Dental Tips Blog

Jun
20

Should You Brush with Baking Soda?

Posted in Fillings

It’s an age-old remedy for many common health ailments. It’s a vital ingredient in many baked goods. It helps remove stains in laundry and is a chemical-free household cleaning agent. It deodorizes refrigerators and cupboards.

What is it? Baking soda.

This cheap and simple product can be a handy helper in your home. You may also know it as a popular toothpaste substitute.

This begs the question, however: is it safe to brush with baking soda instead of toothpaste?

Why Use Baking Soda?

Daily brushing is important to help reduce or prevent tooth decay and avoid the need for fillings, crowns, and other dental restorations.  Baking soda can be a cost-effective and quick way to get your teeth scrubbed up.

People choose this alternative toothpaste mainly because it’s gritty enough to polish out some stains on enamel. Baking soda can help remove some plaque and debris and its basic nature allows it to neutralize acids in the mouth. These acids are responsible for triggering tooth decay.

What’s Not So Great About Baking Soda?

Despite its benefits, baking soda also has a few downsides:

  • Messy
  • Salty (not recommended if you need to reduce your sodium intake)
  • Can be abrasive to enamel (causing it to wear away!)
  • Could irritate your gums

Perhaps the worst part about baking soda is not what it does, but what it doesn’t do.

Most toothpastes have some kind of detergent to help gently loosen plaque from the teeth. That’s what creates all the foam when you brush. Some toothpastes even have agents that prevent bacteria from growing back.

Most importantly, other toothpastes generally have fluoride. This vitamin is essential for strong teeth, but it’s not found in baking soda, by itself.

Ask your dentist whether using baking soda to regularly brush your teeth is good for your smile.

Posted on behalf of:
Dona W. Prince, DDS
4220 Sergeant Rd #100
Sioux City, IA 51106
(712) 274-2228

May
25

What’s the Point of a Temporary Filling?

Posted in Fillings

Temporary fillings will fall out or fall apart usually within a month of being placed. Why not just go straight for the real deal right then?

Why Get a Temporary Restoration

Temporary fillings are very common in emergency situations. It can take time to prepare your tooth to receive a permanent restoration. If you have to make a last-minute emergency trip to the dentist’s, chances are pretty good that your dentist will need to schedule you back to finish treatment. In the meantime, a temporary filling will keep your damaged tooth clean and protected.

You would also get a temporary filling after having a root canal to protect it until it’s ready for a dental crown.

It May Take More Than One Visit

Some dental procedures require more than one appointment to plan them out properly. If you wanted to get your tooth prepared for a gold filling, for example, you would need to wear a temporary for a little while. Such a restoration is also good for cases where the tooth’s pulp isn’t yet stable enough to be capped off.

Another benefit is that temporary filling material contains a substance called eugenol which smells and tastes like cloves. Eugenol is a natural anesthetic which can help soothe and numb a sore tooth.

Taking Care of Temporary Restorations

Even if your tooth feels just fine right now, don’t let that deceive you into thinking you don’t need to go back!

Meanwhile, keep brushing and flossing as you normally would, taking special care around the temporary filling. If your filling falls out, you can find a temporary cement at your local drugstore to tide you over until you can see your dentist again.

Posted on behalf of:
Springhurst Hills Dentistry
10494 Westport Rd Suite 107
Louisville, KY 40241
(502) 791-8358

May
3

Why Fillings Won’t Last Forever

Posted in Fillings

If you ever asked your dentist how long your filling would last, you were probably told that they’re good for an average of about 10 years. Some restorations have stuck around for much longer. At some point, though, you’ll need to update your fillings.

Your Incomparable Tooth Structure

There’s simply no dental filling that can quite measure up to the strength of a complete and natural tooth. Once your tooth enamel’s integrity is compromised by a cavity, a filling can only temporarily patch up and protect your tooth.

White composite resin fillings are better than metal ones in terms of tooth compatibility. Even so, it’s just a matter of time before your tooth begins to age and break down around the filling.

