Saturday, April 30, 2016

How to Preserve Tooth Enamel

Woman with a beautiful smile who knows how to preserve tooth enamel.
Tooth enamel, a thin, light yellow to grayish white colored substance, is the toughest substance found in the human body and serves to protect the delicate layers of tissue within the teeth. Over time, it can soften and dissolve, also known as demineralization, which can leave teeth susceptible to decay and over-sensitivity.

Demineralization occurs whenever the mouth becomes too acidic, which occurs following eating and drinking. Saliva helps counteract the effects of acid and even helps restore some of the lost calcium and minerals found in the enamel, also known as remineralization. However, if acid levels remain too high for too long, it can limit saliva's ability to protect the teeth, which can cause long-term mineral loss to the enamel. Once erosion sets in, teeth are more prone to disease, decay, and tooth loss.

Some common signs of worn enamel include:

  • Yellowing teeth
  • Chipped or uneven tooth edges
  • Dents on the surface of the teeth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help preserve your tooth enamel.

Practice Gentle Brushing

Over-brushing or vigorous brushing exerts undue pressure on your teeth, which scrapes away at the enamel and causes it to wear. It can also cause receding gums. As a rule of thumb, only brush twice a day and remember to take care when brushing your teeth to avoid eroding the enamel.

Use a Soft Bristle Brush 

It is a common misconception that harder bristles will clean your teeth better, and therefore, lead to healthier teeth and gums, but this is simply not the case. In fact, hard bristles and vigorous brushing wear down your enamel over time. The ADA recommends brushing with a soft-bristled brush and replacing a ragged toothbrush every three to four months.

Use a Fluoridated Mouthwash and Toothpaste 

Fluoride helps harden your teeth and protects against cavities and tooth decay. Be sure to select a mouthwash and toothpaste that contains fluoride to help preserve your enamel. You could also ask your dentist if you would benefit from supplemental fluoride treatments, such as in-office fluoride gel treatments or fluoride chewable tablets.

Wait At Least Thirty Minutes After Eating and Drinking to Brush Your Teeth

 Research shows it takes approximately thirty minutes for saliva to reinstate a normal ph level and remineralize the teeth. Brushing too soon could jeopardize this process and brush away some of the delicate minerals from the enamel.

Stick to Milk or Water

 When possible, choose milk or water over sodas, juices, and other acidic drinks. The calcium in milk and dairy products serves as a buffer to acidic substances and aids in remineralization while water provides a natural way to wash away acid and food debris from the teeth.

Use a Straw for Acidic Drinks

Drink acidic drinks with a straw to help avoid direct contact with the drink's acid, which could potentially cause demineralization of the enamel.

Avoid Snacking Right Before Bed

Saliva production slows while we're sleeping, therefore, eating right before bed means less saliva available for the protection and re-mineralization of the enamel.

Schedule Regular Dental Screenings

Seeing your dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings helps keep your teeth clean and healthy. It also allows the dentist to address any issues before they become major concerns. Dental treatments for worn enamel vary, depending on the severity of the erosion. Crowns, fillings, and veneers cover teeth that no longer have enamel protection due to severe erosion.

Following these tips, in addition to practicing good oral hygiene, will go a long way towards preserving your enamel and protecting your teeth. If you experience signs of enamel erosion, see your dentist immediately to see what can be done to preserve your teeth before it leads to tooth loss.

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Nassau County Periodontist. Learn more by visiting her website at:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

When Is A Good Time To Consider Dental Implants?

Diagram showing how Dental Implants are attached.
Your smile. It speaks volumes about you before you even say a word. Our smile is important to our image and the way we view ourselves. That's why it can be a real nightmare if your dental health is in decline.

Tooth loss is nothing to smile about. Here we will go over the symptoms related to tooth decay, why they occur and if dental implants are the proper choice for you.

There have been many advances in the field of dentistry in recent years; dental implants are no exception. Let's look into it now shall we?

