Uncategorized

Just What Is Plaque?

June 9th, 2021

From the time you were small, you’ve been warned about the dangers of plaque. Why? Because:

  • It’s an unappealing film that sticks to your teeth
  • It causes cavities
  • It causes gum disease

And really, do we need to know much more than this to motivate us to brush? But if you’re in a curious mood, you might be wondering just how this soft, fuzzy film accomplishes all that damage. Let’s take a closer look at the sticky problem of plaque.

How does plaque form?

We live with hundreds of species of oral bacteria, most of which are harmless, and some of which are actually beneficial. But when our oral ecosystem gets out of balance, problems can occur. For example, without regular and thorough brushing and flossing, we start to build up plaque.

Plaque starts forming within hours of your last brushing. And even though plaque fits the very definition of “seems to appear overnight,” this biofilm is actually a complex microbial community with several different stages of development.

  • It starts with saliva.

Saliva is vital to our oral health, because it keeps us hydrated, washes away food particles, neutralizes acids in the mouth, and provides minerals which keep our enamel strong. Saliva also contains proteins, which help form a healthy, protective film on the tooth surface. This film is called a pellicle.

  • Bacteria attach to the pellicle.

There are species of oral bacteria that are able to attach themselves to the pellicle film within hours of its formation. As they become more firmly attached, they begin to grow and divide to form colonies, and are known as the early colonizers of the plaque biofilm.

  • A complex biofilm forms.

If you’ve skipped brushing for a few days (please don’t!), you’ll notice a fuzzy, sometimes discolored film on your enamel—that’s a thriving plaque community, and it only takes a matter of days to go from invisible to unpleasant.

If you’re not removing plaque regularly, it can harden further and become tartar. And once you have tartar buildup, you’ll need the care of a dental professional to remove it.

  • What happens if we ignore plaque and tartar?

We get cavities and gum disease.

How does plaque cause cavities?

  • The bacteria in plaque, like all organisms, need nutrients.

Our normal oral environment and the food in our everyday diets provide the nutrients plaque needs. Foods such as carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are most easily converted into acids, which is why we recommend that you enjoy them in moderation.

  • The biofilm promotes acid production.

Within the plaque film, anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that don’t use oxygen) convert sugars and starches into acids. As the plaque film becomes denser, it blocks acid-neutralizing saliva and oxygen from reaching these bacteria close to the tooth’s surface, creating an ideal environment for the bacteria to produce their acid waste products.

  • Acids attack enamel.

The sticky nature of plaque keeps these acids in contact with tooth enamel, where, over time, acids dissolve minerals in enamel, weakening the mineral structure of the tooth.

How does plaque cause gum disease?

  • Bacteria cause inflammation and gingivitis.

The bacteria in plaque irritate the delicate tissue of the gums, which causes an inflammation response which can leave your gums swollen, red, bleeding, or tender. This early form of gum disease is gingivitis. Fortunately, good dental care and careful brushing and flossing can usually prevent and even eliminate gingivitis.

  • Plaque and tartar can lead to periodontitis.

When plaque and tartar build up around and below the gum line, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria collect, leading to infection as well as inflammation. Infections and constant inflammation not only harm gum tissue, they can destroy the bone supporting the teeth. This serious gum condition is periodontitis, and should be treated immediately to avoid further infection and even tooth loss.

How do we fight plaque?

From the time you were small, you’ve learned how to fight plaque:

  • Brush at least twice a day for two minutes, and be sure to brush all of your tooth surfaces and around the gum line.
  • Floss to remove plaque from between the teeth and near the gum line.
  • See your dentist as recommended for a thorough professional cleaning.

Be proactive. If you have any questions, talk to your dentist about the best way to keep plaque at bay. And if deep cavities or damage to the roots or the bone surrounding them have put you at risk for tooth loss, call Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour at our Worcester, MA office. Endodontists are specialists in saving teeth when the health of a tooth’s pulp or roots is compromised.

We’ve only brushed up on some plaque basics, because there is a lot more to discover about this complex biofilm. Happily, even with all there is to learn about plaque’s growth and development, it’s reassuring to know that getting rid of it is quite simple—with just a soft-bristled brush, some dental floss, and a few minutes of your time each day, you’re on the way to a healthy, happy, plaque-free smile.

Good Dental Hygiene Impacts Overall General Health

June 2nd, 2021

There are many ways in which your oral health has an impact on your overall general health. There are naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth. Some of those bacteria, including strep and staph, are harmful, while other bacteria are essential for the balance of intestinal flora. The healthier your mouth is, the less likely it is the harmful bacteria will travel to other parts of your body to infect it and make you sick. There is much more to good dental hygiene than brushing and flossing.

Historical Methods of Maintaining Oral Health

Ancient civilizations relied on natural remedies for maintaining oral health. Around 250 AD, the Kemetic Egyptians used myrrh and other herbs as antiseptics for treating infected gums. Two centuries later, the Nubians, who lived in the Nile River valley, drank beer to ease the pain of infected teeth. That probably sounds crazy, but their beer was effective because they used grains that were contaminated with the same bacteria that produce the antibiotic tetracycline.

Today's Biggest Dental Hygiene Challenge

In the past, tooth decay was more of an issue because there was no routine dental care, and problems that are routinely treated today went untreated. Thanks to fluoridated water, and toothpastes containing fluoride, tooth decay is far less problematic than it was a century or more ago. Gum disease has replaced tooth decay as the most serious dental problem facing people today. According to the American Dental Association, a staggering 80 percent of Americans over age 65 suffer from some form of periodontal disease.

Ironically, if that infection attacked any other part of your body, especially in a place where it was clearly visible, you would head to your doctor for treatment immediately. People tend to ignore gum tenderness and bleeding. When the tenderness and bleeding aren't treated, the inflammation can turn into periodontitis. The longer you allow the inflammation to go untreated, the greater the likelihood that it will affect other body parts. Make sure to visit Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour at Worcester Endodontics regularly to be proactive about dental health!

Researchers are now discovering that untreated inflammation in the mouth acts as a driving force for multiple chronic illnesses, including clogged arteries, heart attacks, arthritis, and even cancer. That inflammation is one of many hypotheses that may explain how chronic infections can trigger systemic diseases, and even intensify existing ones. Bacterial overgrowth in the inflamed gum tissue can enter the bloodstream through the food you eat, and from daily brushing.

Caring for your mouth at home is just as important as visiting our office for exams!

Memorial Day: Parades, remembrance, and the unofficial start of summer!

May 26th, 2021

“The purpose of all war is peace.” - Saint Augustine

Fire truck sirens, baton twirlers, marching bands covering patriotic tunes, colorful floats, costumes, and millions of red, white, and blue American flags being waved in the air on a beautiful day in late May, that is what Memorial Day is all about. It is a federal holiday celebrated with town parades, remembrance, and a sense of unity and community togetherness.

Our team at Worcester Endodontics wants to take this time to wish you and your family a happy Memorial Day, as well as pause for a moment to reflect on what this holiday means and how it has changed over time. No, this is not a history lesson, but just a couple of thoughts and observances for you to take with you on your way to the next barbecue.

On the last Monday in May, America observes Memorial Day as a time to remember and celebrate the men and women who have lost their lives while serving our country in the Armed Forces. The holiday originated after the Civil War; at that time it was known as Decoration Day. While holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter remain the same from year to year, Memorial Day has changed over time, and in the 21st century we observe a far different holiday than what Americans did after the Civil War, or even the World Wars.

While many people place flags at cemeteries and visit national memorials in order to honor those who have passed away serving the country, Memorial Day is also a time for family barbecues, pool parties, trips to the beach, blockbuster movies, long weekend getaways, and fireworks. In America, Memorial Day has come to represent the unofficial start of the summer – a long, sunny, warm weekend devoted to family togetherness, outdoor events, and community.

It is time to load up the potato salad and the apple pie and head over to the neighbor’s house for their annual barbecue. And yes, contrary to popular belief, we do eat sweets, especially homemade apple pie! Everything in moderation, of course.

So whether you’re in the Worcester, MA area or beyond, Happy Memorial Day to you and yours from Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour!

Endodontic Treatments

May 19th, 2021

An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in the pulp, or inside of the tooth. Endodontic treatment, also known as root canals, addresses any inflammation or infection that occurs in the root of your tooth. Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour can perform a root canal in order to remove any of the deep tissue that may be causing you pain. Endodontists also perform procedures such as an apicoectomy, and treatment of abscessed teeth.

Root Canals

You may require a root canal if you have been experiencing swelling of the gums, general tenderness, discomfort when chewing, tooth discoloration, or sensitivity to hot and cold foods. Other side effects of an infected root may include pain and swelling around the gums, jawbone, and lymph nodes, or other parts of the face.

There are different reasons why the root of a tooth can become infected. If it is cracked or chipped, has developed excessive decay, or has experienced trauma, you may notice these symptoms.

A root canal may be intimidating, but it’s a fairly straightforward procedure that can relieve you of the pain you’ve been suffering. When the treatment begins, Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour will numb the area and drill a small hole in the tooth to get access to the infected pulp. The dead pulp tissue is removed and treated with antibacterial solution. Then the open canal is filled with dental cement and closed off with a permanent crown to finish.

Apicoectomy

Although root canals are the most common treatment endodontists perform, apicoectomy procedures are also common. If this form of treatment is recommended by Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour, it usually means a conventional root canal did not solve the issue.

During this procedure, the gums are cut away from the tooth and the infected tissue removed along the root. The very end of the root is removed as well. Then the tooth root is cleaned and sealed.

Abscessed Teeth

Endodontists also commonly treat abscessed teeth. An abscessed tooth contains pus that needs to be drained. Pus can form when the inflamed pulp isn’t fixed properly or quickly enough. Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour may need to drain the pus with a small incision in the gum tissue, or perform a process similar to a root canal to remove the diseased tissue from the area.

We hope this information answers some of the questions you may have had about endodontic procedures. If you’ve noticed any symptoms that may involve inflammation or infection of a tooth, please give our Worcester, MA office a call and schedule an appointment. Treating the problem early is essential if you wish to avoid more extensive endodontic procedures.

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

May 12th, 2021

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our team at Worcester Endodontics hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

Root Canal Awareness Week

May 5th, 2021

Across the continent, the May calendar is filled with meaningful days. Cinco de Mayo. Memorial Day. Victoria Day. National Patriots’ Day. And, of course, Mother’s Day. One occasion that’s probably not on your calendar? This May marks the return of the American Association of Endodontists’ “Root Canal Awareness Week”! Let’s take this opportunity to talk about the many amazing ways a root canal can improve your dental health.

  • Root Canals Save Teeth

Left untreated, a seriously damaged or infected tooth will almost inevitably be lost. And even one lost tooth can affect your eating, your speech, your bite, and your confidence. A root canal procedure at our Worcester, MA office can prevent tooth loss, and is safe and straightforward. After infected and damaged tissue is removed from the pulp chamber in the crown of the tooth and from the root canals within the root, the interior of the tooth is carefully cleaned, disinfected, shaped and filled. A crown will help protect the tooth after treatment. A tooth that has undergone a root canal procedure can go on to last a lifetime.

  • Root Canals Relieve Pain

If you have suffered a tooth injury or pulp infection, you know how painful that trauma can be. With a root canal, the source of your pain and discomfort is removed. Many patients experience immediate relief from severe pain after the procedure, and any post-treatment sensitivity or discomfort usually only lasts a few days.

