Why Is Hiding Bad Breath a Bad Idea?

Preventing bad breath in Shrewsbury, MAEven the most hygienic person experiences a bout of bad breath on occasion, but for others the problem is more severe. Chronic bad breath, also called halitosis, is more persistent and can linger long after you’ve brushed your teeth. Others with halitosis report that the unpleasant odor returns within a few hours of their morning hygiene regimen. The problem with masking bad breath with mints and gum is that it doesn’t address the underlying cause — a cause that could have serious implications for your oral health. Dr. Todd Pizzi at Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury offers insight into preventing bad breath in Shrewsbury, MA.

Solution: Watch Your Mouth (Or What You Put in It, Rather)

Some foods, such as onions and garlic, produce an overpowering odor that simply cannot be chased off with brushing or breath mints. According to Dr. Pizzi, this is because chemicals in these foods actually end up in your bloodstream, then spread throughout your lungs. With each exhalation comes an embarrassing smell. What does this mean? For starters, don’t eat either of these foods if you plan to find yourself in close proximity to others. The good news is that other pungent foods have much less staying power than garlic or onions. The easiest way to temporarily mask odors is to chew a stick of sugarless gum, preferably one that contains the sweetener Xylitol. The most effective way, on the other hand, is to politely excuse yourself and brush your teeth. At the very least, use plain water to rinse your mouth.

How does this help? It doesn’t take long for leftover food to produce bad breath. Bacteria living in your mouth use these bits as fuel, and volatile sulfur (that is to say, smelly) compounds form. Brushing and rinsing removes food and residue from on, between, and around your teeth and gums.

Kick Your Bad Habit

If you chew or smoke tobacco products, you might argue that bad breath is the least of your health concerns. True, halitosis is less unpleasant than, say, oral cancer or tooth loss. Even so, what better time to make a positive change than right now? Professional teeth cleaning will improve breath problems caused residue on your teeth, and your dental exam includes screening for gum disease and oral cancer – two other conditions that are more prevalent in tobacco users, and both of which have been linked to foul breath.

How does this help? Tar and other forms of harmful residue cling to teeth, gums, and oral tissues, making teeth appear yellow and unhealthy. As the residue is cleared away, most people experience improvements in their ability to taste and smell. This makes it much easier to determine whether you have bad breath.

Boost Your Brushing Efforts (Flossing, too)

The most common cause of a bad taste or odor is poor oral hygiene. The American Dental Association advises brushing your teeth twice each day for a full two minutes each time. Floss a minimum of once a day to remove sneaky, smelly substances from between teeth, and use an alcohol-free mouthwash to eliminate microbes that could be causing bad breath.

Why does it work? Most unpleasant odors emit from a mixture of food and bacteria, which hides throughout your mouth, near the back of your tongue, and near the gum line.

Bad breath is bad news. To learn more about treating bad breath, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact our Shrewsbury, MA dentist office at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, North and South Grafton, Worcester, Boylston, and the neighboring communities.

Cat Videos, Selfies, and…Bad Medical Advice?

shrewsbury-toothachesAh, the Internet. It’s almost impossible to imagine what life would be like if we were suddenly and unjustly deprived of the ability to surf the Web. At our Shrewsbury, MA dentist office, we can appreciate the speed and ease with which we can find information online. On the other hand, we can’t help but side-eye some of the more questionable aspects of online fact-finding – especially when it involves your oral health.

Acid and Teeth: A Bad Idea

If you’re active on Pinterest, online discussion boards, or health and wellness blogs, you may have read about claims that placing an uncoated aspirin on a painful tooth will treat the pain quickly and effectively. Actually, this so-called home remedy isn’t new; it’s been circulating since long before the first webpage was in existence. So what’s the problem?

For starters, look at the name of aspirin: acetylsalicylic acid, or ASA. It’s more than a mouthful, but the problematic word here is acid. As anyone who’s ever popped antacids or grimaced at the thought of reflux will tell you that acid is bad news for your throat and mouth. That burning, unpleasant sensation that comes from stomach acid? Aspirin has a similar effect if not swallowed immediately. We’ve seen several patients who not only failed to find relief from a toothache, but who also suffered painful chemical burns within the mouth.

