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Tuesday
Sep132011

Saliva: Your strongest ally is the fight against decay

Sometimes we take the simple things in life for granted … like saliva. You might never have considered how important it is to our dental and overall health. But consider this: If it weren’t for saliva, our mouths would be teeming with bacteria and our teeth crusted with plaque, resulting in decay and disease that could enter our bloodstreams and cause a myriad of health problems.

Not only does saliva wash away bacteria into our stomachs, where they are broken down during the digestive process, but it also contains proteins that break down plaque and neutralize toxins.  Think of it as nature’s antibiotic.

So, there’s good news here. An ally in the fight for good health is made continuously and in abundant quantity right in our own mouths. And there are simple steps we can take to help our saliva do its job. In fact, most of us find these therapies enjoyable and refreshing. Your kids will even be excited! 

As counterintuitive as it may seem — and to the contrary of what you may have been told by dentists in the past — chewing gum can help you maintain dental health. That’s right! The key is to make sure the gum is sugar free and to chew it after meals. This loosens food particles that may have adhered to your teeth and stimulates saliva to wash it away so it won’t form plaque over the course of the day.  

With the balmy South Louisiana summer looming, now’s a good time for a reminder about the importance of proper hydration. Maintaining adequate water intake is integral to overall health year round, and it is especially important during the hot summer months, when we are more likely to lose fluids through sweat. Dehydration can have serious consequences, and they start in our mouths.

Saliva production is diminished when we aren’t properly hydrated. So, be prepared. Always keep a bottle of water handy and in ample supply when engaging in strenuous outdoor activities. Pure water really is best, perhaps with a spritz of lemon or lime if that makes it more enticing. Save the sugary soft drinks for special occasions, a these promote tooth decay. Also avoid drinks that contain caffeine. a diuretic that counteracts the benefits you’re aiming to achieve. Besides, nothing quenches your thirst on a hot summer day quite like a tall glass of ice-cold H2O.

It’s as easy as that, folks. Chew some sugar-free gum, drink plenty of water, and keep that saliva flowing. And remember: Sometimes our strongest allies are where we least expect to find them!

Curtis H. Roy, D.D.S., has served Acadiana residents with a general dentistry and specialty practice since 1970. Find his practice on the Web atwww.drcurtisroyandassociates.com, visit the office at 3703 Johnston St., Lafayette, or call 981.9811, and look for him on Facebook and Twitt

Thursday
Sep012011

Cosmetic dentistry changes lives.

Ever stifle a smile because you’re ashamed of your teeth? Do you feel self-conscious about the appearance of your smile? If so, you are not alone. Stained, crooked, broken and missing teeth are commonly associated with embarrassment and poor self esteem.

Teeth can affect a person’s overall appearance dramatically. And, unfortunately, society often judges us by our appearance. Right or wrong, fair or not fair, people make assumptions about us based on the condition of our teeth. Straight, white teeth are associated with wealth, education and sophistication; whereas crooked, chipped or stained teeth have negative associations.

Those with poor teeth can miss out on many of life’s opportunities, not only because of the way people judge us but just as much of the fear we feel that they might judge us. Depending on the severity of the problems and how much we worry, bad teeth can have truly debilitating effects on our lives.

With Christmas coming and the impending new year, now’s a great time to consider giving the gift of a beautiful smile to yourself or someone you love. Just imagine the difference this gift could make in your life or in the life of your spouse, child, parent or other loved one!

Cosmetic options abound. To get those pearly whites as white and pearly as possible, ask your dental office about ZOOM! Whitening. This quick and easy procedure involving a hydrogen peroxide-based gel and lamp is performed in the dentist’s office in a matter of minutes and has lasting results. Many dentists offer take-home tooth whitening kits, too, with trays custom-made for your mouth, which you fill with a solution and wear at night periodically.

The newest way to fix a less-than-stellar set of teeth is through a product called Snap-On Smile. An alternative to long and painful surgical reconstructive procedures that involve pulling, filing and/or implanting false teeth, Snap-On enables patients to overlay a removable appliance atop existing teeth, and results are remarkable. Snap-On may be removed at night or anytime and worn whenever desired. Snap-On isn’t cheap, but the results and the confidence they bring are worth every penny.

Bonding is a procedure that can improve the appearance of chipped or broken teeth. With bonding, a tooth-colored material is applied to existing teeth to fill-in broken or misshapen areas. Instead or in addition to bonding, you may also consider enamel shaping, which involves removing or contouring parts of your teeth.

