Say Goodbye to Tooth Fillings?

Say Goodbye to Tooth Fillings?

Experiencing tooth pain? Schedule a visit with us before it gets worse.

Researchers at China’s Zhejiang University and Jiujiang Research Institute have created a gel that permits tooth enamel to repair itself.

This is an exciting breakthrough. Someday this development may totally eliminate the need for traditional drilling and filling of tooth cavities.

Like Scales of a Fish

The enamel that covers our teeth is the hardest substance of the body. Yet, as strong as it is, the bacteria in our mouths can produce an acid even stronger. This can pit, etch and erode the surfaces of our teeth producing tooth caries, or more commonly, cavities.

Mature enamel is acellular. That means it’s not made of cells that grow by division like the other tissues in our body. Plus, tooth enamel has a complex, interwoven structure that resembles the scales of a fish. While others have attempted to remineralise enamel, no one has been able to duplicate this unique scale-like patterning.

Until now.

Can a Tooth Self-Repair?

Because tooth enamel is so unique, filling the area removed due to decay has been challenging. Amalgam, ceramic, porcelain and composite resins have been the most successful. However, these are not ideal for permanent repair simply because they are foreign materials. They often don’t bind seamlessly to the tooth surface. Sometimes they become loose.

The breakthrough discovered by the Chinese researchers is a gel. It’s made of the same calcium and phosphate combination which are the building blocks of natural enamel.

Would applying this formula encourage the teeth to self-repair?

Yes. But…

400 Times Thinner

The gel they tested was applied to human teeth that had been extracted. For 48 hours they etched the teeth with acid—similar to what can happen in our mouths.

Then they stimulated the growth of new enamel by applying the gel.

Microscopy revealed the good news. They saw a highly-ordered arrangement of calcium and phosphate crystals—with the fish scale-like structure of naturally-occuring enamel.

Just one little problem. The new enamel was about 400 times thinner than healthy, naturally-occuring enamel. So there is more work to be done.

The next step? Testing has begun on mice. Are the chemicals in the gel safe? Will new enamel form even as people eat and drink and live their lives? Will it put an end to the various materials used to replace decayed enamel? Stay tuned.

Cavity Treatment Without An[e]sthesia

Cavity Treatment Without Ansthesia

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You’ve wisely brought your child in for a dental checkup. Which reveals they have a cavity in one of their back teeth. Which involves ansthesia, removing the decay with a high-speed drill and filling the void with a plastic material.

Will the experience make your child fearful of dental care?

Will it cause your child to have an aversion to regular checkups? Or dentists?

Now, imagine a world in which their treatment wouldn’t involve ansthesia, drilling or filling.

Introducing the Hall Technique

Almost two decades ago a dentist in Scotland began exploring alternatives to the traditional approach that we’re all familiar with. Would it be possible to successfully treat a cavity without the need for ansthesia or even drilling?

Dr. Norna Hall began experimenting with a unique approach. Instead of removing the decay she began cementing a preformed metal crown over decay. No ansthesia or drilling required.

Sealing the decay starved the bacteria of the oxygen it needed to continue its destruction.

Cavities As a Biofilm Disease

We generally think of bacteria in the body as bad. But we need a variety of microbes to remain healthy. A proper balance between good and bad bacteria is the key.

Bacteria live in complex groups and are highly organised. Think of them as a film—like barnacles that grow on the bottom of a boat.

Brushing and flossing disrupts this biofilm, impairing its ability to thrive and produce the acid that attacks tooth enamel. It’s this biofilm that causes bad breath, inflammation and ultimately, gum disease.

Faster and Cheaper Treatment

The early field testing of the Hall Technique occurred in Sudan. Low-income countries often suffer from a lack of modern dentistry. So a simple, fast and non-invasive approach to tooth decay was welcomed.

The randomised controlled trial involving 164 children between the ages of 5 and 8 years of age was conducted over a two-year period.

The results were stunning to say the least.

The Hall Technique cost a third less than traditional treatment and could be completed in eight minutes rather than 45 minutes. Plus, there were other advantages:

  • 97% success rate after two years
  • No ansthesia or drilling required
  • Avoided weakening tooth structure
  • Reduced errors and mistakes
  • Improved patient experience

However, there was one downside. While the children receiving the caps were much happier, siblings who didn’t require treatment became jealous of their brother or sister who did!

Mononucleosis – The Kissing Disease

Mononucleosis – The Kissing Disease

One common way for mono to spread is through saliva–like when sharing a drink.

Many teenagers suffer from philemaphobia, the fear of kissing. It’s common among young or inexperienced kissers. For some, that fear may be tied to the simple reality that millions of bacterium and viruses are exchanged in the process.

One such virus in the mix could very well be infectious mononucleosis. Or more simply, mono. It’s often called the “kissing disease” because it can be transmitted through saliva. But you can also get it through a cough, a sneeze, sharing food or a utensil. Mononucleosis isn’t as contagious as many viruses. In fact, the common cold, which is also a virus, is far more infectious.

The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is what generally causes mono. Most of us are exposed to this virus as children. In fact, about 85% to 90% of us have acquired this virus by the time we’re adults. Thankfully, just because we’re infected, it doesn’t mean we’ll develop symptoms of mono.