Why Won’t the Aspirin Toothache Remedy Work?

Like any medication, pain relievers are most effective when taken using the recommended route. A chewable aspirin should be chewed, a tablet should be swallowed, and so on. When you chew or swallow an aspirin, the medicine is absorbed in your intestinal tract. Allowing the medication to dissolve in your mouth means very little of the active ingredient will enter into your bloodstream. The result? No relief for your toothache. Dr. Pizzi jokes that you might achieve more therapeutic benefits from taping an aspirin to your forehead (or not).

What Other Options Are Available for Toothache Relief?

Topical aspirin isn’t the solution, but this doesn’t mean that swallowing an aspirin won’t offer some relief, albeit only temporarily. Analgesics alone are not sufficient to actually treat the underlying cause of the tooth decay, which could be anything from a damaged nerve or decay to an infection or fracture. After examining your tooth and possibly taking x-rays, your Shrewsbury dentist may recommend restorative dental work. Worst case scenario, you may require an extraction. Even then it’s good to know that you have several options for replacing lost or missing teeth, including dental bridges, dentures, and dental implants. Otherwise, dental crowns or fillings may be sufficient.

Need more information about treating tooth pain in Shrewsbury, MA? To learn more about our services, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Todd Pizzi, DDS, or one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in and around Shrewsbury, North and South Grafton, Millbury, Boylston, and the surrounding communities.

Two Surprising Truths About Teeth Whitening Options

Teeth bleaching in Shrewsbury, MAWe all have our own ideas about what is and isn’t attractive. Some are partial to dark hair, others to a certain eye color. Beauty standards vary widely, and each culture has its own set of unique characteristics. The one thing we can all seem to agree on? The power of an attractive smile. A smile is one of the few, if not the only, universally recognized facial expressions. It’s often the first thing we notice about others, which explains why teeth whitening is easily the most popular cosmetic dental procedure in the country. Dr. Todd Pizzi, who offers teeth bleaching in Shrewsbury, MA, dispels two of the most commonly held myths about the treatment.

Fiction: All Tooth Discoloration Is Caused By Poor Hygiene

Fact: Several factors contribute to stained or discolored teeth.

Although neglecting your oral hygiene will almost certainly end in disaster, it isn’t the only way to sully your smile. Despite what Hollywood might want you to believe, not everyone is born with the makings of naturally pearly white tooth enamel. In fact, genetics determine in part your natural shade of tooth enamel. Your diet also plays a role in the color of your teeth, with darkly colored foods and beverages having the greatest tendency to cause stains. Eating an acidic diet makes teeth more prone to staining by eating away at your tooth enamel, creating a rough surface. Even certain medications, particularly antibiotics, have been known to cause permanent discoloration.

Fiction: Over-the-counter Whitening Products Don’t Work

Fiction: Whitening products work — if you choose the right ones.

If you have light staining on the surface of your teeth, a basic whitening toothpaste will most likely help achieve the desired result  However, more severe stains, such as those caused by using tobacco products or taking medications, require professional teeth whitening. Our Kor Deep Bleaching System is a two-phased approach to whitening, combining treatment in our office with custom whitening trays for home use. Simply wear your custom-fitted trays while you sleep, usually over a period of 14 days. At the end of your treatment period, you’ll visit your Shrewsbury dentist for the finishing touch, an in-office whitening treatment.

Questions about teeth whitening in Shrewsbury, MA? To learn more about our cosmetic dental treatments, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, North and South Grafton, Worcester, Hopkinton, and Millbury.

Oral Cancer: A Threat at Any Age

oral-cancer-shrewsburyWith age comes great wisdom and experiences, not to mention a number of health risks. Although it’s true that some medical problems are more common among older men and women, this does not mean that someone can be excluded by virtue of age alone. Take gum disease and oral cancer, for example. Although these conditions are more prevalent in older adults, all age groups can be affected. For this reason, Dr. Todd Pizzi screens all patients for both diseases during their dental checkups in Shrewsbury, MA.

