vaping

Is vaping safer for your oral health?

E-cigarettes made their American debut in 2006 – much to the gleeful delight of smokers looking for a healthier alternative to the classic cigarette. Now, instead of inhaling tar and other harmful byproducts of burning tobacco, smokers can take in nicotine through a nifty looking battery powered life saver commonly referred to as a “vape”.

What is vaping?

Vapes have three parts:

  1. Cartridge (for holding liquid nicotine, flavors, and mystery chemicals)
  2. Vaporizer (to heat the liquid to make the “vapor”)
  3. Power source

The good news is that e-cigarettes aren’t directly tied to cancer and heart disease like cigarettes are.

The bad news is that we don’t know what the bad news is.

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration alerted the public that “e-cigarettes have not been fully studied, so consumers currently don’t know the potential risks of e-cigarettes when used as intended, how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use, or whether there are any benefits associated with using these products.”

E-cigarettes are just too new for us to be able to know all their impacts, but we know one thing is still true…

E-cigs contain nicotine. And nicotine is bad for you.

Why?

Nicotine causes gum recession

Smokers often have bad circulation, and this is due to the fact that nicotine is a “vasoconstrictor” and makes it harder for the body to circulate blood. Without an adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients from blood, gums tissue begins to decay. You will notice this decay as the gum line deepens on the tooth and exposure increases.

Nicotine can cover up signs of gum disease

Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue, and it is often signaled to your dentist by the side effects of increased blood flow. These include gum irritation and bleeding during brushing and flossing. Because nicotine constricts blood flow, the tell tale signs of gum disease are hidden, making it harder for you and your dentist to notice a problem.

Nicotine gives you bad breath

If you weren’t convinced before, maybe this one will do the trick. Nicotine makes it harder for your body to produce saliva, leaving your mouth vulnerable to a buildup of bacteria, dry mouth, and tooth decay. All of that can lead to intense dragon breath.

While e-cigarettes might be a healthier option than cigarettes in terms of known damage, they are certainly not risk free, especially for your teeth. We know the damage that nicotine can do, so take this information into consideration if you are considering using e-cigarettes.

 

dental crown implants

Why do I have black lines under my crown?

We derive a great deal of confidence from our smiles, so it comes as no surprise that when something goes awry with our pearly whites, we feel a little insecure. The good news is that the year is 2017, and dental methods have advanced a great deal since the days of cow tooth dentures and tools that look like they belong in a 16th century torture chamber. We have a number of sophisticated and pain-free methods to craft beautiful smiles. Crowns are a great example.

Dental crowns are small, tooth shaped covers placed over individual teeth to strengthen and improve the appearance of teeth. They are cemented to the tooth’s surface end where the the tooth meets the gum line.

There are many reasons you could need a dental crown, but here are some of the most common ones:

  • To help a weak tooth from decaying or breaking
  • To fix a broken tooth
  • To cover and support a tooth that has so much filling inside that there is very little tooth left
  • To improve the appearance of tooth color and alignment
  • To hold a dental bridge in place

Typically, crowns are made from one of the following materials:

  • Stainless steel
  • Metals
  • Porcelain and metal
  • Resin
  • Ceramic

While crowns can make a vast improvement in the strength and appearance of your teeth, some of their varieties can cause teeth to appear to have a black line where the tooth meets the gum. This line is typically found in crowns based in metal and topped with porcelain for a natural look. The line is the metal of the crown beginning to show, and that’s never good. (The other possibility is that the tooth is naturally darker because of a procedure that permanently limited blood flow to the tooth – a like a root canal).

Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are often used for their ability to withstand the biting force of molars, but improvements in dental materials are making all porcelain crowns an equally strong but better looking alternative. If you feel that your dark gumlines are detracting from your ability to smile with confidence, schedule a time to come talk with our Chauvin team so we can get you back to grinning.

teeth grinding chauvin dental lafayette la

Teeth grinding causes and treatments

Have you ever woken up in the morning feeling pain in your jaw and the furthest thing from refreshed? These are signs that you could be suffering from bruxism, or chronic teeth grinding that can lead to serious dental issues if not addressed and treated correctly.

Teeth grinding is often thought to occur due to excessive stress levels, but that’s not the only trigger. Some common causes include:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • An abnormal bite
  • Missing or crooked teeth

But you’ve probably never heard that grinding your teeth is a survival method.

