The Truth About Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride Treatments for Tooth Protection

What are the Benefits of Tooth Fluoride?

First, it’s important to know that fluoride is a natural mineral that’s absorbed by your teeth and makes them more resistant to acid. Your mouth contains bacteria that feeds on sugar (creating acid as a byproduct). Fluoride varnish is applied to teeth to protect them from acid, bacteria, and aid in the prevention of cavities.

How is Fluoride Applied?

Fluoride varnish treatment is a quick and painless procedure. Dental fluoride varnish is painted on all parts of the teeth and quickly hardens after saliva touches it. You may eat and drink right away but try to avoid crunchy foods or hot beverages as they may remove the varnish. After the varnish is applied, the teeth will feel a bit sticky or rough, but this feeling will go away after you brush your teeth. Avoid brushing for at least 4-6 hour as you want the fluoride varnish treatment to stay on your teeth as long as possible.

Who Should Have Fluoride Treatments?

Typically, fluoride varnish treatments are recommended for children, but adults may receive this cavity preventing treatment as well.

How Often Should I have Fluoride Applications?

For children, a dentist or pediatrician may recommend fluoride varnish treatment as soon as the first teeth erupt. Fluoride varnish will be applied 2-4 times per year based on the child’s risk of developing tooth decay. Fluoride varnish for adults may be recommended if the risk of cavities is determined to be high, if the patient already has “starter cavities,” or if acid levels are higher in the mouth for other reasons such as acid reflux.

Is Fluoride Varnish Treatment Safe?

Fluoride varnish treatment has been used for decades in dental offices. It is a safe and effective cavity preventing treatment for both kids and adults.

Our team of excellent dental professionals is here to bring out your best smile. If you have any more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please reach out to us.

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

This month is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and at Dental Health Associates, we are committed to getting the word out and checking all of our patients as part of a regular dental visit. Early detection is important for treating oral cancer, and your dentist can help.

WHAT IS ORAL CANCER AND WHO IS AT RISK?

Oral cancer is cancer that develops in any part of the mouth, lips, or the back part of the throat (oropharynx). Each year, an estimated 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. In addition, oral cancer kills more Americans than cervical cancer, malignant melanoma or Hodgkin’s disease.
While anyone can develop cancer at any age, those at highest risk for developing oral cancer fall into these categories:

  • Over 40 years old
  • Use tobacco products – including cigarettes and chewing tobacco
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Combine alcohol and tobacco – these create a greater risk combined than by using either one alone
  • A family history of oral cancer
  • Extensive sun exposure, which increases the likeliness of developing lip cancer
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables
SYMPTOMS OF ORAL CANCER
  • White or red patches in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loose teeth
  • Numbness of lower lip
  • Problems moving the jaw or tongue
  • A consistent feeling that something is stuck in the throat
  • A sore, irritation, or lump in the mouth, lip, or throat

Your dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening by examining your throat, the inside of your cheeks and lips, and the roof of your mouth at a regular dental cleaning and evaluation visit. However, if you have noticed any of these symptoms alone or in any combination, reach out to your dentist and primary care doctor as soon as possible. It’s better to eliminate the more serious possibilities early in order to get to the root cause behind your symptoms. Additionally, it’s much better to rule out cancer as a possibility or treat it quickly if it’s discovered.

DON’T WAIT IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS

Early detection is vital. One of the reasons oral cancer has a low (5-year) survival rate when compared to other major cancers is because many cancerous lesions are not diagnosed until they are in an advanced stage. However, if detected early, the survival rate for oral cancer is better than that of most cancers.

To perform a self-screening or learn more about potential symptoms, the Oral Cancer Foundation has created a website called CheckYourMouth.org.

For more information about Oral Cancer Awareness Month, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation.

About Dental Health Associates

At Dental Health Associates of Madison we are here to support you and your overall health and we create a personalized treatment plan for each and every patient. All of our dentists and staff will always be open and honest with you about your dental health, with a focus on preventative treatments and patient education. We’d love to schedule an appointment for you today!

