Woburn Dental Associates dental office in Woburn MA is pleased to offer a full range of dental care services and dental treatments. Our dentistry services include: children's. cosmetic, family, general, implant, preventive, restorative and sedation dentistry.
With Halloween comes ghosts, goblins and goodies—and the sugar in those treats can play some unwanted tricks on your teeth if you’re not careful.
Here’s why: The bacteria in your mouth are probably more excited to eat Halloween candy than you are. When the bacteria eat the sugar and leftover food in your mouth, a weak acid is produced. That acid is what can contribute to cavities.
But don’t hang up your costume just yet. “Halloween is about candy, dressing up and having fun,” says ADA dentist Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty. “It’s OK to eat that candy on Halloween as a splurge as long as you’re brushing twice a day and flossing once a day all year long.”
To help you sort through the trick-or-treat bag loot, we have a rundown of some common candies and their impact on your teeth:
Chocolate is probably your best bet, which is good because it’s also one of the most popular kinds of candy handed out on Halloween. “Chocolate is one of the better candies because it washes off your teeth easier than other types of candy,” Dr. Ferraz- Dougherty says. “Dark chocolate also has less sugar than milk chocolate.”
Sticky and Gummy Candies
Be picky if it’s sticky. These are some of the worst candies for your teeth. “This candy is harder to remove and may stay longer on your teeth, which gives that cavity-causing bacteria more time to work,” Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says.
Hard candies are also ones to watch on Halloween. “They can actually break your teeth if you’re not careful,” Dr. Ferraz- Dougherty says. “You also tend to keep these kinds of candies in your mouth for longer periods of time so the sugar is getting in your saliva and washing over your teeth.”
You might want to pass on things that make you pucker – especially if they are sticky and coated in sugar. “Sour candy can be very acidic,” says Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty. “And that acidity can weaken and damage the hard outer shell of your teeth, making your teeth more vulnerable to cavities.”
Have some floss handy if you’re enjoying one of these fall favorites. “Kernels can get stuck in-between your teeth," Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says. "They are also sticky, sugary and can be hard.”
How your smile looks plays a big role in how you feel about yourself and how you think others perceive you. As the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) notes, about 74 percent of people believe that an unattractive smile can get in the way of career success and nearly 100 percent of people believe a smile is an important social asset.
You may not like showing off your smile if you think your teeth are too yellow, crooked or chipped. Fortunately, you have a number of affordable dentistry options that can help improve your smile and boost your confidence. At your next visit, talk to your dentist about ways to correct any issues with your teeth and how much you can expect each option to cost.
1. Get Your Teeth Whitened
People's teeth yellow or become darker for a variety of reasons. It could be due to a diet of foods that stain, such as coffee, chocolate and berries. It could be due to the enamel becoming thinner as you age and the yellower dentin showing through. Some people are born with teeth that are naturally yellow or slightly gray. If you decide you do want to whiten your teeth, you have multiple options, ranging from at-home treatments to treatments performed at your dentist's office.
The cost of teeth whitening varies based on location and the type of product used. As the Consumer Guide to Dentistry points out, an in-office treatment costs an average of $650.
At-home treatments tend to be the more affordable dentistry option, but the results you get from an in-office treatment are often much more dramatic and last longer. For example, the AACD points out that an in-office whitening treatment can lighten your teeth up to 10 shades in one hour, and the results can last for a year or longer, provided you take good care of your teeth. After a tooth whitening procedure, it's a good time to switch to a whitening toothpaste, such as Colgate® Optic White® to maintain your dazzling teeth.
2. Fix Chips and Cracks with Bonding
If you have a chipped or cracked tooth, or a tooth that needs a filling, dental bonding is often an affordable way to fix it. Dental bonding is typically made of either a composite resin or porcelain. The material can be dyed to match the natural color of your teeth, so you end up with a tooth that looks good as new and no one will be able to tell that you've had work done.
Bonding is one of the least expensive dental restoration options, too. While porcelain veneers can cost up to $1,500 per tooth, the average cost of dental bonding is $300 to $600 per tooth. The drawback of bonding is that it might not last as long as veneers, which are used to correct severely discolored or chipped teeth. If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to correct a damaged tooth, bonding may be the way to go.
3. Use a Retainer to Straighten Teeth
Not everyone with crooked or misaligned teeth needs braces. Typically, people wear retainers after they have braces removed to keep their teeth from moving out of position. But, if you have a small space between two teeth or your bite is slightly misaligned, you might be able to wear a retainer without getting braces.
