Dental school has been extremely busy, and every day I get to try new things, attempt new procedures, and learn new techniques.

I have already performed a couple of veneer procedures; however most patients that come in don’t know what porcelain veneers are.

What are Porcelain Veneers?

Porcelain veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are laid over the visible surfaces of teeth, usually front teeth.  These thin pieces of porcelain can change a smile from one that is dreary, dark, crooked, and decayed, into something beautiful and healthy.

They are not for everyone, and they can be expensive.  But under the right circumstances, veneers are a great way to significantly modify your smile.

Post in the comments or shoot me a message if you have any specific questions about porcelain veneers.  More posts to come soon!

As described in previous posts, there are many reasons why a person may get cavities, ranging from dry mouth to sugar intake.  Below is a list of, in my opinion, 5 of the best ways to keep your teeth healthy and strong:

1. Brush Regularly with Fluoride Toothpaste

Brushing keeps your teeth clean of bacteria.  Fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel, as well as stopping bacteria from producing their decay forming acid.  We recommend PearlinBrite Mint Fluoride Toothpaste with Aloe Vera.

2. Visit your Dentist Regularly  

One of the best ways to catch cavities early and get them fixed, as well as keep your teeth free of plaque and calculus, is to visit your dentist.  Six months is the normal recall, but if you are at high risk for cavities, four or even three month recalls are preferable.

3. Reduce Fermentable Carbohydrates 

Reduce your intake of fermentable carbohydrates which includes anything with added sugar, and foods that stick in your mouth.  For example raisins are one of the worst foods in terms of causing cavities because they stick in your mouth for a long time.

4. Rinse with Water After Eating

When eating foods that do contain fermentable sugars, make sure to rinse with water soon after.  You don’t want to let the sugar sit on your teeth.  This is why children who sleep with there bottles in their mouths develop such bad cavities, the sugars sit on their teeth all night!

5. Drink Fluoridated Water

Yes, I know all the Internet lies that claim it is dangerous.  As a doctor to be, I can tell you there are mountains of scientific evidence showing the benefits of fluoride, and little to no scientific evidence showing any dangers when administered properly.  So stop living off bottled water and drink that good old fluoridated tap water to keep your teeth strong and healthy.

Ok, so you have had a mouth full of cavities since you were a kid, yet your friend, husband/wife, brother/sister, has never had a cavity in his/her life!  WHY!?!  Multiple factors go into forming cavities.

Cavity Forming Factors

1. Acid

carious lesion (cavity) is formed by acid eating away at the tooth structure.  This acid is produced by oral bacteria, usually Streptococcus Mutans or Lactobacillus Casei These bacteria are in most, if not all mouths.  However their quantity differs by person. The amount of these bacteria in the mouth is thought to be transmitted from mother to child.  However this link is a bit shaky.  One way or another though, certain individuals have more of these bacteria in their mouths, and are thus more susceptible to cavities.

2. Saliva

Saliva serves multiple purposes.  Digestion of food, keeping the mouth moist, buffering the saliva, and others.  The ion concentration and buffering capacity of saliva are essential in the formation, or lack thereof, of cavities.  The basic properties of saliva can counteract the acid produced by the bacteria, which prevents cavities.  Some people’s saliva is more basic than others, and therefore more effective in preventing cavities.  In addition, the more basic the saliva, the more it is able to remineralize and keep tooth enamel strong.

3. Genetics

As with most bodily problems, genetics has an influence on oral health, including cavities.  Certain people are more susceptible, whether it be by weaker tooth structure, oral and tooth anatomy, or from other factors.  One way or another, genetics plays a role in the number of cavities a person has or will have.

4. Sugar

One last factor, and probably the most discussed, but possibly the least important, is the amount of sugar in the diet.  Sugar, particularly sucrose, is the food oral bacteria needs to create the acid that causes cavities.  This is a commonly accepted idea, and most all dentists will tell you not to consume lots of sugar if you don’t want cavities; especially stick sugars (ie caramels).  However some studies have contradicted this idea and showed that sugar is certainly not the only factor. In the groundbreaking Vipeholm study from Sweden in 1948, they found that:

  • Although all the patients consumed the very popular caramels, which were served between meals in 4 portions of 5 or 6 caramels each, 20% of them had not developed one single caries lesion after one year.
  • About 20-30% of the patients did not develop any new caries lesions at all, although they had a frequent intake of between-meal sweets for long periods.

This is far from a detailed, or complete list of reasons why some people get more cavities than others.  But hopefully it will help you when understanding the caries process, and how they can somewhat be prevented.  Stay tuned for my next post, how to reduce your chances at getting cavities!

I am currently up in VT with a bunch of friends, and every hour or so, most of the group heads outside for their ritual cigarette. Smoking, although a declining trend , is still prominent in the USA, especially among my generation, those in their 20’s.

No matter what people claim, if they smoke, they are addicted. I know this because EVERYONE knows that smoking can kill you, yet if they still do it, thus they must be addicted.

Smoking causes lung cancer, which is the most common cancer in the USA and has one of the highest mortality rates of any cancer. If you get lung cancer from smoking (15x greater chance than a non-smoker), you have a 50% chance of being dead within 5 years . In addition to the obvious systemic dangers, smoking also has serious effects on your dental health such as:

1.) Oral cancer – this dangerous cancer has a higher death rate than cervical cancer, skin cancer, and others, making it extremely dangerous. Cigarette smoking has been directly linked to oral/pharyngeal cancer, so why smoke?

