Dr. Lori Risser

What are the Best and Worst Halloween Candies?

November 1st, 2012

Whether you went door-to-door trick or treating, attended a party dressed in a clever, silly or scary costume, or simply got together with friends and family to watch scary movies, we hope you had a fun and safe holiday!

We also wanted to give you some Halloween tips for the Best and Worst candies that you could might have received this year, courtesy of the Academy of General Dentistry:

"Worst:
Chewy/sticky sweets, such as gummy candies, taffy, and even dried fruit can be difficult for children and adults to resist, and even more difficult to remove from teeth.
Sour candies are highly acidic and can break down tooth enamel quickly. The good news: Saliva slowly helps to restore the natural balance of the acid in the mouth.
Sugary snacks, including candy corn, cookies, and cake, all contain high amounts of sugar, which can cause tooth decay.

Best:
Sugar-free lollipops and hard candies stimulate saliva, which can help prevent dry mouth.
Sugar-free gum can actually prevent cavities as it not only dislodges food particles from between the teeth but also increases saliva—which works to neutralize the acids of the mouth and prevent tooth decay.
Dark chocolate and its antioxidants, according to some studies, can be good for the heart and may even lower blood pressure."

Which Type of Mouthwash is Best?

October 26th, 2012

Taking care of your oral health involves a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing to prevent tooth decay and bacterial infections. Though you may have asked us which toothbrush to use, few patients ask about mouthwash.

Different mouthwashes you might choose will have varying effects on your oral health. So which type is best for you?

Gum Health
Antiseptic mouthwashes are designed to reduce the majority of bacteria on and near the gum line. Using an antiseptic mouthwash can help decrease your chances of developing gingivitis. If possible, look for a mouthwash with antibacterial or antimicrobial ingredients.

Fluoride
Fluoride is beneficial for oral health and can help prevent tooth decay. If you drink a lot of bottled water without fluoride, we may recommend that you purchase a rinse with fluoride in it.

Bad Breath
Although mouthwash is designed to prevent bacterial build-up within the mouth, many people use it to combat bad breath. Most mouthwashes will help eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath, and some are specifically designed to do so.
However, if bad breath is a chronic problem that requires daily treatment with a mouth rinse, contact our office to discuss your symptoms.

American Dental Association Approval
The ADA reviews mouth rinses for safety and effectiveness. A mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Approval will meet strict criteria, and will have scientific evidence or clinical studies that support the claims of the manufacturer. If possible, select a mouthwash that bears the ADA Seal of Approval to ensure you are using a quality rinse.

Considerations
If you are unsure as to which mouthwash is right for you, contact our office or ask our dentist or dental hygienist at your next appointment. Also, be sure to keep mouthwash out of the reach of children, as it contains alcohol and other substances that could be harmful to them. Avoid letting children under age six use a mouth rinse, and discontinue use if you experience a burning sensation in the soft tissues of your mouth.

Pediatric Dentistry: The Benefits of Dairy

October 19th, 2012

When you were a child, your mother may have instructed you to drink all your milk to build strong bones. Now that you have children of your own, you may hear yourself parroting those instructions you received years ago. Getting enough dairy is essential for young children whose teeth are growing. A child who consumes the recommended daily serving of dairy will develop healthy, strong teeth for the rest of his or her life.

Structure of the Tooth
To fully grasp the importance of dairy for dental health, it is necessary to understand tooth structure. Your teeth are made of living tissues covered by a hard outer shell. The inner dental pulp is fed by blood vessels and connects to a nerve bed in your gums. Surrounding the pulp is dentin, a calcified tissue that is less brittle than the tooth’s outermost layer, the enamel. The enamel layer is the white part of your teeth, 96% of which consists of minerals such as calcium phosphate.

How Does Dairy Help My Child’s Teeth?
Milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. Your child’s body deposits this calcium into her growing bones, including the teeth. Calcium contributes to bone growth and strength, and it forms an important part of the solid enamel that surrounds each tooth’s fragile inner pulp.

Milk also contains vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and proteins. Magnesium promotes calcium deposits in your enamel, while phosphorus forms a small barrier against acidic foods that cause cavities. Vitamin D and protein are used by a child’s body to build bone tissue and maintain dental health.

How Much Dairy Does a Child Need?
According to a 2011 study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, the majority of Americans do not receive enough calcium. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that children under the age of eight should receive at least two and a half cups of dairy per day. Children older than eight need three full cups — the same as adult men and women. Supplying your child with nonfat milk to drink and yogurt to eat every day is a great way to increase dairy consumption.

