Posts for tag: tooth decay

By Stephen E. Gork, DDS, PC
November 27, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay   toothache  
WhatToDoAboutAChildsToothache

It's 3:00 PM, your child has just come back from the school playground — and she's complaining of a toothache that's making her miserable. She can't seem to say if there was a particular injury or a blow, but the more she talks about it, the worse it gets. You're the parent... what are you going to do now?

If you've ever been through this type of situation, you know that a calm demeanor and a little TLC can go a long way. But how do you know whether you're facing a dental emergency, or a routine booboo? Here are a few general rules that may help.

First, relax: Without a fever and facial swelling, a child's toothache isn't usually an emergency. But any tooth pain that keeps a child up at night or lasts into the next day should be evaluated by a dentist. Even if it's nothing but a small cavity (the most common cause of toothache) you don't want to let it go untreated. That could allow it to turn from a small discomfort into a major problem — like a painful abscess.

There are some things you can do at home to try and get a handle on what's causing the pain. Encourage the child to show you exactly where the pain is located, and to tell you when and how it started. Then, examine the area closely. Look for obvious brown spots, or even tiny cavities (holes) on biting surfaces or between teeth, which might indicate decay. Also check the gums surrounding the tooth, to see if there are sores or swelling.

You may find evidence of a traumatic injury, like a cut or bruise — or, if only swelling is apparent, it may mean an abscess has formed. If nothing looks amiss, try gently flossing on either side of the hurting tooth. This may dislodge a particle of food that's causing pain and pressure.

If the pain persists, you can try giving an appropriate dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or applying an ice pack on the outside of the jaw — one minute on and one minute off. But even if you can make the immediate pain go away, don't neglect the situation that caused it. Unless you're absolutely sure you know why the toothache occurred, you should bring the child in for an examination. It will put your mind at rest — and maybe prevent a bigger problem down the road.

If you have questions about toothaches in children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Child's Toothache.”

By Stephen E. Gork, DDS, PC
January 05, 2013
Category: Oral Health
TakeOurQuizAreYouAtRiskForToothDecay

Dental caries (tooth decay) is similar to the pesky bumblebee that invades your lovely summer barbecue. You can find temporary solace from this intruder by eliminating that very first bee that you see, but if you are situated in an area that is close to the bee's nest, it won't be long before the next bee buzzes along. This is similar to tooth decay. Having one cavity-laden tooth drilled and filled is really just a temporary fix. The underlying conditions that led to tooth decay in the first place need to be addressed in order for your risk of future infection to decrease.

Researcher Dr. John Featherstone created the concept of the Caries Balance in 2002, in which he explained that tooth decay and overall dental health are dependent upon a proper balance of disease-causing and health-promoting factors. Discovering what the fundamental problem really is (and getting as far away from that hornet's nest as possible) can help both determine and curb your risk for future tooth decay.

Here's the issue in a nutshell: Susceptible teeth, in the presence of acid producing bacteria when fed by sugar from your diet, basically, will create all the conditions necessary to cause tooth decay.

To determine your risk for tooth decay, see how many times you answer “Yes” to the following questions:

  1. Do you brush your teeth twice a day to reduce bacterial plaque sticking to the teeth?
  2. Do you use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the teeth against acid attack?
  3. Do you use a fluoride mouthrinse?
  4. Do you floss daily?

Every affirmative answer decreases your risk of getting cavities, but even doing all of this may not be enough!

Now, how many times can you answer “Yes” to these questions?:

  1. Do you smoke? Smoking causes mouth dryness, and creates a host of other health problems.
  2. Do you snack frequently between meals? One sugary snack and your mouth is acidic for the next hour. One snack per hour and your mouth is acidic all day.
  3. Do you frequently have acid reflux or heartburn? Reflux creates extreme acidity in the mouth and directly erodes tooth enamel.
  4. Do you drink soda, sports drinks, or acidic beverages frequently? These beverages are very acidic.
  5. Is your mouth frequently dry? Do you take any medications that cause mouth dryness? Saliva is nature's own defense against acidity and helps neutralize acid in the mouth.
  6. Have you had frequent cavities in the past and/or have you had any crowns or fillings in the past three months? The best indicator of future disease is past disease!

Every affirmative answer increases your risk of getting cavities!

Now that you are a little more knowledgeable about your personal risk for tooth decay, make an appointment with us to discuss the preventative measures that can give you some control over the future condition of your teeth. Ignoring the risks and then ending up with a mouth full of rotting teeth when you knew better could really sting a little!

