Archive for February, 2014

Are Dental Sealants Right For You?

Tooth decay is a widespread problem affecting most children and adults. Decay occurs when food and plaque build up in the mouth. Then the enzymes in the mouth wear away at the protective enamel on your tooth. As decay progresses, it may cause cavities to form. Severe decay may even reach the sensitive pulp inside the tooth.

There are many ways to protect against tooth decay including good oral hygiene, healthy lifestyle, and regular dental cleanings. For some patients, dental sealants are another option for protecting teeth from decay. Let’s take a look at what dental sealants are and whether they may be right for you:

What is A Dental Sealant?
A dental sealant is a coating that your dentist can paint onto your teeth to provide long-lasting extra protection from decay. This is an easy in-office procedure that can be completed quickly. Sealants can last up to ten years and provide a protective layer to prevent the plaque build that leads to enamel erosion and decay.

Where are Sealants Used
Sealants are most commonly used on the premolars and molars in the back of the mouth. These teeth typically contain deep crevices and grooves that may be hard to clean during regular brushing and flossing. A sealant can help to prevent the buildup of food debris and plaque in this area of the mouth. Sometime sealants may be used on non-molars that have deep crevices or grooves.

Who Is A Good Candidate for Sealants?

Sealants are used mostly on younger patients, including children who have all of their permanent teeth, teens, and young adults. Sealants can help young patients avoid tooth decay. Adults who do not have fillings or decay on their back teeth may also be good candidates for sealants. Every patient is different and it is best to consult with your dentist about the possibility of sealants.

If you wish to learn more about sealants for your dental care, then contact Tucson dentist Dr. John Carson DDS. Call our Tucson offices at (520) 514-7203 to set up your appointment.

Have You Had a Dental X-Ray Lately?

When is the last time that you had a dental x-ray taken? Dental imaging is a safe and effective diagnostic tool that allows your dentist to provide the highest level of care.

An x-ray can reveal information that your dentist cannot see during a regular oral exam. Below we’ll look at how x-rays are used and how frequently patients should receive new x-rays.

For Preventative Dental Care
Imaging gives your dentist more visibility into what’s occurring under the surface of your teeth. Using an x-ray, your dentist can see hidden areas of tooth decay, perhaps under an existing filling or in between teeth. If you are suffering from gum disease, then your dentist will use imaging to check for any related bone loss.

Before A Procedure

X-rays are usually taken before a cosmetic or restorative procedure like dental implants or bonding. This allows the cosmetic dentist to detect the shape and underlying structure of teeth and jaw to better plan for the procedure.

To Help Young Patients with Incoming Teeth

Younger patients who are expecting incoming permanent teeth, or even wisdom teeth, can benefit from dental x-rays. An image can show the dentist whether the patient’s mouth has enough room for permanent or wisdom teeth to come in. Many times incoming permanent or wisdom teeth may negatively impact surrounding teeth or the patients’ bite and further care becomes necessary.

Your dentist will decide how often you need dental x-rays taken, tailoring a program for your specific dental needs. If you are at a high risk or already diagnosed with gum disease or tooth decay, then your dentist may want to take more frequent images.

Tucson dentist Dr. John Carson uses digital x-rays, the latest imaging technology. Digital x-rays produce higher quality images of your teeth with less radiation than traditional methods.  Find out more about getting the best preventative dental care in Tucson by calling Dr. Carson at (520) 514-7203.

The History of the Toothbrush

We all know that if we don’t brush our teeth each day, then food residue and bacteria will build up in our mouths. Brushing and flossing regularly protects your mouth from tooth decay and gum disease and keeps your pearly whites looking (and smelling) great too!

It turns out that our standards for regular brushing and oral hygiene are a fairly recent historical development. In fact, toothbrushes were not mass-produced in the U.S. until the late 1800s. The first modern toothbrush, using nylon and synthetic materials, wasn’t produced until 1938!

So what did people use to brush their teeth before 1938? Below we’ll share some more highlights of the history and evolution of the toothbrush:

Chew Sticks
Many ancient cultures used chew sticks to clean their teeth. Chew sticks were hearty twigs with one pointy end and one frayed end. The frayed ends brushed against the teeth and the pointed end was used as a toothpick.

  • 3500 B.C. – Early chew sticks found in Babylonia.
  • 3000 B.C. – Chew sticks discovered in an Egyptian tomb.
  • 1600 B.C. –  Chinese records mention the use of chew sticks made from aromatic tree twigs, which freshened breath too.
  • 776 B.C.  – Greeks used toothpicks to clean their teeth.
  • 900 – Chinese invent the first natural bristle toothbrush attaching tiny hairs from a pig’s neck to a piece of bone or bamboo.

Early European Oral Hygiene

When the toothbrush travelled from China to Europe, Europeans substituted horsehair and even feathers for the bristles! During the 1700s many people cleaned their teeth by rubbing them with a rag, soot, and salt.

  • 1780 – William Addis invents the modern toothbrush using carved cattle bone and pig bristles.
  • 1840s – Brushes with three rows are designed throughout Europe using pig and badger hair.
  • 1857 – H.N. Wadsworth patents a toothbrush design in the U.S.
  • 1885 – The toothbrush is mass-produced for the first time in the U.S. with boar bristles, bone, and sometimes wood or ivory handles.
  • 1938 – Dupont invents Nylon and releases the first modern toothbrush made out of this synthetic fiber.
  • 1960 – Broxodent releases the first electric toothbrush in the U.S.

