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Lodged Foreign Bodies

Lodged Foreign Bodies??

Small pieces of food ? especially things like popcorn hulls ? can get under your gums. If these pieces aren’t removed, the area can get irritated, and even infected.

What You Can Do

If you feel something wedged under the gum, try using dental floss to remove it. If this doesn’t help, take a toothpick and gently run it around the gum line. Be careful that you don’t hurt your gum with the toothpick or accidentally push anything deeper under your gum.

What Your Dentist Will Do

If you can’t remove a foreign body yourself, see your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist has special that allow him or her to see into your mouth and find whatever is trapped under your gum. Your dentist will check for infection.

Please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Newer Technologies Find Tooth Decay Early

Sometimes it’s all too obvious that you have tooth decay: You’re in pain or you can see a dark spot on your tooth. But in other cases, you may not even know there’s a problem until you see your dentist.

That’s because your dentist often can find early changes in your teeth that happen before a cavity develops. At first, the tooth structure softens. Sometime, a white spot appears.

How can your dentist find these early changes in your teeth that could lead to cavities? The traditional ways are to use X-rays or to examine your teeth and use an explorer, a metal tool that ends in a point. If the explorer “sticks” in a tooth, there may be early damage to the tooth structure.

Now, newer technologies are on the market and are being used by some dentists. Do these devices really do a better job than a pair of experienced eyes, an explorer and an X-ray? And if your dentist finds a sign of early decay, does it need to be treated right away?

Digital Imaging Fiber-Optic Trans-Illumination (DIFOTI)®

DIFOTI technology uses computers to collect images of your teeth while a light is shined behind them. Softened (demineralized) tooth areas can appear darker than healthy areas, so dentists can use the images to help them find early problems. The technique is similar to X-ray but does not use radiation.

Collecting images with DIFOTI takes more time than with X-rays because the camera has to be placed accurately on each tooth to collect the image. The technology is relatively simple to use, but the images must still be interpreted by a dentist, which leaves room for differences of opinion.

Digital Imaging: DIAGNOdent®

DIAGNOdent uses a laser to collect information. A handheld laser probe is shined on each tooth. The laser beam is absorbed by each tooth and then leaves the tooth again as fluorescent light. Solid tooth structure gives off very little fluorescent light, but damaged parts of a tooth and bacteria give off more. Information from each tooth is transmitted to a control unit, which looks something like a digital clock radio.

Studies have found that this technique helps diagnose early decay in the underlayer of the tooth (the dentin) whbefore a cavity develops in the outer, visible layer (enamel). DIAGNOdent can also be used to follow a suspicious tooth or teeth over time and see if the values change. Its manufacturer claims the device is 90% accurate.

Quantitative Light-Induced Fluorescence (QLF)™

Of these three technologies, QLF is the newest. It uses a light source, camera, fluorescent dye and computer software. The camera acquires images of each tooth, and the software analyzes the images and provides information about possible mineral loss.

The technology can detect early decay in primary (baby) and permanent teeth, as well as early decay that is close to fillings, crowns or orthodontic hardware.

QLF is useful for finding caries in people at high risk of decay and for confirming that teeth are healthy in people at low risk. However, it can miss early decay in high-risk people and can identify low-risk people as having decay when they really don’t.

Please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Bad Breath and Its Relationship to Oral Systemic Diseases

Bad Breath??

“About 75 percent of bad breath or “halitosis” is caused by the mouth itself.  Other causes include gastric problems, sinus infections or severe gum disease,” says Mark Wolff, DDS, Ph.D., director of operative dentistry at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. One of the key successes in treating bad breath is determining the cause. Once your dental professional determines what the cause is then treatment for it can then begin (1).

Bad breath can be caused by the following:

  • External factors – foods such as onions and garlic, beverages like coffee and alcohol, and smoking
  • Poor oral hygiene – where plaque and food debris is left on the teeth
  • Dentures – plaque and food debris can form on dentures, which need to be cleaned daily
  • Tonsils – cryptic areas (crevices) in the tonsils can allow food debris to become lodged in the tonsil area
  • Respiratory tract infections – throat, sinus and lung infections
  • Dry mouth (Xerostomia) – can be caused by salivary gland problems, medication, mouth breathing, radiation therapy and chemotherapy

Who Should You See If You Have Bad Breath?

