Missing Teeth? Many Options To Replace Them.

posted: August 17, 2017

A missing tooth is more than a flaw in the appearance of one’s smile. It can lead to problems with the proper alignment of neighboring teeth. When teeth tilt or turn out of their proper positions, the result can lead to chips, fractured or broken teeth, night-time grinding or clenching, worn teeth, headaches, migraines, jaw joint pain and more.

The best time to replace a lost natural tooth is immediately after it’s removed. However, today’s dentistry offers exceptional ways to replace teeth at any time, even though that have been missing for decades.

Through advanced materials, techniques and technology, replacing one, several or an entire ‘arch’ of missing teeth can be done to provide stability, dependability and comfort with an exceptional look and feel in the process.

Dental Implants – I recommend implants to most individuals because they are a ‘one and done’ investment. When properly maintained, an implant is designed to last a lifetime. They are the closest thing to natural teeth because the implanted portion is supported by your jaw bone, just as your natural tooth roots were once. This means they restore a natural biting strength and stability. The teeth attached to an implant will not move while eating and will cause no uncomfortable rubbing on gum tissues. And, because an implant does not rely on neighboring teeth for support do not need crowning. That means the integrity of surrounding is protected. Another bonus of an implant is its ability to protect bone mass. By recreating stimulation in the jaw bone, similar to what a natural tooth root provides, the process of bone resorption is halted. An example of this bone loss is the ‘granny look’ of long-time denture wearers. Bone loss thins and weakens the strength of the jaw bone. Dental implants preserve the jaw bone, helping you to maintain a healthy bone mass.

smiling dental patient

There are exceptional options in tooth replacement today. The goal is to restore smiling confidence!

Crown-&-Bridge – When replacing one or several teeth in one area, some people prefer a bridge that is supported by natural teeth on each side. To support a bridge (of one or more teeth) the natural teeth on both sides are crowned. Then, the crowns connected to the replacement tooth or teeth being replaced. In our office, we use the state-of-the-art computerized technology of CEREC 3D. This technology can take measurements and create ceramic crowns and bridges while you wait. By eliminating the need for a dental lab, this means you don’t have to wear a temporary and won’t need a second appointment to have the final ‘restoration’ placed. And, this process cuts numbing requirements in half! CEREC 3D means you can walk out of our office with your final crown-&-bridge ready to enjoy, all in one visit!

Partial Dentures – A partial denture is designed to replace several upper or lower teeth. Typically, a partial connects replacement teeth to a framework, which is then secured to existing natural teeth with a fit that is stable and comfortable. Because a partial is created to the contours of your gums and custom shade-matched, it will blend attractively with natural teeth and gums.

Full Dentures – For people who are missing all of their upper or lower teeth, a ‘full arch’ denture can be made to restore the look of a full smile. While not as secure as Dental Implants, they are made to fit comfortably for chewing and speaking. Dentures offer a more affordable way to enjoy a full, comfortable smile that restores confidence when speaking or laughing with others. Relines can be done periodically should the denture begin to slip (due to jaw bone resorption).

We believe every patient should enjoy a confident, comfortable, and attractive smile. We want you to understand all your options so you can select the best tooth replacement for your needs and goals.

Call 843-871-6351 for a no-cost, no obligation consultation. During this time, I’ll discuss the best options based on your needs and preferences. While you’re here, our financial coordinator can go over payment options. Some require no down payment and are interest-free.

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Suspected Link Between Gum Disease & Pancreatic Cancer

posted: August 08, 2017

For decades, research has shown links between the bacteria of periodontal disease and serious diseases and conditions in the body. The list includes heart disease, some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, preterm babies, impotency and erectile dysfunction.

Based on findings of previous studies, a long-term study has revealed the bacteria of gum disease as a contributing factor to developing pancreatic cancer, which will be diagnosed in over 50 000 people this year. Because pancreatic cancer typically goes undiagnosed until advanced stages, fewer than 10% of those diagnosed will be living 5 years later.

One study, however, determined that people with 2 types of periodontal disease–causing oral bacteria have a greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in June 2016 (http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2526607), oral bacteria may provide an early marker for pancreatic cancer.

In the study, the DNA in saliva from over 360 adults who eventually developed pancreatic cancer was compared to samples of DNA in saliva to a similar number of adults who remained healthy.

In both groups, adjustments were made for age, gender, race, and body mass as well as for alcohol consumption, smoking and having diabetes. Participants who developed pancreatic cancer within two years of providing DNA samples were omitted to ensure no pre-existing factors could distort statistical outcomes.

Coupled with findings from previous studies, researchers were able to pinpoint two specific types of periodontal disease pathogens. Researchers noted that one pathogen type was more prevalent in the saliva of subjects who developed pancreatic cancer, showing a 59 percent greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. The second pathogen type was shown to increase the risk by 50 percent.

This study is yet another reason to acknowledge that your oral health is an integral part of your overall health. When your teeth and gums are healthy, you can prevent gum disease, cavities, and according to research, the penetration of potent oral bacteria into the bloodstream.

Signs of periodontal disease include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, frequent bad breath, gums that deepen in color from a healthy pink to red, and gum recession as gums pull away from teeth, exposing darker and sensitive tooth roots. Eventually, teeth will loosen and may require removal.

More than 47 percent of American adults have some level of periodontal disease. However, achieving and maintaining good oral health is quite simple. Twice daily brushing, daily flossing, having 6-month dental check-ups and avoiding a dry mouth are easy ways to limit oral bacteria.

Obviously, periodontal disease bacteria is potent. As more findings are revealed, I’ll share updates. In the meantime, be proactive when it comes to the symptoms of periodontal disease. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease, call 843-871-6351 to arrange a no-charge consultation. I’ll be happy to answer your questions and discuss ways to help you achieve a healthy, confident smile.