Don’t rely on an ancient chew stick to keep your teeth healthy! Call the offices of Tucson dentist Dr. John Carson in Tucson at (520) 514-7203 to set up a dental exam and cleaning.

 

What Is Occlusal Function, and Why Is It Important?

Occlusal function may sound strange, but this phrase refers simply to how your teeth line up to form your bite. Problems with your bite or teeth alignment are called malocclusions of the teeth.

Your teeth can become misaligned at any stage in life due to the following factors:

  • Genetics: Many people inherit an unhealthy or irregular bite from their parents.
  • Behavior: Bottle-feeding, thumb sucking, injuries, and poor dental hygiene or dental care, can all cause problems with your bite.
  • Health Problems: Cleft lips, cleft palates, tooth abnormalities, or tumors in the mouth can also create alignment problems.

Negative Health Impact of Malocclusions

When your bite does not line up correctly, it can cause many other health problems. A poor bite may prevent you from chewing correctly or put you at a greater risk for chewing on or inuring your teeth or tongue. Malocclusions can also add painful strain and impact to the bones and muscles in the face and neck.

Patients with crooked, crowded, or misaligned teeth have a tougher time keeping all of their teeth clean and plaque free. This increases the risk for tooth decay and gum disease to develop. Finally, patients with poorly aligned teeth may suffer psychologically through decreased self esteem and lower confidence about their smile.

How The Dentist Can Correct Your Bite
Check with your dentist about the health of your bite and what your options are for improving your smile’s functionality. Clear orthodontics are low profile aligners, which can correct the position of your teeth over time. Sometimes a dentist will use cosmetic procedures like reshaping or bonding to correct your bite.

If you think your bite may be misaligned, then contact Tucson dentist Dr. John Carson DDS in Tucson. Dr. Carson can examine your bite and provide cosmetic dental solutions to improve the health and beauty of your smile. Call (520) 514-7203 today.

3 Tips for Avoiding Cavities

Cavity prevention is on the top of everyone’s oral hygiene list. Cavities are tiny holes in your teeth caused by decay. When food and plaque build up on the teeth, the enzymes in your mouth can wear away at your teeth’s protective enamel to form these holes.

If left untreated, cavities and decay may lead to problems with the sensitive pulp inside your tooth and even cause infection or tooth loss. Here’s what you need to know to reduce your risk for cavities:

Eat Right

Stay away from sugary, sticky candies and foods, which adhere to your teeth and are difficult to remove during regular cleaning. When you eat starchy foods like bread, pasta, or crackers the bacteria in your mouth will be happy. Bacteria love feasting on the sugars in carbohydrates. As the bacteria munch away, they produce acid, which causes tooth decay.

Avoid Cavity-Causing Drinks

The sugar, phosphorous, and carbonation in soda are all bad for your teeth. These ingredients wear away at tooth enamel, making you more prone to cavities. Similarly, sugary fruit juices and acidic fruit juices like lemonade and OJ can wear down your enamel. Drinking sugary, carbonated, or acidic beverages through a straw can minimize the damaging effects on your teeth.

Practice Excellent Oral Hygiene

In addition to the food and beverage tips above, proper oral hygiene is key to preventing cavities. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, after meals, for two full minutes at a time. It is also important to visit your dentist regularly for deeper cleanings and exams. Your dentist can use digital x-rays to detect smaller or hidden cavities early on. In-office dental sealant treatments can also help some patients reduce the risk of cavities on their pre-molars and molars.

Dr. John Carson DDS offers dental care for Tucson families. To learn more about our preventative dental and cosmetic dental services, visit our website or call (520) 514-7203.

 

How Soda Can Impact Your Teeth

Are you a regular or diet soda drinker? According to a recent Gallup poll, 48 percent of Americans consume at least one soft drink per day. On average, soda drinkers finish 2.6 glasses of the bubbly beverage every day.

Soda has come under scrutiny recently because it has a long list of negative health side effects, including links to weight gain, depression, and diabetes. But did you know that soda could be really detrimental to your teeth as well? Here is a glimpse of how soda can impact your oral hygiene:

Acids Dissolve Tooth Enamel

It is not true that leaving a tooth in a glass of soda overnight will completely dissolve the tooth. According to Popular Mechanics, and common sense, this old urban legend is just a myth. Acidic properties in regular and even diet sodas do dissolve tooth enamel though. Soda’s acidity therefore opens the way for tooth decay and a whole host of dental problems.

Sugar Feeds Harmful Bacteria

Tooth decay occurs when food and beverage debris remain in your mouth forming plaque. Plaque buildup allows the bacteria in your mouth to feed and multiply, wearing away at the surface enamel of your teeth. Bacteria love feeding on the sugary carbohydrates in soda and may dissolve your tooth enamel, leading to cavities and severe decay.

What to Drink Instead?

Try drinking water instead. Most Americans don’t drink enough water, and unlike soda, water can boost you mental and physical health. If you are looking for a healthier beverage with caffeine, try substituting a black or green tea. For the sweet, carbonated effects of soda, mix a few tablespoons of healthy fruit juice with plain seltzer water. There’s also a healthy alternative to soda called Kurij that is made right here in Tucson by a dentist- so you know it won’t do any damage to your teeth! More info on Kurij can be found here: http://kurij.com/Main/Welcome.html

Be proactive about your dental health by contacting the Tucson offices of Tucson dentist Dr. John Carson DDS. Call us at (520) 514-7203 to set up an appointment for your next cleaning and exam.