Airport Road Dental Associates - 3465 Airport Road, Portage, Indiana 46368 - (219) 763-2727

The Top Ways to Fix Dental Damage and Decay

Does your tooth have visible damage, decay, or enamel erosion? When one tooth makes it uncomfortable to smile, take a look at the healthy mouth options your dentist has to offer.

Porcelain Veneers

Dental veneers are small slip-covers for teeth. Unlike the slip-cover on your couch, these are made from a white porcelain tooth-like material. The strong, long-lasting material is shaped to fit around your tooth and isn't removable (by the patient). This option is ideal to correct:

  • Chipped teeth. Did you fall and chip your tooth or bite into something hard? A veneer will cover the jagged shard of a tooth that's leftover and give you an even, full smile.
  • Worn teeth. Do you grind your teeth? If you suffer from excessive wear, veneers can make the surface and structure of your tooth smooth again.
  • Crooked teeth. If braces aren't an option or you only have a few crooked teeth, veneers can reshape your smile without orthodontics. Even though a veneer can change the appearance of your tooth, it won't correct misalignment or serious orthodontic issues.
  • Erosion damage. The pearly white protective coating on your teeth, enamel, can wear away from age, drinking acidic beverages, and excessive care.

To place a veneer the dentist must remove some of the enamel. This makes it important to replace old, worn, or damaged veneers. Due to the enamel loss, it's typically not possible to remove a veneer permanently.

Dental Bonding

Veneers aren't always necessary to fix minor chips, damage, or cracks. If you don't need a full veneer or can't invest in this option, dental bonding is another option to:

  • Repair damage. The dentist will apply a tooth-colored composite material to the tooth and sculpt it. After the material hardens, the dentist will polish it to match the shape of the tooth.
  • Change the size. A tooth that is slightly smaller than its neighbors or causes a gap can benefit from bonding.
  • Change the shape. Damage or wear can alter the overall shape of the tooth. Dental bonding can create a smooth surface or add length to the tooth.

While dental bonding is typically less expensive than veneers, and may require less time in the dentist's chair, it's not as durable and won't resist stains as easily. Your dentist can help you to decide which option is best for your individual dental needs.

Dental Fillings

Dental decay can destroy your tooth and lead to an invasive oral infection. If decay progresses further, additional procedures may be necessary such as a root canal or even tooth loss. All things that can add to the expense of your visits! If you visit the dentist regularly for exams and checkups, decay can be caught early when it is easiest to repair. 

To treat a cavity the dentist must remove the decayed part of your tooth. After cleaning the area completely, the dentist will repair the tooth with a filling. The most common types of fillings include:

  • Ceramic. Porcelain fillings look and feel like real teeth. While these are sometimes more expensive than other types of fillings, they are durable and fairly stain-resistant.
  • Silver Colored. Silver colored amalgam fillings include a mix of metals. Even though these fillings are durable and inexpensive, the silver color is noticeable.
  • Composite. These fillings are made from plastic and resin material. Like ceramic fillings, these are tooth-colored and look natural.
  • Gold. This sturdy type of filling is extremely noticeable and expensive.

If you're not sure which type of filling is right for your dental decay or damage, talk to the dentist. The professional can help you to choose the product with the best color match, durability, and price for your needs.

Do you have dental damage or decay? Contact Airport Road Dental Associates for more information.

Flossing is a dentist-prescribed necessity, but many dental patients struggle with it. Not only can string floss be unwieldy, but the action of forcing it between your teeth may cause pain in some people. Here are some options to help you reduce pain and irritation as you develop a regular flossing regimen.

1. Sensitive Toothpaste

If you floss thoroughly, the floss can sometimes irritate sensitive gums and even sensitive teeth as you clean around the tooth roots at the gumline. Brushing with a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help lessen any soreness and irritation from both brushing and flossing.

If you use prescription strength toothpaste, talk to your dentist about switching to a sensitive version of your prescription toothpaste, such as one that contains potassium nitrate. You can also find non-prescription toothpastes that contain potassium nitrate for sensitive teeth. This ingredient helps to block nerve signals that would send pain transmissions to your brain.

2. Water Flosser

A water flosser can be a gentle way to ease into a flossing habit. Although it doesn't clean using the same modality as floss (string floss scrapes away plaque, while a water flosser simply sprays it away), a water flosser can still help reduce plaque. This can help reduce gum irritation, since plaque buildup irritates gums. Cleaner gums are less likely to be irritated and painful.

Another reason a water flosser can help is because it helps to prepare your gums for regular flossing. While flossing may be too stimulating at first for gums that aren't used to it, water flossing can help to gently massage gums, improving gum health. Healthier gums could be less likely to bleed and become inflamed when you use string floss.

3. Other Flossing Tools

In some situations, you may have pain and irritation from flossing because of the logistical issues involved. For instance, some people have difficulty controlling a piece of floss well enough to floss thoroughly yet gently. A flossing tool, such as a floss pick, can help you to get into tight spots more easily while requiring less physical dexterity.

