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Posts for tag: tooth decay

By Richard A. Oppenlander, D.D.S., P.L.C.
June 20, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay   cavities  

What your dentist serving Kalamazoo and Portage wants you to knowcavities

It’s not always easy to know if you have a cavity. You may have symptoms like sharp tooth pain when you eat hot, cold or sweet foods. You may also have a cavity and not feel any painful symptoms. So how can you know if you have a cavity? Dr. Richard Oppenlander wants to answer that question. Dr. Oppenlander serves the Kalamazoo and Portage, MI areas to take care of you and your family’s dental needs.

If you do experience signs and symptoms of a cavity, you may feel:

  • Sudden sharp or throbbing pain to hot, cold or sweet foods and beverages
  • Transient toothaches or tooth sensitivity
  • Cracks, chips or holes in your teeth or fillings
  • Brownish-black stains on your teeth even after brushing

Your cavity is caused by tooth decay, the result of oral bacteria combining with the sugar in foods. Bacteria and sugar combined produce an acid which is strong enough to eat through hard tooth enamel and into the softer layers of your teeth, causing a cavity.

You can also have a cavity and not know it. Only your dentist can tell for sure if you cavity through the use of precise x-rays, laser-guided diagnostic technology and intra-oral cameras. Decay diagnosis is only one of the reasons why it is so important to visit your dentist regularly, at least once every year.

If you do have a cavity, don’t worry. Dr. Oppenlander can restore your teeth with a dental filling. You can choose from conventional metal fillings or tooth-colored fillings. If you have large decay and need a crown, there are many options to choose from including:

  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal, both strong and beautiful
  • Full porcelain, the most beautiful, natural-looking crown material

Dr. Oppenlander also offers revolutionary same-day crowns with innovative computer-assisted technology known as CAD-CAM. You can have beautiful new crowns out of high-grade dental ceramic created right in the office, while you wait!

If you have a cavity, don’t delay getting your tooth restored. It can save you time, money and unnecessary dental pain. For more information about dental decay and other dental issues, call Dr. Oppenlander, in Portage, MI and serving the Kalamazoo area. Call today!

By Richard A. Oppenlander, D.D.S., P.L.C.
August 13, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay   salvia  

We often don't realize how important something is until it's gone. Like saliva: you're usually not aware that it's cleaning the mouth, neutralizing mouth acid or helping with digestion. But that could change if your saliva flow drops below normal: your health may soon suffer with your mouth taking the brunt.

In particular, reduced saliva flow increases your risk for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. Both diseases are linked to oral bacteria. While many of the myriad strains in the mouth are beneficial, a few bacteria can infect and inflame gum tissues. Bacteria also produce acid, which can soften and erode enamel and make the teeth more susceptible to decay.

Saliva inhibits bacteria in a number of ways. It first clears the mouth of leftover food so not as much stays behind to form bacterial plaque, a thin film of food particles that builds up on teeth. You still need to brush and floss daily to remove plaque, but it's less effective without saliva's cleansing action. Saliva also contains antibodies that destroy disease-causing bacteria and other organisms, which keeps their populations in the mouth low.

One of saliva's most important functions, though, is buffering acid. The mouth's ideal pH level is neutral, but many foods we eat can cause it to become more acidic. Even a slight acidic rise after eating can soften the minerals in enamel. But saliva goes to work immediately and usually restores normal pH within a half hour to an hour. It also aids in re-mineralizing the enamel.

For these reasons, it's important for you to find out the cause of chronic dry mouth and treat it. If it's a side effect of your medication, talk to your doctor about an alternative, or drink more water before and after you take your dose. Certain products can also stimulate saliva flow, like chewing gum with xylitol, an alcohol-based sweetener that has dental health-protecting properties too.

Although you often don't notice this unsung bodily fluid swishing in your mouth, it's important that you take care of it. Keeping your saliva flowing will help ensure better oral health.

If you would like more information on the importance of saliva to 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 “Saliva: How it is used to Diagnose Disease.”

By Richard A. Oppenlander, D.D.S., P.L.C.
June 14, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay  

As a parent you’re always on the lookout for dangers to your toddler’s well-being: sharp corners on furniture, uneven walks or the occasional stomach bug. But a situation could be brewing in their mouth you might not be aware of until it’s become a full-blown problem.

The silent danger is tooth decay, which could be developing as early as infancy. Undiagnosed and untreated, it could ultimately cause premature loss of primary (“baby”) teeth with adverse effects on the eruption of incoming permanent teeth.

Tooth decay arises from certain strains of mouth bacteria, often passed down from parent to child. These bacteria produce acid as a byproduct after feeding on carbohydrates (especially sugars). The more food available, the more acid they produce. This wreaks havoc on tooth enamel, the teeth’s outer protective covering by softening and dissolving its mineral content. This gives decay an opening to infect the interior of a tooth.

Combine inadequate hygiene practices (especially brushing) with poor dietary habits, and you have the conditions for a perfect disease storm in your child’s mouth. That’s why you should begin oral hygiene as soon as you notice their first teeth. Wiping them with a clean, wet cloth is sufficient in the beginning, but you should start daily brushing (with fluoridated toothpaste to strengthen young enamel) by their first birthday.

You should also practice good dietary habits. For example, avoid giving an infant or toddler a bottle filled with juice, milk or formula to sleep with through the night — the constant sipping bathes the mouth in sugars bacteria feed on. Instead, use plain water. You should also focus on nutrition from the get-go to help build overall good health as well as strong teeth and gums.

As an added measure, begin regular dental visits by their first birthday. A checkup and cleaning every six months will help us detect early tooth decay and lessen its impact. We can also provide sealants and topical fluoride to give added protection against decay.

Catching and treating decay early before it gets too far is the best way to prevent early tooth loss. Your child’s future dental health might depend on it.

If you would like more information on your child’s dental care, 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 “Taking the Stress out of Dentistry for Kids.”