Dental Care Q&A

Interesting Dental Facts

Are cavities contagious?

Yes, in a way. The bacteria that causes cavities, mutans streptococcus, is transmissable from one person to another. This means that the saliva of someone with this bacteria can pass it along to someone else. Here are some of the ways this bacteria can be passed to babies and children:

  • Cleaning a pacifier with your mouth
  • Using your mouth to test the temperature of a baby’s bottle
  • Sharing utensils, straws or cups

Did people get cavities in prehistoric times?

According to experts, most likely not, because sugars and grains weren’t a common part of their diet.

How did ancient cultures clean their teeth?

Many cultures would chew on tree bark or sticks to clean their teeth and ancient Egyptians made a paste from ox hooves and ground eggshells to clean their teeth.

When did brushing teeth become common?

While people have been cleaning their teeth for centuries, daily teeth brushing didn’t become regular practice in America until after WWII. The first toothbrush was developed for mass production and distribution in 1938, but only after the war did America adopt the practice of daily brushing.

Can teeth repair themselves?

No, unlike our bones, muscle and skin, teeth are not able to self-repair which is why getting fillings and other dental work is necessary to protect teeth from further damage and maintain the integrity of your natural tooth.

How much saliva does an average person make?

Humans make between 2 and 4 pints of saliva per day and and around 53 bathtubs full in a lifetime. Saliva contains electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds, and enzymes that help digest food and mutans streptococcus bacteria (for those who have cavities)!

How hard is tooth enamel?

Tooth enamel is harder than steel. It is the hardest substance in your body, even harder than bone. Damage that occurs to the enamel is the result of a process that takes time. Decay slowly eats away at the enamel because it is so hard and can withstand so much. Untreated decay will eventually result in pain and possible tooth loss. The best way to prevent this is with regular dental check ups and cleanings. Make your appointment today at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel dental office!

Should Adults Get Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a safe and effective way to prevent cavities for kids but they can be beneficial for some adults, as well. If your molars that have a lot of pits and crevasses, these can make your molars more cavity-prone, as can bruxism (teeth grinding), which wears down tooth enamel. Dental sealants are a simple, safe aid to help protect your adult teeth from cavities in these situations.

What Are Dental Sealants?

A sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of molars, premolars and any deep grooves (also called pits and fissures or crevasses) of teeth. More than 75% of dental decay begins in these deep grooves. Teeth with these conditions are hard to clean and are very susceptible to decay. A sealant protects the tooth by sealing deep grooves, creating a smooth, easy to clean surface.

What Do Sealants Involve?

The first step is a dental checkup that includes x-rays and cleaning. Dentists want to be sure they are placing sealants on healthy teeth. If a tooth has a cavity, the sealant could trap the plaque, leading to more serious decay.

Having dental sealants applied to your teeth is a painless process. Sealants are easily applied by your dentist or dental hygienist and the process takes only a couple of minutes per tooth.

The teeth to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned and then surrounded with cotton to keep the area dry. A special solution is applied to the enamel surface to help the sealant bond to the teeth. The teeth are then rinsed and dried. Sealant material is carefully painted onto the enamel surface to cover the deep grooves or depressions. Depending on the type of sealant used, the material will either harden automatically or with a special curing light. Proper home care, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new sealants.

Please call to schedule your check-up and cleaning at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location so that we may evaluate whether you are a good candidate for adult dental sealants!

Should I Floss Before or After Brushing?

It might seem like a silly question but it’s one we get asked from time to time. You may think that it doesn’t really make any difference if you brush or floss first but it actually does, as concluded by a 2018 clinical study. Here’s why…

The material caught between your teeth, also called interdental plaque, can be removed somewhat by brushing. Flossing is the key to really remove everything lurking between your teeth, though.

However, if you brush first and then floss, that means the fluoride in your toothpaste is not getting into those interdental spaces that still contain plaque. The plaque is essentially blocking the fluoride from reaching between your teeth.

On the other hand, flossing first loosens the plaque and food particles hiding between teeth and thus, results in greater fluoride retention between your teeth. Allowing fluoride to reach the spaces between teeth means you are less likely to get a cavity in these tight spots.

