Kissimmee Family Dentistry

Root Canals: Your Toughest Questions Answered

For most people, the mere mention of a root canal sets off alarm bells in the body. These bells come in the form of nervous thoughts and sensations – that fight-or-flight response we’ve all heard about. While this is a totally normal response, most fear of root canals is based on mis-information. We feel that by giving you the right information, we can help you understand the process better and calm your fears about this routine procedure.

Root Canals Your Toughest Questions AnsweredThis is not just your average list of root canal FAQs. Here, we aim to tackle the toughest questions that you can throw our way.

I’ve heard that root canals aren’t as painful as they used to be. How can that be true?

  • Better Instruments: Endodontic instruments have improved greatly over the years. They are more precise than ever, allowing us to target only necessary areas and avoid excess irritation.
  • Better Anesthetics: The anesthetics we use today are more effective and less likely to cause negative reactions than in the past. In addition, we can use an anesthetic that has adrenaline or epinephrine added to it to make it last longer. The longer it lasts, the less pain you will feel.
  • Better Imaging: Modern imaging allows for a more precise treatment and lessens the need to cause irritation in non-infected areas.
  • Better Understanding: Today, we have a better understanding of both your body and the microorganisms that cause infected roots. This results in less invasive treatments and better overall care for you.

What can I do to calm my nerves?

  • Know the Facts:
    • Over 15 million root canals are performed each year.
    • Root canals save your natural teeth and save money down the road.
    • Root canals are safe.
    • Root canals relieve pain caused by infection – they don’t cause pain!
  • Ask Questions: Sometimes patients are unsure about a specific part of the procedure and remain silent. We want you to ask questions! Usually we are able to set your mind at ease if you simply ask us.
  • Plug In: Many patients bring music and earphones to the appointment to help pass the time in the chair. Ask us if this is an option for you before your appointment.

Why not just remove the tooth? 
When a tooth hurts, often a person’s first reaction is to get rid of the tooth. However, we know that missing teeth cause bigger health problems and expenses down the road. The first choice in dental care is ALWAYS to save the tooth when possible. Root canal treatment saves teeth. In fact, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment can last just as long as the healthy teeth in your mouth!

Seeking Whiter Teeth? Not So fast!

“Can’t I just whiten my teeth at home?” Read on to learn why it’s important for teeth whitening to be prescribed and performed by a professional.

WhiteningBlogWe’ve all seen them, those bulky little boxes of whitening strips and gel potions, calling our name out from the aisles as we casually pick up a fresh tube of toothpaste. I would even bet that more than a few of you have left the store clutching that box, hoping that the $50 will be worth it. After all, you don’t know much about how to use them properly or what chemicals are involved. The most common side effects of at home whitening are: tooth sensitivity and gum sensitivity. There are a few things that should be considered prior to using at-home bleaching treatments.

Heading into the office for a check-up should always be your first step when reaching for a whiter smile. A dental professional can help you establish whether your mouth is healthy enough to withstand a bleaching treatment. If deep cavities are present, the bleach can have a straight shot to the blood vessels present in your teeth. The bleach can also gain access to the nerve and bone at the root of the tooth through a deep cavity. Just as you should not start any diet or exercise regimen without getting checked out by a physician, you should also take the same precaution with teeth enhancing treatments. When a dental professional performs a whitening treatment, the gum area is protected at application. Another great reason to opt for in-office whitening is that the professional products used by dentists contain only high quality ingredients that are gentler on your teeth!

A whiter, brighter smile gives the impression of youth. We perceive a white, bright smile as a healthy smile. Save yourself the sensitivity and see us today!

Dieting and Dental Health

Giving up processed foods and artificial sugars is a great way to improve our overall health, but sometimes our “healthy” habits can actually deprive us of vital nutrients. Internal health is an important factor when it comes to oral hygiene, and cutting meat, dairy products or sugars out of your diet could lead to serious conditions such as gum disease if you don’t find the right substitutes. Keep reading for a list of nutrients you might be missing and some tips for balancing your diet with your oral health!

