Signature Dental

Should I Be Worried About Tooth Enamel Loss?

As children, we’re taught that if we don’t take care of our teeth properly – brush daily, floss regularly, and watch our sugar intake – we’ll get cavities. However, as adults, we realize that there’s more to oral health than avoiding cavities alone – enter enamel erosion.

What is tooth enamel?

Enamel is the tooth’s thin, translucent outer layer. Harder than bone, tooth enamel is the first line of defense against decay. It protects the inner, sensitive part of the tooth, called dentin. Without enamel, the inner part of your tooth, which houses thousands of microscopic channels, is exposed and vulnerable to acidic substances, more susceptible to breakage, and can become extremely sensitive and painful.

How do I know if I have enamel erosion?

Enamel loss can show up in various ways, including discoloration, general or localized sensitivity, and teeth that more easily chip or crack.

If your enamel has started to wear away, you might:

  • Feel pain or sensitivity when consuming hot, cold, or sweet drinks
  • Notice a yellowish discoloration of the teeth
  • Find that your fillings have changed
  • Have an increased risk of more cavities over time
  • Experience tooth loss (in extreme cases)

If you notice any of these symptoms or otherwise suspect that you are experiencing enamel loss, tell your dentist so the issue can be addressed before it progresses.

Can tooth erosion be reversed?

Enamel loss is permanent. However, depending on the cause and severity, weakened enamel may be treated with tooth bonding, crowns, or veneers, which protect the tooth and enhance its cosmetic appearance.

Enamel might also be strengthened through remineralization. This process uses products with fluoride, such as fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash, to replace lost minerals and strengthen the enamel. The fluoride acts as a barrier between your teeth and harmful substances like sugars, starches, and acids, protecting the weakened enamel and your teeth.

How can I prevent enamel erosion?

As is often the case with oral health, enamel erosion is far easier to prevent than treat. In fact, your daily routine plays a significant role in preventing the loss of tooth enamel.

Your toothbrush – Using the wrong toothbrush can damage your tooth enamel (and gums). Generally, a soft-bristled toothbrush is best for teeth, as medium and stiff bristles might be too hard on gums and enamel. To maintain your toothbrush’s effectiveness, it’s also important to replace your toothbrush every three months or as soon as it shows wear and tear (i.e., fraying).

When you brush – We tend to think it’s best to brush immediately after eating or drinking, but it really depends on what we ate or drank. Brushing your teeth right after a meal is intended to prevent acid attacks; however, this only works if the acid hasn’t already started to attack your tooth enamel. For example, if you’ve just finished consuming something highly acidic, such as citrus fruit, the acid attack will likely be underway when you start brushing. This is problematic since acidic foods and drinks leave tooth enamel soft, and if you brush your teeth before the enamel has hardened, you may end up removing the enamel. To avoid enamel damage, it’s best to wait 30 minutes after consuming acidic foods and beverages before brushing your teeth. By that time, your enamel will be re-hardened and won’t be damaged by your brushing.

What you eat – When it comes to oral health, even “nutritious” foods can be damaging. For example, acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits can have harmful effects on tooth enamel, so it’s best to eat them as part of a meal and not by themselves. Dried fruits, including raisins, can also cause problems because they are sticky and adhere to teeth, which means the acids produced by cavity-causing bacteria continue to harm teeth long after you stop eating them. It can be hard to know what to eat for physical and oral health, but as a general rule of thumb, if what you’re consuming is citrus or citrus-flavored, carbonated, or sour, it’s best to limit how much you consume.

Maintain regular dental visits – While we’re partial, visiting your dentist every six months is key to ensuring that your entire mouth gets a regular cleaning, including those hard-to-reach areas where destructive bacteria can hide. Seeing your dentist at least twice a year also allows them to track potential enamel loss or damage.

If you have questions about tooth enamel erosion or are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, please call our team to schedule a visit.

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How Can Invisalign Improve Oral Health?

If you’re considering treatment with Invisalign® clear aligners, you’re probably focused on the aesthetic benefits – straighter teeth and a movie star smile! But, the oral health benefits of using Invisalign go beyond a megawatt smile. A popular option for patients with mild-to-moderate alignment issues, Invisalign has also proven to be effective in helping patients improve function and general oral health. In contrast to traditional braces, which consist of metal brackets glued to the teeth and tied together with wires and small rubber bands, Invisalign uses aligner trays made of smooth, BPA-free clear plastic worn over teeth. These trays focus much of the pressure on the upper part of the tooth, pushing it into the correct position from top to bottom, including the root. Invisalign aligners have been shown to alleviate temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, reduce excessive teeth grinding, address early periodontal disease, and even improve the outcome of dental implant placement.