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Lower Your Costs In The Dental Office By Re-Looking At Home Care Routine

posted: August 01, 2017

Very few of us were born with a perfect set of teeth. Most people need cavities repaired during their lifetimes and some even lose teeth. Over the years, many people need crowns, tooth realignment, repairs to chips, fillings and even root canals. Yet, the investment into having a healthy, appealing smile is one that sparks generally the same response with most patients of being well-worth it.

For some, however, there can seem to be an ongoing need of dentistry. Of course, this can be costly and time-consuming. This is one of the reasons we structure your 6-month cleanings and exams to help you prevent problems in the first place or catch those that do occur at early stages.

If you feel there is a revolving door on your dentist’s office, take a few minutes to re-examine your daily home care regimen. You may be surprised at how easily you can PREVENT problems.

• Are you brushing properly?

First, look at your tooth brush. It should be a soft to medium bristle tooth brush that’s replaced every 4-6 months. If the bristles are flayed out, however, you’re using too much force to brush. Lighten up so the tips of the brush are swirling over the tops and sides of teeth. Look in a mirror as you brush to make sure you’re not swiping over teeth with the sides of the bristles from pressing down too hard.

Next, be sure you’re using a toothpaste with fluoride, which helps to strengthen tooth enamel. Be sure you brush for at least two minutes twice daily, preferably in the morning and again before bedtime. When you brush, make sure it has been at least 20 minutes since eating or drinking anything (other than water). The reason for this is to also protect tooth enamel. This is because an acid attack begins in the mouth every time you eat or drink. Although this acid is designed to break down foods for digestion, it is also very hard on tooth enamel, actually softening it for 20-30 minutes. If you brush too soon, the abrasive toothpaste and bristles of a tooth brush can wear down enamel. When the protective covering of tooth enamel is worn down, your teeth are more susceptible to decay and other problems.

• Are you flossing daily?

Flossing is difficult for some people. Some people have large hands, some have manual dexterity issues and others simply can’t get comfortable with the technique. Our hygienists are pros at helping people find a comfortable, effective way to floss. However, for those who prefer an alternative, water flossers are now available to make the process both easy and effective. Brushing cannot dislodge some particles that become trapped between teeth, which makes flossing necessary. When debris is left behind, it begins to rot. This adds to oral bacteria levels in the mouth, which is essentially the origin of nearly every oral health problem. Flossing is a beneficial step to brushing to make the best of your time at the sink.

• Are you keeping your mouth moist?

Half of all adults take at least one prescription drug daily and one in five say they take four or more. Hundreds of medications have side effects that causes oral dryness. Add to this the fact that oral dryness can also be caused by caffeine, alcohol, smoking, spicy foods, aging, mouth breathing (including snoring) and some illnesses. When saliva flow is depleted, oral bacteria are not being rinsed efficiently from the mouth. This allows them to accumulate. Ideally, sipping filtered water during the day will help to keep your mouth moist. However, some oral dryness needs the aid of a mouth rinse to replenish moisture. These are available over-the-counter for a reasonable cost. Just be sure to pick one that does not contain alcohol. Again, alcohol is a drying agent to oral tissues.

• What are you eating and when?

We’ve all known someone who sips from a can of cola during the day or goes through several cups of coffee in the morning with added cream and sugar. Many of us like a snack in the afternoon or may even indulge in a bowl of ice-cream while we watch television at night. As mentioned prior, each time you eat or drink, an acid attack begins in the mouth. When these acids are fueled by sugar, carbs and even more acid (from coffee, colas, citrus, etc.), the potential for damage increases. Although it’s not my place to alter your diet, just be mindful of what you’re eating and how often you consume. A good way to lessen the ill-effects of snacks or long periods of cola sipping is to rinse the mouth with water periodically after indulging.

• Are you proactive when it comes to your smile?

When something is wrong with your oral health, it’s not likely to repair itself on its own. For example, when a tooth is full of fillings and a crown is advised, it’s recommended to help preserve the natural tooth. Should the tooth fracture below the gum line, it will likely require removal. This sets in motion a long list of decisions – and expenses – that could have been avoided had a crown been placed to protect the tooth. While some expenses in dentistry may seem harmless to delay, many can easily become more complex issues – with greater costs. Look at periodic repairs like crowns, bite guards, etc. as necessary maintenance, just as you would for an automobile. After all, replacing brake pads isn’t cheap but not something wise to delay.

A healthy mouth, once established, is actually easy to maintain with proper at-home care and regular dental check-ups. Begin with an examination by calling 843-871-6351 and let’s create a smile you love!

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How Gum Disease Forms

posted: July 25, 2017

Like many diseases that form in our bodies, periodontal (gum) disease begins without obvious symptoms. However, unlike our response to something unusual like a lump or bump, the initial signs of gum disease are often ignored. Why?

An estimated 25% of men over the age of 39 have an annual prostrate exam and an estimated 50% of women ages 40 to 85 have an annual mammogram. Yet, the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that over 47% of American adults have some level of gum disease. I believe this is because our population is truly unaware of the signs, and subsequent risks, of periodontal disease.

A couple of generations ago, many people believed they had to use a stiff toothbrush and really scrub their teeth to get them clean. Many grew up believing that abrasive substances such as baking soda helped to do a good job. Today we know that this will wear down tooth enamel and wear away gum tissues that support teeth. Still today, some people assume that seeing blood in the sink when brushing is a sign they are doing a good job.

Gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Losing a natural tooth is often the beginning to subsequent tooth loss. As a matter of fact, statistics show that when you lose a tooth, the next you’re most likely to lose is one adjacent.

Losing teeth creates a long list of decisions and expenses. Yet, tooth loss is just one problem associated with gum disease. Decades of research has shown that the bacteria of gum disease is associated with serious health problems in the body.

We now know that oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. Once bloodborne, the bacteria has been shown to trigger inflammatory reactions associated with heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies and impotency.

When you think about it, gum disease is one of the most preventable of all diseases. A thorough at-home routine of twice daily brushing, daily flossing, drinking plenty of water and limits on snacking and sweets are easy ways to keep oral bacteria levels to a minimum.

