Dr. Thane's Blog

Best Age To Begin Braces

As a Dentist in Royal Oak, MI I am often asked “when is the best time to start braces”.  Every child has different orthodontic needs.  For some, it may be straightening permanent teeth with braces after they all have come in, whereas younger children may need to begin at an early age due to the complex problems that they inherited in their genes.  If you’re really lucky a child may need nothing at all.  If a child has a large difference in the size of their upper and lower jaws then often times a dentist may recommend that treatment begin early to prevent the need for jaw surgery when they are older.  This treatment may include something as simple as an orthodontic appliance.  Other children may require braces if the position of their front teeth causes social issues at school because other children make fun of how they look.  By beginning orthodontics early, tooth movement can work with jaw growth and normal development to create a very good aesthetic result.  Early treatment is not for everyone so be sure to ask your dentist if a young child needs to be evaluated for early orthodontic care.

Complete Decay Removal

As a dentist in Royal Oak, MI, I am often asked how I know for certain that I have removed all the decay from a tooth before putting in the filling.  Dentists use a decay detecting liquid. Depending on the manufacturer it can be red or green.  Years ago dentists would use the color and the hardness of the tooth as the sole means of determining complete removal of tooth decay. The tooth would be scraped with a sharp dental instrument and the sound and hardness would indicate complete decay removal. Several years ago the decay detecting liquids were developed.  After a dentist removes any old filling material and decay he now checks the tooth with the solution.  The solution is painted on and left for a minute and then washed off.  Only areas of decay will become stained.  By using a decay detecting solution, dentists provide patients with excellent quality dental care.

Dental X-Ray Need

The recommendation for dental x-rays is based on an assessment of a patient’s individual need.  The frequency of how often one needs x-rays is based upon decay rate, existing gum conditions and existing dental issues.  X-ray examinations provide a dentist with an important tool that shows the condition of teeth, roots, jaw placement and the overall composition of facial bones.  X-rays can help a dentist determine the presence or degree of periodontal (gum) disease, abscesses and many abnormal growths, such as cysts and tumors.  X-rays can show the exact location of impacted and unerupted teeth.  They can also pinpoint the location of cavities and other signs of disease that may not be possible to detect through a visual examination.  Using the newer faster x-ray film or digital x-rays one is exposed to very little radiation, usually less than one would get in a couple of hours outdoors.  As a dentist in Royal Oak, MI, I recommend you trust the recommendation of a treating dentist to provide you with optimal dental health.

Bedtime Bottles

I am often asked as a general dentist in Royal Oak, MI if it is alright for a child to go to bed with a bottle.  Children who are allowed to sleep while drinking can get decay in their teeth.  I have seen one year old children with holes in every front tooth.  If you feel your child needs a bottle to sleep, the only thing that is okay is pure water.  Anything else in the bottle will be destructive to the teeth.  Parents need to brush their child’s teeth with an infant tooth brush.  If a child won’t allow an actual brush then parents should use a wet cloth.  When children are two years old it will be time for their first dental visit.  Dentists and pediatricians agree  that bottles are best kept out of the bed.

Toothpaste with Aloe Vera

As a holistic dentist in Royal Oak, MI, I am often asked about tooth pastes containing Aloe Vera.  The Aloe Vera plant has a long history of healing power.  Its ability to heal burns and cuts and soothe pain has been documented as far back as 1750 BC. The modern use of Aloe Vera was first recognized in the 1930’s when it was a common ingredient in ointments that treat sunburn, minor cuts, skin irritations, and many other ailments.  Recently, Aloe Vera has gained some popularity as an active ingredient in tooth gel.  Like traditional toothpaste, Aloe Vera tooth gel is intended to eliminate disease causing organisms in the mouth.  A recent study compared the germ-fighting ability of an Aloe Vera tooth gel and found that it was just as effective, and in some cases more effective, than the commercial brands at controlling cavity-causing organisms. So brush with confidence with either an Aloe Vera toothpaste or a more traditional one.

Complete Removal of Tooth Decay

I am a Dentist in Royal Oak, MI and am frequently asked how I know that all the decay has been removed from a tooth prior to putting in a filling.   Dentists use a decay detecting liquid. Depending on the manufacturer it can be red or green.  Years ago dentists would use the color and the hardness of the tooth as the sole means of determining complete removal of tooth decay. The tooth would be scraped with a sharp dental instrument and the sound and hardness would indicate complete decay removal. Several years ago the decay detecting liquids were developed.  After a dentist removes any old filling material and decay he checks the tooth with the solution.  The solution is painted on and left for a minute then washed off.  Only areas of decay will become stained.  By using a decay detecting solution, a dentist is providing excellent quality dental care.

Saving teeth with Root Canals and MTA

As a dentist in Royal Oak, MI I am often asked by patients who have large cavities if they need a root canal.  When the removal of deep decay leads to a small pin point size exposure of the pulp (nerve area), an attempt can be made to stop the nerve from dying by applying a hi-tech repair material called ProRoot MTA (Mineral Trioxide Aggregate.)  Studies show that in many cases a root canal (removal of the nerves in the tooth) can be prevented if used in select cases.  MTA is also great for saving teeth with posts that have perforated through the side of the tooth’s root into the surrounding bone.   MTA is also used if a tooth with a root canal gets re-infected and requires surgery on the tip of the root.  The material is placed into the end of the root to seal the root and thus save the tooth.  Even with careful application of any nerve protecting material, a nerve can still die requiring a root canal.

