Posts for: March, 2017
If you've suddenly noticed your smile looking more “toothy,” you may have a problem with your gums. They may have lost their normal attachment to your tooth and begun to shrink back — or recede.
Millions of people have some form of gum recession. The most common cause is periodontal (gum) disease, but it's not the only one. You may be more susceptible to gum recession because of heredity — you have thin gum tissues passed down to you from your parents. You may also be brushing too hard and too often and have damaged your gums.
Healthy gums play an important role in dental health. The crown, the tooth's visible part, is covered with a hard, protective shell called enamel. As the enamel ends near where the root begins, the gums take over, forming a tight band around the tooth to protect the roots from bacteria and acid.
Receding gums expose these areas of the tooth meant to be covered. This can lead to another tell-tale sign — tooth sensitivity. You begin to notice pain and discomfort while you consume hot or cold foods. And because it leaves your teeth and gums looking much less attractive, it can affect your confidence to smile.
Fortunately, though, we can help restore receded gums. If you have gum disease, it's imperative we treat it as early as possible. We do this by removing plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles that triggers the infection. We use special techniques and hand instruments to remove plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) from all tooth surfaces including along the roots.
Gum disease treatment can help stop and even reverse gum recession. In some cases, though, the recession may have advanced too far. If so, we may need to consider surgically grafting donor tissue to the recessed areas. Depending on the site and extent of recession, this can be a very involved procedure requiring microscopic techniques.
The best approach, though, is to take care of your gums now. Daily brushing and flossing removes harmful plaque; regular dental visits take cleaning a step further and also give us an opportunity to detect disease early. By looking out for your gums now you might be able to avoid gum recession in the future.
Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates knows how important it is to present your best face to the world — and one of the most important features of that face is a beaming smile. But there came a point when she noticed something was a little off. “I've always had good teeth, but it seemed to me as I was getting older that they weren't looking as good,” Kathy explained in a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine.
That's when she decided it was time to take action. Kathy had orthodontic treatment when she was in her fifties, and she keeps her smile bright with tooth whitening treatments. She uses a kit provided by her dentist with a safe, effective whitening solution.
Of course, a bright, healthy smile looks great anywhere — whether you're on the red carpet or “off the grid.” And you don't have to be a Hollywood star to have professional whitening treatments. In fact, teeth whitening is one of the most popular and affordable cosmetic treatments modern dentistry offers.
The basic options for professional teeth whitening include in-office bleaching or take-home kits. Both types of dentist-supervised treatments offer a safe and effective means of getting a brighter smile; the main difference is how long they take to produce results. A single one-hour treatment in the office can make your teeth up to ten shades lighter — a big difference! To get that same lightening with at-home trays, it would take several days. On the plus side, the take-home kit is less expensive, and can achieve the same results in a bit more time.
It's important to note that not all teeth can be whitened with these treatments. Some teeth have intrinsic (internal) stains that aren't affected by external agents like bleaches. Also, teeth that have been restored (with bonding or veneers, for example) generally won't change color. And you can't necessarily whiten your teeth to any degree: Every tooth has a maximum whiteness, and adding more bleach won't lighten it beyond that level. Most people, however, find that teeth whitening treatments produce noticeable and pleasing results.
What about those off-the-shelf kits or in-the-mall kiosks? They might work… or they might not. But one thing's for sure: Without a dentist's supervision, you're on your own. That's the main reason why you should go with a pro if you're considering teeth whitening. We not only ensure that your treatment is safe — we can also give you a realistic idea of what results to expect, and we will make sure that other dental problems aren't keeping you from having a great-looking smile.
How often does Kathy Bates see her dentist for a checkup and cleaning? “I go about every four months,” she noted. “I'm pretty careful about it.” And if you've seen her smile, you can tell that it pays off. If you would like more information about teeth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered” and “Teeth Whitening.”
Learn about restorative dentistry from your Rockville dentist.
Missing teeth detract from your appearance and may make it harder to chew and speak clearly. Dr. H. David Allick of White Flint Dental Associates in Rockville, MD, shares information on several tooth replacement options you'll want to consider.
Bridges offer an ideal solution whether you've lost several teeth or just one. Bridges consist of one or more artificial teeth, called pontics, suspended between two crowns on the other end. Crowns are hollow restorations that slide over teeth. Bridges are usually made of porcelain or porcelain-fused-to-metal. Porcelain, a material that closely resembles your natural tooth enamel, offers strength and durability. Bridges eventually wear out and may need to be replaced in about 10 to 15 years.
Both full and partial dentures can help you restore your smile. An upper or lower denture consists of a row of artificial teeth set in a pink base designed to resemble your gums. A good fit is an essential part of the denture process. As your mouth heals and adjusts, several modifications will be needed to ensure that your dentures are comfortable. If you've lost several teeth in a row, you may want to consider partial dentures. These dentures feature tiny hooks that fit over the teeth on either side of the gap.
Dental implants are a good choice if you're looking for a more permanent tooth replacement option. Unlike bridges and dentures, implants replace the roots of your tooth. After the implants are placed in your jawbone, they'll begin to bond to the bone. Bonding ensures that the implant will be able to adequately anchor the crown that will be attached to the top of the crown. Implants also prevent bone loss, a common problem after tooth loss. Although you'll probably never need to replace your implants, you will eventually have to replace your crowns.
Dental implants are often used to replace a single missing tooth, but they can also be used to support an entire upper or lower denture. Implant-supported dentures are supported by six to eight implants placed in strategic locations in your jaw.
Are you ready to replace your missing tooth? Call your family dentist, Dr. Allick of White Flint Dental Associates in Rockville, MD, at (301) 881-6666 to schedule your appointment.