Sunday, May 31, 2020

There's More to Your Teeth Than Meets the Eye

Your ADA dentist can spot hidden dental problems before they become big issues. Keep your teeth amazing — and schedule a check-up.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Dead Tooth: Signs and Symptoms

Your teeth are strong —- really strong. In fact, tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body. But strong as they are, your teeth aren’t superhuman. In fact, teeth can die just like any other living thing. And if you end up with a dead tooth, it is no laughing matter.

Not only can a dead tooth be unsightly and painful, but it puts you at risk for serious infection, abscess, and tooth loss. Because of this, it is important to know the symptoms of a dead tooth and understand when to seek treatment.

What is a Dead Tooth?

It’s strange to think of a tooth as dead. After all, isn’t it just a lump of enamel attached to your jaw? Actually, no. The outer layers of your tooth — the enamel, dentin and cementum — are hard and bone-like. But beneath this armor lies a chamber of soft, sensitive pulp that is very much alive with nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels.

Like any other part of the body, when your tooth pulp loses its blood supply, it eventually dies. (I’ll get to how this happens in a minute). When the pulp in your tooth dies, your tooth becomes what dentists refer to as a non-vital, or necrotic, tooth. This non-vital tooth is what we commonly call a dead tooth.

Dead Teeth and Infection

Dead pulp isn’t actually the worst part about a dead tooth. According to the American Association of Endodontists, your teeth need their pulp as they grow and develop. However, once a tooth fully matures, it can be retained and function without the pulp because the surrounding tissues continue to nourish the tooth.

But this doesn’t mean you can just leave a dead tooth alone. The inside of your tooth stays healthy in part because living tissues transport white blood cells and other immune cells to the tooth pulp. When a tooth dies, this access is cut off. Without these immune cells, the pulp chamber can become a breeding ground for infection.

It goes without saying that an infection in your mouth is bad. But an infection caused by a dead tooth is particularly troublesome. Because the infection is deep within your tooth, it can spread to the bone and space around a tooth’s root(s). If left untreated, this infection can create a pocket of pus known as an abscess, and may cause significant pain and swelling.

As I said, a dead tooth is no joke. But what exactly causes a tooth to die in the first place?

Causes of a Dead Tooth

The two primary causes of a dead tooth are decay and trauma.

If decay reaches the center of your tooth either through a crack in the tooth or through an untreated cavity it will inflame the pulp. To protect itself, the blood vessels inside the pulp constrict. But eventually, without enough blood supply, the pulp dies.

A tooth can also die if it sustains a trauma such as a sports injury. If your tooth pushes upward into the bone or gets knocked out, the nerves can get pinched, cut off or damaged. If the blood supply at the tip of the tooth’s root is severed, the pulp dies from lack of blood flow in much the same way as it does from untreated decay.

Smell, Color and Other Symptoms of a Dead Tooth

Now that you know the seriousness of a dead tooth, you should understand the signs and symptoms.

Common symptoms of a dead tooth:

  • Discoloration: A dead tooth often looks yellow, grey, or slightly black.
  • Smell: A dead tooth sometimes smells bad or causes a bad taste in your mouth. This is from tooth decay or other infection.
  • Pain: This pain comes from inflammation and infection in the pulp cavity or surrounding bone.
  • Pimple at the gum line: This is a sign of a chronic tooth abscess that has made its way through the bone to the surface of your gums.

Treating a Dead Tooth

A dead tooth is commonly treated with endodontic therapy, commonly termed a root canal. During a root canal, your dentist or endodontist drills a hole in the top of your tooth and cleans the dead material out of the pulp chamber and root(s). The canal(s) in your tooth root(s) are then filled with a rubber-like material to seal against bacteria and future infection.

Depending on the level of damage, the dentist sometimes places a metal or plastic post inside your tooth to keep a filling in place. In many cases a crown may be placed to further protect and restore your tooth.

If your dead tooth can’t be saved, or if for other reasons you and your dentist choose not to do a root canal, your dentist will likely recommend extracting your dead tooth. This empty space can then be replaced with an implant, partial denture, or bridge.