  • Root Canals Protect Your Health

You are saving more than a tooth when you are proactive about root canal treatment. If infection persists, it can spread to other parts of the body, resulting in tooth loss, bone loss, and even more serious consequences. A root canal can not only save your smile, it can actually save your health.

If you’ve been postponing a trip to the dentist because you’re worried about a root canal—don’t! Here’s another great fact about root canals:

  • Root Canals Are Nothing to Fear

Endodontists have two or more years of additional training after dental school to become specialists in the treatment of the inner tooth. They keep up with the latest in endodontic technology, tools, and treatments, and the root canal is a procedure that they perform on a daily basis. With today’s advances in the field, many patients find a root canal appointment with an endodontist no more uncomfortable than getting a normal filling!

Root Canal Awareness Week is meant to remind us that we can have a lifetime of healthy, natural smiles with proper dental care and treatment. But, really, any week is a great time to acquaint yourself with what endodontists like Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour can do for you and for your smile. It will be time well spent!

How an Endodontist Can Save Your Teeth

April 28th, 2021

What exactly does an endodontist do?

If you are in need of a root canal, your regular dentist may refer you to an endodontist—a dental specialist who concentrates on performing root canals. After completing dental school, endodontists, like Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour, attend an additional two or more years of specialty training in their field. They learn all about root canal therapy and other procedures that involve care of the roots of the teeth. Because they specialize in root treatments, endodontists develop considerable experience with these procedures. If you have been directed to an endodontist to address a root canal problem, you may rest assured that your teeth are in expert hands.

How will an endodontist save my teeth?

One of the many benefits of seeing an endodontist is the fact that endodontic procedures can help you avoid the extraction of your tooth. When your tooth is removed, obtaining a replacement can be costly and painful. It is also a time-consuming process that may still lead to a fairly unattractive end result. To avoid losing your natural teeth, treatment by Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour can be highly preferable. When you require a root canal, it is most often because the root, or interior, of your tooth has become infected with bacteria or other diseases. During an endodontic procedure, the doctor removes the inflamed and infected pulp of the tooth, cleans and shapes the interior, fills the tooth with protective material, and seals it so no more bacteria can get inside. After that, you will receive a crown or other restoration device to protect the tooth from further damage and return it to full function. After the endodontic procedure, you essentially have a brand-new natural tooth!

Will I need additional treatment?

In some cases, patients need additional treatment following a root canal. One of the most common post-root-canal procedures is a root-end resection. If a patient continues to experience pain or inflammation in a tooth after endodontic treatment, it usually means the infection has spread to the bony area around the tooth. This is especially common when the tooth has experienced new trauma or decay since the root canal, or the crown has become cracked or broken. During a root-end resection, the doctor will open the gum tissue, remove the infected areas, and fill in the treated space to seal the root canal. After this procedure, it is rare that a patient will need further treatment. The careful and precise work of an endodontist can save you from future pain and additional dental work. If you need one or more root canals, treatment by a qualified endodontist can save your teeth.

If you have further questions about how how Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour can help you save your natural teeth, please don't hesitate to contact Worcester Endodontics at our Worcester, MA office for more information!

Every Day is Earth Day

April 21st, 2021

During the early days of the environmental awareness movement, those who demonstrated against pollution, toxic chemicals, and the general public health were known as hippies. The early 1970s were a time of change, and assertions that we needed to pay more attention to the Earth's atmosphere were generally dismissed. But within a couple decades, it had become clear that the previous generation was right; the citizens of the world needed to become more environmentally conscious.

Many people feel that they can't make a difference if they don't do something big. But caring for the environment doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing concept. In fact, the little things you do can add up to make a great impact, especially in our community. Here are a few ways you can help the environment on Earth Day, April 22nd and all year around.

Four Small Ways to be Environmentally Friendly

  • Recycle Your Textiles. Nearly 21 million tons of textiles are added to American landfills each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Donating your unwanted clothing to a secondhand store or an organization that repurposes fabric helps cut down on solid waste and conserves natural resources.
  • Reduce Usage of Disposables. Plastic bottles and bags, disposable diapers and other things we can use and toss out are convenient, but they're not necessary. Simply choosing to replace one of type of disposable with a reusable product can help you cut down on waste that has a large negative impact on our environment.
  • Conserve Water. If everyone in the United States turned off the water while brushing their teeth, more than 1.5 million gallons of water could be conserved. Turn the water on long enough to wet your toothbrush for brushing and rinsing, and then immediately turn the water off again.
  • Turn Off the Lights. Flip the light switch to "Off" if you're going to leave a particular room for 15 minutes or more. This will conserve energy on incandescent light bulbs and cut down on cooling costs.

It's not necessary to be an activist or install solar panels all over your home to help the environment. Although you can do these things, the little everyday measures make a big difference in helping to conserve energy and the environment, while reducing your carbon footprint. Our team at Worcester Endodontics wants to remind you to celebrate Earth Day and help the environment, knowing that it will benefit your and your children's generation.

What's the best dental floss?

April 14th, 2021

Dental floss is similar to a lot of products that depend mainly on the consumer’s preference. Fact is, floss comes in a wide variety of flavors, coatings, and other variations, but all types of floss essentially do the same thing. After all, that is what is most important: that the dental floss you buy is functional—cleaning the areas in between your teeth. If you want to know what the best dental floss is, the answer is the kind that enables you to successfully and regularly clean those areas. So to help you find the right type of floss for you, here are some options.

Flavored Dental Floss

Many people that floss prefer a flavored dental floss because it freshens their breath even more than unscented floss. The latter can also take on the smells associated with bacteria in your mouth. And we all know how bad that can be. So, if flavored dental floss is what you prefer, and it allows you to floss your teeth regularly, then it is automatically best for your mouth.

Flossers

There are also products on the market called flossers, which usually consist of a plastic instrument with strung floss and a pick on the opposite end. This option can be both effective at cleaning the areas in between your teeth and scraping off plaque. These flossers also come flavored in mint and various other varieties.

Gentle Dental Floss

Some people find that typical dental floss is too harsh on their gums. For that reason some companies make floss with soft coatings that are less abrasive on the gums. For the most part these types of floss are just as effective as regular floss, and for those people that require a more sensitive approach to flossing, especially when just starting out, this is the best option.

Of the aforementioned options, it is difficult to name an absolute best type of floss. However, Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our team say that the type of floss that works best for you, giving you the greatest chance of succeeding at regular flossing, is the best. For more information on floss, contact our Worcester, MA office.

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 7th, 2021

Happy Oral Cancer Awareness Month! We know oral cancer can be kind of a scary topic, but it’s worth using this opportunity to learn about the disease and spread knowledge so everyone becomes more aware. The more we know, the better we can work to prevent it!

Oral cancer is exactly what it sounds like: cancer that occurs anywhere in the mouth. It could occur on the tongue, the lips, the gums, the tongue, inside the cheek, or in the roof or floor of the mouth. Every  year, more than 8,000 people die from oral cancer. It’s a truly deadly disease.

The reason oral cancer scores a higher death rate than other common cancers such as testicular cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, thyroid cancer, cervical cancer, or even skin cancer, is because it often goes undetected until it's become too advanced and has spread to another part of the body.

So what causes this devastating disease? There is no clear answer, but some potential causes have been identified. By being aware of these, we can be alert and promote prevention of this illness:

  • Age: Most patients who develop oral cancer are above the age of 40. If you’re over 40, make sure your doctor checks for signs of oral cancer and that you stay on your dental hygiene regimen.
  • Tobacco: Excessive tobacco use, whether in the form of cigarette smoking or tobacco chewing, can be a substantial contributor and cause of oral cancer. So that’s another reason, among many, you should avoid tobacco.
  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can put you at risk because alcohol converts into a chemical called acetaldehyde, which damages the body’s DNA and blocks cells from repairing the damage. When paired with tobacco, the dehydrating effects of alcohol make it even easier for tobacco to infiltrate mouth tissue.
  • Sun exposure: Your lips need SPF, too! Repeated sun exposure increases your risk of contracting cancer on your lips, especially the lower lip.
  • Diet: Not getting all the nutrients you need, from vegetables and fruits for instance, can weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to the disease.

Obviously, many of these causes relate to lifestyle choices, which we have control over. It's all about balance, being aware, and making small tweaks to our habits if we need to.

If you’re concerned that you may be at risk for oral cancer, give us a call to talk about a screening. And if you’ve been putting off a visit to our Worcester, MA office, now is an excellent time to schedule one. Regular visits to the dentist can be the first line of defense against oral cancer!

Best Ways to Prevent Bad Breath

March 31st, 2021

Nobody likes bad breath, and although it can sometimes be difficult to tell if you have it, it is always better to practice good oral health than risk having a smelly mouth. There are many ways to reduce or eliminate bad breath, some are definitely more effective and longer lasting than others. Check out ways to do so below.

Floss Regularly

As difficult as it can be to remember to floss regularly, when it comes to bad breath, flossing is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to freshen your mouth. See, flossing reduces the plaque and bacteria found in areas of your mouth that a toothbrush simply can't reach, and in turn, it rids your mouth of the smell associated with that bacteria. While flossing may not eliminate bad breath on its own, if you do it along with other health oral hygiene habits like brushing, then you may just develop a fresher smelling mouth.

Use Mouthwash

Using some sort of mouthwash can really freshen up your breath, especially if you find it still smells after brushing and flossing. There is a wide variety of mouthwash products on the market, however, you can also create your own by simply using baking soda mixed with water.

Always Brush after You Sleep

Whether after taking a nap, or having a full night of sleep, you will want to brush your teeth in order to reduce bad breath. The truth is, bacteria accumulates in your mouth while you are sleeping (even during a short nap) and that is ultimately the source of bad breath. So next time you wake from a good slumber, give your mouth some brushing and you will find it makes a big difference in the freshness of your breath.

There are many ways to freshen your breath beyond just using gum or mints, the above mentioned are just a few for you to try. Test them out and you will likely find your bad breath problem is solved, or at least considerably reduced. Of course, you can always ask Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour at your next visit to our Worcester, MA office.

Sedation Options for Your Endodontic Procedure

March 24th, 2021

There are many understandable reasons why you might be feeling less than enthusiastic about your upcoming endodontic treatment.  Perhaps anxiety is an issue, or your teeth are extremely sensitive. You may have a low pain threshold, an easily triggered gag reflex, or require longer or more complex work during your visit. These are also excellent reasons to consider sedation dentistry.

Of course, Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour will always try our best to make sure that every procedure is pain free. A local anesthetic will be provided to numb the treatment area completely. You might decide that this all that you need, especially for relatively simple procedures. But if you would prefer to remain completely aware, but feel less anxious, if you would like deep sedation throughout the entire procedure, or if you want something in between, talk to us about making sedation part of your treatment.

The most common methods of sedation include:

  • Oral Sedation

Usually, oral medications that reduce anxiety are given in pill form. The level of sedation and how much you will be aware during your procedure will depend on the dosage, and you will need time to recover from the drug’s effects after we are done.

  • Nitrous Oxide

Commonly referred to as “laughing gas,” this has been used since the 1800’s to relieve dental anxiety and reduce pain.  Today’s equipment is designed to provide a precise mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen inhaled through a mask that you will wear throughout the procedure. Once the mask is removed, you will recover quickly.

  • IV Sedation

Medication will be delivered through an intravenous line placed in a vein. This delivery system allows the sedative to take effect very quickly, unlike oral sedation, and adjustments to the sedation level can be made throughout the procedure. This method will also require recovery time when your work is complete.

