Jim Erpenbach DDS

Call Us Today: 865-240-2035

The Power of pH

 Do you know that there is a constant battle going on in your body to manage the pH level of your mouth? It’s true. Keeping the pH balance of your mouth in check can prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Dr. Erpenbach sees the damage that happens when mouths become too acidic.

What is pH? 

Potential of hydrogen, or pH, is the scale that is used to measure the acidity of solutions. The pH scale ranges from zero to 14. Substances that fall in the zero to 6.5 range are more acidic, and substances that range from 7.5 to 14 are more basic. Those solutions with a pH balance of 7 are neutral. Tap water can range between 6.5 and 8.5. Coca Cola and other sodas range between 2.52 and 4.75, making them very acidic. Fruit juice and sports drinks also are in the acidic range.

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Protect Your Teeth and Gums Day and Night

For many people, brushing their teeth is the last thing they do before turning in for the night. It’s also the first thing many individuals do upon waking up in the morning. But what happens in the mouth overnight during sleep? Apparently, a lot of things.

During sleep, people do not swallow. Swallowing carries saliva from the mouth to esophagus. This saliva carries millions of bacteria along with it. According to the magazine, Registered Dental Hygienist, a person swallows one liter of saliva on average per day, containing 100 billion bacteria. When swallowing stops, the bacteria stay in the mouth and multiply.

"Multiplying bacteria are hungry bacteria," Dr. James Erpenbach, D.D.S. said. 

Erpenbach, a Knoxville, Tennessee, dentist cautions his patients to not feed the bacteria by leaving bits of food for them to feed on by skipping brushing or flossing before bed. 

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Floss for Your Health

Most people make sure to visit their dentist at least twice a year to make sure they’re in good dental health. They are also likely to brush at least twice a day to protect their teeth and gums. But how many people remember to floss? Flossing is a key part of protecting dental hygiene, but it’s a step that many people skip. Some researchers think glossing over flossing is no big deal, but most dentists still agree that flossing is still a key factor in protecting dental health.

Even though dental professionals still promote the benefits of flossing, in 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services deleted flossing from their long-standing health guideline recommendations. They did so over concerns that flossing lacked scientifically proven evidence showing its benefits.

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How Veneers Can Really Make You Smile


 Have you mastered the art of smiling without showing your teeth? Do you avoid find yourself covering your mouth when you talk or hiding when you have to have your picture taken? If you're dodging the camera because your pearly whites aren’t so white or your smile isn’t so straight, it may be time to talk to your dentist about porcelain veneers. Dr. Erpenbach offers patients porcelain veneers as an option to makeover their smile and regain their confidence.

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Buyer Beware: How to Choose the Best Dentist

Buyer beware doesn’t just apply to buy cars or items from your local online yard sales- it also can apply to dentistry. When searching for a dentist, it’s important to take a test drive of the practice with some very key points of diagnostics, cleaning time, and personalized care in mind. Dr. Erpenbach encourages patients to ask questions regarding their care when visiting a potential provider.

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The Tale of the Tooth Fairy

No one ever sees her, but you know when she’s been there.

She only visits at night.

She searches under your pillow while you’re sleeping.

She wants your teeth.

Sounds a little scary? Don’t be afraid – We’re talking about the Tooth Fairy!

Most Americans are familiar with the tale of the sweet, tooth collecting sprite that visits at night, looking for teeth that have fallen out. She kindly leaves a few dollars under their pillow as payment, and then goes on about her merry way. It’s a popular story in the United States, and one that most children look forward to experiencing, but do you know how the Tooth Fairy got her start? Dr. Erpenbach gets a lot of questions about the Tooth Fairy when treating his littlest patients , but the real story of the Tooth Fairy may even surprise some adults.

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Apple Cider Vinegar: Does It Hurt Your Teeth?

 The apple cider vinegar craze has been increasing in popularity over the last few years. This super sour drink has been touted as a panacea for everything that ails you. Avid apple cider vinegar drinkers claim it does everything from reducing inflammation to improving allergies, and even increasing your metabolism to help you lose weight. Other claims include that it increases energy- and still, others swear by it as a cleaning product! While apple cider vinegar may have some benefits, it should be used with care and be sure to rinse after using.

