cavity-free

Follow this nightly dental routine and be cavity-free for your next checkup

We all know this much: cavities are bad.

Not good.

No bueno.

When the dentist lets you know that you have one, your heart sinks a little bit.

Why?

Because for some it kind of feels like they just got a big fat F on their dental exam, and nobody likes bad grades. For others, it seems like a reflection of their character or dedication to dental hygiene.

But here’s the thing – most people get a cavity or five in their lifetime, and you’re not awful if you have to get one filled every once in a while.

The good news is that there are ways to avoid them. You just have to have some discipline!

Your new nightly dental routine

 

  • Brush your teeth…for a while

 

Yes, this is step number one for a reason. It’s incredibly obvious, but brushing your teeth for a good amount of time is one of the best ways you can prevent acids and sugars from eating away at your tooth enamel and causing decay.

The real key, though, is to brush them for long enough. Dentists recommend a whole two minutes. This will most likely feel like a very very long time at first, but it’s necessary to keep your pearly whites, well…white.

When you brush, use short, gentle strokes over the surfaces and gumlines, taking care to pay equal attention to the outside, inside, and chewing surfaces.

 

  • Floss twice a day

 

Flossing is definitely not a fan favorite, but how else are you supposed to remove all that food debris from between your teeth ?

Trust us. If you don’t already floss, you might be disgusted (read: fascinated) to see how much food gets lodged in the cracks.

And do you know what happens to that food? It decays. It damages your enamel.

It also doesn’t smell great.

Floss using either a waxed or unwaxed floss, or turn to some other cool flossing tools we talked about in a previous blog.

 

  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste

 

Fluoride is a great thing.

It is a mineral that works wonders in the cavity fighting department, and it prevents mineral loss and the resulting damage to enamel.

Here are a few types of toothpaste that have been approved by the American Dental Association

Click here for more products approved by the ADA.
So there you go.

It’s not a breakthrough in dental hygiene, but these are three things that you can do every night to greatly improve the likelihood that you will survive your next teeth cleaning cavity free!

As always, visit Dr. Chauvin in Lafayette for a easy (and judgement free) appointment.

What happens when a filling falls out

How many of you has this happened to: sitting there eating, minding your own business, then feel something small, oddly-shaped, and hard in your mouth. There’s always that moment of panic, “Did I just lose a filling? Or is that something in the food?” The good news is that usually there’s no need to panic! Be careful though. It is possible to inadvertently inhale (which can lead to infection) or swallow the filling. Simply remove it from your mouth and call your dentist.

There’s no need to save the filling unless it was gold or ceramic inlay, as your dentist may be able to put those back into place. Most dentist offices have emergency appointment slots available for things like this. It’s very important to get in as soon as possible. Depending on the location and depth of the filling that was lost, leaving it alone for too long could cause serious problems. After all, the inside of the tooth is exposed! If the pulp gets infected, you could be looking at a root canal or extraction! Make sure you practice extremely good dental hygiene while waiting for your appointment. Brush the hole gently to remove debris, and rinse with warm saltwater after eating to prevent food buildup.

Once you get to your appointment, your dentist will take an X-ray and take a look at the tooth. If the tooth’s integrity is still largely intact, you’ll simply need a replacement filling and be on your way. If too much of the tooth is compromised, you’ll need a crown or cap. This just depends on how old the filling was and how well you’ve taken care of your teeth in the interim. If it’s a fairly new filling, that means the filling never bonded to the tooth properly and your dentist should replace it free of charge or at a reduced rate.

Fillings don’t last forever, and during dental checkups, your dentist can identify open margins (if the filling has begun to separate from the tooth). When a filling isn’t sealed correctly, it creates a tiny gap that bacteria can enter. This opens the door to additional cavities or infections. A cavity forming behind a filling will most likely result in a root canal. The key is being proactive – visit your dentist for regular checkups, especially if you’ve had dental work done before. At these appointments, your dentist will determine whether a filling replacement is necessary. Have you lost a filling? Call Dr. Chauvin’s office so we can get it fixed!

What happens if my cavity is in a hard to reach place

More than 3 million people each year have to have cavities treated. They’re very common, and are relatively easy to treat when they’re caught in time. Generally, the decay is removed with a drill, and a filling replaces the missing tooth material. However, cavities can form on any surface of the tooth. So if you have a smaller mouth, or the cavity is at the very back of the mouth, this can make the traditional treatment a bit more difficult.

Treating a cavity that’s hard to reach

There are a couple of different ways to treat a cavity:

  • Fluoride treatments
  • Fillings
  • Extractions
  • Crowns
  • Root canals

If the cavity is caught very early, fluoride treatments can help restore your tooth’s enamel. You’ll be given a liquid, gel, or foam that is either brushed onto your teeth, or placed in trays that sit on your teeth. It’s left on for a few moments each day, and that’s all there is to it, no matter where the tooth is located.

