An overwhelming proportion of tooth decay begins in the chewing surfaces of the molars. These surfaces are deeply pitted and creased, providing perfect places for food to become stuck and encourage decay. It is much harder to remove food and bacteria from this area than from any other part of the mouth; both your toothbrush and the body’s natural defenses often fall short. Once an infection starts, it can worsen and spread, threatening nearby teeth as well as the original molar. For this reason, we recommend applying and maintaining dental sealants.
Dental sealants are thin layers of plastic applied to the molars to help seal the natural fissures of the molar’s surface and provide a smoother chewing surface that is easier to clean. They are safe, unobtrusive, and highly successful. Sealants protect the tooth from decay and are extremely effective at reducing the number of cavities you are likely to experience. Most dentists recommend sealants for children as soon as they get their permanent teeth. Sealants are also beneficial for adults, especially those with deep fissures.
Even if you have previously gotten dental sealants, you may not be fully protected. While sealants are durable and long-lasting, remaining in place for years on average, they can crack, break, or fall off, once again leaving your teeth vulnerable. In addition to the initial application, you should be sure to have us check whether your sealants are still in place, and to have them re-applied if not.
At Dr. Alaa Alwazzan DMD PC, we encourage all our patients to receive and maintain dental sealants, as one of the most effective preventive dentistry measures we can offer. Your premiere Quincy dentist offers both new and replacement sealants to keep your teeth safe and healthy. Ask about dental sealants at your next exam, and make sure your teeth are covered!
Commit To Better Dental Health In 2016
If you have suffered from poor dental checkups in the past, make 2016 the year that you return to better dental health. Here at Quincy DMD, we offer a vast array of dental services to make your teeth healthy, beautiful, and comfortable—including dental implants, protective sealants, and even cosmetic contouring. Make an appointment in the New Year to start shaping your smile with the help of our professionals. Our dental experts can evaluate the health and appearance of your teeth and discuss your options, so that you can make the best use of your dental insurance coverage.
Preventing Tooth Stains
While the health of your teeth will always be our most important concern, most people are also interested in the way their teeth look. A bright, even smile helps boost your confidence and make good first impressions on the people you meet. While it may not be a major health concern, tooth staining can seriously dim your smile. We have a few suggestions to reduce staining and bring back the beautiful whiteness of your smile.
Change the way you drink
Some of the major culprits behind darkening teeth are beverages such as coffee, tea, and red wine. All of these drinks are highly pigmented, and possess other qualities which help those pigments penetrate your dental enamel. Reducing or eliminating consumption of these beverages would be a positive lifestyle change, but even where that isn’t possible, you can still limit your teeth’s exposure to these staining substances.
First, try drinking through a straw. Beverages consumed through a straw bypass most of the teeth and have little opportunity to leave stains. Also, try consuming these drinks quickly instead of slowly sipping over a prolonged period of time. A glass of water after a staining drink—or any other heavily pigmented food—can help dilute the residue left on your teeth, and milk added to tea and coffee can have a somewhat similar affect.
Break your tobacco habit
If you smoke, chew, or consume tobacco in any form, the effect on your teeth can be severe. For that and other health reasons, you should reduce your use of tobacco, or quit altogether if possible. The health benefits will be worth it in the long run.
If all else fails
If your teeth are not as clean and bright as you’d like, we can help. Dr. Alaa Alwazzan DMD PC offers professional in-office teeth whitening services to remove stains and make your smile gleam. Professional teeth whitening allows for faster results than at-home treatment, and with a dental health professional to monitor the process, you won’t have to worry about patchy or uneven results. Call today if you are interested in our whitening services, or request an appointment online, and we’ll make sure that you leave our office with your smile looking its best.
As the year draws to a close, we wanted to take a moment to thank our incredible patients. We know that every patient has a litany of provider options, and we appreciate your loyalty. We would also like to thank our amazing staff, who work hard day-in and day-out to provide an excellent level of care to our patients. Without your dedication and support, we wouldn’t have the practice that we do today. We hope that your holiday season is filled with cheer, and we look forward to fulfilling your dental needs in 2016.
