Helpful Dental Information

Below you will find helpful information on a variety of dental topics. If you have any further questions about something discussed on this page, feel free to reach out to us so we can assist you.

Dental Hygiene:

A good toothbrush is an essential tool for daily dental care and good dental hygiene. Not long ago, toothbrushes were all rather standard in design. Now they are available in a dazzling array of colors, sizes and styles, angled heads, tufted bristles, powered by hand, electricity, or sonic waves.

When selecting a toothbrush for your teeth, always look for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This is awarded only to products meeting stringent testing for safety and effectiveness. Claims made by dental care products must be accurate for what they say, as well as imply, to receive the ADA Seal.

Manual Dental Cleaning

Choose a brush with soft, polished bristles and rounded ends, comfortable in both size and shape that allows you to reach every tooth. Hard bristles can injure your gums.

For good dental health replace your toothbrush every three to four months or earlier if the bristles are frayed. Some brushes are designed with replacement indicators to help remind you when a new brush is needed. Old, worn out toothbrushes don’t achieve desirable results and may also hold harmful bacteria that can cause gum disease. It’s also recommended that you replace your toothbrush after an illness. Children’s toothbrushes may need to be replaced more often due to wear.

Electric Toothbrushes

There are a variety of powered brushes featuring different speeds, bristle rotations, and head sizes. Products vary and the manufacturer’s instructions must be carefully followed. Check with your dentist to make sure you’re using the brush correctly. Use a light touch and slow movements for maximum dental cleaning effectiveness. Electric toothbrushes offer convenience for the disabled and elderly with limited manual dexterity. Children under ten years old should be supervised.

Sonic Toothbrushes

With this new dental care technology, sonic waves remove plaque bacteria without actually having to touch it. Through the motion of sound waves, these toothbrushes are able to sweep away plaque in hard to reach places, between teeth, and below the gumline.

The sonic wave technology is gentle on teeth, even sensitive ones. These toothbrushes also have proven effective in reversing gum disease, shrinking periodontal pockets, and removing tough stains like coffee, tea, or tobacco.

If you have any questions about choosing a toothbrush for your preventative dentistry needs, consult your dentist. Whichever toothbrush you select, use it at least twice a day, as part of a good dental health care program.

By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO

The chemistry of your mouth is as unique as your signature. No two are exactly alike. And so, when it says in popular magazines that “you” need only a dental hygiene appointment twice a year to stay in good dental health, some dentists get very concerned. They don’t know you. They’re referring to an “average” patient. Insurance plans also tend to believe in this mythical “average patient” and may not pay for more than a bi-annual visit. Sure, two visits are fine for many patients, even most. But some mouths build up more deposits of calculus than others. Some mouths are naturally decay-prone. Still others, and this is critical, may be showing signs of periodontal problems.

Bleeding gums need to be taken seriously. They’re signs of an infection that can be a significant risk factor for heart disease. If you had a bleeding sore on your hand that didn’t heal you’d get to a doctor and have him check it out, right? Type I perio (gingivitis) consists of tender gums and a little bacteria-filled pocket between your tooth and gum. It’s easily treatable at this point. But if the infected pockets are allowed to enlarge, that inflammation can extend to the bone beneath and erode it.

Your dentist’s concern is for your health and your teeth, not whether you’ve made the standard number of appointments for this year. He or she wants the chemistry to be right in your mouth… and between the two of you.

If you were looking for an excuse to drink more red wine, it’s your lucky day.

A study released by scientists from Université Laval in Quebec, Canada, reports that compounds known as polyphenols in red wine have been found to stave off periodontal diseases. Periodontal diseases are those that affect the gums and bone around the teeth, often leading to permanent tooth loss. The research shows that the polyphenols, derived from red grape seeds, neutralize one of the major tissue-destroying compounds associated with periodontitus, which affects a significant number of adults.

Red wine boasts a number of additional health advantages as well, such as having anti-tumor properties and preventing heart disease. Along with green tea, fresh fruits and green vegetables, it has been known to reduce the risk of cancer and mortality. Still, it’s important to err on the side of caution and drink only in moderation – no more than a glass or two a day. Needless to say, if you’re prone to heavy drinking, it’s best to steer clear of alcohol.

While red wine is preserving smiles across the globe, other sugary drinks are destroying them. U.S. schools have begun to restrict the types of sodas to prevent child obesity and tooth decay. Acidic drinks like coffee, a crutch for millions of groggy Americans each day, can have a negative affect on teeth as well. Even good old fashioned juice has come under fire as of late, often noted for having a high sugar content but very few of the nutritional qualities attributed to whole fruit, such as fiber. Your best bet? Drink plenty of water. If you must have a sugary or acidic beverage, be sure to either brush your teeth rinse your mouth out with warm water afterward.

Bad breath, or halitosis, is a signal that something is not right inside your mouth. It may be as simple as the need to pay more attention to your daily oral hygiene, or it may indicate tooth decay, gum disease, or another medical problem. Whichever it is, bad breath is a red flag: take another look at your mouth!

