Smoking is bad for your teeth, too!

Girl breaking cigAccording to The Center of Disease Control, more than 16 million Americans suffer from a disease caused by smoking and another half suffer from gum disease. This equates to 64.7 million American adults, which is quite alarming!

When taking into account how smoking affects the body, most people may not consider how it can directly affect their mouth. As a cigarettes’ entry way, the mouth is more susceptible to periodontal (gum) disease, loss of bone structure, inflammation of the salivary gland, Leukoplakia (precancerous condition) and development of lung, throat or oral cancer. With more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, it’s not surprising that smoking can cause premature aging and serious conditions.

What is Periodontis?

Periodontis is inflammation of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth caused by certain bacteria and local inflammation that is triggered by periodontal bacteria. This condition is common in smokers. The main symptom of gum disease is visible inflammation of the gums called gingivitis and bleeding from the gums when brushing teeth.

Smoking Can Age you!

Studies show that smoking regularly can cause loss of bone structure and an aging appearance. Smokers are twice as likely to lose teeth as nonsmokers, which may cause a need for dental implants or dentures to help fill out facial features.

Not only can smoking cause these serious conditions, it can also result in built-up plaque and tartar, stained yellow or brown teeth, bad breath, and the loss of taste and smell. Patients who smoke are also likely to heal slowly after dental work, and have a lower success rate of dental implants.

At Shane McDowell, we truly care about our patients overall health. We recommend taking this course of action to eventually abstain from smoking to help avoid serious conditions.

  • Schedule an exam with your doctor so they can help identify the right smoking cessation program
  • Schedule an appointment with us so we may evaluate your dental health and advise on any issues or treatment solutions
  • Inquire with your doctor about counseling service, nicotine patch or gum, or prescription medications that may help ease the need to smoke
  • Schedule regular professional dental cleanings and checkups
  • Initiate a stress reduction program such as an exercise regimen, Pilates, or yoga class

In order to protect your overall health and your dental health, our recommendation is to stop smoking, If you wish to continue to smoke, be sure to inform us of your habits so we may screen for periodontal disease and other smoking related issues.

At Shane McDowell, we take our patients health and happiness seriously.  If you are still unhappy with the look of your teeth, we can help! Our quality cosmetic and restorative dentistry procedures can help you have the smile you deserve.

Contact us today for a consultation at (239) 936-0597 or at

The ALS Oral Care Guide

With all of the recent awareness of ALS, at Shane McDowell, DMD., we want to provide some tips on how patients who suffer with ALS can still maintain their dental hygiene.

What Is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gerhig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of motor neurons means the motor neurons die off, which rids the brain its ability to initiate and control muscle movement. For most people, dental care is generally an easy, non-time consuming ritual. But for a patient struggling with symptoms of ALS, it can be a challenge.

Here is our quick guide to dental hygiene with ALS:

Brushing your teeth is a basic way to take care of dental hygiene, but it could sometimes be neglected, due to a patient feeling tired or having difficulty moving. After meals and before bedtime are the recommended times to brush teeth, for at least 2 minutes per session. This will help remove food particles and bacterial plaque that can cause gum disease. Focus should be placed on the gum line while brushing, because this is where bacteria lives and will behind eroding teeth if not properly cleaned away.

Slider image to replace kidIf a patient struggling with ALS can no longer brush their teeth, it may be up to a caregiver to help. This could be a challenge for both the patient and caregiver, but it’s still very important. If a patient is in a wheelchair, it is easiest to stand directly in front or to the side of the chair, facing the patient. If there is no headrest, make sure the patients head is supported for this process. Use one hand to stabilize the chin, and move the brush around the teeth with your other hand.

Which toothbrush is best?
Some toothbrushes in the store may not be best suited for patients with ALS. Most of these toothbrushes have small, skinny handles that are difficult to grip in which the patient will have difficulty keeping a grip on the brush. If the handle is too short, patients may have difficulty lifting their arms to reach the mouth. Here are the types of toothbrushes and equipment that are designed specifically for this type of patient:

  • Electric toothbrush: this type of toothbrush is great because it eliminates the need for extensive arm action, which will help the patient keep from getting too tired when brushing their teeth. Many of these models are designed with a thicker handle to help make gripping the toothbrush easier. A disadvantage may be that the toothbrush is too heavy to lift.
  • Handle build-ups: these are a very inexpensive solution that helps the patient keep hold of the toothbrush. For a quick-fix, try making a cut into a tennis ball, and inserting the end of the toothbrush into the tennis ball. Make sure it is securely fastened into the tennis ball before use.
  • Toothpaste dispenser: a toothpaste dispenser can help eliminate the need to squeeze toothpaste from a tube. This may seem like a rather ordinary task for most people, but for patients struggling with ALS, it may be a daunting task. Try this relatively inexpensive “As Seen on TV” option.

