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Posts for category: Oral Health

By East Ellijay Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
April 24, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
HeresHowDrinkingAlcoholCouldImpactYourDentalHealth

Alcoholic beverages are interwoven within many cultures across the globe, but this "social lubricant" also has a dark side. Alcohol can become an overwhelming, addictive substance that wrecks relationships and careers, not to mention physical health. In regard to the latter, the teeth, mouth and gums aren't immune.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Throughout the month, healthcare providers, including dentists, highlight the damage heavy alcohol consumption can wrought on physical, emotional and social health. Abstaining or bringing alcohol consumption within recommended limits can improve your life—and your oral health.

While the effects of too much alcohol on general health are well known, it's easy to overlook its connection with dental disease, but it does exist for a number of reasons.

First, many alcoholic beverages and mixers contain high amounts of sugar. Harmful bacteria living in dental plaque, a thin film on tooth surfaces, feed on sugar. The bacteria are then able to multiply, which, increases your chances for gum disease, one of the leading causes of tooth loss.

Many alcoholic drinks also contain high amounts of acid. That, coupled with the acid produced by bacteria, can soften and erode tooth enamel, leading to unpleasant outcomes like increased tooth sensitivity or tooth decay. Like gum disease, advanced tooth decay can also cause tooth loss.

Alcohol consumption also causes dehydration, which in turn can have an effect on the mouth: With less water available, the salivary glands produce less saliva. Because saliva helps neutralize oral acid and fights pathogens leading to dental disease, having less of it available can make your mouth more susceptible to disease and infection.

To avoid these unfortunate consequences, it's important to either forgo drinking alcohol or keep your consumption within moderate limits. Those limits for you individually may depend on things like your age, weight, genetic background and overall health. Generally, though, U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 1 serving of alcohol (akin to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits) per day for women and two for men.

If you're a drinker, you should also look out for your oral health in other ways. Brush and floss your teeth daily to remove harmful dental plaque, and eat a balanced and nutritious diet, rich in vitamins and minerals. You should visit your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups.

Regardless of your relationship to alcohol, it's a part of life you should take seriously. Drinking responsibly not only protects you and others around you, but it can also protect your dental health.

If you would like more information about alcohol and dental health, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition: Its Role in General and Oral Health.”

By East Ellijay Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
April 04, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: root resorption  
AlthoughRareRootResorptionisaPotentialDangertoYourTeeth

You know the "usual suspects": brown tooth spots, toothache, or reddened, swollen or bleeding gums—common indicators for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease, two of the biggest threats to your teeth. But there are other conditions that, although rare in comparison, are no less harmful to your teeth. One of these is root resorption, when an adult tooth's root structure dissolves (resorbs).

Root resorption usually starts on the outside of a tooth, near the neck-like or cervical area around the gum line, and is also known as external cervical resorption (ECR). Your dentist may first notice tiny pink spots on the enamel during an exam: these are tiny lesions where the enamel has eroded, and are filled with pink-colored cells that actually help perpetuate resorption.

We're not fully certain about the underlying causes for root resorption, but some factors like excessive orthodontic force or dental trauma (particularly involving periodontal tissues that hold teeth in place), seem to be present with many cases.

Fortunately, most people experiencing these and similar conditions never contend with ECR. Still, it remains a possibility, particularly for older adults, and is best addressed as early as possible. Regular dental checkups are vital to identifying the condition early with prompt treatment following.

If the lesions are small, we may be able to clean out the pink tissue cells and fill the lesion with a tooth-colored material like a composite resin or glass ionomer cement. Even though this is a relatively simple process, we sometimes may need to expose the affected area below the gum tissue with a surgical procedure. And, if the damage has reached the pulp in the center of a tooth, we may also need to perform a root canal treatment.

At some point, though, the level of resorption may have left the tooth too compromised for any reasonable repair. In such cases, it may be best to remove the tooth and replace it with a restoration, most notably a dental implant.

Needless to say, keeping a regular dental visit schedule is your best defense against experiencing ECR this advanced. Early detection remains the best case scenario for this rare but damaging disease.

If you would like more information on root resorption, 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 “Root Resorption: An Unusual Phenomenon.”

By East Ellijay Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
March 15, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth pain  
HeresWhattoDoifYourChildComplainsofaToothache

If your child suddenly begins complaining about a toothache, your average day can immediately turn into something else. It can become even more worrisome as you try to decide what to do.

It doesn't have to. There are definite things you can do to calmly and methodically deal with the situation at hand. Here, then, are action steps you can take when your child has tooth pain.

Find out where and when. To get the big picture, first ask the child where in the mouth it hurts and if they remember when it started. A rough estimate of the latter is usually sufficient to establishing how long it's been going on, which could help determine how soon you should call the dentist.

Take a look inside. You'll want to then look in their mouth for any observable signs of what might be the cause of the pain. Look for spots or small holes (cavities) in the affected tooth, an indication of decay. Also check the gums for swelling, a sign they may be abscessed.

Remove trapped food debris. While checking in the mouth, look for pieces of food like popcorn hulls or candy that might be wedged between the teeth. This could be the cause of the pain, so attempt to remove it by gently flossing between the teeth. If it was the source, their pain should subside soon after.

