Category Archives: Cavities

Damaged tooth with cavity dental caries decay disease - Idaho Falls dentist

8 Things You Don’t Know About Cavities

“Cavities” is a scary word – it seems like your worst nightmare come to life when your dentist discovers a cavity. This irreversible tooth decay is one of the most common ailments in children and has affected 91 percent of Americans over the age of 20.

Cavities are a form of tooth decay that eventually create a hole in the tooth. They are created when leftover food particles react with oral bacteria to create an acid, which gradually attack tooth enamel. Cavities are so common because it’s easy for food particles to get stuck in the mouth’s many hard-to-reach places, allowing the slow decay to go unnoticed.

Cavities can’t be treated yourself and are best avoided with thorough prevention, so it’s important to learn about dental health and develop a healthy dental routine.

Actively fight against tooth decay with these facts about cavities:

1. 700 Species of Bacteria

The mouth contains over 700 different bacterial species, some act as protectors of teeth and gums, some help digest food, and others are harmless. Only a few of these bacterias are linked to the formation of cavities.

Streptococcus mutans is the most common bacteria that is harmful when it gathers in your mouth. When enough food particles build up, the streptococcus mutans bacteria creates an acid which eats away your enamel, leaving the tooth unprotected against decay.

2. It’s Not Sugar’s Fault

Despite popular belief, sugar is not the main cause of cavities, though it definitely assists in the building of bacteria and acid. Consuming any starchy food – including cookies, cake, chips, bread, crackers, pasta, soda, fruit juice, and citrus fruit – can eventually lead to cavities. These foods are full of refined carbohydrates, white flour, or sugar that easily stick to the surface of the teeth, initiating the production of acid.

You can prevent decay by limiting your intake of these foods and brushing after eating them.

3. Cavities Aren’t Just For Kids

According to the American Dental Hygienists Association, about 78 percent of American children will have at least one cavity by the age of 17. This number is alarmingly high, and fuels the common belief that younger ages are more susceptible to cavities. This is not the case as cavities can form at any age, leaving adults to fear cavities just as much as. Children have higher cavity rates as they have yet to understand the importance of routine brushing and flossing, and prefer foods high in sugar and starch.

4. Once it Starts, It Won’t Stop

Perhaps the scariest characteristic of cavities is their irreversibility. When a cavity forms on your tooth, it will first start to decay the enamel, then create a hole in the tooth, which continues to grow as bacteria hides in the hole and is impossible to brush out. Once the decay is present, its damage is permanent and is only fixable with a dentist’s visit. Your dentist can reverse the damage by extracting the infection and using a filling to seal the hole in your tooth.

5. Flossing!

How do you stop cavities? Prevention is the best strategy for keeping cavities at bay. Using toothpaste and drinking water both containing fluoride is an effective way to prevent decay. But the most effective strategy is regular brushing and flossing to get rid of any food particles left in the mouth.

Flossing may seem unimportant, but it allows you to reach hidden spaces a toothbrush can’t reach. Those tight, hidden spaces account for 40 percent of your teeth’s surface area, giving food particles and bacteria plenty of places to hide.

The American Dental Association conducted a survey in 2014 which made some surprising discoveries. It reported only 40 percent of Americans floss at least once a day and only 20 percent never floss, while only two percent of Americans rarely brush their teeth. Cavities aren’t common because Americans forget to brush their teeth, but because we don’t floss. Flossing is the missing piece of the dental routine essential in preventing cavities.

6. Colorful Cavities

As cavities start to form, the decay will cause the infected area to turn a different color. Early signs of cavities appear as white spots on the enamel and will gradually turn dark brown, passing through various shades of light brown as the decay progresses. If left unchecked, the cavity will eventually create a hole in the tooth.

7. Commonly Undetected

It is difficult to detect a cavity on your own as you can’t always feel early decay. Decay begins in the bone of your tooth and if left unchecked, will eventually form a hole which makes its way to the nerves in the center of your tooth. By the time you can feel a cavity, the decay has reached the nerves and has already caused extensive damage.

