Friday, December 27, 2013

Does My Child Need Sealants on Their Teeth?

           We typically recommend dental sealants for children as soon as the permanent molars have erupted above the gums. In cases where the child is more prone to tooth decay, we may also advise placement of sealants on premolars (bicuspids), maxillary (upper) incisors, and even baby teeth. The goal of dental sealants is to protect the pits and grooves of the teeth in an effort to prevent the growth of decay. Children are more disposed to cavities in these locations than adults, and protecting them now can save them from larger issues in the future.
            One of the challenges of placing successful dental sealants is isolating the tooth we are working to protect. In a perfect world, we would attempt sealants as soon as the tooth has erupted above the gums. However, permanent molars typically erupt around the age of 6. Even though a single tooth can be sealed in a minute or two, a child may not have reached the point where we can maintain isolation from saliva for that long. If it becomes contaminated before completion, the sealant will not last as long.
            The expected lifetime of dental sealants last can vary. They may remain on the tooth for only a few years, but sometimes we see remnants of sealants from 10 or more years ago. We usually recommend sealants are maintained until a few years following the eruption of the second molars. But depending on the patient’s dental history and homecare, we may recommend the sealants remain for longer.
            Dental sealants are an easy and non-invasive way to protect children from tooth decay. Our hope is by limiting cavities throughout the childhood years, we can greatly reduce the need for larger and more invasive dental procedures as your children grow older. If you have any particular questions about your child’s need for sealants, I encourage you to speak with your dentist and dental hygienist.
For more information on sealants and dentistry for children of all ages, visit
Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS

Friday, December 20, 2013

Which Toothbrush Should I Use?

                    If you have ever walked down the aisle where toothbrushes are sold, it can be a little overwhelming. With traditional brushes, there are different brands, sizes, shapes and bristle hardness. Electric toothbrushes offer different brands, shapes, brush heads, and extra features. They can range in price from around $30 to over $200! Hopefully we can add a little clarity on what works best and what is most important when purchasing and using a toothbrush at home.
                 In my opinion, an electric toothbrush offers the best opportunity to provide the good yourself with good oral hygiene at home. One of the most important features an electric toothbrush can offer is a two minute timer. It is recommended that you spend two minutes each time you brush. Unfortunately, our internal clock usually goes off a lot sooner than the full amount of time. This feature takes out that risk and helps us clean our teeth more effectively each day.
                   We must also discuss which type of brush head is most effective. Oral B offers brushes with a circular motion of cleaning, while Sonicare offers a vibrating head. I believe both can prove equally effective when used properly, but the key is to let the brush do the work. If you aggressively ‘scrub’ your teeth instead of simply moving the brush head across the tooth surface, damage can still be done to your gums. You must trust that the motion of the brush head will do the job, and extra hard scrubbing is no longer necessary. 
                    Now you need to decide how much to spend on your brush and what features are most important. For this, I think it depends what is most important to you. If used correctly, a $50 brush can work just as effectively as a $200 brush. But if having a visible timer is important to you, or having a self-cleaning function is vital, there is nothing wrong with getting a brush with all the bells and whistles. The first thing I would look for when comparing brushes at a different price would be the replacement brush heads. If the $50 brush has the same replacements heads as the $200 brush, chances are the brush itself is very similar. This is not always 100% true, but hopefully it can help narrow your search. 
                      There are lots of different brushes that can help you maintain good oral hygiene on a daily basis. The key is to find one you feel comfortable using, and make sure you are using it correctly. The most expensive brush available won’t keep you healthy unless you know what you’re doing. So whether it is an electric or manual toothbrush, be sure to consult your dentist or hygienist on proper use.

For more tips and FAQs on keeping your teeth healthy, check out

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS
(513) 860-3660


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dental Amalgams: Are Silver Fillings Still OK?

          There has been some recent controversy about amalgam (silver) dental fillings and any issues they may present to the patient or environment. Dental amalgam is a mixture of copper, silver, tin, and zinc; trace amounts of mercury are added for strength and durability. There are claims that the amalgam is toxic and can cause serious issues. However, the American Dental Association still supports use the use of dental amalgams as an appropriate restorative material for children and adults.
           It is admirable that people today are conscientious about what materials are put into their bodies, and it is a normal to question if dental amalgam is safe. Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and also comes from industrial pollution. Nearly everyone has trace amounts of mercury in their bodies, regardless of the presence or absence of amalgam fillings. At high levels, mercury can be very dangerous. However, in the average human, the consumption of fish accounts for about 70% of the mercury present in our bodies.
           Many studies have been conducted to discover if harm is caused by the miniscule amounts of mercury released from an amalgam filling. None have shown convincing evidence of harmful effects or increased risks. In fact, the CDC, FDA, EPA, NIH, World Health Organization, and the American Dental Association have all concluded that dental amalgams are safe. And if you saw the Dr. Oz show that reported on the potential harm of mercury vapor in the mouth, I encourage you to visit for a full critique on that segment.
           Removing undamaged dental amalgams is typically unnecessary and potentially damaging to the teeth. Unless you have a history of high exposure to mercury or you have had classic symptoms of mercury poisoning in the past, there is no clinical reason to avoid amalgam fillings. In fact, there are still a number of situations where a dental amalgam filling is recommended over a white (composite) filling.
           At the end of the day, they are your teeth and you can decide what type of filling material you feel comfortable with. Nearly all of our fillings are tooth colored, but situations can arise where it is beneficial to consider a dental amalgam filling. At that time, we would take time to review the positives and negatives of each to help you make the best decision for your dental and overall health.

If you have other questions on dental fillings, please visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.
(513) 860-3660

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How Does My Diet Affect My Risk of Tooth Decay?

        This time of the year it seems like we are constantly snacking on sweets both at home and at work. Our first concern may be packing on a few extra pounds over the holidays, but all of this snacking can put you at a higher risk for tooth decay. Hopefully we can share a few helpful hints to reduce the possibility of developing cavities during this time and throughout the year.
         Plaque is a term we use to refer to a sticky film of bacteria that adheres to your teeth. It forms as a result of different bacteria attaching to your teeth after eating or drinking.  If you do not properly clean our teeth, the plaque bacteria use can the sugar we ingest to make acid. The acid can attack the enamel for up to 20 minutes after consuming sugar filled food or drinks. So if you eat or drink throughout the day or for a long time, your teeth are exposed to acid attacks over and over. These repeated attacks often result in tooth decay and the need for intervention by the dentist.
         So how can you reduce your risk of tooth decay? Below are a few easy things to remember that can limit the possibility of developing cavities:
  1. Limit sugary snacks and drinks between meals. This includes energy drinks and sports drinks.
  2. When you do have sugary snacks and drinks, try to have them with your meals and not throughout the day with snacks.
  3. Chewing sugar free gum or gum with xylitol for 20 minutes after meals has been shown to reduce tooth decay.
  4. Drinking tap water throughout the day can help prevent tooth decay because it contains fluoride and can help rinse away any sugary drinks.
  5. See your dentist regularly. They can help personalize a plan to limit your risk of decay. And if you do develop a cavity, they can help find in early.

For more answers or tips on good oral health, visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.