If you believe your diet is causing bad breath, then consult with a dietician or nutritionist who can work with you to modify your diet. If you have poor oral hygiene and are suffering from gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue in your mouth) or have periodontal disease (bone loss around the teeth sometimes referred to as “pyorrhea”), consult your dentist and periodontist and work with your dental hygienist to improve gingivitis and thorough oral hygiene instruction at home. The tonsils and respiratory infections will need to be followed by your physician or a specialist such as an ear, nose and throat physician or pulmonologist. A large majority of people in the United States are suffering from dry mouth due to medications they may be taking, salivary gland dysfunction and those who may be going through radiation and chemotherapy treatment for cancer therapy. Please consult your oral maxillofacial surgeon, your physician or oncologist for their professional recommendations for prescription or over-the-counter products that can alleviate dry mouth symptoms. Those patients who are diabetics, have liver or kidney conditions, and gastrointestinal disorders should see their physician, urologist or gastroenterologist for their insights on how bad breath can be reduced regarding these systemic diseases. Contact your dentist office for a recommendation of which dental or medical professional you should see for your bad breath condition.

Please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

Smile Style Quiz

Take this quiz and see what kind of smile you have – click the image below

Call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation and learn what he can do for your smile.

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New Treatments For Cold Sores

642x361_Cold_SoresNew Treatments For Cold Sores

If you suffer from cold sores, you are not alone. Nearly 70% of Americans ages 12 and older test positive for herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), the virus that causes cold sores. At least 20% of patients with HSV experience recurring cold sores.

HSV-1 is transmitted by direct contact with infected skin or saliva. A primary infection usually occurs during childhood and causes a fever, sore gums, sore throat and swollen or tender glands in the neck. After that, the virus remains dormant in nerve roots near the infected skin. In some people, the virus rarely, if ever, reactivates. But in others, recurrences called secondary herpes episodes occur frequently, producing cold sores. While medical experts have not determined the exact cause for reactivation, a variety of stimuli, such as stress, dental treatment, illness, trauma to the lips or sun exposure can precipitate an outbreak.

“While there is no cure for cold sores, there are medications that can be useful in their treatment and prevention,” says Joel Laudenbach, D.M.D., assistant professor and director of geriatric dentistry at the Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery.

Three oral antiviral medications sometimes prescribed are acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex). Although none of these medications will eliminate the dormant HSV-1 infection that causes cold sores, they can help the sores heal faster and relieve the associated pain and discomfort. They also can also help to suppress a cold-sore outbreak.

These drugs also are effective in helping to prevent an outbreak of cold sores during a time of increased susceptibility, such as a beach or ski vacation that would involve extensive sun exposure. In addition, recent studies have shown that using valacyclovir before certain dental procedures can help decrease recurrent outbreaks. Other treatments include topical antiviral creams and ointments, such as penciclovir (Denavir) cream. Some research demonstrates that penciclovir appears to reduce the average size and duration of a cold sore.

Penciclovir reportedly is best used as soon as possible after symptoms (pain, tingling, itching, burning or blisters) begin to appear. Although the recommended dose varies with the individual, the average adult dose calls for applying the cream to the affected areas every two hours, while awake, for four days.

A topical acyclovir ointment also can be used for symptoms of HSV infections of the skin, mucous membranes, and genitals.

Cold sores and canker sores are not the same, Dr. Laudenbach says. Canker sores occur only inside the mouth, are not caused by a virus, and are not contagious. Cold sores usually occur outside the mouth on the lips, are caused by a virus (herpes simplex virus [HSV-1]), and are contagious, he says. Because canker sores are not caused by a virus, antiviral medications will not be effective in treating them.

