It is well known that fluoride, an element found in most water
sources, has numerous dental benefits. It is essential to proper oral care.
Fluoride can strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay by keeping the acid
produced by the bacteria in plaque from dissolving the enamel of our teeth. It
cannot restore teeth with cavities, but it can
prevent cavities, and it also reverses the early stages of tooth decay by
allowing tooth enamel to repair, or remineralize, itself. Fluoridated water,
toothpaste, mouthwash, and supplement pills are all sources of fluoride.

Proper fluoride intake is an important part of a well-rounded
dental health regimen. Infants and young children don’t require as much,
however, when carefully monitored, a child’s intake of fluoride is still a
beneficial and necessary part of their oral care.

Fluoride Intake for
Infants

Infants require the least amount of fluoride of any age group.
Fluoride supplements, which are usually prescribed when children live in an
area without fluoridated water, are not necessary for infants. For children
under six months of age, the water used to prepare a baby’s formula provides
sufficient fluoride. Baby formula generally contains fluoride already, with milk-based
formulas containing less fluoride than soy-based formulas. Because of this,
parents have the option of supplementing the level of fluoride contained in
baby formula by preparing their child’s formula with tap water or fluoridated
bottled water. If they want to limit their child’s fluoride intake, they can
use non-fluoridated bottled water.

Some parents also choose to breastfeed as a way to limit
fluoride intake. It should be noted, however, that breast milk contains only
very small trace amounts of fluoride, and a breast milk fed baby receives
virtually no fluoride exposure. Parents are advised to consult with a dentist
to determine how to ensure their infants receive the right amount of fluoride.

When baby teeth begin appearing, parents can brush their
child’s teeth with an infant toothbrush using water and a tiny smear of
toothpaste. Children’s teeth should be brushed this way until around age two.

Fluoride Intake for
Young Children

After the age of two, children begin brushing their own teeth,
thus regularly ingesting fluoride in their toothpaste. Past this age, most of
their fluoride intake comes from water, so children should only use a small
amount of toothpaste when they brush. A pea-sized amount is more than
sufficient, and children should always use a toothpaste that carries the ADA’s seal
of approval.

Under the age of six, children should not use mouth wash that
contains fluoride. Younger children have a tendency to swallow too much
toothpaste while brushing, and if they use mouthwash, there is a high
likelihood of them swallowing that as well. Parents should supervise young
children when they are brushing their teeth to ensure they are not swallowing
their toothpaste. It is around this age when, if a child lives in an area
without a fluoridated water supply, a dentist might prescribe fluoride
supplements to build their fluoride intake beyond toothpaste.

Fluoride is a pivotal part of maintaining proper dental health.
While fluoride intake needs to be carefully monitored in infants and young
children to avoid overexposure, parents should not be deterred from recognizing
the benefits. Speaking with a dentist or pediatric dentist is an excellent way
to learn more about caring for children’s teeth, and obtaining more information
about fluoride needs. 

Cosmetic, or restorative, dentistry is the area of dental
practice that focuses specifically on improving your quality of life by giving
you the smile you’ve always dreamed of. Cosmetic dentists, like Doctors Jan
Linhart
and Zachary Linhart, specialize in procedures that
correct discoloration, misalignment, and other imperfections that prevent you
from having your perfect smile. At Linhart Dentistry, the team of restorative
dentists work alongside a team of other dental specialists to provide patients
with a full range of dental services.

A happy smile is a healthy smile, and for many patients,
cosmetic dentistry plays an important role in the overall betterment of their
self esteem, oral health, and well being. How can cosmetic dentistry give you a
new smile? Check out these five procedures to get an idea of what a cosmetic
dentist can do for you!

1.)  Tooth Whitening

Tooth whitening is one of the most
common cosmetic dental procedures. There are a wide array of different ways to
whiten your teeth, and many of these methods can be done at home. However, for
best results, getting your teeth whitened by a cosmetic dentist can help your
teeth stay whiter longer, and can ensure that the materials used are safe on
your teeth.

Bleaching and laser tooth whitening are two widely practiced procedures. Laser tooth whitening involves the use of
lasers to stimulate a hydrogen-peroxide based gel on your teeth to remove
stains. Laser tooth whitening usually entails multiple visits, although Dr.
Linhart’s revolutionary PearlInBrite Laser Tooth Whitening system
speeds up the process, giving patients a 9-10 shade whiter smile in just one
visit.

2.) 
Porcelain
Veneers

Porcelain veneers can be a
life-changing cosmetic solution for people who have misshapen, mildly
misaligned, or discolored teeth. The procedure involves the placement of
porcelain “laminates” over your natural teeth to create a perfectly straight,
uniform smile. The laminates are crafted by a lab technician to be shaped like
natural teeth, and the porcelain is then bonded to your enamel. While this may
not be an option for people with serious orthodontic or periodontal issues, it
can be an ideal fix if you have permanently stained or slightly misaligned
teeth.

3.)  Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is an alternative to
porcelain veneers, and involves your dentist coating your teeth in a
naturally-colored resin material. The resin fills in any gaps or chips in your
teeth, and your dentist will shape the material to give it a natural look.
Teeth with jagged edges appear smooth, and any mottling or bumps on your enamel
is also smoothed over. A special light is then used to permanently harden the
resin, which is just as strong as porcelain veneers or your natural teeth.

4.)  iBraces

Since braces are worn to correct
moderate to severe misalignment of your teeth, they fall more into the realm of
orthodontics than cosmetic dentistry. However, there are a number of
alternatives to traditional metal braces that are aesthetically discreet and
help you maintain a beautiful smile during
this corrective treatment.

You may have heard of Invisalign,
which uses a series of clear trays that fit over your teeth to align them as
opposed to metal brackets. iBraces are another cosmetic alternative.
iBraces work like traditional braces, but they are not visible on the front
side of your teeth. The brackets used to straighten the teeth are custom-made
for each tooth, and are contoured to hug the backside of your teeth for
increased comfort and minimal visibility.

