Posts for: August, 2012
Your car comes with a maintenance manual that tells you when to get an oil change, rotate the tires, and perform other necessary tasks. By following the manual's directions you can keep your car running in good condition for many years. Too bad a manual doesn't come with your teeth and gums!
Such a manual would concentrate on a few basic tasks we call oral hygiene and teeth cleanings. Both tasks are mainly dedicated to removing dental plaque or biofilm from the surfaces of your teeth and the surrounding gums. Plaque is now referred to as a biofilm, a film composed of bacteria, that naturally forms in your mouth. Studies have shown that dental plaque causes periodontal disease (gum disease) and dental caries (tooth decay).
Tips for Daily Removal of Dental Plaque
The way you hold your toothbrush is crucial to your ability to remove plaque effectively. We recommend that you hold it in your fingertips as you would a pen or pencil. Use small motions and pressure. Brushing too hard can damage gum tissues. Use a soft bristled brush, hold it at about a 45 degree angle to the gum line and then use a gentle scrubbing motion. Studies have shown some electric toothbrushes to be more efficient at plaque removal than hand-held brushes; but in general how you use the brush is more important than what kind of brush it is.
To remove plaque deposits from the hard-to-reach areas between your teeth, floss at least once a day. Wrap the floss around each tooth surface and gently move it up and down for a few strokes, cleaning the sides of your teeth where they face each other.
You can use an antibacterial mouthrinse to get help reduce the bacterial plaque or biofilm that you missed in brushing and flossing.
The best way to make sure you are brushing correctly is to have a dental professional demonstrate for you. We would be happy to demonstrate the correct techniques in your own mouth so that you can see how it feels, and you can copy the methods we use.
Professional Maintenance Schedule
Your car needs to go into the shop from time to time for professional maintenance. Your teeth also need a regular schedule of maintenance from a professional dentist or hygienist. Over time, plaque that you do not manage to clean off your teeth accumulates and forms hard deposits called calculus or tartar. If left on your teeth these deposits cause inflammation of your gum tissues and can lead to infection, abscesses, and even tooth loss. During a professional cleaning a technique called scaling removes these substances. For more advanced forms of gum disease, root planing is used to remove deposits of calculus below the gum line.
While lasers have been effective (and safe) tools for healthcare professionals in the medical field for years, did you know that they are fast becoming a vital tool in the field of dentistry for diagnosing dental disease? Lasers, named from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation,” are beams of light that are of a single color and wavelength. They also have the unique ability to help dental professionals detect disease in much earlier stages than they have ever before.
Diagnostic lasers are very effective in diagnosing pit and fissure decay — the tiny grooves of the biting surfaces that cannot be seen by visual inspection or reached by a traditional dental tool. They are able to accomplish this by producing a glowing effect known as fluorescence, which is produced by the optical properties of early tooth decay. This enables us to treat tooth decay in its earliest stages as well as monitor teeth from visit to visit.
Another area where lasers have proven valuable is in the detection and localization of dental calculus (tartar) beneath the gums. Calculus is hardened or calcified bacterial plaque that attaches to the teeth. Using lasers, we can find and remove this calculus during periodontal (gum) therapy. Lasers are also helpful in detecting dysplastic (“dys” – altered; “plasia” – growth) or precancerous tissue as well as cancerous tissues. And should we find any of these conditions, lasers are extremely useful in removing tissue close to the margins or edges of where diseased tissue meets healthy tissue. But best of all, lasers are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding, and less discomfort for patients after surgery.
Projecting a healthy, radiant smile can help boost self-confidence and lead to increased comfort and success in both personal and career-oriented situations. Yet, many people are unhappy with their less-than-pearly whites, causing them to avoid social interaction and even lose out on opportunities because they are too self-conscious.
Your dissatisfaction with the appearance of your teeth may also be causing you to stifle one of nature's most endearing and intrinsic impulses, simply smiling!
For example, do you:
- Avoid posing for pictures that require a smile?
- Cover your mouth when speaking or laughing in public?
- Avoid dating because you feel unattractive?
- Feel that people think less of you because your smile is flawed?
- Think your smile makes you look older than you are?
