Did you know that a dry socket is the most common complication of a tooth extraction? Although 2-5% of extracted teeth can develop a dry socket, this condition is more likely to occur in extracted wisdom teeth and can occur in 30% of wisdom tooth extractions. While you may never experience a dry socket, it is still beneficial to know a little about the condition if you plan on having a tooth extracted. Here is everything you need to know about dry sockets: 

dry socket

What is a dry socket?

Alveolar osteitis, also known as dry socket, is a tooth extraction complication characterized by the absence or loss of a protective blood clot. You see, when a tooth is extracted the body will naturally create a protective blood clot over the empty socket to protect the underlying tissues, bone, and nerve endings. If this clot fails to form or becomes dislodged somehow, then the tissues, bone, and nerve endings are exposed and are known as a dry socket. 

What are the symptoms of a dry socket?

One of the most common symptoms of a dry socket is pain due to the exposure of the underlying structures. Pain associated with a dry socket is generally described as a throbbing pain deep within the jaw on the same side of the extraction. Some people also experience pain that radiates into the ears, eyes, temples, or neck. In addition to pain, a bad smell or taste in your mouth is another sign of a dry socket. If you think you have a dry socket, you may be able to see exposed bone in the empty tooth socket when you look in the mirror. 

How is a dry socket treated?

Your dentist will first examine the extraction site for signs of infection and to confirm a dry socket. They will then clean the socket by gently flushing it with water. The empty socket will then be packed with pain medications and gauze. Most patients note that this treatment alleviates their pain almost immediately. In some cases, your dentist may also show you how to do this on your own and provide you with the necessary supplies for home care. 

Who is at risk of developing a dry socket?

While having a tooth extraction is the main risk factor for developing a dry socket, there are some additional things that can increase your chances of a dry socket. For starters, people who smoke are at a higher risk because tobacco products delay healing and can interfere with clot formation. Women are also at a higher risk, especially if they take oral contraceptives. This is due to the fact that high estrogen levels can also interfere with the healing process. Dry sockets are also more likely to occur on the lower jaw and in molar extractions. 

woman doing a salt water rinse

How are dry sockets prevented?

Some cases of dry sockets cannot be prevented, however there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of developing a dry socket. The best way to prevent a dry socket is to follow your dentist’s postoperative instructions since most of these instructions are designed to prevent complications like a dry socket. These instructions also provide information on what food to eat and how to keep your mouth clean using saltwater rinses. 

Jonathan McCartney D.M.D

Dr. Jonathan McCartney received his doctorate from Case Western Dental School. After a few years of practicing in another dental office, Dr. McCartney’s goal was to create an environment for his patients that combines the most advanced dental technology with gentle, affordable, individualized care. The end result of this goal is McCartney Dental, a state of the art North Port modern dental practice.  

Practicing proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease in order to maintain your oral health. According to the American Dental Association, proper oral hygiene consists of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. In addition to completing these behaviors, it is also important to use the proper methods to get the most out of an oral hygiene routine. When it comes to flossing, the best way to do this is to prevent yourself from making these common flossing mistakes: 

Not Flossing Regularly

One very common mistake people often make with flossing is that they don’t do it regularly. In fact, only about 30% of Americans floss daily, while 37% floss less than daily, and 32% never floss. Not flossing regularly unfortunately allows plaque to accumulate and only daily flossing ensures that this plaque is removed. When plaque is left in place, it can increase the risk of developing both tooth decay and gum disease. 

how to floss

Missing Places

In addition to not flossing regularly, another common mistake people make is that they miss certain places. One of the most common areas neglected by flossing is just behind the last molars. Oftentimes, many people don’t think this area needs to be flossed, however it is important to floss behind the molars, as well as in between all the teeth. Additionally, the sides of each tooth should be carefully flossed in addition to the gum line. 

Flossing Too Hard or Too Much

Your gums should not bleed when you floss. If your gums do bleed, this can either be a sign of gum disease or a sign that you are flossing too hard. Dental floss should move gently between the teeth and along the gum line, however it should never be pulled or snapped down across the gums. Regularly hitting the gum tissue with dental floss can irritate the gum tissue and cause the gums to recede, or pull away from the gums. Therefore, you should gently move the floss between your teeth in a direction that moves away from the gums. Additionally, flossing too much can also cause gum irritation. To prevent gum irritation, it is recommended to only floss once a day. 