5.)  Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are important to the
treatment of broken or fractured teeth, but are also used in cosmetic
dentistry to improve the appearance of misshapen or otherwise imperfect teeth.
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that is placed over the tooth to
strengthen it or prevent further damage. A damaged tooth can impede the health
and radiance of your smile, so a natural looking dental crown is a solution for
not only saving the tooth, but preserving your smile as well.

If there is any reason whatsoever that you feel your smile can
be improved upon, you should talk to your dentist about what cosmetic
opportunities are available to you. Cosmetic
dentistry
is an important part of the full range of dental services
that go into maintaining your oral health and overall well being.

Your smile is one of your most distinguishing characteristics,
and it is oftentimes one of the first things people notice about you. That is
why a healthy smile is so important; it can potentially contribute to a greater
sense of overall well being and a higher self esteem. Having clean, white teeth
is key to a healthy smile. But the measures taken to maintain the whiteness of
your teeth are not merely just cosmetic dentistry. Teeth whitening
contributes to the removal of plaque and stains that can weaken enamel and
leave your teeth vulnerable to further damage.

Fortunately, there are a wide array of options available for
whitening your teeth. From at-home techniques such as hydrogen peroxide, whitening trays, and whitening strips, to in-office procedures, you’ll surely be able to
find a tooth whitening method that works for you.

One of the most popular, and arguably more effective, ways to
whiten your teeth is with laser teeth whitening. Typically, laser teeth
whitening involves a hydrogen peroxide-based gel that is applied to the teeth
by your dental professional. The dentist then exposes the teeth to laser
energy. The laser “excites” the hydrogen peroxide, or speeds up its molecules,
which is essentially what removes the stains. So, what makes laser teeth
whitening a more popular option than other whitening methods? Let’s explore
some of the benefits.

1.  Laser Teeth Whitening is Effective

Whitening strips and special
toothpastes can only remove surface stains. Laser teeth whitening, however,
penetrates deep to remove stains at their core, even if they go deeper than the
enamel. This is due primarily to its laser itself, and how it triggers the
hydrogen peroxide in such a way that it attacks the stain on a molecular level.

2.  Laser Teeth Whitening is Fast

Laser whitening can dramatically
whiten your teeth in just one session. While several sessions may be needed to
experience the full effect, patients often report seeing a difference of seven
to eight shades in just the first session. That means your smile is
significantly whiter after just one 30
to 60 minute session. At-home whitening solutions and other products often need
to be applied daily for several hours or overnight, for a duration of two to
four weeks, before patients start seeing results.

3.  Laser Teeth Whitening is Less Damaging

Laser teeth whitening is non-invasive.
There are no appliances or additional equipment used that can cause irritation
or bleeding of the gums, and no after-effects of laser whitening. Furthermore,
a lot of the bleaching products used in over the counter at-home procedures can
be too abrasive and damage the enamel. In fact, few, if any, at-home teeth
bleaching products carry the ADA seal of approval. Laser teeth whitening is
safer, gentler, and done with expert supervision.

4.  Laser Teeth Whitening Can Last Longer

With any whitening procedure, the
longevity of the whitening effects depends primarily on your daily oral care
routine. Brushing your teeth at least twice daily, using mouthwash, and
following any other steps your dentist has recommended prevent the buildup of
plaque and can keep stains from settling. While this is key to a white smile
that lasts longer, laser teeth whitening can
last for years, because it removes old stains as well as stains you’ve
accumulated since your last cleaning.

PearlInBrite Laser Tooth Whitening

Linhart Dentistry uses Dr. Linhart’s patented laser whitening
system: PearlInBrite Laser Tooth Whitening, a unique system that
whitens teeth using specially formulated gels that are activated by two lasers. Patients can expect a 9-10
shade change in just one visit. The procedure takes approximately two hours,
and speeds up the whitening process so that results are achieved immediately.
Dr. Linhart can even whiten one or two teeth adjacent to where other cosmetic
dentistry has been performed.

PearlInBrite uses proprietary technology, where the two lasers
activate three different gels applied to the teeth. These whitening gels
contain Energy Transfer Crystals (ETC), which absorb the laser energy and
transfer it to the hydrogen peroxide, creating a heightened, more efficient
“excited” state whereby the hydrogen peroxide molecules remove stains from the
teeth. Following treatment, patients can maintain their smile by using any of
Dr. Linhart’s PearlInBrite dentistry products at home. The
PearlInBrite system has been attributed almost 100% to tooth whitening success
in most of Dr. Linhart’s patients. Learn more about this unique and
revolutionary system at www.pearlinbrite.com.

While there are
various costs to consider, the efficiency and benefits of laser teeth whitening
make it a worthwhile investment that can drastically improve the health of your
teeth and lead to a brighter, more fulfilling smile. Consult with your dentist
to determine which of the many tooth whitening solutions out there is right for
you. Remember: a happy smile is a healthy smile.

When most people hear the words “root canal”, they typically
think of a major dental procedure that is both scary and painful. In actuality,
a root canal is an extremely routine and common procedure that can be performed
with ease by a skilled endodontist. While the idea of a root canal
may be daunting, the procedure itself can be virtually pain-free, and each
year, millions of smiles are saved by this simple procedure that can stop or
prevent the advancement of tooth decay.

If you have never had a root canal, there’s a chance you may
not have a clear idea of what the procedure entails or what to expect after a
root canal. Let’s explore exactly how a root canal can save a damaged tooth,
preserve your smile, and promote overall oral health.

Why Might You Need a Root Canal?

