Teeth implants – what and why?

Teeth implants are the best alternative when you need a tooth replacement that looks and functions like a natural tooth without damaging the neighbouring teeth. But what are teeth implants and why might you choose this treatment? Read more…

Teeth implantsWhat are teeth implants?

Teeth implants are artificial roots of metal that are implanted in your jaw bone to replace missing teeth. On top of the implanted metal root it is possible to attach a crown, a bridge or a set of dentures depending on how many teeth need to be replaced. If cared for properly teeth implants can function and look exactly like natural teeth and can last much longer than most of their alternatives.

What are teeth implants made of?

The roots of teeth implants are made of titanium. Titanium is a very suitable metal for implants, because it is able to interact with the natural bone tissue in such a way that the implants become integrated into the jaw bone. This proces is called osseointegration and is a unique quality in titanium the discovery of which made implants possible. The roots of the implants are normally shaped like a screw which makes the integration very strong. Crowns attached on top of teeth implants are normally made of porcelain to make the implants look as natural as possible.

Why choose teeth implants?

Dental bridges and dentures are good alternatives to implants and will in many cases be the preferred choice. In other cases there is a wish to replace the missing teeth with something that functions and looks more like the natural teeth. This might be the case with young people who lost a tooth because of caries or trauma, and where the bone structure and surrounding teeth are healthy and sound. In these situations teeth implants are a good alternative.

Sometimes teeth implants are also used to add retention to dentures or to attach bridges onto, when there are no natural teeth that can serve as anchors. When implants are used as anchors for dentures, ‘snap-in’ buttons’ are attached on top of the implants instead of porcelain crowns. More about dentures and dental bridges here.

Bad breath – causes and solutions!

Bad breath is hard to talk about but not so hard to cure. Why do people have bad breath and what can be done about it?

Bad breath causes and solutionsBad breath is a big problem for many and is still a big taboo in most places. It is a pity that bad breath is so hard to talk about, because it is not very hard to do something about. This article will deal with two questions concerning bad breath: Why do people have bad breath and what can be done about it?

Why do I have bad breath?

Many people are convinced that their bad breath comes from their stomach, but recent research has proved that most cases of bad breath are caused by germs on the surface of the tongue. In fact, it is estimated that germs on the tongue account for as much as 90% of all cases of bad breath. Simply put, the germs release gases that cause the bad smell. If you examine your own tongue in the mirror you will discover that it’s surface is actually very rough. Especially the area near the root of your tongue is a perfect breeding ground for the germs that cause bad breath.

Another connection between germs and bad breath is that germs can build up as plaque and eventually cause gum disease (periodontitis) and cavities. Plaque in itself can cause bad breath, but especially periodontitis and cavities can cause a very bad smell from the mouth because of the kind of germs that live in cavities and deep periodontal pockets.

Tonsil stones (or tonsilloliths) are yet another reason why some people suffer from bad breath. Tonsil stones are whitish/yellow little lumps that sometimes accumulate in the small pits on the surface of your tonsils. The lumps consist of sulfur-producing bacteria and debris from your mouth and nose and they can both taste and smell bad.

What can be done about bad breath?

If your bad breath is caused by plaque, you will need to work harder on your dental hygiene. Maybe you already brush your teeth at least twice a day or even more often – but are you thorough enough? Do you make sure to brush every surface of all your teeth (even the difficult-to-reach ones in the back of your mouth) or do you tend to brush the same few teeth every time?

If your bad breath is caused by cavities or periodontitis you will need to see your dentist for treatment. These problems cannot be solved by improving your oral hygiene alone. Your dentist or dental hygienist will probably also advise you on how to maintain a high standard of oral hygiene and how to avoid bad breath in the future. You can talk openly to your dentist or dental hygienist about your bad breath. It is their profession to deal with these things and there are no taboos in the dental clinic.

If your teeth are already healthy and your dental hygiene is good but you still suffer from bad breath, you might need to start cleaning your tongue as well. Your tongue can be cleaned by brushing it with your toothbrush. If brushing your tongue with your toothbrush makes you gag, you could try to use a tongue scraper which is especially designed for cleaning the tongue and treating bad breath.

