Dental Tips Blog

Jul
31

Are Sealants the Same Thing as Fillings?

Posted in Fillings

Have you ever had a sealant before? If not, it’s easy to see how it can be confused with a dental filling.

These treatments both look white and sit on top of a tooth. Sealants are usually cheaper, but their differences go far beyond cost alone.

Sealants: What They’re For

A sealant is a thin ribbon of resin that fills in deep grooves on the chewing surface of a tooth. Toothbrush bristles can’t always reach into those valleys, so sealing them off makes for an easier to clean surface.

Sealants are designed to prevent decay.

Fillings: The Reparative Treatment Phase

Whether tooth-colored or metal, all fillings do the same job of repairing a tooth once a cavity has already struck. You can’t slap a sealant over a filling because that would just trap the decay inside a tooth where it will keep growing.

Instead, you have to remove the damaged tooth material and replace it with a new structure.

Do You Need A Sealant Or A Filling?

It’s not as simple of a matter as walking into your dentist’s office and requesting a sealant. In fact, even your dentist can’t tell you what you need until he or she gets a good look inside your mouth.

Special tools, lasers, and x-rays all aid in diagnosing decay. If nothing harmful is discovered, your dentist will be happy to place as many preventive sealants as you need. But once a spot of decay breaks through the enamel, it’s too late – that tooth will need a filling.

While you’re at your dentist’s, find out more about other cavity-prevention strategies. Call today to schedule your visit.

Posted on behalf of:
Dental Care Center At Kennestone
129 Marble Mill Rd NW
Marietta, GA 30060
(770) 424-4565

Jul
25

Is That Brown Spot a Cavity?

Posted in Fillings

There’s really nothing like that sinking sensation of dread when you look in the mirror and notice a dark spot in the center of your tooth.

You pick at it in a panic, hoping it’s just a spice left over from dinner. But no, it doesn’t seem to budge even after a vigorous brushing.

Is it time to panic?

What A Dark Spot Can Mean

Your molars (back chewing teeth) resemble a landscape of mountains and valleys. The mountains are the cusps that interlock with teeth directly above or below. The valleys are the shallow spaces. This setup gives your teeth a solid grip on food and mega chewing power.

But those little valleys are also great for catching stain.

You may not have noticed it at first, but over the course of time, your tooth may have accumulated dark stain from the food you eat. It’s possible to have dark spots on your teeth that are perfectly harmless.

What You Should Do

Even if it is just a spot of stain, it’s still a good idea to get it checked out. Those stained fissures and pits in molars are prime territory for cavities to get started in.

Your dentist will use x-rays, a special cavity probe, and maybe even a laser scanner to check for signs of decay. If he or she finds that it’s time to place a filling, you’ll be glad you didn’t wait too long before coming in.

In the meantime, work on brushing those sticky valleys a little more often. You might even want to ask your dentist about sealing healthy molars to avoid further stain and decay.

Posted on behalf of:
Royal Oak Family Dental
7101 NW 150th St. Suite 100
Oklahoma City, OK 73142
(405) 754-5941

Jul
18

Are Metal Fillings Poisonous?

Posted in Fillings

Metal fillings were used in dentistry for decades before we started to understand the risks of mercury exposure. Interestingly, mercury is a key ingredient in silver amalgam fillings, even today.

It’s understandable that you may wonder: are metal fillings toxic?

Why Mercury?

Metal fillings are made from an alloy of metals including tin and silver. To help them harden up from their fluid state, mercury is added. This enables the dentist to mix, pour, and shape a filling quickly before it hardens on its own.

Because of mercury’s chemical nature, there is no other reasonable substitute. But the good news is that once the filling sets up, the mercury doesn’t harm you. People have been opting for metal fillings because they’re fairly inexpensive and very durable.

Myth About Mercury Fillings

Some people believe that chewing with metal fillings releases vapors that you can inhale and get sick from. Yes, regular pressure on metal fillings can release some residue. But this is a very small amount that won’t significantly impact your body. After all, you can get the same effects from eating fish.

