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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.

Fluorosis

What Is It?

Your permanent teeth form under your gums in the jawbone during early childhood. Except for your wisdom teeth, the crowns (the part you see in the mouth) of all of the permanent teeth fully form by the time you are about 8 years old. If you consume too much fluoride as a young child, the extra fluoride can disrupt the formation of the enamel (outer part) of your permanent teeth and lead to fluorosis, which varies from minor discoloration to surface irregularities of the teeth. The extra fluoride does not affect other parts of the tooth. Once your teeth have erupted into your mouth, they are not susceptible to fluorosis.

Fluorosis is a cosmetic condition, not a disease. Often, it is so mild that only a dental professional can detect it. Most cases of fluorosis result from young children taking fluoride supplements or swallowing fluoride toothpaste when the water they drink is already fluoridated.

Symptoms

Teeth affected by mild fluorosis may show no visible changes or changes visible only to a dental professional. Mild to moderate fluorosis is characterized by white lines, streaks or spots. In more severe fluorosis, the teeth can become pitted and have brown, gray or black spots, and the enamel can be misshapen.

Diagnosis

Your dentist and dental hygienist will ask if your child received fluoride supplements, used fluoride toothpaste or drank fluoridated water in previous years. They also will ask about past and present medical conditions or disabilities that may affect your child’s teeth. Your dentist will examine your child’s teeth and gums and take X-rays to make sure there are no other defects in the teeth.

Other conditions may look like fluorosis. Developmental defects and craniofacial problems can cause disruptions in the enamel or dentin of the teeth. In addition, infants or young children who have high fevers or experience trauma (such as a fall that injures a tooth) may have discolored teeth. Young children can get cavities in their primary teeth, so any tooth discoloration should be checked at the dental office.

Expected Duration

The spots and stains left by fluorosis are permanent and may darken over time.

Prevention

If you have a child under 6, put only a small smear or pea-sized amount of toothpaste on his or her toothbrush and encourage him or her to spit rather than swallow after brushing. Avoid toothpastes with flavors that may encourage swallowing. Keep all fluoride-containing products (toothpastes, mouthwashes, etc.) out of the reach of young children.

The addition of fluoride to drinking water is one of the great preventive disease programs of the 20th century. Children should take fluoride supplements only if the water they drink does not contain enough fluoride. If your child is taking fluoride supplements now, check the amount of fluoride in your water. If you are on a public water supply, call your supplier to ask about the fluoridation level. You can also have your dentist check a sample of your water. Then discuss with your dentist whether your child needs fluoride supplements.

Some foods and beverages contain fluoride. For example, many fruit juices and soft drinks contain fluoride at levels similar to fluoridated water. Some bottled waters now have added fluoride. Young children should drink limited amounts of these beverages.

Treatment

Many cases of fluorosis are minor enough not to need treatment or the fluorosis may occur only on the back teeth, where it can’t be seen. More serious cases and cases involving the front teeth can be treated by removing the surface-stained areas through tooth whitening or other procedures. Severe cases of fluorosis can be covered with restorations, such as bonding, crowns or veneers.

When To Call a Professional

If you notice white streaks or spots on your child’s teeth or notice that one or more teeth are discolored, contact your dental office.

Prognosis

Teeth affected by fluorosis are not diseased. Cosmetic concerns can be addressed with whitening to remove surface stains and veneers or other restorative procedures to cover the discoloration.

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

Regular Tooth Scaling May Protect the Heart

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Apr 19 – Older adults who get thorough dental cleanings may be somewhat less likely to suffer acute myocardial infarction (MI) or stroke than their peers who are less careful about oral hygiene, a new study hints.

The study, of nearly 22,000 Taiwanese adults age 50 and older, found that those who’d had a professional tooth scaling in the past year were less likely to have a cardiovascular event over the next seven years.

The findings, reported online April 5 in the American Journal of Medicine, do not prove that proper dental cleaning will cut a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. But the study is in line with past research that has linked periodontal disease to an increased risk of heart disease, said lead researcher Dr. Zu-Yin Chen, a cardiology fellow at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan.

Since periodontal disease is caused by bacterial infection, researchers suspect that it may contribute to MI or stroke by causing a chronic state of inflammation in blood vessels. And studies have shown that treating periodontal disease can cut the levels of inflammatory markers in blood. Still, no one knows for sure whether regular dental visits can prevent a future cardiovascular event.

For the study, Dr. Chen’s team looked at insurance records for 21,876 adults age 50 and older. Taiwan’s national healthcare program pays for tooth scaling, whether a person has severe periodontal disease or not. About half of the people in the study had had a tooth scaling in the past year, while the rest had not.

Over the next seven years, those who had tooth scaling had a lower incidence of acute MI (1.6% vs 2.2%; p<.001), stroke (8.9% vs 10%; p=.03) and total cardiovascular events (10% vs 11.6%; p<.001) compared with those that did not have tooth scaling.

After multivariate analysis, tooth scaling was independently associated with less risk of developing future acute MI (HR 0.69), stroke (HR 0.85) and total cardiovascular events (HR 0.84).

An increasing frequency of tooth scaling correlated with a higher risk reduction of acute myocardial infarction, stroke, and total cardiovascular events (p for trend <.001).

But the study also had a number of limitations. An important one, Dr. Chen said, was that they had no information on key risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as smoking, weight, diet and family history. It’s also impossible for the study to determine whether people who get regular dental cleanings might also have a healthier lifestyle in other ways.

For now, the researchers recommend good oral hygiene taking for the sake of your oral health — with the possibility of benefiting your heart health as well.

“Bad dental hygiene is detrimental to our health, so it’s very important to take care of your teeth,” said Dr. Chen, who presented some of his team’s results last November at the American Heart Association meeting.

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

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/IlKu8h

Smile Saver Quiz

Smile Saver

How much do you really know about gum disease?
Take our quiz and see.

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.