If you see little white lumps or tonsil stones on your tonsils and you think they are the cause of your bad breath, you might be able to squeeze them out by pressing a finger or a Q-tip against the bottom of the tonsil and pushing upward. If your gag reflex prevents you from sticking fingers or Q-tips in your throat, the tonsil stones might be removed if you simply flex your throat and swallow. If you are not successful at any of these methods, your dentist can help you.

Hopefully the advice in this article can help you do something about your bad breath. Do not accept bad breath as part of your life. It might be a sign that something is wrong or – to look on the bright side – it might be a surprisingly easy problem to solve!

Regular cleaning, deep cleaning and root planning – what do they include?

A dental cleaning is much more than a superficial removal of plaque and tartar. Also, the reasons for offering you a dental cleaning go far beyond cosmetic considerations. In the dental clinic the word ‘cleaning’ actually covers a range of treatments all designed to help you maintain good dental health. This article will cover the most used terms, explain what exactly is meant by them and discuss the benefits of regular dental cleanings?

Dental cleaning for beautiful teeth

A dental cleaning is much more than a superficial removal of plaque and tartar. Also, the reasons for offering you a dental cleaning go far beyond cosmetic considerations. In the dental clinic the word ‘cleaning’ actually covers a range of treatments all designed to help you maintain good dental health. This article will cover the most used terms, explain what exactly is meant by them and discuss the benefits of regular dental cleanings?

A regular cleaning

A regular cleaning is the standard treatment when the gums and bone structure are healthy. A regular cleaning includes the removal of plaque, calculus and stain from the crown and root surfaces of your teeth. Superficial stains on the teeth can in most cases be effectively removed through regular cleaning and polishing. Not all people are equally prone to building up layers of calculus on their teeth. Your daily dental hygiene routines are a very important factor in this regard, but your diet and the chemical make-up of your saliva also plays a part. Calculus mostly builds up on the inside of your lower front teeth and on the outside of your upper molars, where your major saliva glands are situated. A regular cleaning will therefore often primarily be focused on these places.

Deep cleaning

A deep cleaning is offered when periodontal disease has resulted in loss of the bone that supports the teeth. During the oral examination your dentist will already have registered which teeth are in need of a deep cleaning. The reason that certain teeth need a deep cleaning is that the periodontal pocket which results from periodontitis is too deep to be kept clean through daily toothbrushing. It is therefore necessary to clean the pocket through professional cleaning in order to prevent the periodontal disease from worsening. Your dentist will normally charge extra for each tooth that needs a deep cleaning, since this requires extra time and effort.

Root planning

Root planning is  often combined with the dental cleaning and used in connection with periodontitis. It is a specific treatment that removes the roughened cementum and surface dentin on the root. A root surface which is not smooth is especially receptive to build-ups of calculus, microorganisms and their toxins. A root surface that needs root planning can be visible in your mouth, because your gum has receded or it can be ‘hidden’ in the periodontal pocket in the case of periodontal disease. The crown of the tooth is covered by enamel which is the hardest material in your body and thus offers a good protection against cavities. A root surface does not have this kind of protection and root surfaces that are visible in the mouth are at greater risk of developing cavities – especially if the surface is not smooth. A professional cleaning and root planning is therefore especially beneficial in this case.

Your dentist or dental hygienist should keep you updated on your periodontal status and discuss with you, what kind of cleaning is necessary in your case. It should also be possible to give you an idea of the price of the cleaning before treatment is started.

HELP!! My child is teething!

It is with great anticipation that parents expect the arrival of the very first tooth. But the process of teething might not be as happy an occasion as hoped for. The infant cries, is irritable and doesn’t sleep. To the caring parents it seems there is nothing they can do. Or is there?

Child teethingIt is with great anticipation that parents expect the arrival of the very first tooth. But the process of teething might not be as happy an occasion as hoped for. The infant cries, is irritable and doesn’t sleep. To the caring parents it seems that there is nothing they can do to make the teething process less uncomfortable. Or is there? In this article you can read about when the first baby teeth can be expected, what symptoms you should be prepared for in your teething toddler, how you can soothe your child while the teeth are erupting and how to care for the new teeth.

When does the teething start?

Normally the teething starts when the lower central front teeth break through the gum. This intitial teething normally happens when the child is 6-7 months old. If your child is still teethless after 1 year there is no need to worry, though. If the teething has still not begun at the age of 18 months, the child should be examined by a dentist.

