Do You See Dental Care As A ‘Pain?’

posted: May 24, 2018

When I go to the eye doctor for my annual eye exam, it’s usually one of my least favorite items to check off my healthcare to-do list. Having my pupils dilated, that puff of air shot at my eye ball, and sitting still while a bright light blares into each eye is no fun. However, I see my vision as not only a vital part of living a full and active life. As a dentist, having good vision is vital.

Having an annual eye exam is an appointment most people want ‘over and done with’ quickly. But, like many medical screenings and checkups, we know it’s wise to take the time. Dental checkups, although not something most people look forward to, are also important to your health and well-being. Plus, these twice-a-year dental visits are structured to help you avoid or minimize time and expenses for treatment that can occur without regular care.

Fortunately, these visits typically require only an hour or so of your time. In our office, we try to minimize wait time and use advanced skills and technology to create more efficiency while optimizing comfort. This certainly makes dental visits more appealing for all patients. Yet, for people who do struggle with dental fear, these visits require far more of them than just setting aside the time needed for each visit.

I have decades of experience helping patients who have anxiety or fear (and even dental phobia) to be able to relax through dental treatment. Some have been able to overcome their fears altogether. While I don’t claim to convert them into dental appointment ‘fans,’ I will say that a large percentage go from a sense of dread and ‘white knuckled’ tension to walking in with a smile and leaving with a smile, having completed their appointment without dealing with the grip of fear.

In our nation, periodontal (gum) disease effects over 47 percent of adults – a staggering statistic when you consider how easy it is to prevent. Gum disease occurs from the over-accumulation of oral bacteria that cause inflammation. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, oral health is not the only thing compromised because of gum disease.

These potent bacterial organisms can enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body. Research has shown they can cause reactions that have been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, some cancers, erectile dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease. As more research is conducted, new findings keep connecting oral bacteria to more and more health problems, some that are deadly.

With that said, our nation sadly has far more people who are nervous or afraid of dental visits than not. It is estimated that over 70 percent of adult have some level of dental anxiety or fear. Because this fear prevents some people from being able to receive regular dental care (often delaying treatment until pain forces them), it’s to no surprise that so many suffer with gum disease. As mentioned prior, it’s nearly half of our adult population.

Although we offer both oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep), all patients (in our office) enjoy the benefits of a number of comfort options. In addition to a gentle touch, we’ve invested in a wide variety of advanced technology that reduces treatment time and enhances comfort. (Even our drills are designed to eliminate that dreadful, high-pitched whine, with a gentle humming sound instead).

We also pace each patient’s care to match individual needs. Some people are happy to move through treatment in one or two appointments while others wish to proceed in small steps. We are also careful to communicate what is being done in their mouths, and why. This is reassuring to patients, especially those with fear issues. They may ‘perceive’ pain when there is unknown action taking place that they can’t see.

We encourage anyone who has dental fear or anxiety issues to begin with a private conversation at no charge. This consultation is just a chat. I take the time to learn the unique concerns of each individual and make recommendations based upon those concerns. From there, we can determine the most comfortable way to proceed. Or, they may choose to do nothing for the time being. The choice is in the hands of the patient. We are not here to nudge someone into treatment, but rather to support them when they are ready.

If you would like to schedule a private, no cost consultation, call 843-871-6351. From the very first conversation on the telephone, I’m certain you’ll understand why so many once-fearful people have chosen us to help them achieve healthy, confident smiles.

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Where Is Your Bad Breath Coming From?

posted: May 16, 2018

Growing up, I remember a particular relative I only saw at Christmas gatherings at my Grandmother’s home. I was probably eight or nine when I recall him bending down and greeting me just inches from my face. While I don’t remember his words, I do remember his knock-you-over bad breath.

For years, every time his name was mentioned, I remembered the jolt of breath odor. I should have remembered his words and his smile, first and foremost, but his breath seemed to take a front-&-center place in my memory bank whenever his name came up.

