What Did My Dentist Just Say?

Brandon dentists, Dr. Walker & Dr. Barr at Walker and Barr DMD share a glossary of terms you might hear frequently in the dental office.At Walker and Barr DMD, education is paramount in our mission to help our Brandon friends and neighbors improve and maintain their oral health. For this reason, we try to avoid using dental jargon when we’re speaking with our valued patient family. 

However, there are terms that can’t be broken down as easily; in those cases, we’ll explain things in as much detail as you need to feel comfortable and confident in your care. Usually what we’re describing isn’t as complex as it sounds! 

That’s a Mouthful

As an example: alveoloplasty. That’s just the technical term for the surgical reshaping of your jawbone, often performed after extraction to prepare your mouth for a tooth or teeth replacement. Words (or abbreviations) you’ll hear more commonly include prophylaxis, scaling and root planing, TMJ, and bruxism. For a crash course on these words and more, check out this glossary.

If you have questions about the terms you see (or terms that didn’t make the list) and you’d like to talk about it over an appointment, please contact us today. Dr. Walker & Dr. Barr love talking all things oral health and sharing smiles with you!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Dental Crowns 101

Brandon dentists, Dr. David Walker & Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD share all you need to know about dental crowns and how they can restore your smile in form and function.Sometimes in life, you just need a do-over. That’s precisely what dental crowns are—a new start for your tooth.

Teeth are important players in your life! They’re not only the first responders for your digestive tract, but they can make a great first impression – so you deserve a beautiful, fully-functioning set. If your teeth need a real makeover, a crown might be just the thing you need.

A crown is a custom-made shell that fits perfectly over your natural tooth. Crowns look and act exactly like your original tooth – but better. Crowns restore broken and badly decayed or discolored teeth. Crowns also top off dental implants and build dental bridges

Dr. David Walker & Dr. Sarah Barr, Brandon dentists at Walker and Barr DMD share more information about getting a dental crown below.

If You Need A Crown

Getting a crown usually requires two trips to the dentist. On the first trip, the dentist makes a plan to suit your specific needs and prepares the tooth. You will also get impressions of the tooth so that a crown can be made to fit perfectly over the natural tooth. On the second trip, your crown is installed and cemented on. A crown is a permanent or “fixed” dental piece. This makes it very stable and durable.

In some cases, a crown can be designed, fabricated and placed in a single appointment with the help of advanced same-day technology.

Crowns can be made of a variety of materials and each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Talk with your dentist when choosing between crowns made of porcelain, resin, or metal.

Benefits of Dental Crowns

Crowns are superior restorative dentistry treatment in both form and function. Because they are individually made, your Brandon dentist can give unique attention to each tooth to make sure it looks and acts just like a natural tooth.

  • Form: Crowns look completely natural and are made of materials that match your teeth, they do not stain, and they fill in your smile for a beautiful set of pearly whites! 
  • Function: Crowns stay perfectly locked in place, they protect your tooth underneath from damage and decay, and they are comfortable, fitting totally naturally in your mouth. They can last a decade or longer if cared for properly.

Getting & Maintaining a Crown

You can (and should) care for a crown the same way you do all of your other teeth. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and seeing your dentist regularly. You should also try to be gentle with your teeth to preserve your crown and prevent you from needing another one down the road. This means not grinding your teeth or using them to open packaging and bottles.

It might take a while to get used to the feel of your newly crowned tooth, but after a little time, it will feel completely comfortable and natural, even much better than it did before! 

If you’re interested in a crown, Walker and Barr DMD would love to take care of you. Contact us today for an appointment, and you’ll be on your way to a new smile in no time!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Buds for Life: Your Tongue & Taste

Brandon dentists, Dr. Barr & Dr. Walker at Walker and Barr DMD, take a moment to talk about what’s responsible for your love and dislike of certain foods: taste buds!Full disclosure before your Brandon dental team at Walker and Barr DMD starts dropping knowledge on the muscles in your mouth that are partially to thank (or blame) for the foods you love: we’re hungry as we write this and are envisioning pizza; yummy, savory pizza with cheese that stretches when you grab a slice, crust with just the right amount of crunch, sauce with the best blend of veggies and herbs…what were we going to talk about? Oh yeah, taste buds! Wait—are you craving pizza now, too? Let’s go halfsies on some ‘za!

Gusta-what?!

