Elderly Treatment

Dec 08
2014

Treatment of the Aging Population

Just a few years ago, it was assumed that by age 60, most people would have all of their teeth removed, and receive a pair of dentures.  However, today more patients are capable of holding onto their teeth much later in life.  Factors, such as physiologic changes in your teeth, saliva, diet, medicines, etc. can greatly impact your oral hygiene.  Overall, a healthy mouth equals a healthy body, which is one of our goals at Bellefonte Family Dentistry.

Yellowing and darkening of teeth is a common complaint we see from our senior patients.  This can be caused from a variety of reasons.  Changes in the dentin, which is the bone-like tissue under enamel, can show throw, causing the tooth to appear yellowed.  A lifetime consumption of stain-causing foods and beverages can also increase discoloration. Moreover, thinning of tooth enamel from acidic foods and tooth brushing contributes as well.  Treatment involves whitening agents, white “tooth” colored fillings, and veneers, all of which we would be happy to provide.

Dry mouth is also very common issue in the aging population.  Your saliva plays many roles, of which is maintaining the “healthy” bacteria in your mouth, restoring tooth structure, and washing away sugars that may cause tooth decay.  Unfortunately, many medications can cause dry mouth, and treatments for cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, etc. can contribute to its severity.  We usually tell patients to drink plenty of fluids, carry a bottle of water with them, and to keep water near their bed at night.  We also suggest purchasing a Biotene type rinse that would help moisturize the mouth, especially before bedtime.

Another challenge influenced by aging is the increased chance of developing tooth decay / gum disease.  This can be from the enamel protective barrier becoming thin, making it easier for bacteria to cause destruction.   Receiving a cleaning and exam at 6 month (or less) intervals can help to control bacteria build up, which extend the life of your natural teeth.

For some, dentures become a safe and effective plan of care that accompanies the aging process.  Denture wearers have to go through some changes to become accustom to wearing their new set teeth.  We usually tell patients to chew soft foods and to cut up their food for the first few weeks.  Then, gradually, start chewing tougher foods.  At a minimum, complete denture wearers should return for a yearly exam.  At this exam we will evaluate the fit and bite of your dentures, and perform a head and neck exam.  Sore spots can occur with dentures where your gums will become inflamed and painful.  Sore spots with new dentures are normal as the denture settles in your mouth, and can easily be adjusted by a dentist.  However, sore spots in older dentures are a sign that the denture is not fitting like it used to and may need to be replaced or relined.  Dentures can also change the way food tastes due to covering some of your taste buds and temporarily increase your salivary flow.  Fortunately, these problems usually diminish with time.  Proper denture care includes brushing your gums and tongue with a toothbrush, rinsing and brushing your dentures, and storing them in water (with or without a denture cleaner). It is recommended to keep them stored in liquid to prevent warping of the plastic.  Dentures may be frustrating at first, but with time, you will love your new smile.

Giving you a beautiful, healthy mouth is our goal.  May it be through routine cleanings, complete dentures, implant retained dentures, or partial dentures, we would be happy to serve you.

IV Sedation

Dec 01
2014

Sedation

Many people wonder what Sedation Dentistry really is.   There are many options and terms out there including “twilight”, “laughing gas”, “IV Sedation”, etc.  According to Merriam-Webster, sedation is: “a relaxed, calm, or sleepy condition that results from taking a drug (called a sedative)”.  This blog will help you understand what sedation dentistry is, and what our office can offer to make your visit as relaxing as possible.

