In the past, metal fillings were the only option for dentists who needed to repair teeth damaged by decay. Amalgam materials were cheap, durable, and easy to use. While metal fillings restored tooth structure, they were not without drawbacks. Over time, these restorations could darken, taking away from a bright, white smile. Additionally, amalgam fillings can change shape and leak, creating other dental health issues.
At this point, most dentists use composite fillings. Not only do tooth-colored fillings produce attractive results, but they also strengthen remaining tooth structure. Because the composite materials actually bond to the tooth, they won’t crack or shift like amalgams. Composite fillings also require less removal of healthy tooth tissue, which allows your dentist to perform a more conservative repair.
Part of the issue with amalgam fillings comes from the mercury found in metal restorations. Exposure to mercury can result in memory problems, tremors, mood swings, and headaches as well as brain and kidney damage. Concerns occur because the metal fillings can allow mercury to leach into your mouth and increase your risk of side effects. In some cases, amalgam filling materials contain up to 50 percent mercury.
If you are worried about the health risks associated with metal fillings, talk with your dentist. To ensure your safety, your doctor can check your older restorations and make sure they are in good condition. Some patients decide to replace any metal fillings with composite restorations as a precaution. Fillings that have started leaking should definitely be removed.
Earlier this year, a study was released that suggested that metal tongue piercings create a greater risk of infection than plastic studs. Researchers in Europe interviewed 80 participants who ranged in age from 16 to 36 years old and included both men and women. They found that stainless steel posts and titanium studs generated more bacteria than the plastic options when the piercings were examined. In fact, scientists found traces of the Staphylococcus aureus and Haemophilus influenza bacteria, which can cause whole body illness.
This research underscores the risks associated with mouth piercing. Though many people consider it an expression of individuality, it can come with very real concerns, such as:
Chipped or broken teeth
A common problem, cracked and fractured teeth must be repaired with a filling or crown. Over time, repeated damage can weaken the effected teeth.
Because your tongue contains several blood vessels, you could end up in the hospital if one of those vessels is perforated during the piercing.
Need for orthodontic treatment
Depending on what you select, the piercing can actually change the position of your teeth. Crooked teeth will then require orthodontic intervention to correct the misalignment.
Risk of disease
As previously mentioned, a piercing in your mouth can introduce an infection, which could spread to the rest of your body and make you very sick. Improperly sterilized instruments could also expose you to serious health issues like hepatitis and HIV.
If the piercing hits the wrong spot, you could sustain never damage that may cause lasting problems.
If missing teeth have compromised your smile and oral health, dentures can help. Unfortunately, many people have misconceptions about dentures so they live with incomplete smiles. Separating the reality from common myths can help you make the best decision for your dental health.
Myth: Dentures will last forever Fact: Though your prosthetic teeth are designed to withstand normal wear, they can get damaged if they are dropped, left to dry out, or placed in hot water. With time, dentures can change in appearance or function.
Myth: People can tell when you wear dentures, which is embarrassing Fact: Usually, the signs of dentures, like slippage, odors, or stains, occur because of poor maintenance. Cleaning your prosthetic and storing it as recommended will help your dentures function properly.
Myth: With dentures, you can’t eat or speak normally Fact: Although you can’t eat everything you want, most denture wearers can eat a healthy, balanced diet. If you experience persistent speech or eating problems, contact your dentist.
Myth: I can fix the dentures myself Fact: You might be handy with cars or electronics, but don’t attempt to adjust your dentures because you can cause damage and possibly ruin your dental appliance.
Myth: You don’t have to visit the dentist if you have dentures Fact: Not only does your mouth still need attention, but your dentures require care too. When you visit the dentist, your doctor will check your mouth for signs of oral cancer and other conditions that can show symptoms in the mouth, such as diabetes. Your dentist will also examine your dentures to make sure nothing is loose and that the prosthetic is in good shape.
