Posts for: December, 2012

By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
December 29, 2012
Category: Oral Health
CleanYourTonguemdashItCanHelpReduceBadBreath

We are often asked about the role the tongue plays with bad breath or halitosis, as it is known medically. The truth is that everyone will experience it at some point in life; however, there can be a number of reasons for its cause. Some of these include:

  • Consuming odorous foods and/or drinks such as coffee, onions and garlic. This is usually just a temporary condition that can be resolved by brushing and flossing your teeth and using mouthwash. Also consider chewing gum containing xylitol, a sugar-free gum that both promotes saliva flow and reduces tooth decay.
  • Diabetes, a disease caused by a faulty metabolism of sugar, as well as diseases of the liver and kidneys can also cause bad breath. Be sure to always let all your health care professionals know if you have any unusual symptoms or you been diagnosed with any of these or other illnesses.
  • Poor oral hygiene, which causes gingivitis (gum disease), is one of the most common reasons for bad breath. And if your gum disease is progressive, you could eventually lose your teeth.
  • If you use tobacco and regularly drink large amounts of alcohol, you are dramatically increasing the likelihood of having halitosis.
  • And lastly, if you do not drink enough water to maintain proper hydration, you can develop bad breath.

There are more than 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth, many of which can cause bad breath. And the back of the tongue is where these bacteria typically produce Volatile Sulfur Compounds (VSC), the culprits responsible for the worst odors attributed to halitosis.

As for cleaning your tongue, there are two common methods. You can use your toothbrush to brush your tongue, or you can use a tongue-scraper. The latter can generally be purchased at a drug or discount store. The keys to remember are that a clean, healthy tongue should be pink in color and not have a yellow or brownish coating.


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
December 19, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
TestYourDentalVocabulary

When dentists talk to patients, they often use specialized vocabulary referring to various dental conditions. Do you understand what they mean when they use these words — or are you wondering what they are talking about?

Here's your chance to test your knowledge of ten words that have a particular meaning in the context of dentistry. If you already know them, congratulations! If you don't, here's your chance to learn what these words mean in the dental world.

Enamel
In dentistry, enamel is the hard outer coating of your teeth. It is the hardest substance produced by living animals. It is a non-living, mineralized, and composed of a crystalline form of calcium and phosphate.

Dentin
The dentin is the layer of a tooth that is just beneath the enamel. It is living tissue similar to bone tissue.

Pulp
When dentists speak of pulp, we mean the tissues in the central chamber of a tooth (the root canal) that nourish the dentin layer and contain the nerves of the tooth.

Bruxism
Many people exert excess pressure on their teeth by clenching or grinding them. This is called bruxism, a habit that can be very damaging to teeth.

Occlusion
By this we mean how the upper and lower teeth are aligned, and how they fit together. This can also be referred to as your bite.

Dental caries
This term refers to tooth decay. Dental caries and periodontal disease (see below) are two of the most common diseases known to man. Today, these diseases are not only treatable, but they are also largely preventable.

Periodontal disease
A term for gum disease, this term comes from “peri,” meaning around and “odont,” meaning tooth. It is used to describe a process of inflammation and infection leading to the progressive loss of attachment between the fibers that connect the bone and gum tissues to the teeth. This can lead to loss of teeth and of the bone itself.

Erosion
When you consume acidic foods or drinks, the acids in your mouth react directly with minerals in the outer enamel of your teeth, causing chemical erosion. This is not the same as tooth decay, which is caused by acids released by bacterial film that forms on your teeth (see below).

Dental implant
A dental implant is a permanent replacement for a missing tooth. It replaces the root portion of the tooth and is most often composed of a titanium alloy. The titanium root fuses with the jaw bone, making the implant very stable. A crown is attached to the implant and can be crafted to match your natural teeth.

Plaque
Dental plaque is the whitish film of bacteria (a biofilm) that collects on your teeth. Your goal in daily brushing and flossing is to remove plaque.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have about your teeth and gums. You can also learn more by reading Dear Doctor magazine article “How and Why Teeth Wear.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
December 14, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
EnhanceYourSmileThroughTeethWhitening

In modern society, a bright, white smile conveys optimal health, youth and sound teeth. However, various influences including age, wear, diet, and lifestyle may prevent you from having and maintaining the glistening smile you long to share with the world. Luckily, there are many safe, inexpensive, and successful treatment options for discolored or stained teeth.

We can perform a “power bleaching” in our office to whiten teeth that are severely stained or discolored. This procedure whitens the external surfaces of the teeth by using a high concentration (35-45%) hydrogen peroxide solution, which is sometimes activated by a specialized light. To prevent irritation of the mouth's soft tissue lining during this procedure, we will isolate your gums and membranes with a rubber dam, a silicone or other effective barrier. Professionally applied in-office power bleaching provides control, speed, and predictability capable of lightening teeth up to ten shades in an hour. Don't try this at home! Our staff will take precautions in the office to avoid side effects and possible tooth sensitivity.

We can also provide you with custom-made, vacuum-formed, plastic bleaching trays for use with a take-home whitening application. In this instance, a gel made from carbamide peroxide (4-7% hydrogen peroxide, safe for home use) is delivered to the tooth surfaces in the bleaching trays. You will need to wear the tray for 30 minutes twice a day, which is a longer process than in-office bleaching. The first subjective signs of whitening will occur after three or four sessions, allowing whitening of up to eight shade units.

Another home-based option, whitening strips, essentially look like band-aids for the teeth. They are capable of lightening teeth by about three shades after being worn directly on the surface of the teeth for 30 minutes twice a day for one week.

If you have always wanted whiter teeth, schedule an appointment so we can determine which of these treatment options would work best for you. For more information on the fundamentals of teeth whitening, read the informative Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening: Brighter, Lighter, Whiter...”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
December 05, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   nutrition   sugar  
SugarsTheGoodandtheBad

You probably know that tooth decay results when the bacteria in your mouth release acids after consuming sugars. After you eat sugars, particularly the type of sugar known as sucrose, increased acid in your mouth begins to dissolve the enamel and dentin in your teeth, and you end up with cavities.

What are the Types of Sugars?
Modern diets include several types of sugars. Most of these are fermented by oral bacteria, producing acids that are harmful to teeth.

  • Sucrose (commonly known as sugar)
  • Glucose (released from starch consumption)
  • Lactose (milk sugar) — Less acid is produced from this type of sugar
  • Fructose (found naturally in fruit and also added to many processed foods)
  • Maltose

Recommended intake of “free sugars” is no more than 10 teaspoons per day. Note that a can of soda contains over 6 teaspoons! Soft drinks are the largest source of sugar consumption in the U.S. In 2003, for example, Americans drank an average of 52 gallons of soft drinks. Average per capita consumption of all sugars in the U.S. was 141.5 pounds (64.3 kg) one of the highest levels in the world.

Sugar substitute xylitol (which is chemically similar to sugar but does not cause decay) can be part of a preventive program to reduce or control tooth decay. Chewing gum sweetened with xylitol stimulates saliva flow and helps protect against decay.

Sugars Released from Starches
Starches are foods like rice, potatoes, or bread. When you eat refined starches, such as white bread and rice, enzymes in your saliva release glucose. However, these foods have a lower potential to produce decay than foods with added sugars. When sugars are added to starchy foods, as in baked products and breakfast cereals, the potential for decay increases.

Less refined starches such as whole grains require more chewing and stimulate secretion of saliva, which protects from harmful acids.

The Case for Fruit
Fresh fruit has not been shown to produce cavities, so it makes sense to eat them instead of sugary desserts and snacks. Dried fruit is more of a problem because the drying process releases free sugars.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about diet and oral health. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition & Oral Health.”




Gina Piccioni, D.M.D. and John G. Hartmann, D.D.S.

River Forest, IL Dentist

River Forest Dental Studio

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