Is Your Toothbrush Your Enemy?

We all know the importance of brushing your teeth to help maintain a healthy mouth. However, brushing improperly or too aggressively can have damaging effects on both the teeth and the gums. As seen in the photos below, this patient has caused significant gum loss (gingival recession) and wear to the teeth (attrition). If allowed to progress without help this condition can lead to nerve damage, tooth fracture and even tooth loss. To avoid this condition you must consider the toothbrush, the toothpaste and the brushing technique.

When buying a new toothbrush it should have soft or extra soft bristles. The bristles should be rounded and polished. Cheap toothbrushes, often available for sale in local dollar stores, may have soft bristles but not rounded and polished ends, this will lead to significant wear of the teeth and gums. If you are prone to tooth wear or gum recession, consider less abrasive toothpastes such as Sensodyne. Whitening toothpastes and baking soda toothpastes are typically very high in abrasives which worsen recession and can increase sensitivity. Finally, when brushing do not use a horizontal scrubbing motion with your teeth clamped together and don’t push too hard. Instead, angle your bristles 45 degrees to the teeth, brush in a gentle circular motion, while keeping your teeth apart. Electric rotary toothbrushes, such as the Oral B, are great at helping eliminate tooth wear by not only providing a safer brushing motion but also by alerting the user when they are pushing too hard.
If you have any questions regarding brushing technique or dental products available, please do not hesitate to talk with one of our Dentist or Hygienists.

GOOD NEWS, MOM – NO CAVITIES!!

In the dental office, it’s not unfamiliar to  hear children happily yell to their parents,       “Good news, no cavities!” However, when Doraine Miller and her son Aaron came for her 6 month check-up the tables were turned.  Aaron became ‘Dentist for a Day’ and after a thorough exam of his Mom’s beautiful teeth he was able to give her the good news — no cavities.  Everyone was proud of Aaron and maybe we have a future dentist on our hands.

When the sign outside of the office says “Family Dentistry” it should truly be about treating families.  Our offices strive to make everyone feel at home; comfortable and welcome.   We look forward to the opportunity to make your family part of our family.

Tetracycline Staining and Cosmetic Veneers

Tetracycline was introduced in 1948 as a broad spectrum antibiotic alternative to Penicillin.   Unknown at the time of its introduction, tetracycline’s were found to bind to calcium ions and incorporate into developing teeth and bones.   Since, permanent teeth begin developing very early in life and continue into the teenage years, if children were given tetracycline during this developmental period the result was permanent staining.  The stain tends to be a dark brown or grayish color and can cover the entire surface of the tooth.

Unfortunately, whitening does little to improve the discoloration caused by tetracycline staining.  Often times the best cosmetic results are achieved by covering the teeth with either a porcelain veneer or crown.

The challenge for the dentist in restoring these teeth is trying to achieve a balance between a beautiful cosmetic result while preserving the otherwise healthy, natural tooth structure.  Full coverage porcelain crowns will certainly block out the dark discoloration caused by the tetracycline staining and can give a fabulous cosmetic result.  However, full coverage crowns (or caps) mean that the entire tooth has to be prepared and a significant amount of tooth structure irreversibly removed.  Often times, especially in younger patients, this is a very aggressive option.  Porcelain veneers are an exceptionally thin, minimally invasive way of cosmetically improving the teeth.  Porcelain veneers require minimal tooth removal.   A thin porcelain facing is applied over the tooth improving the shape, color and size.  The challenge for the cosmetic dentist in this case is blocking out the dark, stained natural tooth with a thin piece of porcelain and not allowing that dark shade to show through the material without looking opaque and lifeless.

In the example below, the patient had severe tetracycline staining as a young child.  She decided to have porcelain veneers done to correct the cosmetics.  The original veneers were very opaque and lifeless.  Over time, gingival (gum) recession occurred with staining around the veneer margins.  The patient was no longer happy with the esthetics of her smile.   The old veneers were removed revealing a very dark internal tooth shade.  Notice how little tooth structure is removed in preparing for the veneers, the majority of the healthy, natural tooth remains untouched.  When the final veneers are placed the patient’s smile is fabulous.  The veneers manage to block out the dark staining and remain natural looking.  This patient was able to achieve the natural, youthful appearance desired without significant reduction to her otherwise healthy teeth.

Cosmetic dentistry can be a wonderful and life changing choice.  However, it’s important to keep in mind the sacrifices you are making to achieve that esthetic option.  If it’s possible to maintain healthy tooth structure while achieving the desired results, every effort should be made to do so.  It’s not often easy but with experience, expertise and careful planning it’s possible.   All our offices strive for conservative, cosmetic and compassionate care, we welcome the opportunity to improve your smile.

 All photos published to this blog are actual patients of Saratoga Springs Dentists. This case was completed by Dr. Gregory P. Dodd.

Assault on Greenwich Challenge

On May 4th, the 1st Annual Assault on Greenwich Challenge was held.  This was a 4 mile challenge around Greenwich where the runners were faced with different obstacles along the way.  Our own dental Assistant, Amanda Willetts, was instrumental in the development and organization of this event; while our staff members, Heidi Hanna, Anne Gaudreau, Diane Moore and Paula Smith, helped by volunteering to make the event a success.  Congratulations to all that participated and volunteered. 