The Symptoms

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and liquids - In the beginning stages of tooth decay, you may experience sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks. If you find yourself drinking or eating from one side of your mouth to dull the pain, then this is already happening. 
  • Dark brown, grey or black spotting - Beyond this interim stage, you start to see darker spots or maybe even a cavity in the teeth from too much acidity corroding the enamel.
  • Cavities (hole in the tooth) - Eventually, you may start to experience bad breath as a result or even a foul taste in your mouth. This is a clear indicator that there is a bigger issue that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
  • The final symptom being, of course, tooth loss. This is obviously what folks want to avoid.
All of these symptoms can lead to gum disease (Gingivitis) and tooth loss if left untreated.

So What Causes Tooth Decay?

  • Poor dental hygiene - In the beginning stages, these symptoms arise due to poor dental hygiene. It stems from simply not having a daily routine for your teeth. Good habits go a long way when it comes to your dental health.
  • Dental fissures (spaces in teeth which trap bacteria) - Crevices or spaces in the teeth can be a hazard here, as well. Fissures in the teeth can trap food and bacteria between the enamel and decay the tooth. Flossing can help with this, but dental work should be considered here.
  • Improper nutrition from food choices - Eating the wrong foods and drinks often can also have dire effects on the health of the teeth.
  • Foods and drinks high in sugar (food for bacteria) - Foods and drinks high in sugar, acids and carbohydrates are ones to keep away from. Sugary foods are the biggest culprit here. Bacteria in the mouth literally feed off of it to stay alive. Also, dry mouth issues can lead to tooth decay.
Keep these topics in mind for optimal dental and gum health.

Should I Get Implants?

With all of this information in mind, are dental implants right for you? Let's go over some of the benefits so you can decide.
  • Your smile will look natural - The most obvious benefit here is your smile. If you have lost teeth or are going to have some extracted, this is a great way to keep your smile.
  • Implants prevent decay of the jaw line - Implants preserve the jawbone and keep it from decaying as well. Up to 1/3 of your jaw can have a collapsed appearance from tooth loss.
  • Reduced appearance of mouth wrinkles - Implants will also reduce the effects of wrinkles around the mouth area.
  • Easier to clean than dentures - It is also far easier to clean dental implants than it is dentures or other quick fixes, the only main difference being a floss threader for flossing.
  • Higher self-esteem - Implants also look like your natural teeth, so when you smile, nobody will be the wiser about your implants. This goes a long way to improving self-esteem, as well.
  • Will not impede your speech - Furthermore, they will not cause you to have an impediment in your speech due to dentures. It's more difficult to speak naturally with dentures.
As you can see, the benefits of implants are many. Happy smiling!

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Nassau County Periodontist. Learn more by visiting her website at:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

How To Overcome Dental Phobia or Anxiety

How To Overcome Dental Phobia or Anxiety

Fear of the dentist or anxiety that centers around any dental procedure is actually one of the most common fears that people report. 

As many as 75% of adults are believed to experience some degree of anxiety when visiting the dentist, even for routine appointments. 

Very few people look forward to going to the dentist, but dental phobia is more than feeling a little stressed about your visit before you go.

What Is Dental Phobia?

Dentophobia, or odontophobia, causes such an extreme degree of stress for sufferers that they often avoid going to the dentist at all costs. They will put up with gum infections, minor toothaches and an assortment of other easily treated problems just to avoid their dentist. They will put off visits until they have a full-blown dental emergency. It is believed that most cases of dental phobia stem from having a very negative experience at the dentist previously - some professionals even consider it to be a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. Other causes of dental phobia may also be embarrassment due to poorly taken care of teeth or feeling like going to the dentist is a loss of control.

When a dental emergency arises, like a severe toothache or a dental abscess, the dental procedures necessary are often extremely unpleasant. In addition, being tense and nervous lowers your pain threshold, which will make the procedure even worse for those with severe dental anxiety. Only going to the dentist when one of these major procedures is needed serves to reinforce all of the negative feelings associated with dentophobia. Sufferers end up stuck in an endless cycle of fear and pain that is very difficult to overcome.

