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Comfort Dental Blog Page 2

How Does Smoking Lead to Gum Disease?

Smoking and other tobacco products can lead to gum disease by affecting the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. More specifically, it appears that smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells. This interference makes smokers more susceptible to infections, such as periodontal disease, and also seems to impair blood flow to the gums – which may affect wound healing.

Do Pipe and Cigar Smokers Experience Fewer Oral Health Risks Than Cigarette Smokers?

No, like cigarettes, pipes and cigars do lead to oral health problems. According to results of a 23-year long study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, cigar smokers experience tooth loss and alveolar bone loss (bone loss within the jawbone that anchors teeth) at rates equivalent to those of cigarette smokers. Pipe smokers also have a similar risk of tooth loss as cigarette smokers. Beyond these risks, pipe and cigar smokers are still at risk for oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancers – even if you don't inhale – as well as face the other oral health downsides of smoking – bad breath, stained teeth, and increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease.

Are Smokeless Tobacco Products Safer?

No. Like cigars and cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products (for example, snuff and chewing tobacco) contain at least 28 chemicals that have been shown to increase the risk of oral cancer and cancer of the throat and esophagus. In fact, chewing tobacco contains higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes, making it harder to quit than cigarettes. And one can of snuff delivers more nicotine than over 60 cigarettes.

Smokeless tobacco can irritate your gum tissue, causing it to recede or pull away from your teeth. Once the gum tissue recedes, your teeth roots become exposed, creating an increased risk of tooth decay. Exposed roots are also more sensitive to hot and cold or other irritants, making eating and drinking uncomfortable.

In addition, sugars, which are often added to enhance the flavor of smokeless tobacco, can increase your risk for tooth decay. A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association showed that chewing tobacco users were four times more likely than nonusers to develop tooth decay.

Smokeless tobacco also typically contains sand and grit, which can wear down your teeth.

In the past, it was generally accepted that fluoride should be mainly used for children whose developing teeth fluoride helped the most. But through the years, more research has been done and fluoride is being shown to help prevent tooth decay in people of all ages. You don't have to go to the dentist to get fluoride. Many toothpastes and some mouthwashes contain fluoride.

If upon speaking with your dentist, it is determined that you have a more serious risk of tooth decay, you can be prescribed fluoride treatments that you can use in your home. Flouride, while not the only necessary dental hygiene practice, can work in conjunction with brushing and flossing to help you maintain healthy teeth for a lifetime.

Improved Smile with Crowns


This patient came to our office because she was not happy with color and shape of her upper teeth. She elected to have ten crowns on her upper teeth in order to improve her entire smile.

Some of her upper teeth were not strong enough to support new crowns due to cavities and very old silver fillings (amalgam) .To remedy this problem, we performed root canals on the teeth that had too much decay/cavity for a simple filling. For the teeth that had the failing silver/amalgam fillings, we replaced the silver with a white/composite filling.

After we made all of the patients upper teeth strong enough to support crowns we started preparation of the crowns. This process takes only two appointments, one for preparation and the next appointment for delivery of the crowns. Overall the patient was very happy with her new and improved smile.

Multiple tooth Flipper


This patient came to our office because she had an engagement to attend, and she wanted to do something about the space that she had on the upper left side of her mouth. We recommended that she get a bridge, implants or partial denture to eliminate the space. Due to the patients time restraints she chose to have us make her a flipper until she was ready to make a decision on more permanent treatment. From start to finish we were able to take impressions, send them to the laboratory, and deliver the flipper in only 8 days.

Canker sores are small shallow ulcers that appear in the mouth and often make eating and talking uncomfortable. There are two types of canker sores:

  1. Simple canker sores. These may appear three or four times a year and last up to a week. They typically occur in people between 10 and 20 years of age.
  2. Complex canker sores. These are less common and occur more often in people who have previously had them.

