Friday, June 23, 2017

Bad, Bad Breath


Bad breath (or halitosis) is a condition that happens to everyone at one time or another. In this note, we’ll hit on some common causes and how to fix them.
Home Care
As your hygienist will tell you, it’s good to brush your teeth two to three times a day and floss at least once a day. Without a strong homecare routine, little food particles will stay between your teeth, allowing bacteria to grow. All that bacteria can affect how your breath smells, so be sure to brush and floss daily!
Diet
There are some obvious food choices that negatively affect your breath. Garlic, onion, and spicy foods are a few offenders. While the foods you eat only have a temporary effect on your breath, digestive issues could cause a long-term halitosis problem.
Tobacco Use
Another obvious cause, smoking cigars or cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vaping negatively affect your breath (as well as a host of other things). If you’re looking for motivation to kick the habit, we can assure you that quitting tobacco will vastly improve your breath (and your oral health...and your overall health...).
Dry Mouth
Saliva is a natural cleaning agent. It helps to flush out food particles from between your teeth. When little bits of food get stuck and start to rot, an odor will be evident every time you exhale. Dry mouth (or “xerostomia” for you language geeks out there) can be a halitosis factor.
Oral Health Issues
Gum disease, tooth decay, or an abscess (infection) can contribute to bad breath. The bacteria that causes such conditions is the same bacteria we talked about earlier. It’s important to address issues when they are small before they start causing symptoms such as halitosis. It’s also easier and cheaper to fix the smaller issues, so please be sure to complete any outstanding treatment plans you may have.
Medical Conditions
If you notice a problem with bad breath that has popped up suddenly or without explanation, the halitosis may be a symptom of a larger medical problem. Diabetes, eating disorders, kidney failure, and other medical issues can all cause bad breath. We don’t mean to scare you, but if a case of bad breath isn’t caused by one of the above reasons, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.
If you want a temporary solution, you can try over-the-counter aids such as chewing gum, breath strips, or rinses. (For example, if you go out to dinner and have buffalo wings, a piece of cinnamon gum might be a quick fix.) If you experience chronic bad breath, please schedule a consultation with your dentist. The dentist should be able to discern the cause. As always, if you have any questions, please give us a call.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sensitive Teeth? We Can Help!


Many people deal with sensitive teeth. Sensitivity affects so many daily activities, from brushing and flossing, to drinking your morning coffee, to indulging in frosty dessert. There are several reasons why you may be sensitive and a few options to solve the problem.
According to the American Dental Association, sensitive teeth can be caused by the following:
  • a cavity
  • an older filling
  • a cracked tooth
  • an exposed root
The cavity or older filling are usually taken care of by a quick visit. A cavity is formed when acidic plaque dissolves part of the top layer of your tooth. The dentist will have to clean out the area of all the decay and place a filling material or porcelain restoration to prevent any more damage. Having a cavity and having sensitive teeth are not mutually exclusive. You might have decay on a tooth and not realize it until it grows deeper into the tooth. The hygienist evaluates your teeth at each cleaning, checking for cavities or weak areas. If we can fill the cavity while it’s smaller it won’t get to the point where it becomes sensitive.
If an older filling pulls away from tooth bacteria can sneak in and cause sensitivity. The dentist needs to clean out the old filling and replace it with new material. The new filling, onlay, or inlay will be snug against the natural tooth and protect it against decay. A cracked tooth also needs to be addressed by the dentist. We will take an x-ray to see the severity of the fracture and create a treatment plan to best fix the tooth.
If your gums have receded and exposed part of the tooth's root, you may experience sensitivity. You might get some relief from using sensitivity toothpaste, but it's only temporary. The dentist will be able to explain your treatment options. If your teeth have been sensitive for a while, definitely request a consultation with the doctor.
Whitening is another cause. If you used a whitening application recently and noticed your teeth were sensitive after, whitening is probably the culprit. People’s tolerance for whitening products vary. If you are interested in whitening, speak with your hygienist or doctor to choose the best option for you. If you’re already whitening your teeth and you’re experiencing sensitivity, let us know. There is usually a way to ease the sensitivity without abstaining from whitening.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Invisalign FAQ



Happy New Year! It's that time again...We resolve to make improvements and challenge ourselves to finally act on those things we've been thinking about doing for so long. If you've thought about straightening your teeth but are nervous or have some questions about the procedure, we have the answers! Below is a list of our most frequently asked Invisalign questions, answered by our very own Dr. Rick Bankhead. If you have any other questions please leave a comment or call the office and we'll be happy to help you!

