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What Bleeding Gums Mean For Your General Health
As a practicing dentist, I see all levels of home care. There are patients who practice excellent hygiene and have firm, pink and healthy gums or teeth without cavities. Then there are those who probably wouldn't recognize a toothbrush if it poked them in the eye and whose mouths have so much plaque it looks like they just finished eating cottage cheese. The bottom line is - where along this spectrum do you fall - and what can it mean for your overall health? As I write this, I...

How To Get Veneers While On A Budget
In today's challenging economic climate, people find themselves having to make every dollar they spend count. As a result, individuals considering cosmetic dental work face the additional problem of not having such procedures be covered by dental insurance. For some, that puts treatment a little farther out of reach. While it may be a common perception that cosmetic dental procedures are completely elective, many prospective job seekers have come to realize that having an unattractive smile...

The Affordable Dentist
Let's face it: seeing a doctor - any sort of doctor - can be expensive. And dentists are no exception. But if a person's diet and home care have been lacking, the cost of dental treatment can quickly sky-rocket. One of the problems with dental care has to do with the fact that many patients still suffer from the idea that if they don't feel anything wrong with their teeth, then all is well. Unfortunately, when it comes to teeth, most people miss the boat entirely with this concept. The reason...

How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth?
Sounds like a pretty basic question for a dentist, doesn't it? In fact, I'm not really asked that question often because "everybody knows" you should brush your teeth twice a day. But should you really? After all, you can pick up almost any tube of toothpaste and it says right there" brush twice daily, or as directed by your dentist". Some time ago, I started asking patients how often they brushed their teeth when they came in for their periodic cleanings. The most common answer - by far - is...

The ABCs of Dental Care
In almost any field there are basics, the fundamental facts or principles from which other truths can be derived. Without an understanding of these basics we lack the building blocks for greater knowledge or competence. For example, before we can write we learn our ABCs. Geometry first requires an understanding of arithmetic, and so on. Lacking these basics, we can become lost in a sea of information, lacking the CORRECT drops of water that hold the answers to our questions or allow us to be...

The Top 5 Ways To Avoid A Dental Emergency
"If it is not broken, don't fix it." Isn't that how the saying goes? Well, when it comes to teeth, most people really CAN'T TELL if it's broken. Consider these interesting dental tidbits: -- Periodontal (gum) disease is the number one cause of tooth loss world-wide. That's basically a condition in which you lose the bone that surrounds your teeth, so that even otherwise "healthy" teeth may fall out. -- Most people with cavities diagnosed by their dentist didn't have any idea they even had a...

Dentist Says DON'T Floss?
When will a dentist tell you NOT to floss? It seems like a question that almost deserves a punchline because the answer seems so obvious. But let's take another look at the issue: Here are the facts, as I see them, after more than twenty years in dental practice: -- Most patients don't floss. -- Most patients don't like to floss. -- Most patients won't floss even if you describe the benefits of flossing at every exam visit for ten years. -- Most patients are certain flossing makes their...

I Didn't Have A Toothache Until The Dentist Filled My Tooth!
As of this writing, I have been practicing dentistry for just over twenty years. In that time, I have had strangers, friends and family ask me questions about their dental problems. Maybe this question is one that has come up for you too. One of the more frequent queries I run across goes something like this: "I recently went to the dentist and I was told I needed to have a filling done. It didn't bother me before, but it does now - and what's more, I'm being told I'll probably need a root...

Need A Job? Fix Your Teeth!
Bad teeth may not only have negative consequences for your health, they can cost you a job. Many people with visibly unattractive teeth go through life avoiding eye contact with strangers for fear of having to smile back or even to make small talk. Not infrequently, when such people do talk or feel compelled to smile, they cover their mouths with their hand. Unfortunately, in a job interview, this will not go over well. Yet, for the person with dental problems, to smile or talk would...

The "Flossing Thing"
Here is an interesting exchange I had with a patient not too long ago. I'm getting ready to start a cleaning after completing my examination. His gums are red (he has gingivitis), there is plaque visible, and I just know those gums will bleed when I start to clean them. I'd like to help him get this under control, but I suspect he doesn't floss, so I ask "Do you floss?" His answer: "Whenever I need to." I'm thinking: "That would be, like, EVERY DAY." But instead I ask: "How often is...

Sodas and Tooth Decay
Did your last dental checkup find you sinking lower and lower into the dental chair with each cavity your dentist found? If so, one of the first questions you may want to ask yourself is this: are soft drinks a big part of your daily routine? If you answered "yes", you may want to re-think your dietary habits. Some of the worst cases of dental decay that I have seen involve sodas, or sweetened (prepared) iced tea. One 12 oz. can of soda averages about 12 teaspoons of sugar. That's basically...

