Cartoon Reads:
"For your final test in Navy SEALS training, you'll be asked to fight your way to the front of this line..."

Good luck to everyone venturing out on Friday for the sales! Dont forget your mouth guards and eye protection! Have a great time!

Happy Holidays!

The Sawtooths

On a distantly related dental matter, and I mean DISTANTLY related, Jace and I took a trip up into the SAWTOOTHS last month and had a wonderful time. We camped and fished and hiked up into some beautiful country. One of the highlights involved a climb into “Bridal Veil Falls”.

It was quite a grunt and Jace handled it like a Champ - great attitude all the way in and out! I loved being with my boy – especially in that setting. We caught some of the trip on film.

If you click on the Title above, it will direct you to some beautiful photos of the Sawtooths. I think it's worth a visit. Enjoy and take care!

Cavity-Forming-Acid comes from where?!

When we talk about ACID being the culprit in cavity formation, it’s good to talk about where that acid comes from. It generally takes three things, all present and working together, to get a cavity. Those 3 items are: bugs, sugar, & time.

As mentioned in a previous post, bugs lack the mouths and incisors needed to eat into our teeth and they lack the hands needed to hold the pitchforks & shovels needed for digging holes in our teeth. They do, however, still like to eat and wreak havoc where they can. What do they like to eat? The same thing you and I like - sugar. They absorb sugar through their little body walls and eat it up just as quick as they can. Sugar comes in all forms (lactose, maltose, galactose, etc) and these bugs particularly like the sugar we call sucrose and it’s sucrose that’s in all our sugary snacks. It is small enough for them to handle and it’s loaded with energy. So, what does this have to do with acid? The kids we talk to get a kick out of our answer.

To answer the question about the relationship between bugs, sugar and acid, we ask another question, “What does a bug do with the sugar once it’s used up?” The answer is, they do the same thing we do with our Big Mac once we’re done with it - except they do it on our tooth. When they get rid of their waste, it comes out in a very acidic form and if that acid is allowed to sit on our teeth long enough, it dissolves our teeth and forms cavities. And that’s it…that’s how cavities form. The bugs in our mouths eat the sugar we feed them. They return it to us in the form of an acid and that acid dissolves the tooth if given enough time. Where it does that, a little cave forms in the tooth and we call that a cavity. Next time, I’ll talk about how easy it is to prevent cavities.

How’d I get a Cavity? (Part 4)

OK…I’m back. So, what causes a cavity if neither bugs nor sugar have, in and of themselves, the ability to do so? What about brushing (or the lack thereof)? Does the lack of brushing cause a cavity? No. In and of itself, a "toothbrush-allergy" lacks the ability to create a hole in a tooth. Does anything, “in and of itself” cause a cavity? Yes. ACID does. "The Joker" can tell you all about the destructive nature of acid.

Where does the acid in our mouth come from? That's where it gets interesting. When we explain this part of the story to kids, their eyes get really big. Stay tuned to see why.

How’d I get a Cavity? (Part 3)

Ooohhh, Hi everyone! I'm back. What were we...oh yeah...bugs...I think we were looking at bugs last time and I was trying to convince you bugs, by themselves, lack the ability to cause a cavity. I'm not sure if any of you went there with me but it's true. we're looking at sugar. As is the case with bugs, sugar lacks the ability to form a cavity by itself. There’s no inherent property in sugar that gives it the ability to eat holes in teeth. Have studies been done on this you might ask? Yeah - what do they suggest? Dogs raised without sugar in their diet enjoy being cavity free. Reports suggest they are also very sad. Sad because of the "no sugar" thing, but cavity free none the less. So...dogs raised without bugs, eating all kinds of sugar, and dogs eating anything but sugar go cavity free. Cavity free sounds good, but we're trying to discover how cavities are formed. O.K., so how do we get a cavity? I think we'll answer it next time. Until then...

How’d I get a Cavity? (Part 2)

OK, I'm back. Man, life gets busy. So...cavities? How do we get 'em? When you ask a patient what causes a cavity, they come up with answers like Bugs, Sugar, not brushing/flossing, etc. To each of these answers I slyly say “No”. Individually, each of these lack the ability to form cavities. Take bugs for example, we're talking about the one celled type. These little guys have no hands to hold picks or shovels. They have no mouth to eat a hole in the tooth. So how can they make a hole in a tooth? From a scientific view, studies have been done on dogs raised in "sterile" environments (no bugs) and fed all the sugar and anything else they want. You know what happens? NO CAVITIES. What you do get is happy dogs - happy because they are hoppped up on sugar and...have no cavities. SSSOOOO, how do we get cavities? Maybe it's sugar. If it's not bugs, let’s look at sugar then. And that I'll do next time. For now, I've gotta go. It's been a busy day. Looking forward to going home and seeing the wife & kids and watering the garden.

Take Care! Talk to you soon.

How’d I get a Cavity? (Part 1)

One of my favorite "in-office" conversations answers this very question. We discuss it with every patient that seems cavity prone. We do this because people change their behavior at home when they know how cavities form. Check out the next couple of posts to find out why.

At Home Extractions

What a fun! I've heard
some real wingdingers including doorknobs, remote controlled airplanes, 6' chains and popped clutches. Some of the methods I've heard of scare me a little because I'm afraid the tooth may come out with a little "bone-us" attached to it. Some of the stories I've heard are funny and some are ...well...I think made up. Here's my favorite way of extracting a tooth at the house.
At our house, we like to tie a loop in a piece of floss and "lasso" the loose tooth. If we can get the loop around the bulge of the tooth, we cinch the loop down into the gums, severing some of the gingival fibers attaching to the tooth. Surpisingly, we've found there's not a whole lot of discomfort associated with this. Once we've cinched it down as far as all parties are comfortable with, we use the "floss handles" to gently expand the fibers still attached to the tooth. By gently pulling one way for a minute and then another, the remaining fibers will stretch and the tooth will become quite loose. If everyone is still comfortable, we cinch down some more, severing some more of those fibers. Then we expand the remaining fibers again. We do that until the tooth comes out or for about 5 minutes, whichever comes first. If the tooth doesn't come out in five minutes, we give it a rest and hit it again the next night. Very little trauma here. As you can see, our kids get a kick out of it.

Teeth Whitening Helps

1. Making regular appointments for cleaning your teeth is first on the list. Many people let this slide, but it is important. If you visit the dentist twice a year, you will find that you don't need to worry about whiter teeth as often.

2. Make sure to brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. You want to prevent the build up of plaque, which can discolor your teeth.

3. If you smoke try to cut back as much as possible. Of course it is better for your health if you quit smoking altogether. Smokers have a much more difficult time keeping their teeth white.

If you're interested in commercial whitening products, here's a couple points you should know.

* Whitening agents contain either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. Whether you get it from the store or in a dental office that is what you are getting. The difference is, as is the case with most drugs, stores can only offer this up to a certain strength (concentation or percentage) before it has to be prescribed by a doctor.

** Whitening is a function of two things; 1) concentration of active ingredient and 2) time on tooth. Teeth will whiten faster and deeper with higher concentrations of the peroxide agent and when that agent is allowed to stay on the tooth for a longer period of time.

**** Trays ordered from a dental office are usually given to the patient with a 15-35% whitening agent and have wells or reservoirs built into them designed to "cup" the bleaching agent against the tooth and to prevent its leaking out during application.