Paolo Incampo, DMD, PC & Associates

Plaque, Tartar, And Your Teeth

PLAQUE AND TARTAR are two words that you probably hear a lot when you come in for a dental cleaning. You might already know that they cause tooth decay and gum disease, but do you know what they are? Let’s take a closer look at these two substances that are a constant threat to our oral health.

Stage 1: Plaque

Dental plaque is a soft, sticky, colorless biofilm composed of bacteria, food particles, and saliva. It builds up on and between our teeth and beneath our gums every day. If you’ve ever forgotten to brush in the morning or at night, you’ve probably felt that unpleasant texture with your tongue.

Plaque contains millions of bacteria, and this bacteria digests leftover sugars and starches from the food we eat, then excretes acid onto our teeth. Because plaque is soft, it can be removed with simple brushing and flossing, but we have to be thorough and diligent to get as much of it as possible.

Stage 2: Tartar

The reason it’s so important to scrub away the plaque is that when plaque is allowed to sit on the teeth too long, it becomes tartar. Tartar is a hard, yellow or brown substance that bonds to tooth enamel and can only be removed at a professional cleaning appointment.

How does this transformation happen? When the acid excreted by oral bacteria comes into contact with minerals in our saliva, it causes a chemical reaction that hardens the plaque into tartar. The risk of tartar buildup is higher for people with braces, dry mouth, crowded teeth, or a smoking habit, and it also increases with age.

Keeping Plaque And Tartar Under Control

A rigorous oral hygiene routine, paired with regular professional cleanings, is the best way to control the plaque in your mouth and prevent it from hardening into tartar. Here are some of the things a good routine should include:

  • Brush twice a day for two minutes, making sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth and paying special attention to the gum line.
  • Floss or use a water flosser daily to clean the plaque and food debris left in those hard-to-reach spots between the teeth.
  • Choose an anti-plaque toothpaste.
  • Consider getting an electric toothbrush for more effective plaque removal, and replace your toothbrush (or the head of your electric toothbrush) regularly.
  • Give oral bacteria less fuel by cutting down on sugary foods and drinks.
  • Avoid smoking, which increases plaque and tartar.
  • Schedule dental cleanings once every six months.

Win The Battle For Your Dental Health

It might seem discouraging to think that plaque will creep back up throughout the day even after you brush and floss thoroughly. A better perspective is that it only takes a few minutes each morning and night to win the daily battle against plaque and tartar, and you can improve the odds for your teeth even more with regular dental visits! 

Together, we can keep those teeth plaque and tartar free!

 

 

Disclaimers: Top image by Flickr user sittered used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

 

Oral pH: A Delicate Balance

You might remember a little bit about pH from a science class you took years ago in middle school or high school. Even if you don’t, that’s okay; it’s time for a refresher course because pH plays a major role in our oral health.

The Basics (And Acidics) Of pH

We could go into some really complicated things about hydrogen ions, but the important thing to know is that a pH of 7 is neutral — neither acidic nor basic. For example, water has a pH of 7. As the numbers get smaller than 7, the substance becomes more acidic, and as they get larger than 7 (up to 14), it becomes more alkaline or basic. Make sense? Good. Now let’s look at what this has to do with our mouths.

Acid Versus Tooth Enamel

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, so it’s pretty tough. It is, however, highly susceptible to acid erosion. All it takes is an environment of pH 5.5 or lower for the enamel to begin dissolving.

There are many ways our teeth can be exposed to acid. The most obvious is when we eat or drink something sour or tart because we can actually taste the acid. When we consume something sugary or starchy, oral bacteria eats the leftovers stuck between our teeth and produces acid as a waste product. Acid reflux and vomiting also expose our teeth to stomach acid, which is very strong.

Saliva: The First Line Of Defense

The best natural defense our teeth have against acids is saliva, which has a pH slightly above 7. Saliva washes food particles away and helps keep oral bacteria populations in check. This is why dry mouth is such a dangerous problem for oral health. The less saliva we have, the more vulnerable our teeth are.

Sipping soda or snacking throughout the day is also a problem for our teeth, because saliva needs time to neutralize our mouths afterward, and constantly introducing more acid makes that much harder.