What Does Plaque Have To Do With Cavities and Tooth Brushing?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the formation of dental cavities. One fundamental that will apply to most everyone concerns the reduction of dental plaque. If you want fewer cavities, reduce your plaque levels. Dental plaque can be defined as a complex microbial community, with greater than 10 to the 10th power bacteria per milligram. (That's really a lot of bacteria.) Just to keep things simple, though, the problem is that these bacteria produce acids on your teeth - and...

Electric Toothbrushes or Manual Toothbrushes?
As a dentist, it's not unusual to find me browsing the dental aisle from time to time. I like to see what's new. What I find particularly interesting, though, is watching people as they make their product choices. My impression is that one area which seems to attract the most indecision relates to the subject of which toothbrush to buy. With manual toothbrushes people ponder over whether to get a soft bristle, a medium hardness, or an outright hard bristle. Then, the question becomes should...

Don't Wait for Tooth Pain to See Your Dentist
Recently, I saw four new patients in my dental office during a given week. All four of those patients scheduled their visits because they perceived pieces of their tooth chipping away. In three out of four of those cases, the offending tooth was so badly decayed that the tooth couldn't be saved. Yet only one of those patients came in with any discomfort. The common thread in each of these cases is that the patient waited until the tooth was actually breaking apart to seek dental care. All too...

What Makes Teeth Sensitive?
"Doc, I think I have a cavity. Every time I drink some soda, my tooth hurts." Experience tells me it's certainly possible, so I'll naturally take a look - but quite often, I already know that what is causing the discomfort is an entirely different issue. Patients are often surprised when I explain that while I understand this area hurts, it's not a cavity. Hot, cold, air, or sweets - the triggers can be different for different people - but the effect is the same: dental pain. For some, it...

Xylitol: A Sugar Free and Tooth Friendly Sweetener
What if a person could reduce tooth decay by 25%? That would be pretty good. Don't you think? How about if YOU could suffer 40% fewer cavities? Would that get your attention? Dentists have been tackling the tooth decay problem for decades. There have been many theories and various approaches. These range from focusing upon home care, to controlling dietary factors, to using chemical agents such as chlorhexidine and fluoride. Most of us would agree - a 25% to 40% reduction in tooth decay...

Adult Tooth Loss and Replacements
When we are born we come into the world without teeth. Some of us leave the same way, but that really isn't what nature intended. When you are on a liquid diet having teeth doesn't appear to be vital, since there is obviously nothing to chew. Nature pretty much handles a baby's nutritional needs with mother's milk. As we grow and begin to eat solid food, however, having and maintaining healthy teeth becomes an entirely different matter. So when teeth become lost due to cavities, periodontal...

5 Ways To Avoid A Painful Toothache
It has been said that there is no pain worse than a toothache. Images of what people will do to deal with this are branded into our consciousness through movies like Cast Away with Tom Hanks, Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman, and many others. I'm sure that you can think of a few others without trying too hard. The pain, the throbbing, the agonizing feeling that your head is about to explode are a reality for many at this very moment. I have had women tell me they would rather experience...

Loose Bottom Denture Solution - A New Standard of Care?
Do you suffer from a loose lower denture or have a family member who is having a rough time wearing their denture? Unfortunately, this is a common problem. When all of the lower teeth are missing, little remains to stabilize or retain the denture. An upper denture actually creates some suction on the roof of the mouth and will generally hold well. Not so, with the lower denture. First of all, the tongue has a tendency to displace it and because the surface area that the denture rests upon is...

The Cheapest Dental Insurance Plan
Recently, a great deal of attention is being placed on economizing in all different aspects of life. Some people have even considered cutting back in the area of health care by putting off routine maintenance care. While this is a little like playing Russian roulette when it comes to dental health -- for reasons I'll explain shortly -- there may be a better way to dodge the financial bullet. And it may be a much simpler one. After almost twenty years of practice I have seen people consider all...

Is Having Straight Teeth Important?
When we are young our teeth make their way into our mouths through a process known as tooth eruption. How do they know when to stop erupting? Basically, they keep going until they find the opposing tooth. But what if we lose a tooth? Much like a computer program, the tooth opposite the missing one starts looking for the tooth that it is supposed to chew against. If it can't find it, it may erupt all the way to the opposing gum. It's not that the tooth is growing. The bone below (or above it)...

How To Get The Best Dental Care
Dental treatment, particularly with someone you don't know well, can be a scary thing. There are, no doubt, many reasons people fear dental treatment - but even if you are not a dental phobic, how do you know what to expect from a new dentist? Frankly, it can be a bit of a gamble. Then there is the second question that lurks in the back of many people's minds: will my treatment be affordable? Finding an affordable dentist may seem like something of an oxymoron in today's times, but the simple...

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