Contrary to common beliefs, the pain that is associated with a
root canal actually precedes the procedure entirely. If your dentist has
recommended a root canal, it is because the inner layer of your tooth has
become inflamed, damaged, or infected. If left untreated, such damage can
potentially lead to tooth decay. Pain can be a common symptom of a more
advanced stage of damage to the tooth, but the tooth may begin to hurt right
away. In some cases, there may not even be any pain at all, which is why
routine dental examinations are necessary for preventing and assessing
potential issues.

Beneath your tooth’s enamel is a soft inner layer known as the
dental pulp. This spongy tissue contains the nerves, blood vessels, and
connective tissues that nourish the tooth during development. The term to
describe the procedure, “root canal”, is actually derived from the canals
within your tooth that travel from the root into the “pulp chamber”, so that
the blood vessels can nourish the tooth. Your tooth’s nerve is purely
sensory–it is not vital to the health of the tooth–but in alerting you when something
is too hot or too cold, the pain experienced in the nerve can also alert you to
a problem.

When the pulp is damaged, the nerve breaks down and bacteria
accumulates. This,coupled with debris from the broken down nerve (as well as
external particles if your tooth is cracked), can cause an infection or an
abscessed tooth. Infections can cause:

● 
Swelling in the gum that may spread to other parts of
the face

● 
Bone loss around the end of the root

● 
Drainage problems with infected fluid building up in
the root

● 
Tooth decay.

There are many different ways the pulp of your tooth can become
damaged, and it is important to be cognizant of any duress or trauma your face
and mouth might be under. If you have experienced one of the following, consult
with your dentist right away.

● 
Repeated dental procedures on the same tooth that can
weaken the enamel

● 
An ill-fitting crown or filling that cracks the tooth
or exposes spaces in the tooth

● 
A fractured tooth

● 
Trauma to the face that loosens or breaks the tooth

● 
Untreated cavities that spread into the pulp of the
tooth

Root canal therapy cannot reverse the damage to your tooth, but
if performed early enough, it can easily and effectively save your tooth by
alleviating the symptoms and preventing further damage.

What is a Root Canal?

Endodontists are the dental professionals that
specialize in the treatment and repair of the tooth’s inner layer–the dental
pulp. Once a dentist has determined you need a root canal, they may perform the
procedure themselves or refer you to a specialist. Some dental practices even
have an endodontist on staff. You and your dentist will discuss
your options and decide whether or not your root canal should be performed by
your general dentist or an endodontist, depending on the level of damage to the
tooth.

X-rays are taken prior to the procedure to examine the inside
of the tooth and determine the extent of the damage, particularly to see if
there’s any sign of infection in the surrounding bone. Your dentist or
endodontist will then anesthetize the surrounding area for your
comfort. A root canal may take multiple appointments to complete.

The point of the root canal procedure is to remove the dental
pulp, clean the inside of the tooth, then fill and seal the area. A rubber-like
material called gutta-percha is used to seal the tooth, which is then restored
with a crown or filling for added protection. In order to remove the dental
pulp, the endodontist must drill a hole into the crown of the tooth for access.
Delicate instruments called root canal files are then used to remove the dental
pulp and scrape the walls of the pulp chamber to clean and shape the space for
filling. Throughout the procedure, the endodontist will flush the tooth with
water or a gentle sodium solution to clear away debris.

Once the pulp is removed, the root canals are sealed with
gutta-percha. If there are signs of infection, medication may be applied to the
inside of the tooth and your endodontist may wait until the second session to
fill the root canals in order to ensure the infection has healed. In this case,
a temporary filling will be used to protect the area until your next
appointment.

After the root canals are sealed with gutta-percha, the final
appointment entails having a crown or other restoration
placed on the tooth to restore it to its full functionality. In some cases, if
damage to the tooth has been too extensive, or the hollowed-out tooth lacks the
proper structure to function on its own, the endodontist may place a post
inside the tooth to reinforce it before crowning it. In almost all cases, a
tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment can function just as well as it
did prior to the damage.

After Your Root Canal

You may be surprised to learn that after a root canal
procedure, most people report feeling a great sense of relief. The pain associated
with root canal therapy comes from the inflammation and discomfort of the
infected tissue, so once that is removed, most pain should be alleviated. As
with any dental procedure, there will be some tenderness immediately following
the root canal, and this may persist for another day or two. Your tooth may
also be a bit sensitive to extreme temperatures (though less so than when the
tooth was damaged). This is especially true between sessions, when your tooth
is capped by a temporary crown and not fully sealed.

In cases where the damage to the tooth was severe and the
patient experienced extreme pain, the area will be a bit more sensitive for a
few days longer following the procedure. This, however, can be treated with
over-the-counter pain medications. If necessary, your dentist may prescribe a
painkiller, but pain on that level following a root canal is rare.

The severe toothache, swelling, and prolonged sensitivity to
extreme temperatures goes away once the procedure is performed. Most people can
return to normal activities after the first day. It is important, however, to
remember to take extra care between sessions. While the temporary filling is in
place after the first appointment, you should avoid chewing on the tooth, and
be careful not to expose it to too much duress. This is important to avoid
contaminating the tooth or damaging the area while it is still under repair.

Once the tooth is fully restored, you can brush and floss as
you regularly would. Overall, the procedure is highly effective, minimally
painful, and is an important step to ensuring the health and longevity of your
smile. There are many who would say its as easy as having a tooth filled!

Flossing is an essential part of your daily regimen for proper dental care and hygiene. While there is ongoing debate as to whether or not flossing is necessary to prevent cavities, there is no denying that it is crucial to your periodontal health. Periodontics concerns the health of your gums and the bone surrounding your teeth, and any periodontist will tell you that flossing is integral to maintaining healthy gums.

People who do not floss may be more prone to infections of the gum. Gingivitis is the beginning stages of a periodontal infection, and presents as bleeding, inflamed, or red gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease, a severe infection that can lead to bone loss and even the loss of teeth.