First, let’s review the different types of sedation / anesthesia, listed in order of strength:

  • Local Anesthetics: Anesthetics similar to “Novocaine” are used in all of the procedures listed below. These numb the area we are working on to keep you as comfortable as possible during the procedure.
  • Inhaled Minimal Sedation:  Nitrous Oxide, otherwise known as “laughing gas”, is inhaled through your nose via a small mask.  The gas consists of a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen.  It helps to make you feel relaxed, similar to getting a good night’s rest. It also helps get rid of pain, equivalent to 10 mg of morphine.  Nitrous can be used by itself, or, even better, combined with the sedation methods listed below.
  • Oral Sedation:  Oral sedation is the usage of prescription medicine, taken by mouth, to provide a relaxed state. This can provide a minimal to moderate relaxed state.  Usually, Valium or Ativan is taken an hour before and/or the night before a procedure.  Of course, an increased dose will provide greater sedation.  Many times patients fall asleep during the dental visit, but can be awakened very easily by just saying their name.
  • IV Sedation: This is a moderate type of sedation where you will receive sedation medicine via a vein. This way the drug works more quickly, allowing the dentist to control the amount of sedation easily and safely.  Typically, we will use monitors to view your blood pressure, oxygen saturation, pulse, and breathing.  This way we have a better idea of how sedated you are during the procedure.  Since each patient is unique, sometimes we will combine oral sedation techniques with IV sedation to again provide a greater state of sedation.
  • Deep Sedation / General Anesthesia:  This type of sedation is used in situations where we believe you will need a much deeper form of relaxation.  We tend to use this form of sedation on patients with multiple medical problems.  A licensed anesthesiologist is in the room with us, who provides the anesthesia while we do the dental work.  Under general anesthesia, the monitoring of your vital signs and depth of anesthesia requires more attention than the dentist can provide alone.

As with any medical / dental procedure, there are inherent risks.  We take every precaution we can to make sure your sedation visit is as safe as possible. We schedule a pre-operative visit where we perform a comprehensive screening, which includes but is not limited to: reviewing your medical history, searching for any drug interactions that may occur between our sedation drugs and your current medications, evaluating your airway, and collecting vital signs.

Our goal is to make your stay with us as comfortable and stress free as possible.  At Bellefonte Family Dentistry, we offer all of the sedation techniques listed above.  Feel free to call us at 814-355-1587 or schedule a consultation visit so we can answer any questions that you may have.  We look forward to giving you the smile that you desire!

Oral Cancer

Nov 11
2014

Oral cancer is best treated in the early stages.  Prevention is one of the best tools healthcare providers have to keep patients healthy.

“The prevention of disease today is the one of the most important factors in the line of human endeavor.” – Charles Mayo (Cofounder of the Mayo Clinic). 

Dr. Newman, Dr. Miller, and the staff at Bellefonte Family Dentistry believe in this philosophy in all aspects of dentistry, especially oral cancer.

According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral pharyngeal cancer this year, causing roughly 8,000 deaths in the U.S. alone.  Though dentists have stepped up as one of the first line detectors of the disease, there is still a 57% five year survival rate.  Today, the death rate associated with oral cancer is particularly high due to it routinely being discovered at later stages in development.  It is a dangerous disease because it typically goes unnoticed by the patient.  However, some may notice:  pain /difficulty swallowing, a feeling of a lump in your throat, numbness, a sore that does not heal, and/or persistent hoarseness.  Overall, visual inspection is still one of the best aids in early prevention.

Treatment of oral cancer is typically multifaceted, including help from surgeons, radiation oncologists, dental practitioners, nutritionists, and restorative specialists.  Usually, the cancer is removed via surgery, which is followed up with chemotherapy and/or radiation to eradicate any cancerous cells that are not removable by surgery alone.  Typically, treatment is started by focusing the patient’s teeth and periodontal (gum) disease to prevent any post-therapeutic complications.  Any type of cancer treatment (even not in the oral cavity) can increase the likelihood of cavities and dry mouth.  Our patients are given our fluoride trays and Biotene-like rinses to help maintain existing teeth, as well as keep the mouth moist, respectively.

At Bellefonte Family Dentistry, we care about our patients.  We routinely screen patients for any unusual structures, or changes in tissue that we feel may require further treatment.  The oral cancer screening typically includes inspecting the oral soft tissue (cheeks, gums, surrounding bone, pharynx, tonsils, tongue, and the floor of the mouth) for any color changes, lumps, or unusual growths.  We also examine the head and neck (palpating lightly) for any lumps that may occur within the lymph nodes, salivary glands, and thyroid.  If we detect any of the above, we promptly take pictures (if applicable) and refer you to a specialist for biopsy and treatment.