Symptoms That May Indicate Oral Cancer

Symptoms are subtle or non-existent in the earliest stages of oral cancer. Unfortunately, many patients do not confirm a diagnosis or seek treatment until the disease has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes or lungs. Between 20 and 30 percent of patients who have been diagnosed with oral cancer will also have developed cancer of the lymph nodes. The most commonly reported symptoms include:

  • Patches of white, red, or darkened tissue in the mouth
  • Lumps in your mouth, on your tongue, or on your neck
  • Hoarseness or chronic sore throat
  • Problems swallowing or chewing food
  • Any unexplained changes in color or tissue

Above all, it’s important to understand that not all patients will experience all of these symptoms. Others notice them as they occur but write them off as symptoms of a more common, less innocuous condition. These two reasons alone justify the importance of regular oral cancer screening as part of a comprehensive dental exam. Between appointments, your dentist encourages you to perform self-exams every month. 15-40.org has an excellent step-by-step guide to performing self-exams.

Risk Factors Linked to Oral Cancer

No one is totally immune to oral cancer, but some groups face a much higher risk than others. The most obvious is smoking or chewing tobacco in all its forms. Frequent and significant alcohol consumption follows closely, with patients who use both tobacco and alcohol facing an even greater risk. Even tanning, which most people associate with skin cancer, can increase the likelihood of developing oral cancer. If your family history includes someone diagnosed with oral cancer or any other type of cancer, this suggests the need for even greater vigilance.

Have you been screened for oral cancer recently? To learn more about preventive measures, or to schedule an exam with one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, Boylston, Millbury, Hopkinton, Worcester, and the surrounding areas.

How Is Your Mouth Like a Motor?

shrewsbury-dentistHave you ever stopped to think about the fact that your teeth have a great deal in common with your car? Probably not, but we certainly have. Dr. Todd Pizzi, a dentist at Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury, shares some of the most notable similarities between the two, encouraging patients to be proactive about their oral health by scheduling twice-yearly dental checkups in Shrewsbury, MA. By the way, you can admire the beauty of a well-maintained car at an upcoming Shrewsbury Market Motor Menders Rod and Custom Club cruise night, held on the fourth Friday of every month.

A Few Interesting Similarities…

Tune-ups, oil changes, and state inspections require very little time or money, but that doesn’t make them any less important. If a problem develops at some point between these services, your best bet is to return to your mechanic as soon as you are able; otherwise, even the most well-made or expensive vehicle will inevitably leave you stranded on the side of the road. Add the fees for hiring a tow truck, replacing various parts, and time lost from work, and you’ve got a pricey problem.

Teeth that haven’t been properly cared for won’t leave you alone at night on a strange road, but that doesn’t mean they won’t abandon you or cause you pain. What might begin as sensitivity in one tooth could be the beginning of an underlying dental problem that could spread to your gums and your other teeth. Gum disease, an infection that ravages the gums and jawbone, is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults.

Unfortunately, driving a poorly maintained vehicle dramatically increases your risk of being injured or worse in an accident. The same is true of your oral health. Oral cancer claims a life every hour of every day, with a death rate higher than that of cervical, testicular, and skin cancer. This unsettling fact can be attributed to the tendency to overlook symptoms, many of which are virtually impossible to detect by an untrained eye, leading to a late diagnosis. Oral cancer screening is an important part of your dental exam, one that could very well save your life. A guide to self-exams can be found here, compliments of the 15-40 Connection.

…With One Major Difference

It’s important to note that some aspects of owning a car are much different from caring for your teeth. What happens when your vehicle no longer drives? You simply trade it in, sell it off, and buy a new car. You can opt for an almost identical car, or you can upgrade as you see fit. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of your teeth. Once you’ve lost your permanent teeth, there’s no going back. Dental implants, dentures, and bridges are available, but by no means do they compare to your natural teeth; of the three, however dental implants are most similar.

Could your teeth use a tune-up? For questions about preventive dental care in Shrewsbury, MA, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, North and South Grafton, Millbury, Hopkinton, and the neighboring communities. For info on our Stoughton location, click here.

