Advanced Cosmetic & General Dentistry of DC – Arousha Jahangiri DDS

How to Know if You Have a Cavity

So, how do you know if you have a cavity? Well, depending on the severity of your tooth decay,
you may experience a variety of symptoms. Here are some of the accompanying symptoms that
go along with tooth decay.
• Nothing (in the early stages)
• A toothache or spontaneous tooth pain
• Tooth sensitivity
• Pain (slight or severe) when eating something sweet, hot, or cold
• Staining (brown, black, or white) on the surface of your tooth
• Visible holes in your tooth. Those holes are cavities
• Pain when biting down

The best time to catch a cavity is in the early stages, when there are few, if any, symptoms. Keeping your twice yearly (or more) visits with us will ensure we catch them in time. We will let you know the best course of treatment for your particular situation. The recommendation
could be as easy as watching and waiting to see if we find any tooth decay in the very
early stages.

As always, brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss at least once a day, and try to
minimize the amount of sugar in your diet.
These steps will help you be proactive in preventing cavities.
Even better, your teeth will thank you for it!

Understanding the Five Stages of Tooth Decay

Did you know there are five distinct stages of tooth decay? And, that in the first stage of decay, you
can actually take steps to reverse the progression of the disease? Indeed, it’s true. In the first stage
of decay, whether you’re a child or an adult, the application of fluoride via fluoride treatments, your
toothpaste and even the local water supply can stop a cavity from penetrating through the enamel
and reaching its second stage. Even the saliva in your mouth and the foods you eat help to re-mineralize
a tooth in jeopardy. But that’s just the first stage! What about the rest? Understanding how a
cavity progresses can assist you in preventing each successive stage from occurring in your
children. There’s always a lot going on in that little mouth!
Stage One: White Spots
In stage one, the tooth begins to show signs of strain from the attack of sugars and acids, and
white spots will begin to materialize just below the surface of the enamel. These white spots are
representative of the demineralization of the tooth and can be easy to miss because they’re likely
to occur on your child’s molars. A dental exam, of course, is designed to catch such cavities! Can
you see why regular visits to the dentist are recommended? As mentioned previously, at this
stage, the cavity can be repaired without the need to excavate the tooth Stage Two: Enamel Decay
Stage two marks the beginning of the end for the surface enamel that is being attacked.
Initially, the tooth erodes from the underside outward, so the outer enamel will still be intact
for the first half of this second stage. Once the cavity breaks through the surface of the
enamel, there is no turning back, and your child will need to have the cavity corrected with a
filling. Stage Three: Dentin Decay
If a cavity in your child’s mouth were to progress beyond stage two without you knowing,
you’d tend become aware of it when it started to hit stage three because it would probably
start to cause some pain. At this level, the cavity begins to eat away at the second level of
tooth material that lies beneath the enamel: the dentin. A filling can still be used to stop the
onslaught of bacteria assaulting the tooth in order to prevent the cavity from reaching the
tooth’s most critical component: the pulp.
Stage Four: Involvement of The Pulp
Once the cavity reaches the pulp, it’s going to hurt. A lot. So if you’ve unfortunately missed all
the signs to this point, a screaming child or moaning teenager will certainly let you know there
is a big problem. Stage four is serious, and a root canal is the only option of treatment at this
stage, save for a complete extraction.Stage Five: Abscess Formation
In the fifth and final stage of a cavity, the infection has reached the tip of the root and exited
the tip of the tooth’s structure. This in turn infects the surrounding tissues and possibly the
bone structure. Swelling would be commonplace and pain severe. In children (as well as
adults) an abscess can be fatal if not dealt with immediately. Root canal or extraction would
be the order of the day should decay reach this stage

What in the World Is that Smell?

“Pssst!” “Hey, what’s that smell? … I’m not so sure it’s the onions you had on that pizza this afternoon – it might be that you’ve just got bad breath.” 
Has a friend ever shared this kind of news with you? Probably not. Most of us, in fact, go about our daily lives unaware the brilliant sentences we speak, are also being delivered with an accompanying odor …  of significantly, less brilliance. Egad! But, do not fret, while halitosis can be embarrassing, it can also be addressed once its underlying cause is known. Let’s take a look at some of those reasons, and learn some tips that’ll help you be the one with the freshest breath in the room.

What Causes Bad Breath?

The causes of bad breath range from the simple to the serious, but most often, it’s the result of gum disease brought on by inadequate brushing and flossing. Halitosis can also be caused by certain foods you consume (like garlic and onions), acid reflux, post-nasal drip, sinusitis and tonsoliths.  More seriously, however, illnesses such as cancer and diabetes can present themselves in this way, so it’s important to visit a dentist if your breath issues are prolonged.