Spring Cleaning for a Healthy Smile

Dental Spring Cleaning Man Smiling

March has arrived, which means that spring is just around the corner! For most of us, this time of the year is when we celebrate the end of winter by opening our windows, cleaning our houses, and getting out and enjoying some fresh air. But as we focus on fresh air and spring cleaning, how many of us think about our cleaning our teeth and ways we can ensure a healthy happy smile?

Even if you are dedicated to brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day, you still should add dental cleaning to your spring routine. Visiting your dentist regularly can improve not only your oral health and your smile, but it can also significantly improve your long-term health.

What is the importance of dental cleaning appointments?

Routine Cleanings Make a Difference! We recommend dental cleanings every six months to remove plaque and tarter from your teeth, which can’t be removed with regular brushing and flossing.  Your dental hygienist or dentist will use special tools to safely remove the buildup that accumulates overtime by scaling and polishing your teeth. Without these routine cleanings, the plaque and tartar can buildup on your teeth and can cause cavities, decay, inflammation in the gums, and gum disease.

Dental cleanings are very important to your overall health and can prevent dental decay or disease. They are also an opportunity for your dentist to examine your teeth and gums and identify any other issues that may have gone undetected.


Benefits of Routine Cleanings

  • Regular dental cleanings allow you to get rid of disease-causing bacteria.
  • They can reverse early symptoms of gum diseases and prevent complications such as tooth loss.
  • It gives your dental hygienist and dentist a chance to examine your mouth at regular intervals. This facilitates early detection of dental decay or gum disease.
  • Prevents dental decay or gum disease progression, which can save you money as it decreases the chances that you will need future procedures or treatments.
  • Regular teeth cleaning keeps your teeth looking bright and gums healthy.
  • It prevents bad breath.
  • Boosts your overall health.

As you get your spring-cleaning checklist ready, make sure to think about yourself and ways you can keep your smile bright. So, please make the most of this season by scheduling a routine dental cleaning to ensure that you can maintain good oral and overall health. Our team of excellent dental professionals is here to assist you in your journey to a beautiful and healthy smile. If you have any more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please reach out to us.

Gum Diseases: Symptoms and Prevention

Did you know that almost 50% of the adult population suffers from gum disease? Looking at this staggering number, it is essential to understand the symptoms of gum disease to ensure early treatment and prevent complications, like tooth loss. February happens to be National Gum Disease Awareness Month, so let’s discuss the causes, symptoms, and what you can do to protect your teeth and prevent gum disease.

What causes gum disease?

Our mouth is a host to millions of bacteria, and while most of them are harmless and even essential, some can be disease-causing. Improper oral hygiene leads to the accumulation of bacteria-laden plaque on the surfaces of the teeth and near the gumline. With time, the plaque hardens and converts to tartar which can only be removed with professional dental cleanings. The bacteria from these causes inflammation and can lead to gingivitis and periodontitis (gum disease).

Gingivitis is the initial, mild form of gum disease and can be prevented and in some cases, can be reversed with prompt dental care and routine dental cleanings

 

What are the symptoms of Gum Disease?

Gingivitis symptoms include swollen, puffy, or bleeding gums. The gums may appear red, be tender to touch, and at times, it is possible to have pus discharge from the margin of the gums.

If gingivitis is left untreated, it progresses to its severe form: periodontitis. Periodontitis is a destructive disease of the gums; it breaks down the structural integrity of the gum tissue and leads to bone loss. The gums appear fiery red, swollen, and are painful.

Other symptoms can include a reduction in gum tissue, bone loss, which exposes the tooth’s root, and can lead to teeth sensitivity. Oftentimes, gums may bleed easily upon brushing, flossing, or when biting down on something like an apple.

Periodontitis can also cause the teeth to loosen and shift due to structural breakdown on the gum and surrounding bone. Tooth loss may occur without proper dental treatment.

Periodontitis is also associated with a foul metallic taste in the mouth and bad breath.

 

What can you do to prevent gum diseases?

The first thing is to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day using a soft nylon toothbrush and a high-quality fluoride toothpaste. It is also essential you change your toothbrush once every three months or earlier if the bristles become frayed.

Make a habit of flossing every day to ensure you get rid of any debris and plaque in between the teeth.

Rinse your mouth often, especially after your meal, to ensure no food debris remains in the mouth.