Bad breath is a social problem; if you have bad breath, you may notice that people actually back away as you talk to them. Mouth odors are embarrassing, and they tell other people that you aren’t taking care of yourself. Sometimes people are not aware that their breath smells bad; be alert to how other people react when they’re close to you, and be grateful if a friend or family member lets you know about the problem.

Commercial products claim they will make your breath fresher, but the only way to make sure your breath permanently fresh is to practice good oral hygiene. In fact, eating too many breath mints and hard candies with sugar will lead to tooth decay. If you are constantly using breath mints, breath sprays, or mouth rinses in an effort to cover up your bad breath, you may have a dental or medical problem that needs addressing.

There are a number of reasons you may experience a bad taste in your mouth, and even be able to smell your own breath. Food may be lodged between your teeth if you are not brushing at least twice daily and flossing regularly.

Food particles can be very tiny and can wedge themselves between teeth and below the gum line; brushing after meals is important and flossing is imperative to get at the particles that the brush can’t reach. Also, you must brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper.

As odd as it will feel at first, bacteria collects on the tongue and can contribute to bad breath. If you wear removable dentures, take them out at night and clean them thoroughly before you wear them again. If you neglect your dental hygiene over time, bad breath can become a symptom of more serious dental problems. Teeth that are not cleaned properly become a place for bacteria to reside as food particles stay in your mouth and decay. Bacteria attack your teeth and gums and cause cavities and gum disease. If this is happening, gum disease will cause an unpleasant odor.

Perhaps you are brushing and flossing on a regular basis, but are still experiencing bad breath. If you have teeth that are crooked or crowded, it may be hard for you to clean between them, and this can cause bad breath. If you wear dentures that are not fitted properly, they may be trapping food or irritating your mouth. Or perhaps your bad breath is caused by another medical problem: drainage from your sinuses, gastrointestinal problems, kidney or liver problems, or other medical conditions.

Here’s what you can do to investigate on your own. Write down what you’re eating and notice whether your breath smells bad because of certain foods. Garlic and onions actually cause odor, but the odor is coming from your lungs as you breathe, not from your mouth itself. The odor from these foods is temporary, and will be gone once the food is out of your bloodstream.

Are you dieting? Hunger can contribute to bad breath, because of the chemical changes as your body turns fat and protein into the energy it needs. Are you taking prescription or over-the-counter medications? Add these to the record of what you’re eating to see whether there’s a relationship between your medications and your bad breath. And don’t forget to tell your dentist if there’s been a change in your overall health since your last visit.
Are you suffering from dry mouth? Saliva provides constant rinsing in your mouth and washes away food particles. Your dentist may recommend more liquids, and sugarless candy to stimulate natural saliva, and perhaps some of the commercial products that are available to combat dry mouth.

If bad breath continues after you have done your best job of regular brushing and flossing, start with your dentist. He or she can tell you whether the odor is caused by an oral problem; if it is not, then your dentist will suggest you see your doctor for a physical check-up.

Regular dental check-ups will help keep your mouth healthy and working well. Your dentist can spot problems before they cause trouble, including problems that cause bad breath.

By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO

Implant Dentistry:

Permanent replacements that feel like original teeth.

If you have a missing tooth or have lost teeth, you’re far from alone. In fact, you’re one of over 100 million North Americans with a similar problem. Some lack but a single tooth; others are completely edentulous (without teeth).

Dentures are generally the first thing considered in connection with tooth loss. However, over time a jawbone lacking natural teeth will shrink. Dentures begin to slide, irritating gums. After a while, patients either cannot or will not continue wearing dentures. Their quality of life diminishes as they go on to become “oral invalids.”

For many patients, dental implants can be almost the same as having their natural teeth back again. That’s because instead of being a removable device inside the mouth, teeth implants are bridges that are permanently anchored into the jaw itself. The dental implant procedure is surgical, yes, but usually performed under local anesthesia.

The key to a successful tooth replacement is something we call osseo-integration, or the meshing together of implant and bone. Good candidates for tooth implants need jawbone ridges that are in good shape and healthy oral tissues. Then, when the implant device is inserted, a chemical and mechanical bond is formed. The jawbone actually grows into the tooth implant.

That’s a highly simplified discussion of an extremely complex and technical procedure. For more details on dental implantology, contact your dental implant dentist.

Tooth implants are considered the ultimate dental restoration solution for tooth replacement, especially when only a single tooth needs to be replaced.

Traditionally, the best dental restoration for a single missing tooth was a three-tooth bridge, better known as a three-unit bridge. This type of missing teeth restoration worked by linking three false teeth together. The middle tooth was used to bridge the gap. Even though this type of dental restoration was considered state-of-the-art for many years, it had its limitations.

