Dental Care Q&A

What Should I Do if I Lose a Filling?

What is a Filling?

Fillings are a common dental treatment that involve removing a decayed area of a tooth and restoring that area with a metal or composite material. Fillings can last for many years but it’s not uncommon for them to eventually loosen or fall out.

You Don’t Need to Save It

In the event that you lose a filling, you may feel it loose in your mouth. It is not reusable so it’s fine to go ahead and dispose of it. Next, contact Dr. Patel and get an appointment as soon as you can.

You May Have Discomfort

A lost filling is typically not an emergency but you will likely have some discomfort or sensitivity when eating or drinking. Additionally, your compromised tooth is far more susceptible to breaking so you need to get an appointment sooner rather than later.

What To Do

In the meantime, you should use salt water rinses to keep the area clear of bacteria and brush your teeth as you normally do. Another option is using a temporary filling Most pharmacies sell dental wax or temporary filling material that you use until you can see Dr. Patel. This will help protect your sensitive tooth nerves for a short time but should not be used for more than a week as it is not a permanent solution for a compromised tooth.

In Case of Severe Pain or Swelling

If you are in severe pain or experience swelling in your face or jaw, this does indicate a possible emergency and you should immediately call Dr. Patel at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location for an emergency appointment.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination. This type of exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up.

A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters.

As gum disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper. Your dentist or hygienist will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc., to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.

Periodontitis

Plaque hardens into calculus (tartar). As calculus and plaque continue to build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. Deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth and become filled with bacteria and pus. The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.

Advanced Periodontitis

The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to be destroyed. Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may be lost. Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present.

Treatment

Periodontal treatments for gum disease depend upon the type and severity of the disease. Your dentist and dental hygienist will evaluate for gum disease and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Gum disease progresses as the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and gums gets filled with bacteria, plaque, and tartar, causing irritation to the surrounding tissues. When these irritants remain in the pocket space, they can cause damage to the gums and eventually, the bone that supports the teeth!

If the disease is caught in the early stages of gingivitis, and no damage has been done, one to two regular cleanings will be recommended. You will also be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene habits and having regular dental cleanings.

If the disease has progressed to more advanced stages, a special periodontal cleaning called scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) will be recommended. It is usually done one quadrant of the mouth at a time while the area is numb. In this procedure, tartar, plaque, and toxins are removed from above and below the gum line (scaling) and rough spots on root surfaces are made smooth (planing). This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink. Medications, special medicated mouth rinses, and an electric tooth brush may be recommended to help control infection and healing.

If the pockets do not heal after scaling and root planing, periodontal surgery may be needed to reduce pocket depths, making teeth easier to clean. Your dentist may also recommend that you see a Periodontist (specialist of the gums and supporting bone).

Maintenance

It only takes twenty four hours for plaque that is not removed from your teeth to turn into calculus (tartar)! Daily home cleaning helps control plaque and tartar formation, but those hard to reach areas will always need special attention.

Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend that you have regular maintenance cleanings (periodontal cleanings), usually four times a year. At these cleaning appointments, the pocket depths will be carefully checked to ensure that they are healthy. Plaque and calculus that is difficult for you to remove on a daily basis will be removed from above and below the gum line.

In addition to your periodontal cleaning and evaluation, your appointment at A Caring Dentist will usually include:

  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs) – Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Examination of existing restorations – Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
  • Examination of tooth decay – Check all tooth surfaces for decay.
  • Oral cancer screening – Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, cheek tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Oral hygiene recommendations – Recommend oral hygiene aids as needed. (Electric toothbrushes, special periodontal brushes, fluorides, rinses, etc.)
  • Teeth polishing – Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.

Good oral hygiene practices and regular cleanings are essential in maintaining dental health and keeping periodontal disease under control! Make your appointment for a cleaning and check up today at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location!

What Causes Stains on Teeth?

Teeth staining or discoloration typically occurs as a result of foods and beverages that contain darker colors, tannins, or have a high acid content. Discoloration can also be caused by tobacco products and some medications.

1. Dark Colored Juices & Wines

Grape and cranberry juice and red wines are three of the most popular beverages that discolor teeth as they are concentrated sources of dark pigments. They also contain acid, which is known to leave teeth more vulnerable to staining. Drinking lighter-colored juices and wines may help prevent these stains.

2. Coffee

Coffee is dark in color due to naturally occurring tannins and is a common culprit in tooth staining. Your teeth are porous so they absorb the liquids you put into your body. Even if you just drink one or two cups of coffee every day, the dark color of the coffee can stain your teeth.

3. Tea

Many people may convert from coffee to tea in the hopes of preventing their teeth from becoming stained. This strategy may not yield desired results, though, because dark colored teas actually contain more tannins than coffee. One possible solution is to drink green or white teas instead of black. Green tea will still stain your teeth not not to the same degree as black tea.