TMJ Pain

The most common cause of temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) disorders is a misaligned bite. Invisalign is a discreet way to straighten teeth and correct instances of malocclusion, including cross and overbites. Though additional therapeutic options may be recommended, patients often notice that the pain they experienced before treatment is significantly decreased with the use of Invisalign, sometimes disappearing altogether.

Bruxism

While chronic jaw clenching and teeth grinding, known as bruxism, can have a variety of causes, the condition almost always results in damaged teeth. Over time, untreated bruxism can lead to tooth pain and loose or chipped teeth. In some instances, parts of the teeth are literally ground away, and the surrounding bone and gum tissue are destroyed. It can also lead to painful jaw issues, such as temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ). In instances where a patient is looking for relief from bruxism and straighter teeth, Invisalign aligner trays are able to address both concerns. Invisalign trays are designed similar to night guards, protecting teeth while a patient sleeps and preventing problems caused by grinding.

Early Periodontal Disease

A common oral health concern, periodontal disease can have a far-reaching impact. It has been connected to a variety of other conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis (scientists believe that inflammation may be the link between these systemic diseases). In its early stages, proper brushing and flossing are essential to combat disease progression; however, when teeth are crowded or unevenly spaced, practicing good oral hygiene becomes difficult. If left untreated, periodontitis can ruin your gums, bones, and tissues connected to your teeth. The impact of periodontitis is irreversible, but you can prevent it from advancing. This is where Invisalign comes in; whether used as a supplement or an alternative to a longer orthodontic treatment plan, Invisalign corrects dental alignment which helps to minimize the effects of periodontal disease.

Dental Implants

When a patient needs their smile restored, dental implants may be recommended. While today’s implants look very natural, it’s important to remember that they’re also permanent. The shape, position, and angle of an implant cannot be changed. However, the teeth around the dental implants can be repositioned and adjusted. As a minimally invasive option, Invisalign can be used before, during, or after the implant process to achieve successful, long-term results.

Before – In most instances, Invisalign treatment before dental implants is preferred, as it makes the process easier overall. This gives the orthodontist more flexibility before placing a permanent implant, although there are exceptions. For example, if your dentist is concerned that your bone may deteriorate before implant placement, they may recommend moving forward with the restoration first.

During – If necessary, you can get dental implants while undergoing Invisalign treatment. Your dentist will need to determine the correct order of sequences, keeping in mind that the dental implant will be in a permanent position.

After – Even if you already have dental implants, you may still be a candidate for Invisalign. Your dentist will develop a specific treatment plan to address the teeth around your existing implant and straighten your overall smile.

Schedule A Consultation

In the end, the most suitable orthodontic treatment depends on your specific oral concerns and the problem you need to have corrected. While Invisalign offers a number of benefits, it may not be the best option for you. To see if you’re a good candidate for Invisalign, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.

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Ouch! Do I Have Sensitive Teeth?

Have you ever winced with sudden pain after gulping an icy beverage or slurping a spoonful of hot soup? If so, you’re likely one of the 40 million Americans the Academy of General Dentistry estimates experience tooth sensitivity each year.

What causes tooth sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity (i.e., dentin hypersensitivity) occurs when tooth enamel wears away, leaving the dentin exposed. This soft, inner part of your tooth houses thousands of microscopic channels that, when left unprotected, allow stimuli to reach the nerves causing pain.

Some people naturally have more sensitive teeth due to having thinner enamel. However, in many cases, tooth enamel can be worn down from:

  • Brushing your teeth too hard
  • Using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Regularly eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages

Anything that leaves sections of the tooth exposed and unprotected can lead to sensitivity. This includes gum recession, tooth decay, and broken or chipped teeth. Temporary sensitivity may also occur after dental work like fillings, crowns, or teeth bleaching. There are also medical conditions that can lead to tooth sensitivity. For example, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) can cause acid to come up from the stomach and esophagus, which deteriorate tooth enamel over time. Similarly, conditions that cause frequent vomiting, such as gastroparesis and bulimia, can result in acid erosion.

