Associated Dental Specialists

Flossing: Absolutely Necessary!

flossing-absolutely-necessary

Yes, you still have to floss. No, the dance move “flossing” does not count. The AP recently released an article making the claim that “there’s little proof that flossing works”. Their review cited a series of studies that found flossing does little or nothing to improve oral health. Here’s the problem: the studies were flawed. The AP concluded that floss does little for oral health, but it’s important to note that the evidence they cited was very weak at best. In fact, they said so themselves.

As acknowledged by the AP, many of these studies were extremely short. “Some lasted only two weeks, far too brief for a cavity or dental disease to develop” (Associated Press). They also say that “One tested 25 people after only a single use of floss” (Associated Press).

Of course, the evidence is unreliable. You don’t simply develop gum disease because you forgot to floss yesterday. Cavities and gum disease do not happen overnight. Gum disease is preventable by maintain great oral health habits for a long period of time. Lets put it this way: If a study claims drinking milk does nothing for bone health, but draws conclusions after only three glasses of milk, is it a reliable study?

The fact of the matter is floss removes gunk from teeth. You can see it. Gunk feeds bacteria which leads to plaque, cavities, poor gum health, and eventually gum disease. Floss has the ability to reach the food particles that your brush can’t get to. Using a sawing motion instead of moving up and around the teeth to clean the cracks. Positive results come from correct use and it’s critical that people learn to use a tool properly before discarding it as useless.

That’s just what floss is: a tool. Just like your toothbrush, it is designed to keep your mouth clean, and therefore keep your body safe from infection. Both your toothbrush and floss are designed to do what the other can’t, and both successfully remove bacteria from your mouth. Just like proper brushing technique, it is important that you know how to use floss properly, so that you can reap the long-term health benefits of good oral hygiene.

Oral hygiene is a long-term process and requires long term observations to make worthwhile conclusions. In the meantime, it’s obvious that you should continue to do everything you can to protect your well-being, and floss is one of many tools that can help you do that. If you would like a refresher on the best, most efficient techniques for floss use feel free to call our office today.

What the fluoride?

whattheflouride

Fluoride is often called nature’s cavity fighter, and for good reason! Fluoride, a naturally-occurring mineral, helps prevent cavities by making your enamel more resistant to the acid that causes tooth decay.

Before teeth are fully grown, the fluoride taken in from foods and beverages help make tooth enamel stronger. This provides what is called a “systemic” benefit. After teeth are grown, fluoride helps rebuild weakened tooth enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. This provides what is called a “topical” benefit.

In addition, the fluoride you take in from foods and beverages continues to provide a topical benefit because it becomes part of your saliva, constantly bathing the teeth with tiny amounts of fluoride that help rebuild weakened tooth enamel.

How Do You Get Fluoride?

#1 Drink Water with Fluoride
Fluoride is naturally found in most water sources. For the past 70 years, fluoride has been added to public water supplies to bring fluoride levels up to the amount necessary to help prevent tooth decay. Studies show that water fluoridation continues to help prevent tooth decay by at least 25% in children and adults, even with fluoride available from other sources, such as toothpaste.

#2 Use Toothpaste and Mouthwash with Fluoride
Toothpaste with fluoride has been responsible for a significant drop in cavities since 1960. Make sure to look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance to make sure it contains fluoride! Be sure to brush twice a day (morning and night) or as directed by your dentist and physician.
Mouthwash with fluoride can help make your teeth more resistant to decay, by bathing your teeth and creating a topical benefit.

#3 Visit Your Dentist for a Professional Application
If you have a good chance of getting cavities, your dentist can apply fluoride directly to your teeth during your dental visit with a gel, foam or rinse.

These three steps in getting fluoride can help significantly fight against cavities and help keep your teeth strong and long lasting! If you have any more questions about the benefits of fluoride, give us a call today at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800 !

Trivia: Root Canal Edition

It is no secret that root canal therapy saves your natural teeth! By extracting the infected pulp inside the tooth, endodontists can rescue your teeth. What exactly is dental pulp though? It is a lot more important than you might think, so keep reading for some pulp trivia!

Fact #1
Pulp is the living part of the tooth. It is made of nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue that feed the tooth vital nutrients for it to stay alive and healthy.

Fact #2
Dental pulp is your tooth’s alarm system. When something is going wrong with your teeth, such as trauma or decay, the pulp experiences pressure and sensitivity changes that you perceive as pain.

Fact #3
The pulp is responsible for dentin formation. Dentin is the tissue layer beneath the enamel that protects the pulp. Due to the translucency of enamel, dentin is visible through it and gives the tooth its color. Pulp contains cells called odontoblasts that initiate dentin creation.