Dieting-and-Dental-HealthZinc in saliva and enamel prevents the buildup of bacteria, which eventually turns to tartar or calculus. It is essential to preventing cavities and even gum disease (periodontitis). If you notice a metallic taste in your mouth, zinc deficiency may be to blame, as it causes a buildup of bacteria in the mouth.

  • Zinc-rich foods: Seafood, lean meats, dairy products
  • Alternatives: chickpeas, cashews, almonds

Gum swelling or bleeding may be a sign of Vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, which is an essential part of the connective tissue in the gums surrounding the teeth.

  • Vitamin C-rich foods: citrus fruits
  • Alternatives: Bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes

A lack of calcium weakens the gums, and people who don’t eat animal and dairy products may be increasing their risk of periodontal disease. Calcium prevents bone degeneration, keeping the jaw strong and healthy so bacteria doesn’t destroy the bone that supports the teeth.

  • Calcium-rich foods: dairy products
  • Alternatives: chickpeas, broccoli, collard greens, oranges

Vitamin D works with calcium to promote strong bones. It increases calcium absorption, preventing tooth loss and jaw bone degeneration.

  • Vitamin D-rich foods: Fatty fish, egg yolk
  • Alternatives: mushrooms, tofu, dairy alternatives (i.e. soy milk)

If you notice a burning sensation in your mouth, specifically on your tongue, or frequent canker sores you may be suffering from iron deficiency. Iron deficiency leads to reduced red blood cells and decreased oxygen flow.

  • Iron-rich foods: Red meat, poultry, seafood
  • Alternatives: dried fruits, beans, dark leafy greens

Finding a solution to your symptoms may be as simple as picking up a few extra ingredients at your local supermarket! Adding some of these nutrient rich foods to your diet can help you get back on track with your oral health and wow us next time you visit our office!

Fluoride: Nature’s Cavity Fighter

Fluoride Natures Cavity FighterNobody likes coming to the dentist to have a cavity filled! Many of our patients ask us how stop a cavity before it happens. Many people have heard of fluoride but wonder how it works and if it is safe. We wrote this blog to answer your questions about fluoride and to help you understand its benefits and how to use it effectively.

Fluoride occurs naturally in certain foods. You might be surprised to learn that it can be found in black teas and raisins, and in our water sources, such as lakes and rivers. And, because it provides such good protection from tooth decay, it has been added to dental products to help prevent cavities.

Fluoride works for both children and adults. It’s true! Before teeth even erupt through the gums, fluoride taken in from certain foods and supplements makes tooth enamel stronger and therefore more resistant to decay. After teeth erupt, brushing with fluoride toothpaste helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel, reversing early signs of cavity formation. In addition, the fluoride you consume becomes a part of your saliva, constantly bathing your teeth with tiny amounts of the cavity fighter. While it is critical for infants and children to be exposed to fluoride when primary and permanent teeth are forming, new research indicates that topical fluoride is just as important in fighting tooth decay for adults!

Use the correct amount of toothpaste to benefit your teeth. While all toothpaste removes plaque (a thin film of bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay), only toothpaste with fluoride can prevent tooth decay by making teeth stronger. Make sure you’re using the correct amount of toothpaste with your children!

  • For very little ones, under 3 years of age, parents and caregivers should begin gently brushing teeth as soon as they come into the mouth with an amount of fluoridated toothpaste the size of a few grains of rice.
  • For children ages 3 to 6, a pea-size amount of toothpaste is best. Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day and make sure to supervise children to help instill good habits.

Some mouth rinses also contain fluoride. You may already be protecting your teeth with fluoride without even knowing it! However, mouth rinses should not be used with children under the age of 6, as they may not be able it use it appropriately.

You may have fluoride in your water. Your community may have chosen water fluoridation (simply adding fluoride to drinking water) as a public health benefit. Water fluoridation is safe, effective, and healthy. The Center for Disease Control has noted water fluoridation as one of the ten best public health achievements of the 20th century.