The typical cavity treatment, a filling, may be impossible depending on the cavity’s location; for instance, if the cavity is located on the backside of your 2nd molar (the last one if you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed). The most common filling nowadays, a white composite resin, requires exposure to a dental curing light to finish hardening. So if your cavity is at the very back of your mouth, it’s going to be difficult to get that light back there!

If the cavity proves to be impossible to traditionally fill, you can have a crown put on the tooth. Crowns are typically reserved for when the tooth is extensively decayed or weakened, but they can be used in other instances. Your dentist will take a mold of your bite, then remove all of the decay, as well as some of the healthy tooth, in order to ensure that the crown will fit properly. You’ll be given a temporary crown until your custom one is finished. Then the temporary crown is removed and you’re fitted with the permanent one!

The bad news: crowns are a lot more expensive than fillings. So if budget is a factor (or you just don’t want to have a crown put on), you can choose to have the tooth removed. Keep in mind, when a tooth is removed, other teeth may shift and cause additional problems. A bridge or a dental implant will prevent other teeth from moving.

This is why it’s so critical to maintain proper dental hygiene and regular dental checkups. The sooner a problem is caught, the less involved the treatment will be. Call Dr. Chauvin to schedule an appointment!

A Tooth Friendly Easter Basket

tooth friendly easter basketChocolate bunnies, heavenly hash, and bright yellow peeps are the traditional part of Easter Basket fun. The National Confectioners Association says that Americans spend more than $1.5 billion on Easter candy each year, second only to Halloween candy! This is the equivalent of 25 pounds per candy per person! However, here at your favorite Lafayette dentists office, we have it on good authority from the Easter Bunny that there are many fun items you can include in a tooth friendly easter basket that are not filled with sugar. 

Whether you’re 5 or 35, Easter candy can be incredibly tempting. However, too much of a good thing can be a very bad thing – 92% of adults age 20-64 have had cavities in their permanent teeth. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, each person in that same age group has an average of 3.28 decayed or missing permanent teeth and 13.65 decayed and missing permanent surfaces. And it’s not just grown-ups: The Pew Center on the States says that about 60% of children have dental decay. 

Going easy on the sugary, sticky candy that hangs on to teeth long after the taste is gone is a better idea than you might think. Sugar in candy combines with the bacteria in your mouth to create acids, which attack the enamel of your teeth. What tastes so great in the moment can lead to cavities and other dental problems down the road. And if you skip the sugar in your child’s basket, you might even avoid the sugar rush! You can have them to drink plenty of water between each piece of candy. Rinsing their mouth frequently will clean their smile of some acid formation and bacteria from sugar. Since dry mouth is more conducive to bacteria, hydrating your mouth is a good practice for daily oral hygiene. But a better alternative is simply replacing the candy in your tooth friendly easter basket!

Tooth Friendly Easter Basket Ideas:

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is important, but that doesn’t mean kids can’t have fun with it. 

  • Novelty tooth brush
  • Play Dough
  • Bubbles
  • Glitter Pens
  • Stickers –scratch n sniff of course
  • Legos
  • Fruit snacks
  • Dark chocolate

 

As always, there’s no substitute for brushing and flossing at the end of the day to keep teeth clean and cavity free. The easter bunny never intended for tooth decay to go hand in hand with his delightful reputation.

If you need help keeping your family’s mouth healthy contact Dr. Chauvin’s office today and schedule a check up or teeth cleaning.

 

Types of Dental Fillings and the Right One for You

dental fillings

Are you curious about what types of dental filling options you have, and what types there are? Lots of people can get confused by what sort of dental filling options they have. Thankfully, Dr. Chauvin, your favorite Lafayette Louisiana dentist is extremely experienced and can help you along this process by offering a great deal of options for your procedure.

 

Your dental options vary depending on your health, where and how the filling is placed, the amount of pressure the tooth will have to take while chewing and the type of materials that should be used for your individual needs. Most fillings are used to fill the hole that is left behind when a dentist takes out a cavity. Fillings can also be used to repair cracked or broken teeth, or give new shape to a tooth.