For instance, the fabrication of a three-unit bridge required the teeth on both sides of the gap to be whittled down to allow for the false teeth to be slipped over the top of the teeth. Because the three teeth were linked together, they could not be cleaned in the same way as normal teeth. In addition, they required special dental cleaning tools in order to maintain healthy gum tissue.

Today, dental implants are the first choice to replace missing teeth and dental restoration. In the case of a single missing tooth, a tooth implant can be placed by the implant dentist in the jawbone area of the missing tooth. The implant will serve as a replacement for a tooth root and an individual dental crown. The total apparatus is referred to as a single-tooth implant crown.

Once in place, the dental implant crown will look, feel and function like your natural teeth. They are cleaned and flossed just like your natural teeth, and best of all, they do not require any special tools to clean around them, like bridges. Although tooth implants will not decay, they require that you maintain impeccable oral hygiene.

Does a Dental Implant Crown Last Forever?

Even though dental scientists are developing advanced materials to create a more durable crown, the old adage “nothing lasts forever” also applies to dental implant crowns. Because each patient is different, dental implant crowns last a varied amount of time depending on the patient.

Dental crowns that were thought to last only 3 to 5 years can last 10 to 20 years if meticulously cared for. On the other hand, dental crowns that should last for ten or more years can last only two years in a mouth that is neglected.

The dental implant cost factor is hard to determine precisely. The bottom line is that no one can tell you how long a tooth implant will last, but if you take excellent care of your mouth and see your dentist every six months, you stand a better chance of extending the life of your dental implants and other dental restorations.

How Does the Cost of a Dental Implant Crown Compare to a Three-Unit Bridge?

The cost of a three-unit bridge can range from $3,000 to $4,000. The cost of single tooth implants is approximately $4,000. If teeth associated with a dental bridge fail due to recurrent decay or periodontal disease, ordinarily, dental restoration must be done on the entire dental bridge and possibly add a new filling or build-up of the teeth.

The cost of any foundations under a new dental bridge will add to the dental restoration and tooth replacement cost. If and when a dental implant crown has to be reconstructed, most likely, it would be due to the wearing away of the dental crown material.

The only dental restoration cost would be for that of a new dental implant crown and would not incorporate any adjacent teeth. The dental implant cost over your lifetime would be much less than compared to a three-unit bridge, and is the most natural replacement for a missing tooth.

By Benjamin O. Watkins, III, DDS

Deciding whether you can afford dental implants can be a complicated process. Dental implant prices depend on many factors including your own overall health, the complexity of the problem, whether additional bone grafting may be necessary, and the cost of the materials used.

There are different types of dental implants used in dentistry. There’s been great success with “osseointegrated” implants. It’s a system where the bone and implant mesh. A chemical and mechanical bond is formed so the jawbone actually grows into the implants. The most rewarding part of these successful implants in dentistry is that patients are happy with the results for years.

Dental implants are used in different ways by dentists. You may require a single implant to bridge a gap, or two implants to support a bridge. Or, if a lower denture needs to be stabilized, two to four implants might be required.
Unfortunately, if your jawbone can’t support an implant due to bone loss, tooth implants may not be an option. However, if you have a sound jawbone, dental implants are the best thing offered in dentistry next to real teeth.

by Internet Dental Alliance

Much is being said about dental implant procedures. A national radio spot states that steak and corn-on-the-cob are no longer just a memory for people with tooth loss. Tooth implants, they say, can bring back bite strength and, certainly, improve all-around dental function.

Just what are dental implants though?

Tooth replacement systems differ but continue to evolve as materials and methods allow. Teeth implants are a great and functional alternative to removable dentures.

An implant device is inserted into the upper or lower jawbone. After a healing period, posts are attached to each implant. And to that, a fixed bridge or “over-denture” is placed by the implant dentist. This is known as the “business end” of the implant. Only the “tooth part” is visible. The result is not new teeth. But for more and more people, tooth implants count plenty as the next best thing.

Why go for it?

Over 42% of people 65 and have a missing tooth or teeth. Dentures work fine in some cases, and not so well in others. In fact, ill-fitting dentures can contribute to the loss of supporting teeth or bone, and aggravate deterioration of your mouth.

Other tooth replacement alternatives?

Well, you could go toothless. But along with that comes a change in eating habits, quality of speech, and level of self-esteem.

“My mouth is me again.”

In many dental practices, implant dentists have had great success with “osseointegrated” (osseo = bone) dental implants, a system where bone and implant mesh. As implant research has grown into dental implantology, many types of appliances have been tested (and some discarded). The Branemark implant, a titanium device developed in Sweden, has the longest track record, a 95% success rate over 30 years.

What makes a successful tooth implant?

We know can say that the success of implants is the osseointegratio( the meshing of implant and bone). The properties of the implant are such that a chemical and mechanical bond is formed. The jawbone actually grows into the implant. But the real benchmark for the success of a dental implant procedure is this: The patient has to be happy with it for years.