You can also choose a floss tool designed for tight spots or sensitive gums. Gentle varieties of floss pick and easy-glide varieties are available in addition to standard floss picks.

4. Diet 

Although changing your diet won't solve all your flossing problems, it could help in some cases. For instance, take a look at your current diet. If you eat a lot of sugar and starchy foods, consider cutting down on these foods while you work on your flossing habit.

Sugar and simple starches feed bacteria, which then create plaque and tartar. Plaque and tartar can irritate your gums. So reducing the buildup of plaque and tartar in the first place can help reduce gum irritation. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any changes to your diet that you may be considering.

These are just some examples of how you can strategically manage your flossing so that it won't hurt as much. This is especially important while you're forming the habit of flossing. After all, if flossing hurts a lot each time you do it, that's a strong psychological deterrent, and pain can make it more difficult to form good flossing habits.

For more information about flossing and dental hygiene or to schedule an appointment, get in touch with Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, today. We'll be glad to help you customize your dental care for sensitive gums so you can protect your gums from disease without causing yourself pain.

The teen years are full of challenges. Stress and other issues that arise in adolescence can cause some teens to stop brushing. If your teenager has stopped caring for their teeth, consider this advice to help them get back on track with their dental health.

Set New Rules for Your Teen

Parents often feel a responsibility to set strict dental care rules for young children who are learning proper brushing techniques and struggling to stick to a routine. They may feel like teens should be capable of handling their dental care themselves. However, teens are still growing and developing on every level, and they can benefit from specific rules.

If your teen is slipping on their dental care, the first step should be establishing new rules. Let your teenager know that you expect them to brush their teeth twice per day. Set rules about flossing and swishing with mouthwash too. 

Tell your teen about the possible consequences for ignoring their dental care. Be open and honest with them about what your expectations are and why you are setting new rules. Reassure your teen that you are only setting rules because you're concerned. That may encourage them to treat their dental care seriously and address this issue in a mature way. 

Enlist the Help of a Trusted Friend 

Sometimes teenagers are just not able to talk to their parents about a problem. They may have specific reasons for no longer caring for their teeth, yet they might not feel comfortable talking to you about it. Teens may fear that parents will judge them or just won't understand. This may seem irrational if you've always been there for your teenager, but try not to take it personally.

Instead, if your teen is hesitant to discuss their dental problems with you, enlist the help of a family friend they trust. If you know someone who has suffered because of dental issues as an adult, they may be the perfect candidate to share their struggles with your teen. Encourage them to not hold back or shelter your teen from the reality of dental decay and pain.

If a teen doesn't care for their teeth, they may eventually lose them from tooth decay and gum disease. Of course, long-term consequences aren't really first on a young person's mind. However, if a trusted family friend can share their real world experience with dental problems, that may inspire them to give proper dental care a second thought. 

Keep Dental-Friendly Snacks in the Kitchen

Teenagers will grab convenient foods after a hard day at school or a tiring sports activity. Keep your kitchen stocked with convenient, dental-friendly snacks. If you have indulgent snacks in the house, keep them out of the pantry that teens use.

Some delicious, dental-friendly snacks include: 

  • Nuts
  • Raw vegetables
  • Plain popcorn
  • Sugarless chewing gum
  • Flavored rice cakes

Having healthy snacks on hand can help teens avoid foods that can lead to tooth decay. 

Reach Out for Help

Sometimes a teenager stops caring about things like brushing their teeth each day because of an underlying mental health condition. Don't panic because things can improve when these issues are addressed.  If your teen may be depressed, talk to them about going to therapy. They may be hesitant about the idea at first, but encourage them to at least try it for a month. 

A teen who gets professional help for depression has a much better chance of overcoming it. In addition to individual therapy, you may also suggest family therapy. If you suspect that your family's dynamics are stressing your teen out, family therapy may be a necessary part of overcoming the problems. It is also a great place to discuss their hesitancy with dental care.

Finally, once your teen is feeling better, they may start caring for their teeth again without further prompting from you. Contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, today to set an appointment for your teen's next dental exam and cleaning. Prioritizing their dental care on your family's schedule can help set a good example that they follow as they transition into adulthood.

Teeth are important for speaking and eating, but practically everything you eat or drink is trying to destroy your teeth. Luckily, even if you damage your teeth severely, cracked teeth may not need to be completely extracted. Thanks to advancements in dentistry, your dentist may be able to save a tooth even if it has major damage.

Front Teeth May Be Easier to Fix

Your teeth all work together to eat food, but they all have different jobs. The incisors are in charge of biting off bits of food, but the canines are needed if the foods are too chewy. These front teeth only have single roots, but the canines' roots are long and strong. If a front tooth chips or cracks, it can often be repaired without the risk of future damage because the task of biting food doesn't put the tooth under too much pressure.

The back teeth, however, have to actually chew food, which means repeated mashing and lots of pressure. For this reason, back teeth have multiple roots to better secure them in your gums and jawbone. Because these teeth have to do so much work, a repaired back tooth may end up broken again in the near future.

