Caring for Dentures

Proper denture care is important for both the health of your dentures and mouth. Here are some tips.

Handle dentures with great care. To avoid accidentally dropping them, stand over a folded towel or a full sink of water when handling them.
Brush and rinse dentures daily, but not with toothpaste. Toothpaste is abrasive and creates microscopic scratches where food and plaque can build up. Like natural teeth, dentures must be brushed daily to remove food and plaque. Brushing also helps prevent the development of permanent stains on the dentures. Use a brush with soft bristles that is specifically designed for cleaning dentures. Avoid using a hard-bristled brush as it can damage or wear down dentures. Gently brush all surfaces of the denture and be careful not to damage the plastic or bend attachments. In between brushings, rinse dentures after every meal.
Clean with a denture cleaner. Hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid can be used for cleaning dentures. Household cleansers and many toothpastes may be too abrasive for dentures and should not be used. Also, avoid using bleach, as this may whiten the pink portion of the denture. Ultrasonic cleaners can be used to care for dentures. These cleaners are small bathtub-like devices that contain a cleaning solution. The denture is immersed in the tub and then sound waves create a wave motion that dislodges the undesirable deposits. Use of an ultrasonic cleaner, however, does not replace a thorough daily brushing. Products with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance are recommended since they have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
Take proper care of dentures when not wearing them. Dentures need to be kept moist when not being worn so they do not dry out or lose their shape. When not worn, dentures should be placed in a denture cleanser soaking solution or in water. However, if the denture has metal attachments, the attachments could tarnish if placed in a soaking solution. Your dentist can recommend the best methods for caring for your particular denture. Dentures should never be placed in hot water, which can cause them to warp.

Can I Adjust or Repair Dentures?

One or more follow-up appointments are generally needed soon after receiving dentures for any necessary adjustments. Never attempt to adjust or repair dentures yourself. Never bend any part of the clasp or metal attachments yourself; doing so can weaken the metal structure. “Do-it-yourself” repair kits can permanently damage dentures, and over-the-counter glues may contain harmful chemicals.

Dentures that don’t fit properly can cause irritation and sores in the mouth and on gums. Be sure to contact your oral health care provider if a denture breaks, cracks, or chips or if one of the teeth becomes loose. Oftentimes, your provider can make the necessary adjustment or repair the same day. For some complicated repairs, your denture may have to be sent to a special dental lab.

Will My Dentures Need to Be Replaced?

Over time, dentures will need to be relined, rebased, or remade due to normal wear and natural age-related changes to the face, jaw bones, and gums or if the dentures become loose. To reline or rebase a denture, the dentist or prosthodontist refits the denture base or makes a new denture base and reuses the existing teeth. Generally, complete dentures should be used for 5 to 7 years before a replacement is necessary.
How Should I Care for My Mouth and Gums if I Have Dentures?

Even with full dentures, it is important to brush your gums, tongue, and palate with a soft-bristled brush every morning before putting the dentures in. This removes plaque and stimulates circulation in the mouth. Pay special attention to cleaning teeth that fit under the denture’s metal clasps. Plaque that becomes trapped under the clasps will increase the risk of tooth decay. If you wear a partial denture, be sure to remove it before brushing natural teeth. Clean, rest, and massage your gums regularly. Rinsing your mouth daily with lukewarm salt water will help clean the gums. Eat a balanced diet to maintain proper nutrition and a healthy mouth.
How Often Should I See the Dentist if I Have Dentures?

If you have dentures, your dentist or prosthodontist will advise you about how often to visit, but every six months should be the norm. Regular dental visits are important so that your dentures and your mouth can be examined to ensure proper denture fit, to look for signs of oral diseases including cancer, and to have teeth professionally cleaned.

