Posts Tagged ‘tooth decay’

You and Your Bite

Occlusal disease is the fancy name for “bite disease”. What? How does one’s bite become diseased, you ask? Well, there are three types of bad things that can happen to your teeth: decay (cavities), gum disease, and bite disease. We’ve discussed the first two, so here goes occlusal (bite) disease.

Occlusal disease is the condition where your bite — the way your teeth come down onto each other — is uneven, crooked, or misaligned. You may not be able to bite down all the way or chew thoroughly, and your jaw muscles must work harder for these simple tasks. Because of the unevenness, some teeth are worn down faster than others, and further wearing, breaking, or chipping of teeth may occur. The extra work on the jaw muscles also causes pain all around the jaw, mouth, head, and neck. “Aging” teeth may not be aging at all — the wear and tear is because of a bite problem long left untreated. It’s a mess!

Occlusal disease is often hard to spot. Unlike cavities or gum disease, it’s not always visually apparent. What may appear to be a randomly broken tooth could be a more severe underlying problem… and fixing just that one tooth is not going to help if the whole jaw is misaligned.

Dentists trained at The Pankey Institute develop the eyes for recognizing bite problems, making it less of a mystery to solve if one finds himself suffering the symptoms. Much research goes into fixing the problem; casts and models of your teeth are made so the dentist can see where the problem lies and how it can be adjusted (bite analysis). Occlusal disease also ties directly into bioesthetic dentistry and treating TMJ disorders. A simple, non-surgical tweaking of the muscles (most often used with a MAGO, or mouthguard-looking splint that helps “train” the muscles to realign in the correct positions) may very well be the solution to chewing food without harming your skull, and preserving functional, straight teeth well into your later years.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles


CEREC Dentistry: Inlays and Onlays

The CEREC process for designing inlays and onlays is similar to the designing of a crown, only the function is different.

CEREC inlays are the superior versions of composite cavity fillings; superior due to the strength and aesthetics that the ceramic brings. Inlays milled from this ceramic material last far longer than any other cavity solution. They also behave most similarly to natural tooth enamel, in both appearance and feel.

Onlays (a.k.a. partial crowns) are the remedy to extensive cavity damage, covering a larger area of the tooth. In past cases, the weaker disposition of composite — or the porcelain restorations that contained metal — would require a full crown to be designed in order to maintain the tooth’s strength. Because CEREC onlays are so strong, one that is well-built will do everything it needs to do, causing minimal extra tooth damage and eliminating the need for a full crown.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

Cavities: Prevention

So what is the best “remedy” for these little monsters in your mouth? You guessed it — prevention! Taking precautions seriously is always the best way to avoid any kind of disease or infection.

Keep your teeth clean! Brush at least twice daily and be sure to floss thoroughly. Brush every single surface of your teeth that you can possibly reach. Flossing cleans out the old food particles and plaque from the places a toothbrush can’t reach.

Eat well! Nutrition largely impacts the overall health of your mouth and determines which bacteria dominate the environment in your mouth: the health-promoting, good bacteria, or the acid-producing, bad bacteria. Avoid refined sugars, refined flours, and heavily processed foods.

Visit the dentist regularly! Be sure to have regular cleanings and thorough inspections of what’s going on with your teeth. Be open to new suggestions and forming better habits. Take care of yourself.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

Cavities: Left Too Long

So what happens to cavities if you just leave them there? Well, cavities in their early stages cannot be felt by the person, but they can be spotted visually by the dentist. It’s a fairly uncomplicated fix at this point — a filling and regular cleanings to prevent further damage. But if the cavity has worn its way through to the dentin, the tooth is noticeably sensitive to heat, cold, or touch. At this point, a barrier must be laid over the damaged dentin, and then filling material to cover and seal the opening. If a cavity is yet still left untreated, the tooth’s nerve and pulp become infected and immense pain is experienced. A full root canal is required to clean out and seal off the tooth, along with reconstruction and reinforcement to rebuild the tooth’s strength, and a crown to replace the tooth loss.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

Cavities: How They Start

“Cavity.” The word does not sound as menacing as “rotting enamel” or even “tooth decay”, but that’s exactly what cavities are. Unfortunately, cavities are so common amongst individuals ranging from young children to the elderly, that everyone dismisses them as normal and easily repaired.

But is there something we aren’t considering? We were made with teeth, and we need them to chew and digest our food to survive… so something is wrong if they are showing signs of decay!

Cavities form from acid-producing bacteria and their acidic waste caused by sugars that they consume. Plaque, the substance left behind by these bacteria, accumulates all around the tooth, down along the gum line, and in all the cracks ‘n’ crannies (large or microscopic) that compose of the enamel crown. Tooth enamel is made mostly of calcium, and this acidic plaque nesting against it causes it to literally rot and wear away. When the decay forms a breakthrough — a completely hole through the enamel — it is now a cavity and must be filled before the vulnerable dentin & pulp inside becomes infected.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles