Dentist - Chicago
220-222 W. Huron, Suite 4002
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 548-7579 (Office)
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Posts for: February, 2012

By Reuben D. Collins, DDS
February 16, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   fluoride  
HowDoesFluorideProtectYourTeeth

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) calls fluoridation of drinking water one of the ten most important public health measures of the 20th century, along with such measures as vaccination and motor-vehicle safety.

A fluoride concentration of about one milligram per liter (1 mg/L), or 1 part per million (1ppm), in the water supply is associated with substantially fewer cavities. This concentration of fluoride (equivalent to a grain of salt in a gallon of water) has been found to have no negative health effects.

The connection between fluoride and oral health was confirmed in the first half of the 20th century, and by 1955 the first clinically proven fluoride toothpaste was launched. Fluoride-containing toothpastes are common today, along with other fluoride-containing products.

Protective Effects of Fluoride
Ongoing studies have shown that fluoride has both a systemic (through the body) effect and a local effect at the tooth surfaces. Tooth decay takes place as part of a kind of active war between de-mineralization and re-mineralization, in which acids produced by bacteria in plaque (a biofilm in your mouth) soften and dissolve the minerals (de-mineralization) in the tooth's surface. At the same time, the saliva bathing the tooth acts to re-harden the tooth's surface by adding minerals back (re-mineralization). If fluoride is present in the biofilm and in the saliva, it protects against de-mineralization.

The fluoride you drink in your water is deposited in your bones. Bone is an active living substance that is constantly broken down and rebuilt as a normal body process. As this happens the fluoride is released into the blood, from which it can enter the saliva and act on the tooth surface. The fluoride in toothpastes and products like rinses is delivered directly to the tooth surface. Fluorides can also be eaten in foods with high fluoride content such as teas, dry infant cereals and processed chicken, fish and seafood products.

Problems with Over-use
Eating or swallowing too much fluoride can contribute to a discoloration of teeth called dental fluorosis, which varies in appearance from small white striations to stained pitting and severe brown mottling of the enamel. To avoid this effect, monitor children's tooth brushing to make sure they use only a small amount of fluoride toothpaste and do not swallow it.

Adding fluoride to water has been controversial because some people believe that it may cause other harmful effects. However, most health experts believe that fluoridated water carries no significant health risks and significantly contributes to public health by preventing tooth decay.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about fluoride. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Fluoride & Fluoridation in Dentistry.”


By Reuben D. Collins, DDS
February 08, 2012
Category: Oral Health
WhatShouldYouDoWhenYourToothisChippedorBroken

Damaging the crown of a tooth (the part of the tooth that is visible above the gums) is the most common type of dental injury. The tooth may be broken or chipped. It is good to be prepared by knowing how such cases should be treated.

What is the first thing to do if my tooth is chipped or broken?
If fragments broke off the tooth, try to find and save them. They can probably be reattached to the tooth by bonding.

Does a chipped or broken tooth hurt?
The tooth may be sensitive to touch, hot and cold. Depending on the type of injury and how much of the tooth's inner surface is exposed, there may also be pain.

How long can I wait before getting treatment?
Get treatment right away, within 12 hours if possible. Teeth with crown fractures can be treated within 12 hours without affecting long-term outcomes.

What types of treatment may be used?
The treatment recommended depends on the tooth and the type and severity of the injury. Exposure of a tooth's inner pulp can be treated by a pulpotomy (partial pulp removal) technique. Front teeth can be temporarily restored with special cements, or the original tooth fragments may be reattached by bonding. Composite resin bonding may be used to restore the tooth's original appearance and function. Composites can be made in a wide range of tooth colors and can match the original tooth almost exactly.

Is treatment different if the damaged tooth is a primary (baby) tooth?
Chipped or broken primary teeth are generally treated similarly to permanent teeth. The treatment depends on the extent of the injury and damage to the tooth. Treatment of fractured primary teeth also depends on the proximity of the injured tooth to the permanent tooth beneath it, which will ultimately replace it. If a fractured primary tooth cannot be saved, it may be removed.

What if my tooth is loosened but not broken?
If the tooth is loosened but not cracked, broken or chipped, no dental treatment may be required. However, we will collect baseline clinical and x-ray information and keep an eye on the tooth or teeth in the future. We will need to check the tooth during recall visits to see whether the dental pulp is still living or whether it has died as a result of its injury. The latter condition can lead to a variety of problems and will require treatment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about repairing a chipped tooth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”