Ronald J. Finley, DDS, PA

Dental Sealants

Placing sealants is a procedure intended to help prevent tooth decay, not repair a tooth after it has become decayed. No anesthetic (shots) are required, the cost is less than fillings and usually there is no drilling.

Our teeth are covered with plaque, which contains bacteria that produce acid and other harmful substances that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing and flossing are necessary to help remove the bacteria and food debris from the crevices in our teeth. Sealants help by filling in these crevices, and act as a barrier to keep plaque from accumulating in the areas where decay begins. Toothbrush bristles cannot penetrate these tiny pits and grooves, so sealing them is a good option.

The procedure is simple and fast. First, the teeth are cleaned and the tooth surface is conditioned so that the sealant will bond to the tooth. The resin sealant is then applied and usually hardened with a special light. Normally, they are tooth-colored or clear, so blend with the normal tooth shade.

Deciduous “Baby Teeth” Basics

In our lifetimes, we have two sets of teeth, deciduous (baby) teeth and adult teeth. Usually, the baby teeth start erupting around six to ten months of age, and are completely in by twenty-five to thirty-three months of age. Our adult teeth begin erupting when we are six to seven years of age and finish erupting around seventeen to twenty-one years of age. However, most of the time, there is not room in the mouth for the third molars (wisdom teeth) to come in properly, so many are removed.

Most of us go through a time when we have both types of teeth in our mouths at the same time. During this time, we might have “crooked” smiles, uneven and crowded teeth and maybe even some spaces. If there is enough room for the teeth, things usually even out when the adult teeth erupt.

It’s important to take good care of the baby teeth because they not only aid in chewing, but save room for the adult teeth and help with speech development. It’s important to see a dentist when baby teeth first appear in the mouth to learn how to maintain proper hygiene and decay preventive measures.

Antibiotic Use In Dental Treatment

Antibiotics are medicines used to fight infections caused by bacteria. They are not effective against viruses. Oral infections can occur anywhere in the mouth, even inside the teeth. Usually, bacterial infections require some type of treatment in addition to using antibiotics.  For instance, an abscessed tooth may require endodontic (root canal) therapy in addition to the use of an antibiotic.

It’s important to remember that bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body. This is usually not a problem if one’s immune system is functioning properly. However, there is concern that the heart and artificial joints, such as knees and hips, could be compromised by circulating bacteria. In patients with certain specified conditions, antibiotics are given as premedication prior to dental treatment to help reduce the chances of infections occurring in these areas. This is done even though there is no scientific evidence proving that antibiotic prophylaxis defends against these complications. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons do not recommend premedication for everyone who has had an orthopedic procedure.   Each person should talk to their dentist and physician to decide if antibiotics are indicated.

Unwanted side effects can also be a problem. Many times, taking antibiotics causes more problems than it fixes.  Good bacteria that protect against infection can be destroyed and drug-resistant variations can develop.

Remember also, that it is important to follow the directions on the bottle so that adverse reactions do not occur.  Don’t hesitate to call your dentist or physician if you have a question or need to report a complication you have experienced.

 

 

Dental Implants Have Arrived

When we lose a tooth, bad things can happen.  When a tooth is lost, the others around it are required to absorb the forces once applied to the missing tooth.  This can lead to the cracking of teeth, tooth mobility, and can sometimes contribute to bone loss in that area.  Healthy bone is maintained by the stimulation of a tooth or implant.  Without that stimulation, bone goes away.  Missing teeth can affect the way we speak as well as chew.  The bite is altered which can adversely affect the jaw joints.  If the missing tooth is in the front of the mouth,  one may find it awkward to smile and laugh without covering his or her mouth with a hand.   This is where implants can play a role in maintaining esthetics and the health of the teeth and bone in the area where the tooth was lost.

Implants can be placed in different ways.  Some require several appointments over an extended period and others can be placed soon after a tooth is extracted.  They are made of biocompatable materials, and patients usually experience only mild discomfort after their placement.  The implant is stabilized in the jaw by the bone growing around it (osseointegration).  After the implant is deemed stable, a crown (or cap)  which matches your other natural teeth is placed over it.

To be a good candidate for an implant, one needs to be in general good health, with no conditions that would inhibit healing.  Smoking may be associated with implant failures.  Also, enough healthy bone must be present to support the implant.

Just like with natural teeth, it is imperative that good oral hygiene be maintained.  Gum and bone disease can occur around implants if the area is not kept clean.

 

 

 

THE PERILS OF USING SMOKELESS TOBACCO

Smokeless tobacco is not a better alternative to cigarettes! It is a fact that the use of spit tobacco leads to physical dependence on nicotine. Holding a dip of smokeless tobacco in one’s mouth for thirty minutes provides as much nicotine as smoking three cigarettes.

Some people believe smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative to cigarettes, but nothing could be further from the truth. It causes cancers of the mouth, lip, tongue and pancreas. Additional harm can occur affecting the voice box, esophagus, colon and bladder (because toxins in the juice are swallowed). Advanced oral cancer is hard to treat and the treatment can involve radical, disfiguring surgery. Each year, more than 28,000 new cases of mouth and throat cancers are diagnosed. The risk of developing cardiovascular disease may also be increased.

Advertisers glamorize its use, but do not emphasize its down side. The facts indicate that one can of smokeless tobacco delivers as much nicotine as sixty cigarettes. It’s easy to become addicted, and more and more young people are becoming victims. Not only is it expensive, but think of other considerations such as bad breath, stained teeth and drooling saliva. One’s social life can obviously be affected.

So, in summary, if you are tobacco-free, you will feel better, have a better chance of avoiding serious health issues, have a better sense of taste, others will not shun you because of the way you look and smell and you can save money.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact this office or your family physician.