Flossing at the Wrong Time

Although flossing at any time is better than not flossing at all, there is an ideal time frame for flossing. The best time to floss is just before going to bed since this removes any excess plaque from the teeth before saliva production is decreased while you sleep. When saliva production is decreased, the bacteria in your mouth can be more damaging to your teeth, which is why it is important to remove as much bacteria as possible. Additionally, it is also recommended to floss before you brush so that the fluoride from the toothpaste can work its way in between your teeth. 

types of dental floss

Not Using the Right Floss

Not all dental floss is the same. In fact, there are different types of dental floss that offer a range of options. Some types of dental floss are made to fit in tight spaces, while others are better for flossing between teeth with gaps between them. Doing some research to determine what type of dental floss is best for you can help to maximize your flossing routine. 

Jonathan McCartney D.M.D

Dr. Jonathan McCartney received his doctorate from Case Western Dental School. After a few years of practicing in another dental office, Dr. McCartney’s goal was to create an environment for his patients that combines the most advanced dental technology with gentle, affordable, individualized care. The end result of this goal is McCartney Dental, a state of the art North Port modern dental practice.  

Most people know that the foods they eat affect their overall health, but did you know that they can also affect your oral health? Specifically, there are certain vitamins and minerals contained in different foods that can help improve your oral health by being beneficial to your teeth. Let’s take a look at how some important vitamins and minerals affect your teeth: 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps to maintain the health of oral soft tissues and also prevents dry mouth. Even though vitamin A does not affect the teeth directly, it still helps to prevent tooth decay by promoting saliva production and keeps the gums firmly attached to the teeth. Vitamin A is found in foods like egg yolks, liver, orange-colored fruits, fish, and leafy greens. 

Calcium

Although calcium is primarily known for supporting healthy bones, it also helps to strengthen your tooth enamel. In fact, it is actually a main component of tooth enamel. Eating adequate amounts of calcium also keeps your jaw bone strong and helps support your teeth. Calcium can be found in foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, and salmon. 

young girl laying with citrus fruits strewn about around her

Vitamin C

Vitamin C works in a similar way to vitamin A in that it promotes soft tissue health. It has also been known to prevent gum disease as well, which allows the gums to remain attached to the teeth. The most abundant source of vitamin C is citrus fruits, but potatoes and leafy greens also contain vitamin C. 

Phosphorus

This is another mineral that works with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth. Out of all the minerals found in the human body, phosphorus is the most abundant and is found primarily in the teeth. Phosphorus can be found in foods such as soybeans, seafood, lentils, beef, pork, and cheese. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in the body’s absorption of calcium. In fact, the human body cannot absorb calcium from the small intestine without vitamin D. This means that to get enough calcium, you also need to be sure to get enough vitamin D. However, many people are vitamin D deficient. Being deficient in vitamin D can eventually lead to bone loss. To prevent a vitamin D deficiency, a supplement may be needed. Additionally, vitamin D is found in sunlight, as well as foods such as: canned tuna, fatty fish, portobello mushrooms, and leafy greens. 

foods containing potassium

Potassium

Potassium works independently from calcium and phosphorus, however it still promotes bone health by preventing bone loss. If the pH of your blood becomes too acidic, calcium can be leached from the jawbones and redirected to other parts of the body. Potassium helps neutralize the blood in order to prevent this from happening. Potassium is found in foods such as bananas, lima beans, chard, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, prunes, and avocados. 

Vitamin K

Vitamin K contains osteocalcin, which is a bone-strengthening protein that prevents bone loss by blocking substances that are destructive to the bone tissue. Vitamin K is found in leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, chollards, parsley, kae, and brussel sprouts. 

Jonathan McCartney D.M.D

Dr. Jonathan McCartney received his doctorate from Case Western Dental School. After a few years of practicing in another dental office, Dr. McCartney’s goal was to create an environment for his patients that combines the most advanced dental technology with gentle, affordable, individualized care. The end result of this goal is McCartney Dental, a state of the art North Port modern dental practice.  

