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YourGumsCouldBeatPrimeRiskforDiseaseWhileWearingBraces

Braces are well worth the time and effort to gain a more attractive and healthier smile. Ironically, though, the risk for disease increases while wearing braces because they obstruct a wearer's ability to clear away dental plaque, a thin bacterial film most responsible for dental disease.

Because of these difficulties, braces wearers are highly susceptible to gum disease. When the gums become infected, the body triggers an inflammatory response to fight the infection. This results in gums that are red or swollen, or that bleed easily.

The braces themselves can also cause gum problems. The gums may react to the presence of the brackets and wires by overproducing tissue. This overgrowth in turn can interfere with oral hygiene, thus further increasing the risk for infection.

As with gum disease generally, consistent oral hygiene is the best way to prevent an infection while wearing braces. It's difficult, but not impossible! With the help of a few specialized tools like interproximal toothbrushes with narrower heads to get in and around the braces, or water flossers spraying pressurized water between teeth, even braces wearers can do an effective job.

And don't forget about your family dentist. You can still benefit from regular teeth cleanings while wearing braces, even increasing your visit frequency if your dentist recommends it. Your dentist can also prescribe antimicrobial rinses and other products to help reduce bacterial plaque.

Keeping your teeth and gums clean may help with tissue overgrowth, but you may still have issues with the condition for the duration of your orthodontic treatment. As long as the gum tissues remain firmly attached to the teeth, there's little need for concern. But if the condition begins to affect periodontal attachment, you may need the braces removed to allow the gums a chance to heal.

Keeping up daily oral hygiene and regular dental visits are good ideas for everyone, but especially if you're an orthodontic patient. Neither should you hesitate in calling your dentist at the first signs of gum trouble—the sooner you have any issues examined, the less chance you'll experience major gum problems while wearing braces.

If you would like more information on dental care during orthodontics, 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 “Gum Swelling During Orthodontics.”

By Chris Elson, D.D.S.
May 08, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
3WaysYouMightBeAbleToSaveaDiseasedTooth

Dental implants have made a big splash since their arrival over three decades ago. Removing and replacing a troublesome tooth with an implant now often seems like a no-brainer.

But before we go straight to extraction, there's still something to be said for attempting a rescue mission for a tooth, even one in major distress. That's because even a highly advanced implant (the closest restoration we now have to the real thing) can't match even a sub-par tooth for dental function and protection against infection.

Not every tooth can be saved—which is why it's great to have a durable, life-like restoration like dental implants handy. But you might be surprised by what we can do to bring a tooth back from the brink. In recognition of Save Your Tooth Month this May, here are 3 treatments that could save your tooth.

The humble root canal. Tooth decay can extend well beyond a cavity in the enamel or outer dentin—even working its way deep into the tooth to infect the pulp and root canals. Teeth with this kind of decay, especially if it involves the supporting bone, teeter on the edge of survivability. But root canal therapy and related techniques can stop the infection process by removing diseased tissue inside the tooth. Then, by filling the pulp and root canals, we can prevent further decay and save the tooth.

Gum disease treatment. You may not know it, but periodontal (gum) disease is right up there with tooth decay as a leading cause of tooth loss. This bacterial infection can spread deep within the gums, weakening and loosening their attachment to teeth, as well as cause bone deterioration. But prompt treatment to remove plaque and tartar (which fuels and sustains a gum infection) stops the disease in its tracks, helping the gums to heal and regain their attachment to the teeth.

Crowning. Years of drilling and filling cavities can significantly weaken dental structure, to the point that any further treatment along this line for a tooth isn't practical. So, you might think, "Sayonara, tooth," but if the root remains viable, we may still be able to preserve what remains of the tooth by crowning it. Usually made of a tooth-colored porcelain, a crown is basically a cap that fits over and permanently bonds to a tooth. Not only does it provide stability and structure for the tooth, it can also bring back its attractiveness.

As we said, the best option for a troubled tooth may be to replace it. Just don't be too hasty! Depending on the situation, we may be able to give your tooth a second chance.

If you would like more information about preserving the health of your teeth and gums, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment.”

LeaveYourKidsaLegacyofGreatDentalHealthWithTheseSimpleTips

Most parents well remember the day they brought their new baby home from the hospital. And then—in what seems like the blink of an eye—that same child is heading out the door to go on their own. "Empty nest" parents can easily regret not having more time to help their children get a solid handle on life.

With what little time you do have, it comes down to priorities—focusing on those things that are most important for their future well-being. Health, of course, is a big part of that—and oral health in particular.

In fact, the state of their teeth and gums could have a big impact on the rest of their health as they get older. That's why it's crucial to foster good dental care and reinforce tooth-friendly habits during their childhood years. Here's how.

Practice daily hygiene. A lifetime of great teeth and gums depends on a continual, daily habit of brushing and flossing. One of the best gifts you can give your child is to teach them how to properly brush and floss.

Start dental visits early. Regular dental visits support daily hygiene, and provide an early warning system for possible dental disease. Starting visits by their first birthday may also help a child avoid anxiety, making it more likely they'll continue the practice in adulthood.

