Teeth As Tools: How Our Teeth Have Been Used Throughout History

2018-11-05T14:35:48+00:00October 31st, 2018|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends, Teeth Cleaning|

Our teeth perform so many important functions throughout our life and on a daily basis. On a basic level, we use our teeth to talk, chew, digest food, and properly fill out our cheeks and lips to form our face shape. Without knowing it, you have probably used your teeth as tools in a multitude of ways. Whether you’re opening a bag of snacks by ripping open the seal with your teeth, cutting meat with your teeth, or holding bobby pins as you fix your hair, our teeth are one of the most important tools on our body.

While many of the ways that we use our teeth as tools aren’t particularly healthy for our teeth, and constantly put our teeth at the risk of damage, typically, a healthy tooth will not chip or break during normal function.

Now imagine a time and place where there were no electric toothbrushes, mouthwash, or even dental floss, and suddenly your teeth are one of the most important tools you possess. If teeth have less enamel, decay, or gum disease, they are more likely to chip, shift, or become loose, resulting in eventual tooth loss.

How have humans used their teeth throughout their history when they possibly weren’t as strong and healthy? What did it mean for humans to use their teeth as tools?

Early Ancestors: Teeth as Tools

Eating chocolate

Much of what we know about the life and diet of ancient humans is due to finding their teeth! Archaeologists find dozens to hundreds of teeth for every skeleton or skull. Why do our teeth survive at such high numbers? Our teeth are covered by enamel, which is 97 percent mineral, making our teeth stronger and more easily preserved than the rest of our bones. From the shape of the tooth to the thickness of the enamel, scientists can understand the evolution of humans, how our ancestors lived, what they ate, or even what diseases they had. Variations in teeth are a great way for scientists to classify early human species. As humans migrated across the globe, so did their diets; we know this because human teeth developed thicker enamel to eat other animals, seeds, nuts, and roots.

Looking back to Neanderthal teeth, scientists have hypothesized that they use their teeth as a tool, possibly gripping and clamping with their front teeth as they prepped animal hides for clothing and shelter.

What’s clear is that our teeth have evolved to serve us in similar ways as our ancestors. Like our ancestors, we use our teeth to access food or drink. Our teeth can still tell us a lot about our day-to-day life and culture as well!

Early tools to clean teeth

As far as we know, the earliest toothbrush dates back to around 3000BC, where Babylonians and Egyptians configured a toothbrush from frayed twigs. Fast forward a bit to 1600 BC, and we have the Chinese using aromatic twigs from trees as “chew sticks” to freshen their breath.
Some of the earliest tools to clean teeth were made from animal bone. For a stretch of history, and even today in certain parts of the world, coarse animal hair, such as hair from cows, was used to form the bristle on toothbrushes.

Did people in the past constantly have rotted teeth, cavities, and gum disease? Despite a lack of teeth brushing among ancient people, most people did not suffer from dental problems. There are a few explanations:

• The food being eaten was natural, unprocessed, and pure, containing nutrients and vitamins that strengthened teeth against bacteria
• Ancient diets were filled with fibrous foods, where the fiber acted as a brush against the teeth to filter away plaque and food
• Earlier diets lack sugary foods and acidic soda, two of the main detriments of modern diets
• Before cigarettes, humans didn’t smoke, and thus didn’t experience the harmful side effects of smoking on the teeth and human health

About 10,000 years ago at the dawn of the Neolithic period, our ancestors began farming, our teeth began to experience more decay, and dentistry emerged. As recent as the last decade, archaeologists found teeth that had been scraped and even drilled to possibly remove decayed tissue. With the onset of farming came carbohydrate-rich grains and starches. Some oral bacteria actually convert carbohydrates into enamel-destroying acids. There is evidence in numerous cultures across the world at various time periods where people combated decay by hand-drilling small holes into the teeth and scraping with different tools. At this point, you’re probably extremely thankful for the profound progress dentistry has made, even in the last century!

Cosmetic dentistry throughout history

It’s hard to pinpoint when improving the appearance of teeth became more fashionable rather than undergoing treatment to improve teeth function, but we know for sure that it has taken off in the past few years. Patients can now receive whitening treatments, veneers, and dental implants, all of which are cutting-edge procedures for a brighter, whiter smile! But cosmetic dentistry isn’t anything new—it goes back ancient times, where we know people developed tools to clean their teeth as early as 3000BC.
We’ve also been fixing our teeth since prehistoric times. Around 700 BC, there is evidence that Etruscans made dentures with ivory and bone, or constructed dentures from human or animal teeth. This practice lasted all the way up until the 1800s!

In 200 AD, the Etruscans also were using gold to create dental crowns and bridges, although it’s unknown whether this was for a dental treatment or for a fashion statement. The Ancient Egyptians used pumice stone and vinegar to create a toothpaste, and they hammered seashells into their gums as replacements for their teeth.

