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Posts for: March, 2012

By Ajax Dental Center
March 26, 2012
Category: Oral Health
DiabeticsWatchOutforaHiddenEnemyGumDisease

Periodontal (gum) disease, though it may be invisible to everyone but your dentist, can have a powerful effect on your entire body. Not only is it dangerous to your teeth and jaws, but it can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, cause preterm births in pregnant women, and affect blood sugar control in diabetics.

Diabetics are our subject for today. Symptoms of diabetes include abnormally high levels of glucose (a form of sugar) in the blood, leading to frequent urination, excessive thirst, blurred vision, unexplained weight loss, and loss of energy. The disease can also cause severe complications in various parts of the body.

Normally, glucose, your body's main energy source, is kept under control by a hormone called insulin, which is made by an organ called the pancreas. In type 1 diabetes, a person's pancreas does not produce enough insulin to deal with all the glucose in his or her blood. In type 2 diabetes — a condition related to increased age, physical inactivity, overweight, and heredity — the pancreas may produce enough insulin, but the body is not able to use it effectively. This condition is called insulin resistance.

People with type 1 diabetes need insulin to survive. Type 2 may be treated with exercise, diet, medications, and insulin supplements.

Serious complications of diabetes range from kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage to infections that do not heal, gangrene and amputation of limbs.

Diabetes and periodontal disease seem to have reciprocal effects on each other. Diabetics are more likely to have periodontal disease than non-diabetics; and those with periodontal disease are likely to face worsening blood sugar control over time.

Periodontal disease (from “peri”, meaning around and “odont”, meaning tooth), is caused by dental plaque — a film of bacteria that settles on your teeth and gums every day. It's what you remove with daily brushing and flossing. Any bacteria that remain cause inflammation, which can lead in the worst cases to loss of bone and eventual loss of teeth.

The close relationship of diabetes and periodontal disease probably results from changes in the function of immune cells responsible for healing. Inflammation is a part of normal wound healing — but chronic or prolonged inflammation can destroy the tissues it was meant to heal. This may be a major factor in the destructive complications of diabetes.

Many of these complications begin in the blood vessels. Like the eyes and the kidneys, gum tissues are rich in blood vessels. Gum tissues are also under constant attack from bacteria. If you are a diabetic, effective plaque control, along with regular professional dental cleaning, can have positive effects not only on periodontal disease, but also on control of your blood glucose level.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about periodontal disease and its connections with diabetes. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Diabetes & Periodontal Disease.”


By Ajax Dental Center
March 18, 2012
Category: Oral Health
FactsYouShouldKnowAboutToothWear

You may have noticed, as you get older, that the enamel of your teeth is looking worn in certain areas. Sometimes tooth wear takes the form of a minor chipping or fracturing at the incisal (cutting) edges of the teeth, or a loss of tooth material from the area near the gum line. In more severe cases, worn teeth look quite a bit smaller than they used to. Why does this happen?

Some wear with age is natural. But too much wear can interfere with your bite, expose more sensitive inner parts of the tooth to decay, and give you a more aged appearance.

There are things you can control that affect wear:

Your habits: Clenching or grinding habits, also called “bruxism,” is a major cause of tooth wear. The motion of teeth sliding over each other with forces that are beyond what's normal for biting or chewing causes a mechanical removal of tooth enamel. This can happen during sleep or periods of high stress. In either case there are therapies available, such as a thin, professionally made mouthguard that prevents your teeth from coming into contact with each other. Holding foreign objects, such as nails and bobby pins, between your teeth can also cause wear.

Your diet: Tooth enamel can be eroded (dissolved away) by acidic beverages, such as sodas, sports drinks and juices. Frequent snacking on sugary foods encourages the growth of oral bacteria that produce acid as a byproduct — also leaving your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay. Your saliva can buffer the effects of the acid in your mouth in about half an hour; if you consume these types of foods and beverages continually, there won't be enough time for this to work.

We can restore the appearance and function of worn teeth in a variety of ways. Porcelain crowns and veneers, for example, can re-establish the normal thickness and length of teeth while improving their color and giving you a more youthful appearance.

If you have any questions about tooth wear, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about tooth wear by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How And Why Teeth Wear.”


By Ajax Dental Center
March 10, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene   oral health  
RateYourOralHygiene

How good of a job are you doing with brushing and flossing your teeth? This is an important question, because a healthy mouth depends on regularly removing dental plaque (a whitish, sticky film of bacteria that grows near your gumline and on the surfaces of your teeth).

Daily Plaque Removal
Most people need to brush and floss at least once a day to remove plaque. Twice a day may be ideal, as plaque forms every 12 to 24 hours on your teeth, and it will also make your mouth feel fresher. Be thorough but gentle with your teeth — excessive brushing or flossing can cause damage.

The use of an antibacterial mouthrinse to help reduce the plaque you may have missed as well as to reduce bacteria that are clinging to soft tissues or membranes in your mouth, should be included in your daily hygiene routine.

