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Posts for: February, 2020

By New Hope Cosmetic and Family Dentistry
February 22, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay  

Tooth decay doesn't occur out of thin air, but is the end result of bacteria feeding on sugar, multiplying and producing acid. High acidity erodes tooth enamel and creates an environment for cavity development.

Modern dentistry can effectively treat cavities and often save the tooth from further damage. But you don't have to wait: You can reduce your chances of cavities by managing risk factors that contribute to decay.

Here are 4 top risk factors for tooth decay and what you can do about them.

Poor saliva flow. Saliva neutralizes acid and helps restore minerals to enamel after acid contact. But your enamel may not have full protection against acid if you have diminished saliva flow, often due to certain medications. You can help increase your saliva by consulting with your doctor about drug alternatives, drinking more water or using a saliva boosting product. Smoking can also inhibit saliva, so consider quitting if you smoke.

Eating habits. High sugar content in your diet can increase bacterial growth and acid production. Reducing your overall sugar consumption, therefore, can reduce your risk of decay. Continuous snacking can also increase your decay risk, preventing saliva from bringing your mouth back to its normal neutral pH. Instead, limit your snack periods to just a few times a day, or reserve all your eating for mealtimes.

Dental plaque. Daily eating creates a filmy buildup on the teeth called dental plaque. If not removed, plaque can then harden into a calcified form called calculus, an ideal haven for bacteria. You can help curtail this accumulation by thoroughly brushing and flossing daily, followed by dental cleanings at least every six months. These combined hygiene practices can drastically reduce your cavity risk.

Your genetics. Researchers have identified up to 50 specific genes that can influence the risk for cavities. As a result, individuals with similar dietary and hygiene practices can have vastly different experiences with tooth decay. Besides continuing good lifestyle habits, the best way to manage a genetic disposition for dental disease is not to neglect ongoing professional dental care.

If you would like more information on managing your tooth decay risk factors, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “What Everyone Should Know About Tooth Decay.”

February 20, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmj  

Are you experiencing jaw pain? Are you hearing odd grinding or clicking noises when you open and close your mouth? If so, you could be dealing with a TMJ issue. Fortunately, here at New Hope Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in New Hope, PA, Dr. Dawn Rickert offers BOTOX injectables and other therapies to aid these conditions.

What is TMJ?

Actually, it's an abbreviation for a part of your body. TMJ means temporomandibular joint, and there are two of them, one on each side of your face, under the ears.

These jaw joints are hinges. Besides simply opening and closing your mouth, the joints slide back and forth and side to side, helping you to speak, chew, and swallow. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, these joints can malfunction, become stuck open or closed, and be extremely sore/painful.

The American Dental Association (ADA) says these factors contribute to this common oral health issue:

  • Stress
  • Poor dental bite (teeth do not line up properly)
  • Arthritis
  • Teeth clenching and grinding (a habit called bruxism)
  • Injury to the face
  • Being a young middle-aged woman

In fact, 1-800-DENTIST reports a full 90 percent of TMJ patients are women. There may be a link between estrogen levels and development of this painful condition.

How Dr. Rickert Can Help

A review of your symptoms, an X-ray screening, and a simple dental examination can confirm a diagnosis of temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Next, your dentist will formulate a treatment plan to alleviate your discomfort and increase normal joint function for the long-term.

Care plans include conservative measures first—things such as:

  • Over-the-counter ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Warm compresses to the sore jaw
  • Relaxation techniques
  • A soft diet

Other interventions are a bit more complex. For instance, orthodontic care to even out your dental bite or even placement of dental crowns often helps TMJ. Prescription muscle relaxants may be necessary.

Additionally, the team at New Hope Family & Cosmetic Dentistry offers BOTOX injections. BOTOX is a refined form of the botulism protein. When injected into key areas of the face, BOTOX reduces muscular tension and action, relieving both tenderness and spasms. Dr. Rickert can tell you if BOTOX therapy could help your particular case.

Need Relief? Give Us a Call

Dr. Dawn Rickert at New Hope Family & Cosmetic Dentistry offers a wide range of preventive, restorative, and aesthetic dental treatments. If you have TMJ symptoms, please call to ask about BOTOX and other treatments: (215) 862-2525.

By New Hope Cosmetic and Family Dentistry
February 12, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   gum disease  

Here’s the bad news about periodontal (gum) disease: It’s a leading cause for tooth loss. Even worse: Half of adults over 30 will have some form of it during their lifetime.

But here’s the good news: If caught early, we can often treat and stop gum disease before it can do substantial harm to your mouth. And the best news of all—you may be able to avoid a gum infection altogether by adopting a few healthy habits.

Here are 4 habits you can practice to prevent a gum infection from happening.

Practice daily brushing and flossing. Gum disease is a bacterial infection most often arising from dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles that accumulates on teeth. Removing plaque daily with brushing and flossing will reduce your chances of a gum infection. And be sure it’s daily—missing just a few days is enough for gum inflammation to get started.

Get regular dental cleanings and checkups. Even the most diligent personal hygiene can miss plaque, which may then harden into a calcified form impossible to remove with brushing and flossing called calculus (tartar). At least twice-a-year professional dental cleanings will clear away any remnant plaque and tartar, which can greatly reduce your risk for dental disease.

Make gum-friendly lifestyle changes. Smoking more than doubles your chances of gum disease. Likewise, a sugar-heavy diet, which feeds disease-causing bacteria, also makes you more susceptible to infection. Quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol consumption and following a dental-friendly diet could boost your teeth and gum health and avoid infection.

Watch for signs of infection. Although you can greatly reduce your risk of gum disease, you can’t always bring that risk to zero. So, be aware of the signs of gum disease: sometimes painful, swollen, reddened or bleeding gums. If you notice any of these signs, make a dental appointment—the sooner you’re diagnosed and begin treatment, the less likely gum disease will ruin your dental health.

If you would like more information on preventing gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By New Hope Cosmetic and Family Dentistry
February 02, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene  

The Internet is truly amazing: It takes only a few seconds to tap into a vast store of knowledge to find information that once took people hours or days. But amidst all that helpful data, there's also some not so helpful information—in fact, some can be downright harmful, including to your dental health.

One particular Internet trend is brushing teeth with black, gooey substances containing activated charcoal. Scores of online videos featuring people doing this are getting viral views, perhaps more for the “gross” factor than the claimed health benefits.

So, why do it? Advocates of using activated charcoal for oral hygiene claim the ingredient kills harmful microorganisms in your mouth. The charcoal is also supposed to whiten your teeth.

But clinical studies of the practice, including one recently published in the Journal of the American Dental Association have been unable to substantiate these claims. There's simply no evidence that activated charcoal does what its advocates say it can do.

Unfortunately, there is evidence the practice can actually harm your teeth. This is because activated charcoal is an abrasive substance that over time could damage your teeth's enamel. Eroded enamel doesn't regrow, so eventually the more vulnerable dentin, the tooth layer just beneath the protective enamel, becomes exposed. It's not only darker and less attractive than enamel, its more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities.

The best way to care for your teeth, brushing and flossing daily, may seem boring compared to videos of brushing with charcoal, but it is effective—and safe. You should also see your dentist for more thorough cleanings at least every six months to round out your dental care.

And if you want a brighter smile, your dentist can perform a tooth whitening procedure that can give you months or even years of satisfaction. Professional tooth whitening (or even home whitening kits applied properly) also won't harm your enamel.

If you would like more information on the best ways to clean and care for your teeth and gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.