Fact #4
The tooth can survive without pulp, but not infected pulp. Pulp is a crucial part of tooth development, but once a tooth has fully matured, it can get nutrients from surrounding tissue and the pulp is no longer necessary. However, infected tissue will cause major damage. It is the decaying pulp that makes root canal therapy necessary to save teeth that suffer pulp trauma.

Fact#5
Blood vessels and nerves in pulp are connected to gum tissue in the jaw. The apical foramen is a hole at the apex, or tip, of the tooth’s root. Blood vessels and nerves run from the jaw through the apical foramen and become part of the pulp once they enter the tooth.

Fact #6
Diseased gum tissue can cause pulp to become infected as well. Blood vessels and nerves connect the gum to the pulp. Therefore, the diseased gum tissue can enter the pulp and begin to infect it. Conversely, infected pulp can also spread and cause potential gum disease. This connection is very important to be aware of, because if one goes wrong, the other should get checked as well.

With all the functions of dental pulp in mind, it’s no wonder root canal therapy is such an important procedure! Call us today to schedule a consultation if you’re having tooth pain and considering root canal therapy.

What’s the difference between a Dentist and an Endodontist?

whatsthedifference

While all endodontists are dentists, less than three percent of dentists are endodontists. Just like a doctor in any other field, endodontists are specialists because they’ve completed additional training beyond dental school. Their additional training focuses on diagnosing tooth pain and performing root canal treatment and other procedures relating to the interior of the tooth. In many cases, a diseased tooth can be saved with endodontic treatment.

#1 Endodontists Have Advanced Education
To become specialists, endodontists have two to three years of additional education in an advanced specialty program in endodontics after completing four years of dental school. They focus on studying diseases of the dental pulp and how to treat them.
#2 Endodontists Have Specialized Expertise
By limiting their practice to endodontics, endodontists focus exclusively on treatments of the dental pulp. They complete an average of 25 root canal treatments a week, while general dentists typically do two. They are skilled specialists in finding the cause of oral and facial pain that has been difficult to diagnosis.
#3 Endodontists Are Experts in Pain Management
Endodontists use specialized techniques to ensure patients are thoroughly comfortable during their treatments. They are experts in administering numbing medications, like Fentanyl and Versed. These medications are excellent choices for patients that may be anxious or dental phobic.
#4 Endodontists Use Cutting-Edge Technologies
Endodontists have materials and equipment designed to make your treatment more comfortable and successful. Digital radiographs and 3-D imaging allow endodontists to take detailed pictures of tiny tooth anatomy to better see the root canals and any related infections.
If you’re experiencing tooth pain, you have injured your tooth, your tooth is sensitive to hot or cold, and/or there is swelling around the teeth, gums or your face, you should make an appointment to see an endodontist. Call us today at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800 .

Root Canal: What to Expect

Root Canal- What to Expect

Root canals have a reputation of being scary and painful. Of course, they’re never ideal but when you need one, you really need one. The course of extracting the infected pulp inside the chamber of the tooth is crucial in saving your natural tooth. We recommend always opting for a root canal if you have the choice. Upon deciding to go forward with a root canal, you should know what to expect. Below are the three simple steps that your endodontist will take to restore your tooth to a healthy and happy state.

1. Numb It!

Your endodontist will administer a numbing agent on the affected tooth and surrounding gum of the area that the root canal will be performed on. It is an extremely common belief that root canals are painful but, this is simply not true. If you have ever had a filling (91% of us have!) then you have a general idea as to what a root canal will feel like, as both of these treatments have the same sort of sensation.

2. Pull it!

Your endodontist will then move on to the next step, performing the pulpectomy. This is when an opening is created to extract the infected pulp within the chamber of the tooth. This infected pulp is what causes tooth pain, as it puts pressure on the nerve. Once the damaged pulp is removed, the pain will subside.

3. Fill It!

Once the deceased pulp has been removed, a filling is inserted in place of the dead pulp. The filling, which consists of gutta-percha material, is then sealed. This sealant is made from a cement material, similar to a regular filling.

And just like that—your tooth is saved! Do everything you can now to prevent extraction by practicing good oral hygiene habits by brushing and flossing every day. If you are suffering from tooth pain and think you may benefit from a root canal, give our office a call! McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800

The Dos and Don’ts of Good Dental Hygiene

Dos and Don’ts of Good Dental Hygiene

Dental Hygiene is important. Those who practice good oral habits reap the benefits, while the latter… not so much. Most of us have a great deal of control over whether or not we keep our teeth as we age. Those who don’t follow a proper routine, end up losing their teeth, thus requiring the need of tooth replacement (such as dentures, dental implants, etc.). If you want to achieve an optimal level of oral hygiene, all you have to do is follow these do’s and don’ts!

