September 18, 2018 · 0 comments

Tartar buildup is a common dental health problem in which dental plaque stays on your teeth and hardens into tartar, also known as calculus.

Tartar usually forms below and above the gum line, leading to receding gums and gum disease and needing to be removed with special tools at the dentist’s office. However, what causes tartar buildup and how can you prevent it?

Accumulation of Dental Plaque

The first thing that leads to tartar buildup in your mouth is the accumulation of dental plaque. Once mixed with proteins and food byproducts, the natural bacteria that grows in your mouth forms a sticky yellowish film known as dental plaque. Dental plaque covers your teeth and gets under your gum line, and it can stick to fillings or other dental work.

Tartar Formation

For people with good dental hygiene, plaque is easily removed with a daily brushing and flossing routine. However, when plaque stays on your teeth, it hardens and forms tartar. Tartar is easily recognizable as a yellow or brown colored deposit that covers the gum line. Since it bonds to the tooth enamel, it can only be removed by a dental professional.

High Sugar Intake = Higher Chance of Tartar

Eating foods high in sugar and starches such as cakes, sweets, milk, soft drinks and even fruit can cause an increase in plaque bacteria that evolves into tartar. However, people with braces, crowded teeth or dry mouth, as well as smoking and aging are at a higher risk of developing tartar buildup.


As with most dental conditions, staying on top of your dental health is the best way to prevent tartar buildup. Other ways to avoid tartar buildup include:

  • Brushing and using mouthwash twice a day
  • Regular, daily flossing
  • Regularly scheduled visits to your dentist every 6 months for oral exams and cleaning
  • Using anti-plaque fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Using a quality electric toothbrush (has been shown to diminish the effects of calculus development

Sneaky Plaque Buildup: Beware!

Plaque usually has a pale yellow color, however it can also be colorless and difficult to see, which is why it’s recommended to get a dentist check-up twice a year: Using dental mirrors to spot plaque in hard to see places, your hygienist or dentist will be able to remove it with a dental scaler.

If you start seeing any signs of tartar buildup, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor. The sooner you take care of the problem and start removing it, the easier it will be for you to avoid unpleasant consequences such as receding gums, gingivitis, bad breath and even periodontal disease and tooth loss.


There are many reasons a tooth can be broken or cracked, stemming from accidents to common daily activities. When this happens, chipped tooth bonding is one of the leading types of treatments dentists choose to fix the problem.

Bonding consists of a process in which the dentist applies a tooth-colored composite resin over the dental damage in order to seal the chipped or broken tooth. The composite used to bond the teeth can also be made out of porcelain, which is known as a veneer. A veneer is actually the strongest of both options. Both of these cosmetic solutions can also serve as a solution for people with discolored teeth who want them to appear shinier and healthier.

Dental bonding is a relatively painless technique that doesn’t usually require anesthesia. For this procedure, the dentist first roughens the surface of the teeth that are going to be treated. A conditioning solution is then applied to help the bonding material stick to the tooth. Afterwards, the bonding material is applied to the teeth and shaped to fit, while an ultraviolet light or laser is used to harden it into place.


Taking Care Of Your Chipped Tooth Bonding

Take care of your chipped tooth bonding by avoiding dark colored foods or drinks, since it can stain the composite.  Hard candy, ice cubes and biting pens or your nails should also be avoided as they can all crack the material.

Since composite resin is not nearly as strong as your the natural enamel of your teeth, imperfect bites or grinding your teeth when you sleep can also shorten the life of the bond.

If you brush your teeth twice a day and schedule regular cleanings and check-ups with your dentist, a composite bonding can remain intact for up to ten years, allowing you to have a beautiful, healthy smile.




If you happen to be suffering from receding gums, you may be wondering: Can this condition be reversed? While gums can’t grow back on their own, in order to reverse gum recession you’ll need to visit your dentist or periodontist to talk about the number of treatments available for you.

Gums are meant to protect the teeth by securely connecting them to the bone. The edge of the gum tissue that surrounds your teeth is known as gingival margin, but when it pulls away from the teeth and leaves your roots exposed, space for bacteria to grow becomes available, leaving your teeth much more sensitive to decay, infections and tooth loss.

A common cause of gum recession can be improper tooth brushing techniques, such as brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard bristle toothbrush. Other causes include: smoking, poor fitting partial dentures, poor oral hygiene or even medical conditions such as diabetes.

