How to protect your teeth?
The teeth inevitably deteriorate with the aging process, but they can be protect until old age if you follow certain rules and tips. In this article we will present several processes that lead to too tooth deterioration and can be regarded as natural as well as ways in which these processes can be eliminated or slowed down.
1. The remains of sugary foods and cereal products ferment in the mouth, forcing the bacteria that are not harmful by nature to produce acids that are very dangerous when it comes to teeth. This leads to formation of small holes in the teeth which will eventually lead to carries. The most dangerous products are carbonated beverages (especially so-called sports drinks). Besides the general advice to avoid sweet products, reduce the intake of bread and pasta and remove soft drinks and snacks from the menu. If these tips are contrary to your dietary regime, you can start brushing your teeth more frequently. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and visit your dentist once in 6 months.
2. Contrary to popular belief, the teeth don’t become brittle and less resistant to mechanical damage with the process of aging, but tooth decay happens for many other reasons – the higher number of seals and other disorders and conditions, make teeth less capable of dealing with different types of foods. Most of the problems of this type occur gradually due to improper biting which is one of the most common consequences of insufficient dental care. It is also good to mention that even persons with proper bite often chew their food too aggressively or grind their teeth. This is a problem of psychological nature which is usually caused by stress.
3. While the teeth themselves, as we have mentioned before, don’t change with aging, the gums are more and more prone to inflammation and other changes. Bacteria induced inflammation leads to damage of the connective tissue, bone and ultimately to the loss of teeth. After the age of thirty, patients are advised to use mouthwash occasionally and there are few other products that can help us preserve the gums. It is especially recommended to increase the intake of foods packed with omega-3 fatty acids because they act against inflammatory processes. Some of these foods are fish, fish oil, different types of seeds etc. If you want to keep your teeth healthy, you need to take care of your gums too.
Receding gums – gingival recession
Receding gums is a medical term used to describe a movement of the level of gingival edges i.e. the edge of the gum in the direction of the tip of the tooth root. It can affect more or less all existing teeth or it can be manifested only in individual teeth.
Receding gums of most or all teeth is a clinical manifestation of advanced stages of periodontal disease. After the initial stages of periodontal disease, which is characterized by an acute inflammation of the gums (the gums are red, enlarged, bleeding when eating solid food), leads to their degradation and this destruction is clinically registered as tooth root wear and they appear elongated. These defects found in gums can come in different shapes and sizes. Receding gums is accompanied by loss of soft tissue and loss of bone tissue that progresses to end-stage periodontal disease where the bone loss is so great that the patient experienced falling out of healthy teeth. So, gingival recession associated with generalized periodontitis is manifested with gum recession not only in the vestibular (outer) side of the tooth, but also in the entire soft tissue around the tooth which is more or less equally affected by the changes.
The cause of periodontal disease with all its consequences can be found primarily in dental plaque. With the accumulation of minerals in soft plaques we can witness the formation of tartar which is the main cause of gum recession and bone loss which tend to “stay away“from this irritation. Gum recession which affects individual teeth can occur in one or more teeth. It is characterized by exposing the roots of teeth from the outer side of the teeth in most cases.
Common causes of receding gums around individual teeth are:
Occlusal trauma – when the jaws are closed, some of the teeth can come into contact before other teeth. This relation is called traumatic tooth contact because it leads to trauma of the teeth. The consequences of traumatic (or early) contact are destructive changes in the gums and the bone tissue.
Poor brushing technique – Practicing horizontal movement, toothbrush with hard fiber and applying greater pressure than necessary when brushing, is defined as aggressive brushing of teeth. It results in damage of the soft tissue and gums which is manifested with the appearance of shallow defects.
Inadequate prosthetic work and dentures – Very broad crowns, prosthetic work which lead to traumatic contact etc.
What is bruxism?
Bruxism is the technical term for forced, excessive clenching and teeth grinding that is not associated with chewing food. It usually occurs at night. During this period patients experience long and strong non-physiological load of the teeth and their supporting structures. This habit is often related to emotional stress, fear, tension or fatigue where the unconscious clenching of the teeth is associated with the powerful movements of the lower jaw from side to side and back and forth which is why the grinding and creaking of teeth occurs.