Symptoms of tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity can cause temporary or chronic pain in a single tooth, several teeth, or throughout your mouth. If you have sensitive teeth, everyday foods and drinks can unexpectedly trigger a jolt of nerve pain. It’s common for people with sensitive teeth to experience pain or discomfort at the roots of the affected teeth in response to certain triggers, such as:

  • Hot or cold foods and beverages
  • Cold air
  • Sweet foods and beverages
  • Acidic foods and beverages
  • Cold water, especially during routine dental cleanings
  • Brushing or flossing teeth
  • Alcohol-based mouth rinses

Symptoms can range from mild to intense and may come and go periodically for no apparent reason.

How is tooth sensitivity treated?

There are several at-home and in-office treatments that can provide relief to sensitive teeth. Depending on the cause and severity the sensitivity, your dentist will likely recommend one or more of the following treatments:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste – These contain compounds that help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. For best results, use twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Desensitizing toothpaste can also be applied directly to sensitive areas.
  • Fluoride mouth rinse – Fluoride re-mineralizes tooth enamel, making teeth harder and stronger, which helps to prevent sensitivity and tooth decay.
  • In-office fluoride treatment – Professional fluoride treatments come in several forms, such as gels, varnishes, foam, and highly concentrated rinses. While they work similarly to over-the-counter products, professional-grade treatments have a much higher fluoride concentration and may be recommended every three, six, or twelve months.
  • A crown, inlay, or bonding – Your dentist may use these methods to correct chipped or broken teeth that are causing sensitivity.
  • Surgical gum graft – When loss of gum tissue leaves your tooth root exposed, a graft takes a small amount of gum tissue from elsewhere in your mouth and attaches it to the affected site. This can protect exposed roots and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal – If severe sensitivity is unable to be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this procedure, which treats problems in the tooth’s soft core.

While tooth sensitivity is not uncommon, pain can be an indication of a more serious dental problem. If you’re experiencing sensitivity, please call our office. We’ll evaluate your specific symptoms and determine the best treatment to help relieve the pain.

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Am I a Good Candidate for Full-Mouth Reconstruction?

We’ve often been told that less is more, but sometimes more is needed. This is often the case when patients are dealing with multiple or complex dental issues. These cases, whether a result of oral health habits, trauma, genetic conditions, or years of teeth grinding, may require a full-mouth reconstruction.

What is full-mouth reconstruction?

Full-mouth reconstruction (also known as full-mouth restoration) goes beyond improved cosmetics and involves a combination of dental treatments to rebuild or restore your teeth, gums, and jaw function. Depending on individual needs, full-mouth reconstruction can include any number of restorative and cosmetic dental procedures, including:

  • Dental bonding
  • Dental bridges and crowns
  • Dental fillings
  • Complete or partial dentures
  • Dental veneers
  • Dental inlays or onlays
  • Dental implants
  • Root canal treatment
  • Tooth extraction
  • Periodontal disease treatment


How do I know if a full-mouth reconstruction is right for me?

Patients can find themselves in need of full-mouth reconstruction for a variety of reasons. You may have had an accident that damaged your teeth, experienced widespread decay, or spent years grinding your teeth. Full-mouth reconstruction is not a light undertaking and is generally recommended for patients who have extensive damage to their existing teeth. Issues commonly addressed with a full-mouth reconstruction include:

  • Broken or cracked teeth
  • Decayed teeth
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome
  • Genetic conditions, such as dentinogenesis imperfecta or ectodermal dysplasia
  • Gum disease
  • Infection
  • Difficulty chewing normally or properly cleaning your teeth

To be a good candidate for full-mouth reconstruction, patients must also meet a certain baseline of health. For example, if you have an infection, it will need to be treated before reconstruction begins. Additionally, depending on the procedures required for your mouth restoration, you may also need to be able to tolerate certain dental procedures or types of anesthesia. Furthermore, it’s critical that patients be committed to attending appointments and adhering to their dentist’s instructions.

Schedule an Evaluation

Every patient is unique, and the best way to find out if full-mouth reconstruction is right for you is to come into our office for an evaluation. Our team is committed to ensuring the best patient experience possible. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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5 Tips to Maintain Healthy Teeth During the Holidays

The holidays are here and with them come all the joys of the season – lights and decorations, time with friends and family, and those special treats we only get this time of year. Unfortunately, the special treats we love so much can lead to damaged teeth and an unwanted trip to the dentist, which will definitely not have you feeling holly and jolly.  We don’t want you to miss out on all the fun, but we do want you to keep your oral health intact, so we’ve pulled together a few tips to help you care for your teeth during this festive time of the year.  

