Monday, January 16, 2012

Silver or White?

Have you ever noticed a friend or coworker talking and had a flash of silver catch your eye?  We’ve all seen them, and some of us may still have them. To what are we referring? Those unsightly silver amalgam fillings that used to be the standard way of filling all cavities.
Fortunately, today’s advances in dentistry and oral health awareness are causing these silver alloy fillings to gradually become thing of the past. Here we offer you, our valued patients, beautiful white fillings  that match your teeth. When you open wide and visit with people, your fillings will no longer draw unwanted attention. In fact, it’s practically impossible to even tell the fillings are there!
If you still have silver amalgam fillings from your past, we recommend that you consider having them replaced—and not just because of their less aesthetically-pleasing appearance. Silver amalgam fillings don’t bond as well to teeth—in order to make sure the filling is held in place, it has to be prepared with “undercuts” that can weaken the tooth structure and result in fractures. Amalgam fillings can also corrode over time as they swell and expand, putting you at risk for cracks. Additional problems can also occur as moisture and bacteria leak through microscopic spaces that develop between the tooth and the filling over time. Often, if not given immediate attention, this can cause a tooth to decay completely and/or break.
White composite fillings don’t require undercuts in your teeth, making them much more proficient in bonding, and definitely superior. In fact, such fillings can actually help strengthen teeth. And of course they’re much more aesthetically pleasing.
Still have questions about silver amalgam fillings and what to do about them? Call us. We’d love to go over all the options with you.
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Discolored Teeth?

What Causes Discoloration?
While people have different colors of skin and hair, they also have genetic differences in tooth color. Some teeth are more yellow, while others yellow with aging. Natural tooth color can be discolored by a number of causes. The surface of the teeth can be stained by tobacco, coffee, tea, berries and other foods as well as by deposits of calculus (which is better known as tartar).
Discoloration of the tooth internally can also result from aging, injuries, excessive fluoride, certain illnesses and taking antibiotic tetracycline during early childhood. Although bleaching successfully lightens most discolorations, certain types (like those caused by tetracycline) are more difficult to remove.

Chairside Whitening
There are two types of whitening procedures. Whitening may be 
done completely in the dental office (known as “chairside whitening”)
 or a system may be dispensed by the dentist to use at home 
(called “in-home whitening”).
Chairside whitening takes from 30 minutes to one hour per visit. It is not uncommon for the 
teeth to become slightly sensitive following whitening treatments. To protect the mouth, a 
 gel-like substance is applied to the gums and a rubber “shield” is placed around the necks 
of the teeth. A chemical solution, the oxidizing agent, is painted onto the teeth. A special light
may be used to activate the agent.



To achieve the best results, teeth may be whitened a shade lighter than the desired since
 they will tend to darken slightly with time. Generally two to ten visits may be necessary to 
 complete the process of chairside whitening.

In-home Whitening
With in-home whitening, the dentist makes an impression for a model of the teeth, fabricates a custom-fitted tray and prescribes a whitening agent that comes in the form of a bleaching gel. The gel is placed in the custom-fitted tray and worn up to two hours daily or at night for about two weeks. The amount of time the custom-fitted tray is worn and the duration may vary according to a person’s individual need and the recommendations of the dentist. The dentist will monitor the entire process of in-home whitening to assure its effectiveness and safety.
Over the counter products that are self-administered are not recommended, although they may appear to cost less. Whitening treatment should be done under the supervision of a dentist following a proper exam and diagnosis. Whiteners with the ADA Seal of Acceptance have proven to be safe and effective.

Who Can Benefit?
Most whitening procedures last one to three years, although in some situations it may 
last longer.
Some people, with certain dental conditions, may not be good candidates for this type of
 whitening. People with gum recession, for example, may have exposed root surfaces that
 are highly sensitive and could be further irritated by the ingredients in the whiteners or 
bleaching components. In addition, these products are not recommended for habitual
 tobacco and alcohol users.
Brushing and flossing, twice a day, as well as regular professional cleanings, along with 
occasional touch-up treatments will help keep teeth white. An attractive smile increases 

How Long Whitening Lasts?
Whitening usually lasts between one and three years. However, it is important to:
- Brush twice a day
- Floss once a day
- Have regular cleanings at your dentist’s office
- Ask your dentist about any concerns you may have
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bleeding Gums Can Kill More Than Your Smile.

