Moore Family Dentistry Blog

Garner Dentist Serving Patients From Cary, North Carolina and Surrounding Communities

November 27, 2012
When it comes to your teeth, you may have some simple questions about basic dental care. But when you arrive at the dentist, you forget to ask or maybe feel as though it’s a silly question. This month, we’re answering the questions we frequently receive.

Q: How do I pick the right toothbrush?
A: There sure are a lot of toothbrushes out there to choose from! While it doesn’t really matter what brand of toothbrush you choose, it is important to pick the right toothbrush based on a few other factors: type of bristle and the size and shape of the head.

First, choose a brush that has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval on it.

Second, whether you decide on manual or powered, choose a toothbrush that you like and find easy to use, so that you’ll use it regularly. Some people may find powered toothbrushes easier or more fun to use.

Next, look for a soft-bristled brush with a small head. The soft bristles ensure your gums stay healthy and the smaller head enables you to reach around each tooth a bit more.

Q: How often should I brush and floss?
A: The ADA recommends brushing twice a day. It’s also best to floss at least one other time during the day. However, if you have a lot of cavities, you might want to try brushing more often, such as after each meal.

Q: Is it better to brush first or floss first?
A: It doesn’t matter, as long as you do both!

Q: Do I have to use mouthwash?
A: It is not required, but in some cases, we recommend it. Using mouthwash helps rinse items from the mouth, but it’s not a substitute for brushing or flossing. If you use one, be sure it has the ADA seal on it.

Q: There are many whitening products out there. How do I choose one?
A: It depends on the results you want. If you just want slightly whiter teeth, you might consider trying a whitening toothpaste. Whitening toothpastes contain polishing or chemical agents to help get rid of surface stains, but they do not contain bleach. While perfectly fine for general whitening, they can only whiten your teeth by about one shade.

None of the home-use whitening toothpastes can come even close to producing the same effect we can do at the office with our new Zoom. The Philips Zoom! WhiteSpeed is a scientifically advanced teeth-whitening procedures applied here at the office. It can whiten your teeth by several shades in less than an hour.

Over-the-counter bleaching products are not endorsed by the ADA, because the organization believes that professional consultation is important to ensuring safe and effective use. If you must use an at-home whitening kit, choose one with some customization of the mouthpiece for a better fit and better results.

Most importantly, if at any time you experience a prolonged change in the color of your gums or an increased tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages, stop using the at-home whitening kit and see your dentist immediately.

Your turn: What questions do you have for Dr. Moore? Send them to Adam@MooreSmilesToday.com and they could be featured in a future newsletter.

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September 27, 2012
More than 60 percent of school-age children do not see a dentist each year. Meanwhile, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. Tooth decay can impair a child’s ability to eat, learn, sleep and speak.

Back-to-school time each fall is a great time to add good oral hygiene habits to your child’s routine. More than 1 million school days are lost each year because of tooth pain.

Last month we offered some tips for incorporating good dental habits into each school day. This month, here are some frequently asked questions about your child’s dental care:

Q: At what age should my child begin seeing a dentist?
A: A child should see the dentist at six months or when the first tooth comes in. We want to see them before any problems begin.

Q: How can I help my children keep their teeth clean while at school?
A: Your child can’t brush after lunch, so pack items to help keep teeth clean. Avoid sugary acidic drinks, such as juice and soda, and sticky or chewy foods. Fruit, vegetables and cheese are great natural teeth cleaners. Also remind your children to sip water after a meal to help rinse teeth.

Q: What signs should I watch for to warn me about my child’s dental health?
A: Watch for bleeding gums during brushing. It’s a sign they’re not brushing well. Yellow teeth are also a sign of poor brushing. And if you see any holes or spots, it could be a cavity.

Q: Does my child really need to come twice a year?
A: Usually, yes. The years children are in school are the years they lose baby teeth and get their permanent teeth; it’s the most important time to see a dentist. Those two check-ups each year can prevent tooth decay and instill good teeth habits in your children for years to come. In some cases, children can visit the dentist once a year, but other children should visit every three months. It’s best to discuss this with your dentist.

Q: What is fluoride and why do children need these treatments?
A: Fluoride can help prevent and reverse tooth decay by making teeth stronger. Some communities put fluoride in the water supply. Regardless, your dentist may recommend these treatments to strengthen teeth during childhood years.

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August 29, 2012
Proper dental hygiene is not just for adults – kids can and should participate, too!

How should we treat the teeth of our children and infants, and how can we make tooth care fun?  Read on for ideas!