Teenagers or those in their 20′s who exhibit symptoms often have flu-like symptoms. You may be familiar with them:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Abdomen pain
  • Loss of appetite

Generally, mono isn’t a serious illness. The symptoms can be mild or more severe. Like the flu, rest and staying sufficiently hydrated is the key to recovery. It usually takes two to four weeks for the fatigue to pass and strength to return. Those with a compromised immune system or who are under a lot of stress may require six months or longer for symptoms to subside.

Longer recovery times may be due to complications. That could include anemia, an enlarged spleen and various liver problems such as hepatitis and jaundice.

There’s no vaccine to prevent mono. However, to reduce your chance of getting it, practice common sense personal hygiene. Wash your hands often and avoid sharing food and drinking glasses with others. Don’t use someone else’s toothbrush, lipstick or lip balm. Or kiss someone who does!

Breaking the Thumb Sucking Habit

Breaking the Thumb Sucking Habit

Thumb sucking is a natural reflex for human infants, chimpanzees and other primates. In fact, based on the photographs of embryos in the womb, the sucking response begins before we are even born.

Did you know? Excess thumb sucking can cause developmental problems for the jaw and teeth.

It is believed that sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects make babies feel secure. This reflex seems to offer comfort and after they are born, reduces anxiety and helps induce sleep.

Pacifiers can help quiet a fussy baby, but they also teach your baby to self-soothe through their natural sucking reflex. Just make sure the pacifier is BPA-free. BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a chemical found in polycarbonate plastics. There is growing concern that BPA can affect the brain and certain hormones in children and infants. Many believe that pacifiers make it easier to break the sucking habit as the child matures.

Problems in the development of your child’s teeth, jaw and palate can show up if thumb sucking continues in an older child. Many experts believe that parents should discourage the use of a pacifier or thumb sucking by age four.

If thumb sucking continues beyond age five or six, the sucking pressure can begin to make permanent changes to the mouth. This can produce one or more of these deformities:

  • Front teeth that jut forward
  • Bite surface formation impairment
  • Misalignment of permanent teeth

While these issues can be corrected, it’s far better to prevent them. Monitor your child’s thumb sucking and assist him or her to discontinue the habit when appropriate.

Most children stop sucking before they are four years old. If they don’t, here are some tips that may help:

  • Reduce the cause of any anxiety your child may be feeling.
  • Involve your child and have them choose the method of stopping.
  • Bandage their thumb or place their hands in a sock at night.
  • Be sure to praise your child when they are not sucking.
  • Ask us to prescribe a bitter medication to paint onto their thumb.

Don’t panic. Most thumb sucking will end on its own without any drama or intervention. Sometimes the best way is to simply ignore the behavior. Peer pressure will often prompt your child to discontinue thumb sucking without a word.

You’re Never Too Old For Braces

You’re Never Too Old For Braces

Ideally, our teeth should line up as neatly as the keys of a piano. Unfortunately, many of us have to live with crooked teeth, crowded smiles, or poorly aligned bites.

Or do we?

Turns out, it’s never too late to get a perfect smile.

Childhood, when there is maximum bone growth is the best time to make changes in the positioning of the teeth. However, more and more adults are opting for orthodontic treatment too.

If you’ve been thinking about braces, here are some things to keep in mind.

How Adult Braces Work

Braces are among the most common orthodontic appliance. Brackets are cemented or bonded to the tooth surfaces and are regularly adjusted as each tooth migrates into the desired position.

Braces provide a constant pressure to gently push one or more teeth in the desired direction. As each tooth is subjected to side pressure, it causes the root to press against the bone that anchors it in place.

With time, this force causes the bone to dissolve, permitting the tooth to migrate in the desired direction. As it does, new bone builds up in the vacated space on the opposite side of the root.

Sometimes elastic bands or springs are attached to the wires to boost the directional push.

Types of Adult Bracing

When it comes to adult braces, there are many choices these days. Each has its pros and cons and is usually selected based on clinical objectives, cost and personal preferences:

Traditional braces – These days conventional braces hold metal wires to brackets cemented to the front of a tooth. Anchored by teeth in the back of the mouth, wires are slowly tightened every 4 to 6 weeks.

A newer innovation switches out the metal for clear or tooth-colored ceramic. Traditional braces often produce results more quickly than other choices, but aesthetically, the most noticeable.

Lingual braces – These are similar to traditional braces, except the brackets are cemented to the inside of each tooth. This makes the braces practically invisible. If aesthetics are a primary concern this might be a good choice.

The downside of lingual braces is that they often come with a higher cost, require more care than traditional braces and can irritate the tongue. Some report that it makes speech more difficult.

Clear aligners – A popular choice are plastic trays that are precisely moulded to fit your teeth. They remain in your mouth except when you’re eating or brushing your teeth. Periodically they are replaced with new ones that slowly coax teeth into a more desirable position.

The downside of clear aligners is that they’re not attached to your teeth so they can be misplaced or not immediately put back in place after meals or cleaning. They are probably the first choice when less dramatic teeth movement is required.

Are You a Good Candidate?

Braces may not be for everyone.

One deal breaker is poor gum health. If you have an active case of gum disease, that needs to be resolved before adding braces to the mix.

Sometimes adult patients may not have sufficient bone density between the roots or lack an adequate blood supply. Plus, there are bio-mechanical limitations as to what can be reasonably expected.

The only way to know for sure is a thorough examination. If you’re thinking about braces, ring us to arrange a time when we can explore the options and make recommendations.