Those with dental phobia obviously have a much higher risk of gum and periodontal disease and they also risk early tooth loss. Because of the link between oral health and overall health, sufferers also tend to have poorer health in general. Their discolored and unhealthy teeth also result in lower self-esteem, and the far-reaching repercussions of their phobia can take a toll on both their personal and professional lives. Fortunately, it is possible to overcome dental phobia.

How To Overcome Dental Phobia?

Without treatment or some sort of intervention, dental phobia and anxiety will typically get worse over time. Each time a sufferer does go to the dentist, it is more likely to be a bad experience and they are even less likely to go again.

Overcoming dental phobia is much like overcoming any other type of extreme fear. Not every approach is going to work for everyone, but some of the main treatments include behavior therapy and cognitive therapy. Today, there are even specialized dentists that specifically treat people with dental phobia, and they work to make each visit a pleasant one. Having positive dental experiences, or ones that are not negative, helps a great deal with overcoming a fear of visiting the dentist.

Along with these approaches, there are also pharmacological approaches. The use of anesthesia and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) are common for a lot of dental procedures even for patients without a phobia. But dentists will take special measures with their most fearful patients. They employ the use of prescription medications and sedatives to make procedures less stressful for patients with severe anxiety. These medications will help patients to feel calmer, but they allow them to continue to communicate with their dental professionals during the procedure. Sometimes these different approaches are used in varying combinations in order to determine what is best for the patient.

In order to avoid painful, long and unpleasant procedures it is important to visit your dentist for regular checkups and routine teeth cleanings. These types of visits typically don't involve any pain at all and choosing to visit the dentist more often helps to ward off those extreme dental emergencies. Having even these routine procedures done is extremely stressful for someone with dental phobia, but the fear can be overcome.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Some Great Apps for Dental Hygiene

Just like everything else, dental care has reached the app store. Want a reminder to floss? There's an app for that. Want a detailed description on actually how to floss? There's an app for that, too.

People have become so entrenched in their handheld technology that most prefer seeking out dental care resources on their phones rather than hearing it from the hygienist. But that's okay because if anything, these apps are helping people make better choices when it comes to their dental care.

Some of the best apps for dental hygiene include:

  • Dental Care HD. This app by Egate IT Solutions is $0.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad users. It provides flossing information and tutorials. Some of the sections include dental problems, eating right for the best oral health, and a guide to help the user know when they should visit the dentist and when they don't have to.
  • Brush DJ. This app by UK dentist Ben Underwood is free. It is a clever brushing timer that resources the user's own music library to get them to brush for an entire two minutes. Find a list of great brushing songs at the app's website:
  • MyDentist. This app by DentalAnywhere is free to download. It is all about improving patient and dentist communication. When a dental emergency happens after hours, this app makes it easy to for the patient to express what's wrong to the dentist using diagrams, pictures, and text. In turn, the dentist can quickly relay to the patient emergency instructions until they can see them in person.
  • Habit Streak. This free app by German Espitia helps users track their flossing habit. To glean the benefits of flossing, it needs to be done daily. The habit needs to take hold and with this app, it's easier to get there.
  • Dental Phobia. This app by Dr. Jeff Sherer is $.099. You can't have great hygiene without regularly going to the dentist. This helpful app provides information on coping strategies for dealing with dental fears, as well as alternatives.
  • Colgate Tooth Fairy. This app by MagiClick Digital Solutions is free and includes ways to build brushing routines and teeth brushing timers. It also has games like "Teeth Battle" and "Funky Smiles" to help get your kids into the app.
  • My Smile. This app by You Plus Pty Ltd. is $1.29 and allows users to compare your current tooth color to other colors on a 15 shade palate. This app is intended to act as a monitor of your tooth color over time.
  • KidsDental. This app by Orca Health, Inc. is $1.99. Taking care of teeth can be boring, that's why this app is great for kids, it makes dental hygiene exciting! It also covers issues like cavities and gingivitis.
  • Braces Help. This app by The Dental Specialists is free and helps kids (and adults) with what to do in certain situations when wearing braces. It also helps braces wearers learn about how to take care of their braces.
  • Philips Zoom Teeth Whitening. This app by Philips is free and is used for people who are interested in knowing what their teeth would look like if they were to apply whiteners. The app uses a photo of the person that can be then shared via email or social media.
  • Tiny Dentist. This app by Anastasiia Markacheva is free and puts kids in the position of the dentist. It allows them to get comfortable with the feel of the dentist "office" and "tools" through the app, along with pretending to be a dentist so they can be less fearful of the dentist's office.
  • Chomper Chums. This app by United Concordia Dental is free, and it's another great app to help kids learn about correct brushing techniques.

