Posts for: September, 2013
Sports drinks have grown in popularity since University of Florida football trainers developed Gatorade® in the 1960s. They're widely viewed as a convenient fluid and nutrient replacement after strenuous workouts. Recently, another beverage has become wildly popular — the energy drink, whose high caffeine promises heightened concentration and physical ability.
While energy drinks have raised health concerns, sports drinks are widely regarded as safe. Both kinds of drinks, however, may be a cause for concern when it comes to your dental health.
While both are substantively different, they do have one thing in common — both beverages contain high levels of citric and other acids to improve taste and shelf life. This high acidity can have a detrimental effect on tooth enamel.
When the mouth becomes too acidic after eating or drinking (4 or lower on the pH scale), the tooth's outer protective enamel begins to erode, a process known as demineralization. Saliva with its neutral pH of 7 can neutralize this over-acidity in about thirty minutes to an hour after eating and the enamel will actually begin to remineralize. But when there's an overabundance of acid, as with these beverages, saliva's neutralizing ability becomes inhibited. The mouth remains too acidic for a longer period, resulting in greater erosion of the enamel.
Generally speaking, we don't recommend energy drinks at all. If, however, you occasionally take in a sports drink, add the following precautions, if possible: combine the drink with a mealtime and rinse your mouth with pH-neutral water to wash away residual acid from the sports drink; and wait an hour before brushing your teeth — since some demineralization occurs before saliva neutralizes the acid, you could brush away some of the softened enamel before it can remineralize.
Finally, consider this: pure, clean water is still the best hydrator in the world. Replenishing your fluids with it after exercise might also be the better choice for your dental health.
If you would like more information on the effects of sports and energy drinks on oral health, 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 “Think Before you Drink.”
Today's cosmetic dentist can bring amazing transformations to their patient's smiles. That's because we now have a versatile array of materials and processes that precisely replicate the appearance of natural teeth.
Two of the most useful are porcelain veneers and crowns. Although different in structure and function, veneers and crowns both utilize a material known as dental porcelain, a ceramic material that can be shaped to resemble an individual patient's natural tooth shape, with the same color, hue saturation and translucence as the original or surrounding teeth.
As the name implies, veneers are a thin layer of dental porcelain that adheres to the outer surface of a tooth, essentially as a replacement for enamel. They solve a number of esthetic issues patients have with their teeth, especially those in front: poor color, shape and contours; broken teeth; poor tooth position; and staining that can't be removed with conventional bleaching. They most often require minimal tooth preparation, as only 1 mm or less of tooth enamel needs to be removed. Occasionally, no tooth reduction is required.
However, they are not a good solution where there is not an adequate amount of tooth structure to work with. In this case, a crown may be the best choice. A crown (or cap) covers the remaining tooth structure completely, reinforcing the remaining tooth structure 360°. This is an excellent choice for patients who have lost a large amount of tooth structure due to decay, trauma or grinding habits that have eroded the enamel.
To determine if you are a true candidate for either of these applications you should undergo a smile analysis in our office. During this process it's even possible to create a diagnostic mock-up — a “trial smile,” if you will — with temporary tooth-colored materials applied to your teeth and then photographed for your review.
The smile analysis helps us recommend the best solution for you and in turn will help you make an informed choice on the right application for you. Although either option may not be feasible in all situations, they may just be the right choice to change your smile for the better.
If you would like more information on how porcelain veneers and crowns can help transform your smile, 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 “Porcelain Crowns and Veneers.”
It is sometimes hard to believe all of the features and characteristics that we inherit from our parents. Whether you're tall, short, blue-eyed or blonde, you can usually attribute some of these features to your mother and father. Of course, the downside of genetics is that diseases and disorders are also linked to genes.
Well, you can add gum tissue to that list as well! Genetics actually determines whether you have what we call “thin” or “thick” gum tissue. How does this work? Well, the type of gum tissue you have relies heavily on the shape of your tooth, which indeed is genetically-coded. If you have a triangular tooth shape, you'll likely have thin gums. If you have a squarer tooth shape, you'll usually have thick gums.
So, what can you expect from each tissue type?
If you have a thin gum tissue type, you are more likely to have gum recession. Watch out for the following signs of gum recession:
- Sensitivity to hot or cold, even without the presence of dental decay
- If you have crowns on your teeth, you may see a dark gray line at the gum line from the metal casting beneath the crown
- Small dark triangular spaces between teeth
On the other hand, if you have a thicker tissue type, your gums are more vulnerable to dental disease through a condition called “pocketing.” This happens when bacterial plaque causes your tissue to become inflamed, lose its attachment to the teeth and develop a pocket. Pocketing can result in bone loss, and, in worst-case scenarios, tooth loss.
It's important to note that while we use these terms to categorize different tissue types for treatment decisions, your tissue may also fall somewhere in between the two varieties.
So, how can you prevent gum disease? Daily oral hygiene is the best way to ensure proper care of your gums, no matter what type you have. Be sure to brush twice daily (use a soft toothbrush) and floss regularly at night. Floss gently until you hear a squeak, but watch out for your gum line. And of course, continue to visit us two times a year, so that we can assess whether you are in danger of developing gum disease.
If you would like more information about genetics and gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Genetics and Gum Tissue Types.”
A crown is a common type of dental restoration that has been available, in different forms, for a long while. When properly done, it may last for decades — and if desired, it can be made to match the shade of the natural teeth so well that it's nearly impossible to tell them apart. Some recent technological innovations may offer patients who need this treatment even more choices. To begin learning about dental crowns, let's start with five facts everyone should know.
Crowns are a type of restoration that can solve many dental problems.
There are many factors that may cause the structure of a tooth to become compromised. It can be weakened by grinding or chipping, gradually removed by repeated dental fillings, or suddenly broken by trauma. Sometimes, a more conservative treatment (like inlays or veneers) may be enough to take care of the problem. When it isn't, the missing tooth structure can be replaced by a crown.
Crowns replicate the form and function of natural teeth.
Because they must fit into your mouth perfectly and match your bite exactly, each crown is an individually-crafted item, made just for you. That means the form of a crown must look just like the tooth it replaces — before it was damaged. And, especially if it's for a front tooth, a crown is often carefully designed to match the particular shade of your teeth. If you are unhappy about the color of your other front teeth, tooth whitening should be done first before your new crown is created to get the best results possible.
Crowns can be made of different materials.
For over a hundred years, crowns have been made of gold. While this extremely long-lasting material remains popular, its use has been declining recently due to aesthetic factors. Two tooth-colored alternatives are all-porcelain and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. The exact shade and luster of these substances can be made to closely simulate the natural teeth. Each has advantages and disadvantages in particular situations but we will be happy to make recommendations as to what is in your best interests.
New technologies are changing the way crowns are prepared.
Advances in the field of materials science have led to crowns being fabricated from more durable high-tech substances, like ceramics made of zirconium dioxide. And the availability of small-scale computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies means that in some situations, it's possible for a crown to be fabricated right in the dental office, in minutes. Undoubtedly, these technologies will continue to improve in the future.
Delivering a quality crown is a blend of science and art.
No matter how high-tech the process becomes, producing a fully functional, long lasting and natural-looking crown remains a blend of aesthetics and science, seasoned with a healthy dose of clinical experience. It's also a team effort involving a skillful dentist, a talented dental laboratory technician and a knowledgeable patient — you.
If you would like more information about crowns, 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 “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers,” “Gold or Porcelain Crowns,” and “Creating In-Office Dental Restorations With Computers.”