Salem, Oregon Center of Cosmetic Dentistry
2510 12th Street SE
Salem, OR 97302
503-378-1212

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By Dr. Karst
April 17, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   dry mouth  
KnowtheCausesandTreatmentsforChronicDryMouth

You hardly notice the moist environment of your mouth — unless it becomes uncomfortably dry. Some instances of dry mouth are quite normal — when you first wake in the morning after reduced saliva flow during sleep, when you're stressed, or when you're dehydrated and need fluids. But some are not normal — millions of people, in fact, suffer from a chronic inadequacy of saliva production and flow.

Chronic dry mouth (or xerostomia) can have a greater effect on your oral health than discomfort. Saliva performs a number of tasks for the body: its enzymes help break down food before digestion; its antimicrobial properties help reduce harmful bacteria and its buffering ability helps neutralize acid, both of which reduce the risk of tooth decay.

There are a number of causes for chronic dry mouth. One of the most common arises as a side effect of over 500 medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. The major contributors to dry mouth fall into three main types: antihistamines, used to treat allergies; diuretics, prescribed to cardiac patients to drain excess fluid; and antidepressants. Diseases like Diabetes, Parkinson's disease, or AIDS can also cause dry mouth. Some treatments can too — persons undergoing head or neck radiation or chemotherapy may experience dry mouth.

If you've noticed dry mouth over several days, it's a good idea to visit us for an exam. Our first step is to try to determine the extent and cause of the condition. Depending on what we find, we can then recommend a treatment path that includes some changes in habit and prescribed medications. For example, if lack of hydration is contributing to dry mouth, we would recommend drinking an adequate amount of water, as well as cutting back on caffeinated or acidic beverages. We might also prescribe medication to stimulate saliva flow. Consuming foods that contain xylitol, a natural sugar substitute, may also do the same.

It's also important that you maintain a good oral hygiene regimen and regular dental checkups and cleanings. Good oral hygiene and the proper treatment for chronic dry mouth will greatly reduce your risk of tooth decay and other diseases.

If you would like more information on the causes and treatment of dry mouth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dry Mouth.”

CosmeticDentalOptions-TimeForChange

Most dental treatment has a cosmetic aspect to it since in the act of “restoring” teeth they are made to look better. The word “cosmetic” comes from roots meaning, “to adorn, dress and embellish.” Here are some terms and cosmetic dental techniques that could change your smile.

  • The best and easiest way to remove stains on your teeth? Make an appointment to see a dental hygienist to remove unwanted stains from coffee, tea, red wine, that can discolor the outer surfaces of your teeth. Your teeth will look better and be healthier as a result.
  • Dental office or home whitening? Dull, dingy and discolored teeth can be whitened with over-the-counter products at home, or professionally in our office. If you use the home method, be sure to follow the manufacturers' instructions carefully to make sure you don't overdo it. In our office we can use stronger bleaching solutions with special precautions to protect your gums and other tissues and achieve whiter teeth more quickly.
  • Cosmetic change for back teeth? Tooth-colored composite resin filling materials are a relatively inexpensive way to replace tooth structure that has been damaged (by decay or otherwise) with non-metallic materials that bond to your natural teeth, match their color and make them stronger. (Sometimes metal restorations, like gold are advised for people who grind their teeth.)
  • Cosmetic change for front teeth? Tooth-colored composite resin restorative filling materials — can be bonded directly to natural tooth structure becoming “one” with it. Used to replace tooth structure damaged by decay or injury such as chipped teeth, they are especially useful for front teeth in the smile zone. And they actually strengthen the teeth as well as providing highly cosmetic tooth restorations. In artistic hands nobody will know your teeth have been changed, except you and your dentist.
  • Porcelain Veneers are thin layers of glass-like ceramic material that replaces the original tooth enamel. Veneering a tooth often involves some enamel reshaping or removal to accommodate the veneer. Veneers are bonded to the underlying tooth, but can be made brighter and whiter than your own enamel to cosmetically enhance your smile.
  • Porcelain Crowns are similar to veneers in their cosmetic appearance but they cover the entire surface of a tooth, replacing tooth structure that has been damaged, lost or has become very discolored.
  • Clear Aligners are a newer technique used in orthodontics (tooth movement) to move teeth into better position to enhance cosmetic change and improve biting function. A series of clear plastic trays is used to gradually move teeth to more attractive and functional positions.
  • Dental Implants replace the roots of missing teeth. They are placed into the jawbone and become fused with it. Once implants have integrated with the bone, crowns are attached that look, function and feel just like stand alone natural teeth.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry: A time for change.”

By Dr. Karst
April 01, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   saliva  
SalivaisaKeyIngredientinOralHealth

When you think of saliva, the word “amazing” probably doesn’t come to mind. But your life and health would be vastly different without this “wonder” fluid at work in your mouth.

Saliva originates from a number of glands located throughout the mouth. The largest are a pair known as the parotids, located just under the ears on either side of the lower jaw, which produce a thin and watery liquid. The sublingual glands under the tongue produce thicker saliva with a mucous secretion; the saliva from the submandibular glands located under the lower jaw has a consistency somewhere between that of the parotids and the sublingual glands. All these different consistencies of saliva combine to produce a fluid rich in proteins, enzymes, minerals and antibodies.

