The secret to a bright, healthy smile is actually no secret at all: brush, floss and get a professional dental exam at least once every six months. Professional dental exams are all about prevention – preventing existing problems from getting worse and preventing dental problems from developing in the future. Regular dental exams make it possible to identify and treat a problem in its earliest stage – which is not only good for your oral health but also good for your budget!
There's nothing to fear with a dental exam. Your teeth will be visually examined for signs of plaque, tartar and tooth decay. Your gums will also be examined for puffiness or discoloration, which are signs of gum disease. A full set of dental X-rays may also be taken during your dental exam, to enable your dentist to see below the surfaces of your teeth. Dental exams typically end with a dental cleaning, to remove surface stains and buildup.
Dental X-rays have come a long way. Todays dental X-rays are safer, faster, more comfortable and more informative than the X-rays of years past. Digital X-rays, one of the latest and most advanced dental technologies, produce high-quality images of your teeth that can be viewed instantly by you and your dentist on a LCD monitor. Digital X-rays reduce radiation by up to 90% and provide exceptional diagnostic information to ensure that potential problems are caught in their earliest stages. Intraoral photography is another alternative to traditional dental X-rays. With intraoral photography, problems such as cavities, fractures and discolorations in the teeth are captured through clear and sharp photographic images that are taken with a 35mm or digital camera.
No matter how often you brush and floss, plaque and tartar deposits can still build up on your teeth. A professional teeth cleaning is the single most effective way to remove these deposits and prevent them from causing more serious problems in the future. While a traditional teeth cleaning involves manually scraping away these deposits with special dental tools, advances in dental technologies now give you more options for teeth cleanings.
A laser teeth cleaning, also known as an ultrasonic cleaning, is a popular alternative to traditional teeth cleanings. With a laser teeth cleaning, an ultrasonic scaler (rather than a manual probe) is used to remove deposits, kill harmful microbes and eliminate bacteria around the teeth and gums through high-frequency sound waves. Many patients find laser teeth cleanings more comfortable than traditional teeth cleanings because they are quicker, quieter and pain-free.
A deep cleaning may be recommended if excessive plaque and tartar deposits have developed below the gum line. Deep cleanings, also known as scaling and root planing, involve a two-part process: first, the stubborn deposits are removed, and then the root surfaces are smoothened. A deep cleaning helps prevent periodontal disease and restores gum tissues to a healthy state.
If your silver fillings make you feel self conscious when you smile, or it's simply time to replace them, consider white fillings. White fillings are just as durable as they are attractive! Made of composite resin, white fillings match the natural color of your teeth and are an excellent option for small to mid-sized cavities. White fillings are strong, stain-resistant and require less removal of your tooth structure than amalgam fillings.
Dental bridges have been used for centuries to replace missing teeth. Today, dental bridges are still considered one of the most durable, conservative and cost-effective options for bridging the gap between a missing tooth and surrounding teeth. Comprised of two anchoring teeth and a replacement tooth, dental bridges help prevent surrounding teeth from drifting out of position, improve chewing and speaking, and help keep your natural face shape in tact.
There are three types of dental bridges: 1) traditional dental bridges, 2) cantilever dental bridges, and 3) Maryland bridges. Traditional bridges have either dental crowns or dental implants on either side of the missing tooth, plus a replacement tooth, which is held in place by a post-like structure called a dental abutment. Cantilever dental bridges are used in cases where there are surrounding teeth only on one side of the missing tooth. Maryland bridges are made of a specialized resin that is cemented to a metal framework and cemented to the enamel of surrounding teeth.
Dental bridges typically take 2-3 weeks to complete and are less invasive than other options, such as dental implants. With good oral hygiene and regular dental visits, dental bridges can last up to 30 years.
Using dentures to replace missing teeth is not only great for your oral health; it's a great way to look and feel younger! Today, there are a variety of natural-looking and comfortable dentures for patients who need to replace missing teeth. Made of a gum-colored plastic resin or acrylic base and either resin or porcelain replacement teeth, dentures are custom designed to fit your mouth. If you have several teeth or all teeth missing on the upper or lower jaw, full dentures may be your best option. Partial dentures, which can be either fixed or removable, are great for patients who have several missing teeth scattered along the upper or lower jaw.
The process of getting dentures may take a few months and several dental visits. In some cases, however, same-day dentures are also possible. With same-day dentures, the dentures are created right in the dentist's office instead of at an offsite laboratory. Same-day dentures aren't for everyone, though. If your dentures require a lot of customization, same-day dentures may not be right for you.
Just as with your natural teeth, dentures require daily maintenance. With regular wear and tear, your dentures can last 5-7 years. During that time, you may need periodic denture relines to accommodate changes in the contours of your mouth. Regular denture relines involve resurfacing the base to ensure that your dentures fit and function perfectly. If you break your dentures, it's critical to bring them to your dentist for professional denture repair. Home denture repair kits can cause more damage and be even more costly to fix.