The last baby teeth to erupt are the big teeth in the back. They normally come around the age 1½ to 3 years. Interestingly, children who are born too early, often start teething later than usual. A set of baby teeth consists of 20 teeth.


The first signs of teething

Just before a tooth erupts, the gum will normally turn white and feel hard. A red and swollen gum can also be a sign that a tooth is on it’s way.

While your child is teething he or she might:

  • Have a tendency to put things in his or her mouth and bite on them.
  • Drool more
  • Have problems eating

Physical symptoms that your child is teething can be:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Diarrhoea
  • Redness of the bottom
  • Fever (if the temperature remains above 38 degrees for more than 24 hours it is not caused by teething and the child should be examined by a doctor.)

What can you do to relieve teething symptoms?
There isn’t much you can do about the physical symptoms, except comfort and nurse the child a little extra. If the child is very bothered by the teething symptoms, a small dose of paracetamol can help. In some places it is possible to buy mixtures for children in the right doses that can be mixed with the child’s milk or water. If it is your first time to use paracetamol with your child, it would be better to contact your dentist or doctor first to make sure of the dosage.

If the gum is itching this can often be soothed by using a teething ring – preferably from the refrigerator. A teething baby might also appreciate washed carrots or cucumbers from the refrigerator.

Are you considering a dental bridge?

What is a dental bridge and when is it a good alternative? How long can you expect a dental bridge to last and what factors affect the life expectancy? Find the answer to these and many more questions in this article…

Dental bridgeWhat is a dental bridge?

A dental bridge is a tooth replacement, which replaces one or more missing teeth. It is only possible to make a dental bridge if there is at least one natural tooth next to the missing teeth on which it can be fixed. If there are no natural teeth, it might be possible to make an implant as an anchor for the bridge. A dental bridge is called so, because it’s construction is similar to that of a real bridge. Just like a real bridge is mounted on solid land and extends over an empty void, so is a dental bridge mounted on one or two of your natural teeth (by capping these teeth with dental crowns) and extends over the toothless gums on either one or both sides.

Different kinds of bridges

The traditional dental bridge is the kind that is supported by a natural tooth in both ends. This is the ideal kind of bridge since the double support makes it more stable and strong.

A cantilever bridge is a dental bridge, which is only supported by a natural tooth in one end. This is normally done, when the missing tooth is the last in the row and there is no tooth further back on which to support it.

A Maryland bridge (or a resin-bonded bridge) is the simplest and cheapest way to make a dental bridge. Two metal ‘wings’ are attached to a plastic tooth and are bonded to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. This kind of dental bridge often does not last very long and is mostly used as a temporary or more economic solution.

When is a dental bridge a good alternative?

Since both the traditional bridge and the cantilever bridge requires capping of the neighbouring teeth with crowns, many dentists would not recommend a dental bridge, if your neighbouring teeth are healthy and have not previously been restored with fillings. It is a pity to remove so much healthy tooth substance, when there are alternatives. Especially with young people who have just lost one tooth and whose dental health is generally good, an implant is normally the preferred treatment, since it can last a lifetime and does not harm the neighbouring teeth.

If, on the other hand, the neighbouring teeth already have large fillings and might eventually require a capping anyway, a dental bridge would be a good solution. Your dentist will be able to give you proper advice in the individual case.

How long does a dental bridge last?

Some dental bridges last 20-25 years while others need to be changed after only 5 years. Since a dental bridge is not a cheap solution, you are probably very interested in knowing the life expectancy of a dental bridge in your case. While it is not possible to predict the lifetime of a dental bridge in each specific case, there are some different factors that play a role:

The condition of the supporting natural teeth: Cavities under the crown on the natural teeth and periodontal disease around the roots are the main threats to your dental bridge.

The oral hygiene: Your dental hygiene is an extremely important factor, when it comes to extending the lifetime of your dental bridge. Good dental hygiene will help prevent problems such as cavities and periodontal disease, which can shorten the lifetime of your dental bridge considerably.

The size of the dental bridge: A bridge replacing several teeth might break more easily than a bridge replacing only one tooth, since the distance between the anchor teeth is longer in a large construction.