1) Besides the cosmetic improvement, is there any other benefit to Invisalign?
    Invisalign is often thought of as a cosmetic procedure, but it can definitely improve your dental health. When you fix overlapping or “crooked” teeth, you can floss easier and do a better job of flossing. Your gums and bones will be healthier for it, and you’ll keep your smile beautiful and healthy for a long time.
2) Is Invisalign treatment right for me?
    Invisalign is an orthdontic treatment that can be used to correct your bite, or purely for cosmetic reasons. Although we have helped many patients through Invisalign, we do occasionally refer patients to local orthodontists. Sometimes a patient will benefit more from traditional braces. Dr. Rick Bankhead or Dr. Stuart MacDonald would be happy to see you for a consultation to assess whether you are a candidate for Invisalign.
3) Does insurance cover Invisalign?
    It really depends on the insurance plan. A dental plan can have a rider for orthodontic coverage. Sometimes it only covers minor dependents, sometimes it covers everybody who is listed on the plan. If your insurance coverage does cover orthodontics, it will cover a portion of your Invisalign treatment.
If you do not have orthodontic coverage, there are several financial options available. If your employer offers a “flexible spending account” or a “cafeteria plan” you can use those benefits toward Invisalign treatment. We also work with CareCredit and Chase Health Advance. Those are financing companies that offer interest-free payment plans for up to 24 months. Once you verify you are a candidate, the front desk will discuss insurance benefits and payment options with you.
4) What makes Invisalign better than traditional braces?
    Invisalign can often achieve the same effect as traditional braces. The major benefit of Invisalign is that a patient’s home care routine isn’t affected. With traditional braces, the wires and brackets make brushing and flossing more difficult. Patients are not able to do a good a job keeping their teeth clean. With Invisalign, there is nothing between your teeth and your toothbrush and floss. Your daily home care routine can continue uninterrupted because the aligners come right out. Our patients have even noted an improvement in their brushing and flossing habits because they had to do it after every meal (see # 6). Many of them have kept the (healthy!) habit long after treatment had ended.
5) How long does the treatment take?
    The length of treatment varies by the individual case. On average treatment can take as little as 16 weeks, or roughly between 4 and 18 months. Invisalign will designate a certain number of aligner trays for your case. Typically, you wear each aligner for two weeks, then you go on to the next in series. You wear the trays constantly; the only time you remove the trays is when you eat, brush, and floss. Compliance is the key here. If you keep the trays in and stay on schedule, the treatment will successfully fly by.
6) Is it painful?
    Invisalign is a bit similar to traditional braces in this respect. For the first couple days after putting in a new aligner, your teeth will probably feel tight and might feel an ache. The tenderness is comparable to tightening traditional braces, but not as bad. The movements are done more often, every two weeks, making it less painful than traditional braces.
7) Are there any eating restrictions?
    You can eat whatever you like, but you do have to be meticulous about caring for your teeth after. Before you eat, you’ll need to remove your aligners.You can only drink non-caloric beverages (ie water, flavored water, black coffee) without removing your aligners. If you eat or drink anything else, you must take the aligners out. Once you’re finished eating, brush and floss your teeth before putting your aligners back in. This needs to be your new routine every time you eat because it ensures your aligners stay clean. A fair number of our patients reported that they were less inclined to snack during the day. They ended their treatment with straighter teeth and a few pounds lighter - a healthier smile in more ways than one!
8) Will wearing the aligners affect my speech?
    Not at all. The trays are a very thin material and don’t get in the way of speaking. You might need a day or so to become accustomed to the feeling. None of our patients reported speech issues while wearing the trays.
9) How do I keep the aligner trays clean?
    Clean the trays with warm water and a little bit of soap. Do not use hot water! Hot water can warp the trays and they won’t fit right. You can also purchase a cleaning kit from Invisalign’s website.
10) What happens if I lose an aligner?
    If you lose or damage an aligner and are unable to wear it, call us immediately. We will have to order a new aligner tray from Invisalign. In the meantime, wear the most recent aligner you have. For example, if you lose aligner # 5, wear aligner # 4 until the new aligner comes in or the dentist gives you further instructions. This will probably set back your treatment by a week or two. It’s best if you’re careful about putting the trays away when eating, keeping them out of reach of pets and children, etc.