For certain people, a single implant to bridge a gap is called for. Another person might require two to support a bridge, or two to four implants to stabilize a lower denture. In other people, bone loss is already severe, and what remains cannot support an overdenture, so a tooth implant procedure is not the solution. However, when they work, they’re as real as it gets.

If you think you might benefit from teeth implants, call your implant dentist for a consultation.

Are you missing a permanent tooth? Do you have gaps in your smile? Do you wear dentures and experience some of the following problems:

  • Slipping and clicking while talking?
  • Irritation and pain when you chew?
  • Fear of eating in public?
  • Feeling or looking older than your age?

You may be a candidate for dental implants, an alternative to missing teeth. Dental implants use your jaw to hold a tooth replacement or bridge, rather than anchoring it to a healthy, neighboring tooth. The results are natural-looking teeth implants that look, feel and function as your own!

Healthy teeth are a gift we often take for granted. Losing one or more teeth impacts our smile, our confidence, and our enjoyment of our favorite foods. Dental implants are technology’s way of taking us a step closer to a tooth replacement that feels secure and looks like our own.

What Is Involved in Getting Dental Implants?

Implants take several steps, but you will be able to continue your regular professional and social routines. Initially, the dentist will evaluate your mouth, teeth and jaw to determine whether dental implants are a good option for you.

For most patients, there are two surgical procedures involved. First, in the actual tooth implant placement, the implants are surgically inserted by an implant dentist into or atop the jawbone. Over the next three to six months, the implants are left alone, so that the anchor can bond to the bone, creating a strong foundation for the teeth to come.

Second, the new tooth or teeth are created and attached to the anchored dental implant. You now have teeth implants that might as well be your own: they look natural, are comfortable, and withstand the rigors of grinding and chewing. No one will know that your tooth has an artificial, man-made tooth implant root.

Dental Implants Are Not for Everyone

It’s true. Your current dental health will influence whether you’re a good candidate for a dental implants. Some medical conditions may interfere with normal healing, such as diabetes or heart problems. Finally, the supporting bone in your jaw must be healthy; if you clench your jaw or grind your teeth, the success rate for your dental implants will drop. Less success also is noted in smokers.

A complete examination and X-rays by your dentist will determine if you are a suitable candidate for dental implants. You must also commit to a strict schedule of flossing, brushing, rinsing, and check-ups to keep them healthy.

Proven Technology for a New Quality of Life

Technology gets the credit for this exciting alternative to missing teeth, dentures and bridges. Researchers noticed in the 1950s that titanium and some other materials formed a strong bond to the bone. That gave rise to the use of dental implants. Today, there are patients who have had dental implants for more than 35 years. Hundreds of thousands of tooth implants have been inserted, boasting more than a 90% success rate! Metal joint implants used in other parts of the body were actually developed from the success of dental implants.
It has been around for decades and people know it works. Schedule an evaluation with your dentist to determine if dental implants are right for you. Discover how they can improve your quality of life and put a genuine smile on your face.

By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO

Invisalign® Dentistry:

Orthodontic braces conjure up lots of images, most of them about children and the temporary metallic smiles that they cause. But many strides have been made in the world of dental braces. More adults are now choosing teeth straightening and are glad braces aren’t just for kids anymore.

Why Do Adults Wear Orthodontic Braces?

Braces offer a good choice for improving your smile and oral health. Some adults have problem teeth because their parents could not afford getting braces or retainers when they were young. Or perhaps the problem with their teeth is more recent. Now, options are available for correcting them and adult braces provide many advantages.

Crooked teeth or teeth that overlap are harder to clean around. As a result, this serves as hiding places for bacteria that cause bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay.

Protruding teeth or gaps between teeth interfere with your smile and create an uneven bite, but getting braces or orthodontic appliances can straighten crooked teeth and move teeth into proper position. Adults now enjoy the results of adult orthodontics, which so beautifully provide a healthier-looking smile. Today’s braces are much less noticeable than those you may remember as a child. Taking care of your teeth sends the message that you are taking care of yourself, reflecting self-respect and confidence.

What Are My Orthodontic Choices?

The orthodontic appliances of today provide greater comfort and style than in the past. Another feature of modern adult braces is that they work more quickly than the traditional style braces, which means a shorter time to wear them and fewer trips to the orthodontist.

Older dental braces used bands that wrapped around teeth. While these are still available, other braces offer new options. One type features brackets made of metal or plastic, bonded to the teeth and used in conjunction with thin, gentle wires.

Another type of braces stay discreetly hidden from view, using brackets attached to the back of the teeth. Both types require wires to move the teeth into their correct positions. Your dentist or orthodontist will help you decide which style of braces is right for you.

Braces: An Investment of Time for Long-Term Benefits

Most patients usually wear full braces from 18 to 30 months, depending on specific treatment needs. When your dental braces are removed, retainers are used to prevent your teeth from repositioning themselves. Your orthodontist will determine how long you will have to use your retainer after treatment is completed.

