Oral Health Topics

Does mercury in the silver fillings in your mouth pose any long-term health risks? Does fluoride, in spite of everything we’ve been told since childhood, actually cause more harm than good? What does the latest research reveal about tobacco use on your overall oral health?

This section is dedicated to the latest information about these and other oral health topics, pulled from authoritative sources such as the American Dental Association.

Click here for the latest news from the American Dental Association.

Smiling Woman in Office
  • Flouride
  • The Preventive Program
  • Infection Control
  • Medication & Heart Disease
  • Latex Allergy
  • Age & Oral Health
  • Tobacco
  • Oral Piercings

Flouride

For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that strengthens tooth enamel, which thereby helps to prevent decay of tooth structures.

Water fluoridation is endorsed by nearly every major health and safety-related organization in the world. Communities make it a common practice to "fluoridate" their drinking supplies in order for the general population to benefit from this inexpensive and effective preventative treatment. According to the American Dental Association, more than 144 million U.S. residents in more than 10,000 communities drink fluoridated water, most from public water supplies with sodium fluoride added artificially.

Bottled water, home water treatment systems, and fluoride exposure

Can the consistent use of bottled water result in individuals missing the benefits of optimally fluoridated water? Can home water treatment systems (e.g., water filters) affect optimally fluoridated water supplies? The answer is yes to both. Read how you can avoid some of the pitfalls that may be preventing you from getting the maximum value of fluoride, in this article from the American Dental Association.

ADA statement on FDA toothpaste warning labels

The American Dental Association`s Council on Scientific Affairs believes that one part of the warning now required on fluoride toothpastes by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could unnecessarily frighten parents and children, and that the label greatly overstates any demonstrated or potential danger posed by fluoride toothpastes. The label language, "If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately," is now required on all fluoride toothpastes. But the ADA, in a letter sent to the FDA last year, pointed out that a child could not absorb enough fluoride from toothpaste to cause a serious problem and that the excellent safety record on fluoride toothpaste argues against any unnecessary regulation.

Enamel fluorosis

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child may face a condition called enamel fluorosis if he or she receives too much fluoride during the years of tooth development. Too much fluoride can result in defects in tooth enamel.

CDC web site provides information on community water fluoridation

People seeking information on whether their water system is fluoridated can now find out by visiting a new Web site at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The new feature, "My Water`s Fluoride," allows consumers in participating states to check out basic information about their water system, including the number of people served by the system and the target fluoridation level. Optimal levels recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC for drinking water range from 0.7 parts per million (ppm) for warmer climates, to 1.2 ppm for cooler climates accounting for the tendency to drink more water in warmer climates. States that are currently participating include Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Preventive Program

 
Both natural teeth and teeth with restorations survive best in an oral environment that is clean and where the intake of harmful foods is controlled. Our program is designed to help prevent new cavities, preserve teeth that have been restored and manage periodontal disease. At the initial visit oral hygiene instructions are reviewed and are reinforced at subsequent recall visits.
 
The following are helpful recommendations:
 
  • Brush your teeth twice a day in a circular motion with a soft bristled toothbrush aimed at the gum.
  • Floss every night in an up-and-down motion while keeping the floss in a U-shape and against the tooth surface.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid sticky sugary foods.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Use antiseptic and fluoride rinses as directed.
  • Have sealants placed on young permanent teeth.

Infection Control

Standards and Best Practices

With all of the increased media attention on infection outbreaks such as AIDS and multi-drug resistant strains of viruses, it's no wonder people have heightened concerns about infection control during a medical procedure.

Gloves, gowns and masks are required to be worn in all dentist offices today—a far cry from just a few decades ago—when fewer than one-third of all dentists even wore such personal protective equipment, or PPE.  After each patient visit, disposable PPE-such as gloves, drapes, needles, and scalpel blades-are thrown away, hands are washed, and a new pair of gloves used for the next patient.

All hand instruments used on patients are washed, disinfected and/or sterilized with chemicals or steam after each use.

One of the most effective methods for preventing disease transmission—washing one’s hands—is practiced in our office.  It is routine procedure to wash hands at the beginning of the day, before and after glove use, and after touching any surfaces that may have become contaminated.

Water Quality and Biofilms

Concerns about the quality of water used in a dentist's office are unfounded, provided the dentist follows the infection control guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association.

Some health "experts" in recent years have called into question the risks associated with so-called "biofilms," which are thin layers of microscopic germs that collect on virtually any surface. Essentially, these bacteria and fungi occur everywhere, including faucets in your home; your body is no less accustomed to being exposed to them than in any other situations.

