An In-Depth Look at Cavities from Your Astoria Dentist

What is the Cause of Cavities?

What do you think causes cavities? If you answered “sugar,” don’t worry; you are in the majority of those polled by the ADA. In a study by the American Dental Association, 81% of participants incorrectly guessed that sugar causes cavities. This can be a tricky question since sugar contributes to tooth decay; although, in the end, it is spiral shaped, fast-moving pathogens that cause dental caries. These harmful bacteria are called streptococcus mutans, or S. mutans. Dr. Leibowitz, your Astoria family dentist, will explain the formation of cavities, and what you can do to protect yourself from tooth decay.

How Tooth Decay Forms

These bacteria found in your mouth feed off of the sugar you consume. The S. mutans metabolize the sugar into acid. Your tooth enamel’s worst enemy, acid, attacks your tooth’s defenses leaving them more vulnerable to bacteria. Acid can also harm your smile when you eat foods with citric acid, such as lemons. Acid reflux and bulimia can also harm your teeth because of stomach acid introduced into your mouth. Once your enamel is weakened by acid, S.mutans can form cavities on your tooth structure. They deteriorate the tooth’s enamel further into the soft layer of dentin beneath.

Professional Dental Care and Cavities

Since your teeth cannot reproduce tooth enamel, your body will not heal cavities on its own. Professional dental care is necessary to remove infection and restore your tooth. Your Astoria dentist offers minimally invasive fillings and preventive dentistry to help you fight back against dental caries. Additionally, since cavities do not often produce noticeable signs to the patient, dental checkups are important to detect tooth decay before it progresses to bigger issues. (more…)

Astoria Cosmetic Dentist Transforms Gummy Smiles

When your Astoria family dentist cares for your oral health, Dr. Leibowitz is not just concerned for your teeth; gum health is just as important as your dental health when it comes to maintaining a healthy mouth. So why should cosmetic dentistry be any different? At your Astoria dental office, we offer cosmetic dentistry services that focus on your teeth and gums to help you achieve the smile of your dreams. In this blog, your Astoria cosmetic dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz will explain how gum contouring can transform your smile.

Gummy Smiles

As the frame for your smile, your gums can have a large impact on your image. Sometimes gums can look overgrown or uneven because of different factors that affect the gum line. This can make even the straightest teeth look crooked or too small. Often called a gummy smile, excessive gingival display can result in juvenile-looking teeth by showing too much gum tissue when you smile. Other factors can also contribute to uneven gum tissue that makes some teeth look disproportionate.

Electrosurge Gum Contouring

Your Astoria cosmetic dentist, Dr. Leibowitz offers gum contouring for patients with uneven or gummy smiles. This process shapes your gingival tissue to properly frame your smile, so that your gum line is even with your lips when you smile. Using Electrosurge, an innovative and precise tool for gum reshaping, Dr. Leibowitz offers one of the fastest healing and most comfortable gum contouring options available.

Gum Reshaping and Cosmetic Dentistry Benefits

A complement to any cosmetic dentistry procedure such as porcelain veneers or dental bonding, gum contouring makes subtle differences that create gorgeous results. You may be surprised to find that such a small change in your gum shape can have such a large impact on your smile. (more…)

All about Dental Bonding from Your Astoria Dentist

What makes up cosmetic bonding?

Dental bonding, also called cosmetic bonding, is made of the same material used for white fillings. Composite resin is a moldable material that starts as a liquid. Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, your Astoria cosmetic dentist, can use this material for filling cavities, attaching porcelain veneers, or creating cosmetic enhancements with dental bonding. Once the composite resin is shaped to Dr. Leibowitz’s specifications,  he can use a curing light to harden the material.

Is dental bonding a good alternative to porcelain veneers?

Often called a cheaper alternative to veneers, dental bonding covers many of the same smile imperfections as the more expensive cosmetic procedure. Since dental bonding uses composite resin instead of porcelain, the materials are less expensive and require less preparation. Where porcelain veneers would have to be fabricated in a ceramics lab, dental bonding can be shaped directly on top of your tooth. As a result, dental bonding offers even faster smile makeovers than porcelain veneers.