Treating And Reversing Gum Recession

Depending on how advanced your gum recession is, there are a number of treatments that your dentists may recommend; and although you can’t reverse gum recession, it is possible to stop it from getting worse.

When visiting your dentist and identifying the cause, different kinds of treatments can be suggested, all of them based directly on what the root of the problem was: For instance, if the cause of your gum recession is due to hard brushing or poor oral hygiene, changing your brushing and flossing behaviors will make a great difference.

It’s important to use a soft bristle brush to prevent your gums from getting hurt. This, combined with a daily mouth rinse to fight plaque and regular flossing, can help you prevent gum recession from advancing.

If there’s a considerable amount of gum recession already taking place, you may be in need of occasional deep cleaning treatments such as scaling and root planing, a procedure in which your dentist will clean tartar and plaque from the surface of your teeth and their roots. In more extreme cases, a gum graft procedure may be necessary. This type of procedure involves taking tissue from the roof of your mouth and transferring it to the gums.

Also, if the cause behind your receding gums is a misaligned bite or crooked teeth, correcting said issues can make a great difference.

Wherever it comes from, receding gums is not something to be ashamed of nor should it be left alone. If you’ve noticed that your teeth look longer or that your teeth feel more sensitive than usual, consider visiting your dentist in order to determine the cause of the problem and start treating it as soon as possible.,Although it’s not possible to reverse gum disease, it’s up to you to stop it from advancing and turning into a more serious problem.



Cavities, also known as tooth decay, are one of the main reasons people visit dentists every year, and although the myth says this is a problem that only affects children who eat too much candy, the truth is cavities can be an issue at any stage of life.

Destruction of Tooth Enamel

Cavities are one of the main causes of the destruction of your tooth enamel, the hard, outer layer of your teeth. Cavities can transform from small openings in a tooth into large holes over time.. Cavities can be caused by pieces of food stuck between your teeth and accumulation of plaque, the sticky film comprised of bacteria that forms on your teeth.

Whenever you drink or eat something sugary like fruit, raisins or even milk, the bacteria in plaque produces acid that attack your tooth enamel. Over time and when not addressed properly, the plaque can keep this acid in contact with your teeth long enough so the enamel breaks down, causing a cavity to form as a little hole in your tooth.

How To Tell If You Have a Cavity

But how can I tell if I have a cavity? Symptoms such as toothache or constant bad breath (halitosis) may indicate something significant is wrong. Be aware of these symptoms, and visit your dentist as soon as possible if they develop:

  • Toothache: Any type of pain or swelling in your mouth is a warning sign and enough of a reason to visit your dentist. Cavities can be very painful and become infections when not treated properly.
  • Halitosis: Cavities are a place for bacteria to hide in your mouth and can contribute to bad breath or halitosis.
  • Sensitive teeth: If your teeth hurt whenever they’re in contact with hot or cold beverages, it may be due to cavities and/or tooth decay.
  • Visible holes or splits in your teeth
  • Pain or discomfort when eating and biting

Don’t Leave Cavities Untreated

When left untreated, cavities can result in a series of problems such as pain that worsens over time, tooth abscess, chewing problems, and even the loss of affected teeth. In more extreme cases, cavities may even lead to more serious or life-threatening infections.

Anyone can experience cavities at any point in their lives. In order to prevent cavities, a good dental hygiene routine is a must: Brushing your teeth after every meal with a fluoride toothpaste and regularly visiting your dentist are just a few of the very simple steps you can take in order to prevent tooth decay.




pregnant woman with her friend with child relaxingA recent scientific study was prompted by anecdotal reports that bisphenol A (BPA) might be a cause of a condition that causes problems with the enamel on first molars and permanent incisors. This relatively recently identified problem, officially known as molar incisor hypomineralization (MIH), causes the teeth to be oversensitive and more prone to decay. This condition, which is not reversible, is now showing up in about 18 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 8.

We know what happens with rats…

The recently released French study, published in the American Journal of Pathology, involved rats being exposed to low doses of BPA daily – from the time of their conception until day 30 or 100 after their birth. By day 30, the rats were showing signs of hypomineralization on their teeth. So it was during the early developmental stages of the rats that the BPA was causing damage to their teeth.

What does it mean for humans?