Dr. Alaa AlWazzan, DMD, DDS, MSc, FACP
Dr. Jennifer Zysk
Dr. Christopher Mirucki, DDS
Dr. Sam Lee, DDS
No matter how healthy your teeth are and what precautions you take, sometimes accidents happen. An accident while eating or an injury to the face or jaw can result in a broken or lost tooth. This dental emergency is never pleasant, but if you’re prepared in advance, the tooth can often be saved.
Signs of a broken tooth
Some small chips are superficial and do not need treatment except for cosmetic purposes. But a break or crack which is painful, causes bleeding, or exposes the soft tissue of the tooth is an emergency and should be treated right away. Cracks may not always be readily visible, but tooth pain following an injury is always cause for concern and should be checked out right away.
Preserving the tooth
If your tooth has been knocked out completely, it can often be restored to your mouth. Find the tooth and, if possible, reinsert it into the space it came from. If that isn’t feasible, place the tooth in cold whole milk—NOT water. It is important to act quickly, as the tooth has a better chance of being saved the more quickly it is treated. Call our office immediately to either let us know you’re coming, or to let us find you another office you can visit.
For broken teeth, the location and severity of the break will determine what can be done to repair it. Minor chips or cracks that affect only the surface of the tooth are merely cosmetic problems, and can be polished away or repaired with dental bonding. More serious breaks will require more extensive repairs, and may call for a crown to replace missing sections or to keep any cracks from growing. An injury which exposes the soft tissues of the tooth may require a root canal to remove damaged tissue, or in some cases, the tooth may be too damaged to save. Whatever the case, we can advise you about your options after examining the damage.
Your teeth are a major part of your overall health, and it’s important to treat any injury they receive. A tooth that is broken or knocked out will not heal on its own and can’t be repaired at home. Contact Dr. Alwazzan as soon as the injury occurs for the best chance of recovery.
Regular dental exams and professional cleanings are an important part of dental health care. But if you aren’t doing your part at home, trips to the dentist will never be enough. In addition to professional attention, your teeth need consistent daily brushing and flossing to stay healthy, bright, and strong.
Bacteria are constantly growing and multiplying in your mouth, forming a biofilm called plaque on your teeth. When left to grow unchecked, the bacteria damage your teeth with the acids they secrete, and they remove minerals from your enamel. Over time, undisrupted plaque hardens into yellowish-grey tartar or dental calculus, a substance which is too hard to be removed at home and which gives bacteria a foothold on your teeth. Tartar buildup leads to gum irritation and periodontal disease, as well as to tooth decay. But daily brushing and flossing disrupt plaque before it can harden, protecting your teeth from decay.
To keep your mouth healthy, your teeth bright, and your breath fresh, you should brush two to three times a day using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to brush thoroughly but not roughly, spending time on each of the surfaces of your teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of molars, where food can easily become stuck. Angle your toothbrush toward your gums to clean just under the gumline. Brushing too hard, too often, or too soon after consuming acidic foods and drinks can wear down your enamel, so make sure to follow these guidelines and not to be too hard on your teeth.
You should floss once a day to clean the areas your toothbrush can’t reach. Make sure you clean between every pair of teeth and on each side of every gap, pulling the floss tight to form a C-shape against first one tooth and then the other. Press gently into the gums to reach areas below the gumline. Don’t be too rough; overzealous flossing can irritate the gums. This is a good time to check for bleeding, swelling, or discoloration that can indicate gum disease. If you notice these signs, you should have them checked as soon as possible.
If you aren’t brushing and flossing regularly, you should start now. Daily cleaning is essential to your dental health. Maintaining healthy teeth is a joint effort between you and your dentist, and neither can be successful without the other.