The force of the bite: People have different habits when it comes to chewing and some people bite very hard. Other people are in the habit of grinding or clenching their teeth. Depending on your habits and the location of the dental bridge in your mouth, it might be exposed to more strain than it can handle in the long run.

It is always important to consider your options very well before you make a decision regarding your oral health. With the right choices and the proper care you can maintain a healthy and well-functioning set of teeth throughout your lifetime.

Good tooth care – important for your oral health

Every day your teeth are under attack and your mouth is at risk of developing different oral diseases. The most prevalent oral diseases can be prevented through good tooth care. What does proper tooth care involve and how can you overcome obstacles to achieving good oral health?

Good tooth care to prevent oral diseasesWhy is tooth care important?

Every day your teeth are under attack and your mouth is at risk of developing different oral diseases. The most prevalent oral diseases that can be prevented through good tooth care are cavities and periodontitis (loosening teeth). Cavities develop as a result of two factors: Plaque and sugar. Plaque is the yellowish-white layer that starts to form on the surface of your teeth already a short time after you’ve brushed them. Plaque consists of many different kinds of bacteria that reproduce and grow in numbers very quickly. This means that the longer time the plaque is left on the teeth, the thicker the layer gets. When sugar is added to the plaque, it results in acid which breaks down the tooth substance and eventually make a cavity in the tooth.

Periodontitis is another common result of inadequate tooth care, since it is also caused by plaque. When plaque has been left on the tooth surface for more than two days, the bacteria start to irritate the gums. The gums will become red and inflamed and maybe even bleed, when you brush them. If the process continues, the bacteria and the inflammation will spread and start to break down the bone that supports the teeth. Eventually the teeth will loosen and fall out.

These two common but serious oral diseases can be prevented through proper tooth care. How?

What does good tooth care involve?

Since the main cause of both cavities and periodontitis is the presence of plaque, good tooth care involves daily removal of plaque from your teeth. Dentists and dental hygienists normally recommend brushing at least twice every day with a medium soft toothbrush. You can read more about choosing the right toothbrush here. A guide on how to brush your teeth can be found here. For some people good tooth care involves more than brushing. Flossing, tongue scraping or the use of interdental brushes might be necessary in order to clean between your teeth and prevent bad breath. Read more about bad breath here

Regular visits to the dentist or dental hygienist are also an important part of good tooth care. Depending on your individual needs, your dentist will advise you on how often to come in for check-ups and maybe dental cleanings. Don’t be quick to think that your dentist is just trying to make an extra buck, if he or she asks you to come in more often than you expected. Some people need to come to the dentist once every three months for a check-up and a cleaning in order to avoid oral diseases. Others only need to come once every year. It might have a little to do with genetic factors and how strong your teeth and gums are, but it mostly depends on how well you care for you teeth. Tooth care is primarily your own responsibility and without your co-operation your dentist will not be able to help you avoid oral diseases – even if you visit the clinic every three months.

Obstacles to good tooth care

The main obstacles to good tooth care are probably forgetfulness and lack of proper routines. In a busy schedule it is not always easy to remember to fit in time for dental hygiene. You can read some advice on how to build good routines for oral health and tooth care here

For many people economy also plays a role, when it comes to deciding when to visit the dentist. While dental care can be expensive, however, the tooth care that you perform at home does not have to cost much. By taking good care of your teeth, you can save a lot of money and trouble in the long run.

Scientific research: Tooth extraction for preventing displaced canines in children?

Is tooth extraction effective in preventing adult canines from erupting in the wrong place? A new study by Cochrane researchers brings new information about the scientific basis for tooth extraction of baby canines.

Braces on teenagerIs tooth extraction effective in preventing adult canines from erupting in the wrong place? A new study by Cochrane researchers brings new information about the practice of tooth extraction of baby canines.

Why consider tooth extraction?

The adult canine teeth (tooth number 3 from the middle) erupt around the age of 12. In 2-3% of all 12-year-olds the canine tooth erupts in the wrong place – in the roof of the mouth. It has been of great concern to dentists to prevent the canines from erupting in the wrong place, since this can cause damage to the neighbouring teeth or cause unfavourable movement of these teeth. For many years extraction of the baby canines been the practice of dentists in order to make way for the adult canine teeth. But does tooth extraction prevent displaced canines?

Is tooth extraction effective?