Chipped crown causing food to catch

As a dentist in Royal Oak, MI, I am often asked what should be done if a crown chips and food catches between ones teeth.  When food traps between teeth, the gums become damaged leading to periodontal disease.  Trapped food also leads to decay along the edge of the crown.  Dentists will recommend a new crown to correct the problem. If the area is left untreated, one can lose supporting bone for the tooth and the decay can cause loss of large amounts of the tooth, possibly leading to a root canal.  It’s not surprising that both natural teeth and fillings wear out.  The average biting force of back teeth is approximately 170 lbs. of pressure which can cause cracks and chips in a crown or natural tooth over time.  A new crown is an artificial cover for a tooth and is used to restore a damaged or decayed tooth or crown to its normal shape and size. The aesthetic and oral health benefit of crowns is considerable and include durability and longevity and teeth that look and feel completely natural.

Dental Implants and Bone Grafting

Teeth are sometimes lost necessitating the placement of an implant to restore good aesthetics and chewing ability.  Often times the socket left behind after an extraction is too large or the bone is too thin to allow placement of an implant.  This situation would then require a bone graft to create a more substantial foundation for the implant site.  The dental profession uses four types of graft:  autogenous bone, which is bone from your own body, xenografts originating from bovine (cow) bone, allografts which is harvested from cadaver bone and more popular, alloplast grafts which is synthetic bone. The graft material serves as a scaffold, allowing bone to grow through and around the graft material forming a dense area of bone in which to place the implant. As a dentist in Royal Oak, MI I often recommend implants because they are highly predictable and can replace a tooth that was lost unexpectantly.

Nightguards for Grinding

As a dentist in Royal Oak, MI, I am often asked by patients how I know they grind their teeth.  Tooth grinding causes very shiny flat areas on teeth.  A dentist can easily see the destructive damage that is caused while sleeping.  Normal chewing doesn’t create the same kind of damage or tooth wear patterns.  Night time grinding can cause several oral problems.  Chipping of the enamel on front teeth is the easiest for patients to notice.  Grinding also can lead to gum recession, loose teeth, broken fillings, grooves in teeth along the gum line, and a thickening of the bone of upper and lower jaws.  Grinding also can cause jaw and face pain.  A night guard is the best treatment for nighttime grinding.  It should be a custom appliance made by a dentist not a sports store boil and bite mouth guard.  Sports mouth guards are too soft to reduce the effects of grinding.  Schedule an appointment with a dentist to get a night guard.  Patients find they sleep better and teeth will last longer giving many years of additional chewing service.

The Best Toothpaste

As a dentist in Royal Oak, MI I am often asked “what is the best toothpaste?”  Any toothpaste which will allow one to brush a full 2 minutes twice a day is the best one.  Ninety-five percent of the cleaning action comes from the brush.  A good quality soft bristled brush will work well with any toothpaste.  An electric toothbrush will clean teeth even better.  Studies have shown that electric brushes remove 4 times as much plaque as a manual brush in the same amount of time.  If one has very sensitive teeth it may be beneficial to use a desensitizing  toothpaste.  If one wants to whiten their teeth using a tooth paste, forget the idea.  Toothpastes will remove some stains which will make their teeth look better but the real color of the teeth will be unchanged by toothpaste use.  For those who have a tendency to get tooth decay your dentist may prescribe a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste.  The high concentration of fluoride can prevent decay and can recalcify areas which have begun the decay process.  Whatever toothpaste is used, be sure to brush for 2 full minutes at least twice a day to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Fluorosis of tooth enamel

Recently I was asked about the white and brown spots on the front teeth of a 9 year old patient.   I told the mother that the most likely cause of the spots is fluorosis.  Fluorosis is a condition of the enamel where the enamel has lower than normal mineralization.  This abnormal mineralization is caused by excessive ingestion of fluoride during enamel formation.  The formation of front tooth enamel occurs between 22 and 25 months of age.  Because a child’s swallowing reflex is not fully developed, children under the age of 6 can swallow between 25 and 33 percent of fluoridated toothpaste with each brushing.  Children’s and adult toothpastes contain the same amount of fluoride.  Children also get fluoride in baby formula mixed with fluoridated water, soft drinks and reconstituted juices, and certain foods.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found a 9 percent higher prevalence of enamel fluorosis in American children than was found 20 years ago.  Nothing can be done now to reverse the affects of previous excess fluoride consumption. As a dentist in Royal Oak, MI I recommend using fluoride toothpaste to prevent decay.  If there are any children under 5 years old, consider a low or no fluoride toothpaste during the first 4 years of brushing.