Infections of the gums and inflammation can be caused by plaque and particles of food that get caught in the spaces between the teeth, or even between the gum and the tooth itself. These particles may be too small for your toothbrush to clean, and too tightly-packed for mouthwash to clear away. Over time, bacteria accumulates and your gums may redden or become inflamed, thus leading to infection.

Flossing every day is one of the most effective ways to prevent gingivitis before it even begins. It is one of the best ways to ensure you’re cleaning between your teeth to avoid a buildup of plaque and bacteria. Unfortunately, not everybody flosses as often as they should. Flossing takes more time and requires more careful attention to each tooth, and many people mistakenly assume that if they brush thoroughly, they can catch all those hard to reach places. Furthermore, not everybody knows the proper way to floss. Welcome to Flossing 101: an examination of different ways to improve your flossing techniques and products that can help you stay thorough and consistent.

How to Floss

When it comes to flossing, consistency is key: the American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day. Because flossing requires a couple of extra minutes, it is a good idea to floss when you have the time, or the patience, and stick to that time each day. Some people prefer to floss right before bed, others first thing in the morning. While once a day is sufficient, there are people who floss after every meal. As long as you have the time and attention to devote to flossing every day, it doesn’t matter when you do it.

To floss thoroughly, you need to make sure you’re reaching the spaces between each tooth on both sides–including the back side of your last tooth. It is important not to be too rough on your gums; don’t snap the floss into your gums, and be careful to ease the other flossing instruments you use into the spaces between. Bleeding of the gums usually occurs when they are inflamed, so if bleeding persists beyond the first week or two, you may be flossing too hard. Consult with your dentist just to be sure.

The following technique is for flossing using traditional floss. Keep reading onto the next section for more on flossing with various other products.

●  Snip off an 18-inch piece of floss, and wind the floss around the middle finger of each hand, leaving a one or two-inch length of floss in between.

●  Decide which direction feels most comfortable to you: beginning with your upper teeth or your lower teeth, from left to right or from right to left. It is best to floss your teeth in order and to finish one row before continuing on to the second.

●  For your upper row, use your thumbs to guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion.

●  The floss should hug your tooth: wrap it around each tooth gently working your way down to the gum and below the gumline, then working your way back up with up-and-down motions.

●  Repeat for each one of your upper teeth.

●  For your lower row, use your index finger to guide the floss between your teeth, and repeat the aforementioned technique.

●  Use clean segments of floss as you go along.

Products for Flossing

Traditional floss is highly effective in cleaning between teeth and preventing gum disease and gingivitis. However, some people choose to use other products to get the job done. There is no right or wrong product for flossing–it’s essentially a matter of preference. Whichever product you’re the most comfortable with and feel will give you the most out of your dental routine.

●  Floss

Floss is the traditional product for cleaning between teeth. There are several different types of floss, each designed for your own comfort and ease of use. Most flosses are available in different flavors, as well.

●  Nylon floss, or multifilament floss, is composed of multiple strands of thread and is available waxed or unwaxed. Wax provides for a more silky feel and can be easier to glide across your teeth. because it is made of multiple strands, there may be some shredding or tearing when flossing in tight spaces.

●  PTFE, or single filament, floss is more expensive, but it’s shred resistant as it is composed of a single fiber.

●  Ribbon or tape floss is a wider floss that covers more surface between teeth and is optimal for wide spaces, though fine floss can be just as effective.

●  Floss Picks

Floss picks are delicate two-pronged instruments with approximately an inch of taut floss between each prong. They are single-use instruments that function in much the same way as floss. Simply hold the pick in your hand and use your index finger or thumb (depending on which row of your tooth) and gently guide the floss between your teeth, flossing the way you would with traditional floss. Floss picks usually have a point at the tip of their handle that can be used like a toothpick. Some people find using a floss pick to be easier because it only requires one hand, and you do not have to wrap the floss around your fingers.

●  Interdental Brushes

Interdental brushes are short, very thin brushes that fit between your teeth to clean both sides of the space simultaneously. The brush portion has 360 degrees of bristles that function much like a toothbrush to sweep away plaque and debris between teeth. They are particularly useful for cleaning around crowns, bridges, permanent retainers, and other dental work.

While interdental brushes are also very effective, they are more difficult to use for people whose teeth are spaced closely together. If you have difficulty guiding the brush between some of your teeth, do not force it. Instead, use floss or a floss pick for those teeth, and use your interdental brush for more widely spaced teeth.

●  Oral Irrigator

An oral irrigator is an electronic or battery powered device that uses a stream of pulsating water to remove plaque and debris from between teeth. Perhaps the most widely known brand of oral irrigator is the Waterpik. The base of the oral irrigator is filled with water, which is connected to the instrument via a thin hose.

The instrument itself has a long, thin neck with a pointed head that controls the stream of water. Many oral irrigators come with different tips you can switch out depending on how pressured or focused you want the water. While oral irrigators are generally sufficient for flossing, keep in mind that water may not clean as thoroughly as an instrument that can actually get between your teeth.

Proper flossing is something your dentist or dental hygienist can teach you fairly quickly before or after your dental examination. They can go over your options with you to find the right tools and techniques that work for you. Remember: flossing daily is essential, and if the idea of devoting an extra two minutes to your dental regimen each day seems daunting, it is important that you work with your dentist to find a way with which you are comfortable and can remain consistent. 

Making the decision to become a dentist represents an important commitment to helping others. As a dentist, you play an important role, not only in helping your patients preserve their smiles, but also in maintaining their overall oral health. Maintaining good oral hygiene is important to one’s physical health, but it also has implications for mental health as well. A healthy smile can contribute to good self esteem, making cosmetic dentistry just as vital to a patient’s dental care. Essentially, oral health is an integral part of a person’s general well being.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), proper dental care is the most unmet health need in many communities and populations in America. By becoming a dentist, you’re joining a growing task force of professionals making a significant difference in people’s lives.

