6 Tips to Help With Tooth Sensitivity

tooth sensitivityTooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints I encounter in the office, especially at this time of year when the weather gets frigid outdoors. Sensitivity results from exposure of the nerve endings that connect to the pulp tissue inside the tooth, commonly referred to as “the nerve”. This typically occurs when the protective tooth structure insulating the pulp is eroded or abraded away. So here are some tips that may help if you are experiencing this problem.

  1. Use a toothpaste designed to reduce sensitivity.

There is only one FDA approved active ingredient to reduce sensitivity – 5% potassium nitrate! This is contained in Crest Sensitive, Sensodyne Pronamel and several other over the counter toothpastes. The effectiveness of these toothpastes depends on regular usage over an extended period of time. Always check the ingredient labels to make sure they contain 5% potassium nitrate!

  1. Use a soft tooth brush.

As mentioned, sensitivity occurs when the protective outer layers of the teeth are lost from abrasion or wear. Overzealous scrubbing with a hard tooth brush is one cause that is easily avoided by using a soft brush and gently moving it in a circular motion along the gum lines. You will remove the disease causing dental plaque without promoting sensitivity.

  1. Keep up your routine

Those of you who have been with me for a while know that I give “homework” to our patients. Do it! Slacking off, i.e. around the holidays or while away at school, allows the bacteria in dental plaque to produce acids that further erode tooth structure. This promotes tooth decay, gum disease and of course, sensitivity.

  1. Make sure you are not grinding your teeth

Many of us grind our teeth when stressed, especially at night. Grinding (bruxism) creates premature and excessive wear on the teeth. This results in increased sensitivity and often sore jaw muscles. Check with your sleeping partner to make sure you’re not doing this at night. It’s more common than you think and is a major contributor to sensitivity.

  1. Avoid whitening toothpastes

Whitening toothpastes contain carbamide peroxide and frequently very abrasive compounds that wear away tooth structure. Carbamide peroxide becomes hydrogen peroxide in the mouth and promotes sensitivity. It should be avoided or at least done with professional supervision.

  1. Avoid acidic foods

Energy drinks, sodas and other acidic foods and beverages chemically erode tooth structure just like the bacterial plaque that live on our teeth. This promotes sensitivity. Occasionally when I indulge, as many of us do, I will rinse with water or chew some gum sweetened with xylitol to neutralize the acids immediately and then wait 30 minutes before brushing. Brushing too soon after consuming acidic foods can increase the amount of tooth wear!

I hope these few tips will help if you are experiencing tooth sensitivity. As always, please check with us if you experiencing this issue as sensitivity can also be a symptom of other and more serious problems. If you’re not certain about your technique, please ask us the next time you are in the office Don’t hesitate to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence H. Stone, DDS, any time at 215-230-7667. We are only too happy to help. We look forward to seeing you soon!

7 Good Tooth Brushing Techniques for a Healthy 2017

Tips for Tooth BrushingStart the new year off right with these tips from the American Dental Association.

  1. Change your brush as soon as the bristles start fraying, about every 3 months, or sooner if needed. Also change your brush after recovering from an illness.
  2. Brush for 2 minutes at least twice a day. Most people only brush for about 45 seconds, which is why I like electric toothbrushes! Most of them have a timer and run for 2 minutes. That’s how much time it takes to do a thorough job of cleaning your teeth.
  3. Don’t brush too hard, another common mistake. It’s not how hard you brush that counts…it’s how thoroughly you brush. Disease causing plaque comes off easy enough with the right technique!
  4. Wait 30 minutes after eating before brushing, especially if you’ve been eating acidic foods like citrus or sodas. Rinse with water or chew xylitol sweetened gum if you must to prevent acid erosion from brushing too soon.
  5. Store your toothbrush upright and in the open air so that it can dry properly and not promote bacterial growth. Also, don’t store your brush adjacent to someone else’s, which could allow cross contamination.
  6. Don’t use a hard bristled brush, which can erode the outer surface of the teeth, especially along the gum line. Remember, it only takes soft bristles to remove the plaque.
  7. Always use proper technique when brushing. Brushing each surface of the tooth while holding the brush at a 45 degree angle toward the gum will ensure that you remove all of the plaque without causing damage to the teeth or gums.

If you’re not certain about your technique, please ask us the next time you are in the office Don’t hesitate to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence H. Stone, DDS, any time at 215-230-7667. We are only too happy to help.

Best wishes for a happy and dentally healthy New Year!