Upcoming Events for Shrewsbury Arts Lovers

shrewsbury-cosmetic-dentistryThink of your smile as a work of art. Which famous artwork best represents how you feel about your smile? Perhaps your wry Mona Lisa smile hides stained or chipped teeth. Worse yet, maybe the painting that most closely represents your smile is “The Scream” by Edvard Munch! With help from Dr. Todd Pizzi, your Shrewsbury, MA cosmetic dentist, you can achieve an attractive smile worth framing. Until your next appointment for veneers or teeth whitening, enjoy these local art events over the upcoming weeks.

“Summer Gardens” Art Show

When: Begins August 1st, 2014

Where: Shrewsbury Credit Union, Route 9

Peruse paintings by members of the Artists’ Guild of Shrewsbury, a local arts organization that promotes the importance of visual arts and encourages community participation in creative projects. The Artists’ Guild also hosts summer plein air painting for members and non-members alike at various times (usually Sundays) and locations throughout Shrewsbury. For a calendar of events, look here.

Meditation in the Galleries

When: Friday, July 25th from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Where: Worcester Art Museum

What better place to practice the art of meditation than surrounded by awe-inspiring works of art? Ideal for all ages, each one-hour session is free with the purchase of museum admission. Sessions are located at various galleries within the museum, so check with the visitor’s desk first. You’ll find more details here.

Daylilies: Botanical Drawing

When: July 26th and 27th at 10:00 a.m.

Where: Tower Hill Botanic Garden

If you prefer creating your own artwork over checking out others’ pieces, you’ll love learning to sketch daylilies using colored pencils. Illustrator and artist Helen Byers leads this two-day workshop, which focuses on technique and perfecting various components of botanic beauty. Check here for more info.

DIY Paint Social

When: Monday, July 28th at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Groton Wellness in Groton, MA

Here’s a hands-on art activity that’s worth the drive. Bring your friends to Groton Wellness to complete a fun upcycling project using lace, paint, and other adornments. You can also opt to paint on glass or canvas. Pre-register here.

Could your smile use an artistic touch? To learn more about cosmetic dentistry in Shrewsbury, MA, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, North and South Grafton, Boylston, Hopkinton, and the surrounding communities.

Shortcomings in Your Smile? We’ve Got You Covered!

cosmetic-dentistry-shrewsburyIf you’ve ever felt dissatisfied with your smile, you aren’t alone. At Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury, we’ve helped countless people just like you to achieve the smile they’ve always wanted. With several cosmetic dental treatments from which to choose, Dr. Todd Pizzi and his team are dedicated to creating beautiful smiles in Shrewsbury, MA.

“My teeth are yellow!”

Tooth whitening, by far the most popular cosmetic dental treatment in America, creates a brilliant smile by lightening yellow, brown, and even gray discoloration from the teeth. Although over-the-counter whitening toothpaste and kits are helpful for light surface stains, professional intervention is needed to combat more resilient stains, such as those caused by years of neglect, drinking coffee and tea, or using tobacco products.

“I have a gap between my front teeth!”

Famous faces like Madonna and supermodel Lara Stone have popularized prominent gaps, but not everyone feels the same sense of pride in their gapped teeth. If you have gaps between your teeth, Dr. Pizzi may recommend porcelain veneers, bonding, or orthodontic treatment.

“How can I hide the fact that I’ve lost a tooth?”

Few flaws are as obvious as missing teeth, whether lost to tooth decay, injury, or extraction.

The absence of one or more teeth isn’t just a matter of aesthetic appeal. Without restorative treatment, a missing tooth makes your remaining teeth weaker and more prone to damage.

“Help, I’ve chipped my tooth!”

Maybe you bit down on a popcorn kernel or got too close to the microphone during karaoke. A cracked or chipped tooth may not pose a threat to your oral health, but it’s certainly enough to make some feel self-conscious. Opt for either bonding or porcelain veneers to restore your damaged tooth to its former glory.

“I’m tired of my gummy smile. What can I do?”

