Thursday, March 30, 2017

Older Adults Face Oral Health Challenges

            A lot of things become more challenging as we get older. We are more likely to pull a muscle or get sore. We don’t recover as quickly from and illness or injury. Unfortunately, our dental health isn’t much different. It may become more difficult for our body to fight back against tooth decay and it may become difficult to manually clean the necessary areas of our teeth and gums.
            As we age, we are more likely to need the help of medications to control any health issues. It is obviously needed to stay healthy, but these medications can have some unintended consequences. Many blood pressure medications can lead to dry mouth and a change in the composition of your saliva. This change could make you more susceptible to tooth decay or gum disease. Our saliva is very important in combating cavities, and its presence helps to rinse away food. Even with a meticulous and diligent home care routine, the risk of tooth decay increases.
            It is also important to note that as we age, our gums tend to recede. This recession exposes the root of the teeth. The surface that covers the root is not as strong as the enamel that covers the crown of the tooth. The exposed roots, the decrease in saliva, and the change in its composition all make us more susceptible to tooth decay.
            As we continue to age, it is also a possibility that our physical ability to clean the teeth can decrease. Limited dexterity can make it more difficult to routinely clean the same areas. If our vision worsens, it is more difficult seeing some of the tougher to reach spots.
            It is important to be aware of these potential risks we face as we get older. You may need to adjust how frequently you clean your teeth at home at home or how often you visit the dentist.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS

Monday, March 6, 2017

DIY Orthodontics on the rise

            If something breaks around the house, many of us will go to YouTube to see if there is a video that explains how to fix it. For many things this can be very helpful, but for others it can lead to bigger and more expensive problems. There has also been a recent trend where people have been trying to straighten their teeth with DIY orthodontics. In theory it may seem like a great idea, but the repercussions of incorrect use can be very damaging.
            To straighten their teeth, people are using potentially dangerous objects. These include paper clips, fake retainers, rubber bands or string. Even if you get the physics of tooth movement to work, most people fail to understand that moving teeth is a biological process. It involves bone that dissolving and rebuilding as teeth are moved into new positions. If not done at the proper intervals or with forces placed in the correct direction, you can cause serious problems.

What are some of the problems you could cause doing DIY orthodontics?
  • You can cause the teeth to become too loose and lead to tooth loss.
  • You can tilt the teeth into bad positions that will to tooth sensitivity or need gum surgery.
  • You can create food traps that will lead to staining, gum disease, or cavities.
  • You can create improper forces on the teeth that lead to fractures.
  • You can create problems and pain in your jaw joint. 

The bottom line is you are likely to cause painful and expensive problems by attempting DIY orthodontics. In the long run, you would have been better off paying for the expertise of the orthodontist or dentist to diagnose and treatment plan your case properly. So do yourself a favor and leave the DIY projects to things that are much more straight forward and don’t have major repercussions.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS

Monday, February 20, 2017

Is Activated Charcoal Safe to Use to Whiten Your Teeth?


            As a society, we are always looking for easier or better ways to accomplish the same thing. This has lead to countless innovations and improvements that have greatly improved our lives. Whitening our teeth and improving our smile is no different. We want the best, and we want it now. While it is okay to always be searching for progress, we must be careful not to get ourselves into a short sighted mindset. I have the same concerns for the use of activated charcoal to whiten your teeth.
            We still don’t know enough about the long term affects of using activated charcoal to whiten the teeth. For other common dental materials like fluoride, we have years of data that show its efficacy. This includes long term laboratory testing and clinical trials. The data has shown us how to properly use fluoride and how to avoid any possible complications. In the dental world, activated charcoal hasn’t had the opportunity to prove itself. Until it has been studied in more detail in its role as a whitener, many dentists may steer you in another direction.
            Instead of using activated charcoal, you can try some other whitening options that have been proven safe and effective.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: this is the active ingredient in Crest Whitestrips and can be purchased over the counter.
  • Carbamide Peroxide: this is the active ingredient in many prescription strength whitening kits. Different percentages can be used based on your tolerance or need.
  • Mild Abrasives: this is used in toothpastes to help reduce the build up of stain. While some toothpastes may have hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, the levels are so small that the abrasives are more effective.

Whatever you decide to do to brighten your smile or whiten your teeth, we recommend talking with your dentist first. They can talk through the risks and rewards of different treatments.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Is flossing related to a longer life span?