We recommend you first swish with water, then floss and then brush using a proper technique and a soft toothbrush.

Taking good care of your teeth at home and making sure you have a preventive dental cleanings twice a year are the best insurance against developing painful and expensive dental problems.

Contact us today to make your dental cleaning appointment at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location.

Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?

Sensitive teeth can be caused by several different things. To figure out the possible reason for your discomfort, your dentist may ask you a variety of questions to rule things out:

  • Where are you feeling tooth sensitivity?
  • Is your sensitivity in one tooth or widespread?
  • How long have you experienced sensitivity?
  • How often do you brush and floss?
  • Do you chew ice?
  • Have you recently whitened your teeth?
  • When was your last dental visit?
  • Have you experienced impact or trauma to your teeth or jaw?

Your teeth are essentially alive. The enamel on your teeth protects the living dentin underneath. The dentin contains tubules that lead to nerves deeper in the tooth. Cracked or damaged enamel can damage the dentin, which can expose those tubules and lead to irritated nerves that cause sensitivity to hot and cold.

Another common cause of tooth sensitivity is gum inflammation that causes the gum to pull away from teeth ad expose those nerve tubules under the dentin. This is why your dentist looks for “pockets” in your gums at every check up. Addressing gum inflammation before it causes permanent damage is critical and one of many reasons why we recommend regular dental check-ups.

Common Causes of Sensitivity

Tooth Damage

If your tooth sensitivity is associated with just one tooth, there might be damage or decay. This can happen in a number of ways:

  • A cavity
  • A cracked tooth (impact, chewing very hard foods etc)
  • A broken or loose filling that is allowing bacteria into the interior of the tooth
  • A tooth infection
  • A damaged root
  • Advanced decay

Stress

Stress can also indirectly contribute to tooth sensitivity. Stress increases cortisol levels and cortisol can cause bruxism (involuntary teeth grinding) which will often result in widespread dental sensitivity. Finding ways to reduce your stress levels can help prevent further damage to your teeth. Another option is wearing a dental guard when you sleep to prevent continued harm to your teeth.

Excess Consumption of Acidic Food & Drink

Though your tooth enamel is strong and comprised mainly of calcium phosphate, acids in your food and drinks can dissolve it over time. Citrus, coffee, wine, soda, tomatoes, very sour candy and anything high in processed sugars and starches can erode tooth enamel. Consuming acidic foods and drinks too often will likely eventually contribute to tooth sensitivity. Drinking water after you have these foods or drinks can help wash away the acids, instead of leaving them on your teeth. Of course, brushing afterward is very helpful, as well.

Gum Recession

The roots of your teeth are not protected by enamel. Your gums provide protection for dentin around your teeth roots but if your gums have pulled away from your tooth, it will expose the dentin and cause tooth sensitivity.

Gums recede for a few different reasons and if gum recession is not addressed, it can cause sensitivity and pain, as well as eventual tooth loss. We strongly recommend regular check ups to insure your gums remain healthy and protect the roots of your teeth.

Teeth Whitening

This is a common cause of tooth sensitivity as bleach must penetrate the enamel and may irritate the dentin and tubules. This type of sensitivity is usually temporary and will subside when you stop using the teeth whitening products. To avoid damage while using whitening products that bleach, avoid eating or drinking sugary beverages immediately afterward. Drink water to rinse the teeth after eating. Using a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth can also be helpful.

Sinus Infections

You have sinuses in your face, located right above your teeth. When you have a sinus infection, pressure building from fluids, bacteria and inflammation in your sinuses can cause sensitivity to the teeth below your sinuses. Your teeth may also be sensitive to sudden movements such as standing up or bending over. If you suspect you have a sinus infection, you need to see your doctor about treatment to clear it up. Tooth sensitivity should then subside if a sinus infection was the cause. If it does not, we recommend you make a dental appointment to help determine the cause of your sensitivity.

Relief for Your Sensitive Teeth

Dr. Parasher and the team at A Caring Dentist of Tampa can help you find the cause of your sensitive teeth and bring you relief. Make an appointment at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location today to start feeling better sooner!

