Dental Tips Blog


Smile Makeovers

Modern dentistry is much more than just preventative dentistry such as regular checkups, cleanings, and fillings.  Cosmetic dentistry offers a wide range of procedures to enhance the appearance of your smile.  When one or more of these procedures are combined as part of an integrated plan to improve the appearance of your smile, it is often referred to as a smile makeover.

If you are unhappy with the appearance of your smile, talk to a cosmetic dentist about developing a smile makeover treatment plan.  Your cosmetic dentist will work with you to create a treatment plan that best achieves the look you desire within your budget.  Depending on your individual needs, your cosmetic dentist may recommend one or more of the many cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening, dental implants, dental veneers, bonding, caps, orthodontics, and replacing silver fillings.

When developing your smile makeover plan, your cosmetic dentist will take into consideration more than just your teeth, but also your facial appearance including skin tone, lips and hair to create a pleasing smile.  Among the aspects of your smile that may need to be improved include tooth color, alignment, spacing, height, and missing teeth. Chipped or damaged teeth may need to be repaired and a gummy smile may need to be addressed.

Depending on your unique treatment plan, a smile makeover can be completed in a few months or it can take as long as a year or more to complete, especially if orthodontics or implants are part of the treatment plan. Your cosmetic dentist will also review any maintenance that may be required to preserve your dazzling new smile.  Teeth whitening may need to be periodically renewed and orthodontic treatments may require use of a retainer to maintain tooth alignment.


Benefits of Electric Toothbrushes

Though studies have found mixed results when comparing electric toothbrushes with manual toothbrushes, most dentists recommend them for keeping teeth clean and removing plaque.  If your dentist has recommended that you use an electric toothbrush or you are just sold on the benefits of an electric toothbrush, you should know that the most effective electric toothbrushes are the rechargeable toothbrushes that plug into the wall.

There are also some battery powered toothbrushes on the market that are little more than manual toothbrushes with bristles that vibrate a little.  Don’t confuse these battery powered toothbrushes with a true electric toothbrush.

Electric toothbrushes are beneficial for your oral health for a number of reasons. For one, most electric toothbrush users report cleaner teeth from using an electric toothbrush.  For another, electric toothbrushes can stop you from brushing your teeth too hard and damaging your teeth and gums.

Overly aggressive tooth brushing can result in receding gums or a loss to tooth enamel.  With an electric toothbrush, the brush does all the work and all you do is hold the toothbrush in the right area.  Since the user does not apply any pressure, brushing too hard becomes a thing of the past.  Some electric toothbrushes even have sensors to prevent brushing too hard.

An electric toothbrush has a timer that makes sure that you are brushing long enough.  A thorough tooth brushing should take at least two minutes, but most Americans brush their teeth for less than half that much time.  An electric toothbrush will let you know when you have brushed long enough. Some even signal when it is time to move the toothbrush to another area of your mouth.   When used in conjunction with regular dental cleanings and checkups, an electric toothbrush can play a valuable role in maintaining your oral health.


Gingivitis Causes and Treatment

Posted in Gum Disease

Gingivitis is a type of gum disease (or periodontal disease) caused by the normal bacteria found in the mouth.  Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease and also the most easily treated.  However, if left untreated, gingivitis can develop into much more serious gum disease that can ultimately result in the loss of the patient’s teeth.

The mouth is full of naturally occurring bacteria.  These bacteria collect on our teeth and form a sticky substance called plaque.  Brushing our teeth and flossing helps to remove plaque, but any plaque that is not removed will harden into tartar that cannot be removed by brushing.  Tartar can be removed only by a professional dental cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist.

The bacteria in plaque and tartar can irritate the gums, especially if the tartar and plaque are below the gum line, causing the gums to be sore, red, and inflamed.  This inflammation is called gingivitis.  The classic symptoms of gingivitis include red, irritated gums that may bleed easily during brushing.  Bad breath is sometimes associated with gingivitis.

Although anyone can get gingivitis, smokers are more likely to develop the disease.  Other factors that increase the risk of gingivitis include diabetes and diseases or medications that compromise or suppress the immune system.

Gingivitis can usually be treated by a professional dental cleaning.  Gingivitis that is not treated promptly will often develop into much more serious gum disease.  Gingivitis can be prevented by following good oral health habits including regular dental cleanings and checkups, brushing and flossing, and avoiding tobacco products.


Bone Grafting for Dental Implants

Posted in Dental Implants

Dental implants have become a very popular alternative for replacing one or more missing teeth.  Dental implants are generally much superior to other tooth replacement options such as a bridge or dentures.  Dental implants replicate the look and feel of natural teeth. They are more durable, stronger, and present a much more natural look than dentures or bridges.  Also, unlike dentures or bridges, dental implants stimulate bone growth and avoid the bone loss common with dentures or bridges.

