• Strategies to Avoid Tooth Damage From Your Food and Drink

    Your personal responsibility for keeping your teeth healthy is too often reduced to going to the dentist and brushing twice per day. But the more you take responsibility for what happens in your mouth between cleanings, the better you can strategize to prevent tooth damage.

    Here are a few strategies that can help you reduce the amount of damage your teeth experience due to the foods you eat.

    1. Eat Certain Foods in Moderation

    You’ve heard that sugar is bad for your teeth, so obviously the first step is to be aware of which foods are high in sugar and avoid overindulging. But this doesn’t mean you can never eat sugar again. Limiting your sugary food intake to once per day or at least confining it to mealtimes is a step in the right direction.

    You may not have known, however, that the acid-creating bacteria in your mouth can also feed on starches. So it’s not just sugar that you need to limit. White foods full of simple starches are the best for acid production, so choosing whole-grain foods or limiting white breads to one meal per day can help.

    2. Choose Snacks Wisely

    If you’re in the habit of eating snacks between meals, or even need periodic snacks to keep your blood sugar stable, try to look for snacks that fulfill those requirements without coating your teeth with sugar. Cheese, snow peas, and even nuts can be better snacks than more sugary and starchy foods.

    And eating your snack all at once is better for your teeth than eating one bite every few minutes for an entire hour; as soon as you stop eating, your saliva can start to clear away the food debris and return your mouth’s PH levels to normal. If you keep eating over a long period of time, your mouth can’t fully recover between bites.

    3. Encourage Saliva Production

    Because your saliva is what helps your mouth recover after eating and carries minerals to keep enamel structurally sound, dry mouth can be a huge issue. Low saliva production means your mouth can’t recover easily and thus you’re more likely to get a lot of cavities.

    Drinking plenty of water ensures that saliva production isn’t curtailed by dehydration. And since the action of chewing (and the flavor of mint) can help stimulate saliva, pop a piece of sugar-free gum in your mouth if it starts to feel dry.

    4. Rinse After Eating

    Rinsing your mouth out with water or mouthwash after eating can give your teeth a head start on recovering from the meal. You’ll reduce the amount of food debris that has to be cleared away and the amount of sugar and starches sitting in your mouth for bad bacteria to feed on.

    5. Use Xylitol-Containing Gum

    Although any sugar-free gum can help stimulate saliva, xylitol-containing gum can be even better for your teeth. Chewing this type of gum on a regular basis may even help protect your teeth from plaque slightly. The bad bacteria can’t digest xylitol and turn it into acid, and it makes forming colonies and biofilm more difficult.

    6. Find Tooth-Friendly Foods You Love

    If you cut out all sugars and starches, you may end up feeling like you’re on a no-fun, super-restrictive diet that’s way more work than it’s worth, which means you’re likely to get demotivated and quit. Instead of looking at what you eat and just cutting out anything that’s not tooth-friendly, take some time to look around for foods that are great for oral health.

    For example, avocados, wild-caught fish and seafood, and green tea are all good for your teeth. So you could play around with creating a stevia-sweetened matcha latte that’s much less likely to harm your teeth than a soda or a sugar-containing latte. Once you’ve found healthier alternatives that you actually like, start substituting them for the unhealthy foods.

    These strategies, when practiced along with professional dental care and regular home cleaning, may help you reduce incidence of cavities in your mouth considerably. Contact Vincent J. Picone D.D.S. today if you’re due for a professional checkup.

  • 3 Ways to Improve the Oral Health of Your Cavity-Prone Child

    If your child has developed frequent cavities in their primary or baby teeth, then you may wonder just what you can do to help keep their adult teeth cavity free when they emerge.

    Your child will have their permanent teeth for the rest of their life. Once they need a cavity filling in permanent tooth, that filling will need to be monitored and occasionally replaced for the rest of their life. If a cavity filling fails and is not replaced quickly, it can lead to the need for a root canal.

    You can help your child avoid extensive dental work later in life by helping them keep their permanent teeth cavity-free now.

    While brushing and flossing daily are the two most important steps to preventing cavities in all teeth, read on to learn three additional ways you can help your cavity-prone child avoid cavity development in their emerging adult teeth.

    1. Have Dental Sealants Applied to Their Permanent Molars

    Molars are prone to cavity development due to their uneven surfaces covered in indentations called pits and fissures. Food particles can cling to these indentations and stick around even after molars are brushed, which can lead to cavity development.

    Help prevent cavities in your child’s permanent molars by having dental sealants applied to them as soon as they emerge. Dental sealants are coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of molars that, once dry, form a thin film that protects this surface of the tooth from cavity-causing bacteria. These sealants reduce cavity formation on molars by an average of almost 80 percent.