Give their teeth a healthy head start. Losing even a primary tooth to decay could affect their future dental health. And despite diligence about dental care, some children may still be prone to decay. Give your child an added boost with topical fluoride or sealants to help prevent the buildup of dental plaque.

Practice what you preach. Children often do what they see their parents doing. If you're making dental care a priority—brushing and flossing every day and visiting the dentist at least twice a year—and with a positive attitude, your kids are more likely to follow your lead.

There's so much you want to instill in your children to better ensure they'll have a happy and prosperous life. Make sure these dental care tips are on your short list.

If you would like more information on dental care for kids, 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 “Taking the Stress Out of Dentistry for Kids.”

WhatChrissyTeigensInaugurationNightCapMishapCouldMeanForYou

Inauguration night is usually a lavish, Washington, D.C., affair with hundreds attending inaugural balls throughout the city. And when you're an A-List celebrity whose husband is a headliner at one of the events, it's sure to be a memorable night. As it was for super model Chrissy Teigen—but for a slightly different reason. During the festivities in January, Teigen lost a tooth.

Actually, it was a crown, but once she told a Twitter follower that she loved it “like he was a real tooth.” The incident happened while she was snacking on a Fruit Roll-Up (those sticky devils!), and for a while there, husband and performer John Legend had to yield center stage to the forlorn cap.

But here's something to consider: If not for the roll-up (and Teigen's tweets on the accident) all of us except Teigen, her dentist and her inner circle, would never have known she had a capped tooth. That's because today's porcelain crowns are altogether life-like. You don't have to sacrifice appearance to protect a tooth, especially one that's visible when you smile (in the “Smile Zone”).

It wasn't always like that. Although there have been tooth-colored materials for decades, they weren't as durable as the crown of choice for most of the 20th Century, one made of metal. But while gold or silver crowns held up well against the daily grind of biting forces, their metallic appearance was anything but tooth-like.

Later, dentists developed a hybrid of sorts—a metal crown fused within a tooth-colored porcelain shell. These PFM (porcelain-fused-to-metal) crowns offered both strength and a life-like appearance. They were so effective on both counts that PFMs were the most widely used crowns by dentists until the early 2000s.

But PFMs today make up only 40% of currently placed crowns, down from a high of 83% in 2005. What dethroned them? The all-ceramic porcelain crown—but composed of different materials from years past. Today's all-ceramic crowns are made of more durable materials like lithium disilicate or zirconium oxide (the strongest known porcelain) that make them nearly as strong as metal or PFM crowns.

What's more, coupled with advanced techniques to produce them, all-ceramic crowns are incredibly life-like. You may still need a traditional crown on a back tooth where biting forces are much higher and visibility isn't an issue. But for a tooth in the “Smile Zone”, an all-ceramic crown is more than suitable.

If you need a new crown (hopefully not by way of a sticky snack) or you want to upgrade your existing dental work, see us for a complete exam. A modern all-ceramic crown can protect your tooth and enhance your smile.

If you would like more information about crowns or other kinds of dental work, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers.”

TakeStepsWhileWearingBracestoDeterWhiteSpotFormationonYourTeeth

Correcting a poor bite not only creates a more attractive smile, but ultimately a healthier one too. But braces, a common way to correct bites, could put your teeth and gums at higher risk for disease while wearing them.

That's because the brackets and wires that make up braces can get in the way of cleaning your teeth of dental plaque, a thin bacterial film that causes disease. Plaque can accumulate in these obstructed dental areas, and could lead, in one possible scenario, to a problem you may not even notice until after the braces come off—white spots on the teeth, or white spot lesions (WSLs).

WSLs occur because of "demineralization," a process caused by acid from bacteria stripping the enamel in these spots of underlying minerals like calcium. As a result, the spots look chalky and opaque in contrast to the rest of the enamel's normal translucence.

Even though more difficult with braces, daily oral hygiene remains the best defense against WSL formation. Fortunately, these difficulties can be overcome with the help of specialized tools like an interproximal toothbrush, which can get under and around braces better than a regular brush. A water flosser device, which clears away between-teeth plaque with pulsating water, can be just as effective as dental floss and easier for orthodontic patients to use.

Orthodontic patients can also make their mouths "less friendly" to harmful bacteria by cutting back on sugary snacks or acidic beverages like sodas, energy or sports drinks. It's also a good idea to avoid alcohol, tobacco or caffeine, all of which can diminish saliva flow needed to keep the mouth healthy.

If WSLs do occur, it's possible that they may eventually remineralize on their own after the braces come off. We can also foster remineralization with over-the-counter or prescription-grade fluoride pastes or gels, or apply fluoride directly to the affected teeth. In advanced cases, we can often inject a tooth-colored resin beneath the white spot to stabilize it and make it appear less opaque.

In any event, it's always a good idea to keep a close watch on your teeth during orthodontic treatment. Staying vigilant and proactive will help you avoid disease while wearing braces.

If you would like more information on dental care while undergoing orthodontic treatment, 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 “White Spots on Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment.”





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