Growing children who do not get enough dairy in their diets risk improper tooth development and other dental health problems. Drinking sugary beverages in place of milk causes cavities and tooth decay. As a parent, it is essential to monitor your child’s dairy consumption to ensure he or she grows healthy teeth to last a lifetime.

Fear Not! Dental Anxiety is Common and Treatable

October 12th, 2012

If you suffer from dental anxiety, a visit to our office might seem like a daunting prospect. Perhaps you had a bad experience in the past, but whatever the reason, please know that at our office, there is nothing to be afraid of. We understand you may be anxious about receiving dental treatments, and we’re here to help you have a comfortable, pain-free experience that will put your fears to rest.

You’re not alone!
A 1984 study that appeared in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that up to 75% of all adults in the United States have some degree of dental anxiety. This includes five to ten percent whose dental anxiety is so severe that they try to avoid a dentist’s office at all costs.

Treatment
If you experience dental anxiety, it is important to let our office know in advance, so we can provide you with the dental care you need with an added touch of TLC. We can assist by explaining behavioral techniques for relaxation, by administering nitrous oxide (laughing gas), or by prescribing a relaxing medication prior to your dental procedure.

Teeth Grinding: More Than a Bad Habit

October 5th, 2012

Perhaps you don't even know you grind your teeth. Maybe a spouse or loved one woke you up in the middle of the night and made you aware of what was happening.

For many people, teeth grinding is a habit and a mechanical reflex; when they’re awakened and informed they were grinding their teeth, they have no recollection of it at all. According to the American Dental Association, this is the nightly situation for roughly ten percent of Americans. From young children to the elderly, teeth grinding, known in the dental community as bruxism, is a serious concern.

Many people who grind their teeth in their sleep have no idea they're doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning they feel no jaw pain and their teeth are fine: if it hadn’t been for someone telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed.

There are other people, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder and neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications. From cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw, teeth grinding is not something to take lightly.
Preventive measures are the key to combating bruxism, and our office can set you on the path to a healthy and safe night sleep.

The Reasons for Teeth Grinding

There are many reasons for teeth grinding. For some people, it’s a habit they acquired when they were a child and never grew out of. On the other hand, some research claims that the condition is related to stress, anxiety, or some other type of psychiatric issue.

Still other studies point to everything from poor muscle control or over-eating before bed to gastro-esophageal issues. However, the root cause of the teeth grinding is less important than identifying preventive measures against it.

Common solutions to teeth grinding include:
• Wearing a protective nightguard
• Stress management techniques
• Medications and muscle relaxers

When you make an appointment at our office, we will assess your situation and determine what the best course of action is. Teeth grinding is a dental concern that can cause serious health issues down the road, so be sure to take preventive measures today.

How much do you know about your toothbrush?

September 28th, 2012

Taking care of your smile is nothing new! People have been brushing their teeth for thousands of years. In fact, the first “toothbrush” was created around 3000BC! Ancient civilizations used a thin twig with a frayed edge to rub against their teeth for cleaning.

The first toothbrush with bristles – similar to today’s toothbrushes – was invented in 1498 in China. Brushes were made out of bone or bamboo with bristles made from the hairs on the back of a hog’s neck.

It wasn’t until 1938 that the first nylon bristle toothbrush was introduced and people quickly became aware of practicing good oral hygiene.

Here are some other interesting facts about your toothbrush (and toothpaste):
• Most people are said to use blue toothbrushes over any other color
• The first toothpaste was used in 500 BC in China and India
• On average, children smile about 400 times per day
• Your toothbrush should be replaced every two months
• The first known toothpaste was used in 1780, Crest was introduced in 1955 and Colgate in 1873

When is the Best Time to Floss?

September 21st, 2012

We always encourage our patients to practice good oral hygiene between office visits! Part of that process includes flossing, which is the process of cleaning between the teeth to remove food and debris from the areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. When food is allowed to remain between the teeth, it provides a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause periodontal disease!

Should You Floss Before or After Brushing?

According to recent clinical findings, you can floss either before or after brushing, according to your own preference. By flossing first, you can brush away dislodged food debris afterward. On the other hand, brushing first allows you to loosen plaque between the teeth, making it easier to floss more effectively.

