Why replace a lost tooth?

As a child, losing teeth is a very necessary step in growing up. Baby teeth fall out, adult teeth come in. However, losing a tooth (and not replacing it) as an adult, can have very dramatic dental and medical consequences. Our mouths have evolved over the millennia to be what they are today, and when a tooth is missing, it throws off a lot of things.

From our Lafayette dentist Dr. Chauvin and his dedicated team, here are some reasons you should consider replacing a lost tooth as an adult.

1. Missing a Tooth Makes Chewing Difficult

The first problem is a loss in chewing efficiency. Every lost tooth is a 10% loss in your ability to chew properly. This leads to swallowing food that is not completely chewed, increasing your risk of choking, and leading to digestive problems (because the rest of the digestive system now has to compensate for your teeth not properly doing their jobs).

The primary function of the mouth is to break down food enough for the stomach to be able to digest properly. If food isn’t masticated properly, the stomach may not be able to fully break down the food, so your body won’t be able to properly absorb nutrients from what you eat. Also, large chunks of food that do not digest can become a breeding ground for bacteria, ultimately causing gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, cramping, and abdominal pain. This can also contribute to acid reflux or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).

2. Missing a Tooth Can Lead to Jaw Troubles

Another issue from a lost tooth is something called extrusion or supereruption. Essentially, without support on the opposite side of the mouth, the tooth on the opposite jaw will begin to drift down (or up) into the vacant space. The teeth on either side of the gap can drift inward as well, causing additional teeth to be misaligned. This reduces your bite strength, increases wear and tear on your teeth, and makes them harder to clean properly.

Moreover, the drifting and misalignment of teeth can also lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. When your teeth are not aligned properly, it can cause undue stress on your jaw joints and muscles. This stress can lead to chronic pain, headaches, and even difficulty opening and closing your mouth. TMJ disorders can significantly affect your quality of life, making everyday activities such as eating and speaking uncomfortable and challenging. Proper alignment and replacing missing teeth can help prevent these issues and maintain overall oral health.

3. Missing Teeth Can Cause a Collapsed Bite

You can also experience a collapsed bite. Your arch, the arc between the backs of your back teeth, will degrade over time. This will make your nose begin to point down, making your face shorter. After that, muscle tone in your face will be reduced, causing sunken cheeks and a pinched facial expression. In a nutshell, it makes a person look a lot older due to the loss of bone volume and muscle tone.

Contact Dr. Chauvin Today

It’s very important to replace a lost tooth immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to fix. Once the other teeth start moving around, braces may be required to push them back into place. And as the teeth degrade, getting an accurate bite imprint will be almost impossible.

Have a missing tooth you suddenly feel a need to have fixed? Contact Dr. Chauvin’s office today!

Why do my gums bleed when I brush my teeth?

Seeing red in the sink when you brush your teeth? Bleeding gums can be one of the first signs of gingivitis, or early gum disease.

With over 75% of Americans age 35 and older presenting with some sort of gum disease, it’s important to get yourself to the dentist to get evaluated as soon as you experience bleeding during or after brushing your teeth.

Gingivitis can be reversed, but it must be caught early! From our dental team at Tim Chauvin D.D.S. & Associates, here’s what to know about bleeding gums and how to keep your gums healthy.

Gingivitis and gum health

Gum disease usually begins because food is not properly removed from in between teeth, and over time, the food particles start to break down and lead to disease. The first stage, gingivitis, is an inflammation caused by plaque around the gum line. This plaque must be removed by a dentist and is another reason why regular checkups are crucial. In addition to bleeding gums, some other signs to look out for in regards to gum disease are formations of deep pockets between teeth and gums, loose teeth, and a red or swollen gum line. If gingivitis is allowed to advance, it can lead to a myriad of very serious issues, including tooth loss.