Source: WebMD

 

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Dental Care for Seniors

Advancing age puts many seniors at risk for a number of oral health problems, such as:

Darkened teeth . Caused, to some extent, by changes in dentin — the bone-like tissue that underlies the tooth enamel — and by a lifetime of consuming stain-causing foods and beverages. Also caused by thinning of the outer enamel layer that lets the darker yellower dentin show through.
Dry mouth.Dry mouth is caused by reduced saliva flow, which can be a result of cancer treatments that use radiation to the head and neck area, as well as certain diseases, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, and medication side effects. Many medicines can cause dry mouth.
Diminished sense of taste. While advancing age impairs the sense of taste, diseases, medications, and dentures can also contribute to this sensory loss.
Root decay. This is caused by exposure of the tooth root to decay-causing acids. The tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue recedes from the tooth. Roots do not have any enamel to protect them and are more prone to decay than the crown part of the tooth.
Gum disease. Caused by plaque and made worse by food left in teeth, use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges and dentures, poor diets, and certain diseases, such as anemia, cancer, and diabetes, this is often a problem for older adults.
Tooth loss.Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss.
Uneven jawbone. This is caused by tooth and then not replacing missing teeth. This allows the rest of the teeth to drift and shift into open spaces
Denture-induced stomatitis. Ill-fitting dentures, poor dental hygiene, or a buildup of the fungus Candida albicans cause this condition, which is inflammation of the tissue underlying a denture.
Thrush. Diseases or drugs that affect the immune system can trigger the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans in the mouth.

Age in and of itself is not a dominant or sole factor in determining oral health. However, certain medical conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, may make brushing or flossing teeth difficult to impossible to perform. Drugs can also affect oral health and may make a change in your dental treatment necessary.

Oral Hygiene Tips for Seniors

Daily brushing and flossing of natural teeth is essential to keeping them in good oral health. Plaque can build up quickly on the teeth of seniors, especially if oral hygiene is neglected, and lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

To maintain good oral health, it’s important for all individuals — regardless of age — to:

Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste
Floss at least once a day
Visit your dentist on a regular schedule for cleaning and an oral exam

Antibacterial mouth rinse can reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease, according to the American Dental Association.

What Seniors Can Expect During a Dental Exam

If you’re a senior headed for a check up, your dentist should conduct a thorough history and dental exam. Questions asked during a dental history should include:

The approximate date of your last dental visit and reason for the visit
If you have noticed any recent changes in your mouth
If you have noticed any loose or sensitive teeth
If you have noticed any difficulty tasting, chewing, or swallowing
If you have any pain, discomfort, sores, or bleeding in your mouth
If you have noticed any lumps, bumps, or swellings in your mouth

During an oral exam, your dentist will check the following: your face and neck (for skin discoloration, moles, sores); your bite (for any problems in how the teeth come together while opening and closing your mouth); your jaw (for signs of clicking and popping in the temporomandibular joint); your lymph nodes and salivary glands (for any sign of swelling or lumps); your inner cheeks (for infections, ulcers, traumatic injuries); your tongue and other interior surfaces — floor of the mouth, soft and hard palate, gum tissue (for signs of infection or oral cancer); and your teeth (for decay, condition of fillings, and cracks).

If you wear dentures or other appliances, your dentist will ask a few questions about when you wear your dentures and when you take them out (if removable). He or she will also look for any irritation or problems in the areas in the mouth that the appliance touches, and examine the denture or appliance itself (looking for any worn or broken areas).

Source: WebMD

 

Are There Other Alternatives for Improving My Smile?

Not everyone is a candidate for whitening. Bleaching is not recommended if you have tooth-colored fillings, crowns, caps or bonding in your front teeth — the bleach will not change the color of these materials, making them stand out in your newly whitened smile. In these cases, you may want to investigate other options, like veneers or bonding.

Veeners

Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain or plastic glued to the front of your teeth. For teeth that are severely discolored, chipped or misshapen, they create a durable and pleasing smile. Veneers are difficult to stain, making them popular for people seeking a perfect smile.