Contrary to what you have been told, bleeding gums are not normal and shouldn’t be ignored. Would you be concerned if your hands bleed every time you wash them? Your gums are no different.

Bleeding that occurs when you floss, brush, or eat is usually caused by a bacterial infection and represents one of the first symptoms of gum disease (Periodontal Disease). Researchers are finding links between periodontal infection and other diseases of the human body. Heart Disease, Diabetes, Respiratory Disease, Osteoporosis, Artificial Joints, and Pregnancy complications seem to be connected to your oral health. The current theory is that bacteria present in infected gums breaks loose, travels though your bloodstream, and attaches itself to your heart or other body parts. A recent study found that 85% of heart-attack patients have periodontal disease, making this connection higher than the relationship between high cholesterol and heart attacks.

What Should You Do?

Keep your mouth healthy! It is not “just a cleaning” anymore. See your dentist or hygienist at least twice a year for periodic maintenance and screening. Periodontal disease is often painless until it reaches more advanced stages, however there is a simple test that your dental team can use to uncover this problem even in its beginning stages. Like most diseases of the body early detection is essential. Also, remember to brush and floss. You will need to be an active participant in prevention. Gum disease is a serious infection that should always be taken seriously.

Take a Self-Evaluation Quiz

If you answer yes to any of the following questions you may have periodontal disease.
1. Do your gums bleed when you brush, floss, or eat?
2. Do your teeth feel like they are moving?
3. Are your gums receding?
4. Do your teeth look longer?
5. Do you have persistent bad breath?
6. Does your bite feel different?
7. Is it difficult for you to chew?
8. Have you noticed pus around your teeth?
9. Do your gums feel tender or look swollen?
10. Do your teeth or gums hurt?
Other Factors

Over 80% of adults have gum disease. Smoking, excessive alcohol, diet, and poor oral hygiene can contribute to the onset and progression of the disease, but genetics seem to play a significant role. If there is a history of gum disease or premature tooth loss with your parents or siblings your chance of having this disease is extremely high.


A better understanding of this disease has created new treatment alternatives.
Antibiotics, deep cleanings, laser treatments, mouth rinses, and homecare, used
individually or in combination, are reducing the need for more aggressive options like
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

You Are What You Eat…

You Are What You Eat…

WE’VE ALL HEARD THE SAYING “YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.” Surprisingly, it’s actually quite true—especially when it comes to your teeth and gums.
When you eat or drink sugary and starchy foods you are also feeding the plaque in your mouth. What you choose to eat, or not eat, has a huge affect on your teeth.
Here at our practice you hear us say the word “plaque” all the time, and although most of our patients understand that it’s something we want to avoid, they don’t really know what it is.
The best way to understand plaque is to think of it as a thin, invisible film of sticky bacteria and other unfriendly materials that coats the surfaces of your teeth. When sugars and starches come in contact with plaque, an acid is created that can attack your teeth for up to 20 minutes after you finish eating! Repeated attacks can break down tooth enamel, which can lead to cavities, decay, and gum disease.
So… How do we best avoid plaque? Here are some recommendations about the effects of different foods:

The “Good Guys”
Fruits and Vegetables: These high-fiber content foods stimulate saliva flow and defend against cavities and gum disease. Saliva is your best natural defense.
Dairy: Cheeses, milk, plain yogurt and other dairy products are more good saliva generators. The calcium in these products also helps put minerals back in your teeth.
Foods with Fluoride: Fluoridated water and any product made with that water is good for your teeth (as long as it doesn’t contain sugar).
Sugarless Chewing Gum: Gum is another great saliva generator, and it also helps remove leftover food from your mouth.
Licorice Root: Researches at the University of California, Los Angeles found that this herb contains compounds that inhibit the growth of plaque.