Similar studies have not been conducted with humans. However, the hypomineralization observed on the rats’ teeth shares many characteristics of the MIH observed in humans. As with the rats, we know that the effect on human teeth is showing up after the early childhood development stage. We know that BPA has been detected in significant amounts in human amniotic fluid, placentas, blood, and urine. And we also have studies that show that one of the most common human exposures to BPA is through food. The inner lining of most metal containers contains BPA. Even baby food in glass jars contains BPA, which is attributed to the liner in the metal lids.

What does the FDA say?

In July 2012, the FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups in order to address growing public concern about possible health implications of this estrogen-like industrial chemical.  The FDA approved the use of BPA in the 1960’s, and it has been widely used in making hard plastic bottles and to line food and drink cans since that time. The FDA again declared the use of BPA to be safe in 2008, but in April 2010 opened up the issue for public comment and further evaluation.  (Europe banned the manufacture and sale of baby bottles with BPA in January 2011, and France will ban its use in all food containers after July 2015.)

What can you do as a pregnant mom or parent of a young child?

Pay attention to what you and your young children are eating. Take special advantage of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables available to you this summer!  Limit the use and storage of products in containers that are made with BPA until we know the full story on BPA’s effects on human health. While not every plastic container marked with a recycling symbol of 7 contains BPA, that is one indicator that may help you to make a more informed decision. If you are the parent of a young child, make sure that you begin regular dental check-ups early to monitor and control signs of early decay that are associated with this problem (MIH) with young children’s tooth enamel.


If your tongue is sore, and there appears to be no good explanation (such as drinking something too hot or cutting it with something sharp), your dentist can be a good first line of defense in sorting out the cause. The cause can be triggered by dental issues or by other diseases (such as celiac disease or diabetes). Your sore tongue may simply get better with time – or it might be a sign of something very serious – like oral cancer.

Dental issues

Oral hygiene and the buildup of plaque can cause gum disease that can eventually result in a sore tongue. If you’ve not had a recent checkup, see your dentist as soon as you can. Problems with the teeth, fillings and gums need to be eliminated as a potential cause of your sore tongue. It can be a sign of advancing disease that could all-to-soon result in tooth loss. Your dentist can also perform a screening exam for oral cancer, which only takes a few minutes and is not painful. Discovering oral cancer early is very important!

Some people who unknowingly grind their teeth at night will develop a sore tongue. If this is the case with you, your dentist can likely spot other telltale signs – patterns of abnormal tooth wear – that indicate you are grinding your teeth. To help prevent abnormal tooth wear and tongue soreness, your dentist may recommend that you use a night guard for your teeth.

Help your dentist by providing other clues

A white tongue can be a symptom of various other conditions, such as a bacterial or fungal infection (thrush) that can cause tongue irritation and soreness. There’s a reason that your dentist’s office usually asks about changes to medications or your physical health with each regular visit. Significant changes to your health and treatment plans (such as diabetes, chemotherapy, or even a recent round of antibiotics) are potential causes for a sore tongue. There may be a relatively simple explanation. Your dentist can help you understand whether it’s something that is likely to resolve on its own or whether it is best to consult some other type of medical specialist.

If you have a sore tongue, it’s also helpful to tell your dentist about things as simple as changes in your dietary habits or dental hygiene. Certain type of vitamin deficiencies can result in a sore tongue. Also be prepared to report recent changes in products that you use for oral healthcare (toothpaste, mouthwash, whitening agents).

Don’t wait too long!

If your problem is exceptionally painful or persists for longer than two weeks, it’s time to take action and make sure that any serious issue receives appropriate attention. Contact your dentist to eliminate dental causes as the issue or to help you determine what type of medical professional to consult. Remember, with the availability of sedation dentistry, there’s no longer a good excuse for anyone to avoid having regular dental checkups!

If you have a broken tooth and you’re reading this trying to decide what to do, make calling your dentist to schedule an appointment a top priority. Don’t panic. But do call for an appointment whether you are experiencing pain or not. Provide as much information as you reasonably can about the cause and nature of the break. A few other tips to follow prior to your scheduled appointment are:

• If you are in pain, you can use an anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, etc.) that works well for you.
• Gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water; that may also provide some relief.
• Is there a sharp edge on the remaining portion of the tooth that is hurting your tongue, the inside of your tongue or your cheek? If so, try covering it with either wax or sugar-free gum until you can see your dentist. (Gum with sugar could promote decay.)
• If you have a regular dentist, ask for additional advice about interim care and pain management when you phone for an appointment. There might be more specific advice based on your dental history.
• Avoid chewing on the affected tooth if at all possible. There might be other cracks in the tooth that could cause another portion of the tooth to break and either cause or increase pain.
• Sticking to a soft food diet is best if you will be eating prior to your dental visit.
• Don’t expect your dentist to know what will need to be done to your tooth prior to your visit.