2.) Staining – smoking can cause serious, ugly staining of your teeth. This staining can ranger from a slight yellow, to brown, to black, and can become permanent if the smoking continues and oral hygiene is not sustained.

3.) Cavities – Long term smoking can lead to dry mouth, which is a high risk factor for cavities. We all know that you don’t want cavities.

Dentists today employ many means of smoking cessation, ranging from nicotine replacement therapy to providing information regarding the risks of smoking.

If you smoke, seriously think about and try quitting. Not only will it improve the health of your mouth, but it may well save your life.

President Obama’s most recent push to reform healthcare in the USA is the talk of the country.  At dinner tables, casual encounters, and town-halls nationwide, Americans are discussion how this healthcare bill, if passed, would effect the country.

In terms of dental care, this bill could be tragic to the current system in this country.  Today, dental care is one of the last free market medical professions left.  In NYC for example, you can find dentists charging from $20 for a filling to $500 for a filling, and both of them have patients that are more than willing to pay the costs.  That is because people are willing to pay for the best service, and other people, who can’t afford it, can get a procedure done, but not the same standards.

Buying a car is a fine example of the same system at play.  You can buy a $100,000 BMW, or you can buy a $15,000 Honda.  Both will get you around, but they have different standards.

Now if the government gets involved, they would take all of the free market influence away from the professionals, and give the control to the government.  Lawmakers would be setting dental fees, standards of care, etc.  Thus, all fillings would be, say $100.  Yes, everyone would have access, but all in all the quality of the work would decrease because THERE WOULD BE NO INCENTIVE!

Incentive is essential to the best care.  Doctors and dentist alike will provide the best service if they have incentive to do so.  Government run health care is not the way to go in America, not only because the cost would be prohibitive, but also because the quality of care would decrease drastically.

America has the best healthcare in the world, no matter what the politicians tell you.  People flock to America when they need the best medical and dental treatment. LETS KEEP IT THAT WAY.

These views are solely those of Zachary Linhart and in no way reflect the views of Dr. Linhart, his staff, his office, or any of his affiliates.

Your mouth is not just a hole used for eating and talking! Your mouth is truly a portal to your entire body, and health problems in the oral cavity can contribute, and are related, to health problems throughout the body.

For example, periodontal disease, or the loss of attachment of teeth, has been linked to heart disease, low birth weight of children, and other serious systemic diseases.

Whether it is the mouth causing the systemic problem, or vice versa, is difficult to discern. But this is irrelevant as any of these conditions should make you aware of possibly underlying health problems.

Therefore, it is again essential to visit your doctor AND dentist regularly so that you can not only keep your teeth and mouth healthy, but also so you can keep yourself in the best overall physical condition.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions on this topic as I have only skimmed the surface about the oral-systemic link here.

One reason people don’t go to the dentist is because it is expensive. However, in the long run, going in for your regular 3,4, or 6 month dental visit will save you money in the long run, LOTS OF MONEY!

Say you get your regular checkup and it costs you $400 a year. That includes any x-rays that need to be taken, and maybe a filling. This should keep you in good oral health.

On the other hand, if you don’t go to the dentist for years, then you will likely need some major, EXPENSIVE procedures. A once small cavity that could have been repaired easily could now be massive, thus requiring a root canal in the tooth, and a crown. That will cost you multiple thousands of dollars.

Thus, taking care of your teeth and going to your dentist regularly will actually save you money in the long run, not cost you.

Yes, you do. Implants are a revolution in dentistry. Pioneered by Dr. Leonard Linkow, implants are, in simplistic terms, screws. They are placed into the jaw where teeth are missing to act as roots. They can then be restored with crowns, dentures, or other prostheses.

Implants are truly the best way to fix a broken smile. Although bridges and dentures work, they do not have the longevity, simplicity, or ease of use that implants provide.

Have any questions on implants?  Leave them in the comments.

When acid producing bacteria build up on your teeth, trouble is sure to ensue.  Cavities are the bane of a dentist’s existence.  Without them, we would most likely be out of the job, living on the streets, injecting ourselves with the left over novocaine.

However, even the miracle chemical Fluoride has far from eliminated cavities.  So, what happens when the acid erodes your teeth and forms a hole, or cavity?

Well, the bacteria must be removed, and that is accomplished by the dreaded drills that strike fear into the eyes of most dentist-goers.  We drill out the cavities in different ways, depending on where they are.  Most cavities occur on the chewing surfaces of back molars.  Other usual suspects though are between the back and front teeth.

Once all of the tooth decay is drilled and scooped out of the tooth, a filling material is put in the hole in order to keep the tooth from getting recurrent (new) decay in the area.

Silver fillings contain mercury which can cause serious birth defects and life-threatening illnesses,” some people say.  That is completely 100% false and there has been zero evidence to show it it be true.  The amount of mercury in amalgam (silver) fillings is minuscule, and it is in a form that is harmless to humans.  Amalgam fillings last a long time, and have a great success rate, however in today’s image conscious society, who wants metal in their mouth?

Composite fillings are the way of the future.  Tooth-colored composites can be matched exactly to a person’s natural tooth color, making them invisible to the untrained eye.  Although they tend not to last as long as silver fillings, and can leak if not inserted properly, advances in composite technology show that one day they will make amalgam obsolete.

So, composite or amalgam is packed into the drilled out hole in your tooth, and then shaved down to resemble the original tooth.

All said and done, and expert like Dr. Linhart can perform an average filling anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on its size.  For a newcomer like myself, a 2 hour filling gives me pride.

Have any questions about fillings?  Let me know in the comments.