Sealants? Why not?!

smiling patientIf someone told you if you painted sealer on your home deck you could increase the deck life by 80%, would you do it? That’s basically the same mentality with dental sealants. Dental Sealants have been around for many years and quite honestly provide a service that is paramount to the longevity and avoidance of cavities.

What is a dental sealant?

First maybe we should explain the anatomy of the tooth. As you may have noticed when looking at your teeth in a mirror, you can see grooves throughout your tooth. These fissures or grooves allow for us to break down food more efficiently. Because these grooves and fissures are so profound, it is easy to get microscopic portions of food trapped in these grooves, and if not brushed out on a daily basis, the acid produced from carbohydrates sits in these grooves and eventually eats away at the enamel thus causing decay.

So, why a sealant?

sealantsHere’s why and what a sealant is and does: A sealant is a liquid clear plastic filling material similar to a composite (tooth colored filling). When cured with a high intensity UV light, the material hardens in the grooves. There are a couple basic steps that are involved when placing a sealant. The tooth must be cleaned with a pumice material, then washed off, and then an acid etch is placed for 20 seconds to assist with drying and cleaning the tooth even further and prepares for the bonding stage of the procedure. Bonding material is lightly placed on the tooth and then light cured. After curing, the sealant material is placed in the grooves and also light cured until hard. This thin layer of composite will help your teeth from getting decay. However, this doesn’t mean you will not brush your teeth anymore, because brushing is still preventive measure that needs be taken so sugars do not sit on the areas of your teeth the sealants do not cover. Keep in mind as well, sealants do not last forever! We’ve seen some sealants last up to 5 years but the real number is between 1-5 years given there is no preparation to the tooth to mechanically retain a sealant, other than the bonding process.

Honestly, everyone can benefit from sealants; they are not limited to children but adults also have sealants placed. If you have teeth that have never had any fillings, even as an adult it could be beneficial to have sealants. Any extra protection helps! Even though Sealants can last up to 5 years there is no guarantee with wear and tear over time how long sealants can effectively last, but even if they lasted just a couple of years, that is two years of effective protection and cavity fighting power!

Be clean before you get cleaned!

tooth and bacteriaDid you know that your toothbrush is a vessel for bacteria? And if it is not appropriately kept, you may be amassing an assortment of germs and bacteria and transferring these to your oral cavity when you brush your teeth? The ADA recently came out with a study along with the University of Alabama that has shown and proven the importance of proper storage of your toothbrush and the effects of bacteria that grow on your toothbrush.

It has been said for years to make sure you always store your toothbrush 8 feet away from your toilet, because fecal fumes and bacteria can shower your toothbrush and expose you to intestinal bacteria, coliforms, yeasts and Staphylococci (Staph Infection). Yes, that’s right! According to Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, assistant professor of periodontology in the School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama Birmingham, “Appropriate storage and care of your toothbrush are important to achieving personal oral hygiene and optimally effective plaque removal. “

Our mouth has hundreds of varieties of microorganisms which are capable of transporting to your toothbrush when you are brushing your teeth. As we all know, mostly all of us store our toothbrushes in the bathroom, which can be considered the cleanest room in your home but can also expose your toothbrush and your oral cavity to a slurry of gastrointestinal microorganisms that can be transmitted by “fecal-oral” path. According to Dr. Geisinger “The number of microorganisms can vary wildly from undetectable to 1 million colony-forming units.” Proper care of your toothbrush is the essential to your health overall.

So the question remains, what is the correct way and method to store your toothbrush in order to avoid transference of these bacteria and microorganisms?

What should I do if I am sick? Should I continue to use the same toothbrush?

It has been recommended by the ADA to throw away your toothbrush and replace it after sickness. It’s not worth the risk; no one likes to be sick let alone repeatedly sick! Toss it!

strong>When should I replace my toothbrush?

We recommend you replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Not only do your toothbrush bristles breakdown over time and become less effective, they can also accumulate harmful bacteria that can not only affect you but if stored close to another toothbrush can cross contaminate another toothbrush as well.

We recommend the following to not only procure your oral health but to also offset any accumulation of bacteria in your mouth.