Root Canal vs. Tooth Extraction
When teeth are badly damaged by decay, the need for treatment is urgent. Untreated tooth decay can spread to other teeth, causing even more damage, or can cause infection in the nearby soft tissues as well as long-term health issues. A painful toothache—or a tooth which spontaneously goes numb after a toothache—is a sign that you should seek treatment as quickly as possible. Your treatment options will depend on the extent of the damage to the tooth. Sometimes damaged teeth can be repaired with crowns, fillings, and similar procedures, but when the infection is severe, a root canal or a tooth extraction may be called for.
Inside each tooth is a hollow area filled with soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp extends in narrow channels called root canals to the tip of each tooth root. This tissue helps provide the feeling and immune response to the tooth. In a healthy tooth, the pulp is protected by the dentin and enamel that form the rest of your tooth. But when the tooth is damaged, the pulp can be exposed to infection. The treatment for infected tooth pulp is to clean out the pulp chamber and root canals, and replace the tissue with an artificial filler, in a process called root canal therapy, or simply a root canal. The surface of the tooth is then replaced with a crown to protect it and restore the appearance of a natural tooth.
When a tooth is too damaged to be saved, or a root canal is impossible for other reasons, the tooth is extracted to prevent the infection from spreading. This is better than no treatment, but leaves an empty space in the mouth which can lead to problems later on. An extracted tooth should be replaced with a bridge or implant as soon as possible to preserve the healthy alignment of surrounding teeth.
Which do I need?
Where possible, we want to save your original teeth. A root canal is generally a preferable option to a tooth extraction. But if a tooth is sufficiently damaged, there isn’t enough of the structure intact to support a root canal treatment. There may also be other circumstances which prevent a root canal treatment. Ultimately, the option that is best for your individual case is a question best answered by a dental health professional.
At Dr. Alaa Alwazzan DMD PC, we want to help heal your toothache and save your teeth as quickly as possible. If you are experiencing tooth pain, call our office or request an appointment online, and we will see you as soon as we can to help you determine what care is best for your teeth.
Thanksgiving And Your Oral Health
As the Thanksgiving approaches, most people look forward to gathering around the family table to enjoy an extravagant feast. Unfortunately, while you nosh away on those seasonal goodies, your teeth can suffer from the consequences of your actions. Here are just a few ways your Thanksgiving dinner could be hard on your teeth, and what you can do to counteract the dental hazards:
- Plaque: The human mouth contains a staggering twenty-five species of oral bacteria. Unfortunately,
plaque, which is essentially composed of microscopic food particles, feeds these bacteria. As bacteria grow and reproduce, they create acidic byproducts, which erode away dental enamel and lead to cavities. To prevent plaque formation during Thanksgiving, bring along a toothbrush and toothpaste, and brush after that heavy dinner.
- Stains: Beverages like red wine, fruit punch, and coffee contain strong pigments that can dye your teeth. If you aren’t careful, you might notice that your smile looks a little dingy after the holidays. To keep stains at bay, use a straw, which funnels the liquid behind your teeth, or avoid pigmented drinks altogether.
- Fractures: Biting into roasted meats like turkey legs can be dangerous, since these pieces of meat commonly contain hard bones that can cause dental fractures. To avoid problems, opt for pre-sliced meat, or cut meat off of the bone on your plate and enjoy it with a fork.
- Simple Sugars: Pies topped off with meringues, sweet rolls, and even sweetened cranberry sauces contain loads of simple sugars—which act as a quick food source for oral bacteria. To keep these sugars off of your teeth, swish your mouth with water after you enjoy your dessert.
- Hard or Chewy Candies: Try to avoid hard or extremely chewy candies, like butterscotch discs or caramels, which can chip your teeth or pull out fillings.
If you suspect that your holiday festivities have damaged your teeth, make an appointment for a checkup after Thanksgiving. Our dentists can carefully evaluate your teeth to diagnose and repair damage before it causes other issues. If you find yourself with a dental emergency during the holidays, don’t hesitate to call our office. We will help you in any way that we can.
That being said, we want to wish each and every one of our patients a safe and happy holiday season. We hope that you can all take the time to enjoy your family, friends, and time away from work.
The Link Between Gum Disease and Osteoporosis
In the United States, roughly 8 million people suffer from osteoporosis, a degenerative illness that makes the bones porous, weak, and brittle. Of these 8 million sufferers, 6 million people are women. Unfortunately, osteoporosis can do more than put you at a higher risk for bone fractures.
New studies have also linked periodontal disease to osteoporosis. Because periodontal disease attacks the soft tissues of the mouth and osteoporosis makes the jawbone naturally weaker, the two diseases feed off of one another, which is why early diagnosis of either condition is so important. Here are just a few of the ways periodontal disease and osteoporosis are linked:
- Accelerated Periodontal Disease: If you suffer from osteoporosis, you might be more likely to suffer from an accelerated case of periodontal disease. This means that your symptoms might come on faster and be more aggressive than someone without osteoporosis.
- Bone Loss: Periodontal disease patients who also suffer from osteoporosis are more likely to have severe jaw bone loss, which can cause the lower portion of the face to cave in—altering the overall face shape.
- Medication Interactions: Unfortunately, some of the medications made to treat osteoporosis have been found to cause jawbone degeneration, which can also make the teeth fall out.
How Proper Dental Care Can Help
Although it might seem like a scary diagnosis, suffering from osteoporosis and periodontal disease at the same time can be managed. Here are just a few ways we can help you here at Quincy DMD:
- Offer Routine Exams: During routine dental exams, we take x-rays that can help us to check bone density and the position of your teeth. We will also look for the classic signs of gum disease, such as reddened, inflamed gums, missing teeth, or halitosis.
- Checking For Proper Denture Fit: If your dentures don’t fit quite right, it can lead to bone loss. To fend off problems, we will check your denture and bridge placement, to make sure that they aren’t causing friction that could complicate things.
- Evaluate Disease Progression: We can also use x-ray images to monitor how either disease is progressing, so that we can better manage your condition or communicate information to your doctor.
- Suggest Supplements: Since osteoporosis affects more women than men, we can also suggest supplements like Estrogen, which has been found to counteract the effects of osteoporosis. Estrogen has also been found to reduce oral inflammation and dental attachment problems.
To learn more about the connection between periodontal disease and osteoporosis, make an appointment today.
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Tooth Pain
Pain is the body’s signal that something is wrong. If you are experiencing tooth pain, it’s important to get prompt treatment. Many people ignore the first signs of a toothache, hoping that it will resolve itself, but tooth pain is much more likely to get worse over time. Treatment in the early stages of dental disease helps prevent worse problems later on, and is the best way to address a toothache.
The cause of tooth pain
Your tooth is not a solid block of enamel. Inside each tooth is a hollow area filled with soft tissue—the pulp—which extends to the tip of each tooth root. This soft tissue contains the tooth’s nerve endings, which can become irritated and cause tooth pain. Sometimes the pulp is irritated by non-damaging stimuli like temperature changes. But a change in the sensitivity of your teeth, or unexpected tooth pain, is frequently an indicator of infection, and you should contact our office immediately for an exam if you notice any changes. If the pain is due to infection, the damage can take either the
form of cavities in the tooth itself, or gum disease that has progressed far enough to affect the pulp. Either way, this is a serious dental health issue that should be treated before it can progress any farther.
Untreated tooth pain
Dental disease which is left untreated only gets worse, doing more severe damage and spreading the infection farther the longer it is left alone. If your teeth or gums are infected enough to cause tooth pain, the damage has already progressed past the point that you could treat alone. Without professional dental care, you may end up losing one or more teeth. Even if the pain stops on its own, you should still have your teeth checked out. When the pulp is damaged enough, the nerves can die, so the tooth stops hurting even though it is still severely infected and can still spread the infection to other teeth.
Never ignore a toothache
We at Dr. Alaa Alwazzan DMD PC want your teeth to stay healthy and whole. Whenever you experience tooth pain, you should come to our office to find out the cause and get treatment. Use our online appointment request form or call our office as soon as a toothache starts and stop tooth decay before it gets any worse.