Why Become a Dentist?

Everyone becomes a dentist for their own reasons. For many, it is a passion for dentistry and a desire to help people that drives them. Patients are often incredibly loyal to their dentists, making it a personally rewarding field to work in, and the dental profession is highly respected. There are also a number of other benefits, including the flexibility that comes with owning your own practice. Dentists with their own practice are able to set their own hours, and while many do work full time, they are often able to have evenings and weekends off.

Dentistry is a growing field, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting that the job outlook for dentists will grow by 16% percent by 2022. In 2012, the average annual salary for dentists was $149,310, making it a highly lucrative field as well.

Another enticing aspect of the profession is the numerous career options available. Aside from general dentistry, you can become a specialist or a cosmetic dentist. Dentists can also work in academia and research, contributing to the education of their peers and continued advancements in the profession. There are public health dentists who work directly with underserved communities to educate people about oral health, develop health policies, and prevent disease. The field of dentistry is so diverse that, regardless of your reason for pursuing a career, you can find a path that is right for you.

4 Steps to Becoming a Dentist

The path to becoming a dentist is nuanced, with the specific requirements for practicing varying on a state-by-state basis. However, there are some general steps all dentists must take in order to become qualified, licensed professionals.

1.  Determine your area of professional interest

Most dental professionals are general dentists, caring for the overall oral health of their patients. However, an approximate 20% are specialists, practicing one of the nine specialties recognized by the ADA.

Dental public healthworkers promote dental health and disease prevention in underserved communities.

Endodontists perform root-canal therapy and restore or remove damaged or infected teeth.

Oral and maxillofacial pathologists practice oral pathology, diagnosing oral diseases, such as cancer, that might have serious implications for the maxillofacial (face, jaw, and neck) region.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform surgery on the mouth, jaw, head, and neck to treat and repair injuries or defects.

Oral and maxillofacial radiologists are specialists who use radiologic imaging to identify and diagnose conditions in the oral and maxillofacial region.

Orthodontistscorrect the misalignment of teeth and malformation of jaw structure by applying pressure to the area with braces, iBraces, and Invisalign.

Pediatric dentists focus on dentistry for children and special-needs patients.

Periodontists treat the gums and bone supporting the teeth.

Prosthodontists replace missing teeth with permanent fixtures, such as crowns and bridges or dental implants, or with removable fixtures such as dentures.

2. Apply to an accredited school of dentistry

All dentists must receive their education from an accredited school of dentistry. While specific requirements vary by school, most dental students need at least a bachelor’s degree with a certain number of credits in biology, chemistry, and other related sciences. Most schools require the ADA’s Dental Admission Test as part of the application process.

Students typically take classes in anatomy, periodontology, radiology, and anesthesiology, among other subjects. Dental school takes four years to complete, but pursuing a career in one of the nine specialties requires advanced education that may take an additional two or more years.

3. Complete your residency or additional training

A dental education includes practical training in a clinical setting under the supervision of a licensed dentist. Beyond this, general dentists usually do not require additional training. However, those pursuing a dental specialty must complete a one or two year residency program in that field.

4. Apply for licensure in your state

All states require dentists to obtain a license to practice, though specific requirements vary by state. In addition to a degree in dentistry, most states require dentists to pass a written and practical exam. Specialists must obtain licensure in their specialty.

While the road to becoming a licensed, practicing dentist is clear, the process requires dedication, hard work, and above all, passion. Please keep in mind that you must be licensed in the state where you wish to practice, and while education, a written examination, and a practical examination are universal to all states, specific requirements do vary. The state’s Board of Dentistry is the necessary entity to contact for information regarding your dental license. The ADA maintains a list of each state’s dental board.

A fractured tooth is a fairly common occurrence. While teeth are incredibly strong, the day-to-day wear and tear of using our teeth can lead to cracking, chipping, and even breaking. Sometimes, the chipping of a tooth can be so small that you may not even notice it. Other times, the fracture is large enough to be visible, or jagged enough to feel with your tongue. In extreme cases, by damaging your tooth you may have exposed the nerve inside the tooth, which can cause pain.

Endodontists are the dental professionals who specialize in the root and pulp of our teeth–the layers beneath the enamel. In addition to performing root canals, they are able to diagnose and treat fractured teeth, as cracks that reach beneath the surface of the tooth can have serious implications for the inner layers.

If you experience a minor chip in your tooth, make a non-emergency appointment with your dentist to have it treated. A broken or cracked tooth is an urgent matter, and you should try to see your dentist as quickly as possible. Some dentists have in-house endodontists on staff, but if yours does not, ask to be referred to a specialist. Unfortunately, fractured teeth do not heal, but dental solutions can seal or cover the tooth to prevent the fracture from deepening or spreading to the root of the tooth.

Causes and Symptoms of a Fractured Tooth

A common cause of fracturing a tooth is biting down on a hard object. You may chip or fracture a tooth when chewing ice or hard candy, or when using your teeth in improper ways, like to open or loosen something. A hard impact to the face can be dangerous for many reasons, and this includes damaging your teeth. For those who play contact sports, a mouth guard should always be worn. If you fall while walking, or are about to collide with another hard surface, try turning your face away to prevent a direct impact.

Cavities and old amalgam fillings that don’t support the entire tooth can weaken your enamel and may lead to cracks in your teeth. People who clench or grind their teeth are also prone to fractures, and if you have a history of grinding your teeth at night, you may consider consulting your dentist about using a mouth guard.