Because your concerns and condition are unique, we will tailor your sedation to fit your specific needs, and our experience and training enable us to recommend the sedation that is best for you. We will take a careful health history to make sure that whichever medication is used won’t interact with your other medications or affect any pre-existing medical conditions.

Our Worcester, MA office is trained to administer and monitor all these forms of sedation. Because sedation is a regular part of our practice, we have the medical knowledge and skill to provide you with a safe and comfortable endodontic experience. If you think sedation dentistry might be right for you, this procedure is something we are happy to discuss before your appointment.

Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day

March 17th, 2021

Millions of people, around Worcester, MA and beyond, wear green on St. Patrick’s Day so they can show their spirit for the holiday and avoid getting pinched. While it may be easy for you to throw on a green shirt, sport a St. Patrick’s Day button, or wear a pair of emerald-hued shoes, if you’re an avid St. Patty’s Day enthusiast you may want to try something different this year. Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour thought of a few ideas that will help you take your holiday spirit to the next level:

Visit Chicago’s Green River

If you happen to be near the Windy City during St. Patrick’s Day or you’re thinking of planning a trip, don’t miss out on going downtown to watch the large-scale celebration that kicks off when the city dyes the river bright green. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago has been celebrating the holiday with this tradition for more than 50 years, with tens of thousands of people gathering annually to witness the mysterious dying process and the stunning result.

Don Green Face Paint

Just like an avid sports fan on game day, you can use green face paints to showcase your enthusiasm for this holiday. Avoid breakouts or allergic reactions by only using paints that are specifically meant to be applied to the skin. A little bit of face paint can cover a large area, so feel free to get creative and decorate the whole family on St. Patrick’s Day.

Eat Green All Day

Not a fan of green eggs and ham? With the increasing popularity of green smoothies, there’s no better time to get in on this health craze. To create a green smoothie without the aid of food coloring, you can simply blend a generous amount of a leafy green vegetable, such as spinach or kale, with the ingredients that you would typically use to make a smoothie, like fruit, ice, milk, or juice. Keep the trend going throughout the day by using those same vegetables to create a green soup, egg salad, or a batch of bright green pastries. As an added bonus, you’ll get a healthy dose of vitamins without changing the taste of most of these foods.

If your old holiday routine has gotten stale, leave your green T-shirt in the drawer and try one or all of these tips. Don’t be surprised if you have so much fun that you decide to start a new, annual St. Patrick’s Day tradition! Have a happy St. Paddy’s day from Worcester Endodontics!

What to do about Sensitive Teeth

March 10th, 2021

If you suffer from sensitive teeth, you already know the frustration of having a type of pain that is hard to deal with. Because tooth sensitivity is sometimes unpredictable, you can't necessarily take medication to ward off the pain like you could if you just felt a headache coming on.

However, there is still something you can do about sensitive teeth. Use the following tips to help put your sensitivity and pain problems with your teeth behind you!

Use the Right Toothbrush: Select a toothbrush made just for sensitive teeth, or the softest bristles possible. This helps you avoid putting any extra pressure on your teeth or gums.

Choose a Special Toothpaste: There are several good options for toothpastes made just for sensitive teeth today. Usually, toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth will be fluoridated and use a non-abrasive formula. The toothpaste will help with the pain usually associated with brushing and flossing if you use it regularly.

Avoid Trigger Foods: You may have noticed certain trigger foods that cause tooth sensitivity and pain for you. Avoid these foods whenever possible, and if you absolutely must eat them, try to consume them in very small quantities. Trigger foods may include:

  • Foods with high acid content for example citrus fruits
  • Very hot or very cold foods
  • Hard or crunchy foods

Visit Our Office

If your sensitive teeth problem is too serious to manage on your own, a visit to our Worcester, MA office may be in order. There are a couple of ways Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour can help:

  • Fluoride Treatments: We can put a special fluoride formula on the most sensitive areas to help make your enamel stronger and to help lower pain levels.
  • Sealing Exposed Roots:In some cases, your roots become exposed due to a receding gumline, which in turn causes teeth sensitivity and pain. We can apply a dental sealant that protects the exposed roots and reduces your pain dramatically.

Oral Diseases and How You Can Avoid Them

March 3rd, 2021

While modern dental science has made remarkable advances in treating oral diseases, prevention is always better than cure. To keep our mouth, gums, and teeth their healthiest, there are some simple practices we can follow to dramatically reduce dram the risk of developing some of the most common oral diseases.

Tooth Decay

We don’t usually think of tooth decay as a disease, but it is, in fact, the most common chronic disease in older children and adolescents. A great majority of adults have had at least some experience with decay. Left untreated, tooth decay can lead to pain, infection, tooth loss, and even loss of nearby bone in the jaw. Luckily, there are several time-tested ways to prevent cavities:

  • Brush properly at least twice a day. Ask Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour for the best toothbrush for your individual needs (usually, a soft brush is best), the best technique for angling the brush to reach all of each tooth’s surfaces, and the amount of time you should spend brushing.
  • Floss daily. Even with perfect brushing form, you are going to want to use floss to clean between the teeth and around the gum line.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste. Study after study has shown that the risk of cavities is reduced with regular use of a fluoride toothpaste or rinse.
  • Watch your diet. Foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates give cavity-causing bacteria the fuel they need to produce the acids which weaken enamel. On the other hand, a diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals is beneficial not only for your teeth, but for your whole body!
  • See your dentist for regular checkups to find small problems and prevent them from becoming major ones. Your dentist can also give you tips on better oral hygiene if your brushing and flossing habits aren’t doing the job.

Gum Disease

Preventing gum disease is a lot like preventing tooth decay—your daily habits really make a difference. When plaque builds up around the teeth and gums, the bacteria in plaque cause gum tissue to become inflamed, swollen, and painful. Left untreated, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria collect and lead to infection. Infections harm not only gum tissue, but can destroy the bone which supports the teeth. What can you do to prevent gum disease?

  • Use proper brushing technique. Remember to angle the brush toward the gums to gently clean around and below the gum line.
  • Floss daily—flossing removes particles and plaque between the teeth, and it also helps remove plaque from the area under the gum line.
  • Smokers are at higher risk for gum disease, and smoking has been linked to slower healing. Giving up tobacco products of any kind is always a good way to protect your dental health.
  • Regular dental exams will catch gingivitis (early gum disease) while it is still reversible. Periodontitis (serious gum disease) can require treatment by a specialist. Certain diseases such as diabetes increase the risk of developing gum disease, so checkups are especially important.
  • Having your teeth cleaned every six months, or as recommended, will remove plaque that brushing alone can’t handle. If there are signs of more serious gum disease, a periodontal cleaning will remove plaque and tartar from both above and below the gum line.

How Can Your Endodontist Help?

Endodontists like Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour have the advanced education and training not only to treat several oral diseases, but to help repair the damage they can cause. Endodontists are experts in such procedures as:

  • Root canals—your first option for preserving your tooth when the inner pulp has been damaged or infected
  • Surgeries which allow access to tiny root fractures and canals, calcium deposits, or damaged roots and bone which can’t be reached non-surgically
  • Apicoectomies, which treats recurring pain and infection by removing the tip of the root and any inflamed or infected tissue, then cleaning and resealing the root
  • Endodontic surgeries such as root resections, which retain as much of the natural tooth as possible when a tooth is too damaged for normal restorations
  • Implant surgery to provide a permanent, natural looking replacement for a lost tooth

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and when it comes to your dental health, there’s a lot you can do to prevent oral diseases. But should you need endodontic treatment at our Worcester, MA office, we have the knowledge and experience you need. After all, you can’t weigh the worth of your oral health—that’s priceless!

Thirsty? We Have Some Ideas on Tap

February 24th, 2021

No, we don’t mean the latest foamy offering from your favorite microbrewery. When you’re thirsty, one of the best options available is literally at your fingertips—tap water, straight from your faucet. It might not be the most adventurous choice, but drinking a tall glass of fresh tap water is refreshing in so many healthy ways.

Physical Health

Water conveniently available at home is much more than a convenience. We need to keep hydrated, because our bodies are made to run on water. To name just a few of its benefits, water provides nutrients to organs and cells, eliminates waste, regulates our temperature, and protects our joints and delicate tissues. Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our Worcester, MA team will tell you all about the importance of proper hydration when it comes to your mouth, gums, and teeth, but here are a few highlights:

  • We need to be hydrated to produce enough saliva. Saliva, which is more than 90% water, helps prevent cavities and protect enamel by both washing away bacteria and balancing acids in the mouth which can cause decay.
  • Tooth enamel is so strong because it’s made of calcium and phosphate. These minerals are leached from our enamel by both bacteria-produced acids and dietary acids. Saliva also contains calcium and phosphate, and, with fluoride, restores these minerals in our enamel, leaving teeth stronger and less likely to develop cavities.
  • As a bonus, a quick rinse with water when you can’t brush after eating is a great way to remove food particles left behand—especially healthy when you’ve had sugary or acidic foods.

Ecological Health

If you want to reduce waste, one of the easiest ways to do so is to use tap water instead of bottled water.

  • Bottled water has a carbon footprint. It takes energy (and additional water) to create plastic and glass bottles, to label them, and to transport them. Water piped into your home from local sources? No bottles, labels, or long road trips necessary.
  • Water bottles should be recycled. Unfortunately, many cities don’t offer, or have stopped offering, recycling. Plastic and glass empties end up in landfills, littering our neighborhoods, or in our waters.

Budget Health

Getting your daily hydration from bottles can add up quickly.

  • Bottled water can cost hundreds of times as much as tap water. While local water prices vary, the average gallon of tap water costs less than a penny. No matter what kind of sale your local store is offering, bottled water will never be the bargain tap water is.
  • When you buy many small bottles instead of a few larger ones, or choose more expensive “designer” water, your costs can mount up even more.
  • When you need to bring water with you for work, sports, or other activities, consider filling a reusable bottle with water from home.

Dental Health

Getting the recommended amount of fluoride in your diet is one of the single best things you can do for your dental health. Fortunately, many communities make this easy for us by providing fluoridated drinking water.

  • Fluoride works with the calcium and phosphate in your saliva to create stronger enamel, so cavities can’t form as easily when your teeth are exposed to plaque and food particles.
  • Fluoride helps strengthen your child’s permanent teeth as they develop, and helps prevent cavities in both baby teeth and permanent teeth as children grow.
  • If your community doesn’t offer fluoridated water, ask Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour for the best way to get the fluoride you need to protect your teeth.

For the good of your body, your planet, your wallet, and last, but most certainly not least, the health of your teeth and gums, consider a glass of water. So many benefits—and you have them all on tap!

Top Five Ways to Improve Heart Health

February 17th, 2021

While there is no definite evidence that if your prevent gum diseases, like periodontitis, that you may be able to prevent a heart condition or heart disease. The only thing experts, like Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour, know for sure is that if you take care of your gums it can lessen atherosclerosis, (build-up of artery clogging plaque) that may result in a heart attack or stroke.

Could periodontal disease cause heart attacks?

Regardless of your oral health, if you're at a high risk for heart disease, you need to take action.

  • Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight.
  • Consume healthy foods and beverages.
  • Exercise several days the week. Walking is a powerful and lightweight exercise and will clear your head while helping your body get or stay healthy.
  • Control any medical conditions you may have such as high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
  • Reduce your stress. Have lunch with a friend, go for a walk in the park, take a bubble bath, mediate, or do whatever you find relaxing.
  • Get a social life. Laughing reduces stress and “feel good” hormones. Everyone needs to feel like they are a part of something: join a book club or any activity where you can interact with other people at least once or twice a week
  • Be sure to get enough sleep. The recommended amount is eight to nine hours a night. It has been proven that a lack of sleep increases your risk for angina, strokes, and heart attacks.
  • Practice good oral hygiene to keep bacteria in check and your mouth healthy.