Do…
• Brush your teeth twice a day! Use a soft-bristled brush with a fluoride tooth paste and be sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth, even the hard to reach places.

• Floss your teeth every day! Floss removes food trapped between your teeth and the film of bacteria that forms before it turns into plaque.

• Visit your dentist every 6 months! Regular visits allow your dentist to discover early signs of cavities and gum disease.

• Eat a mouth healthy diet! Indulge yourself in foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and of course, water!

Don’t…

• Forget to replace your toothbrush! Tooth brushes should be replaced every 3 month—or after you recover from being sick. If you have an electric toothbrush, replace the head rather than purchasing a whole new one.

• Brush too soon after eating! Brushing immediately after eating acidic food can cause tiny particles of enamel to be brushed away. To be safe, wait at least 1 hour.

• Go overboard with bleaching! Over-bleaching your teeth can make them very sensitive to hot and cold foods, thus causing a variety of other problems.

• Ignore pain or abnormalities! Toothaches can be a sign of a more serious dental issue. See your dentist as soon as you discover changes in your dental health.

• Consume lots of soft drinks and sugary foods! These foods are highly acidic, which wears away your enamel overtime. Frequent consumption of sugary substances allow plaque to grow more rapidly—thus the likelihood of cavities will increase substantially.

When it comes to your dental hygiene—you have the option between keeping your teeth or not. By starting to practice these dental do’s and don’ts, you will be on the right track to a long-lasting smile. Give us a call today McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800!

Everyday Dental Habits that will save your natural teeth

Daily Habits That'll Save Your Natural Teeth

Oral health is not just about how your smile looks, but how you take care of it! You may often overlook the importance of your oral health, but it is essential for a healthy lifestyle, as well as preventing any future dental related problems. By taking small, but significant, steps to care for the health of your teeth now, you can also prevent the price of costly visits to the dentist later. Take a moment to read up on our suggestions for excellent habits that will save your natural teeth:

1. Don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth!

Brushing at night is essential to ridding your teeth of the germs and plaque that have accumulated during the day. If brushing is neglected, then the damaging bacteria will have a higher chance of causing tooth decay. Always remember to brush your teeth twice a day to keep that bacteria at bay.

2. Tongues out!

Believe it or not, plaque also builds up on your tongue. Therefore, you should always remember to brush that as well. This plaque could cause potential problems, in addition to creating a foul mouth odor, better known as bad breath. This odor can lead to insecurities that can easily be brushed away.

3. Floss, floss, floss

Brushing is essential, but flossing is crucial in ridding your mouth of that pesky bacteria. Flossing should be done once a day (typically at night) to remove the leftover particles of food and bacteria that are permeated between the teeth. Flossing not only gets rid of waste, but it also stimulates your gums and helps reduce inflammation.

4. Use a therapeutic mouthwash

According to the ADA, therapeutic mouthwashes can help reduce plaque, prevent gingivitis, and reduce the speed that tarter develops. An added bonus of incorporating a mouthwash into your daily routine is that it helps remove food particles from your mouth. However, this is NOT a substitute for flossing or brushing.

5. Healthy you, healthy smile

Ready-to-eat foods are convenient and tasty, but perhaps not so much when it comes to your teeth and oral hygiene. Eating fresh, crunchy produce that contains healthy fiber, such as apples and celery, is a better choice when it comes to snacking.

Be sure to incorporate these 5 healthy habits into your daily routine to ensure optimal oral health! Give us a call at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800 to learn more about how you can improve your oral hygiene and the benefits that come with it.

3 common questions about root canals

common questions about root canals

You’ve just been told you need a root canal and you’re now left in uncertainty. You’ve heard of them, but what do you really know? If you haven’t had one before, the idea of a root canal can seem a bit intimidating (cue in sweaty palms). All you remember are the rumors and horror stories, but is any of it true? What he said she said might be leading you into an irrational fear of the unknown. Thus, let us ease your anxiety by answering three common questions that will help lay your root canal fears to rest!

1. Why do I need one?

Normally, a root canal becomes necessary when the inside of your tooth (the pulp) becomes inflamed or infected. This can result from: deep decay, repeated dental procedures, faulty crowns, or a simple crack or chip in your tooth. Some popular signs that indicate you may need a root canal are severe tooth pain, sensitivity to hot or cold drinks, discoloration of the problem tooth, and tenderness of the gums.