How To Care for Orthodontic Braces

One thing hasn’t changed: if you wear dental braces, regardless of whether they’re metal or ceramic braces, you must take care of them. Careful brushing and flossing between them and under wires will keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. Avoid eating foods that can break wires and loosen brackets such as those that are sticky (caramels and gum), hard to bite (uncut carrots, apples, and ice), or crunchy (popcorn, nuts, hard candy). Orthodontic braces can make a world of difference and give you something to really smile about!

By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO

When most orthodontists meet an adult patient intent on correcting crooked teeth, they usually take it slow. Amid all the brouhaha about adult braces there are oral health concerns exclusive to adults that will affect how to plan the treatment.

A touch of gum disease

Because crowded teeth and misaligned jaws are often difficult to keep clean, some adult patients have a degree of gum disease. These patients should be referred to a dental hygienist or a periodontist for cleaning and gum therapy before teeth straightening starts. Then, during orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist will need to be especially alert to new outbreaks. He or she may want to apply less pressure orthodontically early in treatment, so gum tissue attachments have a chance to strengthen. For more information on gum therapy or dental cleanings, please visit our gum disease and hygiene sections for more articles.

What about missing teeth?

Orthodontic appliances need to be attached to something to provide the “push” and “pull” that move teeth. If key anchor teeth are missing, restorative dentistry may be suggested before the appliance can be placed.

Bite problems

More and more patients with temporomandibular or jaw joint problems (TMJ) are beginning to be seen by many dentists. TMJ disorders are very painful, and may result in uneven wearing of teeth or a jaw way out of position. The priority before teeth straightening is to address the jaw problem, and try to correct the bite before any more stress is added to the situation. So in the end you’ll finish your orthodontic program with healthier gums, rejuvenated bone, a better bite, and a great smile to boot.

How’s your occlusion today? When your jaws meet nicely and teeth are configured properly in your jaw, that’s occlusion. When the fit’s awry, it’s called a malocclusion.

About 2,000,000 Americans know malocclusion inside and out. So what’s wrong with a little overbite? For 20% of us, it’s a handicap, for 5%, it’s a physical and mental hardship. That’s why there’s orthodontics.

The gist of jaws

The upper jaw, or maxilla, is part of the skull and it doesn’t move. In children, the maxilla is joined at the root of the mouth by soft tissue that grows into one bone mass by about age 17. Our upper teeth are a little bigger than the lowers. We call the lower jaw the mandible. When the maxilla and the mandible work properly, they chew, grind, and tear our food, facilitate normal speech, swallowing, and basic oral health. When your jaws don’t align well, you may not be able to eat, breathe or communicate normally.

Getting the bite right

Orthodontic theory, and attempts at bite correction, can be traced to ancient Greek and Roman cultures. But until dentists could agree on the problem, each rigged his own correction device. Some of these 19th century “designer” orthodontic appliances were fanciful, some merely crude.

The early orthodontist Edward Angle classified occlusions into three types. His principles are still the standard today.

  • Class I occlusion is a “normal” bite. Since there is argument what “normal” is, Class I could be defined as a jaw/bite relationship that seems to be okay and doesn’t cause any problems, although there may be some tooth crowding caused by eruption of extra teeth or missing teeth.
  • Class II brings us to true malocclusions, in this case, the buckteeth of Bugs Bunny fame. It’s certainly more amusing as a cartoon than reality though. Class II lower jaws are usually small and crowded. Along with a protruding upper jaw, the chin recedes. Children with Class II bites, and adults, for that matter, seem especially subject to social derision. Aside from problems with keeping teeth clean, Class IIs can expect cruel jokes.
  • Class III malocclusions are relatively rare (5%)and may include a jutting lower jaw and lower teeth that close in front of the uppers (think Dick Tracy). Treatment is complex, and may require bone surgery.

In any case, seeing your dentist on a regular basis is very important. In the case of Class IIs and IIIs, seeing an orthodontist could make a big difference in your self-esteem and make your life much easier.

With more adults seeking treatment their parents couldn’t afford when they were youngsters, this is a very exciting time in orthodontics—we have a world of new orthodontic materials that work better and faster. Heavy metal bands? They’re passé. Most of us have heard the news about braces. They’re lighter, smaller, easier to clean—dare we say it—almost comfortable. Plastics and bonding adhesives mean no more heavy metal bands around teeth. Wire and brackets can be “super-glued” directly onto the teeth (Look, Ma, no bands!). NASA’s missile technology has given us Nitinol, a “memory” metal that retains its shape better than stainless steel. Arch wires made of Nitinol exert a light, steady force that stands up to the push and pull of orthodontic appliances. And lingual braces, glued to the back (tongue side) of the tooth, are proving effective in closing moderate gaps. It’s like having invisible braces.