We hope to see you soon so that we may continue providing healthy, beautiful smiles.

Sealants – Protecting Your Child’s Teeth

Jul 11
2011

Word of Mouth
Sealants – Protecting Your Child’s Teeth
By Dr. Wade Newman D.D.S.

Keeping your child cavity free is of utmost importance to me and should be for you too. One way to help prevent cavities is through the use of pit and fissure sealants.

What are sealants?

Sealants are a safe and painless way of protecting your children’s teeth from decay. A sealant is a protective plastic coating, which is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves in the teeth and causing decay.

Which teeth should be sealed?

Sealants are mostly applied to the back teeth – the baby molars and adult molars and premolars. These are the teeth that have pits and fissures on their biting surfaces. Your dentist will tell you which teeth should be sealed after they have examined them, and checked whether the fissures are deep enough for sealants to help. Some teeth naturally form with deep grooves, which will need to be sealed, others with shallow grooves may not need the procedure.

What is involved?

The process is usually quick and straightforward taking only a few minutes per tooth. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned, prepared with a special solution, and dried. The liquid sealant is then applied and allowed to set hard – usually by shining an ultraviolet light onto it.

Will my child feel it?

No, it is totally pain free, and the teeth do not feel any different afterwards.

How long do pit and fissure sealants last?

Sealants usually last for many years, but your dentist will want to check them regularly to make sure that the seal is still intact. They can wear over time, and sometimes the dentist needs to add or replace some sealant to be sure that no decay can start underneath them.

When should this be done?

Sealants are best applied as soon as the child is cooperative enough, usually starting about 4 years of age for the primary (baby) teeth. They can be applied to the adult molars when they start to come through usually between 6 and 7 years of age. The rest are usually sealed as soon as they appear which can be any time between 11 and 14 years of age.

How much do pit and fissure sealants cost?

The cost varies from dentist to dentist, but it is a good value. Bellefonte Family Dentistry’s fee is $47 per sealant. Some insurance carriers may cover a percentage of the cost, that percentage may vary depending which tooth is sealed (primary versus adult).

Do my children still have to clean their teeth?

Yes. It is still vital that they do this. The smooth, sealed surface is now much easier to keep clean and healthy with normal brushing and flossing. Using a fluoride toothpaste will also help to protect your children’s teeth.

Whom do I ask about the treatment?

If you would like to know more about the treatment, ask your dentist or hygienist. They will tell you if pit and fissure sealing will help your children’s teeth, and when is the right time to do it.

Bellefonte Family Dentistry offers its annual Sealant special every year starting on July 15th-September 10th. During this period we offer a buy one get one promotion, and all sealants come with a 2 year limited warranty! Dr. Newman is a family dental practitioner in Bellefonte. You may contact Dr. Newman at his office: Bellefonte Family Dentistry, 115 South School St. Bellefonte PA 16823, 814-355-1587 or visit www.bellefontedental.com

Teeth Whitening Part II

May 17
2011

In my last article, I discussed how whitening (or bleaching) teeth have become very popular over the last few years. I discussed the home whitening products and the one-hour whitening procedure done in the dental office. This article will answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding teeth whitening.