Although bleeding gums usually point to gingivitis, your bleeding may also be caused by a systemic illness or other issue. These could include:

  • diabetes,
  • hormonal changes due to pregnancy,
  • chemotherapy treatments,
  • use of tobacco or certain prescription medications, or
  • irritation of canker sores in the mouth.

Your dentist can evaluate you to properly diagnose the cause of your bleeding gums.

What to do to prevent bleeding gums

Regular and consistent oral care and dental visits are always the most effective way to prevent gum disease. Floss and then brush your teeth 2­3 times daily and be sure you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Be gentle with the pressure you apply when you are brushing your teeth. Don’t be overly aggressive when you floss. Visit your dentist at least every six months, even if your teeth and mouth feel fine, and come in to see us as soon as you notice you’re having any issues.

Contact Dr. Tim Chauvin’s office today

Our team is adamant about oral health and eager to help anyone struggling with an issue. Call us today to make an appointment so we can tackle any problems you might be having – together!

Should I Get a Dental Bridge or Implant?

Dental bridges and implants are some of the more common options for most people who are looking for an effective way to restoring their pearly white smile without the need to use dentures. This is an excellent choice for you to restore your teeth, and even eating and talking will feel just like normal.

From our experienced Lafayette dentist Dr. Tim Chauvin, here’s everything you need to know when deciding between these options.

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are considered the easiest solution to bridge the gap that is created by missing one or more teeth. It actually contains a bridge that connects the adjacent teeth to provide a natural look. The connecting tooth is called a false tooth or pontic that can be made of alloys, porcelain or gold. Dental bridges can be supported by either the natural teeth or a dental implant.

This is an easy and inexpensive procedure to select if you need to restore your smile right away. Setting up dental bridges is  easy and will not require an enormous amount of time.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are another option to restore your smile. This is a more in-depth dental procedure wherein a titanium post is implanted within the jawbone. As the jawbone grows, it effectively fuses with the titanium post, which makes this a permanent option. The temporary crown will be then attached to the post as it fuses and heals.

The healing from this procedure takes anywhere from 6 weeks to 9 months, all depending on the implant’s location. Dental implants can be used also to secure dentures or bridges.

Which is a Better Choice for My Teeth?

Dental bridges may be a better choice for some people, while dental implants may be the way to go for others.

  • Dental implants can be less noticeable which will offer a more natural look.
  • Dental implants also give you the chance to chew food better, as compared to bridges where the artificial tooth may slip.
  • The bridges also require vigorous care to effectively place them. If one of the teeth wherein the attached bridge is affected, it can require replacement of the entire bridge to correct the problem.
  • The main issue with dental implants is they are much more expensive.

Generally speaking, if you are on a budget, then a dental bridge is the best choice, but if you want to have a more permanent solution, then a dental implant may be the right option.

Get in touch with our dental team today to see which is right for you!

How Long Do Dental Bridges and Implants Last?

The life span of dental bridge can reach up to 10 or more years, depending on proper care and hygiene.

Dental implants are permanent, but bridges and crowns that are attached to them will require replacement as time goes by.

In general, proper oral care is very imperative to have long-lasting benefits of these dental procedures.

Contact Dr. Tim Chauvin, Lafayette Dentist Today

In conclusion, dental bridges or dental implants are both an effective way to help to reinstate your smile. You just have to consider several aspects that can influence your decision on the best type of dental procedure that is applicable to your needs. Our team is here to help! Contact our office today to get started.

How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common affliction among both children and adults. Many people also tightly clench their jaws, whether consciously or not, as a response to stressful situations or as a habit. Others only clench or grind their teeth against each other at night – and may not even be aware of it until their sleep partner tells them so! Categorized by when the condition occurs, the two different types of bruxism are called “awake bruxism” and “sleep bruxism.” A person may suffer from one or both.