Whichever you choose, the most important goal is to floss thoroughly. That means using a fresh strand of dental floss each day, and carefully pulling it back and forth between all of the teeth. Do not skip flossing because your teeth look or feel clean.

When to Floss

Unlike brushing, you need only floss between your teeth once per day. Although you may choose to do it in the morning or afternoon, many prefer to floss at night to prevent food and debris from remaining in the crevices of the teeth overnight. This could prevent the build-up of plaque too, which is a cause of tooth decay.

Help with Flossing

If you have questions about your flossing technique or what type of floss is best for your teeth, contact our office. The staff will be more than happy to assist you in perfecting your home hygiene regimen. In most cases, you can choose between interdental cleaning picks or flexible floss strands to perform your daily flossing routine.

Foods That Can Harm Enamel

September 14th, 2012

Many people who are careful about brushing and flossing their teeth wonder how they still end up with cavities or tooth decay. Several factors affect wear and tear on tooth enamel. Diet is a major factor, with certain foods increasing the likelihood that your enamel will become discolored or decayed. Pay close attention to the foods you eat to keep your pearly whites looking healthy and clean.

What Causes Enamel Damage?

Tooth enamel refers to the hard, semi-translucent, whitish part of the tooth that shows above your gums. The enamel is primarily composed of minerals that are strong but susceptible to highly acidic foods. When acid reacts with the minerals in enamel, tooth decay results. Strongly pigmented foods can also damage enamel by discoloring the surface of the tooth.

Foods that Harm Enamel

Acidic foods are the greatest source of enamel damage. To determine whether a food is acidic, look up its pH. Scientists use pH, on a one-to-seven scale, to define the relative acidity or alkalinity of a substance. Foods with low pH levels, between a one and three, are high in acidity and may damage your enamel. Foods with high pH levels, such as a six or seven, are far less likely to cause enamel harm.

So which foods should you avoid? Many fruits are high in acidity, including lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, grapes, and apples. The high sugar and acid content in soda makes it another huge contributor to enamel decay. Moderately acidic foods include pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, cottage cheese, maple syrup, yogurt, raisins, pickles, and honey. The foods that are least likely to cause enamel damage include milk, most cheeses, eggs, and water.

Beverages such as red wine and coffee also damage the enamel by discoloring it. Although stains do not necessarily undermine the integrity of your teeth, they can be unsightly.

What Can I Do to Prevent Enamel Damage?

Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to prevent your enamel from discoloring or decaying. The easiest way to avoid decay is to steer clear of high-acidity foods. This may not always be possible, but eliminating sugary fruit juices and soda from your diet is a good start. Brushing your teeth after each meal and flossing frequently also preserves your enamel. Another good idea is to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after eating to wash away high-acidity particles.

Although enamel damage is common, it does not have to be an inevitable occurrence. Knowing the foods that harm your teeth gives you the tools to prevent discoloration and decay. With some easy preventive measures, your teeth will stay strong and white for years to come.

The Truth Behind Six Popular Dental Myths

September 7th, 2012

Myths about oral health and general dental care abound! These myths are passed on by word of mouth and are presented as being factual, though they are typically inaccurate. There are dangers associated with dental misconceptions. By believing in these dental myths, you are placing your oral health at risk and you may not be receiving proper dental care. Find the answers behind many popular dental myths!

Myth: It is not important for young children to care for their baby teeth.

Fact: Although baby teeth are not permanent, long-term problems with permanent teeth can develop if baby teeth are not properly cared for. The malpositioning of permanent teeth, misalignment issues, and early orthodontic treatment are just a few of the concerns related to losing baby teeth too early as a result of tooth decay. It is crucial that children learn the basics of proper oral hygiene at an early age. Doing so will help them form permanent habits that are essential for oral health.

Myth: If you are not having problems with your teeth, seeing a dentist is not necessary.

Fact: Most dental issues are not evident in the early stages. It is only when they have progressed further that you start to notice there is a problem. In most cases, only a dentist can detect when there is a problem. Scheduling an appointment in our office twice a year for regular cleanings and exams is a vital component to your dental health. In this way, dental problems can be treated early before they become a serious concern and require a more advanced form of treatment.

Myth: You should avoid brushing and flossing if your gums are bleeding.

Fact: If your gums are bleeding, it is usually a warning sign of gum disease or gingivitis. You should continue to brush and floss your teeth gently during this time since poor oral hygiene is a primary cause of bleeding gums. If the bleeding worsens or continues to be a problem, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Myth: Chewing sugar-free gum is a good substitute for brushing your teeth.