The 1700’s led to human teeth being used more commonly as dental implants, but our bodies tend to reject other humans’ teeth. In the late 1770’s, the first porcelain dentures were made, and they became extremely popular in the 19th century. By the early 20th century, dentists had switched to plastics and acrylics for dentures.

One of the most famous representations of cosmetic dentistry that comes to mind is that of the United States of America’s first president, George Washington. The legend surrounding Washington’s teeth was that they were made entirely of wood. But, in fact, they were actually made of animal bone!

How do our teeth become damaged from using them as tools in the present day and age?

Well, consider this: when we speak, our teeth are naturally separated during normal speech, and when we eat, food separates our teeth as we chew. When we use our teeth as tools, say to rip open a package or grind into tough foods, our teeth make contact, and suffer damage.

If your tooth has a filling or crown, using your teeth as tools they’re not intended for can pull out the filling or cause the crown to fall off. To those of you constantly holding bobby pins with your teeth to fix hair, bobby pins can actually pop off porcelain veneers on your teeth!

What does this have to do with our ancestors? Well, history repeats itself! We’re prone to using our strong, capable teeth as tools. Although we use our teeth as tools on a daily basis to eat, speak, and chew, improper use can lead to cracking and fracturing your teeth.

However progressive our dental care and habits are, we can truly damage our teeth. In comparison to the pain of damaging your teeth and the price of dental work, recognizing and changing our bad habits is better for our teeth and our wallets.

What if I already damaged my teeth?

You’re not alone if you didn’t know that using your teeth in certain, commonplace ways was damaging. What you should know, is that early treatment is always less extensive and less expensive. If a tooth suffers from minor cracks or chips, your dentist can easily repair them with a filling. If left untreated, these minor chips and cracks make the tooth weaker and more likely to break further, possibly chipping away at enamel and leaving the tooth exposed to bacteria.

Basically, the sooner you act with damaged teeth, the better for your wallet, your comfort, and the overall health of your teeth! Set up an appointment with Carolina Dental Choice to be proactive with your smile.

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Dental Anesthesia Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

2020-07-16T16:59:14+00:00September 14th, 2018|Dental Implants, Dental Trends|

If you’ve ever undergone a dental procedure such as a tooth extraction or root canal at Carolinas Dental Choice, you’re most likely familiar with — and have been the grateful recipient of — a dental anesthetic. Numbing agents, like novocaine, work by confusing communication between nerve cells so that the brain doesn’t register pain. However, today’s modern medicine hasn’t always been available, and the path to its discovery and use is a sordid one.

Teeth have been causing pain through the ages and remedies to fight the pain are recorded as far back as 2250 BC. A Babylonian clay tablet reveals the recipe to repair cavities — mixing henbane seed and gum mastic. In 1000 BC India, oral care relied on wine. It wasn’t until 1540 that ether was introduced. And while there is no evidence, one can imagine early cave people simple using a large stick to pry out any source of pain.

Early dentistry was commonly performed by barbers. Beginning in the Middle Ages, barbers were performing dental work and surgery in addition to cutting hair and shaving. Blood-letting and leeching, extractions and enemas all were services of the local barber-surgeon. Shave and a root canal? Two bits!

Historical documents from the Wood Library Museum of Anesthesiology detail a Dr. Horace Wells bravely volunteering to inhale nitrous oxide for his own dental extraction in December 1844. Despite nitrous oxide’s reputation as laughing gas, Dr. Wells was a “humbug” during the procedure.

The first nurse anesthetist dates to 1877, but it wasn’t until 1889, at the Philadelphia College of Dentistry, Henry I. Dorr, MD, DDS was appointed as the world’s first Professor of the Practice of Dentistry, Anaesthetics and Anaesthesia.

Dental pain relief developed from the humble beginnings of ether (a pleasant-smelling colorless volatile liquid that is highly flammable) to laughing gas (nitrous oxide) and more recently from ethyl chloride (a gas or volatile liquid) to Procaine (commonly known as Novocaine).

Now dental anesthesia makes what was once a truly torturous process into something that may be simply unpleasant.

Your first experience with dental anesthesia may have been during wisdom tooth extraction (the four hindmost molars which come in during young adulthood) which can cause issues including pushing other teeth out of alignment. Wisdom teeth also tend to be impacted meaning they are stuck just below the gum surface. Nearly 85 percent of adults have had wisdom teeth removed. Another common dental procedure is a root canal, which hollows out a tooth and removes infected pulp inert material.

Dental anesthesia falls into three basic categories:

  • Local Anesthesia — Medication is injected into nerves within the gums to numb the area to be treated. This type of anesthesia is commonly used during fillings, treating gum disease, or preparing teeth for crowns.
  • Sedation — Administered by inhaling nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, or orally in the form of a pill taken prior to the dental procedure, this form of anesthesia is commonly combined with a local anesthetic to help relieve anxieties and reduce pain.
  • General Anesthesia — The strongest form of anesthesia available for dental procedures involves intravenous medications that produce a temporary loss of consciousness. General anesthesia is usually only used during extensive oral surgery procedures and requires a medical facility more advanced than a typical dentist’s office.

