By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
August 22, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
EvolutionsinTooth-ColoredFillings

Tooth-colored fillings are just one of the many ways that cosmetic dentistry has evolved over the past few decades. There was once a time where having a cavity treated meant that you would be left with a noticeable metal filling. However, today we have an array of tools and materials available that help make tooth repair more like creating a fine piece of art.

Tooth-colored fillings are made of composite resin, which is a mixture of plastic and glass. Composite resin is not only more aesthetically pleasing, but also better for your teeth than metal fillings. Metal fillings can require your dentist to remove healthy parts of your tooth to create a ledge (undercut) that locks the filling in place. Tooth-colored fillings do not need this undercut to stay in place. In fact, they physically attach, or bond, to natural tooth structure. The procedure is also very simple. We'll apply the composite resin directly to your teeth, sculpt it and then finally harden it with a special light. When you see the results, you will be amazed at how natural and lifelike the restoration appears.

Another advantage of tooth-colored fillings is that they are strong and flexible. When you bite or chew, they will absorb and transfer the forces, just like your natural teeth. Metal fillings are strong, but they are also stiff, which can stress your teeth and make them more susceptible to cracking.

During your examination, we will evaluate if tooth-colored fillings are the best tooth repair option. If your cavity is too large for composite resin, we may recommend a porcelain filling. This procedure may require two appointments: the porcelain filling will be crafted in a dental laboratory, and we will then place this filling at your next visit.

If you would like more information about tooth-colored fillings, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth-Colored Fillings.”

By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
August 14, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   brushing   flossing  
BrushingandFlossing-TwoKeyElementstoAvoidingDentalDisease

We humans have been cleaning our teeth for millennia. While the tools and substances have changed (we don't use twigs or pumice anymore), the reasons haven't: we want a nice, fresh smile and a clean-feeling mouth.

Objectively, though, oral hygiene has one primary purpose — to remove dental plaque, the whitish film of bacteria that grows on unclean tooth surfaces and at the gum line. Removing this decay-causing film can drastically reduce your risk of dental disease.

Effective oral hygiene depends on two primary tasks: brushing and flossing. You should perform these tasks at least once (flossing) or twice (brushing) in a 24-hour period. Brushing involves a simple technique. You hold your toothbrush (a well-designed, multi-tufted brush) in your fingertips with the same pressure as you would a pen or pencil. You then gently scrub all of the tooth surfaces starting at the gum line, holding the brush at a 45-degree. “Gently” is the key word here: it's possible to damage your tooth and gum surfaces by brushing too vigorously.

While brushing seems easier for people to fit into their daily routine, flossing seems to be harder. It's just as important, though, because over half of plaque accumulation occurs between teeth, in areas where brushing can miss. Like brushing, flossing isn't difficult to do. Holding a strip of floss taut by your fingers between both hands, and gently slipping the floss between your teeth you form a “C” shape around each tooth surface as you apply pressure onto the one surface you are cleaning. Gently move the floss up and down for three or four strokes or until you hear a squeaky clean sound (that's when you know the surface is clean). Then you go to the other tooth surface by lifting the floss above the gum line so that you don't damage the gum tissue in between the teeth.

You should also schedule regular checkups and cleanings with our office to supplement your daily routine. Professional cleanings remove any hidden plaque that brushing and flossing may have missed. A checkup also gives us a chance to evaluate how well your hygiene program is progressing. Our partnership in proper oral hygiene can make all the difference in you avoiding tooth decay and other dental diseases.

If you would like more information on proper oral hygiene, 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 “Oral Hygiene Behavior.”

WhiteningisaSafeandEffectiveWaytogetThatHollywoodSmile

The “Hollywood Smile” — dazzlingly white — is associated in our society with youth, health and vitality. Achieving that smile through either professional or home whitening applications has become very popular.

Teeth become discolored or dull for a number of reasons. It can be something intrinsic with the teeth — changes in enamel or dental structure during development, inherited disorders, heavy exposure to fluoride or tetracycline, or changes in mineral structure or wear due to aging. It can also be extrinsic, resulting from environmental or lifestyle causes. Eating foods with tannins (red wine, coffee or tea) or carotene pigments found in plant foods like oranges or carrots, or using tobacco may all cause staining.

Most modern applications involve an oxidizing chemical (usually hydrogen peroxide) that bleaches the teeth. Professional applications in a dentist's office use high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (usually 35 to 45%) applied directly to the teeth with control measures to protect the lips and gums. This type of application can lighten the color of teeth up to ten shades.

There are a number of home options too: whitening strips, “Paint on” or “Brush on” whitening, and even whitening gum. We can also provide you with a “Take home” kit that resembles the professional application but is generally less expensive. Although all these home applications are generally safe and effective, they typically take longer for results (several repeated days as opposed to about one hour for an office application), and not always to the same level of lightness as the professional.