Contact our Worcester, MA office if you have questions about your heart and oral health. If you take practice good oral hygiene, both your mouth and your heart will thank you.

The Origins of Valentine's Day

February 10th, 2021

When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of cards, flowers, and chocolates. We think of girlfriends celebrating being single together and couples celebrating their relationship. We think of all things pink and red taking over every pharmacy and grocery store imaginable. But what Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our team would like to think of is when and how this joyous, love-filled day began.

Several martyrs’ stories are associated with the origins of Valentine’s Day. One of the most widely known suggests that Valentine was a Roman priest who went against the law at a time when marriage had been banned for young men. He continued to perform marriage ceremonies for young lovers in secret and when he was discovered, he was sentenced to death.

Another tale claims that Valentine was killed for helping Christians escape from Roman prisons. Yet another says that Valentine himself sent the first valentine when he fell in love with a girl and sent her a letter and signed it, “From your Valentine.”

Other claims suggest that it all began when Geoffrey Chaucer, an Englishman often referred to as the father of English literature, wrote a poem that was the first to connect St. Valentine to romance. From there, it evolved into a day when lovers would express their feelings for each other. Cue the flowers, sweets, and cards!

Regardless of where the holiday came from, these stories all have one thing in common: They celebrate the love we are capable of as human beings. And though that’s largely in a romantic spirit these days, it doesn’t have to be. You could celebrate love for a sister, a friend, a parent, even a pet.

We hope all our patients know how much we love them! Wishing you all a very happy Valentine’s Day from the team at Worcester Endodontics!

Relax with Sedation Dentistry

February 3rd, 2021

Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our team at Worcester Endodontics understand that many of our patients have a fear of dentistry. You may be concerned about experiencing pain from sensitive teeth or routine procedures. General anxiety is also common. Do not put off visiting our Worcester, MA office; we offer various types of sedation to take the pain and fear out of your dental procedure.

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

For many patients, nitrous oxide, combined with local anesthetics, will both provide pain relief and reduce anxiety. Nitrous oxide is beneficial because the dosage can be regulated during treatment and patients are normally capable of driving shortly after the procedure is completed.

Oral or Injected Sedation

With oral sedation, you may be given a pill or liquid to consume several hours before your procedure. You will not be able to drive yourself to the appointment. An oral liquid is often given to children before any shots or intravenous anesthesia. An intramuscular injection may be given at the office that provides relaxation benefits for 20 to 30 minutes.

Nitrous Oxide with an Oral Sedative

If you experience higher levels of anxiety, an oral or injected sedative can be offered before nitrous oxide is started. This is also effective for reducing anxiety regarding the injection of local anesthetics. A liquid medication followed by nitrous oxide is beneficial for children. This combination can produce a deep sedation level.

General Anesthesia

This type of anesthesia can be offered as an inhaled gas or intravenous liquid. If no oral sedative is given before the general anesthesia is administered, you should wake up quickly after your procedure is complete. An injection, pill, or liquid medication can be offered to reduce anxiety before intravenous sedation begins. Intravenous sedation can also be used at moderate-to-deep sedation levels without complete loss of consciousness.

Do not hesitate to ask Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour about receiving sedation or pain prevention when you visit. We will be glad to explain the options we have available and answer all your questions to ensure that your exam is pleasant for you.

Help! My gums hurt when I floss!

January 27th, 2021

By no stretch is it rare for your gums to hurt during and after flossing. Even some bleeding is to be expected. This is especially true if you have not flossed in a long time. However, if your gums do indeed hurt when you floss, and unbearably so, there are some things you can do.

Be Gentle

Perhaps the most obvious way to combat gum soreness and bleeding is to be gentle. One of the most common occurrences of these gum problems is over-aggressive flossing. In other words, if you are too rough on your gums while flossing, either because you are out of practice or because you are in a hurry, soreness and hurting is to be expected. Instead, try taking your time and be gentle. Also, if you are just starting out, be patient and consistent, your gums will become more conditioned over time.

Use an Alternative Method

If being consistent and gentle does not work, there are other alternative methods of flossing that you can try. You can also try a water floss machine, or what is sometimes called a water pick. The device essentially shoots water into the crevasses between your teeth, and in other areas of your mouth, in order to dislodge food and plaque. These oral instruments also come with different attachments that allow you to reach many of the hard to see and reach areas of your mouth. And lastly, you can always buy floss that is not as abrasive to your gums. There is floss that comes with soft and gentle coatings that will do less harm to your gums while they are adjusting to the good oral hygiene habit you are creating.

Flossing is one of the easiest parts of oral hygiene to overlook. When you first start out, it is common that you may want to stop because of the pain it can initially cause. However, if you try one, or all, of the above mentioned methods, you will give yourself the best chance of being success with your flossing, and it won't hurt as much.

For more flossing tips, schedule an appointment at our Worcester, MA office and askDrs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour or a member of our team!

Avoid Brushing After Every Single Meal!

January 20th, 2021

Here is some surprising yet worthwhile advice you might be hearing for the first time: Brushing after a meal can be incredibly bad for your teeth if you do it after eating certain foods.

Enamel is an extremely hard mineral on the exterior of each of your teeth. It’s actually the hardest substance in the human body: It’s even stronger than your bones! Its only weakness is that acids in the food we eat can easily destroy enamel.

Healthy teeth thrive in an environment that has the proper pH balance. That ensures your mouth doesn’t start the process of demineralization. That’s what happens when alkaline turns into acid, which attacks and softens the enamel on the surface of your teeth. Pores and fissures form, and that’s when the harmful bacteria go to work.

Our mouth’s pH level fluctuates depending on what we eat throughout the day. Examples of the most common highly acidic foods include citrus fruits, soda, and sugary foods. Highly acidic foods tip the balance of pH in your mouth from a healthy alkaline to a dangerous acid.

Can brushing your teeth immediately after a meal lead to even more damage? The answer is yes!

Eating highly acidic foods causes your teeth to be more susceptible. If you brush your teeth when they have been weakened by acids, even more destruction can happen to your enamel. Your toothbrush’s bristles will actually wear away some of your enamel. So it’s healthier to wait at least an hour after eating or snacking to brush.

Good preventive measures to take instead of brushing after you eat include:

  • Rinsing or drinking water
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Consuming dairy or non-acidic foods to conclude your meal

These practices help produce saliva, which in turn restores a healthy pH level in your mouth and coats the teeth with minerals they need.

Once you’ve allowed time for your mouth to be restored to a healthy pH level, you may brush your teeth as you normally would. Keep in mind that acidic foods can weaken the enamel on your teeth and take the right measures to prevent spiking pH levels.

Most important, don’t forget to wait to brush at least one hour after you eat!

Still have questions? Call our Worcester, MA office and schedule an appointment with Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour.

Ease up on your gums — don’t brush your teeth too hard!

January 13th, 2021

A lot of patients go at their teeth like they were sanding an old floor—that is to say, way too hard! Brushing too hard is probably the most common mistake patients make in their oral care routine, and it can be detrimental to the gums and teeth.

What can brushing too hard cause?

  • Receding gums
  • Bone loss around teeth
  • Loss of teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity, especially to hot and cold
  • Worn down enamel

Brushing too hard wears away at your gums, which can lead to the neck of the teeth being exposed. This part of the tooth isn't covered by hard enamel like the rest of the tooth and hence the soft inner layer, or dentin, is exposed. Dentin is very sensitive to hot and cold and much more susceptible to bacterial decay. Once the gums recede due to improper brushing, it’s usually irreversible.

How to brush your teeth properly

You know you're supposed to brush your teeth twice a day, so why not do it right? First and foremost, you should only ever brush with a soft bristled brush—not medium or hard—unless directed otherwise by Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour. Unless you have braces or specific oral health issues, brushing twice a day for two minutes is usually plenty.

The main purpose of brushing is to remove plaque from your teeth and gums. Plaque is actually soft and is a buildup of bacteria, saliva, and food debris. You really don't need to brush hard to remove it, just make sure you aim your toothbrush at the gum line (where plaque grows) and brush in small circular motions, never a back-and-forth motion.

It's also wise to hold your toothbrush gently. People tend to brush harder the tighter they hold their toothbrush.

Still have questions about proper tooth brushing technique or gum health? Ask any staff member or Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour during your next visit to our Worcester, MA office; we'd be happy to help!

Dangers of Alcohol and Oral Health

January 6th, 2021

We often have patients who ask, “Can drinking alcohol affect my oral health?” There are, in fact, a few reasons why that martini may not be good for your pearly whites.

In addition to creating an overly acidic environment in your mouth, alcohol severely dehydrates oral tissues because of its desiccant and diuretic properties. Because alcohol saps oral tissues of their moisture so readily, saliva glands can't keep enough saliva in the mouth to prevent dry mouth. In addition, saliva contains antibacterial properties that inhibits growth of anaerobic bacteria, a destructive type of oral bacterial responsible for tooth decay, gingivitis, chronic bad breath, and periodontitis.

What are anaerobic bacteria?

When there is a lack of saliva flow in the mouth and the mouth cannot naturally cleanse itself of oral debris (food particles, dead skin cell, mucous), conditions develop that promote activity of anaerobic bacteria, or bacteria that thrive in dry, airless places. These anaerobes also flourish when an unending supply of proteins (food debris) are available to consume, creating rapidly multiplying layers of plaque that stick to teeth and demineralizes tooth enamel unless removed by brushing and professional dental cleanings.

Oral Cancer and Alcohol

Acetaldehyde is a chemical compound leftover after the liver has metabolized alcohol. Capable of causing genetic mutations, acetaldehyde is also a known carcinogen that contributes to the ill feelings of hangovers. Although most metabolism of alcohol is done in the liver, evidence shows that metabolism also occurs outside the liver and that enzymes in the mouth could encourage accumulation of acetaldehyde in oral tissues.

When combined with poor oral health, smoking, and other detrimental lifestyle factors, alcohol may be considered a primary contributory factor in the development of oral cancer.

Even if you don't drink or drink only occasionally, remaining aware of symptoms that may indicate oral cancer will improve your chances of recovering successfully when you start treatment in the early stages of oral cancer. Signs include red or while speckled patches in the mouth, unexplained bleeding, lumps/swellings, chronic ear or throat pain, and areas of numbness in the mouth or on the face.

If you have any questions about alcohol and its connection to oral health, don’t hesitate to ask Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour at your next visit to our Worcester, MA office.

It's a Wrap: Ending the year with a smile!

December 30th, 2020

People have been ushering in the New Year for centuries but it became an official holiday in 1582 when Pope George XIII declared January 1st to be the day on which everyone would celebrate the New Year. At midnight people would yell, holler, and blow horns to scare away the evil spirits of the previous year so the New Year would be joyous and filled with opportunity. Nearly 500 years later, we still greet the New Year by whooping and hollering, but in a celebratory manner instead. Whether you intend to ring in the New Year quietly at home in the Worcester, MA area or have plans to join the countdown at a gala extravaganza, these tips can help you ring out the old and usher in the new with a smile.