Additionally, it is important to have regular dental check-ups and cleanings. These visits are vital to keeping a healthy smile by removing accumulated tartar and noting signs of gum disease at their earliest stages.

How gum disease develops should be familiar to everyone. Below is its path of development:

•  Accumulation Of Oral Bacteria: The mouth is a warm, moist environment that is open access to a tremendous amount of bacteria. Bacteria is on food, utensils and even our toothbrushes. Bacteria in our bodies is a fact of life and something we are structured to manage. However, at certain levels, the problem exceeds the limits that can be effectively handled. Too much bacteria in the mouth is how gum disease begins.

•  Formation of Plaque: Without regular and thorough brushing, flossing and saliva flow, oral bacteria reproduce rapidly. Just over the course of a day, their accumulation forms a sticky film that coats teeth and gums. This film is known as plaque.

•  Development of Calculus: In about 48 hours, plaque can harden into tartar, also known as calculus. This hardened form of oral bacteria attaches to teeth and can no longer be brushed or flossed away. Tartar will continue to reproduce as oral bacteria subsist on tooth enamel and gum tissue.

•  Gingivitis: As the first stage of gum disease, gum tissues are now inflamed. The gums become tender, bleed easily when brushing and your breath will feel not-so-fresh. By taking proper measures at this point, you may be able to restore your gums to a healthy state. Halting gingivitis at this stage is important to avoid the further development of gum disease.

•  Periodontal (Gum) Disease: At this stage, gum tissues are inflamed and tender. The gums will turn red and some teeth may show darker root portions as gum tissues loosen their grip around teeth. You’ll have persistent bad breath. As gum disease worsens, pus pockets may form and some teeth will loosen.

Want a healthy mouth? Want to avoid problems in the first place? Want to give your overall health a leg up? Begin by looking at your daily oral care routine. If you’ve delayed your 6-month dental check-ups, schedule one as soon as possible. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment.

With proper care, you can easily enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease as mentioned above, call toll free 1-877-966-9009.

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One-Appointment Crowns Make The Process Simple, Quick.

posted: July 19, 2017

It wasn’t that long ago when, to log onto the internet, the ‘dial up’ process was required. Getting online began with that awful, high pitched whine while waiting for connection, only to be forced to wait as pages and images slowly appeared in choppy segments, piece by piece.

How nice that technology has changed the process to an almost instantaneous one. We now click on and have what we need in mere seconds. Dentistry has also created a faster method for crowns (caps), dental implant restorations and some bridges, thanks to the advanced technology of CEREC 3D.

CEREC 3D is computerized technology that creates beautiful, durable restorations in a ‘single visit’ process. It begins by taking precision measurements of the tooth and then customizes ceramic restorations to provide an exact fit and ideal shade.

Before CEREC, it was necessary to wear a temporary while a dental lab created the final teeth. The patient would have to return for another appointment (and another numbing) to have the final restoration placed. Not only does the CEREC process eliminate the need to return for a second appointment, it also prevents the need to wear a temporary. Another bonus is in shade matching. Since relaying specific tints to a dental lab has been eliminated, shade matching is more exact.

When it comes to the advantages that patients like the most, not having to wear a temporary and doing everything in one appointment are the most appealing aspects. Of course, they love the natural look and feel.

CEREC is a registered trademark of Dentsply Sirona, Inc. As a CEREC 3D Mentor for other dentists, I’ve also been involved in testing new features that keep this technology continually on the cutting edge when it comes to modern dentistry. Learn more about this technology as well as other advanced features in our office at: http://www.smilesbyandrews.com/comfort-advanced-features/

You are also invited to stop by our office to discuss your specific needs. Call 843-871-6351 to schedule a free consultation.

 

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Don’t Let Your Smile Go Up In Smoke

posted: July 13, 2017

If you smoke, you don’t need another lecture about its hazards. In our office, we pride ourselves on being a ‘lecture-free zone.’ However, we also pride ourselves on being good communicators to our patients. You see, we believe patients are better able to maintain good oral health when they know not only WHAT to do, but WHY each step is necessary.

If you are a smoker, here are some facts that you may not realize when it comes to your smile:

• Smokers have a greater risk of periodontal (gum) disease, more frequent bad breath, higher levels of plaque, stained teeth, and slower healing following extractions, gum treatment and oral surgery.

• Smoking is very drying to oral tissues. This provides an ideal environment for oral bacteria to reproduce and accumulate in the mouth. When the mouth can no longer combat the bacteria levels, the gum tissues become inflamed. This is the beginning of gum disease.

• In early stages, gum disease causes persistent bad breath, sore gums and gums that bleed easily when brushing. As it progresses, gum tissues turn red and pus pockets form. Eventually, the bacteria work their way down to attack supporting bone and tissues surrounding tooth roots. This can cause teeth to loosen which may lead to removal. Gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

• Losing teeth leads to a number of problems relating to your overall health. While some people assume that losing natural teeth is a ‘normal’ part of the aging process, studies show that people who wear dentures die an average of ten years earlier than those who have their natural teeth. Denture wearers also take more medications, have more gastrointestinal problems and are less socially active.

• Smokers decrease life expectancy by 10–15 years, on average. Smoking is attributed to almost one-third of all cancer diseases and deaths. Women who smoke are at risk for early menopause while men who smoke have a higher risk of impotency. Pregnant women who smoke have an increased risk for first-trimester spontaneous abortion, preterm births, low birth weight babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

• Second hand smoke contains over 50 carcinogens and other harmful chemicals. Children of smoking parents commonly wake up with ‘smoker’s cough.’

If you’ve thought about kicking the habit, you’ll notice the positive effects almost immediately. In just 48 hours, damaged nerve endings will start to regenerate, restoring the sense of smell and taste. In 3 days, your lungs will begin to repair and you’ll notice breathing is easier and air intake is fuller. Within 2 weeks, blood circulation in your gums and teeth is similar to that of a non-smoker with your risk for heart attack now declining. In a month or so, your circulation will greatly improve, walking will be easier and your chronic cough will have cleared up.