What causes tooth discoloration?
Causes include smoking, coffee, tea, soda, trauma, old fillings, medications and staining. Aging may even contribute towards the darkening of your teeth.
Is tooth whitening harmful to my teeth?
If supervised by a dentist and not abused during home use, none of the ADA certified products are harmful to your teeth, nor does it change your teeth’s basic structure. Your tooth enamel is not altered.
How long does whitening last?
If staining substances, such as caffeine or tobacco products, caused your discoloration, then periodic re-whitening may be necessary. However, teeth will always be lighter than they were, and if good oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist are present, whitening results can last a long time.
How much does whitening cost?
The cost varies from dentist to dentist. Bellefonte Family Dentistry’s fee is $342 for home bleaching ($171 if you want to do the upper teeth only). The in-office bleaching is $862 and takes about 1-½ hours.
Does insurance cover whitening?
Usually not.
Are there any side effects?
The main side effect of bleaching is possible tooth sensitivity while using the product, especially to very cold food or drink. This sensitivity should disappear a few days after treatment, concurrent use of Sensodyne toothpaste is recommended.
Is whitening a substitute for regular dental treatment?
NO! Whitening products are not intended to be a substitute for prevention of dental problems and dental disease. You should always schedule regular visits with your dentist, and you should consult with your dentist and physician before using any whitening product.
Does bleaching work on tartar build-up?
No. Patients need to realize this procedure only whitens stained teeth due to coffee, tea, smoke, or aging. The tartar must be removed from the teeth prior to starting the whitening process; to leave the tartar on diminishes the results.
I have tetracycline stained teeth. Do I need a laser bleaching or chemical bleaching or both?
Depending on your goals, bleaching may work. Tetracycline stains can be very tenacious, so a bleaching process may lighten the colors, but may not totally eliminate the stains. You may need to seriously consider porcelain veneers. By veneering your teeth, where the dentist places a layer of porcelain on the front of the teeth, the stains can be masked and give you the smile that you want in a very predictable manner.

Dr. Newman is a family dental practitioner in Bellefonte and is accepting new patients. You may contact Dr. Newman at his office: Bellefonte Family Dentistry, 115 South School St. Bellefonte PA 16823, 814-355-1587 or visit www.bellefontedental.com

Sedation Dentistry – “Know the Types”

Dec 08
2010

It’s important to know that a visit to the dentist can be a positive experience, even when treatment is necessary. Millions of Americans, nearly 30%, are afraid of the dentist. They avoid dental care at all costs, even when they are in pain or discomfort. But it no longer has to be that way. Modern dentistry offers safe, effective, and comfortable treatments to anxious and fearful patients.

 

You may have heard this treatment described in many ways: anxiety-free dentistry or relaxation dentistry, moderate sedation, oral conscious sedation or even sleep dentistry, though this last should be applied only to general anesthesia. The best and most accurate name is “sedation dentistry”.

These terms describe a way for you to get the care you want while you remain comfortable. Ask your dentist which level of sedation dentistry he or she is qualified to provide. The levels are:

Nitrous Oxide – smell a faint, sweet aroma and experience a sense of well-being and relaxation. Since it may produce a feeling of giddiness or euphoria, it is often called “laughing gas.” People sometimes report dreaming and their arms and legs may feel “tingly.” It raises the pain threshold and may even make the time appear to pass quickly.

Oral Sedation – In dentistry, the most commonly prescribed drugs for anxiety belong to the “benzodiazepine” family. You’ve probably heard of them by their trade names – for example, Valium, Halcion, Xanax, or Ativan. These medications directly and efficiently decrease anxiety by toning down activity in those parts of the brain responsible for fear. Benzodiazepines come in two flavors:
1) Sedative-Hypnotics: drugs which induce a calming effect, including drowsiness (“sedation”). In higher doses, they induce a state resembling physiological sleep (“hypnosis”).
2) Anti-Anxiety Drugs: drugs which act primarily to relieve anxiety and make you feel calm.

While all benzodiazepines act as sedatives AND anti-anxiety drugs, some are more targeted at brain areas which control sleep and wakefulness, while others are more specifically targeted at brain areas which control emotions such as fear. The classification of whether a benzodiazepine is sedative-hypnotic or anti-anxiety is to some extent an arbitrary one, as the boundaries are quite fluid. As a rule of thumb, in higher doses benzos act like sedatives and may promote sleep, while in lower doses, they simply reduce anxiety without sedation.

IV Sedation – When a drug, usually of the benzodiazepine variety, is administered into the blood system during dental treatment, this is referred to as Intravenous Sedation.  This method has a faster effect and can be controlled much better than oral sedation.  IV sedation induces a state of deep relaxation and a feeling of not being bothered by what’s going on. The drugs used for IV sedation can produce either partial or full memory loss (amnesia) for the period of time when the drug first kicks in until it wears off. As a result, time will appear to pass very quickly and you will not recall much, or perhaps even nothing at all, of what happened.

