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Functions of the Teeth

Each permanent tooth serves a specific function, and keeping yours in good shape requires proper oral hygiene. Affordable dental care could make the difference. Your teeth are not just for chewing – their condition also affects your speaking ability, facial shape and general appearance. Maintaining a healthy mouth should be a priority.

Types

Adults normally have 32 permanents, which start to grow in around age 6. The 20 baby ones gradually fall out to make room for the permanents to grow in. A lost permanent tooth will not grow back in, so affordable dental care could be a good investment.

Your pearly whites can be classified into these categories. (This list starts at the back of the mouth and moves toward the front.)

  • Wisdom teeth are usually the last molars to come in. These commonly emerge during the teen years. They appear at the very back of the mouth with two on top and two on the bottom. In many cases they never break through the gum line. People often think that these should be extracted regardless of circumstances, but this is only true if a dentist determines yours will overcrowd the mouth or become infected.
  • Molars have a wide surface for grinding and chewing food. Aside from wisdom teeth (which are also considered molars), adults have eight molars, two on each quadrant of the mouth. They are somewhat flat, with four pointed “corners” known as cusps to help mash food.
  • Premolars, also known as bicuspids, occupy the space between the molars and the cuspids. Adults have eight, with two in each quadrant. These are similar to but smaller than the molars, with only two cusps on the outside edge of each tooth. They are used to crush and tear food.
  • Canines, also called cuspids, are sharp and help the incisors tear food. Adults have only four, one in each quadrant.
  • Lateral incisors have a sharp, chisel-shaped edge for biting food. Adults have four lateral incisors, one in each quadrant.
  • Central incisors are the four front teeth. There are two on the top and two on the bottom. These are shaped similarly to the lateral incisors, except the two on the top are often significantly larger.

How to Take Care of Them

Careful attention to oral hygiene will help maintain healthy teeth as well as cause any problems or inconsistencies to stand out. If problems are noticed early, the issue can be taken care of before it becomes serious. Regular brushing and flossing should be an important part of your daily routine, and checkups and cleanings at the dentist office can keep excess plaque at bay. If you want to keep your pearly whites in working order for a lifetime, you may want to consider a quality, affordable dental plan.

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

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Mouth-Healthy Eating

Mouth-Healthy Eating

If you want to prevent cavities, how often you eat can be just as important as what you eat. That’s because food affects your teeth and mouth long after you swallow. Eating cookies with dinner will do less harm to your teeth than eating them as a separate snack. Of course, overall poor nutrition can contribute to periodontal (gum) disease. It also can have other long-term effects on your mouth. Learning how food affects your oral health is the first step toward mouth-healthy eating.

Immediate Effects of Food
Changes begin in your mouth the minute you start to eat certain foods. Bacteria in your mouth make acids. The acids start the process that can lead to cavities.

How does this happen?

All carbohydrate foods eventually break down into simple sugars: glucose, fructose, maltose and lactose. Fermentable carbohydrates break down in the mouth. Other foods don’t break down until they move further down the digestive tract.

It’s the fermentable carbohydrates that work with bacteria to form acids that begin the decay process and eventually destroy teeth. They include the obvious sugary foods, such as cookies, cakes, soft drinks and candy. But they also include less obvious foods, such as bread, crackers, bananas and breakfast cereals.

Certain bacteria on your teeth use the sugars from these foods and produce acids. The acids dissolve minerals inside the tooth enamel. The process is called demineralization. Teeth also can regain minerals. This natural process is calledremineralization. Saliva helps minerals to build back up in teeth. So do fluoride and some foods.

Dental decay begins inside the tooth enamel when minerals are being lost faster than they are being regained.

The longer food stays near the bacteria on the tooth, the more acids will be produced. So sticky carbohydrates, such as raisins, can do more acid damage. But other foods that pack into crevices in the tooth also can cause decay. Potato chips are a terrific example. Eat a handful of chips and see how long you have to work to get all the stuck bits out from between your teeth. Teeth with a lot of nooks and crannies, such asmolars, are more likely to trap food. That’s why they tend to have more decay.

To make matters worse, many of the foods that are unhealthy for teeth don’t just create acids while they are being eaten. The acids stick around for the next half-hour.