  1. Remember, teeth aren’t present-openers or nutcrackers.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but when an inpatient child hands you a toy double sealed in Teflon-strength packaging, your instinct might be to do whatever you can to rip it open. Do yourself a favor; resist the urge and seek out a pair of scissors! The same goes for cracking nutshells. Forgoing the real nutcrackers will save you thirty seconds but might cost you a broken tooth and an expensive dental bill. 

Teeth are great for many things – think chewing and enunciating – but they do not make good tools. Using your teeth to open bottles, packages, crack nuts, etc. weakens the enamel and fragile edges of your teeth. In turn, this leads to tooth cracking and breakage, and likely costly cosmetic dental work. 

  1. Watch what you eat and drink! 

Grandma’s homemade caramels may only come once a year, but if you’re not careful, your teeth could pay the price for the next twelve months. This sticky substance, and others like it (hello toffee), clings to dental work and tooth enamel long after it’s eaten. Plus, when it’s drizzled on popcorn, the gooey-covered pieces tend to get lodged between teeth leaving you picking at your molars. When selecting sweets, a good rule of thumb is that sugar should stay in the mouth as briefly as possible (we’re looking at you, candy cane).

If you’re like most of us, candy canes and cookies aren’t the only treats you indulge in during the holidays. If the merriest time of year includes seasonal favorites such as mulled wine and pomegranate cosmopolitans, you might be ringing in the New Year with a tainted smile. 

The color in beverages comes from chromogens, which can attach to tooth enamel that has been weakened by the acid in alcohol, resulting in stained teeth. One way to enjoy your favorite festive beverage and still have a sparkling smile for New Year’s is to use a straw to drink colored alcoholic beverages. Opting for light-colored or clear drinks is another way to keep your teeth white. 

  1. If you imbibe, don’t forget to add the cheese. 

Everyone loves a bit of eggnog or a champagne cocktail during the holidays. However, even light-colored or clear alcoholic beverages have a high acid content, which can damage tooth enamel. To cut the acid content without avoiding holiday toasts, try nibbling on a chunk of cheese between sips. The alkaline in the cheese neutralizes the acid in the beverage. Bonus – they both taste great!

  1. Drink plenty of water.

Drinking water has many health benefits, especially during the holidays when you’re likely out and about and want to look and feel your best. Not only does water keep your skin looking fresh and hydrated, it also freshens your breath and aids in digestion and elimination. When it comes to healthy teeth, another advantage of drinking water is that it can clean away newly formed bacteria, helping you to stay cavity-free during this sweetest time of year! Carry a water bottle or keep a glass nearby for a quick rinse while indulging. 

  1. Stick to your oral health routine. 

Taking a break from our daily routine is part of what makes the holidays special, but it can also make it challenging to get “back to normal” once the decorations are put away. Even if you’re traveling this season, set an intention to stick to your daily oral health regimen. Making it a point to stick to twice-daily brushing and regular flossing will not only keep your smile photo-ready, but it will also leave one less thing to get back to in January (like the gym). 

Schedule An Appointment

Remember, when it comes to oral hygiene, prevention is better than treatment any time of year.  Ultimately, while it’s wise to drink substantial amounts of water and not overindulge in sugary snacks, following a dental care routine year-round is the best way to preserve your teeth this season.  

Do you need a checkup before or after the Holiday season ends?  Give us a call today to schedule an appointment and keep your dental health in check!

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Dental Insurance – What You Need to Know

Unlike homeowner’s or automobile insurance, dental insurance is something you definitely WANT to use. Other insurance plans are often designed to cover a loss. For example, your homeowner’s insurance will reimburse you if you lose your home to a fire or natural disaster and if your car is damaged in an accident, your car insurance pays to have it repaired. Of course, specific coverage amounts vary depending on the policy, but the premise is the same (i.e., the insured must incur a loss before they receive reimbursement). Dental coverage, however, is set up as a benefit plan, which means it covers certain costs up to a maximum amount.

How does dental insurance work?

The typical dental insurance plan is structured based on a 100-80-50 model. While it can sound confusing, this means that they pay for 100 percent of preventive care (exams, cleanings and X-rays), 80 percent of basic treatments like cavity fillings, and 50 percent of major procedures such as tooth extractions and root canal therapy.