General Anesthesia – this is a state of unconsciousness and loss of protective reflexes resulting from the administration of one or more general anesthetic agents. A variety of medications may be administered, with the overall aim of ensuring hypnosis, amnesia, analgesia, relaxation of skeletal muscles, and loss of control of reflexes of the autonomic nervous system. The optimal combination of these agents for any given patient and procedure is typically selected by an anesthesiologist or another provider such as a nurse anesthetist, in consultation with the patient and the medical or dental practitioner who is performing the operative procedure.

Trained sedation dentists have a variety of protocols available to customize to each patient’s physiological and pharmacological needs. So even if you have a unique medical condition, there still may be options. A number of medications that can be taken by mouth or administered by IV have been developed especially for these purposes, subjected to rigorous research and testing, are safe and have been used for decades.

Knowledge about oral sedation treatment is not only powerful—it is empowering. It is important to talk to your dentist about your fears and concerns during your consultation before any dentistry is ever performed. Request information on your dentist’s training, credentials, and the protocols they will use prior to the appointment.  You must know at which sedative level your dentist is licensed to practice. It is critical that you provide your dentist with an updated health history including any medications you are on, including vitamins and supplements. Factors like smoking and alcohol consumption can alter the effectiveness of sedation medications, so be sure to tell your doctor about any habits you may have. Even something as seemingly insignificant as drinking grapefruit juice can have an effect on sedation.

Dental fear is a hidden phobia, like many people, you may be embarrassed to admit your fears and even more afraid to confront them. Often times not even your loved ones are aware of your apprehension. Worse yet, you may have never known that sedation dentistry was an option. Not anymore! Sedation Dentistry is not scary and can be pain free dentistry.

A little Dental Education

Aug 16
2010

Word of Mouth
A little Dental Education
By Dr. Wade Newman D.D.S.

Despite solid efforts, the dental education programs in this country have failed to meet their goals. The rate of dental cavities in young children and teenagers has increased significantly over the past 10 years. We are not adequately addressing the key issues in the prevention of dental disease. There are five factors that children and their parents must understand in order to prevent or control dental caries.

First, children, as well as parents, need to be taught the importance of the primary or baby teeth. These teeth will generally begin to erupt by age 1 and are lost gradually between age 5-13. Their primary role is not to help eat or speak. It is to provide a matrix or guide for the growth, development, and function of the muscles and bones of the lower face as well as providing space and guidance for the eruption of the permanent teeth. It is not possible to develop a beautiful smile without protecting these teeth.

Second, dental disease is a bacterial infection. This infection, known as dental caries, can cause tooth decay or “holes in the teeth”. Significant pain (toothaches) and facial swelling (infection) can result and could become very serious. The family of bacteria that causes dental caries is known as streptococcus mutans or “strept mutans”. These bacterium live in the saliva of almost all people and is passed on to children from their parents by simply kissing their babies or using the same feeding utensils, etc. It is impossible in our society for mothers or other caregivers not to pass this germ to their children.

The third factor involves genetics which helps explain why some children are very prone to tooth decay while others are not. In the United States, 20-25% of our children have 80-85% of the active dental caries we see. In dentally healthy children, their immune system produces antibodies that can keep the strept mutans levels (germs) in the salvia below the threshold. This means that there are not enough germs in the saliva to colonize or build up as destructive plaque on the teeth. With simple flossing and brushing, patients with a significant immune response to their strept mutans tend to get little or no decay. Children without this protection are the ones that are prone to tooth decay. In these “caries susceptible” or “cavity prone” children, the incidence of dental caries will be directly proportional to the number of exposures they receive per day to fermentable carbohydrates (sugar exposures of any kind and in any form).

Fourth, and fortunately for all children, dental disease can be controlled, if not entirely prevented. To accomplish this, the teeth need be protected by reducing their number of exposures to carbohydrates. This means having only approximately five “sugar exposures” (3 meals, 2 snacks with “healthy foods”) per day. It also means having the teeth properly cleaned with the help of parents or caregivers. This “help” includes removing plaque from the teeth at least twice a day with a spin brush and using a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Of significant additional help is the application of a stannous fluoride gel preparation to the clean teeth. Preparations such as “Gelkam” can be purchased over-the-counter at any pharmacy. Studies have shown that most children do not have the hand/eye coordination to properly brush and floss their own teeth until 9 ½ years old. Therefore, parents/caregivers must help for effective oral hygiene.