Nutritional deficiencies make the body more susceptible to infections. Therefore, it is vital to consume a balanced diet rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Lastly, ensure you schedule regular dental check-ups and teeth cleaning to stay at the top of your oral health.

If you have any more questions or would like to know more about our comprehensive dental services, please reach out to us. Our team of excellent dental professionals is here to assist you in your journey to better oral and overall health.

What to Do When Your Child Has a Toothache?

Child Pointing at a Tooth

If you have ever experienced a toothache, you know how distressing it can be. Fortunately, as adults, we can comprehend the pain and take the required actions to address our complaints. However, for children, the scenario is quite different as they cannot fully express themselves and trying to understand the reason behind their pain can be very stressful.

As dental professionals we understand the stress and confusion you may have surrounding your little one’s oral health. One of the most common dental complaints from children is a toothache. Here are some causes of toothaches and ways you can help your child when they are experiencing pain

 

What can cause a toothache?

Knowing the reason behind a toothache is essential to providing the best plan of action for treatment.

  • Chipped or cracked tooth

    Injury to the mouth can lead to chipping of the tooth and in severe cases, may lead to a fractured tooth.

  • Dental cavities

    We understand that children can be reluctant when it comes to brushing their teeth, but poor oral hygiene will lead to the accumulation of plaque, which causes dental cavities. Dental decay is one of the most common reasons for toothaches in children and should be addressed promptly to prevent progression.

  • Dental abscess

    When dental cavities remain untreated, it can cause an infection. If this progresses it may lead to the formation of a dental abscess, accompanied by swelling, discharge, and pain.

  • Emerging tooth

    If your child refuses to brush, eat, or becomes exceptionally cranky, it may be due to an emerging tooth. Teething starts with the eruption of the first teeth at around 6 months of age and continues until around 24 months of age until the last baby tooth has erupted.

 

What to do when your child has a toothache?

Children tend to have unique dental needs and need specialized care. Therefore, if your child is in severe tooth or jaw pain, the first thing you should do is to schedule an appointment with a dentist.

However, we know that dental emergencies can sometimes arise on evenings and weekends outside of normal business hours. If this happens to be your situation, call your dental office immediately. Outside of normal business hours, we have an on-call dentist available 7 days a week to triage your situation and help decide the best course of action. If you believe you have a dental emergency, call our office at 608-284-5400.

 

In the meantime, you can take the following measures to comfort your little one and relieve their pain.

  • Take some ice, wrap it in a soft cloth, and gently use it as a cold compress on the affected area.
  • Go to your nearest pharmacy and purchase some over-the-counter pain medication for kids. Ensure you use it per recommendation and do not go over the recommended dosage.
  • If there is bleeding, you can use a soft cloth or some cotton to apply pressure to stop the bleeding while contacting your dental clinic. A broken or chipped tooth may be associated with soft tissue injury, or it may in fact be a dental emergency.
  • Sometimes a toothache may be a result of an obstruction. For example, a food particle may be stuck between two teeth. In such cases, use a floss pick or a piece of floss to carefully dislodge the obstructed particle.
  • In cases of teething, a pacifier or teething toys may help reduce the discomfort.

 

How to prevent toothaches?

The key is to maintain good oral hygiene.

  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day. If your child is old enough to do it themselves, ensure they do it correctly and under supervision.
  • Reduce their sugar consumption.
  • Make a habit of rinsing their mouth after each meal.
  • Do not let them go to bed without cleaning their mouth.
  • Most importantly, schedule regular dental appointments, which are the best solution to ensure good oral health.

If you have any more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us at 608-284-5400 or request an appointment using our online form. Our team of excellent and friendly dental professionals are here to assist you and your child’s dental needs.

The Truth About Flossing

At one point in all our lives, we have been told to floss during a dental appointment by a dentist or a dental hygienist. Ever wondered why is there so much fuss about this oral hygiene practice? If yes, then read ahead as we discuss the truth about flossing.

If I Brush My Teeth Do I Have To Floss?

Toothbrushing alone cannot effectively clean between the tight contact spaces of teeth. This is where flossing comes to the rescue and can help you clean these hard-to-reach surfaces.