Just about anyone can be a candidate for a whitening application. However, if you have thinner than normal dentin and more porous enamel, or suffer from gum recession or enamel loss, then whitening may increase tooth sensitivity. And, whitening is not a permanent solution: the brightness will fade over time, usually within a year. You can slow the fading by avoiding foods and habits that contribute to staining. It's also possible to touch up the initial whitening once or twice a year to extend the life of your new, bright smile.

If you would like more information on teeth whitening, 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 “Teeth Whitening.”

By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
July 29, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sugar substitutes  
SugarSubstitutesSweeterforToothHealth

If you're watching your weight or living with diabetes, you probably know the advantages of satisfying your sweet tooth with sugar substitutes rather than the real deal. Did you know that sugar substitutes can also help reduce your risk for tooth decay? One particular sugar stand-in, xylitol, might actually promote oral health!

Sugar substitutes are food additives that mimic the taste of sugar but supply little to no food energy (nutrition) and therefore zero or few calories. This is because they generally cannot be digested and absorbed by the body. They pass through largely unused and have little to no effect on blood sugar levels. Oral bacteria aren't able to process sugar substitutes either. They get significant nutrition from “real” sugars that pass through the mouth — generating tooth-eroding, cavity-promoting acids in the digestive process. A diet of artificial sweeteners eliminates or significantly curtails the acidity problem and essentially starves the “bad” bacteria so more tooth-friendly bacteria can crowd them out.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved 6 artificial sweeteners (synthetically produced zero-calorie sugar substitutes) for use in the U.S.:

  • Acesulfame K — Sunett®, Sweet One®
  • Aspartame — Equal, NutraSweet
  • Neotame — a modified form of aspartame
  • Saccharin — Sweet'N Low, Sugar Twin
  • Sucralose — Splenda
  • Rebaudioside A — Truvia, Sun Crystals, Stevia in the Raw

There also are naturally occurring low-calorie sugar alcohols (polyols), used alone or in combination with an artificial sweetener. They are incompletely digested and absorbed slowly so the amount of calories they generate is minimal. Commonly used polyols include erythritol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. Research suggests that xylitol may help prevent tooth decay and promote oral health by reducing levels of the major acid-producing bacteria in the mouth, Streptococcus mutans.

Despite their virtues, there is debate regarding the safety of sugar substitutes — synthetic ones in particular. Currently the focus is on how they may affect taste perception, metabolism, and eating habits. From a dental perspective, however, the overall benefits for using xylitol are pretty clear!

If you would like more information about nutrition and oral health, 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 “Artificial Sweeteners.”

By Wayne J. Gary II D.D.S.
July 19, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: toothache   tooth decay  
FiveFactsAboutToothachesinChildren

When it comes to childhood injuries — cuts and scrapes, growing pains, even wounded pride — it's often a parent's job to try and make things better. But sometimes it's hard to know whether the hurt indicates a serious problem, or if it's a situation that will resolve itself as soon as the sun comes up. If pain is being caused by a toothache, here are some general rules that can help you figure out what's the best thing to do.

1. Unless it's accompanied by fever and swelling, a child's toothache isn't generally an emergency.

The first thing to do is calm down (both you and the child) — and talk! Find out exactly where the pain comes from, and when and why it might have started. (Your child may have forgotten to tell you about that fall in the gym...) Sometimes, a little sleuthing will give you a clue about what's causing the pain.

2. Tooth decay, a bacteria-induced infection, is the most common cause of toothaches.

Check the teeth for brown spots or tiny holes (cavities) which might indicate decay — especially on the biting surfaces and in the areas between teeth. Next, look at the gums around the hurt tooth. If they show cuts or bruises, that's a sign of trauma. If you see only swelling, it may indicate the formation of an abscess.

3. If nothing looks obviously wrong, try gently flossing both sides of the tooth.

This may dislodge a bit of trapped food or candy, and relieve the pressure and soreness. But if that doesn't help, remember that some conditions — like nerve damage inside the tooth, for example — may have no apparent symptoms except pain.

4. Treat pain with an appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Base the dose on your child's age and weight, according to the medication's instructions. You can also apply an ice pack (one minute on, one minute off) to the outside of the jaw. But NEVER rub aspirin (or any painkiller) directly on a child's gums: It can cause burns and severe discomfort.

5. Pain that keeps a child awake at night, or persists into the next day, needs professional evaluation as soon as possible.

Otherwise, unless the pain resolves quickly and you're sure you know exactly what caused the toothache, it's best to bring your child in for an examination as soon as it's practical. You'll feel better having a dental professional, backed with years of experience and training, taking care of your child's health — and you just might prevent a future problem.

If you have questions about toothaches in children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Child's Toothache.”





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