Fifth, regular visits to the dentist are a must. Having your teeth professionally cared for at least every 6 months is a critical part of overall health. The mouth is the gateway to the body; many harmful diseases can be avoided with proper care of the mouth. Dental prevention appointments are easy and generally cause no discomfort. However, neglecting regular checkups and cleanings can lead to the need for potentially uncomfortable corrective procedures.

The take away messages to instill in your children are:

1. Baby teeth are important and need to be protected.
2. Everyone has germs in their mouth that can cause tooth decay.
3. Clean teeth don’t decay.
4. Snacking with any foods or drinks not marked “sugar free” can cause cavities.
5. Teeth should be brushed and flossed with a spin brush and fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.
6. Go to the dentist at least every 6 months for a cleaning and a checkup.

And please remember, just because you might be afraid of the dentist doesn’t mean that your child has to be. With a little dental education today, you can give your child the gift of a great smile they can enjoy for a lifetime.

Dr. Newman is a family dental practitioner in Bellefonte and is accepting new patients. You may contact Dr. Newman at his office: Bellefonte Family Dentistry, 115 South School St. Bellefonte PA 16823, 814-355-1587 or visit www.bellefontedental.com

Teeth Whitening (Part One of Two)

May 02
2010

Word of Mouth
Teeth Whitening (Part One of Two)
By Dr. Wade Newman D.D.S.

Whitening (or bleaching) teeth has become very popular over the last few years. Many New Year’s resolutions involve things that make you look and feel better. One of the ways you can accomplish looking better is by whitening your teeth. There are numerous products on the market and a multitude of products that claim to be the best. In this article I’ll review the products and procedures available and my next article will answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding teeth whitening.
Home Teeth Whitening

The most popular technique allows you to make your smile whiter through dentist-supervised home whitening. The dental office will custom make a tray for you, to fit precisely over your teeth. You place gel in this tray and wear it for prescribed periods during the day, or overnight. Doing this for two weeks or more will brighten your smile. A dentist specially trained in this procedure will monitor your progress with short follow-up appointments.

Perhaps you have used over-the-counter bleaching products and have been disappointed with the results. There is a great difference in the potency of over-the-counter versus professional bleaching products. I am not aware of any over-the-counter product that produces the dramatic shade change that is possible with professionally administered bleaching. Some of the over-the-counter products can be harmful to the teeth if used improperly. The bleaching techniques that are used in offices of trained dentists have been accepted by the American Dental Association as safe and effective.

A recent over-the-counter product from oral care companies is Whitestrips. While it appears that Whitestrips are the best of the over-the-counter products, many patients have difficulty keeping them in place, which then lessens the amount of whitening that is accomplished. For those who can’t afford the professional bleaching, Whitestrips may be an attractive alternative. They do actually whiten the teeth, and, unlike other over-the-counter whiteners, they do not harm the teeth. Any whitening procedure, Whitestrips or otherwise, should be accomplished under the supervision of your dentist.

Whitening toothpastes are generally completely ineffective at permanently whitening the teeth. They are simply not on the teeth long enough for any whitening agents to penetrate into the teeth.

Laser bleaching (Zoom, Brite Smile, and other treatments):
Laser bleaching or power bleaching is a hot topic. In my opinion, it’s a little over-rated. You can get just as effective whitening with the bleaching trays at home as you can with laser bleaching, but maybe not as quickly. The advantage with laser bleaching or power bleaching is that the dental office does the bleaching for you—you don’t have to deal with the trays at home. It’s also faster. Most people will go home from that visit with a smile at least one shade lighter. There may be a little more sensitivity afterward with laser bleaching than with regular at-home tooth whitening, but that sensitivity typically lasts only a couple of hours.