For your best dental hygiene routine, ask us during your next visit about the right fluoride products for you and your family. Your oral health is our priority so we want to answer any questions that you have. Armed with the right information, your family can have healthy teeth for life. Contact our office to schedule your next visit! We can’t wait to see you soon!

Gum Disease Risk Factors

GumDiseaseRiskFactorsHere’s a concerning statistic: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of Americans who are over the age of 65 have gum disease. Although brushing and flossing are key factors in preventing gum disease, there are other elements that can contribute to tooth loss as well.

Smoking:

Smoking may actually be one of the most significant risk factor in the development of gum disease. Tobacco is a powerful substance that can damage teeth permanently and actually aid in the progression of periodontitis. Studies have shown that using any kind of tobacco product increases the risk of gum disease.

 Stress:

You might not believe it, but stress is actually a risk factor and can cause gum disease to progress more quickly. Stress is linked to many health issues such as cancer and hypertension. Stress takes a toll on your body and makes it hard to fight off infections. Even infections in your gums!

Genetics:

Sadly, some people just may be more susceptible to gum disease than others. These people need to try harder and brush more often to fight off gingivitis and plaque build up.

Clenching and Grinding:

Grinding your teeth is bad for your teeth’s overall health. Excess force on the tissues that support your teeth can encourage gum disease to progress.

Medications:

Certain medications can upset your oral health and cause gum disease to progress faster. Anti-depressants and certain heart medications are the biggest culprits. If you’re taking any meds and begin to see a change in your overall oral health, please let us know at your next appointment.

Poor Nutrition and Obesity:

Your diet is incredibly important and affects your overall health. Eating foods low in important nutrients weakens your immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight infections. Gum disease starts with infections, which is why it’s important to take care of your body and think about your overall health.

Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you think you might be in the early stages of gum disease!

No Root Canal? What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

No Root CanalHave you ever wondered: “Do I have to have root canal therapy?   What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t?”

We are glad you asked! Having a root canal may seem like an intimidating and painful experience, so we are not surprised when some patients are hesitant to go through with it.

But, the fact of the matter is that: root canal treatments save natural teeth. And saving your natural teeth is the most important thing we do as oral health professionals.

Still not convinced? Here are some more compelling reasons to follow through with that root canal treatment:

  • An infected root won’t get better on its own. The pain may go away after some time, but that is not because the infection is gone, it is because the nerves are no longer working properly due to that infection.
  • Abscesses and Systemic Infections: Left untreated, an infected tooth can spread to the gums, causing a serious abscess in the jaw that requires emergency treatment. In rare cases, that could spread even further, creating a systemic (whole body) infection, which has the potential to be life threatening.
  • The role that natural teeth play in the overall health of your body during its lifetime is something that we are learning more about every day. This important role cannot be overstated. A lost, permanent tooth may not seem like a big deal to you now, but it creates a domino effect of health problems down the road. For example, a missing tooth causes nearby teeth to shift, exposing them to more decay and more tooth loss down the road. This can affect your ability to maintain a healthy diet and, in turn, affect the quality and even the span of your life.
  • Money: Even if aesthetics don’t matter to you, a lost tooth will probably cost you more money in the long run than a root canal will, now. When a tooth is missing, the jaw underneath that site atrophies. This makes it more expensive to perform restorative procedures such as dental implants in the future, as they will require more extensive prep-work such as bone grafting.

The bottom line is that your natural teeth are best. Endodontic therapy is typically the best way to save a natural tooth. It is also the most commonly used procedure, that we as oral health professionals have to help you keep your natural teeth for life.

Considering the Costs of Dental Implants

costs of Dental ImplantsWhen compared to the costs of other tooth replacement options, boy do dental implants seem expensive! Yet you may be surprised to learn that, in the long run, dental implants can be more affordable than their traditional counterparts. Understanding this procedure and the factors that determine the costs can help you decide if dental implants are a good investment for you!