Fact: Although chewing sugar-free gum offers the benefits of freshening your breath and minor teeth cleaning between meals, it should not be considered a substitute for brushing and flossing. Dental plaque and food particles can only be thoroughly removed by brushing and flossing.

Myth: Cavities are only a concern when you are a child.

Fact: Cavities can develop at any age. There are many situations and conditions that place both adults and elders at risk for the development of cavities. As an adult, you are more prone to developing receding gums, which can quickly result in tooth decay. Many adults and elders also take prescription medications that cause dry mouth. This can cause tooth decay as there is an insufficient amount of saliva within the mouth to wash away bacteria and neutralize acids.

Myth: Once you treat a decayed tooth, it will not become decayed again.

Fact: It is possible for other areas of the tooth to become decayed; although proper brushing and flossing will prevent the treated area of the tooth from becoming decayed again. If a filling gets old and begins to break down, there is a possibility that bacteria can become trapped inside and cause tooth decay.

If you ever have any questions related to oral health or dental treatment, just let us know! We're happy to debunk any additional myths you encounter.

How to Prevent or Get Rid of Gum Disease Naturally

August 30th, 2012

If you have, or are at risk for, gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) then you probably know about the traditional treatments that your dentist has to offer. Thanks to advances in technology, there are several options for treatment such as periodontal surgery, laser therapy and other non-surgical methods. However, according to the American Academy of Periodontists, non-surgical methods don't work for every situation. Also, not everyone is comfortable with these procedures due to possible pain, side effects and medicines that may be used in the process. Fortunately, nature has provided a solution in the form of a naturally occurring substance called xylitol.

Xylitol is a natural sugar found in the fibrous part of many plants including plums, strawberries, raspberries, and birch trees. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reports that xylitol can reduce unhealthy oral bacteria that are responsible for causing cavities and gum disease. Due to xylitol’s unique structure, it doesn't break down the way that regular sugar does and it helps keep a neutral pH balance in your mouth. Regular consumption of xylitol will prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to your teeth and gums, thus decreasing your chance of developing, or worsening, gum disease.

Here are some additional benefits that xylitol provides for your oral health:

  • Helps to reduce plaque formation
  • Helps to reduce the development of cavities and aids in repairing them
  • Increases saliva which helps to repair damaged enamel

Preventing Gum Disease
To maintain optimum oral health, a minimum of six grams is necessary to notice the benefits, but more than ten to 12 grams a day is no more effective than 20 grams. To prevent gum disease, make sure that you consume an appropriate amount of xylitol throughout the day in five to six doses, not all at once. Drinking water, with one to two teaspoons of granulated xylitol stirred in, is an effective way to get the recommended amount. Do this in addition to your usual brushing and flossing routine.

Eliminating Gum Disease
Xylitol is anti-bacterial and will help to make the harmful bacteria disappear and over time the pockets that you've developed in your gum line will heal and recede back to their normal condition. Since you already have a higher level of bacteria in your mouth, you'll want to be sure to get in at least ten grams of xylitol each and every day in addition to maintaining a good brushing and mouth rinsing routine. Use a toothpaste with xylitol, a mouthwash that is highly effective at killing bacteria, and floss daily. As your final step, you should drink some water with a few grams of xylitol, chew a piece of gum or eat a candy with xylitol. Make sure that you get your xylitol in small, frequent doses throughout the day in order to gain the most benefit.

Tips and Warnings

  • To get enough xylitol, try eating xylitol candies and chewing gum made with 100 percent xylitol or drinking xylitol mixed with water.
  • Consuming too much xylitol in a given day, usually more than 20 to 30 grams, often causes diarrhea and stomach discomfort.
  • While it's perfectly safe for human consumption, xylitol is lethal to dogs. Be sure to keep your xylitol in a cupboard or high shelf so that your canine friends can't get to it.

A Healthy Mouth Starts With What You Eat

August 23rd, 2012

Most people know that visiting the dentist is an essential part of caring for their teeth. Regular checkups and cleanings are, of course, very important. But what some people don't realize is that good dental hygiene starts long before you get to the dentist's office. You may be saying, "I know, it starts with my toothbrush and floss." But actually, oral health begins even before that. A healthy smile starts at your grocery store.