Who needs a lecture when the facts are so clear? While adults can choose to smoke or not as they accept the risks, knowing these risks is important.

For those who want to kick the habit, there are excellent online sources, including: http://smokefree.gov/

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Moms-To-Be Will Want To Read This, Especially.

posted: July 10, 2017

Women who are pregnant, even early on, have a long list of precautions to follow to help in the healthy development of their unborn babies. These include dietary restrictions as well as avoiding alcohol, smoking and many medications.

New findings now add another precaution to the list. Studies show that it is important for pregnant women to maintain excellent oral health throughout their pregnancy — for their own health and that of their baby.

Pregnant women have elevated hormones, which increases their potential for periodontal (gum) disease. Because of this, many experience Pregnancy Gingivitis, causing swollen, red and sore gums that bleed while brushing. This also makes the gums more susceptible to inflammation and sensitive to the oral bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease, leaving an estimated one-third of all pregnant females with gum disease.

Even worse, it is now known that the oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in compromised gum tissues. Studies show that gum disease increases the risk for preterm delivery (before 37 weeks) and low birth weight babies.

When the infectious bacteria of gum disease reaches placental membranes, it can trigger inflammation that can lead to pre-eclampsia or early labor. For instance, the preterm birth rate for women without periodontal disease is approximately 11% compared to about 29% for moms-to-be with moderate or severe levels of gum disease. Gum disease also increases the risk for late-term miscarriage.

In one study, pregnant women who had higher levels of oral bacteria also had higher percentages of preterm births and babies born at low birth weight. Showing a direct connection between the oral health of the mom-to-be and her unborn baby, the same elevated antibody levels were noted in amniotic fluid and fetal cord blood samples of preterm or low birth weight babies.

Fortunately, studies show that successfully treating gum disease reduces the risk of preterm births, motivating a growing number of obstetricians to advise their pregnant patients to be evaluated for signs of periodontal disease. Typical signs include gums that bleed easily when brushing, persistent bad breath, tender or swollen gums, and gums that turn red in color. Eventually, pus pockets may form at the base of some teeth and teeth will loosen and may require removal.

Take extra good care of your smile during pregnancy for the good of your own health as well as that of your baby. If you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease or Pregnancy Gingivitis, our non-surgical treatment is safe and effective for nearly all levels of gum disease.

Begin with a free consultation by calling 1-877-966-9009.

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Your Comfort Is A Priority In Our Dental Office

posted: June 06, 2017

I actually have a few patients who tell me they “love” coming here. They enjoy getting their teeth clean and shiny while getting caught up with staff they’ve become close to over the years. But, I know these patients are not what makes up the majority of dental attitudes in the U.S. Most people dread dental visits, for a variety of reasons.

The most common cause of dread is dental fear. Although our patients know our reputation for a gentle touch, traumatic experiences in a dental chair in years past can leave an individual with anxiety, fear or even phobia associated with dental visits. For a fearful patient, we understand that perceived pain can seem just as real as actual discomfort.

Years ago, I began offering Oral Sedation to help patients relax. This is in pill form and taken prior to the patient arriving at our office. Once here, they are seated in a comfortable treatment chair and covered with a warm blanket. By the time treatment begins, they are totally relaxed, almost to a dozing state.

Patients like Oral Sedation because it takes anxiety out of their visit and allows them to seemingly zoom through a lengthy procedure, often without memory of the procedure afterward. However, I felt some patients needed a deeper state of sedation, which is why I completed training and certification for I.V. sedation.

Also known as ‘twilight sleep,’ I.V. sedation provides a sleep state for patients who want a more intense state of sedation during dentistry. I.V. sedation also has an amnesiac effect. With both sedation options, patients are monitored for safety and comfort by trained staff members and advanced safety equipment.

Dental fear is not always to blame for dread of dental visits. Some patients dread dental visits simply because they don’t like the vulnerable feeling they get from being in a dental chair. Laying on their backs with their mouths open while procedures take place that they can’t see can make some people feel they have no control. Others react uncomfortably to certain smells, noises or sights such as seeing dental probes or an injection. Some patients avoid dental visits because they are concerned they’ll be lectured or made to feel guilty for not having regular dental checkups.

Quite frankly, I always dread my annual eye exam. Although I’m not afraid of experiencing pain, I don’t care to have my pupils dilated and always feel the amount of time for the exam and recovery from dilation knocks out half a day. Yet, my eyes are precious and I want to take good care of them, so I have this annual check.

It’s the same with dental visits. Yes, we all have other things we’d rather do with the time required but know that keeping teeth and gums healthy plays a major role in our overall health and well-being. Like caring for our eyes, making sure our smiles are in good shape is well worth the time required for these screenings.

In addition to Oral and I.V. Sedation, we use topical numbing, drills that hum rather than make a whining sound, and offer music or videos to patients who want a distraction during their procedure. Some procedures can also be performed with a dental laser. This reduces or eliminates bleeding, increases comfort and speeds healing.

Other features help take the dread out of dental visits here. Our CEREC 3D technology allows us to prepare a tooth for a crown, create the crown, and place it in the patient’s mouth – all in one visit. This not only speeds treatment, it cuts numbing requirements in half. And, with CEREC 3D, patients don’t have to wear those pesky temporaries while a dental lab creates the final porcelain result.

Our patients know us for a gentle touch, scheduling procedures so each patient moves at a comfortable pace, explaining what is taking place throughout each procedure, and trusting each member on our team to provide optimal care with exceptional comfort. If you have delayed care due to a sense of dread or fear, let us help you relax and see dental visits in a new light. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about getting a lecture here. We respect our patients and are always glad they come for care.

