Learning about Tooth Extractions

Sometimes it is necessary to have a tooth removed. Common reasons for dental extractions include infection, disease, teeth crowding, or injury. Your dentist will usually refer you to an oral surgeon who specializes in mouth surgeries to extract your tooth. If there is an infection present, the extraction should be scheduled as soon as possible so that it doesn’t spread or cause more serious problems. It is helpful to know what to expect during and after a tooth extraction so you will be prepared.

What is the procedure like?
You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the extraction area, or a stronger general anesthetic if several teeth are being removed or the procedure is complex. General anesthesia will put you to sleep and prevent pain in your entire body. After the extraction is complete, you may need stitches which will either have to be removed later or will dissolve on their own. You might be instructed to bite down on gauze initially after the procedure to help stop any bleeding, which is a normal part of the tooth extraction procedure.

What about recovery?
Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully for the best recovery results. You can usually expect recover to take at least a few days. Here are some guidelines to help with healing:
•    Take pain medications as prescribed.
•    Change gauze pads before they are saturated with blood.
•    Do not drink through a straw for the first 24 hours.
•    Gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times a day after the first 24 hours following surgery. This will help reduce pain and swelling.
•    Avoid smoking.
•    Limit physical activity because it can promote bleeding.
•    Eat soft foods like thin soup, gelatin, and pudding. As you heal, you can increase your intake of solid foods.
•    Try not to rub the extraction area with your tongue.
•    Carefully brush your teeth and tongue as directed by your doctor.


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What to Expect in a Dental Checkup

Maintaining good oral health includes more than just brushing and flossing. You also need to see a dentist regularly to treat any problems that arise with your teeth and gums, and to have more extensive cleanings than you are able to do yourself. Many oral health problems go unnoticed by the patient, but your dentist can detect and treat them before the problem becomes severe. Here is what you can expect when visiting your dentist.

What happens on the first visit?
Your first appointment with a dentist requires some extra time and examination. First, you’ll be asked to complete medical history forms about past dental work, conditions, diseases, and similar issues. You will need to list any medications you are taking and dosages. There will also be questions about your general health, because sometimes other medical conditions and drugs affect your oral health. Next, you will be examined to determine your current dental condition, and asked questions about pain or problems. If you have any dental anxiety or fears, share that with your dentist so that you can work together to make you more comfortable. Also, it is likely that your dentist will recommend a set of initial X-rays to look for problems and establish a baseline for your care.

What about follow-up visits?
As you maintain regular dental visits twice a year, your dentist will get to know you and your oral health. Your medical history won’t be required, unless you have updates about changes in your health or medications. The main focus of follow-up visits will be addressing concerns you may have, and performing a thorough examination and cleaning. Your dentist will check your neck and head to look for any unusual lumps or swellings in lymph nodes or salivary glands. Your gums will be examined for redness, swelling, or easy bleeding that may indicate gum disease. The soft tissues of your mouth like lips, tongue, and insides of your cheeks will be checked for spots, cuts, or swelling. Your dentist will examine every tooth looking for possible cavities or other problems. X-rays may be needed if anything requires further evaluation. Keeping a regular schedule of dental checkups will increase your chances for good oral health and a nice smile.


Dr. Thanos is a Family & Cosmetic Dentist in Weston, FL


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Teaching Kids Good Dental Habits

Your teeth and gums are physical assets that you want to keep healthy your whole life, and the best way to do that is to take care of them. Proper dental care needs to begin at a young age so that good habits are established for life. It is a parent’s role to teach children proper hygiene, and to ensure they get professional treatment. Here are some ways that you can help your child learn good dental habits.

Supervise brushing
Parents should watch children brush their teeth, especially for ages seven and under, to ensure the appropriate amount of toothpaste is used and that none is swallowed. Have your child brush for about two minutes, and make sure all areas of the teeth and gums are cleaned. Provide tips and help as needed.

Establish good eating habits
Teach your child that diet impacts oral health. Some foods worsen plaque buildup and introduce damaging acid into the mouth, leading to increased tooth decay and higher risk for cavities and gum disease. Certain foods and drinks are also known to stain teeth, or cause bad breath.

Promote water consumption
Drinking water not only is good for your overall health, it’s also helpful to your mouth. Encourage your child to drink water after eating, especially if it’s not possible to brush teeth right away. Also, fluoridated water is proven to help fight cavities.

Visit the dentist
Begin taking your child to the dentist around age one, so that the child gets good dental care and learns that dental visits aren’t scary. Have a positive attitude about checkups, and consider taking your child to a pediatric dentist who specializes in children’s oral health.

Be a role model
As the saying goes, practice what you preach. Set a good example of brushing at least twice daily, flossing every day, limiting your intake of staining foods and drinks, and visiting your dentist regularly.


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Oral Health Concerns for Middle Aged Folks

As we age, our birthdays tend to bring new oral health issues along with them. It’s a fact of life that our teeth and gums are impacted by our age. Here are some common problems to watch for, and suggestions for treatment.