YOUR SMILE IS THE KEY TO A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION

We all know the power of a good first impression.  A new study conducted by Kelton Global shows that an attractive smile is overwhelmingly the best way to make a memorable first impression.  Forty-eight percent of Americans believe that a good smile is the most memorable feature after first meeting someone.  Twenty five percent of American’s believe a person’s conversational skill most affects the first impression while nine percent believe it’s the way a person dresses and eight percent claim the way a person smells most affects the initial encounter.  The survey also showed that some American’s view people with crooked or stained teeth as less attractive (37 percent) and less confident (25 percent) than those with perfect teeth.  More women than men (40 percent vs. 35 percent) say that an imperfect smile makes someone less appealing.

Our offices are waiting to help you improve your first impression.  While you may not get a second chance at a first impression, you can have a second chance at a beautiful smile.  Worried about what your teeth are saying about you?  Let any of our skilled staff discuss how to obtain the smile of your dreams.

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Spring is in the air.  For me, the unofficial start of spring is opening day for baseball.   America’s national past time brings to mind so many great images;  green grass, cracker jacks, heros in pinstripes but what about oral cancer?  When I was growing up it was rare to see a professional baseball player not using chewing (smokeless) tobacco.  Today, Major League Baseball has gone to great lengths to limit smokeless tobacco use and exposure to the fans.  Last season, 2012, was the first year these restrictions were in place.  Players are no longer able to carry a tobacco tin or package in their uniforms at games or any time that fans are in the ballpark.  Players are also banned from using tobacco during interviews, team sponsored appearances and autograph signings.  Unfortunately, smokeless tobacco is still a major problem in the United States.  According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 11% of high school boys and 1.5% of high school girls use chewing tobacco.  The most popular myth is that smokeless tobacco is safer than cigarettes.  The fact is that tobacco, in any form, can be harmful to your health and that smokeless tobacco can contain up to 4 times as much nicotine as a cigarette.  Of the estimated 10 million Americans abusing smokeless tobacco, approximately 3 million are  below 21 years of age.  Last year, approximately 54,000 Americans were diagnosed with oral cancers and approximately 13,500 deaths.  Historically, the death rate associated with oral cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover of diagnose, but do to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development.  The mortality rate of oral cancer is higher than Hodgkin’s lymphoma, testicular cancer, thyroid cancer and even malignant melanoma.  It’s estimated that the approximately $3.2 billion is spent each year in the United States on the treatment of head and neck cancer.  If you or someone you know uses smokeless tobacco encourage them to see a dentist regularly to discuss ways to quit and for a thorough cancer screening.  Oral cancer is typically asymptomatic  (painless) and often develops initially as nothing more than a painless white patch (leukoplakia), as shown in the photo.  The National Cancer Institute offers free information about quitting smokeless tobacco, the Smoking Quitline is 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).  So whether your a Yankees fan or a Red Sox fan, let’s all come together and help spread the word about the dangers of oral cancer and smokeless tobacco.

Easter Bunny Make Over!

According to the National Confectioner’s Association, over $2.1 billion are spent on Easter candy.  Over 7 billion pounds of candy will be consumed over the Easter weekend.  American’s will buy more than 700 million Marshmallow Peeps, over 16 billion Jellybeans and 90 million chocolate bunnies.  So while it’s great to enjoy your candy occasionally, be aware it’s important to brush and floss after indulging.  Enjoy!!

Art work created by our own multi-talented periodontist Dr. Alexander Choe.

Teething

Crying, irritability and sleepless nights are all common symptoms of teething….and that’s just for the parents!!  It can also be quite uncomfortable for the baby.  One of our own dental assistants, Suy Anne Toussaint and her 6 month old beautiful baby boy, Greyson, have recently begun to experience the joy of teething together.

Teething is the process by which an infant’s first teeth (the deciduous teeth, often called “baby teeth” or “milk teeth”) sequentially appear by emerging through the gums. Teething may start as early as three months or as late as twelve months. The first teeth typically appear between six and nine months. It can take several years for all 20 teeth to complete eruption; they typically arrive in pairs. Though the process of teething is sometimes referred to as “cutting teeth”, when teeth emerge through the gums they do not cut through the tissue. Instead, special chemicals are released within the body that cause some cells in the gums to die and separate, allowing the teeth to come through.

Typical symptoms of teething include red and swollen gums, drooling, fussiness, loss of appetite, a change in eating habits, difficulty sleeping and low grade fever.  Although many parents and dentists will tell you that they have also seen teething associated with more serious symptoms, such as diarrhea, high fever, rashes, vomiting and pain; scientific evidence does not support these symptoms.  Therefore, if your infant or young child has these or other medical symptoms, it’s important to not blame it exclusively on teething and have your child evaluated for other conditions such as ear infections or digestive problems.

Remedies for teething pain include giving your child a teething ring (preferably cold) or a pacifier, which also can be filled with water and frozen.  Placing a wet washcloth in the freezer for a few minutes and then applying it gently to the gums can be effective, but care must be taken not to expose a baby’s gums to coldness for too long.  Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil can help but consult with your physician before starting.  Try to avoid giving children over-the-counter topical anesthetics that are rubbed onto the gums.  The most common active ingredient in topical anesthetics is Benzocaine, which in high doses can be very harmful to children.

Remember, it is important to brush the infants’ teeth as soon as they appear and not advisable to wait for the teething process to be complete. Do not use a fluoride containing toothpaste until the child is old enough to ensure that they can rinse and spit out the excess paste.