The best way to prevent this irreversible damage is routinely visiting your dentist who will catch early stages of the decay

8. Worsening the Decay

Prolonging trips to the dentist’s office may allow new decay to create even more damage as cavities are difficult to detect on your own. As a cavity continues to grow, it can eventually lead to a painful jawbone infection, or dental abscess. Early signs of jawbone infection include pain, sensitivity, bad taste in the mouth, fever, difficulty opening the mouth, difficulty swallowing, gum inflammation, or pus drainage.

Schedule your routine dentist appointment to catch tooth decay before it progresses into a damaging cavity. For more information about cavity prevention, symptoms, or repair, contact Idaho Falls Smiles online or call us at (208) 524-1700.

Idaho Dental Hygiene

Brush Your Teeth for a Bright Smile

By: Michelle Tunquist

It’s no surprise that brushing your teeth is important for keeping your teeth clean and healthy.  No doubt you’ve heard it from every dentist you’ve ever visited and also from your parents as a kid.  Brush your teeth at least twice a day to keep your smile bright.

Importance of Brushing Your Teeth

There are tons of reasons for why brushing your teeth is important.  Though kids (and some adults) argue that it is so hard and time consuming, it really is a fast, easy way to keep your teeth and gums healthy.  Two minutes of brushing in the morning, and two minutes at night before bed and you get all these great benefits:

  • Save Money. Brushing teeth is a great way to save money.  Dental work is expensive, and in many cases, easily avoided.  Don’t pay hundreds of dollars to fill a cavity when you can easily prevent cavities by brushing your teeth.  Forgetting to brush and avoiding the dentist can lead to more expensive procedures down the road, like root canals and crowns.  Save your money by brushing your teeth every day.
  • Reduce Chance of Infection. Brushing your teeth is a simple way to reduce your chance of having an infection.  When your teeth get infected, you can get a painful abscess in your gums.  Avoid the pain just by brushing your teeth.
  • Reduces Bacteria. Bacteria in your mouth can lead to tooth decay.  Brushing your teeth gets rid of these nasty bacteria that can cause decay or infection.
  • Removes Sugar. Bacteria love the sugar in your mouth.  When the bacteria feed on the sugar they create an acid that decays your teeth.  Brushing your teeth will remove this sugar from your mouth before the bacteria can feast.
  • Prevent Tooth Decay. Bacteria eat the sugar in your mouth, creating an acid that wears down your teeth causing decay known as cavities.  Simply brush your teeth and reduce your chance of having tooth decay.
  • Reduces Gum Disease. Your gums also need to be cleaned.  Gum disease is painful and can be avoided, simply by–yes, brushing your teeth!
  • Keeps Breath Fresh. Those pesky bacteria also make your breath smell.  Guess what, brushing not only removes those stinky bacteria, but the fresh scent of your toothpaste helps to keep your breath minty fresh.
  • Remove Stains. Soda, coffee, cigarettes and some foods stain your teeth.  Brushing can remove those stains over time.

Do it Right

Since we all know that we should brush our teeth everyday, it is surprising that not everyone is doing it the right way.  Here are some tips for how to get the most out of brushing your teeth.

  • Choose the Right Toothbrush. There are a lot of different choices out there for toothbrushes.  Always choose a toothbrush with soft bristles.  Soft bristles can bend and get under the gums.  Hard bristles can wear away at teeth and gums.  The important thing is to remove plaque, and soft bristles can do this just fine.
  • Be Careful with Pressure. Many people think that it is necessary to really scrub teeth to get them clean and they apply too much pressure.  Since plaque is soft, teeth don’t actually need to be scrubbed with a lot of pressure.  Just like with hard bristles, too much pressure can harm teeth and gums.  Gently massage teeth and gums to remove plaque.
  • Take Your Time. It is easy to get tempted to do a rush job instead of a thorough brushing.  When you wake up late and are in a hurry to get to work, or if you’ve had a long day and just want to get in bed, it is tempting to do a quick brushing.  It is important to brush for at least 2 min in the morning and again before bed.  Don’t rush through the brushing.  Take your time and do it right. Make sure to get every tooth on both sides.
  • Change Your Brush. Unfortunately it is common for people to keep their toothbrush for too long.  Change your brush every 3 to 4 months.  Never share your toothbrush with anyone else, and store it in open air so that it can dry thoroughly to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
  • Circular Motion. Another common habit is for people to brush back and forth, from left to right.  However, it is much better to start from the gum and move up and down in a circular motion.
  • Remember Your Gums. A spot where many people miss is right by the gum line.  It is important to have a bristles that bend and can get between the gum and tooth.  This will remove the plaque that has a tendency to build up in that spot.
  • Wait. Don’t rush to brush immediately after eating.  If you have acid on your teeth, the brushing can cause additional damage.  Wait 15 to 20 minutes before brushing or at least rinse with water first.  This will remove some of the acid so that your teeth are not harmed.
  • Use Floss & Mouthwash. At least once a day (twice is better), floss and use mouthwash too.  Food can get stuck between teeth and your toothbrush can’t reach every sport.  Floss can remove food and buildup between teeth and mouthwash can reach throughout your mouth.  A good thorough cleaning is important to keep your smile bright.

Idaho Falls Dentist

Brushing is important for daily care of your teeth.  It is also important to visit the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. Though good brushing will make tooth decay less likely, some problems can still happen.  Frequent visits keep small problems from turning into large problems.  If you live in the Idaho Falls area, visit our family dentistry to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Dentist in Idaho Falls to protect your teeth

Soda Can Cause Problems for Your Teeth

By: Michelle Tunquist

Soda is delicious and refreshing. In fact, it is a very popular drink. According to a Gallup poll done in 2012, nearly half of Americans drink soda every day, and according to the Associated Press in 2013 the average American drinks 44 gallons of soda in one year.  That’s a lot of soda! Despite its great taste, it is bad for your teeth.

Why is Soda Bad for your Teeth?

There are three things that make soda a bad choice for your teeth.  They are:

  • Sugar. Sugar is not a great choice for healthy teeth.  Bacteria eat sugar in your mouth and release an acid that causes tooth decay, also known as cavities.  Lots of sugar consumption can lead to lots of cavities.  While brushing can help, it is best not to consume a lot of sugar.  Your teeth and the rest of your body will thank you.
  • Phosphoric Acid. Worse than the sugar, is that soda includes phosphoric acid.  This breaks down the enamel of your teeth and can cause quite a bit of problems.  Your teeth enamel plays an important part in keeping your teeth healthy.  While one soda won’t do a lot of damage, frequent consumption can wreak havoc on your teeth.
  • Staining Power. Over time soda consumption can stain your teeth and contribute to plaque build up, which is yellow in appearance.

What Does Soda do to Your Teeth?

Simply put, soda can erode your teeth and contribute to tooth decay.  While sugar can lead to tooth decay, the real villain of soda is the acid.  Acid can cause erosion of the enamel of your teeth.  Over time erosion of the enamel can lead to:

  • Sensitivity. Eroded enamel can cause sensitivity of the teeth. Cold and hot food and drinks can cause sensitivity and pain. It is difficult to enjoy some of your favorite foods if you can’t bear to eat anything hot or cold.
  • Discoloration. Erosion and tooth decay can also lead to discolored teeth.  No one wants to have yellow or discolored teeth. Too much soda can turn your white smile yellow.
  • Cracking. Eventually erosion can lead to cracking because your enamel is weak.  Not only does this affect the appearance of your smile, but it can also be painful and make eating difficult.

What Can You to Protect Your Teeth?

The best thing you can do for your teeth is to stop drinking soda.  If that isn’t an option, then try the following:

      • Use a Straw. A straw is a simple way to protect your teeth by preventing your teeth from coming into too much contact with the soda.
      • Rinse with Water. After you drink a soda, rinse with water to remove acid from your teeth.
      • Cut Back. At least drink less soda.  You can still enjoy a soda sometimes, but not everyday.
      • Drink Water. When you would normally grab a soda, drink water instead.  Water is refreshing and is good for your teeth.  If you like the bubbly aspect of soda, try a carbonated water.
      • Diet Soda has Acid Too! Diet soda cuts down on sugar, but it still has acid. While it may help cut down on calories, it is still bad for your teeth. Instead of replacing soda with a diet soda, drink more water.
    • Wait to Brush. Immediately brushing your teeth after consuming something with acid is abrasive on your teeth.  Wait 15 to 20 minutes before brushing and rinse with water first.

    Idaho Falls Dentist

    Reducing soda intake is a great way to keep your smile bright.  For more tips on how to protect your teeth, make an appointment with our Idaho Falls family dentistry.  Visit with our friendly dentists to learn the best way to keep your smile bright.