Depending on your eating and drinking patterns, it’s possible for the bacteria to produce acid almost constantly. This can happen if you sip soft drinks or sweetened coffee throughout the day. Eating many small sweet or starchy snacks can produce the same effect. The resulting acid damage adds up, so decay is more likely. Studies have shown that people who eat sweets as snacks between meals have higher rates of decay than people who eat the same amount of sweets with their meals.

On the brighter side, some foods actually help to protect teeth from decay. That’s because they increase saliva flow and neutralize the acids produced by bacteria. This makes it less likely that the enamel will lose minerals. For example, aged cheese eaten immediately after other food helps to buffer the acid.

Chewing sugarless gums also can help protect your teeth against cavities. Xylitol is an ingredient in some sugarless gums. This sweetener has been shown to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth. It also helps to buffer the teeth against the effect of acid. Most sugarless gums and sugarless candies increase the flow of saliva, which helps to protect your teeth against bacteria.

Long-Term Effects
Like the rest of your body, your mouth depends on overall good nutrition to stay healthy. In fact, your mouth is highly sensitive to poor nutrition. It can lead to tooth loss, serious periodontal (gum) disease and bad breath.

What To Eat
The current and best advice for overall good nutrition is found in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This document was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The guidelines are simple in concept:

  • Eat whole grains daily instead of refined grains. Whole grains include brown rice, oatmeal and whole wheat bread. Refined grains include white bread and white rice.
  • Eat healthier vegetables, including dark green and orange vegetables.
  • Eat a variety of fruits.
  • Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose fish, beans, nuts and seeds for some of your protein needs.
  • Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars.
  • Choose and prepare foods with less salt.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
  • Aim for a healthy weight and be physically active each day.

To help people understand these guidelines, the USDA has replaced the old Food Guide Pyramid. The new guide is an interactive tool called MyPyramid. It is actually many different pyramids, depending on a person’s age, gender and physical activity. The tool can be found at www.mypyramid.gov.

Your diet, like the pyramid, should have:

  • A strong base of grains
  • At least 2½ cups of vegetables a day
  • At least 2 cups of fruits a day
  • At least 3 cups of calcium-containing milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Proteins such as meats, beans, eggs and nuts

Eat fats and sweets sparingly.

To prevent tooth decay, you should follow a few additional guidelines. This can help to keep the amount of acid created by the bacteria on your teeth to a minimum. Here are some tips:

  1. Limit between-meal snacking. Fewer snacks mean less acid exposure for your teeth. If you snack, choose foods that are not fermentable carbohydrates.
    • Best choices — Cheese, chicken or other meats, or nuts. These foods actually may help protect tooth enamel. They do this by neutralizing acids or by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to put minerals back in the teeth.
    • Moderate choices — Firm fruits such as apples and pears and vegetables. Firm fruits contain natural sugars. However, their high water content dilutes the effects of the sugars. These fruits also stimulate the flow of saliva, which fights bacteria and helps protect against decay. Vegetables do not contain enough carbohydrates to be dangerous.
    • Worst choices — Candy, cookies, cakes, crackers, breads, muffins, potato chips, french fries, pretzels, bananas, raisins and other dried fruits. These foods provide a source of sugar that certain bacteria can use to produce acid. The problem can be worse if the foods stick to teeth or get caught between them.
  2. Limit the amount of soft drinks or any other drinks that contain sugar. These include coffee or tea with added sugar, cocoa and lemonade. Fruit juices contain natural sugars that also can cause decay. Limit the amount of time you take to drink any of these drinks. Avoid sipping them throughout the day. A can of soda that you finish with a meal exposes your teeth to acids for a shorter time than a soda that takes you two hours to drink.
    • Better choices — Unsweetened tea and water, especially fluoridated water. Tea also has fluoride, which can strengthen tooth enamel. Water helps flush away bits of food. It also can dilute the sugar acids.
  3. Avoid sucking on hard candies or mints, even the tiny ones. They have enough sugar to increase the acid produced by bacteria to decay levels. If you need a mint, use the sugarless varieties.
  4. Limit very acidic foods (such as citrus fruits) because they can make the mouth more acidic. This may contribute to a loss of minerals in the teeth. The effects of acid exposure add up over time. Every little bit counts.
  5. Brush your teeth after eating and after drinking sugary drinks, to remove the plaquebacteria that create the destructive acids. If you cannot brush after every meal, brush at least twice a day.
  6. Chew sugarless gum that contains xylitol. This can help reduce the risk of cavities. The gum helps dislodge some of the food stuck to your teeth. It also increases saliva flow to help neutralize the acids.

