Tips to Keep Your Teeth
Mesa Arizona Adult Dentistry - Jeffrey S. Miller, DDS, PC
Mini Dental Implants and Periodontics
Tooth loss is directly related to age. The longer we live the greater the probability we will lose a few or even all of our teeth. This page contains valuable tips and information on how to keep your teeth for a lifetime.
Remember the following:
- Don't wait until it hurts! Both major decay and gum disease can be chronic in nature with little or no pain. When it finally does hurt the pain can be unbearable and due to the advanced damage, it may not be possible to save your teeth.
- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to your mouth. A $100 filling can prevent a root canal, post and cap, a fixed bridge or an implant with a cap all costing many many times more.
- The best time to find a dentist is before you need one. That way, if you break a tooth or have a dental problem you will be dealing with a professional you know and trust in familiar surroundings.
- Ignore your teeth and they will go away! This includes neglect from poor daily home care, drug addiction, depression, senility, disability, poor supervision when needed and other causes.
- The old adage still applies - brush your teeth twice a day and see your dentist twice a year!
Preventing tooth decay is important for people of all ages. In our 30's and 40's gum disease (periodontal disease) plays a major roll in tooth loss. As we continue to age other factors come into play.
- Smoking decreases the blood supply to the mouth and contributes to gum disease.
- Researchers have found that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery (heart) disease as those without gum disease. Additional studies have pointed to a relationship between gum disease and stroke.
- Diabetics are more subject to gum disease as well as those with compromised immune systems and genetic susceptibility.
- Blood on your toothbrush is a concern. It can signal gingivitis: inflammation of the gum tissue or serious gum disease that has established itself into the bone and supporting structures.
- Untreated periodontal disease (pyorrhea) will cause continued loss of the supporting bone over a number of years casing loosening of the teeth and eventual tooth loss.
- A clean tooth with not decay.
- Teeth with old caps and fillings are subject to re-decay.
- Dry mouth from aging, diabetes, hormonal changes,medications and treatments for cancer, HIV etc. decrease saliva causing teeth to become more subject to decay.
- 100's of prescription and OTC drugs - including antihistamines, anti depressants, diuretics, chemotherapy and many others cause dry mouth and decreased saliva - increasing susceptibility to tooth decay.
- Sticky sweets and sugary foods such as raisins, sugar coated cereals, cake, cookies, caramels and chewy candies, cough drops, throat lozenges, hard candies and constant drinking of sugary soft drinks are major contributors of tooth decay. Artificially sweetened foods and those labelled as not causing tooth decay are OK. Constant use of products with acids added for tartness are a concern.
Cough Drop Warning!
- Cough drops and throat lozenges that are sweetened with sugar and/or corn syrup. When used daily they can cause rapidly spreading tooth decay that can virtually decay your teeth in as little as a few months. Use only artificially sweetened cough drops that are labelled sugar free.
- If you suck on five cough drops each day with only three grams of sugar each you will consume nearly 12 pounds of sugar a year!
Replacing Missing Teeth is Important!
- Our back teeth are the mill stones to grind the food and the pillars to support our bite. Failure to replace lost back teeth results in overloading the front teeth (designed for cutting) resulting in them becoming chipped, broken and loosened.
- When lost teeth are not replaced the surrounding teeth can shift, tip or drift causing additional problems.
- Healthy teeth and dental implants preserve the surrounding bone. During the first two to three years following an extraction 40% to 60% of the surrounding bone is lost (resorbs). It continues at about 1% per year
Bone Loss Under Dentures and Partial Dentures
- Bone continues to be lost (resorbs) under complete and removable partial dentures throughout life.
- This is a major problem when the dentures/partial are old and ill fitting.
- Often, the longer a person lives the more problems they will have with their dentures due to continued bone loss.
- Have your dentures checked every two to three years and more often if the fit changes.
Warning to people taking Fosamax, Boniva and other drugs to treat osteoporosis!
- Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) is a condition that has been observed in up to 0.1% of people taking these drugs. The jaw bone fails to heal follow a tooth extraction or other minor trauma. ONJ occurs most commonly after two or more years of treatment. If you take a 10mg Fosamax dose today 5mg will still be in your system in 10 years.
- If your doctor recommends you take a drug to treat osteoporosis make sure you disclose it on you medical history. If possible consult with your dentist and have your dental condition evaluated prior to or soon after starting treatment.