Mall of Georgia Dentistry's Blog

"Making you smile from the inside out"

Why does my dentist need X-rays? August 13, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 2:12 pm

Different types of dental X-rays serve different purposes for your dental health. Some help your dentist discover cavities, some will help diagnose an abscess, others will show the position of the wisdom teeth and more. Let’s discuss the main types X-rays we might take at our offices and how these x-rays are part of your dental health.

Bite-wing X-rays. These are the most common type of dental X-ray, usually taken as part of a routine visit, once or twice per year (depending on individual needs, insurance coverage, and other factors). Bite-wing images help diagnose cavities between the teeth. They show the inner sides of back molar teeth. Since molars have large side surfaces, the in-between surfaces are not possible to see without X-rays. So with bite-wing X-rays you get a look in-between all those back teeth to detect any possible decay that is not visible to the eye or with probing or other testing methods. These X-rays can also help detect loss of bone density due to periodontal disease. Bite-wing X-rays usually do not show the entire tooth root, though.

Periapical X-rays. This is an X-ray of the whole tooth, from the bone surrounding the root tip to the crown. This is the type of X-ray that is commonly required in the presence of a toothache in order to detect the cause… decay, abscess, fracture, problems with root structure, or other conditions that need immediate diagnosis.

Full mouth X-rays. The “full mouth X-ray” is actually a series of smaller X-rays that make up a set. Multiple X-ray images are taken of the entire mouth, including every tooth and all the front teeth and back teeth, just a few teeth per image. This series can be a good diagnostic and preventive tool to check the entire mouth for things like cavities, bone loss or periodontal conditions, and to inspect inner dental structures periodically.

Panoramic X-ray. A panoramic X-ray is a single image of the entire mouth, both jaws, and all the teeth, including un-erupted teeth or impacted wisdom teeth. This type of X-ray is useful for detecting the position of all teeth as well as emerging adult teeth in children and adolescents. Panoramic X-rays are very important for orthodontic treatment as well as wisdom teeth removal.  They can also detect abnormalities in the jaw.

Although there are other types of X-rays not included in this overview, all of the common X-rays listed above are frequently taken at Mall Of Georgia Dentistry, and every one of them can play a role in keeping your smile in the best shape possible. Dental X-rays help improve your dental and oral health in many ways, from finding cavities while they are still small, to diagnosing an infection, to facilitating orthodontic treatment. Dental X-rays are great tools to help you keep your smile bright and healthy!

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Back to School Dental Tip: Athletic Mouth Guards July 30, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 12:04 pm

School sports are an enduring tradition.  Are your kids on the team? All those after-school practices and weekend games mean your child’s teeth are at increased risk for accident or injury.  So it’s time to remind all of our patients about the importance of a good-quality mouth guard!
All kinds of sports and activities raise the risk of dental injuries, but contact sports like football, soccer, and hockey have an increased likelihood of collisions with other players or equipment. Mouth guards help by dissipating the force of collisions, distributing the impact, and minimizing the effect on the teeth and gums.
Mouth guards are available over the counter, but a custom-made mouth guard from a  dentist has several advantages. They are more comfortable, allow for easier speech and breathing, and they are intended to be more durable and effective. Although they are more expensive than over-the-counter options, they are much less expensive than most dental treatment that could result from injuries sustained with no mouth guard or if the mouth guard is poorly-fitted or inadequate.
Another advantage of a custom mouth guard could go beyond concern for the just the teeth and mouth.  One study found that professionally-fitted mouth guards made by a dentist were associated with a reduced risk of concussion among athletes. The study followed over 400 players from half a dozen high school football teams. Three of the teams were randomly assigned to wear custom-made mouth guards, and the other three teams wore only standard over-the-counter mouth guards, such as those from sporting goods stores. All of the football helmets were the same. The study found that 8.3 percent of athletes wearing the over-the-counter mouth guards suffered concussion injuries, but among the group wearing custom-made mouth guards, the rate of concussion was 3.6 percent. You can read more about that study here.
Is your child already wearing a good custom mouth guard? If, yes, that’s awesome! If not, Mall of Georgia Dentistry can help!  Give our office a call and we’ll be happy to answer any question about custom mouth guards. Making sure your child is properly protected while practicing and playing could save more than just their smile!

 

Are you brushing too hard? July 16, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 2:36 pm

Although usually done with good intentions, brushing your teeth too hard can be detrimental to your oral health. A vigorous scrubbing may seem like it would it result in the cleanest possible teeth, but the reality is that your gums and enamel need to be treated with care. Does your toothbrush look worn or frayed after only two months or less? You are brushing too hard.