Types of Dental Fillings:

  1. Amalgam Fillings –  These metal fillings are typically made up of mercury and copper. Amalgam fillings are strong and long-lasting, but are aesthetically unpleasing. Advantages include: Strength, inexpensive, and can be completed in one visit.  Disadvantages include: Do not blend in, healthy parts of tooth may be removed to make room for filling, can tarnish over time, can crack in temperature changes.
  2. Composite Fillings – These tooth-colored fillings are made of a hard plastic material, making them very safe and strong. The main advantage is that they are made to match your teeth. However, the 5 year lifespan is very short compared to other filling options, so they may not be the first option for people on a budget in the long-term. 
  3. Porcelain Fillings – Also called inlays or onlays, porcelain fillings are custom created in a dental lab and then bonded to the tooth by the dentist. They can be matched to the color of the tooth, resist staining, and are about the same cost as gold fillings. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth, making the filling nearly undetectable.
  4. Glass ionomers –  These glass and acrylic fillings usually last less than five years, but they are often a good choice for children whose teeth are still changing. Also, they can release fluoride, which can help prevent tooth decay.

An Alternative to Dental Fillings: Dental Crowns and Dental Implants

For some patients of Dr. Chauvin, dental crowns may be necessary in the presence of severe tooth decay. Dental crowns are used to protect teeth that are weak from decay and in danger of breaking or cracking. Teeth that are already cracked can also be held together with a dental crown. When there isn’t enough tooth left after a filling has been placed (when the filling is too large), a dental crown can be used to protect and cover the tooth. A dental crown is a cap placed over a tooth to restore strength, shape, and size. Dental crowns may also be used to improve the appearance of the teeth, and once placed, fully encase the entire visible portion of the tooth above and below the gumline. 

If your tooth has suffered so much damage that it cannot be saved, the tooth will need to be extracted and replaced.  Dental implants often offer the most stable, durable, and natural looking tooth replacement option.

Learn More about Dental Fillings

Want to know more? Please contact your Lafayette La dentist Dr. Chauvin. He readily shares his knowledge and expertise with our patients. We would be happy to answer any questions or schedule an appointment for you.

It’s important that you take good care of your teeth by brushing twice a day and flossing regularly. And of course, visiting Dr. Chauvin twice a year for your regular check-up. Doing so will ensure that issues with tooth decay are caught and dealt with early and that your teeth remain as healthy as possible.

How does a root canal work

How Does a Root Canal Work-Did you know that more than 15 million teeth are treated and saved each year with root canal treatments? Despite those numbers root canals still have a pretty bad reputation.  The root canals stress-inducing reputation took hold several decades ago, when root canal treatment really was painful. Today, its reputation remains unchanged, even though the procedure itself has changed. A survey conducted by the American Association of Endodontists showed that patients who’ve had a root canal performed are six times more likely to describe it as “painless” than those people who have not had root canal treatment.

A simple fix to this bad reputation is understanding the root canal procedure, starting with the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, and helps to grow the root of your tooth during development. In a fully developed tooth, the tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.

Why is a root canal necessary?

Once the pulp is infected, it must be removed in order to save the tooth. A tooth can become infected for several reasons, including severe tooth decay or a crack or chip in the tooth. The most common way for the pulp to become infected is from an untreated cavity. Failing restorations such as dental fillings and dental crowns can foster bacterial leakage into the dental pulp. Once infected, the dental pulp begins to die and the body’s inflammatory responses set it. The combination of infection and inflammation can cause significant pain. The end result is a toothache. 

You can use the following checklist to help you determine whether a root canal may be called for.

 

  • Do hot or cold food or beverages cause a toothache?
  • Do you find it excruciatingly painful to eat?
  • Is your tooth sore to the touch?
  • Do you have a severe toothache?
  • Do you have a bump (possibly filled with pus or blood) on your gum?
  • Do you have pain that may radiate from one part of your mouth to another or from your mouth into your head or your ear?

What is the root canal procedure like?

Root canal therapy is a complex procedure that requires both skill and experience. Often requiring one or more visits to the dentist. Luckily, you won’t mind seeing your favorite Lafayette Louisiana dentist, Dr. Chauvin, more than once!  The first step in the procedure is to take an X-ray to see the shape of the root canals and determine if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding bone. Local anesthesia is then used to numb the area.  A drill is used to make small hole through the enamel and dentin, and into the pulp. Using flexible nickel titanium pin-like files, the inside of the canal is shaped. This is done delicately, but thoroughly, to completely remove all traces of infection or debris. This process is performed with a great deal of care in order to minimize damage or trauma to the surrounding ligaments and bone.

The next step is to disinfect and seal the tooth using a special type of heat gun to fill the canal with a material called gutta-percha. Gutta-percha is a natural, biocompatible, anti-bacterial material that expands and seals the hollowed area within the span of about 15 minutes. 

If the root canal is not completed on the same day, a temporary filling is placed in the exterior hole in the tooth to keep contaminants out between appointments.

 

The final step may involve further restoration of the tooth. Because a tooth that needs root canal therapy often is one that has a large filling or extensive decay or other weakness, a crown, crown and post, or other restoration often needs to be placed on the tooth to protect it, prevent it from breaking, and restore it to full function.