Veneers are another option. Made of tooth-colored material, veneers are custom-made shells that cover the front side of the teeth. Them of course, there are always braces. Braces have come a long way over the years. Some are clear. Others are applied to the backs of the teeth. They can not only straighten teeth but also correct overbites, underbites and other problems related to the alignment of the jaw. Your dentist can refer you to an orthodontist if you’re a candidate for braces.

So, give yourself or your loved one the gift of confidence this year! Talk to your dentist about options and make a plan to move forward. You’ll never regret it!


Curtis H. Roy, D.D.S., has served Acadiana residents with a general dentistry and specialty practice since 1970. Find his practice on the Web at www.drcurtisroyandassociates.com, visit the office at 3703 Johnston St., Lafayette, or call 981.9811, and look for him on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday
Aug182011

Be not afraid (of the dentist)

If you are afraid of the dentist, we truly do sympathize. We want dental care to be pleasant for you.

If fear is keeping you from seeing a dentist, remember that famous quote from former American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We really do have nothing to fear but fear itself. In nearly every case, the fear and anticipation are far worse than the actual dental procedure. With the many options in modern anesthesia, pain is thing of the past!

If your dentist isn’t sensitive to your fears and doesn’t support anesthesia at a level that makes you feel calm and comfortable, then find a dentist who does. Providing you with high-quality, appropriate care and making your dental visit as comfortable as possible are top priorities for the more than 155,000 dentist members of the American Dental Association (ADA).

Following are some common questions and answers related to dental anesthesia, provided by the ADA.

 

What are analgesics?

Non-narcotic analgesics are the most commonly used drugs for relief of toothache or pain following dental treatment. This category includes aspirin, acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen.

Narcotic analgesics, such as those containing codeine, act on the central nervous system to relieve pain. They are used for more severe pain.

 

What is local anesthesia?

Topical anesthetics are applied to mouth tissues with a swab to prevent pain on the surface level. Your dentist may use a topical anesthetic to numb an area in preparation for administering an injectable local anesthetic. Topical anesthetics also may be used to soothe painful mouth sores.

Injectable local anesthetics prevent pain in a specific area of your mouth during treatment by blocking the nerves that sense or transmit pain and numbing mouth tissues. They cause the temporary numbness often referred to as a "fat lip" feeling. Injectable anesthetics may be used in such procedures as filling cavities, preparing teeth for crowns or treating periodontal (gum) disease.

 

What is sedation and general anesthesia?

Anti-anxiety agents, such as nitrous oxide, or sedatives may help you relax during dental visits and often may be used along with local anesthetics. Dentists also can use these agents to induce "minimal or moderate sedation," in which the patient achieves a relaxed state during treatment but can respond to speech or touch. Sedatives can be administered before, during or after dental procedures by mouth, inhalation or injection.

More complex treatments may require drugs that can induce “deep sedation,” causing a loss of feeling and reducing consciousness in order to relieve both pain and anxiety. On occasion, patients undergo “general anesthesia,” in which drugs cause a temporary loss of consciousness. Deep sedation and general anesthesia may be recommended in certain procedures for children or others who have severe anxiety or who have difficulty controlling their movements.

The ADA provides guidelines to help dentists administer pain controllers in the safest manner possible. Dentists use the pain and anxiety control techniques mentioned above to treat tens of millions of patients safely every year. Even so, taking any medication involves a certain amount of risk. That's why the ADA urges you to take an active role in your oral health care. This includes knowing your health status and telling your dentist about any illnesses or health conditions, whether you are taking any medications, and whether you’ve ever had any problems such as allergic reactions to any medications.

Curtis H. Roy, D.D.S., has served Acadiana residents with a general dentistry and specialty practice since 1970. Find his practice on the Web at www.drcurtisroyandassociates.com, visit the office at 3703 Johnston St., Lafayette, or call 981.9811, and look for him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Wednesday
Jun152011

Acid wash not just a bad fashion fad.

What’s your favorite way to quench your thirst on a hot summer day? A tall glass of iced tea? A refreshing sports drink? A frosty cold Coke? A frothy beer? A tropical cocktail? While we enjoy our favorite refreshments, few of us think of the damage they may be wreaking on our teeth.

Fruit juices, teas, soft drinks and even sports drinks are almost exclusively acidic, with pH levels below 4.0. (An oral Ph of 5.5 or greater supports optimal dental health.) When these liquids come into contact with our teeth, they erode the enamel, making our teeth more vulnerable to decay and infection.

The lower the pH of a beverage, the stronger its enamel-eroding power. Following is a sampling of common beverages and their Ph levels. Remember, the lower the number, the more abrasive the drink.