An aligner, a clear plastic tray that fits over the teeth and helps push them into place or straighten them, can be another alternative to braces. Aligners are more expensive than retainers (for example, Invisalign® can cost between $3,000 and $8,000 while a retainer on its own typically costs between $500 and $1,000, as the Consumer Dentistry Guide notes). But, aligners do a lot more than retainers when it comes to correcting crooked teeth, which can make the higher cost worth it.
If you're not happy with your smile, you don't have to live with it! Schedule an appointment with your dentist today and learn more about what you can do to fix your smile.
Brushing and flossing are everyday ways to keep your teeth bright, white and healthy. Still, if you might feel like your smile is lacking some sparkle or is more yellow than it used to be, you’re not alone. When the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry asked people what they’d most like to improve about their smile, the most common response was whiter teeth. The American Association of Orthodontists also found that nearly 90% of patients requested tooth whitening.
Thinking about teeth whitening? Get the facts first. Here are five of the most commonly asked questions about the process.
Why Did My Teeth Change Color?
Over time, your teeth can go from white to not-so-bright for a number of reasons:
Food and Drink
Coffee, tea and red wine are some major staining culprits. What do they have in common? Intense color pigments called chromogens that attach to the white, outer part of your tooth (enamel).
Two chemicals found in tobacco create stubborn stains: Tar and nicotine. Tar is naturally dark. Nicotine is colorless until it’s mixed with oxygen. Then, it turns into a yellowish, surface-staining substance.
Below the hard, white outer shell of your teeth (enamel) is a softer area called dentin. Over time, the outer enamel layer gets thinner with brushing and more of the yellowish dentin shows through.
If you’ve been hit in the mouth, your tooth may change color because it reacts to an injury by laying down more dentin, which is a darker layer under the enamel.
Tooth darkening can be a side effect of certain antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure medications. Young children who are exposed to antibiotics like tetracycline and doxycycline when their teeth are forming (either in the womb or as a baby) may have discoloration of their adult teeth later in life. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation can also darken teeth.
How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
Teeth whitening is a simple process. Whitening products contain one of two tooth bleaches (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). These bleaches break stains into smaller pieces, which makes the color less concentrated and your teeth brighter.
Does Whitening Work on All Teeth?
No, which is why it’s important to talk to your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth, as whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well and teeth with gray tones may not bleach at all. Whitening will not work on caps, veneers, crowns or fillings. It also won’t be effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by medications or a tooth injury.
What Are My Whitening Options?
Talk to your dentist before starting. If you are a candidate, there are four ways to put the shine back in your smile:
Stain Removal Toothpastes
All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives that scrub the teeth. Look for whitening toothpastes that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance for stain removal (it will tell you on the package). These toothpastes have additional polishing agents that are safe for your teeth and provide stain removal effectiveness. Unlike bleaches, these types of ADA-Accepted products do not change the color of teeth because they can only remove stains on the surface.
This procedure is called chairside bleaching and usually requires only one office visit. The dentist will apply either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect your gums. Bleach is then applied to the teeth.
At-Home Bleaching from Your Dentist
Your dentist can provide you with a custom-made tray for at-home whitening. In this case, the dentist will give you instructions on how to place the bleaching solution in the tray and for what length of time. This may be a preferred option if you feel more comfortable whitening in your own home at a slower pace, but still with the guidance of a dentist. Out-of-office bleaching can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Over-the-Counter Bleaching Products
You may see different options online or in your local grocery store, such as toothpastes or strips that whiten by bleaching your teeth. The concentration of the bleaching agent in these products is lower than what your dentist would use in the office. If you are thinking about using an over-the-counter bleaching kit, discuss options with your dentist and look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. That means it has been tested to be safe and effective for teeth whitening. Get a list of all ADA-Accepted at-home bleaching products.
Are There Any Side Effects from Teeth Whitening?
Some people who use teeth whiteners may experience tooth sensitivity. That happens when the peroxide in the whitener gets through the enamel to the soft layer of dentin and irritates the nerve of your tooth. In most cases the sensitivity is temporary. You can delay treatment, then try again.
Overuse of whiteners can also damage the tooth enamel or gums, so be sure to follow directions and talk to your dentist.
Thumb sucking is a common and natural behavior for infants. The pressure and sucking motion can make children feel more secure, calm them, and help them fall asleep. Children normally turn to thumb sucking when bored, tired, or upset. If your child is five years old or younger, it is not necessary to force them to quit. Most children will eventually give up this habit in their own time. One in five children will be sucking their thumb or finger past their fifth birthday.
