Posts for: July, 2012
Having someone tell you that you have bad breath can be humiliating, but it can also be a sign that you need to see your dentist. Bad breath (or halitosis) can be a sign of an underlying dental or health problem, so before you run out and stock up on breath mints, make an appointment with our office. Using breath fresheners will only disguise the problem and not treat the root cause.
It's important to remember that if you have bad breath, you're not alone — it's the third most common reason people seek a dental consult. We use a systematic approach to determine the cause of your halitosis and offer a solution.
Causes: Ninety percent of mouth odors come from mouth itself — either from the food you eat or bacteria that may be present. Most unpleasant odors originate from proteins trapped in the mouth that are processed by oral bacteria. When left on the tongue, these bacteria can cause an unpleasant smell. Dry mouth, sinus problems, diet and poor oral hygiene can also cause bad breath. In rare cases, a medical condition may be the cause.
Treatment: The best solution will depend on determining the real cause of your halitosis. If bad breath emanates from the mouth, it most commonly is caused by gum disease or even tooth decay, which need to be treated to correct the problem. If halitosis is of systemic (general body) origin, a more detailed examination might be needed from a physician. But the solution may also be as simple as demonstrating how to effectively remove bacterial plaque from your teeth, or offer instruction on proper tongue cleaning. If the cause is gum disease, we may suggest a deep cleaning and possible antibiotic therapy.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding bad breath. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More Than Just Embarrassing.”
CAT scans or Computer Assisted Tomograph scans have been around for years. However, it is quickly becoming the new standard in dentistry. The reasons are clear both literally and figuratively, as they provide our office with millions of pictures so that we can combine them together to create 3-dimensional (3-D) images. Prior to this technology, we could only image the body in 2-dimensions with x-rays (radiographs) — a technology first developed by Roentgen.
One of the best features of CAT scans and CBCT (Cone Beam Computed Tomography) scanning is that they enable us to see and experience the body from the inside. Having this ability changes (and many times) improves upon the way we diagnose. Here's how they work in very simplistic terms. Picture your favorite multi-layered cake with each layer representing an image. A three-layer cake requires just three images. For us to build a 3-D image similar to the cake, we require millions of very thin layers (images) that we put together, one on top of another, until our results, one 3-D image. And by having so many thin layers, we are best able to diagnose. For example, in our cake analogy, it is easier to determine if the cake contains finely chopped nuts, berries or other ingredients when you cut numerous very thin slices of cake to examine versus having one large chunk of cake.
It is important to note that in our office we may not recommend using this technology in all cases, as it may not be necessary for your particular diagnosis and/or treatment. While the technology can prove invaluable, it is quite expensive and a simple 2-D x-ray may provide everything we need. However, some dental specialty areas where CAT scans are currently used include:
- Orthodontists and pediatric dentists
- Cosmetic dentists and tooth replacement specialists (prosthodontists)
- Oral surgeons
- Root canal specialists (endodontists)
- Gum specialist (periodontists)
To learn more about CAT scans and how they are used in the various specialty areas, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “CAT Scans in Dentistry.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific questions.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could put up a protective shield to guard your children's teeth from decay? Think of the time and money you would save, not to mention the pain your children would avoid. Well, it turns out that you can put up such a protective shield — or at least, we, your dental professionals, can.
The natural protective mineral coating (the enamel) of a child's new teeth is more permeable to the acids that dissolve minerals and cause decay, so the new teeth are more vulnerable to tooth decay than mature teeth are. As a tooth's enamel matures it becomes more resistant and stronger. Thus it is important to protect the surfaces of the new teeth when they erupt (grow up through the child's gums).
The back teeth, particularly, often erupt with deep grooves in them. The backs of the top front teeth may also have such grooves, which dentists call “pits and fissures.” When the grooves are deep, they are hard to keep clean. Toothbrush bristles may not be able to reach to the bottoms of the grooves; and bacteria may gather in them, releasing acid byproducts that dissolve tooth enamel and start forming decay.
Dental sealants are among the preventive options we have in the war against decay in your child's new teeth. Regular tooth brushing and flossing, regular dental visits, application of fluoride, and low sugar consumption are also important in decay prevention techniques.
Sealants are protective coatings placed in the tiny pits and fissures to seal them off from bacterial attack. Some dentists routinely seal all permanent molar teeth and many primary (baby) molar teeth soon after they erupt.
Some dentists use sealants only when an examination shows that decay is just starting or very likely to start in a particular tooth. In such cases a minimal amount of tooth enamel is removed to eliminate any decay, and a mini-resin, invisible filling is applied.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental sealants for your children. You can learn more about them by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sealants for Children.”