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LD | 10-01-2012

A Bite Out Of History

People of ancient times believed that the stabbing pain of a toothache was caused by a toothworm, which either had appeared spontaneously or had bored its way into the tooth. If the tooth pain was severe, it meant that the worm was thrashing about, but if the aching stopped, then the worm was resting. Cultures all over the world, many of whom had no contact with each other, held stubbornly to this myth. The folklore of the toothworm persisted from ancient times to the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Folk Cures

 Bee: Honey, a product of bees, was used to coat an infected tooth in the Middle Ages. People smeared their aching teeth with honey and waited all night with tweezers in hand, ready to pluck out the toothworm.

 Donkey: In ancient Greece, donkey’s milk was used as a mouthwash to strengthen the gums and teeth.

 Frog: Besides spitting in a frog’s mouth for toothache relief, these web-footed creatures were applied to a person’s cheek or to the head on the side of the ailing tooth.

 Onion: In the Middle Ages a slice of onion was applied to the ear on the side of the aching tooth.

 

 

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Blog Post 2

LD | 10-01-2012

Chipped Teeth Choices

If you have a chipped tooth, you're not alone! In fact, chipped teeth are the most common dental injury today. But don’t let that little-known fact fool you into ignoring a chipped tooth; any type of dental trauma deserves immediate attention. A small chip may not cause you pain, but there could be damage underneath the surface of the tooth. Our dentist can rule out cracks or internal tooth problems that aren’t visible to the naked eye. And in many cases, your chipped tooth can be repaired in just one visit.

Options, Options

Chipped tooth treatments vary according to the amount of damage. Depending on your situation, any one of these chipped tooth treatments may be an option for you:

Dental Bonding -- Most chips can be corrected with dental bonding. Dental bonding is an efficient, durable and cost-effective way to correct minor chips.

Enamel Shaping -- Often used in conjunction with dental bonding, enamel shaping can also correct small chips or surface flaws. During enamel shaping, a small portion of the tooth's surface is removed or recontoured to smooth out imperfections.

Dental Veneers – If the chip is significant and dental bonding or enamel shaping can't be used, you may need a veneer. These thin, porcelain wafers completely cover the surface of the tooth and are often used for front teeth.

Root Canal – Pain in the location of the chip can be a sign that the nerve is exposed. If that's the case, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth.

Dental Crown -- A dental crown is used to completely cover larger teeth or to cap a tooth after a root canal.

Tooth Extraction -- If the tooth can't be saved, a tooth extraction may be necessary. The good news is a dental bridge or dental implants can replace missing teeth.

 

 

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Blog Post 3

LD | 06-06-2013

Preventing Gum Disease

Periodontal [gum] disease will afflict 3 out of 4 adults after age 35, and it’s their major cause of tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the inflammation and infection of the supporting soft and hard tissue surrounding the teeth. In the early stages, it’s called gingivitis which is characterized by redness, swelling, tenderness and bleeding. At this point the symptoms can be alleviate and the tissue returned to normal by daily flossing and brushing. If the process is allowed to continue, it advances to periodontitis, which is characterized by the loss of the tissue attachment to the teeth, a downward migration of the tissue and bone loss [pocketing]. With the loss of its supporting structure, the teeth will become loose and fall out or have to be removed by the dentist. There are various factors that contribute to gum disease. Allowing plaque [sticky mixture of bacteria, food & debris] accumulate on the teeth is the primary factor. The bacteria will produce toxins [poisons] that attack and destroy the tissue fibers that attach the gums to the teeth [gingival attachment]. Eventually, the plaque will calcify and harden. When this happens, it can only be removed by a professional prophylaxis [cleaning]. The periodontal infection becomes worse and progresses more rapidly in people who have other risk factors - who smoke, are under great stress, have uncontrolled diabetes, consume excess alcohol, have a systemic disease like leukemia that interferes with their immune system and/or have untreated tooth related dental problems.

Warning Signs:

Warning signs and systems include bleeding gums when you brush or floss, pus between the tooth and gum, gums that pull away from the teeth, chronic bad breath, tenderness, swelling and loose teeth. If you are experiencing any number of these symptoms, call it to our attention. Found and treated early enough, it can be totally reversible. Prevention Having a professional prophylaxis twice a year and flossing and brushing daily will minimize your risk. Eating a balanced diet, especially foods rich in vitamin C, B12, folic acid and calcium, will help strengthen your gums and bone against breakdown. Limit the frequency of eating foods loaded with refined sugar [sucrose]. Other risk factors such as smoking should be eliminated, and related dental problems such as crowded teeth, spaces and cavities should be restored. Treatment If caught early, a professional scaling and root planning [scraping] to remove plaque and calculus is performed. This may be supplemented with chemotherapeutic agents and/or antibiotics. Daily maintenance of flossing and brushing is critical. The more advanced periodontitis usually requires surgery where the gum tissue is cut and the bony pockets are reduced and contoured. Soft and hard tissue grafting procedures may be used to add or grow new tissue. Although there are some inherited tendencies to developing periodontal disease, it can be easily prevented in most individuals with a little time and effort. It’s in your hands.

