June 17, 2011
I would like to spend a couple of moments discussing some easy and relatively inexpensive ways to brighten your smile.
Frequently, patients are reluctant to discuss cosmetic concerns because of several factors. There are numerous reasons people defer treatment, but the common reasons are fear, expense, lack of time and not understanding treatment options available.
Many people desire to improve their smile. Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry has become faster, easier and even more affordable than ever before. Bleaching, tooth reshaping and bonding procedures can dramatically change the appearance of your smile often with one visit and with no discomfort.
I am often surprised when patients somewhat reluctantly ask if we can make their smiles better. Please, if you have a concern about the way your teeth look, ask your dental team. We love improving the way people look and the way they feel about themselves. It is one of the most rewarding things we do!
If you have a concern about how your teeth look, please ask. You may be delighted at how easy we can change your life.
May 11, 2011
We usually think of athletic mouthguards as protection for the teeth during contact sports. Many sports have mouthguards as required equipment, which seems like common sense in sports such as football or hockey. It is important, however, to consider many sports as potentially causing serious dental injuries. I will not bore you with an endless list of sports that have caused dental distress, but parents and participants may want to consider the nature of the sport and make an informed decision.
In my twenty two years of dental practice, the unfortunate winner of dental injury is basketball. Other sports injuries that I have treated involve baseball(groundballs and bats), field hockey, soccer and mountain biking.
With regard to the injuries we are concerned with several. Obviously direct contact causing trauma to the teeth,and attachment, but also consider a blow to the chin which will cause the teeth to smash together. This can lead to damage to the teeth and/or damage to the jaw joint(orTMJ).
The other important role mouthguards can play is reducing the occurance of concussions. One can only wonder if some of the high profile concussion injuries(Patrice Bergeron, Mark Savard, Sydney Crosby) would have been prevented if these players were wearing mouthguards. Recently the U.S. Equestrian Association recommended riders to wear mouthguards during jumping events to reduce the possibility of concussions.
Dental injuries can be serious and very expensive. Often a patient will be left with a lifetime of dental challenge. These can be avoided by an inexpensive piece of equipment. If you cannot find one that fits adequately at the local sporting goods store, see your dentist who can make a custom mouthguard(in a variety of colors) for a small fee. Very small considering the alternative.
November 21, 2010
The Thanksgiving holiday approaches in only a couple of days. It is a time for families to gather together, give thanks for what they are blessed with, watch a lot of football and? Eat.
This holiday, perhaps more than any other, revolves around eating. The very first Thanksgiving was a gathering and a feast to celebrate the harvest that would allow the Pilgrims to survive the upcoming winter. We spend the whole year anticipating our Thanksgiving dinner.
While we all have many, many, things to be thankful for, I will get focus on my profession as I give thanks. As dentists, we have the ability to change peoples lives. Think back to the days of the Pilgrims and the horror of dental disease and treatment. People frequently died from dental infections. Really, you don’t have to look very far back in history to realize how far we have come in our ability to restore peoples dentitions back to function and beauty with little or no discomfort.
With modern materials, implants and improved anesthetics we now are in a place that allow dentists to create beautiful and functional smiles that can dramatically improve a persons quality of life.
So, if you want to have this be the last holiday that you dread because of difficult chewing,painful or unsightly teeth, call us. We can change your life! Happy Thanksgiving.
October 16, 2010
Halloween Is Scarier Than You Think!
Any day now we’ll be putting on funny costumes, acting a little crazy and eating all kinds of stuff that we shouldn’t. And that’s just the adults! For kids, Halloween can be a fantastic time to have fun and be creative. But unfortunately when all those sticky sugary candies are involved, it can be a dental disaster.
The good news is, Halloween and dental health can mix if you just take a few simple precautions. Here are our suggestions to make Halloween 2010 a success without the cavities!
Let you kids know that even though they may come home with a sack full of goodies, there still are some rules to let them both enjoy the treats and keep their bodies healthy.
Don’t allow them to overeat. A few pieces of candy each day for a few days is much better than an all-out engorgement. And if they bring home hundreds of pieces, everyone can feel good about donating much of it to a local food bank.
Avoid the really “sticky” stuff like taffy and caramel corn. This is difficult to remove from the tooth surfaces and can actually damage teeth permanently.
Make sure that your kids are brushing three times per day for at least one minute per session. Before bed and after eating candy are “must-brush” times.
Encourage flossing to remove the sticky stuff from between the teeth. If you or your kids aren’t sure how to properly floss, we will gladly give you a lesson! It’s very easy to do once you know how.
