Posts for: April, 2012
When it comes to patient comfort, one of the most important developments of the 21st century has been sedation dentistry, which enables you to relax in both mind and body allowing you to focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious. And the prescription medications we use are some of the safest on the “therapeutic index” (the scale pharmacists and health professionals use to measure the safety of medications.) However, it is critical that we are aware of any medications you are already taking and your medical health and history, so let us know all about you so that we can avoid adverse (negative) reactions. Please note that we will take a full history to gain this information prior to any treatment or sedation — our utmost concern is your safety. During this time, it is vital that you are honest and feel comfortable sharing your responses to our questions. It's also our way of getting to know you and the first stage in relieving your anxiety. We will need to know all about:
- All medical conditions for which you are currently being treated.
- All prescription medications you are taking.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, remedies, or vitamins and/or supplements you are taking. This even includes aspirin, St. John's Wort, and Kava Kava. (Why? If taken daily for good heart health, aspirin thins your blood and thus may interfere with blood coagulation. And St. John's Wort and Kava Kava may be beneficial in helping relieve depression, but they can negatively impact how oral sedation medications work.)
- Foods and drinks you consume, such as alcohol and even grapefruit (juice or the fruit), can negatively impact how your body responds to both your treatment and sedation medications.
- And lastly, we need to know if you are a tobacco user — especially if you are a smoker. In addition to increasing your risks for oral and other cancers, tobacco can negatively influence the effectiveness of sedation medications.
We know from research extending back to the 1930s that very small amounts of fluoride in drinking water can significantly reduce dental caries (cavities) with no negative health effects. Fluoridated water is currently available to 70% of all Americans. However, we have also learned that excess fluoride from combined sources can result in staining of teeth called “fluorosis.”
What is the optimum fluoride concentration for healthy teeth?
A fluoride concentration of about 0.7-1.20 milligrams per liter (mg/L), or .7 to 1.2 ppm (parts per million), in the water supply seems to be optimum for dental health without causing negative effects. This concentration is about the same as a grain of salt in a gallon of water. An amount of 1 ppm was originally considered the safe standard, but since today Americans have access to more sources of fluoride than they did when water fluoridation was first introduced, the recommended amount has been reduced to .7 mg/L or .7 ppm.
The crucial amount to measure is the quantity of fluoride that is swallowed. Generally, the optimal level of fluoride per day from all sources is thought to be about .06 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, or about a sixth of the weight of a grain of salt for every two pounds of body weight.
It is probably not possible to calculate the precise amount of fluoride each person ingests per day, because the amount depends on more than just the amount of tapwater you drink. Bottled waters, soft drinks and juices also contain fluoride. Breast milk and cow's milk are very low in fluoride, but infant formulas may contain higher levels. Foods found to have high fluoride content include teas, dry infant cereals and processed chicken, fish and seafood products. Toothpaste can contribute to a child's total fluoride intake if the child swallows it.
What are the effects of too much fluoride?
Dental fluorosis produces a “mottling” of the outer coating of the tooth, the enamel. Mottling may show as staining ranging from small white striations to stained pitting and severe browning of the enamel surface.
The first six to eight years of life is the most risky time for development of dental fluorosis. Parents need to monitor their children to make sure they use small amounts of fluoride toothpaste (an amount the size of a pea on the brush is recommended). Watch for white spots on the enamel (hard outside coating) of your child's teeth. White spots from fluorosis mean it is time to pay attention to how much fluoride your child is getting from various sources, and to cut back on the total. You want fluoride's protection against cavities for your child's teeth, without the unsightliness of dental fluorosis from too much fluoride.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about fluoride. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Fluoride & Fluoridation in Dentistry” and “New Fluoride Recommendations.”
An important consideration prior to having any cosmetic dentistry is to understand both the pros and the cons of each particular dental procedure. And while porcelain laminate veneers are among the most aesthetic means of creating a beautiful, more pleasing smile, they are permanent and non-reversible and should be maintained properly.
On average, you can expect porcelain veneers to last anywhere between 7 and 20+ years. However, much of that depends whether or not you care for them properly in addition to the quality of the dental porcelain, the craftsmanship, and placement of them. How long your veneers last can also depend to some extent upon how you age. This is because the gum tissues attached to the living tooth that your veneers are cemented to may shrink or pull away from the tooth exposing its root surface. If this occurs, you should see your dentist for an evaluation, as it may require veneer replacement. Or, the issue might be resolved through some minor periodontal (gum) plastic surgery.
Porcelain veneers are a low maintenance solution for solving a multitude of cosmetic dental challenges, but they do require that you protect them during sports or vigorous activity. You should also wear an oral appliance or mouthguard (nightguard) to protect them from grinding or any other involuntary damage during sleep.
To learn more about porcelain veneers, continue reading the Dear Doctor article, “Porcelain Veneers.” If you are ready to see what cosmetic dentistry can do for you, contact us to schedule a consultation.
A pregnant woman has a lot to think about while preparing to welcome a new member of her family. It's important to think about her oral health as well. She is sharing her body with the developing infant, so problems with her health — including her dental health — can affect the baby. The following facts will help you understand the relationship between oral health and pregnancy.
- A baby's primary (baby) teeth begin to form during the sixth week of pregnancy. They begin to form their enamel (the hard outer layer of the teeth) and dentin layer (just under the enamel) at about the third or fourth month. The calcium, phosphorous, and protein that are needed for these structures must all be provided by the mother's diet.
- A good diet for a pregnant mother, in order to provide for both her needs and those of the fetus (the developing baby), includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables — including green leafy vegetables — proteins and dairy products. A doctor may also recommend iron and/or folic acid supplements.
- If the mother's diet does not provide enough calcium for the baby's bones and teeth, it will come from calcium stored in her bones — not from her teeth. The old idea that a mother's teeth lose calcium during pregnancy has been found to be a myth.
- Progesterone, a normal female hormone, is elevated during pregnancy. This hormone stimulates production of prostaglandins, substances that cause inflammation in gum tissues if the bacteria that cause periodontal (gum) disease are present. The resulting swelling, redness, and sensitive gum tissues, called pregnancy gingivitis, are common during the second to eighth months of pregnancy.
- The bacteria involved in periodontal disease can affect whole body conditions such as heart disease and strokes, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. The inflammation resulting from such bacteria can also cause premature delivery (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or low birth weight in the baby.
- Periodontal disease is also related to pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure, during pregnancy.
- Dental x-rays do not expose the mother to very high radiation, but in any case every precaution is taken to minimize exposure to the fetus. These include a leaded apron that shields the baby from exposure.
- Most drugs commonly used in dentistry, including local anesthetics, can safely be given to pregnant women without affecting the fetus. However, it is important to let your dentist know you are pregnant before embarking on any treatment to make sure anything that is done will be safe for the fetus and its developing teeth.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about pregnancy and your oral health. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Pregnancy and Oral Health.”