            Over the past decade there has been some discussion on how oral health relates to your overall health. Before this, many people just assumed that oral health was independent of total health. Even more recently there has been media coverage related to a father who lost his life due to a dental infection. So what do we really know about how dental health affects your life span?
            Business Insider recently had an article discussing how flossing is related to longevity. They were not suggesting that flossing directly results in living longer. However, they suggest that if you are willing to take the time each day to floss your teeth and maintain good oral health, then you are more likely to do a lot of other things to take care of yourself. This could include eating well, exercising regularly, and maintaining regular visits to your doctor or dentist. They are not claiming flossing is the cause of longer life span, but is correlative.
            Every time you visit the dentist you are encouraged to floss your teeth. Everyone is, but typically few listen. We often hear the question, “Do I really need to floss my teeth?” We respond ‘yes’ and explain our reasoning behind it. But still, very few people make it part of their daily routine. However, if you are someone that is willing to adopt the recommendations of your health care professionals, then you are setting yourself up for success. The recommendations of doctors and dentist carry a lot of fact and reason. They typically know more than the average person about that particular subject. So listen to their suggestions, because it could prolong your life.
            There are many variables that can affect your life span, but taking the time each day to do some little things for yourself can make a big difference. Flossing has shown to be a good example of that. So embrace flossing, keep your mouth healthy, and see where else it can help you in life!

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Can dental infections be deadly?

            There was a recent story about a truck driver who died from complications of a dental infection. When most people think of a tooth infection, they assume the worst that can happen is pain and loss of the tooth. However, the bacteria that collect and form an abscess can spread throughout the body and lead to serious problems: even death. So how does this happen?
            An abscess is a swollen area of tissue that contains an accumulation of pus. If a tooth is infected, this collection of bacteria forms under or around the tooth. It is often not visible or detectable until it grows larger. The bacteria eat away at your jaw bone and can create openings out of the bone or into different parts of the body.
            If a lower tooth develops an abscess, you are at risk for a potentially life threatening cellulitis (connective tissue infection) called Ludwig’s Angina. If the dental infection spreads down to the neck, it could obstruct the airway and necessitate surgical intervention. For anyone who is concerned that they have a dental infection, swelling, and are having trouble breathing, we recommend going to the emergency room. It will likely take the care of a critical care doctor to properly treat. Once it has become Ludwig’s Angina, it is beyond our scope to treat as general dentists.
            It is also possible for a maxillary tooth to lead to life threatening problems. If the infection produces pus, the sinuses may fill with the infection. If the bacteria then enter the bloodstream, the resulting illness can be very serious. Unlike a traditional sinus infection, antibiotics alone will not cure the dental born infection. Either root canal treatment or tooth extraction will be needed to completely remove the problem.
            We recommend taking a dental infection very seriously. It can cause you pain, swelling, and even death. By keeping regular appointments and x-rays, you can usually avoid any serious repercussions. If you ever have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call right away.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Does your toothbrush need to be replaced?

            The Today Show recently discussed six common household items that likely need to be replaced more regularly than we usually do. They discuss more frequent replacement of mattresses, running shoes, kitchen sponges, bath towels, eye makeup, and your toothbrush. For our purposes today, we will discuss when to replace your toothbrush (or toothbrush head for electric brushes) and why it is important.
            Many people only replace their toothbrush when they come in for their semi-annual cleaning and exam. It is easy and convenient to do because we always send you home with a new toothbrush. However, every six months is usually not frequent enough. We typically recommend a new toothbrush every three or four months. As the brush head becomes frayed it is less affective, and for most brushing styles this is a good time frame. If you are ever unsure how often you should replace yours, we recommend you bring in your toothbrush for us to examine.
            Toothbrushes can be a mechanism for bacteria or viruses to spread. After having a cold or the flu, we recommend replacing your toothbrush. Even though your body should have developed resistance to that particular type of illness, your family may still be susceptible. If you share a toothbrush holder, a sink, or even bathroom with anyone else it is a good idea to start fresh after you are feeling better.
            If you check your toothbrush and the bristles are dramatically flared, don’t hesitate to get a new brush. It is a few extra dollars but can save your teeth, gums, and protect your family’s health in the long run.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS

Monday, January 16, 2017

How does stress affect your teeth?

            We all deal with stress. The causes may vary, but perception is reality and we will always deal with some form of stress throughout our lives. So we need to find healthy ways to deal with or manage our stressors. If not, it could lead to health problems like irritable bowel syndrome, excessive sweating, hair loss, insomnia, fatigue, and teeth grinding.
            Research has shown a strong relationship between stress and teeth grinding (bruxism). This doesn’t mean that everyone will grind their teeth when they become more stressed, but there is an increased risk. If the bruxism is not controlled or the teeth are not protected, it can lead to headaches, jaw pain, and fractured teeth. Since we cannot control the stress in your life, our goal is to protect the teeth. The best solution is a custom made night guard.
            There are a variety of ways to make a night guard. It can be made to fit over the top teeth or the bottom teeth. It can cover all of the teeth or only a few. We recommend discussing the pros and cons of each appliance with your dentist to determine which one is best for your situation and comfort level. However, we strongly discourage the use of over the counter night guards. While they may provide a barrier between the teeth, they are more likely to cause joint problems than a custom made guard.
            A final theory on stress, health, and grinding your teeth: new studies indicate a relationship with bruxism and sleep apnea. The theory is people grind their teeth when they sleep because they have trouble breathing. If you have sleep apnea, then grind your teeth, then wake up tired with a headache, the chances of you being stressed is increased. If you have any concerns you may be snoring or sleep apnea, we recommend getting a sleep study to ensure you are being treated properly.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.


Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS