How can we help you?
Patient education is an essential part of the services we provide at Bethlehem Town Family Dental. When you understand the impact that your oral health can have on your life, you’re more likely to be proactive about dental care.
Nobody expects you to know everything about dentistry, which is why we’re available to answer all your questions. The more information you have, the better prepared you are to make important decisions when the time comes. All the answers below are written by our team instead of some template that is used by hundreds of other dental offices.
The simple answer is no.
Moderation is Important
The important part about controlling sugar intake is the frequency of exposure to sugar. While we strongly advocate the elimination of sodas, sports drinks, and candies, we understand we need sugar to survive.
The Thirty Minute Rule
If you had to drink a cup of coffee with sugar, we recommend drinking that cup within 30 min to lower the frequency of sugar exposure. Every sip or bite of something sugared will turn your mouth acidic and will take 30 min to return back to normal. If you sip your coffee every 30 min you can imagine your mouth is acidic at all times. This is also why sticky candies and candies that dissolve in your mouth are the worst culprits because they take a long time to eat.
Rinsing After Sugar Intake
On top of limiting the frequency of exposures to sugar, we also recommend reducing sugar concentration and acidity of the mouth after the intake of sugar. Ideally, you should brush your teeth, floss, and/or rinse your mouth with mouthwash after each exposure to sugar. This is especially important if you had something sticky that will stay on your teeth for a while. However, we understand not everyone has access and time to a brush, floss, and/or mouthwash every time you eat or drink. We recommend at least rinsing your mouth with water after you eat or drink something with sugar to wash away some of the sugar and acids.
If you feel you have negative impacts from your sugar intake, or you're due for a check-up, contact our office today!
How did I get a cavity?
Specific types of bacteria on your teeth would take in sugar that you eat or drink and convert the sugar into acids. The acids that are released would dissolve your teeth and make them weaker. As more minerals are dissolved away from your teeth, you would eventually get a hole, also called cavity. At this point, your teeth are decaying as the bacteria multiply and this process just gets repeated as the hole gets larger.
What can I do to prevent a cavity?
There are different stages of cavity depending on the progression of decay. Unfortunately, once the “hole” is formed, the only option you have is to drill away the bacteria inside your tooth and fill the hole with a filling. However, we can reverse the progress if you are still in the early stages of forming a cavity, this is called the demineralization stage.
Teeth are made up of mostly minerals. The acids released by bacteria causes your teeth to lose the minerals and making the teeth weaker. This process creates areas called the demineralization zones on your teeth. Fortunately, these areas can be remineralized again if it’s returned back to health by following the recommended protocols. Remember, these protocols do not make your existing cavities go away, they also do not make you immune to cavities. The caries prevention protocols simply lower your risk to getting more cavities by killing bacteria and making the teeth stronger.
After your initial exam, you will be assigned to a certain level of risk for your likelihood of developing new cavities in the future. The levels will determine your individualized x-ray frequencies, recommended preventive treatments, and the protocols you need to do at home to lower your risk. You will stay at your assigned level for 2 years and will be re-evaluated again for possible increase or decrease of risk level.
- Practice good oral hygiene techniques at home. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and optional use of mouthwash.
- Regular toothpaste is sufficient.
- Your individualized x-ray frequency: 12-18 months
- Practice good oral hygiene techniques at home. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and use of fluoride mouthwash such as Act mouthwash with fluoride daily.
- Regular toothpaste is sufficient.
- Optional recommendation of Fluoride Varnish.
- Your individualized x-ray frequency: 6-12 months
- Practice good oral hygiene techniques at home. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing at least daily, and use of fluoride mouthwash such as Act mouthwash with fluoride twice a day.
- Prescription of Prevident 5000 plus Toothpaste. (it’s a stronger toothpaste with higher concentration of fluoride)
- Strong recommendation of Fluoride Varnish.
- Optional use of MI Paste. This product has calcium and phosphate, which are the building blocks of teeth. Using this product has shown to remineralize teeth and make them stronger.
