Taking measures to keep your mouth clean is essential for excellent dental health. A daily oral hygiene regimen is needed to remove the dental plaque that causes tooth decay and gum disease. And good oral hygiene not only helps prevent dental cavities, but is necessary to battle bad breath.
Making an effort to focus on your dental health will not only produce a dazzling smile, but has some added benefits as well. Since oral health is linked to overall health, good oral hygiene can improve your well-being. When your oral health is neglected, bacteria multiply and wreak havoc on your mouth.
If gums become infected with periodontal disease, harmful bacteria can actually enter the bloodstream and make its way to other parts of the body. Practicing good oral hygiene can reduce your chances of developing complications or illnesses from a dental disease.
Regular dental visits are an important part of your oral hygiene regimen! Dental cleanings are designed not just to polish your teeth, but also to remove debris and tartar buildup. During your dental exam, we will also check for signs of dental problems. Your oral health is connected to your overall health, making it even more important for you to stay on top of your dental care!
TWICE A YEAR
You are probably aware that most dentists recommend that you get a professional dental cleaning, or prophylaxis, every six months. The term prophylaxis simply means taking steps to prevent disease or health problems.
Preventive care is the most cost effective approach to your oral health that insures longevity of your natural teeth.
Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay. Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves.
Permanent molars are the most likely to benefit from sealants. The first molars usually come into the mouth when a child is about 6 years old. Second molars appear at about age 12. It is best if the sealant is applied soon after the teeth have erupted, before they have a chance to decay.
Applying sealants does not require drilling or removing tooth structure. The process is short and easy. After the tooth is cleaned, a special gel is placed on the chewing surface for a few seconds. The tooth is then washed off and dried. Then, the sealant is painted on the tooth. The dentist or dental hygienist also may shine a light on the tooth to help harden the sealant. It takes about a minute for the sealant to form a protective shield.
Sealants can only be seen up close. Sealants can be clear, white, or slightly tinted, and usually are not seen when a child talks or smiles.
As with anything new that is placed in the mouth, a child may feel the sealant with the tongue. Sealants, however, are very thin and only fill the pits and grooves of molar teeth.
A sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years. Sealants should be checked at each regular dental appointment and can be reapplied if they are no longer in place.
An estimated one in 20 adults and three in 20 children unconsciously grind their teeth at night. It is the sound of bruxism. While the noise may disturb spouses or parents, it has a far more distressing effect on the sleeper.
Nocturnal grinding can exert thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch on the surfaces of teeth. It can be rough not only on teeth but also on the supporting bone, the gums and jaw joint.
For many years, bruxism was attributed to the release of tension from emotional stress. However, many dental authorities today believe that the causes exist in the patient’s mouth. Night grinding may be an unconscious effort to correct irregularities of the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Dentists term this a malocclusion. They grind away to eliminate a spot that is too high or to find a comfortable place to fit the upper and lower teeth together.
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.
If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist… before you do any serious damage to your teeth.
He or she can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and abnormalities in your teeth.
WHY IS TEETH GRINDING HARMFUL?
In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear their teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.
Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, result in hearing loss, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face.
• Stress management. If you grind your teeth because of stress, you may be able to prevent the problem with professional counseling or strategies that promote relaxation, such as exercise and meditation. If your child grinds his or her teeth because of tension or fear, it may help your child to talk about his or her fears just before bed or to relax with a warm bath or a favorite book.
• Dental approaches. If you have bruxism, your doctor may suggest a mouth guard to prevent damage to the teeth.
• Oclusal guards (Night guards) are usually constructed of hard acrylic and fit over your upper or lower teeth. Some dentists may make them right in the office, while others may send them to a laboratory to be made.
• Mouth guards are available over-the-counter and from your dentist. Your dentist can make a custom mouth guard to fit your mouth. Mouth guards are less expensive than are splints, they are softer than splints, and over time they may dislodge during teeth grinding. In addition, mouth guards may actually increase bruxism in some people.
• Correcting misaligned teeth may help if your bruxism seems to be associated with dental problems. In severe cases — when tooth wear has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly — your dentist may need to use overlays or crowns to entirely reshape the chewing surfaces of your teeth. Reconstructive treatment can be quite extensive and although it will correct the wear, it may not stop the bruxism.
• Behavior therapy. Once you discover that you have bruxism, you may be able to change the behavior by practicing proper mouth and jaw position. Concentrate on resting your tongue upward with your teeth apart and your lips closed. This should keep your teeth from grinding and your jaw from clenching. Ask your dentist to show you the best position for your mouth and jaw.