In addition, dental insurance companies also set yearly maximums for the amount they will pay towards certain types of treatment. It’s common to have a limit of $1,500 to $2,000 annually for restorative procedures (fillings, crowns, etc.), and a $1,500 to $2,000 lifetime benefit for orthodontics.

While dental insurance is an asset, it’s not a complete catch-all. It is possible that some procedures recommended by your dentist won’t be covered at all by your dental plan. Another key factor is that the vast majority of dental plans are based on care delivered within a calendar year. What you don’t use between January – December of that year, you lose. So, if your plan offers $2,000 a year for restorative procedures and you didn’t need any in 2020, that $2,000 expires on December 31st. Instead of going towards keeping your smile healthy, unused funds go back to the insurance provider. To maximize your dental insurance, make sure you match or exceed your yearly maximums before they expire.

How to choose a dental plan

Selecting the right dental plan for you and your family is a personal choice and there are many options. Below are three of the most popular types of plans:

  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) A PPO is a dental plan that uses a network of dentists who have agreed to provide dental services for set fees. The number of dental services covered depends on the plan. If you have a PPO plan and see a dentist out of the network, you will most likely have more out of pocket expenses.
  • Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) DHMO is like an HMO. Network dentists are paid a set fee every month to provide covered dental services to you whether you see the dentist or not. Some of the covered services are no cost to you, while other services require a co-payment on your part.
  • Discount or Referral Dental Plans Under this model, the company selling a discount or referral plan contracts with a group of dentists who agree to discount their fees. Discounts are usually applied to all services, including cosmetic procedures. Unlike PPOs and DHMOs, these plans do not pay for services received. Instead, you pay for treatment at the time of service at the reduced rate determined by the plan.

Between PPOs, DHMOs and 100-80-50 formulas, navigating the ins-and-outs of dental insurance can be stressful. However, our dental team is here to address your questions and help you maximize your benefits. Don’t hesitate to contact our office to discuss options or schedule an appointment for your year-end cleaning.

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Tongue Brushing, Really?

 

You know brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing are staples of good oral hygiene, but is brushing your tongue really necessary? In short, yes.

Why is my tongue important?

Though the tongue often plays second fiddle to your pearly whites, it’s actually a critical body part. Without a tongue we wouldn’t be able to speak, chew, taste, or swallow food.
Your tongue is an organ made up of a group of muscles that each have a specific job. There is a small muscle at the tip of the tongue that moves quickly, using the surface of the teeth to create certain sounds, such as pronouncing the letter ‘L’.
This muscle also moves food from the front of the mouth to the back, where it mixes with saliva and breaks down into digestible pieces. Other muscles in the tongue allow it to change shape and move in different directions. Additionally, muscles at
the back of the tongue make it possible for us to articulate hard sounds of speech, such as the letters ‘K’ and ‘G’. These rear muscles also move food into the esophagus in small, controlled amounts to prevent choking.

The muscles that make up your tongue are covered with moist, pink tissue known as mucosa and tiny bumps called papillae, which are covered in thousands of taste buds and give the tongue its rough texture.

What happens if I don’t brush my tongue regularly?

Just as bacteria can build up on your teeth and create plaque, it can also accumulate between taste buds and other crevices on your tongue. Along with dead skin cells and food debris, bacteria become trapped on the tongue and need to be physically
removed with brushing or scraping. If not cared for properly, your tongue essentially becomes a sponge spreading bad bacteria throughout the mouth, which can cause a number of health issues including:

  1. Bad Breath – The most common side effect of bacteria buildup on the tongue is halitosis. The odor-causing bacteria tends to congregate at the back of the muscle, so be sure to get your brush back there!
  2. Duller Tastebuds – The biofilm that builds up and coats your tongue can also cover your taste buds, leaving your sense of taste dulled.
  3. Black, Hairy Tongue – While it sounds like a horror movie, this is a real condition that occurs when the papillae become stained from leftover food and drink particles. These remnants give the tongue a dark, furry appearance.
  4. Oral Thrush – This occurs when bacteria levels in your mouth go beyond the normal range and naturally occurring yeast grow out of control.
  5. Periodontal Disease – Because bacteria buildup on your tongue can spread to your teeth and gums, it increases the likelihood of gingivitis (red, inflamed gums). If left untreated, the inflammation can advance to periodontal disease,
    which occurs when the gums pull away from the teeth and the space in between becomes infected. Not only can this lead to loss of teeth, chronic inflammation caused by periodontal disease is linked to more severe health issues, such as a
    higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and miscarriage.