The reason behind this warning is that apple cider vinegar is extremely acidic. It is high in acetic acid, a substance that is known to be extremely damaging to tooth enamel. The pH of apple cider ranges between 2.5 and 3.0 in comparison to water, which is typically about 6.5 to 7.2.

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Potential Link: Study Connects Periodontal Disease to Liver Damage

 A study presented at the 2017 International Liver Congress in Amsterdam has linked severe cases of periodontitis to cirrhosis of the liver. The study was made up of 184 cirrhosis patients who were tracked for an average of one year to look for causes of cirrohosis, which leaves the liver permanently scarred. Patients in the study were given health assessments, include oral health exams.

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New Studies Show that Teeth Can Get A Boost from Grape Seed Extract

Dental researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry have identified a natural compound found in grape seed extract to be a potential way to strengthen teeth and give extra support to dental filling. The study examined the ability of this compound to strengthen dentin, the tissue that lies below the hard, outer, bone-like tooth enamel.

Researchers on the project sought to solve the common problem of filling or restoration failure. Dental fillings, whether made of mercury amalgam or composite materials, eventually begin to weaken and break down. Mercury amalgam fillings are estimated to last on average 12.8 years and composite resin fillings last on average 7.8 years.

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Oral Health Speaks for your Total Health

Many people know the old saying, "the eyes are the windows to the soul," but do you know that the mouth is the window to the body? It’s true. Your mouth can tell your dentist a whole lot about your overall health. Dr. Erpenbach is a member of the American Academy of Oral-Systemic Health and is a firm believer that the health of the mouth can impact the rest of the patient.

The presence of gum disease is often a red flag for dentists. Not only because it is evidence that something is wrong in the mouth, but because it is a contributor to heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and even low birth weight and preterm births. Gum disease is caused by the presence of disease-causing bacteria, and mouths are full of bacteria. These disease-causing bacteria, which flourish in dental plaque, increase inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to illness or infection.

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Many Reasons for Bleeding Gums, Never Ignore it!

Bleeding gums are a problem for many people. There are several reasons why your gums may be bleeding- but no matter what the reason is, you should talk to your dentist about what is happening when you brush. In most cases of bleeding gums, Dr. Erpenbach can provide an effective treatment to cure the condition and get patients back to great oral health.

Reasons behind bleeding gums include:

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Bulk Restorations Fall Short

Bulk restorations are a popular way for dentists to treat cavities. Although they are popular with many dentists, they may actually not be the best method of treatment. Dr. Erpenbach does not use bulk restorations to treat cavities and uses biomimetic dental restorations instead.

Bulk restorations became popular because they allowed dentists to fill cavities faster. They require fewer steps that metal amalgam fillings, which means dentists were able to treat patients faster, ultimately giving them the ability to treat more patients during the day, too. Unlike metal amalgam fillings, there is no risk of exposure to poisonous mercury; a factor that makes them more popular with patients, Another benefit is that they are tooth-colored versus the telltale silver amalgam, which makes it less obvious that the patient has fillings.

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Researchers Find Rheumatoid Arthritis May Be Caused by Mouth Bacteria

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful joint condition suffered by 1.5 million Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control. The condition, also known as RA, is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system targets healthy synovial tissue located around the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can be triggered by illnesses or certain medical conditions, but researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found a link between RA and a particular type of bacteria found in the mouth. These new findings may lead to new treatments for patients suffering from RA, as well as methods of prevention.

These bacteria are known to cause periodontal infections but have also been found to cause RA. These bacteria confuse the body, which mistakes its own tissue as foreign invaders. This confusion prompts an immune system response in order to destroy these imagined foreign bodies by attacking the tissue of the synovium. The synovium, also known as the synovial membrane, is the soft tissue found in the joints that serve to cushion the joints as they move or glide.

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Damage Control: Stopping Pulp Disease Early On

When tooth decay goes untreated, cavities form in the tooth’s hard outer enamel. These cavities are a gateway for bacteria to reach the rest of the tooth. When bacteria reach the inner living pulp of the tooth, the pulp becomes diseased and patients typically experience extreme pain and sensitivity, along with infection. Diseases that impact the dental pulp can lead to total tooth loss. There are treatments available to treat dental pulp disease, but some of these treatments may also lead to emergency extractions.