Brushing with too much force can cause problems such as receding gums or eroded enamel. Those things can cause tooth sensitivity and may possibly lead to other more serious issues down the road, such as a need for gum surgery. Brushing hard is not doing any favors for your teeth.

It’s also very important to use a soft tooth brush, avoid using a hard brush  Hard bristles can be damaging to tooth enamel and cause gum recession. Use a soft-bristled brush and brush gently. A soft-bristled bush cleans just as thoroughly as any other brush and can give your gums a nice little massage while helping to remove plaque along the gum line if you brush properly.

There is no need to rush when you brush. Brushing really hard and vigorously does not make up for a lack of time spent brushing your teeth. The average person only brushes for about 45 seconds, far short of the recommended two minutes (120 seconds)! Take your time being gentle and thorough for the full two minutes. Think of brushing as a mini-massage or spa time for your teeth and really pamper them.

At Mall of Georgia Dentistry, we know you should take it easy on your teeth! Use a soft or extra-soft toothbrush, such as the Nimbus brand that we carry in our office. Also, many electric toothbrushes are great for people who brush too hard, some models even have sensors that alert you when you apply too much pressure, and they are designed to be gentle on teeth as well as being equipped with two-minute timers.  So if you’re one of those people who scrubs too much, call us and we’ll tell you what brushes can help you lighten up!

 

 

 

 

Need help choosing a toothpaste? July 2, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 12:22 pm

The toothpaste isle at your local grocery store can be overwhelming. Row after row of tubes boasting such things as cavity control, tartar control, whitening, sensitive… the list goes on. There is just so much variety- how do you know which one is best for you?

Most of the time, there’s really nothing special in the packages with the catchy terminology, like “anti-cavity” or “cavity protection”.  All fluoride-containing toothpastes (and you’d be really hard pressed to find one that isn’t!) are going to offer a degree of cavity protection. Unless you are talking about special remineralizing toothpastes that you won’t find on store shelves (like MI Paste and Clinpro) then generally, any variety that contains fluoride will be as “anti-cavity” as the next.

It’s best to avoid “whitening” toothpastes since they usually contain abrasive that can wear down enamel over time. And they aren’t very effective at removing stains or whitening the tooth because the tooth shade lies inside, in the dentin, where toothpaste can’t reach.

If you have sensitive teeth or if you are doing some at-home bleaching that is causing sensitivity, then you may want to look for a sensitive toothpaste that contains Potassium Nitrate. This ingredient can help soothe the nerves inside the teeth and reduce sensitivity.

Most of that fancy packaging and specific terminology is just marketing.  A sensitive toothpaste is a good idea for anyone with sensitive teeth, and you should pass on the “whitening” toothpastes.

If you are truly cavity-prone and think you might require a little something extra, then give our office a call. We have products like MI Paste and Clinpro available at Mall of Georgia dentistry and we’d be happy to talk to you about those and other options. Otherwise, even your basic low-priced bottom-shelf variety of toothpaste will fit the bill. So don’t worry about getting one with glittery packaging and a lists of promises.  Just pick one you like it and use it twice a day for two minutes with a nice soft brush, and then smile away!

 

Is what you drink hurting your teeth? June 17, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 1:59 pm

Sodas and sweet beverages are a popular daily indulgence for many Americans, but these drinks are not good for our dental health or our smiles. Tooth enamel is easily weakened by acidic substances. Acids interfere with the chemical bonds that hold the the molecules of the tooth enamel together. When the teeth are exposed to a lot of acid frequently or for prolonged periods… over time, the enamel will dissolve. This is called acid erosion. The most common cause of acid erosion is what people are drinking. Most common, popular beverages- such as soda and juice- are acidic.

Below you will find a list of the general average pH measurements of many popular drinks. The smaller the number, the lower pH and the more acidic; the larger the number, the higher the pH and the more alkaline. A neutral pH is that of regular water, which measures in at around 7 on the pH scale. Virtually all of these very popular beverages measure in with an acidic pH! But, as you can see, some are worse than others:

Unsweetened Tea 7.2
Water 7.0 (neutral)
Milk (2% or skim) 6.8
Chocolate Milk 6.7
Black Coffee 5.5
Root Beer 4.6
Tomato Juice 4.5
Beer 4.4
7-Up/Sprite 3.7
Juicy Juice 3.5
Red Wine 3.5
Apple Juice 3.4
Diet Cola 3.4
Orange Juice  3.3
Redbull 3.3
Mountain Dew 3.2
V-8 3.1
White Wine 3.3
Sweet Tea (bottled) 3
Gatorade 2.9
Dr. Pepper 2.9
Hawaiian Punch 2.8
Hi-C 2.7
Monster Energy 2.7
Lemonade 2.6
Coke 2.5

Drinks with a pH value of approximately 5.5 and below are implicated in acid erosion of the teeth. Drinks that are acidic and also contain sugar are the worst since the sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth and that produces even more acid. This is why sodas and energy drinks are so widely maligned by dentists! Most of these beverages are very popular and a few of them are actually healthy other than their impact on your teeth, so it’s not practical to avoid them all day every day forever! But they should be consumed with care and within limits.