The “Bad Guys”
Sugar and Sweets That Stick To Your Teeth: We understand that treats aren’t easy to give up completely, so we recommend choosing the sweets that clear out of your mouth quickly. This means lollipops, cough drops, and caramels aren’t your best bet. However, chocolate washes out quickly because its sugars are coated in fat.
Starchy Foods: Starches like bread and potato chips get stuck in your teeth, and bacteria love to feed on carbohydrates.
Carbonated Soft Drinks and Sports Drinks: These drinks contain A LOT of sugar as well as acids that erode tooth enamel.
Other Sugary Drinks: High sugar levels promote tooth decay.
Lemons: Lemons are okay to eat, but don’t suck on them—they also contain acids that will erode the enamel of your teeth.
Be smart about what you eat—we promise it will pay off! And since avoiding plaque altogether is impossible, don’t forget to set up an appointment with us so we can help brighten your smile and keep your teeth healthy for life!
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

8 Tooth Sensitivity Answers

8 Tooth Sensitivity Answers

Why are my teeth sensitive?
Tooth sensitivity is caused by the stimulation of cells within tiny tubes located in the dentin (the layer of tissue found beneath the hard enamel that contains the inner pulp). When the hard enamel is worn down or gums have receded-causing the tiny tube surfaces to be exposed-pain can be caused by eating or drinking food and beverages that are hot or cold; touching your teeth; or exposing them to cold air.
Hot and cold temperature changes cause your teeth to expand and contract. Over time, your teeth can develop microscopic cracks that allow these sensations to seep through to the nerves. Exposed areas of the tooth can cause pain and even affect or change your eating, drinking and breathing habits. Taking a spoonful of ice cream, for example, can be a painful experience for people with sensitive teeth.

Is tooth sensitivity a common condition?
Sensitive teeth are one of the most common complaints among dental patients. At least 45 million adults in the United States and 5 million Canadians, suffer at some time from sensitive teeth.

How can I avoid sensitivity?
Some toothpastes contain abrasive ingredients that may be too harsh for people who have sensitive teeth. Ingredients found in some whitening toothpastes that lighten and/or remove certain stains from enamel, and sodium pyrophosphate, the key ingredient in tartar-control toothpastes may increase tooth sensitivity.
To prevent sensitivity from occurring, use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Avoid using hard bristled toothbrushes and brushing your teeth too hard, which can wear down the tooth’s root surface and expose sensitive spots. The way to find out if you’re brushing your teeth too hard is to take a good look at your toothbrush. If the bristles are pointing in multiple directions, you’re brushing too hard.

How do I know when it’s time to see a dentist?
If a tooth is highly sensitive for more than three or four days, and reacts to hot and cold temperatures, it’s best to get a diagnostic evaluation from your dentist to determine the extent of the problem. Before taking the situation into your own hands, an accurate diagnosis of tooth sensitivity is essential for effective treatment to eliminate pain. Because pain symptoms can be similar, some people might think that a tooth is sensitive, when instead, they actually have a cavity or abscess that’s not yet visible.

How do I describe my symptoms to my dentist?
Sensitivity may be defined as a short sharp pain, which is usually initiated by hot or cold foods or exposure to cold air. Aching often follows. Because sensitivity may mean different things to a patient and dental professional, be sure to clarify exactly what you feel when you discuss the condition with your dentist. Be sure to tell the dentist when the pain started and if there is anything, such as the application of a warm compress, that helps eliminate the pain.

Do some products work to help decrease sensitivity?
Toothpastes for sensitive teeth usually contain a desensitizing agent that protects the exposed dentin by blocking the tubes in the teeth that are connected to nerves. In most cases, these products must be used on a regular basis for at least a month before any therapeutic benefits may be noticed.