Tips for a Happy New Year's Eve Celebration from Worcester Endodontics

  • Be Safe. There's no way to predict the behavior of others on New Year's Eve, but you can be responsible for your own behavior to keep yourself safe. If adult beverages will be part of your celebration, plan on spending the night wherever you are or line up a designated driver to bring you home after the party is over.
  • Enjoy Family and Friends. Spending time with the important people in your life is what makes the holidays enjoyable. Coordinate your schedules and choose New Year's Eve activities that everyone in the group will enjoy. You don't have to go to a party to ring in the New Year; some people like to go bowling, see a movie, or have a great meal at home.
  • Accessorize with a Smile. Whether you dress up or have a quiet dinner with family and friends, one of the best accessories you can add to your attire is a beautiful smile.

New Year's Eve is a time to gather with friends and family, reflect on the year that's coming to an end, and look forward to the new one with anticipation. Enjoy this transitional holiday in a way that's safe, healthy, and fun. After all, counting down until the clock strikes 12 marks the beginning of a full year of opportunity ahead of you. From Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour, have a great new year!.

The Link Between HPV and Oral Cancer

December 23rd, 2020

Cancer has become a common word, and it seems like there is new research about it every day. We know antioxidants are important. We know some cancers are more treatable than others. We know some lifestyles and habits contribute to our cancer risk.

Smoking increases our risk of cancer, as does walking through a radioactive power plant. But there is a direct link to oral cancer that you many may not know about—the link between HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and oral cancer.

This may come as a shock because it has been almost a taboo subject for some time. A person with HPV is at an extremely high risk of developing oral cancer. In fact, smoking is now second to HPV in causing oral cancer!

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, “The human papilloma virus, particularly version 16, has now been shown to be sexually transmitted between partners, and is conclusively implicated in the increasing incidence of young non-smoking oral cancer patients. This is the same virus that is the causative agent, along with other versions of the virus, in more than 90% of all cervical cancers. It is the foundation's belief, based on recent revelations in peer reviewed published data in the last few years, that in people under the age of 50, HPV16 may even be replacing tobacco as the primary causative agent in the initiation of the disease process.” [http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/]

There is a test and a vaccine for HPV; please discuss it with your physician.

There are some devices that help detect oral cancer in its earliest forms. We all know that the survival rate for someone with cancer depends greatly on what stage the cancer is diagnosed. Talk to Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour if you have any concerns.

Please be aware and remember that when it comes to your own health, knowledge is power. When you have the knowledge to make an informed decision, you can make positive changes in your life. The mouth is an entry point for your body. Care for your mouth and it will care for you!

My mouth is dry. What can I do?

December 16th, 2020

Nobody likes a dry mouth. It is an uncomfortable and sometimes oddly unexplainable sensation that most people like to avoid. It is not a condition that automatically sends you into a panic about your health, however, a dry mouth can be a bother and something you certainly want to change if possible. So, if you find yourself in the unpleasant position of having a dry mouth, here is what you can do.

Chew Sugar-free Gum: Chewing sugar-free gum will stimulate saliva in your mouth. The chewing motion of your jaw and teeth should take care of at least some of your dry mouth problem.

Suck on Sugar-free Candy: Similarly to chewing sugar free gum, if you suck on sugar free candy it should create more saliva in your mouth and moisturize it in the process.

Cut out the Caffeine:Caffeine can contribute to a dry mouth so by limiting, or eliminating your intake all together, you may find that your dry mouth is no more.

Stop Using Tobacco Products: Tobacco is another cause of dry mouth. Whether it is smokeless tobacco products or cigarettes, if you stop using them your dry mouth will likely improve. And not to forget, these products are exceedingly bad for your oral health to begin with, so you will be doing your mouth a favor even more so.

Drink Lots of Water: It may seem obvious, but drinking lots of water will likely improve your dry mouth. This is because dry mouth is usually a sign of dehydration, so plenty of fluids will surely help.

Dry mouth can be unpleasant, but it is often easily solved by either drinking more water, or trying one of the previously mentioned techniques. If the problem still persists you can always visit our Worcester, MA office to see Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour. More often than not, doing one of the above will leave your mouth more moisturized than it was previously, and hopefully it will be long-lasting as well.

What Can Endodontic Surgery Do for You?

December 9th, 2020

An endodontist like Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the inner tooth. Most of us are familiar with root canals, where infected or damaged pulp is removed, the inside of the tooth is cleaned and shaped, and a filling is placed inside before the tooth is sealed. In fact, root canals are one of the most common ways to save a tooth that would otherwise be a candidate for extraction.

But what if your tooth needs further attention? Fortunately, we also have training in surgical techniques that can save teeth with more serious or complex problems. These endodontic surgeries can take a number of forms:

  • Apicoectomy

Inflamed or infected tissue can sometimes persist near the apex, or tip, of a root even after a root canal procedure. An apicoectomy allows Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour to make an incision in the gum tissue, remove the affected root tip, clean the infected tissue from the root canal and the bone surrounding it, and seal the tip.

  • Root Resection

Sometimes a tooth with two or more roots suffers decay or damage in only one root, or in the bony area surrounding it. If the root is unrestorable, an endodontist can perform a root resection, removing only the damaged or infected root and tissue. Care is taken to preserve the healthy roots and crown.

  • Tooth Resection

In this procedure, a molar tooth with multiple roots is treated surgically to preserve as much of the tooth and crown as possible. The tooth is separated into two sections, and both sides are reconstructed (bicuspidization), or the part of the root and crown that can be saved is treated while the other section is extracted (hemisection). While extraction followed by an implant has become a common method of treating a seriously decayed or damaged tooth, these procedures can often save as much of the natural molar as is possible.

  • Root Canals

Most root canals are performed without surgery, but sometimes calcium deposits build up in the roots making the canals too narrow for regular root canal files. In this case, a surgical procedure will enable Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour to remove infected tissue, clean, and seal these narrow spaces.

  • Diagnostic Surgery

Sometimes, the reason you are suffering tooth pain is clear as soon as you open your mouth. Sometimes, an X-ray will show the cause of unexplained discomfort. And sometimes, a tooth fracture or the branch of a root canal might be so small that it is not apparent even with the help of X-rays. In this case, endodontic surgery will allow us to locate, diagnose, and treat hidden root problems.

These procedures are just some of the methods we have for preserving teeth that would once have been considered impossible to save. And saving your natural teeth? That’s simply the best.

Does smoking affect oral health?

December 2nd, 2020

By now, everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. But the truth is its broad-reaching health effects are not all known by everyone. This is especially true of oral health. Smoking can have serious repercussions in this regard. To give you a better idea of how smoking can affect your oral health, Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our team have listed some issues that can arise.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can have steep ramifications for anyone that gets it. Surgery can be required to eliminate the cancer before it spreads to more vital parts of your body. Any type of cancer is about the worst health effect you can get, and this especially holds true to the affects that smoking has on your mouth. The type of mouth surgery required with oral cancer can leave your face deconstructed in certain areas, and it is all due to smoking or use of other tobacco products.

Tooth Discoloration and Bad Breath

At the very least, it is fair to say that as a smoker you will often have bad breath, and while you may try to cover it up with gum or mints, tooth discoloration is a whole other story. The chemicals and substances in cigarettes stick to your teeth staining them brown and yellow colors that are increasingly difficult to disguise.

Gum Disease and Loss of Bone

Another effect of smoking is the increased risk of gum disease. Your gums may start to recede, which can eventually lead to the loss of teeth. Smoking can also increase bone loss and density in your jaw which is vital to the health of your mouth. Gum disease and bone loss are two signs that smoking is definitely bad for your mouth.

When it comes to the health of your mouth, the question is not whether smoking affects your health, it's how does it affect your health and to what degree. If for no other reason than because smoking involves your mouth as its entry point, it is safe to say that it can have long-lasting and detrimental consequences on your oral health.

To learn more about smoking and your oral health, contact our Worcester, MA office to schedule an appointment with Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour.

Thanksgiving in North America

November 25th, 2020

Thanksgiving marks the start to the holidays; a season filled with feasting, indulging, and spending time with family and friends are always special. Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for giving thanks, and while this may seem like such a natural celebration, the United States is only one of a handful of countries to officially celebrate with a holiday.

Unlike many holidays, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, and it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. In Canada, it is celebrated on the second Monday of October, which is, oddly enough, much closer to a time when harvests were likely gathered. In addition to the different dates, the origins of the celebration also share different roots.

Thanksgiving in the United States

Giving thanks for a bountiful harvest are not new, but the modern day holiday in the US can be traced to a celebration at Plymouth in Massachusetts in 1621. This feast of thanksgiving was inspired by a good harvest, and the tradition was simply continued on. At first, the colony at Plymouth didn't have enough food to feed everyone present, but the Native Americans helped by providing seeds and teaching them how to fish, and they soon began to be able to hold a feast worthy of the name. The tradition spread, and by the 1660s, most of New England was hosting a Thanksgiving feast in honor of the harvest.

Canadian Thanksgiving

An explorer of early Canada named Martin Frobisher is accredited for the first Canadian Thanksgiving. He survived the arduous journey from England through harsh weather conditions and rough terrain, and after his last voyage from Europe to present-day Nunavut, he held a formal ceremony to give thanks for his survival and good fortune. As time passed and more settlers arrived, a feast was added to what quickly became a yearly tradition. Another explorer, Samuel de Champlain, is linked to the first actual Thanksgiving celebration in honor of a successful harvest; settlers who arrived with him in New France celebrated the harvest with a bountiful feast.

A Modern Thanksgiving

Today, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with the best of Americana. From feasts and football games to getting ready for the start of the Christmas shopping season, Thanksgiving means roasted turkey, pumpkin pie, and green bean casserole. No matter how you celebrate this momentous day, pause for a moment to give thanks for your friends, family, and all the bounties you’ve received. Happy Thanksgiving from Worcester Endodontics!

How Endodontic Treatments Save Teeth

November 18th, 2020

When you have a dental health concern about one or more of your teeth, the best option is always to keep your natural teeth! Often, the only alternative to endodontic treatment (also known as root canal treatment) is extraction of the tooth.

That’s followed by implant surgery or the placement of a bridge, and although these are common treatments nowadays, endodontic treatment should be your first consideration.

If you’re told by Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour that you need a root canal or endodontic treatment, you will probably have some questions. We'll try to answer some of them here.

What is endodontic treatment?

The most common type of endodontic treatment performed at our Worcester, MA office is called an apicoectomy. In this procedure, Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour will surgically open the gum tissue, remove infected or inflamed material from the underlying bone, and remove the tip of the root.

Who needs endodontic treatment?

Usually, endodontic treatment is recommended for patients who have persistent pain or symptoms that can’t be detected by other, non-surgical means such as X-rays or a visual examination. This means typically the tooth has a hairline fracture or a small canal that’s causing discomfort. There are also cases where a patient may have a canal that has become calcified.

Why do I need surgery?

By performing a root canal, Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour can examine the entire root of the tooth to learn what is causing the discomfort and address it. So it’s not just a treatment but a means of diagnosis too. After the problem has been addressed, you will be able to keep your natural tooth and use it as you always have.

What’s the benefit of root canal treatment as opposed to getting an implant or a bridge?

A root canal allows patients to keep their natural tooth. Nothing comes close to how a natural tooth looks and functions, no matter how advanced implant technology or bridges may become. Often, a tooth that’s undergone a root canal can last patients their entire lifetime without any need for further treatment.

What if I’ve had a root canal but still have pain?

In rare cases, it’s possible that a tooth that has undergone a root canal could become inflamed or infected again. If this is the case, other surgical options may be able to save your tooth.

Can I use mouthwash instead of flossing?

November 11th, 2020

While mouthwash goes a long way in improving your oral care, it is not a substitute for flossing. Mouthwashes and flossing provide different benefits that you should understand.

