Posts for: August, 2015

By Ottawa Smiles Dental
August 30, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   cancer  

As a cancer patient, you know how important radiation and chemotherapy are to overcoming the disease. But these treatments often come at a price to other aspects of your health, including your teeth and gums if the treatment target includes the head or neck regions.

Radiation and chemotherapy are effective because they target and destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately, they may also kill non-cancerous, healthy cells; in the mouth, for example, they can damage the cells in the salivary glands and disrupt their ability to produce adequate saliva flow, leading to xerostomia (dry mouth).

This could seriously affect your teeth’s protective enamel shell. As we eat or drink, our mouth’s pH level can become too acidic. Acid is your enamel’s primary enemy because it causes the minerals in the enamel to soften and dissolve (de-mineralization). Saliva neutralizes acid and replaces much of the enamel’s minerals.

Without adequate saliva flow, the enamel will tend to erode over time. You can further aggravate the situation if you routinely consume acidic foods and drinks, like sipping energy drinks or soda during the day. Once the enamel is gone it can’t be replaced naturally, and the teeth will be in serious danger of tooth decay and eventual loss of function and appearance.

To avoid these consequences you should take steps during cancer treatment to reduce your risk for xerostomia or other unhealthy mouth conditions: limit your consumption of acidic foods and beverages; use mouth rinses to counteract acidity and inhibit bacterial growth; and promote saliva flow through medication.

It may be, though, that enamel erosion and subsequent tooth damage is unavoidable. In this case, you may need to consider restorative options with artificial crowns or other cosmetic enhancements — not only to improve your appearance but also to protect your natural teeth from further damage.

Before considering the latter, you should undergo a complete dental examination to assess your condition and make sure you have adequate bone and gum support, and any dental disease under control. From here, we can go about restoring the attractive smile that may have faded during your battle with cancer.

If you would like more information on oral care during and after cancer treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Ottawa Smiles Dental
August 17, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Root Canals  

Root CanalsPrevent decay or infection from causing tooth loss by getting a root canal.

Are you experiencing dental pain? If so, this could be an indication that you are suffering from an infection or severe decay. Your Holland dentist Dr. Todd Brower will fill the tooth in minor cases, but when there is extensive damage, we will need to perform a root canal in Holland, MI.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is an endodontic procedure in which your Holland dentist will remove the pulp, or inner structure of the tooth. The pulp, which contains nerves, blood vessels and tissue, is the “feeling” area of the tooth. When the pulp becomes infected or damaged due to decay, infection or trauma, it will need to be removed.

When might my Holland dentist recommend a root canal?

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity or dental pain, then you’ll want to come in right away for a proper diagnosis. Dental pain comes in all different forms, but those who experience severe or constant pain may be dealing with decay or an infection that has reached the inside of the tooth, or the pulp. When this happens, the only way to treat the problem is with a root canal. A root canal is the best course of action for preserving a significantly damaged tooth and for preventing the tooth from requiring an extraction.

What does getting a root canal entail?

While you may have heard stories about root canals being painful, this is simply not true. Your Holland dentist will apply a local anesthesia prior to your procedure so you don’t experience discomfort. The main purpose of the procedure is to eliminate the pain you are already experiencing, not cause more. Getting a root canal is really no more involved than getting a cavity filled.

Once the anesthesia has taken effect, we will drill through the hard enamel of the tooth until we reach the pulp. Then we will carefully remove the diseased tissue and disinfect the inside of the tooth. After the tooth has been thoroughly cleaned, we will begin to rebuild it from the inside out using a special material. We will also decide whether a dental crown will be required to help strengthen the tooth.

Don’t let tooth pain get the better of your smile. Protect one of your most important features by seeing your Holland dentist right away. Call Ottawa Smiles Dental today!

By Ottawa Smiles Dental
August 15, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

Fans of the primetime TV show The Middle were delighted to see that high school senior Sue, played by Eden Sher, finally got her braces off at the start of Season 6. But since this popular sitcom wouldn’t be complete without some slapstick comedy, this happy event is not without its trials and tribulations: The episode ends with Sue’s whole family diving into a dumpster in search of the teen’s lost retainer. Sue finds it in the garbage and immediately pops it in her mouth. But wait — it doesn’t fit, it’s not even hers!

If you think this scenario is far-fetched, guess again. OK, maybe the part about Sue not washing the retainer upon reclaiming it was just a gag (literally and figuratively), but lost retainers are all too common. Unfortunately, they’re also expensive to replace — so they need to be handled with care. What’s the best way to do that? Retainers should be brushed daily with a soft toothbrush and liquid soap (dish soap works well), and then placed immediately back in your mouth or into the case that came with the retainer. When you are eating a meal at a restaurant, do not wrap your retainer in a napkin and leave it on the table — this is a great way to lose it! Instead, take the case with you, and keep the retainer in it while you’re eating. When you get home, brush your teeth and then put the retainer back in your mouth.

If you do lose your retainer though, let us know right away. Retention is the last step of your orthodontic treatment, and it’s extremely important. You’ve worked hard to get a beautiful smile, and no one wants to see that effort wasted. Yet if you neglect to wear your retainer as instructed, your teeth are likely to shift out of position. Why does this happen?

As you’ve seen firsthand, teeth aren’t rigidly fixed in the jaw — they can be moved in response to light and continuous force. That’s what orthodontic appliances do: apply the right amount of force in a carefully controlled manner. But there are other forces at work on your teeth that can move them in less predictable ways. For example, normal biting and chewing can, over time, cause your teeth to shift position. To get teeth to stay where they’ve been moved orthodontically, new bone needs to form around them and anchor them where they are. That will happen over time, but only if they are held in place with a retainer. That’s why it is so important to wear yours as directed — and notify us immediately if it gets lost.

And if ever you do have to dig your retainer out of a dumpster… be sure to wash it before putting in in your mouth!

If you would like more information on retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers” and “Why Orthodontic Retainers?