If you've answered yes to any of these questions, you are certainly not alone. A poll conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that, while a whopping 99.7% of respondents said they considered a good smile to be a highly important social asset, only 50% of those same respondents indicated that they were satisfied with their own smile. In addition, the Academy reported that people between the ages of 31 and 50 are most unhappy with their smile, are most concerned with making a good first impression through a strong smile, and most frequently seek out information on cosmetic dentistry.
The good news is that advances in cosmetic enhancement and restorative dentistry, including treatments like teeth whitening and the application of porcelain veneers to correct tooth crowding, make it possible for anyone to enhance or improve their smile and boost their self-image. And a complete “Smile Makeover” has been shown to positively impact the perception that others have with respect to attractiveness, popularity, and even wealth — all based on the quality of a person's smile.
Our office can work with you to determine just what it will take to improve your smile and self confidence from as little as a minor enhancement to a complete smile makeover — anything that would best match your idea of the perfect smile. To get started, give us a call.
To read about others who have regained their confidence after brightening and whitening their smiles through cosmetic dentistry, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”
Designing a better smile sometimes requires a change in the size, shape, or color of your teeth. Porcelain laminate veneers (thin layers of dental ceramic material) enhance your appearance by replacing the natural enamel on the outside of your teeth. A veneer is physically bonded to the surface of a tooth, in essence, becoming part of it.
Traditionally, a small amount of the natural tooth enamel is drilled away to allow room for the veneer. But today, in some circumstances, it is possible to use an approach where enamel reduction or preparation is not necessary because the veneers can be bonded directly onto the tooth's natural surface. These are called “Prepless” or “No-prep” veneers, and are used to create aesthetically pleasing and natural looking restorations. An advantage of the prepless procedure is that the process is reversible so that you can give your new smile a “test drive.”
You may be a good subject for Prepless veneers if:
- Your smile is narrow because the teeth in the sides of your smile are positioned inward and do not show from a frontal view.
- There is spacing between your teeth, and the teeth appear too small.
- You have a fairly common genetic condition in which one or both of the teeth directly next to the two upper front teeth are very small and peg-shaped.
- There is an imbalance between the size of your lips and teeth (large lips and small teeth), which are not in proportion to show off your best smile.
Prepless veneers are probably not for you if:
- Your teeth are not aligned properly in your bite.
- Your teeth are very crowded, resulting in poor facial profile.
- Your teeth are already relatively large or positioned forward.
In these cases you may need to have some form of orthodontic treatment to move your teeth into better position. Sometimes veneers can be used to create an illusion of proper tooth alignment, but some amount of tooth reduction may be required.
We can assess whether prepless veneers are right for you. There is no substitute for an expert dentist's talent and expertise with the various cosmetic techniques available today. These skills combined with a thorough diagnostic evaluation, and a clear understanding of your goals, are the keys to providing you with a successful and beautiful smile.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more about prepless veneers by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Veneers Without the Drill.”
The embarrassment of having discolored and/or stained teeth can be monumental and negatively impact your love life, work career, interactions with others, on top of undermining your self-esteem. And it is this reality that urges many people to wonder what teeth whitening could do for their specific needs. However, before obtaining any “fix,” you really should get an understanding of what causes staining of your teeth. This important step will enable you to make the necessary lifestyle and behavioral changes to prevent future issues.
For example, letting us know which of the following common causes for staining teeth apply to you can be an excellent first step towards building an optimal action plan for brightening your smile.
Which of the following questions about discolored teeth apply to you?
- Staining from tobacco use?
- Staining from coffee, tea and/or wine?
- Your teeth have become progressively discolored and yellow with age?
- Staining from red (tomato-based) sauces, sodas/colas and blueberries among other things?
- Other family members have stained teeth so it seems to be genetic?
- Staining from medications such as the antibiotic tetracycline given as a child?
Your honest responses to the above, along with your medical history will enable us to formulate the appropriate therapy for brightening your smile. And for most people this includes bleaching, an inexpensive yet effective method for whitening teeth. It is most often accomplished using a gel that is between 15% and 35% carbamide peroxide, a type of hydrogen peroxide. Years of research have proven that this whitening agent does not damage tooth enamel or the nerves inside the teeth. The only side effect that some people experience is slight tooth sensitivity and irritation of the gum tissues. However, they both are usually temporary, often occuring when you first start bleaching and generally subside after a few days. You can learn more when you continue reading the Dear Doctor article, “Tooth Staining.” Or, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.