What is Biofilm?
The mouth contains a complex microbial ecosystem or system of microbiomes, that can both help and harm teeth. Biofilm, which plaque is an example of, is any collection of microorganisms that cling to each other and to a surface. It’s impossible to completely remove bacteria or eliminate microbiomes from the mouth. However, as in any ecosystem, there is a balance that is necessary to maintain a healthy equilibrium. Good oral hygiene habits, healthy choices, and a balanced diet are our way of maintaining that equilibrium so that more dangerous and harmful bacteria are reduced and kept in check.
Oral Hygiene and Biofilm
If good hygiene habits aren’t maintained then plaque and the microbiome it contains can harden and grow. This can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities. After oral surgeries in particular there is a risk of infection if good habits aren’t maintained. For this reason, twice daily brushing, regular flossing, and using mouthwash are critical.
Since teeth make up a relatively small part of the overall surface area inside the mouth using an anti-bacterial mouthwash is a great way of fighting back harmful oral bacteria. By regularly brushing you force the biofilm and bacteria in your mouth to regenerate and prevent it from growing out of control.
Diet and Bacteria
Too much sugary food, or improper hygiene after consuming sugary food, can feed bacteria. Sugar is a sort of fuel for certain harmful bacteria present in your mouth. This is why candy, soda, and other sugary foods and drinks are associated with causing cavities. Similarly, too many acidic foods can throw off the oral microbiome and fuel harmful bacteria.
Healthy Choices and the Oral Microbiome
Certain habits and behaviors like smoking or nicotine use can also throw off the oral microbiome. Nicotine usage can cause dry mouth which reduces saliva which naturally helps keep the mouth at equilibrium. Additionally, a thin film can form on teeth from smoking and vaping that can trap excess bacteria. Chewing tobacco similarly can fuel particular types of bacteria.
Regular dental checkups and examinations for more serious issues are also a crucial part of maintaining good overall oral health. At Lifetime Dental & Implant Center we are happy to help new clients learn about good oral hygiene. Schedule online or call us today at 832-762-3644.
What Does Flossing do?
Oral Hygiene Tips From Lifetime Dental & Implant Center
Flossing prevents gingivitis, or gum disease, by preventing the build-up of plaque on and between your teeth. Plaque is a form of biofilm a sticky bacteria that if left unchecked can cause serious harm to your teeth by causing cavities, decay, and even risking infections if you have an oral injury.
Flossing can also prevent halitosis, or bad breath, by removing excess food particles from your mouth. Some bacteria that naturally occur in your mouth also cause bad breath if left unchecked. The American Dental Association recommends flossing, stating that it can remove the vast majority of plaque. By flossing you prevent the bacteria from growing and spreading to the point where they can smell. Much of the bacteria in your mouth that causes bad breath will also feed on food stuck in your teeth.
Is Flossing Really Necessary?
Some people might feel like they already have oral health issues or that since they’ve neglected flossing so far, so there’s no reason to start now. But the truth is that there is never a point where starting good oral hygiene habits won’t help.
The long-term effects of allowing bacteria to grow are serious and can range from cavities to gum disease and eventually bone and tooth loss. Losing bone from your jaw is a serious and effectively irreversible consequence of long-term oral health neglect. But preventive maintenance, including flossing, can greatly reduce the risk of any of these problems.
Tips for Effective Flossing
A study published in a journal by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) found that flossing before brushing is the most effective. This is particularly true when using toothpaste that contains fluoride.
Traditional string flossing has also been shown to be more effective than pick-style flossers. However, the most effective form of flossing is what works for you and will make you more likely to floss. While we might recommend that you try to floss the old-school way, the most important thing is that you figure out a style and routine for flossing that you’re able to maintain.
Porcelain vs Composite Veneers
Learn About Dental Veneers With Lifetime Dental & Implant Center in Katy, TX
Whether you’re looking to have only a few teeth or all of your front teeth covered by dental veneers you might be wondering; which material is the best, composite or porcelain? Dental veneers can be used alongside other cosmetic dental procedures to dramatically change the look of your smile. It’s an important question, so let’s dive in.
Porcelain vs Composite Veneers: Lifespan
The lifespan of any type of dental veneer depends upon several factors. The most important of those are hygiene and overall oral health. Under ideal conditions, if a patient follows brushing, flossing, and twice annual dental checkup recommendations, both porcelain and composite veneers can last for many years. A common estimate for the lifespan of composite veneers is between 4 to 10 years. Porcelain veneers are estimated to last between 10 to 15 years if not longer.