Gum disease
Regular dental checkups and cleanings are vital to avoid gum disease. The first stage is called gingivitis and it’s reversible. If untreated, it can lead to a very serious advanced stage called periodontitis. You may not experience signs of gum disease, so practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist are the best ways to keep it at bay.

Tooth sensitivity
If cold or hot foods cause you discomfort, you have a common problem called tooth sensitivity. It can result from decay, worn fillings, gum disease, broken teeth, or exposed roots. Your dentist may recommend toothpastes designed to reduce sensitivity, or other treatments based on the cause of your problem. Good oral hygiene can help with sensitivity also.

Missing teeth
If you are missing any teeth, it not only looks unappealing but it can also affect your ability to eat and speak. Your other teeth may move, and bone loss can occur. Discuss treatment options with your dentist because you might be able to restore your smile. Bridges, implants, and dentures are a few of the dental advances that might help.

Dry mouth
Medicines and some health conditions often cause your mouth to be overly dry. Having a dry mouth is uncomfortable, but it also can seriously impact your teeth and gums. Without saliva to naturally clean your mouth, the risks of tooth decay and other problems increase. Ask your dentist to look for signs of decay, and to help you identify the cause for your dry mouth. Be sure to tell your dentist about your medical history and medications.

Oral cancer
Oral cancer can include your gums, lips, cheeks, tongue, jaw, throat, or soft palate. It sometimes begins with just a tiny spot or swollen area, so regular dental checkups can help catch this disease early. A variety of treatment options are available, but early detection makes a difference.


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Cleaning Your Dental Bridge

Dental work can involve time and expense, so taking good care of your dental bridge is key to keeping it in ideal condition so that you don’t have to replace it. Diligent cleaning and care will allow you to enjoy the benefits of your bridge for as long as possible. Here are some tips for cleaning your dental bridge to keep it in tip-top shape.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush at least twice daily, so that both your teeth and the bridge are cleaned. Brush around all sides of the bridge to remove food particles. Your bridge is not immune to plaque buildup and potential decay, so cleaning it as well as your natural teeth is important.

Flossing is especially necessary with a dental bridge. It is recommended that you floss twice daily, usually before brushing. Use a bridge floss threader to clean around and under the bridge. Many dentists recommend using superfloss, which is made of stiff end threaders, spongy parts, and regular parts of floss. The stiff end threaders make it easier to floss under the bridge, while the spongy floss is helpful in cleaning the wider areas. The regular portion of the floss helps remove plaque from the teeth near the dental bridge.

Mouthwash such as Listerine kills germs that your toothbrush may miss, and also reaches areas that other tools can’t. Rinse with mouthwash at least once a day.

Visit your dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings. This will ensure that your bridge fits properly and remains in good shape, as well as helping you maintain overall oral health.


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What to Expect from Your Dental Checkup

Making a trip to the dentist’s office doesn’t usually top anyone’s lists of fun things to do; however, you don’t have to view the experience with dread. Regular checkups enable your dentist to evaluate your oral health and keep your smile in good shape. The American Dental Association actually recommends twice yearly visits in most cases.

Knowing what to expect from your visit may ease some of the stress. When you have specific issues to discuss, like cosmetic updates or replacement options for missing teeth, consider writing down your concerns and bringing the list with you. If you are new to the office, call ahead to find out about any necessary paperwork you may need to fill out before your actual appointment time.

At the beginning of your visit, the dentist or hygienist will usually review your oral and overall health to make any updates to your history. Depending on how long it’s been since your last appointment, X-rays may also be taken. Usually, the hygienist will look at your teeth, evaluate your gums, and perform a cleaning. If the hygienist discovers any issues, like signs or gum disease, the dentist will make recommendations to address the problems and restore your oral health.

After your cleaning, the dentist will usually examine your teeth, gums, and mouth. The doctor will want to assess your current oral health status as well as look at previous restorations to make sure there aren’t any problems. Your dentist will also let you know of any current concerns, including possible cavities or gum inflammation. At this time, your doctor will explain the suggested treatment and create a detailed plan for any additional care.

Dr. Thanos is family dentist in Weston Florida

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Skipping a Root Canal

You’d probably be considered a little bit strange if you were excited about having a serious dental procedure like a root canal. It’s no secret that it will likely be uncomfortable and require some time for recovery. However, the pain that accompanies an infected tooth should make you realize that getting it corrected will be worth it. If you’re still unconvinced and are considering skipping a root canal, you should know that serious problems can occur. Let’s find out what can happen.

What is a root canal?
First, the reason you need a root canal is likely that you have an infection in your tooth. This procedure involves removing the infected tooth pulp and cleaning the root canal to get rid of all bacteria. Sometimes a temporary filling will be placed if the procedure will be done in more than one session. Once cleaning is complete, the pulp chamber and root canal will be filled and sealed.