Dental implants are surgically implanted in the patient’s bone.  Once the site has healed, a prosthetic tooth is permanently attached to the implant.  Most patients are candidates for implants, but there must be sufficient bone where the implant is to be placed.

If the tooth to be replaced has been missing for a long time, there may not be sufficient bone for the implant.  Bone loss is normally experienced when a tooth has been lost.  Everyday biting and chewing stimulates bone growth, but when a tooth is lost, the stimulation stops and bone loss in that area is common.

If there has been too much bone loss for an implant to be placed, an oral surgeon may elect to use bone grafting to build up enough bone for the implant to be placed. Bone is taken from another area of your jaw and grafted to the affected area.  The graft is held in place with tiny screws and will fully fuse to the patient’s jaw bone in about four months.  The dental implant can then be placed in the built up area of bone.


Risk Factors For Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease (commonly called gum disease) is an inflammation or infection in the gums caused by the naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths.  Gum disease can range from a mild inflammation called gingivitis to serious infection called periodontitis.  Gingivitis is easily treatable with a thorough dental cleaning and checkup by your dentist or dental hygienist, but left untreated it can progress to periodontitis and can result in severe damage or loss of the gums, jawbone, and other tissue and ultimately the loss of the patient’s teeth.

Anyone can develop periodontal disease, but people with certain risk factors are more likely to develop gum disease.  The more risk factors a person has, the more likely the disease will develop.

Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for gum disease.  In addition, smoking has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of the treatment for gum disease.  Hormonal changes in women have been linked to the increased risk of developing gingivitis which can lead to gum disease.

Genetics plays a part in the development of gum disease.  For reasons that are not clearly understood, some people are more likely to develop gum disease than others.  In addition, as we get older the risk of developing periodontal disease increases.

Stress reduces the body’s ability to fight infection and contributes to the development of gum disease.  Similarly, other diseases that affect the immune system or medications that interfere with the immune system increase the risk of developing gum disease. These diseases include cancer, AIDS, herpes, and autoimmune diseases.

Finally, poor nutrition can impair the body’s ability to fight infections and is a risk factor for gum disease.  If you have more than one or two of these risk factors, talk to your dentist about ways you can reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease.


Ten Things That Are Bad For Your Teeth

Approximately 30 percent of older Americans have no natural teeth left.  If you want to be part of the other 70 percent, you need to take care of your teeth before it is too late.  Regular dental cleanings and dental check ups will go a long way toward maintaining your oral health, but there are some habits to avoid if you want to keep your teeth in the best possible condition as you get older.

1. Chewing on ice seems like a harmless habit, but in fact it is an easy way to chip or crack your teeth.

2.  If you engage in any type of contact sport such as hockey, football, or lacross, protect your teeth with a mouth guard to avoid having a tooth chipped or knocked out.

3.  Giving your baby a bottle of juice or milk at bedtime or naptime can result in tooth decay.  Falling asleep with a bottle in their mouth results in the teeth being bathed in sugars for hours.

4. Drinking too much sugary soda contributes to tooth decay and the acid in soda eats away at tooth enamel.

5. Diet sodas are slightly better than regular soda because they lack the sugar, but they may have higher levels of acid.

6. Similarly, sports drinks and fruit juices are loaded with sugar that attach the teeth.

7. Too much coffee drinking can result in yellow stains on your teeth.

8. Red wine can also discolor your teeth and has acids that eats away at the enamel.

9.  White wine is better, but not much.  White wine doesn’t stain teeth like red wine, but it contains acids that weaken the enamel and leave it susceptible to staining from other drinks like red wine or coffee.

10.  Smoking not only stains your teeth, but it greatly increases your risk for developing gum disease.  Smoking also causes oral cancers.


Tobacco Use and Oral Health

Posted in Oral Cancer

Most people understand the increased risk of lung disease, cancer, and heart disease associated with smoking, but what is less widely known is that smoking poses a serious risk to the smoker’s oral health.

Smoking is one of the primary factors for developing periodontal disease (gum disease).  This disease can be as mild as an inflammation of the gums, but if left untreated it will progress to an infection of the gums, jawbone, and other tissue.  Tooth loss will occur if the disease is not treated an in addition to contributing to the development of gum disease, smoking reduces the effectiveness of the treatment.

Gum disease is caused by the bacteria in the mouth that forms plaque that hardens on the teeth and can only be removed by a cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist.  Plaque that remains below the gum line attacks the gum tissue and causes it to pull away from the teeth.

This allows more bacteria to enter which causes the gums to become inflamed and eventually develop an infection.  The exact cause is not clear, but smoking seems to impair the ability of gum tissue to fight off the bacteria and leaves smokers more likely to develop gum disease.