Mouthwash Benefits

Mouthwash comes in two categories. Some are considered cosmetic. This type of rinse provides temporary relief from bad breath and has a pleasant taste. These do not actually kill any bacteria.

Therapeutic mouthwashes provide the healthier benefits. These may contain different ingredients including fluoride or antimicrobial agents. This type is used to remove plaque buildup and reduce the potential for calculus formation. Therapeutic rinses can also help prevent cavities, bad breath, and gingivitis. In addition, Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour can prescribe special rinses to assist patients after periodontal surgery or other procedures.

Flossing Benefits

Flossing is what removes the plaque formation before it can harden and become calculus. While a rinse reduces buildup, only flossing will fully remove plaque, especially between teeth. The bristles on a toothbrush do not get between teeth completely. If plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar or calculus. When this builds below the gum line, gum disease can start.

Types of Floss

Floss is available in a thin string form or a tape. It can be waxed or unwaxed. If you find flossing difficult, you might want to try a different type of floss. You can buy bulk floss in containers or purchase the disposable type with a plastic handle attached. This style can be easier for many individuals to use. Interdental picks are available for bridgework or other situations where regular floss cannot be used.

If you have questions regarding the best mouthwash or floss, or need tips for easier flossing, please ask our Worcester, MA team for advice. We will be glad to give you solutions to help keep your mouth clean and healthy.

Root Canal Procedure

November 4th, 2020

Five words no one welcomes: “You need a root canal.” But if you are delaying treatment because you are worried about pain and an uncomfortable day in the dentist’s chair, please think again! Modern root canal procedures are designed to repair your damaged tooth gently and efficiently, and leave you with a restored natural tooth that can last a lifetime.

  • Why might you need a root canal?

First, a little tooth biology. Each tooth has a crown (the part we see above the gums) and one or more roots (the part of our tooth below the gum line that is attached to bone in our jaw). The tooth has three basic layers: the hard enamel and cementum that cover the outer crown and root, the softer dentin beneath that layer, and, on the inside, the pulp. Pulp is made of living tissue, and contains the blood vessels and nerves that nourish the tooth and keep it vital.

Even with the protection the enamel and dentin provide, sometimes the pulp can be infected or damaged. If you have suffered an injury to your mouth or jaw, or an infection has developed from an opening in the tooth caused by a deep cavity or crack, you may need a root canal to prevent further infection, pain, and even tooth loss. Call our Worcester, MA office immediately if you feel pain with chewing or pressure, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, swollen, and tender gums around a tooth, or tooth discoloration.

  • The Root Canal Procedure

If a root canal is necessary, the procedure is very straightforward. After the area around the tooth is numbed, we will make an opening in the crown to allow access to the pulp inside. Very small instruments will be used to clean the inner tooth and removed bacteria and dead or dying tissue. The area will be thoroughly disinfected, and the inside of the tooth shaped and then filled and sealed. A temporary filling or crown might be placed on the tooth to prevent bacteria and food from entering the site if a permanent crown needs to be created. The entire process usually takes from one to three visits.

If we suggest a root canal, it is because this is the best way to save your tooth. Please feel free to talk to us about your particular needs and concerns. Which tooth is affected, how many roots are involved, what type of filling or crown might be best—we will work with you to provide all the information you need and all the options you have available.

Common Concerns

  • Are you concerned about pain?

The most painful part of a root canal is often the severe discomfort your tooth causes before treatment. And infections and damaged nerves can affect not only the injured tooth, but the gums, tissue and even bone surrounding it. With our modern dental techniques, a root canal procedure is often no more uncomfortable than a regular filling. The local anesthetic we use will prevent you from feeling any pain during the procedure, and, while the area around your tooth might be a bit sensitive following treatment, the pain caused by the infection or injury should be gone.

  • Are you anxious about the procedure?

If dental treatment causes you anxiety, please let us know. There are several sedation options we can pursue to make this procedure less worrisome. Our goal is to make your treatment as gentle and comfortable as possible.

No one welcomes the news that a root canal is necessary, but with today’s procedures, this treatment can be just what you need to relieve your pain and keep your natural tooth where it belongs for many years to come. And that is welcome news, indeed!

Eat Well, Heal Better after Endodontic Surgery

October 28th, 2020

You’ve got endodontic surgery at our Worcester, MA office coming up on your calendar and you’re prepared. The freezer is stocked with frozen yogurt, the fridge is filled with pudding and applesauce, the cupboard has boxes of gelatin dessert just waiting to be mixed and chilled.

Good for you! Eating a soft, smooth diet is the best way to treat delicate tissue after surgery. Now, let’s look at a few ways to make that diet not only soothing, but healing.

  • Protein

Proteins are essential for all of our vital bodily functions. The protein in our diet is broken down into amino acids, which then combine with other amino acids to create the new protein building blocks our cells need to replace and repair damaged tissue. These proteins provide structure for cells in the skin, bone, and blood vessels as they recover. When you are healing, your body requires more protein than usual to help the process along.

Of course, right after endodontic surgery, you won’t be eating your regular protein sources of meats, seafood, beans, and nuts. But dairy foods such as yogurt and milk products are also rich in protein—and delicious in milkshakes and smoothies. You can also add a protein supplement if you will be eating soft foods for a while. Just remember, no straws!

  • Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps stimulate cell reproduction and the immune system, both important factors for quicker, safer healing. It also helps our bodies form and maintain bone tissue, mucous membranes, and soft tissue, all of which are involved in bone and gum recovery after surgery.

If you are wondering where to get more vitamin A, think green and orange. Spinach, kale, leaf lettuce and other leafy greens, mild peppers, carrots, cantaloupe, mango—all these foods keep you supplied with vitamin A. How to get those solid foods into your soft diet? Think smoothies. Adding some fresh ingredients to your blender will give you this important vitamin in an easy-to-drink form.

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C is vital for wound healing because it is essential in forming the protein collagen. Collagen provides both structure and support to our tissues, especially important as tissues heal.  

We usually associate vitamin C with citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes. But if you’re avoiding acidic foods because they might irritate delicate tissue, you can also find plenty of vitamin C in green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale, or in fruits like strawberries, mangos, and papayas. Here’s where that blender comes in handy again!

  • Zinc

Zinc has been found to improve healing by promoting membrane repair, blood clotting, and skin cell recovery, and by helping to boost immunity. Too little zinc in the diet has been associated with slower wound healing, especially in the skin—and because our bodies don’t store zinc, it should be part of everyone’s regular diet.

Foods high in zinc include red meat and seafood, but since steak is off the menu for a while, where can you find another good source of zinc? Dairy products, again! Let your milkshake do double duty.

Of course, there is no one magic diet that brings instant recovery. But if you follow Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our team’s advice, eat foods designed to soothe rather than irritate your recuperating tissue, and take advantage of the nutrients that encourage healing, you will be doing all you can to make your recovery speedy and healthy. Good for you!

How Can Calcified Roots Affect Your Root Canal Procedure?

October 21st, 2020

Endodontists are specialists in treating the inner tooth, and perform root canal procedures every day. They have completed years of additional advanced studies after dental school to diagnose and treat both common root canal issues and more complicated endodontic problems. Calcified root canals are one such complication that make a visit to Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour the right choice for your professional care.

What’s involved in a typical root canal procedure?

After the area around the tooth is numbed, Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour will make an opening in the crown to allow access to the pulp inside. Very small instruments will be used to clean the inner tooth and remove dead or dying pulp tissue. The area inside of the tooth will be shaped, filled, and sealed, a process which can take one or more appointments. A temporary filling might be placed in the tooth to prevent bacteria and food from entering the site before a permanent seal is created. Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour can consult with you as to whether a crown or other restoration is best to protect your tooth after root canal treatment.

How do calcified roots develop?

Calcium is an essential mineral because it keeps our enamel strong, protecting the delicate pulp tissue inside the tooth. Sometimes, though, calcium deposits will partially or completely block a root canal. This build-up might occur in a canal as a response to injury or infection. It’s also a process that occurs naturally over time, and because of today’s advances in dental care, people are keeping their natural teeth much longer. This calcification can become a problem when you need a root canal procedure.

Why are calcified roots a problem?

It’s very important that we have access to every root, and to the entire length of every root, for the root canal procedure to succeed. If calcium deposits block all or part of a canal, even delicate instruments will have difficulty reaching all of the pulp tissue inside the canal. To make matters even more complicated, calcified roots can be hard to locate. Dealing with calcified canals requires experience and skill.

How can an endodontist help?

  • Endodontists have sophisticated imaging technology and microscopes, which, together with their experience in the anatomy of the inner tooth, help them locate even difficult-to-detect roots and their branches.
  • Endodontists have the skill and training to precisely and patiently clear the blocked roots.
  • Specifically engineered endodontic instruments have been designed to clean and shape narrow, calcified canals.
  • Finally, if the root canals are not treatable through the crown of the tooth, endodontic surgery can allow access to the canals that regular non-surgical methods cannot.

If you have calcified roots, making a root canal more difficult, schedule an appointment at our Worcester, MA office. We are experts in root canal procedures, whether common or complex, and experts in saving teeth.

Has Your Endodontist Recommended an Apicoectomy?

September 30th, 2020

If Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our team recommend an “apicoectomy” to save your tooth, you probably have a few questions about the procedure. Here are some of the basics you might discuss when you visit our Worcester, MA office:

  • What is an apicoectomy?

The tip of a root is also called its “apex.” An apicoectomy means the removal (“ectomy”) of the apex (“apico”) of the tooth. This is a surgical procedure performed by a specialist in the treatment of the inner tooth.

  • Who performs apicoectomies?

Your endodontist is a specialist in tooth-saving surgical procedures. Endodontists like Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour diagnose and treat problems of the inner tooth and its surrounding tissue. They have two or more additional years of study in the field of endodontics, and have the experience, knowledge, skill, and specialized equipment needed to perform delicate endodontic surgeries.

  • Why choose this procedure?

Usually, a root canal is all that you need to treat any damage or infection in your inner tooth. But when inflammation or infection returns at the tip of the root, or in the bone surrounding the tip, or a tooth can’t be treated with a conventional root canal, Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour may recommend an apicoectomy both to save your natural tooth and to prevent further infection or damage to the surrounding bone and teeth.

  • How does the procedure work?

Often local anesthesia is all that is needed. (But if you have concerns, talk to us about your anesthesia and sedation options. We will have suggestions for you.) After the area is numb, an incision is made in the gum tissue to allow access to the root and any affected bone tissue.

Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour will carefully remove a few millimeters from the tip of the tooth as well as any infected tissue from the area. Because the tip of the tooth is small, and cracks or extra canals in a root are often difficult to discover even with an X-ray, we might make use of microscopic technology to be sure there are no additional canals or large cracks or breaks in the root. Using specialized instruments, the end of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed.

Stitches or sutures will be used to close the incision, and will either dissolve on their own or might need to be removed on a follow-up visit. We will let you know just how to take care of the site after surgery.

In general, any pain or sensitivity after the procedure can be treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relief such as ibuprofen. Follow post-op instructions carefully to reduce any swelling, and be sure to follow any dietary suggestions and restrictions. If pain or swelling are a problem, or if you have any other concerns, call our Worcester, MA office.

Apicoectomies are a common procedure used by endodontists to save a compromised tooth.  If you have recurring or new pain or infection after a root canal, if you have an undetected extra canal, if there is a crown and post in place that would make it impractical to reach the root or pulp chamber area with conventional treatment, and if you want to preserve your natural tooth, an apicoectomy is an option well worth discussing.