How do I keep my tongue healthy?

A healthy tongue should be pink in color with papillae (tiny bumps) covering the surface. The best way to ensure your tongue stays healthy is to brush it every time you brush your teeth. Be sure to brush front to back and side to side, as bacteria
hide in hard-to-reach places. Just be careful not to over brush, as that can cause irritation. Some patients prefer to use a tongue scraper and, though not necessary, inexpensive scrapers are generally available where toothpaste and dental floss
are sold. Remember – a  healthy tongue color isn’t a guarantee of good dental health, so don’t forget to schedule regular dental exams and cleanings.

What if I still have questions?

That’s what we’re here for! If you have any questions or concerns about your oral health, don’t hesitate to contact our practice.

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Is Cosmetic Dentistry for the Long Haul?

If you or a loved one are considering cosmetic dentistry, you may be wondering what the long-term outlook is on your investment. To help, we’ve broken down four of the most popular types of cosmetic dentistry and included the average lifespan of results, as well as ways they can be maximized.

So, what determines if a dental procedure is  “cosmetic” or “general”? General dentistry  focuses on preventing and treating oral disease, whereas cosmetic dentistry refers to any dental work that adjusts the appearance of teeth, gums and/or bite. These procedures and treatments are considered elective and primarily focus on improving dental aesthetics (i.e., color, position, shape, alignment, and overall smile appearance).

Inlays and Onlays

Also known as indirect fillings, inlays and onlays are used when a tooth has mild to moderate decay or there is not enough tooth structure to support a traditional filling. Using an adhesive dental cement, an inlay is placed directly on the tooth’s surface. When greater damage is present, an onlay is used instead to cover the tooth’s entire surface. Made of durable materials, inlays and onlays can last up to 30 years with proper oral hygiene (i.e. daily brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental check-ups and cleanings).

Dental Veneers

Veneers are a great option for patients who have a tooth that is cracked, chipped, or severely discolored.  This form of cosmetic dentistry can also be used to close a gap or fix teeth that are worn down or uneven. Cosmetic veneers are ultra-thin shells made of porcelain or composite resin materials that cover the front surface of a tooth.  Custom created to look exceptionally realistic, these shells bond to a patient’s tooth with a strong dental adhesive designed to hold up to daily rigors.  Though not exactly “permanent,”  the average well-placed veneer lasts around 10 years but can last longer with proper maintenance. To increase your veneer’s lifespan, gently brush with a non-abrasive toothpaste, take extra care when flossing around veneers, limit consumption of staining foods and drinks, and avoid cigarettes and tobacco products.

Composite Bonding

Bonding is generally used for the repair of decayed, damaged, or discolored teeth. Dentists apply material that resembles the color of tooth enamel onto the tooth’s surface, then sculpt it into shape before curing it with a high-intensity light. Similar to veneers, bonding covers the damage and creates the appearance of a healthy tooth. Bonding is a good choice for patients who have minor aesthetic issues that don’t require extensive treatment.  Depending on tooth location and a patient’s bite and eating/chewing habits, enamel-colored bonding can last four to eight years on average. Because the composite resin used is not as strong as natural teeth, patients should avoid biting their fingernails, chewing on pens or pencils, and biting down on hard food or candy.

Teeth Whitening

Everyone desires a whiter smile, which makes professional whitening treatments one of the most commonly requested forms of cosmetic dentistry. Depending on a patient’s lifestyle, the results can last anywhere from six months to two years and may require occasional touch-ups. To make the most of your whitening, brush regularly with a whitening toothpaste and minimize your intake of staining food and beverages, such as red wine. If you need another reason to quit smoking, this habit is one of the fastest ways to reverse whitening.  It’s important to note that outcomes are not permanent, as some degree of enamel staining is inevitable, but good oral hygiene will help to extend the whitening.

Schedule Your Cosmetic Dental Consultation

No matter what type of cosmetic procedure you select, your dentist will help you come up with a plan that fits your needs.  If you think you might benefit from cosmetic dentistry, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with our practice to learn more.