When you sleep, your body goes through light and heavy cycles of consciousness. During the deepest parts of sleep, your body engages in processes to repair damage that results in you feeling refreshed the following day, but it also can result in some breathing issues. When you reach the deepest point of sleep, the entire body relaxes, including the heavy jaw which falls back towards the neck. Second, the tongue expands to almost twice its size, further inhibiting the airway. This is called “obstructive sleep apnea,” and the brain responds to this blockage by engaging the jaw to open the airways and to allow you to continue breathing.

The upside is that you can breathe. The downside is that you sleep terribly.

Though teeth grinding is life-saving in some circumstances, it does have negative effects such as:

  • Dull headache after sleeping
  • Tooth damage from wear (fractures, loosening, loss)
  • TMD/TMJ complications
  • Facial changes
  • Severe pain
  • Exhaustion due to never reaching deep sleep

In order to address teeth grinding, it’s important to visit your dentist to see if your bite or missing teeth can be corrected to avoid further grinding. If you do not have missing teeth or an incorrect bite, your grinding might be a result of non-dental problems related to a blocked airway which can be treated with mild lifestyle changes like losing weight or quitting smoking. More aggressive treatment includes visiting a doctor to inquire about Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). No matter the cause, teeth grinding is a problem that can lead to serious dental problems and should be addressed as soon as the symptoms persist.

root canal dr chauvin lafayette la

All about root canals

Root canals. You’ve heard the name, you’ve cringed for the poor souls going to the dentist for one, but do you know what a root canal procedure is? Or the reasons you might need one?

The inside of your tooth is filled with a soft material called “pulp” that help your teeth grow into maturity. When that pulp becomes infected or inflamed, it must be removed to relieve pain caused by swelling and minimize permanent damage to your teeth.

There are a few reasons you might need a root canal:

  • Internal tooth decay
  • Multiple dental procedures on the tooth
  • Cracked or chipped tooth

A few signs point to the need for a root canal:

  • Pain
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Discoloration
  • Swelling, drainage, tenderness in the lymph nodes and gum tissue

The root canal procedure follows these steps:

  1. X-rays taken and anesthetic administered
  2. Crown of the tooth (top of the tooth) opened and pulp removed from the inside of the tooth to make room for filling
  3. Space filled with a rubber-like material and an adhesive cement
  4. Crown placed on top of the tooth to restore it to full function

Root canals are often the subject of dental horror stories, but understanding the steps and going to a trusted and experienced dental provider can help put your mind at ease and relieve your pain. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, consult our team to see how we can help.

 

jaw pain

Living with TMJ

“Tem-puh-roe-mun-DIB-u-lur”

Say that five times fast.

This tongue twister refers to the pair of joints on the sides of the face that hinge the jaw to the skull, but it’s typically known better by its more manageable acronym: TMJ.

When people talk about TMJ, they’re often referring to pain in the face and jaw caused by temporomandibular disorders (problems with the joint and the facial muscles which control it).

These joint issues have multiple possible sources:

  • Grinding of teeth at night
  • Clenching of jaw from stress
  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Injury to the jaw, the joint, or the neck

Any of these causes can lead to a host of symptoms, including:

  • Pain when opening mouth wide
  • “Stuck” or “locked” jaw in open or closed position
  • Clicking or popping noises during opening and closing
  • Swelling
  • Tired feeling in face

Though TMD can be incredibly uncomfortable for those experiencing it, treatment options are vast and non-invasive. Easing the pain can be as simple as treating the joint as a muscle injury giving the jaw a rest. Try eating softer foods, limiting opening the mouth widely, or wearing a mouthguard at night if you grind your teeth.

If you believe your case of TMD is severe enough to require further treatment, consider visiting Dr. Chauvin to explore your relief options.

 

Dental Bonding vs. Veneers: What’s the difference and which do I need?

No matter what, no one loves cracked, gapped, or stained teeth. That’s why many people turn to dental bonding and veneers to help fix these issues and gain confidence in their smiles.

But what are these procedures? And how do they help improve the look of damaged or imperfect teeth? And when should you choose one over the other?

Dental Bonding

Bonding is the process of applying a putty-like resin to the surface of the teeth to mask imperfections. This putty matches the color and texture of your natural teeth and is mainly used to fix minor issues like chips and stains.

Pros:

  • Less expensive option: $200-$700 per tooth
  • Fast procedure (one visit)
  • No tooth preparation necessary

Cons:

  • Can be stained by coffee, tea, and cigarettes
  • Meant for minor changes, not entire smile

Veneers

Veneers are porcelain shells custom made to fit the fronts of teeth. First, a thin layer of enamel is removed from your teeth to prepare for the veneer, and then an image of the teeth is used to create a custom shaped veneer. They’re applied to the teeth with adhesive. Veneers are used to cover up gaps, crooked, and stained teeth.