The exact cause of most canker sores is unknown. Stress or tissue injury is thought to be the cause of simple canker sores. Certain foods — including citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables (such as lemons, oranges, pineapples, apples, figs, tomatoes, and strawberries) — can trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse. Sometimes a sharp tooth surface or dental appliance, such as braces or ill-fitting dentures, might also trigger canker sores.

Some cases of complex canker sores are caused by an underlying health condition, such as an impaired immune system; nutritional problems, such as vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid, or iron deficiency; and gastrointestinal tract disease, such as Celiac disease and Crohn's disease.

Can Canker Sores Be Prevented?

Although there is no cure for canker sores and they often recur, you may be able to reduce their frequency by:

  1. Avoiding foods that irritate your mouth, including citrus fruits and acidic vegetables and spicy foods
  2. Avoiding irritation from gum chewing
  3. Brushing with a soft-bristled brush after meals and flossing daily, which will keep your mouth free of foods that might trigger a sore.

You should call your dentist about canker sores if you have:

  1. Unusually large sores
  2. Sores that are spreading
  3. Sores that last 3 weeks or longer
  4. Intolerable pain despite avoiding trigger foods and taking over-the-counter pain medication
  5. Difficulty drinking enough fluids
  6. A high fever with the appearance of the canker sore(s)

Yes, Dental X-RAYS are safe.

They require exposure to very low levels of radiation—which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects very small—and most people only need one set taken every two years. The number of x-rays you need should be determined by your risk for gum disease and dental decay. Most conventional dental x-ray machines use high-speed film, which reduces your exposure to radiation, plus some dentists use digital x-rays, which use about 80 percent less radiation than conventional ones. In general, dental x-rays emit lower levels of radiation than other medical x-rays.

Why do I need to keep getting X-rays?

Radiographs show the condition of your teeth, their roots, jaw placement, and the composition of your facial bones. They can help detect the presence or degree of gum disease, abscesses, and abnormal growths.

Are Digital Dental X-Rays Safe?

Some people do not want diagnostic x-rays because they have heard that the radiation is dangerous. In fact, they pose very little danger. Dental x-rays are aimed in a tight beam at a small spot on the face. The only structures that receive the full dose of x-radiation are the tissues in the direct line of fire. Digital X-Rays are safer, faster, more accurate and easier on the environment than traditional X-Rays. The traditional X-ray film development process requires the use and disposal of toxic chemicals. No chemicals are needed for digital X-rays, making it easier on the environment.

Tooth Enamel Erosion

Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body. This semi-translucent, hard, outer layer of the teeth has an important job: protecting teeth from the daily wear and tear of biting and chewing, as well as temperature extremes from hot or cold foods and drinks. Enamel also guards teeth against the erosive effects of acids and chemicals.

Enamel covers the dentin, a part of the tooth that is not as dense as enamel. When enamel erodes, the dentin loses some of its protection. Then microscopic tubes inside the dentin allow hot, cold, or sweet foods to stimulate nerves within the tooth. As a result, you may notice that your teeth have become painfully sensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks and sweets.

What Causes Tooth Enamel Erosion?

Many factors can contribute to tooth enamel loss:

  • Consumption of too many soft drinks or fruit drinks, along with poor dental hygiene. Bacteria thrive on sugar and produce high acid levels that can eat away at enamel.
  • Eating lots of sour foods or candies. Acidic foods can erode tooth enamel.
  • Dry mouth or low saliva volume. Saliva helps prevent decay by neutralizing acids and washing away leftover food in your mouth.
  • Acid reflux disease (GERD), or heartburn. Acid reflux brings stomach acids up to the mouth, where the acids can erode enamel.
  • Bulimia, alcoholism, or binge drinking, in which frequent vomiting exposes teeth to stomach acids.
  • Certain drugs or supplements with high acid content, such as aspirin or vitamin C, can also erode enamel.

What are some signs of tooth erosion?