Good dental hygiene is just as important as exercise, good nutrition, and adequate sleep. Whether you are 4 or 94, it's never too early to start learning about proper oral care and these apps will get you on your way to proper flossing techniques, proper brushing techniques, and much more.

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Nassau County Periodontist. Learn more by visiting her website at:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

10 Things You Didn't Know About Dental Hygiene

Girl practicing good dental hygiene.
A healthy mouth is not only good for your confidence, but it is also imperative for your overall health. Bacteria is the number-one culprit behind most dental problems. Therefore, you should be brushing and flossing every day.

However, as it turns out, daily brushing and flossing alone are not enough to ward off unwanted bacteria and dental problems, read on to discover 10 surprising facts you didn't know about dental hygiene.

1. Dental Hygiene is Important to Your Overall Health

Improper oral hygiene can lead to high levels of bacteria, which can lead to plaque, tooth decay and gum disease. When large amounts of oral bacteria leaks into the bloodstream it can weaken the immune system as well as damage the heart and lead to heart attacks and other health issues.

2. Dental Check Ups Are Great for Cancer Screening

In addition to being a certified hygienist; your dentist is also a specialist in oral cancer screening. As your dentist examines your mouth for dental problems, they are also prodding and poking for signs of oral cancer.

3. Breath Odor Can Be a Sign of Serious Dental Problems

Sometimes the best way your dentist can be alerted to dental problems, is by smelling your breath. So, skip the pleasant cover ups before your appointment for a more thorough visit.

4. Nighttime is When Bacteria are the Most Active

Oral bacteria is most active during the wee hours, which can lead to infection, cavities and other dental problems, so be sure to hit the hay with a fresh mouth.

5. Sour Candies Can Lead to Tooth Erosion

Sugar, soft drinks and fruit juices aren't the only substances that can erode your teeth. As it turns out, ultra sour, sticky, sugary candies and even sour gummy vitamins have a really low pH, which can cause tooth erosion. Brushing with baking soda periodically or consuming chewing gum products that contain Recaldent or Xylitol can help ward off bacteria, deter tooth decay, and remineralize the teeth.

6. Metal Piercings Can Damage Your Teeth

Tongue and lip piercings can wreak havoc on your oral health. Not only are they breeding grounds for bacteria, but each time you speak, the metal hits your teeth, which can fracture the teeth and cause them to wear quicker, leading to oral deformities and missing teeth.

7. Your Toothbrush Should Be Switched Out After a Cold, the Flu or Other Viral Infections

Microbes can embed themselves in your toothbrush bristles, and each time you brush your teeth; you can re-infect yourself with these microbes. So in addition to swapping out your toothbrush every three months, you should also be sure to switch your toothbrush out after an illness, to avoid getting sick again.

8. Capping Your Toothbrush Can Harbor Bacteria

Capping your toothbrush can trap moisture, which can encourage bacteria growth. So leave the cap off, especially when traveling, to allow your toothbrush to air out.

9. Do Not Store Your Toothbrush Near the Toilet

Each time you flush, dangerous bacteria can travel as far as six feet. So store your toothbrush a safe distance from the toilet to avoid airborne particles from coming in contact with your toothbrush.