Pros:

  • Resist changes from coffee, tea, and cigarettes
  • Look more like natural teeth than molding

Cons:

  • More expensive than molding: $800-$2,000 per tooth
  • More time consuming and labor intensive (three visits)

 

When you require major changes that will last for long periods of time, veneers are a viable option. For minor cosmetic changes on a smaller budget, dental bonding is a solution. Chauvin Dental has extensive experience with both procedures. Contact us for a consultation, and we’ll decide together which is the right option for your smile.

 

activated charcoal

How does activated charcoal whiten teeth

Activated charcoal is a most commonly used as a treatment for overdose or poisoning. It’s an oral treatment that binds to toxins and drugs that have been ingested. It will absorb many different things, and can be even used on dogs. Some people use it to treat hangovers, alleviate bloating and gas, filtering water, cleaning mold, and tooth whitening. But charcoal is black!

How does activated charcoal whiten teeth?

Activated charcoal whitens teeth the same way it treats toxins – it’s absorbent! When activated charcoal is applied to the teeth, it absorbs plaque and all of the microscopic stain causing bits. It even alters the pH balance of the mouth, which assists in preventing cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. If you have crowns, veneers, or caps that are porcelain, the charcoal can stain them, so use with caution.

Using activated charcoal to whiten teeth:

If you look anywhere online, you’ll read something like: It’s very easy to do, simply wet a toothbrush, dip it into powdered charcoal, and brush away! After 2-4 minutes, rinse your mouth thoroughly. It’s that easy! Charcoal doesn’t taste great, but to be fair, most tooth whitening options don’t. You don’t have to do it every day, 2 or 3 times a week is sufficient.

Activated charcoal sounds great, but until we know more about it, best to use teeth whitening measures that have been rigorously tested, and approved by dentists. If you do choose to use activated charcoal to whiten your teeth, there are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Everyone’s teeth are different. What works for one person may not work for another due to genetics and overall dental health.
  • Charcoal may be abrasive. Medical professionals are not yet certain of the effect the charcoal has on teeth, but it could lead to deterioration of the enamel and tooth erosion – which opens the door to decay.
  • If use of activated charcoal hurts at all – stop immediately, you may be causing damage to your teeth.
  • Dentists don’t know how effective the charcoal is, so it may leave your teeth looking blotchy (especially if it’s not applied evenly).

Teeth are alive. They have soft tissue (called dentin) and roots, that are protected by enamel. And enamel does not grow back. If the enamel becomes too damaged, it can no longer safely protect the dentin inside, and the tooth will need to be covered up with restoration. If you are looking for a whiter smile, discuss safer options with your dentist.

32 teeth

Is something wrong if you don’t have 32 teeth

There are typically 32 teeth in an adult mouth. Many people have to have their wisdom teeth removed, reducing the total to 28. However, some people never develop their wisdom teeth. In some cases they may be missing other permanent teeth! And not from tooth loss due to injury or decay, the teeth just never developed in the first place. Is something wrong if you don’t have 32 teeth? That depends…

Why do some teeth not develop?

Short answer, genetics. There is a term that’s used when a person is missing 6 or fewer permanent teeth, hypodontia. It’s a birth defect that is caused by abnormal changes in the genes. When a person is missing more than six permanent teeth, it’s called oligodontia. If a person has either of these, it is no fault of their own. It’s just something that can happen. The most important thing to do for both of these conditions is to diagnose and start treatment early. And not just for cosmetic reasons.

Treating hypodontia and oligodontia:

When a person is missing teeth, several things can happen:

  • Their teeth can shift, causing misaligned bites and other tooth damage
  • Their body can reabsorb the jawbone
  • They may have trouble eating or speaking

These things can have a major effect on a person, from a dental and emotional standpoint. That’s why it’s so important to catch it early so your dentist can begin a treatment plan. While we can’t force the missing teeth to grow, they can be replaced. Dental implants, dentures, crowns, and bridges can all be used to fill in any missing teeth. If left alone for too long, the teeth that shift will need to be moved back into their proper positions with braces or other means before any replacement teeth can be installed.

