A Prescription for Oral Health
March 29th, 2023
You and your dentist are essential partners in making sure you have the best dental care. You do your part by eating a tooth-healthy diet, brushing and flossing as recommended, and seeing Dr. James McCreary regularly for checkups and cleanings.
And one more essential step you can take for your dental health? Let Dr. James McCreary know which prescriptions and over the counter medications you’re taking.
Medications Have Oral/Dental Side Effects
We’ve all grown used to hearing “Possible side effects include . . .” at the end of every pharmaceutical commercial. That’s because those unintended side effects can affect our health in any number of unexpected ways—and this includes oral health.
For example, a common side effect of many medications is xerostomia, or “dry mouth.” Because saliva helps keep our teeth and gums healthy by washing away food particles and oral bacteria and by reducing acidity in the mouth, a reduction in saliva production means a greater risk of cavities, gum disease, oral infections, denture discomfort, and bad breath.
Knowing a patient is taking one of the hundreds of medications which cause xerostomia allows Dr. James McCreary to both monitor the condition and suggest the most effective treatment options to control unpleasant symptoms.
Medications can cause not only dry mouth, but excessive gum tissue growth, oral sores, tooth discoloration, and changes in taste, among other side effects, so knowing which medications you’re taking can provide essential information for the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.
Medication might be needed for your dental treatment. Because certain drugs, supplements, and even some vitamins and foods can affect the way our bodies metabolize, absorb, and respond to other medications, we need to know which medicines you’re taking to arrive at your best treatment options.
- There are different classes of antibiotics used to treat oral infections. Knowing your medical history enables Dr. James McCreary to choose an antibiotic option which won’t interact with your other medications.
- Local anesthetics such as lidocaine, which numb the area to be treated, can also interact with certain medications. Dr. James McCreary can prescribe an alternative local anesthetic or adjust the dosage as needed.
- If you will be using sedation during your procedure, you have several options, including nitrous oxide gas, oral sedation, or IV sedation. Be sure we know about all of your medications beforehand because of possible interactions. Changes can be made to the type of sedation and/or the dosage as needed.
Medications Impact Treatment
It’s important for Dr. James McCreary to know if any of your medications will affect standard treatments.
Anticoagulants, for example, are a necessary medication for preventing blood clots from forming, and are often prescribed for certain heart conditions, after joint replacement surgery, or for anyone at risk for developing blood clots. Because these medications prevent the blood from clotting, it’s important to let us know if you are taking such drugs before any kind of oral surgery.
If needed, Dr. James McCreary can work with you and your doctor to create a treatment plan which will be safe, effective, and designed to work with any of your medications. You should never discontinue taking your prescribed medications before dental work without medical approval, as this can be dangerous.
We need the most up to date information about your health to provide you with the best care possible. Knowing which medications you take and why you take them can help us:
- Diagnose and treat any side effects from non-dental medications which have affected your oral health,
- Prevent drug interactions from occurring, and
- Tailor your treatment to your specific medical needs.
Your prescriptions, over the counter medications, and even herbal supplements and vitamins are essential information. It’s a good idea to make a list before your next appointment at our Pensacola, FL office so you have specific medications and their dosages at hand. It’s one small—but vital—step you can take to work with Dr. James McCreary for your best dental health!
March 29th, 2023
It is common to experience dentine hypersensitivity, with symptoms ranging from moderate to severe. Why does it happen and how do you know if this sensitivity is something to be concerned about? The first step is to determine the cause.
The most common cause of the sensitivity is exposure of the dentin. Dentin is the layer immediately surrounding the nerve of the tooth. It is alive and usually covered by the gum tissue. When gum recession is present hypersensitivity is common. Other contributors to temporary tooth hypersensitivity include teeth whitening and dental procedures such as fillings, periodontal treatment, and braces placement or adjustment. These are temporary and should be of no concern.
Permanent hypersensitivity, however, may require treatment. To understand the cause of sustained hypersensitivity, let us explain the structure of dentin and why it serves as a ‘hot spot’.
The dentin contains a large numbers of pores or tubes that run from the outside of the tooth to the nerve in the center. When dentin tubes are exposed, there is a direct connection between the mouth and dental pulp, which houses the nerve and blood supply of the tooth. External stimuli, such as mechanical pressure (tooth grinding or clenching - bruising the ligaments holding the teeth in place), temperature changes, as well as chemical stimuli (sweet–sour) are transmitted to the pain-sensitive dental pulp and activate nerve endings. A short and sharp pain is the result. These external stimuli cause fluid movement in the open tube that is transmitted as pain sensations. Something needs to be placed into the dentin tube to plug it and stop this fluid movement.
The first step in doing something about dental hypersensitivity is to determine the cause; our professional team at McCreary Family Dentistry can help you with this. Whether the sensitivity is due to exposed dentin or an underlying cause such as abscess or decay, corrective measures are needed. Contact us sooner rather than later so Dr. James McCreary can reduce the sensitivity, and provide you with some relief!
