Posts for: March, 2014
Protecting one's smile is important at any age. This is especially true for people who participate in contact sports or other activities where a trauma to the mouth can occur. While we all tend to believe that we are safe and that injuries “only happen to other people,” we could not be further from the truth. Take, for example, Jillian Michaels, an accomplished author, business mogul, wellness expert, trainer and star of The Biggest Loser. She learned this invaluable lesson after breaking her two front teeth as a child and having them repaired with crowns. As Jillian stated in her interview with Dear Doctor magazine, “Now, I generally wear a mouthguard if I am doing anything where my teeth have any chance of being knocked out.”
We feel obligated to educate our patients so that you can make informed decisions about your oral health. This is why we put together the following brief list of research findings.
Did you know?
- According to the American Dental Association, an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard.
- The US Centers for Disease Control reports that sports-related dental injuries account for more than 600,000 visits to the emergency room each year.
- People who do not have a knocked-out tooth properly reserved or replanted may face a lifetime cost of $10,000 to $20,000 per tooth, according to the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety.
- The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year.
If feel you and/or your children need a custom-fitted, professionally made mouthguard, contact us today to schedule an appointment. During your private consultation, we will conduct a thorough examination, listen to your concerns, and answer all of your questions as we discuss the best methods for protecting your investment — your own, or your children's, teeth.
To learn more about mouthguards, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards, One of the most important parts of any uniform!” And to read the entire interview with Jillian Michaels, please see the article “Jillian Michaels — The Biggest Loser's health and wellness expert talks about her oral health, keeping fit and plans for the future.”
You have a beautiful smile, but with one noticeable flaw — there's a small gap between your two front teeth. It's a common occurrence that can be corrected with orthodontics.
There are a number of causes for this wider spacing, including an excessive overlap bite of the upper teeth over the lower, habits such as tongue-thrusting or finger-sucking, or extra (or even missing) teeth. But one of the most common is the presence of an overly large muscle attachment called a frenum or, as it's sometimes referred to, frenulum. If that's the case, you may need a minor surgical procedure in addition to orthodontic treatment to ensure the space remains closed.
The frenum is the fold of tissue that contains some muscle tissue that connects the gum to the lip. In certain people, a larger than normal frenum may extend further to the front of the roof of their mouth, just behind the teeth, and may also extend lower between the teeth and contribute to the gap. Unless some of this tissue is removed, it can force the teeth apart again after the gap has been closed through orthodontics.
This simple procedure is called a frenectomy. After numbing the area with a local anesthetic, we remove the excess tissue from the frenum extended into the space between the teeth, using either a small scalpel or a special laser. The resulting wound is generally very small and may require only a few stitches, if any. Healing usually takes no more than a week and any discomfort is easily managed by anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin or ibuprofen.
As a general rule, a frenectomy is best performed after the orthodontic treatment so that scar tissue resulting from the procedure won't interfere with the gap closure. With proper dental follow-up, the gap should stay closed — and your new enhanced smile won't fade away.
If you would like more information on treating spaces between teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Space Between Front Teeth.”
Metal amalgam fillings for dental caries have been used since the mid 19th Century. Although newer, “natural color” filling materials have become available, amalgam remains a standard choice among dentists.
Dental amalgam is a metal alloy created by carefully combining exact proportions of mercury, silver, tin and copper. Though quite pliable when first mixed, the alloy eventually sets into a very hard substance that stands up well against the forces produced by the mouth’s natural chewing function. The presence of mercury, however, has raised concerns for some that the metal’s toxic properties pose a risk to the patient’s health.
But after decades of research, the American Dental Association and other health organizations have concluded that dental amalgam “is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material.” Studies have determined that any free molecules of mercury that could potentially enter the bloodstream are trapped in the set amalgam. And although the amalgam can release mercury vapor during chewing, the amounts are well below the levels considered harmful.
Dental amalgam has proven to be versatile, effective and economical. It doesn’t create an allergic reaction, is quite durable, and doesn’t interfere with normal chewing function. It does, however, have its drawbacks. Its use can require more tooth material to be removed to keep the fillings in place, and they can increase temperature sensitivity during the initial four to six weeks. And, of course, their metallic appearance, especially when used in more visible front teeth, reduces their aesthetic appeal.
Other, more cosmetically appealing types of filling material have been developed over the years. These include composite resin fillings, a mixture of glass or quartz in a resin medium; glass ionomers, made of acrylic acids and fine glass powders and best used in areas not subject to heavy chewing; and resin ionomers, similar to glass ionomers but with the addition of acrylic resin. Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages (as well as cost considerations), but they’re main advantage over amalgam is their mimicry of natural tooth color.
The choice of either dental amalgam filling or one of the tooth-color alternatives depends on what you may need and can afford. Rest assured, though, that if the choice is dental amalgam, this restoration workhorse can provide you years of safe and effective service.
If you would like more information on your options for tooth fillings, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Silver Fillings.”
You may have heard the expression: “If you just ignore your teeth, they will go away.” That may be true — but by practicing good oral hygiene, more and more people are now able to keep their natural teeth in good condition for their entire life. So we prefer to put a more positive spin on that old saw: “Take care of your teeth and they will take care of you — always.” What’s the best way to do that? Here are our top five tips:
- Brush and floss every day. You knew this was going to be number one, right? Simply put, tooth decay and gum disease are your teeth’s number one enemies. Effective brushing and flossing can help control both of these diseases. Using a soft-bristle brush with fluoride toothpaste and getting the floss into the spaces between teeth (and a little under the gum line) are the keys to successful at-home tooth cleaning and plaque removal.
- Don’t smoke, or use any form of tobacco. Statistically speaking, smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers. And “smokeless” tobacco causes tooth discoloration, gum irritation, an increased risk for cavities, and a higher incidence of oral cancers. Of course, smoking also shortens your life expectancy — so do yourself a favor, and quit (or better yet, don’t start).
- Eat smart for better oral (and general) health. This means avoiding sugary between-meal snacks, staying away from sodas (and so-called “energy” or “sports” drinks), and limiting sweet, sticky candies and other smile-spoiling treats. It also means enjoying a balanced diet that’s rich in foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This type of diet incorporates what’s best for your whole body — including your teeth.
- Wear a mouthguard when playing sports. An active lifestyle has many well-recognized health benefits. But if you enjoy playing basketball, bicycling, skiing or surfing — or any other sport where the possibility of a blow to the face exists — then you should consider a custom-fitted mouthguard an essential part of your gear. Research shows that athletes wearing mouthguards are 60 times less likely to suffer tooth damage in an accident than those who aren’t protected — so why take chances with your teeth?
- See your dentist regularly. When it comes to keeping your smile sparkling and your mouth healthy, we’re your plaque-fighting partners. We’ll check you for early signs of gum disease or tooth decay — plus many other potential issues — and treat any problems we find before they become serious. We’ll also help you develop healthy habits that will give you the best chance of keeping your teeth in good shape for your whole life.
If you would like to learn more about keeping your teeth healthy for life, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. For more information, see the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Decay — The World’s Oldest & Most Widespread Disease” and “Dentistry & Oral Health For Children.”