Begin with a no-charge, no obligation consultation. We’ll discuss your concerns and comfort options in a private consultation room. If desired, we can also put you in touch with patients who, like you perhaps, once had fears or a sense of dread and now smile throughout their dental care.

Call toll free 1-877-966-9009.

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Want To Avoid A Cavity? It’s Easy!

posted: May 30, 2017

Periodically, I have my car’s tires rotated and oil changed. I change the air filters in our HVAC vents every month. I fertilize our yard each year and apply a weed control. And, like most pet owners, I apply a monthly flea-&-tick preventative. You probably do the same.

Obviously, we do these tasks because we want to avoid future problems from occurring in the first place. By NOT tending to them, I know I could be looking at a lot of expenses and time, not to mention the desire to kick myself!

When a patient has a cavity, it’s typically because their oral hygiene routine at home was insufficient. Of course, some people are simply more susceptible to decay. These people have higher levels of a certain type of bacteria in their mouths which leaves them more prone to cavities and gum disease.

However, even those more susceptible to decay can still prevent its onset with simple measures and regular dental check-ups. Twice daily brushing (at least two minutes each time using a fluoridated toothpaste and soft bristle brush) and daily flossing are necessary. But, a few extra steps can make a world of difference.

Since the majority of the problems pertaining to the mouth originate with bacteria, decreasing their numbers is beneficial to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. In addition to brushing and flossing, there are other ways to keep oral bacteria to manageable levels.

You may be shocked at the amount of bacteria that are embedded in the grooves of your tongue. There are BILLIONS of bacteria in the tongue, with the greatest concentration in the back of the tongue. Uprooting these little creatures can be done by brushing the tongue after brushing your teeth. Or, you can use a tongue scraper, sold in many drug stores. Scrape from the back to the front several times, rinsing after each pass.

Swishing or gargling with mouthwash can also help. Just be sure to read the label of your mouthwash to ensure it is alcohol-free. Alcohol is very drying to oral tissues, which leaves the mouth more vulnerable to bacteria reproduction.

Speaking of a dry mouth, it can also be the result of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, smoking, a number of medications, and mouth-breathing (including snoring). Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day (colas and tea don’t count!). If you feel your mouth is frequently dry, you can replenish oral moisture with a special rinse made for this purpose. Several good options are available over-the-counter.

Sugar is the ideal food for oral bacteria, so try to limit sweets. This also applies to carbohydrates, which convert into simple sugar in the mouth. If you indulge, just be sure to swish afterwards.

And, try to limit snacking. Every time you eat or drink, the mouth endures an acid onslaught for 20-30 minutes. This acid, which helps aid digestion, is powerful enough to soften tooth enamel. This is why we caution patients to delay brushing for a half an hour after eating.

Find flossing awkward? Then, don’t! Instead, purchase a water flosser. These are great for people who find flossing difficult, such as those with large fingers or limited manual dexterity. Water flossers are just as effective as string floss when used correctly.

Finally, don’t delay your six-month dental cleanings and exams even if nothing hurts! Just because you don’t FEEL any problems doesn’t mean that oral bacteria is not hard at work damaging teeth and gum tissues. Remember, most diseases begin silently. This is just as true for periodontal (gum) disease or the formation of a cavity.

By keeping oral bacteria to a minimum, you can prevent a cavity. When you prevent a cavity, you save time and money. Plus, your breath will be fresher and your dental cleanings will be more comfortable. When gums are healthy, dental cleanings are easier with less probing and scraping needed.

We want you to have a healthy mouth and a confident smile. If you’ve delayed dental check-ups, call (843) 871-6351 to arrange an appointment. You’ll be welcomed here with respect and warmth.

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Wobbly Dentures? Here’s Why.

posted: May 22, 2017

No adult wants to lose a tooth. When an adult loses ALL upper or lower teeth, however, it’s much worse. This leaves an individual with a long list of decisions and future costs. While dentures may seem to be a less-expensive option compared to Dental Implants, their upkeep and replacement costs over the years are just the beginning.

A denture is primarily designed to replace the presence of teeth. This helps the patient to speak and eat. It’s what happens beneath the gums that can create the greatest challenge when it comes to dentures.

When teeth are removed, so are their roots. Without tooth roots present in the jaw bone, the bone lacks necessary stimulation and nourishment to remain healthy. Thus, a process known as resorption takes place. This is essentially the gradual and continual decline of jaw bone mass.

A new denture is designed to contour to the unique shape of your ‘gum ridge,’ which is the raised arch where tooth roots were held. Because a denture, when first made, is generally a snug fit, it takes several years for bone resorption to be noticeable.

Resorption causes this ridge to gradually flatten. A denture that was shaped to conform to the height and width of a gum ridge won’t have the same surface to support it 2-3 years later. Additionally, the pressure of wearing dentures actually speeds up the rate of bone loss. For those who sleep in their dentures, the round-the-clock pressure accelerates it even more.

Biting and chewing with a denture that moves is uncomfortable. This causes people to apply (and reapply) denture pastes and adhesives to compensate for the loose denture that now rubs tender gum tissues. As the bone ridge continues to flatten, the denture becomes more ‘rocky’ or ‘wobbly’ when eating certain foods.

Generally, people with loose-fitting dentures resort to a diet of soft foods that dissolve easily in the mouth. These are typically lacking in the protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals needed for good nutrition. As a matter of fact, denture wearers are known to take more medications and have more gastro-intestional problems than people who have their natural teeth.

Yet, it’s not just eating difficulties that cause challenges for denture wearers. Fear of embarrassing slips or clicks can deter many denture wearers from joining friends and family when food is the centerpiece of a gathering. Since many events are surrounded by food, this fear lessens social interaction that is an important component of healthy aging for adults. Studies have shown that lack of social causes a decline in overall health.

One such study conducted by the Population Research Center at University of Texas at Austin found that “older adults who maintain high levels of social activity or ramp up their social life as they age might be protected from increases in physical and cognitive issues over time.” (http://www.cfah.org/hbns/2011/socially-active-older-adults-have-slower-rates-of-health-declines).