The famed blue light (also called plasma light or zoom light) is just for show. The claim is that it “activates” the whitening gel. Many studies have shown that there is no evidence of increased effectiveness by utilizing the light. The only way to increase the effectiveness of the whitening gel is to heat it to 150 degrees, which is impractical because it would burn the teeth and gums.

In my next article, I’ll answer the most commonly asked questions in regard to teeth whitening.

Dr. Newman is a family dental practitioner in Bellefonte and is accepting new patients. You may contact Dr. Newman at his office: Bellefonte Family Dentistry, 114 South School St. Bellefonte PA 16823, 814-355-1587 or visit www.bellefontedental.com

Halitosis – “Bad Breath”

Mar 17
2010

Word of Mouth
Halitosis – “Bad Breath”
By Dr. Wade Newman D.D.S.

Halitosis, or bad breath, has affected everyone at some point. Maybe you were the victim in a conversation with someone who had bad breath, or maybe you’re the offender. In either case, this article will discuss the causes of bad breath and answer some of the most frequently asked questions associated with halitosis.

Did you know that more than 170 different types of bacteria flourish in our mouth? These bacteria feed on bits of decaying food particles left on teeth and the tongue after meals. When the bacteria devour these “leftovers” they produce volatile sulfur compounds, which are what make breath smell foul.

Many of these bacteria are anaerobic which means they cannot live in the presence of oxygen. Although our mouth is exposed to oxygen every time we breathe, these bacteria hide in places where oxygen cannot reach – in the deep ridges and valleys on the back of the tongue and the space between the teeth and gums.

This is why scraping away the germs that generate the foul smells and other decaying oral debris from the tongue is crucial to eliminating bad breath, but also gum disease, dental decay, plaque, sore throats and colds.

Does bad breath come from the stomach?
The answer is no. After eating, the muscles at the top of the stomach close over stopping any leakage of stomach contents. If ever there is leakage you would smell a burp, which definitely is different than bad breath. Another outcome of such a leakage is indigestion.
Can bacteria from the gums or gum disease cause bad breath?
Not likely. A more likely scenario is that the bacteria on the tongue not only causes the bad breath problem, but is also supplying food sources to the bacteria in the gums. Therefore a coated tongue could be making your gum disease worse.
Is cleaning the teeth necessary in reducing bad breath?
Yes. Cleaning the teeth removes plaque buildup on the teeth and gums. Plaque not only contains bacteria that can be a problem, but sugars and acids that can cause decay. Professional cleanings at least twice a year is recommended.
Does bad breath come from the sinuses?
No it does not, the anaerobic sulphur-producing bacteria that create bad breath live and breed within the back of the tongue and in the throat. These bacteria have the ability to digest mucous from the sinus (because of high protein content) and then break the mucous down into Sulphide molecules, which cause the bad breath and bitter, sour taste.
I brush regularly. Isn’t that enough to get rid of my bad breath?
Ordinary brushing fails to entirely dislodge the plaque and mucus. The toothbrush is designed specifically to remove plaque from teeth. It is not designed to clean the tongue effectively. Brushing the teeth only reduces mouth odor by 25%. If you tried to clean the back of your tongue with a toothbrush, you would find it ineffective and potentially painful. In fact, recent studies have shown an effectiveness of 20-30% bacteria removal with a toothbrush compared to nearly 90% bacteria removal with a tongue scraper.
How effective are mouthwashes, sprays, internal capsules and breath mints?
Mouthwashes, sprays, internal capsules and regular mint candies are considered to be ineffective in combating bad breath. They just temporarily mask the odor. Recent studies have shown that mouthwashes only temporarily mask the foul odor of bad breath for as little as 10 minutes after brushing. In fact, mouthwashes with alcohol can make the situation even worse by drying out the mouth. Don’t be fooled by the burning sensation – it is your own cells in pain, not the wounded bacteria screaming in agony.
Does chewing gum help?
It helps a little. Chewing gum helps combat bad breath due to the effect of salivation, combined with the cleansing effect of the piece of gum rolling around the teeth. A very important fact to remember when battling bad breath is that saliva is our friend. Saliva washes away bacteria and dissolves the foul smelling sulfur compounds. Chewing gum has its downsides however. Firstly, it can’t effectively eliminate the odor generating germs, decaying food particles and other oral debris from the ridges and valleys on the back of the tongue. Secondly, and more importantly, excessive chewing can wreak havoc with the joint connecting your jaw to your head (TMJ).
No matter how often I brush, floss, use mouthwash, or avoid problem foods, halitosis (bad breath) persists all day and every day, what should I do?
Dental research indicates that tongue cleaning with an effective tongue scraper along with your regular brushing and flossing reduces bad breath by more than 90%. Scrape away harmful bacteria, the coating of white plaque and decaying food particles from the valleys and ridges on the back of the tongue for a fresher, cleaner and healthier mouth. Regular professional cleanings and dental exams are also crucial in combating halitosis.