Properly diagnosed, designed, and custom fabricated mouthguards are essential in the prevention of athletic oral/facial injuries.
The National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, Inc. reports several interesting statistics. Dental injuries are the most common type or orofacial injury sustained during participation in sports.
Victims of total tooth avulsions who do not have teeth properly preserved or replanted may face lifetime dental costs of $10,000 – $15,000 per tooth, hours in the dentist’s chair, and the possible development of other dental problems such as periodontal disease. It is estimated by the American Dental Association that mouthguards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and collegiate football alone.
A properly fitted mouthguard must be protective, comfortable, resilient, tear resistant, odorless, tasteless, not bulky, cause minimal interference to speaking and breathing, and (possibly the most important criteria) have excellent retention, fit, and sufficient thickness in critical areas.
Unfortunately, the word “mouthguard” is universal and generic, and includes a large range and variety of products, from “over the counter” models bought at the sporting goods stores to professionally manufactured and dentist prescribed custom made mouthguards.
Presently, over 90% of the mouthguards worn are of the variety bought at sporting good stores. The other 10% are of the custom made variety diagnosed and designed by a health professional (dentist and/or athletic trainer).
If your children or yourself participate in active sports you should definitely consider a professionally made, custom fitted mouthguard to prevent teeth injuries.
Fillings are used to treat dental cavities after the decayed part of the tooth is removed. The fillings may be made of gold, porcelain, amalgam, or composite materials.
There are differences that include cost and durability. Two types of indirect fillings are also available: inlays and onlays. The indirect fillings are used when the tooth needs more than a filling but is not damaged enough to use a crown.
Tooth-colored fillings that are designed to match the color of your teeth are called composites. Composites are a mixture of glass or quartz filler that provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size restorations that need to withstand moderate pressure from chewing. They are generally used on either front or back teeth.
Composites are “bonded” or adhered in a cavity. This can allow your dentist to make a more conservative repair to your tooth, meaning less tooth structure is removed when the dentist prepares the tooth. This may result in a smaller filling than that of a metal (amalgam) filling.
It generally takes longer to place a composite filling than it does for a metal filling. That’s because composite fillings require the tooth be kept clean and dry while the cavity is being filled.
A dental inlay or onlay is bigger than a filling and smaller than a crown. It is bonded or cemented into place. An inlay is similar to a filling, but it lies within the cusps (bumps) on the chewing surface of your tooth. An onlay is larger than an inlay. It covers one or more cusps.
Inlays or onlays can be made of gold, composite resin (plastic) or ceramics. They can last for decades.
HOW LONG THEY LAST DEPENDS ON:
• The material used
• The teeth involved
• The forces of chewing
• Oral hygiene
• Regular visits to a dentist
CEREC inlays can be used instead of traditional amalgam (metal) or composite fillings to create a smooth, tooth-colored replacement of tooth material lost to cavities. CEREC inlays are designed and custom fabricated using state-of-the-art CAD/CAM technology to perfectly match your tooth and bring it back to its natural strength.
The CEREC inlay is superior to amalgam or composite fillings because of its superior esthetics and strength. With enamel-like material, they look and feel like your real teeth, and are longer lasting. And as with most CEREC restorations, your inlay can all be taken care of in ONE VISIT. You can avoid the impression materials, temporary and return appointment associated with lab-fabricated ceramic restorations.
BENFITS OF CEREC SINGLE VISIT RESTORATION INCLUDE:
• One-visit convenience
• Up to 100% of tooth’s strength
• Long-term (can last 15+ yrs)
• High-quality esthetics
• Color-matching to blend with natural teeth
• Created from metal-free material that mimics natural tooth enamel
• Clinically proven and backed by more than 20 years of research
You may need a crown to cover a tooth to help restore it to its normal shape and size. A crown can make your tooth stronger and improve its appearance.
A crown can help strengthen a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth remaining to hold the filling. Crowns can also be used to attach bridges, protect a weak tooth from breaking or restore one that’s already broken. A crown is a good way to cover teeth that are discolored or badly shaped. It’s also used to cover a dental implant.
Dental bridges literally bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth.
A bridge is made up of two crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap — these two anchoring teeth are called abutment teeth — and a false tooth/teeth in between. These false teeth are called pontics and can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Dental bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DENTAL BRIDGES?
• Restore your smile
• Restore the ability to properly chew and speak
• Maintain the shape of your face
• Distribute the forces in your bite properly by replacing missing teeth
• Prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position
WHAT TYPES OF DENTAL BRIDGES ARE AVAILABLE?
