Posts for: August, 2016
Brushing your teeth offers a simple way to remove plaque from your teeth, but brushing too often or not often enough can cause problems. Dr. Edward Yates, your Norwich, CT dentist, explains how often you should brush.
Why is brushing important?
Plaque, a colorless, sticky film that contains bacteria, constantly builds up on your teeth. The sugars in the foods you eat combine with the bacteria in plaque to produce acids. These acids cause bad breath and attack your tooth enamel, creating cavities. Brushing your teeth removes plaque and reduces your cavity risk.
Should I brush once a day, twice a day or eight times a day?
If plaque isn't removed promptly, it will eventually turn into a hard deposit called tartar that can cause gum disease. Tartar irritates your gums and can even cause them to pull away from your teeth. The spaces that form around your teeth when your gums begin to pull away are called pockets. When bacteria begins to grow in the pockets, your risk of bone or tooth loss increases. Once tartar forms on your teeth, the only way to remove it is with the special cleaning instruments your Norwich dentist uses.
Fortunately, brushing offers a simple way to avoid this unpleasant scenario. Brushing your teeth twice a day is very effective at removing plaque before it can turn into tartar. Although it might seem as if the more you brush the better, brushing too often can actually damage your tooth enamel and may even cause your gums to recede, in some cases. The problem is more likely to occur if you brush frequently and don't use a soft-bristled brush, or don't replace your toothbrush often. No matter what type of brush you use, if the bristles are frayed or flattened, the brush has become too abrasive and should be replaced.
How should I brush?
For best results, hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree and clean your teeth in short strokes no longer than the width of one tooth. Brush for at least two minutes to ensure that you've cleaned every nook and cranny. Floss at least once each day to remove plaque and food particles from the spaces between teeth.
Daily brushing and regular dental cleanings help you avoid cavities. If it's time for your next cleaning, call Dr. Yates, your Norwich, CT dentist, at (860) 889-6445 to schedule an appointment.
Want to know the exact wrong way to pry open a stubborn lid? Just ask Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC-TV’s popular “Tonight Show.” When the 40-year-old funnyman had trouble opening a tube of scar tissue repair gel with his hands, he decided to try using his teeth.
What happened next wasn’t funny: Attempting to remove the cap, Fallon chipped his front tooth, adding another medical problem to the serious finger injury he suffered a few weeks before (the same wound he was trying to take care of with the gel). If there’s a moral to this story, it might be this: Use the right tool for the job… and that tool isn’t your teeth!
Yet Fallon is hardly alone in his dilemma. According to the American Association of Endodontists, chipped teeth account for the majority of dental injuries. Fortunately, modern dentistry offers a number of great ways to restore damaged teeth.
If the chip is relatively small, it’s often possible to fix it with cosmetic bonding. In this procedure, tough, natural-looking resin is used to fill in the part of the tooth that has been lost. Built up layer by layer, the composite resin is cured with a special light until it’s hard, shiny… and difficult to tell from your natural teeth. Best of all, cosmetic bonding can often be done in one office visit, with little or no discomfort. It can last for up to ten years, so it’s great for kids who may be getting more permanent repairs later.
For larger chips or cracks, veneers or crowns may be suggested. Veneers are wafer-thin porcelain coverings that go over the entire front surface of one or more teeth. They can be used to repair minor to moderate defects, such as chips, discolorations, or spacing irregularities. They can also give you the “Hollywood white” smile you’ve seen on many celebrities.
Veneers are generally custom-made in a lab, and require more than one office visit. Because a small amount of tooth structure must be removed in order to put them in place, veneers are considered an irreversible treatment. But durable and long-lasting veneers are the restorations of choice for many people.
Crowns (also called caps) are used when even more of the tooth structure is missing. They can replace the entire visible part of the tooth, as long as the tooth’s roots remain viable. Crowns, like veneers, are custom-fabricated to match your teeth in size, shape and color; they are generally made in a dental lab and require more than one office visit. However, teeth restored with crowns function well, look natural, and can last for many years.
So what happened to Jimmy Fallon? We aren’t sure which restoration he received… but we do know that he was back on TV the same night, flashing a big smile.
If you would like more information about tooth restorations, please contact us or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers” and “Artistic Repair Of Front Teeth With Composite Resin.”
Your tooth is in peril if its innermost layer, the pulp, becomes infected and inflamed. Deep tooth decay, repeated dental procedures or fractures can all expose the pulp and ultimately the roots to infection and lead to tooth loss.
But that scenario isn't inevitable — we can often save the tooth with a root canal treatment. By accessing the tooth's interior through a prepared hole, we're able to clean out the infected tissue in the pulp chamber and root canals, and fill the empty space with a special filling. We then cap the tooth with a custom crown to protect it from a re-infection.
Root canal treatments have a very high success rate — chances are good your tooth will survive for many years afterward. But there's a slight chance the tooth may become re-infected; in that case, a second root canal treatment may be in order.
In a few cases, though, a second root canal may not be advisable, and could even accelerate damage to the tooth. For example, if past dental work resulted in an extensive crown restoration, accessing the root canals the conventional way will require disassembling that restoration. This could weaken the tooth significantly.
We can approach the problem from a different route: instead of accessing the tooth's interior through the crown (the visible part of the tooth), we instead perform a surgical procedure called an apicoectomy, which accesses the tooth at the root end through the gums.
In this procedure we numb the area with local anesthesia and then make a small incision through the gums at the level of the affected root. After access, we remove any diseased tissue around the root and a few millimeters of the root tip itself. We then insert a small filling in its place to seal the canal and prevent further infection. In some cases we may also insert a graft to encourage bone growth and aid in healing.
Over time, the affected area will heal and return to normal function. Even if a traditional root canal treatment can't be used, an apicoectomy could be another option for saving your tooth.
If you would like more information on your options for preserving a problem tooth, 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 “Apicoectomy.”