How are veneers different from cosmetic bonding?

Unfortunately, dental bonding will not last as long or look as natural as porcelain veneers. Composite resin does not offer the same semi-translucency as porcelain, which allows veneers to reflect light more naturally. Additionally, bonding is more porous than porcelain veneers. This means dental bonding is more susceptible to tooth stains than veneers and will most likely pick up discoloration faster.

What can dental bonding do for my smile?

Like veneers, cosmetic bonding covers a variety of smile issues at once. Some of the smile imperfections bonding can correct include:

  • Tooth chips
  • Misshapen teeth
  • Jagged tooth edges
  • Wide gaps between teeth
  • Hairline cracks (craze lines)
  • Light discoloration
  • Crooked teeth (more…)

Dental Emergency in Queens? We Have You Covered

Facial injuries can be a traumatic experience. Along with the pain that comes with injuries to your mouth or smile, these emergencies can also leave you in shock. Preparation is always the most effective way to handle medical emergencies so that you can keep your cool and prevent further pain. Your Astoria dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, has these tips for dental emergencies so that you can be prepared to deal with a knocked-out tooth.

Sports Injuries and Tooth Trauma

Hockey players are not the only athletes in danger of losing teeth. When it comes to sports injuries, facial trauma accounts for 40 percent. Wearing a mouthguard and other facial protection is your best bet for safety. However, in the event of a dental emergency, take these steps for an optimal outcome.

How to Handle a Knocked-Out Tooth

When dealing with a knocked-out tooth, the most important safety measure is to confirm that the patient is not otherwise seriously injured. Have a medical professional look for signs of concussion if possible and dial 9-1-1 if the patient is unconscious. After ensuring the patient’s safety, recover the knocked-out tooth. In many cases, your Astoria dentist can place a knocked-out tooth back into the socket so that the tooth reattaches. For this to happen successfully, time is of the essence. The window for successful reattachment is typically 30 minutes, so try to follow these steps efficiently.

  1. Call our dental office in Astoria immediately at 718-728-8320.
  2. Recover the knocked-out tooth, holding it gently by the crown instead of the roots. The connective tissues of the avulsed, or knocked-out, tooth are fragile.
  3. Submerge the tooth in a glass of lukewarm milk or saline solution for transportation to the dental office. If neither of these liquids is available, gently rinse the avulsed tooth with warm water and place it between the patient’s cheek and gums. (more…)

Astoria Dentist Explains How Dental Implants Combat Tooth Loss

Last week, your Astoria dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz explained how missing teeth can lead to multiple dental health issues from malocclusion (poor bite), to alveolar atrophy (jawbone shrinkage), on top of difficulty with speaking and eating. When it comes to tooth loss, the consequences can be overwhelming. That’s why your Astoria dental office offers relief with dental implants.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is much like other dental restorations in that the crown is shaped and colored to look like a natural tooth. However, what sets dental implants apart from other dental restorations like dental bridges, dentures, and partials, is the titanium rod.

This tiny biocompatible piece of the dental implant bonds to the jawbone. The rod allows a dental implant to not only look like a natural tooth, but also feel like a natural tooth. By mimicking a tooth root, the dental implant rod holds the crown in place, giving it strength and stability.

What are the benefits of a dental implant?

This tooth replacement will allow you to enjoy your favorite foods without worrying if your restoration will slip out of place or feel awkward. Dental implants also give you the freedom of a normal oral hygiene routine.

You can clean and maintain your dental implant like you would your natural teeth, instead of removing them to soak in cleaner at night, or using special interdental brushing methods, as with dentures and dental bridges. In fact, with proper oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings, you can expect your dental restoration to last for your lifetime.

