Posts for: May, 2012

By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
May 30, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sinus pain  
TooMuchPressureHowtoWardOffSinusPain

If you engage in frequent air travel, you have probably experienced pain in your ears and sinuses related to pressure changes. The pain is caused by “barotraumas” (from baro meaning pressure — also the root of the word “barometer” — and trauma meaning injury) and is also called a “squeeze.” Divers also sometimes experience this discomfort or pain.

The cause of barotraumas is air pressure (or water pressure, in the case of divers) on the outside of your body that is not equal to the pressure inside your body. Normally when pressure outside your body changes, your organs such as your blood, bones, and muscles transmit the changes equally from outside to inside. Some structures in your body, such as your middle ear spaces and your sinus cavities (spaces in the facial bones of the skull), don't transmit the pressure as well because they are filled with air and have rigid walls. The maxillary (upper jaw) sinuses are pyramid-shaped spaces in the bone located below your eyes, on either side of your nose.

You have probably tried to stop such pain in your ears by yawning, chewing, or moving your jaw back and forth. These maneuvers, called “clearing,” allow air to move from the back of your throat into your ear canals so that the pressure can equalize. Similarly, your sinuses have small openings near their lower borders, so that you can clear pressure changes within them. If you have a head cold or flu and the membranes lining your sinuses are swollen and inflamed, they may close off the openings and make it difficult to clear these spaces. This can sometimes lead to intense pain.

Because the lower walls of these sinuses are adjacent to your upper back teeth, these teeth share the same nerves as the maxillary sinuses. This sharing sometimes causes pain felt in your back teeth to be perceived as pain in the sinuses, or vice versa. Pain felt a distance from its actual stimulus because of shared nerves is called “referred pain.”

Be sure to make an appointment with us if you experience pain in any of your teeth. Any defect in a filling or tooth can allow air to enter the tooth. It could be referred pain from your sinuses, or the result of pressure changes on trapped air within a filling or a tooth. Such pain, called barodontalgia (from baro meaning pressure, don't meaning tooth, and algia meaning pain) is an early sign of injury in a tooth.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth and sinus pain. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Pressure Changes Can Cause Tooth & Sinus Pain.”


By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
May 22, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   dry mouth  
UnderstandingDryMouth

The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia (“xero” – dry; “stomia” – mouth), something that many of us have experienced at some point in life. However, for some people it can be a chronic condition that is ideal for promoting tooth decay. It can also be a warning sign of a more serious health condition.

Dry mouth occurs when there is an insufficient flow of saliva, the fluid secreted by the salivary glands. Your major salivary glands are located in two places: inside the checks by the back top molars and in the floor of the mouth, with about six hundred tiny glands scattered throughout your mouth. And many people are surprised to learn that when they are functioning normally, saliva glands secret between two and four pints of saliva per day! While this may sound like a lot (and it is), saliva is key for buffering or neutralizing acids in the mouth. Without this powerful protection, tooth decay can increase quickly. This is especially true for older individuals who have exposed tooth root surfaces.

It is also important to note that there are times when mouth dryness is perfectly normal. For example, when you wake, you will probably have a slightly dry mouth because saliva flow slows at night. Another example is if you are dehydrated when it is simply a warning sign that you need to drink more fluids (especially water). Other causes for temporary dry mouth include stress as well as what you consume: coffee, alcohol, onions, and certain spices.

You can also have a dry mouth due to a side effect from an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication. If it turns out that this is the cause in your case, you need to talk to the prescribing physician to see if there is something else you can take to avoid this side effect. If there are no substitutes, one tip you can try is to take several sips of water before taking the medication followed by a full glass of water, or chew gum containing xylitol, which moistens your mouth and decreases the risk of tooth decay.

Another cause of dry mouth is radiation treatment for cancer in the head and neck region. Yes, these treatments are crucial for fighting cancer; however, they can inflame, damage or destroy salivary glands. You can also have dry mouth from certain systemic (general body) or autoimmune (“auto” – self; “immune” – resistance system) diseases, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, cystic fibrosis and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dry Mouth.” Or, you can contact us today to ask your questions, discuss your circumstances or schedule an appointment.