- Chew sugar free xylitol gum up to 4 times daily. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that cannot be used by bacteria. Xylitol has shown to prevent bacteria from adhering to teeth.
- Reduce overall intake of sugar and the frequency of sugar exposure. Avoid sodas, sports drinks, candies, etc.
- Consideration of sealants, if qualified.
- Your Individualized x-ray frequency: 6 months
The caries prevention protocols are designed to lower your risk of getting a cavity. The protocols do not make you immune to cavities, or tooth decay, and do not cure existing cavities that are already present.
Cavities Can Be Unpredictable
Getting cavities is just like any other medical conditions. We can predict your risk of developing a cavity to a certain extent, but there will always be cases that are unpredictable.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
If you are following our caries prevention protocols closely and still getting cavities, then we must examine other possibilities. If your teeth are congenitally weaker than normal due to a genetic defect you can certainly have a much higher risk for cavities. If you have a dry mouth because you take a lot of medications or you have a condition that causes dry mouth, you can have a higher risk for cavities. If you are eating something frequent that has sugar or will be converted to glucose in the mouth and you didn’t know about it, this can increase your risk to get cavities as well.
Last but not least, some patients think they are doing a great job brushing and flossing, but when we discuss oral hygiene techniques we realized they weren’t really doing the right things. You could’ve missed cleaning multiple areas in the mouth and result in bacteria build up.
Contact Us to Learn More
If you're worried about tooth pain or a possible cavity, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.
Fluoride has been shown to do two very important things: it slows bacteria growth and strengthens teeth surfaces.
Slowing Bacteria Growth
Fluoride inhibits the way bacteria utilizes sugar and grow, this eventually stops them from multiplying and releasing acids. While fluoride is brushed onto your teeth, it also bonds to the substructure of your teeth surfaces, making them much tougher than before. Now your teeth are a lot more resistant to the acids and if your teeth start to dissolve it would release the fluoride bonded to the surface and inhibits bacteria growth again.
Topical fluoride is not the same as systemic ingested fluoride. We strongly recommend topical fluoride such as fluoride found in toothpaste, mouthwash, and varnish because they're generally not ingested. We understand a very small amount can be swallowed, but the amount is minuscule and does not post a threat to our health.
Silver fillings, also called amalgams, have been placed for decades and have served their purpose in dentistry. However, there are a few fundamental problems with silver fillings:
- They continue to introduce mercury into the environment. Patients are also generally concerned about mercury exposure.
- They do not actually adhere to tooth structure, which means they only physically sit there in the cavity space. This results in an abundance of fractures caused by large silver fillings.
- They don't look very good and they can even stain your teeth dark.
- Patients don't typically want to put more metals in their mouth.
How We Solved the Problem
With the recent advancement in resin composite material, also called tooth - colored fillings, we are able to solve all the above problems. Tooth - colored fillings are very technique sensitive and new technology and products continue to be developed. Dr. Henry only uses tooth - colored fillings and has been placing them for years. He always keep up with the most recent technology and techniques to ensure the fillings are placed properly. We strongly believe tooth - colored fillings are the future of dentistry. Please visit our "Tooth - Colored Fillings" page and our smile gallery for more information.
Recovery Depends on Your Treatment
Generally speaking, we will provide instructions after each procedure to make sure you understand the steps you need to take during your brief recovery. Of course, the instructions depend completely on the type of work we do.
If you had a temporary filling placed on a tooth or just received a new crown we always ask you to wait 30 minutes before eating for the materials to fully set. If you had a filling done, the tooth-colored composite fillings do not require a waiting time to set (another advantage of composite fillings since amalgam requires a 30-minute wait before eating).
However, if you had local anesthesia and your lower lip and/or your tongue is numb, we do ask you to wait until the numbness goes away before eating. First, it’s just easier to eat when your mouth’s not numb, and it also helps you avoid biting your tongue or cheek while eating.
The numbness will usually last for a few hours. The length of time depends on the processing time of the body, the amount of anesthesia used, and the location of anesthesia. Numbness in the upper lip usually doesn’t affect eating because it's generally difficult to bite your upper lip.