    A child’s dental insurance policy will often cover the application of dental sealants to their molars, and these sealants typically protect teeth for many years after application.

    2. Have Your Child Chew Sugar-free Gum After School Lunches

    While you can send your child to school with a toothbrush and toothpaste and instruct them to brush their teeth after lunch, you cannot ensure they brush their teeth when you are not there. Your child may feel embarrassed brushing their teeth in front of their classmates who skip brushing or just do not understand the importance of brushing after this meal.

    If you suspect your child is not brushing after lunch, then include a stick of sugar-free gum that has earned the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval in their lunch box or bag.

    Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal stimulates saliva flow in the mouth. This additional saliva helps neutralize acids in the mouth that contribute to cavity formation and coats teeth in calcium that helps restore tooth enamel.

    3. Increase Your Child’s Oral Exposure to Fluoride

    When fluoride combines with the calcium and phosphorus in tooth enamel, it strengthens enamel to make it more resistant to cavity formation. While you likely have your child brushing with a traditional fluoride toothpaste when they brush, ask your dentist if they recommend adding additional fluoride-containing products or treatments to your child’s oral hygiene routine.

    One option your dentist has is to provide your child with in-office fluoride treatments. Studies have shown that children who received in-office fluoride treatments for at least one year are 43 percent less likely to develop cavities than children who do not obtain these treatments.

    To administer this treatment, your dentist will simply coat your child’s teeth with a high-concentration fluoride-filled solution or apply fluoride solution-filled trays to your child’s teeth, then allow the solution to remain on your child’s teeth for a few minutes.

    Your child’s dentist may also recommend additional over-the-counter fluoride products your child can use at home, such as fluoride mouth rinse, or recommend prescription-strength fluoride products, such as toothpaste that contains extra fluoride.

    While most tap water in the United States contains fluoride, if your child drinks little water or drinks only bottled water, your dentist may also recommend that your child take a daily fluoride supplement.

    If your child is especially cavity-prone – and they are already brushing and flossing properly on a regular basis – then try one or more of the above tips to help prevent cavities in their permanent teeth. Contact the staff at Vincent J. Picone D.D.S. to schedule your child’s next dental checkup today.

  • Prevent and Prepare for Dental Avulsions and Other Sports-Related Injuries

    Each year, people spend nearly $500,000,000 in the U.S. on medical care for dental avulsions. In dental terms, an avulsed tooth is a tooth that’s been knocked loose from its socket. Dental avulsion is one of many sports-related injuries that cause trauma to the face and teeth. If this happens to you, you have a dental emergency.

    To prevent and prepare for sports-related dental emergencies takes some organization and planning. Here are some tips on avoiding mouth injuries, including dental avulsion.

    Invest in Mouth Guards

    Mouth guards are available in generic, universal versions and custom-made versions that precisely fit over teeth. Dentists also create a third type of mouth guard called a boil-and-bite model. They heat and then shape the mouth guard to fit inside the mouth.

    • Mouth guards help protect athletes from:
    • Lacerated lips and tongue
    • Chipped teeth
    • Fractured crowns and bridges
    • Lacerated cheek
    • Fractured jaw

    Mouth guards don’t protect athletes from concussion, and they won’t completely protect the mouth and face from severe impacts. However, mouth guards do protect the teeth and jaw from many forms of hard sports contact.

    Order two mouth guards and keep them sanitized. Bacteria, scratches, and rips in mouth guards can also cause dental injury and infection. Ask your dentist how to properly sanitize good mouth guards and when to replace worn mouth guards.

    Use Your Judgment When Mouth Guards Aren’t Mandatory

    In sports known to enforce mandatory mouth guard use, players have reduced dental injuries. However, many sporting associations and their officials don’t demand mouth guard use for their teams or individual sporting competitions.

    Use your best judgment as a parent or a competitor when mouth guard use isn’t mandatory. While playing any contact sport, athletes must definitely wear a mouth guard. While engaging in any sport where you can make impact with another player, the ground, a ball, a wall, or any other object, a mouth guard is highly advised.

    Wear mouth guards when competing in or practicing:

    • Football
    • Basketball
    • Baseball
    • Softball
    • Soccer
    • Field Hockey
    • Ice Hockey
    • Lacrosse
    • Gymnastics
    • Skateboarding

    The above list is far from complete but contains several sports that have the majority of mouth injuries. According to one dental journal, three times as many injuries to the mouth and jaw occur on basketball courts than on football fields. The difference is an enforcement of mouth guard use.

    Include Tooth Trauma Supplies in First Aid Kits

    If you run a sports team, you’re an adult team member, or you’re a team member’s parent, stock your first aid kit with supplies to save avulsed and traumatized teeth. Ask your dentist for a list of necessary items you should keep in the kit if you’re unsure about your specific sport or dental status.