A new breed of patient

The best part of new orthodontics for your orthodontist, though, is a willing, and eager patient. Home care is critical to any orthodontic treatment plan. Careful, constant cleaning, wearing your retainers, and avoiding foods that make a mess of all the handiwork is a must. Most adult patients appreciate the investment of time and energy and tend to go about home care with vigor.

If you’re considering adult orthodontics, use our search area above to find an orthodontist in your town. Whether nature planned your smile a little off, or a missing tooth changed the geography over the years, you now have the option of a bite made in heaven.

One of the questions orthodontists are most frequently asked is, “When should my child first be examined for braces?” There is not one right answer to this question. The best starting time for orthodontic appliances depends on the type of problem and its severity. Many orthodontists recommend that every child have an orthodontic evaluation at the time their permanent teeth are starting to erupt.

The timing of orthodontics treatment is important. Early examination allows an orthodontist to identify problems and determine when to treat them, for the best results with the least time and expense. For many patients, early treatment achieves results that may be impossible to attain once the face and jaws have completed their growth. In addition, early intervention makes the completion of treatment at a later age easier.

If no treatment is indicated at the initial examination, your orthodontist may simply want to check your child periodically while the permanent teeth erupt and the face and jaws continue to grow. At the initial exam the following will be evaluated: your child’s facial growth (amount and direction), excess spacing between teeth, crowding, crooked teeth, extra or missing teeth, and habits that may affect growth and dental development such as tongue thrusting and thumb-sucking. These problems affect not only tooth alignment but facial appearance.
Finally, the importance of an attractive smile should not be underestimated no matter what your age. A pleasing appearance is a vital asset to one’s self-confidence. A person’s self-esteem often improves as treatment brings teeth, lips, and face into harmony, in this way, teeth straightening can be beneficial to social and career success and improve one’s general attitude toward life.

Family Dentistry:

Q. How does one care for primary teeth?
A. As soon as the first tooth erupts, primary teeth may be cleaned with a clean, wet wash cloth or wet gauze. The gums should also be gently wiped. If a toothbrush is used, it should be an appropriate size.

Q. Where does decay on the primary teeth occur most often?
A. With inappropriate or prolonged use of the baby bottle, decay may occur on the upper front teeth (incisors). The second most-often occurring site are the upper primary molars, which are found furthest back in the mouth. If there is no spacing between the primary teeth, there is a much greater chance of decay between the primary molars. These teeth should be flossed as soon as they come in.

Q. Why are dental sealants beneficial for children?
A. Dental sealants are applied by your dentist as protective coatings for the chewing surface of permanent molars. They protect the teeth from decay. Read on for more information.

Q. What is a dental implant?
A. A dental implant is a permanent artificial tooth replacement.

Q. What is the procedure for receiving dental implants?
A. Dental implants are inserted surgically in two steps. The first step is to insert a “post” into or onto the jawbone. This post will then become the “anchor” for the artificial tooth that will be placed over the “post”.

Q. How long is the procedure for dental implants?
A. Getting a dental implant is a two step process. Once the “post” is inserted into the jawbone, the patient will have between three and six months with a temporary restoration. During this period, the bone and gum area around the post will heal to create a strong and healthy bond.

Once this bond is complete, an additional set of smaller posts is attached to the original post and then the artificial tooth is secured to the posts. The entire procedure could take anywhere from three to ten months.

Q. Can I eat regularly while the implants are bonding?
A. While the “post” is bonding with your jaw and gums, your dentist will place a temporary artificial tooth on the post. During the bonding period, you will need to eat soft foods.

Q. Do implants require special care?
A. Yes and No. Dental implants need to be brushed, flossed and checked regularly by a dentist, just as you would do with your regular teeth. But dental implants don’t need special brushes or pastes.

Q. Can you eat and chew normally with dental implants?
A. Yes. Consider that natural teeth can absorb up to approximately 540 lbs. per square inch of biting pressure and properly placed dental implants can withstand up to approximately 450 lbs. per square inch of the same pressure.

Q. How long should a dental implant last?
A. With proper placement, excellent home care, regular dental visits, and good overall health, dental implants should be permanent.

Q. What are wisdom teeth?
A. Wisdom teeth are the third molars.

Q. Why is it necessary to remove wisdom teeth?
A. It is necessary to remove wisdom teeth to avoid problems, such as an impacted tooth destroying the second molar.

Q. Why do wisdom teeth cause problems?
A. Wisdom teeth generate problems because the shape of the modern human mouth is too small to accommodate these teeth, and they become impacted or unable to come in or move into their proper place.

Q. What problems occur from impacted third molars?
A. Partially erupted wisdom teeth are breeding grounds for bacteria and germs that may cause infection. Cysts and tumors may grow on trapped wisdom teeth.

Q. How is a wisdom tooth removed?
A. Wisdom teeth are removed by surgery. The gum tissue over the tooth is removed, the connective tissue is stripped gently away from the tooth and bone, the tooth is removed, and the gum sutured.