  1. Wash your hands (thoroughly and often)
  2. Regular Cleanings. Don’t miss your routine dental cleaning, exam and x-rays. Make sure to pre-appoint for your 6, 4 or 3 month cleaning so you won’t ever miss a cleaning. By committing to having your teeth cleaned regularly you can decrease the bacterial burden that accrues in your mouth in a very short extent of time. By having your teeth cleaned and examined we can not only catch cavities in their early stages, but we can also eradicate the bacteria that accumulate and are non-removable by just your toothbrush.
  3. Antimicrobial Mouth Rinse. Use Antimicrobial mouth rinse before you brush your teeth. This assists you in decreasing the bacterial burden in your mouth that you can obtain from your toothbrush (if not properly stored).
  4. Don’t share your toothbrush. Ever.
  5. Floss regularly. By flossing your teeth you are removing bacteria from between the teeth, where your toothbrush is incapable of reaching. We recommend you floss 2-3 times a day, but even once is better than nothing. Create a habit, start one time a day and make it part of your regular routine just like brushing your teeth!

Procuring your oral health is paramount! We only get one set of adult teeth, so take care and be wise with your decisions. Get your teeth cleaned regularly, brush and floss daily, wash your hands and use commons sense. Don’t share your toothbrush, ever! By all means store your toothbrush in a cool dry place, preferably upside down in a cup to air dry and make sure to clean out the cup daily. The location where you store your toothbrush, can also accumulate harmful bacteria, so take care and be smart but be consistent!

Dental Health and Children

Dental Health and Children

Children's dentalThere has always been debate about when to bring your kiddo into the dental office for their first dental appointment. Oral health and good dental habits start with that very first visit. The reason for this is because the first dental visit for any child is defining and memorable. Even if it is as simple as just counting teeth and sitting in the big dental chair, it’s a giant leap towards being comfortable with being at the dentist office. It’s understandable that most kids might feel weary of their first dental visit, but if you start them young the results are usually very positive. We recommend that parents bring their kids into the dentists between the ages of 2 and 3. By 2 they are already almost in full dentition and by 3 they possibility of getting cavities, are very high.

Is 2 years old too young? Why can’t I wait until they get their permanent teeth?

Actually it is not too young! The reason for this is because most kids have all their baby teeth by the age of 2. Baby teeth enamel is softer than that of adult enamel; which gives way to the higher risk of cavities and decay. And even though kids get a second set of teeth when their adult teeth erupt, ramped decay in baby teeth can affect the growth of the adult teeth and in some cases can cause decay in the adult tooth if the adult tooth is on the verge of erupting hence why you want to be proactive and bring your kids in when they have their baby teeth.

There are two main reasons why we ask parents to bring their kids into the dental office at this age.

  • Familiarity and Comfort: Studies have shown the younger the dental patient, the better the dental patient in the future. Even if it’s scary for them at first, children will have a greater appreciation for oral health and dental care.
  • Examination: Even if we are just counting teeth and there is no decay, an exam is vital to the longevity of the oral cavity. Sometimes we find decay and oral issues that might need to be addressed even in baby teeth. And, because children’s enamel is softer than adult enamel, children’s decay rates are triple of that of an adult.

What are the advantages of bringing children to the dentist at an early age?

Since most kids will not get their permanent adult teeth until around 6-12 years old, it is best to maintain what they do have. The advantage of seeing a dentist so young is to assist in the encouragement of good oral hygiene habits and regular checkups to maintain decay levels.

When you child begins to lose their teeth there are some key reinforcement points we like to have parents encourage.

1. Encourage and show your child how to floss their teeth and do this before bedtime
2. Limit the amount of sugary drinks and foods especially in between meals and nighttime.
3. Remind your child to brush their teeth while you monitor and help where needed. The most important part of this is process, developing a habit and making this a part of your child’s regular routine.
4. See the dentist regularly 1-2 times a year is sufficient. Because decay can grow very quickly with children, we encourage parents to bring their kids 2 x’s year for their examinations, x-rays (when old enough) and polishing/cleaning and fluoride.

By creating good habits at an early age, you are not only setting up your children for a life of good oral hygiene but also an understanding of the importance of bi-annual dental visits and oral health.

Dental Implants – The Future of Dentistry

Have you ever wondered what a Dental Implant is and what is its purpose? A Dental Implant is a long term alternative to a Dental Bridge. Dr. Yarbrough has been placing Dental Implants for over 10 years. He completed an Implantology Preceptorship at University of Texas San Antonio Health and Science and has worked with several different implant systems and procedures. The purpose of a Dental Implant is to replace a missing tooth, increase chewing power and aesthetically improve one’s smile. Depending on whether or not a patient is a candidate for a dental implant, implants are a great alternative to a dental bridge. With proper maintenance and regular examinations and cleaning, dental implants can have a success rate up to 97%.