A Smile Under Constant Attack

Your teeth experience acid attacks on a regular basis throughout the day. Naturally-occurring bacteria in your mouth produce biological waste which weakens enamel and triggers cavities. The foods you eat also contain acid-causing natural sugars.

This harsh environment quickly weakens the bond between tooth and filling, shortening the lifespan of your restoration.

Dentistry is On the Move!

Dental researchers are working to develop materials that last longer and resist decay better than ever before. Within the next several years, we could see tooth restorations enter the scene that last for decades.

Today’s most advanced dental restorations utilize the most conservative techniques and materials that create a chemical bond with the tooth. By staying on top of your restorative needs and taking a preventive approach, you can postpone the need for any major dental work.

Ask your dentist about the materials and techniques used in your local office.

Posted on behalf of:
Park South Dentistry
30 Central Park S #13C
New York, NY 10019
(212) 355-2000

May
1

Top 3 Most Common Places Your Tooth Can Get a Cavity

Posted in Fillings

Cavities don’t happen at random. They’re the result of acidic bacteria that have dug out a hiding place in the tooth. A cavity forms when the enamel wears away from too much acid exposure.

Places where these bacteria thrive undisturbed are the most likely areas to suffer a cavity.

  1. Between Teeth

Remember how your dentist gets on your case about flossing? This is one of the reasons why. Cavities most commonly form in between back teeth which are overlooked in the cleaning process. Flossing helps to disrupt the colonies of bacteria and limits their ability to trigger decay between teeth.

  1. On Chewing Surfaces

All those little grooves you see on the tops of your chewing teeth are great hiding places for cavity-causing bacteria. Food debris packs into those little spaces and provides the fuel bacteria need to do their dirty work.

The kicker is that toothbrush bristles can’t reach the bottom of those little valleys. You can reduce bacterial buildup here with:

Dental sealants

Fluoride use

Professional dental cleanings

Limiting how many sticky sweet carbs you eat

  1. On Root Surfaces

Root cavities are particularly dangerous because of how quickly they advance. Your roots don’t have much in the way of protection. They lack the enamel layer that covers the crown of your tooth.

After your tooth roots are exposed via gum recession, they become especially prone to developing cavities. At this point, it’s extremely important to make sure you’re brushing and flossing properly and using lots of fluoride.

Do you suspect you have a cavity? For a thorough examination and to find out more about your individual cavity risk, plan a visit to your dentist.

Posted on behalf of:
Gilreath Dental Associates
200 White St NW
Marietta, GA 30060
(770) 514-1224

Apr
17

Inlays, Onlays, Overlays – What’s the Difference?

Posted in Fillings

What do inlays, overlays, and onlays have in common? They are all called “indirect fillings.”

They’re designed outside the mouth and then cemented into a prepared tooth like a piece in a puzzle. Virtually the only difference between all these fillings has to do with their size.

Inlays

Inlays are the smallest, covering the least amount of tooth surface. They usually restore damage on the inner part of a chewing surface. Picture the valleys or grooves on the top of your molars. That’s where an inlay would fit into.

Onlays

One step above inlays, onlays anchor onto one of the cusps or pointy parts of a tooth for more stability. If one of those sharp “mountains” on your teeth gets damaged, an onlay would do the job of repairing it.

Overlays

Overlays are also referred to as partial crowns. They’re far more conservative than crowns, however. An overlay covers the entire top part of the tooth, but it doesn’t replace the entire outer layer of enamel as crowns do. These restorations offer the most strength and protection just short of a full crown.

Pinlays

Sometimes a dentist might decide to anchor an indirect filling with the support of a pin that’s fastened directly into the tooth.

Indirect fillings can be made of ceramic, porcelain, or gold and often require two visits to place. Some ceramic fillings can be made on-site in a single appointment if the office has that technology.

With the goal of being conservative yet strong, indirect fillings can help you retain more of your tooth for a long time. Ask your dentist for more information on the restorations available in your area.