Bruxism or teeth grinding is a very common occurrence, especially in people older than 25 years, regardless of gender. However, children can have this problem too although this problem in children is usually connected with the existence of discomforts due to fever, colds, allergies or ear infections and the problem is usually solved without any special treatment. In addition, this bruxism that occurs temporarily doesn’t leave any consequences.
Is bruxism a reason to get worried?
In the moments you chew food, you are actually developing a force of about 175 p per cm2 o the surface of the tooth. When we grind our teeth at night, there is no food between the teeth to relieve this pressure so the strength of this force or pressure is doubled. This is enough to cause permanent damage to the teeth including enamel cracking, receding gums, fractures of the teeth, damage of teeth leading to tooth loss, damage to the lower jaw bone joint etc. Over some period of time, patients can also experience increased tooth sensitivity and pain in the joints, ears and head which creates additional tension and anxiety in patients.
How to determine whether you are dealing with bruxism or not?
Given the fact that bruxism usually occurs at night, most patients are not aware that there actually a problem until their partner doesn’t warn them about it or unless they notice some of the symptoms. You should pay closer attention to the things like:
- Pain in the ears, joints or head that occurs immediately after awakening and lasts throughout the day
- The appearance of flattened occlusal surfaces on the teeth as well as reduction in the height of the front teeth.
- Increased tooth sensitivity to pressure, cold or any other similar stimuli.
If you suspect that you are experiencing teeth grinding, call your dentist in order to remove existing and prevent further damage. Your dentist will also give you advice about the measures you can take.
A few foods that damage your teeth
It is very important to understand that we can protect our teeth if we take care of the food we eat. Food is a daily need for humans. It compensates the vitamins we spend during the day and makes us beat the feeling of hunger. However, after consumption of certain foods it is very important to brush the teeth because the composition and acids which are part of their composition could have negative impact on dental health.
The biggest drawback of using this beverage which is usually used on a daily basis is its color and acidity that cause so called “yellow teeth” after a long period of consumption. However, tooth discoloration caused by coffee is the least painful and easiest problem for patients today because teeth whitening is available in almost every modern dental office.
Potato chips are one of the favorite snacks for modern kids. This starchy food is very dangerous to teeth because the bacteria from plaque in conjunction with starch form acid which attack the teeth after 20 minutes. This negative effect can last for a longer period of time if you don’t rinse or brush your teeth because starch foods easily get stuck between the teeth in the so-called interdental space. That’s why it is a good idea to use dental floss too.
White and red wine
The acids found in wine produce bad effects for the tooth enamel because they make it porous and at the same time teeth are subject to discoloration. Red wine contains pigments that keep the color on the teeth a long time after we consume the wine while white wine because of the acid “prepares” the enamel to absorb color from other beverages like coffee for example.
Just like chips, gummy bears are extremely popular among children. Because of their specific composition they have the ability to glue to the teeth and in this way tooth enamel is exposed more to the acids that actually destroy this protective layer. If you find it difficult to make your kid stop eating gummy bears, the best idea is to consume this food during a meal and not as a separate meal. When kids chew they create more saliva which helps wash sugars and acids from gummy bears.
Eating snacks leads to reduction of the presence of saliva during the meal and parts of these snacks stay in the mouth between the teeth for hours. Therefore, it is best to avoid snacks or consume those with less sugar and starch.
Juices (fruit or carbonated)
These drinks are full of sugar. Carbonated drinks contain citric and phosphoric acid in addition to sugar. All these ingredients corrode tooth enamel. Don’t be fooled by carbonated drinks that don’t contain sugar because the artificial sugars found in these juices are even more acidic. Although fruit juices are packed with antioxidants and vitamins, it is very important to choose juices that don’t contain added sugar. The fruits are sweet without any additions.