How Can Thumb Sucking Affect My Child’s Teeth?
If your child’s thumb sucking persists past the age of five, it can have a lasting effect on your child’s teeth. Thumb sucking can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth, alignment of the teeth, or changes in the roof of the mouth. The intensity of the sucking is a factor that will determine whether or not dental problems may result. For example, some children simply rest their thumbs passively in their mouths as opposed to sucking. This type of behavior is less likely to result in dental problems in contrasts to vigorous sucking. Thumb sucking may also cause your child to develop speech problems. Your child’s dentist may recommend inserting a fixed or removable device such as a “palatal bar” or “crib” in your child’s mouth to prevent sucking. However, there are other methods parents can try at home to rid their child’s habit.
How to Stop Thumb Sucking
Breaking a longstanding habit is challenging and can take six weeks or more. Before attempting to stop your child from thumb sucking, it is important to observe their behavior to fully understand why and when your child sucks their thumb. Be aware of activities that might promote thumb sucking such as TV or car rides. If you can identify the times when your child is most likely to suck their thumb, provide alternative activities to divert their attention. Reprimanding your child for thumb sucking will not help and could prolong the problem.
Parents can use a simple behavioral approach that engages their child in the process.
First, create a progress chart with the help of your child. It's a good idea to let your child help make it fun by helping to pick a color or the kinds of stickers used to track their progress.
Have a discussion with your child to determine how many slip-ups should allowed each week.
Provide a reward at the end of each week of no thumb or finger sucking. Make a larger reward for getting to the end of a month of no thumb or finger sucking.
If the above behavioral approach doesn't work, another method parents can try is placing a bitter-tasting liquid on the nail, but not directly on the finger. This should only be done at night to discourage thumb sucking while sleeping. Parents can also use mittens, gloves, or a finger-splint to be worn at night to discourage thumb and finger sucking.
Please remember with enough persistence and positive reinforcement, most children are able drop the thumb-sucking habit. It may take a while, but if you keep at it, you'll see the results you want over time.
If you are planning a trip out of the country it may be helpful to schedule a dental checkup before you leave, especially if you'll be traveling in developing countries or remote areas without access to good dental care. If you’re considering a vacation outside the United States for dental treatment in an attempt to save money, often referred to as "dental tourism," there are some things you should first consider.
Question: Is dental care abroad safe?
Answer: The procedures, equipment and drugs used by dentists in the U.S. are held to high standards. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has comprehensive guidelines on infection control procedures for dental health-care settings. They exist to prevent the spread of infections, including blood borne illnesses such as hepatitis and AIDS. U.S. dentists must abide by regulations for radiation safety (X-ray equipment and its use) and for proper disposal of biomedical waste. Also, the drugs and dental instruments and materials used by dentists in the U.S. are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure that they are safe. These standards are in place for your safety.
Q: What recovery time and follow-up care will I need?
A: Many dental procedures are surgical in nature and may require months of healing. This should be factored in to your travel plans. Significant dental procedures require follow-up care to make sure everything is healing and functioning properly. Post treatment risks after dental surgical procedures include bleeding, pain, swelling and infection. Continuity of care is important and should be a consideration when making treatment decisions. Establishing a "dental home" provides you with comprehensive oral health care so conditions such as gum disease and tooth decay can be diagnosed at an early stage when treatment is simpler and more affordable. A dentist who knows your case history can provide you with guidance on good oral health habits, preventive oral health services and diagnosis and treatment of dental disease based on your individual needs.
Q: What qualifications are required of dental professionals?
A: Dentists trained in the U.S. graduate from a dental school accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation. In addition, dentists must pass national examinations and meet state requirements before they earn a license to practice. Similar levels of training may exist in the country to which you are travelling, but this may be difficult to determine if that country does not have similar dental regulations.
Q: Will my insurance cover dental procedures in other countries?
A: If you have insurance for dental care performed outside of the U.S., you should confirm with your insurer and/or employer that follow-up treatment is covered upon your return to the U.S. You should consider arranging follow-up care with a U.S. dentist prior to travel to ensure continuity of care upon your return. If you do not have a dentist in the U.S., you can find an ADA member dentist in your area at ADA Find-a-Dentist. You should confirm with your U.S. dentist and the dental care provider in the other country that the transfer of patient records to-and-from facilities outside of the U.S. is consistent with current U.S. privacy and security guidelines.
Q: What about travel advisories?
