Posts for: May, 2012
Your self-image has a lot to do with how you feel about your appearance — and particularly your smile. If you are unhappy with the way you look, cosmetic dentistry may be the answer to your problems.
- What do we mean by cosmetic dentistry? The word “cosmetic” refers to beneficial changes in appearance. Thus cosmetic dentistry is all dental work that restores or improves a person's appearance.
- What is a cosmetic dentist? Every dentist learns to do procedures in a way that conserves or improves a patient's appearance. Some dentists continue to study and specialize in procedures that are done specifically for the purpose of enhancing a person's appearance.
- What is a smile analysis? The first step to improving your smile, this analysis involves a study of all the elements of your smile — teeth appearance and alignment, gums, jaws — and also your facial features and how they all fit together.
- How can I choose the right cosmetic dentist? Ask your dentist about his or her training and experience. Ask for photos of previous work. You may need to select more than one person, working as a team to take best advantage of each one's experience, skills, and training.
- What can be done to improve a smile using 21st century techniques? We are fortunate to live in times in which numerous options are available. These include making teeth whiter; altering their size, shape, balance, color, and alignment; filling in parts of teeth that are missing because of decay or injury; and even replacing teeth that are missing entirely.
- How can chipped or discolored front teeth be restored? This can often be done by bonding with composite resin.
- How can damaged back teeth be restored? Back teeth with cavities or traumatic injuries can now be repaired with non-metallic tooth-colored material that bonds to the tooth substance.
- What techniques can be used to correct more severe problems? Porcelain veneers, thin layers of porcelain material, can be used to change the appearance of misshapen or undersized teeth. Porcelain crowns can be used to replace the part of the tooth that rises above the gums.
- How can we change the position of teeth that do not meet together well? Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in correcting malocclusions (bad bites). They use traditional braces or clear aligners to move teeth into more attractive and functional positions.
- What if some teeth are missing? A dental implant replaces the root of a missing tooth. A porcelain crown that looks just like a natural tooth can then be connected to the implant.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry: A time for change.”
Periodontal (gum) diseases are sometimes called “silent” because those who have them may not experience painful symptoms. But certain signs point to the existence of these common diseases. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, it is time to visit our office so these problems can be treated before they lead to serious infection and loss of teeth.
Gums that bleed during the brushing of teeth. Some people think that gums bleed from brushing too hard. In fact, healthy gum tissues will not bleed with normal brushing. The usual cause of bleeding gums is an accumulation of dental plaque in the areas where your teeth meet your gums. Plaque is a film of bacteria, called a biofilm, which accumulates on your teeth. If you are not brushing and flossing effectively, plaque irritates your gum tissues and causes an inflammation and swelling called gingivitis. This causes your gums to bleed easily on contact with a toothbrush or floss.
Gum tissues that appear red and swollen. If plaque is allowed to accumulate for 24 hours or more, the inflammation in your gum tissues becomes chronic. The continuous presence of bacteria makes it impossible for your body's natural defenses to fight the infection. Chronic inflammation leads to a breakdown of the normal attachment between the teeth and the gums, causing the formation of “pockets.” Inside these pockets the infection continues to attack the tissues that support your teeth. Eventually this can lead to a breakdown of the bone that surrounds your teeth.
Bad breath. Bad breath is another sign of accumulated plaque. The bacteria in plaque may emit gases that have an unpleasant odor.
Gums that are sensitive to hot or cold. Chronic inflammation can also cause the gums to recede, exposing the roots of the teeth in which nerves may be close to the surface, leading to sensitivity to heat and cold.
Teeth that are getting loose, or a painful area in the gums. If you experience these symptoms, the infection has progressed a long way from the “silent” stage. It is time to seek immediate professional help.
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, a professional dental examination is in order. With daily removal of plaque by effective brushing and flossing, along with frequent professional cleanings to remove any plaque that you were unable to catch, you will go a long way to preventing periodontal disease. Also, be aware that smoking tends to mask the effects of gum disease. Generally, if you smoke your gums will not bleed when brushing or flossing, nor will they show signs of swelling.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about gum disease. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Bleeding Gums” and “Warning Signs of Periodontal (Gum) Disease.”