If your gum tissue covers too much of your teeth, it can throw off the proportions of your smile. Gum contouring, also called a gum lift,  is a simple and effective procedure that removes excessive or asymmetrical gum tissue. The treatment also helps patients whose medications have caused gingival overgrowth, a condition that makes it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean and healthy.

“My worn-down teeth make me look much older than my age.”

Over time, teeth that have been damaged by bruxism or decay can affect the way your face looks, causing your cheeks to appear sunken. Porcelain veneers or dental crowns can help restore the structure of your teeth, creating the appearance of a fuller, healthier face. We also treat patients whose missing teeth have impacted the shape of their cheeks and jawline. Dentures, dental implants, and dental bridges are available to fill in holes left by long-departed teeth.

“Years of grinding my teeth have started to take a toll on my smile.”

Grinding your teeth causes them to become gradually worn down and brittle, increasing the risk of tooth loss or serious structural damage. If your teeth have not been too badly compromised, you may be a candidate for veneers or crowns. If Dr. Pizzi cannot salvage the tooth, you may wish to consider dental implants that look, function, and feel almost identical to natural, healthy teeth.

You deserve a perfect smile. To learn more about improving the appearance of your teeth and gums, or to schedule an appointment with one ofour dentists,contact Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury at (508) 842-8838. We offer cosmetic, restorative, and preventive dental care to patients living in North and South Grafton, Hopkinton, Boylston, Shrewsbury, and the surrounding communities.

Mitigating the Effects of Tooth Loss: Dentures, or Do Nothing?

Adult tooth loss in Shrewsbury, MARemember how exciting it was to lose a tooth as a child? Losing teeth was easy money, thanks to the Tooth Fairy. As an adult, losing a tooth has more serious implications for your oral health, not to mention your wallet. Fortunately, Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury offers several options for replacing permanent teeth. Dr. Todd Pizzi discusses dentures in Shrewsbury, MA.

Is Tooth Loss Common in Adults?

Unfortunately, yes. It’s estimated that 65 percent of adults in America have at least one missing tooth, usually as the result of gum disease. Of adults over the age of 65, a shocking 98 percent are missing one tooth or more. Nearly one-tenth of the adult population is missing all of their teeth. It’s true that tooth loss is more prevalent in older age groups, but Dr. Pizzi cautions that this doesn’t exclude the possibility that a middle-aged adult or even a teenager could be affected. He also points out that patients today have more options than ever, including dental implants.

Would I Benefit From Dentures?

First, let’s address some misconceptions about dentures. Many people believe that dentures are an option only for adults who have lost all of their teeth. Actually, this isn’t true. Although dentures were once the go-to solution for fully edentulous patients, partial dentures can achieve similar results in patients who have lost multiple teeth but have mostly healthy teeth otherwise. If you’ve lost more than one tooth on either your upper or lower arch, you may be a candidate for a partial denture. If the remaining teeth are unhealthy and require extractions, Dr. Pizzi may recommend either complete dentures or dental implants.

Are There Risks Associated With Dentures?

Although wearing removable dentures is preferable to living without teeth, dental implants are currently the most natural-looking and functional replacement available. Losing teeth sets off a sort of chain reaction within your mouth, ultimately affecting the gum tissue and bone where the tooth was once rooted. For a patient who has dentures, this deterioration continues long after the tooth itself is removed. Poor hygiene in denture wearers significantly increases the risk that the prosthetic will no longer fit properly. This in turn leads to blisters in the mouth, discomfort, and the need for adhesives to hold it in place. Dental implants provide a more stable, realistic solution to missing teeth or even a single missing tooth.

Questions about removable dentures? To learn more about dental prosthetics, or to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists, contact Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Hopkinton, Boylston, North and South Grafton, Worcester, and the neighboring communities.

Straight Talk on Straighter Teeth

shrewsbury-crooked-teethFor someone who lacks confidence when smiling, even the mention of Instagram or family photos is enough to precipitate panic. This is unfortunate, especially given how many wonderful things there are to smile about. When you’re preoccupied with keeping your teeth under wraps and dodging cameras, you miss out on opportunities to capture the most memorable days of your life. At Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury, we offer several options to improve the appearance of crooked teeth in Shrewsbury, MA.