There are several types of pulp disease, medically known as pulpitis that infects the soft, sensitive living tissue called the pulp. These different types range from reversible or mild pulpits to dangerous infections caused by pulp exposure. All of these types are painful and cause serious infections or tooth loss.

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The Attack on Teeth

It’s happened to many people – and it may have happened to you, too. Your dentist found a cavity, so you need a filling. You get the filling in order to take care of your tooth, but soon after, you may find that you're filling didn’t quite work out as planned. Now you are heading towards a root canal or may even be facing a tooth extraction. This situation can be frustrating, overwhelming, and many times painful, but the good news is that it is also avoidable by seeing a dentist that specializes in biomimetic dentistry, like Dr. Erpenbach. Dr. Erpenbach explains the steps he takes as a biomimetic dentist to preserve the teeth while treating them for tooth decay.

One of the most important parts of the biomimetic treatment of tooth decay is creating a good environment for the restoration. To do this, all decay must be removed or neutralized to prevent further destruction. Careful steps are used to remove the decay in order not to disturb or injure the sensitive nerves and living tissue inside the tooth.

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Manage Your Mouth Guard

April is National Facial Protection Month, sponsored by the American Academy of Sports Dentistry. During April, the AASD encourages youth and adult athletes to wear mouth guards to protect the teeth from injury or trauma during athletics or sporting events. Wearing a mouth guard will definitely help to protect the teeth, but improper care of the mouth guard will negatively impact oral and total health.

There are several types of sports mouthguards on the market. Some are basic off the shelf types or stock types that do not need any preparation before using. Boil and bite guards are another type, and must be softened in boiling water and formed around the teeth by biting down. Another type is a personalized protective guard designed by a dental professional through impression mold casting.

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How to Positively Influence Your Children to Take Care of Their Teeth

Family and friends often influence the way we think and how we behave. These groups influence us from sports teams we like to the music we listen to, and even to the clothes we wear. Researchers have also found that family and friends even influence how we with think about and care for our teeth.

Boston University’s Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine determined through extensive research of families living in Boston’s public housing that individuals with good oral health were taught how to practice proper oral hygiene by their family or peers. Conversely, individuals with negative oral health conditions were not encouraged or instructed by their family and friends to practice good oral hygiene.

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Scientific Advances Aid Dentists

Science plays a significant role in dentistry – and research studies frequently help dentists to develop new ways to treat patients. Dr. Erpenbach makes it his mission to be informed and educated on hot topics and current news in dental research, and he also endeavors to learn new techniques in order to best treat patients. This blog explains a little bit about the roles science and technology play in dentistry, and why they are highly valued in his practice.

Science and technology have advanced considerably over the last 40 years. Old methods of dental restorations are no longer taught, so the way dentists perform restorations has changed. Many dentists are now using new methods that use biomimetic, or lifelike, materials that bond tightly to the tooth itself, versus techniques of old that used mercury amalgam or other materials to restore the teeth after decay.

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E-Cigarettes Are Not A Safer Alternative According to Experts

Dentists have long known about the impact of cigarette smoking and the use of nicotine products on the teeth and gums. The foremost impact is to the total health of the patient who smokes or uses products containing nicotine by increasing their risk of developing oral cancer. Additional risks of using these products include tooth decay, periodontal infections, and gum tissue loss. Many patients have made the switch from smoking to electronic cigarettes in order to reduce the risks to their health. While many patients have been lulled into thinking e-cigarettes is a safer option, new research has found that these alternatives still post a significant risk to users’ health and are not as safe as once thought.

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New Dental Stem Cell Research May Help Teeth Heal from the Inside Out

When thinking about treating tooth decay, most people think about fillings. Fillings then make them think about the drill. The drill may lead them to think about pain. Pain makes them want to skip their next dental checkup. But, what if dental technology advanced enough to allow the teeth to heal from within, thus giving patients the ability to skip the drill and the noise and pain associated with it? Researchers at King’s College in London have unlocked the power of dental stem cells found in tooth pulp to heal the tooth from within.

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