The scientific term for your taste buds is gustatory receptor cells. Jot that down because there will be a quiz later (we joke). These taste buddies (that’s just more fun to say, isn’t it?) form before we evacuate the womb. In fact, based on their sensitivity to sweet and bitter tastes, newborns may have more taste buds than adults. For an image to distract from the pizza that may still be on your mind, picture babies trying new foods. Need help? That’s what we’re here for! Here are babies tasting lemons in slow motion.

A common belief about taste buds is that they’re the bumps visible on your tongue, but those are papillae which exist to give your tongue the rough texture that helps you eat—your taste buds cover these papillae but can only be seen with a microscope. A person can have anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 taste buds co-existing with bacteria in their mouths, and the number of bacteria present? That can range anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 on each tooth’s surface and jump to 100 million or a whopping 1 billion bacteria in a mouth that needs flossing and brushing.

Why’d We Mention Bacteria?

We’re sorry to derail the humor train, but Dr. Barr & Dr. Walker would be remiss not to mention the importance of oral hygiene when it comes to tongue talk. Your tongue is a favorite haven for bacteria and food debris, after all, and neglecting to give it quality time with your trusty toothbrush and friendly floss (or alternatives like the WaterPik®) can carry consequences like cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and alteration of your taste buds! You know how food is harder to taste when you’re fighting an infection or virus? It’s like that, and we think this further highlights the oral-systemic link.

The oral-systemic link is the term used to describe how your body’s systems work together to keep you going strong, or work against you to make you feel crummy (not to be confused with crumbly like a cookie). Your mouth is a gateway—your taste buds being on the roof of your mouth and your upper esophagus, cheeks, and epiglottis (the flap of cartilage that covers your windpipe while you swallow food or liquid to prevent you from inhaling it and choking) illustrate this for us. 

Your Tongue Isn’t the Only Thing with Taste

For another example of how your systems work together, get a whiff of how the nose operates in conjunction with your taste buds. Your olfactory receptors send signals to the brain about whether the food you’re about to consume or reject is spicy, fatty, sugary, salty, and/or acidic—because food can be almost as complex as your body, can’t it? And yes, we did mention the brain! 

Your brain is what provides you with the sense of satisfaction you feel when eating something you love. Your brain’s participation in the consumption process is further evidenced by the ability scientists have to turn taste “on” or “off” by stimulating or silencing clusters of brain cells. (Does this mean they could make onions more palatable to people that don’t usually like them? Maybe! But so far, testing has only been conducted on mice.)

Other Fun Tongue Facts

  • Contrary to a somewhat popular belief, your tongue’s ability to taste sweet, savory, salty, sour, and bitter is not relegated to different sections—your whole tongue senses these equally.
  • Each person’s tongue is as unique as their fingerprints.
  • The size of your tongue can contribute to disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea. 
  • The average tongue is about three inches in length, with the longest recorded being 3.97 inches.
  • Taste buds have an average lifespan of 10 days but can be killed sooner if you burn your tongue on hot beverages or foods. Not to worry—most taste buds regenerate!
  • Your sense of smell and taste change with age, which may mean loss of the ability to distinguish between savory, sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. This could be why some of us love hot sauce and add more of it to our food as we grow wiser (the term we prefer to older, thank you!).

We hope you enjoyed reading about your tongue and that it inspires you to treat it kindly along with the rest of your mouth. One of the best ways to show it some love is by scheduling an appointment with your Brandon dentists, Dr. Barr & Dr. Walker of Walker and Barr DMD, to make sure everything is in tip-top shape! 

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Applesauce to Zucchini: What Should I Eat After Dental Surgery?

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker & Dr. Sarah Barr of Walker and Barr DMD, discusses soft foods that are appropriate for eating after dental surgery for a comfortable and speedy recovery.If you need dental surgery, you may have a lot of questions and concerns. How much will it cost? How much will it hurt? Who is going to drive me home? And perhaps most importantly, what can I eat? Recovery can seem a lot more stressful if you don’t stock up on acceptable soft foods in advance. Brandon dentists, Dr. David Walker & Dr. Sarah Barr, shares a comprehensive list of foods in this article to help ease your mind—at least about one aspect of your procedure!

