Posts for: August, 2012
How good of a job are you doing with brushing and flossing your teeth? This is an important question, because a healthy mouth depends on regularly removing dental plaque (a whitish, sticky film of bacteria that grows near your gumline and on the surfaces of your teeth).
Daily Plaque Removal
Most people need to brush and floss at least once a day to remove plaque. Twice a day may be ideal, as plaque forms every 12 to 24 hours on your teeth, and it will also make your mouth feel fresher. Be thorough but gentle with your teeth — excessive brushing or flossing can cause damage.
The use of an antibacterial mouthrinse to help reduce the plaque you may have missed as well as to reduce bacteria that are clinging to soft tissues or membranes in your mouth, should be included in your daily hygiene routine.
When you run your tongue around your mouth after a professional dental cleaning, you sense a smooth, slippery feeling. This is the way your teeth should feel after you brush your own teeth every day. The tooth surfaces should feel smooth and slick throughout your mouth and at the gum line.
After running floss up and down a tooth surface, notice whether there is blood on the floss or whether the floss has an odor. If the floss squeaks when you run it up and down a tooth surface, that indicates that the tooth is squeaky clean.
Check for Bleeding
Bleeding gums are a sign of inflammation, called gingivitis, in the gum tissue. Healthy gums do not bleed. If you have recently begun using more effective brushing and flossing methods, your gums may bleed at first but then stop as your gums become healthier.
Use Disclosing Solutions
Disclosing solutions are harmless dyes that can stain plaque and make it visible. Rinsing with these solutions may surprise you by revealing the plaque on your teeth you had no idea you missed.
Visit Our Office
We can check your mouth and tell you how well you are doing in your program of daily plaque removal. As a bonus, we will give you a toothbrush so that while you're here we can check your technique to make sure you are brushing correctly.
If you are planning orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child, you may have heard about different types of orthodontic appliances (braces) and you may be wondering which type is best for you.
Orthodontic treatment is the process used to improve the positioning of your teeth and bite so that you look better and your teeth function properly. Movement of the teeth is accomplished by harnessing the natural regenerative powers of the body to remodel living tissue, in this case, the bone, which adapts to the new position into which the teeth are moved. Orthodontic appliances accomplish the movement by placing small light and constant forces on the teeth to move them into new and better positions.
There are currently three main types of orthodontic appliances to move your teeth. After careful analysis of your bite and needs, we can help you select the best option for your particular situation.
Fixed appliances, commonly known as braces, so-called because they are fixed to the teeth thereby bracing them together, small brackets are bonded to the teeth and light flexible wires are threaded through them. Controlled tension on these wires pulls or pushes the teeth into position.
Clear brackets are a second, more aesthetic type of fixed appliance. While they are less visible, they tend to be more fragile.
Use of fixed appliances, whether brackets are metal or clear, is usually recommended in more complex cases because they enable the orthodontist to accomplish more complex three-dimensional tooth movements in the most efficient and predictable manner. Please note that, during treatment, you should avoid eating hard foods or participating in extreme contact sports so you will not damage your teeth or the appliances.
Clear aligners are a third, more recent option for repositioning teeth. They are removable appliances, generally used in situations that are milder in nature and easier to correct. After careful assessment, a series of computer-generated, custom made clear plastic trays are made to move the mal-aligned teeth. Tooth movement is progressive with each successive aligner or tray, moving the teeth minutely, until the new desired position(s) is achieved. Clear aligners are usually used for simpler or tipping movements of teeth.
With any of these options, simple movements of teeth may take a few months, and more complex movements take up to two or three years.
Orthodontic treatment is an ingenious scientific discovery that has allowed the dental profession to accurately and precisely move teeth for improved aesthetic appearance and functional position. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about orthodontics. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”
Creating a dental crown that looks good and wears well is not an easy achievement. It is the result of good communication you, the patient, have with us, your dental professionals, and that we have with the dental lab that manufactures the crown. In addition, it reflects the quality of work done by us and by the lab technician.
What is a dental crown?
A crown is a dental restoration that surrounds the remains of a damaged tooth or is attached to a dental implant so that it resembles a natural tooth as it extends above the gum line. The choice of materials and appearance of the crown depend upon many factors. One is the location of the crown. If it is in the back part of your jaw, strength and wear will be a major factor. If it is in the front, a life-like appearance will be important.
What goes into making a good-looking and functional crown?
Options for crown materials include porcelain, gold, porcelain fused to metal (called PFM) and some newer materials such as “pressed-ceramic” restorations and computer-milled-ceramics.
