Tag Archives: Tooth Decay

When Can We Stop Going to the Dentist?

We’ve always been very diligent about going to the dentist. Our children have never had cavities. Recently, my husband was laid off. Is it OK for us to skip the dentists for a while, just until he’s found a new job?

Mindy  – Ft. Worth, TX


I understand your question completely. Here in Louisiana, the oil industry as been hit pretty hard and a lot of people are without work.  One of the things dentists tend to notice is that when people try to save money by skipping their check-ups and cleanings, they end up spending more. Here’s why.

Especially in children,  things can change quickly with the condition of teeth. Without regular check ups, early warning signs of decay are likely to get missed. That means more extensive (and expensive) treatments are necessary.

My suggestion, during this time of financial difficulty, is to talk to your dentist and work out payment plans. There are even no interest payment plans.

Dentists want to help people. Communication is the key.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.

Do your gums grow back after quitting chewing tobacco?

I chewed tobacco for about 10 years and recently quit. I noticed that my gums had receded quite a bit. Will they grow back?

Thanks, Steve

Dear Steve,

It’s great that you were able to quit such an addicting habit that affects the entire mouth as well as your general health. Studies have shown that 10% to 30% of regular chew tobacco users have gum recession and develop some bone loss around the teeth. Besides gum recession other risk factors for tobacco use are sores in the mouth, oral cancer, tooth decay and sensitivity.

Unfortunately our gums do not grow back. Gum recession is usually permanent and difficult to repair. Stopping your tobacco use will prevent further gum recession; however you also have to make sure you have good dental hygiene by brushing and flossing daily as well as visiting your dentist every six months for your dental cleanings.

We advise you to address your gum recession concerns with your dentist who may recommend surgery of a more cosmetic or restorative nature to make your smile look more aesthetically pleasing.

Post courtesy of Dr. Malone, Lafayette Louisiana Cosmetic Dentist

Why do my teeth have small holes at the gum line?

I was eating chips and thought I cut my gum. When I looked in the mirror I noticed that a couple of my bottom front teeth had holes in them. I changed my toothpaste, been brushing three times a day, and am using Listerine twice a day however after a month my teeth seem to be getting more holes. I have not been to the dentist for two years, are these holes cavities?

Thanks, Skylar

Dear Skylar,

It sounds like your teeth are developing cavities at the gum line and that its time for you to make a dental appointment. Tooth decay at the gum line is usually caused from a diet high in citric or ascorbic acid. These types of acids are common in sodas including diet soda, energy drinks, and fruit juices. Drinking these types of liquids on a daily basis erodes the enamel making our teeth highly weak and very susceptible to tooth decay.

There is no special toothpaste or mouthwash over the counter that is going to prevent these areas of erosion from getting worse, however improving your hygiene and greatly decreasing your intake of acidic drinks will help prevent further complications. If you have a lot of erosion of the enamel your dentist may recommend you to use a prescription toothpaste that contains a higher amount of fluoride to prevent further tooth decay.  It is recommended that if you are using Listerine make sure it contains no alcohol. Mouthwashes that have alcohol tend to make the mouth dryer, therefore causing more plaque buildup, a possibility of more tooth decay, and make ones breath not so fresh.

If the areas of tooth decay are small your dentist will most likely be able to place a tooth colored filling in the area. It the decay wraps around the tooth a more permanent restoration like a porcelain crown may be recommended.

Post courtesy of Dr. Malone, Lafayette Louisiana Cosmetic Dentist

My six year old son’s teeth are in bad shape

My son is six years old. I’ve just started to research dental information to address some serious problems with his teeth.

He has at least four cavities that I can see. Two of them are small in diameter, but seem to be quite deep, and two other teeth have actually started to chip away from the decay. I’m afraid there may be more, but he won’t let me get a really good look in his mouth to tell.

What are my options with these kinds of problems? I really don’t want to have any teeth pulled if we can possibly avoid it. They are all molars, and from what I have read so far that could really screw up the alignment of his teeth later on. Can they do some kind of porcelain crowns or white fillings? I don’t want them to look bad and make him embarrassed, either. I’ve read that with kids they often do some kind of metal crown, but those are so ugly!

I also wanted to ask about sleep dentistry (also called sedation dentistry). I think I am going to have to locate someone who does this kind of dentistry, because my son just will not open his mouth for the dentist or the hygienist. We’ve tried three different dentists with no luck. I was hoping he would mature enough to cooperate, but we just can’t wait any longer.

I appreciate your help,

Maranda in New Brunswick

Dear Maranda,

You’ll want to find a pediatric dentist who also performs sedation dentistry. I think you are correct in saying that you simply cannot put of your son’s dental care any longer.

You are also correct that removing the molars without also putting in some kind of space holder will cause a lot of problems down the road. Those molars are also important in helping him eat, so ideally your dentist will try to salvage the teeth rather than extracting them. In pediatric dentistry, much of the work is often geared toward short term maintenance and temporary fixes, because those teeth will not remain in place forever. Usually they will place a stainless steal crown, but if you are adamantly opposed to the steel, your dentist can work with you to find a suitable material.

Another issue that must be addressed is the eating pattern that probably produced this kind of severe decay in such a young child. The kind of decay you’ve described is caused by constant eating. If you want to put a stop to these kinds of serious dental problems, you’ll have to put a stop to the eating habits that produce them.