Toothpaste is something we use everyday, twice a day to brush our teeth. Because brushing our teeth is such a routine behavior, most of us don’t think much about toothpaste. Oftentimes, the only time you probably think about toothpaste is when you are running low and need to buy more. Yet, toothpaste is more interesting than you may think and learning a little more about it can help you pick the right toothpaste the next time you need to buy more. Here are some things that you didn’t know about toothpaste: 

tooth powder with toothbrush and mint leaves

The first toothpaste wasn’t actually paste at all, but a powder. Back in 5000 BC, the Ancient Egyptians developed a tooth powder made of myrrh, ox hooves, powdered eggshells, and pumice. They used this abrasive powder as a way to remove debris and clean their teeth. As time went on, tooth powder remained the primary method to clean one’s teeth until around the beginning of the 20th century. However, even today some places, like India, still use tooth powder over toothpaste. 

toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube

One main ingredient used in toothpaste is water. In fact, the composition of toothpaste is made up of 20-42% water. The remaining components that make up toothpaste include abrasives to remove debris and stains, humectants to retain moisture, sweeteners to add flavor, thickening agents to stabilize the mixture, and detergents to create foam to clean the teeth. 

Contrary to popular belief, not all toothpastes use fluoride. However, the American Dental Association recommends using fluoridated toothpaste and encourages people to look for  toothpaste that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. The ADA recommends fluoride toothpaste because fluoride works to strengthen the enamel, reduces the risk of decay, and has antimicrobial properties to prevent gum disease. 

Despite the fact that toothpaste is flavored with sweeteners, there is no sugar in toothpaste. Instead non-caloric sweeteners such as saccharin or sorbitol are used to give toothpaste its flavor. 

There are different types of toothpaste that can contain additional ingredients used for certain purposes. Some examples are whitening toothpaste which contains whitening agents and are more abrasive, desensitizing toothpaste which contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride and are less abrasive, and tartar protection toothpaste which contain pyrophosphates or zinc citrate to prevent tartar accumulation. 

Abrasive agents in toothpaste help to remove stains and clean your teeth. Toothpaste abrasives can include calcium carbonate, hydrated aluminum oxides, dehydrated silica gels, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts, and silicates. Certain toothpastes are more abrasive than others, for example whitening toothpaste is generally more abrasive than cavity protection toothpaste. 

How abrasive a toothpaste is on your enamel depends on its RDA, or relative dentin abrasivity. When you brush your teeth with only water, there is an RDA of 4, however when you add baking soda there is an RDA of 7. Toothpastes can range from low to extremely abrasive and are broken down into the following: Low abrasive toothpaste is said to range from 0-70, medium abrasive is 70-100, highly abrasive is 100-150, and harmfully abrasive is 150-250. Any toothpaste approved by the ADA falls below 250. 

Jonathan McCartney D.M.D

Dr. Jonathan McCartney received his doctorate from Case Western Dental School. After a few years of practicing in another dental office, Dr. McCartney’s goal was to create an environment for his patients that combines the most advanced dental technology with gentle, affordable, individualized care. The end result of this goal is McCartney Dental, a state of the art North Port modern dental practice.  

Did you know that your mouth contains natural bacteria? While some of these bacteria can be beneficial for some purposes, other types of bacteria can be detrimental to your oral health, especially in large amounts. The most well-known dental problem associated with excess bacteria is tooth decay or dental cavities. However, excess bacteria in your mouth can cause more problems than simply tooth decay. In fact, these bacteria can also affect your gum tissue and lead to gum disease. 

Gum disease affects around 47.2% of Americans over the age of 30 according to the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In its mild form gum diseaseis referred to as gingivitis, while advanced gum disease is known as periodontitis. Not only are these two forms of gum disease differentiated by their severity, but also by the fact that gingivitis can be reversed while periodontitis cannot. 