• Traditional bridges involve creating a crown for the tooth or implant on either side of the missing tooth, with a pontic in between. Traditional bridges are the most common type of bridge and are made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics.
• Cantilever bridges are used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth.
• Maryland bonded bridges (also called a resin-bonded bridge or a Maryland bridge) are made of plastic teeth and gums supported by a metal framework. Metal wings on each side of the bridge are bonded to your existing teeth.
Dentures are removable appliances that can replace missing teeth and help restore your smile. If you’ve lost all of your natural teeth, whether from gum disease, tooth decay or injury, replacing missing teeth will benefit your appearance and your health.
When you lose all of your teeth, facial muscles can sag, making you look older. Dentures can help fill out the appearance of your face and profile. They can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth so that your appearance does not change much. Dentures may even improve the look of your smile.
TYPES OF DENTURES
• Conventional. This fully removable denture is made and placed in your mouth after the remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed, which may take several months.
• Immediate. This removable denture is inserted on the same day that the remaining teeth are removed. Your dentist will take measurements and make models of your jaw during a preliminary visit. You don’t have to be without teeth during the healing period, but may need to have the denture relined or remade after your jaw has healed.
• Overdenture. Sometimes some of your teeth can be saved to preserve your jawbone and provide stability and support for the denture. An overdenture fits over a small number of remaining natural teeth after they have been prepared by your dentist. Implants can serve the same function, too.
New dentures may feel awkward for a few weeks until you become accustomed to them. The dentures may feel loose while the muscles of your cheek and tongue learn to keep them in place. It is not unusual to experience minor irritation or soreness. You may find that saliva flow temporarily increases. As your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures, these problems should go away.
Follow-up appointments with the dentist are generally needed after a denture is inserted so the fit can be checked and adjusted. If any problem persists, particularly irritation or soreness, be sure to come back for consultation.
Even if you wear full dentures, you still have to practice good dental hygiene. Brush your gums, tongue and roof of your mouth every morning with a soft-bristled brush before you insert your dentures to stimulate circulation in your tissues and help remove plaque.
Are There Alternatives to Dentures?
Yes, dental implants(keep the hyperlink but redirect to our implant section) can be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. The cost is usually greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble the feel of real teeth. Dental implants are becoming the alternative to dentures but not everyone is a candidate for implants.
Call us to schedule a consultation to explore your options. We can help you make an educated decision in your particular situation.
• Rinse your dentures before brushing to remove any loose food or debris.
• Use a soft bristle toothbrush and a non-abrasive cleanser to gently brush all the surfaces of the dentures so they don’t get scratched.
• When brushing, clean your mouth thoroughly—including your gums,
cheeks, roof of your mouth and tongue to remove any plaque. This can help reduce the risk of oral irritation and bad breath.
• When you’re not wearing your dentures, put them in a safe place covered in water to keep them from warping.
• Occasionally, denture wearers may use adhesives. Adhesives come in many forms: creams, powders, pads/wafers, strips or liquids. If you use one of these products, read the instructions, and use them exactly as directed. Your dentist can recommend appropriate cleansers and adhesives; look for products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Products with the ADA Seal have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
If you have any questions about your dentures, or if they stop fitting well or become damaged, contact our office at your convenience. Be sure to schedule regular dental checkups, too. We will examine your mouth to see if your dentures continue to fit properly.
GUM DISEASE AND DENTURES
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth.
WARNING SIGNS THAT CAN SIGNAL A PROBLEM:
• gums that bleed easily
• red, swollen, tender gums
• gums that have pulled away from the teeth
• persistent bad breath or bad taste
• permanent teeth that are loose or separating
• any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
• any change in the fit of partial dentures
FACTORS THAT INCREASE THE RISK OF DEVELOPING GUM DISEASE:
• poor oral hygiene
• smoking or chewing tobacco
• crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
• medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
See your dentist if you suspect you have gum disease because the sooner you treat it the better. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning at your dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.
Remember: You don’t have to lose teeth to gum disease. Brush your teeth twice a day, clean between your teeth daily, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
TREATMENTS FOR GUM DISEASE
Treatments range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues. In some patients, the nonsurgical procedure of scaling and root planing is all that is needed to treat gum diseases. Surgery is needed when the tissue around the teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with nonsurgical options.
NON-SURGICAL TREATMENT FOR GUM DISEASE
• Professional Dental Cleaning
During a typical checkup your dentist or dental hygienist will remove the plaque and tartar (plaque that builds up and hardens on the tooth surface and can only be removed with professional cleaning) from above and below the gum line of all teeth. If you have some signs of gum disease, your dentist may recommend professional dental cleaning more than twice-a-year.