Benefits Of Flossing

Flossing helps to remove plaque and food debris that collects between your teeth.

If not removed, the bacteria in dental plaque can buildup on your teeth causing cavities and must be removed by a dental professional. If plaque is not removed, tartar (called calculus) will buildup and can lead to swollen and bleeding gums also known as a condition called gingivitis.

The Correct Way To Floss

Two methods can be employed for proper flossing.

  • Spool method (finger wrap method)

You start by cutting off a piece of floss about 18-20 inches long. Hold this piece of dental floss by the ends and wrap most of it around the middle finger of both hands. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers, gently sliding it up and down between your teeth. Using your index finger as a guide, insert this floss between two teeth and go in an up and down motion. Curve the floss in a “C-shape” around the base of each tooth to gently clean beneath the gumline. Use clean sections of floss as you move to other teeth in the mouth. You may feel a slight resistance while inserting the floss but never snap or force floss, as you could damage your gums. To remove floss, gently use the same sliding motion to bring it back up and away from the teeth. Please start with the back teeth of either side and make your way to the front and finish it on the opposite side’s last teeth. Make sure you cover all your teeth in the upper and lower jaw

  • Loop method (Circle method)

Cut off around 18 inches of floss and tie the two loose ends firmly to form a circle. Follow this by placing all your fingers inside the loop except the thumb, making it tight. Use your index finger to guide the floss when working on lower teeth and the thumb on the upper teeth. Insert the floss between your teeth, push it down, reaching below the gum line, and come up while making a c-shape on either side of the tooth. Make sure you cover all the tooth surfaces on the upper and lower teeth.

Alternatives To Flossing

Flossing is a crucial and irreplaceable part of a dental routine. However, if traditional flossing methods are not your thing, there are a variety of techniques and products to ensure the health of your smile.

  • Water flosser removes the plaque and debris with the help of a high-pressure water stream.
  • Interdental brushes or floss picks can be inserted between the two teeth to ensure proper plaque removal.
  • Dental tape has a wide and flat surface and can prove to be an excellent option for people with gaps between teeth.

Please reach out to us if you have any more questions or want to schedule an appointment. Our team of excellent dental professionals is here to assist you in your journey to excellent oral health from all 7 locations in the Madison area.

 

Start Your Year with a Whiter & Brighter Smile

Give yourself the gift of a spectacularly bright smile.

Smiling boosts your self-confidence and has significant positive health impacts. A simple smile can lower your stress level, makes you more approachable, and can improve your social, personal, and professional life.

However, some of us may have stained or dulled down teeth, restricting us from smiling. Fortunately, many tooth whitening solutions can ensure your inner happiness is reflected outside by your best smile.

Teeth whitening can be done at home or in a dental office via a board-certified dentist. Read ahead as we discuss some top tooth whitening solutions for your best smile.

 

AT HOME TEETH WHITENING SOLUTIONS

Whitening toothpaste

  • Colgate Optic White Advanced gently scrubs away stains and provides a bleaching effect due to its hydrogen peroxide content. In addition, it is safe for the enamel and ensures good results when used appropriately.
  • Crest Pro-health is another great gentle tooth whitening toothpaste, especially if you have sensitive teeth.

Whitening Strips

Whitening strips can be acquired from the drug store and your dentist.

There are a variety of whitening strip kits that can be purchased over the counter from the drug store. These strips are directly applied to your teeth have a low concentration of whitening agents. Make sure to follow all instructions on how often to use the trays as overuse can cause sensitivity and harm your tooth enamel. It is important to remember that at-home teeth whitening can take a long time (months) to show any substantial results.

One thing you may not be aware of is that many dental clinics have whitening strip kits that can be purchased in the office at used at home. A benefit to buying these from your dentist is that they have a higher concentration of whitening agents that over-the-counter products. These are only sold by dental professionals and offer faster results and longer lasting results in comparison to store bought strips.

 

IN-OFFICE TOOTH WHITENING

The best and longest lasting whitening treatments are available from a dentist who can evaluate your teeth and create a customized treatment plan to bring out your best smile. Dental professionals have the safest teeth whitening solutions that will provide you with faster and brighter results.