What will happen if I don’t get a root canal?
•    The biggest concern about ignoring a needed root canal is that the infection may spread to other parts of your mouth. It can go to your other teeth, gums, mouth tissues, or jawbone. Any of these can cause major pain and swelling.
•    Sometimes a severely infected tooth (or teeth) can’t be saved and must be extracted. If your dentist doesn’t pull the tooth, it will fall out and spread the infection even more.
•    An infected jawbone might be so damaged by infection that some of your jaw may require removal.
•    The infection may spread to your bloodstream or other parts of your body, causing a life-threatening situation. Infections are nothing to fool around with; they can be very serious and should be treated at the earliest stage possible to avoid potentially life-threatening results.


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Teeth Whitening Truths

Are you unhappy with your smile because your teeth aren’t white? Do you have embarrassing discoloration and staining that prevents you from confidently smiling? If so, teeth whitening may be your answer. There are quite a few myths associated with this process, so let’s learn the truths about tooth whitening so you can determine if it’s right for you.

Myth: Normal household bleach is used on your teeth.
Truth: A special bleaching product is used that has low acidity and won’t harm your teeth. Plus, normal bleach is too dangerous; you could die if you swallow household bleach.

Myth: Whitening your teeth is unsafe for your mouth.
Truth: Cosmetic bleaching has bee done for many years, and is perfectly safe. It won’t harm your teeth or gums.

Myth: Whitening doesn’t really work.
Truth: Ask friends who have done it before, and you’ll find out this isn’t true. Teeth whitening is effective, especially if done professionally in a dentist’s office.

Myth: The only benefit is brighter teeth.
Truth: Your smile will become whiter and brighter, but an additional major benefit is a boost in your self-esteem. You will be happier with your dazzling smile, and will have a renewed confidence in yourself.

Myth: All whitening methods get the same results.
Truth: There are many options when it comes to teeth whitening, from whitening toothpaste to at-home bleaching kits to professional processes performed by your dentist. Whitening done professionally will give you quicker and more powerful results than most of the do-it-yourself methods. Talk with your dentist about options available.

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Pediatric Dentistry Takes the Fear Away

It’s sometimes difficult to understand why your child is nervous about going to the dentist, and can be frustrating to deal with the tears and arguments when it’s time for an appointment. Taking your child to a pediatric dentist may help. These specialists are trained in handling kids and their dental needs, and can help you through the process as well.

Pediatric dentistry is a specialty area in which dentists go through extra training related to the oral health needs of children. This not only includes medical procedures and treatments unique to kids, it also involves learning to relate to children and ways to ease their fears. Pediatric dentists treat children of all ages, and they work in offices that are equipped for children’s dentistry.

Simply by choosing a reputable pediatric dentist, chances are you are already taking a step in the right direction for your child. This type of dentist realizes the anxieties that children may have about checkups, and therefore works to address those fears and make your child more relaxed and comfortable in the dental office. This may involve an appealing environment targeted to kids, distraction techniques like televisions and video games, or simply explaining what’s happening every step of the way so that your child feels involved in the process. A pediatric dentist will not ignore your child’s feelings, but will strive to bring comfort at the same time as providing good dental care.

One of the goals of a pediatric dentist is to pique your child’s interest in taking care of their teeth, and develop a feeling of responsibility for practicing good dental hygiene. The dentist will spend time with your child, making sure skills are learned. This increases the chances that your child will have fewer dental problems in the future, and hopefully will also be more willing to have their teeth checked next time.

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Sports Drinks and Your Teeth

Reaching for a sports drink may seem like a smart way to rehydrate during a big game or after completing your exercise regimen, but you may not be as educated as you think. Consumption of sports drinks is on the rise, with 62 percent of American teenagers drinking at least one a day. That’s why it’s important to inform consumers that these drinks which are touted to help your body can also take a toll on your health, at least on your oral health. Let’s find out exactly how sports drinks can negatively impact your teeth.

What makes sports drinks harmful?

You might guess that sugar is what makes these drinks less appealing. It’s true that you should avoid the brands heavy in sugar, but that’s actually not your teeth’s biggest enemy in sports drinks. It’s the high acid content that presents the most danger. Researchers have found that sports drinks have so much acid that they can start damaging your teeth after just five days of regular consumption.

Aren’t they better than drinking soda?

Most people choose these drinks thinking they will enhance their sports performance, and that they’re a better option than soda. Sports drinks are not that different than soda because they contain as much or more sugar. It’s simply not true that sports drinks are healthier for your teeth than soda.

What kind of damage can they do?

The acid in sports drinks can cause irreversible damage to your teeth. They erode your enamel, which is the shiny outer layer of your teeth, causing them to become sensitive to temperature changes and to touch. It also increases your risk of decay and cavities.

How can I avoid harming my teeth?

If you just can’t give up sports drinks, at least try to minimize the amount you consume. Rinse your mouth with water afterwards, but don’t brush your teeth immediately because it might spread the acid around your mouth. Wait about an hour for the pH level in your mouth to normalize, and then brush. You can also chew sugarless gum after having a sports drink, which increases your saliva flow and helps to return your mouth’s acidity levels back to normal.

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