To learn even more about the delicate balance between the disease causing and protective factors related to tooth decay, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”

By Stephen E. Gork, DDS, PC
November 08, 2012
Category: Oral Health
ThreeWaystoPreventToothDecay

Tooth decay is not trivial. It's a worldwide epidemic, one of the most common of all diseases — second only to the common cold. It affects more than one fourth of U.S. children of ages 2 to 5 and half of those 12 to 15. Among adults, tooth decay affects more than ninety percent of those over age 40.

Prevention of cavities starts with a healthy diet and effective brushing and flossing, but it is much more complex than that. Three strategies for reducing dental caries (tooth decay) include:

Protect with Fluoride and Sealants
This works best when fluoride is applied to the crystalline coating of your child's teeth just after they push through the gums (erupt). The fluoride becomes incorporated into the tooth's surface and acts as a barrier to decay. Studies have shown that low doses of fluoride are safe and effective.

Dental sealants are used as a companion to fluoride because they seal tiny pits and fissures in the tooth's structure, creating an even stronger barrier.

Modify Oral Bacteria
Every mouth contains bacteria, no matter how well you clean your teeth. Not all bacteria cause tooth decay. The problem bacteria are those that produce acid as a byproduct of their life processes. We can identify acid-producing bacteria in your mouth, you can reduce their concentrations using antibacterial mouthrinses such as chlorhexidine, and pH neutralizing agents (substances that reduce the amount of acid).

Reduce Sugars in Your Diet
Bacteria in your mouth ferment sugars and other carbohydrates, producing acids that eat into the mineralized outside structure of your teeth, the enamel. So eating fewer sugars — particularly added sugars such as those in juices, sodas, candy and other sweets — will help prevent decay. Your total sugar intake should be less than fifty grams, or about ten teaspoons, per day. If you begin to read labels showing sugar content of common foods, you may be surprised at the amount you consume without knowing it.

If you must snack between meals, non-sugary snacks like raw vegetables and fresh fruits create a better environment for your teeth.

Xylitol, an “alcohol sugar” used in some chewing gums and dental products, has been shown to reduce decay-producing bacteria.

Try these easy strategies to keep your teeth healthy and functional throughout your lifetime.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth decay. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay.”

By Stephen E. Gork, DDS, PC
September 10, 2012
Category: Oral Health
DeterminingYourRiskForToothDecaymdashAndReversingIt

Dental decay is an infectious and very common disease, but it's also very preventable. Today's dentistry has many tools at its disposal to accurately determine your risk for tooth decay, lower it, turn it around, and completely prevent it. What's more, we can even reverse early decay. You might never have to see or hear the drill again.

Striking the right balance between factors that promote oral health and those that cause disease is of the utmost importance. And knowing whether or not you have indicators of disease or risk for tooth decay is a great place to start.

We will scientifically calculate your risk for tooth decay by:

  1. Recording and monitoring your oral and dental health: Our risk assessment/evaluation form allows us to gather information about critical dental health habits. Oral hygiene habits, use of fluoride toothpaste, tobacco smoking, frequent snacking on sugary foods and beverages, and past experience of decay are all examples of disease indicators that will help gauge your level of risk. For example, using fluoride toothpaste decreases your risk, but smoking and between-meal snacking increases it.
  2. Testing for decay producing bacteria: You've probably heard of dental bacterial plaque, the biofilm that sticks to your teeth, forming in the tiny little grooves on the biting surfaces of the teeth where decay starts (and along the gum line). Today, acid-producing bacteria responsible for causing decay can be tested by simply sampling your biofilm on a swab, and placing it in a meter to accurately determine acid-producing activity. A high number indicates high risk. You can see it for yourself in less than a minute.
  3. Saliva testing: A simple history will tell us whether your mouth is dry or moist most of the time. A saliva test will tell us if your saliva is acidic or neutral. A dry acidic mouth promotes decay, while a moist neutral mouth with healthy saliva promotes health. Measuring salivary “pH,” the measure of acidity, is another factor for determining your risk for decay and reversing it. Special rinses can help reduce decay-producing bacteria and reduce acidity.
  4. Very early decay detection: Modern ultra-low-dosage x-ray equipment allows us to determine the very earliest signs of decay. Decay that is detectable with the naked eye (or feel with a dentist's instrument, an explorer) is already at an advanced stage. Catching the disease very early with the help of this sophisticated equipment can allow us to reverse early decay before it has even turned into cavities. It can actually be reversed with remineralizing fluids, rinses that put calcium back into the tooth surfaces reforming and hardening them.

This is a new and exciting era in the fight against tooth decay and we have all the tools to determine your decay risk and reverse it.

If you would like us to determine your risk for tooth decay, please call the office to schedule an appointment. To read more about disease indicators and risk factors for dental caries, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”



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