Types of Dental Treatments

Each type of dental treatment is different, so it’s important to follow post-operative instructions from Walker and Barr DMD regarding appropriate foods to eat. Certain surgeries require a strict liquid diet for a certain amount of time before transitioning to soft foods. Types of dental procedures that require soft foods while recovering may include:

Awesome Post-Op Soft Foods from A to Z

Here we go! And don’t be afraid to get friendly with your blender to make a delicious smoothie or two!

A: Applesauce, avocado, apples (baked)

B: Baby food, beans (black or baked, mashed if necessary), bananas, broccoli (steamed to softness), broth, butternut squash (cooked soft)

C: Carnation Instant Breakfast Essentials® (some available in sugar-free!), carrots (steamed soft), soft cheese, casseroles, clam chowder, cottage cheese, canned fruits and veggies, crab cakes, cranberry sauce, chicken salad, curry

D: Deviled eggs, deviled ham, dumplings (steamed)

E: Ensure®, eggs (poached, fried, or scrambled), egg salad, egg drop soup

F: Fettuccine, fish, frozen yogurt, fruit juice, fruit smoothies, soft fruits (not citrus)

G: Gravy, ground meats (turkey, beef, chicken), guacamole, gelato, gazpacho

H: Hummus

I: Ice cream

J: Jell-O®, juiced vegetables, and fruits

K: Kefir, key lime pie

L: Lentils or lentil soup (puréed), lunch meats

M: Macaroni and cheese, Malt-O-Meal®, mangoes, mashed potatoes, matzoh ball soup, meatloaf, meatballs, miso soup, mousse, muffins (no nuts), melons (very ripe), milkshakes (but don’t use a straw!)

N: Noodles (ramen, egg), nut butters (great when added to shakes and smoothies), nutmeg (for flavor)

O: Oatmeal (soft)

P: Pancakes, pasta (cooked very soft), pies, polenta, pot roast with vegetables (cooked to falling apart), protein powder, protein drinks and shakes like Premier Protein®, pudding

Q: Quiche (no crust)

R: Refried beans, ricotta cheese, risotto, rice

S: Sherbet, smoothies, soft bread (soak in soup), soufflé, soup, spaghetti, spinach, spinach dip, steamed vegetables, stew, sweet potatoes

T: Tapioca pudding, tofu, tuna salad

U: Unsweetened herbal tea (hold the lemon—too acidic!)

V: Vichyssoise (chilled potato leek soup)

W: Waffles

X: Xavier soup (Italian dumpling soup)

Y: Yellow squash, yogurt

Z: Zucchini (baked, mashed)

Foods to Avoid

We hope we’ve sparked a little kitchen creativity with the soft foods listed above, but equally important, you should know which types of foods to avoid to ensure your quickest and most comfortable recovery.

  • Anything acidic (tomatoes, tomato sauce, oranges, lemons, or any other acidic fruit or juice)
  • Seeds, cracked pepper, or popcorn (can become lodged, causing discomfort or infection)
  • Spicy foods (may lead to discomfort)
  • Crunchy or especially chewy foods (can interfere with postoperative blood clotting)

Over-the-counter mouth rinses should also be avoided during your recovery. Even though they are not technically a food, they are commonly used and interfere significantly with healing. Dentists will usually prescribe a safe mouth rinse for use following dental surgery.

If you have any questions about dental surgery, Brandon dentists, Dr. David Walker & Dr. Sarah Barr, would love to answer them. Get in touch with us at Walker and Barr DMD today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Lasers: A “Groovy” Tool for Dentists

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker & Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD, tells patients about the use of lasers in dentistry, and how we can perform many procedures more comfortably and conservatively.At Walker and Barr DMD, we take pride in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest and greatest in dental treatments and technologies. That’s why we think dental “lasers” are truly smashing. And if you’re worried about paying one million dollars, rest assured laser treatments are more accessible and affordable than ever. Austin Powers jokes aside, we’re here to tell you how lasers work in dentistry and how they can benefit your smile—and make for a more comfortable dental experience!

How do dental lasers work?

Advanced laser technology has been one of the most important improvements in modern medicine and dentistry, allowing us to hang up our other tools while providing treatments that are less invasive, more comfortable, and with healthier results than ever before.

All lasers work by creating energy in the form of light, but the precise function in dentistry depends on the type of procedure. With surgical and other types of restorative dental treatments, the laser functions as a cutting device, replacing sharp dental tools, or as a vaporizer of diseased or decayed tissue—leaving healthy tissue intact. For teeth whitening, the laser functions as a heat source to speed up and enhance the effects of bleaching agents.