What is a Dental Implant? A dental implant is a permanent replacement for lost teeth. It is made of an artificial tooth firmly held in place by a tooth root made of titanium (which is biocompatible) that is surgically placed into your jaw. Dental implants help stabilize the jaw and the bone around it to avoid future bone loss and maintain the shape of your jaw. They never have to be removed and feel more natural and comfortable than dentures. And unlike bridges or crowns, which are cemented in, the chances of slippage or shifting are eliminated. With implants, talking and eating become worry free.

Steps In a Dental Implant Procedure. We will first use extensive imaging to determine bone health, height, and thickness to assess your bone and teeth structure carefully. The surgery itself is done in our office in separate stages. First, the implant is surgically placed into your jawbone, completely hidden within your gum tissue. Once the implant has integrated into your bone, a healing process of about 4 to 6 months, the next stage is the placement of the abutment, or the post that penetrates the gum and will connect the replacement tooth to the implant. The final stage involves attaching your artificial tooth (made from impressions of your natural tooth) to the abutment. If more than one tooth is being replaced, a removable bridge is used, as it is more affordable than implanting each tooth separately. For a bridge, it takes only one implant on either side to span an area holding several teeth. The bridge snaps into place for a more permanent and natural fit than dentures.

Factors That Affect the Cost. While dental implant surgery is a safe and routine option, it is a complex procedure that takes time and expertise to be done effectively. There are many factors that will influence the final costs including what X-ray and CT scans are necessary to evaluate and assess the implant area and the brand and material of the post, abutment and artificial teeth. However, the biggest cost factor is the complexity of the surgery itself. For example, how many teeth are we replacing and what is the location? Will additional procedures, such as bone grafting or sinus elevation be required? We do our best to make sure that your estimate includes all of the possible costs of each of the steps of your procedure.

While dental implants may seem expensive, they are often more affordable in the long run than traditional restoration methods such as crowns and bridges, which are more vulnerable to damage and usually require repairs or replacement every few years.

Dental implants are known to have a 95% success rate when completed by professionals with the right experience and training, such as us! Because dental implants offer a permanent solution, are natural and comfortable, and require little maintenance, they are a cost effective choice for most of our patients.

Five Foods for Healthy Teeth

We all know that foods high in sugar and acid are bad for teeth, but did you know that some foods are actually good for them? Incorporating these dental friendly foods into your family meals can both fight tooth decay and prevent gum disease. Here are five oral health friendly foods!food tips for healthy teeth

Almonds, Brazil Nuts, and Sesame Seeds. These foods contain phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and most importantly, calcium. Dietary calcium is not only good for your bones, it may actually contribute to tooth remineralization and fight tooth decay. Make sure to get the unhulled variety of sesame seeds, which are incredibly high in calcium.

Strawberries, Kiwi, and Citrus Fruits. These fruits have the highest concentration of Vitamin C, which helps to increase collagen in gum tissue and prevents gum disease.

Onions. Toss some raw onion on your salad or eat them on your hamburgers. Onions contain powerful bacteria fighters because of their sulfer-containing compounds and are natural cavity fighters.

Shitake Mushrooms. Recent studies show a natural sugar found in shitakes, called lenithan, specifically targets the bacteria which causes gingivitis (gum inflammation) and tooth decay while leaving non-harmful bacteria alone.

Apples and Celery. Water rich fruits and vegetables stimulate saliva production, which rinses teeth of bacteria. With their high fiber content, they act as natural tooth brushes, scrubbing your teeth as you chew, removing plaque and bacteria that may otherwise build up.

These simple everyday foods are great choices for snacks or to add to meals your family already enjoys. Put onions or shitakes as toppings on your pizza. Serve celery and apples with peanut butter and make a smoothie with your strawberries and kiwi. Nuts can be eaten as a snack on their own or try them as nut butter spread on toast. You can even throw nuts and sesame seeds in a stir fry for added texture and flavor as well as the nutritional benefit.