What is the best way to floss?
For a caregiver to help a patient with ALS floss may be a larger challenge than just brushing alone. However, the attempt is definitely worthwhile. If you are using manual floss, stand along the side and slightly to the rear of the wheel chair or any chair the patient is sitting in. Wrap your arms around the patients head, lean in a bit, and open the mouth and start flossing. It’s best to try to be as gentle as possible.

If flossing with the hands become too difficult, using a floss holder can help make flossing easier. For an even more convenient option, try Floss Picks, made by almost every major toothpaste brand.

Be cautious of mouth rinses
While mouth rinses are a great way to achieve a healthy mouth and gums, and help prevent gum disease, it can become impossible because of swallowing difficulties. If this is not a problem, still beware of rinses with high levels of alcohol. It’s usually best to go with an alcohol free rinse.

Other Important FAQ’s:

  • The progression of ALS can affect respiratory muscles to the point where patients may need a ventilator. Ventilators often have mouthpieces that cup around the mouth. It’s important to maintain dental health, because studies have shown that the presence of periodontal disease, plaque, or bacteria that can infect the lungs through the ventilator, and could potential cause pneumonia.
  • Some patients with ALS may experience an increase or decrease in saliva. This can be caused my certain medications or the need to breathe through the mouth. A decrease in saliva can be a problem, as saliva helps keep the teeth clean.

To help raise awareness and funds for ALS research, our entire team at Dr. Shane McDowell has participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge! See the video here:

At Shane McDowell, DMD., we love helping our patients live a happy and healthy lifestyle. We hope this ALS Dental Care guide is helpful to all of our patients and caregivers. For more tips on living with ALS, and to donate to research, visit the ALS Association Website  or the Lee Memorial ALS Clinic Website.

The Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

Friends EatingWe know that celebrating with friends and family can sometimes come in tandem delicious food, which may or may not be good for your teeth and gums. When you drink and munch starchy or sugary foods, you’re not only feeding yourself, but feeding plaque that can cause enamel erosion, cavities, or gum disease.

Plaque is a thin film of sticky bacteria that covers the surfaces of your teeth. When sugars or starches in your mouth come in contact with plaque, the acids that result can attack teeth for 20 minutes or more after you finish eating.  When you continue to eat, it could break down the hard enamel on the surface of teeth, resulting in tooth decay.

The Best

Did you know, 20 minutes after you eat something containing sugars or starches, your saliva begins to neutralize acids and enzymes, slowly decaying teeth? When you’re pursuing the food at your outdoor barbecue, be on the lookout for these teeth-friendly foods and snacks:

Fruits and vegetables: at most holiday gatherings, you will find a fruit and veggie tray. According to the American Dental Association, if they are fiber-rich, these fruits and vegetables have a detergent effect in your mouth and can help your mouth produce more saliva, which is your best natural defense against cavities and gum disease.

Foods with Fluoride: if you have an option, find fluoridated water or powdered juices (as long as they don’t contain a lot of sugar). Fluoride helps protect your enamel from erosion.

Dairy Products: The calcium and phosphates in cheese and milk help put minerals back in your teeth you might have lost due to erosion.

Green and Black Teas: Both of these natural beverages contain polyphenols that interact with plaque bacteria to help prevent bacteria from growing or producing tooth-attacking acid. Tip: Also use fluoride water to make your tea, and you’ve got a dynamic plaque fighting duo!

The Worst

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, staying away from sweet, sugary and starchy foods may be challenging, especially when you’re surrounded by goodies! Here’s a few to try to avoid, or at least eat in moderation:

Candies and Sweets: Try to avoid candies that linger in your mouth, coating your teeth in sugar. These include lollipops, caramels, and cough drops that contained refined sugar. If you must eat sweets (which everyone deserves once and a while!) go with the treat that clears out of your mouth quickly.