A: The U.S. Department of State issues travel alerts to disseminate information about short-term conditions, generally within a particular country, that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens. In the spring of 2009, for example, the Department of State issued a travel alert cautioning people to avoid non-essential travel to Mexico because of an outbreak of H1N1 influenza in that country that resulted in a number of deaths. In addition, the alert recommended that travelers check the department's Web site for new travel advisories as well as the Web site of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for any additional information or recommendations.
Bottom line: If you’re considering travelling for dental care, remember, saving money overseas may lead to greater expense to your health and your wallet when you arrive back home.
The best way to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth in good health is through regular and effective teeth cleaning. In addition to your regular oral hygiene routine, most dental professionals recommend professional teeth cleaning. Not only will good teeth cleaning keep you in good oral health and hygiene, it will also help keep your mouth feeling fresh, prevent bad breath, and can help keep your teeth white and bright.
Brushing for Clean Teeth
Brushing your teeth is the most important and effective method for teeth cleaning. Most dentists recommend you brush at least twice a day, but brushing after every meal is even better. Whether you choose electric or manual, select a toothbrush that allows you to easily clean all surfaces and in hard to reach areas. And don't forget to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months.
Picking a Toothbrush: Make sure your toothbrush fits your mouth. It’s easier to achieve clean teeth if you aren’t using a brush that’s too big. If you have a small mouth, you may find it easier to clean teeth by using a toothbrush with a compact head instead of a full-sized head. Some people find that electric toothbrushes make it easier to spend the dentist-recommended two minutes on teeth cleaning. Oral-B Vitality Toothbrushes provide thorough teeth cleaning and help to remove plaque and surface stains.
Proper Brushing Technique: You can maximize clean teeth by using the most effective techniques for teeth brushing. Hold your toothbrush at approximately a 45-degree angle to the teeth you are brushing. Use small strokes and brush your teeth in sections. Don’t forget to go all the way behind your last tooth on each side. Use small, tooth-sized strokes to brush the surface of each tooth, rather than large, sweeping strokes. Cleaning teeth includes cleaning all three sides—front, back, and top of the chewing surface.
Flossing for Clean Teeth
Picking Floss: A thorough teeth cleaning routine includes daily flossing. Oral-B Glide Deep Clean Floss, slides easily between the teeth to remove food particles and reduce the daily buildup of plaque and bacteria on the teeth.
Proper Flossing Technique: Flossing is an essential part of teeth cleaning. You should floss regularly to remove food particles from in between your teeth. This can help reduce plaque and tartar build-up between teeth. If you have trouble sliding floss between your teeth, try waxed floss or wide floss. The American Dental Association recommends using about 18 inches of floss, so you have a clean piece of floss to use on each tooth in the cleaning teeth process. Curve the floss into a C-shape as you slide it up and down along the side of each tooth. Don’t forget to floss the back sides of your back teeth on both the left and right of the upper and lower teeth.
Proper Rinsing Technique: Mouthwash is a great method for teeth cleaning and also leaves your mouth feeling fresh and clean. If you don’t like the burning sensation you get from alcohol-based rinses, look for formulas that are made without alcohol.
Get a Professional Teeth Cleaning
The happy, healthy mouth feeling you get after a good teeth cleaning is invaluable. Visiting a dental professional at least twice a year is an important part of your oral hygiene regimen. Professional teeth cleaning removes the tartar you just can’t get to at home, and regular exams will ensure your teeth and mouth are in good health. After cleaning teeth, a dentist will examine your mouth for signs of problems including:
Tooth loss: Cleaning teeth professionally helps keep them in good condition to promote better chewing and swallowing.
Gum disease: Gum disease can be avoided or caught early if a dentist sees problems while cleaning teeth.
Dental damage: You may not notice if you have broken fillings or damaged crowns, but a regular dental visit can identify these problems and fix them before they become serious enough to require surgery or tooth removal.
Oral cancer: Mouth cancer is usually treatable if diagnosed early, and a dentist can screen for oral cancer during a visit for cleaning teeth.
How to Maintain Clean Teeth
In addition to following a complete oral care routine, you can support your cleaning teeth efforts by avoiding cigarettes and other tobacco products, eating healthy, and visiting a dental professional regularly. Keep these other tips in mind to maintain clean teeth:
Rinse away stains: if you can’t brush your teeth after consuming food or beverages that may stain your teeth, preserve clean teeth by rinsing your mouth with water or a mouthwash.