Restorative Dentist Idaho Falls

What You Need to Know About Dental Crowns

Restorative Dentist Idaho Falls

Tooth pain is never fun. That moment when you take a sip of a cold drink and wince from the pain, is made that much worse knowing that it means a trip to the dentist. If you’re like many people, you will ignore the pain for as long as possible, hoping that it will go away. Unfortunately, pain is often a symptom of a real problem and going to the dentist is the best solution.

Causes of Tooth Pain

There are a variety of reasons why your tooth may be causing you pain. Common causes of tooth pain include:

  • Tooth Decay—Tooth decay is better known as cavities.  These occur when bacteria, acid, food and saliva combine to form plaque on your teeth that then dissolves the tooth, forming holes.
  • Abscessed Tooth—An abscessed tooth is an infection in the root or between the tooth and gums often caused by tooth decay.  Trauma, such as a broken or chipped tooth can also cause an abscess.
  • Tooth Fracture—A tooth fracture is a crack or break in the tooth.  These can result from an injury like a blow to the face or by biting down on a hard object.
  • Damaged Filling—Fillings do not last forever and eventually they wear down and need to be replaced.  They can also be damaged by biting down on hard objects.
  • Grinding—Repetitive chewing or grinding of the tooth can wear down teeth.
  • Infected Gums—Bacteria and plaque buildup can cause gums to get inflamed or become infected.

What is a Dental Crown?

A crown is a tooth shaped cap that covers the tooth and protects it.

When is a Crown Needed?

There are many reasons why a crown may be necessary.  A crown may be used to:

  • Protect a Tooth—A weak tooth may need a crown to protect it from breaking, or to prevent tooth decay.
  • Restore a Tooth—A tooth that is already broken or worn may need a crown.
  • Support a Tooth—A tooth with a large cavity may need a crown to support it and keep it from breaking.
  • Cover Misshapen Teeth—Discolored or misshapen teeth may require a crown for cosmetic purposes.

What is the Process for a Crown?

At many dental practices, a crown requires two visits. On the first visit, a mold is taken to create the crown, the tooth is shaped for the crown, and then a temporary crown is placed on the tooth. Then at the second visit, the actual crown is placed on the tooth. This is a time consuming process that requires multiple visits. At our Idaho Falls Dentistry, crowns can be completed in one simple visit. There is no longer any reason to dread your visit to the dentist. With Cerec Cad Cam Technology, we can do your crown in one visit.

What is Cerec Cad Cam Technology?

Cerec Cad Cam Technology allows the dentist to take a digital image of your tooth and create a crown using computer-aided milling right in the office. Since you don’t have to do a mold of your tooth and wait while the crown is made, this technology allows for less dental visits. Instead, using a camera, the dentist can input the image of your tooth into a computer and create the crown while still in the office. This technology isn’t available at every dental practice.

We Want to See You Smile

We don’t like to hear that people are avoiding the dentist. Using Cerec Cad Cam Technology, we’ve made it so that getting a crown is a much simpler process. If  your tooth hurts, don’t wait to be seen. Our friendly dentists will make your dental visit as easy as possible. Schedule an appointment today for a dental cleaning and learn how to prevent tooth decay. But if you are already in pain, let us help you smile again, because we are here to help—Call (208) ­524-1700 to set up an appointment.

Idaho Falls Restorative Dentistry

How to Stop and Reverse Tooth Decay

By: Karli Willden

Tooth decay is what happens to your teeth when they are attacked by germs and bacteria. Initially, the first stages of tooth decay is when a sticky substance called plaque begins to form on your teeth. This plaque thrives on sugar from the foods and drinks you consume, and it contains bacteria and germs which produce acids in your mouth. These acids will attack your teeth and begin to eat away at its surface, eventually forming a hole in the tooth.

Tooth decay can cause many different dental health issues, including cavities and gum disease. These issues can be painful and costly to resolve, so the best way to avoid these issues is prevention. Listed below are a few tips on how to stop and reverse tooth decay in your daily life.