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Blog Post 4

LD | 06-06-2013

Scaling and Root Planning

Scaling & Root Planing: a Different kind of Cleaning For our patients with periodontal (gum) disease we might recommend a “Scaling and Root Planing” which is sometimes called a “deep cleaning.”  In a healthy mouth a regular cleaning, or prophylaxis, focuses on removing plaque and polishing teeth above the gum line. Scaling and Root Planing takes several visits and focuses on the elimination of tartar and plaque below the gum where periodontal disease occurs.

Plaque and tartar contain bacteria that can cause the gums become red, swollen if they are not regularly removed from the teeth. This inflammation of the gums is called "gingivitis." 

When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontal disease where the gums actually begin to pull away from the teeth and form "pockets" that are infected. Below the gum line, bacterial toxins and the body's enzymes fighting the infection actually start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place.

 A Scaling and Root Planing combined with medications, regular office visits and a personalized home care program can help to reduce the pocket depths and begin to control periodontal disease.

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Blog Post 5

LD | 06-06-2013

Extra Cavity Protection for Kids

You might think that cavities are inevitable for kids, but in truth, they’re not. A healthy diet mixed with good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) plus regular dental visits can prevent tooth decay. Dental sealants can reduce the risk even more. In fact, studies show that dental sealants can reduce decay in school children by 70%. 

Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves of back teeth, where tooth decay is usually a problem for kids and teens. Sealants act as a barrier between the chewing surfaces by blocking pieces of food and germs. 

Sealants work best on permanent molars, which usually erupt at age 12. It’s best to have sealants applied soon after the permanent molars erupt so that decay doesn’t have a chance to develop.

Because they’re so thin, dental sealants won’t have an effect on your child’s speech or make chewing difficult. Sealants can be clear or slightly tinted; either way, they’re virtually invisible to the naked eye.

Though they don’t take much time to apply, sealants can last 5-10 years. Dental sealants are some of the most comfortable, cost- and tooth-saving solutions around! 

 

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Blog Post 6

LD | 06-06-2013

A Toast To Good Health With Green Tea

Civilizations around the world have used natural herbs and plants to treat sickness and pain. All tea comes from a plant, Camellia sinensis. Unlike black tea, green tea is not fermented, so its active ingredients remain unaltered. Green tea's protection comes from a powerful antioxidant, a polyphenol called EGCG. [Graham HN. Green tea consumption, and polyphenol chemistry. Prev Med 1992;21:334-50.]

There is evidence to show that green tea can be effective in the prevention and treatment of certain types of cancer, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and impaired immune function.

Because our mouths are an oxygen-rich environment closely connected to our blood vessels, they provide an ideal habitat for the growth and rapid proliferation of cancer cells. Scientists have confirmed that green tea not only halts the growth of new oral cancer cells but it actually breaks down and kills existing oral cancer cells. A double-blind study of people with leukoplakia (a precancerous oral condition), showed that those in the green tea group compared to those in the placebo group had significant decreases in the pre-cancerous condition. [Li N, Sun Z, Han C, Chen J. The chemopreventive effects of tea on human oral precancerous mucosa lesions. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1999;220:218-24.]

This is why we examine your mouth closely on each visit to determine any changes in texture or color that might indicate the presence of oral cancers. This early screening is just one more reason to make sure you don't miss your regular checkup.

Ingredients in green tea may reduce the risk of getting dental cavities. One study compared two groups. The one that rinsed each night with an alcohol extract of oolong tea leaves had significantly less plaque formation than the group who did not. [Otake S, Makimura M, Kuroki t, et al. Anticaries effects of polyphenolic compounds from Japanese green tea. Caries Res 1991;25:438-43.]

Another benefit of green tea is that it stunts the growth of odor causing bacteria, thus helping you maintain a fresh breath.

And just how much green tea should we be drinking? To fully obtain the benefits, we should have at least four to six cups a day. And if you don't want to drink it down, simply use it as a mouthwash. Decaffeinated tea is recommended to reduce the side effects associated with caffeine, including anxiety and insomnia. Supplements, in the form of tablets are also available.

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Blog Post 7

LD | 06-06-2013

The Implant Advantage For The Single Missing Tooth

There are big advantages of doing an implant as a replacement for a single missing tooth. (1) The teeth on either side of the missing tooth don't have to be cut down or modified in any way. (2) The resulting implant-supported unit is stronger than a fixed bridge and stronger even than the original tooth. (3) It is going to be stable and should last a very long time. (4) It looks almost like new!

This patient [fig. 1] fractured the root of her tooth at the gum line and had to lose the tooth. A single tooth implant-supported restoration was the treatment plan of choice. It was determined that an immediate temporary crown could be provided on the same day that the tooth was removed, and the implant was placed.

After the tooth was removed, the implant was immediately placed [fig. 2]. A temporary crown was fabricated and cemented over the implant [fig. 3], making sure the patient couldn't bite on the temporary or touch it with her lower teeth; she walked out of the office the same day with a provisional tooth.

Five months later, after the implant has become firmly attached to the bone, impressions for the permanent implant abutment and crown were taken. The abutment is the part of the implant that connects the implant to the crown. The final implant-supported restoration looks and functions like the other teeth [fig. 4].