-Carbonated Beverages: As with all foods, drinking soda in moderation has little to no effect on your teeth. By avoiding drinking soda, you avoid the sugar in soda combines with bacteria in your mouth to form acid, which attacks your teeth. Even diet or “sugar-free” soda contains acid that can damage tooth enamel.

Starchy Foods: Soft breads and chips can get stuck in the crevices of your teeth, leaving it for bacteria feed on leftover food particles in the mouth. This produces acid, which causes tooth decay that can lead to cavities.

Daily Dental Care Tips

Sugar-free gum: try chewing on sugarless gum after to rinse food particles from mouth after a meal

Drink more water: just for general health reasons, it’s always a good idea to drink more water! But drinking fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay

Take Care: we know with all of the festivities it can be hard to keep up with, but don’t forget to brush your teeth twice per day, and floss once per day. Also, make sure you get a dental cleaning every six months! Call us to schedule your appointment today, at 239.936.2597




What you should know before whitening your teeth

Teeth Whitening Before and AfterIf your eyes are the window to your soul, perhaps your mouth is the window to your thoughts, feelings, and dreams. Every day we want to live as our best self, and if you’re hiding your teeth from years of accumulated stains, you may not be able to.

If you don’t feel that your teeth are at their whitest and brightest, our office uses a variety of teeth whitening techniques that can make your teeth gleam. Whether you want in-office or at-home treatments, we have many options for you!

Teeth Whitening FAQ’s

Q: What causes my teeth to turn yellow or brown?
A:  There are natural and habitual reasons for your teeth to be discolored. The most common is food or drink; coffee, tea, colas, wines, and certain foods like cherries or potatoes can cause surface stains that can stain further if teeth are not taken care of. Using tobacco or smoking can also result in stains, as well as certain medications, disease, or genetics.

Q: How do I know if I am able to get my teeth whitened?
A: First, you will need to set up a consultation with us so we may assess your oral health and decide on the best whitening method for you. If you have sensitive teeth or periodontal disease, we can recommend non-chemical whitening treatments to avoid tender teeth or gums. Every case if different, but we’re here to help!

Q: Is tooth whitening harmful to my enamel?
A: There is no permanent damage caused to enamel or other tooth structures by teeth whitening. The immediate effect may be tooth sensitivity, which will typically go away within one or two days after the treatment. After that short period, your teeth will return to its regular state of sensitivity

Q: How long will it last?
A: Depending on the type of teeth whitening procedure you have done, it can last from 6 months to 2 years. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry reports cases in which teeth whitening has lasted for 10 years. After your whitening treatment, it’s best to avoid red wine, coffee and smoking, which can all cause teeth to become stained.

Q: I have fillings. Will whitening affect them?
A: Whitening your teeth have little to no effect on restorative materials such as porcelain crowns, but it can temporarily reduce the bond strength between enamel and composite restorations, like fillings. If you have cavities when we do your pre-whitening evaluation, we may advise certain care instructions for your teeth if you have fillings, veneers or crowns.

Q: Is a whitening toothpaste enough to help whiten my teeth?
A: Typically, whitening toothpastes will only clean surface stains of your teeth. If your teeth have had years of stains, it will be nearly impossible to remove them with just a whitening toothpaste.

Q: What are the types of whitening services that you offer?
A: We offer different options based on your needs. We evaluate what type of whitening treatment you need or can have based on the current health of your teeth, your preferences, and your habits. In some cases, teeth that are yellow respond best to bleaching. Brown, gray, mottled teeth, or teeth exposed to too much fluoride, may be more challenging to whiten. We use Zoom teeth whitening, which is a revolutionary in-office process that gets your teeth their whitest in just over an hour. If you’d prefer an at-home treatment, our whitening kits are easy to use and achieve great results in 4-6 weeks.

Q: Is there any type of procedure other than my pre-whitening visit that I will need to have done?
A: First we will need to do a professional cleaning to remove external staining caused by food and tobacco. The regular use of a whitening toothpaste, as we mentioned, removes surface stains will help us in this process. After your cleaning, if you are having an in-office teeth whitening procedure, we are able to begin.

You should have the smile you deserve. And we can help you get there! Have more questions for us? Comment below, or contact us! To schedule an appointment or inquire about other services, call us at 239-936-0597.

No More Metal Fillings!