2. What exactly is the procedure?

Simply put, a root canal is a procedure where we remove the nerve or pulp from the pulp chamber and root canal (the space inside the tooth). The chamber is then shaped and cleaned so it can be filled. Afterwards, it is then sealed with a rubber-like material, and a temporary filling is placed on the tooth to prevent contamination. Since this procedure usually involves more than one visit, the final step of a root canal is when we remove the temporary filling we previously placed and then finish it off by restoring the tooth with a crown or filling.

3. Is the treatment painful?

Thanks to modern technology and anesthesia, a root canal is as simple and painless as having a cavity filled. It’s important to remember that root canals don’t cause pain, they relieve it!

Being well informed is a great way to shed light on a fearful situation. What often seems intimidating, may just be a lack of information. With this new-found knowledge, you can move forward with your procedure with confidence. If you have any other questions about your root canal procedure, or want to learn more, don’t hesitate to call our office at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800.

Winter Oral Health Tips

winter oral health tips

Winter is here and with it, comes the drastic change of weather! The cold temperatures are fun in theory, but what about the toll it takes on your health? Often times cold weather brings on a variety of pesky problems, like dry skin and irritated throats. But, the problems don’t stop there. In fact, your oral health is also affected by the change of weather. That’s why this season, we put together the ultimate guide on how to keep your oral health in perfect condition this winter season!

Tip #1 – Tooth Sensitivity: Many find that they experience increased tooth sensitivity to cold temperatures. This can not only come from foods, but the chilly air outside too! If you find that you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, there are tons of tricks you can do to help avoid discomfort. These include using a toothpaste specially formulated for sensitive teeth, or even rising out your mouth with salt water!

Tip #2 – Cold Sores: Cold sores can appear for a variety of reasons, including cold weather and a weakened immune system. To prevent a cold sore breakout, start by keeping your hands off of your mouth area! If you do feel a cold sore coming on, immediately apply a topical treatment to the area to stop the infection in its tracks.

Tip #3 – Chapped Lips: Chapped lips is one of the most common ailments of the winter season. To avoid painful cracked lips this season, invest in a good lip salve with SPF+ to keep them protected. In addition, it’s important to mention that your body moisturizes from the inside out, so remember to keep up with your daily water intake to help to keep your lips moisturized!

Tip #4 – Cavity Care: Let’s face it, the best part of the winter season is all the delicious foods! It’s fine to give into temptation and indulge in sweet treats, but just be sure to properly brush and floss afterwards to avoid cavities! In addition, always remember to drink plenty of water to help rinse away food particles and bacteria from your mouth! Incorporating dental friendly foods into your winter diet to help with cavity prevention will also benefit you! Foods such as crunchy fruits and vegetables, cheese and other foods high in calcium, are all perfect for keeping your teeth and gums healthy this winter!

Taking care of your oral health is important. That’s why we want to ensure that your oral health is in tip top shape this season! If you would like to schedule an appointment with our office, give us a call at McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800! In the mean time, stay warm out there!

5 Ways to Protect Your Natural Teeth

5 ways to protect your natural teeth

One of the most important things that you can do to keep your pearly whites all natural is to take preventative measures to ensure longevity. Maintaining a consistent morning and night oral hygiene routine will ensure healthy teeth for years to come.

1. Brushing Twice a Day: Brushing twice a day is one of the most important ways to protect your teeth from bacteria and plaque buildup. Brushing first thing in the morning is a great way to rid your mouth of the bacteria that builds overnight. Avoid cavities by brushing before bed. Nightly brushes remove food debris in your teeth that bacteria would feed on through the night.

2. Limit Sugary Foods: As tempting as it is to indulge in your favorite late-night treats, those unhealthy habits can result in cavities. Sugar buildup feeds the bacteria that cause cavities. There are many healthy substitutions to your sugary craving to limit your sugar intake. Try to opt for a healthier choice, and brush after eating!

3. Floss Daily: Flossing removes food particles stuck between your teeth and relieves your gums from irritating bacteria. Flossing will help prevent gum disease, as well as keep your gums and teeth healthy.

4. Use Fluoridated Toothpaste: Fluoridated toothpaste can play a huge role in preventing tooth decay. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by slowing the breakdown of enamel and increasing the rate of the remineralization process. Using fluoridated toothpaste can help prevent cavities, strengthen weak spots, and prevent early stages of tooth decay.

5. Protect Teeth from Injury: Taking extra precautions when you’re being physically active can help ensure that your natural teeth will stay intact. Whether you’re participating in an extreme sport, or a contact sport with a chance for an injury, make sure you’re prepared with a mouthguard to protect your teeth!

Now that know 5 ways to protect your natural teeth, make them common practice! If you have any questions on how to protect your smile, give our office a call McKnight Road / North Hills Phone Number (412) 367-4800 and book your next appointment today!