A More Alkaline Diet Will Help Your Teeth

A great way we can help out our saliva in the fight to protect our teeth, aside from the usual methods of daily brushing and flossing and regular dental appointments, is to eat fewer acidic foods and trade them for alkaline ones. That means adding in more fruits and veggies and leaving off some of the breads, dairy, and meats — and we should definitely cut back on soda and other sugary treats.

We Can Fight Enamel Erosion Together!

If you’d like more tips for how to protect your tooth enamel, just ask us! We want you to have all the tools you need to keep your teeth healthy and strong so that they will last a lifetime.

Our top priority is your healthy smile and how it impacts your overall health!

 

Disclaimer: 

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Kissing And Cavities

 

Top image by India.com

 

We hope all of of you are excited for Valentine’s Day! We also hope the topic we’re about to discuss won’t spoil the romantic mood, but we need to talk about what kissing does to oral bacteria.

The Bacteria In Our Mouths

Our mouths are home to many species of microscopic organisms. Most of them are harmless, and some are even beneficial, but some cause tooth decay and gum disease. The worst offenders are streptococcus mutans and porphyromonas gingivalis.

Streptococcus mutans eats the leftover sugars and starches that stick to our teeth after we eat, and then it excretes enamel-eroding acid. Porphyromonas gingivalis is strongly linked to advanced gum disease, or periodontitis.

Managing Our Oral Bacteria

As bacteria reproduce very quickly, a good oral hygiene routine is essential for keeping the harmful bacteria populations under control. In a healthy, clean mouth, there might be anywhere from a thousand to a hundred thousand bacteria on each tooth surface, but a mouth that doesn’t get cleaned often can have as many as a hundred million to a billion bacteria per tooth. So don’t skip your twice-daily brushing and daily flossing!

So What Does This Have To Do With Kissing?

On average, an individual will have between 34 and 72 different types of oral bacteria. Once we get a strain of bacteria in our mouths, it probably isn’t going away. The trouble is that each person has different bacteria, so kissing or even sharing drinks with someone could introduce new strains of bacteria to our mouths.

This is more dangerous for children than adults. Young children don’t have as many types of oral bacteria as adults yet, and their immune systems aren’t used to dealing with them. Too many kisses from Mom and Dad can leave them more vulnerable to developing cavities.

The best way to avoid sharing your oral bacteria with your child is to keep those kisses to the cheek, don’t share your spoon or fork with them, and make sure they always have their own drink instead of giving them sips from yours.

Catch Feelings, Not Cavities

As long as you’re taking good care of your oral health and hygiene, you don’t need to worry as much about spreading dangerous, cavity-causing germs with your kisses, but even then, avoid doing things that could spread oral bacteria to small children. If you follow these tips and keep up with your regular dental appointments, you’ll be free to enjoy the feelings of Valentine’s Day!

We love all our patients and Valentine’s Day!!

 

Disclaimer:

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

 

In this New Year try to limit these 3 beverages and make healthy teeth one of your goals.

It seems that one of life’s cruelest ironies is that so many of the foods and drinks we enjoy the most aren’t good for us at all. Naturally, as dental professionals, we’re particularly concerned about the ones that are bad for our teeth. That’s why we’re giving our patients a heads up about the three drinks that have the worst impact on oral health.

1. Soda

Two of the most harmful things for our teeth are sugar and acid, and carbonated beverages are full of both. Sugar is harmful because the bad bacteria in our mouths eat it and excrete acid on our teeth, and when we drink something acidic, we’re essentially cutting out the middle man and applying the acid to our teeth ourselves. Tooth enamel begins to dissolve at a pH of 5.5, and soft drinks range in acidity from RC Cola at a pH of 2.32 to Canada Dry Club Soda at 5.24. Even diet soda isn’t much less acidic than its sugar-loaded counterpart.

2. Sports Drinks

We all enjoy a refreshing drink to go along with a hard workout, but those sports drinks we use to replenish our electrolytes have a down side. Like soda, they are often full of sugar and highly acidic. One study showed that lemon-lime Gatorade dissolved the most tooth enamel compared to any other drink, including Coke.

3. Fruit Juice

By this point, you probably already know what we’re going to say. Fruit is a very healthy snack and can even be good for your teeth, but when we drink the juice on its own, we’re bathing our teeth in the sugar and acid content of many servings of fruit, without the filter of whole fruit’s healthy fiber. In the end, it’s not much better for our teeth than soda.