How Often Should I Brush & Floss?

Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease. Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing gum disease. Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.

Toothbrushing

Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) for at least two minutes with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste.

How to Brush

  • Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
  • You don’t need to scrub. That can cause gum damage.
  • Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
  • Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.

Flossing

Daily flossing at least once a day is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

How to Floss

  • Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
  • Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
  • Curve the floss into a shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
  • Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

It is important to also rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your Carrollwood dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.

Dr. Parasher and the team at A Caring Dentist of Tampa can help you protect your teeth with regular dental check ups. Make an appointment at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel dental offices today. Take care of your teeth and they will take care of you!

What Toothbrush Should I Use?

While there are many brands of toothbrushes on the market, the actual brand matters less than you might think. The most important consideration when choosing your next toothbrush is the head style and bristle type. Bristles come in soft, medium and hard varieties, however, a soft-bristled toothbrush is generally the best option.

A harder bristle may remove more plaque but can also wear away your tooth enamel, cause gum irritation and contribute to gums receding. Using a softer bristle (also labeled as “Sensitive”) for a bit longer, while using a proper brushing technique, will spare your gums and enamel while effectively removing plaque.

The next consideration is the size of the toothbrush head. A smaller head is preferable because it will allow you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. A smaller head that’s diamond-shaped is actually the ideal shape. This is because the diamond shape tends to be better at reaching the back and sides of your molars.

For more personalized advice, ask your dentist or dental hygienist what they recommend for you, based on your teeth and gums.

Is Chewing Ice Bad for Teeth?

While teeth are strong enough to chew ice, A Caring Dentist of Tampa strongly recommends against it. Chewing ice can be hydrating and for some, a satisfying way to help mitigate stress, however, it can also be very damaging to your teeth and cause stress to your jaw.

Ice cubes are so hard they can chip or crack teeth and it’s not uncommon that teeth can be structurally weakened by fillings. This makes teeth more susceptible to fractures from biting down on hard substances and the tooth can crack.  Even with healthy, unfilled teeth, the brittle texture and cold temperature of ice can cause tiny cracks in the enamel that compromise the health of an entire tooth.

You may not even realize you have cracked your tooth unless it becomes sensitive but once it has cracked, even just on the surface, this leaves the tooth vulnerable. The end result can be a severely compromised and painful tooth that may ultimately require a costly root canal.

You may enjoy eating ice but for the sake of your teeth, we advise that you only suck on the ice and never, ever crunch on it. If you suspect you may have cracked a tooth from chewing ice, please make an appointment for an exam so we can help prevent further damage!

How Can I Improve My Smile?

If you’re feeling somewhat self-conscious about your teeth, or just want to improve your smile, cosmetic dental treatments may be the answer to a more beautiful, confident smile.

Cosmetic dentistry has become very popular in the last several years, not only due to the many advances in cosmetic dental procedures and materials available today, but also because patients are becoming more and more focused on improving their overall health. This includes dental prevention and having a healthier, whiter, more radiant smile.

There are many cosmetic dental procedures available to improve your teeth and enhance your smile. Depending on your particular needs, cosmetic dental treatments can change your smile dramatically, from restoring a single tooth to having a full mouth make-over. Ask your dentist how you can improve the health and beauty of your smile with cosmetic dentistry.

Cosmetic/Restorative Procedures:

Teeth Whitening Whitening lightens teeth that have been stained or discolored by age, food, drink, and smoking. Teeth darkened as a result of injury or taking certain medications can also be bleached, but the effectiveness depends on the degree of staining present.

Composite (tooth-colored) Fillings  Also known as bonding, composite fillings are now widely used instead of amalgam (silver) fillings to repair teeth with cavities, and also to replace old defective fillings. Tooth-colored fillings are also used to repair chipped, broken, or discolored teeth. This type of filling is also very useful to fill in gaps and to protect sensitive, exposed root surfaces caused by gum recession.