There are two types of veneers:

Porcelain (indirect) veneers, which must first be created to fit your teeth in a dental laboratory and require two visits to the dentist. Porcelain veneers cost between $900-$2,500 per tooth and last from 10 to 15 years or more
Composite (direct) veneers, in which enamel is bonded to your tooth in a single visit. Composite veneers cost significantly less, around $250 per tooth, but only last five to seven years

Chipped ToothChipped tooth.

Tooth after bonding to repair the chip.Tooth after bonding to repair the chip.

Bonding uses composite resin to restore chipped or broken teeth, fill in gaps and reshape or recolor your smile. After applying a very mild etching solution that slightly roughs the surface of your teeth and permits the bonding material to adhere, your dentist applies the resin and sculpts, colors and shapes it to provide a pleasing result. A high-intensity light hardens the material, which is then finely polished.

Many people choose bonding over silver fillings because it looks more natural — the material can be matched to your natural tooth color
The disadvantages of bonding versus silver fillings are that they cost more (from $300-$600 per tooth), and because it is porous, smokers will find that it yellows

Your dentist can tell you if you are a good candidate for veneers or bonding.

Source: Colgate-Palmolive Company

 

Improving Your Smile With Tooth Whitening and Tooth Bonding

What Factors Affect the Color of My Teeth?
Some people are born with teeth that are more yellow than others. Others have teeth that yellow with age. Your natural tooth color can also be affected by many factors. Surface stains (called extrinsic stains by dentists) and discoloration can be caused by:

Tobacco (whether smoked or chewed)
Drinking coffee, tea, or red wine
Eating highly pigmented foods such as cherries and blueberries
Accumulation of tartar deposits, which result from plaque that has hardened

Internal stains (called intrinsic stains by dentists) can be caused by:

Treatment with the antibiotic tetracycline during the time when teeth are forming
Yellowing or graying of the teeth as part of the aging process
Trauma to the teeth that may result in the death of the tooth’s nerve, giving the tooth a brown, gray or black color
Ingesting too much fluoride when teeth are forming (from birth to age 16), which gives teeth a “mottled” look

What are Ways to Whiten Teeth?
Thorough cleanings by a dentist or hygienist will remove most external staining caused by food and tobacco. Using a whitening toothpaste can also help remove these surface stains between dental visits. If stains have been present for years, you may need to have your teeth professionally whitened to remove these more stubborn external stains.

Internal stains can be bleached, bonded or capped (crowned). While each of these methods is safe and effective, your dentist will recommend which treatment is appropriate for you depending on the state of your teeth and the results that you wish to achieve. Your dentist will consider:

The degree and type of staining
How much of the tooth structure is remaining (Is the tooth heavily filled? Are changes to the shape of the teeth needed or desired?)

How Does Tooth Whitening Work?
Whitening (bleaching) can be done either in a dentist’s office or at home, using a system dispensed by your dentist. Both methods use tooth-bleaching gels that oxidize out the stain. It’s not uncommon for teeth to become slightly sensitive during the whitening process.

At-home whitening
At-home whitening is the more popular approach today. Your dentist takes an impression of your teeth and makes a custom-fitted tray, which you fill with a whitening gel and wear up to two hours daily or at night for about two weeks. Many whitening kits prescribed by dentists today contain a solution of 10-15% carbamide peroxide. When done under the supervision of your dentist, at-home whitening is very effective.
In-office whitening
Less frequent and more expensive, this procedure takes from 30 minutes to one hour per visit, and you may have to return for several visits to achieve the desired whiteness. To protect your mouth, a gel-like substance may be applied to your gums and a rubber “shield” may be placed around the necks of the teeth. An oxidizing agent (the bleaching solution) is then applied to your teeth. Sometimes, a special light is used at five-minute intervals to help activate the whitening agent.

Will My Newly Whitened Teeth Stain?
Any tooth can stain, including the veneers and bonds mentioned above. To help prevent stains from coming back, avoid smoking, coffee, tea, red wine and heavily colored foods. And brush your teeth twice a day with a whitening toothpaste.