By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
May 14, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
HowModernDentalFillingsMimicRealTeeth

Until recently anyone who needed to repair cavities in his or her teeth ended up with a mouth full of “silver” fillings. Dental amalgam, which has a silver appearance, was the tooth restoration material of choice. Amalgam, a combination of metals including silver, mercury, and other metals, is still used — but today there are other options that mimic the original teeth they are restoring.

You may have read about some people's concerns about the mercury used in dental amalgam. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), scientific studies have found no ill effects arising from using dental amalgam in fillings for adults or children: “While questions have arisen about the safety of dental amalgam relating to its mercury content, the major US and international scientific and health bodies, including the National Institutes of Health, the US Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, among others have been satisfied that dental amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material.” Dental amalgam is still used for molars (back teeth) that must withstand heavy pressure from chewing.

For teeth that are more visible, materials that look and perform more like the original teeth — and are thus more pleasing in appearance — are now available. Dentistry is now taking a “biomimetic approach” (from words meaning “life mimicking”). The new materials — composite resins and porcelains — look like teeth because in many ways their structure imitates the biologic structure of teeth.

Composite resins are made of a plastic material (methacrylate) combined with fillers made of silica, a form of glass. They are able to bond to natural tooth structure and resemble the dentin, the inner layer of the tooth, which has a porous structure similar to bone.

Dental porcelains are a form of ceramic. They are non-metallic materials formed by the action of heat, like the ceramics used in porcelain cups and bowls. They come in a powder form that is mixed with water, shaped, and then placed in an oven until they reach the proper hardness. The end product is translucent and very hard, resembling the densely packed crystals of calcium that make up a tooth's normal outer layer, the enamel.

The old amalgam fillings required removal of tooth material to prepare a site in which they could be placed. Composite resins and porcelains can be used to treat teeth that have small or large amounts of damage to their natural substance because the materials bond directly to the remaining dentin and enamel. Thus they end up stabilizing and strengthening the restored tooth, as well as providing a natural-looking appearance.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth colored fillings. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.”


By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
May 06, 2012
Category: Oral Health
BadBreathmdashDiscoveringTheCausesTreatments

If you have ever had halitosis (bad breath), you know it can cause you to feel self-conscious and embarrassed. And while the odor is typically a primary concern, determining what is causing it is a task we can assist you with resolving. This is especially true when you experience bad breath outside of those times when you've just consumed pungent foods and drinks such as coffee, garlic or raw onions. For example, it is quite a different scenario to have family members, friends, co-workers or even total strangers consistently complaining or using body language to denote your bad breath. If the later best describes your situation — and be honest with yourself — then you need a thorough dental exam to discover the ultimate cause (or causes) of your halitosis. This is especially important because so many people are unaware that there can be numerous oral and/or general health concerns triggering their bad breath.

Most unpleasant mouth odors arise from the more than 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth, with several dozens of these bacteria being the primary culprits for producing foul odors. And while food particles left between teeth can be key contributors to bad breath, the tongue or more specifically, the back of the tongue, is the most common location. Dry mouth is another cause for bad breath, as evident by the dreaded morning breath we all experience from mouth breathing as we sleep. Bad breath is also caused by certain medical conditions such as liver disease, lung infections, diabetes, kidney infections or failure and cancer.

The good news is that we can work with you to develop an effective treatment for your bad breath. And if necessary, we can work with your physician on a total treatment plan should your condition be due to health conditions outside your mouth. However, if your bad breath originates in your mouth, we may recommend any or all of the following to return your mouth to optimal oral health:

  • Oral hygiene instruction to learn the proper ways to brush, floss, scrape your tongue and use mouthwashes
  • Denture hygiene instruction for proper cleaning and maintenance of both full and partial dentures and bridgework
  • Periodontal (gum) therapy that includes professionally cleaning your teeth (scaling), smoothing your teeth's root surfaces (root planning) and possible antibiotic therapy
  • Removal of tooth decay where large, open cavities (caries) are present
  • Repair of broken fillings
  • Removal of wisdom teeth (third molars) with gum flaps
  • Treatment of yeast infections (candidasis)

To learn more about the causes and treatments for halitosis, read the Dear Doctor article, “Bad Breath — More Than Just Embarrassing.”

Ready To Take The Next Step?

If you want to address your own concerns with bad breath, contact us today to schedule a consultation for an examination and treatment plan. You will find yourself smiling and laughing more once you are confident you have a clean, healthy mouth.


















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