Because of this, it is important to identify gum disease while it is in its mild form so that the proper treatment can prevent it from progressing. Here are a few signs of gum disease that you should learn to recognize: 

Abnormal Appearance

Healthy gums should be a coral pink color and they should be attached firmly to the teeth so that the tooth roots are completely covered. Although people with darker skin pigmentation may have gums that are a darker shade of coral, gums that are deep pink or red can indicate inflammation consistent with gum disease. Gums that are swollen or that bleed easily while brushing or flossing can also be a warning sign of gum disease. Often times, discoloration of the gum tissue and bleeding easily are early warning signs. 

receeded gums

Gum Recession

As mentioned above, healthy gums should attach firmly to the teeth and cover the tooth roots. When the gums begin to pull away from the teeth and expose the tooth roots, this is known as gum recession. At first, the gums can appear loosely fitted around the teeth, which can cause the formation of pockets along the gum line. As gum recession progresses, the teeth may look abnormally large or longer than usual. If gum recession continues, this can eventually result in the teeth becoming loose, falling out, or shifting in position. 

Pain

Many people who are diagnosed with gum disease never experience any pain. However, pain from gum disease can occur when the inflammation has become severe. In these cases, pain is usually felt in the gums, as well as when chewing. Pain from gum disease can also be experienced as tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity generally occurs when gum recession has caused the tooth roots to be exposed. The tooth roots lack the same type of protection as the rest of the tooth, therefore it is easier for stimuli to reach the tooth nerve. This means that hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages can initiate a deep, sharp pain in the tooth. 

Overall when it comes to gum disease, early detection and intervention is key to having a good treatment outcome. Luckily, watching out for the signs of gum disease such as abnormal appearance, gum recession, and pain can help you to detect possible issues sooner rather than later. It is equally important, however, to continue practicing good oral habits such as: brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist every six months for a cleaning and examination. 

Jonathan McCartney D.M.D

Dr. Jonathan McCartney received his doctorate from Case Western Dental School. After a few years of practicing in another dental office, Dr. McCartney’s goal was to create an environment for his patients that combines the most advanced dental technology with gentle, affordable, individualized care. The end result of this goal is McCartney Dental, a state of the art North Port modern dental practice.  

Did you know that you may not be brushing your teeth correctly? In fact, many dentists notice their patients making certain mistakes when it comes to brushing their teeth. These mistakes are fairly common and can be easily remedied by making a few minor adjustments to your brushing routine. Have you ever made any of these mistakes?

Scrubbing Your Teeth

Many people believe that scrubbing their teeth helps to remove more plaque, as well as stains. Unfortunately, this is not the case since plaque is soft and comes off easily, and most stains cannot be removed by brushing alone. When you brush your teeth too hard, you actually risk damaging your enamel by causing dental erosion. You also irritate your gums, which may cause them to recede, or pull away from the tooth. 

Diagram showing how to brush your teeth

Not only that, but the mentality of “scrubbing” also implies that your toothbrush moves back and forth over your teeth. In actuality you shouldn start at the gums and move your toothbrush up and down each tooth. Instead of scrubbing your teeth, think of it as gently massaging your teeth. Massaging your teeth in up and down circles helps you remove plaque while not damaging your enamel or gums. 

yellow toothbrush

Not paying attention to your toothbrush

Since your toothbrush is the main tool used to brush your teeth, it is important to select the right one. Not all toothbrushes are the same, and some can even be detrimental to your enamel. The ideal toothbrush is one that is long enough to reach the back of your mouth and that has soft bristles. To make things easy on yourself, simply look for a toothbrush with the American Dental Association seal of approval.

Once you are using the right toothbrush, it is also important to remember to replace this toothbrush when it begins to wear down which is usually about every 3-4 months. Worn toothbrushes have bristles that will appear frayed, discolored, or even bent. Not only are worn toothbrushes not very effective, but they can harbor harmful bacteria that can contribute to tooth decay. For this reason, you will also want to switch toothbrushes when you are sick. 

Rushing

This is an extremely common mistake and it is one that is easy to make, especially if you are running late. In order to get the most out of your brushing routine, the ADA recommends brushing for at least two minutes twice a day. Trying to save time by shaving off a few seconds renders your brushing not as effective and in some cases, it may be like you didn’t even brush at all. 

One main reason why you should not rush while brushing your teeth is because you will likely miss some key areas. In fact, dentists notice that patients often miss the inside of their mouth, as well as along the gum line. When these areas are frequently missed, they allow plaque to build up and eventually harden into tartar. Additionally, plaque accumulation along the gum line can not only cause tooth decay, but gum disease as well. 