Honorable Mentions: Coffee, Black Tea, And Alcohol

Soda, sports drinks, and fruit juice aren’t the only drinks that are bad for our teeth. Coffee, black tea, and alcohol are too, particularly the dark ones, which can leave stains. We also tend to add sugar to our coffee and tea, and alcohol can dry out the mouth, leaving it vulnerable to bacteria.

Keeping Our Teeth Healthy

While we aren’t going to insist that our patients give up these drinks forever, we definitely recommend cutting back and counteracting the negative effects by drinking more water, maintaining good oral hygiene habits, and scheduling regular dental appointments.

Wishing you and your smile a very happy and healthy New Year!

 

 

Disclaimer:

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Stocking Stuffers For Healthy Teeth

THE HOLIDAYS ARE approaching, and that means it’s time to shop for treats and presents for the people we love! Often times, these treats aren’t the healthiest choices for our teeth, which is why we’ve put together some suggestions for more dental-friendly goodies to stuff in those stockings — as well as some things to avoid.

Some Stocking Stuffer No-Nos

Sticky foods like fruit roll ups,  gummy candies, caramels, peanut brittle or hard holiday bark as well as  lollipops and  jolly ranchers. Believe it or not even raisins with or without chocolate covering.

 Our Preference for stocking stuffers

We remember when we use to get an orange and or a apple in our stocking… ah the good ol’e days. Sugarless gum and dark chocolate are great options as well as almonds, trail mix and granola bars.

Of course, another option would be to avoid edible stocking stuffers altogether. We’re in favor of small toys and games that will take your children’s minds completely off their sweet tooth cravings, a new toothbrush and floss as well as those always needed socks for a long winter ahead!

No matter what goes in those stockings, though, don’t forget to keep up with all those good brushing and flossing habits through the holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you at your next cleaning appointments!

Wishing All Our Patients A Happy, Healthy Holiday Season!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

 

 

Disclaimer:

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Different Types Of Dentures

As we age, many of us have to deal with tooth loss, whether because of an injury or tooth decay. What can we do when this happens to us? Fortunately, the field of dental prosthodontics,  which is Dr. Incampo’s specialty,  has come a long way, giving us plenty of options for filling those gaps back in.
 

Dentures Throughout History

The first known dentures were made around 700 BC in northern Italy. These dentures were made from human and animal teeth, and although a set of these dentures would deteriorate quickly, they remained the norm for two and a half millennia. However, the industrial revolution in the 1800s led to a massive increase in the amount of sugar people consumed, and this caused the demand for dentures to increase dramatically, along with a demand for higher quality!

It was around that time that people started trying new materials, such as ivory, which lasted much longer. In fact, hippo and elephant ivory are what George Washington’s dentures were really made of, not wood! Nowadays, false teeth are made of porcelain or acrylic resin, depending on the situation. These are much stronger and more durable materials.

Modern Denture Types

Your individual situation will determine the type of denture that would work best for you. Obviously someone who still has some of their natural teeth won’t use the same type as someone with no natural teeth left. So what are the different types?

  • Full dentures are a complete set of removable false teeth. They can be just the top teeth, just the bottom, or both. These may be made of porcelain, which imitates the look and feel of natural teeth, and they can last from 5-10 years.
  • Partial dentures are for people who still have some healthy natural teeth. The new teeth fill the gaps so the natural teeth don’t start to shift and cause new oral problems. They are often made of acrylic resin, which won’t wear down the natural teeth like porcelain will, but don’t last as long.
  • Fixed dentures, meaning non-removable dentures, come in a few different varieties. There are implants, which are surgically placed into the jaw bone and fuse over time to mimic the old root; bridges, which fill gaps by being cemented to the teeth on either side of the whole; and implant-supported dentures, which use implants as anchors for dentures. Dr. Incampo is a certified TeethXpress ® Clinician that specializes in this type of fixed denture.  

 

Which Dentures Are Right For You?

Figuring out the ideal replacement teeth for you can be tricky, particularly if you’ve never needed them before, but that’s why you have us! Schedule a consultation, 978-794-0750,  with us as soon as you can so we can talk about what type you need and set up a plan to get you on your way back to a bright, full smile!

As always, thank you for putting your trust in us!

 

 

Disclaimer: The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Fighting Back Against Oral Bacteria

A BATTLE IS CONSTANTLY raging inside your mouth for the fate of your teeth. The only one who can turn the tide and make sure your teeth win this battle is you.
 

