Posts for: September, 2013
A beautiful smile has been proven to enhance your confidence and self-esteem. However, not everyone was born with the perfect smile. If you have an overbite, crowding of the teeth, too much space in between your teeth or missing teeth, then you may be a candidate for orthodontic treatment. With orthodontic treatments, teeth are moved into proper alignment by placing continuous, gentle forces in a carefully controlled direction with an orthodontic appliance.
Here are a few things you should know about malocclusions (bad bites) and orthodontics:
- Causes. In many cases, bad bites are simply inherited. Malocclusions can also be caused by skeletal growth problems, and in these cases, early intervention with orthodontics can make a big difference. Acquired bite problems can be caused by trauma, thumb sucking and any premature loss of teeth.
- Options. Nowadays, there are many different options available for those that require orthodontic treatment. In addition to traditional braces, which are applied to the front of the teeth, there are now braces that can be attached to the back of your teeth. Another popular option is clear orthodontic aligners, an alternative system to traditional braces that use a sequence of clear, removable and custom-fitted trays to gradually straighten your teeth.
- Age. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children should be evaluated for orthodontic problems no later than age seven, as early detection and action helps to avoid more difficult treatment later in life. One out of every five orthodontic patients today is an adult, so remember that it is never too late.
- Time. While treatment time will vary, you can expect it to range from one to three years, depending on the severity of the problem. However minor tooth movement may take as little as six months.
- Maintenance. Remember that once your treatment has concluded, the work is not done. We will often recommend that you wear a retainer for a prescribed period of time to maintain your new, straight smile.
If you would like more information about orthodontics, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”
You've just had porcelain laminate veneers placed on your teeth to improve their appearance, color and shape. Now what? How do you maintain them and keep them looking their best?
A dental porcelain veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that is bonded to a tooth, replacing the enamel (the outermost layer of a tooth). Dental porcelain is a glass-like substance that can be used to mimic natural tooth enamel perfectly because of its bright, reflective and translucent (see-through) qualities.
To look after your veneers, it is important to maintain the health of the teeth on which they were placed, and of the surrounding gums.
- About a week after your veneers have been placed, return to our office so that we can check them to make sure they are functioning well.
- Brush and floss regularly using non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste; make sure you remove biofilm, the film of bacteria that collects on the teeth, every day. Flossing or brushing will not harm your veneers.
- We recommend regular dental checkups to review the state of your veneers and your dental health in general.
Porcelain is a ceramic glass-like material, and like glass it is strong but brittle and can fracture when placed under too much stress.
- You can eat almost all foods without harming your veneers, but avoid biting into hard things like candy apples.
- Many people habitually grind or clench their teeth. If you are one of them, let us know. We can make a protective bite guard that you can wear to reduce stress placed on your teeth (and your veneers) while you sleep.
With good dental hygiene, and regular dental check-ups porcelain veneers can last from seven to twenty years or even longer. This makes them a good solution that will improve your smile for years to come.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about porcelain laminate veneers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Smile Design Enhanced with Porcelain Veneers.”
If you have to ask why anybody would voluntarily endure the pain of receiving a tongue piercing — then maybe you're just too old to understand. But seriously: no matter where you stand on the aesthetics of the issue, you shouldn't ignore the real health risks that go along with the installation of oral piercings.
According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, the most common sites for intraoral piercing are the tongue and the lip. In the case of the so-called “tongue bolt,” several significant short-term and long-term risks have been identified; most also apply to other types of oral piercings as well.
The tongue is primarily composed of muscle tissue, along with a rich supply of associated blood vessels and nerves. This explains why accidentally biting your tongue can be so painful — and bloody. Installing a tongue bolt involves piercing a small hole through the tongue, and attaching the ornament through the hole.
In rare instances — such as the case of a teenager who experienced severe pain and the sensation of electrical shocks — nerve irritation and damage may occur soon after a tongue bolt is installed. (Fortunately, her symptoms cleared up shortly after the bolt was removed.) More often, the symptoms are less severe, but the health issues are chronic.
Tongue bolts are known to cause problems with the teeth, including increased sensitivity and pain. Teeth are also prone to chipping due to contact with the ornament. These are among the reasons why you are likely to need more frequent dental checkups if you have an oral piercing.
Additionally, periodontal (gum) problems can develop in individuals with oral piercings. These frequently appear as gum recession, inflammation and infection. Eventually, bone loss may occur as well.
The good news: removing an oral piercing is generally easy, and the area is quick to heal. If it doesn't seal up by itself, the hole left behind can be closed with only minor surgery. And removing the piercing immediately reduces your health risk — thus instantly improving your overall oral health.
Thinking of getting — or removing — an oral piercing? Talk to us. No matter what you decide to do, you owe it to your health to become informed about the issues surrounding these body ornaments.
If you would like more information about oral piercings, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “How Oral Piercings Affect Your Oral Health,” and “Body Piercings and Teeth.”
Statistically speaking, Americans can expect to enjoy a longer life today than at any time in the past. A recent U.S. government interagency study indicated that our oldest citizens are also generally getting healthier and doing better economically. Yet, along with an increased lifespan comes the possibility that at some future time, you or a loved one may undergo treatment for cancer.
There's good news here too: According to the National Cancer Institute, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, both the rate of cancer incidence and the death rate from the disease have been steadily declining. It's true that cancer treatments may cause a variety of oral health problems. But did you know that there are some measures you can take to minimize the discomfort and possible complications from these lifesaving therapies?
Chemotherapy and radiation, two common treatments, work by attacking cancerous cells. However, they can affect normal cells too — including the cells lining the mouth, and the salivary glands. This sometimes results in mouth sores, a dry mouth, and an increased risk of developing dental diseases like tooth decay.
What should you do if you or someone you love needs cancer treatments? The best outcomes can be obtained by a dose of prevention when possible, and by taking a team approach to the treatment.
Oral side effects may be worse if the mouth isn't healthy prior to cancer treatment. So, if there's time, have necessary dental procedures done before treatment begins. During and after cancer therapy, dental surgery should be limited if possible. The first step is to get a complete dental examination, and to develop a treatment plan. It's vitally important to coordinate any dental treatments with an oncologist (cancer specialist).
There are also things a patient can do to help control unpleasant oral side effects. Removing the bacteria that cause tooth decay is more essential now than ever. In addition to thorough brushing, an antibacterial rinse or fluoride gel may be prescribed. To combat the symptoms of dry mouth, it's important to drink plenty of fluids. Chewing gum with Xylitol, or using a mouth rinse or a prescription medication may also be recommended.
It's essential for those having cancer treatment to understand and follow the recommendations of their dentist and doctor. These include taking steps to reduce the chance of complications, and recognizing the warning signs that may indicate a problem.
If you would like more information about cancer treatment and oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment to discuss your treatment options. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Health During Cancer Treatment.”