According to the Cochrane review there is no substantial scientific evidence that extraction of the baby canine teeth will prevent displaced eruption of the adult canine tooth. “The recommendation of extracting the baby canine is in fact based on one uncontrolled study that was carried out over twenty years ago,” says one of the authors of the study. The study seemed to prove that tooth extraction makes way for the adult canines, but since there was no control group in the study, the evidence is not conclusive.

Is tooth extraction ineffective, then?

The absence of evidence, however, does not necessarily mean that tooth extraction is not an effective method. The study concludes that there is a need to improve the quality of the research on the question of whether or not tooth extraction can be recommended in order to help the canine teeth erupt correctly.

Find more health research on www.cochrane.org

Picking the right toothbrush

Although there are many brands of toothbrushes on the market that all claim to be special in one way or the other, there are actually only a couple of things that really make a difference when you pick your toothbrush. Should your brush be hard or soft and are electrical toothbrushes better than manual ones? Read more here…

Picking the right toothbrushWhat brand of toothbrush is best?

Although there are many brands of toothbrushes on the market that all claim to be special in one way or the other, there are actually only a couple of things that really make a difference when you pick your toothbrush: 1) Hardness and 2) size. Different toothbrush brands offer different ranges of hardness and size and it is not possible to say that one brand of toothbrush is better than the other one. It all depends on what kind of toothbrush suits you best.

Hardness

Although many people think that a hard toothbrush must clean more effectively than a soft one, most dentists or dental hygienists actually recommend a medium soft toothbrush. The reason is that a toothbrush that is too hard can damage your teeth and cause your gum line to recede. On the other hand, a toothbrush that is too soft, might not be able to clean thoroughly enough.  If you would like to know whether your toothbrush is effective enough, you can try chewing something that sticks to your teeth in the same way as plaque – e.g. cornflakes or biscuits – and see if you can brush it away. If not, you might need a slightly harder toothbrush.

Size

The size of the toothbrush is important, because a toothbrush where the head is too large might not be able to reach into the narrow spaces – for example in the back of your mouth. This is often the case, when the brushes are too long making the head of the toothbrush too high. With children it is especially important that the toothbrush is not too large. This is one good reason to buy a children’s toothbrush which is normally more suitable for the size of your child’s mouth.

Electric toothbrushes

Electric toothbrushes have not been proven to brush any better or any worse than their manual counterparts. Both an electric and a normal toothbrush can brush your teeth completely clean if you know how to use them properly. Some people prefer an electric toothbrush – especially if they have problems with their hands or shoulders or for other reasons do not have the motor function to handle a normal toothbrush. When brushing on children some parents find it helpful to use an electric toothbrush. Others do not like the electric toothbrush because of the sound it makes or the way it feels in the mouth.

Although there are many different toothbrushes in the market that offer different levels of technology, you will still need to be thorough and regular when it comes to keeping your teeth and gums healthy and clean. Picking the right toothbrush is an important part of maintaining good dental health – but it is still only a part.

How to brush your teeth

When it comes to keeping your teeth clean, there are many means to the same end. How should you brush? When should you brush and when should you not? How do you avoid damaging your gums and teeth? Find the answers in this article…

How to brush your teethThe goal when you brush your teeth is to remove plaque from all surfaces of all your teeth. A tooth has five sides. With your toothbrush you will normally be able to brush the front, back and ‘top’ of your teeth clean. The sides of the teeth (which is between your teeth) are normally only accessible with floss, toothpicks or interdental brushes (tiny brushes developed especially for cleaning between the teeth).

When to brush – and when not to…

Dental professionals normally recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day. Some people brush their teeth after every meal. There is nothing wrong in this, as long as you use the right brush and the right technique in order to avoid causing damage to your teeth and your gums. However many times you choose to brush your teeth every day, it is important that you brush very thoroughly at least once a day.

Some dental professionals recommend that you do not brush your teeth immediately after having eaten something sour (e.g. fruit juice and sour fruit), since the surface of the teeth will be more porous and easier to damage. If you wait around one hour after every meal before you brush, you should be on the safe side.

How to brush?