Metal CavityA few decades ago, dental cavities were filled with a mixture of different metals. Today, dentists are using more tooth-like materials that are safe and predictable to help create a natural and unnoticeable looking filling! Because the tooth filling is made up of resins and porcelains that mimic your natural tooth, the material is less susceptible to breaking. So while it’s best that you maintain a healthy mouth to avoid cavities, it no longer means obvious fillings.

About Your Teeth

One of the hardest natural materials for humans to produce consistently is enamel—that’s why it’s so important that you take care of your teeth to avoid enamel erosion. Tooth enamel is the hard substance found in the shell of each of your teeth that is visible when you look in your mouth. Below the enamel is dentin, a living material that is extremely sensitive. If your tooth has eroded, you may experience sensitivity that could indicate your need for a filling.

With dental porcelain fillings, our team can easily imitate the enamel of the tooth, eliminating a visible filling. If your enamel has eroded further into the dentin, we will use dental composite resins to fill in the part of the tooth where the natural dentin should be.

Why This Material Is Better

Metal fillings can cause further damage to teeth, not repairing the erosion or infection. We have access to tooth-colored fillings that mimic the same materials that your teeth are made of, therefore looking more natural and lasting longer than metal fillings. Using this new type of filling even requires that less of the tooth be removed in the process and possibly less pain during the procedure, which means you get to keep more of your natural smile!  To seal your teeth, we use a dentin resin coasting to seal and protect the surface of your tooth from bacteria and sensitivity.

The Process

If you feel you may have a cavity, make an appointment with our office right away. A technician will take X-rays of your mouth, then examine the X-rays, your teeth and gums to diagnose any issues. Based on our evaluation, we will provide you with a treatment recommendation.

If you just so happen to need a filling, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Once we identify the infected tooth, we clean the area thoroughly and remove debris. We then apply the filling solution into the missing area to provide more support to the tooth. A special light is held over the bonding material to harden the solution and bind it to the tooth.

The filling material can be shaped to match the contours of your natural tooth so that the relationship between the upper and lower teeth is preserved.

In some cases after a filling, you may experience intermittent pain. For the few days after you receive your fillings, it may be smart to avoid extremely hot or cold food or drink, as this may cause sensitivity.

Already have a metal filling? We can replace it with a more visibly natural and durable filling!  This is an easy way for us to improve your smile with a minimum amount of work.

Pefect TeethHow to prevent cavities

Some indicators that you may have a cavity can include a toothache, tooth sensitivity, mild or sharp pain when eating or drinking, visible holes or pits in your teeth, brown, black, or white stain on the surface of a tooth, and pain when you are biting down.

The easiest way to avoid cavities is by brushing your teeth at least twice daily, and flossing at least once a day. Flossing can help remove plaque and food debris that can breed with bacteria and cause erosion. You should brush with a soft bristled brush for at least two minutes per brushing. Using a mouthwash and toothpaste that contains fluoride will help protect your teeth- it is a compound that can help reverse the progress of early cavities and sometimes prevent the need for corrective treatment. Mouth rinses will help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, reducing your chance of infection.

If you are having any of the following symptoms, or would like to replace your metal filling with a more natural and durable filling, contact our office today! Our professional and experienced team looks forward to serving you.



I lost a tooth: now what?

shutterstock_138265232When you’re a kid, losing teeth is not a big deal—it’s another chapter of your life that is exciting and indicates you are growing up. And let’s face it, it meant a visit from the tooth fairy, which was always a great thing!

Now that we’re older, losing teeth is not such a great thing. The tooth fairy doesn’t visit us and we have lost our permanent adult teeth, now requiring us to have cosmetic dentistry procedures. If you lose an adult tooth that has minimal damage, in some cases the dentist will be able to re-implant the tooth. If the tooth is severely damaged, our dental practice has many different cosmeceutical options for you!

How does it happen?

Lost teeth are mainly caused by car crashes, falls, sport-related trauma, or chewing hard food. Losing a tooth can also be symptomatic of cavities or gum disease, which is treatable but will require you to have an examination so we can evaluate your dental health.

When you realize your tooth has fallen out, call us right away to schedule an appointment. Be sure to save it and bring it with you to your dentist appointment. It’s important to see the dentist as soon as possible, as the longer you wait, the less likely the dentist is able to fix it. To transport the tooth, place it in a container and cover with a small amount of milk or saliva.

Pain Management

To ease the pain of the gum where you lost the tooth, apply a cold compress to the mouth and gums, and apply some pressure to control bleeding. If your tooth is badly broken, your nerve endings may be exposed, and you should make an emergency appointment right away.