None of us want to be remembered for our breath odor! While it is often associated with spicy foods, breath that is less-than-pleasant actually has a number of sources.

PERIODONTAL (Gum) DISEASE: A common symptom of gum disease is frequent bad breath. As the disease worsens, it goes from frequent to persistent. This is because oral bacteria produce a sulphuric odor that causes bad breath. As they reproduce, more and more of these bacteria exist, subsisting on the soft tissues in the mouth. The gums become so compromised from this over-accumulation that they bleed easily (often while brushing). Other symptoms include tender or swollen gums, gums that release their tight grip around teeth, and gums that turn red. Keep in mind, however, that gum disease begins silently. Beware: You may even have it without noticing symptoms in initial stages.

GERD OR ACID REFLUX: In addition to causing heartburn and a sore throat, acid reflux can cause bad breath. This occurs when acid travels up the throat and reaches your mouth. When these digestive acids mix with saliva, it produces bad breath that is uniquely associated with acid reflux. An excellent explanation of how it occurs (and ways to curtail it) can be found at: http://digestivehealthguide.com/acid-reflux-bad-breath/

DENTURES & PARTIALS: The gum-colored base that holds replacement teeth in dentures and partials is of a porous material. These pores actually provide oral bacteria with little homes where they breed and thrive. As mentioned prior, oral bacteria that accumulate in the mouth produce a surphur-ish odor (likened to a garlicky scent). Although soaking these appliances nightly in a denture cleanser rids most of these bacteria on a daily basis, many people also sleep in their dentures or partials. How bad is this bacteria? One study showed that pneumonia risk doubled in the elderly who slept in their dentures. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541085/)

INSUFFICIENT ORAL HYGIENE: For many people who brush twice daily, the process may not be nearly as effective as they may think. It is recommended to spend two minutes per brushing, using a soft to medium toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. (This applies when using either manual and electronic toothbrushes). Divide the mouth into four sections and spend 30 seconds on each. Finish up by brushing the tongue to remove millions of oral bacteria embedded there. If you’re not flossing prior to brushing, however, you can be missing an important part of the process. Food particles caught between teeth cannot always be dislodged by the bristles of a toothbrush. Left behind, they rot in your mouth, creating a welcome food source that boosts oral bacteria growth.

DRY MOUTH: When the mouth is dry, it means that saliva flow is unable to rinse oral bacteria from the mouth efficiently. This leads to bacterial growth. Dry mouth is a side effect of many prescription and OTC medications, including antihistamines, antidepressants, and sedatives. Smoking, caffeine, and alcohol are also drying to oral tissues. Be aware of the moisture level in your mouth. Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day, chew sugarless gum to promote saliva flow, and consider using a rinse to replenish oral moisture (available over-the-counter at most drug stores).

While other causes of bad breath may be your problem, these are the most frequent culprits. However, regardless of the cause, having a healthy mouth can give you more confidence in close settings with others, and help you avoid the dreaded reputation of “the one who has bad breath.” Begin by scheduling a cleaning/exam to address your problems head on, or ask for a free consultation to discuss your concerns. I’ll make recommendations to help pinpoint the source of your problem and ways to help resolve it.

If you have dental fears or anxiety associated with dental care, please know that we hold consultations in a private room that is removed from the clinical side of the office. You’ll never be asked to sit in a treatment chair until you are ready. I’ll also be happy to discuss comfort options, including oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep), if needed.

Call 843-871-6351 to schedule.

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Cost Of Dental Implants Is Actually A Bargain.

posted: May 09, 2018

For many reasons, dental implants have become the preferred tooth replacement option among today’s adults. They are the closest thing to natural teeth, even mimicking the stimulation needed to the jaw bone to halt the process of bone loss (known as resorption).

Yet, some people forgo this ‘preferred’ method for replacing teeth, most often due to cost. And, to make matters worse, some dental insurances do not provide coverage for dental implants, deeming them as ‘elective.’

Is it elective to be able to bite and chew foods that comprise a healthy diet? Is it elective to feel confident on the job or in social settings? Is it elective to have a smile that is as close to ‘worry-free’ as a smile can be?