No Fear Here

One of the greatest things about dental lasers is they are great for patients with any level of dental anxiety. They eliminate the sharp tools, so you don’t have to hear or feel the scraping on your teeth, or the sounds and vibrations of the dental drill. Lasers create a calmer, more relaxed dental experience that can eliminate dental anxiety for many patients. 

Laser Cleanings

Don’t you just love good teeth cleaning? No? While some folks do enjoy that fresh-from-the-dentist clean feeling, most don’t enjoy the cleaning itself. Lasers can help with that! Rather than using sharp tools to scrape plaque and tartar off your teeth and around the gum line, low-level lasers target and disintegrate plaque and tartar buildup without the invasive techniques. Where traditional cleanings can irritate the gum tissue, causing bleeding, swelling, and pain, laser cleanings leave healthy tissue alone, so you can have a more comfortable cleaning.

Laser Gum Disease Treatment

Similarly, we can also use lasers to provide periodontal therapy or gum disease treatment. Where a laser cleaning focuses mostly on the visible crown portion of the tooth and buildup along the gum line, periodontal therapy goes deeper—under the gum line, removing plaque and tartar while targeting and killing the infection and leaving healthy tissue intact. 

Traditional gum disease treatments involve sharp tools and invasive techniques like scaling and root planing, gum grafting, and gum surgery—and these techniques only treat the physical symptoms of the disease. Laser periodontal therapy, however, gets to the root cause of the problem—treating the infection at the bacterial level and creating a healthier environment for the gums to reattach to. Laser gum disease treatments are more comfortable, more conservative, and garner healthier results so you don’t have to treat and retreat.

Tooth Decay & Root Canals

If you have a cavity or an infected tooth, lasers can help with that, too! Lasers can be used to remove areas of decay from within a tooth and prepare the surrounding enamel for a tooth-colored filling to be placed. If your tooth is infected and you’re in need of a root canal, lasers can help us carefully and conservatively remove the infection and save the tooth.

Biopsies & Lesions

Lesions and tissue abnormalities in the mouth are serious business, so it’s a good thing we’ve got laser technology on our side! Lasers can be used for biopsies, which involve taking a small sample of tissue from the mouth so that it can be screened for oral cancer. Laser biopsies are less invasive and more comfortable than traditional biopsies. Lasers can also be used to remove lesions in the mouth and treat canker sores. What a relief!

Teeth Whitening

By far the most popular cosmetic dental treatment, teeth whitening can be assisted by our trusty dental lasers to speed up the in-office bleaching process. First, we apply a special peroxide bleaching solution, which is then activated further by the laser light which heats up and speeds up the whitening power to full throttle, so you can leave with a dazzling smile after a single visit.

Mr. Powers could have benefited from dental lasers, himself, don’t you think? If you’d like to learn more about laser dentistry and how it can make for a healthier mouth and a more comfortable dental experience, we would love to speak with you. Contact your Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker & Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD today to schedule a visit. We would love to help make your smile… groovy baby! Yeah!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Finding Your Oasis: Food & Drinks for Dry Mouth

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr of Walker and Barr DMD discusses some foods and beverages to alleviate the symptoms of xerostomia (dry mouth).Xerostomia is the technical term for dry mouth, the condition that results from absent or reduced saliva flow. It is not a disease on its own, but it may be a side effect of medication or radiation treatments.  Xerostomia affects about 20% of the elderly population—not because of their age, but due to the increased likelihood of using medication or having radiation therapy that causes dry mouth. Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr is here to discuss some foods and beverages to alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth.

Food & Beverages that Help Dry Mouth

8-12 glasses of water per day are ideal to keep saliva production on track, so making a habit of carrying a water bottle with you is a great idea. Sugar-free juices, reduced-sugar sports drinks, club soda, and herbal tea with lemon are good beverage choices when you just can’t stand the idea of drinking any more water.

A soft, high-protein diet is recommended for people with dry mouth. Substitute moist fish, eggs, and cheese for red meat. Serving food lukewarm or at room temperature reduces the chances of burning the mouth with hot food. To make bread or rolls easier to eat with dry mouth, soak them in milk or your favorite sauce to soften them. Eat moist casseroles and other foods that incorporate gravy, sauce, or broth in their recipes. Make smoothies, slushies, or shakes in the blender that incorporate milk alternatives like soy, almond, or rice milk (consumption of cow’s milk often produces thicker saliva and can worsen dry mouth).  