 

You may have heard of I.V. sedation and wondered if it were for you. Intravenous (I.V.) sedation has become more common and works well for those with fear of the dentist and dental procedures. It is also ideal for patients whose fear of dentistry has led to a large amount of dental work needing to be completed. I.V. Sedation is also used for outpatient procedures, like colonoscopies. Referred to as “twilight sleep,” the sedation allows patients to wake with little or no memory of the procedure.

While in the United States and much of the developed world there are many options available for safe and pain-free dental procedures, much of the world still has limited options when it comes to oral health care.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “In developing countries, oral health services are mostly offered from regional or central hospitals of urban centers and little, if any, priority is given to preventive or restorative dental care. Many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin-America have a shortage of oral health personnel and by and large the capacity of the systems is limited to pain relief or emergency care. In Africa, the dentist to population ratio is approximately 1:150,000 against about 1:2,000 in most industrialized countries.”

This continues more than 20 years the primary care initiative “Health for All,” which has yet to be fully implemented. According to WHO, “in many countries, national capacity and resources — human, financial and material — are still insufficient to ensure availability of and access to essential health services of high quality for individuals and populations, especially in deprived communities.”

The Dental Anesthesiology Research (DAR) Group, based in Alexandria, Va. was founded in 2000. They focus their research in: 1) local anesthesia: anatomy, pharmacology, and therapy. 2) sedation: general anesthesia, deep sedation, moderate and minimal sedation, and, 3) pain management: acute and chronic orofacial pain, orofacial cancerous pain and synalgia.

While those are a lot of big words, the point is that dental anesthesia continues to develop and address more complex patient care including: intravenous and inhalational sedation, sedation in hospital and ambulatory environments, sedation for all dental procedures, including oral surgery, pediatric dentistry, and general dentistry, perioperative patient management: intellectual disability, physical disability, comorbid illness/medical complexity, and dental phobia.

Despite continued advances into pain relief in dentistry, a third of Americans have not seen a dentist in the last year, according to a Gallup-Healthways poll. Many do not see a dentist because of the expense and only wealthier individuals seeking regular dental care, but another reason cited for not pursuing dental care is being the lack of realization that good oral health is key to overall good health. Poor oral care has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and stroke; and research has found that those who suffer from gum disease are twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease. The Mayo Clinic suggests brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and eating a healthy diet, along with attending regular dental check-ups.*

While dental procedures can seem scary and overwhelming, advances in anesthesia, options for pain relief during and after procedures, and continuing research to develop additional care methods, are making it easier for you to get the dental care you need.

 

*Medical Daily.

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Opioids in Dentistry: What You Should Know

2020-07-16T16:59:31+00:00August 28th, 2018|Dental Insurance, Dental Trends, General|

Have you ever been afraid of going to the dentist? Whether your fear is based on prior bad experiences or the potential for pain, you’re not alone.

However, many dental patients express a different fear regarding dental pain: potential addiction to prescribed pain treatments. Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication often prescribed after major dental procedures. Opioids work by reducing pain signals to the brain. They are very effective in treating pain; however, they also carry a risk of addiction.

Opioid abuse and overdose has been an increasing epidemic across all ages, genders, and classes in the United States. A stunning national statistic reveals that although the U.S. represents 5 percent of the world’s population, it consumes 80 percent of the global opioid supply. According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), from 1999 to 2016, more than 12,000 North Carolinians died from opioid-related overdose.

Fear of opioids or opioid addiction creates a tricky situation for patients who might be wondering, “How is my dentist going to make sure I am not experiencing pain or suffering, while also avoiding addiction to the pain medications prescribed after dental procedures?’ At Carolinas Dental Choice we make sure to work with you to safely manage your pain.

What are opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. At first, opioids produce feelings of pleasure or euphoria. After repeated and prolonged use, the brain develops a tolerance towards its effects and begins to crave the pleasure-inducing effects, despite becoming less susceptible to the actual pain relief of the drugs. 

How addiction to opioids starts

Opioids are very effective in treating pain, especially when someone is in high pain and needs immediate relief. Often, and unfortunately, addiction may be an unforeseen result of a legitimate need for pain treatment. Opioids like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone are highly addictive and lead to physical dependencies.

Opioids are prescribed for short-term pain management and aid in treating severe pain. Opioids used over a longer period become less effective, which may drive the urge to take higher doses in order to achieve the same effect as when the medication was first started.

What does addiction to opiates look like?

• Using drugs past the prescription or initial pain treatment
• Becoming tolerant and needing the drug more often
• Having withdrawals from the drug
• Strong desire or urge to use the drug
• Continuing use despite financial, legal, or social problems

Once the opioid is stopped, withdrawal symptoms can include muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold-flashes, and more. To lessen the chances of withdrawal take any prescription as directed and plan to taper down doses. Your doctor can help you create a plan to safely reduce your medication use while managing your pain.

Opiates at the Dentist: What’s the problem?

Dentists are the second highest prescribers of opioids in the U.S. Over the past few years however, opioid prescriptions from dentists have been in decline. On average, dentists prescribe three days worth of opioids to their patients, aiming to only administer the lowest-potency opioids for short periods of time for conditions associated with severe pain.

Procedures and conditions that call for opioid prescriptions can range depending on the patient’s pain tolerance and preference, but most commonly include:

• Wisdom teeth surgery
• Tooth/Molar extraction
• Dental infections
• Surgical trauma

The American Dental Association announced new policies to combat the opioid epidemic in March 2018, which include continued education in prescribing opioids and other controlled substances, and statutory limitations on opioid dosage and duration of no more than 7 days for acute pain.

Manage pain responsibly

There is a no one-size-fits-all for treatment, so talking to your dentist to determine what course of action is best for you is a great place to start. At Carolinas Dental Choice we encourage you to update your dentist on your health history, share what medications you might be taking, and disclose if you or someone in your close family are in recovery or have struggled with addiction in the past.

We want to have a conversation with you to answer these questions:

• What is the goal of this prescription?
• At what time and when should I take these?
• How long should I take these drugs?
• Are there risks from this medication?
• What do I do with any extra medication?

Dentists and patients alike need to be on the same page about the perception of pain for these dental procedures, as well as what realistic expectations are for their pain treatment. The goal of pain management is exactly that — management not magic. Often patients may expect to feel absolutely no pain after procedure and anxiety about pain can actually contribute to feeling it. Experiencing a little bit of pain is okay. It will help you keep track of whether something actually hurts and needs treatment or you are continuing to take a medication out of habit. Only treat your pain to the point that it is manageable and does not interfere with your quality of life.

How to treat dental pain without opioids

Opioids are not usually dentists’ first choice to send home with patients. The alternatives to opiates include familiar medications. Over-the-counter pills can be just as effective for controlling pain, and safer, as they are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).

In a recent study by The Journal of the American Dental Association, the most effective pain relief with the fewest side effects is 400 milligrams of ibuprofen with 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen. They also found that this combination is more effective than any other opioid or opioid-containing drugs. Most patients can find pain relief with a combination of Tylenol and ibuprofen, or even aspirin, which are easily accessible and inexpensive.

Patients should keep in mind that unlike opiates, the over-the-counter drug combinations may not work as instantly to relieve pain—but, when used correctly and consistently, these NSAIDs will relieve pain as effectively. At Carolina’s Dental Choice we recommend other pain relief measures such as hot or cold compresses, topical numbing gel, and comforting things such as taking a shower or bath, meditating, or distracting oneself with a favorite activity.

Most people associate major dental procedures with some lingering pain, sensitivity, and discomfort. But if you’re experiencing excessive pain post-dental procedure, don’t hesitate to contact us. Your dentist may recommend an additional evaluation, or develop an alternative pain management plan suited for you.

Struggling with an addiction? Get help. 

Various treatment options and resources are available to help people with addiction. Your primary care doctor, dentist, or any other health professional can help assess the situation and recommend treatment options.

Other useful resources centralized in NC include:

The Alcohol/Drug Council of North Carolina

Carolina Healthcare System #ThisisSober Campaign

North Carolina Council of Community Programs – Treatment Services Guide

Recovery Communities of North Carolina

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What Do White Gums Say About Oral Health?

2020-07-16T17:00:13+00:00May 29th, 2018|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dentist Office Monroe NC|

Our bodies are amazing machines that like to communicate with us when they are healthy or when there might be something wrong. That’s right, there are little tells happening all the time indicating our current levels of health. This information is likely nothing new, but at Carolina Dental Choice we think it’s important for you to recognize a not-so-common sign that your oral health may be in danger.

 

Paying close attention to your gums is incredibly important. We all know the necessity of flossing and brushing and making sure those gums are not receding, but what about when areas of the gums begin to turn white? What is your body trying to tell you when this happens? White spots on the gums are more common than not, but most people do not understand the possible dangers that could arise because of them. Let’s take a look at some of the probable causes of white gums.  

 

What White Gums Could Mean

Unfortunately, noticing a white coloration on your gums could mean a number of different things, and they all have varying levels of seriousness. That being said, as long as you catch it in time and know the possible reasons, you can get your oral health right back where it needs to be. Here are some possible reasons for white gums:

 

  • Leukoplakia: this is an oral disease where white or gray coloration appears on or around the gums. These light spots are created due to mucous membranes that are sensitive and quite painful. Think canker sores, only on your gums! Leukoplakia is often caused by long-term tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, poorly fitting dental appliances, mouth injury, or bodily maladies such as cancer and HIV. If you find painful, white sores on your gums, the best thing to do is see a dentist immediately. Whether it is leukoplakia or not, your gums should never be white.