If your roots are exposed, do not touch, scrape, brush or clean the root of the tooth with alcohol or peroxide.

How we can repair this for you

Our dental practice offers a number of treatment options:

  • Dental implants are for patients who lose a tooth due to an accident or periodontal gum disease. The implant looks like a natural tooth, and is inserted into the site of the missing tooth, then a small post or “abutment” connects to the implant. We then cement the replacement tooth on top of the abutment.
  • Implant-retained dentures fit over the existing natural teeth or dental implants. They are held in place by dental attachments to provide maximum retention and function. This option would be good for the loss of several teeth.
  • Full Arch dental implants can be placed to function as a full set of teeth, which appear and function like a full set of natural teeth.

To prevent your teeth from falling out in the future, be sure to:

  • Wear a mouth guard when playing any contact sport
  • Avoid hard foods, such as bones, stale bread, and tough bagels
  • Always wear a seatbelt
  • Avoid cavities and gum disease by brushing your teeth at least two times per day, and floss at least once per day. Also remember to schedule a cleaning every six months.

At Shane McDowell, DMD, we guide our patients to find customized solutions for their dental issues. We can help repair a broken tooth, or if it’s not possible to repair or re-implant the tooth, we will find the right cosmeceutical solution for you.

To schedule your appointment for your missing tooth, contact us today at 239-936-0597 or We look forward to serving you!


Teeth abnormalities: more common than you think!

Everyone’s teeth are different- the size and shape of normal teeth varies, especially molars. However, sometimes a patient may have Embaressed Girlabnormally shaped teeth which can result from many different conditions. There are some diseases that can affect tooth shape, tooth color, time of appearance, or absence of teeth. Abnormal teeth can be caused by a number of things, from disease, to genetics.

At Shane McDowell, DMD, we offer a comprehensive array of cosmeceutical dental solutions, from fillings, dental restorations, crowns, bridges, and whitening techniques.

We’ve seen it all—but here’s some information about some abnormal teeth issues that you may be suffering from, and what we can do to help:

Extra Teeth Some patients may have supernumerary teeth, which are extra teeth that appear in addition to the regular number of teeth. The cause of this anomaly is a developmental disturbance creating intracellular activity at the beginning of tooth development. Sometimes these extra teeth can cause dental problems for surrounding teeth. The most common treatment for supernumerary teeth is extraction.

Missing Teeth Hypodontia, Oligodonita, & Partial Anodontia – All three of these dental conditions mean the absence of one or more teeth. Congenital absence of all wisdom teeth or third molars is common among patients. The cause of missing teeth (they don’t exist under the gum!) can be radiation exposure, or a hereditary disturbance like ectodermal dysplasia. The treatment for missing teeth depends on their location—at Shane McDowell, we have a few ways in which we can fix this issue, such as implants.

Larger than normal teeth Megadontia is a condition whereteeth which exceeds the normal range of variations, maxillary incisors, mandibular incisors, and mandibular second premolar. This is not a serious condition but we can help you fix this cosmetically.

Smaller than normal teeth Microdonita is a condition where teeth are smaller than normal—this is also not a serious condition, but with teeth smaller than normal, you may not feel confident in your smile. Our office has multiple ways of fixing this for you!

Teeth that are fused together This condition is called fusion, and is when two developing teeth merge together, fusing two normally separated teeth. This can happen during the development stage but if not corrected, can continue into adulthood. There is a groove that runs through the tooth that is prone to decay, even more sensitive than your rear molars! We may need to place a filling between the lines. Another option is to cosmetically repair the teeth so that they are two teeth again.

Little to no enamel on your teeth: Amelogenesis Imperfecto This condition is an abnormal formation of the enamel or external layer of teeth. The enamel is composed mostly of mineral that is formed and regulated by the proteins in it and is caused by malfunction of proteins in the enamel. Teeth may appear yellow, brown, or grey. Teeth with less enamel are at a higher risk for cavities and hypersensitivity to temperature changes and acidic foods. In some cases, crowns can be used to compensate for the soft enamel, providing a protective barrier and a beautiful smile.