More examples of soft natural foods that are helpful for people with dry mouth include tender meats like chicken and fish, smooth peanut butter, soups, canned fruits, soft-cooked/blended vegetables like carrots or celery, mashed potatoes, soft-cooked pasta, oatmeal, ice cream, pudding, and popsicles. Herbal flavor enhancers, condiments, and fruit extracts can be used to make food more flavorful, as the diet for dry mouth may seem bland to many.

There are also artificial saliva substitutes and stimulants that can help curb dry mouth, as can sugarless candies and chewing gums. Sucking on fruit pits from cherries or olives, and lemon rinds can help stimulate saliva flow, as do lemon drops and other hard candies, although be wary of excessive sugar intake. 

Food & Beverages to Avoid for Dry Mouth

Increased water and fluid intake are recommended, but caffeinated fluids such as tea, coffee, and cola act as diuretics and are not ideal for xerostomia sufferers. If you’re craving soda, let it go flat prior to indulging. Alcohol consumption should also be limited or avoided. 

Foods should not be excessively hot or cold, sugary, salty, spicy, or acidic, including citric fruits like tomato, grapefruit, orange, and pineapple and astringent foods like apple, pomegranate, pear, quinoa, legumes, tofu, sprouts, beans, and lentils. You should also avoid dry, crumbly foods like crackers, cereal, pastries, toast, and dry meat.  

If you have any questions or concerns about dry mouth, contact your Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD today and we’ll be happy to talk about solutions with you!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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“Buy-Up” Dental Insurance: A Little Extra Protection

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr of Walker and Barr DMD discusses buy-up dental insurance and how it can prove to be a valuable investment for patients.When it comes to dental insurance, it seems like there can be as many (or more) questions as there are answers. Even when you are fortunate enough to have dental insurance, navigating its use can still be very confusing. Many people don’t give their dental insurance a second thought – until the day comes when they need to use it.  Today, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD would like to talk to you about an option not everyone knows about – “buy-up” dental insurance.

What is “Buy-Up” Dental Insurance?

“Buy-up” dental insurance allows enrollees with group insurance to “buy-up” to more generous benefits by paying higher monthly premiums and receiving more comprehensive dental coverage in return. The differences between “regular” and “buy-up” dental coverages are easy to pinpoint when benefit summaries of the plans are viewed side by side: “buy-up” dental calendar year maximums are higher, annual deductibles are lower, and a percentage of more extensive restorations like bridges, crowns, dental implants, and sometimes even orthodontics are covered, while regular group dental insurance plans often provide little to coverage for these procedures. As with any other insurance plan, whether dental providers are in-network also factors into the level of coverage when considering “buy-up” dental.

Is “Buy-Up” Dental Insurance Worth the Added Cost?

When the only factor under consideration is economics, one recent study would likely call it a draw. The sample showed the average insured household spent $978 in out-of-pocket dental costs – including premiums – while the average uninsured household spent $1,007 – a mere $29 difference. If “buy-up” dental insurance becomes an option for you, the specific pros and cons of your individual and family situation will need to be weighed when you choose your insurance plan.  

If you are a weekend hockey player, have kids that need orthodontia, or just tend to be unlucky when it comes to your teeth, it’s hard to put a price tag on your peace of mind. Dental insurance can be a saving grace for those with unusually high dental expenses from serious financial hardship, and better-than-average coverage would only ease the burden. 

It may seem like a gamble to dig into your pockets and invest more money in a higher-priced dental plan when the extra coverage may never be needed. However, to reiterate – many people don’t give their dental insurance a second thought until the time comes when they NEED it – and when you need your dental insurance, you really need it. Some of the most expensive dental procedures are also the most unexpected and in many cases, they are true medical emergencies that require treatment. 

One way to think about “buy-up” dental insurance is to compare it to enhanced towing coverage for your vehicle, such as the type offered by AAA. You can pay one nominal annual fee that covers unlimited towing costs, so no matter where your vehicle breaks down within a certain geographical radius, there will be no additional cost to you for your car to be towed. If you carry this coverage, your vehicle may not break down during that coverage year and your benefits may never be used, but if your vehicle does break down and you do require towing, the annual premium price is about the same or less than one tow, and the coverage has paid for itself with just one use.

Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr and our team are always happy to discuss your insurance coverage, as well as your other financing options if you need additional help working dental care into your budget. Contact us anytime – we’d love to help!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Biofilm: The Most Important Film of the Year

Brandon dentists, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr of Walker and Barr DMD, explain what biofilm is and the role it plays in your oral health and overall wellness.Biofilm is quite literally a “film” or layer of biological matter that forms on teeth, in sink pipes, on river rocks, and more. Biofilm is made of many different things. Think of it as concrete, which contains cement as well as a slew of other materials. It’s likely you’ve been aware of biofilm on your teeth when they feel slimy or fuzzy instead of smooth and clean. Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr, Brandon dentists explain more below about biofilm and the role it plays in your oral wellness.

My Teeth Aren’t Cold, Why Do They Need Sweaters?

It’s true; the texture of biofilm can feel like fuzzy little sweaters on your teeth. Biofilm occurs when bacteria stick to a wet environment, creating a slimy layer of microorganisms and random debris. Biofilm is a diverse and highly organized group of biological matter all webbed together. Some of the microorganisms are neutral but some are pathogenic and cause a lot of problems for your oral and overall health.

This slimy layer includes multiple kinds of bacteria, fungi, and anything else that gets stuck in the stickiness such as plaque or leftover food particles. Usually, bacteria start off floating around on their own, but if they stick to a wet surface they can cause a microcolony and produce a lot of gunk. This can happen on your teeth as easily as down a water pipe.

The Effects of Biofilm

It’s proven that not all microorganisms in biofilm cause harm to your oral health. But the ones that do can cause inflammation and deterioration in the bones and tissues of your mouth and have a direct pathway through the gums and into the bloodstream.

Biofilm in your mouth can cause:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities
  • Tooth loss

Dental plaque is a dangerous kind of biofilm. Without properly cleaning your teeth (brushing and flossing every day), the material can corrode your teeth and the bacteria can make you sick.

Gingivitis is a common and mild irritation of the gums. But even 30-40% of the population will have severe gum disease called periodontitis. A dentist can help you look for signs of gum disease or diagnose it.

Biofilm allowed to travel through the bloodstream to other parts of your body cause:

  • Ear infections
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Cystic fibrosis (lung infection)
  • Legionnaire’s Disease

Treating Biofilm & Tooth Decay

The formation of biofilm actually protects the bacteria in it by keeping it attached to teeth and other debris. This makes the bacteria hard to clear and kill. Regular brushing and flossing are essential for your oral health to prevent bacteria and other microorganisms from building up on your teeth.

However, some buildup of plaque and tartar is common and can only be treated by a dental professional. This is why getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist twice a year is so important. Biofilm can also grow on oral appliances. So, if you use dentures, a mouthguard, or a removable bridge, ask your dentist how to best keep the appliance clean.

If biofilm causes excessive tartar buildup, your dentist may recommend special treatment to remove it and kill the bacteria such as prescription mouthwash or more advanced periodontal treatments. Unfortunately, oral infections are chronic because the bacteria can’t be completely killed by antibiotics. Oral infections must be inspected and treated on an ongoing basis. As always—prevention is the best medicine.

If you’re looking for a dental professional to keep your mouth and overall health in tiptop shape, Walker and Barr DMD is accepting new patients. Contact us to make an appointment today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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What Are Those Bumps? Oral Tori

Brandon dentists, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD explain oral tori—what they are, why they happen, and whether they are a cause for concern.Unusual shapes and growths can be alarming anywhere in the body. If you’ve noticed hard bumps growing in your mouth, you might have oral tori

What are Oral Tori?
Tori (or a single torus) are bumps in the mouth made of bone tissue covered by gum tissue. They grow slowly and some people have them without ever noticing them! There are three kinds of tori, each named differently based on their location:

  • Buccal exostoses: tori on the back, upper gums, on the cheek side
  • Maxillary/palatal tori: on the roof of the mouth
  • Mandibular lingual tori: on the lower jaw, under the tongue

Tori are more common among males than females. (Although palatal tori are twice as likely to occur in women than men.) They appear to be genetic. Tori can appear in groups of various shapes and sizes, or you can have just one torus. If you have a torus on one side of your mouth, it’s likely that you’ll also have another one on the other side.