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Blog Post 8

LD | 06-06-2013

Are You Living with TMJ?

Jaw pain. Earaches. Headaches. What do these problems have in common? They could be the result of rockin' out too hard. Or playing flag football with a little too much zeal. But since we're talking teeth here, you should know that these are all symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ or TMD.

 TMJ is caused by habitual teeth grinding or jaw clenching. Adults do it. Even kids do it. Which means that TMJ disorder is one of those equal-opportunity conditions that affect people of all ages. True, the symptoms may come and go and even seem harmless. But why live with chronic pain if you don't have to? Your dentist can help you put an end to the grind.

 Patients diagnosed with TMJ share some habits. Many sufferers are grinding teeth while sleeping, awake or both, resulting in chronic headaches, dull earaches or jaw pain. A "clicking" or "popping" sound in the jaw can also be common. In worse-case scenarios, jaw lock was the result of TMJ disorder. Some people may experience swelling on the side of the face or pain affecting their neck, back and/or shoulders. Over time, TMJ can also cause dizziness and vision problems.

 You can get some TMJ relief at home by doing gentle jaw exercises or applying cold or hot compresses during the day or at night. But your best bet for long-term relief is to see your dentist for help.

 Think you're experiencing TMJ? You'll find the answer in the dental chair. A dental exam will eliminate non-TMJ-related causes of your pain symptoms, such as toothache, sinus issues and periodontal disease. Your dentist may then take X-rays or order an MRI to look at the temporomandibular joints themselves to spot damage.

 There are a wide range of treatment options if you are diagnosed with TMJ — everything from physical therapy to surgery. One of the most popular is to be fitted with a custom-made mouthguard to halt the wear-and-tear of stress-related teeth grinding. Many patients find this a highly effective way to manage their TMJ.

 

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Blog Post 9

LD | 06-06-2013

Avoiding the Baby Bottle Blues

When it comes to thumb sucking, babies are naturals -- maybe because they practice even before they are born. Children begin sucking on their thumb while in the womb to develop the skills necessary for breastfeeding. Not surprisingly swapping a thumb for a pacifier or baby bottle is an easy transition for many kids.

In a child's first few years, pacifier use generally doesn't cause problems. But constant, long-term pacifier use, especially once permanent teeth come in, can lead to dental complications. Constant sucking can cause top front teeth to slant out, and bottom front teeth to tilt in. It also can lead to jaw misalignment (such as an overbite) and a narrowing of the roof of the mouth.

It is generally advised that children stop or drastically reduce their pacifier use around age 3. If a child is dependent on the pacifier to be calmed and soothed, try giving it to him or her only when absolutely necessary and using positive reinforcement to wean them off the habit.

Many children also use a baby bottle longer than necessary. Apart from the risks associated with the sucking motion, bottles also carry a heavy risk of promoting tooth decay if they contain anything other than water.

Frequently sucking or sipping on milk or juice from a bottle over an extended period of time will increase your child's risk of tooth decay. When sugars and carbohydrates come in consistent contact with teeth they create an environment for decay-causing bacteria to thrive. Tooth decay can lead to painful infection and in extreme cases children may need to have a tooth extraction or dental treatment to extensively repair damaged teeth.

Long-term use of pacifiers and bottles can lead to speech and dental problems as your child gets older. Since children develop at different ages, it is a good idea to speak with your dentist and pediatrician to make sure that your infant or toddler's early oral habits don't cause problems.

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Blog Post 10

LD | 06-06-2013

Dental Care Advice for Seniors

Aging doesn't mean the curtain has to come down on your smile. In fact, you can enjoy some of the most spectacular, smile-inducing moments of your life during the golden years. These easy-to-follow tips will go a long way to help ensure you enjoy good oral health as a senior.

Many of the most common dental problems experienced by seniors can be avoided with proper oral hygiene, a balanced diet and regular dental visits. But it's also important to keep some specific senior dental considerations in mind. If you take certain medications, have any systemic disorders or are physically disabled, special attention is required, even when it comes to your teeth.

Just as aging affects your body so too will it affect your teeth. After years of use, you can expect your teeth to show some enamel wear. The darkening of teeth is also common; as the dentin (soft enamel) ages, it tends to hold onto stains more than "young" dentin.

Receding gums is something to keep an eye on; they can make your teeth especially vulnerable to tooth decay and may cause sensitivity to hot or cold. Another thing seniors should not ignore is the possibility of cavities. Yes, cavities! Old dental fillings can start to weaken or crack, allowing decay to seep in. And dental plaque can build up faster on seniors' teeth. The good news is diligent senior dental care can alleviate many of these problems.

Staying healthy in your golden years is a lot easier with your dentist’s help. Because aging can have some of the effects on teeth mentioned above, your dentist is perfectly positioned to keep an eye on things like tooth loss, enamel wear, receding gums and tooth stains. Your dentist can also provide additional tips to help if problems with mobility or arthritis make maintaining your dental hygiene a challenge.

If it’s been a while since your last dental exam, you should be sure to schedule one soon.

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