A temporary fix for dentures that slip is a reline. This reshapes the denture so it more-closely conforms to the reduced height and width of the gum ridge. As the gum ridge continues to decline (and it will), relines will be needed on a more frequent basis each time.

For many reasons, many of today’s adults are opting to replace missing teeth with Dental Implants. Implants recreate the presence of tooth roots in the jaw bone, halting bone loss. And, since Implants are supported by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots once had, they provide the same, dependable foundation as that of natural teeth.

When it comes to the disadvantages of Dental Implants, the only deterrent seems to be cost. Yet, Dental Implants are a one-time expense. When properly selected, placed and maintained, they are designed to last a lifetime. Not surprisingly, Implants enjoy one of the highest success rates of all implant-in-bone types, including knees and hip joints.

If you can use terms such as ‘rocky’ or ‘wobbly’ to describe the fit of your denture, you should know that this will never improve. Quite frankly, bone loss will continue and eventually be visible to others. Remove your dentures and look in a mirror for an honest view of how bone loss may have caused facial changes that are aging you far beyond your actual years.

Typical signs of bone loss are deep wrinkles around the mouth, jowls that form from the detachment of facial muscles, a mouth that seems to collapse into the face and a chin that points. This creates a very unflattering ‘granny look.’ Who wants that?!!! There is a solution.

Because Dental Implants recreate the presence of tooth roots in the bone, they can halt bone loss. There are many implant types that are affordable and support non-removable teeth. They restore a look and feel that is natural and worry-free. Eating and laughing with friends will be a pleasure again. And, with proper care, your implants will last your lifetime, making them an excellent investment.

Considering Dental Implants? Begin with a private, no-charge, no obligation consultation. Call toll free 1-877-966-9009.

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Does Flossing REALLY Make A Difference?

posted: May 16, 2017

Is flossing really beneficial? There is a debate on flossing, even in the dental profession.

There are debates on past studies that claim flossing provides little benefit. Some in the dental profession feel study participants were not followed long enough to determine true effectiveness and that proper flossing techniques were not monitored. However, there is no debate regarding the benefits of keeping bacteria levels in the mouth to a minimum.

Why do we recommend flossing? Brushing teeth doesn’t always remove all debris and bacteria in the mouth. The additional action of flossing helps to remove food particles caught between teeth that a tooth brush is unable to reach or dislodge.

Daily flossers reap the most rewards. Flossing every day can remove trapped particles before they begin to rot. Rotting food is what ‘feed’ oral bacteria, enabling their rapid reproduction and growth. Make no mistake, it is oral bacteria that is the root source of the majority of problems in the mouth.

Oral bacteria reproduce rapidly and are the source of most oral problems.

As a matter of fact, you can actually ‘feel’ the presence of oral bacteria accumulation in less than a day. For example, from the time you brush your teeth in the morning to before brushing again at night, you’ll notice a sticky film on teeth. This film is known as plaque and is simply a coating of oral bacteria that has accumulated during the course of a day.

Plaque coats the teeth, tongue and gums. When not removed on a frequent basis (within 48 hours), plaque can form into cement-hard bacteria colonies that attach to teeth. This is known as tartar (or calculus) and what your hygienist is scraping off teeth during dental cleanings. Once formed, tartar cannot be brushed or flossed away.

Obviously, keeping oral bacteria levels to a minimum is an important part of avoiding problems such as cavities and gum disease. Regular brushing and flossing are the best ways to accomplish this. However, with the proper techniques, you can make your time at the sink far more effective.

Brushing should be done using a soft to medium tooth brush and fluoridated tooth paste. Use a swirling motion rather than scrubbing back and forth. Go over all sides of each tooth thoroughly, using about two minutes to brush your entire mouth. When finished with teeth, use your tooth brush to brush your tongue. This will dislodge millions of embedded bacteria here.

After brushing, rinse thoroughly. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep the mouth moist. If you frequently have a dry mouth, use an oral rinse specifically designed to replenish oral moisture.

When it comes to flossing, it, too, must be done correctly to be truly beneficial. Researchers at the University of Washington School of Dentistry found that when children between ages 4 and 13 had their teeth professionally flossed 5 days a week for a year and a half, there was 40% decrease in cavity risk. By comparison, the same age group who flossed on their own experienced no such benefit.

Yet, with all the advantages of flossing, a great many people fail to do so. Some find the maneuvers awkward, especially men with large fingers. Some people have issues with dexterity, such as arthritis sufferers. Most, however, have simply never mastered the technique. For those who are in the habit of daily flossing, however, it takes less than two minutes. For the vast amount of oral bacteria that flossing prevents, this small devotion of time is well worth it.

For those who cannot floss comfortably, many dentists recommend water flossers. They are easy to use, affordable and often more effective than the flossing techniques of adults and adolescents who struggle to perform the act.

In spite of daily flossing and twice daily brushing, other factors can impact your potential for a healthy mouth. For example, every time you eat, an acid attack begins in your mouth as the initial stage of the digestive process. While this acid is designed to help break chewed foods down in preparation for digestion, it is hard on tooth enamel. As a matter of fact, for 20-30 minutes after eating, the acid can actually soften enamel, leaving it vulnerable.

For people who snack often during the day, this eating frequency creates a higher risk for oral problems since they endure more acid attacks during the day. However, it is the people who sip on colas during the day that are at the highest risk. The acid in soda combined with sticky sugar from the drink becomes even more potent when mixed with acids in the mouth. For people who drink sodas between meals, this creates a perfect storm when it comes to cavities and other problems.

As a dentist, I see patients frequently who have lost teeth due to insufficient oral hygiene. Could they go back in time, flossing would probably be seen in a different light. When string flossing is too difficult, make a water flosser part of your oral hygiene routine.

As the debate continues on the benefits of flossing, there is no harm in taking an additional measure for fresher breath, fewer cavities and the prevention of gum disease (the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss).