One hidden benefit of dental implants is their ability to replace the chewing stimulation to your jawbone, once provided by your missing tooth. This keeps your jaw healthy and prevents alveolar atrophy as well as holds your surrounding teeth in relative position, avoiding malocclusion. (more…)

Queens Dentist Explains the Compounding Issues of Missing Teeth

Have you lost a tooth to decay, gum disease, dental injury, or infection? If you have missing teeth, then you know that your speech and eating habits suffer. But did you know that a missing tooth can also be harmful to your oral health? Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, your Queens dentist describes the compounding problems associated with tooth loss and how you can prevent them.

Tooth Loss Can Lead to Malocclusion

Each of your teeth serves a specific purpose. Their location, shape, and size relate to the role they play in chewing and speaking. When one tooth is missing, other teeth will try to make up for the loss. This results in teeth shifting out of place and a misaligned bite. Malocclusion, or misaligned bite, can present several problems for your oral health. A poor bite can create issues with jaw health, since your jaw hinge joint will continually struggle to hold your teeth at the correct angle. Malocclusion can also cause excessive tooth wear when one tooth attempts to make up for the role of a different tooth, which it is not meant to handle.

Tooth Loss Can Lead to Jawbone Damage

Another serious, yet often overlooked consequence of missing teeth is jawbone deterioration. Known as alveolar atrophy, this occurs when your jawbone no longer receives the chewing stimulation it needs to stay healthy. The bone begins to shrink in what is known as bone resorption. The result of multiple missing teeth is a sunken-in look, since your jawbone and teeth give your face vertical height. Without the height from your teeth and jawbone, your face will begin to look collapsed, with severe wrinkles around the mouth. (more…)

Sensitive Teeth? Learn How Your Queens Dentist Will Help You Enjoy Ice Cream Again

On these hot summer days, many Americans look forward to the simple joys of ice cold lemonade, snow cones, and ice cream as the perfect treat to cool you down. However, for many people, these nostalgic treats induce pain. For patients with sensitive teeth, it may be difficult to enjoy cold or hot beverages because of the aching sensation that accompanies extreme temperatures.  Your dentist in Queens, Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz will help diagnose and treat the cause of your sensitive teeth to quickly address problems so you can comfortably eat that snow cone this summer!

How Tooth Sensitivity Works

The main role of tooth enamel, the hard mineral substance on the outside of your tooth, is to protect the sensitive inner structures of your tooth. When your enamel is weakened, the dentin is more vulnerable to temperature as well as bacteria. Tooth sensitivity and tooth decay are the most common signs of enamel erosion. Weakened enamel can also make it easier for teeth to become stained or discolored. When the slightly exposed dentin feels hot or cold beverages, it transmits the temperature to the nerve center of the tooth, the pulp center. The nerves will then send pain signals to your brain, creating toothache.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity

Since insufficient amount of enamel protection is the main cause of tooth sensitivity, dental conditions that wear away enamel are the main culprits. Teeth grinding, TMJ disorder, and tooth decay are common causes of enamel erosion. Gum disease and gingival recession can also contribute to sensitive teeth.

How Our Queens Dentist Treats Sensitive Teeth

At a dental checkup with Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, we will help you determine the cause of your enamel erosion and how to treat your dental condition. Your Queens dental office offers bruxism and TMJ disorder prevention, periodontal care, and even cosmetic dentistry treatments that may help alleviate some of your tooth sensitivity. Dr. Leibowitz can also recommend fluoridated toothpastes and mouthwashes to help strengthen your tooth enamel. (more…)

Your Astoria Dentist Explains The Truth About Root Canals

What You Need to Know About Root Canal Treatment

At our Astoria dental office, we believe that patient education is an important part of encouraging your best dental health. The more you know about dental procedures, the less anxiety and fear you may have about receiving the dental treatment you need. Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz will explain the truth about root canal treatment so that you can feel relaxed in the dental chair.