Rinsing

After brushing your teeth, you may be tempted to rinse your mouth with water. However, doing so also rinses the fluoride off your teeth. Fluoride is used in toothpaste because of its ability to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. The longer fluoride remains on your teeth, the more effective it is. Therefore, you should not rinse your mouth with water after brushing. 

Jonathan McCartney D.M.D

Dr. Jonathan McCartney received his doctorate from Case Western Dental School. After a few years of practicing in another dental office, Dr. McCartney’s goal was to create an environment for his patients that combines the most advanced dental technology with gentle, affordable, individualized care. The end result of this goal is McCartney Dental, a state of the art North Port modern dental practice.  

Since its origin from Wuhan, China, Coronavirus has been spreading rapidly to and within other countries. Although there were only a handful of cases in the United States at first, that number has increased dramatically in the past few weeks. Consequently, the federal government is urging citizens to practice preventative measures to slow the spread of Coronavirus, also called COVID-19.

One of these preventative measures is aimed at reducing person to person spread of the virus through social distancing and home isolation practices. Although the federal government recommends avoiding groups larger than 10 people, many states and local governments have elected to temporarily shut down all non-essential services in order to encourage people to stay in their homes. 

In the midst of this COVID-19 crisis, the American Dental Association released a formal recommendation on April 1st, 2020 urging all dentists to temporarily close their practices, except in cases of dental emergencies. Consequently, dentists all over the country have cancelled elective and preventive dental treatments to minimize the chances of spreading the virus. To protect your oral health in the meantime, here are some general guidelines to follow: 

Brush and Floss

closeup of a woman brushing her teeth

In times such as these, our daily routines are likely to be interrupted. Even so, it is important to maintain your daily dental routine to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes using a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. You should also floss daily to clean the spaces between your teeth and along the gum line. Regular brushing and flossing help to decrease the amount of plaque and bacteria in your mouth, which will reduce your risk of developing tooth decay or gum disease. 

Watch Your Sugar

Sugar is another key cause of tooth decay, therefore it is important to pay attention to how much sugar you are consuming each day. This is not to say that you can’t ever eat anything sweet, but you should limit the amount of sugar intake to avoid increasing your risk of dental cavities. After consuming sugar, you should also rinse your mouth with milk or water to remove excess sugar from the surface of your teeth. 

Avoid Certain Foods

Certain foods that are hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky can cause your teeth to fracture or chip in some cases. To prevent a dental emergency, it is recommended to avoid these foods altogether. However, breaking them into smaller pieces and exercising caution while biting into them is a way to minimize the risk if you must eat them. 

Don’t Use Your Teeth as Tools

teeth biting a bottle cap

Your teeth are intended for chewing and biting. Using your teeth to hold objects, open packages and bottles, or to tear things other than food can be damaging and can cause your teeth to become chipped or cracked. In some cases, your teeth may even become loose or fall out. As a result, you should always avoid these behaviors. 

As the country continues to fight against COVID-19, we hope these guidelines will help you and your family fight against tooth decay and dental emergencies. However, in the case that you start to experience tooth pain or any kind of dental emergency, call our office immediately for further instruction. 

Jonathan McCartney D.M.D

Dr. Jonathan McCartney received his doctorate from Case Western Dental School. After a few years of practicing in another dental office, Dr. McCartney’s goal was to create an environment for his patients that combines the most advanced dental technology with gentle, affordable, individualized care. The end result of this goal is McCartney Dental, a state of the art North Port modern dental practice.  

They’re just about everywhere we are. The grocery store. The movie theater. At parties. Our cars even have places specifically designed to hold them. They are soft drinks and a recent Gallup poll found that for 48% of Americans, they are a part of their everyday life. In fact, the poll also found that the average amount of soft drinks consumed daily was 2.6 glasses. 