Infant Oral Care

Babies simply can’t brush or floss on their own, so it is up to you to brush their teeth for them.  There are soft toothbrushes that are available for all levels of development.  Accompany your baby’s tooth care routine with lots of praise, giggles, and happiness so that they will look forward to the experience and not fear the brush!  Toothpaste should not be used on a baby, simply clean with water and your special baby toothbrush.

Something else to remember:  a baby’s teeth should all be the same color, and if any spots appear it is important to take your child to the dentist.

Pre-School-Age  Kids

At this age, your children will inevitably be insistent that they don’t need your help to care for their teeth, but they don’t actually have the fine hand control that will be necessary for proper brushing and flossing until they hit the age of seven.  Let them perform the initial brushing themselves, then follow up with your helping hands.

The more your children see you following proper procedure at this age, the better it will be for them.  Remember that children like to mimic their elders, and if you make a point of having family brushing/flossing time, it’ll better solidify the idea of doing this for the rest of their lives.

Continue to encourage oral health care with fun activities, like coloring and activity sheets that you can get from some dentist’s offices, or by letting your kids pick colorful toothbrushes that feature their favorite cartoon characters.  Accessories that they like are also important and can make them look forward to taking care of themselves!

School-Age Kids

In order to encourage your kids to eat tooth-healthy foods, you need to do so yourself.  Get them into the habit of eating healthy foods and being consistent with their oral care by doing these things for yourself.  Kids are more observant than you’d think!  You can make milk, for example, fun by giving them silly straws to use, or putting their drink into a fun container.  Get your kids to help you make their healthy meals so that they have the hands-on experience of controlling their own dental health.

Teenagers

When our kids become teenagers, it’s difficult to have much control over what they do, but if they were raised with proper habits they will continue them as they get older.  Don’t stop doing what you expect them to do – just because they’re old enough to operate on their own doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook, you still need to take care of your mouth, too, and teenagers still pay attention to what their parents do, even if they insist otherwise.

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August 17, 2012
Tooth abscesses develop from a bacterial infection that is at the center (the pulp) of the tooth.  They develop as a result of tooth decay, tooth trauma (such as a break or chip), or other factors that lead to exposure of the tooth’s pulp through openings in the tooth’s enamel.  Risk of the infection spreading into the jaw or other areas of the body (as well as sepsis!) is very high.  An infection is present when a collection of dead tissue, bacteria, and white blood cells causes the innards of the tooth to swell, which leads to a toothache.  Infections lead to tissue destruction and further damage.

Why do white blood cells gather?  White blood cells attack bacteria, viruses, and other organisms that do not belong in the body – they are part of your immune system.

You will know that you have an infection, at least, if you have a major toothache.  If the pain never stops and you can describe it as sharp, throbbing, or worse, see your dentist immediately.  Generally, it is a good idea to see a dentist if you have a toothache anyway.

Other symptoms of an abscess include:

-        Bad breath

-        Nausea

-        Discomfort

-        Fever

-        Tooth sensitivity

-        Swelling of the gum around the afflicted tooth

-        Pain while chewing

-        Swollen glands and/or jaw

How Does The Dentist Know I Have An Abscess?

When you visit the dentist to see if you have this issue or not, they will look at your mouth, your teeth, and your gums.  They may tap your teeth and ask you to close your mouth tightly and ask you how much pain you’re feeling.  The dentist may ask you to get x-rays taken (most dental offices have this service on-site).  Once the dentist figures out what is wrong, treatment will begin.

How Is An Abscessed Tooth Treated?

You may be prescribed an antibiotic to help eliminate the infection, and you may also be encouraged to rinse with warm salt water to help soothe your mouth.  Pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil), Tyleonol, and others can be used to help lessen the pain of the infection.

Some patients have to undergo a root canal to try to save the tooth, and if the infection is bad enough, a trip to the hospital and/or an extraction of the affected tooth will be necessary.  If an abscessed tooth does not get treatment, the repercussions can be devastating.  Complications surrounding untreated infection can lead to loss of the tooth, further infections elsewhere in the body, and even death.

If you are worried that you may have an abscessed tooth or some other oral infection, please see your dentist immediately.  This sort of issue is not to be trifled with and can severely impact other aspects of your health.

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August 08, 2012
There are a wide variety of foods that can help prevent tooth decay, and some that you should avoid for the same reason.  Next time you visit the grocery store, keep in mind the facts listed in this article and do your teeth a favour.

