My Blog

Posts for: June, 2012

By Ajax Dental Center
June 22, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   dry mouth  
UnderstandingDryMouth

The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia (“xero” – dry; “stomia” – mouth), something that many of us have experienced at some point in life. However, for some people it can be a chronic condition that is ideal for promoting tooth decay. It can also be a warning sign of a more serious health condition.

Dry mouth occurs when there is an insufficient flow of saliva, the fluid secreted by the salivary glands. Your major salivary glands are located in two places: inside the checks by the back top molars and in the floor of the mouth, with about six hundred tiny glands scattered throughout your mouth. And many people are surprised to learn that when they are functioning normally, saliva glands secret between two and four pints of saliva per day! While this may sound like a lot (and it is), saliva is key for buffering or neutralizing acids in the mouth. Without this powerful protection, tooth decay can increase quickly. This is especially true for older individuals who have exposed tooth root surfaces.

It is also important to note that there are times when mouth dryness is perfectly normal. For example, when you wake, you will probably have a slightly dry mouth because saliva flow slows at night. Another example is if you are dehydrated when it is simply a warning sign that you need to drink more fluids (especially water). Other causes for temporary dry mouth include stress as well as what you consume: coffee, alcohol, onions, and certain spices.

You can also have a dry mouth due to a side effect from an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication. If it turns out that this is the cause in your case, you need to talk to the prescribing physician to see if there is something else you can take to avoid this side effect. If there are no substitutes, one tip you can try is to take several sips of water before taking the medication followed by a full glass of water, or chew gum containing xylitol, which moistens your mouth and decreases the risk of tooth decay.

Another cause of dry mouth is radiation treatment for cancer in the head and neck region. Yes, these treatments are crucial for fighting cancer; however, they can inflame, damage or destroy salivary glands. You can also have dry mouth from certain systemic (general body) or autoimmune (“auto” – self; “immune” – resistance system) diseases, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, cystic fibrosis and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dry Mouth.” Or, you can contact us today to ask your questions, discuss your circumstances or schedule an appointment.


By Ajax Dental Center
June 14, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
SixWaystoGetWhiterTeeth

Time to tune up the brightness on your teeth? Here are six modern methods of whitening and brightening your smile.

  • In-office “power” bleaching under the supervision of my staff and me is recommended if your teeth are badly stained, or if you are about to have veneers or crowns made. It's quick, safe, and effective. Gels containing high concentrations of bleach are applied to your teeth in our office, often with the enhancement by heat and light to make them act faster. Results show teeth becoming up to ten shades lighter in about an hour.
  • “Take home” whitening solutions and trays are designed to fit your mouth and can also be provided by my office. The technique is easy to perform and is less expensive than in-office power whitening system, although it takes longer to see the same results. General recommendations are for 30 minute applications twice a day. You can usually see a change after two to four sessions. This requires patience, because it is important not to exceed recommended exposure in order to avoid damage to your teeth, gums, and the inside skin of your mouth. After two weeks of use, teeth can be expected to be about eight shades lighter.
  • Whitening strips look like clear Band-Aids that are applied to the tooth surfaces. They should be worn twice a day for 30 minutes each time, for seven days. On average, they claim to lighten teeth more than three shades. They take about two weeks to work at 30 minutes per day.
  • “Paint on” or “Brush on” whitening formulas are also available. These are gels that are painted onto the teeth every night at bedtime, for two weeks. Some claim that this line of home whitening can whiten teeth two to five shades. These gels may make your mouth feel goopy, but they are relatively inexpensive. Some gels come with a small brush to scrub them onto the teeth.
  • Over-the-counter “mouth-tray” whiteners use mouth trays that are not designed for your particular mouth, so they may not fit well and may be messy or uncomfortable. They are filled with gel and worn 45 minutes a day for one week. On average, teeth become two shades whiter.
  • Whitening gum is a relatively new product. It requires chewing two pieces for at least 20 minutes, four times a day, to see an effect.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth bleaching. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening.”


By Ajax Dental Center
June 06, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
CommonQuestionsAboutWhiteningYourTeeth

Teeth whitening is a great way to improve your smile. For best results and to ensure your safety, teeth should be bleached under professional supervision. We can help you choose the whitening method that's right for you, and monitor the effects of your treatment. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this relatively inexpensive cosmetic procedure:

Is teeth whitening safe?
A lot of research has been done on teeth whitening, so we know that specific bleaching formulas, from a reputable source, are safe if used as directed and after a proper dental examination. You should be aware that tooth sensitivity is a common side effect of bleaching, but brushing with a desensitizing toothpaste containing potassium nitrate for two weeks prior to bleaching can reduce sensitivity. Using potassium nitrate during the bleaching process can also help.

Is it effective?
Professional bleaching is very effective. Peroxide goes through tooth enamel (the outermost layer) and the dentin (middle layer) to the pulp (the innermost layer) in 5 to 15 minutes. The bleach actually changes the color of the enamel and dentin, and removes stains.

How is teeth whitening done?
Basically there are three options: in-office whitening (done by a dentist), at-home bleaching with custom-made flexible plastic trays (with prescription bleach), and over-the-counter (OTC) products. Not all OTC products are equal, and the results will take longer to achieve than with professionally supervised procedures.

How long does it take?
That depends on what method you choose and, in the case of at-home whitening, how conscientious you are about following through with your course of treatment. One study found that a six-shade change required either: three in-office applications of 38% hydrogen peroxide; one week of 10% carbamide peroxide used at home nightly in a custom-made tray; or 16 daily application of 5.3% hydrogen peroxide on a whitening strip.

Will it last?
It really depends on the individual. No bleaching method can whiten teeth permanently, though some people's teeth remain white for over 10 years with no touch-up treatment. More typical results vary from six months to two years. Keeping up with your regular oral hygiene routine at home and your professional cleanings at the dentist's office will help maintain the results; so will avoiding tobacco and beverages that stain, such as red wine, tea and coffee. You can also consider a bleaching touch-up once or twice a year at home or here at the dental office.

I want to go for it! What's the first step?
Step one is a pre-bleaching dental examination to determine the cause of your tooth discoloration. We want to make sure that your discoloration is not the result of an oral health-related problem. For example bleaching will mask but not resolve issues such as abscessed teeth, decay, and root canal problems. We want your teeth not only to be beautiful, but healthy, too!

If you are interested in learning more about teeth whitening, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. For more information on teeth whitening, please see the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered” and “Tooth Whitening Safety Tips.”