Our Blog

How does a tooth decay?

July 26th, 2017

When acids are allowed to erode tooth enamel long enough to leach calcium and other minerals from your enamel and dentin, a process called demineralization occurs. This rapidly leads to tooth decay unless reversed by good oral hygiene and professional dental cleanings at our Walpole, MA office. Acids responsible for tooth decay come from the wastes of mutans streptococci and lactobacilli bacteria that thrive in dental plaque, a substance that is the leading cause of periodontitis.

Where do demineralizing acids come from?

Dietary sugars comprise the bulk of tooth-decaying acids, including table sugar, cooked starches, fructose, glucose, and lactose. In fact, as soon as you bite down on a sugary cookie or into a French fry, bacteria start digesting sugars, breaking them down and eventually excreting them as demineralizing acids. As this bacteria colony grows and becomes organized, plaque develops and forms that tough, yellowish coating you often see on the tops of teeth at the gumline.

Plaque is the Problem

Dental plaque is a filmy type of nesting place for bacteria that also keeps acids pressed against tooth enamel. Since plaque cannot be removed by brushing, it is important that a person who suffers tooth decay visit Kevin P. Mischley, DMD immediately so we can use special tools to scrape and thoroughly clean teeth.

Signs of Tooth Decay

Early tooth decay and cavities remain asymptomatic until demineralization creates a hole deep enough to reach the tooth’s inner tissues and nerve endings. Eventually, tooth decay will cause tooth sensitivity, toothache, vague pain when biting down on the affected tooth, and possibly pus seeping around a tooth’s gum line if the decay creates an infection. If treatment is delayed long enough, a decaying tooth may loosen, crumble, and ultimately fall out, which leaves an empty or partially empty socket.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Getting regular checkups with Dr. Mischley, brushing and flossing twice a day, and eating fruits or crunchy vegetables at snack time instead of a candy bar or doughnut are the three best ways to keep your teeth healthy, white, and where they should be: in your mouth.

Radiation and the Safety of Dental X-Rays

July 19th, 2017

It is not uncommon to be concerned about your safety when you have dental X-rays performed. Putting on a heavy lead vest may make you apprehensive. The benefits of dental X-rays far outweigh the risks when safety procedures are followed and the number of X-rays is limited to the required number.

About Dental X-rays

Intraoral X-rays are the most common, and include bitewing X-rays. These allow Dr. Mischley and our team at Kevin P. Mischley, DMD to detect caries (cavities) and check the health of your bone and root structure. Extraoral X-rays provide the information we need to monitor your jaw and temporomandibular joint (TMJ), as well as look for impacted teeth and tooth development.

X-ray Safety

A set of four bitewing X-rays exposes you to about 0.005 mSv (millisievert) of radiation, which is equal to the amount of radiation you receive in an average day from natural sources. A panoramic X-ray exposes you to about twice the amount of a bitewing. In both cases the risk is negligible and worth the diagnostic benefits.

Guidelines from the American Dental Association are offered for individuals who are not at high risk for cavities. Children in this group should have X-rays every one or two years. Teenagers should have X-rays every one-and-a-half to three years. Adults can go two to three years between X-rays. If you are at higher risk, yearly X-rays are not harmful and can save your teeth.

No matter what type of X-ray you are having, it is extremely important to tell Dr. Mischley or one of our technicians if you are pregnant or may be pregnant. If you are concerned about the number of X-rays you are having done, or about any radiation you are exposed to, please give us a call at our convenient Walpole, MA office and talk to us about your concerns.

Dental Crowns with Kevin P. Mischley, DMD

July 14th, 2017

Our office provides a dental crown for patients who need a tooth repaired due to a very large cavity or fracture. A crown or “cap” replaces the tooth structure while providing long term reinforcement, strength and protection of the tooth.