It would take a whole lot more mercury than what’s found in a few fillings to make you sick. Occupational exposure to mercury is more of a concern than exposure through dental work.

Alternative To Mercury Restorations

If you don’t want to take any chances with your next filling, you can probably choose to go with a white composite filling. Composite resin dental material combines plastic and glass for a strong, sleek, and metal-free finish.

Ask your dentist about the possibility of upgrading any broken-down metal fillings for tooth-friendly composite ones.

Posted on behalf of:
River Ranch Dental
203 George Hopper Rd #100
Midlothian, TX 76065
(469) 672-4245

 

Jul
17

Say Cheese! Cheddar May Benefit Your Smile

Posted in Fillings

One recent study strongly suggests that cheese could be an anti-cavity super food.

This study compared the effects of different dairy products on the pH levels inside of the human mouth. Some study participants drank milk, others ate yogurt, and the rest ate cheese.

Study Results

Each person ate their assigned snack for three minutes and then rinsed with water. pH readings were taken at 10, 20, and 30-minute intervals after eating. While the milk and yogurt didn’t make the mouth more acidic, the cheese caused pH levels to spike.

High pH levels means a more alkaline environment. This is good news for your teeth, since acid is responsible for wearing down enamel. A basic food item like cheese helps to neutralize acids that your mouth does encounter.

Other Benefits of Cheese

Cheese is a great source of calcium and casein. These elements show evidence of preventing the formation of plaque and reinforcing enamel.

Finally, there’s nothing like a tangy piece of sharp cheddar to get the saliva glands flowing. Saliva is your body’s natural way of neutralizing acid. It also washes away bacteria and food debris.

Snacking on cheese makes more spit, and that’s a good thing!

None of this is to say that chewing cheese will take the place of brushing! Maintaining a routine of good oral hygiene is still the best way you can prevent cavities and avoid dental fillings.

It’s just nice to know that one of America’s favorite foods is now on your dentist’s list of smile-friendly snack recommendations. Even if you melt some cheddar in pasta or rice, you’ll still get great benefits.

You’ve got a great reason to smile when you say “Cheese!”

Posted on behalf of:
Park Slope Dental Arts
506 3rd St
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 962-0300

Jul
12

How Long Will a White Filling Last You?

Posted in Fillings

In talking about white or tooth-colored fillings, most people are referring to composite resin restorations.

Composite fillings have become popular because they are:

– Kind to natural teeth

– Aesthetically-pleasing

– Mercury-free

These time-tested and sleek restorations can last as long as 10 years, but it depends on how well you take care of your tooth in the meantime.

Comparing White and Metal Fillings

Because composite resin isn’t as hard as metal, it can’t hold up to the wear of bite force for quite as long. White fillings usually last for 5-7 years, which is about 30-50% as long as metal ones do, on average. That being said, newer materials are enabling white fillings to last longer than ever before.

A Happy Medium?

You’ll have to talk with your dentist to find out which restorative material is right for your smile. This means weighing the pros and cons of both metal amalgam and composite resin fillings.

One middle-ground option could be porcelain fillings.

Also called “indirect fillings,”or “inlays and onlays,” porcelain restorations are designed outside the mouth and then cemented into the prepared tooth like a puzzle piece. These fillings give you the nice look of white teeth, but they are more durable than composite and tend to last about as long as metal fillings.

The possibility of a porcelain filling could be worth looking into.

Make Your Composite Fillings Last

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to make the white fillings you have now last as long as possible. The most important thing you can do is practice great oral hygiene to prevent new decay from affecting your entire smile.

Visit your local dentist to find out more about getting the most out of your dental work.

Posted on behalf of:
Salt Run Family Dentistry
700 Anastasia Blvd
St. Augustine, FL 32080
(904) 824-3540

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

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