Your cheek is one of the strongest in your entire body, so it stands to reason that putting that much pressure on your teeth and jaw can, over time, cause a lot of issues. When grinding or clenching is done frequently, patients can experience negative repercussions like achy jaws, teeth damage, headaches, neck and head tension, TMJ issues, and much more. Repetitive grinding can literally wear your teeth down to stubs.

From our team at Chauvin Dental in Lafayette, Louisiana, here’s everything you need to know about teeth grinding.

Common Causes of Bruxism

Different people grind their teeth for different reasons, but here are a few of the most common situations we see:

  • Sleep disorders like sleep apnea
  • Missing teeth
  • Usage of certain prescribed medications
  • Stress

Self-Treatment for Bruxism

First, you need to see your dentist to evaluate the damage to your dental health. Together, you can develop a plan to protect your teeth. However, here are some useful tips that anyone can practice to lessen the impact of bruxism on your teeth:

  • If your bruxism is stress-related, you’ll need to decrease stress in your life (which is good for anyone!). You should think about your specific stressors and try to come up with any ideas that can help you to manage or mitigate them.
  • Make an active effort to relax your jaw throughout the day. Set a reminder on your phone to check in and see if you’re tense or holding your stress in your jaw. Separate your teeth and rest your tongue on the back side of your top row of teeth to make sure you’re not clenching.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol, as these can aggravate or worsen your condition.
  • Exercise.
  • Try not to chew on candies, gum, pens, or pencils.
  • Stretch your jaw by opening your mouth as wide as you can.
  • Massage your jaw and face to relieve tightness and tension. You can also use a warm cloth to relax the area.
  • In severe cases, certain prescription medications may help relieve the pain. Ask your dentist if this is an appropriate option for you.

Mouth Guards

If you suffer from sleep bruxism, a mouth guard will likely be an important line of defense for your teeth. Your dentist can professionally fit you for the guard, which you put in each night before bed to protect your teeth from pressure.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Chauvin today

If you visit your dentist before permanent damage is done to your teeth by bruxism, the chances are very good that you will be able to get things under control and protect your teeth for the future. Don’t let bruxism get the best of you: schedule a visit with Chauvin Dental today!

Why are my teeth so sensitive?

If you suffer from sensitive teeth, you’re not alone: tooth sensitivity is one of the most common dental complaints we hear from our patients. Maybe your teeth hurt when you drink cold water, eat hot foods, or even just when you take a deep breath and the air hits them. Whatever the cause of your sensitive teeth, it’s likely we can recommend a treatment and care plan that will lessen or eliminate the sensitivity.

From our team at Tim Chauvin D.D.S. & Associates, here’s what to know.

Reasons for Tooth Sensitivity

First, it may be helpful to understand the basic structure of your teeth. You probably know that a strong layer of enamel is what protects the surface of your teeth. Underneath the enamel is another layer called cementum, and under that is a layer called dentin. Dentin is made up of many tiny tubes, and if you’re suffering from tooth sensitivity, it means the protective covering of your teeth has been compromised and these tubes are allowing sensations to travel to the nerves in your teeth.

Some potential causes of enamel breakdown include:

  • tooth decay,
  • a cracked tooth,
  • worn fillings,
  • improper oral hygiene, and
  • gingivitis (early gum disease)

It could also be that you have a cavity that needs to be treated, or maybe you’re experiencing a reaction to at­ home bleaching or whitening products. Because there are so many different causes and it’s important to directly treat the cause of your issue, you should schedule a visit with your dentist before starting any self ­treatments.

In more serious cases, you may require surgery like a root canal or gum graft.

Can You Prevent Tooth Sensitivity?

It’s possible to prevent or limit tooth sensitivity by using these tips:

  • Practice proper oral hygiene. Floss and brush twice a day; brush your teeth in a gentle, circular motion.
  • Use a soft­ bristled toothbrush.
  • Limit acidic foods and drinks (examples: soda, oranges). If you’re going to drink them, use a straw to limit the exposure to your teeth and drink water after to re­balance. Don’t brush your teeth directly after consuming acidic foods or beverages, as this can contribute to enamel breakdown.
  • Use a desensitizing toothpaste as part of your oral regimen.
  • If you grind your teeth, get a mouth guard to protect teeth from unnecessary wear and tear. These are available over ­the ­counter, or visit us to be professionally fit for one.

