Posts for: October, 2016
By the time we reach adulthood, our teeth and gums have had quite the workout. When gums are healthy, they continue to fit snugly around our teeth. However, many adults develop some type of periodontal, or gum, disease at some point in their lives. Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. If you are diagnosed with gum disease it is important to seek treatment immediately for the best results. The goals of treatment are to prevent gum disease from permanently damaging tissues, control infection, and prevent tooth loss. Additionally, it is important to take proper preventive measures to further protect your gums from disease.
Prevention is Key
When it comes to prevention gum disease, the trick is simple. Clean your teeth thoroughly twice a day and floss daily. It is important to brush your teeth two times a day, once in the morning and before bedtime, using fluoride toothpaste. Clean all sides of your teeth, and even your tongue. Plaque on your tongue can cause bad breath and is an ideal environment for bacteria. Try an electric toothbrush that has a rotating and oscillating action because it is better at removing plaque than a regular toothbrush. Use an antiseptic mouthwash and floss daily. Any type of floss will work, so choose a type that you like. Curve the floss around each tooth into a U-shape, and gently slide it under the gum line. Move the floss firmly up and down several times to scrape off the plaque. Most importantly, visit your family dentist in Stamford, CT regularly as recommended to have your teeth cleaned and checked.
Treatment for Mild Gum Disease
If you have gingivitis, which is the earliest stage of gum disease, you may be able to reverse the damage to your gums. Early treatment consists of:
- Brushing your teeth at least two times a day—in the morning and before you go to bed.
- Floss your teeth daily
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash
Your family dentist will also want to see you for regular checkups and cleanings. Professional cleanings can remove plaque and tartar that brushing and flossing missed.
Treatment for Advanced Gum Disease
Milder types of gum disease that are not treated promptly or that do not respond to treatment can progress to advanced gum disease (periodontitis). Periodontitis requires prompt treatment to get rid of the infection and stop damage to the teeth and gums, followed by long-term care to maintain the health of your mouth.
Talk to your Stamford, CT family dentist for more information on how to properly care for your teeth and gums to prevent gum disease.
We treat most malocclusions (bad bites) with braces or clear aligners. But not all malocclusions are alike — some can require extra procedures to achieve successful results.
One such example is when incoming teeth crowd other teeth and cause them to erupt abnormally. The crowding also reduces the space needed to move the misaligned teeth to better positions. To make more room we'll often remove some of the teeth before undertaking orthodontics.
The key is to extract the right teeth. The best candidates are those whose absence will have minimal effect on both appearance and dental function. That's commonly the bicuspids, located right on the edge of the “smile zone” (the teeth most visible when we smile) between the cuspid (eye) teeth and the back molars.
Once we choose and remove the teeth our next concern is to protect the bone at the extraction site.Â The bone in our jaws benefits from the pressure created when we bite or chew. This stimulates new bone cells to form and replace older cells. Without it, as when we have a missing tooth, the amount of bone can diminish over time and affect the success of any future orthodontics.
To prevent this, we take care not to damage the gums and bone removing the tooth. We may also install a graft under the empty socket to encourage bone growth.
If we've removed teeth outside the smile zone, the resulting orthodontics will move teeth into the opened space. In the end, you won't even notice they're gone. Teeth lost or congenitally missing in the smile zone, though, may eventually require a replacement tooth. A dental implant is the best choice, but it should be put on hold for a younger person until their jaw has fully developed.
In the meantime, we can install a spacer or a temporary restoration to hold the empty space and prevent other teeth from drifting into it. This can be incorporated into braces or aligners, or with a removable partial denture or a temporary modified bridge.
Extracting teeth to aid orthodontics first requires a well-laid plan that could encompass several years. The end result, though, can be well worth the time and effort — better function and a new, attractive smile.
If you would like more information on the process of straightening teeth, 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 “Tooth Removal for Orthodontic Reasons.”
If we could go back in time, we all probably have a few things we wish we could change. Recently, Dr. Travis Stork, emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors, shared one of his do-over dreams with Dear Doctor magazine: “If I [could have] gone back and told myself as a teenager what to do, I would have worn a mouthguard, not only to protect my teeth but also to help potentially reduce risk of concussion.”
What prompted this wish? The fact that as a teenage basketball player, Stork received an elbow to the mouth that caused his two front teeth to be knocked out of place. The teeth were put back in position, but they soon became darker and began to hurt. Eventually, both were successfully restored with dental crowns. Still, it was a painful (and costly) injury — and one that could have been avoided.
You might not realize it, but when it comes to dental injuries, basketball ranks among the riskier sports. Yet it’s far from the only one. In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are some two dozen others — including baseball, hockey, surfing and bicycling — that carry a heightened risk of dental injury. Whenever you’re playing those sports, the ADA recommends you wear a high-quality mouth guard.
Mouthguards have come a long way since they were introduced as protective equipment for boxers in the early 1900’s. Today, three different types are widely available: stock “off-the-shelf” types that come in just a few sizes; mouth-formed “boil-and-bite” types that you adapt to the general contours of your mouth; and custom-made high-quality mouthguards that are made just for you at the dental office.
Of all three types, the dentist-made mouthguards are consistently found to be the most comfortable and best-fitting, and the ones that offer your teeth the greatest protection. What’s more, recent studies suggest that custom-fabricated mouthguards can provide an additional defense against concussion — in fact, they are twice as effective as the other types. That’s why you’ll see more and more professional athletes (and plenty of amateurs as well) sporting custom-made mouthguards at games and practices.
“I would have saved myself a lot of dental heartache if I had worn a mouthguard,” noted Dr. Stork. So take his advice: Wear a mouthguard whenever you play sports — unless you’d like to meet him (or one of his medical colleagues) in a professional capacity…