In fact, no scientific evidence has linked biofilms with disease. If you have a compromised or weakened immune system, you are susceptible to germs everywhere. Consequently, let our office know if you have such a condition so additional precautions, if any, can be taken.

Medication & Heart Disease

Certain kinds of medications can have an adverse effect on your teeth.

Long ago, children exposed to tetracycline developed tooth problems, including discoloration, later in life. The medication fell out of use, however, and is not an issue today.

The best precaution is to ask your family physician if any medications he or she has prescribed can have a detrimental effect on your teeth or other oral structures.

A condition called dry mouth is commonly associated with certain medications, including antihistamines, diuretics, decongestants and pain killers. People with medical conditions, such as an eating disorder or diabetes, are often plagued by dry mouth. Other causes are related to aging (including rheumatoid arthritis), and compromised immune systems. Garlic and tobacco use are other known culprits.

Dry mouth occurs when saliva production drops. Saliva is one of your body's natural defenses against plaque because it acts to rinse your mouth of cavity-causing bacteria and other harmful materials.

Some of the less alarming results of dry mouth include bad breath. But dry mouth can lead to more serious problems, including burning tongue syndrome, a painful condition caused by lack of moisture on the tongue.

If dry mouth isn't readily apparent, you may experience other conditions that dry mouth can cause, including an overly sensitive tongue, chronic thirst or even difficulty in speaking.

Heart Disease

Poor dental hygiene can cause a host of problems outside your mouth—including your heart.

Medical research has uncovered a definitive link between heart disease and certain kinds of oral infections such as periodontal disease. Some have even suggested that gum disease may be as dangerous as or more dangerous than other factors such as tobacco use.

A condition called chronic periodontitis, or persistent gum disease, has been linked to cardiovascular problems by medical researchers.

In short, infections and harmful bacteria in your mouth can spread through the bloodstream to your liver, which produces harmful proteins that can lead to systemic cardiac problems. That’s why it’s critical to practice good oral hygiene to keep infections at bay—this includes a daily regimen of brushing, flossing and rinsing.

Antibiotic Prophylaxis

In some cases, patients with compromised immune systems or who fear an infection from a dental procedure may take antibiotics before visiting the dentist.

It is possible for bacteria from your mouth to enter your bloodstream during a dental procedure in which tissues are cut or bleeding occurs. A healthy immune system will normally fight such bacteria before they result in an infection.

However, certain cardiovascular conditions in patients with weakened hearts could be at risk for an infection or heart muscle inflammation (bacterial endocarditis) resulting from a dental procedure.

Patients with heart conditions (including weakened heart valves) are strongly advised to inform our office before undergoing any dental procedure. The proper antibiotic will prevent any unnecessary complications.

Latex Allergy

Naturally occurring latex has been linked in recent years to allergic reactions in people who use such products as latex gloves. The proteins in the latex, which can also become airborne, can cause problems in vulnerable people such as breathing problems and contact dermatitis. Some allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock, have been more severe.

Many health experts have rightly attributed the dramatic increase of allergic reactions to latex in the health care community to the increased use of gloves and other personal protection equipment in light of the AIDS epidemic.

Latex is a pervasive substance in many household items—from toys and balloons to rubber bands and condoms.

Latex allergies could cause the following symptoms:

  • Dry skin
  • Hives
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory problems
  • Tingling sensations

People with high-risk factors for latex allergy include those who have undergone multiple surgical operations, have spina bifida, or are persistently exposed to latex products.

If you are vulnerable to latex or have allergies related to it, please notify our office and, by all means, seek medical attention from your family physician.

Oral changes with age

Is tooth loss inevitable in your later years? How much should adults be concerned about cavities? Here you will find helpful answers to some frequently asked questions about oral health questions you may have as you get older.

National survey reveals baby boomers miss links between oral and overall health

Baby boomers looking for the warning signs of adult-onset diseases may be overlooking key symptoms in their mouth that should signal alarms about their overall health. According to a survey commissioned by the Academy of General Dentistry, 63 percent of baby boomers (ages 45-64) with an oral symptom considered to be a key indicator of a more serious health condition, were unaware of the symptom`s link to the condition. Boomers` failure to recognize that oral health holds valuable clues could negatively impact their overall health.

Tobacco

Dentistry health care that works: 

The American Dental Association has long been a leader in the battle against tobacco-related disease, working to educate the public about the dangers inherent in tobacco use and encouraging dentists to help their patients break the cycle of addiction. The Association has continually strengthened and updated its tobacco policies as new scientific information has become available.

Frequently asked questions: tobacco products

What effects can smoking have on my oral health? Are cigars a safe alternative to cigarettes? Are smokeless tobacco products safe? The American Dental Association has some alarming news that you should know.