Contact Our Lafayette Dentist Today!

One of our dentists at Chauvin Dental will be able to examine your teeth, diagnose your problem, and then recommend an appropriate plan of treatment. Depending on what’s causing your sensitive teeth, the dentist may recommend at­ home or in ­office topical treatments or a procedure like a filling or crown. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!

Your childs first dental visit and what to expect

A common question that many new parents have is, “At what age do I take my child to the dentist?”

The answer is that your child should see the dentist for the first time by their first birthday. That may seem early, but considering that some children develop cavities before they’re age two, it’s not entirely outlandish. National studies have shown that 1 in 4 kids have a cavity by age 4! And decay in baby teeth actually increases the risk of having decay in their permanent teeth.

Read on to learn more about your child’s first dentist visit from Lafayette dentist Dr. Tim Chauvin.

Finding a pediatric dentist

Pediatric dentists actually have additional schooling beyond the average dental degree. Working with children is completely different than working with adults!

So even if you want to bring your child to your dentist for the sake of ease, it’s better to find a dedicated pediatric dentist in your area. In addition to the specialization, they’ll have a more kid-friendly environment, and the sight of other children may put your child at ease.

What happens at the first dental visit?

The first dentist visit is important because it will evaluate your child’s risk for cavities. There is usually very little treatment. They’ll examine your child’s bite, check for decay, and look for potential gum, jaw, teeth, or other oral issues. If needed, they’ll do a teeth cleaning, and determine whether or not your child needs fluoride.

Depending on the dentist, you may be asked to hold your child or wait in the waiting room. The ultimate goal is to build a relationship between child and dentist – that way they aren’t scared of going to the dentist, a problem affecting up to 75% of adults!

Their dentist will also cover some topics with you, including:

  • How to properly care for your baby/toddler’s mouth
  • How to properly use fluoride
  • Ways to prevent accidents that could damage their teeth
  • What oral habits to watch out for and curb (thumb/finger sucking)
  • Teething milestones
  • The link between oral health and a proper diet

What happens after the first dental visit?

After the assessment, the dentist will set up a schedule for visits. It will depend on the state of your child’s teeth and if they are at risk for any dental issues. Typically, children should be seen every 6 months. As time goes on, that schedule may change.

In between visits, make sure to care properly for your child’s teeth. If they’re under age 8, you should help them with their teeth cleaning.

Contact Dr. Tim Chauvin’s Office Today

 Need to find a dentist for your child? Our team at Tim Chauvin, DDS & Associates is here to help make sure your little one keeps their teeth and mouth giving you the beautiful smile you love! Call us today to set up an appointment.

How Pregnancy Affects Dental Health

Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life that brings many changes along with it. While symptoms such as morning sickness and swollen feet are more widely publicized, pregnancy can also affect dental health in different ways. If you think or know you are expecting, it’s best to tell your dentist as soon as possible so that together, you can plan your care accordingly.

Pregnancy causes a surge in hormones, which can allow plaque to build up faster than usual and increase a woman’s chances of developing gum disease. Another issue many pregnant women experience is gum tenderness or sensitivity, or gums that bleed easily. This is also referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis.” Pregnant women are at a higher risk for dental problems and in some cases, issues with teeth or gums can cause babies to be born preterm. It’s important to treat problems appropriately to avoid the risk of affecting the baby’s health.

From Lafayette dentist Dr. Chauvin, here’s what to know about dental health during pregnancy.

Professional Dental Care

If you need dental work while pregnant, the ideal time to have it is during the second trimester. Your baby is developing rapidly during the first trimester, and it’s best to postpone dental treatments until after, if possible. However, don’t delay in seeking emergency care if you have a true dental emergency.