 

  • Anemia: this is a tough one because it can produce in many different forms, making it difficult to identify. The best way to diagnose an anemia is to notice if the white coloration on your gums is paired with any of the following happenings:

-cold hands and feet

-constant fatigue

-chronic headaches

-spells of dizziness

-shortness of breath

-bodily weakness

-spells of irregular heartbeat

Another tell to anemia is sudden whiteness of skin beyond just the gums. Some common causes of anemia include vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease. This is definitely one you want to take care of right away. If you feel any of these symptoms could be true for you, make a dental appointment as soon as possible.

 

  • Mouth Ulcers: noticing white spots on your gums could indicate oncoming ulcers. This is much less serious than the previous causes of white gums, but these sores are no fun at all. If you feel the white spots on your gums could be connected to ulcers, it’s a good idea to begin washing your mouth out with salt water. This is a great way to keep them away and the inside of your mouth healthy. Some causes of mouth ulcers are sugary foods and drinks, as well as, tobacco use. There is no need to completely cut these out of your diet, but regulation is a must.

 

  • Gingivitis: this is a mild form of gum disease that is fairly common among American adults. If you notice your gums beginning to recede and turn white, gingivitis is most likely the culprit. A few other signs include swollen and bleeding gums, even painful irritation and loose teeth. The most common cause to gingivitis is poor oral care, so if you have fallen off the wagon a bit, it’s best to get right back into the routine of brushing and flossing regularly to keep from this uncomfortable situation.

 

  • Lichen Planus: this chronic autoimmune condition can inflame the gums and begin to turn them white in lacy patches. Symptoms to lichen planus are similar to gingivitis, but regular dental check-ups can keep this condition from inflammation.

 

  • Candidiasis: simply put, this is a yeast infection that causes creamy white sores on the gums. This type of infection is usually seen in babies and older adults, and is often brought on by diabetes. If you happen to fit any of these categories, it is important to maintain a strict teeth-and-gum cleaning schedule and keep up with your dental appointments. Two appointments a year is recommended, but in this case you might benefit more from three or four check-ups a year.

 

  • Oral Cancer: if you ever notice white bumps or growths on your gums, or if you suddenly find it difficult to chew or swallow, see a dentist right away. Most importantly, though, don’t panic. White growths or raised sections on the gums do not always equate to cancer, and even if they do, the faster you get them looked at the better your chances of having them safely removed.

 

 

How to Prevent White Gums

The good news is that you don’t have to just sit around and hope your gums don’t start turning white. There are a number of preventative measures to be taken that can keep your oral health at its peak. Here are a few we at Carolina Dental Choice recommend:

 

  • Begin by brushing correctly. The best way to keep white spots from appearing on your gums is to brush in small, circular motions. This will keep the toothbrush bristles from pushing your gums away from your teeth, which causes irritations that can lead to any of the conditions previously listed.

 

  • Floss every day: despite a completely false rumor floating around lately, flossing is incredibly important for your oral health. This keeps food from resting between your teeth, which begins to rot and aid in gum disease. Floss every morning or at night right before bed. Be sure not to jam the floss down on your gums. Use soft, clean motions, going back and forth. Hit every area between the teeth and rinse with water or mouthwash after.

 

  • Stop using tobacco: this can be a touchy subject, but using tobacco of any form greatly increases the odds of various gum diseases. Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco is much easier said than done, but if you are a user, at least try and reduce how much tobacco comes in contact with your mouth. Your gums will thank you!

 

  • Watch your diet: sugary drinks and foods, alcoholic beverages, even fatty meats can all have a negative effects on your gums. As stated earlier, you don’t necessarily have to cut these things out of your diet completely, but if you are the type of person who enjoys these on a regular basis, try and cut back a bit. At the very least, make sure you brush your teeth right after eating or drinking sugary or fatty substances.

 

The biggest thing to remember is not to panic. Have fun, enjoy good food and drink. Just be smart about it. Brush and floss regularly, and MOST IMPORTANT: come see us at Carolina Dental Choice. We have the capability to detect oral health issues, often before they become apparent even to you. We can then advise you on exactly what steps need to be taken to reduce and eventually eliminate any possible disease or irritations.

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We Have A Lot To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving!

2020-07-16T17:01:59+00:00November 14th, 2017|Adam Brown DDS, Carolina's Dental Choice, testimonial|

Gobble, gobble! It’s almost turkey-eating time and Carolina’s Dental Choice can’t wait to celebrate. Thanksgiving is the time to eat lots of yummy homemade foods, spend quality time with loved ones, and to BE THANKFUL! Carolina’s Dental Choice definitely has a lot to be thankful for this year.