How Does Bonding Work?
Bonding uses composite resins or porcelain/composite veneers to cover the surface of stained teeth and give a nice, even appearance to broken or misshapen teeth. There are two basic bonding techniques:

Composite bonding
First, the front of the tooth is slightly reduced to prevent the “new” tooth from being too bulky. Microscopic grooves are then etched into the tooth surface with a mild acid. A composite resin matched to the color of the surrounding teeth is applied to the tooth, contoured into shape, set using a curing light, and finally smoothed and polished.
Veneer bonding
A veneer is made to match the color and shape of your tooth. Porcelain veneers are generally stronger, while composite veneers are less expensive. With porcelain veneers, the dentist takes an impression of the tooth and sends it to the dental lab for fabrication of the veneer, usually after the front of the tooth has been reduced. With either method, the tooth is prepared for bonding by roughening the front surface with mild etching solution. The veneer can then be bonded to your tooth using a dental bonding cement.

While more expensive, a porcelain veneer offers a better color match to your surrounding teeth and typically lasts for five to 10 years.

Source: Colgate

 

Bonding

What is it?
Bonding is the application of a tooth-colored composite resin (plastic) to repair a decayed, chipped, fractured or discolored tooth. Unlike veneers, which are manufactured in a laboratory and require a customized mold to achieve a proper fit, bonding can be done in a single visit. The procedure is called bonding because the material bonds to the tooth.

What it’s Used for?
Bonding is among the easiest and least expensive of cosmetic dental procedures. The composite resin used in bonding can be shaped and polished to match the surrounding teeth. Most often, bonding is used for cosmetic purposes to improve the appearance of a discolored or chipped tooth. It also can be used to close spaces between teeth, to make teeth look longer or to change the shape or color of teeth.

Sometimes, bonding also is used as a cosmetic alternative to amalgam fillings, or to protect a portion of the tooth’s root that has been exposed when gums recede.

Preparation No preparation is needed for bonding. Anesthesia often is not necessary, unless the bonding is being used to fill a decayed tooth.

How it’s Done
Your dentist will use a shade guide to select the composite resin color that will match the color of the tooth most closely.

Once your dentist has chosen the color, he or she will slightly abrade or etch the surface of the tooth to roughen it. The tooth will be coated lightly with a conditioning liquid, which helps the bonding material adhere.

When the tooth is prepared, your dentist will apply the tooth-colored, putty-like resin. The resin is molded and smoothed until it’s the proper shape. Then the material is hardened with an ultraviolet light or laser.

After the bonding material hardens, your dentist will further trim and shape it. Then he or she will polish the material until it matches the sheen of the rest of the tooth surface.

It usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete the procedure. If you’re having more than one tooth done, you may need to schedule several visits.

Tea, coffee, cigarette smoke and other substances can stain the resin. To prevent or minimize stains, it’s essential to avoid eating or drinking foods that can stain for the first 48 hours after any composite procedure. In addition, brush your teeth often and have them cleaned regularly by a dental hygienist.

Risks
The composite resin used in bonding isn’t nearly as strong as a natural tooth. Biting your fingernails or chewing on ice or pens can chip the material. Bonding usually lasts several years before it needs to be repaired. How long it actually lasts depends on how much bonding was done and your oral habits.

When to Call a Professional
In the days after having the bonding done, call your dentist if you notice sharp edges on the bonded teeth, or your teeth feel strange or “off” when you bite down.

At any time, call your dentist if the bonding chips or pieces fall out.

Source: InteliHealth Inc.

Affordable Dental Care Options

What You Should Know

But the truth is, taking consistently good care of your teeth is more cost-effective than waiting until a serious dental problem occurs. Plus, oral hygiene is important for overall health. So if you or someone you know has been avoiding going to the dentist because they don’t have insurance or don’t think they can afford it, consider these options:

Options To Consider

Dental schools. Many dental schools sponsor patient clinics and offer quality dental care at reduced cost. Visit the American Dental Association Web site, ada.org, for a list of dental schools to see whether there is a dental school clinic in your area, or ask at a local community health center.
Assistance plans. Use the American Dental Association Web site or a community health center to contact your state’s dental society about assistance in paying for dental care for persons in need. The assistance programs vary from state to state, and some states may offer special programs to help pay for dental care for children. Also, some dentists and dental schools participate in community outreach programs to provide free or low-cost dental care to people who are uninsured.
Shop around. You can evaluate the overall cost of dental care by figuring out the cost of getting to the dentist and the convenience of the office hours.