Simply stated, we love our soft drinks. Too bad they don’t love us back. It is an unfortunate fact that soft drinks are detrimental to both our overall and oral health. They have been found to contribute to a variety of medical conditions, such as obesity and type-2 diabetes to name a couple. Not only that, but soft drinks are also extremely destructive to your teeth and put you at an increased risk for developing tooth decay. 

tooth on sugar cubes

You can probably guess that the reason soft drinks are bad for you is because they contain sugar. In fact, this is one reason why soft drinks are bad for your teeth, but it isn’t the only reason. We’ll get to the second reason in a bit. Even if you realize that sugar is bad for your teeth, do you know why this is?

It is not necessarily sugar on its own that is bad for your teeth, but what the sugar does. Sugar serves as a food source for the thousands of decay-causing bacteria in your mouth. Although some of this bacteria is removed with regular brushing and flossing, they tend to accumulate in places you may miss. After the bacteria feasts upon the sugar, they excrete an acidic waste product directly on the surface of your teeth. The regular consumption of soft drinks means that bacteria are being provided with enough sugar to survive and multiply. 

The acids produced by bacteria are harmful to the enamel and will cause it to erode over time. This is ultimately how cavities form. However, acid does not only come from bacterial excretions. In fact, acid is the second reason why soft drinks are bad for your teeth. Most soft drinks, especially sodas, contain tartaric, phosphoric, or citric acids. This means that the soft drink itself will start to erode your enamel before the bacteria even starts. Even sugar-free soft drinks contain harmful acids and are still considered to be bad for your teeth. 

Since soft drinks are so detrimental to your oral and overall health, the best recommendation is simply to stop drinking them. However, this is not always a realistic goal for many people. Therefore, here are some things you can do to reduce the risks associated with soft drinks: 

Limit Yourself

The next best thing to eliminating soft drinks altogether is to at least reduce the amount of soft drinks you consume on a daily basis. Instead, try drinking more water or even milk. 

Be Quick

Your teeth are being attacked by acid and sugar from the first sip to about 20-30 minutes after you finish drinking. With that being said, drinking faster decreases the amount of time your teeth are actively being attacked by acid. Conversely, drinking slower can result in more damage. 

soft drink with straw

Use a Straw

A straw is a good way to manage the flow of your beverage in order to reduce the amount of contact that acids and sugars have with the surface of your teeth. 

Flush with Water

After you are done drinking your soft drink, flushing your mouth with water or milk can help minimize some of the damage by washing away some of the acids and sugars. 

See Your Dentist

Regular dental exams and cleanings are important for everyone, however they are even more important when you have an increased risk of developing tooth decay. Having your teeth cleaned regularly removes excess bacteria from your mouth to minimize the risk of tooth decay. 

Overall, soft drinks will continue to haunt us everywhere. Their availability combined with their acid and sugar content make them a threat to your oral health. Although certain things like limiting consumption, drinking quickly, using a straw, flushing with water, and regular dental visits can help decrease some of the damage soft drinks cause, they still put your oral health at risk. 

Jonathan McCartney D.M.D

Dr. Jonathan McCartney received his doctorate from Case Western Dental School. After a few years of practicing in another dental office, Dr. McCartney’s goal was to create an environment for his patients that combines the most advanced dental technology with gentle, affordable, individualized care. The end result of this goal is McCartney Dental, a state of the art North Port modern dental practice.  

Most people know that tooth decay causes damage to the enamel known as dental cavities. However, did you know that your enamel can become damaged in other ways? One common way enamel becomes damaged is from excess acid that erodes the surface of the teeth. When this acid is caused by bacteria, it is known as tooth decay. However, when the acid is not the result of bacteria, it is simply known as dental erosion. 

Although bacteria is by far the most common cause of damaged enamel, dental erosion can occur as a result of: 

Diet

There are several different types of foods that can lead to dental erosion. Sugary and starchy foods can cause bacterial growth and additional acid production. Acidic fruits such as apples, citrus, berries, and rhubarb are also another common cause of enamel erosion. Fruit juices also contain excess acid that can result in erosion. Additionally, sodas contain citric and phosphoric acid that can also contribute to erosion. 

Digestive Acids

woman with acid reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common medical condition that causes excess stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. This can increase the acid content in the saliva and cause the teeth to be exposed to higher levels of acid. Additionally,  frequent vomiting can also cause acidic erosion of the enamel. 

