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Posts for category: Oral Health

Teeth grinding can lead to cracked and chipped teeth, but a bite guard can help!


Do you often wake up in the morning with a headache, or jaw pain and stiffness? If so, these are signs that you grind your teeth at night. Here in Winston-Salem, NC, our dentist Dr. Denise Perrotta provides everything from cosmetic dentistry to preventive dental care to patients of all ages. If you are looking to protect the health of your smile from the long-term effects of teeth grinding, our dental team can help.


Why teeth grinding is bad

If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw, you’ll start to notice wear and tear on your smile over time. Even though enamel is strong, it can still be damaged. The repeated stress placed on your teeth by both your clenched and powerful jaws, as well as by grinding your teeth together, can lead to broken teeth and other problems.


Over time you may start to notice little cracks in your teeth, that your teeth appear shorter than usual or that your molars’ chewing surfaces are flat rather than having all the pits and grooves that they are supposed to. Here at our Winston-Salem, NC, cosmetic and preventive dentistry practice, Dr. Perrotta and her team can easily determine through a simple oral exam whether you grind your teeth.


How are teeth grinding and jaw clenching treated?

You must get the proper treatment you need to protect the health and strength of your teeth, and prevent other problems such as TMJ disorder from occurring. An occlusal guard is one of the best ways to prevent damage to your teeth when clenching or grinding, especially if this is something that you do while asleep.


Dr. Perrotta and her team will take measurements of your teeth to craft a custom bite guard that fits perfectly over your teeth. This device can be worn on the top or bottom teeth and it’s typically made from a special acrylic material.


This is different from the bite guards that you might find at your local drugstore. These commercial guards aren’t fitted to your teeth, which can actually make certain problems worse. This is why it’s worth it to discuss getting a custom bite guard with our dental team if you grind your teeth.


Protect the health of your teeth. Our cosmetic dentistry team here in Winston-Salem, NC, can craft a beautiful, strong, and long-lasting occlusal guard to preserve your beautiful smile. To find out if a bite guard is right for you, call us at (336) 760-9258 to schedule an appointment.

By Denise A. Perrotta DMD
May 27, 2020
Category: Oral Health

A key component to maintaining healthy teeth and gums is developing a good oral care routine. When you maintain proper oral care habits, it is possible to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other issues. Dr. Denise Perrotta, the skilled dentist at our office in Winston Salem, can help you develop a good oral care routine that includes oral exams and professional teeth cleanings.


Effective Habits at Home

Practicing good oral habits at home can play a large role in promoting healthy teeth and gums. Brushing teeth twice each day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride will help prevent cavities. It is also best to brush teeth gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush. After all, while brushing in a rough or aggressive manner might seem like a more effective method for removing debris from teeth, it can actually wear down tooth enamel and leave teeth more vulnerable to decay.

Another good habit that can lead to a healthier mouth is limiting your consumption of foods and drinks that are high in sugar. This is because sugars contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel by reacting with bacteria and producing acids. It is also helpful to avoid smoking, which is associated with an increased risk for developing gum disease. Further, gum disease can ultimately lead to tooth loss.


Dental Checkups and Cleanings

Another essential component of a good oral care routine is regularly visiting the dentist at our office in Winston Salem. Dental checkups include an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning. Oral exams are important for detecting potential issues, such as tooth decay or gingivitis. Identifying and treating oral health concerns as soon as possible helps to prevent the problem from becoming worse or spreading to other areas. Professional cleanings are the best way to remove plaque and tartar buildup from teeth, which helps prevent various oral health issues.


Developing a good oral care routine will keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Your routine should include daily brushing and flossing, eating healthy, and regular dental checkups. To schedule your next checkup with Dr. Perrotta, our experienced dentist, call our office in Winston Salem at (336) 760-9258.


Fans of the legendary rock band Steely Dan received some sad news a few months ago: Co-founder Walter Becker died unexpectedly at the age of 67. The cause of his death was an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. This disease, which is related to oral cancer, may not get as much attention as some others. Yet Becker's name is the latest addition to the list of well-known people whose lives it has cut short—including actor Humphrey Bogart, writer Christopher Hitchens, and TV personality Richard Dawson.

As its name implies, esophageal cancer affects the esophagus: the long, hollow tube that joins the throat to the stomach. Solid and liquid foods taken into the mouth pass through this tube on their way through the digestive system. Worldwide, it is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths.

