Ways to get shinier, whiter teeth:
Having perfect teeth can lead to a beautiful smile. Yellow or brown stains caused by coffee, tea, red wine or cigarettes are not such a nice view. In order to get rid of these nasty stains we need to take extra care of our teeth. The most important thing we have to do is to brush our teeth twice a day for at least two to three minutes. Try to avoid brushing with a rough toothbrush, which can damage the enamel. We recommend brushing after each meal, if you are not home to brush we recommend chewing gum. Chewing gum that contains zero sugar helps at maintaining white teeth by stimulating the salivary secretion that washes the stains off the teeth. Try to avoid sweets as much as possible. Try replacing them with vegetables or fruits. Lastly, keep an eye out for toothpaste that contains fluorine that is an active ingredient that strengthens the enamel.
Visiting the dentist twice a year is highly recommended, The dentist can give you suggestions in choosing the best products for your oral health. For cleaning our teeth and getting them whither they may suggest using special whitening strips. Always show caution and follow the instructions during the treatment. A frequent problem in obtaining whiter teeth is the irritation of the gum. When gum irritation occurs stop the use of the whitening strips and consult with your dentist. Those who have sensitive gums should use whitening treatment only when guided by specialists. The whitening solutions have no effect unless they are applied on our natural teeth, if you have an artificial tooth it is better to avoid whitening strips and solutions. There will be a visible difference between the natural teeth and the artificial ones.
- What is Dental Floride?
Keeping children's teeth healthy requires more than just daily brushing. During a routine exam, you may be surprised to find the doctor examining a child's teeth and asking the parent about their water supply. That's because fluoride, a substance that's found naturally in water, plays an important role in healthy tooth development and cavity prevention.
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria - found in the plaque that dentists try so hard to get rid of - break down sugars in food. This process produces damaging acids that dissolve the hard enamel surfaces of our teeth. If the damage is not stopped or treated, the bacteria can penetrate through the enamel to the underlying tissues, causing cavities (also called caries). Cavities weaken teeth and lead to pain, tooth loss, or widespread infection in the most severe cases.
Fluoride fights tooth decay in two ways. It strengthens tooth enamel, the hard and shiny substance that protects the teeth. Fluoride also allows the teeth damaged by acid to repair, or re-materialize themselves. Fluoride cannot repair cavities, but it can reverse low levels of tooth decay and thus prevent new cavities from forming.
Though fluoride benefits adults, it is especially critical to the health of developing teeth in children. Despite all the good news about dental health, tooth decay remains one of the most common diseases in childhood. According to 2000 statistics from the U.S. Surgeon General, more than half of children ages 5 to 9 years have had at least one cavity or filling, and tooth decay has affected 78% of 17-year-olds.
Your Child's Fluoride Needs
So how much fluoride does your child need? In general, children under the age of 6 months do not need fluoride. During the first 6-month checkup is a great chance to discuss fluoride needs with a health professional.
If you live in a non-fluoridated area, your child's doctor or dentist may prescribe fluoride drops, tablets, or vitamins after your baby is 6 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that these fluoride supplements be given daily to children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years. The dosage will change as your child grows. Only children living in non-fluoridated areas or children who drink only non-fluoridated bottled water should receive supplements.
Most water supplies contain trace amounts of fluoride. Water systems are considered naturally fluoridated when the natural level of fluoride is greater than 0.7 parts per million (ppm). When a water system adjusts the level of fluoride to 0.7–1.2 ppm it is referred to as community water fluoridation. In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, adjusted the fluoride content of their water supply to 1 ppm and became the first city to implement community water fluoridation. Today, approximately 67.3 percent of the U.S. population on public water supplies has access to fluoridated water.
Bottled water and fluoridation
There is some concern among dental professionals that the growing use of bottled water may decrease the amount of fluoride exposure people will receive. Some bottlers such as Dannon have begun adding fluoride to their water. Most bottlers, however, do not add fluoride, and fluoride concentrations are not usually labeled on the bottle. As a result, people who have fluoridated water supplies may receive less than the amounts of fluoride that is recommend if they choose bottled water over tap water. However, if consumers are merely choosing bottled water over other packaged drinks, such as orange juice or soda (when the latter is produced using water which has not been fluoridated), the effects may be absent, especially because consumers will still turn to tap water for cooking (i.e. preparing pasta or making bread).