Do Comparison

If you want to compare fees for services, call different offices and ask for the cost of a standard service, such as a preventive visit that includes a professional cleaning, or the cost of full-mouth x-rays. If you choose a dentist who participates in your workplace’s insurance plan, you may be covered for free checkups and cleanings twice a year.

Source: oralb.com

How to Find the Right Dentist

Finding the right dentist for you and your family involves a combination of factors. But it all comes down to the four C’s: Competence, convenience, compatibility and cost.

First and foremost, you need your dentist to be competent, which means that he or she maintains a high level of professionalism and knows the latest treatments and developments in the dental field. To ensure competent dental care, look for a dentist who is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry. Dentists who are members of the AGD must meet requirements for continuing education and are pledged to uphold the highest standards of ethics and patient care.

A dentist may have a degree that says DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). These degrees apply to general dentists and represent the same training programs, but different dental schools use different terms.

Convenience is another important factor in finding a dentist. You’ll be much more likely to keep appointments if you choose a dentist whose office is convenient to your home or workplace. Also, look for a dentist whose office hours fit with your schedule. Do you need evening or weekend appointments? Do you have children who could see a dentist after school? These are the type of questions to consider.

Also, a convenient dentist is one who participates with your dental insurance plan. Most dentists in the United States participate with the large dental plans offered by most employers, but you won’t know until you ask. If you have insurance, your insurance company can provide a list of dentists who participate with your plan.  Take that list and ask your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations.

Next, consider compatibility. For example, some dentists are specialists in treating patients who are fearful of dental procedures, whether it’s filling a cavity or performing a root canal. So if you tend to be a nervous dental patient, ask your friends and colleagues to recommend a dentist that they like because he or she puts patients at ease. And ask a potential dentist whether he or she offers sedation dentistry, which involves treating you with a sedative via a pill, inhaled gas, or intravenous drug therapy prior to a dental procedure to help you relax.

If you have children, you may want to look for a dentist who has extra training in pediatric dentistry, although most general dentists manage a family practice and are expert at treat patients of all ages. Of course, some dentists are more comfortable and better at working with children than others. It may be worth asking other parents to help you find a child-friendly dentist, because positive experiences with dental care in early childhood can help encourage children to develop and follow consistent oral health care routines as they grow up.

Trust your instincts: Is the office clean and neat? Are your records in order when you arrive? Is there a plan in place for after-hours dental emergencies? Find a dentist who makes you feel comfortable about asking questions, and who explains treatments and procedures so you can understand them.
Finally, consider cost. Some people are very loyal to a dentist they like and will stick with him or her regardless of what their insurance does or doesn’t cover. Others give more weight to cost.

Many insurance plans cover 100 percent of the cost of at least one basic dental checkup and professional cleaning per year, and many plans cover two checkups per year. So it’s always worth the effort to find a quality dentist who participates in your insurance plan. If you need a dental procedure that your insurance plan doesn’t cover, contact the American Dental Association to find out about dental clinics operated by dental schools in your area. These school-based clinics are operated by the schools and supervised by licensed dentists. They often offer advanced procedures as well as basic dental care, often at a reduced cost.

If you have no dental insurance, you may be able to set aside money in a Flexible Spending Account through your employer to help cover a dental procedure, such as orthodontia, that you’re planning in advance.

Source: oralb.com

Brushing and Flossing Children’s Teeth

In children, teeth should be cleaned as soon as they emerge. By starting early, your baby gets used to the daily routine. A soft washcloth wrapped around your finger can substitute for a brush when teeth first appear. Ask your dentist when you should switch to a toothbrush. Some dentists suggest waiting until four teeth in a row have come out; others recommend waiting until the child is 2 or 3 years old.