Visit the Dentist

A routine trip to the dentist every six months is important to make sure tooth decay is under control. By visiting the dentist every six months, the dentist can perform an oral exam to check for areas of possible tooth decay. Any plaque or tartar spotted inside the mouth will be removed and cleaned to stop or prevent any further tooth decay. If cavities are spotted, the dentist will provide restoration services to fill the hole and prevent dental health issues in the future. It is important to make sure your mouth is checked every six months, so you can prevent major tooth decay from occurring.

Regular Brushing & Flossing

Brushing and flossing on a regular basis is important to stop and reverse tooth decay. Brushing in the morning after you wake up is especially important, since during the night bacteria grows more rapidly. The first thing you want to do when you wake up is make sure to brush away the acids inside your mouth which are on your teeth. In addition to brushing in the morning, it is recommended to brush at least twice a day, or after every time you eat. By keeping up with regular brushing and flossing, you can stop plaque from building up and causing tooth decay.

Watch the Foods You Eat

Diet plays a large role in the health of your mouth. If you eat lots of sugary snacks in between meals throughout the day, you are at a higher risk of developing tooth decay. Bacteria found in plaque thrives on sugars and releases acids when the two come in contact. You will have a hard time keeping up with plaque, if your diet contains a lot of sugary foods and drinks. A few foods to consider limiting in your diet throughout your day include: candies, soft drinks, pastries, or other carbohydrates. If you do choose to consume these, make sure to be quick about it. Eat or drink it all at once, and not a little bite or sip at a time. This is important because each time you eat or drink, acids are activated in your mouth for twenty minutes afterwards. Drinking water or chewing gum throughout the day, however, can help to minimize these effects, along with eating cheese, almonds, celery, carrots, apples, or leafy greens. By eating a balanced diet, visiting your dentist every six months, and brushing and flossing regularly, you can stop and reverse tooth decay. Learn more dental health tips today, by checking out our other blog posts! To schedule an appointment with our Idaho Falls dentists, give us a call at (208) ­524-1700.


dentist in idaho falls id

Cavities 101

What are Cavities and Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is the most prevalent disease for children and adults in the United States, even though it is mostly preventable. Tooth decay occurs as bacteria attaches to the tooth via dental plaque or tartar and feeds off the sugars and fermentable carbohydrates consumed by their host.

Bacteria secrete acidic byproducts break down tooth structure and lower the pH in the mouth, which then activates more harmful bacteria, causing more acid secretion and subsequent breakdown of tooth structure. In response to frequent acid exposure, the outer surface of the tooth loses minerals. This process of losing minerals is tooth decay. If left unchecked, this process can advance to the inner surface of the tooth causing more damage and pain.

Factors of Tooth Decay

There are multiple factors that contribute to tooth decay:

  • Namely genetics (in the structure and formation of your tooth)
  • Types of bacteria that form the normal flora of your mouth
  • Diet – the frequency of exposures to sugars and fermentable carbohydrates (food source for the bacteria)
  • Frequency and quality of oral hygiene
  • Reintroduction and bioavailability of minerals to remineralize damaged tooth structure
  • Frequency and quality of professional dental services rendered or available.

How Decay is Found & Removed

Tooth decay can be found radiographically or clinically during a dental examination. Some decay is minimal and can be remineralized, reversing the harmful process. Other decay is advanced and needs to be surgically removed by the dentist. After decay is removed, the missing tooth structure is replaced with dental filling. Our office uses resin, tooth-colored fillings that are bonded securely in place. Our office only uses products that are rated the highest in safety and efficacy. A well-placed filling can feel, function, and look very nice.

Dentist in Idaho Falls ID

How to Prevent Tooth Decay

Tooth decay may be prevented by modifying diet, hygiene, and remineralization. Being careful with your diet can  limit tooth decay. Exposure to sugar and carbohydrates is the most common cause of tooth decay – the amount of the exposure, the nature of the substance, and its pH also factor in.

A Word on Your Diet

It isn’t bad to have a snack or a treat, but the amount of exposures should be limited. Here are a couple tips to help you have stronger, healthier teeth:

  • Eating a couple candies every twenty minutes throughout the afternoon can be a lot of exposure and keep your mouth acidic, allowing the bacteria to work constantly against you. It is the same with soda. Soda drinking should be limited, sipping on a soda or juice throughout the day keeps the mouth acidic and activates the bacteria.
  • Limit your sugar and carb intake, particularly between mealtimes.
  • Avoid snacks that are sugary, chewy, or dissolve slowly, as these are more retentive in your mouth causing problems for a longer amount of time. Examples are caramels, taffies, and suck-on candies.
  • Avoid foods and drinks that are acidic, particularly between mealtimes, such as some fruit juices, sodas, sports drinks, sour candies, and yogurts.