Tongue Test
When you run your tongue around your mouth after a professional dental cleaning, you sense a smooth, slippery feeling. This is the way your teeth should feel after you brush your own teeth every day. The tooth surfaces should feel smooth and slick throughout your mouth and at the gum line.

Floss Test
After running floss up and down a tooth surface, notice whether there is blood on the floss or whether the floss has an odor. If the floss squeaks when you run it up and down a tooth surface, that indicates that the tooth is squeaky clean.

Check for Bleeding
Bleeding gums are a sign of inflammation, called gingivitis, in the gum tissue. Healthy gums do not bleed. If you have recently begun using more effective brushing and flossing methods, your gums may bleed at first but then stop as your gums become healthier.

Use Disclosing Solutions
Disclosing solutions are harmless dyes that can stain plaque and make it visible. Rinsing with these solutions may surprise you by revealing the plaque on your teeth you had no idea you missed.

Visit Our Office
We can check your mouth and tell you how well you are doing in your program of daily plaque removal. As a bonus, we will give you a toothbrush so that while you're here we can check your technique to make sure you are brushing correctly.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about oral hygiene. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Hygiene Behavior.”


By Ajax Dental Center
March 02, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  
TestingyourKnowledgeTheFactsandMythsofWisdomTeeth

Of all the teeth in the mouth, the ones receiving the most discussion and controversy would have to be the wisdom teeth or third molars. And this is not just a recent phenomenon, as people have been discussing them for centuries! See how much you really know about wisdom teeth by taking our quick and easy true/false self test.

  1. Third molars received their name, “wisdom teeth,” because a moderate amount of wisdom is supposedly achieved in life about the time they appear.
    True or False
  2. Wisdom teeth and all of their associated problems are commonplace in the practice of dentistry.
    True or False
  3. Because wisdom teeth are so unpredictable, they typically make their appearance between the ages of 17 and 25.
    True or False
  4. The most common consequence of impacted wisdom teeth is gum (periodontal) disease.
    True or False
  5. If wisdom teeth are not removed, they will become impacted or cause crowding. This is why so many people require orthodontic treatment (braces).
    True or False
  6. While most people have four wisdom teeth, having more (supernumerary teeth) or less (hypodontia) is possible.
    True or False
  7. Through dental x-rays and routine check-ups, we can predict the timing and way in which wisdom teeth become visible (erupt).
    True or False
  8. An impacted wisdom tooth, by definition, is a third molar that is colliding with or jammed against another important structure, such as an adjacent tooth, the gums or other important soft tissues in the mouth, or nerves and blood vessels.
    True or False
  9. The primary symptom for indicating you have an impacted wisdom tooth is pain.
    True or False
  10. If wisdom teeth need to be removed, it is best to remove them at a younger age rather than waiting until periodontal disease has started.
    True or False

Answers: 1) True. 2) True. 3) True. 4) True. 5) False. While wisdom teeth can be a factor in crowding, some people have no issues with these teeth. For them, they grow into proper position and are healthy teeth. 6) True. 7) False. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict the way wisdom teeth will erupt. 8) True. 9) False. In some scenarios, impacted wisdom may cause no pain. 10) True.

To learn more about wisdom teeth and in particular, impacted wisdom teeth, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions.


By Ajax Dental Center
March 01, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
CrownsDoYouKnowYourOptions

If you believe you need a crown or if we have already confirmed this fact, you need to understand that there are several options. The most common are gold crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns and all porcelain crowns. Each has both pros and cons; thus we will work with you to determine which will work best for your specific needs. However, to help you learn more now, here are some facts.

Gold Crowns

Made from cast gold, this type of crown has been around for over 100 years and is the most successful type of crown. It can last more than 50 years and thus many dentists prefer gold restorations for their own teeth, where cosmetics is not a concern.

All Porcelain Crowns

All porcelain crowns can produce an incredible, life-like appearance. However, because they are made purely from dental porcelain (a type of glass), they tend to be more fragile than gold crowns and may be more at risk with certain high biting forces. Thus they may not be as durable. Porcelain can also cause wear to the natural teeth they bite against. Therefore they are typically preferred for front teeth, rather than back teeth. They have an aesthetic longevity of about 10 years and a functional longevity of about 20 years.

Porcelain-Fused-To-Metal Crowns

As the name states, porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns provide the best of both worlds. They are made of natural tooth-colored dental porcelain that is fused on top of a precious or noble metal (usually gold or platinum). They are stronger than porcelain alone and are a good option for back teeth because they offer a better cosmetic result than gold crowns. This is also true for front teeth, however the gold support beneath the porcelain can compromise its life-like qualities. These crowns also have a proven track record and have been used with excellent results for over 40 years.

Learn more about crowns when you read, “Gold or Porcelain Crowns.” Or you can contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule a consultation.