What steps can you can take to neutralize the impact these drinks have on your enamel and help mitigate acid erosion?
Drink with moderation. Only drink acidic beverages at mealtimes, or during limited time frames, instead of sipping all day and creating an environment for your teeth that is one of continual exposure to acids.
Drink through a straw. The beverage is still going to lower/acidify the pH of the mouth temporarily, but using a straw can help reduce the amount of direct contact with the the majority of your teeth.
Drink water after. Drink or rinse the mouth with regular water after drinking an acidic drink to help dilute and neutralize the acid and wash it off of your teeth.

At Mall of Georgia Dentistry, we want to help you keep your teeth lasting a lifetime. Since daily habits are there impacting your smile all the time, education about the best and worst things for your smile is a key part of that. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, just call our office. Meanwhile… brush, floss, and smile!

 

Shield Your Child’s Teeth With Sealants June 4, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 12:25 pm

The biting surfaces of molars have deep grooves that act like tiny traps for food particles. It’s just about impossible for a toothbrush to get into these tiny crevices and grooves in order to clean them out thoroughly, so this is a common place for tooth decay to occur. Sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth, filling in the grooves and crevices and effectively smoothing them out to eliminate the food trap. Sealants work like a protective shield by filling in these grooves in the enamel and keeping food out.

Sealants are typically applied at a cleaning appointment to freshly cleaned teeth that are prepared with an acid etching of the enamel to enhance the grooves of the surface. The sealing material is then applied to the prepared surface like a varnish and bonds with the enamel by filling in all the little grooves.

Most insurance plans provide coverage for sealants for children. That’s because sealants are most effective when applied while the tooth is still new and without decay. Children and teens are great candidates for sealants, but adults with sound teeth can benefit from sealants as well in some cases. Deeply grooved baby teeth can sometimes benefit from sealants too, to help keep out decay and keep them healthy until it’s time for adult teeth to replace them. Even when not covered by insurance, a preventative sealant is less expensive than an eventual filling – a worthwhile investment.

Sealants are subject to wear-and-tear, but they can last for years. A good way to get the most out them is avoid things like chewing ice or hard candy or anything that can cause unnecessary breakage to the material. (<- This is true even if you don’t have sealants- hard candy and ice are hard enough to break teeth and should never be chewed!)

So now you know how sealants make a great barrier of protection over the tiny impossible-to-clean grooves in the chewing surfaces of back teeth. We encourage you to take advantage of that and get sealants for your child’s teeth! As the old saying goes, “An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and since Mall of Georgia Dentistry is always looking after your smile, don’t be surprised if sealants are recommended at your child’s next visit!

 

Caring for Teeth With Braces May 21, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 3:59 pm

Taking good care of your teeth is particularly important when you have braces. It’s true that braces do make cleaning your teeth more difficult…  it takes a more time and a few extra tools to get around all that orthodontic hardware, but it’s so very important to clean your teeth as well as possible in order to prevent the occurrence of cavities or gum disease while you are wearing your braces.  Read on for some tips on how to go about it…

Brushing – Make sure you clean around your braces really well by brushing both above and below the wire and brackets.  Use a soft-bristled brush and be sure to brush along the gum line and the chewing surfaces of course, and make sure that your brush is reaching your teeth above and below the wire and brackets on all surfaces of the teeth.

Flossing –  Flossing is a little trickier with the wire in the way, so get a floss threader to help you get around the wire.  The threader will help you get the floss behind the wire and between your teeth (these are also useful for people with permanent retainers). You should floss daily.  Some people simply won’t have the patience to floss as often as they should. Tiny interdental brushes that can reach some way between the teeth, and divices like water picks or air flossers can also help clean between teeth with braces. Just remember there’s no substitute for flossing.

Professional Cleanings – It’s important to keep up with your routine dental hygiene visits while you are wearing braces. Be sure to let your dental office and dental hygienist know that you have braces so they can schedule enough time to clean thoroughly around them.

Fluoride –  Help prevent tooth decay and demineralization of the enamel by using a fluoride toothpaste and drinking flourinated water.

If you have any questions about caring for your teeth while you have braces, contact us at Mall of Georgia Dentistry! Wearing braces is a big investment, financially and otherwise… so invest that extra time in keeping you mouth in tip-top shape throughout your orthodontic experience.   You’ll be glad you did when the braces come off and your smile is not only perfectly aligned but also perfectly healthy!

 

 
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