What can the dentist do for my sensitive teeth?
Dentists have a variety of regimens to manage tooth hypersensitivity, including both in-office treatments and patient-applied products for home use. If you are diagnosed with dentin hypersensitivity, your dentist may apply a desensitizing agent or a protective coating. You may be prescribed a stannous fluoride gel or an over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste containing fluoride and either potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. These ingredients help block transmission of sensation from the tooth to the nerve. It also might help to massage the special paste onto your gums with your finger after brushing.

What should I do after the dentist has applied a desensitizing agent?
Listen closely to your dentist’s instructions. He or she may advise you not to eat or drink for a short period of time, to eliminate all sources of irritation, such as acidic foods or medication, highly concentrated foods or flavored toothpastes. You may also be instructed to change oral hygiene habits that are likely to cause abrasion or use a daily fluoride application (a rinse or brush-on gel.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dentists Now Offer Dexis Platinum X-ray

Always at the cutting edge in dentistry, we are now offering the top-of-the-line Dexis Platinum Digital X-ray system to their patients. The Dexis system provides dentists with choices among various state-of-the-art sensors and comes with intuitive, easy-to-use imaging software.
Digital x-rays offer several advantages to patients. Gone are the days of waiting for X-rays to be developed.  The cosmetic dentists can view the X-ray images instantly and review them with patients on the computer screen right away. Patients spend more time discussing their teeth with the dentist and less time waiting for the x-rays to be ready. Viewing digital x-rays with our office means patients will have a better understanding of their dental needs and will be able to make informed decisions about their treatment.
Dexis digital x-rays are more environmentally friendly and expose patients to less radiation than other systems. The system is ergonomically designed to maximize patient comfort. The Dexis patented WiseAngle Cable Exit makes procedures more comfortable for patients and provides cable flexibil­ity to reduce stress on the equipment and increase its reliability.
The Dexis system is a very affordable and effective x-ray option.  It gives very precise and clear images, allowing us to make accurate diagnoses. It’s cost effective and it saves time.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cancer Therapy Causes Devastating Oral Complications

Cancer Therapy Causes Devastating Oral Complications

Academy of General Dentistry’s Foundation Encourages Cancer Patients to Seek Oral Health Treatment
More than one million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in the upcoming year, and approximately 40 percent, or 500,000, will develop serious oral complications as the result of their treatment. This July, the Academy of General Dentistry Foundation, an educational arm of the Academy, will launch a campaign to educate physicians, nurses, dentists, medical and dental technicians, and patients about the treatment benefits of preventive dental care for cancer patients.

Although cancer therapies such as radiation, chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation have become more powerful and therapeutically successful over the past 10 years, the cancer-fighting treatments affect healthy tissues as well. The mouth is a frequent site of acute and chronic side effects which can diminish quality of life for cancer patients and negatively affect treatment.

The Foundation is spearheading this educational initiative to ensure patients receive adequate oral health care during cancer treatment. “Oral complications are often cited as the cause of the interruption and premature termination of treatment regimens for cancer patients,” says Spencer Redding, DDS, MED. “Therefore, the oral complications of cancer therapy have the potential to adversely affect treatment outcomes, cancer prognosis, and quality of life for millions of patients.”

Oral complications include salivary gland dysfunction, which leads to dry mouth; rampant dental decay and mouth sores which are painful, diminish the quality of life and can lead to significant compliance problems. According to figures from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), oral complications occur in almost all patients receiving radiation for head and neck malignancies, in more than 75 percent of bone marrow transplant recipients and in nearly 40 percent of patients receiving chemotherapy.

According to recent studies, pretreatment therapy for oral complications can positively affect the outcomes of cancer treatment. “The Academy urges that all members of the cancer treatment team should be fully informed of the treatment plan, with oral care initiated at the outset of cancer treatment,” states J. Gordon Wright, Foundation board member.
The Academy recommends the following pretreatment strategies for all cancer patients:
§  Contact your general dentist
§  Schedule oral examination before initiation of cancer therapy
§  Treat all pre-existing oral disease

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