The severity of your symptoms depends on the size and location of the fracture. A small chip on the surface may very well cause no pain or discomfort. When a tooth cracks completely, the sides can move against each other during chewing, and this leads to discomfort and irritation in the layers beneath (the pulp). If left untreated, the pulp will become irritated enough to cause pain. By this point, the pulp–which contains the nerves and blood vessels–can no longer heal itself. Sometimes, a crack can be large enough that it strikes right down to the nerves and you may experience pain immediately.

When exposed, the nerves in our teeth are extremely sensitive. Pressure and movement from chewing, biting down, and even releasing your bite can cause varying degrees of discomfort or pain. Extreme temperatures can irritate the tooth, as can very sweet or sugary foods. The pain can be constant, or it may come and go. Eventually, an untreated fracture can lead to tooth decay or infection of the pulp.

Treatment and Procedures for Fractured Teeth

Dentists and endodontists determine the proper treatment for a fractured tooth depending on the extent and location of the crack. There are actually several different kinds of fractures in teeth, some of which require more intensive treatment than others, and your dental professional must diagnose your fracture before they proceed. In most cases where the tooth has not decayed or become infected, restoring the tooth and preventing further damage is an entirely feasible and routine procedure.

● 
Chipped teeth: A
surface-level chip in your tooth will rarely need treatment. These are
considered minor fractures, and your dentist will more than likely use filling
material only if there appears to be a risk of the chip getting worse. For
aesthetic appearances, your dentist can file down and polish the tooth.

● 
Craze lines: Craze
lines are also surface-level fractures. In this case, they are minor cracks on
the enamel that don’t reach below the surface. Your dentist may decide that
treatment isn’t necessary, or they may polish the area to smooth out the
surface.

● 
Fractured cusp: Fractured
cusps occur when a piece of the tooth’s chewing surface breaks off. They often
occur around fillings, but are generally considered to be minor fractures. It
is rare that a fractured cusp damages the pulp, and it usually does not cause
pain. Dentists often place a new filling or crown over the area to protect the
fracture from deepening.

● 
Cracked tooth: A
cracked tooth involves the entire tooth–a
fracture that reaches from the enamel down to the nerve. While the tooth is not
broken into pieces, the crack will gradually spread. It is at this stage when
you may need to consult with a specialist for treatment. Sometimes, cracks can
be repaired with filling material, but more often than not, a crown is
necessary to prevent it from worsening. If the pulp becomes damaged, an
endodontist may need to perform a root canal. A serious break exposes the nerve
and will almost always cause pain or bleeding. In this case,a root canal is
critical to remove the exposed nerve.

● 
Split tooth: A
split tooth often results from the prolonged spreading of a cracked tooth, and
causes a completely vertical break that splits the tooth into two separate
parts. An endodontist will likely perform a root canal and cover the root with
a crown. Molars have more than one root, and when they split, it is sometimes
possible to save one of the roots. The endodontist will remove the roots that
cannot be saved and cover the remaining piece with a crown. When no roots can
be saved, the tooth must be removed.

● 
Vertical root
fractures:
These fractures begin in the root of the tooth and move upward
toward the surface. They can often go unnoticed because they show minimal
symptoms until the surrounding bone and gum become infected. Extraction of the
tooth is the most common treatment, but if the tooth can be saved by removing
the fractured portion, endodontic surgery may be performed. 

Even in cases when a fractured tooth must be removed, there are still options available to preserve your smile and overall oral health. Dental technology has advanced in leaps and bounds; innovations like dental implants allow dentists to anchor and reinforce prosthetic teeth that look and function like natural teeth. No matter how severe the fracture in your tooth, consulting your dentist as soon as possible and determining the appropriate treatment can effectively resolve the issue.

It is well known that fluoride, an element found in most water sources, has numerous dental benefits. It is essential to proper oral care. Fluoride can strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay by keeping the acid produced by the bacteria in plaque from dissolving the enamel of our teeth. It cannot restore teeth with cavities, but it can prevent cavities, and it also reverses the early stages of tooth decay by allowing tooth enamel to repair, or remineralize, itself. Fluoridated water, toothpaste, mouthwash, and supplement pills are all sources of fluoride.

Proper fluoride intake is an important part of a well-rounded dental health regimen. Infants and young children don’t require as much, however, when carefully monitored, a child’s intake of fluoride is still a beneficial and necessary part of their oral care.

Fluoride Intake for Infants

Infants require the least amount of fluoride of any age group. Fluoride supplements, which are usually prescribed when children live in an area without fluoridated water, are not necessary for infants. For children under six months of age, the water used to prepare a baby’s formula provides sufficient fluoride. Baby formula generally contains fluoride already, with milk-based formulas containing less fluoride than soy-based formulas. Because of this, parents have the option of supplementing the level of fluoride contained in baby formula by preparing their child’s formula with tap water or fluoridated bottled water. If they want to limit their child’s fluoride intake, they can use non-fluoridated bottled water.

Some parents also choose to breastfeed as a way to limit fluoride intake. It should be noted, however, that breast milk contains only very small trace amounts of fluoride, and a breast milk fed baby receives virtually no fluoride exposure. Parents are advised to consult with a dentist to determine how to ensure their infants receive the right amount of fluoride. 

When baby teeth begin appearing, parents can brush their child’s teeth with an infant toothbrush using water and a tiny smear of toothpaste. Children’s teeth should be brushed this way until around age two. 

Fluoride Intake for Young Children

After the age of two, children begin brushing their own teeth, thus regularly ingesting fluoride in their toothpaste . Past this age, most of their fluoride intake comes from water, so children should only use a small amount of toothpaste when they brush. A pea-sized amount is more than sufficient, and children should always use a toothpaste that carries the ADA’s seal of approval. 

