Month: November 2017

Do genetics play a role in cavity development?

Most people understand that cavities result from tooth decay, but few realize it happens to be one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide. Even fewer do not know the role of genetics in dental health.

According to scientists, the health of your teeth depends on a combination of genetics and oral hygiene. It’s a given that people who neglect oral hygiene – rarely brush and eat an abundance of sugary foods and drinks – will develop cavities. Yet, some folks, who brush and floss regularly, still seem to end up with tooth decay.

It’s estimated that around 60% of the risk for tooth decay is due to genetic factors. Although genetic dentistry is still in its early stages, there are five areas that researchers say genetics apparently influences tooth decay:

  1. Sweet preference – Scientists believe gene variants indicate a range of “sweet preference.” The stronger your genetic “sweet preference,” the more likely you are to indulge in sugary foods, and then develop tooth decay.
  2. Tooth enamel – Some people have softer tooth enamel, and therefore it’s easier for bacteria to infiltrate the tooth.
  3. Taste ability – “Taste ability” is a measure of the variety of things you can taste and whether you can pick out certain flavors. This is an involved process that includes your tongue and is intimately linked your sense of smell. Evidently, the greater the variety in your taste ability, the less likely you are to develop tooth decay. Scientists have not yet determined why this seems to be the case.
  4. Saliva strength – Saliva plays a big part in the proper metabolic process for key nutrients like calcium, potassium and others. Gene variants make some people better at this than others.
  5. Microbiome – Microbial ecology looks at the diversity of communities of bacteria that live within your body, making up what is called your microbiome. Your body’s immune response to these bacterial communities affect your risk of tooth decay, (among other things).

Stages of Cavities Development

According to the Mayo Clinic, bacteria initially inflicts damage on the hard surface of a tooth, and if left unhindered, the destruction will extend into deeper layers. The good news is the issue is predominantly preventable with consistent care of your teeth and a healthy diet.

  1. Some strains of bacteria naturally occur in your mouth and flourish when you consume foods and drinks that contain sugar. If you don’t get those sugars cleaned off your teeth the bacteria intensifies and produces acid. The acid, along with the bacteria, food particles and saliva, generate plaque, (a sticky film that covers teeth). Because of the stickiness of plaque, these acids stay in contact with your teeth and break down the enamel (the hard, outer surface of the tooth).
  2. Once plaque has formed, the acid wears away the enamel which results in holes in your tooth.
  3. Eventually the acid and bacteria attack the next layer of the tooth, (a softer substance called dentin), and continue on to the inner tooth, or pulp. At this stage, the pulp becomes irritated and can involve the bone that supports the tooth. If the decay reaches this point, you will experience sensitivity and pain. A tooth abscess can occur, and a root canal can become necessary.

Cavity Prevention

As with most things, prevention is the best cure for cavities.  Diligently and regularly brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day is a hefty step in preventing tooth decay.

In addition, dietary habits can help defend against cavities. Foods that are good for teeth include; fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese and other dairy products. Avoiding sweetened beverages is best since the sugar they contain drives cavity development. Frequent snacking throughout the day intensifies the bacteria in your mouth causing a steady onslaught of detrimental acid attacking your teeth.

American Dental Group and your dentist

The initial stages of a cavity have no symptoms, so visiting your ADG dentist twice a year is essential to locate any concerns and impede further harm. Reducing your risk of tooth decay also helps you save a lot of money on costly dental procedures down the road.

Obviously if you are experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity, you should schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible.

The value of braces and orthodontics

It seems that everyone, at some point in their life, has a need for orthodontic work these days.  Braces and orthodontic treatments are a valuable tool for more reasons than just correcting a few crooked teeth. Used to correct “bad bites,” or malocclusion (teeth that are crowded or crooked), the benefits have proven to be abundant. Mouths with overcrowded or crooked teeth provide crevices and corners where bacteria breed easily. Tooth decay and periodontal disease can be both unsightly and painful, and can significantly affect overall health.