Curing the Nail-Biting Habit

September 23rd, 2020

Do you ever find yourself gnawing at your nails? Nail-biting is a very common and difficult to break habit which usually has its beginnings in childhood. It can leave your fingers and nail beds red and swollen. But if you think that your nails are the only ones getting roughed up by nail-biting you'd be mistaken—so are your teeth!

According to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry, those who bite their nails, clench their teeth, or chew on pencils are at much higher risk to develop bruxism (unintentional grinding of the teeth). Bruxism can lead to tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, receding gums, headaches, and general facial pain.

Those are some nasty sounding side effects from chewing on your nails. Most nail-biting is a sign of stress or anxiety and its something you should deal with. So what steps can you take if you have a nail-biting habit?

There are several things you can do to ease up on nail-biting:

  • Trim your nails shorter and/or get regular manicures – Trimming your nails shorter is an effective remedy. In so doing, they'll be less tempting and more difficult to bite on. If you also get regular manicures, you’ll be less likely to ruin the investment you’ve made in your hands and fingernails!
  • Find a different kind of stress reduction – Try meditation, deep breathing, practicing qigong or yoga, or doing something that will keep your hands occupied like squeezing a stress ball or playing with a yo-yo.
  • Wear a bitter-tasting nail polish – When your nails taste awful, you won't bite them! Clear or colored, it doesn't matter. This is also a helpful technique for helping children get over the habit.
  • Figure out what triggers your nail-biting – Sometimes it's triggered by stress or anxiety and other times it can be a physical stressor, like having hang nails. Knowing what situations cause you to bite your nails will help you to avoid them and break the habit.
  • Wear gloves or bandages on your fingers – If you've tried the steps above and they aren't working, this technique can prove effective since your fingernails won't be accessible to bite.

If you're still having trouble with nail-biting after trying these self-help steps, it's best to consult your doctor, dermatologist, or Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour. For some, it may also be the sign of a deeper psychological or emotional problem.

Whatever the cause, nail-biting is a habit you need to break for your physical and emotional well-being. If you have any questions about the effects it can have on your oral health, please don't hesitate to ask Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour during your next visit to our Worcester, MA office.

Find Out how Your Diet can Cause Cavities

September 16th, 2020

Sometimes food that’s good for your body isn’t necessarily the best for your teeth. Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our team want you to know which healthy foods can harm your teeth and gums, and what steps you can take to continue enjoying these foods, even when you’re dieting.

When you begin to substitute empty calories with whole foods, make sure you also remember to focus on your dental health. The majority of people tend to switch out sugary foods in favor of fruits and vegetables when they diet.

It’s worth knowing that most fruits are highly acidic and composed of natural sugars. Some of the highly acidic fruits to watch out for include apples, grapes, strawberries, pineapples, blueberries, oranges, and grapefruit. Moderation is key here, as with all other things. Fruits can be a great source of energy to help you through your day, but try not to overdo them.

Often, people also incorporate more leafy greens into their diets, which mean plenty of salads. Salad dressing is another item you’ll want to watch out for. Many dressings are filled with vinegars and sweeteners that include harmful acids, which change the pH of your mouth. When your mouth shifts from alkaline to acidic, your smile also turns to a higher risk for erosion and decay.

Rather than get rid of these foods altogether, simply change what you do after you eat them. Rinse your mouth out with water, brush your teeth, or eat alkalizing foods after consuming these acidic foods. Healthy alkalizing foods include dairy products such as eggs and yogurt, or any type of vegetable.

If you have questions regarding your current diet and its effect on your oral health, please contact our Worcester, MA office and speak with a member of our staff. If you’ve begun to make changes in your diet toward a healthier lifestyle, we hope these tips can help your make positive changes to your oral health. Our team at Worcester Endodontics wants a healthy lifestyle to be a top priority in your life.

Start Your Day Off with a (Healthy) Smile!

September 9th, 2020

If there’s one meal that can claim the title of “Sweetest Meal of the Day,” it’s almost certainly breakfast. Sugary cereals, syrup-covered waffles, oatmeal with honey, cinnamon toast (which is literally sugar poured on toast)—it’s hard to imagine another menu even coming close. But you’re trying to keep your diet as healthy as possible. What to do?

First, no need to deprive yourself of the occasional pastry or stack of pancakes. The real problem with breakfast isn’t so much sugar as it is added sugar.

  • Just a Spoonful of Sugar? What’s So Bad About That?

Nothing! Many healthy foods have natural sugars. Milk contains lactose sugar, and it also contains calcium and is enriched with vitamin D—both of which are essential for strong bones and teeth. Fruits get their sweetness from a sugar called fructose, and deliciously provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to our diets.

Even processed sugar is surprisingly low in calories. In fact, a teaspoon of white sugar has only about 15 calories. But this teaspoon is also rich in nutrients for cavity-causing bacteria. The oral bacteria in plaque use sugars and carbohydrates from food particles as a fuel source to produce acids. These acids erode enamel and lead to cavities.

Choosing breakfast foods without additional sugars, then, is an easy way to reduce the number of empty calories in your diet while safeguarding the health of your teeth. We have a few suggestions.

  • Be Selective with Cereals

If the word “sugar” or “honey” or appears on the box, that’s a hint that your favorite cereal is heavy on the sugar. But there’s a more scientific way to tell just how much sugar is in that spoonful.

While the colorful packaging and playful mascots are eye-catching, check the black-and-white panel with nutritional facts found on every box. If one serving equals 27 grams, and the sugar in that serving equals 15 grams, you know you have a problem. And cereals marketed to children are especially “rich” in added sugar.

But luckily, you don’t need to give up your morning bowl. Many cold cereals are available that offer whole grains, protein, and fiber without a lot of added sugar. Spend some time in the cereal aisle comparing, or, to make life easier, there are many online sites which recommend the best (and worst) cereals in terms of sugar content.

  • Use Your Judgment with Juices

Fruits are packed with important nutrients. Not only do they provide essential vitamins and minerals, they’re a great source of water and fiber. If you drink 100% fruit juice, you are getting the benefit of most of the vitamins and minerals found in fruit. (You’re also getting less of the fruit’s natural fiber, and more of the fruit’s natural sugar, so consider fresh fruit as an option occasionally.)

But when fruit juice comes with “cocktail,” or “punch,” or “ade” attached to the end of it, there’s often something else attached—added sugar. For natural fruit flavor and the least amount of sugar, stay with 100% unsweetened fruit juice.

  • Search Out “Surprise” Sugars

Remember the childhood excitement of searching through your cereal box for the prize inside? Fun! What’s not so much fun? The surprises you might find when you search through the labels on your favorite breakfast items—because added sugars make their stealthy way into many of our morning favorites.

When you compare plain, Greek, and low-fat yogurts, for example, the low-fat options are often higher in added sugar. A container of low-fat yogurt can provide 19 grams of sugar—that’s a tablespoon and a half!

And while you’re at it, be sure to compare the sugar content in granola bars. Some are full of nuts and grains, and some are full of added sugar.

Going out for a breakfast smoothie? Those can contain 70 grams of sugar and more. Making your own at home might be a little more time-consuming, but if you use fresh fruit as your sweetener, you can make sure that what you’re not consuming is added sugar. If you’re on the go, check out all-fruit options at your favorite smoothie shop.

Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our team aren’t asking you to eliminate sugar from your breakfast diet altogether. (Everyone loves a doughnut now and again.) But substituting some alternatives for your regular menu choices can reduce the amount of added sugars by tablespoons every meal. That’s another great reason to greet the morning with a smile!

I have halitosis. What can I do?

August 26th, 2020

Halitosis is the fancy, scientific word for “bad breath.” Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our team know there are several reasons why you may have halitosis; let’s look at a few:

  • Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) – There are five main types of gum disease, and each one can range from mild to severe. For example the most common one is gingivitis; it is caused by bacteria in the plaque that has been allowed to build up, usually as a result of poor oral hygiene. A more serious and uncommon type of gum disease is called necrotizing periodontal disease. It is most common in people who have a suppressed immune system.
  • Smoking
  • Dry Mouth – This can be caused by something as simple as a medication you take.
  • Food – Of course, if you eat something that is potent like garlic, it is going to give you bad breath.
  • Diseases of the Body – Some diseases such as sinus infections and diabetes, among a few other types of infections, can also cause you to have halitosis.

How to Get Rid of Halitosis

The most obvious answer to how to get rid of halitosis is to practice good oral hygiene, although, depending on the cause of halitosis it may not be that simple. If you have an infection that is causing the halitosis then you may need an antibiotic to clear up the infection and then the bad breath will go away. Here are more tips:

  • Brush your teeth after every meal and before bed.
  • Floss your teeth. The more plaque you get out of your teeth, the better chance you have of not getting cavities or bad breath.
  • Address any medical conditions that are not related to your teeth that can be causing the halitosis.
  • Ask Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour for a prescription mouthwash that kills bacteria.

Halitosis (bad breath) can be an embarrassing condition to live with, but there are plenty of ways to get rid of it permanently. Start by talking to a member of our team at our Worcester, MA office.

What are the alternatives to endodontic treatment?

August 19th, 2020

You have been recommended to Worcester Endodontics for an endodontic treatment — commonly known as a root canal — and now you may be wondering if there are any alternatives to this procedure? Before discussing other options, it’s important to understand exactly what this common procedure accomplishes.

What is the purpose of an endodontic treatment?

Endodontic treatment is done when a tooth’s pulp — the inside of the tooth that houses the nerves and blood vessels — becomes infected or inflamed. In order to eliminate any pain and save the tooth, the damaged pulp is removed, the area is cleaned, and the tooth is sealed.

What are my other options?

According the American Association of Endodontics (AAE), the alternative to endodontic treatment is usually the complete removal the damaged tooth. If you have a tooth extracted, the AAE recommends replacing it with a dental implant, a bridge, or a removable partial denture. Failure to replace the extracted tooth could result in problems with chewing and biting, shifts in your remaining teeth, and self-consciousness.

Here are more details on the most common types of tooth replacements:

  • Dental implants – According to the American Dental Association, dental implants are effective and common options for replacing teeth. The implant is made from materials that are compatible with the human mouth and the device includes an artificial tooth. The placement of the implant and artificial tooth can be completed in one day, although some patients may need to wait up to several months before an artificial tooth can be added to the implant.
  • Bridges – Bridges do exactly what their name suggests: they bridge the space left by one or two missing teeth. Your dentist will bond the bridge to your remaining, natural teeth in order to keep it in place. Bridges can only be removed or put in place by a dentist.
  • Removable partial denture – Much like bridges, removable partial dentures are made up of replacement teeth that attach to your natural teeth. These, however, may be removed and replaced by the patient on a daily basis.

The AAE notes that dental implants have the same success rates as endodontic treatments. Even so, nothing can fully replace the look, capabilities, or the feel of your own teeth, which is why endodontic treatment (preserving the natural tooth) with Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour is an important decision!

Don't hesitate to contact our Worcester, MA office if you have further questions!

When should I floss during the day?

August 12th, 2020

A vital step in your oral health routine is flossing. We hope our patients at Worcester Endodontics maintain good oral hygiene, including daily flossing between each visit to our Worcester, MA office. A toothbrush is not always enough to get to the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. When food remains between your teeth, bacteria starts to grow and will break down your enamel. This is where flossing comes in!

Should you floss before or after brushing?