Although we are doubtful that insurance companies will adjust their stance anytime soon, we would like to state that dental implants are not the costly treatment they are often perceived to be. In fact, when you look at the overall treatment expense and compare them to other tooth replacement options, you’ll see that dental implants are the wisest investment you can make. Here’s why:

One of the greatest benefits of dental implants is their longevity. Once dental implants are placed and the final teeth attached, your investment (with proper maintenance) should last your lifetime. Their longevity can be credited, primarily, to their construction.

Dental implants are made from the strongest metal known to man – titanium. This material, developed by NASA, was found to be highly compatible with living bone. This means that the body won’t reject it. Even better, the bone where titanium is placed will actually grow around it. This secures the implant in your jaw bone, giving it the same, dependable foundation as natural teeth once had.

Another marker of dental implant value is the ‘one-&-done’ factor. Teeth that are attached to implants do not experience cavities, will never need a root canal, and won’t create problems for neighboring teeth.

Dental implants may seem to be a more costly than crown-&-bridge combinations. However, unlike crown & bridge, dental implants do not reply on neighboring teeth to support replacement teeth. Dental implants use the same, sturdy foundation — the jaw bone — that natural teeth have.

And, because the crown-&-bridges process requires the crowning of neighboring teeth on each side, future costs can include root canals, crown repair, bridge replacement, etc.

As mentioned prior, the process of bone loss due to missing tooth roots can create a number of problems. Resorption impacts the health of existing teeth and weakens the strength of the jaw bone.

As bone loss continues, it can lead to changes in facial appearance that are aging far beyond one’s actual years. These include deep wrinkles around the mouth, jowls that form when facial muscles detach from the shrinking jaw bone, a pointed chin, and a mouth that appears collapsed into the face.

Dental implants halt this process of bone loss.

When you also factor in the quality of your result, including how long dental implants last and how well they’ll hold up over time, they are a true bargain. The cost, over the long term, provides your hard-earned dollars with the best outcome for long-term savings. Plus, the ability to eat the foods you love and laugh without worry is priceless.

If you are considering dental implants or any tooth replacement option, call 843-871-6351 to schedule a no cost, no obligation consultation. During this time, I’ll explain options best for you and answer your questions so you can determine how you wish to proceed.

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Could Headaches Or Migraines Be Coming From Misaligned Bite?

posted: April 26, 2018

A friend once shared that, after enduring years of back aches and pain, an orthopedist determined that the cause was one leg being shorter than the other. It wasn’t obvious to her but the slight disparity had led her on a long, frustrating journey of doctors’ visits, medications, diagnostic tests, and out-and-out guesswork.

The body is a miraculous structure. Yet, it relies on a delicate balance in order to operate as intended. Just as the balanced length of our legs affects the smooth flow of our posture, gait, and stance, so does the balance of how your teeth fit together. A slight disparity here, too, can cause problems that radiate far beyond the mouth.

When the upper teeth do not properly align with the lower teeth, it’s not always obvious – initially. Problems tend to occur at a gradual pace. For example, teeth that slowly become crowded and crooked may eventually fail to meet harmoniously while chewing. This can lead to a number of problems, including chipped, worn, broken, or fractured teeth. And, the condition can contribute to seemingly unrelated problems.

Misaligned teeth can cause the TMJ, or jaw joints, to be strained. These joints, located in front of each ear, are what hinges the lower jaw to the skull. When these joints move together fluidly, they function without stress or strain when speaking, laughing, and eating.

However, when the bite is not properly aligned, it can lead to issues that disrupt the balance that is needed for ease of function. These problems are known as TMJ disorder, which can lead to:

• Headaches
• Migraines
• Clenching and/or grinding teeth during sleep
• Aching jaw joints
• Dizziness
• Ear ringing
• Jaw popping
• Sore facial, shoulder or neck muscles
• Difficulty opening the mouth fully

Misaligned teeth also create a higher risk for cavities and gum disease along with breaks that can result in tooth removal. For example, when upper teeth and lower teeth do not meet properly, one may ‘hit’ a neighboring tooth awkwardly, typically while eating. When a tooth breaks below the gum line, a crown can no longer save the tooth and it must be removed. A lost tooth leads to many decisions and costs for replacement.