For more information, please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Important Reasons for Mouth Guards

Important Reasons for Mouth Guards

A mouth guard is a soft plastic or laminate device used in sports to prevent oral injuries to the teeth, mouth, cheeks, tongue and jaw. The American Dental Association projects that one third of all dental injuries are sports related.1 The use of a mouth guard can prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries to the mouth each year.

The types of dental injuries that can occur without the use of a mouth guard are chipped or broken teeth, fractured crowns or bridgework, lip and cheek injuries, root damage to the teeth, fractured jaws, and concussions. Any athlete may be at risk for oral injury and any injury can be prevented with the use of a mouth guard.

Mouth guards are mandatory in collision sports such as football, hockey and boxing where the risk of injury is likely. Children and adults involved in incidental contact sports like basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling, soccer and volleyball may consider wearing a mouth guard to prevent injuries to the mouth.

A study of high school athletes found that seventy-five percent of injuries occurred when mouth guards were not worn and forty percent occurred during baseball and basketball. Nine percent of all athletes suffered some type of oral injury while another three percent reported a loss of consciousness. Fifty-six percent of all concussions were suffered when mouth guards were not worn. Trauma related to sports is more prevalent than previously reported.2

Child or adult, a mouth guard is essential for all athletes. For more information about the right mouth guard for you, please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Treatment Options for Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth Sensitivity – Overview

Tooth sensitivity is due to the exposure of dentin, the part of the tooth which covers the nerve, either through loss of the enamel layer or recession of the gums. Temperature changes and certain foods (acidic or sweet) can cause the tooth or teeth to be painful. The pain usually subsides after a short period of time.

The dentin contains a large numbers of pores or tubes that run from the outside of the tooth to the nerve in the center. When the dentin is exposed, these tubes can be stimulated by changes in temperature or certain foods. Here is an image of what the dentin tubes look like under the microscope:

The dentin contains a large numbers of pores or tubes that run from the outside of the tooth to the nerve in the center. When the dentin is exposed, these tubes can be stimulated by changes in temperature or certain foods. Here is an image of what the dentin tubes look like under the microscope:

Tooth dentin

The best way to find out why a tooth is sensitive is to have dental professional examine you. They can look for the signs of dentin exposure, and run tests to determine what the true cause of the sensitivity is. Sometimes, the sensitivity is due to a cavity or gum disease – these can be treated to address the sensitivity. Other times, the cause of the sensitivity is because the enamel has been lost through abrasion or erosion, or the gums have receded, causing the roots to be exposed.

What Can Be Done?

If the sensitivity is due to a cavity, a restoration can be placed. If gum disease is the cause, the dental professional can perform a thorough cleaning of the area.

However, if the cause is from dentin being exposed, then there are a number of professional and at home treatments that can be used to reduce the sensitivity.

  • In Office Procedures:
    • Fluoride varnish can be applied to exposed areas, strengthening the enamel and dentin
    • Fluoride foam or gel can be placed into a mouth tray; you then sit with this in your mouth for 3-5 minutes, providing the teeth with a high concentration of fluoride to strengthen the areas
    • Bonding agent, the material used to stick tooth colored restorations to teeth, can be used to seal the dentin surface and provide a barrier to the stimuli that cause sensitivity
  • At Home:
    • Use a very soft bristle tooth brush, with low abrasive tooth paste
    • Brush correctly and do not over brush
    • Use a tooth paste specially formulated to soothe the nerve endings in the tooth
    • Use a high concentration fluoride toothpaste (given to you by the dental professional) to strengthen the tooth surface

There are a number of treatments available, and your dental professional can help you find those that will work best, depending on your situation. Always seek a dental professional’s help – do not try to diagnose this problem yourself. It may be the sign of something more serious, and only a dental professional can tell you what it really is.

Please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Too Much Drilling? Not All Early Tooth Decay Needs A Filling

To find tooth decay early, some dentists are using newer technologies, in addition to visual exams and X-rays. The devices claim to be able to detect the beginnings of decay, when the tooth begins to soften, before it turns into a cavity.