It’s absolutely safe to continue your standard cleaning appointments with your dentist. While optional dental work should typically be postponed until after pregnancy, ask your dentist if you have questions.

At-Home Dental Care

If you’re experiencing morning sickness, try to swish afterward with water and a teaspoon of baking soda. This will help counteract the acid exposure on your teeth. Avoid brushing right after vomiting so as not to destroy your teeth enamel – try to wait about an hour before you brush.

Continue to follow your at-home dental care plan, which should include brushing gently twice a day and flossing once a day. If you don’t use a mouthwash already, you may want to consider adding one to your routine.

Diet and Lifestyle Changes

Your baby’s teeth begin to develop around the end of the first trimester, and your diet plays a big role in your baby’s health. Evaluate what you eat, and try to especially limit or avoid sugary foods. Sugar is the main cause of dental decay and gum disease.  Good sources of nutrition to consider include: fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy protein choices. Talk to your doctor about taking a prenatal vitamin, and remember to drink lots of water.

Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Chauvin

With a little bit of planning, you can help ensure your teeth are the least of your concerns during your pregnancy. As always, come see us at Chauvin Dental if you have any questions during this exciting time in your life!

 

5 Tips for Preventing Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, occurs when the tissues within the mouth become inflamed or infected.

Gum disease is generally separated into two categories: gingivitis, which refers to inflammation in the early stages of gum disease, and periodontitis, which is when damage happens to the gum tissue. While gingivitis is highly treatable if caught early, periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in the adult population, making it essential to prevent gingivitis from advancing.

From leading Lafayette dentist Dr. Tim Chauvin, here’s what you need to know about gum disease and how to prevent it.

Preventing gum disease in Louisiana

Because most cases of gum disease are caused by plaque buildup, the ways we recommend to prevent it typically center around reducing or removing plaque buildup from the mouth.

Here are 5 tips you can use to prevent gum disease:

  1. Lessen your sugar intake. Sugar is a leading cause of tooth decay and when you consume sugary foods, the bad bacteria in your mouth multiply rapidly. Even worse, sticky candies can stay on the teeth surfaces for long periods of time, making it even more risky. Consider swapping out sugary foods and drinks for healthier choices and if you must satisfy your sweet tooth, choose items like chocolate that melt fast and won’t stick on your teeth.
  2. Stop smoking. Smoking, or use of any tobacco products, greatly increases your chance of developing gum disease and oral cancer. In addition, smokers have a harder time healing from dental procedures and when they get gum disease, it’s harder to treat than in non-smokers. Even if you’ve been a lifelong smoker, you can still reap many health benefits by quitting today.
  3. Make proper at-home dental hygiene an integral part of your routine. A solid at-home regimen is a crucial part of preventing gum disease. You should be brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing at least once a day.
  4. Visit your dentist at least twice a year. Even if you’ve got no problems with your mouth, you should still go in for regular dental checkups. Your dentist and hygienist will be able to remove more plaque with their instruments than you can with your toothbrush. You will also have regular X-rays to monitor your oral health.
  5. Know and manage your risk factors. Managing your overall wellness is key to making sure your teeth stay healthy. Speak with your dentist about how any diseases or medications you have may affect your oral health. For example, if you’re diabetic, it’s important to keep your blood sugar well controlled so you’re not at increased risk for dental issues.

Make an appointment with Dr. Chauvin Today

Gum disease is very common and usually quite treatable. Be sure to take steps within your control to lessen your risk and see your dentist regularly to be sure your oral health is on track. Contact the highly skilled team at Chauvin Dental if you have any questions about preventing gum disease or any other oral health questions!