A few Things You Should Know About Early Childhood Caries
Early childhood caries or baby bottle tooth decay is a term used to describe a type of caries that occurs in children between the ages of 3-8 months and 3 years. This is a very aggressive form of caries which rapidly destroys the milk teeth. The main cause for the occurrence of this caries is the colonization of bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans. The enamel of baby teeth is less mineralized and the pulp is bigger compared to permanent teeth. For this reason, the bacteria are able to penetrate the enamel of milk teeth rapidly and reach the porous dentin which ultimately results in faster and more progressive spread of decay.
The most common cause of early childhood caries is the lack of care for tooth health by parents. Although they believe that they know what is best for their kids, they often make mistakes in these two cases which serve as fertile grounds for the development of baby bottle tooth decay. The oral cavity in children is not a favorable area for bacteria at least until bacteria are transferred. This transfer usually happens when mothers feed their babies (through food). In fact, in many cases, mothers often try the food that they give to their babies and use the same spoon to feed them. This is not a good idea because in this way the bacteria found in the mouth of the mother are passed on the child. Another reason is the use of a feeding bottle that contains liquids with high amounts of sugar when parents try to make their baby fall asleep. These liquids include dairy products, drinks sweetened with sugar or honey and juices. During the night the salivation is reduced and this is the perfect time for bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans to remain on the teeth’s surface. These bacteria lead to tooth decay.
Early childhood caries affects the upper incisors in the beginning. It usually affects both sides –the outer surface of the teeth and can be spread on the molars too. The lower teeth are usually spared because the tongue creates a barrier and increased secretion of saliva which has a significant protective role. The clinical picture at an early stage can identify this occurrence as small blurry stains with white color spreading to the neck of the tooth. As the decay makes progress you can expect creation of depressions that can penetrate to the pulp of the tooth or even manifest decay of the tooth crown.
The consequences of baby bottle tooth decay are numerous. They can be seen on the milk and permanent teeth and in the development of the child. Of course, damaged teeth prevent proper diet and digestion and there they prevent proper development. Besides, damaged teeth, it is possible for children to experience bleeding and bad breath, purulent swelling and fistulas. The consequences are durable and visible. Premature loss of deciduous teeth causes an abnormal position for the new teeth.
Dental crowns and bridges – A basic guide
In case you have teeth with severely damaged or broken dental crowns or you are missing one or several teeth in the dental arch, it is necessary to replace these lost tooth crowns.
Dental crowns are specially designed dentures that reimburse damaged coronal tooth structure and fully mimic the size, shape and color of teeth. There are few situations in which using dental crowns is highly recommended:
1. Fracture of the tooth crown
2. Teeth that must be protected and strengthened after nerve treatment
3. Teeth with pronounced irregularities in their shape or color
4. Teeth with large carious defects that cannot be repaired with dental seals.
Dental crowns can be made of porcelain, metal, zirconium or metal ceramics. They are made on the basis of individual dental prints taken from the damaged teeth. After a certain period od adaptation, the crowns are permanently cemented.
The following is a shortlist of things included in this procedure:
- Grinding of teeth and taking individual dental prints
- Making crowns in a lab
- Testing the crowns in the mouth and possible corrections
- Temporary cementing (a period used for adaptation)
- Permanent cementing of dental crowns
The average life of professionally made tooth crowns is between 8 and 10 years and they can last longer with regular and proper maintenance of oral hygiene.
Dental bridges are used in cases when a person needs replacement of at least two connected crowns. Tooth loss leads to changed in the bone in terms of its reduction as well as changes to the teeth surrounding the toothless region. Teeth tend to move and incline to the toothless area and we can soon witness the deterioration around these teeth and they become very sensitive and prone to tooth decay. In addition, they become unstable and in some cases we can witness their loss and serious deterioration of oral health, facial shape, overall beauty and chewing quality.
When a patient is missing one or several teeth, the dental bridge stabilizes and prevents shifting and tilting of adjacent teeth into the empty space. It also prevents the loss of vertical dimension. Unlike dentures, dental bridges are cemented and cannot be removed from the mouth. The missing teeth are replaced with lab-made crown that are placed to at least two dental veneers cemented to the previously treated teeth. Dental bridges are used for replacement of a smaller number of lost teeth and only in cases where people have stable and healthy teeth in this area.