The Basics of Cavities

From an early age, the threat of cavities has been in the back of our minds. We know that if we don’t eat well and brush our teeth, we run the risk of getting a cavity. But, that’s all many of us understand about the ailment. Here are a few things you need to know about the basics of cavities, from their causes and symptoms to treatment and prevention.


Cavity is a dental term that simply means “tooth decay.” Your teeth are shielded by enamel but a number of factors, including diet and oral habits, can wear down this protective coating. Once enamel is gone, your teeth are exposed to acids and plaque and after a while, can begin to decay from this build-up.


Some cavity sufferers never feel anything and only find out about their ailment during their routine dental appointment. However, there are symptoms to look out for. If you feel any oral pain, mention it to your dentist at your next check-up or call for a sooner appointment. Pain when biting or general toothaches are common, as well as sensitivity to foods that are sweet, hot, or cold.


When your dentist has determined that there is indeed a cavity, he or she will then decide on the best course of action. If your cavity is in early stages, you might only need an extra fluoride treatment or calcium boost. If the cavity is in more advanced stages, you may need a filling, cap, or even a root canal. Fillings are the most common form of treatment, however, and are a fairly simple procedure that will have you out of pain and back to normal in no time.


Healthy oral care can prevent the loss of enamel and decrease the likelihood of cavity development. For best results, brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly, and avoid sugary or acidic foods.

No one ever wants a cavity, but knowing how they form, what to look for, and being prepared just in case can make the whole process go smoother. Or, this knowledge may even help you prevent getting one in the first place.

Teeth Grinding Causes and Treatments

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a dental issue that can have a variety of causes. It usually occurs at night and can be caused by stress, anxiety or just an uneven bite. While you may not notice if you grind your teeth unless you have jaw pain or aches when you wake up, anyone sleeping in the same room as you will hear it. If you aren’t sure if you grind your teeth at night, we may be able to identify some signs of wear on your teeth that are the result of bruxism. Teeth grinding can have some adverse effects in the long run so it’s best to get it taken care of as soon as possible rather than waiting.

Common problems

As mentioned above, bruxism comes with headaches and jaw pain. But those aren’t the only issues you can experience. Chronic teeth grinding can actually loosen or break teeth or quite literally “grind” them down. If the damage becomes too severe, you may need crowns or partial dentures. Eventually, full dentures may be needed.


If you suffer from bruxism, Dr. Roberts can have you fitted with a custom mouth guard to wear at night. This will protect your teeth from extensive damage as you sleep. If stress is causing your bruxism, treating its root cause may help to alleviate your anxiety so that the grinding doesn’t occur as often. Also, try to avoid caffeine and alcohol as these are stimulants and likely make grinding worse.

If you chew on pens, gum, or other items as a nervous habit throughout the day, it may be helpful to eliminate these habits. Biting on non-food items means your jaw stays clenched for much longer than it should, making it a natural state. Work on relaxing your jaw muscles just before bedtime and you could see a decrease in teeth grinding.

Finding out why you grind your teeth – whether it’s stress, misaligned teeth, or something else –  will play a large part in determining the best course of action. Get in touch with our office if you have any questions about bruxism and how to best treat it.

Wisdom Teeth Basics

While it’s common to hear about wisdom teeth removal, a lot of people don’t really understand what wisdom teeth even are or why they have to be taken out in the first place.

Wisdom teeth are, simply, the last set of molars to grow. Some people get all 4, some fewer, and some don’t get them at all. If you have wisdom teeth , they’ll likely start growing in between the ages of 16 and 20. Unfortunately, since they’re the last teeth in your mouth, there might not be any room for them. This can cause a lot of pain, particularly if they put too much pressure on the rest of your teeth or get blocked by other teeth (impacted). Leaving your wisdom teeth in when they should be removed can cause pain, swelling, bleeding gums, and headache.

Your dentist will be able to tell if you need to have your wisdom teeth removed before they start causing problems by looking at your X-rays. If your wisdom teeth are improperly aligned or just don’t have enough room to grow, your dentist will recommend an extraction before they begin to grow more.

Wisdom tooth extraction is usually a simple procedure. Unless your teeth have become impacted, your dentist will be able to easily cut open your gums over the teeth, remove the tooth and some of the surrounding bone, and stitch the gums closed again. An impacted tooth may require more time to remove, but the procedure is the same.

Although it’s often a somewhat painful recovery, having your wisdom teeth removed before they become a bigger problem will actually save you time and pain down the road. If you’re concerned, call our office to schedule a consultation about about your wisdom teeth and we’ll be happy to answer any questions that you have.

Tooth Sensitivity 101

If drinking a cup of hot tea or eating ice cream causes you pain and discomfort, you might suffer from tooth sensitivity. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, approximately 40 million adults in America have at some point experienced tooth sensitivity. This condition results in sharp and sudden pain that radiates to the nerve endings of your tooth. It may come and go.