At Shane McDowell, DMD, we believe that your smile is one of the first things people notice about you! Unfortunately, if you’re hiding your smile because you feel it’s not attractive or healthy, it sends a negative message to people around you, and has an effect on your self-confidence. Our dentistry services include cosmetic services such as orthodontics, crowns, tooth colored fillings, bridges, veneers, teeth whitening, or an entire smile makeover! We make customized plans to help our patients feel great about themselves. We even offer payments plans to make it as easy as possible for our patients to access the care they deserve!

Call us today to set up a consultation at 239-936-0597 or email us at


Summertime Dental Care

Girl and boy on beach smilingAhhh… it’s summer time again! Time for us to kick back, spend some time enjoying the great outdoors. In Southwest Florida, we’re lucky that there are so many ways to enjoy our natural resources. During the summer months, most people are concerned with their skincare routine—which is extremely important—but what about dental care?

Outdoor activities can pose certain dangers to your teeth. Participating in sports like biking or kayaking means you could fall, have an accident or get hit in the mouth, which can result in a chipped or lost tooth. In some situations, it may be helpful for you to wear a mouth guard or some other protection for your teeth, ensuring you don’t injure your mouth, leaving your teeth untouched!

Grinding your teeth
It is common for people who are playing sports to clench their jaw or grind their teeth under pressure—this can deteriorate enamel and tooth structure, sometimes requiring cosmetic dental procedures such as crowns, veneers, or dentures. This can also cause TMJ, Temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Using a mouth guard can help with this issue.

Using your teeth for things other than chewing
We’ve all done it—you’re laying on the beach, trying to open your snack, and you use your teeth. Your teeth were made for chewing, not for tearing open things. It’s always better to make sure that you bring scissors with you, but if you can’t, use your jaw muscles to help open the bag, not only your teeth!

Fruit & Sweets
During the summertime, we’re used to having treats to help us cool down—ice cream, popsicles, fresh fruit and soft drinks. These types of sugary goodies can actually harm our teeth because the sugar sits on top of teeth, eventually eroding enamel and causing cavities. While it’s not practical to carry a toothbrush with you to the beach, try rinsing out your mouth with some water after eating snacks. This can get some of the sugar off your teeth, as well as keep food from getting stuck in-between them. Apples and pears may cause less decay because these fruits are less acidic.

Don’t forget your dental care essentials
Having fun keeps us busy—so busy we might forget to do our daily dental care routine! When you go on vacation, don’t forget to pack your toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, floss, and fluoride mouth wash. If you wait until you’re extremely tried to brush your teeth, change up your routine a bit! Try brushing your teeth after dinner so when you’re finally tired, you can go straight to bed.

Wear lip balm with an SPF of 15 (at least)
Lips are more sensitive to burning than other parts of your body, but some people may overlook them when applying sunscreen. Don’t forget your sunscreen, too!

While it’s important to be conscientious about your dental care routine, don’t forget to make some memories and enjoy the summer sunshine! We love seeing our patients happy and healthy, so as this summer comes to a close, be sure to schedule an examination and a cleaning. Contact us today to schedule! 239-936-0597

A Toothache… Might be a Tooth Abscess

Girl with sore cheeckPatients may feel that their toothache is run-of-the-mill, however, if you have a severe, continuous toothache, you may have an abscessed tooth.

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that’s caused by a bacterial infection, usually occurring from an untreated dental cavity, injury, or prior dental work. In some cases, dentists will be able to save the tooth with a root canal treatment, but may need to be pulled depending on the condition of the tooth. Leaving an abscessed tooth untreated can lead to serious complications— a patient could even develop sepsis, a life threatening infection that spreads throughout the body. Patients with weakened immune systems are even more at risk for developing serious disorders from a tooth abscess.

The main symptom of a tooth abscess is a toothache, which could be described as gnawing, sharp, shooting, or throbbing. If you have a tooth abscess, you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Severe/persistent/throbbing toothache
  • Sensitivity to pressure of chewing, biting, or hot and cold temperatures
  • Fever
  • Swelling the face or cheek—extremely serious symptom
  • Swollen glands under the jaw or neck
  • Foul-smelling or foul-tasting fluid in your mouth and pain relief if abscess ruptures
  • Breath odor
  • Bitter taste or pain when chewing

Sometimes, there will appear to be swelling of the gum over the infected tooth, which could look similar to a pimple. Poor dental hygiene and a diet high in sugar can increase your risk of tooth abscess. It’s important to remember to properly take care of your teeth and gums by brushing at least twice daily and flossing once per day. Frequently eating or drinking foods high with sugar can contribute to dental cavities that turn into a tooth abscess.