Contact your dentist right away if you sustain an injury to your teeth, or if you suspect your tooth is decayed. Your dentist will assess your teeth and all the structure and tissues in your mouth, and recommend the best course of action to keep your smile healthy and strong.

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Monday, May 25, 2020

How to Brush Teeth Correctly

Are you brushing your teeth the right way? Brushing your teeth the wrong way and with the wrong kind of toothbrush can mean that you’re not properly cleaning your teeth. Find out the proper way to brush your teeth and tongue for fresh breath, and better oral hygiene.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Crest: Discovering New Smiles

As we move forward, discovering things that make us smile is more important now than ever.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Preventive Dental Care: Beyond the Basics

You know to brush and floss daily and visit the dentist regularly. Learn what else you can do to keep your teeth and gums looking their best.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Throwback Day: A Smile is Contagious

Sharing a smile can brighten someone’s day. Make sure yours is strong and healthy. Join us as we celebrate 160 years of driving dentistry forward by taking a trip through the ADA’s video archive.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

What Are the Symptoms of Teeth Grinding?

Dr. Christina Friis-Moeller talks about the causes and symptoms of teeth grinding (bruxism).

Sunday, May 10, 2020

How To Brush Your Teeth In Space | Video

ISS commander Chris Hadfield explains how astronauts maintains oral hygiene aboard the International Space Station.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

What If You Stopped Brushing Your Teeth Forever?

What if you never brushed your teeth? Or even stopped for a year? Here's what would happen!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Healthy Oral Habits at Home

Life feels pretty upside-down right now. Many of us are stuck at home, worried about the health of loved ones, and coping with a million uncertainties. Even the dentist’s office is affected. The American Dental Association recently recommended dental offices close to everything except emergencies during the COVID-19 outbreak.

But during this time of stress and global health crisis, it is still important to focus on personal wellbeing, including oral health. Keeping up on positive oral health habits helps us all feel more balanced, gives us a sense of normalcy, and can keep us smiling in times of stress.

Here are four ways to keep your smile healthy at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Drink Plenty of Water

Water cooler conversations are on hold for now— unless you count chatting it up with your dog. But staying hydrated is still important, both for the health of your body and the health of your mouth.

In terms of your oral health, water rinses away food particles that sit on your teeth and cause cavities. Staying hydrated promotes saliva flow, which gives your teeth important proteins and minerals – like fluoride. And if your community provides a good balance fluoride water you receive an extra benefit – every time the water runs over your teeth it strengthens your enamel (the outer surface of your teeth).

Having trouble staying hydrated? :

  • Drink one glass of water with every meal and between meals
  • Add frozen fruit in place of ice cubes
  • Use an app to track your water intake

Avoid Emotional Eating

Many people turn to food for comfort during times of stress. But loading up on carbs and sugar puts you at risk for cavities. It also negatively impacts your mood. So before you reach for that pint of ice cream, consider these alternatives:

  • Stick to a routine. Prevent grazing by keeping your normal meal routine.
  • Drink a glass of water. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Try water first.
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand. Keep fresh veggies, fruits or nuts on hand to satisfy cravings in a healthy way.
  • Try sugar-free gum. If you absolutely have to chew, make sure your gum is sugarless.

Keep Up with Your Oral Hygiene

When you don’t have to face coworkers each day, it’s tempting to skimp on your brush-and-floss routine. But remote meetings or not, oral hygiene is still important, especially if your regular dental checkup is postponed because of COVID-19. Why not set your phone alarm to remind you to continue flossing each day and brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste?

And remember, although routine dental visits are on hold, many dentists are available for emergency care. If you experience unusual or prolonged pain in your mouth or teeth, call your dentist to discuss your options.

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Friday, May 1, 2020

Oral Health & Asthma

It might surprise you to learn that 1 in 12 Americans has asthma. Along with the well-known risks asthma brings, it may also increase your risks of developing gum disease, oral sores, dry mouth, and cavities. If you suffer from asthma, try these tips to take optimal care of your oral health and help prevent these side effects.