As with almost any new technology, the devices are expensive. Are they worth it? More importantly, if one of these devices shows that you have early decay, do you need a filling right away?

Not necessarily.

Dental decay is “a slowly progressing disease,” says David A. Albert, D.D.S., M.P.H., associate professor of clinical dentistry at the Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery. “From start to finish in the general population, it can take five years to go from a new caries lesion (early decay) to full-blown involvement of the pulp (the center of the tooth, where the nerves and blood vessels are). Back in the 1920s, the way we practiced was based on [decay] progression taking a matter of months.”

So early decay doesn’t always mean you need a filling. In fact, the decay often can be reversed. A tooth starts to decay because acid in your mouth causes minerals to leach out of the enamel, and the enamel breaks down. Fluoride therapy, dietary changes and better oral hygiene habits can reverse this process by causing minerals to build up in the tooth again, making the enamel stronger.

In some cases, a filling is a no-brainer. If you’re in pain or have an obvious cavity (a break in the surface of your tooth), you need a filling. But, says Dr. Albert, “If there’s no cavity and no pain, the tooth can fix itself.

“If I saw 100 patients [who had early decay] and decided to wait six months before treating them, it would be the right decision for 95 of them. I think we do more harm by overtreating, because there will always be complications of treatment,” he says.

Once a tooth has a filling in it, there is always a chance the filling will crack, break or fall out. A space left between the filling and the tooth is a hot spot for further decay. Eventually, the tooth may need endodontic (root canal) treatment or may even need to be extracted.

Dr. Albert suggests that using the new technologies should actually lead to fewer fillings for most people, because early decay can be reversed with fluoride treatments or new oral hygiene habits. The reality may be different.

“Dentists who use these machines may actually do more [fillings],” he says. “For the general population, that’s wrong, although for some high-risk individuals, it’s good to find [decay] early and treat it early. But if you’re in a low-risk category, the treatment of choice is to do nothing.”

So why don’t most dentists watch and wait? They may be worried that the person won’t return in six months for another checkup. Or they may be worried that they will be perceived as indecisive or inexperienced.

Also, the detection devices aren’t always right. “Some things look like cavities, but they’re not,” Dr. Albert says. “A dark discoloration does not mean a cavity.”

Please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.

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Soft Tissue Injuries

The soft tissues in the mouth are delicate and sensitive, and when they are injured, it can be very painful. Soft tissues, which include the tongue, cheeks, gums and lips, can be injured when you accidentally bite down on them, if you fall, are in an accident, or if you put food in your mouth that is too hot. Chewing on hard objects also can damage soft tissues.

What You Can Do

Soft tissue injuries usually do not bleed a lot, but when they do, the injury can seem worse than it really is. When the blood mixes with saliva, it may look like you are bleeding a lot. In most cases, the bleeding should stop within a few minutes. In the meantime, here’s what you should do:

  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with a mild saltwater solution (1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water).
  • If the bleeding continues, press a damp piece of gauze against the injured area for 10 to 15 minutes. If you don’t have gauze, you can use a sanitary napkin, tampon or a clean piece of material that will soak up blood and saliva.
  • To relieve pain, slow the bleeding, and reduce swelling, hold ice to the area for five or 10 minutes.
  • If the bleeding doesn’t stop within a few minutes, the injury may be serious and you will need to see a doctor, preferably an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, right away. Maintain pressure on the area until you can be treated.

What Your Dentist Will Do

Dentists are trained to diagnose and repair damage to the soft tissues, but doctors and oral surgeons in hospital emergency rooms usually handle serious injuries to these areas.

The doctor or oral surgeon will wash the area thoroughly and determine whether the teeth are loose or damaged. If the teeth are not damaged and the injury is limited to the gum or other soft tissues, you may need stitches to close the wound and control the bleeding. In most cases, stitches will not be necessary, and the doctor will only need to wash the area thoroughly and remove any dirt or debris.

Please call Dr. Jeffrey Fester in Roswell, GA, 770.587.4202 to schedule a free consultation.