Quit smoking: Smoking is one of the top factors that undermines clean teeth. You can go a long way toward having a healthy mouth if you avoid tobacco products. That includes not only cigarettes, but cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco (chew/dip). If you use tobacco products, it’s not too late to have a healthy mouth if you quit, or at least cut back. Studies have shown that smoking may contribute to gum disease by getting in the way when normal gum tissue cells try to do their job of maintaining a healthy mouth.
Eat right: Eating a balanced diet helps promote a healthy mouth, healthy teeth, and healthy gums. The American Dental Association recommends keeping between-meal snacks to a minimum to promote a healthy mouth. If you do need a snack, some healthy mouth choices include raw veggies, plain yogurt, cheese, or a piece of fruit, such as an apple or pear.
Benefits of Good Oral Health
Keeping a healthy smile is one of many benefits associated with teeth cleaning. If you keep your teeth and mouth healthy, you are sure to appreciate the following important benefits.
Good Oral Health: Regular teeth cleaning will keep your mouth and body healthy. Good oral hygiene can prevent plaque build-up, which can lead to gum disease. Numerous studies have suggested a correlation between poor oral hygiene, gum disease, and heart disease, so teeth cleaning is an important way to keep your entire body healthy.
Better Breath: Want to get a little closer? Regular teeth cleaning with any fluoride toothpaste can help freshen your breath. For a better breath bonus, choose mint toothpaste, and don’t forget to brush your tongue.
Brighter Smile: No one likes to have yellow teeth and an unsightly smile. Removing surface stains with daily teeth cleaning helps your teeth look brighter. Having a whiter smile helps improve your overall appearance, especially since your smile is an important part of making a good first impression.
Confidence: When you look great, you feel great. Flashing a bright, white smile after a good teeth cleaning will give you a new sense of self-confidence that is sure to show. Studies have shown that a bright, healthy smile gives you more confidence in both personal and professional settings.
Save Money: Following a regular teeth cleaning routine can eventually help you avoid costly dental visits to manage severe gum disease or tooth decay.
So, the next time you consider putting off your regular teeth cleaning for another month, remember all of this important information and think again before picking up the phone. You’ll be glad to have a happier mouth and smile once you’ve had a good teeth cleaning.
Even someone with a fastidious dental hygiene routine can be at risk for cavities. Certain people are simply more prone to dental caries due to the shape and structure of their teeth – not because they don't brush regularly. If your dentist notices you (or someone in your family) is prone to advanced decay despite good oral hygiene, he or she may suggest using dental sealants to help keep the teeth healthy.
Of course, concerns are normal: How long do sealants last? Will the application hurt? Here's a little more about why dental sealants may be a great option for a cavitiy-prone individual.
Why Dental Sealants?
Dentists don't suggest sealants to all of their patients. Rather, they're usually reserved for individuals who are especially prone to cavities, such as teens and young kids – including those who still have baby teeth. Sealants are designed to fill the deep pits and grooves of your molars, which are uniquely susceptible to caries because they're known to trap food particles in these areas of the teeth. When bacteria become trapped in this way, it's often a recipe for cavities, so the sealants protect the tooth from caries altogether.
It's understandable to be nervous about a dental procedure with which you have no prior experience. But dental sealants are virtually painless. The majority of them are made with liquid resin, which is then brushed onto the teeth so it can harden. The process only takes a few minutes, including application and drying. In fact, the procedure may be on offer in the dental center of some schools.
Once applied, the resin dries into a hard, plastic-like material in just a few seconds or when using a light to cure the sealant material. The material is invisible and won't feel any different than the surfaces of your natural teeth.
How Long Do Sealants Last? Can I Extend Their Wear?
Once your sealants have been applied, the NIDCR estimates they can last up to 10 years with proper care. You won't have to have them removed; instead, sealants gradually wear away over time, allowing you to receive new sealants as needed. Nonetheless, their hardened plastic material holds up remarkably well as long as you avoid behavior that puts undue stress on your teeth – such as using your teeth to open tough food packaging.
Once your sealants have been applied, your dentist will check on them each time you come in for a cleaning. He or she can even reapply if they seem to be wearing faster than usual, just to make sure your teeth are protected from the bacteria that can calcify into tartar when you're not in the dentist's chair.
Keep in mind sealants aren't the only way to ward off cavities, and are definitely not a substitute for regular oral care. If you or your child is especially prone to cavities, use products such as Colgate® Cavity Protection, which contains sodium monofluorophosphate fluoride – proven to protect teeth from the common cavity.
If you're wondering if dental sealants are the right choice for you or your child, ask your dentist about them during your next checkup. Provided you're the right type of candidate, sealants may be an excellent solution for warding off cavities and keeping your smile healthy.