Posts for: March, 2015
You’ve been doing “all the right things” — brushing, flossing, and keeping up regular office cleanings and checkups. But you’re still struggling with gum disease — in fact, you’ve recently noticed loose teeth and other signs of infection.
While the primary cause of gum disease is dental plaque and calculus not adequately removed by regular oral hygiene and cleanings, you may also be among a small group of individuals with other risk factors that can worsen the effects of the disease. One of the most common of these factors isn’t something you can do much about — the physical characteristics you inherited from your parents. In reality, some people are more genetically prone to disease than others because their body doesn’t respond effectively to certain bacteria.
Chronic stress may also play a role in your body’s resistance level: it can both increase your risk for the disease and magnify its effects. In addition, the type of bacteria causing the disease could be a factor — our mouths contain thousands of strains, with some bacteria more difficult to control than others.
If your gum disease persists regardless of all our best efforts, we may be able to test for whether any of these other factors are involved. Determining the presence of any of these underlying factors can help us fine-tune our treatment approach.
You should know, however, that it might not be possible to effectively address every factor involved. If that’s the case, at some point it may be necessary to consider a tooth replacement option. The best choice by far are dental implants — not only are they functional and life-like in appearance, with proper care they could foster a healthier environment in your mouth by being stronger and more durable than the diseased teeth they’ve replaced.
Our ultimate goal as dentists is to alleviate gum disease and restore health and function to your teeth and gums. If that isn’t completely possible due to uncontrollable factors, we then adopt a strategy to control the disease as much as possible to preserve your teeth for as long as is prudent. This can give you time, then, to prepare yourself mentally, emotionally and financially for future teeth replacement and restoration.
If you would like more information on periodontal disease, 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 “Periodontal (Gum) Treatment and Expectations.”
While tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease destroy more teeth than any other causes, both of these diseases are largely preventable with proper oral hygiene and dental treatment. It’s more than possible, then, to enjoy a lifetime of healthy, disease-free teeth.
But even with healthy teeth, the effects of aging will cause tooth wear over time. And although we can’t prevent the aging process from occurring altogether, there are steps we can take not to accelerate the process.
Most tissues, including bone and teeth, have a growth cycle in which older cells are broken down (known as catabolism), removed and replaced by newer cells (anabolism). As we develop during childhood, the growth phase exceeds breakdown; when we reach adulthood, the two phases come into equilibrium. But as we age, breakdown will gradually overtake growth. This aging effect results in, among other outcomes, tooth wear.
“Normal” wear appears to be greatest — and most visible — along the biting surfaces of the teeth. The forces generated when we bite or chew causes enamel to erode over time. Unfortunately, you can accelerate this process through bad oral habits: clenching or grinding teeth, often times at night while you sleep, as well as habitually chewing on hard objects like nails or pencils.
Normal forces generated when we bite or chew are actually beneficial for dental health — they help stimulate bone growth. But when they exceed their normal range as when we clench or grind our teeth, they can increase tooth wear and cause other problems such as diminished function or changes in appearance, such as a shortened facial height.
To slow the rate of wear, it’s important to modify any behaviors that may be contributing to it. In many cases an occlusal night guard worn while you sleep helps prevent teeth clenching. You may also need assistance with stress management, a major trigger for these kinds of habits, through biofeedback therapy or counseling.
If you’ve already encountered excessive wear, bonding techniques using colored composite resin, veneers or crowns that attach directly to the teeth can restore lost function and rejuvenate the appearance and color of your teeth. We can perform a “smile analysis” to determine if one of these techniques is right for you to help you regain a more youthful and attractive smile.
If you would like more information on aging and tooth wear, 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 “How and Why Teeth Wear.”
When you’re posting a profile photo on LinkedIn, Facebook, Match.com and other social media sites, which shot is likely to make the best impression in terms of “likeability,” “competence” and “influence”? One in which you’re smiling and showing some teeth, for starters, according to PhotoFeeler.com, a crowdsourcing website that helps people evaluate their head shots. If something about your teeth is holding you back from parting your lips when you smile for the camera, here are some tried-and-true options for doing something about it!
Picture-Perfect Color, Shape and Alignment
Improving the color of your teeth may be as easy as getting regular professional cleanings, which are necessary for removal of calculus — dark-yellow hardened buildup of bacterial plaque — and can polish out superficial staining caused by certain beverages and foods.
Actually changing the color of your teeth entails whitening/bleaching. Professional whitening achieves the fastest results because it uses the highest concentration of peroxide solution and custom-fitted trays. In-home whitening kits take longer to work but are less expensive. Results last anywhere from six months to two years.
For permanent whitening results, consider veneers or crowns. In addition to changing tooth color, they can also alter tooth shape, hide wear and even minimize gaps between teeth. Veneers are affixed to the front of teeth, while crowns cover the entire tooth.
Teeth that are chipped, cracked or have noticeable areas of decay, can be restored with bonding, in which a composite resin material is applied that is colored to match your natural teeth.
You can straighten misaligned teeth and no one even has to know you’re doing it. Barely visible and entirely invisible orthodontic appliances include clear braces, lingual braces (attached to the tongue-facing side of teeth) and clear aligners, which are removable for tooth brushing/flossing, cleaning the appliance, eating, and special occasions.
If you would like more information about enhancing 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 “Beautiful Smiles by Design.”