Dental checkups can detect problems early on and address them, but only good nutrition can give your teeth and gums the healthy foundation they need. If your diet is rich in tooth-friendly nutrients, you will be less prone to gum disease, tooth decay, and even jawbone loss.

So, which nutrients are the most important? Here are a few tooth-building superstars.

Calcium:
We all know that calcium builds strong bones and teeth. Most expectant mothers are even aware that the calcium-rich foods they eat during pregnancy will ensure that their babies develop strong, healthy teeth later on. But did you know that calcium is important to your teeth long into adulthood?

On its "Milk Matters" page, the National Institutes of Health tells us that calcium can protect teeth against decay. Furthermore, a 2001 study published by the US National Library of Medicine found that elderly people who had adequate amounts of calcium in their diets were more likely to retain their teeth as they aged.

Good sources of calcium include yogurt, cheeses, milk, and leafy green vegetables. If you can't get an enough calcium from your diet alone, talk to your doctor about adding a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because your skin can synthesize it during exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D could also be called the healthy smile vitamin. It not only helps your teeth, but it also keeps your gums healthy. Another study published by the National Library of Medicine has shown a connection between low levels of dietary vitamin D and gingivitis. People in the study who had more of the vitamin in their diets had healthier gums.

While most of us get plenty of vitamin D from sun exposure, people who live farther from the equator may need to take a supplement during the winter months.

Vitamin C:
Long ago, British sailors were called "Limeys" because their superiors made them eat limes on long ocean voyages. Why? Because limes are rich in vitamin C and without it, the sailors got scurvy and often lost their teeth. While there's little danger of developing scurvy today, a study in the year 2000 of people who ranged in age from 20 to 90, showed that vitamin C is still necessary for healthy gums. People in the study who had the lowest dietary intake of this essential vitamin were at the highest risk of gum disease.

Vitamin C is perhaps the easiest of vitamins to get from your diet. Rich sources include strawberries, apricots, oranges, lemons and, of course, limes. Red and yellow peppers also have lots of vitamin C, as do tomatoes and brussel sprouts.

Never put off regular dental checkups and cleanings, but in between appointments, watch your diet. Making sure these essential nutrients are a part of your daily intake will ensure that your teeth and gums are as healthy as they can be.

Four Common Causes of Toothaches

August 17th, 2012

If you have ever suffered from a toothache, you know how excruciating the pain can be. Tooth pain is usually caused by irritation to the nerves in the roots of the teeth, although there are other potential sources of the pain as well. Fortunately, there are ways to both prevent and resolve a toothache, regardless of its cause.

 

Causes of Tooth Pain

Some of the most common causes of tooth pain include:

1) Tooth Decay – Also known as cavities, tooth decay occurs when bacteria erodes the enamel of the tooth, which can eventually expose the nerve. This is the most common cause of tooth pain.

2) Gum Disease – Also known as periodontal disease, occurs when bacteria populate along and below the gum line.

3) Injury – An injury can include a small chip or a large break in the tooth.

4) Impaction – Teeth often become impacted beneath the surface of the gums. This condition is most common in molars, such as the wisdom teeth. An impacted tooth may cause no pain at all, or it could become extremely painful if it begins to affect the nerves and teeth around it.

 

Pain Resolution

Determining the source of your pain starts with a trip to the dentist. Usually, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination that may include X-rays. If your X-rays or examination reveal tooth decay, the solution may involve a simple filling, a root canal or even a tooth extraction. Your dentist will decide which option is best for you based on how advanced the tooth decay is, as well whether an infection is present within the tooth.

If, however, gum disease is causing your tooth pain, the solution may be as simple as a root planing and scaling, followed by administration of oral or topical antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing your symptoms. If you have a cracked, chipped or broken tooth, your dentist may resolve your pain by either filling the crack, or covering the tooth with a crown designed to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth.

If your dental X-rays reveal that you have an impacted tooth, you will most likely need to have it extracted to avoid causing damage or misalignment to the other teeth. Impacted teeth can also become infected, which is why it is important to remove impacted teeth before they begin to cause problems.

 

Prevention

Although there are ways of treating a toothache, the best way to treat it is by preventing it altogether. Some causes of tooth pain are not preventable, such as an impacted tooth or a predisposition to tooth sensitivity. However, tooth decay and gum disease are easily prevented by using good hygienic practices at home and visiting your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings. By brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing, as well as wearing protective mouthguards when participating in high impact activities, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing tooth pain in the future.

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