Q. When are lasers used in dentistry?
A. Lasers are used in oral surgery, gum surgery, cancer sore treatment, and the treatment of gums that have been diseased.

The world of modern dentistry is embracing exciting advances in technology for increased patient comfort, care, and convenience. Here are some ways dentistry is taking oral care into the new millennium.

  • CEREC – Tooth in a day
  • 3D Imaging (Galileos)
  • Better Oral Cancer Sceening with VELscope
  • Air Abrasion: High-speed delivery of “blasting particles” to a decayed tooth can replace the drill in many cases. The fine stream of air and aluminum oxide provides dentists with a more precise tool for removing decay quickly, without damaging surrounding sections of the tooth. This exciting dental treatment is also a plus for patients because it normally doesn’t require any local anesthesia. While air abrasion may not be suitable for large areas of decay or the removal of silver fillings, it can be used to repair tiny cracks, remove stains, and smooth the tooth surface so that bonding materials adhere to the tooth.
  • Intra-oral Cameras: A tiny camera inserted into the patient’s mouth allows the dentist to show the patient the exact nature of the problem. The image is enlarged and sent to a monitor that the patient and doctor view together. When patients can see the specific area in need of treatment, they’re more likely to understand and accept the dentist’s recommendation.
  • Lasers: Research continues at a fast pace in laser dentistry. Lasers have been used for years in a limited capacity, but their role in periodontal and oral is likely to increase.
  • Digitized X-rays: Computerized technology will allow a small sensor inside the patient’s mouth to take the X-ray and immediately display it on a computer screen, eliminating film and darkroom processing, and reducing the radiation exposure for the patient.

With a new hi-tech face on modern dentistry, patients can look forward to a new face in dentistry and greater comfort with more “byte!”

During a dentistry examination, the dentist examines the mouth mucosa (soft tissues) for any abnormalities or pathology (including oral cancer), the teeth for tooth decay (dental caries) or defects, the gum tissues for periodontal (gum) disease, the neck for swollen lymph nodes, the amount of plaque, tartar (dental calculus), and debris on teeth, as well as the need to replace any missing teeth or dental prostheses.

The dental examination begins with a complete dental care and medical history, including medications the patient currently is taking. The skin of the face and neck is examined for any abnormalities, especially pigment changes. The lymph nodes in front and behind the ears, under the floor of the mouth and chin, and the midline of the neck, sides, and back of the neck are palpated to determine if any swelling or tenderness is present. Inside of the mouth, the lips, cheeks, gums, and roof of the mouth are inspected and palpated. During this process, the tip of the tongue is placed on the roof of the mouth just behind the upper teeth for inspection of the front floor of the mouth and sides of the tongue.

The back floor of the mouth, the area behind the lower wisdom teeth, and the back sides of the tongue are inspected by grasping the tip of the tongue with a small gauze sponge and pulling the tongue forward and toward the opposite side of the mouth.

To inspect the back of the throat, soft palate, and tonsil area (sides of the throat), the tongue is depressed with a dental mirror or tongue blade and then a deep breath is taken by the patient.

To detect swelling on the floor of the mouth, the area inside the mouth is felt with the finger of one hand while a finger of the other hand feels below the chin. Salivary gland enlargement, saliva flow, or xerostomia (dry mouth) are determined by milking the major salivary glands to assess the quantity and consistency of saliva.

Today’s dentist has many analytic tools available to pinpoint dental and oral diseases (such as Velscope). The basic tools are the dental instruments, lights, and radiographs (2D and 3D digital xrays). Depending upon the dentist and the individual’s dental needs, additional diagnostic tests are available. Testing for essential proteins and buffering capacity can evaluate the protective ability of saliva.

If removable dentures are present, they are checked for bite, retention, stability, and overall fit. Dental impressions or models also may be taken to study the mouth and tooth structures to initiate fabrication of prostheses. Photographs may be exposed for a variety of reasons, including before and after treatment comparisons.

The level of oral hygiene and home care practices are assessed and reviewed. Recommendations for home care devices and products may be made. Instruction and methods for maintaining a good oral hygiene regimen can also take place.

Once basic information about oral health status is gathered, the dentist will be better able to discuss dental treatment alternatives that are available.

By Denise J. Fedele, DMD, MS

General Dentistry:

Taking X-rays Seriously

We do believe the judicious use of dental x-rays is in our patients’ best interests. And you deserve to know why. X-rays aren’t just another part of our office routine. We rely, first and foremost, on a clinical examination – that is, we look inside your mouth. Then we ask ourselves, what information do we expect to find with x-rays that will benefit this patient? If there is no good answer, we won’t recommend x-rays.

X-rays – What you should know:

  • New x-ray equipment reduces the size of the beam and the amount of radiation, and eliminates “scatter”-photons bouncing around the room.
  • Lead aprons are almost 100% effective against exposing other arts of your body to radiation.
  • We monitor our equipment faith fully to keep timers precise, everything up to snuff.
  • We can detect more pathology with 3D Galileos than with traditional 2D xrays

We work with x-rays every day-they are our “eyes.” There would be a very different kind of dentistry without them.