Gum Disease Treatment
All is not lost if you have gum disease. The infection can be tricky, usually starting out with little to no pain or irritation. You might not even know you have the milder form of the disease, called gingivitis. Without gum treatment, it can develop into the more severe form, periodontitis. Fortunately, treatment for gum disease is available! The goals of gum disease treatment are to control infection, prevent tooth loss and keep the disease from damaging tissues.
Treatment for gum disease depends on how far the condition has progressed and how well your body responds to therapy.
Types of Gum Treatment
If you notice you have any of the signs of gum disease, including red, puffy or bleeding gums, receding gums or bad breath, talk to a dentist about the best gum disease treatment for you. Here are some of the ways dentists may treat the disease:
Non-Surgical Step -- Bleeding gums treatment or receding gums treatment starts with a deep cleaning. This type of gum treatment involves a process called scaling and root planing, where dental plaque and dental tartar deposits on tooth and root surfaces are removed. This gum disease treatment helps gum tissues to heal and gum pockets to shrink, with the help of medications prescribed by your dentist.
Periodontal Surgery -- This gum treatment option is used when the tissue around your teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with non-surgical bleeding gums treatment. The specific procedure your dentist performs depends on your case. With surgery, dentists can access areas under the gum and along the roots where plaque and tartar have accumulated and are hard to reach.
Bone Surgery or Bone Grafts -- When the disease has destroyed part of the bone too, receding gums treatment may require dentists to rebuild and reshape the bone with a bone grafting procedure.
Gingival Grafting -- Bleeding gums treatment may require tissue grafting, which simply means healthy tissues from another part of the mouth are stitched in place to help anchor the teeth. This gum disease treatment is done when the existing gums are too diseased to sew back together.
The Best Gum Treatment? Prevention.
Gum disease is usually preventable. Just take care of your teeth! Proper oral hygiene is a good start: Brush regularly with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, floss every day and visit your dentist regularly.
If you think you need gum treatment, don't wait! Give Global Dental Center a call today.
Root canals get a bad wrap. But don't believe the rumors; the dreaded root canal isn't dreadful at all! Root canals are needed when either decay or an injury infects the inner tooth (the pulp). In the earliest stages of infection, you may not feel any pain at all. But when it progresses, you could have a toothache and swelling, or a dental abscess might form. Root canals remove the infection and prevent it from spreading. Thanks to laser root canals, this process is faster, more comfortable and, in many cases, more thorough than conventional root canals. Pulp capping is an alternative to root canals that are used when the infection has yet to penetrate the pulp. Pulp capping can also prevent a large dental filling from getting too close to the nerve.
Oral surgery is an umbrella term for surgical treatments such as dental implants, wisdom teeth extractions and bone grafting. Dental implants, an excellent solution for missing teeth, are surgically placed tooth roots that hold dental crowns in place. A wisdom tooth extraction may be recommended if there isn't enough room in your mouth to accommodate wisdom teeth and they become impacted, partially erupted or infected. Bone grafting transfers bone from one part of the jaw to another, usually to accommodate a dental implant. While a general dentist can perform some oral surgery procedures, an oral surgeon is required for others.
Ever wish you could sail through dental visits without anxiety or fear? Would you rather endure an agonizing toothache than go to the dentist? Answering “yes” to these questions could mean that you're a perfect candidate for sedation dentistry. With sedation dentistry, you can forget about fear and focus on pure relaxation.
There are different levels of sedation to accommodate every patient. Minimal sedation involves inhaling nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”). Nitrous oxide helps you relax and wears off quickly. Electronic anesthesia is an alternative form of mild sedation that uses electronic impulses to help you relax. Conscious sedation is a moderate level of sedation that causes drowsiness and is taken in pill form. IV deep sedation is typically administered intravenously and works very quickly. With IV deep sedation, most patients fall asleep but can be easily awakened. Total sedation could be the only solution for people with an intense fear or phobia of dentistry. With total sedation, or general anesthesia, you are completely unconscious and cannot be easily awakened.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Feeling out of breath after running a few miles is normal. Being out of breath while you sleep is not. But millions of people with sleep apnea are literally out of breath every night, according to the National Institutes of Health.
If sleep apnea sounds Greek to you, that's because it is -- apnea is Greek for "without breath." People with sleep apnea stop breathing in their sleep -- sometimes up to 100 hundred times an hour -- for one minute or longer.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and mixed sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common and is caused by a blockage of the airway that occurs when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Late nights out will surely cause you to feel groggy in the morning. But if you go to bed early every night and still feel tired and disoriented the following day, you just might have sleep apnea.
Snoring is also a strong indication of sleep apnea. If anyone tells you that you have loud bouts of snoring followed by moments of silence, sleep apnea is probably to blame.
It's easy to believe that disorders affect everyone but you. But the fact is sleep apnea affects over 12 million Americans. So if you answer "yes" to any of these questions, you may be at a higher risk for developing sleep apnea:
- Are you overweight?