It has been a fun and challenging year at Carolina’s Dental Choice. 2017 has been packed with lots of appointments and rewarding interactions with their clients. As the season of being thankful is approaching, Carolina’s Dental Choice wants you to know how grateful they are for your loyalty. This small and close-knit dentist office is always so cheerful because they have some of the most amazing patients. The staff at Carolina’s Dental Choice wanted to share a few things they are thankful for this Thanksgiving:

“My faith and the blessing of a beautiful family, the privilege to live in this wonderful country, and being able to work alongside some very awesome friends.”  

– Benita

 

“My 4-legged fur boys, the greatest husband in the world, and my amazing family and friends.”

– Hannah

 

“My family, my job, and my friends.”

– Regina

 

“My wonderful husband Scott, my two children Ashley and Tanner and my grandchild that is on the way!”

– Becky

 

“A healthy family, friends who are more like family, and a husband who will always be my best friend.”

– Kristi

 

“My amazing and supportive family, my health, my beautiful daughter, Paityn, and my dog Mocha!”            – Sondra

 

“Everything God has given me, my amazing family, wonderful friends, and a loving fiancé!”

– Skylar

 

“All the blessings in my life; from waking up to a new beautiful sunrise, to starting each new day at a career I truly enjoy, to sharing each day with my family and the joy of being surrounded by incredible friends.”

– Donna

 

“A career that I love and am passionate about, my amazing and supportive family and friends, and my patients!”

– Dr. Luckhardt

 

“Great family and friends.”

– Dr. Adam Brown

 

“We are deeply thankful for our wonderful family and fabulous friends. We are truly grateful for our amazing dental family. The team in Monroe and Wilmington complete the Brown family!”

– Missy and Doc Brown

 

Happy Thanksgiving from your dental family! Like many Thanksgivings before and many to come, we have so much to be thankful for. Our wonderful dental family, awesome patients, and gratifying careers take a big part in our lives, and it’s important to share how grateful we are for them. Enjoy the holidays and don’t forget to schedule your next dental visit with Carolina’s Dental Choice.

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Your Teeth Are Uniquely Yours: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Teeth

2020-07-16T17:02:14+00:00November 1st, 2017|Carolina's Dental Choice|

Your teeth: you learned how to brush them, you learned how to floss them, and you learned how to swish your mouth with fluoride. You went through the joy and pains of losing your baby teeth to gaining your permanent teeth, and possibly dealing with wisdom teeth. You know that your teeth are an essential part of your daily life, health, and confidence. Beyond all the things you already know about your teeth, Carolina’s Dental Choice wants to share some fun facts with you!

   
                                                                                              

  1. Your mouth is home to 300 types of bacteria.

Before you worry about the high number of bacteria, know that most of the bacteria in your mouth are naturally occurring and actually work together to prevent decay. Bacteria can live on the gums, teeth, tongue and cheek. As for the bad bacteria living in your mouth, brushing and flossing your teeth keeps bad bacteria at bay.

 

  1. Not everyone has two sets of teeth.

Most people are born with two sets of teeth, the primary teeth (or as you may have called them, your baby teeth, that you lose) and permanent teeth. We lose baby teeth because a child’s mouth cannot hold 32 teeth, and the permanent teeth push them out. However, a small amount of people (2.5 to 6.9 percent of the population) did not have permanent teeth come in, and their baby teeth remain and become their permanent teeth.

 

  1. The hardest part of your body is enamel.

Enamel is the outer layer of all the teeth in your mouth. You may not have known that enamel is also the hardest part of your entire body! But, even as the hardest part of your body, it is also more brittle and is susceptible to breaking more easily. Yellowing teeth can be due to decaying enamel, and we can often become altered to decaying enamel from the pain it causes. Because enamel can’t repair itself, dentists can treat decaying enamel with tooth decay removal, sealants, fillings, and more. Ultimately, we want to protect our enamel and reverse any tooth decay with daily brushing, flossing, fluoride, and drinking more water.

 

  1. Not everyone needs their wisdom teeth taken out.

Although it’s hard to know exactly how many people actually have to get their wisdom teeth removed, it’s estimated that around 60-85% get their wisdom teeth taken out. Fun fact: as we evolve our jaw length is getting shorter and the wisdom teeth do not have enough room to come in. This causes a lot of us pain and requires us to have them surgically removed as they start to come in. On the other hand, some people are just lucky enough to be born without wisdom teeth!

 

  1. Teeth can grow in strange places.

It’s a rare case, but teratomas can cause tumors to have teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. Teratomas are tumors that contain developed tissue, which themselves contain teeth, hair, and bone. It forms in the fetus and is seldom cancerous, meaning teratomas can be removed and treated with little risk. While the condition can terrifyingly occur in anyone, teratomas are rare, and its very unlikely you have to worry about it.

 

  1. Teeth are the only structures in your body that can’t repair themselves.

If your teeth are chipped or lost, only a dentist can repair it. Unlike other parts of your body, like muscles and certain bones, your teeth are not alive and are not self-repairing structures. But there’s no need to fret over a chipped or lost tooth with the dentistry available today—they’ll have your smile looking better in no time!