Want a recommendation on a water flosser? Call our office at 1-877-966-9009 to learn more. Or, if you’d like to become adept at flossing, arrange a hygiene appointment with one of our Registered Dental Hygienists. They will help you find a comfortable way to floss effectively.

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Do I Need To Replace A Tooth That’s Not Visible In A Smile?

posted: May 10, 2017

A smile with a missing tooth detracts from one’s appearance, which is why most people want to replace it as quickly as possible. It also sends a message to others that creates a lasting impression.

The appearance of a smile has a significant level of importance. Studies have also shown that lasting impressions are made within the first three seconds of meeting someone. According to a Kelton Research study of over1,000 American adults, nearly 30% of those surveyed say the first feature they notice when meeting someone new is their teeth. Twenty-five percent of these cite teeth as what they remember the most later.

Adults are now gaining greater awareness of how their smile can impact their potential for employment or advancement in today’s competitive job market. For those who are re-entering the dating scene, an appealing smile can help project a more youthful appearance and upbeat personality.

During an annual meeting of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), speaker H. Asuman Kiyak, PhD discussed the psychological issues affecting people who have experienced the loss of a tooth and addressed how this loss can affect quality of life.

In addition to appearance, the social relations component of quality of life is altered with missing teeth. Results from a survey distributed to nearly 20,000 AGD members revealed that over 86% of responding dentists cited social embarrassment as one of the greatest problems associated with tooth loss, causing over half to avoid social interaction because of it.

Combine these emotional issues with the fact that a tooth neighboring a missing tooth area is at the highest risk of being the next you’ll lose. Additionally, without natural tooth roots to keep the jaw bone stimulated, the bone will begin to melt away. This bone loss can change facial appearance as the bone declines in height and width.

It is easier to protect a tooth than replace it. This is why we recommend crowns or inlays for the ultimate in longevity and durability. In our office, we can prepare your tooth and place a crown or inlay in a single visit. Using CEREC 3D technology, we are able to create beautiful ceramic crowns, bridges and implant replacement teeth. This precision, in-office process means patients avoid having to wear a temporary or return to have a dental lab-created crown placed.

However, when a tooth is lost, there are several options for replacing it. From dental implants to crown-&-bridge combinations to partial dentures, these provide a natural look and feel with excellent longevity.

Your smile says a lot. Don’t let a missing tooth send the wrong message or disrupt the health of other teeth. Call toll free 1-877-966-9009 for a free consultation to discuss your best options.

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Tooth Loss & Aging – Replacement With Dental Implants

posted: May 05, 2017

In 1900, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was less than 48 years. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus15.pdf#014). In 2015, life expectancy had risen to approximately 79 to 81 years, depending on gender. We are not only living longer, today’s adults are staying more active. As we age, we all desire to have the physical ability to enjoy our mature years. However, like an aging vehicle, our bodies require a certain amount of upkeep. And, that includes our smiles.

Natural teeth are designed to last a lifetime. For most Americans, however, some tooth loss is not uncommon as we age. For adults over the age of 65, over 46% have lost more than six teeth. Of that same age group, 27% are missing all of their natural teeth.

The high number of missing teeth has often been blamed on our eating and drinking habits. Many of us grew up consuming sugary foods and sweetened beverages high in acidity. The penalty came in the form of cavities and other oral problems. While fillings could repair areas of decay, some teeth reached the max load to sustain fillings and a crown (or ‘cap’) was necessary to hold the remaining tooth structure together. The ultimate goal is to hang onto those natural teeth.

Ongoing oral health maintenance is a must in order to keep natural teeth and prevent the development of periodontal (gum) disease. While your twice-a-day brushing and daily flossing help, your 6-month oral hygiene check-ups are an important part of keeping natural teeth. These visits rid your mouth of accumulated calculus (or ‘tartar’), which are actual hardened colonies of oral bacteria.

Let’s stop for a minute to consider just what oral bacteria in the mouth are and their potential to reek havoc in your mouth. Consider that bacteria are living, reproductive organisms. They live by thriving on soft tissues in the mouth. Since they eat, they also create waste. Simply put, these organisms are breeding and defecating in your mouth. Not a pleasant thought!

Saliva is designed to remove a certain amount of bacteria from the mouth. This, coupled with your at-home brushing and flossing routine keeps oral bacteria to a manageable level for most people. However, when saliva flow is insufficient, oral bacteria are able to hang around long enough to eat, breed, and emit waste. It’s no wonder that having a dry mouth causes bad breath.

Dry mouth is not uncommon for aging adults. Not only is it a symptom of the aging process, it is a side effect of many medications, including those for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety and depression.

Keeping natural teeth for a lifetime is possible, now even more so than ever. A study showed that people who have their natural teeth live an average of ten years longer than denture wearers. Denture wearers are also shown to have more gastrointestinal problems, take more medications, and be less involved socially than adults who have their own teeth.

Having your “own teeth,” however, has a different definition than a generation ago. This is thanks to Dental Implants. Decades ago, replacing natural teeth was done with a crown-&-bridge combination, partial denture or full denture. Although these prosthetics replaced the presence of teeth, they did little to restore the ability to bite and chew comfortably. This is where Dental Implants came in, giving one back their “own teeth.”

Dental Implants are positioned in the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots. This provides replacement teeth with the same foundation as natural teeth have. They restore your ability to eat, laugh, speak and even sneeze.

One of the biggest advantages of Dental Implants is their longevity. With proper placement and care, they are designed to last your lifetime. And, because implants are held by the jaw bone, they do not need the support of neighboring teeth.

If you’ve begun to lose natural teeth, the odds of continued tooth loss rise with age. You can halt this process with proper maintenance and replacement of teeth with Dental Implants. Begin with a no charge consultation appointment by calling toll free 1-877-966-9009.