Acid wear may lead to serious dental problems. It is important to notice the signs of tooth erosion in its early stages (sensitivity, discoloration and rounded teeth) before more severe damage occurs (cracks, severe sensitivity and other problems).

  • Sensitivity. Since protective enamel is wearing away, you may feel a twinge of pain when you consume hot, cold or sweet food and drink. As more enamel is worn away, teeth become increasingly sensitive.
  • Discoloration. Teeth can become slightly yellow because the thinning enamel layer exposes the underlying dentin.
  • Rounded teeth. Your teeth may have a rounded or ‘sand-blasted' look.
  • Transparency. Your front teeth may appear slightly translucent near the biting edges.
  • Advanced discoloration. Teeth may become more yellow as more dentin is exposed because of the loss of protective tooth enamel.
  • Cracks. Small cracks and roughness may appear at the edges of teeth.
  • Cupping. Small dents may appear on the chewing surface of the teeth. Fillings also might appear to be rising up out of the tooth.

You're flossing. Great. But in order for dental floss to effectively remove plaque from your teeth, you need to be sure you're using the correct technique. Because you'll be putting your fingers into your mouth, be sure to wash your hands before you reach for the floss. Then just follow these steps: •

  1. Use enough floss. Break off a piece about 18 inches long. That sounds like a lot, but you want enough to keep a clean segment in place as you move from tooth to tooth.
  2. Wrap most of the floss around the middle finger or the index finger of one hand, whichever you prefer, and a small amount onto the middle or index finger of the other hand. (Using the middle finger leaves your index finger free to manipulate the floss.)
  3. Slide between teeth. Gently slide the floss between the teeth in a zigzag motion and be careful not to let the floss snap or “pop” between teeth.
  4. Form a “C”. Make a C shape with the floss as you wrap it around the tooth. Then carefully pull the floss upward from the gum line to the top of the tooth. Roll along. As you move from one tooth to the next, unroll a fresh section of floss from the finger of one hand while rolling the used floss onto the finger of the other hand. Use your thumb as a guide.

Reach both sides. Don't forget to floss the back side of each tooth. As long as you use the correct technique, the type of floss you use is a matter of personal preference. There are many types to choose from, and you can even choose a variety of types to meet your needs and those of your family members. Either way, using the correct technique will help you remove the excess food particles and plaque buildup between your teeth and help improve your oral health.

Power Toothbrush Vs. Manual Toothbrush

Wondering if that hi-tech power toothbrush on display at your dentist's office is really better than the regular ones? What about a power toothbrush that uses AA batteries? What's the difference between them all?

In addition to things like your brushing technique, how often you brush and the length of time you spend doing it, experts believe that the type of toothbrush you use will directly affect how well you remove plaque.1 In order to decide which type of power toothbrush is right for you, it's helpful to understand exactly what kinds are available to you and how they differ from one another.

Knowing the Three Types of Power Toothbrushes

The three types of power toothbrushes on the market are rechargeable electric (including sonic), regular manual and battery power.

  • Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush: A rechargeable electric toothbrush, also known as a “power toothbrush”, is the kind you plug into the wall to recharge, keeping the handle and replacing the brush head every three months. Rechargeable electric toothbrushes differ among the kind of cleaning technology they use,such as oscillating-rotating (3D Cleaning Action) or sonic technology.
  • Regular Manual Toothbrush: In contrast, regular manual toothbrushes are the basic toothbrushes you're probably accustomed to with a plastic handle and various nylon bristle designs on the brush head. This is the most common type of toothbrush, and it doesn't require any power sources.
  • Battery Power Toothbrush: Those who want a dose of power but are weary of electric toothbrushes may like battery power toothbrushes. Like electric toothbrushes, battery power toothbrushes are sometimes simply called “power toothbrushes” due to their use of an AA battery. While similar in design to regular manual toothbrushes, battery power toothbrushes have just enough vibration to add some extra cleaning action.