If you are experiencing pain or think you may need a root canal give Dr. Chauvin in Lafayette Louisiana a call today.

 

 

Why sharks don’t get cavities – A lesson in fluoride

Sharks have the healthiest teeth in the animal kingdom. That’s pretty impressive seeing as sharks average around 15 rows of teeth in each jaw. Some sharks end up growing and shedding up to 30,000 teeth in their lifetime. Great pearly White Shark, that’s a lot of teeth! How do sharks keep all their teeth looking so porcelain and clean? Well for one, they don’t drink a lot of sugary beverages or candies. It also turns out that sharks have a fluoride coating on their teeth. In fact, their teeth contain 100% fluoride.   Makes sense that they would have their own type of travel toothpaste since they always seem to be on the move.

Why is fluoride so important?

Fluoride is an active ingredient in most toothpastes and is even added to water throughout the country. It’s extremely important in fighting against tooth decay. It protects teeth by restoring the loss of minerals on the tooth enamel. When our teeth lose those minerals on the enamel, it opens the doors to cavities. Think of fluoride as a protective shield, keeping acids that eat through the tooth’s surface at bay. If plaque and tartar are allowed to accumulate on teeth for an extended period of time, it can allow for dangerous bacteria to grow next to the gums. By getting routine teeth cleanings harmful build is removed from your tooth and leaves the tooth surface smooth and clean in order to stop bacteria from developing.

 

How to make sure you are getting enough fluoride:

  • Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral and is found in various foods and water.
  • Mouthwashes and toothpastes often contain fluoride. Your dentist may even apply higher doses of fluoride in a gel or foam form when you have a checkup.
  • Sometimes a doctor may decide that you need a fluoride supplement. These are available in liquid or tablet form.
  • Fluoride is also important for adults – It’s important to continue to use fluoride toothpaste even after the ‘formative years’ for teeth
  • Too much fluoride can be a bad thing. Knowing how much your city puts in water is important.

 

It just doesn’t seem fair that a mammal with thousands of replaceable teeth also has the advantage of never getting cavities. Throw a dog a bone! Unfortunately, humans can’t regenerate teeth each time we get a new cavity, so remember to brush and floss daily because this is the only real set of teeth you’ll have!

If you have questions about whether you’re getting enough fluoride, contact us to make an appointment for a routine cleaning.

5 Surprising Foods That Promote Healthy Teeth

foods good for teeth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout our lives (especially as children), we are told what type of foods to avoid to make sure we have healthy teeth. What we don’t usually hear about are the foods that are good for our teeth! Sure we know to drink milk for the calcium for strong teeth and bones, but there has to be something else, right? What if you don’t like, or can’t drink milk? The good news is there are other foods that can improve your mouth health. Some of them may surprise you!

 

The five foods that contribute to having healthy teeth are:

  • Strawberries – this delicious red fruit has a rather unexpected effect on your teeth. Even though it is red, it can actually whiten your teeth! How? It contains malic acid, which is a natural teeth whitener.
  • Dark chocolate – chocolate is not usually considered a healthy food. However, there are different types of chocolate. Milk and white chocolate are full of sugar. If it is by itself, cocoa is actually bitter! Adding minimal amounts of sweetener to cocoa will create dark chocolate. Containing tannins and antioxidants – dark chocolate can actually prevent the growth of bacteria. It also has a chemical called theobromine that can harden tooth enamel. Dark chocolate also has health benefits for your heart!
  • Artificial sweetener – we’ve talked before about how certain artificial sweeteners can benefit your mouth health. The chemical is called xylitol, and not all artificial sweeteners contain it, so it’s important to read the ingredients. Xylitol can actually inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth, more specifically, the bacteria that causes cavities. The way to get the most benefits from this artificial sweetener is from sugar free gums. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production which can loosen food particles, neutralize acids, and remineralize your teeth.
  • Cheese – we all know that milk is good for your teeth. And cheese is a byproduct of milk! Loaded with calcium, cheese is a great food to eat for your mouth health. It also normalizes the ph, or acidity, of your mouth, by neutralizing acid.
  • Kale – like cheese, kale is a great source of calcium. What is unique about kale is that you have to chew it a lot! This has the same bonus for your teeth that sugar free gums do! The excess saliva production loosens food particles and neutralizes acid in your mouth.

 

Having healthy teeth is one of the best things you can do for your health. Because gum disease can contribute to heart disease, it’s important to take very good care of your teeth and mouth. Brushing and flossing daily, and having regular dental check-ups are the best things you can do for your teeth. Give us a call if you want to schedule a cleaning with Dr. Chauvin!