• Scaling and Root Planning
This is a deep-cleaning, nonsurgical procedure, done under a local anesthetic, whereby plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line are scraped away (scaling) and rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth (planing). Smoothing the rough spots removes bacteria and provides a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth. Scaling and root planing is done if your dentist or periodontist determines that you have plaque and calculus (hardened plaque, also called tartar) under the gums that needs to be removed.
SURGICAL TREATMENTS FOR GUM DISEASE
• Flap Surgery/Pocket Reduction Surgery
During this procedure the gums are lifted back and the tarter is removed. In some cases, irregular surfaces of the damaged bone are smoothed to limit areas where disease-causing bacteria can hide. The gums are then placed so that the tissue fits snugly around the tooth. This method reduces the size of the space between the gum and tooth, thereby decreasing the areas where harmful bacteria can grow and decreasing the chance of serious health problems associated with periodontal disease.
• Bone Grafts
This procedure involves using fragments of your own bone, synthetic bone, or donated bone to replace bone destroyed by gum disease. The grafts serve as a platform for the regrowth of bone, which restores stability to teeth. New technology, called tissue engineering, encourages your own body to regenerate bone and tissue at an accelerated rate.
• Soft Tissue Grafts
This procedure reinforces thin gums or fills in places where gums have receded. Grafted tissue, most often taken from the roof of the mouth, is stitched in place, adding tissue to the affected area.
• Guided Tissue Regeneration
Performed when the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed, this procedure stimulates bone and gum tissue growth. Done in combination with flap surgery, a small piece of mesh-like fabric is inserted between the bone and gum tissue. This keeps the gum tissue from growing into the area where the bone should be, allowing the bone and connective tissue to regrow to better support the teeth.
• Smoothes shallow craters in the bone due to moderate and advanced bone loss. Following flap surgery, the bone around the tooth is reshaped to decrease the craters. This makes it harder for bacteria to collect and grow.
If you consider yourself somewhat of an anxious dental patient and are seeking extreme safety and comfort, you might consider looking into laser dentistry techniques available in our office.
Laser dentistry incorporates state-of-the-art technology in various aspects of dental health practice and treatment. The potential for laser dentistry to improve dental treatment comes from the precision with which lasers can treat an area of focus, the control that laser dentists have over power output, and the duration of exposure on the skin. Lasers penetrate soft tissue while sealing blood vessels and nerve endings. For this reason many people experience virtually no postoperative pain following the use of a laser. Also, soft tissue lasers allow tissues to heal faster. Although laser dentistry may improve the precision of your treatment while minimizing pain and recovery time, the technology has yet to break into the mainstream of dentistry.
BENEFTIS OF LASER DENISTRY?
• Procedures performed using soft tissue dental lasers may not require sutures (stitches).
• Certain laser dentistry procedures do not require anesthesia.
• Laser dentistry minimizes bleeding because the high-energy light beam aids in the clotting (coagulation) of exposed blood vessels, thus inhibiting blood loss.
• Bacterial infections are minimized because the high-energy beam sterilizes the area being worked on.
• Damage to surrounding tissue is minimized.
• Wounds heal faster and tissues can be regenerated.
LASER DENTISTRY PROCEDURES
• Crown Lengthening
Dental lasers can reshape gum tissue (soft tissue laser) and bone (hard tissue laser) to expose healthier tooth structure. Referred to as crown lengthening, such reshaping provides a stronger foundation for the placement of restorations.
• Gummy Smile
Dental lasers can reshape gum tissue to expose healthy tooth structure and improve the appearance of a gummy smile.
• Muscle Attachment (Frenula)
A laser frenectomy is an ideal treatment option for children who are tongue tied (restricted or tight frenulum) and babies unable to breast feed adequately due to limited tongue movement. A laser frenectomy may also help to eliminate speech impediments.
• Soft Tissue Folds (Epulis)
Dental lasers may be used for the painless and suture-free removal of soft tissue folds often caused by ill-fitting dentures.
Dental lasers may be used for the painless and suture-free removal of benign tumors from the gums, palate, sides of cheeks and lips.
Low intensity dental lasers reduce pain associated with cold sores and minimize healing time.
Photobiomodulation can be used to regenerate damaged nerves, blood vessels and scars.
In cases where sleep apnea is a result of a tissue overgrowth in areas of the throat (which sometimes occurs with age), a laser assisted uvuloplasty or laser assisted uvula palatoplasty (LAUP) procedure can be performed to reshape the throat and relieve the correlating breathing problems associated with sleep apnea.