In addition to gum disease, smoking is known to increase the risk of oral cancer and throat cancer.  Pipe smoking and cigar smoking pose a similar risk of oral cancer, throat cancer, and gum disease.  Smokeless tobacco is just as bad or worse for your oral health than smoking.  Smokeless tobacco use not only increases the risk of oral cancers and gum disease, but also contributes to tooth decay.

Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can help maintain your oral health.  Your dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening during your annual or semi-annual check up and a professional cleaning can help prevent the development of gingivitis and gum disease.



Good Candidates for Dental Implants

Posted in Dental Implants

If you have one or more missing teeth, dental implants may be an excellent tooth replacement option for you.  The many advantages that dental implants offer compared to other tooth replacement alternatives such as dentures and bridges have made dental implants one of the most popular tooth replacement alternatives available.

Your dentist or oral surgeon will perform a full examination and consultation to see if you are a good candidate for dental implants.  Fortunately, most patients are good candidates for implants.  As their name suggests, dental implants are surgically implanted in the patient’s jaw and the main requirement is that the patient has a sufficient amount of bone in their jaw to firmly anchor the implant.

Patients whose teeth have been missing for a long time may not have sufficient bone for a dental implant.  When a tooth is lost, bone loss in the jaw begins because the biting and chewing pressure on the tooth no longer stimulates bone production in that area of the jaw.

Patients who have had full or partial dentures for extended periods of time may have lost too much bone for a successful dental implant.  Fortunately, your oral surgeon can restore lost bone through bone grafting to allow for placement of a dental implant.

Other factors that may prevent a patient from being a good implant candidate include exposure to high doses of radiation and chronic illness such as uncontrolled diabetes, hemophilia, or a compromised immune system.  If you have any of these conditions, talk to you dentist or oral surgeon.  Depending on the severity of your condition, you may still be a good candidate for dental implants.


Advantages of Dental Implants Compared To A Fixed Bridge

Posted in Dental Implants

Many Americans are missing one or more teeth, especially older Americans.  Dental implants are a relatively recently developed tooth replacement alternative that offers many advantages over traditional tooth replacement options such as a fixed bridge.

With dental implants, a metal base is surgically implanted in the patient’s jawbone.  After allowing a few months for the bone to heal, a natural looking prosthetic tooth is permanently attached to the implant.  The result is a replacement tooth that looks and feels like a natural tooth.

A fixed bridge is placed by attaching it to the healthy teeth adjacent to the missing tooth.  The adjacent teeth are prepared by removing some of the enamel surface to allow the bridge to be placed.  The bridge itself is similar to two crowns that have a prosthetic tooth supported between them.  The bridge is attached to the two adjacent teeth and the prosthetic tool fills the space left by the missing tooth.

One drawback to a bridge is the necessity of removing the enamel from the healthy teeth.  A bridge is also not as strong as a dental implant because two teeth bear the load of the missing tooth.  In addition, a bridge will only last about 10 to 15 years before it will need to be replaced.

A dental implant is initially more expensive than a bridge, but it will last a lifetime which makes it the more cost effective solution for most patients.  In addition, a dental implant requires surgery that is not necessary for a bridge.  Dental implants take longer to place than a bridge.  From start to finish, it can take six months to a year to place a dental implant.  Finally, unlike a bridge, a dental implant does not damage adjacent teeth.


Dentures or Dental Implants?

Posted in Dental Implants

Dentures and dental implants are both alternatives for replacing missing teeth. Each has advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into consideration when choosing which is the best option for you.

Millions of Americans are missing one or more teeth.  In fact, a quarter of Americans over the age to 60 have no natural teeth left at all.  Dentures have traditionally been one of the most widely used options for replacing missing teeth, especially if the patient was missing all or most of their upper and lower teeth.

Partial dentures are removeable an use a wire to attach to neighboring teeth for support.  Full dentures rely on temporary adhesive to stay in place and are removed nightly for cleaning.  Dentures can be uncomfortable to wear and can move around which causes problems with eating and speaking.  They tend not to have a very natural appearance.

Dental implants are a more recently developed tooth replacement option in which a titanium device is implanted into the patient’s jawbone.  After the jawbone has healed around the implant, a prosthetic tooth similar to a porcelain crown is permanently attached to the implant.  Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth or all of the patient’s teeth.

Dental implants are much more firmly attached than dentures.  Dental implants look and feel just like natural teeth.  In addition, bone stimulation from biting and chewing stops the bone loss in the jaw that is common with dentures.

However, some patients are not good candidates for dental implants.  The patient must have sufficient bone structure to support the implant.  In addition, dental implants have a higher initial cost than dentures.  However, they are a permanent, durable tooth replacement solution and over time may actually cost less than dentures.

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