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Posts for: February, 2022

GumDiseaseAroundtheToothRootsCanBeDifficulttoAccessandTreat

Periodontal (gum) disease may begin superficially, but it can eventually work its way deeper below the gums to become a threat to the teeth and the underlying bone. The tooth roots are especially vulnerable to the disease with long-lasting implications to the tooth's survival.

An infection usually begins with dental plaque, a thin biofilm on tooth surfaces that harbor the bacteria that cause gum disease. The infection may eventually reach an area around the tooth roots called a furcation, where the roots branch off from the main tooth body. If the disease gains a foothold in a furcation, it could seriously erode the infected bone structure.

This often occurs in stages, commonly classified as early, moderate or advanced ("through and through"). In the first stage, the infected area exposes a slight groove in the tooth, but no significant structural loss. The next stage shows bone loss of at least two millimeters. In the most advanced stage, the bone loss now extends all the way beneath the tooth from one side to the other.

As with any situation caused by gum disease, it's best to catch a furcation involvement early and initiate treatment. As with any case of gum disease, the objective is to remove accumulated plaque and tartar (hardened plaque), which both fuel the infection. With plaque removed, the periodontal tissues can begin to heal and possibly regenerate.

It can be hard to achieve these outcomes because furcations are difficult to access. Although we may be able to clean the roots with tools like scalers (curettes) or ultrasonic equipment, we might still need to surgically access the area to completely remove the infection.

Initial treatment of furcations is often only the beginning. Someone with this level of gum disease usually needs continuous, heightened dental care and maintenance to prevent reinfection, often by an experienced hygienist working in consultation with a periodontist (gum specialist). It's also common to surgically alter the tissues around a furcation to make them easier to inspect and clean.

The best scenario, of course, is to avoid an infection altogether, or at least diagnose it before it becomes this advanced. The best way to stay gum (and tooth) healthy is to be sure you brush and floss every day, and see your dentist for cleanings and checkups at least twice a year.

If you would like more information on treating furcations, 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 “What are Furcations?


UnlikeBradPittYouDidntMeanToChipYourToothWeCanStillFixIt

It's not unusual for serious actors to go above and beyond for their roles. They gain weight (or lose it, like Matthew McConaughey for True Detective). They grow hair—or they shave it off. But perhaps nothing tops what Brad Pitt did to assume the character of Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club—he had his dentist chip his teeth.

While a testament to his dedication to the acting craft, Pitt's move definitely falls into the category of "Kids, don't do this at home." Fortunately, people deliberately chipping their teeth isn't a big problem. On the other hand, accidentally chipping a tooth is.

Chipping a tooth can happen in various ways, like a hard blow to the jaw or biting down on something too hard. Chipping won't necessarily endanger a tooth, but the missing dental structure can put a damper on your smile.

But here's the good news: you don't have to live with a chipped tooth. We have ways to cosmetically repair the damage and upgrade your smile.

One way is to fit a chipped or otherwise flawed tooth with a dental veneer, a thin wafer of dental porcelain bonded to the front of a tooth to mask chips, discolorations, gaps or other defects. They're custom-made by a dental lab to closely match an individual tooth's shape and color.

Gaining a new smile via dental veneers can take a few weeks, as well as two or more dental visits. But if you only have slight to moderate chipping, there's another way that might only take one session in the dentist's chair. Known as composite bonding, it utilizes plastic-based materials known as composite resins that are intermixed with a form of glass.

The initial mixture, color-matched for your tooth, has a putty-like consistency that can be easily applied to the tooth surface. We apply the composite resin to the tooth layer by layer, allowing a bonding agent in the mixture to cure each layer before beginning the next one. After sculpting the composite layers into a life-like appearance, the end result is a "perfect" tooth without visible flaws.

Unlike Brad Pitt, it's pretty unlikely you'll ever find yourself in a situation requiring you to purposely damage your teeth. But chips do happen—and if it happens to you, we have more than one way to make your teeth as good as new.

If you would like more information about repairing dental flaws with veneers or composite bonding, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Artistic Repair of Front Teeth With Composite Resin.”


4ThingsYouCanDotoKeepYourChildrensDentalDevelopmentonTrack

After spending much time and expense to keep your kids healthy, you're probably well-acquainted with your family physician. Similarly, you should be just as chummy with your family dentist: That's because your children's oral health is closely linked to their overall health and well-being.

Of course, good oral health is important for everyone, regardless of age. But it's doubly true for children for one additional reason—they're teeth, gums and jaws are still growing. Current problems like tooth decay or an abnormal bite can affect a child's oral development in ways that could reverberate through the rest of their life.

It's important, then, for you to stay ahead of any potential oral problems that could follow them into adulthood. In recognition of National Children's Dental Health Month in February, here are 4 things you can do to keep your child's dental health and development on track.

Practice oral hygiene. One of the best things we can all do to prevent dental disease is to brush and floss every day. It's equally important for children—helping (and later teaching) them to brush and floss reduces their chances for tooth decay. You should even begin before they have teeth, wiping out an infant's mouth with a clean, damp cloth after nursing to reduce bacterial growth in the mouth.

Schedule early dental visits. In addition to daily oral hygiene, regular dental cleanings and checkups also help prevent dental disease. You should schedule your child's first dental visit on or before their first birthday to give you a head start in preventing or treating tooth decay. Children who begin dental visits early are also less likely to develop dental anxiety.

Obtain further decay protection. Even if parents do everything right, some children are simply more susceptible to tooth decay. But we have a number of treatments that can help prevent the disease. Sealants, for example, fill in the nooks and crannies of biting surfaces to prevent plaque buildup. And, topical fluoride applications help strengthen tooth enamel against bacterial acid attack.

Get their bite evaluated. There's no need to wait until childhood's end to address a bite problem. A poor bite doesn't develop overnight, and often provides signs in a child's early years. That's why it's a good idea to have an orthodontist evaluate your child's bite around age 6. If they find an emerging bite problem, they may be able to intervene now, so you can avoid extensive—and expensive—treatment later.

You have a long list of priorities to keep up with in protecting your kids' health and well-being. Be sure one of those priorities high on the list is their oral health.

If you would like more information about children's dental care, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”




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