If you are like the millions of hygienically conscious consumers throughout the world that are concerned about oral health and fresh breath, you need three things in your personal oral hygiene arsenal. First is a soft bristle toothbrush, second is dental floss and lastly is a high quality tongue scraper. These three items are inexpensive, easy to use and essential to your overall oral health.

Dr. Newman is a family dental practitioner in Bellefonte and is accepting new patients. You may contact Dr. Newman at his office: Bellefonte Family Dentistry, 114 South School St. Bellefonte PA 16823, 814-355-1587 or visit www.bellefontedental.com

Sealants – Protecting Your Child’s Teeth

Feb 18
2010

Sealants – Protecting Your Child’s Teeth
By Dr. Wade Newman D.D.S.

Keeping your child cavity free is of utmost importance to me and should be for you too. One way to help prevent cavities is through the use of pit and fissure sealants.

What are sealants?

Sealants are a safe and painless way of protecting your children’s teeth from decay. A sealant is a protective plastic coating, which is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves in the teeth and causing decay.

Which teeth should be sealed?

Sealants are mostly applied to the back teeth – the baby molars and adult molars and premolars. These are the teeth that have pits and fissures on their biting surfaces. Your dentist will tell you which teeth should be sealed after they have examined them, and checked whether the fissures are deep enough for sealants to help. Some teeth naturally form with deep grooves, which will need to be sealed, others with shallow grooves may not need the procedure.

What is involved?

The process is usually quick and straightforward taking only a few minutes per tooth. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned, prepared with a special solution, and dried. The liquid sealant is then applied and allowed to set hard – usually by shining an ultraviolet light onto it.

Will my child feel it?

No, it is totally pain free, and the teeth do not feel any different afterwards.

How long do pit and fissure sealants last?

Sealants usually last for many years, but your dentist will want to check them regularly to make sure that the seal is still intact. They can wear over time, and sometimes the dentist needs to add or replace some sealant to be sure that no decay can start underneath them.

When should this be done?

Sealants are best applied as soon as the child is cooperative enough, usually starting about 4 years of age for the primary (baby) teeth. They can be applied to the adult molars when they start to come through usually between 6 and 7 years of age. The rest are usually sealed as soon as they appear which can be any time between 11 and 14 years of age.

How much do pit and fissure sealants cost?

The cost varies from dentist to dentist, but it is a good value. Bellefonte Family Dentistry’s fee is $41 per sealant. Some insurance carriers may cover a percentage of the cost, that percentage may vary depending which tooth is sealed (primary versus adult).

Do my children still have to clean their teeth?

Yes. It is still vital that they do this. The smooth, sealed surface is now much easier to keep clean and healthy with normal brushing and flossing. Using a fluoride toothpaste will also help to protect your children’s teeth.

Whom do I ask about the treatment?

If you would like to know more about the treatment, ask your dentist or hygienist. They will tell you if pit and fissure sealing will help your children’s teeth, and when is the right time to do it.

Dr. Newman is a family dental practitioner in Bellefonte. You may contact Dr. Newman at his office: Bellefonte Family Dentistry, 114 South School St. Bellefonte PA 16823, 814-355-1587 or visit www.bellefontedental.com

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