What are my broken tooth repair options?

It depends very much on the extent of the break, and even which tooth is broken. If you’ve broken a tooth before, don’t assume you’ll need the same treatment, even if the situations seem the same. Your dentist may need to do x-rays or perform tests to assess tooth sensitivity to determine the full extent of the damage and advise you of all available options for repairing your broken tooth.

Treatment for a broken tooth can range from a filling or bonding to other restorative options, such as a crown, assuming that the tooth is not broken beyond repair. If you have a small chip in a front tooth, a porcelain veneer may be an option. A dental implant, which provides function and appearance most like your own natural tooth, is an option your dentist may propose if your tooth cannot be salvaged. Your current oral health and the condition of surrounding teeth can greatly influence what your dentist’s recommendation will be. Cosmetic considerations may also influence your decision if multiple treatment options exist.

Again, it’s important not to assume anything based on your own evaluation of the broken tooth. Get to your dentist quickly. A broken tooth is a tooth susceptible to more extensive damage. Don’t wait until you start to experience pain. You could lose a broken tooth that could have been easily salvaged with prompt action. Having assessed the situation, your dentist can provide advice on both immediate and longer term actions that can help you save a precious tooth!


Oral Cancer Screening Exam

December 19, 2012 · 0 comments

A few minutes that could save your life

The fact that you don’t hear much about oral cancer could be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s not that uncommon – the National Cancer Institute predicts more than 40,000 people will be diagnosed with it in 2012, and that close to 8,000  will die from it. Knowing the facts about it may help you understand why those few extra minutes spent by your dentist doing an oral cancer exam is well worth it.

  • Oral cancer can affect your mouth tissue, tongue, cheeks or throat. That’s why a good oral cancer exam involves checking all of those areas.
  • Men and people over 40 are more likely to develop oral cancer.
  • Oral cancer has a relatively poor survival rate, mostly because it’s not usually detected until it’s progressed to later stages. (Like all cancers, early detection is important. More than 80% survive if oral cancer is caught early.)
  • Three known influences on oral cancer risk are tobacco use, alcohol use, and HPV-16 (human papillomavirus) – the same virus associated with cervical cancer risk.

Dentists are you best first line of defense against oral cancer, not only because of the screening exam, but if you should develop one of the symptoms. They are more familiar with the appearance of your mouth tissues than a regular physician might be, and have the equipment that will aid in a more thorough examination. If you have one of the indicators below, contact your dentist. These are some symptoms of oral cancer:

  • A mouth sore that doesn’t heal up within 2 weeks
  • A lump in your cheek
  • A white, red, or red/white patch on your tongue or anywhere else in your mouth
  • Numbness in the mouth or chin
  • Loose teeth
  • Chronic hoarseness
  • Trouble with chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty moving your tongue or jaw

These signs don’t mean you have oral cancer, but they do warrant being checked out as a precautionary measure. If you’ve not had an oral cancer screening exam before, you may find it a bit strange the first time. But it’s a few minutes of time that can literally be lifesaving!


Protect Your Baby’s Health Before and After You Become Pregnant!

pregnant woman with her friend with child relaxingIf you’re trying to get pregnant, one very smart thing to do is to make sure your gums are healthy. A recent study showed that, on average, women with gum disease took two months longer to conceive. By making sure that your teeth are clean and free from plaque before you become pregnant, you are more likely to bypass some of the oral health complications associated with pregnancy. Studies show that women with gum disease are more prone to having premature deliveries – at least three times more likely!

Early Pregnancy Concerns

As early as the second month of pregnancy, many women will start to notice changes in their gum tissue. The tissue may become red, and bleeding may occur when you are brushing your teeth. This condition is known as pregnancy gingivitis. It is believed that pregnancy-related rises in hormone levels contribute to the growth of the kind of bacteria that causes gingivitis. You may experience this as early as the second month of pregnancy. Consult with your dentist immediately to learn what you can do to keep your gums healthy. If the gingivitis worsens, it may become more serious gum disease – periodontitis. Periodontitis seems to have a close association with premature delivery.

Dry mouth (xerostomia) and its converse – excessive salivation – are two other conditions that can be triggered by pregnancy. Those experiencing excessive salivation will generally see the problem go away by the end of the first trimester. Drinking plenty of water and chewing sugarless gum are easy ways to address the dry mouth issue.