More Damage Means More Invasive Restoration

Regardless of location, if your dentist does believe a damaged tooth can be rebuilt, a post and core procedure may also be necessary if the tooth has major damage. For example, if a canine broke at the gum line, rebuilding the tooth alone leaves the tooth incredibly weak. Instead, the dentist inserts a post directly into the core of the tooth to serve as additional support and structure.

The tooth is then rebuilt around this post, which reduces the risk of breakage in the future, even when exposed to pressure. If the tooth's root has been damaged or is not strong, however, this procedure may only be a waste of time and money.

Multiple Procedures May Be Necessary

Besides having the tooth rebuilt, you may need root canal treatment and a dental crown to fully restore the tooth. A root canal treatment is necessary if the tooth's pulp or roots have been exposed, damaged or infected. During this procedure, the entire tooth's pulp and roots are removed in an attempt to prevent further damage.

After root canal treatment, a dental crown is usually recommended, but even if you don't need a root canal treatment, a dental crown is a good investment because it will help evenly distribute the pressure, which reduces the risk of the tooth breaking again.

Cosmetic Options May Also Be Possible

Cosmetic options can also be used to fix cracked or chipped teeth. If you were hit in the mouth with a ball, for example, one of your front teeth may chip or crack, but your dentist may be able to use composite resin or porcelain veneers to repair the tooth and make it look like new again.

Composite resin is a much cheaper and faster option because the dentist applies it in the office the same day. Veneers, however, have to be crafted in a lab, and they are expensive. You will have to have your teeth filed down for the veneers to fit, and while the permanent veneers are crafted, you'll have temporary veneers. Last, if the tooth is too weak for a veneer, porcelain crowns are another option.

Ideally, a damaged tooth doesn't need to be extracted. In some cases, however, multiple procedures may be necessary to restore the tooth, and some teeth simply can't be saved. If you would like to know more about repairing damaged teeth or tooth extraction and replacement options, contact us at Airport Road Dental Associates.

While many people think that tooth loss is an inevitable consequence of aging, it doesn't have to be. The health of your teeth and gums should remain a priority throughout your life so that you can avoid dental diseases in your later years. Here are five tips for protecting your oral health as you get older.

Fight Sensitivity

There are two primary factors that come with age that can lead to increased sensitivity in your teeth: enamel erosion and gum recession. Your enamel creates a protective barrier around the soft dentin inside your teeth that is sensitive to temperature and acidity. The gums serve a similar purpose by shielding the sensitive roots of your teeth.

Maintaining good dental hygiene habits is the best way to slow these processes that lead to sensitive teeth. Brushing and flossing twice each day and using a fluoride mouth rinse will keep your gums and enamel healthy for as long as possible. You should only brush with a soft-bristle toothbrush and avoid abrasive products such as whitening toothpaste.

Talk to Your Dentist About Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a particularly common problem among the elderly. While many people think dry mouth is simply a consequence of getting older, it can usually be attributed to many medications that elderly patients take that cause dry mouth as a side effect. Many people look for a remedy for dry mouth due to the discomfort it causes, but it can also pose a health risk.

Adequate saliva production provides many benefits for the health of your mouth. Saliva is responsible for rinsing food particles and bacteria off of your teeth and gums and reducing the occurrence of infections and mouth sores. If dry mouth has become a continuous problem, talk to your dentist so they can recommend treatment and possible medication alternatives.

Have Dental Work Inspected Regularly

While many advances have been made in the effectiveness and longevity of dental restorations, no filling or crown will last forever. The average dental filling will last around 10 years, while crowns may last five to 15 years, according to WebMD. As you age, it is a good idea to have your dental work inspected regularly so that you can have your crowns or fillings replaced before complications arise.

The cement that is used to hold fillings and crowns in place is more susceptible to damage from aging than the dental prosthetic itself. This can cause a crown or filling to fall out, and bacteria can hide in small cracks in the cement. Your teeth and gums will naturally recede around the edges of the crown or filling, so your dentist should watch for decay in these sensitive areas.

Budgeting for Dental Care

The most effective way to keep your dental expenses as low as possible is to have regular dental exams so any issues can be addressed early, avoiding possible increased costs of extensive (and expensive) repairs.

Know the Warning Signs of Oral Cancer

While oral cancer can occur at any age, oral cancer rates increase after age 50 and peak between the ages of 60 and 70. The causes of oral cancer are not fully understood, but healthy lifestyle choices such as stopping the use of alcohol and tobacco products can reduce your risk. Even with low risk, you should still receive regular cancer screenings from your doctor and dentist.

Oral cancer is often detected during a routine dental visit, but you should still be aware of the symptoms so you can bring your concerns to your dentist. Sores, lumps, and discolored patches on the mouth or lips are the most common symptoms. Pain, numbness, and bleeding in the mouth are other warning signs.

Protecting your oral health as you get older is not difficult if you maintain good dental hygiene and are aware of the complications that can arise with age. Visit us at Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for professional dental care that can keep your mouth healthy for a lifetime!

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