As a consumer, you can protect yourself, too!

Feel free to ask us why you need an x-ray. Don’t insist on it just because “it’s time.” Let us know when you are having x-rays for medical reasons. If you move, or we refer you to a specialist, ask for your x-rays to be sent to your new doctor.

The proverbial way of referring to older people as being “long on the tooth” suggests that it is predetermined that as we get older our teeth get “longer” or “no longer.” This is not true.

Periodontal disease, plaque and loss of teeth is not an inevitable aspect of aging. Loss of attachment or bone support around a tooth is the result of a bacterial infection. What is true is that as we get older, we have more exposures to these infectious organisms, and more probability of being infected and developing periodontal disease. Half of the people over 55 have periodontal disease.

Risk factors that make older adults more susceptible to periodontal disease include:

Systemic diseases: Certain systemic diseases such as diabetes may decrease the body’s ability to fight infection and can result in more severe periodontal disease. Osteoporosis also can increase the amount and rate of bone loss around teeth. Systemic illnesses will affect periodontal disease if it is a pre-existing condition. To reduce the effects of systemic diseases on the oral cavity, maintain meticulous plaque control and visit your dental care provider routinely for examinations and professional cleanings.

Medications: Heart medications can have a direct effect on the gums by creating an exaggerated response to plaque and resulting in gum overgrowth. Antidepressants may create dry mouth and reduce the saliva’s ability to neutralize plaque.

Immunosuppressants and other disease-fighting medications may reduce the body’s ability to combat infection, increasing the risk for periodontal disease. The dental care provider needs to be aware of any medications you may be taking and you need to maintain meticulous plaque control and visit your dental care provider routinely for examinations and professional cleanings.

Dry mouth: Lack of saliva can result from the use of certain medications or as a result of illness. If there is not enough saliva available to neutralize plaque it can result in more cavities and periodontal disease. Also, dry mouth, or xerostomia, can make dentures more difficult to wear and may also complicate eating, speaking, or swallowing of food. Oral rinses or artificial saliva can be very helpful with these problems. Frequent sips of water or eating candy may be helpful as long as it doesn’t contain sugar. Fluoride rinses,gels, and special pastes are helpful in reducing or preventing the cavities that can be caused by having a dry mouth.

Dexterity problems: Physical disabilities can reduce dexterity and the ability to remove plaque on a daily basis. Poor oral hygiene can increase the risk for cavities and periodontal disease.

Electric toothbrushes and floss holders are helpful in improving plaque control. Frequent professional cleanings combined with oral anti-microbial or fluoride rinses also may be helpful in reducing the incidence of cavities and periodontal disease.

Estrogen deficiency: Older women may have some special concerns in relation to periodontal disease. Scientific studies have suggested that the estrogen deficiency that occurs after menopause may increase the risk for severe periodontal disease and tooth loss. Estrogen replacement therapy may reverse these effects. It is important to keep teeth as we age because every tooth has an important function in chewing and speaking. They affect our appearance and self esteem.

Having dentures or loose or missing teeth can restrict our diets, resulting in poor nutrition and systemic complications. With the advances in modern dentistry and with current prevention and treatment techniques, we must count on keeping our teeth for a lifetime – no matter how “long” that may be!

When you first visit a new dentist, part of your initial exam is an assessment of your “bite” – the way teeth meet as the jaws close. Later, after a filling or placement of a dental crown, your bite will be tested again to be sure the tooth restoration fits well with other teeth. Nearly all dental patients have “been there.” And there’s good reason for this attention to bite.

Chewing, tooth wear and joint function all depend on the balanced opposition of teeth in each jaw. Any disruption of a good bite, either by broken, loose, or lost teeth, is trouble in need of repair. In the worst-case scenario – the jaws themselves present skeletal problems – orthodontic treatment is considered. However, most malocclusions (“bad bites”) are treatable right in your dentist’s office.

Your dentist will first locate ill-fitting teeth by routine bite analysis. You will bite down on a sheet of special paper that marks teeth with uneven wear. If this doesn’t tell your dentist enough, he or she may take impressions, from which study models are built. This gives your dentist a very visual demonstration of what’s wrong.

High points in enamel that interfere with normal contact may be filed away. Eroded fillings call for replacements. Lost teeth need a bridge or dental implants to prevent opposing teeth from overgrowth. There are any number of solutions to a bad bite, all important to your dental health.

Anytime you notice a change in your chewing habits, or feel more pressure than usual on a solitary tooth, bring it to your dentist’s attention. You’ll notice the abnormality, maybe before your dentist detects it. Since you’ll be working together, tell your dentist your suspicions and, if it’s broken, it can be fixed.

The Connection between our Mouths and Overall Health