 

  1. You can brighten your smile without braces.

We all want white, aligned, and shapely teeth, and veneers can be one way for us to achieve that! A veneer is a porcelain shell placed over the surface of your teeth. They not only brighten your smile, but can prevent further tooth damage and expensive treatments.

 

  1. Some teeth can be pretty expensive.

Many celebrities opt go to extreme lengths to perfect their smiles. We see that with the dazzling smiles of those like actor Tom Cruise, who spent $30,000 on dental work, and model Victoria Beckham, who spent over $40,000 total on her teeth. The most expensive singular tooth however, sold was that (reportedly) of the late John Lennon, which sold for $36,857 at an auction house in 2011.

 

  1. Your drinking water protects your teeth.

In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first community to put fluoride in their water system, and now, two-thirds of U.S. population gets fluoride from their drinking water. While many people have concerns about fluorosis, a condition that causes white spots on the teeth from ingesting too much fluoride, the amount of fluoride in the drinking water is totally safe. Most cases of fluorosis are actually from kids under eight years old ingesting toothpaste, so be sure to monitor children as they perform their dental maintenance routines.

 

  1. Your teeth begin to develop at six weeks in utero.

As early as six weeks, your teeth begin to develop in the womb. You can actually tell a lot of about the mother and the environment she was in during the pregnancy term (think: nutrition, pollution, disease) by examining a baby’s teeth. A baby’s teeth do not begin to come in until they are between six to twelve months old.

 

  1. A toothbrush and floss aren’t the only weapons you have to protect your teeth.

We know it as the universal solvent, but we certainly don’t credit saliva enough as a natural defendant against dental plaque. Your toothbrush misses 35% of your tooth’s surfaces, so while flossing is very important, your saliva can also help break down any bad bacteria and plaque. We create a surprising amount of saliva, at 35,000 liters, in a lifetime—that’s enough to fill up two swimming pools!

 

  1. Your teeth can be an indicator of your overall health.

Oral health is an indicator of your overall health. Just as your teeth can affect other organs in your body, problems in the rest of your body can also manifest in your mouth. For example, flat teeth and headaches are an indicator of grinding teeth at night, which is caused by stress. Or, suspicious sores in the mouth that won’t go away can be also be a sign of oral cancer. From the mouth, we can find indicators of serious conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. It’s definitely important that you go to the dentist not only for your routine teeth cleaning, but also to get an idea of how your oral and overall health is doing.

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  1. Your smile can make you feel better with the release of neurotransmitters.

It sounds silly, but a smile a day can keep the doctor away! Your smile can cause a release of endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins make us feel happy and lower our stress levels; as we smile and release of endorphins, we’re naturally boosting our mood. Serotonin, which as also released when you smile, is an anti-depressant and natural pain-reliever. Loving your smile can truly make you and those around you happier and healthier.

 

  1. Nervous habits can chip your chompers.

Not only does it ruin your nails and cuticles, but nail biting, a nervous and often unconscious tick, can actually cause major damage to your teeth. Constantly biting down on one part of your tooth can chip or fracture your tooth. Over time, nail biting can even lead to TMJ, a condition caused from excess stress and pain in the joint and muscles we use to chew. Luckily, by keeping your nails short or recognizing that you’re nail biting as a result of stress or boredom can encourage you to find other calming options.

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  1. Your teeth are as unique as you!

Our teeth are unique—in fact, none of the 32 teeth in your mouth are the same. No two people have the same teeth either, not even identical twins. Just like our DNA inherently makes us unique, our genes can also impact our grin. If gapped teeth or missing teeth run in your family, you can also get dental abnormalities passed down from your parents. Because teeth are unique, they can also be used as identifiers. In forensic dentistry, we can study people’s teeth to see who they were, what they did, or used to identify human remains.

 

You can love your teeth and smile without knowing everything about them, but having a broader appreciation of your teeth makes them all the more impressive. While there are many ways to care for your unique teeth and overall oral health, if you want to talk about your smile with professionals that are eager to chat with you, contact Carolina’s Dental Choice today.

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The Long-Term Effects of Opioid Use on the Teeth

2021-02-05T17:58:45+00:00August 30th, 2017|Carolina's Dental Choice|

 

Sitting on your couch watching TV, you hear the commercial that seems to have found the perfect cure to a common illness, you sit and listen and observe the happy people, then the commercial ends and a quick and speedy list of about a million side effects are announced in a low monotone voice. Carolina’s Dental Choice wants you to know the negative effects opioids have on your teeth. The fact of the matter is this: there is a good chance that due to modern advancements in medicine, we have begun to take advantage of the fact that there is a drug for just about any ailment. We have become so focused on feeling better, we have neglected to read the fine print. This is not to say modern medicine is bad. Rather, it is important that we take extra good care of our teeth. This is true more now than ever, especially with the use of opioids on the rise.