Ease their discomfort. You can help take the edge off their pain by giving them an appropriate dose for their age of either ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Don't, however, rub aspirin or other pain relievers around the affected tooth or gums—these medications can be acidic, which could severely irritate interior mouth tissues.

Call your dentist. It's always good for a dentist to check your child's mouth after a toothache. The question is when: If your child has responded well to pain medication and has no swelling or fever, you can wait to call the next day. If not, call as soon as possible for an appointment.

A toothache is rarely an emergency, but it can still be disconcerting for you and your child. Knowing what steps to take can help resolve the situation without a lot of discomfort for them and stress for you.

If you would like more information on dealing with a child's tooth pain, 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 “A Child's Toothache.”

By East Ellijay Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
January 24, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   nutrition  
EnjoyThatNibbleofCheese-ItsAlsoBenefittingYourOralHealth

Mystery writer Avery Aames once said, "Life is great. Cheese makes it better." Billions of people around the world would tend to agree. Humanity has been having a collective love affair with curdled milk for around 8,000 years. And, why not: Cheese is not only exquisitely delicious, it's also good for you—especially for your teeth.

No wonder, then, that "turophiles" have a day of celebration all to themselves—National Cheese Lovers Day on January 20th. In honor of the day cheese aficionados would definitely make a national holiday, let's take a closer look at this delectable food, and why eating it could do a world of good for your dental health.

As a dairy food, cheese contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals, many of which specifically benefit dental health. Every bite of velvety Gouda or pungent Limburger contains minerals like calcium and phosphate, which—along with the compound casein phosphate—work together to strengthen teeth and bones.

Cheese also helps tooth enamel defend against its one true nemesis, oral acid. Prolonged contact with acid softens the mineral content in enamel and may eventually cause it to erode. Without an ample layer of enamel, teeth are sitting ducks for tooth decay. A nibble of cheese, on the other hand, can quickly raise your mouth's pH out of the acidic danger zone. Cheese also stimulates saliva, the mouth's natural acid neutralizer.

Because of these qualities, cheese is a good alternative to carbohydrate-based snacks and foods, at home or on the go. Carbs, particularly sugar, provide oral bacteria a ready food supply, which enables them to multiply rapidly. As a result, the opportunity for gum infection also increases.

Bacteria also generate a digestive by-product, which we've already highlighted—acid. So, when oral bacterial populations rise, so do acid levels, increasing the threat to tooth enamel. By substituting cheese for sweets, you'll help limit bacterial growth and these potential consequences.

You may get some of the same effect if you also add cheese to a carbohydrate-laden meal or, as is common with the French, eat it as dessert afterwards. Often a tasty complement to wine or fruit, cheese could help blunt the effect of these carbohydrates within your mouth.

In a world where much of what we like to eat doesn't promote our health, cheese is the notable exception. And our enjoyment of this perennial food is all the more delightful, knowing it's also strengthening and protecting our oral health.

If you would like more information about the role of nutrition in oral health, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition & Oral Health.”

By East Ellijay Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
January 04, 2022
Category: Oral Health
AfteraDevastatingInjuryPromptActionSavedSingerCarlyPearcesSmile

Performing for an awards show is a quite a feather in an entertainer's cap. So, up-and-coming country music star Carly Pearce was obviously excited when she gained a slot on last November's Country Music Awards. But an accident a couple of weeks before the event almost derailed her opportunity when she fell and knocked out two of her front teeth.

Fortunately, Pearce took quick action and, thanks to a skilled dental and medical team, was able to put her mouth back together before the show. Those watching her perform her hit single, “I Hope You're Happy Now,” as she smiled broadly would never have known otherwise about her traumatic emergency if she hadn't spilled the beans.

Orofacial injuries can happen to anyone, not just entertainers. You or someone you love could face such an injury from a motor vehicle accident, hard sports contact or, like Pearce, a simple slip and fall. But if you also act quickly like Pearce, you may be able to minimize the injury's long-term impact on dental health and appearance.

Here are some guidelines if you suffer a dental injury:

Collect any tooth fragments. Dental injuries can result in parts of teeth—or even a whole tooth—coming out of the mouth. It may be possible, though, to use those fragments to repair the tooth. Try to retrieve and save what you can, and after rinsing off any debris with cold water, place the fragments in a container with milk.

Re-insert a knocked-out tooth. You can often save a knocked-out tooth by putting it back in its socket as soon as possible. After cleaning off any debris, hold the tooth by its crown (never the root) and place it back in the empty socket. Don't fret over getting it in perfectly—your dentist will assist its placement later. Place a piece of clean cloth or cotton over the tooth and have the injured person bite down gently but firmly to hold it in place.

See the dentist ASAP. You should immediately see a dentist if any tooth structure has been damaged, or if a tooth is loose or has been moved out of place. If you're not sure, call your dentist to see if you should come on in or if you can wait. If a dentist is not available, go immediately to an emergency room or clinic. With many dental injuries, the longer you wait, the more likely the teeth involved won't survive long-term.

A dental injury could happen in a flash, with consequences that last a lifetime. But if, like Carly Pearce, you take prompt action and obtain necessary dental care, you could save an injured tooth—and the smile that goes with it.

If you would like more information about dental injuries, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”