Choosing the right mouthwash

We’ve talked toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss – but what about mouthwash? If you’d like to add a mouthwash or rinse to your oral care routine, it’s important to be aware of just what a mouthwash or rinse does. Some freshen breath, others provide an anti-cavity benefit from fluoride, while others contain germ-killing ingredients to help prevent plaque buildup.

You have many options, and the right mouthwash or rinse for you is the one that meets your dental hygiene needs for the health of your teeth and gums, and taste preference. Of course, mouthwash should be used along with other oral hygiene practices, but when used together with flossing and brushing, it can help to keep the entire mouth healthy. However, it can often be difficult to choose the best mouthwash for you and your oral needs. Dr. Chauvin and his team in Lafayette, Louisiana,  can offer some suggestions for choosing the correct mouthwash.

Types of mouthwash

  • Fluoride mouthwash:
    • Recommended for those who are cavity-prone. In the United States, tap water contains small amounts of fluoride in order to promote dental health for society as a whole. However, for those who need extra protection, a fluoride mouthwash can create a protective film over the teeth.
  • Antibacterial mouthwash:
    • This type contains chemicals to help fight against gum disease and other infections. Mouthwashes made specifically to fight bacteria can be a great preventive method for developing infections in the mouth. However, if an infection is already present, a dentist can prescribe a more powerful antibacterial mouthwash to treat the infection and prevent it from spreading.
  • Alcohol Mouthwash:
    • This type works as an antiseptic. It clears the mouth of germs and some viral infections (that’s where the burning sensation comes from). However, if you have issues relating to dry mouth, alcohol can exacerbate the problem. If this is the case, consider using an alcohol-free mouthwash. This will free your mouth from the drying effects of the alcohol base.

Schedule an appointment with Lafayette dentist Dr. Chauvin today

Remember that mouthwashes are to be used as one part of an entire oral hygiene program. Visiting Dr. Chauvin twice a year, brushing and flossing daily, along with using mouthwash are all necessary aspects of a full oral hygiene program. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

Importance of Screening for Oral Cancer

Did you know that oral cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the United States? Oral cancer has an incredibly high mortality rate, with half of all patients diagnosed dying as a result of their disease. Often oral cancer is only discovered when the cancer has made its way to another location, usually the lymph nodes of the neck. Prognosis at this stage is significantly worse than when it is caught early because in its early stages it may not be noticed by the patient due to its lack of pain or symptoms.

The good news is that when caught early, oral cancer has one of the highest survival rates of other cancers. More than 8 out of 10 oral cancer patients will survive the disease with early detection.

From Dr. Tim Chauvin in Lafayette, here’s what you need to know about oral cancer.

Am I at risk for oral cancer?

Some people are more at risk for oral cancer than others. For example, men tend to be more susceptible than women.

Other common risks include:

  • Age of 40+
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • HPV
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Prologued sun exposure

People who have been diagnosed with oral cancer usually have at least one of these risk factors, but there is a growing rate of people who are diagnosed with no risk factors at all.

This means that oral cancer screenings are still important in maintaining your overall health.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

Some symptoms of oral health can point to signs of oral cancer.

Your dentist will look out for the following symptoms at your appointments:

  • Red or white patches in your mouth
  • Spots that continuously bleed or don’t heal
  • Numbness or pain when you bite down on your teeth
  • A lump in the mouth, throat or on the lip
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or the lining of the mouth
  • Bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth
  • A sore throat that does not go away
  • Difficulty or pain when chewing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the jaw
  • A change (hoarseness) in the voice
  • Pain in the ear.

Oral Cancer Treatment and Prevention

The best way to prevent oral cancer is through regular oral cancer screenings during your checkups.

Your dentist won’t be able to diagnose you during the exam, but they will send a sample of your tissue to a lab to determine if it is cancer.

Make an appointment with Dr. Chauvin today

Once a dentist receives the lab results confirming oral cancer, they can start to treat the cancer before it progresses. Come into Dr. Chauvin’s office in Lafayette Louisiana today to get your oral cancer screening!