- Do you have a history of heart disease?
- Do you smoke or drink alcohol frequently?
- Does your famly have a history of sleep apnea?
- Are you of African, Pacific Islander or Mexican descent?
Most people don't know they have sleep apnea. But left untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, memory problems, headaches and even impotency. Moreover, sleep apnea can affect your job performance and impair your driving.
Simple changes such as shifting sleep positions, making sure you go to bed at the same time every night and losing weight can help. But curing sleep apnea may also require dental treatment:
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) -- A mask and headgear that works by blowing pressurized room air into the airway in order to keep it open.
Oral Appliances -- Oral appliances push the lower jaw forward or prevent the tongue from falling back over the airway, or a combination of both. Silent Nite® is an example of an oral appliance.
Surgery -- There are different types of surgeries available to treat sleep apnea. Dental surgery creates a more open airway that is less susceptible to blockages.
An active lifestyle calls for active safety. And while helmets, goggles and knee pads have become standard equipment to protect our bodies, it's important to remember to protect your teeth as well. Mouthguards offer an easy, reliable method to cushion your teeth during athletic and recreational activity.
Why a Mouthguard?
Participating in any physical activity involves a risk of contact with the face and mouth. Although many sports teams require some protective gear, the delicate teeth are often overlooked. Considering that even minor direct force can cause teeth to chip, break or come loose, a mouthguard is a crucial piece of equipment for all active or athletic activities.
Mouthguards are especially crucial during contact sports such as football, hockey or boxing, where blows to the body and face are regular occurrences. But even non-contact sports such as gymnastics, and recreational pastimes such as skating or mountain biking, still pose a risk to the teeth.
When participating in any activity that may result in injury to the mouth, dentists recommend that the teeth be properly shielded with some form of dental mouthguard.
Your Guide to Guards
There are three basic categories of mouthguards. Your dentist can suggest which type is right for you:
- Stock Mouthguards -- These pre-made protectors can usually be bought wherever sporting equipment is sold. Most dentists do not recommend their use because they cannot be adjusted to your mouth and provide only limited protection.
- Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards -- Boil-and-Bite guards are softened with hot water and then molded over your teeth. A somewhat customized fit leads to better protection and greater ease in talking and breathing. These are also available at most sporting goods vendors.
- Custom Mouthguards -- Your dentist can create a custom mouthguard designed specially for your teeth. These offer the best fit, comfort and protection, but may be more costly than store-bought varieties.
Guard Your Whole Mouth
In addition to cushioning your teeth from unnecessary force, using a mouthguard can prevent injury to the tongue, lips, face and jaw. It can also prevent or lessen the effects of headaches and concussions. Patients who wear dental braces should be especially careful to protect their mouths during physical activity. Make sure to discuss your level of activity with your dentist and find out which type of dental mouthguard best fits your needs.
Teeth-grinders, heed this: The earlier you catch the damage, the better your prognosis.
Want to know one excellent way to combat the bothersome habit of nighttime bruxism, or teeth grinding? Use of a night guard -- every time you sleep. If you think the trouble or expense of a dental night guard isn't worth it, or you aren't even entirely sure it's tooth-grinding behind what seem to be increasingly shorter teeth, headaches, jaw pain and a perturbed sleep partner, come see us. Based on the amount of damage you may have already done and the symptoms you describe, we can determine whether a night mouth guard is right for you.
Creating Your Dental Night Guard
Once we determine that you're a good candidate for a night guard, we will create one that's custom-made for your mouth. A professionally made night guard for teeth is composed of soft material and slides over one row of your teeth. Once your dental night guard is in place, you can sleep soundly knowing that even if you do grind your teeth once you're asleep, your upper and lower teeth will no longer make contact.
You might spend all day admiring those attractive front teeth, but your back teeth molars get the real work done. The chewing surfaces of your molar back teeth are rough and contoured with pits and grooves to help break down food. While brushing and flossing helps remove food and dental plaque from smooth tooth surfaces, properly cleaning these deep fissures on your molars can be much more difficult.
Luckily, dental sealants offer molars a safeguard from tooth decay. Made of plastic resin, these tooth sealants are applied to the grooves of premolars and molars to "seal out" cavity-causing bacteria and food.
When to Get Dental Sealants
Decay starts early in life, so dental sealants are generally placed on your teeth at a young age.
The first set of permanent molars usually erupts by age 6. Sealing these chewing surfaces soon after will help keep them healthy and protect them from cavities. Much later, second molars erupt during the rapid growth spurts of teenagers. These molars are just as vulnerable as the first, and the typical teenager will subject them to excessive sugar. The sooner these chewing surfaces can be sealed, the better.
Although dental sealants are usually applied early in life, adults at high risk of developing decay can also benefit from receiving them. Consult with Dr. Roberson and Global Dental Center in Memphis to determine if tooth sealants are right for you.