How to avoid dentai issues due to holiday stress

Holiday stress

The holiday season can be stressful and even difficult for some, me included. I also see a lot of folks at this time of year with dental manifestations of stress. So, here are some suggestions on how to hopefully stay on an even keel and perhaps enjoy this time of year a little more and better preserve your dental health:

  • Reduce stress by continuing to exercise and by trying to remain more tolerant. For me, this means sticking to my Pilates class schedule, walking as much as I can, and trying to avoid antagonizing my sister!
  • Stick to Healthy Habits. Exercise and watch your caloric intake and alcohol consumption. Trying to keep my weight gain to a minimum can be a challenge but at least I’m paying attention to it. A few lighter meals thrown in can make all the difference when you know you are facing elaborate dinner parties!
  • Stick to a budget. Financial woes can be among the most detrimental stressors affecting anyone. Don’t get overextended  trying to make things better for everyone around you. It just seems to come back to bite you in the end.
  • Relax your face and jaw muscles. I always see a lot of folks with stress-induced  jaw pain around this time of year. It’s usually related to spasms of the masticatory (chewing) muscles related to stress. Remember the rule: Lips together and teeth apart! A little facial massage can often help. Tell me if you are clenching or grinding. In addition to damaging the teeth, these habits can also cause scores of seemingly unrelated symptoms. I have some easy exercises and tips for reducing  clenching and  preventing the damage that can result from grinding.

I hope these tips help you to enjoy your best holidays ever!

In the meantime, I’d be more than happy to address any of your concerns regarding the health of your teeth. Don’t hesitate to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence H. Stone, DDS, any time at 215-230-7667.

6 Ways to Keep Your Smile Bright for the Holidays

Hermey the ElfIt’s that time of year again! Hermey, Santa’s Elf, who aspires to become a dentist, has offered a few suggestions along with the ADA for keeping that smile bright for the holidays:

  1. For those of us with unused dental benefits for the year, it’s still not too late to take advantage. If  you need treatment, or if it’s been more than 6 months since your last cleaning, call today to get an appointment before the end of the year.
  2. Consider “Smile Friendly” stocking stuffers. Tooth brushes, floss, and tooth paste make great stocking stuffers! You might also consider the gift of an electric toothbrush. Most of the stores have great deals at this time of year. We also have rebate coupons for some of the more popular brushes here at the office!
  3. Hum a Christmas Carol or any song of your choice while brushing. We’re supposed to brush for 2 minutes and most songs are about 2 minutes long. (Most people don’t brush for 2 minutes unless they are using an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer!) And don’t forget to floss in between all the teeth at least once a day.
  4. Don’t open gifts with your teeth (or otherwise use them as tools). Most of the chipped front teeth I encounter are the result of some unintended use, i.e. biting fingernails, chewing ice, etc.
  5. For whiter teeth, you can use over the counter toothpastes or whitening strips, but for best results, have it done in the office. The toothpastes whiten mostly by using abrasives, which ultimately wear the enamel away. This can leave teeth actually looking gray or darker from the exposing the underlying tooth structure.
  6. Stick to your routine! With all the holiday parties and sweet treats, don’t deviate from your normal home care routine. Brush and floss regularly to keep the Grinch at bay!

I’d be more than happy to address any of your concerns regarding the health of your teeth, or provide you with rebate coupons on electric toothbrushes during your next visit. Don’t hesitate to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence H. Stone, DDS, any time at 215-230-7667.

Happy Holidays!

Coffee Anyone?

Coffee and Health

I’ve been a coffee drinker for years and really haven’t given it too much thought. Just like you, I’ve read the articles for and against this practice every few years. However, a recent article in the publication General Dentistry (Gen Dent 2016; 64 July/August): 20-23), published by the Academy of General Dentistry, finds that moderate coffee drinking ( 3-5 cups/day) may be more beneficial than detrimental to dental patients!

On the plus side, recent studies have shown that coffee drinkers:

  1. Are 72% less likely to develop hepatocellular carcinoma than non- coffee drinkers
  2. Show decreased alanine transferase levels (a biomarker for liver damage)
  3. Are less likely to develop metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
  4. Are less likely to develop Alzheimer and Parkinson’s Diseases
  5. Show decreased levels of depression
  6. Show decreased instances of blood clots and strokes

On the negative side, coffee drinking can increase the chances of miscarriages and can certainly stain tooth enamel and tooth colored fillings. Since my front teeth are porcelain veneers and incapable of staining, I think I’ll stick with my coffee habit. I just wish I could find a cup of coffee as good as the French coffee I had last summer!

I’d be more than happy to discuss any of your thoughts regarding your coffee consumption the next time you are in the office. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding your oral health, don’t hesitate to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence H. Stone, DDS, any time at 215-230-7667.

Defining Oral Health – I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself!

For decades it seems, I’ve been trying to convey to people the importance of oral health. I’ve tried to personalize it, sensationalize it, communicate it in any meaningful way I could, perhaps not giving enough importance to the reality that “oral health” may mean different things to different people.

And now, finally, the FDI World Dental Federation launched a new definition of “oral health”. As defined by FDI, oral health:

Orral health

  1. Is multifaceted and includes the ability to speak, smile, taste, touch, chew, swallow and convey a range of emotions through facial expressions with confidence and without pain, discomfort and disease of the craniofacial complex.
  2. Is a fundamental component of health and physical and mental well-being. It exists along a continuum influenced by the values and attitudes of individuals and communities.
  3. Reflects the physiological, social and psychological attributes that are essential to the quality of life.
  4. Is influenced by the individual’s changing experiences, perceptions, expectations and ability to adapt to circumstances.

This “new” definition of oral health perfectly describes my passion for dentistry. This is basically why I get up and come to work every day!