10. Too Much Fluoride Can Be Bad for Your Teeth

When children swallow too much fluoride, it can cause their teeth to become porous, also known as fluorosis. This condition can first appear as white spots on the teeth, and can eventually turn brown. And since this condition is more of an internal issue, dentists cannot simply polish it away. To avoid the risk of your child swallowing excessive fluoride, be sure to use just a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their toothbrush, and supervise them while brushing their teeth to ensure they spit out the paste as opposed to swallowing it. Alternatively, opt for fluoride-free toothpaste until they get the hang of it.

Be sure to schedule dental exams every six months to help your hygienist stay on top of minor dental issues before they become a major problem, which can lead to painful procedures and costly repairs. In the meantime, try incorporating these useful tips in between visits to help keep your mouth healthy, which will help your visits go more smoothly, and make your dentist proud.

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Nassau County Periodontist. Learn more by visiting her website at:

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Using a Waterpik

Along with daily brushing, it is important to clean between your teeth to remove food particles and bacteria that your toothbrush cannot reach. Neglecting these areas as part of your regular oral hygiene regimen, can lead to gum disease and cavities, which can eventually lead to tooth loss. 

A Waterpik is a commonly preferred tool that has been clinically proven to remove food particles and bacteria from between the teeth, but it is not without pros and cons.

What is a Waterpik?

A Waterpik, also known as a dental water jet, oral irrigator or water flosser, is an instrument that directs a surge of water at the teeth to help wash away food particles. Though the name Waterpik is a registered brand, the term is often used to describe any instrument that jets water into the teeth to clean them.

To begin, lean over the sink to avoid a mess. Hold the tip of the pik in one space for about 3-5 seconds, allowing it to pulse and thoroughly cleanse the area, before slowly moving along the gum line of the tooth and onto the next space.

You can switch to a higher setting, once your gums get used to the water pressure and you perfect the technique.

Pros of Using a Waterpik

  • One benefit of using a Waterpik is that the jets of water blast food particles from between the teeth, which makes it a fast and easy way to clean your teeth.

  • An oral irrigator is efficient for flushing out bacteria from deep pockets that occur when gums separate from the teeth, therefore; it is often recommended for patients with gum disease. Floss cannot reach these areas.

  • A Waterpik delivers high-pressure water, so it works well for cleaning around implants, crowns and bridges.

  • People with braces can also benefit from using a Waterpik because the streaming water gets behind the metal wires to help flush out food particles.

  • A dental water jet is gentle on the gums, so it is less likely to cause pain and bleeding in individuals with sensitive teeth.

  • The Waterpik has been clinically proven to provide significant oral health benefits to users, including those with implants, crowns, braces and even diabetes (1).

Cons of Using a Waterpik

  • The main drawback of using a Waterpik is the cost, which can be a bit pricey for most people. The cost for a Waterpik, including replacement heads, averages more than normal floss, and it is recommended that you replace the tips every 3-6 months.

  • When you first learn to use an oral irrigator, water may spray around, which can make it messy to use until you get the hang of it.

  • A dental water jet does not clean plaque from the teeth as well as floss. Floss hugs the tooth and scrapes plaque away, which prevents it from causing tooth decay and gingivitis. A Waterpik just rinses it. Therefore, a Waterpik is not a substitute for flossing.


For patients with orthodontics, heavy restorative work such as crowns and dentures or patients who have problems flossing routinely, a Waterpik can help keep your teeth clean better than just brushing. For all other patients, if you want to be extra diligent about oral hygiene, consider using both a dental water jet and floss.

Floss first to loosen plaque, and use the jet to flush it away, then follow up with brushing using a fluoride toothpaste. Patients who use the waterpik report less bleeding, firmer gum tissue and more comfortable dental visits.

If you are interested in using a Waterpik and would like to find out more about them, your hygienist can show you some models and explain to you more about how they work, as well as recommend the best model for you.

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Nassau County Periodontist. Learn more by visiting her website at:


(1) Water Pik Clinically Proven Results.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Difference Between a Dentist and a Periodontist

When you have a cavity or just need your teeth to be cleaned, you probably schedule an appointment with your dentist. Most people see their dentist every six months or so for check-ups and cleanings. Your dentist can also provide you with whitening treatments as well as basic tooth extractions when necessary. 