One in-office tooth whitening solution is hydrogen peroxide in a gel base.

The gel is applied onto the teeth surface, where it penetrates the tooth structure to dissolve discolorations and simultaneously has a bleaching effect. You may need more than one visit to achieve the desired results.

Another in-office tooth whitening solution is customized whitening trays.

This option requires two simple dental visits and allows you to complete your treatment from home. For the first appointment your dentist will take an impression of your teeth. Then, they will create whitening trays using the mold of your teeth. At your second appointment you will try on the trays to ensure they fit. After that, you will be able to take your whitening trays home along with a professional bleaching gel. Your dentist will provide you with instructions on how often and how long they should be used to achieve your desired results.

Combining at-home teeth whitening solutions with professional treatments by a dentist can generate the best teeth whitening results.

So, start your 2022 with a whiter and brighter smile with our top tooth whitening solutions. If you have any more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please visit this link. Our team of excellent dental professionals will be there to assist you in your journey to a dazzling smile.

 

November is National TMJ Awareness Month

What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge that connects your jaw to the side of your skull. It allows for your jaw to move up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn. Any problem that prevents the muscles, bones, and joints from working together can result in Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD).

TMD is characterized by pain and dysfunction of the TMJ and/or the muscles surrounding it.

Common Symptoms associated with TMD

If you have any of these symptoms you may have TMD:

  • Pain in the TMJ or jaw muscles
  • Jaws that “lock” in the open or closed position
  • Headaches, specifically in the temples
  • Tension in a neck and/ or face
  • Limited jaw movement
  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint
  • Difficulty chewing or pain while speaking
  • Tinnitus, or ringing in your ears
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
  • Swelling on the side of your face
  • Tooth pain

How is TMD diagnosed?

In most cases, TMD is diagnosed during a dental checkup. Your dentist starts by checking the range of motion of your jaw, determines areas of discomfort. Depending on your symptoms and discomfort level your dentist may need you to have imaging tests to provide you with a diagnosis. These can include:

  • X-rays of your jaws, temporomandibular joints, and teeth to determine the cause of the problem.
  • CT scan of the jaw to show the bony detail of the joint.
  • MRI to see if there are problems with the structure of the jaw or the position of the TMJ disc as the jaw moves.

After reviewing your symptoms, you may be referred to a specialist or oral maxillofacial surgeon. They are specialists in treating TMJ dysfunction and can provide further care and treatment.

What causes TMD?

Possible causes may include:

  • Arthritis
  • Orthopedic problems including inflammation, sore muscles, strained tendons and ligaments, and disk problems
  • Dislocation, injury, tooth or jaw alignment
  • Stress and grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of sleep
  • Structural jaw problems present at birth
  • Genes, age and gender (women appear to be more prone to it)

Treatment Options

It is possible for TMDs to resolve on their own but sometimes they require a therapeutic approach:

  • Eating soft foods
  • Limiting extreme jaw movements like yawning and prolonged, repetitive chewing and biting (gum, ice-chips)
  • Wearing a splint or night guard
  • Modifying pain with heat packs
  • Taking pain medication: (anti-inflammatories, analgesics, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs)
  • Botulinum Toxin (Botox®) injections to reduce muscle mass and inflammation
  • Radio wave therapy
  • Corrective dental treatment to improve your bite and align your teeth

Rarely, a surgical intervention is required and would be determined based on the TMJ symptoms and diagnosis. Three types of surgery include:

  • Arthrocentesis – outpatient procedure which removes fluid and debris from the joint.
  • Arthroscopy – performed under full anesthesia and involves removing inflamed tissue or realigning the disc.
  • In very severe cases where movement of the jaw is extremely restricted, and symptoms are long-lasting, the joint may need to be replaced during an open-joint surgery.

Treatment Options

The outlook for a TMJ disorder depends on the severity and type of the problem. It is possible for TMD to be successfully treated with at-home remedies, but if the condition is caused by a chronic disease such as arthritis, lifestyle changes just may not be enough and the discomfort may increase with time.

If you are suffering from jaw pain and discomfort, it is best to contact your dentist and get an evaluation so they can diagnose and determine what treatments might be right for you. Request an appointment today online or call 608.284.5400