You as the patient can have a say in choosing the crown's color and appearance. Before it is cemented into its final position, make sure you are happy with the feel and appearance of your new crown.
Gold is often chosen for crowns on back teeth because of its superior wear qualities. Gold crowns have been known to last more than 50 years. They also cause minimal wear to the teeth that they touch on the opposing jaw.
Crowns made of porcelain (a glass-like substance fired in an oven at a high temperature) look good but may be too brittle to stand the wear and forces given to back teeth. Like glass, they can fracture under pressure. But because of their lifelike appearance they make a good choice for visible front teeth.
PFM (porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns) are a good combination of the best of gold and porcelain, but they sometimes lose the stains applied to make them look natural, and occasionally they fracture away from the metal.
A provisional crown can help you make sure you are getting a crown with the qualities you want. With the provisional crown all the details are worked out ahead of time, and you get a chance to try them out to make sure the crown looks good and that you can eat and talk normally. After you give your approval on the provisional crown, the final crown will be made to match it, in longer-lasting and better quality components.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about crowns and other dental restorations. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gold or Porcelain Crowns.”
When dentists talk to patients, they often use specialized vocabulary referring to various dental conditions. Do you understand what they mean when they use these words — or are you wondering what they are talking about?
Here's your chance to test your knowledge of ten words that have a particular meaning in the context of dentistry. If you already know them, congratulations! If you don't, here's your chance to learn what these words mean in the dental world.
In dentistry, enamel is the hard outer coating of your teeth. It is the hardest substance produced by living animals. It is a non-living, mineralized, and composed of a crystalline form of calcium and phosphate.
The dentin is the layer of a tooth that is just beneath the enamel. It is living tissue similar to bone tissue.
When dentists speak of pulp, we mean the tissues in the central chamber of a tooth (the root canal) that nourish the dentin layer and contain the nerves of the tooth.
Many people exert excess pressure on their teeth by clenching or grinding them. This is called bruxism, a habit that can be very damaging to teeth.
By this we mean how the upper and lower teeth are aligned, and how they fit together. This can also be referred to as your bite.
This term refers to tooth decay. Dental caries and periodontal disease (see below) are two of the most common diseases known to man. Today, these diseases are not only treatable, but they are also largely preventable.
A term for gum disease, this term comes from “peri,” meaning around and “odont,” meaning tooth. It is used to describe a process of inflammation and infection leading to the progressive loss of attachment between the fibers that connect the bone and gum tissues to the teeth. This can lead to loss of teeth and of the bone itself.
When you consume acidic foods or drinks, the acids in your mouth react directly with minerals in the outer enamel of your teeth, causing chemical erosion. This is not the same as tooth decay, which is caused by acids released by bacterial film that forms on your teeth (see below).
A dental implant is a permanent replacement for a missing tooth. It replaces the root portion of the tooth and is most often composed of a titanium alloy. The titanium root fuses with the jaw bone, making the implant very stable. A crown is attached to the implant and can be crafted to match your natural teeth.
Dental plaque is the whitish film of bacteria (a biofilm) that collects on your teeth. Your goal in daily brushing and flossing is to remove plaque.
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt in the late teens or early twenties — so-called because they come in around the age of maturity or “wisdom.” While teeth are designed to last a lifetime, wisdom teeth are often problematic requiring early removal because they frequently become impacted, meaning they are not able to erupt fully through the gums to become healthy functioning teeth. However, not all wisdom teeth need to be removed if they are fully erupted and functional.
Prevention: Having a tooth submerged below the gum, pressing on the roots of neighboring teeth can cause damage and decay even though you may not be feeling any discomfort. By the time the tooth becomes painful, significant damage may already have occurred. In addition, the ability of the body to heal following oral surgery tends to decrease with age. A recent study sponsored by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Foundation strongly recommends that wisdom teeth be removed in young adulthood in order to prevent future problems and to ensure optimal healing.
Reasons for Removal: If your wisdom teeth are impacted against (pressing on) the roots of other teeth, damage can occur. To prevent infections, gum disease, decay, or damage to other permanent teeth, our office may recommend removal of your wisdom teeth.
What to Expect: If wisdom teeth removal is recommended, it can generally be done in the dental office as a surgical procedure with local anesthesia and conscious sedation (twilight sleep). After the surgery, you may experience some moderate discomfort and swelling depending on the degree of impaction and difficulty. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen, or prescription medication for several days after surgery will provide pain relief and control swelling.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding removal of your wisdom teeth. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth: To Be Or Not to Be?”