Have your kids use a fluoride rinse before bedtime. If you’re not sure which is the right one for your child’s age, please ask us.
If your children will be eating candy as they are out trick-or-treating, make sure that they take a small bottle or container of water with them. Rinsing and swishing or even taking small sips of water right after eating candy can prevent things from sticking.
Have you considered taking a different route than giving out traditional candy when your doorbell rings? Not only will you differentiate yourself from everyone else on the block, you will be helping your community’s dental heath! Here are a few suggestions from about.com for things to give out other than candy:
Party favor sunglasses
Small cans of PlayDoh
Pencils with Halloween erasers
Halloween bouncy balls
Small bottles of bubbles
Be creative! The “Dollar Store” is typically full of fun stuff that kids will love without rotting their teeth.
So have fun, enjoy this great time with your family, and do something scary – as long as it doesn’t involve giving kid’s cavities!!
If you have any questions about how to keep your teeth or your children’s teeth healthy during Halloween or any other time, feel free to give us a call at 978-687-5900. We’re here to help you!!
September 20, 2010
Fall has arrived. We can tell by the cooler nights, shorter days and even the leaves beginning to show a hint of color. For many New Englanders, this is the favorite season. As we settle into a routine of homework sports schedules and carpools, it is important to consider that the new year will be here in the blink of an eye.
Most dental insurance plans have the beginning of the new year(January 1) as the anniversary date for benefits. The good news is that on that date, the full amount of benefits will be available for any dental procedures needed. The bad news is that any benefits not used will be lost as very few, if any dental insurance plans “roll over”. Therefore, if you have been advised by your dental team to have procedures done and you have dental benefits remaining, it would be a great time to schedule an appointment now while both you and your provider have some flexibility.
It is a frequent occurance that during December, many realize that they have benefits remaining and need procedures done and call to schedule. Unfortunately, we are often so busy with these requests appointment availability becomes very limited. This creates unneeded stress on everyone. So, think back to your last recare appointment and if there was treatment recommended, consider calling now so we can accomodate your schedule to the best of our ability.
August 18, 2010
Often patients new to our office will inform us it has been a long time since they have seen a dentist. When asked why, the most frequent response is not finances or busy schedules, it is that they are afraid of what we might find. For most of us, fear of the unknown creates apprehension. Even when we know what the correct course of action is, we are often hesitant to leave the familiarity of our current situation. The current situation might be not knowing what is going on in our mouths and as long as it doesn’t hurt why not continue.
Obviously, there are several flaws in this rationale. There are often hidden issues that can only be detected by a visit to your dental health professional. Frequently, these problems can be dealt with easily and painlessly in their early stages.Waiting for a crisis to arise often creates more anxiety and more complicated solutions.
The best solution is to sum up your courage and make the decision you know will be best. I will not deny there may be some anxious moments but you will feel better and be healthier, and hopefully wondering “why didn’t I do this sooner, it’s not so bad.”
May 30, 2010
For many, heart disease and gum disease would seem like unrelated issues. However, evidence is emerging that has established a clear connection between the inflammation of gum disease and inflammation around the heart that can cause heart disease. Periodontal disease is caused by the accumulation of bacterial plaque around the teeth. If these bacteria remain around the teeth, they colonize and invade the connective tissues that are responsible for keeping your teeth firmly in place. Several things occur when this bacterial invasion takes place. First, these bacteria release toxins that destroy the connective tissues(gum and bone) causing bone loss and the formation of a periodontal pocket which creates a breeding ground for these bacteria. Secondly, the body mobilizes its defenses to fight these bacteria. It is the bodies defenses that creates an inflammatory response(like an infected splinter). An inflammatory response is marked by pain, swelling, redness, heat, bleeding and/or loss of function. Look at the mirror closely at your gums. Might you see any of these signs?
For many years, we have been aware of a link between gum disease and heart disease. Recently ,though, a study in the British Medical Journal has reported a clear link between heart disease and periodontal(gum) disease. More sobering, is that this link is present even when other risk factors such as smoking, heredity, obesity and socioeconomic factors are considered. It is unclear however, whether the link is due to systemic bacterial invasion or the bodies immune response to gum disease.
How do you avoid gum disease? Brushing 3 times per day, frequent flossing and regular visits to your dental team for professional cleaning and evaluation.
April 26, 2010
Today I would like to discuss the wide range of treatment choices available to patients today. As I discussed in an earlier post, all treatment decisions must begin with an appropriate examination and diagnosis. After a diagnosis has been made, a discussion should now ensue between the patient and the dentist which should outline all the treatment options available , the implications of the various options, and the implications of no treatment.