Missing wisdom teeth:

There is a small percentage of the population that never develop some (or all) of their wisdom teeth. This isn’t a bad thing at all! That’s one (or more) less teeth for the oral surgeon to remove. Like hypodontia, missing wisdom teeth is caused by a genetic anomaly. Thousands of years ago, a mutation developed that suppressed the formation of wisdom teeth. Fossils have been found in China dating back 300,000 to 400,000 years old that are missing third molars. So this mutation has been around for a while.

If any of these apply to you, it’s nothing that could have been prevented, as it happened on the genetic level. The important thing is to have the teeth replaced before any other issues develop. Call Dr. Chauvin’s office if you have more questions!

wisdom teeth xrays

How often should I have dental x-rays taken?

We’ve all had to bite that weird little piece of plastic and have a strange machine take pictures of our face. Although a bit unpleasant, dental x-rays are incredibly valuable, allowing the dentist to identify:

  • Root canal or bone changes caused by infection
  • Decayed areas of teeth that indicate cavities
  • Bone loss associated with gum disease
  • Abscesses
  • Tooth decay beneath pre-existing fillings
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Incoming wisdom teeth

They’re also used to ensure that a child has enough room for incoming adult teeth, and to help the dentist prepare for things like braces, implants, dentures, and other procedures. Being that they’re so useful – you may wonder how often you should have dental x-rays taken. The answer is entirely up to you.

Dental x-rays may need to be done as often as every six months, or as little as once every few years. There are a few factors that will determine how often you have them done. Each dentist will have their own policy, but to give you an idea of what to expect:

New adult patients to a dentist’s office will most likely have x-rays done to establish a baseline if they have a history of tooth decay. The dentist will need to see what work, if any, has been previously performed, as well as establishing current overall dental health. After that, x-rays will be taken every 6-12 months. If the adult has healthy teeth, with little to no history of tooth decay, x-rays will only be taken every 2-3 years.

When it comes to children without any permanent teeth, x-rays will need to be taken if all surfaces of their teeth cannot be probed or visualized. If decay is present, x-rays will be taken every 6 months until the decay is gone. If there’s no decay, x-rays are only needed every 1-2 years.

As their permanent teeth begin to erupt, a full series of x-rays will be taken to ensure that the teeth are coming in correctly, that the mouth has enough room for the adult teeth, and to keep an eye on the wisdom teeth. If there is decay, they will have 1-2 dental x-rays a year. If there’s no decay, then x-rays are only needed every 18-36 months.

In a nutshell, the healthier your teeth, the less necessary x-rays are, especially as an adult. Practice good oral hygiene, and you won’t need as many. Have more questions about dental x-rays? Contact Dr. Chauvin’s office.

tongue scraper dr. chauvin lafayette

Will using a tongue scraper solve the problem with my breath?

Nobody likes bad breath. Halitosis (bad breath) is typically caused by a dry mouth. When your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, typically when you aren’t adequately hydrated, the cells on your tongue begin to die. As we all know, the human mouth is home to tons of bacteria. Those dead cells are then broken down by said bacteria, which produces a foul odor – giving us bad breath. It can also be caused by improper dental hygiene, or certain types of food. And while there are a number of things you can do for bad breath, such as drinking more water, brushing better, or using mouthwash, one method of alleviating bad breath is the use of a tongue scraper.

But do tongue scrapers actually work?

Since we know that the most common cause of bad breath is decomposing cells on the tongue, if this is in fact what is causing your bad breath, then yes! Tongue scrapers will help with bad breath. They remove the volatile sulfur compounds that are left behind on your tongue as cells are eaten away. As a matter of fact, this is the most effective method of eliminating bad breath… in the short term.

How to use a tongue scraper:

After you brush and floss, use your tongue scraper, in the morning and at night. If you notice a resurgence of symptoms in the middle of the day, scrape then too. Place it at the back of your tongue and drag it towards the tip. Do this a few times, rinsing the scraper in-between uses. If your tongue becomes irritated or you see cuts or sores developing, you’re scraping too hard, or too often. Allow the tongue to heal before you try again.

Are tongue scrapers a long-term solution?

Not really! While tongue scrapers do remove the offending bacteria, they do not address the underlying cause. They’ll take care of the bad breath as long as you continue to use them regularly, but for a permanent solution, you should try some other things in conjunction with the tongue scraper. Issues that cause bad breath include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities
  • An undiagnosed medical condition

Try drinking more water and brushing better, while still using the tongue scraper. After a while, skip the tongue scraper. If you find you still have bad breath, you will need to pay a visit to your dentist to determine what the cause is.