Feeling the Difference in Plaque Removal

According to a 2005 independent study, “Brushes that worked with a rotation oscillation action removed more plaque and reduced gingivitis more effectively than manual brushes in the short and long-term… No other powered brush designs were consistently superior…”2 Oral-B pioneered this oscillating-rotating power technology in 1991 and has incorporated it into its premium power toothbrush range ever since. Recently it has also incorporated this technology into lower cost options, like Oral-B Vitality.

Healthy Bodies Start With Healthy Mouths

Since the health of your mouth can indicate the health of your entire body, your regular visits to Comfort Dental may be a vital indicator of a larger health problem. If something out of the ordinary is discovered via a dental exam, a follow-up with your physician could result in early detection and successful treatment of a more serious medical problem. If you have been advised that you are at risk for certain illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes, be sure to inform your Comfort Dental dentist.

But shouldn't I count on my physician to find any health problems?

Your physician is just one member of a larger team devoted to keeping you and your family healthy, and that team includes your dentist. Your oral health is very important! The lips, tongue, gums, salivary glands and oral tissue can all warn of trouble in your general health. What your dentist sees in your mouth may reveal the first signs of a variety of systemic diseases (diseases that affect the entire body, rather than a single organ or body part).

If my dentist says my oral health is good, should I still see my physician?

Absolutely. Regular dental exams, just like an annual physical, are an important part of your overall healthcare. Dental visits do not replace physician care in any way.

So, what can my MDA member dentist do?

A regular oral exam allows your dentist to keep your mouth in first-class shape and watch for any changes in your oral health or signs that may indicate problems elsewhere in the body. A dental exam can also identify poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development problems and improper jaw alignment.

By scheduling regular dental visits and talking with your dentist, you can help keep your mouth…and body… healthy throughout your life.

Medical Conditions and Oral Symptoms

Oral Cancer

Your dentist can screen for precancerous changes in the oral tissues. This early detection of oral cancer can result in successful treatment. Even better, oral cancer can be prevented if found and treated at the precancerous stage. About 25 percent of people diagnosed with oral cancer — the sixth most common cancer in the U.S. — have none of the traditional risk factors associated with the disease, such as the use of tobacco products or drinking alcohol.

Pregnancy Complications

Infants born prematurely in the U.S. account for six to nine percent of all total births but 70 percent of all prenatal deaths. The National Institutes of health reports that as many as 18 percent of the 250,000 premature low-weight infants born in this country each year may be the result of inflammatory gum disease in the mother. This is about the same as the percentage of premature births linked to cigarette smoking.

Studies show that pregnant women with severe gum disease are seven times more likely to deliver a low-birth weight baby. It makes sense to safeguard your oral health, and your baby's, through proper oral healthcare.

Heart Disease

Studies have shown that severe periodontal disease, in the form of inflamed gums, affects an estimated 200 million Americans, and that they are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those without gum infection.

A study released in February 2005 shows that older adults who have higher proportions of four periodontal-disease-causing bacteria in their mouths also tend to have thicker carotid arteries, a strong predictor of stroke and heart attack. The study was published in the journal Circulation, and is supported by four agencies of the National Institutes of health.

The report is the first to draw a direct connection between cardiovascular disease and bacteria involved in periodontal disease

Research has shown that other predictors of heart disease are inflammation of the gums around the teeth due to improper hygiene, as well as cavities and missing teeth.


Many people who have diabetes may not know they have it. Your Comfort Dental dentist can play an important role in discovering the oral symptoms of diabetes and helping you manage its oral effects. Diabetics tend to get periodontal disease at a rate three to four times higher than people without diabetes.

Other oral problems that diabetes can cause are dry mouth, a burning of the mouth or tongue, a fungal infection called thrush that causes painful white patches in your mouth, or an unpleasant breath odor. Diabetics who are not diagnosed are at a greater risk for infections following dental procedures such as extractions and root canals.

Want a healthy body? Start with a healthy Mouth! See your Michigan Dental Association dentist every six months and smile on!

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