What is a Dental Implant?

Implant placementA Dental Implant is a titanium fixture that is placed in the jaw bone to act and resemble the root of a tooth. After several months of Osseo Integration, the implant is used as an anchor to hold a fixed tooth- like restoration called a crown or cap.

Dental Implant vs. Dental Bridge

Over the years, Dental Implants have slowly replaced the placement of Dental Bridges. A dental bridge conceptually is the same as a Dental Implant because it is used to replace a missing tooth. The biggest difference is a dental bridge involves 2 other teeth and in most cases, teeth that do not have any issues, which means we have to drill on virgin teeth, teeth that do not necessarily have decay or need a restoration. The Dental Bridge, bridges the gap between the two anchor teeth and the missing tooth. Dental Bridges act as one unit. Disadvantages are: difficulty flossing, having to drill on virgin teeth and lower success rate as almost all Dental Bridges will need to be replaced at some point. The advantage of a dental bridge vs. a Dental Implant is cost, most insurances will cover part of the cost of a dental bridge where as they will more than likely not any of the cost of a Dental Implant.

Implant CrownA Dental Implant achieves the same thing a dental bridge does; it replaces the missing tooth, increases chewing power, and helps maintain opposing teeth’s health and position. The difference between the dental bridge and Dental Implant is the Dental Implant only replaces the missing tooth, there is no drilling on virgin teeth, the success rate is up to 97%, and the procedure is simple and less invasive. The disadvantages to a Dental Implant is cost and it is a less than immediate solution as an implant has to Osseo Integration and heal before it is loaded with the dental restoration (crown). Most insurances do NOT cover the cost of a Dental Implant, however most will cover the cost of the restoration or crown.

How do I choose?

When making a decision about a Dental Implant vs. Dental Bridge consider: longevity vs. short term. It is more than likely you will have to have your dental bridge replaced at some point, which will increase your cost significantly down the road. Whereas Dental Implants rarely have to be replaced, they have a higher success rate and are affixed in the jaw bone, you can floss an implant as if it were a regular tooth, if in fact it does fail, you only replace one tooth as opposed to 3 on a Dental Bridge. When a dental bridge fails you have to replace the entire bridge so from a cost perspective, a Dental Implant is your best solution long term.

Success/Failure Rate

• Dental Implants have a success rate of up to 97%
• Dental Bridges will all fail at some point and will need to be replaced

Home Care and Maintenance

Dental Implants require very little maintenance but to increase your success rate there are things you can do to help maintain the life of an implant.
• Good Home Care (brushing, flossing daily)
• Regular Dental Examinations and Cleanings
• No Smoking

Will I hurt after my Implant is placed?

When a Dental Implant is placed there is a window of healing time that needs to take place in order to ensure the success of your Dental Implant. 4-6 months is appropriate healing time for almost all Dental Implants as it needs to Osseo Integrate (integrate into the jaw bone). Post-operative pain is very minimal; most individuals do not feel any pain after Dental Implant placement.

Does my dental insurance cover dental implants?

Most dental insurances do not cover Dental Implants, however most insurances will partially cover the crown or restoration that is placed on the Dental Implant.

What else are Dental Implants used for?

Not only can a Dental Implant replace missing teeth it can also be used to anchor removable dentures. Basically what this means is a number of Dental Implants are placed in the jaw bone acting as anchors; once they have healed or Osseo Integrated, snaps or buttons are embedded in the denture which then allow the denture to clip/snap into the Dental Implant fixtures. This gives individuals more chewing power with their dentures and also keeps the dentures in place.

All you want for Christmas is an electric toothbrush, right?

toothbrushElectric toothbrushes have been around in the US since the 1960’s. Over time we’ve seen the electric toothbrush evolve from not just an electric toothbrush but also to a sonic toothbrush. We know you hear us hammer on about the importance of brushing and caring for your teeth, and procuring your oral health as a result. And let’s face it, some tooth brushing is better than no tooth-brushing. What if I told you that brushing your teeth with ANY electric toothbrush is almost 100 times more effective than the traditional approach? Yes, it’s true, traditional/manual tooth-brushing allows for approximately only 300 strokes per minute. This might seem like a lot but in the scheme of things and in this day and age of technology, it’s not.