A crown is often recommended after a root canal procedure. This is because the reason for the root canal is usually a large cavity and/or fracture which has involved the nerve of the tooth. After that procedure is completed, the tooth must be protected from the future fracture. However, while most “root canaled” teeth require crowns, not all teeth need to have a root canal done before a crown is placed. Crowns, while they may sound involved, are relatively superficial as far as how much of the volume of the tooth is involved in the procedure. Essentially, one may think of a crown as “replacing the enamel of a tooth”. When the portion of a tooth that is missing and/or decayed is about a third of the overall size of the tooth, a large filling won’t do much good as far as protecting the tooth from future fracture. In cases like these, crowns are the best treatment to preserve a tooth’s integrity.

Another instance in which a tooth may require a crown is to remedy a condition known as "cracked tooth syndrome". Sometimes, a tooth has a crack that cannot be detected by examination or x-ray. Instead, it may just hurt to bite on, and temperature sensitivity can be present. This condition can be remedied by placing a crown on a tooth to keep it from flexing.

Historically, crowns were made of either gold or metal, or a gold or metal substructure with porcelain fused to it for esthetics. With dental labs taking advantage of the precision of computer assisted design and computer assisted manufacturing these days, ceramics have become the norm. The materials used now not only look excellent, but also match and can surpass the strength of the metals traditionally used before them. In the last few years this technology has been perfected to the point that our office was willing to make a considerable investment in it. We now proudly provide patients with these same ceramic crowns without having to send out to a lab to have them made.

When receiving a crown, we create a tooth which is shaped to match the precise measurements of your former tooth. Measurements are taken with a digital scanner in our office. A crown is then designed to have the same natural shape, size, and contours of the old tooth. Finally, the crown is cemented or bonded onto the tooth and just like that, becomes one of the strongest teeth in your mouth.

Having a crown made at our office is now a one-time appointment affair! Preparation no longer requires an unpleasant gooey impression, followed by three weeks of a temporary crown, and a second appointment to have the permanent crown put on. Instead, while you relax for about 40 minutes, Dr. Mischley takes a digital scan of the tooth, designs the crown, mills it, fires it in the oven to solidify it, and finally, bonds the crown onto the tooth. The result is a having a crown placed in a simple two-hour appointment! If you think you may be in need of a crown, please contact our Walpole office for more information.

Seven Foods that will Give You a Smashing Smile

July 12th, 2017

As the saying goes, you are what you eat. But did you know that what you eat also affects your smile? Chow down on these seven tasty treats, recommended by Dr. Mischley and our staff, for a healthier mouth and a smashing smile!

Sesame Seeds

These tiny seeds that you find in some Chinese and Thai dishes (as well as on top of your hamburger bun) are packed with bone-building calcium. They help to preserve and protect the bone that supports your teeth and gums. As a bonus, they also help to build up your tooth enamel while sloughing away plaque.


This funny little fruit has the highest amount of Vitamin C of any fruit, including oranges! What does this mean for your chompers? Well, you need Vitamin C to keep your gum tissue healthy and strong. Without it, they are more susceptible to periodontal disease.

Sweet Potatoes

These are not just for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner! You should add sweet potatoes to your regular diet. These tasty spuds are rich in Vitamin A, which your body uses to form tooth enamel and heal gum tissue.


You know those strong vapors from onions that make you cry? Well, they come from the sulfur compounds in the vegetable, which gives them a superpower-packed antibacterial punch. Get ready, though: Onions are most effective for your smile when you eat them raw!


If you love cheese, you will love this news! Munching on some cheese helps prevent gum disease and cavities. The reason is that cheese is very high in calcium and phosphate, which help to balance the pH levels in your mouth. This in turn helps to preserve your tooth enamel and kill harmful bacteria.

Green Tea

Sipping on some green tea can not only help prevent cavities and gum disease, it can also kill the bacteria that cause bad breath. Score! Green tea has catechins, which actually kill the bacteria that cause plaque. So drink up! Your smile depends on it!


Have some fun with that crunchy stuff because, guess what? It is great for your smile! When you chew celery you produce saliva. Your saliva neutralizes cavity-causing bacteria. As a little added bonus, while you are chewing, it is giving your gums a little massage and cleaning between your teeth.

So grab some of these healthy snacks and give your mouth something to smile about!