Posts for: June, 2014
It's not just your teeth that are on display when you smile; it's also your gums. For a smile to look appealing, there needs to be a frame of healthy pink tissue to set off those pearly whites. But just as there can be cosmetic issues with teeth, the shape or condition of the gums, too, can create an aesthetic problem. If you feel the appearance of your gums is in any way detracting from the appeal of your smile, we can help with a variety of in-office surgical procedures.
Here are some common cosmetic gum problems — and possible solutions:
Problem: Too Much Gum Tissue. A smile can look “gummy” when excessive gum tissue covers more of the enamel surface of a tooth's crown (upper portion) than normal.
Solution: Crown Lengthening. This is a procedure in which gum tissue (and rarely but sometimes a small amount of bone tissue) is removed to expose more tooth surface.
Problem: Not Enough Gum Tissue. Sometimes your gums can shrink down (recede), exposing some of a tooth's root — which is more yellow than the enamel surface of the tooth.
Solution: Gum Grafting. There are various grafting procedures that can be used to cover exposed roots by moving gingival (gum) tissue from one site in the mouth to another. Sometimes laboratory-processed donor tissue can even be used to minimize the surgery.
Problem: Uneven Gum Line. This means that some teeth are covered by more gum tissue than others, which can make a smile seem off-kilter.
Solution: Gum tissue can be recontoured (reshaped) for a very pleasing effect with either conventional surgery or the newer dental laser technology.
All of the above procedures can be performed at the dental office — usually with only a local anesthetic (numbing shot). In fact, for laser surgery you may need only a topical anesthetic gel. An examination is required to determine whether conventional or laser treatment is in your best interests. Whatever your cosmetic gum surgery needs may be, the procedures are routine and predictable — and they can work wonders for your smile!
If you have any questions about cosmetic gum surgery, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Gummy Smiles” and “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”
Maybe you had braces as a child, or you are thinking of having your own (it's never too late) or your child's teeth straightened through orthodontia. But how much do you really know about this branch of dentistry? Here are six questions people often ask about orthodontia.
Q. How did the word “orthodontia” originate?
A. From Latin roots meaning “straight” and “teeth”
Q. Teeth are anchored in bone. How is it possible to move them?
A. Living bone is not unchanging. The bone, ligament, and the outer layer of a tooth's root (called cementum) react to the stresses of biting and chewing. Due to this stimulation the bone is constantly being resorbed (broken down) and rebuilt as it is pushed from one side of a tooth and pulled from the other. Under normal conditions, there is a balance resulting in a steady state. Orthodontia takes advantage of this process to slowly change the teeth's position in the desired way.
Q. My dentist talks about the periodontal ligament. What does this mean?
A. The ligament is a fibrous tissue that connects the teeth to their bone and takes part in the dynamic process of resorption and rebuilding of the bone.
Q. What kinds of conditions can orthodontia correct?
A. Treatment can improve the teeth's position and relations to each other (being too crowded or badly spaced) and the way the upper and lower jaws relate. It can enhance the appearance of a person's teeth and face, and can also improve the teeth's function in biting and chewing.
Q. What is the best first step to orthodontic treatment?
A. Talk to your general dentist about your concerns. If you are referred to an orthodontist, the next step is to assess your situation using molds of your teeth that show the way the upper and lower teeth meet (your bite). Special x-rays will be taken to show the locations of your teeth and relation of your upper and lower jaw. Your dental team may also use photographs of your smile and computer imaging to get a clear view of how your teeth are now and how they may be moved.
Q. What are some of the methods of treatment?
A. In the traditional method, small metal brackets are attached to the crowns of the teeth. Thin wires, called arch wires, are strung through attachments on the brackets. These wires are used to apply controlled force to direct the teeth in the desired direction. Another method is to use removable clear plastic aligners. A series of aligners is designed by a computer, to be changed from one to the next as the positions of the teeth slowly change.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about braces and orthodontia. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Moving Teeth with Orthodontics” and “The Magic of Orthodontics.”
What is oral sedation dentistry? If you become frightened and anxious when facing a dental appointment or procedure, sedatives (also called “anxiolytics” meaning they dissolve anxiety), can completely transform the experience. Oral sedatives (taken by mouth) allow you to relax your mind and body so that you feel comfortable while in the dental chair.
How does anxiety affect my pain response? When you are afraid, your pain threshold is reduced. You experience a rush of adrenalin and you tense your muscles. As a result you end up in a state of heightened sensitivity. With sedation this sensitivity to pain vanishes along with your fear and anxiety.
What are some of the oral sedatives that my dentist may use? Most of the medications used in oral sedation dentistry belong to a class of medications called benzodiazepines, tried and tested over decades to be safe and effective. They are used in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and agitation. They include Valium®, Halcion®, Ativan®, and Versed®.
I'd just like to forget the experience after it is over. Can oral sedation help? Some of the medications prescribed as oral sedatives have amnesic properties (“a” – without; “mnesia” – memory). This means you will have little memory of the time in the dental chair when your procedure is finished.
What does my dentist need to know in order to prescribe the right oral sedation? We need a thorough medical and dental history, including all medical conditions you may have, and all medications you are taking — both prescription and over-the-counter (including allergies, alternative medications and even herbal supplements). We will also ask you whether you eat certain foods that could interfere with a sedative's effects.
How are the oral sedatives administered? Oral medications are either placed under the tongue (sub-lingual), and allowed to dissolve and then swallowed, or they may be swallowed whole. They are safe, effective, and fast acting. After the sedation takes effect, it will be easier to experience injections of local anesthesia if needed to numb your gums for the dental procedure.
What do I need to do before and after my appointment? Follow all directions we give you about restricting food and drink before your appointment. Until the medication wears off you may not be able to drive, operate heavy machinery or work so be sure to make arrangements to take time off and to have someone drive you to and from the appointment.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to talk about any fears you may have about dental treatments. Using oral sedation, we can make sure that you have a relaxing experience. Oral sedation allows you to relax both your mind and body, and focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious. You can learn more about oral sedation dentistry in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”