Visit our Family and Cosmetic Dental practice in Napa, CA. – Rolinda Harsany DDS
Though your dentist often reminds you about the need to brush in the morning and at night, most people may not understand the significance. Brushing twice a day is an important part of maintaining good oral health. Consider these reasons to keep up your brushing habits:
• Fluoride Protection
One of the best ways to prevent cavities is fluoride. When you brush before bed, you apply a layer of fluoride on your teeth, which is the first line of defense while you sleep. In the morning, brushing right away helps strengthen that protection.
• Removal of Bacteria
Your mouth contains harmful bacteria that produce plaque and weaken enamel. If you only brush once a day, these bacteria have 24 hours to wreak havoc on your teeth and gums, but twice-daily brushing cuts that time in half.
• Prevention of Tartar Build Up
When plaque hardens, it becomes tartar. The only way to remove tartar once it forms is with a professional cleaning. By brushing twice a day, you can remove plaque before it can calcify and cause oral health problems like gum disease and tooth decay.
• Protection of Gums
Frequent brushing helps stimulate gums and keep them healthy. If you don’t take good care of your gums, you risk developing periodontal disease, a serious oral health condition that can result in bone degeneration, receding gums, and tooth loss.
• Keep Breath Fresh
Nobody wants bad breath. Brushing twice a day helps remove food particles and the bacteria that can cause halitosis. For optimal freshness, consider brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper.
Each year, approximately 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer. Because oral cancer is usually identified in the later stages, the survival rate often hovers near 20 percent. But with early detection, the survival rate increases to approximately 75 percent. Last year, actor Michael Douglas publicly detailed his fight against oral cancer.
To increase general knowledge in this country, the Oral Cancer Foundation has designated April as Oral Cancer Awareness Month. One important component of finding and treating oral cancer is regular screenings by your dentist. During your routine visit, your dentist will examine your mouth and look for anything suspicious. Some dental providers use special screening devices such as a VELscope or ViziLite.
Often, oral cancer starts out with mild symptoms so it may go undiagnosed. Common signs of oral cancer include a sore or lesion that won’t heal, continued hoarseness, prolonged sore throat, and difficulty swallowing. If you have any concerns, make sure to let your dentist know right away.
Certain factors can increase your risk of oral cancer, such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV). In general, more men than women develop oral cancer. Oral cancer tends to strike people over age 40, but the disease has started to appear more frequently in younger patients.
To lessen your risks of oral cancer, follow these tips:
• Contact your doctor immediately if you experience unusual symptoms
• Eat a healthy diet
• Limit alcohol intake
• Protect your face and lips from sun exposure
• Stop tobacco use
• Visit your dentist for routine checkups
As we age, our teeth naturally yellow and look darker. The foods we eat and lifestyle choices we make can also hasten this process. If you would love to enjoy a bright, vibrant smile, several different options exist to help you attain the desired results. Having a gorgeous set of pearly whites can boost confidence and improve self esteem, so why not make an investment in yourself?
With chairside whitening, your dentist can remove discolorations and brighten teeth up to 10 shades in one appointment. Products such as Zoom! Whitening or BriteSmile can make you look and feel years younger.
Professional Take-Home Kits
Some individuals prefer to whiten on their own timetables or to control the level of brightness. At-home whitening produces stunning results in just 10 to 14 days. Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and send these molds off to a lab for creation of your custom trays. Simply apply the professional-strength gel as directed by your dentist, and wear the trays for the specified time period.
These days, you can find rows of whitening products at your local grocer or drug store. Although these options are much cheaper than professional whitening through your dentist, over-the-counter whitening agents may not work as well and they can cause sensitivity or damage to teeth or gums if not used properly. It’s best to whiten your teeth under the guidance of your dentist.
You should always be careful about what you try at home, but these simple tips can temporarily give your smile a little pizzazz:
• Use a toothpaste with baking soda, which lightens stains
• Eat crunchy foods like carrots, apples, and celery to naturally remove surface stains
• Choose clothes with dark colors to help bring out the white in your smile