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10 Common Dental Emergencies and First Aid

There’s nothing worse than realizing something is wrong in your mouth. This is partly because it’s really difficult to examine it for yourself.  As a layperson, it’s often difficult to know whether the problem is a dental emergency or something you can take care of yourself.  Often, you can help alleviate your symptoms with some at-home first aid remedies. Other times, you should call your dentist immediately.

To help you determine what action you should take, here are 10 common dental emergencies:

1. You Fell and Injured Your Mouth

If you are over the age of 10 and have all your adult teeth, you should never experience loose teeth.  If you’ve fallen or had an accident, your tooth or several teeth may become loose.  In this case when you’ve experienced trauma, you should call your dentist immediately. In fact, you should go to the emergency room if you’ve experienced a fall.  On the way to the ER contact your dentist and explain what has happened.  Ask if they can meet you at the ER.  It is a good idea to ask your dentist to check and make sure your jaw isn’t broken. This may be overlooked in the ER.

2. Tooth Knocked Out

If your tooth gets knocked out, do NOT touch it by the roots.  Instead, pick the tooth up by the other side (the one you chew on) and do so very carefully. If at all possible, try to place your tooth back inside its socket.  It is important to make sure you position your tooth back into the socket the correct way. You don’t want to place it in your mouth backward.  If you can’t position it back in the socket, that’s okay.  Put the tooth in a glass of milk and take it with you.  If there’s no milk available, gently place your tooth in your mouth between your teeth and your gums. Your tooth must remain moist.  It is important to call your dentist immediately. A knocked out tooth should be positioned back in your mouth within 30 minutes.

3. Pain

Common dental emergencies all cause some degree of pain or discomfort. The extent of pain and discomfort determine the difference on how you should handle it.  If you experience pain when you bite down, it could mean a cracked tooth or it could be the result of you grinding your teeth.  However, this can also be a sign that you have an abscess.  If the pain is minimal, then take some Tylenol for the pain to reduce swelling.  You can also use an ice pack on the sensitive area.  You should contact your dentist within a week to have everything checked out. If you suspect a cracked tooth, don’t chew or bite on it until you see your dentist.  If you’re experiencing extreme pain, then call your dentist or visit the ER immediately.

4. Infections

Infections are not going to go away on their own.  It’s a sign that something is seriously wrong with your body.  If you think you have a dental infection, call your dentist immediately. You can also take some over-the-counter medications like Tylenol to help alleviate the pain.

5. Tooth Sensitivity

Some people are sensitive to extreme temperatures. They bite into an ice cream cone and all of a sudden, they feel extreme sensations.  The same is true when they ingest hot beverages or certain foods. While tooth sensitivity isn’t an emergency, it should be examined as soon as possible to make sure there’s nothing more serious.  In the meantime, you can buy an over-the-counter toothpaste that helps reduce sensitivity.

6. Mouth Sores

There are a variety of common dental emergencies that are considered mouth sores.  They can range from canker sores to food, hand, and mouth disease. However, a sore in your mouth can also be a sign of gum disease.  While mouth sores are not life-threatening, they can be painful.  If you’re experiencing pain due to a mouth sore, try taking some Tylenol. You can also wash your mouth out with hydrogen peroxide. It’s a natural mouthwash and will kill any germs. Don’t swallow any of it, though.  There are some over-the-counter pain remedies you can find at your local pharmacy.  Contact your dentist and schedule an appointment if you notice the sore isn’t healing properly or if it gets progressively worse.

7. Abscessed Gums

While abscessed gums are a common type of dental emergency, they actually don’t look like it at first.  In fact, a gum abscess looks like a pimple. It could be yellow, red, clear, or whitish, and you’ll find it located on your gum.  An abscess usually means your tooth or gums are infected, which results in a root canal or an extraction.  It is important to call your dentist immediately. Do NOT pop your abscess.  It’s not a pimple.  You should keep brushing and flossing the area until you are able to visit the dentist.

8. Broken Teeth

A broken tooth is annoying but usually not life-threatening. However, it all depends on how your tooth was broken and how much broke off.  If it’s only a slight chip, there’s nothing to be too concerned about. Schedule an appointment with your dentist at your earliest convenience.  If it’s a large break and especially if you’re in pain, contact your dentist immediately.

9. Bleeding

Bleeding in your oral cavity should not be taken lightly. If you see blood on your dental floss, it’s usually an early sign of gum disease or gingivitis. While not an emergency, it should be examined sooner rather than later to prevent further problems. However, blood in your saliva might indicate an advanced stage of cancer or an extremely advanced stage of gum disease.  Bleeding from the mouth isn’t normal. Even if you’ve had a tooth extracted, bleeding that won’t stop is a problem!  Keep your head elevated and call your dentist right away.