Frequently, opponents point to a study by the National Institute of Dental Research showing little difference in tooth decay rates among children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities. In the study's results, the difference between the children exposed to water fluoridation, and those who were not exposed, was very small, between 0.12 and 0.30 DMFS (Decayed Missing and Filled Surfaces).
Some detractors of water fluoridation support concentrated topical methods to deliver fluoride, as seen in these fluoride trays often used in dentistry.
Opponents also argue that in the instances that fluoride prevents tooth decay, the effects are merely topical. Therefore, fluoridating water is unnecessary and ineffective. Instead, they argue, direct applications of fluoride to teeth as done in dental offices and with fluoridated toothpastes should be the recommended methods.
Opponents point out that dental decay continues to exist in water fluoridated communities. They reason that if fluoride is effective, then there wouldn't be any tooth decay. Opponents argue that the general decline of tooth decay is the result of factors beside water fluoridation, including toothpaste with fluoride, improved diets, and overall improved general and dental health.
The greatest concern with fluoride overexposure is dental fluorosis. In severe cases fluorosis discolors teeth, causes surface changes to the enamel, and makes oral hygiene more difficult. Government agencies, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, keep records on the prevalence of fluorosis in the general public.
Has the prevalence of tooth decay decreased since water fluoridation began?
Yes. Independent studies initiated in 1945 and 1946 followed four communities and assessed the value of water fluoridation. By 1960, tooth decay rates in these communities declined, on average, 56 percent more than in demographically similar communities whose water supplies were not fluoridated. More recent studies show that water fluoridation will reduce tooth decay in permanent teeth by approximately 18 to 40 percent. Although this reduction in decay is not as dramatic as it was in the 1950s and 1960s, it is significant when compared to tooth decay in non- fluoridated communities.
- What is Periodontal (GUM) Disease?
Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are serious infections that if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. The word periodontal literally means "around the tooth." Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth.
Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed.
In the mildest form of the disease, gingivitis, the gums swell and bleed easily. There is usually little to no discomfort. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral care at home.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body in essence turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
• Smoking. Need another reason to quit smoking? Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of periodontitis. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances of success of some treatments.
• Hormonal changes in girls/women. These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
• Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal disease.
• Stress. Research shows that stress can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight infection, including periodontal disease.
• Medications. Some drugs, such as antidepressants and some heart medicines, can affect oral health because they lessen the flow of saliva. (Saliva has a protective effect on teeth and gums.)
• Illnesses. Diseases like cancer or AIDS and their treatments can also affect the health of gums.
• Genetic susceptibility. Some people are more prone to severe periodontal disease than others
Several warning signs that can signal a problem:
• Gums that bleed easily
• Red, swollen, tender gums
• Gums that are pulled away from the teeth
• Persistent bad breath or bad taste
• Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
• Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
• Any change in the fit of partial dentures
It is possible to have periodontal disease and have no warning signs. That is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important. Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Good oral hygiene at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease at bay.
It is estimated that 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ syndrome, a condition in which the temporomandibular joint does not function properly. This is the joint that connects the temporal bone (the bone that forms the sides of the scull) with the mandible (the jaw bone). We use this joint more frequently than most of the other joints in our bodies. Every time we talk, chew, bite down, or swallow we put the TMJ to work. This condition produces pain in the muscles and joints of the jaw that can radiate to the face, neck, head and even the shoulders. There also may be difficulty opening the mouth all the way, or clicking and popping noises when chewing, yawning or moving the joint.
TMJ can be caused by trauma, disease, wear due to aging, or habits:
- Trauma: Trauma is divided to microtrauma and macrotrauma.
- Microtrauma is internal, such as bruxism (grinding the teeth) and clenching (jaw tightening). This continual hammering on the temporomandibular joint can change the alignment of the teeth. Muscle involvement causes inflammation of the membranes surrounding the joint. Teeth grinding (bruxism) and clenching are habits that may be diagnosed in people who complain of pain in the temporomandibular joint or have facial pain that includes the muscles involved in chewing (myofascial pain).
- Macrotrauma, such as a punch to the jaw or impact in an accident, can break the jawbone or damage the disc.
- Bruxism: Teeth grinding as a habit can result in muscle spasm and inflammatory reactions, thus causing the initial pain.
- Changes in the normal stimuli or height of the teeth, misalignment of the teeth, and changes in the chewing muscles may cause temporomandibular joint changes. Generally, someone who has a habit of grinding his or her teeth will do so mostly during sleep.
