Dental Tips Blog


Holiday Sweets

Halloween may be known as the holiday for getting candy, but it really just marks the start of an entire season of holidays dominated by rich and starchy foods, sugary desserts and candy. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day are all days of sugary indulgence. To avoid needing fillings dental fillings and other expensive dental work, it is also the time of year when you should be vigilant about dental care for yourself and your family.

Dentists say next time you reach for a slice of pumpkin pie, a piece of ribbon candy or a candy cane, keep the following guidelines in mind for optimum dental health:

  • Avoid foods that cling to your teeth, such as gooey cakes or caramel, as they promote tooth decay. Instead, choose nuts, fruit, cheese or sugarless candy.
  • When you eat carbohydrates like crackers, cookies or potato chips, don’t eat them alone, as they will encourage the build up of decaying bacteria on your teeth. Instead, eat them as part of a meal or eat them with a neutralizing food like cheese or milk.
  • Whether red or white, wine is an acidic beverage that can wear away your tooth enamel, which helps protect against decay. Avoid swishing the wine in your mouth, and drink water to help rinse your teeth.
  • It is not always possible to brush soon after eating holiday treats, so do the next best thing and either rinse your mouth out with water or chew on some sugarless gum.

Of course, with all the temptations that friends and relatives put before you during the holiday season, refraining altogether from treats and sweets is virtually impossible.  But with a little common sense, along with a regular routine of brushing and flossing, you should be able to make it through the holidays cavity-free. After all, the best gift of all is a great smile!


Types of Cavities

Posted in Fillings

Cavities or dental caries are a relatively common development in the life cycle of human teeth. These holes or eroded areas in the surface of the teeth occur when plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth triggers acidic processes that cause the tooth’s enamel layer to decay. Without treatment, the decay may progress to the dentine layer of the tooth and eventually to the pulp chamber, exposing the sensitive nerves and blood vessels inside the teeth. Without the protective outer layer, food and bacteria can enter the teeth making it vulnerable to infection. Also, by depleting the tooth structure, cavities undermine tooth strength, making the affected teeth prone to fractures.

Dental cavities can form on any part of a tooth depending on where the acid attacks. Dental cavities are classified as follows.

1)      Root cavities

Cavities that form below the gum line, on the surface of the teeth roots, are known as root cavities. This is the least common type of dental decay, occurring mostly in people with receding gums, for example, elderly people.

2)      Pit and fissure cavities

Pit and fissure cavities occur on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. These cavities form on the grooves and valleys (the pits and fissures) that characterize the top surfaces of the molars (the back teeth). Pit and fissure cavities are the most common type of dental decay. They are also usually the most severe and painful.

3)      Smooth surface cavities

Cavities that form between the teeth, or on the flat inner or outer surface of the teeth, are called smooth surface cavities. In the beginning, these cavities appear as white, chalky spots on the flat surfaces of the teeth, rather than as holes in the teeth; because of this, many people do not realize they have a cavity. Smooth surface cavities are considered the least threatening type of cavity since they grow more slowly than other types of cavities and can be reversed with fluoride therapy.

Regardless of the type, cavities require immediate treatment since they can have potentially serious, even life-threatening consequences when left untreated. A dental filling, which involves closing up the hole in the tooth, or root canal therapy to remove damaged pulp, can curb the escalating harmful effects of dental cavities.


Composite Fillings Make Good Sense

Posted in Fillings

Most Duluth GA dentists offer you a choice when it comes to what type of material to use for your dental fillings.  You can choose silver colored amalgam fillings or tooth colored composite fillings.  Amalgam has been the filling material of choice for decades, but composite fillings may be a better choice in many situations

The first consideration is cost.  It takes less time and skill to prepare a tooth for an amalgam filling. In addition, the amalgam material is less expensive than composite resin materials.  As a result, amalgam fillings are less expensive than composite fillings.

Amalgam is also considered a little more durable than composites.  Replacement time can vary widely, but amalgam fillings average around 15 years while composites may need to be replaced after about 10 years.  As composite materials improve, we can expect this gap to get smaller.

If cost and durability were the only factors, amalgam would be the clear choice.  However, composite fillings have some important advantages.  The most obvious advantage is aesthetics.  Composite fillings are tooth colored and do not detract from the appearance of your smile like amalgam.

Another advantage of composite fillings is that they add support and strength to the tooth because filling material is chemically bonded to the tooth.  Amalgam is pressed into the cavity and held in place using friction and pressure.  In addition, less of the healthy tooth has to be removed to place a composite filling.  There is less drilling necessary and more of the healthy tooth is preserved.

Preservation of the natural tooth becomes particularly important when the filling needs to be replaced years later.  Since there is more health tooth left, it is more likely that the filling can be replaced with another filling instead of needing a cap or crown.

The choice is yours, but unless there is a compelling need to place an amalgam filling, composite fillings are better for your teeth and better looking too!

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