Tips to Keep the Bad Breath Monster Away

Outside a visit to your dentist, a few simple tricks will help you care for your mouth in ways that can translate into fresh breath:

  • Floss daily, or use a water irrigation tool.
  • When brushing, don’t forget to brush your tongue and the inside of your cheeks.
  • Purchase an inexpensive tongue-scraper and use it as part of your nightly routine. A scraper will allow you to reach the very back of your tongue that is difficult to reach with a brush.
  • Get regular cleanings from your dental hygienist to keep plaque and gingivitis at bay.
  • And, avoid smoking or too much alcohol. Both dry out your mouth which can lead to bad breath, and can contribute to a higher incidence of oral cancer.

These days, we understand finding the time to stay on top of your oral hygiene can be a challenge. But, the rewards are well worth it. You’ll have less dental expense, a beautiful smile, and fresh breath that will keep you eminently kissable all year round.

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom Teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens and early twenties. When these teeth are aligned correctly and healthy, they can be a part of a healthy mouth. However, most wisdom teeth are misaligned and need to be removed.

Your dentist may recommend removal of your wisdom teeth if there are signs of pain, infections, damage to adjacent teeth, gum disease, tooth decay or cysts. Your dentist may also recommend removing your wisdom teeth without any of these systems in order to avoid a more difficult procedure later on.

A typical surgery to remove wisdom teeth requires sedation and may lead to facial swelling and bleeding for a few days afterwards. There are two potential complications that can happen after surgery: dry socket and paresthesia.

 

Teeth Whitening

Getting a beautiful smile is easier than you think
Do your teeth have more of a yellow tint now? All the coffee, cigarettes or red wine you may have enjoyed took a toll, and that big smile you use to flash is gone. Well, did you know that you can have those stains almost magically erased in the same amount of time it takes to get your haircut, a manicure or even lunch with your friends? Yes, in just a short time you can have a teeth whitening session and bring back that shiny, bright smile again.

Using the latest in tooth whitening technology, a visit to your dental office can make your smile brighter than ever before. Tooth whitening can correct tooth discolorations caused by staining, aging, or even chemical damage to teeth. In cases of extreme tooth discoloration, whitening isn’t always enough and crowns or veneers may be the only choice. But because of the low cost of tooth whitening treatments, it’s usually worth a try.

Teeth whitening methods
Two effective teeth whitening techniques are available today: in-office laser teeth whitening and at-home teeth whitening with custom-fit trays. Both teeth whitening techniques are best performed under your dentist’s supervision to ensure the safest and most dependable results.

  • In-Office Tooth Whitening methods are performed with bleaching gel and laser light. This is a good method of teeth whitening for sensitive teeth, as the process may be closely monitored by the cosmetic dentist. The teeth are carefully isolated from the lips and gums, and then a bleaching gel is applied to them. A laser is used in conjunction with the gel to accelerate and amplify the tooth whitening process.
  • At-Home Tooth Whitening are available in a variety of “flavors” for those who are interested in giving whitening a go in the privacy of their home. Your cosmetic dentist can take imprints of your teeth and then make custom-fitted trays for you to take home to complete the tooth whitening process. There are also teeth bleaching kits and other over-the-counter teeth whitening products available to brighten your smile.

Some key benefits of whitening are:

  • Corrects brown, yellow, and mottled tooth staining
  • Works on people of all ages
  • Restores brightness and life to “dull” smiles

Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay is a result of bacteria in the mouth that makes acids that eat away at the tooth. When sugar and starches are consumed on a regular basis and plaque is left on the teeth, it produces acids and destroys tooth enamel over a period of time.  Tooth decay will often lead to cavities if left untreated.

Most tooth decay can be treated by using fluoride, a filling, or, in more extreme cases, through a root canal or a crown.

You can prevent tooth decay by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, regularly scheduling hygiene checkups with your dentist, and limiting foods that are high in sugar.

Occlusal Guard, By Report – Dental Procedure Code Description

This dental procedure code is used when your dentist prescribes a mouth guard to help counteract the effects of bruxism: the excessive grinding and clenching of teeth. Such occlusal (or, biting surface) mouthguards are typically made in a dental laboratory, although modern technology can even sometimes allow doctors to create them in-house.The reasons for a bruxism habit are manifold, and can be seen in individuals of a competitive nature, those who are anxiety prone and even in children. While teeth grinding may appear to be a harmless habit, it results in the physical wearing down of the tooth’s surface as well as the weakening of its entire structure. Bruxism can create cracks and chips in teeth, and, without intervention, over time can contribute to a shortening of the lower face height, and a change in facial appearance. This change in “face height” is due to bone loss in the lower jaw and can be seen in individuals who have lost all their teeth and do not wear dentures. An occlusal (biting surface) mouth guard can protect from these effects.This dental procedure code is used when your dentist prescribes a mouth guard to help counteract the effects of bruxism: the excessive grinding and clenching of teeth. Such occlusal (or, biting surface) mouthguards are typically made in a dental laboratory, although modern technology can even sometimes allow doctors to create them in-house.The reasons for a bruxism habit are manifold, and can be seen in individuals of a competitive nature, those who are anxiety prone and even in children. While teeth grinding may appear to be a harmless habit, it results in the physical wearing down of the tooth’s surface as well as the weakening of its entire structure. Bruxism can create cracks and chips in teeth, and, without intervention, over time can contribute to a shortening of the lower face height, and a change in facial appearance. This change in “face height” is due to bone loss in the lower jaw and can be seen in individuals who have lost all their teeth and do not wear dentures. An occlusal (biting surface) mouth guard can protect from these effects.

