Understanding Tooth Decay
Tooth decay comes in many forms, from many causes. The dental term used for decay of teeth is CARIES. Caries is the # 1 enemy for dental health.
You may have heard about Bottle Mouth Caries when you raised your children. It is an early childhood issue promoted by the sugars, acid, germs, or even breast milk in a bottle or just left in contact with a child’s primary teeth. Many times, young children fall asleep sucking on a bottle or just after nursing.
Older adults present different dental challenges to be aware of. Some are preventable and some are not. The first sign of any should mean a trip to a dentist.
TOOTH DECAY can lead to cavities. Those cavities can cause pain, infection, and even the loss of the tooth.
Decay is often caused by a build-up of plaque and food debris. Combined with a diet with sugary foods, a tendency to snack between meals, and a decrease in saliva production all contribute to the build-up of sugar and acid in the mouth.
Tooth brushing can be difficult and painful for those with arthritis and even more difficult for those suffering with dementia.
A change in diet, better hydration habits and better brushing technique or equipment can be instrumental. Prevention is definitely the best approach. If necessary, a care giver may need to provide assistance.
PERIODONTAL DISEASE, also called gum disease, is a common problem. This is caused by bacteria in plaque and tartar. Symptoms in the later stages of gum disease include irritated, red, and bleeding gums, or Gingivitis where teeth meet gum tissue. Left untreated, this can easily develop into periodontitis. This type of gum infection damages the gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth.
Smoking can also play a significant role. As does the ability to chew and swallow. Gum disease is both preventable and treatable through proper dental care.
RECEDING GUMS is a gradual progression where gums shrink away from teeth. Contributing factors are gum diseases, poor dental hygiene, smoking, family history and teeth grinding.
The tooth becomes sensitive due to the exposed root, normally protected by gum tissue. Untreated, this condition can result in developing gum disease, significant damage to oral tissues, and tooth loss.
Prevention is the best cure, along with good oral hygiene, stopping smoking, and avoiding sugary foods.
With aging, many people experience decreased saliva production. Having a DRY MOUTH, or xerostomia, can be from medication. Unfortunately, this condition means that sugar and acids can build up more readily in the mouth. The result can be an increased chance of cavities, dry, cracked lips and a swollen tongue. This would make it difficult to speak and swallow.
Gum chewing and lozenges (sugar-free) generally stimulates saliva production and mouth rinses can prevent acid build-up. Encourage your older adult to drink water regularly and avoid sugary foods and drinks.
The chance of ORAL CANCER increases as we age. Smoking or drinking alcohol frequently leads to higher risk. Any sign of persistent sores, ulcers, or color changes in the tissue in or around your older adult’s mouth could be a warning sign.
Regular dental examinations are important to ensure that their gums and surrounding tissue are as healthy as possible.
When you are with Dr. Lee Lichtenstein, you can be assured of the finest training. Dr. Lichtenstein is a Board-Certified Dental Anesthesiologist, an active member of 11 Dental Societies, holds 6 Fellowships, and is a consultant to the State Board of Dentistry. This is definitely a dental health provider that loves what he does. His extraordinary education, expertise and experience sets Dr. Lichtenstein above and beyond the other dentists in a very wide radius around Monmouth County.
Give us a call, come on in for a consultation and learn how you can lay back and enjoy a visit to the dentist. Dr. Lee Lichtenstein and his highly trained staff offer general dentistry services as well as dental treatments that can be performed using sedation dentistry and general anesthesia techniques to make patients’ experiences more pleasant and comfortable.