Under the age of six, children should not use mouth wash that contains fluoride. Younger children have a tendency to swallow too much toothpaste while brushing, and if they use mouthwash, there is a high likelihood of them swallowing that as well. Parents should supervise young children  when they are brushing their teeth to ensure they are not swallowing their toothpaste. It is around this age when, if a child lives in an area without a fluoridated water supply, a dentist might prescribe fluoride supplements to build their fluoride intake beyond toothpaste. 

Fluoride is a pivotal part of maintaining proper dental health. While fluoride intake needs to be carefully monitored in infants and young children to avoid overexposure, parents should not be deterred from recognizing the benefits. Speaking with a dentist or a pediatric dentist is an excellent way to learn more about caring for children’s teeth, and obtaining more information about fluoride needs. 

Topical anesthetics, or “numbing gels” as you may hear them called in the dental office, are basically just that. They are liquids or gels that can be applied to mucous membranes, such as inside the mouth, to cause surface numbness.

In dental offices, these gels are typically applied prior to an injection of anesthesia in order to numb the gumbs and lessen the pain of the injection.

Topical anesthetics belongs to a group of medicines known as topical local anesthetics (an-ess-THET-iks ) . In addition to dentistry, they are used to relieve pain and itching caused by conditions such as sunburn or other minor burns, insect bites or stings, poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and minor cuts and scratches.

Topical anesthetics deaden the nerve endings in the skin. They do not cause unconsciousness as do general anesthetics used for surgery.

Most topical anesthetics are available without a prescription; however, your doctor may have special instructions on the proper use and dose for your medical problem.

These medicines are available in the following dosage forms:

Topical

  • Benzocaine
    • Cream (U.S.)
    • Ointment (U.S.)
    • Topical aerosol (U.S.)
    • Topical spray solution (Canada)
  • Benzocaine and Menthol
    • Lotion (U.S.)
    • Topical aerosol solution (U.S. and Canada)
  • Butamben
    • Ointment (U.S.)
  • Dibucaine
    • Cream (U.S.)
    • Ointment (U.S. and Canada)
  • Lidocaine
    • Film-forming gel (U.S.)
    • Jelly (Canada)
    • Ointment (U.S. and Canada)
    • Topical aerosol (Canada)
    • Topical spray solution (Canada)
  • Pramoxine
    • Cream (U.S. and Canada)
    • Lotion (U.S.)
  • Pramoxine and Menthol
    • Gel (U.S. and Canada)
    • Lotion (U.S.)
  • Tetracaine
    • Cream (U.S.)
  • Tetracaine and Menthol
    • Ointment (U.S.)

Before Using This Medicine

If you are using this medicine without a prescription, carefully read and follow any precautions on the label. For topical anesthetics, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to a local anesthetic, especially when applied to the skin or other areas of the body. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as foods, preservatives, or dyes, especially aminobenzoic acid (also called para-aminobenzoic acid [PABA]), to parabens (preservatives in many foods and medicines), or to paraphenylenediamine (a hair dye).

Pregnancy

Although studies on effects in pregnancy have not been done in humans, topical anesthetics have not been reported to cause problems in humans. Lidocaine has not been shown to cause birth defects or other problems in animal studies. Other topical anesthetics have not been studied in animals.

Breast-feeding

Topical anesthetics have not been reported to cause problems in nursing babies.

Children

Benzocaine may be absorbed through the skin of young children and cause unwanted effects. There is no specific information comparing use of other topical anesthetics in children with use in other age groups, but it is possible that they may also cause unwanted effects in young children. Check with your doctor before using any product that contains a topical anesthetic for a child younger than 2 years of age.

Older adults

Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of topical anesthetics in the elderly with use in other age groups.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your health care professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of topical anesthetics. Before using a topical anesthetic, check with your health care professional if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Infection at or near the place of application or
  • Large sores, broken skin, or severe injury at the area of application—The chance of side effects may be increased

Proper Use of This Medicine

For safe and effective use of this medicine:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions if this medicine was prescribed.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s package directions if you are treating yourself.
  • Unless otherwise directed by your doctor,do not use this medicine on large areas, especially if the skin is broken or scraped. Also, do not use it more often than directed on the package label, or for more than a few days at a time. To do so may increase the chance of absorption through the skin and the chance of unwanted effects. This is especially important when benzocaine is used for children younger than 2 years of age.

This medicine should be used only for problems being treated by your doctor or conditions listed in the package directions.Check with your doctor before using it for other problems, especially if you think that an infection may be present. This medicine should not be used to treat certain kinds of skin infections or serious problems, such as severe burns.

Read the package label very carefully to see if the product contains any alcohol. Alcohol is flammable and can catch on fire.Do not use any product containing alcohol near a fire or open flame, or while smoking. Also, do not smoke after applying one of these products until it has completely dried.

If you are using this medicine on your face,be very careful not to get it in your eyes, mouth, or nose. If you are using an aerosol or spray form of this medicine, do not spray it directly on your face. Instead, use your hand or an applicator (for example, a sterile gauze pad or a cotton swab) to apply the medicine.

Dosing

The dose of a topical anesthetic will be different for different patients.Follow your doctor’s orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of these medicines. If your dose is different, do not change itunless your doctor tells you to do so.

For benzocaine and for benzocaine and menthol combination

  • Fortopicaldosage forms (aerosol solution, cream, lotion, ointment, and spray solution):
    • For pain and itching caused by minor skin conditions:
      • Adults and children 2 years of age and older—Apply to the affected area three or four times a day as needed.
      • Children younger than 2 years of age—Dose must be determined by your doctor.

For butamben

  • Fortopicaldosage form (ointment):
    • For pain and itching caused by minor skin conditions:
      • Adults—Apply to the affected area three or four times a day as needed.
      • Children—Dose must be determined by your doctor.

