What can I do about periodontal disease? The prospect of losing my teeth horrifies me.

We all have plaque, made up of bacteria which — if not removed — can cause the gum tissue to break down. As with any acute infection, the tissue becomes swollen and inflamed; if the condition isn't treated properly, periodontitis can cause tooth loss. However, there's plenty you can do to avoid this outcome and keep your teeth and gums infection-free and in tip-top condition. For starters, practice good oral hygiene — with regular brushing and flossing, the tissues will heal. Visit your dentist every six months to have plaque and tartar removed professionally. Limit the amount and frequency of sugar- and carbohydrate-rich foods. These may increase the risk of periodontal disease because plaque is formed by sugars interacting with bacteria. Eat a balanced diet that includes whole-grain carbohydrates, plant-based fats, lean protein, dairy or vitamin D-rich dairy alternatives, fruit and vegetables. Calcium and vitamin D both help increase bone strength and may help in bone and tooth retention. Consider supplementing with coenzyme Q-10 as some research has found that the gums of patients with periodontal disease are deficient in coQ10. And feel free to chew gum, provided it's sweetened with xylitol. A natural sugar alcohol, xylitol has been shown to help reduce tooth decay by decreasing the number of bacteria in the mouth. A healthy diet and exercise keeps cardio, and thus blood flow to the teeth and gums, in good working order. Yes, the roots of your smile stretch all the way to your heart and lungs.

A healthy smile is what you make it. From the day your teeth break through the surface of your gums, you have a job to do. At first, you must have help from a parent or guardian. Drinking juice at bedtime is one of the biggest enemies to developing teeth in children. As we get older, into our teens, oral hygiene is a hit or miss proposition for a lot of us. Once we discover the opposite sex or start to look in the mirror more often, we begin to take better care of our teeth. Unfortunately, damage has been done at this point to our "baby teeth". How much damage is relative to each individual situation. As our permanent teeth come in that is our last chance to start our teeth off on the right track.

Some factors that we can't control include genetic makeup and unknown chemicals in our diet. What your parents gave you in genes is beyond your control. In our office, we routinely see patients with excellent oral hygiene who have significant tooth and gum problems. What we have noticed however, is patients that do have excellent oral health, give themselves the best chance to prevent any further problems. We have patients that have poor oral hygiene and don't have cavities. While this is rare it does happen, it is a fact of life. But, and this is a big but, they are susceptible to problems down the road. Also, problems in the mouth often are accompanied by pain, but not always. That is why Xrays are taken once a year.

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What are Crowns and bridges?

Crowns and bridges are two restorative techniques that repair damaged or missing teeth. They restore tooth function and appearance. The use of crowns and bridges also avoids shifting teeth that can happen after a tooth is lost. By maintaining or restoring the patient's bite and their smile the effects of the tooth damage or loss are reversed.

Once you feel you have the need for a crown or a bridge here is what you can expect. At the initial consultation your dentist will determine where the cause of your tooth problems lie. If a tooth is damaged, fractured, or decayed beyond repair, a crown may be suggested. If a tooth needs to be extracted, or has already been removed, a bridge may be the solution. The different approaches to solving your dental problems will be presented during the initial consultation and you can decide what is best for your dental goals and your pocketbook.One important decision if a crown or bridge is needed, is the material the laboratory will use to make the appliance. The replacement tooth or tooth portion can be made from different types of material, such as a metal base covered with a layer of tooth-colored material (often porcelain), or all porcelain for those not wanting metal. Metal restorations, such as gold crowns, are usually only used when the tooth is not visible. An advantage of a gold crown, though, is the relatively minimal tooth reduction that needs to take place to support it.Porcelain bonded to metal crowns are more esthetically pleasing than metal alone, although the metal layer reduces the translucency of the crown. The resulting crown is very strong but the tooth must be reduced slightly more to support this type of restoration. A final possible material choice is full porcelain, which can be made to be indistinguishable from a natural tooth. But the natural look does have a price, in that full porcelain crowns are slightly less strong than those that use metal and can be more expensive.

Once you have made the decision to go ahead with the procedure this is the next step.