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Oil Pulling? Stick With Brushing & Flossing.

posted: May 01, 2017

I was recently asked about oil pulling. Although I’d heard of it, I decided to do some research to get better informed.

The internet is full of followers who apparently claim the action “pulls” bacteria and toxins from the body through the mouth. Oil pulling, an ancient folk remedy, involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil in the mouth for at least 5 and up to 15 minutes and spitting it out. The most common oil for this practice is coconut oil although sesame, olive and palm oils are also used.

Those who practice Ayurvedic health holistic medicine feel this daily action helps to balance the energy in the body that affects our physical, physiologic and mental state. Some believe it also lowers susceptibility to disease. However, most who practice oil pulling do so for perceived oral health benefits.

Oil pulling loyalists claim it improves gum problems, removes plaque and even whitens teeth. Like a number of claims on the internet, however, what is truth and what is fiction may conflict with what is best for your oral health.

In the pro column for oil pulling is research that shows oil pulling does help to reduce bad breath and oral bacteria. Even so, one study compared oil pulling’s effectiveness to no more than that of over-the-counter mouthwash containing chlorhexidine, which is a common ingredient.

In the con column, the American Dental Association (ADA) cites a “lack of science” and does not recommend oil pulling as either a supplement to oral hygiene nor as a replacement for standard oral health treatments. They feel research results have been based on too small samplings with no adjustments for demographic variations. They also cite the failure of previous research to incorporate blind testing.

While the ADA monitors how future research is conducted, they are firm that some past studies have fallen short in their claims of oil pulling’s benefits. They stated, “scientific studies have not provided the necessary clinical evidence to demonstrate that oil pulling reduces the incidence of dental caries, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being.”

The main concern in the dental profession is that the act of oil pulling has caused some devotees to forego traditional oral care regimens of twice daily brushing and daily flossing. These time-honored actions have proven to be effective maintenance for good oral health. As a dentist, I’m concerned that people who substitute this routine in favor of oil pulling are at higher risk of dental decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

If oil pulling is done in addition to a thorough oral hygiene regimen at home, I don’t see a potential for harm. However, there are many unsubstantiated claims on the internet and I hope that people choose to stick with safe, time-tested methods for maintaining a healthy mouth.

This reminds me of when baking soda was lauded as an inexpensive alternative to toothpaste. We now know that baking soda is far too abrasive for teeth and gum tissues. Consistent users actually wore down healthy gum tissues and eroded protective tooth enamel, leaving them vulnerable for cavities and gum disease. Although there is no indication that oil pulling will do harm, I feel it is best done in conjunction with a thorough brush-&-floss routine.

 

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High-Tech Dentistry Enhances Comfort, Saves You Time

posted: April 24, 2017

Our patients enjoy one, comfortable office for nearly every dental need, from regular cleanings to dental implants and everything in-between. In addition to added relaxation options of Oral and I.V. Sedation, our office features some of the most advanced dental technology available to reduce treatment time and optimize comfort.

Just some of the advanced features you’ll find in our Summerville dental office include:

Dental Radiology With 3D Cone Beam Technology – This 3D imaging covers the whole dentition area (all teeth and jaws, from ear to ear), giving a clear view of the mandible and maxilla (upper and lower jaw). This provides an intricate review of diagnostic requirements and is ideal for treatment planning of endodontics (root canals), periodontics (treatment of gums), orthodontics (tooth realignment), dental implants, TMJ (jaw joints) and dental prosthetics (crowns, bridges, partials, dentures and teeth attached to implants). Cone beam images also pinpoint the lower jaw nerve canal for pre-surgical planning for ideal implant positioning. The imaging process is fast and comfortable and exposes patients to minimal levels of radiation.

One Appointment Crowns & Inlays – CEREC 3D creates beautiful, durable ceramic restorations using the latest in computerization, ready for placement. The tooth is prepared and, while the patient relaxes for a brief time, their ceramic crown or bridge is created and ready for placement — no dental lab needed (that takes weeks). CEREC 3D also eliminates the need for temporaries and reduces numbing requirements by fifty percent.

Laser Therapy – Treatment of gum tissues using our laser is ideal for precision gum contouring, bacteria removal, uncovering implants, repair of oral ulcers and other tissue related procedures. Additionally, the laser causes no bleeding and reduces numbing requirements.

‘Silent’ Drill – We use handpieces that sound like a gentle whirr – with no high-pitched sound of a drill. This handpiece also has better precision and is much quieter.

Digital X-Rays – This digital imaging (x-ray) system reduces exposure to radiation by up to 90% while providing enlarged, on-screen images instantly. Its magnification aids in early diagnosis, helping to reduce treatment time and costs. Patients also like that this fast process is more comfortable than traditional “bite wings”.

Oral Cancer Detection – As a standard part of a patient’s annual examination, we use the VELscope Early Detection System. This is a hand-held device that aids in early detection of oral cancer. The exam is non-invasive, painless and takes only minutes. This process gives a better visual of abnormal tissue that may be, or may lead to, oral cancer.

CASEY Patient Education – To enhance patient communication and their involvement in treatment decisions, we use wall-mounted video technology in treatment suites. These also feature step-by-step information on the latest dental procedures.

IntraOral Imaging – To enhance patient understanding of areas in need, this technology gives enlarged views of specific areas in the mouth that can be easily viewed by the patient while in the treatment chair.

Computerized Charting – At each visit, a patient’s oral health status is recorded and stored, providing easy retrieval for future comparisons. This not only measures the patient’s oral status, it helps in predicting vulnerable areas. This allows patients to be proactive so preventing problems in the first place can occur.

Sterilization System – In our office, all instruments used in patient care are heat sterilized. Our process meets or exceeds the guidelines set forth by OSHA and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

We are also proud that many of the features in our office are environmentally-friendly, helping to preserve precious natural resources and reducing the use of chemicals.

For a firsthand look at our advanced features, and to learn more about the patient benefits of each, feel free to ask. We are also happy to help you understand your options!

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