I’d be more than happy to discuss any of your thoughts regarding oral health the next time you are in the office. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding your oral health, don’t hesitate to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence H. Stone, DDS, any time at 215-230-7667.

To Floss or Not to Floss? That is the Question!

dental flossRecently the Associated Press (AP) published an article entitled “Medical Benefits of Dental Floss Unproven”. This was a very interesting and well researched piece of journalism. It seems that the research in favor of flossing is not as solid as one would have hoped. This may in part be due to the fact that dental floss has been used in one way or another for over 100 years. It’s not surprising that research criteria were not as strict a century ago as they are today. It’s also disappointing though, that even the more recent studies involving flossing are not as rigorous as modern science requires.

That being said, it will remain my recommendation to continue daily flossing as it is my personal belief that proper use of floss not only prevents periodontal disease (the number one cause of tooth loss in adults), but also helps prevent tooth decay between the teeth. Let’s face it, no matter how well you brush, you can’t get a toothbrush in between your teeth to remove bacterial laden plaque. That I can prove!

I can remember my 10th grade history teacher proving that pigs can fly through the use of logic! Common sense however tells us that this is not the case. I suggest that we apply the same common sense to the question of flossing. For now…at least until additional research is done. After all, floss is cheap enough and only takes a minute or two to do.

Until I’m convinced otherwise, I’ll stand by my current recommendations:

  1. You don’t have to floss every day- just the days you eat!
  2. You don’t have to floss all your teeth- just the ones you want to keep!

I’d be more than happy to discuss any of your thoughts regarding flossing the next time you are in the office. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding flossing, don’t hesitate to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence H. Stone, DDS, any time at 215-230-7667.

What To Do About Dry Mouth – 10 Recommendations

dry mouth“Dry mouth”, or xerostomia, is an annoying condition that I am seeing almost daily in the office. Dry mouth is actually a symptom of an underlying problem and not a disease in itself. It is usually caused by medications but can also be related to various systemic diseases, chemotherapy, radiation to the head and neck, dehydration and certain life style activities such as tobacco use.

Most people who have dry mouth are generally aware of it. Symptoms include problems swallowing and chewing, alterations in taste, bad breath, dry lips, trouble wearing dentures, rampant tooth decay, and thick and sticky saliva to name a few.

Beyond annoying symptoms that dry mouth can present, there are more important reasons to be concerned. It is important that we maintain adequate amounts of saliva in our mouth in order to neutralize acids produced by plaque, moisten food to enable swallowing, and control the bacteria that lead to decay and gum disease.

So here is a short list of things you can do to alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth:

  1. Suck on ice during the day.
  2. Drink water frequently.
  3. Sleep with a humidifier in the bedroom.
  4. Minimize alcohol consumption.
  5. Refrain from smoking or chewing tobacco.
  6. Check with your physician to rule out systemic causes and to see if any medications causing dry mouth can be changed.
  7. Use prescription fluoride products obtained through the dental office.
  8. Make liberal use of over the counter products. (See me for a complete list!)
  9. Use only non-alcoholic mouth rinses.
  10. Avoid caffeinated beverages and soda.

In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding dry mouth, don’t hesitate ask us the next time you visit our office Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA , or feel free to contact me or the staff at my office any time at 215-230-7667.

Root Canal Awareness Week

The Simple Truth About a Root Canal

Root CanalWhoops! I missed it too! Root Canal Awareness Week was March 27 to April 2 and indeed, this week celebrated its 10th anniversary according to the American Association of Endodontists. With all of the days and weeks devoted to the myriad of causes and issues that occupy our consciousness these days, I’m really not that surprised to see a week devoted to root canal treatment.

The reason I decided to write about it, however, comes from the fact that so many people fear it and associate it with pain. I am reminded of this fact constantly by patients and there were several recently that made comments to this effect.

The simple truth, however, reveals a much different story. Root canal treatment (or endodontic therapy as we dentists call it) is actually a painless procedure when done properly. I believe that people’s fear of it stem from the fact that toothache pain is one of the major symptoms necessitating root canal treatment. In other words, the close association of tooth pain and endodontic treatment confuse many people into believing that they are interchangeable, when in reality, root canal treatment is what is needed to eliminate the pain of an infected tooth!

If you have any questions regarding this tooth saving therapy don’t hesitate ask us the next time you visit or in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA.

CariVu – A new view at tooth decay

We are pleased to be introducing CariVu™ to our practice. CariVu is a new fiber optic trans-illumination technology from Dexis that will help us with better and earlier diagnosis of tooth decay (caries), between your teeth. Earlier detection of course, leads to more conservative and less expensive treatment options.

carivuThe CariVu technology is painless, and allows us to produce Images that are radiation free. The technology works by bathing the tooth in safe, near-infrared light which makes the tooth’s enamel appear transparent, while porous lesions trap and absorb the light. Images read like familiar X-ray images.

This new technology, in conjunction with your periodic exam, x-rays and hygiene visit will help to improve your overall dental health.

Please ask us about CariVu or any of oral health issue the next time you are in the office or in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA.