Posts for: December, 2012
You may have noticed, as you get older, that the enamel of your teeth is looking worn in certain areas. Sometimes tooth wear takes the form of a minor chipping or fracturing at the incisal (cutting) edges of the teeth, or a loss of tooth material from the area near the gum line. In more severe cases, worn teeth look quite a bit smaller than they used to. Why does this happen?
Some wear with age is natural. But too much wear can interfere with your bite, expose more sensitive inner parts of the tooth to decay, and give you a more aged appearance.
There are things you can control that affect wear:
Your habits: Clenching or grinding habits, also called “bruxism,” is a major cause of tooth wear. The motion of teeth sliding over each other with forces that are beyond what's normal for biting or chewing causes a mechanical removal of tooth enamel. This can happen during sleep or periods of high stress. In either case there are therapies available, such as a thin, professionally made mouthguard that prevents your teeth from coming into contact with each other. Holding foreign objects, such as nails and bobby pins, between your teeth can also cause wear.
Your diet: Tooth enamel can be eroded (dissolved away) by acidic beverages, such as sodas, sports drinks and juices. Frequent snacking on sugary foods encourages the growth of oral bacteria that produce acid as a byproduct — also leaving your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay. Your saliva can buffer the effects of the acid in your mouth in about half an hour; if you consume these types of foods and beverages continually, there won't be enough time for this to work.
We can restore the appearance and function of worn teeth in a variety of ways. Porcelain crowns and veneers, for example, can re-establish the normal thickness and length of teeth while improving their color and giving you a more youthful appearance.
If you have any questions about tooth wear, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about tooth wear by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How And Why Teeth Wear.”
Scientists don't know much about sleep even though it has been extensively studied. We do know that several hours of deep, restful sleep per night are essential for a healthy life.
Many people remain tired and unrefreshed, even after a full night's sleep. About a third of them are affected by sleep related breathing disorders (SRBD). Dentists can play a significant role in helping patients overcome these disorders, which range from frequent snoring to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). If you think you may have such a disorder, read on.
Under normal conditions, your upper airway is open, allowing air to flow from your nose, through your throat, and into your lungs. If you suffer from SRBD, you experience frequent reductions in the flow of air to your lungs during sleep. You may not be aware of it, but sometimes your breathing may even stop for brief periods. These reductions happen when your tongue and other soft tissues in the back of your throat collapse backwards and block your upper airway or windpipe. You may briefly awaken as many as 50 times per night because of these breathing lapses. These brief awakenings, called micro-arousals, keep you from reaching the deep stages of sleep your body needs.
The resulting reduced oxygen flow to your heart and to your brain can cause serious damage. You will also be tired during the day and experience a lack of energy, even if you sleep for seven or eight hours per night. This constant drowsiness puts you at greater risk for accidents.
Because dentists generally see their patients at six-month or other regular intervals, we are in a good position to screen and refer patients with suspected SRBD to physicians for diagnosis and treatment. Dentists can also treat SRBD in a number of ways.
- One of these is Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT), in which a device that looks something like an orthodontic retainer holds your lower jaw in a forward position relative to your upper jaw, preventing your tongue and soft tissue from collapsing into your airway.
- Another consists of breathing equipment called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The CPAP is a mask connected to a machine that pushes air into your lungs.
- Other treatments include oral surgery or orthodontia. The goal of these techniques is to increase the volume of air passing through your upper airway by pushing your tongue forward.
Medical insurance usually covers the cost of much of these treatments.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about sleep disorders and their treatments. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders and Dentistry.”
For many people, when they hear the term “laser,” they immediately envision a futuristic science fiction movie. However, did you know that lasers have been used in the medical industry for years? Furthermore, this revolutionary technology is now beginning to do the same within the field of dentistry.
Lasers get their name from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” and are literally beams of light that have a single wavelength. Unlike traditional white light or daylight that is a continuum of light with many wavelengths corresponding to the visible spectrum or rainbow, a laser light beam is just a single color.
Dental laser usage typically falls into three categories: disease diagnosis; soft tissue procedures of the gums, lips, and tongue; and hard tissue procedures of the bone or tooth enamel and dentin. For example, common uses include diagnosing cavities, treating disease, and removing both diseased gum tissues and tooth structure, as in decay. They were first used in dentistry for soft tissue surgery such as gum line reshaping procedures and tissue testing (biopsies). In 1997, dentists started using them for removing decay and preparing the tooth enamel and dentin in preparation for fillings. More recently, dentists are using lasers to help detect and diagnose dental disease, as they are especially helpful in identifying dysplastic (“dys” – altered; “plasia” – growth) or precancerous tissue as well as cancerous tissues. Thus they have been used for removing both malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous) lesions in some cases.
As you now see, laser dentistry is an important tool we use at our office to provide our patients with optimal dental care and treatments. And if you want to learn more about laser dentistry, read the article “Lasers Shine A Light On Dentistry.” Or if you want to schedule an appointment to see if laser dentistry is right for you, contact us today.
Invitations, dresses, the cake, the photographer: there's so much to think about when planning your wedding. And remember to plan for one more thing, your smile. Your wedding photographs will record the magic of your wedding day forever, so you'll want your smile to look radiant. Bonus: you'll be providing for a lifetime of good oral health.
Start planning as far ahead as possible. We can help you select from the variety of treatments, therapies and procedures that can enhance your smile on that special day. Together, we'll assess your starting point, decide what needs to be changed, and create a plan of action. Remember that the bigger the changes you want to make, the longer they are likely to take.
Plan the indicated amount of time before your wedding for the following:
- Several months to three years: Orthodontics
From minor movement using clear aligners to full braces to correct a bad bite, this treatment allows us to accurately and precisely move teeth for better appearance and function. The process can seem like magic.
- Six months to a year: Dental Implants
Implants are natural looking, functional stand-alone tooth replacement systems. They take planning and time. An implant consists of a root replacement that permanently joins to the bone and to which a crown is attached.
- Two to four visits: Periodontal Plastic Surgery
Consult with us to find out your needs. Today, surgical techniques can alter your gum tissues and their relationship to the teeth, improving the appearance of your smile.
- Multiple visits over one to four months: Crowns and Bridges
A crown or “cap” is generally required when a tooth has been ravaged by decay or trauma. A crown can also be used to improve tooth color and shape. Missing teeth can be replaced by bridges, which span the space created by a missing tooth. Bridges do require crowns on the adjacent teeth to which the bridge is attached.
- At least three months: Veneers
Porcelain veneers are bonded directly to the enamel to change the shape and color of darkened or unsightly teeth. Usually, a small amount of enamel must be removed to make room for the veneers and for them to work their magic.
- At least two months ahead of your wedding day: Bonding
You can replace anything from small chips on your front teeth to broken discolored old fillings with the latest tooth-colored bonding composite resin materials. These procedures, generally done in one visit, provide life-like restorations that become part of the teeth and look very natural.
- Allow for one or two office appointments: Whitening
A professional “in office” tooth bleaching procedure is quicker and more predictable than an “at-home” kit, which may brighten your smile by several shades, but requires months.
- Schedule well ahead of your wedding date: Dental Cleanings
Remove unwanted stains and freshen your breath, so you look and feel your best on the big day. You may need more than one cleaning, depending on how much stain and tartar there is and how long it has been since your last cleaning.
We can make sure that your wedding day smile makes you look and feel great, not just for those treasured photos, but for years to come. For many of these procedures, results can last a lifetime. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to prepare for your best wedding smile. For more information read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wedding Day Smiles.”