Fewer sweets mean fewer cavities. True or false?
False: More important than the actual amount of sugar you consume is the frequency. The bacteria that lives in your mouth are primarily responsible for tooth decay. Every time you eat, these bacteria feed on the sugar in food and drinks that can produce enamel-destroying acid.
What to do: Limit eating sweets to mealtimes or finish your sweet snack or drink quickly, rather than sipping or nibbling on it all day. Don’t forget to brush!
Adults are as susceptible as kids to tooth decay.
True: Wouldn’t it be nice if one of the rewards for getting older was that our teeth somehow became impenetrable. Unfortunately not so. Dry mouth– a common ailment caused by medications, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis makes adults highly susceptible to decay.
What to do: Talk to your doctor and dentist about switching medications if possible. There are also special rinses and pastes formulated to help moisten the mouth. Drinking water throughout the day and chewing sugarless gum are also great mouth moisteners.
A restored tooth is more likely to have future problems.
True: Once a tooth has been damaged, there’s a lot that can be done to fortify it, but the integrity of the tooth will never be the same. A damaged tooth is more susceptible to cracks or chips and cavities can still occur as bacteria likes to latch on at the margins where a filling or crown meets the tooth.
What to do: Brushing twice a day and flossing daily is your best defense against future decay anywhere in your mouth.
White teeth are healthier than yellow teeth.
False: Society may be obsessed with gleaming white teeth, but often color tells you nothing about the health of your teeth.
What to do: Pay attention to bleeding gums, sensitivity or pain when chewing–these may be signs alerting you to a potential problem.
Women with osteoporosis are twice as likely to lose a tooth.
False: The number is actually higher. Women with osteoporosis, or low bone density have a 3 times as likely as their peers to lose a tooth. Teeth are anchored into the jaw, which is bone. Therefore anything that affects your bones can also affect your teeth.
What to do: Eating plenty of calcium-rich foods such as dairy products and tofu may help keep your jaw and other bones healthy. Engaging in weight bearing exercise such as walking, dancing and jogging also seem to help. If you are 50 years or older, or have a family history of osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about getting a bone density test.
There are several dental concerns that seniors may want to be aware of:
Do you still need to be concerned about cavities? Yes! Cavities can be more frequent in older adults for a number of reasons. Life long exposure to fluoride through community water supplies and toothpaste may not have been possible—it simply wasn’t available. Senior adults may be at risk for decay around older fillings.
Sensitivity: Receding gums could be the cause of sensitivity. As the gum tissue pulls back away from teeth, the root of the tooth becomes exposed. Dr.Shlafer would make a diagnosis so that the sensitivity can be treated properly.
Are you more at risk for oral cancer? The risk or oral cancer does increase with age. Any lesion found on the tongue or anywhere in the mouth needs to be examined.
What about loose teeth from periodontal disease? Some teeth that have become loose may be holding a partial or be part of a bridge, periodontal disease can cause these teeth to fail. It is important to have the soft tissue of the mouth (the gums) and the supporting structure (the bone) examined by Dr.Shlafer to review your condition and discuss possible solutions.
Stay tuned—-we will discuss other common problems, such as ill-fitting dentures, difficulty chewing, effects of medications on your teeth, dental implants, and help for arthritic patients.
How do you prevent or treat the (sometimes painful) troubles that can lurk in your mouth? One example might be a cavity, also known as tooth decay, this occurs when plaque, a sticky film of bacteria forms when you eat sugars or starches, is allowed to linger on teeth to long. Anyone is at risk to develop a cavity.
Another example would be gum disease, which is an infection caused by plaque that attacks the gums, bone,and ligaments that keep your teeth in place. The early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis, the advanced stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis.
Tooth infection, also a common problem, develops when the pulp inside the tooth is damaged or becomes infected do to decay or injury. Anyone with a deep cavity or cracked tooth, which can let in bacteria, can be at risk. An injured tooth may have a problem even if it’s not visibly cracked or chipped.It’s always best to have Dr.Shlafer evaluate a damaged tooth.
These are just a few examples of common tooth problems (others include dry mouth, TMJ problems enamel erosion, and oral cancer). Being aware of the changes in your mouth and alerting Dr.Shlafer at your regular checkup can help to resolve problems early on.
The best way to protect your teeth is with the facts. Only one of the following is true. Do you know which?
If You Have a Cavity, You’ll Know it.
A Sensitive Tooth Means You Have Decay.
Chips and Cracks in Teeth Lead to Decay.
To separate dental myth from fact, read on. We all know that brushing and flossing is the best way to prevent cavities. Prevention is the key. You need to remove bacteria from teeth by brushing and flossing twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste. By removing the bacteria daily from every area of your tooth, you have a greater chance of remaining cavity free.
Another factor to consider is what you eat and how often you eat. Changes in your mouth start the minute you eat certain foods. Bacteria in the mouth convert sugars from the foods you eat, to acids, and the acids begin to attack the enamel of the teeth, which starts the decay process. The more often you eat and snack, the more frequently you are exposing your teeth to the cycle of decay. See if any of these myths surprise you.