Dry Mouth

Saliva is an essential element in decreasing the amount of acidity in the mouth. However, when not enough saliva is produced, this can cause an increase of acid. Therefore, people with dry mouth are more likely to have enamel erosion. In some cases, dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications or medical conditions.

Teeth Grinding

Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding or clenching, damages the teeth by constantly exposing them to stress. Overtime, this causes the enamel to wear down and erode in certain locations. 

There are various signs of dental erosion, including: 

However, early cases of dental erosion may not be noticeable to anyone but a general dentist. Before the enamel begins to erode entirely, it will need to demineralize. Enamel is composed of 96% minerals, specifically hydroxyapatite. Hydroxyapatite is a combination of calcium and phosphate that are arranged as a crystalline shape. When large amounts of acid comes in contact with the teeth, it breaks the bonds and crystalline structure, inhibiting the tooth’s ability to protect itself. 

As you can see, dental erosion poses a similar threat to your teeth as tooth decay. It can be caused from diet, digestive acid, dry mouth, and bruxism, and can cause little to no symptoms depending on how far it has progressed. 

Jonathan McCartney D.M.D

Dr. Jonathan McCartney received his doctorate from Case Western Dental School. After a few years of practicing in another dental office, Dr. McCartney’s goal was to create an environment for his patients that combines the most advanced dental technology with gentle, affordable, individualized care. The end result of this goal is McCartney Dental, a state of the art North Port modern dental practice.  

If you have had dentures for awhile, you may notice that they don’t fit as well as they did when you first got them. In fact, you may notice them slipping frequently when eating or speaking. This can be frustrating, especially if your dentures once worked really well.

Miniature construction crew fixing a set of fake teeth

Over time, your dentures will become loose as the underlying bone structure changes. Although dentures replace missing teeth, they do not provide the same stimulation to the jawbone. This ultimately means that the underlying bone will slowly deteriorate and change shape. When the bone changes shape, the dentures will no longer fit as well as they once did. 

Luckily, there is something you can do to fix loose dentures. A denture reline is a process used by dentists to alter the shape of dentures so that they fit the bone structure better. There are three different types of dental relines that may be recommended by your dentist: hard, soft, and temporary. 

Hard Reline

With a hard reline, plastic from the inside of your denture is removed and replaced with a soft putty. The denture is then placed in your mouth, where a dental impression is made using the soft putty. This putty will then harden into a rubber-like material and a dental lab will replace it with acrylic. This effectively changes the shape of your denture and makes it fit more securely. In most cases, a hard reline is recommended for full dentures every two years. 

Soft Reline

With a soft reline, a material softer than acrylic is used to reline the dentures. This material offers more flexibility than acrylic and can be a waxy or rubbery consistency. Soft relines are used for patients who have tender gums as a result of dentures. However, because soft relines use a softer material, they need to be performed every year or two. 

Temporary Reline

With a soft reline, the inside of the denture is lined with a special medicated material used to alleviate gum inflammation. This will be worn for a few weeks and then the patient will return for a hard reline. Temporary relines are generally used for patients who have not had their dentures relined in awhile. 

Is it time for a denture reline?

At this point, you may be wondering if it is time for you to have your dentures relined. While time is usually a good indicator of when to have your dentures relined, it is not the only indicator. Here are some other signs that you are due for a denture reline: 

Senior woman looking at her smile in the mirror

When dentures are first applied, they can cause irritation until your gums have adapted to them. After that, they shouldn’t cause much discomfort. Therefore, if you notice your dentures are not as comfortable as they once were, or if you notice gum irritation, it is likely time to have your dentures checked by your dentist. 

Overall, a denture reline is an essential part of having dentures. As the underlying bone structure changes in shape, denture relines are essential to maintain your comfort and the denture’s function. When visiting your dentist, they may recommend one of the three types of denture relines in order to restore your comfort. After all, dentures are supposed to increase function, not impair it. 

Jonathan McCartney D.M.D

Dr. Jonathan McCartney received his doctorate from Case Western Dental School. After a few years of practicing in another dental office, Dr. McCartney’s goal was to create an environment for his patients that combines the most advanced dental technology with gentle, affordable, individualized care. The end result of this goal is McCartney Dental, a state of the art North Port modern dental practice.  

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