Saliva performs at least five basic functions in the mouth. First, it washes away food particles after eating and reduces the amount of sugar available for decay-causing bacteria to consume. It protects and disinfects the mouth with antibodies, proteins and enzymes that fight against and help prevent the growth of bacteria. Saliva neutralizes high acidity levels in the mouth, necessary to prevent enamel erosion from acid; and when enamel has softened due to acidity (de-mineralization), the calcium and other minerals in saliva help restore some of the enamel’s lost minerals (re-mineralization). Saliva also aids in digestion by lubricating the mouth and helping the body break down starches in food with its enzymes.

In recent years, scientists have also gained insight into another property of saliva that promises better disease diagnosis in the future. Like blood and urine, saliva contains biological markers for disease. As more diagnostic machines calibrated to these specific markers are developed and used, it could signal a more effective way to identify conditions from saliva samples that are easier to collect than other bodily fluids.

Its less than glamorous image aside, your mouth would be quite a different (and unhealthy) place without saliva. And, developments in diagnostics could make this unsung fluid even more valuable in maintaining your health.

If you would like more information on the importance of saliva to oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Secrets of Saliva.”

StraighteningTeethcanLeadtoaBetterSmileandBetterOralHealth

The perception that orthodontics is mainly for children or teenagers is changing rapidly. The number of adults seeking treatment for misaligned teeth is on the rise, especially with the development of less intrusive treatments like clear aligners.

Still, as an adult you may be wondering if having your teeth straightened is really worth the effort. There are good reasons to consider orthodontic treatment even when your teen years are well in your rear view mirror — and improving your smile is only just one of them.

To be sure, smile enhancement is an important reason. We place a high value on presenting our best appearance; indeed, our self-assurance and esteem suffers if we feel we have a less than pleasing smile. Adults who improve their smiles through orthodontics typically see a rise in confidence and an improvement in life attitudes that can have a positive impact on their social, career and financial development.

But there is another reason: as a general rule, misaligned teeth do not function as well. Biting, chewing and speaking may be more difficult. Over the long-term misaligned teeth and the resulting poor bite can have an adverse effect on nutrition, social skills and normal tooth wear.

What's more, misaligned teeth are more difficult to clean even with conscientious daily hygiene. Despite your best efforts, this can lead to increased plaque that causes tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. In regard to gums, misaligned teeth may be more prone to receding gums which further exposes teeth to harmful bacteria. Realigning teeth can vastly improve dental hygiene.

As with considering any dental procedure, the first step is a complete dental examination to measure the level of misalignment, as well as the current health of your teeth and gums. After that, we can discuss your orthodontic options for not only correcting your smile, but improving your oral hygiene which can have a pronounced improvement in your oral health as well.

If you would like more information on the benefits of orthodontic treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Why Straighten Teeth.”

By Dr. Karst
March 21, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene  
TopFiveWaystoPreserveYourTeethforLife

You may have heard the expression: “If you just ignore your teeth, they will go away.” That may be true — but by practicing good oral hygiene, more and more people are now able to keep their natural teeth in good condition for their entire life. So we prefer to put a more positive spin on that old saw: “Take care of your teeth and they will take care of you — always.” What’s the best way to do that? Here are our top five tips:

  1. Brush and floss every day. You knew this was going to be number one, right? Simply put, tooth decay and gum disease are your teeth’s number one enemies. Effective brushing and flossing can help control both of these diseases. Using a soft-bristle brush with fluoride toothpaste and getting the floss into the spaces between teeth (and a little under the gum line) are the keys to successful at-home tooth cleaning and plaque removal.
  2. Don’t smoke, or use any form of tobacco. Statistically speaking, smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers. And “smokeless” tobacco causes tooth discoloration, gum irritation, an increased risk for cavities, and a higher incidence of oral cancers. Of course, smoking also shortens your life expectancy — so do yourself a favor, and quit (or better yet, don’t start).
  3. Eat smart for better oral (and general) health. This means avoiding sugary between-meal snacks, staying away from sodas (and so-called “energy” or “sports” drinks), and limiting sweet, sticky candies and other smile-spoiling treats. It also means enjoying a balanced diet that’s rich in foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This type of diet incorporates what’s best for your whole body — including your teeth.
  4. Wear a mouthguard when playing sports. An active lifestyle has many well-recognized health benefits. But if you enjoy playing basketball, bicycling, skiing or surfing — or any other sport where the possibility of a blow to the face exists — then you should consider a custom-fitted mouthguard an essential part of your gear. Research shows that athletes wearing mouthguards are 60 times less likely to suffer tooth damage in an accident than those who aren’t protected — so why take chances with your teeth?
  5. See your dentist regularly. When it comes to keeping your smile sparkling and your mouth healthy, we’re your plaque-fighting partners. We’ll check you for early signs of gum disease or tooth decay — plus many other potential issues — and treat any problems we find before they become serious. We’ll also help you develop healthy habits that will give you the best chance of keeping your teeth in good shape for your whole life.

If you would like to learn more about keeping your teeth healthy for life, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. For more information, see the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Decay — The World’s Oldest & Most Widespread Disease” and “Dentistry & Oral Health For Children.”





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