Posted on behalf of:
Soft Touch Dentistry
1214 Paragon Dr
O’Fallon, IL 62269
(618) 622-5050

Apr
15

Will a Filling Be Enough?

Posted in Fillings

Whether you have a cavity or somehow chipped your tooth, you know full well that it’s time to have it fixed.

When you visit your dentist, you may be told that you need more than just a standard filling. Why?

What Happened to Your Tooth?

After suffering damage like a fracture or decay, your tooth is now exposed to the environment. This can lead to more decay or a deeper fracture. Your tooth may be very sensitive and perhaps so sharp that it hurts your tongue.

A small hole from a shallow cavity is easy to fix with a filling. But those times when the damage is much larger means that you need more support than a traditional restoration.

Filling Alternative Options

Teeth don’t hold usually hold up well after losing a big chunk of their outer layer. This means they are structurally-compromised. Patching up the hole with a moldable material just won’t cut it. Your tooth will likely stay sensitive or even break down faster than usual.

To help your tooth last as long as possible, your dentist may recommend another kind of restoration such as a crown or onlay.

Dental crowns replace your tooth’s entire outer layer. This gives your tooth strength and protects it from all angles. Dental crowns are often the last resort before your tooth needs a root canal.

Onlays (or inlays) are solid restorations designed outside the mouth and then cemented into place like a piece in a puzzle. This technique gives them more strength, giving your tooth more support than a regular filling would.

Your dentist has other methods for reinforcing fillings and saving your tooth. Ask him or her for more information.

Posted on behalf of:
Green Dental of Alexandria
1725 Duke St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 549-1725

Feb
14

Should You Replace Your Fillings?

Posted in Fillings

It would definitely be nice if your dental fillings could last forever.

The reality is, however, that no dental restoration can withstand a lifetime of use. From crowns to fillings to veneers, all will need to be updated at some point. This is because once your natural tooth structure is compromised, it has to be protected. Artificial protection wears away with time.

So yes, your dental fillings will eventually need to be replaced.

But how do you know when the time is right?

Reasons to Replace Restorations

People may opt to update their fillings at will just because they want prettier ones that blend in with their teeth. Classic metal restorations stand out and even the white composite ones can stain and break down. You may also choose to replace your fillings for cosmetic purposes.

Do you grind or clench your teeth? That habit contributes to premature wear on the fillings and teeth in many patients. Like them, you should reinforce weak spots with fresh strong restorations and then look into getting a guard to protect your new dental work.

Traditional amalgam metal fillings contain mercury. While this element isn’t enough to cause you any issues, some people like to clean out all traces of it, just to be safe.

When Not to Replace

After examining your tooth, your dentist may feel that it’s not worth replacing the fillings. Some of the reasons may include:

  • Your tooth is not structurally strong enough to support a larger filling
  • The filling is still holding up well
  • You have better option for restoring and supporting a tooth

If you’re in doubt about the integrity of your current fillings, plan a visit to your dentist to get a professional perspective.

Posted on behalf of:
Kennesaw Mountain Dental Associates
1815 Old 41 Hwy NW #310
Kennesaw, GA 30152
(770) 927-7751

Feb
6

Do You Have Mercury Poisoning from Metal Fillings?

Posted in Fillings

Metal fillings are made from an amalgam of materials including silver, tin, copper, and mercury. It’s that final element that has created quite a debate in the dental field over the past several years.

Now, more patients are now choosing white composite fillings over metal ones, and more dentist are offering only white restorations than ever before.

Why have silver amalgam fillings become so controversial?

Watching What You Put in Your Body

Mercury poisoning has been known to cause severe issues such as:

  • Muscle breakdown
  • Respiratory problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability and more

So why is such a controversial material used in dentistry? Metal fillings contain such a small amount of mercury because it allows the metal to remain soft and moldable. This way, a dentist can pack it into a tooth for a snug fit before it hardens.

Is Dental Amalgam Harmful?