One of the most frequent questions our patients ask is:What toothbrush should I buy and how much should I spend?

Answer: spend what you can afford and honestly any electric toothbrush is better than the traditional approach. However, always make sure you are using a soft toothbrush head and even the cheap $10 Crest electric toothbrushes give you the option of a soft toothbrush head. It is best to avoid using a hard or firm toothbrush head as the results can be quite destructive to your soft tissues. Hard toothbrushes and improper brushing can wear the supporting tissues around the teeth and can over time expose the roots of the teeth which are irreversible and can turn into an unconformable situation.

What’s the difference between a Sonic toothbrush and an Electric toothbrush?

The difference all comes down to rotations per minute. For instance, an Electric toothbrush outputs between 3,000-7,500 rotations per minute whereas a sonic toothbrush outputs between 30,000-40,000 rotations per minutes! Sonic toothbrushes tend to be a little bit more expensive and some people do not like the sound of a sonic toothbrush even though they are the most effective. However, both types of toothbrushes are definitely more beneficial when it comes to preserving your oral health, gum tissues, teeth and removal of plaque and bacteria in the oral cavity.

Benefits of an electric/sonic toothbrush:

  • Most powered toothbrushes have 2 minute timers built in for optimal brushing
  • Long Term Results
  • More Efficient Brushing
  • Faster Brushing
  • Proficient Stain/Plaque Removal

History of the First Dentist

Ancient Egypt was influential in the pioneering of medical and dental fields into the world. Specifically, the Egyptians focused greatly on their overall health, and it was believed that their life expectancy was longer than in any other part of the world. However, erosion was still a common problem that lead to the development of many treatments for the several oral infections that bothered them. Because dental conditions can be deadly if left untouched, it was critical for Ancient Egyptians to create and improve dental practices.

Hesy-Re was the first known dentist and was instrumental in the advancement of the dental techniques we use today. During the third dynasty of Egypt, Hesy-Re was not only a royal physician to Pharaoh Djoser, but a government official and scribe. His greatest title was the ‘Chief of Physicians and Dentists,’ indicating that there was a degree of medical specialization during this early stage of history of Ancient Egypt.

In particular, Hesy-Re was known to practice dentistry on the peasant laborers working on the pyramids. When treating infections, Hesy-Re would drill holes directly into the teeth of his patients. This drilling directly contributed to advanced dental techniques, such as root canal therapy. But, this procedure would have been very painful because anesthesia was not yet designed.

Because of his influence in medical advancements and his relationship with the Pharaoh, Hesy-Re was given an especially ornate tomb. Hieroglyphics depicting various doctor postures and positions adorn the tomb, including detailed engravings of medical instruments.

Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Peridontal Disease

Progression of Periodontal Disease

November is Diabetes Awareness month, and no better time to talk about the importance of your oral health and how it relates to the rest of your body especially if you have Diabetes.

We all know that the importance of bi-annual cleanings and for individuals who have periodontal disease, 3-4 times a year. Your oral health is part of an entire systemic process and it can distress your overall health. Individuals with periodontal disease stand a slightly higher risk to heart disease and other infections that could affect your health as whole.

Individuals, who have Diabetes, stand a higher risk of infection and experience more difficulty fighting periodontal disease hence the need for cleanings 3-4 times a year. Individuals with Diabetes who do not have their blood sugar or glucose levels under control, can struggle fighting infections and typically have more bacteria and plaque than the average person. What this means is these individuals are at a higher risk of having oral health issues and fighting infections in general.

Periodontal disease is an oral disease that affects the gum, tooth and bone. Periodontal disease can increase an individual’s ability to fight bacteria that invades the oral cavity. For this very reason, patients with periodontal disease are seen more than twice a year to remove these colonies of bacteria that form in a smaller period of time. If periodontal disease goes untreated, these bacteria that corrode the gum and bone could eventually make its way to the heart, and possibly causing systemic issues and potential heart issues as well.

Undiagnosed Diabetes is a serious health situation as it can contribute to high blood pressure and is also related to high cholesterol which can hugely escalate the threat of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Individuals living with Diabetes can be at greater risk of elevated blood sugar levels resulting in infections from periodontal disease. It is recommended to get your blood sugar levels at least once a year at your annual physical.

A clean mouth is a healthy mouth and in most cases a clean mouth is a healthy body!