When you need more than a simple procedure because of an issue with your gums or the bones in your mouth this is when you will want to see a periodontist instead. Your dentist may also refer you to a periodontist if they believe you are at higher risk for developing periodontal disease.

Gum Disease and Periodontitis

Usually a periodontist is the one who will diagnose gum disease in its many stages and then take measures to treat it. A leading periodontist, like Dr. Marichia Attalla, is a specialized type of dentist. A periodontist performs more complex types or oral care and surgery that usually also involve your gums. Periodontists have extended educations in which they study the periodontium, which is the soft tissue in your mouth as well as the bones of your jaw. It is this knowledge and work with the gums that is the main distinction between a dentist and periodontist.

General dentists can help to prevent gum disease with regular cleanings, but a periodontist is needed as the condition advances. Periodontists can perform two highly beneficial deep cleaning procedures called scaling and root-planing. Both of these procedures are non-surgical and effective at treating gingivitis.

Scaling removes tartar build-up and root-planing actually smooths out rough patches on your teeth where bacteria is inclined to become trapped. It's harder for smoother teeth to become home to bacteria and this can stop gum disease in its tracks and prevent it from resurfacing in the future.

Leaving gum disease untreated causes it to evolve into gingivitis and then periodontal disease. A periodontist specializes in the prevention and treatment of periodontitis. Periodontitis is the most advanced stage and it affects your teeth, your gums and ultimately your bones. Studies have indicated a link between periodontal disease and other conditions like diabetes and heart disease. The condition of your teeth and gums has far-reaching repercussions on the rest of your body and your overall health.

A periodontist also comes into play if there is already extensive damage to your gums in the form of deep pockets or recession. Because of the involvement of more than just your teeth, periodontal disease is beyond the scope of your regular dentist. In the worst case scenario, the gum degradation and bone loss can result in the loss of teeth. Periodontists also deal a lot with dental implants and other work to repair the damage caused by periodontal disease.

When You Should See A Periodontist

If you have a toothache, you can usually just see your dentist and he or she can determine the cause of the issue and remedy it. If your gums hurt though, you'll want to see a periodontist. Red, swollen and bleeding gums are indicators of worsening gum disease. If you have any sort of jaw pain associated with tooth pain or you notice that a tooth is becoming loose, you'll definitely want to see a periodontist.

Receding gums are also treated by periodontists. This condition is fairly common and has many different causes. It can lead to unsightly changes in your smile as well as sensitivity to hot and cold foods. As your gums recede, the roots of your teeth begin to be exposed, which causes the sensitivity. Dr. Marichia Attalla provides a simple outpatient surgery known as gum grafting in order to reverse this gum condition.

Along with reversing gum damage, a periodontist can reverse bone damage as well. Periodontitis causes your immune system to actually begin eating away at your own bones as it tries to fight the bacterial infection that has invaded. This leads to bone loss, which loosens the sockets of your teeth. The bone can be regrown with bone grafting. Sometimes bone grafting is needed before implants can be inserted to be replace lost teeth.

Periodontists also deal with lost teeth. When you've lost a tooth or teeth due to an injury, accident or periodontal disease, you become quickly aware of how much it affects your smile, as well as how you speak and how you eat. Dental implants provided by periodontists are prosthetic teeth that improve your health as well as the aesthetics of your smile. Periodontists utilize the latest technology and techniques to replace a tooth, a bridge or even a whole set of teeth as an alternative to dentures.

Dental implants improve your well-being as well as your cosmetics. Gum grafting is also two-fold in the same manner. Some periodontists perform some additional cosmetic treatments as well. For people with overly "gummy" smiles there is a procedure called cosmetic crown lengthening, which is essentially the opposite of gum grafting. Instead of adding gum tissue, excess gum tissue is removed in order to make small teeth look larger. This procedure is also used when your periodontist needs access to the roots of your teeth.

Dr. Marichia Attalla is a leading Periodontist in Nassau County NY.