March 22nd, 2023
It seems like sharks are everywhere these days—on land, sea, and air(waves). A halftime show meme gone viral. A week of summer TV devoted to our favorite apex predators. And who doesn’t have “Baby Shark” playing in their heads all day once they’ve heard it? But are we jumping the shark to discuss this topic in a dental blog?
Not at all! Because today, we’re going to talk about shark teeth—just not the ones you might be expecting.
One of the expected sights when a shark opens its mouth are those rows and rows of shiny shark teeth. Sharks can grow from two to 15 rows of teeth at any one time (and some sharks have even more). This means sharp new teeth are always ready to replace any shark tooth which is lost, broken, or worn out.
An unexpected sight? When children point to their new adult tooth or teeth coming in—right behind their still-firmly rooted baby teeth! This double set of teeth is called “shark teeth,” and, while it certainly might come as a surprise, it’s not all that uncommon. But why do children develop shark teeth at all?
After all, baby, or primary, teeth have small roots, and are designed to come out easily when the adult teeth start arriving. When a permanent tooth starts to erupt, it pushes against the root of the baby tooth above it. This pressure gradually dissolves the root of the primary tooth, and with nothing to anchor it, it’s now loose, wiggly, and ready to fall out. That’s why baby teeth often look like they have no roots at all when they eventually wiggle free.
Sometimes, though, the roots of a primary tooth don’t break down, which means baby teeth stay right where they are. It also means that the permanent teeth have to erupt somewhere else—usually behind those stubborn little baby teeth.
Shark teeth can first appear around the ages of five to seven when the permanent front teeth start arriving, or several years later, when the adult molars begin to come in. Any extra teeth in one small jaw naturally cause concerns about crowding and misalignment, especially when those extra teeth are molars. Fortunately, treatment is generally uncomplicated.
If the baby tooth is loose, time (and wiggling) might take care of the problem. But if the primary tooth or teeth just won’t budge, even after several weeks, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with Dr. James McCreary—especially if your child is experiencing pain or discomfort.
An extraction is often suggested when a baby tooth has overstayed its welcome. Because of its smaller root, extracting a primary tooth is usually a straightforward procedure. Dr. James McCreary can let you know all the details, and can discuss sedation options if they’re appropriate for your child.
Whether baby teeth are left to fall out on their own, or given some assistance, most often your child’s permanent tooth will start moving to its proper position as soon as the space is available.
Unlike sharks, we don’t have an endless supply of replacement teeth, so it’s understandable to worry when you see anything unexpected. If you want to know more about shark teeth, or if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to call our Pensacola, FL office for expert advice.
Dental Sealants for Baby Teeth?
March 22nd, 2023
Perhaps you’ve heard your friends talking about dental sealants, and how well they prevent cavities. And as soon as your child’s permanent molars come in, you absolutely plan to make an appointment at our Pensacola, FL office for this treatment. But should you also be concerned with your child’s baby teeth? Could they benefit from sealants too?
Even though those beautiful baby teeth are going to be replaced with permanent teeth, they should still be protected. Primary teeth help with speech development, enable your child to develop proper chewing and eating habits, and serve as place holders so that permanent teeth can erupt in the correct place. That’s why you’ve been so careful to help your child brush and floss twice daily, and make regular visits to our office for exams and cleanings.
But some teeth are just harder to keep clean with regular brushing than others. Primary molars, just like permanent ones, have depressions and grooves on the chewing surfaces. These grooves collect bacteria and food particles that are hard for bristles to reach, providing a perfect opportunity for cavities to develop in those little molars.
Cavities are not the only problem which can affect primary teeth. Because baby teeth have thinner layers of protective enamel, a cavity can actually reach the pulp (the center of the tooth) more quickly, leading to pain and potential infection.
While baby teeth can be treated, with fillings, restorations, and even stainless steel crowns, preventing tooth decay is always our first, best choice. And dental sealants are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association as one of the most effective ways to prevent cavities in both baby teeth and adult teeth.
Dental sealants are safe and effective. Sealants are thin coatings (usually a plastic resin or other dental material) that cover a molar’s grooves and depressions, making it impossible for bacteria and food particles to collect there. Applying them is a simple, pain-free process.
Each tooth will be examined first. If we find any signs of decay starting, we will gently treat that area before applying the sealant. After the tooth is cleaned and dried, an etching solution will be brushed on to the surface area being sealed. This etching roughens the surface so that the sealant will hold to the tooth more effectively. A thin coat of the sealant is then painted on and hardened under a curing light.
That’s all there is to it! Sealants typically last from three to five years, and some last even longer. Keep up your regular careful brushing and flossing, and we will monitor the condition of the sealants at each exam.
Talk to Dr. James McCreary about dental sealants. We’ll let you know if your child can benefit from the procedure even before those baby teeth give way to permanent ones. It’s never too early to prevent tooth decay!