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Posts for: March, 2013

By Gregory J. Gauthier DDS, LLC
March 26, 2013
Category: Oral Health
TheresaBattleGoingOn-AndItsInYourMouth

Your teeth are under constant attack from bacteria that normally live in your mouth. When these bacteria thrive, they create acid that begins to dissolve the minerals in your enamel (the outer layer of your teeth). In your defense, your saliva protects against these bacteria and adds minerals back to your enamel. Let's take a look at this ongoing battle, and what you can do to sway it in a positive direction.

The outer covering of your teeth, the enamel, is made mainly of the minerals calcium and phosphate. The enamel protects the interior layer of your teeth, the dentin, which is similar in composition to bone. Although it is the hardest substance in your body, the enamel is still vulnerable to attack.

Your mouth is normally full of saliva, which washes over your teeth and maintains a balance between acids and bases. The terms “acids” and “bases” refer to a scientific measurement, the pH scale. Your mouth's pH is usually in the middle of the scale — neither acidic nor basic, but neutral. This is important in controlling the bacteria in your mouth.

You may be surprised to know how many bacteria live in everyone's mouth. More bacteria live in a single mouth than the number of people who have ever lived on earth. Some of these bacteria can cause tooth decay. Let's call them “bad bacteria.”

When the bad bacteria attach themselves to dental plaque — a film that builds up on your teeth every day — they begin to consume sugars that are in your mouth from foods that you have eaten. As the bacteria break down these sugars and turn them into energy, acid is produced as a by-product. This turns the saliva from neutral to acidic.

At a certain level of acidity, minerals in your enamel start to dissolve. This is called “de-mineralization.” It means that more calcium and phosphate are leaving the tooth's surface than are entering it. Early de-mineralization of the enamel shows up as white spots on a tooth.

Fortunately, healthy saliva can return calcium and phosphate to the enamel, or re-mineralize it. De-mineralization and opposing re-mineralization are constantly battling in your mouth. However, if too much enamel is de-mineralized, bacterial acid can go on to attack the next layer of your teeth, the dentin. As this process continues, you develop a dental cavity.

How can you protect your teeth? The first level of defense is regular removal of plaque, so that the bad bacteria do not get a foothold. In an office visit we may also recommend products such as sealants, antibacterial agents, topical fluoride, calcium and phosphate supplements, pH neutralizers, special toothpaste and rinses, which may help your particular situation.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth decay. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay — The World's Oldest & Widespread Disease.”


KristinCavallarisSpaghettiCatcher-FirstStepToAWinningSmile

Kristin Cavallari's flawless smile has been featured on TV, film and magazine covers. But the 25-year-old actress and reality-show personality didn't always have a perfect set of teeth. In fact, she told Dear Doctor magazine — where readers recently voted to crown her with the “Smile of the Year” award — that her dental treatments began the same way many do: with orthodontics in sixth grade.

“I had the ‘spaghetti catcher,’ which is what everyone used to call it,” she reminisced. But by that, she didn't mean a strainer — she's talking about what dentists call a “palatal expander.”

In case you're not familiar with this orthodontic device, a palatal expander takes advantage of the natural growth patterns of a child's upper jaw to create additional space for the top set of teeth. How does it work? Basically, it's similar to braces: By applying gentle pressure, the appliance creates changes in the jaw. Unlike braces, however, it's invisible — it fits between the upper teeth, close to the roof of the mouth.

During the three to six months a child wears the palatal expander, it pushes the left and right halves of the upper jawbone apart, and then maintains and stabilizes the new, wider spacing. Since the palatal bones don't fuse until after puberty, tightening it a little bit each day for the first few weeks provides a quick and painless method of making the upper jaw a bit roomier. And that can be a very good thing. Why?

There are lots of reasons. For one, it can relieve the condition called “crowding,” when there is not enough space in the upper jaw to accommodate the proper alignment of the permanent teeth. In the past, teeth often had to be extracted in that situation. It may even allow “impacted” teeth — ones which are blocked from erupting by other teeth — to come in normally.

It can help treat a “crossbite,” when the back top teeth come down to bite inside (instead of outside) the lower back teeth. It also generally shortens the total time a child needs for orthodontic treatment. That's good news for any teenager — even if their own day-to-day “reality show” isn't featured on TV!

If you would like more information about palatal expanders, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Palatal Expanders” and “Early Orthodontic Evaluation.”


By Gregory J. Gauthier DDS, LLC
March 07, 2013
Category: Oral Health
BadBreathmdashDiscoveringTheCausesTreatments

If you have ever had halitosis (bad breath), you know it can cause you to feel self-conscious and embarrassed. And while the odor is typically a primary concern, determining what is causing it is a task we can assist you with resolving. This is especially true when you experience bad breath outside of those times when you've just consumed pungent foods and drinks such as coffee, garlic or raw onions. For example, it is quite a different scenario to have family members, friends, co-workers or even total strangers consistently complaining or using body language to denote your bad breath. If the later best describes your situation — and be honest with yourself — then you need a thorough dental exam to discover the ultimate cause (or causes) of your halitosis. This is especially important because so many people are unaware that there can be numerous oral and/or general health concerns triggering their bad breath.

Most unpleasant mouth odors arise from the more than 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth, with several dozens of these bacteria being the primary culprits for producing foul odors. And while food particles left between teeth can be key contributors to bad breath, the tongue or more specifically, the back of the tongue, is the most common location. Dry mouth is another cause for bad breath, as evident by the dreaded morning breath we all experience from mouth breathing as we sleep. Bad breath is also caused by certain medical conditions such as liver disease, lung infections, diabetes, kidney infections or failure and cancer.

The good news is that we can work with you to develop an effective treatment for your bad breath. And if necessary, we can work with your physician on a total treatment plan should your condition be due to health conditions outside your mouth. However, if your bad breath originates in your mouth, we may recommend any or all of the following to return your mouth to optimal oral health:

  • Oral hygiene instruction to learn the proper ways to brush, floss, scrape your tongue and use mouthwashes
  • Denture hygiene instruction for proper cleaning and maintenance of both full and partial dentures and bridgework
  • Periodontal (gum) therapy that includes professionally cleaning your teeth (scaling), smoothing your teeth's root surfaces (root planning) and possible antibiotic therapy
  • Removal of tooth decay where large, open cavities (caries) are present
  • Repair of broken fillings
  • Removal of wisdom teeth (third molars) with gum flaps
  • Treatment of yeast infections (candidasis)

To learn more about the causes and treatments for halitosis, read the Dear Doctor article, “Bad Breath — More Than Just Embarrassing.”

Ready To Take The Next Step?

If you want to address your own concerns with bad breath, contact us today to schedule a consultation for an examination and treatment plan. You will find yourself smiling and laughing more once you are confident you have a clean, healthy mouth.