Porcelain is generally fragile but after it is bonded to a tooth it becomes extremely durable. Composite materials are strong as well but once attached are more prone to chipping than porcelain. However composite veneers can be repaired, similar to fillings for normal tooth enamel, while porcelain veneers must be replaced entirely if they are damaged.
Porcelain vs Composite Veneers: Cost & Time
Composite veneers have the advantage of a faster application process compared to porcelain. Composite veneers can be fabricated in-office and can be applied during the same visit in which your teeth are prepped for them. Any dental veneers require some tooth material to be ground away to make room for them. With composite veneers, your dentist can complete that work, fabricate your veneers and apply them all in the same visit.
Porcelain veneers generally require at least two appointments. Your dentist will remove the necessary material from your teeth, take an impression mold, and then will have to wait for a special lab to fabricate your veneers. Temporary veneers are available between appointments, so it’s not like you will walk around with obviously incomplete dental work, but if time is a factor this is worth considering. At your second appointment, your porcelain veneers will then be applied.
Porcelain veneers are also generally more expensive than composite. Because porcelain veneers cannot be fabricated in-office and are of a higher quality material they cost more to create and apply. The initial cost of porcelain veneers compared to composite often becomes equal over time however when considering the upfront costs versus repair and replacement costs over the lifetime of each material.
Porcelain vs Composite Veneers: Look
Porcelain veneers compared to composite veneers look more natural. The way that thin porcelain catches light mirrors a white tooth very closely. Composite veneers still look quite natural but when considering cosmetics porcelain does have the edge. Porcelain is also more stain resistant, related to its general durability edge, compared to composite.
Because composite veneers can stain that does mean they will naturally wear and change color just like your other teeth. Porcelain veneers on the other hand may start to stick out more over time compared to the teeth surrounding them. This might mean you will need to consider whitening your teeth to match the shade of your porcelain veneers as time goes on.
Which Type of Dental Veneers are the Best?
There are pros and cons to both composite and dental veneers. The best material for your veneers is ultimately something you will need to decide for yourself based on your lifestyle and preferences. There’s a question of lifespan, upfront versus lifetime costs, look, and time to consider when deciding between the two. If you’re still not sure, our dentists and staff are happy to help guide you through the decision-making process. There’s yet more information that can be provided to you, and guidance that can be tailored to your specific needs and unique oral health situation.
Are Dental X-rays Safe?
X-rays are commonly used by dentists to see beneath your gums and into your bones. However, x-rays use radiation to create their pictures which can cause anxiety in some people. Radiation can have potentially harmful effects and you can find lots of information online about the dangers of radiation. But are dental x-rays really dangerous? Join us at Lifetime Dental & Implant Center in Katy, TX as we dive into the information about x-rays and radiation.
How safe are dental x-rays?
In short, dental x-rays are considered to be very safe. When performed properly, dental x-rays give off extremely low levels of radiation. Additionally, over the years there have been many improvements to x-ray technology that continue to improve the safety of the procedure.
Just how little radiation do you get exposed to with dental x-rays? A set of 4 bitewing x-rays will expose you to 0.4mrem of radiation. Compare that to the amount of radiation you are exposed to from a variety of things you do in your daily life – drinking water exposes you to 5mrem per year and using natural gas for heating/cooking exposes you to 9mrem per year. You are even exposed to 35mrem of natural radiation from the soil every year.
We also take additional safety precautions to minimize your exposure to radiation during the x-ray. We will have you wear a lead apron to protect most of your body. We also have a leaded thyroid collar that protects the thyroid, which is more sensitive to radiation. If you are pregnant, please let your dentist know so they can take extra precautions or they may decide against taking x-rays at that time to protect you and your fetus.
What are the benefits of dental x-rays?
Dental x-rays are very useful and help us diagnose a number of oral health problems that can cause patients pain and discomfort. Letting these issues go unchecked can cause far worse problems than the small amount of radiation received from the x-ray. The problems that we can identify include:
- Tooth decay occurring between the teeth
- Bone loss
- Tumors or other growths
- Changes in a root canal
- Infections between the teeth and gums
If these problems are not promptly addressed, they can lead to serious long-term issues for your oral health.
Overall, the benefits of having x-rays taken vastly outweigh the risks associated with being exposed to such a small amount of radiation. If you have more questions or concerns about dental x-rays, call our Katy, TX dental office at 832-762-3644 and we will be happy to give you more information.