Option 1: Invisible Braces

Our adult patients are often surprised to learn that traditional metal braces are no longer the only available option for rectifying crooked teeth. Many have delayed treatment for years as a result, thinking that they would have to contend with the always-on-display metal orthodontics. Instead of metal brackets, wires, and bands, ClearCorrect and Invisalign aligners are all but invisible when worn. Each aligner is made of durable, clear plastic that snaps over the teeth and looks similar to an athletic mouthguard. If your answer to the following questions is “yes,” you may be a candidate for invisible braces:

  • Are most or all of my teeth in need of straightening?
  • Am I willing to visit my Shrewsbury dentist’s office every few weeks to receive a new aligner?
  • Am I willing to choose a longer treatment time (about 12 months) if it means getting noticeable results?

Option 2: Tooth Contouring

Your dentist may recommend tooth contouring, which subtly alters the shape of one or more teeth by buffing or sculpting away a small amount of tooth enamel. We usually use this treatment for patients whose teeth overlap at some points, or whose teeth have very slight crookedness. If you have sufficient tooth enamel, Dr. Pizzi can contour the tooth without resorting to orthodontic appliances. Before considering tooth contouring, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are only one or a few of my teeth overlapping or crooked?
  • Do I want a treatment that entails fewer office visits and results that are immediately visible?

Option 3: More Options to Consider

For straighter teeth with a shorter treatment time, Six Month Smiles appeals to busy parents and professionals who don’t mind wearing visible braces. Unlike metal braces, Six Month Smiles uses tooth-colored brackets that are less obvious when worn.

Questions about straightening teeth in Shrewsbury, MA? To learn more about our services, or to request an appointment with Dr. Todd Pizzi, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in North and South Grafton, Millbury, Boylston, Southborough, and the surrounding areas.

Can You Whiten Just One Tooth?

shrewsbury-stained-teethIt’s no wonder that teeth whitening has quickly become the most popular way to enhance your smile. Teeth are one of the first things we look at in a person, and we put them on display each time we open our mouth to speak, yawn, or eat. For a bright smile to appear as attractive and natural as possible, your teeth must be uniformly white. For most people, says Dr. Todd Pizzi, this isn’t a problem. Teeth bleaching and whitening strips can usually be used to whiten teeth that are uniformly discolored or stained, whether as the result of tobacco use, poor oral hygiene, or drinking coffee and tea. However, other causes of discoloration do not affect all of your teeth, instead targeting a single tooth. For example, several prescription medications, especially the antibiotic tetracycline, can alter the color of a few teeth. If a tooth is no longer vital, it will appear gray while the surrounding teeth remain unaffected.

A Powerful Combination of Professional Whitening Methods

We offer our patients the Kor Whitening Deep Bleaching System, which treats even the most stubborn stains with a combination of in-office and home treatment. Although capable of delivering several shades of whitening, the system does not allow for the precise targeting of a single discolored tooth. If you have only one or two discolored teeth, or multiple teeth not directly adjacent to each other, your dentist may recommend an alternative cosmetic treatment. Advantages of professional whitening include:

  • More consistent results
  • Reduced risk of sensitivity in teeth
  • Personalized treatment

Single-Tooth Targeting

You’ve probably heard of veneers, widely considered to be the dental treatment among big names in Hollywood, or dental bonding, which offers similar benefits at a lower price point. Here’s the beauty of these procedures–they’re extremely versatile, capable of addressing multiple aesthetic concerns with a single procedure. Several thin layers of ceramic comprise each veneer, allowing your dentist to treat individual teeth or as many as needed. Not only do veneers boast a natural translucence similar that of your own teeth, but they can also be custom-tinted to achieve the desired shade of white. Veneers and bonding also improve the appearance of your smile by masking chips, crookedness, gaps, smallness, and irregular shapes.

Questions about professional teeth whitening in Shrewsbury, MA? To learn more, or to schedule a dental appointment at Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, Hopkinton, Boylston, North and South Grafton, and the surrounding areas.