Once the mercury is mixed and sets up in a filling, it’s really not going anywhere. Some studies have shown that traces of mercury can be released in vapors when the fillings wear down over time. But reviews of this research proves that the amounts are far too low to cause any problems.

Mercury toxicity happens when you’re exposed to this element for a long time. A true allergy to mercury is very rare with less than 100 confirmed cases. A couple dental fillings won’t make you sick, but a lifetime of mining the element without proper protection just might.

Amalgam Alternatives

Even though your current metal fillings should be just fine, your dentist would probably recommend that you consider updating them to mercury-free white ones. White composite restorations are much more conservative and esthetic. Talk with your dentist for more information.

Posted on behalf of:
Rock Point Family Dentistry
115 S Lakeline Blvd #200
Cedar Park, TX 78613

Jan
25

3 Ways to Make Your Fillings Last Longer

Posted in Fillings

Unfortunately for all of us, dental fillings just cannot last forever.

That’s the case, for now at least. In the meantime, you definitely want to do your best to avoid having your dental fillings updated or replaced more frequently than you really need to. Here are a few ways how:

  1. Brush and Floss DAILY

Yes, good oral hygiene doesn’t just benefit teeth – it’s good for all your restorations, too. White fillings can occasionally pick up stain around the edges if you don’t brush and rinse away those dark-staining foods.

Fillings – both white and silver – fail when a tooth develops a new cavity under or near them. It’s very important that you diligently clean your teeth even after you get a filling. A restoration does not make a tooth invincible!

  1. Get Plenty of Fluoride

When a tooth gets a filling, it’s compromised for the rest of its life. The microscopic seam between tooth and composite or amalgam material becomes a potential site for bacterial infection.

Fluoride in toothpaste and rinses fortifies tooth enamel against bacteria and acid attacks. Your teeth need lots of this mineral after being filled.

  1. Use a Mouth Guard at Night

Many fillings are quickly worn down when their owners grind their teeth. A tooth clenching or grinding habit usually happens at night when you’re not aware of it, so it’s nearly impossible to control.

A customized mouth guard worn while you sleep can help you avoid fracturing, loosening, or wearing down your fillings.

When well-cared for, fillings can last ten years, fifteen years, or possibly longer. Find out what more you can do to make your valuable restorations last by visiting your dentist.

Posted on behalf of:
Enamel Dentistry
2717 S Lamar Blvd #1086
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 717-5315

Jan
25

What is Holistic Dentistry?

Posted in Fillings

While holistic dentists are not very common, the practice as a whole is gaining in popularity.

Holistic dentistry is the practice of treating the mouth as a small part of the greater whole. A dentist in this branch is concerned with the effect that dental treatment and problems can have on the entire body.

Holistic Dentistry vs. Traditional Dentistry

All dentists who take a holistic approach have been accredited to treat dental problems. But there is no regulated system for certifying holistic professionals.

Every dentist wants to help you reach your smile goals. Instead of merely repairing problems, holistic or biological dentists focus on finding the solutions and preventative treatments that will be kind to your entire system.

Holistic dentists are qualified to perform any procedure other dentists do, but they will incorporate more elements into treatment.

Some of these specialties include:

  • Mercury-free composite fillings
  • Safe metal filling removal
  • Nutritional therapies
  • Orthopedic orthodontics
  • Addressing breathing issues

There is certainly a fundamental truth in the concept of treating your mouth as a part of your body. Dental infections are scientifically-known to affect other body systems. Nutrition, exercise, and rest all factor into dental health. You can’t deny the fact that your mouth is closely connected to the rest of you. Your oral hygiene should always go hand-in-hand with a healthy lifestyle.

Is Holistic Dentistry Right for You?

At the end of the day, the choice is completely up to you. It’s perfectly reasonable to begin your own holistic journey by setting personal health goals to better harmonize your oral and overall health. A holistic dentist just might provide you with the resources you need.

Get started by asking your personal dentist for recommendations.

Posted on behalf of:
Sycamore Hills Dentistry
10082 Illinois Rd
Fort Wayne, IN 46804
(260) 213-4400

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