When you brush your teeth it is a good idea to be systematic. You can do this by dividing your mouth into sections – e.g. upper, lower, right and left. Always start the same place and brush your way around all your teeth. You can for example start on the outside of the upper right section. Start with the back teeth. Make sure to brush all around the tooth at the very back and continue brushing your way one tooth at a time towards the left side. When you have reached the back teeth in the left side, you brush your way back on the inside. Do the same with the lower teeth. Afterwards brush on top of your teeth in both sides of both upper and lower jaw.

Make sure that every single tooth is clean. Teeth that are standing in a straight line are easier to brush clean. On the other hand, if your teeth are cramped for space it might take a greater effort to keep them clean. Some teeth might be ‘hiding’ behind other teeth and are not so easy to reach with the brush. You might be able to clean them simply by turning your brush vertically and brushing up-down instead of from side to side. Otherwise it is possible to buy toothbrushes with just one very small brush, which is ideal for cramped spaces.

Remember to brush the gums

The edge between your teeth and your gums is especially important to keep clean. It is very easy for germs to hide here. At the same time, it is the germs that sneak in under the gum line that eventually cause periodontal disease. When you brush your gum line, you should place the toothbrush in an angle of 45 degrees with the brushes pointing against the gums. When you brush the gums it is especially important not to be too rough in order to prevent the gum line from receding or drawing back, exposing the root surface of the teeth.

Circular or straight movements?

Whatever way you like to move your toothbrush, it is important that the movements are small. If you imagine that you were painting your teeth rather than brushing them, it might be more clear how thorough you need to be. When painting a rough surface with pits and cracks in it, you won’t just give it a few long, superficial strokes with the brush. You will make sure to get the paint into every little crack, using small precise movements. Use the same principle when you brush your teeth. Make sure that the brushes reach into all the cracks and pits.

Be regular and thorough

As you can see there are many possible means to the same end, when it comes to keeping your teeth clean. However you prefer to maintain your dental hygiene, the important thing is to be regular and thorough without overdoing it. Get into the habit of checking your teeth in the mirror and feeling them with your tongue to check whether they are clean. Teeth covered in plaque feel ‘furry’, while clean teeth feel smooth and nice.

Smoking and periodontal disease – what’s the connection?

Although dental hygiene is a must in order to avoid periodontal disease, there are some factors that increase the risk. Among these is smoking. Some studies suggest that the risk of developing periodontal disease is up to 11 times higher for smokers than for non-smokers. But why is it so?

tooth-healthy-medical-illustration

Periodontal disease is a very common problem, which most people will suffer from at some point in their lives. Although dental hygiene is a must in order to avoid periodontal disease, there are some factors that increase the risk. Among these is smoking. Some studies suggest that the risk of developing periodontal disease is up to 11 times higher for smokers than for non-smokers. But why is it so?

Smoking and your gums

One reason that smoking is a risk factor for developing periodontal disease is that nicotine makes the blood vessels in the gum tissue constrict, which reduces the amount of oxygen in the area. Without oxygen for the cells, the body’s ability to defend itself against bacterial infection is reduced.

Nicotine and cytokines

Another effect of nicotine is that it triggers an over-production of immune factors called cytokines, which can be harmful to cells and tissue. When nicotine is combined with certain oral bacteria, the cytokines multiply and become even more harmful to the oral tissues.

Makes periodontal disease ‘invisible’

Another tricky thing about smoking and periodontal disease is that the effect of nicotine can make the periodontal disease ‘invisible’. The constriction of the blood vessels results in less bleeding from the gums. Since bleeding gums are normally an indicator for periodontal disease, the disease might not be discovered as easily. It is therefore vital that your dentist makes a thorough examination of your gums and measures your gingival pockets regularly in order to get an exact idea of your periodontal status.

Other kinds of smoking

The impact of cigar, pipe and waterpipe smoking is largely the same as that of cigarette smoking. Passive smoking is also thought to increase the risk of periodontal disease, although not by as much as ‘active’ smoking. Since nicotine gum also constricts the blood vessels in the mouth, there has been speculations that nicotine gum might also be a risk factor in developing periodontal disease. No studies have confirmed these speculations yet, though.

Effect on treatment prognosis

Apart from being a risk factor for developing periodontal disease, smoking also negatively affects the prognosis of treating periodontal disease. Because of the effect of the nicotine, the gum tissues do not heal as well for smoker as for non-smokers. Many dentists and dental hygienists will therefore offer advice on how to quit smoking as part of their treatment plan for periodontal disease.