Whatever your personal preference, you may floss before or after you brush your teeth. When you floss first, you can brush away any leftover dislodged food debris from your teeth. On the other hand, when you brush first, you will loosen the plaque between your teeth, which makes flossing more effective.

The essential aspect is that you floss thoroughly by using a fresh strand of floss and make sure to get between every tooth. Even if your teeth look and feel clean, don’t skip flossing or plaque will begin to build up on your teeth.

When is the best time to floss?

Although you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour and our team recommend flossing your teeth thoroughly once a day. Many people prefer to floss before bed, so that plaque doesn’t sit between their teeth all night.

What kind of floss should I use?

You may choose between interdental cleaning picks or flexible floss strands to perform your daily flossing routine. If you have permanent oral appliances or restorations, be sure to follow the flossing instructions provided to you.

Do you need help flossing?

If you’re having trouble flossing or have questions about which floss is best for your teeth, contact our Worcester, MA office and we can provide you with support. Be sure to keep up with your daily flossing routine, and we will see you at your next appointment!

How do I know if I need a root canal?

August 5th, 2020

Tooth decay affects everyone, with studies reporting that 92% of adults have had a cavity at one point in their lifetime. In more serious instances of tooth decay, however, the nerve of the tooth may become infected. This type of infection requires a root canal, in which the affected nerve is removed, and the interior of the tooth is cleaned and filled.

Tooth Anatomy

Although each tooth is covered by a hard outer shell, the interior of a tooth consists of dental pulp. This pulp is soft, containing blood vessels that bring nutrients to the tooth. Each tooth also has an associated nerve, which resides within a root canal passing from the tooth’s root into the dental pulp. This nerve provides information about temperature, allowing teeth to sense heat or cold.

Symptoms of Nerve Infection

Damage to the dental pulp or nerve tissue leads to a rapid multiplication of bacteria within the interior of the tooth. The result may be an abscess, a small pocket near the root of the tooth that becomes full of pus. This infected area commonly causes the following symptoms:

  • Intense pain or sensitivity when pressure is applied to the tooth
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, even after the heat or cold has been removed
  • Darkening or discoloration of the affected tooth
  • A small, persistent pimple that forms on the gums
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Swelling in other areas of the face, neck, or head

Nerve infection may occur due to deep decay, although repeated dental procedures, facial trauma, chipping or cracking of a tooth, or large fillings may also contribute to an abscessed tooth.

What to Do if You Think You Need a Root Canal

Only a visit to Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour can confirm whether a tooth’s nerve has become infected. We will perform an oral examination and X-rays to confirm whether the tooth is abscessed. If a root canal procedure is needed, a small hole will be placed in the tooth. The pulp and nerve tissue are removed from the tooth, which is thoroughly cleaned and filled. Then, the hole is sealed with a special compound to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth’s interior. The entire procedure is performed under local anesthesia to numb pain.

If you think you may have tooth or nerve decay, call our Worcester, MA office today to schedule a diagnostic appointment.

How the Specialty Practices of an Endodontist Can Help

July 29th, 2020

What Is an endodontist?

If you have been to the dentist lately, you may have been directed to Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour for additional care. You may be asking, “What exactly is an endodontist?” The answer is pretty simple: An endodontist is a dental specialist who has completed two or more extra years of specialty training in endodontics (which is the field of dentistry that focuses on root canals), as well as the four basic years of dental school. Put simply, an endodontist is a root canal specialist. If you have been referred to an endodontist, you are probably in need of special root canal treatment.

What exactly does an endodontist do?

An endodontist is able to perform all kinds of root canal therapy. Because of their extensive training, endodontists, like Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour, can do routine root canals, complex root canals, retreatments, endodontic surgery, and more. Endodontists concentrate on these types of treatments, and therefore possess extensive experience performing root canals and other root procedures.

What are the benefits of seeing an endodontist?

While many regular dentists are capable of performing root canals, there are added benefits to seeing an endodontist when you have root problems with your teeth. The endodontist can give you more precise, specialized care, which typically means less pain and stronger teeth in the future. Some of the many benefits of seeing an endodontist include:

  • Advanced anesthesia: If you are nervous about experiencing pain during your root canal, most endodontists offer more advanced forms of anesthesia than regular dentists. Whether it is general or local anesthesia, an endodontist can ensure your comfort during the procedure.
  • Cosmetics: Endodontists can generally help you avoid an extraction and save your natural tooth. Fake teeth can be painful and costly, and sometimes less attractive. If you are interested in saving your natural teeth, an endodontist can help.
  • Comfort after the procedure: Because of the advanced methods used by endodontists, the recovery time for your root canal will most likely be shorter and less painful than if you had received the same treatment from a general dentistry practice.
  • Better long-term results: Seeing an endodontist can help you prevent future problems. Because of the precise care that an endodontist puts into root canal treatment, you are less likely to experience the same problems with that tooth in the future.

In terms of time, money, and comfort, there are many benefits to seeing an endodontist. If you are in need of a root canal, consider calling our Worcester, MA office to schedule an appointment. We're looking forward to answering all of your questions and helping you achieve your optimal oral health here at Worcester Endodontics!

Navigating the World of Dental Insurance Terminology

July 22nd, 2020

Unless you work for an insurance company, you probably do not spend a lot of your time studying all the terminology that dental insurance companies use to describe the treatments and services they cover. If it seems pretty confusing, here are some of the most commonly used dental insurance terms and what they mean.

A Basic Glossary

Annual Maximum–The maximum amount your policy will pay per year for care at Worcester Endodontics. It is often divided into costs per individual, and (if you are on a family plan) per family

Co-payment– An amount the patient pays at the time of service before receiving care, and before the insurance pays for any portion of the care

Covered Services– A list of all the treatments, services, and procedures the insurance policy will cover under your contract

Deductible– A dollar amount that you must pay out of pocket each year before the insurance company will pay for any treatments or procedures

Diagnostic/Preventive Services– A category of treatments or procedures that most insurance will cover before the deductible which may include services like preventive appointments with Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour, X-rays, and evaluations

In-Network and Out-of-Network– A list of providers that are part of an insurance company’s “network”

  • If you visit in-network providers, the insurance company will typically cover a larger portion of the cost of the care you receive. If you visit someone who is not part of the network, known as an out-of-network provider, the insurance company may pay for a portion of the care, but you will pay a significantly larger share from your own pocket.

Lifetime Maximum– The maximum amount that an insurance plan will pay toward care for an individual or family (if you have an applicable family plan)

  • This is not a per-year maximum, but rather a maximum that can be paid over the entire life of the patient.

Limitations/Exclusions– A list of all the procedures an insurance policy does not cover

  • Coverage may limit the timing or frequency of a specific treatment or procedure (only covering a certain number within a calendar year), or may exclude some treatments entirely. Knowing the limitations and exclusions of a policy is very important.

Member/Insured/Covered Person/Beneficiary/Enrollee– Someone who is eligible to receive benefits under an insurance plan

Provider– Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour or other oral health specialist who provides treatment

Waiting Period– A specified amount of time that the patient must be enrolled with an insurance plan before it will pay for certain treatments; waiting periods may be waived if you were previously enrolled in another dental insurance plan with a different carrier

There are many different insurance options available, so you need to find out exactly what your insurance covers. It’s important to review your plan with a qualified insurance specialist. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the policy so you can understand it fully and be confident that you know everything your policy covers the next time you come in for treatment at our Worcester, MA office.

Electric Toothbrushes vs. Regular Toothbrushes

July 15th, 2020

Convertible or sedan? Downtown or suburbs? Electric or manual toothbrush? As life decisions go, it’s certainly not choosing your next car, or deciding where you want to live. But, even when you are selecting a toothbrush, it helps to make a list of the pros and cons of the contenders before you make that final selection.

  • Efficiency

The most important factor in choosing a toothbrush is finding out which model works best to eliminate bacteria and plaque. And studies have shown that, used properly, both electric and manual toothbrushes do a great job of removing plaque. Some electric models can reach the backs of teeth and the gumline more easily, some manual head designs work better for your individual mouth and teeth, so your particular needs should dictate which style of toothbrush you use. Talk to us about the best methods to brush with your preferred toothbrush, and we’ll let you know if one type of toothbrush or the other might work better for you.

  • Health Considerations

Brushing too energetically can actually harm teeth and gums, causing sensitivity and damage to the enamel and gum tissue. An electric toothbrush should provide a continuous brushing motion without needing any pressure from the brusher. This might be the model for you if you have a too-vigorous approach to brushing, or sensitive teeth and gums.

An electric toothbrush can also be more efficient for older and younger brushers, those with limited mobility, and those with health conditions or injuries that make brushing with a regular toothbrush more difficult.

  • Cost

An electric toothbrush is not a one-time investment. You should change the removable head as often as you change your manual toothbrush (every three to four months, please). But this cost is offset if an electric toothbrush is more efficient in removing your plaque, easier to use, or even if you just prefer it to manual brushing. If you find that you brush better and more often with an electric toothbrush, the added expense is well worth it.

Whichever brush you decide on, the most important part of the brush is the person holding it! A regular appointment with your toothbrush for two minutes of thorough brushing in the morning and two in the evening, daily flossing, and regular visits to our office for checkups and cleanings will keep your teeth healthy and strong no matter which toothbrush you choose.

Questions about your toothbrush choices? Don’t hesitate to ask Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour at our Worcester, MA office.

Five Common Reasons for Emergency Care Visits

July 8th, 2020

A dental emergency can strike anywhere, anytime, and without warning. Perhaps you’re playing a game of touch football on Thanksgiving and your brother-in-law decides to up the ante and tackles you, accidentally knocking out your two front teeth. Or maybe you’re on vacation somewhere in the tropics and decide to go deep-sea fishing, but when you’re climbing onto the boat you slip on the dock, fall, and chip three of your teeth. From misplaced fly balls to bagel seeds causing a painful bout of inflammation, there are all kinds of dental emergencies.

Here are the five most common reasons for emergency care visits.

  1. Somehow you've managed to knock out a tooth. Whether it's the result of a sports injury or because of decay, when you lose a tooth, you need emergency dental care. If the tooth is salvageable, then it can be reattached to the socket, but this needs to be done within a one- or two-hour window.
  2. A chipped tooth is the most common dental emergency. Small chips can be caused by food (chicken bones and nuts have sent many people to the dentist); however, it's usually some sort of accident or injury that more often causes a chip. While you might be embarrassed to walk around with a gaping chip in your front tooth, it is easily fixed with a bond, crown, or veneer.
  3. A broken tooth is more severe than a chipped tooth. When a tooth breaks, it might be due to a small or hidden chip. However, chances are the pain and discomfort will be more severe.
  4. It might seem comical, but getting a piece of food lodged in the wrong place can result in a dental emergency. If something gets stuck deep in a crevice, it can cause pain and inflammation.
  5. The loss of a filling happens more often than you think. When you lose a filling, you need to receive emergency care immediately. If you don’t, you risk further damage to your tooth.

When you injure your teeth or mouth, you need to seek emergency care as soon as possible. In the event of a suspected emergency, don't wait. Contact Drs. Stern, Guzek, Shnaydman, Jutras, and Abdennour immediately.

Welcome to Our Blog

June 19th, 2020

Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. Please check back often for weekly updates on fun and exciting events happening at our office, important and interesting information about orthodontics and the dental industry, and the latest news about our practice.

Feel free to leave a comment or question for our doctors and staff - we hope this will be a valuable resource for our patients, their families, and friends!

Request an Appointment
Leave a Review
Hours & Location
Visit our Facebook
Contact Us!
call email