 

Narcotic pain relievers prescribed only by a medical professional are called opioids. Most of us know them better by their particular names such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and codeine, but each of these opioids carries with it a dangerous condition: dry mouth. There are many side effects to opioid use (addiction being the most deadly), but dry mouth is the one that can do direct damage to the teeth. What happens when we use opioids for short or long periods of time is the saliva deteriorates from the mouth. We need the bacteria in saliva to be continually present in order to fight off infection, tooth decay, and a host of other possible issues. Admittedly, dry mouth does not sound to be all that serious of a problem, but it is important to understand that dry mouth is simply the source of other much more serious side effects to opioid use.

 

This is not to say opioids are bad, but the long-term effects of opioid use can be extremely hazardous to the teeth if specific measures are not taken. Here are several of the symptoms that can become present after opioid use:

 

  • Dryness in the mouth and throat – this can cause discomfort when talking or trying to swallow. It can keep you from sleeping, even keep you from eating.

 

  • Thick saliva – this is when the little saliva you have left in your mouth becomes viscous or mucus-like. This can interfere with speech, eating, and drinking. It can also create bad breath.

 

  • Sore throat – we all know how terrible it is to have a sore throat. It’s difficult to sleep and swallow. It can even be painful to speak at times.

 

  • Increase in plaque development – more plaque means higher chances for cavities and rotted teeth. Gum infection can also occur.

 

  • Bad breath – there are different types of bad breath: one caused from the foods or drinks we intake and another from dry mouth. The former can be dealt with by brushing, chewing gum, or taking mints. The latter is minimally effected by these things, and continuously gets worse with the more opioids we take.  

 

  • Mouth sores – these painful infections seem to irritate to no end, and without enough saliva in the mouth, they take longer to go away.

 

  • Poor sense of taste – dry mouth can even cause our taste buds to suffer. Foods begin to taste dull, flat, or completely void of flavor altogether.

 

 

Luckily, there are remedies for dry mouth, and by taking a little time out of your day, these side effects of opioid use can be one less thing to worry about.

If you have been prescribed an opioid it is extremely important to have routine exams at Carolina’s Dental Choice. Once you are here, we can have a close look at your teeth and mouth to see what is most likely to happen once you begin taking the medication. We can even discuss possible side effects specific to your teeth from long-term opioid use. Regardless of how long you will be on the medication, there are a few things to start doing in order to counteract the many possible outcomes previously listed due to opioid use.

One thing you can do is purchase artificial saliva spray. This can help to moisten the mouth and increase the flow of saliva. If your dry mouth continues, you may want to contact your physician. He or she can prescribe Pilocarpine, which helps stimulate salivary glands to create saliva. Before trying either of these things, start by drinking extra water to see if it does the trick.


There are a few good home remedies that have proven to help many suffering from dry mouth, and it never hurts to try these first.

 

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss each time as well.

 

  • Drink plenty of water or unsweetened fluids with meals.

 

  • Use only sugar-free mints or gum to stimulate saliva flow.

 

  • Try to breathe primarily out of the nose rather than your mouth.  

 

The digestion of food is dependent upon saliva. Saliva not only keeps the mouth moist, it also helps prevent against viruses, fungi, and tooth decay from taking place inside the mouth. Even if you are taking measures to control your dry mouth, it is essential that you still come into Carolina’s Dental Choice regularly for cleanings and checkups. Viruses, fungi, and tooth decay are not always apparent at first, which is why you want a professional who can detect and deal with them right away.

Here are a few more things to consider:

 

  • Brush your teeth with soft bristles. If soft bristles still cause pain or irritation, try soaking the bristles in warm water prior to use.

 

  • Avoid flossing around bleeding or sore gums, as this can cause more serious problems. If your gums do not seem to be getting better, make an appointment with Carolina’s Dental Choice right away.

 

  • Use a mouthwash that contains fluoride and that does not contain alcohol. Alcohol in mouthwash can actually encourage dry mouth.

 

  • As much as possible, refrain from sticky, sugary foods and drinks. Any time you do consume these, be sure to brush your teeth right afterward.

 

  • Drink a lot of water throughout the day. This almost goes without saying, but it really can help keep the mouth from remaining dry.

 

  • Run a humidifier in your room while you sleep. This will make sure the air you are breathing in is not too dry.

 

  • Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks tend to quickly dry out the mouth. If you partake of either make sure you drink plenty of water before and after. Brushing your teeth after these can help as well.

 

We Can Help You

At Carolina’s Dental Choice we are here to help you. If you have been prescribed opioids, and have found that your mouth feels a little dryer than usual, come see us. Any or all of the preventative measures listed here can help, but allowing one of our trained professionals to look at your mouth can help pinpoint the most effective way for you to protect yourself from extreme dry mouth.

 

By: Andrae Bergeron

Content Writer

CCP Web Design

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