One of the important aspects of treatment choices is the priority of the problem. A cornerstone of our practice is that we must treat and control active disease and/or pain. Unfortunately, dental diseases are progressive, which means they will continue to get worse without treatment. Tooth decay, gum disease and bite instability(tooth wear, jaw joint pain, mobile teeth) all get worse without intervention. Obviously, the earlier the dental team can address these issues, the easier and less costly the treatment will be. So, in our office, these areas must be addressed. It should be noted that a patient does have the right to refuse treatment but only after being informed of the problem and the implications of no treatment.
After we have addressed our active disease issues, we now get into areas that allow more choices to treat an individuals concerns. If a patient is unhappy with their smile, a number of options are available usually. Some might be simple, such as bleaching and/or cosmetic bonding and others may be much more comprehensive such as essentially rebuilding a dentition that has been severely damaged. The most important point that I would like to conclude with is that any treatment decision should be made only after the patient is educated about their particular problem so the patient can make the proper treatment decision for themselves.
March 13, 2010
Today, I would like to discuss the varioud types of dental examinations that we use to aid in appropriate treatment. The first examination that I will discuss is the comprehensive oral evaluation. As the name implies, this is an examination that should involve the entire oral complex. This exam is done most frequently with a patient who is new to a dental practice or who has not been seen by their dentist for a number of years. During this exam, we will review the patients current and past medical history as well as the patients current and past dental history. There is often much to be learned before even looking in the patients mouth. A patients expectations, past dental treatment and anxiety level can all be discussed to aid in making the patient more comfortable and informed. Once we begin to examine the patient we will look at much more than teeth. We will also look at the patients periodontal(gums)health. This is accomplished by measuring the space between the teeth and gums.Excessive tooth wear or mobility of teeth should also be noted. The comprehensive exam will also include an oral cancer screening and a review of any bite or TMJ(jaw joint) issues. After a visual examination, often a complete set of dental x-rays will be imaged. A complete radiographic series should be accomplished every 3-5 years depending on the patients condition. Occasionally, diagnostic molds of the teeth will be taken as well as photographs of the mouth. All of this information will be used to determine the level of health and potential need for treatment.
The next exam to discuss would be the periodic exam. This is accomplished during the patients recare visits. A review of the medical and dental histories will be accomplished. Since the patient is known to the practice the depth of the exam is lessened but still involves evaluation of entire oral cavity. This exam can be done by the dental hygienist or dentist, and commonly both. The need for current x-rays will be evaluated depending on the patients condition. The patient should have the results of the exam discussed, as well as any recommendations for necessary treatment.
The most obvious dental examination is the problem focused, or “emergency” exam. This type of exam would take place when the patient realizes that they have a problem and need to seek dental care. Commonly this would occur with the fracture of a tooth or filling or the occurance of pain or trauma. As you would imagine, a diagnosis will need to be made before treatment is rendered , and arriving at the correct diagnosis can be quite obvious, or it can be quite a challenge. Visual examination, past dental history, and appropriate dental xrays are all tools to aid in arriving at a correct diagnosis.
Hopefully, this discussion will help our patients understand that not all dental exams are the same. Each is critical to optimal dental health to the individuals that we treat.
February 22, 2010
Welcome to my blog. It is my intention to post information two or three times a month that you will hopefully find interesting and relevant. Today, I would like to discuss some reasons why teeth break. Obviously, trauma that occurs during sports or an automobile accident can fracture teeth. Also, if you have a tooth that has decayed sufficiently enough to undermine one or more of its surfaces, this can cause your tooth to break as well. Another less known reason is that your tooth can fracture due to the size of the fillings they comtain and the existence of cracks in them. Fillings, especially silver amalgam, due nothing to strengthen teeth, in fact they weaken them.
If the fracture is slight, the tooth may be simply smoothed and polished. If the fracture is more significant, it will require a bonded tooth colored filling . In more severe situations, a filling may not be adequate to restore the shape of the tooth, and a crown may be required to restore function.
Anticipating problems before they occur is more predictable, less stressful, and certainly more cost effective. I can not over-emphasize the importance of regular periodic examinations as this will enable us to identify teeth that are at risk for fracture. Dental x-rays are also an important tool that we use in conjunction with visual examinations to guide us in making sound treatment decisions. So we look forward to seeing you in the near futures, and will welcome the opportunity to discuss any concerns that you might have.