    To treat a knocked-out tooth, have:

    • A bottle of normal saline
    • Tooth saving kit
    • Sterile gauze

    When a tooth is avulsed, it has the best chance of reimplanting 5 to 10 minutes after leaving the socket. After an hour out in the air, the chance of reimplanting the tooth is slim.

    Here are seven steps to follow after dental avulsion:

    1. Make sure the tooth or other object is not in the athlete’s airway.
    2. Use normal saline to lightly wash the athlete’s mouth where the trauma occurred.
    3. Be very gentle, and avoid touching any of the open socket.
    4. Pat away blood and normal saline using gauze and a light touch.
    5. Hold tooth by its crown and never by its root.
    6. Rinse debris off tooth.
    7. Replace tooth in socket by orienting to other teeth.

    If the socket area is too traumatized to re-implant the tooth or the patient is not conscious, place the tooth in the tooth-saving kit, which includes a container you fill with a medium that keeps the tooth moist. Schedule an emergency dental exam and treatment immediately.

    Schedule a fitting for custom mouth guards for all of your sporting endeavors this autumn and winter by contacting Vincent J. Picone, D.D.S.-PA. We offer dental guards and dental services for families and athletes in the North Bergen, New Jersey, region.

  • Need a Dental Restoration? Preparing for Gingival Retraction

    Restorations like crowns, bridges, partial dentures, and inlays can improve both the function and appearance of your teeth. If you’ve never had a restoration placed before, you may be a little nervous about the procedures involved. Talk with your dentist so that you are fully informed of the involved process.

    When taking impressions for a restoration, one step you may undergo is gingival retraction. Read on for more information on what a gingival retraction is and what it entails.

    What Is Gingival Retraction?

    Before your dentist takes impressions of your teeth, they will wind a gingival retraction cord around the tooth or teeth that need prostheses. Retraction cords look a lot like floss and are made out of polyester or cotton.

    Your dentist will need to wind the cord around a tooth so that it loosens up the gingival sulcus. The sulcus is the gum pocket between gingival tissue and the tooth.

    As the cord sits in the sulcus, it actually loosens the gum tissue up so that the dentist has more enamel to access for the impression. If a dentist took impressions of your teeth without gingival retraction, then the dental laboratory would be working with an incomplete model of your teeth.

    What Are the Basic Steps of the Procedure?

    Each dentist office is different, but these are some basic steps you can expect during gingival retraction:

    1. Your dentist will clean and rinse the tooth. They will then dry the area and place cotton rolls around the site to reduce moisture.
    2. Your dentist will cut a piece of retraction cord and use cotton pliers to form a loose loop. If a deeper sulcus is required for your impressions, the dentist may need to use two pieces or cord.
    3. Your dentist will slip the cord loop around your tooth.
    4. Your dentist will use a cord packing instrument to gently pull the cord down into the gum pockets.
    5. The dentist will leave the cord in the gum pocket for a few minutes so that it can expand and deepen the sulcus. During this time, keep your tongue away from the area so that the area stays dry and the cord isn’t affected.
    6. When the gums have sufficiently loosened your dentist will grab the end of the cord, unwind it, and gently pull it out.
    7. The dentist or a dental assistant will use a special instrument to deliver the impression below the gum line and start pouring the needed impression.
    8. After the dentist removes the impression, they will place a temporary tooth.

    If you have concerns about any of the steps in this procedure, ask your dentist to explain.

    What Is a Vasoconstrictor Solution?

    Before the dentist places the retraction cord around your tooth, they may dip it in water or a vasoconstrictor solution. The retraction cord can cause from gingival bleeding, and the vasoconstrictor solution reduces the bleeding. It’s harder for dentists to get an accurate impression if they are dealing with blood.

    Although gingival retraction isn’t invasive like surgery, you let your dentist know if you are on anticlotting drugs or blood thinners. Even taking an aspirin can affect your blood’s ability to clot. These medications are good for preventing clots that can cause strokes, but they can increase the risk of bleeding during gingival retraction.

    Let your dentist know about current medications so they can make a decision about whether or not they should use the vasoconstrictor solution during the procedure.

    Does Gingival Retraction Hurt?

    Your gum tissue may bleed a little and be a little swollen or sore, but this process shouldn’t be painful. The gums will heal and cause no long-term damage. But if you have a low pain threshold, you may want to ask about alternative methods since they may be more comfortable.

    For instance, some dentists can inject a clay-like paste into the sulcus to loosen the gum tissue. A lot of these pastes contain aluminum chloride, which acts as a vasoconstrictor.

    To learn more about gingival retraction or restorations, contact Vincent J. Picone D.D.S. for an appointment today.