Porcelain Veneers Veneers are thin custom-made, tooth-colored shells that are bonded onto the fronts of teeth to create a beautiful individual smile. They can help restore or camouflage damaged, discolored, poorly shaped, or misaligned teeth. Unlike crowns, veneers require minimal tooth structure to be removed from the surface of the tooth.

Porcelain Crowns (caps)  A crown is a tooth-colored, custom-made covering that encases the entire tooth surface restoring it to its original shape and size. Crowns protect and strengthen teeth that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations. They are ideal for teeth that have large, fractured or broken fillings and also for those that are badly decayed.

Dental Implants Dental implants are artificial roots that are surgically placed into the jaw to replace one or more missing teeth. Porcelain crowns, bridges, and dentures can be made specifically to fit and attach to implants, giving a patient a strong, stable, and durable solution to removable dental appliances.

Invisalign Orthodontic Aligners Less visible and more effective, Invisalign clear braces are making straightening teeth with orthodontics much more appealing to adult patients.

Thanks to the advances in modern dentistry, cosmetic treatments can make a difference in making your smile shine! Contact us today to explore your options at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel locations.

Are Silver Amalgam Fillings Safe?

Over the years there has been some concern as to whether silver amalgam fillings are safe. An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc, bound by elemental mercury. Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years. The controversy is due to claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), up to 76% of dentists use silver containing mercury to fill teeth. The ADA also states that silver fillings are safe and that studies have failed to find any link between silver containing mercury and any medical disorder.

The general consensus is that amalgam (silver) fillings are safe. Along with the ADA’s position, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, the FDA, and others support the use of silver fillings as safe, durable, and cost effective. The U.S. Public Health Service says that the only reason not to use silver fillings is when a patient has an allergy to any component of this type of filling. The ADA has had fewer than 100 reported incidents of an allergy to components of silver fillings, and this is out of countless millions of silver fillings over the decades.

Although studies indicate that there are no measurable health risks to patients who have silver fillings, we do know that mercury is a toxic material when we are exposed at high, unsafe levels. For instance, we have been warned to limit the consumption of certain types of fish that carry high levels of mercury in them. However, with respect to amalgam fillings, the ADA maintains that when the mercury combines with the other components of the filling, it becomes an inactive substance that is safe.

There are numerous options to silver fillings, including composite (tooth-colored), porcelain, and gold fillings. We encourage you to discuss these options with Dr. Parasher at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel dental care locations so you can determine which is the best option for you.

Why Do I Have Bad Breath?

Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many of us may not realize that we have halitosis, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning.

There are various reasons one may have bad breath, but in healthy people, the most common reason is due to deposits of microbes on the tongue, particularly the back of the tongue. Studies have shown that brushing the tongue or using a tongue scraper can reduce halitosis by as much as 70 percent.

Other Potential Causes of Bad Breath

  • Morning mouth – Saliva flow almost stops during sleep and without salivary cleansing action, bacteria grows unhindered, causing halitosis.
  • Certain foods – Garlic, onions, etc. Foods containing odor-causing compounds enter the blood stream and are transferred to the lungs, where they are exhaled & shared with those around you.
  • Poor oral hygiene habits – Food particles left in the mouth promote bacterial growth, which contributes to foul breath. Regular brushing and flossing is key!
  • Periodontal (gum) disease – Colonies of bacteria & food debris cause calculus under the gumline. This damages gums and emits a telltale unpleasant smell.
  • Dental cavities and improperly fitted dental appliances.
  • Dry mouth (Xerostomia) – This condition can be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous mouth breathing.
  • Tobacco products – These products dry your mouth, which contributes to unpleasant breath.
  • Dieting – Chemicals called ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat. This is more common with high protein ketogenic diets.
  • Dehydration and missed meals – Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow which helps wash away bacteria.
  • Certain medical conditions and illnesses – Diabetes, kidney and liver problems, bronchitis, sinus infections and pneumonia are conditions that may contribute to halitosis.
  • Tonsil stones — Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths, are mineralizations of debris within the crevices of the tonsils. The primary symptom is bad breath.

If you’re concerned that a dental condition may be causing your bad breath, we can evaluate your oral health at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel locations. Make an appointment today!

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