Smoking and Implants

Recent studies have shown that there is a direct link between oral tissue and bones loss and smoking.

Tooth loss and edentulism are more common in smokers than in non-smokers. In addition, people who smoke are more likely to develop severe periodontal disease.

The formation of deep mucosal pockets with inflammation of the peri-implant mucosa around dental implants is called peri-implantitis. Smokers treated with dental implants have a greater risk of developing peri-implantitis. This condition can lead to increased resorption of peri-implant bone. If left untreated, peri-implantitis can lead to implant failure. In a recent international study, smokers showed a higher score in bleeding index with greater peri-implant pocket depth and radiographically discernible bone resorption around the implant, particularly in the maxilla.

Many studies have shown that smoking can lead to higher rates of dental implant failure. In general, smoking cessation usually leads to improved periodontal health and a patient’s chance for successful implant acceptance.

Oral Piercings

Oral piercings (usually in the tongue or around the lips) have quickly become a popular trend in today’s society.  With this popular trend, it is important to realize that sometimes even precautions taken during the installation of the piercing jewelry are not enough to stave off harmful, long-term consequences such as cracked or chipped teeth, swelling, problems with swallowing and taste, and scars. There is also a possibility of choking on a piece of dislodged jewelry, which makes it important to ask if the risks are warranted.

One of the most serious long-term health problems that may occur from oral piercings come in the form of damage to the soft tissues such as the cheeks, gums and palate, as well as opportunistic infections. When performed in an unsterile environment, any kind of body piercing may also put you at risk of contracting deadly infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.

A tongue piercing is a common form of body piercing. However, tongue piercings have been known to cause blocked airways (from a swollen tongue). In some cases, a tongue piercing can cause uncontrolled bleeding.

Other Dental Services

In general dentistry, the dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of conditions, disorders and diseases affecting the teeth, gums and maxillofacial (jaw and face) parts of the body.

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From minor tweaks to major makeovers, we offer a comprehensive range of cosmetic services to fit any patient’s needs, lifestyle and oral health.

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Bonding is a process in which an enamel-like material is applied to a tooth's surface, sculpted to an ideal shape, hardened, and then polished for an ideal smile.

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Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth. Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth's function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. 

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Sealants act as a barrier to prevent bacteria and food from collecting and sitting on the grooves and pits of teeth.

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Implants are synthetic structures that are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by the root. Implants act as a foundation for an artificial tooth or permanent bridge.

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Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain or plastic cemented over the front of your teeth to change their color or shape. Veneers are used on teeth with uneven surfaces or are chipped, discolored, oddly shaped, unevenly spaced or crooked.

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Whitening procedures have effectively restored the smile of people with stained, dull, or discolored teeth.The darker tissue of your teeth, the dentin, can become exposed as the outer layer of enamel is worn away by the effects of aging or things like caffeine and tobacco. 

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Different treatment can often be used to correct discolored, worn down, cracked and chipped teeth. Some of the treatments include Veneers, Bonding, Dental Contouring & Reshaping.

Invisalign's® invisible, removable, and comfortable aligners will give you the beautiful straight teeth you've always wanted. And best of all, no one can tell you're wearing them. Invisalign is great for adults and teenagers. 

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Sealants are liquid coatings that harden on the chewing surfaces of teeth and are showing a great deal of effectiveness in preventing cavities—even on teeth where decay has begun.

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When restoration procedures such as root canal therapy, crowns, or fillings are not enough to save a tooth, it may need to be pulled, or extracted.

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Simple toothaches can often be relieved by rinsing the mouth to clear it of debris and other matter. A broken, fractured or displaced tooth is usually not a cause for alarm, as long as decisive, quick action is taken. 

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Root canal therapy is a remarkable treatment with a very high rate of success, and involves removing the diseased tissue, halting the spread of infection and restoring the healthy portion of the tooth.

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A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and adjacent tissues. It is made of acrylic resin, sometimes in combination with various metals.

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Some cases of acute periodontal (gum) disease that do not respond to more conventional treatment and self-care such as flossing may require a special kind of cleaning called scaling and root planing.

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A knocked out tooth or bitten tongue can cause panic in any patient, but quick thinking and staying calm are the best ways to approach such common dental emergencies and prevent additional unnecessary damage and costly dental restoration. Please contact our office as soon as possible.

Soft tissue grafts are sometimes performed to treat gum disease, or correct other abnormalities. The procedure involves taking gum tissue from the palate or another donor source to cover an exposed root in order to even the gum line and reduce sensitivity.

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