Tori have been referenced and studied for at least 100 years, but truth be told, we don’t totally understand what causes them. Some dentists believe that people who grind their teeth and clench their jaw are more likely to develop tori. Others believe that tori result from facial or jaw injuries or trauma. 

Are Tori Dangerous?

Tori are considered normal and harmless. Phew! Tori may, however, get in the way of dentures or orthodontics in some cases. Or they may grow to a point and touch in the middle of the mouth. In these cases, your dentist may recommend treatment and removal to ensure optimum comfort and function. So long as they don’t interfere with your daily life and ability to eat, speak, or care for your oral health, tori are not a problem.

Tori should not hurt but they can get injured if you accidentally scrape them while eating. If this happens, keep the wound clean with mouthwash or a saline rinse to prevent infection.

Although they are extra growths, tori are not cancerous. Signs of oral cancer include sores, thickening oral tissues, unexplained bleeding or numbness, trouble swallowing, and a change in how your dentures fit. If you have any concerns about oral cancer, you should see us today for an oral cancer screening.

Treating Tori

Your Brandon dentist will monitor the tori shape and size and how they affect your general health. In the rare case that you do need the tori to be removed, your dentist or oral surgeon will perform an oral surgery procedure. The oral surgeon will expose the bone tissue, remove it, and level the mouth surface. As with any surgery, you’ll be sore for a while afterward, and you’ll see the dentist about a week later for a post-op checkup.

If you need help living with tori, or you have any other oral health need, make an appointment to come in and see us today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Posted in Blog, Dental Health

Top 5 Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD lists the top 5 causes of tooth sensitivity. Give us a call today if you need relief from sensitive teeth!If you’re one of the 40 million Americans with sensitive teeth, you must be familiar with the painful zing that follows a hot drink, a bite of ice cream, or just a deep breath of cold air. These and other elements can cause a sudden discomfort if you have sensitive teeth, also called dentin hypersensitivity. 

Each of your teeth has an important protected layer called enamel. If your enamel gets worn down, your teeth can become more sensitive over time. Your enamel is the visible, white part of the tooth and it protects the softer, inner layers of each tooth. Receding gums can also reveal sensitive parts of the tooth that aren’t protected by enamel.

If you’re living with sensitive teeth, it’s good to know what causes the pain and how to avoid it. You should also talk with your Brandon dentist about how to treat sensitive teeth and prevent further damage to your enamel or gums.

Causes of Sensitivity

Underneath your enamel is a part of the tooth called the dentin. Dentin is soft tissue full of nerves, which can be sensitive and painful. Certain habits and behaviors are more likely to wear down your enamel or cause gum recession that increases tooth sensitivity. The top five causes of tooth sensitivity are:

  1. Brushing your teeth too aggressively and wearing down enamel and/or gums
  2. Long-term exposure to acidic food and drinks such as citrus, coffee, and soda
  3. Tooth decay or broken teeth that expose the dentin
  4. Broken or leaking fillings
  5. Grinding your teeth

If you’re serious about avoiding or treating tooth sensitivity, talk with your dentist about which of these behaviors might be causing your problem. It’s very important that you keep track of when your teeth hurt and where you feel the pain. Sometimes tooth sensitivity means there’s another problem such as infection or cavity that needs a different treatment than just thinning enamel.

Treating Sensitive Teeth

Depending on the exact cause of your tooth sensitivity, Walker and Barr DMD may recommend:

  • brush more gently and/or buy a soft-bristle brush
  • start wearing a nightguard, or
  • another procedure to fix the problem.

Two simple products that can go a long way in relieving sensitive teeth are:

  • Sensitive toothpaste to use every time you brush your teeth at home. You can find a variety of toothpaste for sensitive teeth at the drugstore. This type of toothpaste decreases the sensitivity of the nerves in your dentin. Although you can never grow new enamel to replace what may be worn down, sensitive toothpaste will offer temporary relief for as long as you use it. Most people need to use sensitive toothpaste for 2-4 weeks before experiencing its complete benefits.
  • Fluoride gel applied to each tooth by the dentist can strengthen what remaining enamel you have and protect sensitivity from increasing.

If you have questions about sensitive teeth or any other oral health matter, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr is currently accepting new patients. Make an appointment today at Walker and Barr DMD. Your oral health makes a big difference in your overall health and quality of life. You are worth the investment!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

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Posted in Blog, Dental Health