If you engage in frequent air travel, you have probably experienced pain in your ears and sinuses related to pressure changes. The pain is caused by “barotraumas” (from baro meaning pressure — also the root of the word “barometer” — and trauma meaning injury) and is also called a “squeeze.” Divers also sometimes experience this discomfort or pain.
The cause of barotraumas is air pressure (or water pressure, in the case of divers) on the outside of your body that is not equal to the pressure inside your body. Normally when pressure outside your body changes, your organs such as your blood, bones, and muscles transmit the changes equally from outside to inside. Some structures in your body, such as your middle ear spaces and your sinus cavities (spaces in the facial bones of the skull), don't transmit the pressure as well because they are filled with air and have rigid walls. The maxillary (upper jaw) sinuses are pyramid-shaped spaces in the bone located below your eyes, on either side of your nose.
You have probably tried to stop such pain in your ears by yawning, chewing, or moving your jaw back and forth. These maneuvers, called “clearing,” allow air to move from the back of your throat into your ear canals so that the pressure can equalize. Similarly, your sinuses have small openings near their lower borders, so that you can clear pressure changes within them. If you have a head cold or flu and the membranes lining your sinuses are swollen and inflamed, they may close off the openings and make it difficult to clear these spaces. This can sometimes lead to intense pain.
Because the lower walls of these sinuses are adjacent to your upper back teeth, these teeth share the same nerves as the maxillary sinuses. This sharing sometimes causes pain felt in your back teeth to be perceived as pain in the sinuses, or vice versa. Pain felt a distance from its actual stimulus because of shared nerves is called “referred pain.”
Be sure to make an appointment with us if you experience pain in any of your teeth. Any defect in a filling or tooth can allow air to enter the tooth. It could be referred pain from your sinuses, or the result of pressure changes on trapped air within a filling or a tooth. Such pain, called barodontalgia (from baro meaning pressure, don't meaning tooth, and algia meaning pain) is an early sign of injury in a tooth.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth and sinus pain. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Pressure Changes Can Cause Tooth & Sinus Pain.”
Given the fact that baby-boomers are now reaching the age of retirement, understanding senior healthcare is becoming a top priority to many people. Discover your level of expertise in the area of oral health by taking the following true/false test.
True or False Self Assessment
- All people eventually lose their teeth as they age.
- Yellow teeth are a sign of gum disease.
- If you have dentures, you no longer need regular dental check-ups.
- Periodontal (gum) disease is a big problem that affects 3 out of 4 adults.
- Electric toothbrushes can be a great option for seniors with arthritis or other debilitating conditions.
- False: Your teeth are meant to last your lifetime.
- False: Yellow teeth typically denote stained teeth from diet, medication, smoking, or growing older. And while they may not appear attractive, older, yellow teeth can in fact be healthy and free of gum disease. However, if your yellow teeth bother you, ask us if teeth whitening could be right for freshening up your smile while making you appear younger.
- False: For those individuals who wear complete upper and lower dentures, you will always need routine dental exams, typically once a year so that you can be screened for cancer, as well as other oral conditions (i.e. candadiasis), to ensure the you obtain and maintain optimal oral health.
- True: 75% of all adults over the age of 35 will experience some form of periodontal disease, a condition in which the gums become inflamed and infected. If left untreated, gum disease causes the bone that supports the teeth to deteriorate until the teeth are loosened and/or eventually lost (either they fall out on their own or must be removed). On a positive note, you can prevent gum disease by having good oral hygiene that includes flossing daily and brushing at least twice a day with a proper technique and fluoride toothpaste.
- True: Under normal conditions, what matters most is not so much the type of toothbrush used (manual, electric or battery powered toothbrush), but rather how you use it. However, if you are unable to use a manual toothbrush effectively for proper brushing, then a power toothbrush may be able to facilitate proper cleaning more easily.