In our appearance-conscious
society, many people are interested
in improving their smile. One of
the simplest and effective ways of
doing this is through whitening or
bleaching the teeth. Basically, this
can be done by applying a type of
peroxide to the enamel for a period
of time each day over the course of
a week or two. The peroxide
changes the color of the teeth so
they look lighter and brighter. The
peroxide does not harm the enamel
in any way. The amount of
change in tooth color varies from
patient to patient. Brown or yellow
discoloration seems to respond better
than grayish discoloration.
We've all heard the expression
when we've had a close call. "I
made it by the skin of my teeth".
Did you know that there really is
such a thing? The skin of our
teeth is called a pellicle
(pell/uh/kul). It is a thin film of
proteins and sugars that is formed
from our saliva that seals microscopic
defects in the enamel of our
teeth. This is an important function.
Proper diagnosis of oral pain is a skill that all dentist take very seri¬ously. Referred pain is an interesting phenomenon that can make accurate diagnosis very challenging. Because of the way that nerves are arranged in the head and neck, and the way our brains interpret the signals sent along these nerves, the place that we fell pain may not be where the pain is really coming from.
There are several common examples of referred pain involving the teeth and jaws. It is not usual for a diseased lower molar tooth to cause pain that feels exactly like an ear-ache. It is very common for these patients to go to their medical doctor only to find out that the ear is fine. Doctors will send their patients to their dentist and it is usually discovered that a bad lower tooth was the cause of pain referred to the ear. At this time of year, many people are having sinus problems. Si¬nusitis often causes referred pain to the upper teeth. This pain feels exactly like a toothache even though the teeth are prefectly healthy.
Children and adults that are
wearing braces still need to see
their family dentist regularly.
During orthodontic treatment,
regular brushing and flossing is
more difficult because of brackets,
bands and wires. Bacterial
plaque easily accumulates
around the braces and it can be a
real challenge to remove it. If
the plaque remains on the teeth,
we usually see a severe inflammation
of the gum tissue called
gingivitis. In addition, the tooth
structure around the braces is
very susceptible to decay. It is
very disappointing when a
patient has their braces removed
only to reveal several cavities.
A new device has recently become
available for home oral hygiene. "Spin
brushes" are inexpensive, battery
operated toothbrushes. I checked at a
local supermarket and the prices
ranged from six to twelve dollars.
Many of the spin brushes were
designed for children and they seemed
very appealing. One designed by Colgate
was based on a Lego toy. I saw a
Crest spin brush that looked like a cell
phone. There were others based on
popular cartoon characters. Most of
the brushes are powered by AA batteries
and had brush heads that could
be replaced when they wear out.
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