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

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Eight Steps to Dental Health

Eight Steps to Dental Health

Step 1: Understand your own oral health needs.
Step 2: Commit to a daily oral health routine.
Step 3: Use fluoride products.
Step 4: Brush and floss to remove plaque.
Step 5: Limit snacks, particularly those high in simple sugars, and eat a balanced diet.
Step 6: If you use tobacco in any form, quit.
Step 7: Examine your mouth regularly.
Step 8: Visit the dental office regularly.

It takes more than just brushing.
OK, so you know about brushing and flossing. But there are other steps you should take if you want to keep your teeth for a lifetime. Some people assume they will lose their teeth as they age. That doesn’t have to happen. David A. Albert, D.D.S., M.P.H., suggests these steps to keep your teeth and your mouth healthy. Dr. Albert is an associate professor of clinical dentistry at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.

Step 1: Understand your own oral-health needs.
“Your oral health depends on many factors,” Dr. Albert said. “These include what you eat, the type and amount of saliva in your mouth, your habits, your overall health and your oral hygiene routine.”

Changes in your overall health status often result in changes in your oral health. “For example, many medicines, including more than 300 common drugs, can reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth, resulting in dry mouth,” he said.

“Women who are pregnant go through oral changes. This often includes inflammation of the gums, which is called pregnancy gingivitis. Patients with asthma often breathe through their mouths, particularly when sleeping. This can result in dry mouth and increased plaque formation and gingivitis.”

Step 2: Commit to a daily oral-health routine.
Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about your oral health practices. Based on the discussion, come up with an effective routine. It should be easy to follow and should take your situation into account. For example, if you are taking medicine that dries your mouth, it is important to use fluorides every day. Fluorides can be prescribed for home use. They come in several forms — rinses, toothpastes and gels. The gels are either brushed on or applied using a tray. Pregnant women, people with health conditions such as diabetes, and people with braces also need special daily oral health care.

Step 3: Use fluoride products.
Everyone can benefit from fluoride, not just children. Fluoride strengthens developing teeth in children. It also helps prevent decay in adults and children. Toothpastes and mouthwashes are good sources of fluoride. Your dentist can prescribe a stronger concentration of fluoride in a gel, toothpaste or rinse if you need it.

Step 4: Brush and floss to remove plaque.
Everyone should brush at least twice a day. It’s even better to brush three times a day or after every meal. In addition, you should floss at least once a day. These activities remove plaque, which is a complex mass of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. If plaque isn’t removed every day, it can turn the sugars found in most foods and drinks into acids that lead to decay. Bacteria in plaque also cause gingivitis and other periodontal diseases. It’s important to brush and floss correctly and thoroughly. You need to remove plaque from all sides of the tooth and where the tooth meets the gums. If plaque is not removed, it can lead to gum problems and cavities.

Step 5: Limit snacks, particularly those high in simple sugars, and eat a balanced diet.
Every time you eat, bits of food become lodged in and around your teeth. This food provides fuel for the bacteria in plaque. The bacteria produce acid. Each time you eat food containing sugars or starches (complex sugars), your teeth are exposed to these acids for 20 minutes or more. This occurs more often if you eat snacks and the food stays on your teeth for a while. These repeated acid attacks can break down the enamelsurface of your teeth, leading to a cavity. If you must snack, brush your teeth or chew sugarless gum afterward.

A balanced diet is also important. Not getting enough minerals and vitamins can affect your oral health, as well as your general health.

Step 6: If you use tobacco in any form, quit.
Smoking or using smokeless tobacco increases your risk of oral cancer, gingivitis,periodontitis and tooth decay. Using tobacco also contributes to bad breath and stains on your teeth.

Step 7: Examine your mouth regularly.
Even if you visit your dentist regularly, you are in the best position to notice changes in your mouth. Your dentist and dental hygienist see you only a few times a year, but you can examine your mouth weekly to look for changes that might be of concern. Changes in your mouth that you should look for include:

  • Swollen gums
  • Chipped teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Sores or lesions on your gums, cheeks or tongue

A regular examination is particularly important for tobacco users, who are at increased risk of developing oral cancer. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, your dentist or dental hygienist can show you where a sore, spot, patch or lump is most likely to appear.

