.
SO! Everything in moderation, right? If you like a morning beverage, we hope this little primer gives you a bit more to think about!

Visit our dental blog for more fun an informative articles.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Baby Pacifiers – A Quick Look at the Pros and Cons.

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Baby Pacifiers – A Quick Look at the Pros and Cons.

To pacify or not to pacify, that is the question! If you’re a parent, or currently expecting, you’ve probably heard every possible recommendation and condemnation you’ve ever wanted to hear regarding pacifier use.

What is a dedicated, thoughtful parent to do?

Well, we’re here to help. And, it’s not as cut and dry as you think. In fact, we’re pretty sure you may just be surprised by our second biggest “pro.” 

The Biggest Pros
It’s a superb calming mechanism: It would be difficult for many-a-parent to imagine being able to soothe a crying, restless baby at the doctor’s office, on a plane, or at naptime without a trusty pacifier nearby. Pacifiers are most certainly named appropriately.
May help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): This is a biggie. The Mayo Clinic reports that having a child suck on a pacifier at naptime and bedtime might reduce the risk of SIDS. 
The Mayo Clinic also suggests that if you're breast-feeding, you should “wait to offer a pacifier until your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old and you've settled into an effective nursing routine.”

The Biggest Con
Extended use can create tooth development concerns: Extended thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and pacifier use beyond the arrival of your child’s primary teeth can be problematic for the development of a proper bite. 
Each of these habits tends to place undue forward-pressure on upper teeth and reverse, downward-pressure on bottom teeth – both of which can impact the proper development of a child’s jaw.

Your dentist and pediatrician can work with you to help curb these habits, but awareness is the most important first step.
What about the Baby Bottle?
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Streptococcus mutans, the bacterium that contributes to tooth decay, is fond of teeth no matter if they're in your mouth or your baby’s.

As a general rule, you’ll want to limit snacking, avoid placing anything sweet on a pacifier or bottle to get a baby to take to it, and avoid sharing your spoon with your child.

Because a diet high in refined carbohydrates contributes to larger populations of this bacterium, and sharing a spoon transfers the bacteria that exist in your mouth to your child’s mouth. Infants have very little of this bacterium to begin with, but you have lots! And, yes, it’s contagious! 
Visit our dental blog for more fun an informative articles.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Banish That Canker Sore!

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There’s hardly anything more irritating than a canker sore. Sure, they’re tiny and only last a few days, but when you’ve got one, just about every word spoken and every bite taken hurts like all get-out.

What exactly are those little buggers, and how in the world can you ease the pain fast?

We’ll fill you in, and share our “canker-sore-be-gone” grocery list that’ll help save the day.
What Exactly is a Canker Sore?
To know the medically proper name for a canker sore is to understand why it hurts so much.

A canker sore is actually an ulcer. An Aphthous Ulcer to be exact. These painful ulcers come in two forms, minor and major, and are surprisingly experienced by only about 20% of the U.S. population.

Minor cankers (common in people between the ages of 10 and 20), are the smaller of the two, as the name would suggest, and last about 7-10 days.

Major cankers can last from two to six weeks, have noticeable depth, and often have irregular borders. This type of sore is more common after the age of 20, and is essentially a recurrent canker, returning to a site previously impacted by a minor canker.
Who Gets Cankers?
While cankers affect both genders, girls tend to get them more often, likely because of hormonal fluctuations.

Aside from that, most people are believed to get cankers due to genetics– and the condition is triggered by spicy, salty or abrasive foods.

If you or your kids are among those unlucky people gifted with canker sore genetics, there is hope! Arrest the pain and speed up the healing process with this short shopping list:

Rinses (use four times a day)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – Equal parts peroxide and water
  • Salt and baking soda – Add a half teaspoon of both to 4oz. of water
Numbing Agents
  • Brands like Orajel® and Kank-A® can provide relief
Protective Pastes
  • Milk of Magnesia – dab on a cotton swab and use four times daily after the hydrogen peroxide rinse.
  • Baking Soda and Water Paste
Antimicrobial Mouthwashes

If your children have a sore lasting beyond the two-week mark, make an appointment to see your doctor to evaluate their case. Prescription medications might be necessary to bring them much-needed relief.

Visit our dental blog for more fun an informative articles.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Seven Tips to Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

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Seven Tips To Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Cavities – they're not just for adults. Streptococcus mutans, the bacterium that contributes to tooth decay, is a rather indiscriminate little purple menace, and is quite fond of teeth no matter if they're in your mouth or the mouth of your baby. Keeping their mouth as clean as you keep your own can help you stay ahead of early childhood cavities, and only read about baby bottle tooth decay instead of experiencing it firsthand.

With that in mind, here are seven tips that can help you in the fight against Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), and keep baby bottle tooth decay at bay!

  1. Limit Snacking: Whenever a person consumes any type of food or beverage, the pH level lowers and the mouth becomes more acidic to aid in digestion. This first step in our digestion process ends about 30 minutes after we eat, and the pH returns to normal to help protect our teeth. When we snack, though, our teeth remain bathing in this acidic environment, wearing down tooth enamel, and providing a breeding ground for S. mutans. The same, of course, is true with infants who feed continually, or without a long enough break. You can counter this effect by planning mealtimes with a reasonable start and finish time. Ask your dentist or GP for the best advice for your child.
  2. Avoid The Sugar Dip: Some parents are prone to dipping pacifiers in substances like honey or sugar to acclimate a child to using the device. This is generally a bad idea. For the same reasons you wouldn't want to suck on a honey stick, you shouldn't give one to your child as well. Bad for the teeth.
  3. Don't Share The Spoon: Here's a surprise! Did you know that tooth decay can be transmitted from one person to another? By sharing your child's feeding spoon, you can actually transmit S. mutans living in your mouth to your child. If you want to use a spoon to show your child it's okay to eat in this fashion, you're best off using your own spoon, and then doing a little slight-of-hand-swicheroo.
  4. Keep A Washcloth Nearby: For children who currently do not have teeth, use a washcloth to clean their gums after eating. Think of this as tooth brushing 101.
  5. Brush Away: And, for those lucky enough to have teeth already, use a child-safe toothbrush to clean away any food debris after a meal. It's good training for your child, and good for their teeth as well!
  6. Fill The Bottle Wisely: Avoid putting anything in your child's bottle except formula, breast milk or milk. Anything sweet or sugary will just further promote decay.
  7. Obey Naptime Rules: Restrict bottle usage prior to bedtime, or at least brush or wash their mouth prior to bed. Allowing a child to sleep with a bottle is considered to be the number one reason for baby bottle tooth decay as the bottle tends to continually drip into the child's mouth. For more on why this is important, see tip, #1.
As you can see, avoiding tooth decay in children is really quite simple, and involves many of the same rules we have to follow as adults.

For more information on children dental care visit our Pediatric Services Page.