Green Tea. Besides these five teeth healthy foods, you can even get a boost for your oral health by drinking this powerhouse liquid! Green tea contains “catechins” that actually fight inflammation and control bacterial infections. One Japanese study found that regular green tea drinkers had less incidence of periodontal disease compared with people who drank the tea irregularly. So try drinking green tea instead of that second cup of coffee or have a refreshing green iced-tea on a hot afternoon.

Besides brushing and flossing, what you eat can make a difference to your oral health. It’s nice to know you can eat foods that taste good and be doing something good for your teeth at the same time. Now that’s something we can all smile about!

Veneers: Be The Architect of Your Own Smile

Partnering with your dentist and choosing the shade and other aesthetics of your new smile!


 

Have you ever wanted to be the architect of your own smile?   Do you look in the mirror and pinpoint exactly what you’d change about your teeth, if you could? Veneers are your opportunity to do, just that!

There are certain qualities a veneer candidate’s mouth must possess. These qualities are as follows:

  • Good overall health
  • Absent signs of tooth decay and/or gum disease
  • Not a habitual teeth grinder
  • Properly aligned bite, teeth are more or less in normal positions
  • Sufficient tooth enamel in order to support the veneer

After you have become an approved veneer candidate, we will become partners in designing your ideal smile! Veneer qualities can be described as: durable, hard, strong, translucent and glassy. Most people may not know this but veneers actually are fairly translucent and act like a contact lens would on your eye. This translucence allows for the natural tooth color to come through, yet that the lab technician can bake your approved hue into your set of veneers can enhance the shade. There are three aspects to the shade selection process.

  • Color Tone – the natural tones of teeth are: red, blue and yellow
  • Chroma – the intensity of the hue
  • Value – the darkness or lightness of the hue

You will still be able to eat hard food (such as an apple) and maintenance of your new veneers will not differ from your current tooth care routine. Brush and floss as normal, simply avoiding abrasive toothpastes. A good home care regimen will insure your veneers lifespan.

If you’re thinking about veneers you should call us so we can help you decide if this cosmetic service is right for you! It’s never too late to get the smile you’ve always dreamed of.

Are You a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?

Are You a Good Candidate for Dental ImplantsIt’s estimated that 125 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. If you are one of them, you may be considering dental implants for tooth replacement. We think it’s important for you to know what factors make a person a good candidate for such a procedure. Here are a few things to consider.

Most People Are Good Candidates. Dental implants can replace one, several, or all of your teeth. They can be used in place of bridges or dentures. Good candidates have healthy gums and are old enough so that their jawbone has stopped growing. You should also have enough bone to support and anchor the implants. Even if you have lost bone in your jaw, however, you may still be a good candidate for implants. In fact, dental implants may be recommended to prevent further bone loss. In these situations, bone can actually be rebuilt with grafting procedures as part of the implant process.

Evaluation. Successful implantation starts with a thorough evaluation of your jaw, teeth, mouth and overall health. You will receive a mouth X-ray and possibly a Computed Tomography (CT) scan. This will help us identify areas of bone loss and carefully see the shape of your sinuses and nerve location to make accurate assessments for your treatment. We will also do a thorough medical evaluation, as your overall health and history plays a big role in how well your implant will heal and fuse to the bone.

People At Risk of Poor Outcomes. Uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, radiation to the jaws, smoking, alcoholism, or uncontrolled gum disease are all risk factors that can adversely affect your outcome. You may still be a good candidate with one of these diseases, but we’ll want to thoroughly assess your situation and work with you and your doctor to increase your overall health and functioning. People who take certain medications, such as steroids or drugs that suppress the immune system may not be suitable candidates, either. And people with certain habits, such as people who severely grind or clench their teeth may put too much pressure on the implants, causing long term damage.

Overall, dental implants have a very high rate of success and patients tell us how happy they are with the outcome. If you are considering implants, we can complete a careful examination to determine what options are best suited for you. Call us today to make that appointment!