Step 8: Visit the dental office regularly.
Talk to your dentist about how often you should visit. If you have a history of cavities or crown and bridge work, or are wearing braces, you should visit the dentist more often. Some people, such as diabetics or smokers, have more gum disease than the general population. They also should visit the dentist more often. People with suppressed immune systems also are more likely to have dental problems. Examples include people who are infected with HIV or are receiving cancer treatment. More frequent visits for these groups are important to maintain good oral health.

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

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Good Oral Hygiene

What is Good Oral Hygiene?
Good oral hygiene results in a mouth that looks and smells healthy. This means:

  • Your teeth are clean and free of debris
  • Gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when you brush or floss
  • Bad breath is not a constant problem

If your gums do hurt or bleed while brushing or flossing, or you are experiencing persistent bad breath, see your dentist. Any of these conditions may indicate a problem.

Your dentist or hygienist can help you learn good oral hygiene techniques and can help point out areas of your mouth that may require extra attention during brushing and flossing.

How is Good Oral Hygiene Practiced?
Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being.

Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop and is much less painful, expensive, and worrisome than treating conditions that have been allowed to progress.

In between regular visits to the dentist, there are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. These include:

  • Brushing thoroughly twice a day and flossing daily
  • Eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks between meals
  • Using dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste
  • Rinsing with a fluoride mouthrinse if your dentist tells you to
  • Making sure that your children under 12 drink fluoridated water or take a fluoride supplement if they live in a non-fluoridated area.
Proper Brushing Technique
brush1 brush2 brush3
Tilt the brush at a 45° angle against the gumline and sweep or roll the brush away from the gumline. Gently brush the outside, inside and chewing surface of eachtooth using short back-and-forth strokes. Gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.
Proper Flossing Technique
floss1 floss2 floss3
Use about 18″ of floss, leaving an inch or two to work with. Gently follow the curves of your teeth. Be sure to clean beneath the gumline, but avoid snapping the floss on the gums.

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

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Root Canal – Start to Finish

DeepInfection

1.  A Deep Infection

Root canal treatment is needed when an injury or a large cavity damages the tooth’s root. The root becomes infected or inflamed.

Route2Root
2.  A Route to the Root
The dentist numbs the tooth. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth to the pulp chamber.
Inflamed
3.  Removing the Infected/Inflamed Tissue

Special files are used to clean the infection and unhealthy pulp out of the canals. Then they shape the canals for the filling material. Irrigation is used to help clean the canals and remove debris.

Filling
4.  Filling the Canals

The canals are filled with a permanent material. Typically this is done with a material known as gutta-percha. This helps to keep the canals free of infection or contamination.

Rebuilding
5.  Rebuilding the Tooth

A temporary filling material is placed on top of the gutta-percha to seal the opening. The filling remains until the tooth receives a permanent filling or a crown. A crown, sometimes called a cap, looks like a natural tooth. It is placed over the top of the tooth.

ExtraSupport
6.  Extra Support

In some cases, a post is placed into the root next to the gutta-percha. This gives the crown more support.

Crown
7.  The Crowning Touch

The crown is cemented into place.

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

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Mouth Guards and Maintenance

Once you have had your mouth guard adjusted to fit your teeth you must learn to properly maintain your mouth guard. A mouth guard should only be worn during sport practices and games. Do not chew on the mouth guard because you could weaken the effectiveness of the plastic or laminated material.

Your dentist should make sure that your mouth guard does not have sharp edges

because it could irritate or damage the gum tissue or cheeks. After wearing your mouth guard, check it for damage. If your mouth guard is damaged, replace it so it doesn?t irritate the gum tissue. Your mouth guard will last longer if you properly care for it.

After wearing your mouth guard, you should clean it with cool water and use your toothbrush and toothpaste to eliminate bacteria that may develop during usage. Rinse your mouth guard and place it in a container to keep it until the next practice or game at room temperature.

Be sure to visit your dental professional for regular dental appointments and to discuss any concerns or questions you have regarding mouth guard usage in sports.

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