Here are some tips for taking care of your child’s teeth:

Choose a small, child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush. Soaking the brush in warm water for a few minutes before brushing can soften the bristles even more.
Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend using an amount of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice as soon as your baby’s first tooth appears. You can graduate to a pea-sized amount when your child turns 3 years old.
Brush your child’s teeth twice a day – in the morning and just before bed. Spend 2 minutes brushing, concentrating a good portion of this time on the back molars. This is an area where cavities often first develop.
Replace the toothbrush every 3 or 4 months, or sooner if it shows signs of wear. Never share a toothbrush with others.
Start flossing your child’s teeth once a day as soon as two teeth emerge that touch. The use of floss sticks or picks instead of regular string floss may be easier for both you and your child.
Ask your dentist about your child’s fluoride needs. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, fluoride supplements or fluoride treatments may be needed.
Ask your dentist about dental sealants. These are thin, plastic protective barriers that fill in the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, protecting them from tooth decay.

When Should Children Brush and Floss on Their Own?

Most children lack the coordination to brush or floss their teeth on their own until about the age of 6 or 7. Up until this time, remember that the best way to teach children how to brush their teeth is to lead by example. Allowing your child to watch you brush your teeth teaches the importance of good oral hygiene.

How Safe Is Fluoride for My Child?

Fluoride is safe for children. Fluoride is a natural mineral that protects and strengthens the teeth against the formation of cavities. Using it early in your child’s life will provide extra protection for developing teeth. Find out if your tap water contains fluoride by calling your local water authority. If your tap water does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist if you should give your child a fluoride supplement.

Do Home Faucet Filters Remove Fluoride?

There is a wide variation in water filters. Some do filter out fluoride; others do not. Check with the manufacturer of the filter you have purchased or have the water tested by a laboratory that does this type of testing.

Does It Matter What Toothpaste My Child Uses?

Many children’s toothpastes are flavored with child-pleasing tastes to further encourage brushing. Select your child’s favorite. Also, look for toothpastes that carry the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This indicates that the toothpaste has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. Finally, read the manufacturer’s label. Some toothpastes are not recommended for children under a certain age.

Can My Child Use a Mouthwash?

Generally, mouthwashes are not recommended in children who are incapable of spitting and rinsing – skills that occur around the age of 6. It’s important to note that mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing, although rinsing after a meal with water will help remove some larger particles of food left on or between the teeth.

When Should My Child Start Seeing a Dentist?

It is generally recommended that an infant be seen by a dentist by the age of 1 or within 6 months after his or her first tooth comes in. This allows the dentist to inspect the teeth for any irregularities and counsel the parents on correct brushing methods and appropriate diet.

Source: WebMD

How To Wear and Care For Your Retainer Correctly

How should I take care of my retainer?
Most retainers are removable, meaning that you take them out when eating, brushing and flossing. For this reason, they are easy to misplace. Many people wrap their retainers in a napkin when eating, then forget about them afterwards and have to spend hundreds of dollars on a new retainer. A good solution is to always carry your retainer case with you and to use it whenever you’re not wearing your retainer. For added protection, never leave the case on a table or a bench — always put it immediately in your backpack, purse or pocket.

Your dentist can give you information on how to clean and care for your specific type of retainer. Regardless of the type, you need to make sure you don’t sit on, step on or otherwise damage this delicate and expensive piece of equipment.

How long do I need to wear a retainer after my braces comes off?
Your dentist can tell you how long you should keep wearing your retainer. Since the purpose of retainers is to prevent your teeth from shifting back into their original position, they should be worn at least until your jawbone and gums have had time to stabilize around your newly-aligned teeth. Many orthodontists recommend that children and teenagers wear their retainers until their early or mid-20s — until all the permanent teeth have come in and the jaw stops growing.