4. Soy Sauce

Asian food fans may be disappointed to hear that soy sauce may stain teeth. Any dark liquid has the potential to stain teeth but especially soy sauce because it is so concentrated.

5. Blueberries

Although blueberries are known to be a healthy superfood full of anti-oxidants, the stains they leave on your teeth may be a dealbreaker. Luckily, you can rinse your teeth after eating them to help prevent staining.

6. Balsamic Vinegar

Due to its dark pigment, balsamic vinegar can make your teeth yellow if not rinsed away immediately.

7. Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce can quickly penetrate your tooth enamel and create stains due to its acidity, concentrated red color, and tendency to stick to your teeth. One way your can avoid red sauce staining is to eat a salad or greens such as spinach or broccoli before delving into red sauce. These vegetables form a thin layer on your teeth that can help protect them from the staining effects of tomatoes.

8. Beets

Beets, like blueberries and tomatoes, are rich in essential nutrients, but their staining power is much stronger than the other foods on this list. Make sure your rinse right after eating beets.

9. Turmeric

Turmeric, a staple used in Indian curries and other foods, is a strongly pigmented spice. Because of its dark yellow color, this spice may stain teeth over time so it’s recommended to rinse and brush after eating.

10. Soda

Soda is bad for your health and it’s particularly hard on your teeth. It not only bathes your teeth in sugar and acid (two things that WILL destroy your tooth enamel), but it also contains dark colors that will stain your teeth. To avoid tooth staining from sodas, choose clear or light-colored sodas instead of cola. Keep in mind, however, that you can still sustain damage from the sugar and acids.

11. Tobacco Products

The nicotine and tar found in cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco and vaping can all stain your teeth from yellow to brown.

12. Tetracycline

Teeth discoloration and staining caused by the antibiotic tetracycline are referred to as tetracycline teeth. Gray or brown stains that form streaks or bands over the teeth are the most common forms of discoloration.

13. Other Medications

Several other classes of medications including high blood pressure medications, chemotherapy, antihistamines and some antipsychotic medications can cause teeth stains.

There are a few different ways to address discolored teeth. If you have concerns about staining on your teeth, please come see Dr. Patel to discuss your options!

Are Sodas and Juices Really That Bad for My Teeth?

You’ve probably heard all your life that sweets are bad for your teeth. This is not an exaggeration—it’s true. Additionally, when you eat something with starch, enzymes in your mouth will convert most of it to a sugar within an hour. Keep that in mind when snacking!

How Sugar Damages Your Teeth

The bacteria in your mouth that are associated with cavities (Streptococcus mutans) digest the sugars you eat and produce lactic acid, which eats away tooth enamel. This process is called demineralization. Repeated acid attacks cause mineral loss and over time, weaken and destroy the enamel, forming what is commonly known as a cavity.

While sugars are bad for your tooth enamel, sipping sugary beverages is particularly damaging. When we sip over a long period of time, we are repeatedly exposing our teeth to sugar and giving those acids repeated opportunities damage our enamel.

While sodas are known to be high in sugar, even drinks that are marketed as “healthy” or “all natural” can also be high in sugar. A glass of apple juice, for example, can contain nearly as much sugar as a soda. The best choice is to drink beverages that have no or low sugar.

Tips to Limit the Damage of Sugary Drinks

  • Instead of sipping your sugared beverage, drink it quickly to reduce repeated exposure and give your saliva time to neutralize the acids.
  • If you can’t brush, swish and rinse afterward with water to remove as much sugar as possible.
  • If you give your child juice, have them drink it with meals only, and put water in a sippy cup that they might carry around during the day.
  • Alternative beverage options that are less damaging to enamel include water, sparkling water, unsweetened tea, milk or diluted juice

The best way to avoid painful and costly problems with your teeth is to get regular dental cleanings and check-ups. Make your appointment today at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location.

What Should I Do if a Tooth is Knocked Out?

Do you know what to do if your tooth is knocked out?

It’s imperative that you follow a few key rules to be able to potentially save your tooth!

  1. ONLY pick up the tooth by the chewing surface. Do not touch or pick up by the root.
  2. If dirty, gently rinse with warm water.
    • Do not scrub
    • Do not use toothpaste or soap
    • Do not dry
    • Do not wrap in tissue or paper towel
  3. Reposition the tooth in the socket immediately if you can.
  4. Keep the tooth moist at all times.
  5. If you can’t reposition it in the socket, keep it in milk or tuck it in your mouth next to your cheek.

YOU MUST SEE YOUR DENTIST A SOON AS POSSIBLE!

 

Interesting Dental Facts

Are cavities contagious?

Yes, in a way. The bacteria that causes cavities, Streptococcus mutans, 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 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. Patel 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!

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