Comprehensive Exams

The American Dental Association recommends you see your dentist at least twice each year for a checkup. At your checkup, the doctor will inspect your soft tissues for oral cancer, periodontal disease and other problems. The dentist will also look at each tooth in your mouth to assess problems like tooth decay or cracks, as well as old dental work. Sometimes old dental work wears out and needs to be replaced.

By looking for trouble every six months, your dentist can often reduce your potential for large dental problems. For instance, left untreated, a small cavity can grow to destroy an entire tooth and spread to surrounding teeth. A cracked tooth can cause pain or break off and create additional problems. Furthermore, conditions like advanced gum disease (the primary cause of tooth loss for American adults) and oral cancer (which causes more than 7,500 deaths each year) can be diagnosed during a visit to the dentist. Caught and treated early, these diseases can be controlled.

If you are wondering whether it’s time to start bringing your children to the dentist – chances are it’s time. Children as young as two should visit the dentist, and by age four or five, a child should attend regular checkups.

Gum disease

We all know that if we want to avoid gum disease, we need a solid oral care regimen – brush twice a day, floss at night and use mouthwash. Right? Of course … this is, after all, the familiar refrain. So let’s step away from that simple 3-step plan for this month to share with you a few other things you might not have known when it comes to preventing gum disease.

Gingivitis and its advanced cousin, Periodontal disease, are silent offenders. Most often, you may not even know you should be concerned. After all, the serious problems take place beneath your gum line where you can’t see them. What’s worse is that a growing number of scientists believe that plaque and gum disease can also influence and exacerbate conditions like heart disease and stroke – certainly conditions we do not want to encourage by a lack of attention to good oral hygiene. So with no further ado, here are six easy things you can do to help protect your mouth from gum disease.

  1. Eat more Veggies! Everyone knows we need more vegetables in our diets. Our waistlines and our teeth love them for their water content as well as their vitamin and mineral profiles. There’s no doubt about it, veggies are good for you. Not a big fan? Incorporate them into soups, or in a great fruit smoothie … you won’t notice the difference, but your teeth and gums will.
  2. Use an anti-microbial mouthwash: The key here is using a mouthwash that is anti-microbial. Find one you’ll actually use every day, and use it once in the morning after brushing, and again after brushing before bed. Usually, the recommendation is to use one low in alcohol or without it altogether, as alcohol dries out your mouth and can contribute to tooth decay. More saliva = better oral health.
  3. Try a toothbrush that moves: Get adventurous and try out an electronic toothbrush that has the endorsement of the American Dental Association (ADA). They’re more effective than you’ll ever be at removing plaque and bacteria from your teeth by hand, and will protect your gums from aggressive brushing as well.
  4. Chew Gum! Keep that saliva flowing after a meal with sugar-free gum that contains Xylitol — a natural sweetener derived from plants. It doesn’t break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Both can help you avoid cavities. If you would like to avoid Aspartame in your Xylitol chewing gum, just do some searching online, or ask your dentist. Finding gum without Aspartame these days is very challenging, but they do exist.
  5. Get Braces! That’s right, getting braces can actually help protect you from gum disease. You see, crooked teeth are great enablers of tooth decay, which can lead to gum disease by allowing bacteria and plaque to colonize in the areas where your teeth are not aligned. Getting your teeth aligned eliminates these hideouts where your toothbrush cannot reach and straightens your smile at the same time.
  6. Quit Smoking! Okay, you know this one. But … it’s always worth mentioning. Smoking is always bad for your body, your gums, and your teeth.  

What Are Your Gums Trying To Tell You?

Taking care of your gums is an extremely important part of your dental health. And if your gums are not ship shape, they will let you know with easy-to-see signs. If you notice any of these red flags below, be sure to visit your dentist soon.

Swelling, redness, or puffiness: These are usually signs of inflammation and may possibly be an early indicator of gingivitis (gum disease). It can also be a sign of a viral or bacterial infection or may be caused by changes in hormones.

Receding gum line: Gum recession happens when the gum tissue wears away, exposing more of the tooth and sometimes even the root. Receding gums can be caused by gum disease, but it can also occur from brushing too hard, hormonal changes or even from grinding or clenching your teeth.

Bleeding: Bleeding gums are never normal and are also a sign of gum disease or brushing too hard. If you just started flossing, your gums may bleed a little at first but the bleeding should stop after about a week. Taking blood thinners may also cause your gums to bleed.

Many gum issues are a symptom of gum disease. It’s important to see your dentist so the cause can be treated before it advances.

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