Myth: Root Canals Hurt

Truth: This myth most likely originated from an era before modern medicine and local anesthesia were readily available. Today, root canals are about as uncomfortable as a simple filling. Your Astoria dentist, Dr. Leibowitz will take great care to help you feel relaxed and completely safe. He will also explain the procedure to you beforehand and answer any of your questions. Then, using local anesthesia, he will numb the treatment site.

Ironically, the purpose of a root canal procedure is to literally remove pain. Root canal treatment removes damaged nerves from the tooth halting the infection from spreading and eliminating painful toothache.

Myth: Root Canals Are Not Necessary

Truth: Once decay has breached the inside of the tooth, only professional dental care can remove the infection and prevent further damage. When cavities reach the pulp center, the infection travels down the root of the tooth and eventually into the jawbone, creating abscess. This severely painful dental condition can be prevented with endodontic treatment from your gentle Astoria dentist. (more…)

Astoria Dentist Warns Against These Bad Dental Habits Part II

In last week’s blog, we learned about how your tongue gives clues to health conditions, the dangers biting your fingernails can have on your tooth enamel, and other bad dental habits to avoid. Your Astoria dentist, Dr. Leibowitz also warns against other behaviors that can have a negative effect on your oral health.

Spit Out Your Gum

Did you know that chewing sugar-free gum may actually benefit your teeth? Chewing gum made with stevia or xylitol, healthy sugar alternatives, can help protect your teeth when brushing is not an option. Of course, you cannot replace brushing with simply chewing gum, but a sugarless gum can be helpful in a pinch. The gum stimulates saliva production which not only washes away food debris, but also stabilizes the acidity in your mouth, preventing cavities. However, there is a catch to chewing sugarless gum: spit it out after 15 minutes.

Prolonged Gum Chewing Hurts Your Jaw Muscles

Chewing gum for hours on end, like the obnoxious, gum-chewing record holder, Violet of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, can result in dire consequences for your oral health. Your temporomandibular joint is the lower jaw joint that allows you to chew, open your mouth, and speak. Continuous chewing for more than 15 minutes can contribute to TMJ disorder, a condition related to issues with this lower jaw joint.

Avoid TMJ Disorder

Also called TMD, TMJ disorder can create a multitude of oral health and overall health problems. Some symptoms of TMD include teeth grinding, weakened enamel, jaw popping, difficulty opening your mouth, shoulder and neck pain, earaches, headaches, and dizziness, especially in the morning. If you are going to chew gum, avoid sparking TMJ disorder issues by chewing it sparingly and only for short amounts of time. (more…)

Your Worst Dental Habits Explained by Astoria Dentist Part I

Stop Biting Your Fingernails

Your teeth are composed of a pulp center which houses all of your tooth’s nerves and living tissues. The layer surrounding the pulp center is the soft dentin. Both of these sensitive inner structures are protected by a hard outer layer of enamel.  Your tooth enamel blocks bacteria and harsh temperatures from harming the inside of your tooth or causing pain.

Nail-biting Can Cause Enamel Erosion

Biting your fingernails, chewing on inedible objects, and crunching hard substances like ice can slowly wear down this hard mineral surface. Enamel erosion creates tooth sensitivity and a heightened risk of cavities. In addition, nail-biting introduces harmful bacteria that is trapped underneath your fingernails, which may cause illness.

Do Not Neglect Your Tongue

Have you ever experienced stale breath even after brushing your teeth? If you skip scrubbing your tongue, you may be leaving behind odor-causing bacteria. Brushing your teeth removes food particles and debris, preventing plaque buildup and tooth decay; however, brushing alone is not enough for complete oral hygiene. Use a tongue scraper or the bristles of your toothbrush to clean the bacteria that build up on the back of your tongue and create bad breath.

Your Tongue Shows Signs of Health Conditions

Your tongue can also give clues to certain oral health issues. Looking for signs of lesions, keeping track of sores, and paying attention to discoloration can help you discover health conditions early. For instance, if you notice a sore spot, or white splotchy substance that has not healed in 7-10 days, contact your Astoria dentist immediately, as this may be a symptom of oral cancer.