Even a person with relatively straight teeth may consider braces. An overbite, under-bite, or other jaw misalignment can become exceptionally painful, and will impact the wear and tear on teeth, which can cause life-long problems. Straightening your teeth aligns your jaws as they should be, taking stress off your temporomandibular joint, (TMJ), your teeth, and your gums. Improving your bite offers positive results in terms of both long and short-term health.

Sometimes braces are used solely for the sake of vanity – which is also a good thing.  A confident smile makes a big difference and has been shown to effect job performance, social interaction, and much more.

Using braces to correct symptoms associated with malocclusion include:

  • Mild to severe tooth pain
  • Tooth loss
  • Loss of supporting bone or tissue around the teeth
  • Chipped, cracked, or fractured teeth
  • Jaw pain
  • A popping, clicking, or grinding jaw
  • Headaches
  • Pain throughout the teeth, head, and neck

Advancements in dentistry and orthodontics have created a list of options of braces for kids and adults, giving patients a wide variety of options. Braces are continuously improving, and some are so discreet, nobody can tell you’re wearing them. The right kind of orthodontic treatment differs according to preference as well as what problem they are being used to correct. Any of the qualified specialists with American Dental Group can offer expert information to determine exactly what options will do the best job for you.

Abnormal bites tend to become evident between the ages of 6 and 12, so orthodontic treatment can often begin as early as age 8. Beginning treatment while a child is still growing helps produce optimal results. However, adults can still benefit from braces; healthy teeth can be treated with orthodontics at any age.

Braces and orthodontics are another dental service that is included in American Dental Group’s membership plan.  Because we live and work in the same community as our members and providers, we can be sure that our orthodontic specialists are highly qualified and knowledgeable at the proper techniques and resources to ensure our members get the best treatment available.

Is Dental Insurance worth it?

It’s not uncommon these days for folks to wait years between dentist appointments. Life has a knack for speeding by and it’s easy to lose track of things that don’t demand immediate attention. However, once you finally get scheduled for a checkup and cleaning, it turns out you need a couple fillings and a crown.

Talking with the dental team, they let you know your dental insurance doesn’t cover as much of your care as you thought. In fact, when all is said and done, you’re left paying for the bulk of it out of pocket.

Dental insurance is costly and restrictive. Monthly premiums, (averaging around $30/month), coAll Postsver preventive services (checkups and cleanings) and sometimes a bit more. If you need a filling or two, there’s a good chance you won’t go over your maximum allowable benefits for the year. The maximum allowable benefit is the annual amount that your insurance will pay up to, but not over, usually about $1,200. You may also have a deductible to meet before your insurance pitches in towards any dental treatment.  See the example below:

Premium (12 mos x $30)     $360.00
Exam         $0.00
X-rays     $124.00
Cleaning         $0.00
Root Canal     $897.00
2 Porcelain Crowns   $2226.00
Insurance Payment (ann. max.)  -$1200.00
Your out-of-pocket cost  $2407.00

Basic or minor treatments like small fillings are typically partially covered by insurance (usually around 75-80%), after you’ve paid your deductible and any co-pays. However, if you have too many basic treatments you are in danger of going over your maximum allowable benefit amount before everything is done.

Furthermore, elective services such as dental veneers, teeth whitening, or treatments considered “cosmetic” are not covered by insurance plans like Delta Dental, AARP, Medicare, or even the best dental insurance.

American Dental Group provides a comprehensive list of services including affordable orthodontics (braces), affordable dentures, Invisalign, and many more.

Forbes, AARP, and MarketWatch all agree that dental discount plans are a smarter alternative. American Dental Group provides pre-negotiated discounts to every treatment, regardless of how much or how expensive it is.  Whether it’s a necessary procedure or elective (like cosmetic treatments, it’s covered and there is no maximum allowable benefit and no waiting periods or exclusions.  Thousands of members have discovered that our discount dental plan is more effective than traditional types of insurance.

Keep in mind, whether you have the best dental insurance or the best dental plan, prevention is the most reliable way to avoid costly dental treatments; brush and floss twice per day, and see your dentist twice per year, and use American Dental Group’s dental plan to save money.

 

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