What is Tooth Sensitivity?

The crown portion of your tooth is covered in a hard, protective layer called enamel. Beneath the enamel is a soft layer called dentin, which contains tubules filled with nerve endings. These nerve endings extend to the root of your tooth where they are protected by a layer called cementum. When enamel or cementum wears down, dentin is exposed and your trigger foods (or even an element such as a burst of cold wind) will reach the nerve endings and result in pain.


Some root causes of tooth sensitivity include:


If your tooth sensitivity is mild, you may be able to manage it at home. Over-the-counter desensitizing toothpastes such as Sensodyne can begin to offer you relief after about 2 weeks of daily use. You may also apply tiny dabs of the toothpaste to sensitive spots. Try using a soft-bristled toothbrush and make sure you floss daily.

However, if tooth sensitivity continues to bother you, give us a call. Dr. Roberts will work with you to identify the underlying cause of your tooth sensitivity and recommend the most appropriate treatment. Some in-office procedures that can help alleviate discomfort include the application of fluoride gel and dental sealants.

Kidney Disease and Perio

We have previously discussed the possible link between cardiovascular disease and oral health. More recent research now indicates that there may also be a link between kidney and gum diseases. Though more studies need to be completed, it is no surprise that those with compromised kidney function should pay special attention to their oral health.

People with kidney disease often have a weakened immune system, whether due to the condition itself or the medication prescribed for it, and suffer from other health problems as a result. A weakened or suppressed immune system makes it more difficult to fight off infections that can be brought on by tooth decay or gum disease. If you have kidney disease, it’s even more important to come in regular check-ups and maintain healthy dental habits at home.

Additionally, two common complaints we hear from kidney disease sufferers are bad breath and dry mouth. Both are a result of metabolic problems caused by reduced kidney function but can be controlled with good dental hygiene. To combat bad breath, brush twice daily and floss at least once a day. To reduce the symptoms of dry mouth, follow our 10 tips for dry mouth relief.

Finally, when you come in for a visit, tell us if you have kidney disease and have had a transplant. Be ready to list all drugs you take (whether OTC or prescription) and their doses. The information you provide will be taken into account if you require a prescription before or after any dental procedures.

The trained professionals at Dr. Roberts Family Dentistry are here to work with you to ensure optimum oral health and minimize any discomfort you experience from oral health issues related to kidney disease.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the destruction of the hard protective outer layer of your tooth’s enamel. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that constantly forms in your mouth. When you eat or drink foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. Over time, these acid attacks weaken and destroy the enamel, forming a cavity.

Minerals such as calcium and phosphate in our saliva and fluoride from toothpaste, water, and other sources help the tooth enamel repair itself by replacing minerals lost during the acid attacks. By practicing good oral and dental hygiene you can avoid cavities and prevent tooth decay.

Follow these tips to prevent tooth decay:

Following these simple tips to prevent tooth decay will make a big difference when it comes to maintaining your healthy smile.

10 Tips for Dry Mouth Relief

Dry mouth is a condition that refers to lack of moisture in the mouth, usually as a result of an abnormal flow of saliva. Certain medications, diseases, cancer therapies and even lifestyle habits may cause dry mouth, also known as xerostomia.

If you suffer from dry mouth, you know it’s more than just an unpleasant feeling. Saliva plays a significant role in maintaining good oral health and helping us taste, chew and digest food. Dry mouth can lead to bad breath and increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease (gingivitis) and oral infections.

Follow these tips to relieve the symptoms of dry mouth and prevent further problems:

  1. Chew sugar-free gum. This is the easiest way to stimulate saliva production. Sucking on sugar-free hard candy works too.
  2. Rinse with alcohol-free mouthwash. Most mouthwashes contain at least 10% alcohol, which has a drying effect.
  3. Don’t smoke or drink. Both tobacco and alcohol are one of the biggest reasons for dry mouth.
  4. Stay hydrated. Water and sugarless drinks will alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth and offer a myriad of other health benefits.
  5. Use a humidifier. Humidifiers add moisture to the air and are especially helpful during winter months when the air is cool and dry.
  6. Eat tart and sour foods. In small doses, citrus fruit, yogurt and pickles will stimulate saliva production.
  7. Try a saliva substitute. Artificial saliva rinses and sprays aren’t a perfect replacement for natural saliva, but they will help to alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth.
  8. Breathe through your nose. If you wake up with a dry mouth, you might be breathing through your mouth at night. If you notice the symptoms only upon waking, ask your doctor to check for sleep apnea as the potential culprit.
  9. Limit caffeine. Tea, coffee and caffeinated sodas all have a drying effect and should be avoided.
  10. Maintain dental hygiene. Be extra mindful of maintaining good oral health. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Schedule a regular cleaning every 6 months.