For dibucaine

  • Fortopical creamdosage form:
    • For pain and itching caused by minor skin conditions:
      • Adults and children 2 years of age and older—Apply to the affected area three or four times a day as needed.
      • Children up to 2 years of age—Dose must be determined by your doctor.
  • Fortopical ointmentdosage form:
    • For pain and itching caused by minor skin conditions:
      • Adults—Apply to the affected area three or four times a day as needed. The largest amount that may be used in a twenty-four-hour period is 30 grams, but much smaller amounts are usually enough.
      • Children 2 years of age and older—Apply to the affected area three or four times a day as needed. Do not use more than 7.5 grams in a twenty-four-hour period.
      • Children up to 2 years of age—Dose must be determined by your doctor.

For lidocaine

  • Fortopicaldosage forms (aerosol solution, film-forming gel, jelly, ointment, and spray solution):
    • For pain and itching caused by minor skin conditions:
      • Adults—Apply to the affected area three or four times a day as needed.
      • Children—Dose must be determined by your doctor.

For pramoxine and for pramoxine and menthol combination

  • Fortopicaldosage forms (cream, gel, and lotion):
    • For pain and itching caused by minor skin conditions:
      • Adults and children 2 years of age and older—Apply to the affected area three or four times a day as needed.
      • Children younger than 2 years of age—Dose must be determined by your doctor.

For tetracaine and for tetracaine and menthol combination

  • Fortopicaldosage forms (cream and ointment):
    • For pain and itching caused by minor skin conditions:
      • Adults and teenagers—Apply to the affected area three or four times a day as needed. The largest amount that may be used in a twenty-four-hour period is 30 grams (a whole tube of the medicine), but much smaller amounts are usually enough.
      • Children 2 years of age and older—Apply to the affected area three or four times a day as needed. Do not use more than 7 grams (about one-fourth of a tube of the medicine) in a twenty-four-hour period.
      • Children younger than 2 years of age—Dose must be determined by your doctor.

Missed dose

If your doctor has ordered you to use this medicine according to a regular schedule and you miss a dose, use it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and use your next dose at the regularly scheduled time.

Storage

To store this medicine:

  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Store away from heat and direct light.
  • Keep the medicine from freezing.
  • Do not puncture, break, or burn aerosol containers, even when they are empty.
  • Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed. Be sure that any discarded medicine is out of the reach of children.

Precautions While Using This Medicine

After applying this medicine to the skin of a child,watch the child carefully to make sure that he or she does not get any of the medicine into his or her mouth. Topical anesthetics can cause serious side effects, especially in children, if any of the medicine gets into the mouth or is swallowed.

Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor:

  • If your condition does not improve within 7 days, or if it gets worse.
  • If the area you are treating becomes infected.
  • If you notice a skin rash, burning, stinging, swelling, or any other sign of irritation that was not present when you began using this medicine.
  • If you swallow any of the medicine.

Side Effects of This Medicine

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

  • Less common
    • Large swellings that look like hives on the skin or in the mouth or throat 
  • Symptoms of too much medicine being absorbed by the body–very rare
    • Blurred or double vision;  confusion;  convulsions (seizures);  dizziness or lightheadedness ;  drowsiness;  feeling hot, cold, or numb;  headache;  increased sweating;  ringing or buzzing in the ears ;  shivering or trembling;  slow or irregular heartbeat;  troubled breathing;  unusual anxiety, excitement, nervousness, or restlessness;  unusual paleness;  unusual tiredness or weakness 

Also, check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • Burning, stinging, or tenderness not present before treatment ;  skin rash, redness, itching, or hives 

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.

Oil pulling, or oil swishing is a traditional folk remedy that has recently re-gained popularity.  The process involves swishing, or pulling, for 3-15 minutes with a natural oil such as sesame, sunflower, olive, coconut, and others.  It is said to cure/help with all kinds of health issues including whitening teeth, plaque buildup on teeth, hormonal issue, digestion.  Now spreading across the web, claims about oil pulling are begging the question, is this for real?

Let me start by saying, as a dentist, that in my 5+ years of dental education I have never heard of oil pulling.  The closest thing to it is that some mouthwashes, namely Listerine, use essential oils to help kill bacteria, freshen breath, and keep the mouth healthy.  So this idea of keeping an oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes is certainly not involved in a core dental education.

Oil Pulling Claims

Oil pulling enthusiasts make 3 general claims about the practice that I will address one at a time:

1. Pulls Toxins: 

Unless you have a high level of toxins in your cheeks and tongue, the claim of pulling toxins is extremely far-fetched. There is no scientific evidence to show that toxins can be pulled from your body by swishing with oil.

2. Clean Mouth: 

Some claims, such as killing oral bacteria and reducing plaque, seem more plausible.  Doing a quick search on PubMed, the go-to scientific article search engine, one finds a scant dusting of articles on this ancient practice.  Basically, every relevant study was done by one man, a faculty member at a dental school in India.  The studies do show reduced plaque, improved health, and decreased bacterial loads in oil pulling patients.  However, the studies lack strength and do not compare oil pulling to common solutions like mouthwash, or Chlorhexidine (Peridex), the gold-standard in oral rinses.

3. Tooth Whitening: 

Now, we get to the last, and possibly most tantalizing claim about oil pulling. Whiter teeth!  A quick Google search results in numerous before-and-after shots, which as a dentist I know are completely useless unless done with the exact same lighting, F-stop, flash, etc.  None of the photos I found met my criteria for actual whitening as a result of oil pulling.  In addition, no scientific article can be found about the whitening effects. The placebo effect often drives people to perceive treatments as successful, when in fact they are not.  And any whitening effects of Oil Pulling appear to be purely placebo.

Oil pulling is an ancient practice that is being rejuvenated by young, easily persuaded individuals around the country, however there is virtually zero scientific evidence backing it up.

Do yourselves a favor! Go buy a bottle of mouthwash at the store. Use that once a day for the same effect as oil pulling without wasting 20 minutes of your life and making yourself feel sick.