The Good:  High-Fiber Foods

High-fiber foods aren’t just good for your digestive tract, they are also excellent for your teeth.  They keep your saliva going, which makes for better defenses against tooth decay.  Whole grain foods also provide B-complex vitamins and iron, building blocks of gum health, plus magnesium (great for bones and teeth).  Dried and fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole-grain foods such as brown rice, bran, certain cereals and pastas provide you with the fiber that you need.

The Good:  Calcium

Did you know that calcium, which is present in milk products (yogurt, milk, cheese, cream, butter, and more), helps make your teeth and bones strong?  Broccoli, bok choy and other leafy greens are also good sources of calcium, as are almonds and dried beans.

The Bad:  Sugar

Sugar and plaque work together to weaken your tooth enamel, which then leads to tooth decay.  Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar or other sugary snack when you have the munchies, go for something healthy, instead.  A handful of grapes has fiber, some whole grain crackers with cheese have fiber and calcium, and celery with peanut butter have fiber and protein.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to healthy snacks that are good for you and your teeth.

Don’t Forget to Brush and Floss!

Even with making the right food choices, you still need to brush your teeth at least twice per day and floss regularly.  By eating the right foods and staying on top of dental hygiene, you’ll make your teeth happy and keep them healthy for years to come.  Develop good eating habits in children from the start, and they will carry those habits on through their entire lives.

Tools:  The Food Pyramid

The Food Pyramid has been developed by the USDA to provide a guideline of what you should try to eat throughout the day in order to meet all your nutritional needs.  By following the food pyramid, you get all the nutrients that you and your teeth need, and you can be sure that you are not missing anything!

Tips

-        Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time and keep stored in small baggies or containers where they are easy to access.  If healthy snacks are the first thing you see, you are more likely to go for them instead of unhealthy ones.

-        Freeze berries, grapes, etc. in small containers for a quick, cool snack that can be eaten frozen or thawed.

-        Purchase nuts, seeds, whole grain pastas, and more at bulk food stores to save on cost and packaging.

-        Try replacing one sugary beverage per day with a glass or two of water per day.  Water is far better for your teeth!

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July 29, 2012
Mouthwashes and rinses are an addition to your daily routine on top of brushing and flossing; they provide several benefits, depending upon the product, such as making your breath fresh or protecting your teeth from plaque.  There are a few factors that must be considered when picking a mouthwash or rinse, and I will go over those for you right now.
  1. Is it just for freshening your breath, or do you want more out of it?  If you just want fresher breath, read online reviews and ask around to see what other people recommend.  You can also see  if your dentist has free samples that you can check out.  If you want your mouthwash to be more than just for your breath, talk to your dentist – chances are, they can recommend the product that you need.
  2. Do you have a sensitive mouth?  The ingredients of mouthwashes can irritate the gums if you have a sensitive mouth, and your dentist can recommend a natural brand, or one that’s formulated for such an issue.
  3. Alcohol content.  The majority of mouthwashes on the market contain alcohol, which can be a problem for some of us.  Mouthwashes that contain alcohol have some abuse potential, especially for recovering alcoholics, so it may be in your best interest to look for an alcohol-free mouthwash.  Another possibility?  Allergy to alcohol.
  4. Not just for fresh breath.  In this case, talk to your dentist, as mentioned above.

Mouthwash Through the Ages

Ancient cultures throughout time have employed some method of oral hygiene, though records of their effectiveness are not available.  The very first recorded use of a mouth rinse was around 2700 BCE, from Ayurveda and Chinese medicines, and was employed for the treatment of gingivitis.  The Greek and Roman upper-classes rinsed their mouths after manual cleaning, and one recipe for such a rinse was recommended by Hippocrates to use vinegar, salt, and alum – I imagine that did not taste very good.

Mouthwashes and rinses have been mass-produced since the 1800s, with the understanding that plaque must be removed from the teeth before rinsing in order to kill germs being something that stems from a discovery in the 17th century.

How to Use Mouthwash

In order for mouthwash to be effective, it must be used properly.  Improper use of mouthwash means that you won’t get the full benefits of the product, so it’s very important to learn how to use it.  Read the instructions printed on the bottle to get an idea of how much to use and for how long – you may want to purchase a mouthwash dispenser to help you get the right amount for each dose, but most of the caps on mouthwash bottles contain measurements.

Please note that mouthwash does not replace brushing and flossing – it’s an addition to your regular routine.  Brushing and flossing remove plaque deposits which contain germs, while mouthwash kills the germs released by the destruction of their plaque homes – or it just freshens your breath, depending upon the formula that you’re using.  It does not remove the plaque for you and cannot get rotting food out from between your teeth.

Also remember that, before attempting to dilute the product, read the instructions to make sure that this will not interfere with its effectiveness.  Most mouthwashes can be diluted, but some cannot.

Is mouthwash right for you?  Only you can really decide that, but if nothing else, it may be worth a try.

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April 05, 2012
Traditionally, patients have had to have metal dental braces installed in order to correct the alignment of their teeth.  This method requires securing pieces of metal to the teeth that are adjusted over the course of treatment by tightening the wires that connect each bracket, until the teeth are arranged in the desired manner.

An alternative to this method is Invisalign, which is a set of removable teeth aligners that are clear and, as such, are often selected for this cosmetic advantage.  They are said to be more comfortable than traditional alignment and have the additional advantage of not causing damage or discomfort to the soft tissues, as well as decreased tooth decay since patients remove the aligner in order to clean teeth and to eat.

Success of this treatment depends entirely upon the patient’s cooperation since they must be worn for most of the day and only removed during eating, drinking, and when the patient needs to brush their teeth.  The device will need to be cleaned as well when it is taken off during teeth brushing.

The downside to this treatment is that it is much more expensive than traditional metal braces, which could be an issue if the patient doesn’t have the insurance to cover the costs.

What is this device made out of?  Invisalign uses polyurethane.  Allergic reactions occasionally occur but are very, very rare; if the patient experiences nausea, a sore throat, coughing, or swelling, they must seek medical treatment and discontinue use of their Invisalign device.  This is a very rare occurrence, however, and is not something that one should worry too much about unless they have had similar reactions to polyurethane-containing products in the past.

How much does Invisalign treatment cost?  This varies from patient-to-patient and dentist-to-dentist.  A good average to consider is anywhere between $3,000 to $10,000 – a more complex case will be more expensive.

What’s involved in the treatment?  First, an impression of the patient’s teeth must be taken, as well as x-rays and photographs.  These items are sent to Align Technology, which uses them to create a three-dimensional model of the patient’s teeth.  This, in turn, is sent off again and the model teeth are moved to the final position that the orthodontist has described.  Stages from start to desired finish are produced in specialized computer software, which the orthodontist checks online, and once approved the resulting aligners are sent to the orthodontist – one for each stage of development.

Treatment can take up to a year, sometimes longer, and once treatment is complete the patient will need to wear a retainer for a certain period of time.  The retainer is usually only worn at night, though this will depend upon the individual dentist and the patient’s needs.

In short, Invisalign is an effective method for teeth alignment – if one can afford it.  Traditional metal bracers are still available and are much more affordable, but can cause more damage to the teeth than what Invisalign might.  In the end, it falls to the preference of the patient.

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March 27, 2012
What is a family dentist?  The main difference between a family dentist and a general dentist is that a family dentist is quite happy to take patients of all ages.  They will look after young children, preteens, teenagers, and adults with the same care and consideration – and for the children, a special prize may be rewarded if the child is especially well-behaved.  Unfortunately, adults don’t usually tend to get the opportunity to obtain a reward for good behavior in the dentist’s chair.  Adults have the ability and opportunity to reward themselves after a good dental appointment, however, and should take advantage of that!

How does one go about picking a family dentist?  Selecting a family dentist is important and one way that one can find one is by looking in online directory listings, checking the phone book, or talking to friends and loved ones.  Personal recommendations are often best – word of mouth is a very powerful advertising tool, and a bad dentist never gets recommendations!  It’s best to try to find a dentist that is local to you, if at all possible, for ease of access in emergencies and for simplicity of transportation.  If you don’t have to be on the road for two hours, don’t be!

If seeking a family dentist to help care for children’s teeth, it’s important for the children to be comfortable with him or her.  Does the dentist and/or his or her assistants have a good chair-side manner for your children?  How do the people in the office treat children?  How patient are they?  How comfortable are your children around the dentist and/or the dental assistants?  These are important questions to consider when deciding upon a family dentist and whether or not to keep him or her.  Some fear will be natural for young children, because visiting the dentist can sometimes be scary – but the right dentist will make this experience pleasant and will help the child look forward to getting their teeth checked, cleaned, and fixed when necessary!

As for services, as mentioned above, a family dentist provides the same services as a general dentist.  If your child is in need of braces, has cavities that need to be filled, or you want to schedule regular cleanings for him or her, your family dentist can do that.  More serious dental work can require a specialist, though most dentists are able to perform the average root canal or prepare and install implants.

Family dentistry is an important part of every family’s long-term health plan because your family dentist, if you can make regular appointments, is your first line of defense against all oral health problems.  Remember: your teeth are extremely important, and their health is a reflection of your overall health.  So get out there, find a good dentist, and make them a part of your extended family.  Your teeth will thank you!