Important: Clean Your Teeth Regularly

Dentist in Idaho Falls IDThe amount of time and effort you spend cleaning your teeth can make a big difference in preventing tooth decay. Remove plaque buildup and bacteria by brushing at least twice, flossing at least once, and using a mouth rinse at least once a day. Some decay can also be remineralized by adding bioavailable minerals such as calcium or fluoride into your hygiene regimen. These minerals can be found in certain foods, toothpastes, and mouthwashes.

Regular dental checkups can help prevent decay, or detect decay at early easily treatable stages. If you’re due for a dental examination, or desire more information on preventing tooth decay, please give us a call at (208) ­524-1700.

Gum Chewing Effects

Stick of Gum a Day, Helps Keep the Dentist Away! Is This True?

Regular dental checkups are recommended every 6 months to clean and examine the health of your gums and teeth.  What if chewing gum could help reduce the number of visits you need to make?  Would you start using those mastication muscles more and more, enjoying some sugar-free gum that leaves your mouth feeling clean and your breath smelling good?  What if that gum contained a natural form of sugar, Xylitol, which will help reduce the occurrence of dental caries, otherwise known as the dreaded CAVITY! Opinion on Gum Chewing by Idaho Falls Dentist

According to an article published in the August 2012 Dentaltown magazine, “Changes to diet and bacterial levels that impact salivary pH are preventive in nature.  Saliva buffering and flow rates are key factors in maintaining neutral or alkaline pH levels.”  In the past, reducing sugar consumption has been key in preventing dental caries.  It is the increase in salivary flow due to chewing sugarless gum that has been attributed to caries prevention in the past.  Now however, studies have shown that xylitol has a more active effect on caries prevention.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sugar found in tree bark, vegetables, and fruits. It doesn’t break down like regular sugar and helps keep the pH of the mouth neutral. The human body even produces 5-10 grams daily through the metabolism of carbohydrates.  Corn cobs and stalks are the most sources of xylitol used today.  It tastes like table sugar and only has 2.4 calories per gram, BONUS!  Initially discovered in 1891, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the benefits of xylitol were recognized for those with diabetes.

In the 1970s and 1990s, several studies were done to recognize the benefits of xylitol in caries prevention.  One such study was done with dental students over a five day period.  The students ate xylitol sweetened food and drinks and refrained from oral hygiene care such as brushing and flossing for those five days.  The study resulted in a 50 percent reduction of plaque accumulation.  Another 40-month study was conducted by the faculty of the University of Michigan in Belize with 1,300 fourth grade students.  Testing of several different chewing gums was conducted, including a 100 percent xylitol-sweetened gum which resulted in a 73 percent reduction of tooth decay.

At the end of the study, no more xylitol was given to the students, and five years later the researchers returned to evaluate the students again.  They found that the students who had chewed the 100 percent xylitol sweetened gum still had a 70 percent reduction of tooth decay compared to other chewing gum groups.  It seemed like the xylitol had altered the oral flora of those students and provided long-term benefits.

What does this Mean for You and Me?

Chewing a stick of gum a day may not exactly kIdaho Falls Dentisteep the dentist away, but it may help reduce the number cavities you get. Xylitol prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth by neutralizing the pH of your mouth.  The acid that would be attacking your teeth for half an hour after eating is stopped with the use of xylitol.  Less bacteria and less acid in the mouth means healthier, cleaner teeth!  Take notice of the gum you buy.  It should be approved by the ADA (American Dental Association) and should contain xylitol.  Icebreakers sugar free gum and Trident sugar free gum are recommended, both contain xylitol and can be found in most stores.  According to the website, it’s more about the frequency of exposures to xylitol than the quantity.

Idaho Falls Dentistry

Remember to Eat then Chew!  Strive for 5 exposures of xylitol a day, brush and floss regularly, and continue to see your Dentist every 6 months for regular checkups so you can be on the road to improving your oral health!