The goal of our treatment is to cure the infection, save the tooth, and prevent any complications.

To treat the infection, we will need to evaluate your condition by doing the following:

  • Tapping on your teeth: a tooth abscess at its root is generally sensitive to touch or pressure. This is how we find out which tooth the abscess is associated with.
  • X-ray: an X-ray of the aching tooth can help identify an abscess.

Treatment options include:

  • Draining the abscess: the dentist makes a small cut into the abscess, allowing pus to drain out, then wash the area with saline water.
  • Perform a root canal: this procedure can help eliminate the infection and save your tooth. To do this, the dentist drills down into your tooth, removes diseased pulp, and drains the abscess. Then the dentist seals the tooth’s pulp chamber and root canals, and caps with a crown.
  • Pull the affected tooth: in some cases, the tooth may not be able to be saved.
  • Prescribe antibiotics: if the infection is limited to the abscessed area, you might not need an antibiotic. But, if the infection has spread to nearby teeth or other areas, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics to keep the infection from spreading further.

Once you have the treatment, there are some small things you can to do help the infected area heal and to ease discomfort:

  • Rinse your mouth out with warm water
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, like Tylenol or Advil, as needed

Once the treatment has healed it’s important to take care of your teeth to avoid another infection from occurring. Our suggestions are:

  • Brush teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Use dental floss daily
  • Replace your toothbrush head every three months
  • Eat a healthy diet, with limited sugar and in-between meal snacks

If you are having symptoms that correlate with a tooth abscess, it’s important to see a dentist right away. Contact our office to set up an appointment! Click here or call us at 239-936-0597.


White Spots on Your Teeth: What are they?

Most people are familiar with occasional yellowing or discoloration of teeth. Yellowing of the teeth is caused by forgetting to brush your teeth often, or by substances like coffee, tobacco, and soft drinks. There are also more serious causes, such as disease, that cause a patient to have discolored teeth.

Occasionally, we come across patients that have white spots on their teeth—this is an issue that doesn’t occur as often, however, the spots on your teeth are sometimes more noticeable. They present with an off-white, yellow, or even brown “mottled” area on your teeth.

The term for this is Enamel Hypoplasia, and is defined as an incomplete or defective formation of the organic enamel of the teeth in the embryonic stage of the tooth. In common terms, there is less enamel than normal. This condition can happen to adults but is more common in children, because of their vulnerable enamel. White spots appear after changes occur in the mineral content in the teeth. This can lead to deterioration of enamel. White spots can also appear with a condition called fluorosis, which means the patient is using too much fluoride.

If you notice white or discolored spots on your teeth, you could have enamel hypoplasia.White spots
The condition can appear on one, a few teeth, or multiple. The discoloration can appear in different colors: white, brown, or yellow, and in severe cases, with a rough or pitted surface. While this may be unsightly, it can be more dangerously susceptible to dental cavities, chipping, and tooth sensitivity.

White spots are also common with people who have braces and have trouble properly maintaining dental hygiene, resulting in the buildup of plaque.

Environmental and genetic factors that interfere with tooth formation are thought to be responsible for enamel hypoplasia. These factors can include:

  • Trauma to teeth and jaw
  • Intubation of premature infants
  • Infections during pregnancy (affects the baby’s’ teeth)
  • Nutritional deficiency of vitamin A, C, and D
  • Skin diseases such as measles, chickenpox, scarlet fever
  • Hypocalcemia, which is an in balance in calcium in the body that causes other serious and life threatening issues
  • Infection in the mouth or teeth
  • Hereditary- the trait it can be passed down from family members

How we can help
Depending on how severe the discoloration is, Shane McDowell, DMD can recommend a customized treatment plan to help whiten and even out the color of your teeth. Depending on the severity, treatment options can include a whitening plan, dental bonding, fluoride treatment, and porcelain or crown placement. In severe cases where the tooth is weak and unable to be treated by fluoride or whitening program, a crown or implant may be necessary.

At Shane McDowell, we want to find customized solutions for all of your dental care needs. Our staff is dedicated to providing the best possible care for our patients. If you feel that the cosmetic condition of your teeth is holding you back in your daily life, contact us today for a consultation. We can evaluate you and set up a treatment plan. You’ll be smiling brighter in no time!

Call us today, at 239-936-0597, or contact us through our website!