Posts for: May, 2014
There are many ways to brighten and whiten teeth if they become dull and stained; but if you know the causes of staining on teeth, you may be able to avoid it in the first place. Here are some of the main causes of stained teeth. We hope this will help keep your smile stain-free.
- What we call extrinsic staining occurs when stain-producing substances collect on the enamel surface of your teeth. To stop or slow this process, cut down on consumption of coffee, red wine, and tea, which contains high tannin contents.
- Cut down on smoking. Tobacco can stain teeth, so it's best to stop the use of tobacco in any form.
- Some mouthwashes and toothpastes contain substances that can cause tooth staining. Mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine, a prescription antibacterial mouthrinse, or those containing cetylpyridium chloride, can cause dental staining after long-term use. Some toothpastes contain stannous fluoride, which can also induce brown discoloration.
- Dry mouth, a common problem, may contribute to extrinsic discoloration. This problem is sometimes a side effect of medications you are taking and drinking more water can often alleviate it. If drugs are the cause of mouth dryness, a consultation with your physician should be considered.
- Bacterial buildup by chromogenic (color or stain producing) bacteria in your mouth can cause staining. Hundreds of bacteria normally live in your mouth, and it is important to keep good regular dental hygiene habits to prevent bacteria from accumulating on your teeth and gums.
- Stains that are caused by various organic compounds that build up within the mineral matrix of your tooth's enamel are called intrinsic stains. They may be caused by tooth decay within the tooth or between the tooth and dental filling materials. Tooth decay is brown, it not only discolors teeth, but it also destroys tooth structure.
- Use of some medications, such as tetracycline antibiotics, can cause intrinsic staining.
Make an appointment for an examination and assessment of your teeth, so that we can determine why they are developing stains. Once we know the cause, we can draw up a plan for whitening and brightening your teeth.
Alternative medicines — also known as herbal or homeopathic remedies — have grown in popularity in recent decades. Because they don’t think of these remedies as “medicines,” many people will try them based on their friends’ advice or an internet search — with or without a doctor’s advice. Any herbal remedy, though, should be viewed as a real drug with real, and often significant, side-effects.
With that said, many of these alternative treatments are safe and effective if taken in an appropriate manner. Arnica Montana, a member of the daisy family, is a good example: various preparations of this herb have been found to reduce pain and inflammation caused by sprains or bruising, as well as control infection by killing bacteria. It’s also one herbal application that’s finding a home in the field of dentistry.
You can find many products containing Arnica, particularly topical applications made from the herb’s roots and dried flowers. It’s common to find Arnica in tinctures (the herb mixed in with a gel), tea infusions and a variety of ointments; the best-selling topical product is a gel containing 8% of the Arnica herb.
Many dentists are now prescribing Arnica to patients following invasive procedures like gum surgery, root canal treatment, implant surgery or wisdom teeth extraction to help reduce swelling and bruising. In this case, topical applications won’t work: directly applying a topical treatment to open mouth wounds can cause mucositis (an irritation of the lining of the mouth) and reactions in people with allergies to plants related to daisies. Dentists prescribe a programmed capsule regimen taken orally for four days after the procedure. This has been shown to lessen the length and degree of recovery time.
Any medicine, whether traditional or non-traditional, can have unintended consequences. Know the facts about what you’re taking, and be sure you consult with your doctor or dentist before trying any herbal remedy.
If you would like more information on Arnica Montana and similar remedies, 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 “Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies.”
Q: I often seem to have noticeably bad breath — not just in the morning. How unusual is this problem?
A: Persistent bad breath, or halitosis, is a very common complaint that is thought to affect millions of people, including perhaps 25 to 50 percent of middle aged and older adults. It’s the driving force behind the market for breath mints and mouth rinses, with an estimated value of $3 billion annually. It’s also the third most frequent reason people give for seeing the dentist (after tooth decay and gum disease). So if you have bad breath, you’re hardly alone.
Q: Can bad breath come from somewhere other than the mouth?
A: Most of the time, bad breath does originate in the mouth; its characteristic smell is often caused by volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which have a foul odor. However, it can also come from the nose, possibly as a result of a sinus infection or a foreign body. In some cases, pus from the tonsils can cause halitosis. There are also a few diseases which sometimes give your breath an unpleasant odor.
Q: What exactly causes the mouth to smell bad?
A: In a word: bacteria. Millions of these microorganisms (some of which are harmful, and some helpful) coat the lining of the mouth and the tongue. They thrive on tiny food particles, remnants of dead skin cells, and other material. When they aren't kept under control with good oral hygiene — or when they begin multiplying in inaccessible areas, like the back of the tongue or under the gums — they may start releasing the smells of decaying matter.
Other issues can also contribute to a malodorous mouth. These include personal habits (such as tobacco and alcohol use), consumption of strong-smelling foods (onions and cheese, for example), and medical conditions, like persistent dry mouth (xerostomia).
Q: What can I do about my bad breath?
A: Those breath mints are really just a cover-up. Your best bet is to come in to the dental office for an examination. We have several ways of finding out exactly what’s causing your bad breath, and then treating it. Depending on what’s best for your individual situation, we may offer oral hygiene instruction, a professional cleaning, or treatment for gum disease or tooth decay. Bad breath can be an embarrassing problem — but we can help you breathe easier.