- In some cases, the grinding may be so loud that it disturbs others.
- Clenching: Someone who clenches continually bites on things while awake. This might be chewing gum, a pen or pencil, or fingernails. The constant pounding on the joint causes the pain. Stress is often blamed for tension in the jaw, leading to a clenched jaw.
- Osteoarthritis: Like other joints in the body, the jaw joint is prone to have arthritic changes. These changes are sometimes caused by breakdown of the joint (degeneration) or normal aging. Degenerative joint disease causes a slow progressive loss of cartilage and formation of new bone at the surface of the joint. Cartilage destruction is a result of several mechanical and biological factors rather than a single entity. Its prevalence increases with repetitive microtrauma or macrotrauma, as well as with normal aging. Immunologic and inflammatory diseases contribute to the progress of the disease.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation. As it progresses, the disease can cause destruction of cartilage and erode bone, deforming joints. It is an autoimmune disease involving the antibody factor against immunoglobulin G (IgG). Chronic rheumatoid arthritis is a multisystem inflammatory disorder with a persistent symmetric joint involvement. Certain infectious diseases may be the cause of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Help For TMJ Syndrome:
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to alleviate the pain and possibly take care of it altogether without seeing a doctor. The American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery recommends trying some simple remedies. To reduce the amount of wear and injury to the joint, chew evenly (left vs. right); stop chewing gum; avoid hard chewy foods, and stop clenching, or grinding your teeth. To aid the healing processes, apply a heating pad (or some form of heat) for 20 minutes at least twice a day. Two aspirin or ibuprofen tablets can help reduce inflammation. Don't use them everyday; if the pain is that bad, see your dentist. If pain persists after a few weeks, or if it is already unbearable, your should see your dentist who can check the alignment of your teeth. Most cases of TMJ dysfunction can be taken care of by either readjusting a patient's bite or by fitting him or her with a mouth-piece. A special mouth-piece is made to be worn at night to prevent clenching and compression of the joint. This also may help correct the bite. Your dentist should be qualified to do both of these procedures. Orthodontists, physical therapists, and dentists all offer treatments for TMJ. However, it is estimated that 90% of all TMJ cases respond to simple, inexpensive treatments, like giving up chewing gum for a few weeks or more to see if that helps, avoid sleeping on the side of your face where your jaw is more sore. More severe cases of TMJ dysfunction are referred to an oral surgeon who can coordinate a treatment plan that may or may not include surgery. Reconstructive surgery of the jaw is rarely required. In fact, studies have shown that the results are often worse than before surgery.
Be cautious about any non-reversible treatment method that permanently alters your bite. However, if a mouth guard doesn't work, your dentist may recommend orthodontics to help re-align your teeth.
Muscle relaxant medications may help. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) help reduce inflammation in the jaw stemming from arthritis or other causes of inflammation.
- Outlook (Prognosis) Most cases can be successfully treated, although initially it may be difficult to diagnose the problem and find an effective solution. Some cases of pain go away on their own without treatment. TMJ-related pain tends to be cyclical and may return again in the future. If the cause is nighttime clenching, treatment can be particularly tricky because it is a sleeping behavior that is hard to control.
Mouth splints are a common treatment approach for teeth grinding. While some splints may silence the grinding by providing a flat, even surface, their effectiveness at reducing pain or stopping clenching is more controversial. Splints may be effective in the short-term but could become less effective over time. Splints can also cause changes in your bite.
- Possible Complications
- Chronic headaches
- Chronic facial pain
- When to Contact a Medical Professional: See your health care provider immediately if you are having trouble eating or opening your mouth. Keep in mind that a wide variety of possible conditions can cause TMJ symptoms, from arthritis to whiplash injuries. Experts who are specially trained in facial pain can help diagnose and treat TMJ.
TMJ problems do not fall clearly into one medical discipline. There are a wide variety of treatment approaches. If you are interested in a massage-based approach, look for a massage or physical therapist trained in trigger point therapy, neuromuscular therapy (NMT), clinical massage, or pain relief, particularly as it applies to TMJ pain.
Dentists who specialize in evaluating and treating TMJ disorders will typically perform x-ray exams and may use a kinesiograph or EMG (electromyography). They may give the patient a mouth guard. Surgery is now considered a last resort by most TMJ experts