The procedures for making and fitting a crown or a bridge are very similar. Both require two trips to the dentist's office. During the first trip, the tooth or teeth that will be crowned will be reduced, that is, prepared to support the crown structure. This involves removing the 1-2 millimeters of tooth structure. Of course, if the tooth damage is the reason for the crown, that is the part that is removed. The reduction process leaves a thimble shape that will receive the crown or crown ends of the bridge. An impression is made of the reduced teeth and a temporary crown or bridge is put in place to function while the final bridge or crown is being made. The laboratory uses the impression to custom make the final restoration. It is important that the crown or crowns of a bridge fit exactly to avoid decay in the future and provide good function of the artificial teeth. During the second trip, the temporary crown or bridge is removed, the area cleaned, and the final crown or bridge is cemented or bonded into place.

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How are Veneers done?

After a thorough discussion with your dentist to establish just what you wish to accomplish AND establish what can or can not be done, your first appointment usually involves some minor contouring of the front teeth and taking an impression of the teeth. The veneers are tried in, and, if satisfactory, they are bonded in place. A follow up visit is made in a week. The results are instant and spectacular! Many times, we combine bleaching with porcelain veneers to make that perfect smile. If some front teeth are already badly broken down, we can place new all porcelain crowns combined with veneering and other cosmetic techniques. As always, talk to your dentist or one specializing in cosmetic dentistry and discuss your specific desires. Usually, we can give you that smile you have always wanted.

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What are Veneers?

Veneers are a fantastic way to fix front teeth. You can whiten your teeth, close spaces, and create a great smile. We can even do virtually instant orthodontics to straighten crooked teeth.

  • Spaces between the teeth (diastemas)
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Unsightly, stained or washed out fillings
  • Permanently stained or discolored teeth
  • Mis-shapen or crooked teeth
  • Whiten dark yellow or stained teeth

Have you ever wished you had better looking teeth without all the hassle of braces (orthodontics) or crowns (caps)? NOW YOU CAN! Porcelain veneers are the answer for instant orthodontics to straighten smiles, close spaces, reshape, and accomplish minor realignment of your teeth.You can even have that "movie star" smile you've always wanted.

Veneers are very thin and are bonded on the front of your anterior teeth. Dentists use some of the same techniques to bond plastic resins for minor smile corrections. These veneers are about 0.3mm to 0.5mm in thickness but are very strong once bonded to your teeth. They have a "life like" appearance with the strength, beauty, and durability only porcelain restorations can afford. Veneers have several advantages over crowns (caps). There is no "dark line" that is sometimes seen with older front caps. They transmit light better and, therefore, have a more translucent appearance giving a natural, esthetic look. Veneers do not require the massive grinding of tooth structure that caps do, yet, they accomplish a lifelike esthetic result.

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Is whitening safe?

Yes. Extensive research and clinical studies indicate that whitening teeth under the supervision of a dentist is safe. In fact, many dentists consider whitening the safest cosmetic dental procedure available. As with any tooth whitening product, Zoom! is not recommended for children under 13 years of age and pregnant or lactating women.

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Who may benefit from tooth whitening?

Almost anyone. However, treatment may not be as effective for some as it is for others. Your dental professional can determine if you are a viable candidate for this procedure through a thorough oral exam, including a shade assessment.

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Do many people whiten their teeth?

More people than you might imagine. A bright sparkling smile can make a big difference for everyone. The Zoom! Chairside Whitening System makes it easier and faster than ever before.

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What causes tooth discoloration?

There are many causes. The most common include aging and consumption of staining substances such as coffee, tea, colas, tobacco, red wine, etc. During tooth formation, consumption of tetracycline, certain antibiotics or excessive fluoride may also cause tooth discoloration.

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Are there any side effects to teeth whitening?

Sensitivity during the treatment may occur with some patients. The Zoom! light generates minimal heat which is the usual source of discomfort. On rare occasions, minor tingling sensations are experienced immediately after the procedure, but always dissipate. You can also ask your dentist to supply you with anti-sensitivity toothpaste for use prior to treatment.

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How long do teeth whitening results last?

By following some simple post whitening care instructions, your teeth will always be lighter than they were before. To keep your teeth looking their best, we recommend flossing, brushing twice daily, and occasional touch-ups with Zoom! Weekender or Nite White gel. These are professional formula products designed specifically to keep your teeth their brightest. They are available only through your dental professional.

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