Tooth Staining Caused by Wine

I am often asked as a dentist in Royal Oak, MI if white wine is better at preventing staining of ones teeth than red wine.   A recent study by New York University College of Dentistry found that drinking white wine can increase the potential for teeth to take on dark stains.  The acids in wine create rough spots and grooves.  These rough spots enable chemicals in other beverages that cause staining, such as coffee and tea, to penetrate deeper into the tooth.  The researchers found that teeth soaked for one hour in white wine before being immersed in black tea had significantly darker stains than teeth immersed for one hour in water before exposure to the tea.  Still, red wine continues to beat out white wine when it comes to staining teeth.  When the researchers repeated the experiment with red wine, the resulting stains were significantly darker than those in the white wine group. The best way to keep ones teeth from darkening from stains is to use whitening toothpaste and to see their dentist regularly.

Dental Visits while Pregnant

There have been many opinions passed down through the years about having dental care while pregnant.  Research continues to show that overall health and oral health coincide, so it’s especially important for expectant mothers  to maintain good oral hygiene throughout their pregnancy.  Visiting a dentist will allow him or her to assess the oral condition and map out a dental plan for the remainder of a pregnancy. Pregnancy may cause unexpected oral health changes due to hormones, (particularly an increase in estrogen and progesterone), which can exaggerate the way in which gum tissues react to plaque. Plaque can cause “pregnancy gingivitis” which affects most pregnant women to some degree and generally begins to surface as early as the second month of pregnancy.  Research suggests a link between pre-term delivery, low birth weight babies, and gingivitis.  Pregnant women need to call their dentist immediately for the good health of their baby and their own good health.

Tooth Saving Root Canals

Patients often ask why one of their teeth needs a root canal. There are many situations which can cause a nerve to die thus the need for a root canal.  It is possible for the nerve in any tooth to die even though there is no decay or dental restoration.  Nerves die due to trauma.  A childhood playground accident, car accident or household mishap can injure the nerve causing it to die often times many years after the event.  Large cavities and decay can also be traumatic to the nerve causing it to die either slowly or quickly.  Sometimes trauma caused by excessive grinding of one’s teeth can also cause nerves to die requiring a root canal.  When the nerve in a tooth dies it can become abscessed or it may just destroy an area of bone around the end of the root with no signs of infection.  Whenever a nerve dies you need a root canal to preserve the tooth.  Root canals have been saving teeth for over forty years so if one is having an issue they should  call their dentist to schedule the tooth saving procedure.  Modern technology has made root canals a nearly painless procedure.

Dealing with Tooth Sensitivity

Many people complain about tooth sensitivity and there are several causes.  Periodontal disease can cause sensitivity due to the loss of attachment of the gums and bone to the roots of teeth.  This loss of attachment leads to gum recession which exposes the sensitive root surface.  Brushing too hard over a period of time can wear away enamel or part of the root surface causing the teeth to be sensitive along the gum line.  Using a toothbrush with hard bristles also accelerates the wear of teeth.  Clenching and grinding of teeth causes small areas of enamel or root surface to weaken and fall off leading to tooth sensitivity.  To help make teeth less sensitive brush with an electric toothbrush with soft bristles.  The electric brush will clean very effectively and the soft bristles will be kind to teeth.  If one clenches or grinds their teeth, they should ask their dentist to make a night guard appliance to wear at night to prevent tooth damage.  One can brush their teeth with desensitizing toothpaste to help reduce existing sensitivity.  Avoid foods high in acids such as citrus fruits and soda pop which can dissolve the enamel over time.  If sensitivity issues persist, a dentist can apply a fluoride varnish or a root sealer which bonds to your tooth and may help minimize sensitivity.

Brushing Difficulties for Seniors

I am often asked as a dentist in Royal Oak, MI about the challenges of good brushing for aging parents. As we age our ability to do some of our daily routines can become more of a challenge. The movement of our fingers, wrists, and elbows are more limited in our advancing years. If griping the toothbrush is a problem it can be enlarged by attaching a sponge, rubber ball or bicycle handle grip. An elastic bandage or adhesive tape can be wound around the handle to increase its size. If a longer handle would be helpful, a Popsicle stick or tongue depressor can be taped to the handle. Another option is to use an electric toothbrush. An electric brush does a great job of cleaning teeth. If your loved one has difficulty flossing try tying the floss into a loop for easier handling. If these tips don’t solve the problem, see your dentist soon. Good oral health leads to good physical health.

Mix formula without fluoride

I am often asked, as a dentist in Royal Oak, MI, if parents should buy distilled water with fluoride to use when mixing formula. Just because someone makes a product doesn’t mean anyone should buy it. In November of 2006, the American Dental Association (ADA) sent out an email to alert its members of their recommendation to parents to not use fluoridated tap water to make infant formula. A few days later the Center for Disease Control (CDC) followed suit with the same recommendation. Multiple other agencies that promote fluoridation in this country have also issued a specific warning against using fluoridated water to mix infant formula. The average glass of fluoridated water contains 250 times more fluoride than breast milk! Fluoride has been shown to impair mental development, lower IQ, and cause many other negative effects on the human body. So buy distilled water without fluoride or use reverse osmosis water to mix your baby’s formula.