Dental Care Q&A

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. Patel or 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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