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March 18, 2012
Plaque is constantly growing on our teeth.  On top of that, our teeth see regular abuse from the foods we eat, the things we drink, and our daily activities.  This is why routine teeth cleaning is very important.

What is teeth cleaning?  Simply put, this is oral hygiene.  It is the process for removing plaque from our teeth in order to prevent the formation of cavities, gum disease, and other problems.  You are already familiar with this concept since you brush your teeth every day – and if you do not brush at least three times a day, start!  It is extremely important to keep those teeth clean!

Flossing, too, is a way we keep our teeth clean.  Flossing is when we take a piece of dental floss and guide it between our teeth in order to get at plaque that lives between the teeth and to dislodge any food that might be stuck.  Have you ever eaten popcorn and had the bits get stuck in your teeth?  What about steak?  All sorts of stuff gets trapped there, and it has to be removed before it rots, breeds plaque bacteria, and leads to cavities that will require fillings.

The most effective teeth-cleaning method is brushing with an electric toothbrush, because its spinning action can get rid of gunk that a normal toothbrush cannot.  Combined with regular dentist visits and flossing, using an electric toothbrush is a surefire way to keep the teeth clean.

Your teeth can also be cleaned by scrubbing with a twig instead of a toothbrush.  This may taste odd, depending on the type of twig used, as some saps – the sap acts as toothpaste – can be terribly bitter.  Please do some research before using this method.  If you really want to use the natural route, look for environmentally friendly toothpastes in your local health food store, do not actually go out into your yard and grab the nearest tree.

Your dentist uses various special tools to get your teeth nice and clean, and it is recommended to go in for a cleaning every three to six months.  A dental hygienist will use several tools to remove plaque build-up in areas where we can’t usually reach, and will finish by polishing the teeth to a nice shine.  Fluoride treatment is optional.

Although routine teeth cleaning is important, what is also important is that we are careful with how we do it.  If we are too rough in our cleaning methods, then it is possible to damage the gums, tooth enamel, or inadvertently cause gingivitis. If you are not sure how to brush and floss properly, ask your dentist or dental hygienist.  They will be happy to show you how, and will be willing to teach you until you fully understand.

Proper oral hygiene is the key to oral health.  Get your hands on a toothbrush, dental floss, and get to work!  Your teeth are counting on you!

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March 12, 2012
Dentists are scary to a lot of people.  Many procedures are highly invasive and painful surgeries and nobody actually wants to be awake for them – though some procedures, as simple as they are, are enough to trigger someone’s dental phobia.  For these procedures and for people that are highly terrified of a visit to the dentist’s office, Sedation Dentistry is a highly attractive option.

What is Sedation Dentistry?  Sedation Dentistry is a stress-free way to get the dental care everyone needs, and that thirty percent of people refuse to get because they are that terrified of visiting the dentist.  It is the use of various sedatives to make the patient become calm and relaxed.

What are some examples of sedatives?  Various tranquilizers, depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and nitrous oxide are all possible sedatives.  They can be administered directly into the bloodstream with an IV, inhaled by the patient, or the patient can take a pill.

Due to the ease of Sedation Dentistry on both patient and dentist, this method is quite common in North America.

There are two methods of numbing pain: local anesthetic and sedation.  A local anesthetic gets rid of pain in one area, such as the left side of the face, while sedation dulls all sensations of pain and pretty much everything else.  Most procedures will make use of both.

Are there any methods to sedation dentistry?  Aside from making appointments easier on the patient (and the dentist), Sedation Dentistry also makes the procedure feel as if it took much less time than what it actually did.  It removes the painful aspect of most procedures and reduces stress.

Patients are unable to drive after this treatment, however, so it is necessary to make arrangements for transportation after the appointment, and for someone to stay with the patient until the sedative wears off, just in case.

A patient receiving Sedation Dentistry can opt to be put under general anesthesia, which requires a trained anesthesiologist, and means that the patient is not conscious during the procedure.  There are mild risks with general anesthetic, so please consult your doctor prior to opting for this.  Otherwise, a patient can take a sedative that makes them less conscious than normal (but still awake), or anti-anxiety medication (such as “laughing gas”).

So, if you know someone that is terrified of seeing the dentist to get those impacted wisdom teeth dealt with, or that filling put in, or even to have some cleaning done, suggest Sedation Dentistry to them.  They can be in and out of their appointment before they know it, and they will not have a chance to be afraid – or, if they do have that chance, it will not last long!  Just relax.

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