Like oral cancer, esophageal cancer generally does not produce obvious symptoms in its early stages. As a result, by the time these diseases are discovered, both types of cancer are most often in their later stages, and often prove difficult to treat successfully. Another similarity is that dentists can play an important role in oral and esophageal cancer detection.

Many people see dentists more often than any other health care professionals—at recommended twice-yearly checkups, for example. During routine examinations, we check the mouth, tongue, neck and throat for possible signs of oral cancer. These may include lumps, swellings, discolorations, and other abnormalities—which, fortunately, are most often harmless. Other symptoms, including persistent coughing or hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and unexplained weight loss, are common to both oral and esophageal cancer. Chest pain, worsening heartburn or indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also alert us to the possibility of esophageal cancer.

Cancer may be a scary subject—but early detection and treatment can offer many people the best possible outcome. If you have questions about oral or esophageal cancer, call our office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”


Ask any kid and they'll tell you just how valuable "baby" teeth really are—out of the mouth, of course, and under their pillow awaiting a transaction with the Tooth Fairy. But there's more to them than their value on the Fairy Exchange Market—they play a critical role in future dental health.

Primary teeth provide the same kind of dental function as their future replacements. Children weaned from nursing can now eat solid food. They provide contact points for the tongue as a child learns to speak. And they play a role socially, as children with a "toothsome" smile begin to look more like what they will become when they're fully mature.

But primary teeth also serve as guides for the permanent teeth that will follow. As a future tooth develops below the gum line, the primary tooth preserves the space in which it will erupt. Otherwise, the space can be taken over by other teeth. This crowds out the intended tooth, which may erupt out of position or remain impacted below the gum line.

In either case, the situation could create a poor bite (malocclusion) that can be quite costly to correct. But if we can preserve a primary tooth on the verge of premature loss, we may be able to reduce the impact of a developing malocclusion or even prevent it.

We can help primary teeth last for their intended lifespan by preventing tooth decay with daily oral hygiene or clinically-applied sealants and topical fluoride. If they do become infected, it may be worth the effort to preserve them using procedures similar to a root canal treatment.

If a tooth can't be preserved, then we can try to reserve the empty space for the future tooth. One way is a space maintainer, which is a stiff wire loop attached to metal band bonded around an adjacent tooth. This keeps other teeth from drifting into the space until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, at which time we can remove the appliance.

Your child may be anxious to get another tooth to put under their pillow. But helping that primary tooth go the distance will be more than worth it for their future dental health.

If you would like more information on the care and treatment of baby teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Importance of Baby Teeth.”

By Denise A. Perrotta DMD
June 05, 2019
Category: Oral Health

If you're one of the millions of people wearing an oral appliance, you already know how important it is to your dental health. Whatever the purpose—replacing teeth, stopping teeth grinding or guarding against injury—you want to get the most and longest service from it. That means showing your appliance some tender loving care on a regular basis.

It doesn't require a lot of time and effort to clean and maintain your oral appliance. But there are some pitfalls that could lead to greater wear and tear and just outright damage. Here are 3 things you should be on the alert for to keep your appliance doing its job for you.

Be careful how you clean it. Your appliance might resemble natural oral tissue, but it's not—so don't use toothpaste. Toothpaste contains abrasives, which are fine for tooth enamel but damaging to materials in your appliance. Instead, use dish detergent, hand soap or a specialized cleaner. Don't use hot or boiling water, which could soften any plastic and distort the appliance's mouth fit. Nix the bleach too, which can fade colored portions of the appliance that mimic gum tissue.

Don't wear them 24/7 unless your dentist advises. Depending on the type and function of your appliance, you shouldn't wear them around the clock unless your dentist advises otherwise. Dentures are usually removed at night while you sleep to help prevent bacterial growth. Keeping them out at night -and keeping them clean—will help lower your risk of dental disease. One caveat, though: there are some concerns today about the effect of keeping dentures out of the mouth at night on sleep apnea. It's a good idea, then, to discuss the issue with your dentist regarding taking dentures out at night.

Prevent accidental drops on hard surfaces. Chewing forces are considerable, but your appliance is designed to take it. The same can't be said, though, if they accidentally fall on a hard surface—the fall could crack or break them. To protect against this, be sure to put a soft towel or cloth in your sink basin while you're cleaning your appliance. And don't place it on a night stand or low surface where it could be knocked off accidentally by a child, a pet or you. A sudden accident like this could be costly.

If you would like more information on extending the life of your oral appliance, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “10 Tips for Cleaning Your Oral Appliance.”

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