Second Trimester Vigilance Needed

The increased risk of pregnancy gingivitis continues through the second trimester and into the third. Another condition, sometimes called pregnancy tumors, more typically will begin during the second trimester. They are officially called pyogenic granulomas (not tumors), and they are non-cancerous growths on the gums. They can bleed easily, and they do warrant removal if they cause too much discomfort. However, even those that are removed often come back during the pregnancy. Time is the best cure – they usually go away on their own after the baby is born. As with pregnancy gingivitis, the best defense for these granulomas is being attentive to oral hygiene.

If you are beginning to develop pregnancy gingivitis, the best time to address the issue is during your second trimester. It’s a great precaution to go ahead and schedule a dental appointment for your second trimester as soon as you know you’re pregnant. That way, you and your dentist can work together to avoid more serious problems. See your dentist if you have an unusual growth on your gums; it’s best to let a dentist determine what the growth actually is.

Entering the Third Trimester

If you’re experiencing any gum inflammation in the third trimester, see your dentist as soon as possible and get the recommended treatment. Do not leave any type of dental problem, such as a broken tooth, untreated just because you’re in your third trimester. Let your dentist be the judge of whether and how to treat it most effectively for your health and that of your soon-to-be-born baby. It may be possible to perform some type of intermediate treatment and postpone the final treatment until after the baby is born.

It is true, in general, that x-rays should be avoided during pregnancy. However, if your dentist recommends them in order to assess or address a serious dental concern, follow that advice. Digital x-ray machines significantly reduce your radiation exposure. Check with your dentist about the type of equipment being used. Remember, a lead apron will be used to shield your baby. Because of your pregnancy, your dentist will try to minimize the number of x-rays taken.

Summing It Up

Be proactive about your oral health if you’re trying to get pregnant and during every trimester after you do become pregnant. Keep your teeth clean, and try to avoid frequent snacking on sweets that encourage bacterial growth. That is a great way to do all you can to avoid the oral health problems that are associated with pregnancy. A little bit of extra attention to oral hygiene can go a long way in preventing a premature delivery or a low birth weight baby. Talk to your dentist about your current oral hygiene practice and what positive changes you can make for the health of your baby.


Most people are aware of the pitfalls of drinking sugary soft drinks when it comes to tooth decay. The science behind that is that bacteria in the mouth love to feed on the sugar and convert it to acid which attacks tooth enamel and eventually leads to tooth decay. But the issue is far greater than sugar! Other ingredients – besides sugar – really matter, too.

Soft drinks – What else is in them?

This month (September), the New York City Board of Health banned the serving of sodas larger than 16 oz. in restaurants because of their contribution to obesity. Perhaps that move will have a positive effect on oral health, too. When it comes to oral health, it’s not just the sugar that’s the culprit. Many soft drinks contain either citric acid or phosphoric acid to add flavor to them. So drinking diet sodas won’t get you off the hook for exposing your teeth to enamel-eroding acid. Remember, it’s the acid that results from the sugar – not the sugar itself – that causes the problem. Both the amount and frequency of soda consumption has a bearing on the health of your tooth enamel.

Should you drink sports drinks instead?

Runners and other athletes have long turned to sports drinks as a healthier-than-soda alternative. Sports drinks have become trendy among all teens, regardless of their level of participation in sports. However, teens and their parents should be aware of a study published earlier this year (May/June 2012 issue of General Dentistry – journal of the Academy of General Dentistry). The study implicated sports drinks, as well as energy drinks, for giving teeth a very unhealthy acid bath. The acid levels vary from drink to drink, and even by flavor of drink, although energy drinks generally contain more acid than sports drinks.

According to this recent study, consuming sports or energy drinks for just five days can cause noticeable erosion of tooth enamel! If you do drink sports or energy drinks, try to rinse your mouth with water immediately afterwards to rid your mouth of the acid.

So water is the best option?

In general, yes, water is a great option not only for staying hydrated, but also for helping to preserve your oral health. However, one thing to consider when it comes to water is what might NOT be in the water. With the growing tendency to drink bottled water instead of tap water, some people may miss out on the enamel-strengthening fluoride that is present in most city and community water supplies. Most toothpastes do contain fluoride, however, so it may not be an issue. It’s certainly something to discuss with your dentist if a teen (or an adult) seems especially prone to tooth decay.