The Defenders And The Attackers

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It’s like the castle walls, protecting the softer dentin and pulp inside each tooth. Unfortunately, it is porous and vulnerable to erosion by acids.

When the enamel loses minerals to acid exposure (a process called demineralization), it weakens the teeth and leaves them more susceptible to decay. However, we can fortify that enamel by getting enough minerals and nutrients, remineralizing our teeth. This is the battle our mouths are fighting every day: demineralization versus remineralization.

The invaders in this battle are bacteria. They feed on sugar and carbs left in our mouths after a meal, and they excrete enamel-eroding acid onto our teeth. Luckily, we have a natural defense against the bacteria, and that’s our saliva. If enamel is like castle walls, then saliva is like the moat. A lot of harmful bacteria falls into this moat and gets washed away instead of being able to attack the castle walls.

To learn more about what harmful bacteria can do, check out this video:

 

Which Side Will You Fight On?

While our enamel and saliva are built-in defenses, there is a lot we can actively do to make sure the good guys are winning the battle in our mouths. When we practice mouth-healthy habits, we’re fighting on the right side, but when we neglect them, we’re fighting on the side of the bacteria.

One thing you can do to fight back against harmful bacteria is cut back on junk food. Sugar-filled treats and drinks and other processed foods supercharge the bacteria that lead to tooth decay, but foods like apples, cheese, eggs, carrots, celery, fish, and dark leafy greens promote remineralization of your enamel. Choose your snacks with your teeth in mind!

You can also prevent demineralization by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride remineralizes your enamel too, and it also reduces bacteria’s ability to produce acid.

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

You are the most important part of the battle for your teeth, so make sure to do everything you can so that your teeth can win the fight. Your reward will be a healthy smile for life. Keep up the good work brushing, flossing, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, and don’t forget maintaining a minimum of two  hygiene appointments a year to assure the battle is being won! 

We’re grateful for our awesome patients!

 

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Disclaimers: The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Getting Your Smile Back With Dental Implants

Sports injuries, accidents and tooth decay are just a few of the reasons we might lose a tooth. Thanks to modern dentistry, however, we don’t need to settle for having a gap in our smiles for the rest of our lives. In fact studies have shown that missing teeth has a correlation to  longevity. 

3 reasons why it’s important to take care of your teeth

Implants can be the perfect fit for filling in the missing space of where your natural tooth use to be and help get  you back to optimum health. 

Implants Or False Teeth?

Partial and full dentures have been a common solution for missing teeth for many years, but they have their disadvantages. They are prone to slipping and falling out if not properly secured, and they can lead to jaw pain and soreness in the gums. They also do not stimulate the jaw bones, so patients with dentures tend to suffer bone loss.

Implants, on the other hand, are metal posts surgically placed in the jawbone under the gums and are basically a new root for a replacement tooth that looks and acts like a natural tooth. It’s important to fill in the gap with an implant as soon as possible so the bone doesn’t erode and the surrounding teeth don’t collapse into the hole causing alignment and bite issues.

Type Of Implants

The health of the underlying jaw bone will determine a patient’s eligibility for implants and which type they will receive. In a patient with healthy bone, an endosteal implant will be used. This is simply a titanium post surgically placed into the jawbone. After a healing period, the patient will have a second surgery in which a crown is placed on top of the post.

 

 

 

Come Talk To Us About Implants!

Getting dental implants is nothing to be worried about! 3,000,000 people in the United States alone have at least one dental implant and that number continues to grow. If you need a dental implant, just talk to us!

Dr. Incampo is a specialist and a fellow of both The International Congress of Oral Implantologists as well as the International Academy of Dental Implantology.  He will evaluate your dental situation and develop the perfect plan to get you the smile you deserve.

Check out our website link to learn more and give us a call for a complimentary consultation.

Replacing Missing Teeth

Disclaimer: The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Weight Loss And Oral Health

 

MAINTAINING GOOD ORAL HEALTH is a goal we should all be striving to achieve each and every day. Not only does this help us to feel like our best selves; having good oral health is reduces our risk of developing a variety of conditions and diseases! Brushing, flossing, tongue-cleaning, and regular dental visits are all crucial ways to keep your mouth healthy, but did you know that a healthy diet and weight management can also have a positive impact on oral health?
 