10. Swelling

While swelling is one of the more common dental emergencies, it’s never a good sign.  It could indicate you have a serious dental infection. It’s safe to bet that it won’t heal on its own.  If you are experiencing swelling, do not wait. Contact your dentist right away.  Stay upright and do not lie flat until after you visit the dentist. You should also drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

Take Care of Your Mouth

Unlike sharks’ teeth, our teeth aren’t replaceable.  It is critical to maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.  You should always brush your teeth at least twice per day and don’t forget to floss.

It is important to schedule your dental exams regularly for cleanings.  Signature Dental is equipped to handle a variety of dental emergencies. We encourage you to contact our Beverly Hills office with any dental emergencies or questions!

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Are You Going To Need Dentures?

Did you know that this year in the United States alone, the number of adults expected to be wearing dentures is a whopping 37.9 million? That’s about 4.3 million more people than just 30 years ago!

So, you’re not alone if you think you may be headed down that path. Even people that take great care of their teeth sometimes end up requiring dentures, simply due to the many years of wear and tear.

To help you recognize if you may need dentures – now or in the near future – we’ve provided the top five warning signs that you may require dentures.

Note, if you’re currently experiencing warning signs #1, #2 or #3, it may not be too late to save your teeth, assuming you visit a dental provider in a timely manner. However, if you’re experiencing warning signs #4 or #5, it may be too late. Regardless, we’d strongly urge you to schedule a consultation with your dentist right away, as there is still some opportunity available for preserving your valuable teeth.

Warning Sign #1: Severe Toothaches

The first and most prominent denture warning sign is a painful toothache that won’t go away. This type of nagging toothache could indicate that tooth decay is occurring and has already made its way to your nerve. At this stage, a routine root canal could save the tooth. However, if the decay is too excessive, you’ll need a dental implant or partial denture. So, it is important to promptly visit your dentist if you are experiencing any tooth discomfort. It may be the difference between saving your original teeth or requiring dentures.

Warning Sign #2: Inflammation and Bleeding of the Gums

A fundamental rule of thumb for preserving optimal oral health – When you feel sensitivity or have bleeding gums, make an appointment with your dentist right away! It’s always better to detect and address the issue in its early stages. If left untreated, that inflammation can progress from the beginning stages of gingivitis to severe periodontal disease. Once you experience periodontal disease, bone loss around your teeth begins to occur. Unfortunately, this ultimately leads to the loss of teeth and the need for dentures.

Warning Sign #3: You’re Having Trouble Eating Hard or Chewy Foods

If you experience severe pain when eating hard or chewy foods, it may indicate a cracked tooth, cavities, or gum disease. It’s always important to promptly address these matters with your dentist and they can take any needed action to preserve your teeth. Your dentist will often recommend root canal treatment, then placing a crown on the tooth to prevent further decay. In addition to eliminating the cause of your pain, you’ll often get to maintain your original teeth and preserve strong bone density.

Warning Sign #4: Loose or Shifting Teeth

Once your teeth start to shift or become loose, it typically means bone loss around the teeth has already started. If this is occurring, your dentist will need to examine your teeth as soon as possible to determine if they can be saved or if they will need to be extracted. Once a tooth is removed, there is no good option for keeping it. It is also important to note that this bone loss can cause a myriad of other issues, including the reshaping of the jawbone.

Warning Sign #5: Tooth Loss

While a loose tooth should certainly motivate you to visit your dentist ASAP, a tooth that has fallen out should prompt even more immediate action. Unfortunately, due to the misconception that tooth loss is not a significant issue as long as you can still chew properly, recent statistics show that nearly 19% of adults aged 65 and over were edentulous (had complete tooth loss). It is important to understand that besides further bone loss occurring in the jawbone, the fewer teeth you have doing all the work, the higher the chance of losing more teeth. The remaining teeth often take on too much-added pressure, causing them to fall out as well.

Conclusion

While our dental team believes in taking all the necessary actions to preserve your original teeth, it’s sometimes too late and dentures are required. If you are currently experiencing any of the above warning signs, we advise you to contact us today to make an appointment. Whether taking preventative actions or providing you with denture treatment options, we’re here for you every step of the way.

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