 

Beverage                                    pH

Ginger Ale                                    2.0-4.0

Wine                                                2.3-3.8

Sprite                                                2.6

Cranberry Juice            2.3-2.5

Coke/Pepsi                        2.7

Dr. Pepper                        2.9

Iced Tea                                    3.0

Root Beer                                    3.0-4.0

Mountain Dew            3.2

7-Up                                                3.2-3.5

Pineapple, Apple

Orange &

             Grape Juices            3.4

Beer                                                4.0-5.0

 

What’s more, weakened enamel is more susceptible to abrasive wear, meaning brushing after an acidic indulgence can actually worsen the condition. So, what’s a thirsty person to do?

Your best bet is to go for some good old-fashioned water. With no acids or sugars (or calories, for that matter), water truly is nature’s perfect drink. Everyone deserves a treat from time to time, but to promote dental health, opt for water more often. When you do treat yourself to an acidic beverage, chase it with plain water or milk. If possible, follow up with a stick of sugar-free gum. Chewing gum increases the flow of saliva, and saliva helps to restore a safe oral pH.

Use a straw, when available. Straws divert liquids away from the teeth and toward the back of the throat, minimizing the acidic impact on your oral environment. If you don’t have a straw, avoid holding the drink in your mouth for long. Take short gulps, instead.

Studies show that fluoride could minimize dental erosion, so use a toothpaste high in fluoride, and take the fluoride rinses offered at your bi annual dental check-ups. Furthermore, use only soft-bristled toothbrushes, which are less likely to wear away dental enamel.

 

Curtis H. Roy, D.D.S., has served Acadiana residents with a general dentistry and specialty practice since 1970. Find his practice on the Web at www.drcurtisroyandassociates.com, visit the office at 3703 Johnston St., Lafayette, or call 981.9811, and look for him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Wednesday
May182011

Preventing gum disease is easy.

My most important goal in my career as a dentist is to educate people about gum disease — not just how prevalent and serious a condition it is, or how to detect it and treat it, but especially how easy it is to prevent.

Nearly three out of four Americans suffer from some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. It is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and can contribute to a myriad of other health problems, but it simply does not have to be so. Preventing gum disease is simple and inexpensive. Everyone can do it.

Your best weapons against gum disease are a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss,. Use these cheap, widely available items daily, and the battle is won! Granted, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about brushing and flossing, so, let’s review just how it’s done.

 

Selecting a toothbrush

At Dr. Curtis Roy & Associates, we encourage patients to use the Roto-dent — an electric brushing/flossing tool clinically proven more effective at removing plaque than traditional toothbrushes. But, any old toothbrush will do the trick with the correct technique and proper persistence.

Whatever style or brand you choose, opt for soft bristles, as harder bristles can be too abrasive on your teeth, wearing away at the enamel, which is certainly not what you want to do. Consider also the size of your mouth. If your mouth is small, you might have trouble maneuvering a full-sized toothbrush around. Compact toothbrush heads are ideal for smaller mouthed people.

 

Selecting a paste

Any fluoride paste will do, but those that claim to offer “tartar control” or rebuild enamel may offer additional protection. Some people find the taste of some of these unappealing, however. If you do not enjoy the taste of your toothpaste, regardless of its claims, shop around for another. You are likely to brush more frequently if you enjoy the taste, so choose one you find palatable.

 

The act of brushing

Being vigilant is key here. For optimal dental health, brush every morning, after every meal and snack, and in the evening prior to going to bed. Few people are able to maintain this level of vigilance, and that’s okay. Aim for a minimum of two brushings a day, once in the morning and once at bedtime. Try to work in additional brushings whenever possible. Keeping a toothbrush and paste at the office, in your vehicle or in your purse will make it easier to work these into your day.

Don’t rush through it. Take your time, making sure to cover the front, back and chewing surfaces of each tooth. Swish and spit afterward to remove food particles that may still be clinging to your teeth.

 

How to floss

Ideally, you’d floss after every meal. Believe it or not, some people do! But most people struggle with fitting it in. Flossing at least once a day is great. Once every other day is good. Even once a week is better than never. Just remember, the more frequently you floss, the better you will protect against gum disease. And here’s something important to note: If your gums bleed when you floss, it’s a sign that you aren’t doing it often enough and that gum disease is setting in. As counterintuitive as it may seem, start flossing more often, and your gums will stop bleeding, and the gum disease will start going away. Give it a try!

Some people prefer traditional dental floss. Other people find flossers — short strips of floss set into a plastic stick — easier to use. Again, as with paste, choose whichever you will be more likely to use with greater frequency.

 

Curtis H. Roy, D.D.S., has served Acadiana residents with a general dentistry and specialty practice since 1970. Find his practice on the Web at www.drcurtisroyandassociates.com, visit the office at 3703 Johnston St., Lafayette, or call 981.9811, and look for him on Facebook and Twitter.