How Weight Loss And Oral Health Correlate

One way our oral health correlates to what we eat and our weight has to do with our blood glucose levels. Sugar (glucose) is the favorite food of the bacteria in our mouths, and when we eat, our blood glucose goes up, particularly when we aren’t eating healthy foods. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which makes blood sugar even more difficult to regulate and puts oral health at risk.

Inflammation in the body due to being overweight can also be harmful. It can make people’s bones lose density and they can even lose teeth because of gum disease! Maintaining a healthy diet and weight is important because our teeth and gums need the proper nutrients and vitamins from the foods we eat to be strong and work properly!

Crash Dieting Versus Oral Health

While we recommend healthy diets and lifestyles for oral health, crash dieting can do more harm than good. People want to see results fast and don’t always know the best ways to do it, so they turn to things like the internet or friends’ experiences to learn of the latest diets they can try. One example of a harmful crash diet is the grapefruit diet, which is bad for oral health because it can erode the enamel on our teeth due to high acid levels. Another “easy” solution that causes problems is weight loss pills, which can lead to teeth grinding.

The Right Diets For Your Teeth And Your Health

When dieting is done right, it isn’t a problem for the teeth. Diets that encourage eating more whole foods and reducing added sugarswill properly nourish your body and help oral health rather than hinder it. Vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats are all crucial to having good oral health! Eating a large amount of vegetables can help aid in healthy gums and oral tissues. Drinking whole milk will also help to provide our teeth with the calcium they need!

Continue Building Healthy Habits!

Eating and providing our bodies with the proper nutrients improves our lives in many ways, not just by improving our oral health. Conversely, maintaining a healthy weight through a nutritious diet isn’t the only way to keep your mouth healthy, so don’t forget about those other oral health habits!

Keep up the good work in living your healthiest lives!

 

 

 

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Disclaimer: The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Fighting Back Against Oral Cancer

velscope in use

ORAL CANCER IS A SUBJECT we’d all prefer not to have to think about, but it’s critical to have a basic understanding of risk factors and symptoms. More than 50,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with oral cancer last year, and that number is expected to rise. That’s why, in honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, April, we’re dedicating a blog post to giving our patients the tools they need for early detection.
 

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that increase a person’s chances of developing oral cancer. Some of them are out of our control, such as age and sex. Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer, and it is far more common in people over 45. But there are plenty of risk factors that we can control, the biggest of which is tobacco. A whopping 85 percent of oral cancer cases are linked to some kind of tobacco use (even e-cigarettes). The next biggest avoidable risk factor is frequent, heavy alcohol consumption.

A few of the less-obvious risk factors include getting too much sun (which can cause lip cancer), HPV, and neglecting your oral hygiene, particularly if you also smoke. You can eliminate this risk factor by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and scheduling regular dental appointments!

Symptoms To Watch Out For

Unfortunately, even people with none of these risk factors will sometimes develop oral cancer anyway, which is why it’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms, which include:

  • A sore in the mouth or on the lip that doesn’t heal
  • Red or white patches inside the mouth
  • Unusual lump on lip, mouth, neck, or throat, or strange thickness in the cheek
  • Persistent sensation of having something stuck in the throat
  • Numbness of mouth or tongue
  • Difficulty with chewing or swallowing
  • Chronic bad breath

If you do have one or more of the risk factors for oral cancer, getting regular general health screenings can catch it before you even notice any symptoms. The earlier oral cancer is caught, the easier it is to beat it.

Where Does The Dentist Fit In?

Another way oral cancer is caught early is at regular dental exams! In addition to checking your teeth for cavities and your gums for signs of gum disease, we can spot many of those early symptoms of oral cancer while we’re looking at your mouth, which is just one more reason why it’s so important to keep scheduling your dental appointments!

We use the VELscope® VX Enhanced Oral Assessment System as part of your oral cancer screening during one of your hygiene visits. This system helps us improve our assessment of your overall oral health, ensure that the delicate tissues of your mouth are healthy, and help protect you from oral disease, including oral cancer. It takes about two minutes, with no rinses, stains, or discomfort.

We are offering complimentary Oral Cancer screenings throughout the month of April. Please give the office a call, 978-794-0750 to get scheduled.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

Disclaimer:

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Image: Paolo Incampo DMD & Associates