In cases of mild bite misalignment, treatment requirements may be as simple as the reshaping of selected teeth. Some cases may involve the crowning of certain teeth in order to restore proper balance. Other cases may require orthodontic treatment to fully resolve the problems related to bite alignment.

Misaligned teeth will not improve without correction. At the very least, improperly aligned teeth will increase your potential for developing cavities or gum disease. Over time, however, many of these cases lead to problems that cause the problems mentioned prior, includign migraines, dizziness, or worn or broken teeth.

If you have crowded, crooked teeth or are experiencing problems associated with TMJ disorder, restoring proper bite alignment can give you a healthier foundation for your teeth and gums, help you avoid TMJ-related problems, and may even enhance the appearance of your smile.

Begin by calling 843-871-6351 to schedule a no-charge consultation. I’ll explain ways we will evaluate your bite and determine if your bite alignment is the true source of your symptoms. If so, we can develop a treatment plan to help you overcome the problems in the most conservative way possible.

 

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Dental Care In Summerville – What Makes Us Different

posted: April 15, 2018

“A rose is a rose,” is a common alteration of Shakespeare’s “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Both mean the same, basically, in that one rose is the same as all the others. However, we know that’s not the case. outside and inside office photo

One dental office or one 6-month dental cleaning may be far different in one office than the other. For example, one dental office may make comfort a high priority while another moves patients through care in a rushed pace with little regard to comfort.

In our office, we’ve taken a number of measures to ensure patients understand the difference as well as feel it. We hope that each patient comes to find, with each appointment, that it’s not one thing but a combination of things that make the difference.

Below, we’ve listed a few areas we know affords our patients with an elevated standard of care as well as a noticeably high level of comfort:

• Advanced Technology – We’ve carefully incorporated a number of state-of-the-art features that shorten treatment time, enhance results, and optimize comfort. These include Cone Beam Imaging (for 3-dimensional views of teeth, gums and supporting bone structures), CEREC 3D computerized technology (for one-appointment crowns and implant restorations), ‘Silent’ Drills (that eliminate the high-pitched whine of a drill, replacing it with a gentle whir), and Laser Dentistry (which reduces bleeding and speeds healing).

• Staff Longevity – I am so proud of the longevity of each team member. For decades, many have worked by my side and become “like family” to patients. Newer staff members have immediately sensed the unified team spirit here, feeling fully supported in their commitment to excellent patient care.

• Exceptional Comfort – In addition to oral sedation (a sedative in pill form), I am Certified to provide I.V. sedation (twilight sleep). This provides a deeper level of comfort through ‘sleep dentistry’ and erases most, if not all, memory of treatment afterward. In addition to sedation options, all measures are taken for the highest level of patient comfort possible, starting with a gentle touch and care that is paced to each individual’s specific need.

• Complete Dentistry – In addition to providing all phases of Dental Implants, you’ll find all levels of dental care are covered – for all ages and all needs. Everything from six-month checkups to root canals to tooth replacement to therapy to treat gum disease – our patients appreciate having all services in one, convenient location.

• Skilled, Ethical Care – Our patients know our recommendations are made based on what is in their best interests. By instilling a sense of confidence with each, they have faith in us to provide the best care according to their individual needs and goals. This has created strong bonds that we feel is the foundation of “exceptional dentistry.”

You should feel positive about your dental caregivers, at every visit. If you feel something is missing in your relationship with your dental office, consider scheduling a no-charge consultation appointment. During this time, we’ll discuss how our office may be compatible to your needs and desires, enabling you to achieve a healthy, confidence smile you’ll love to share.

Call 843-871-6351 to schedule. I look forward to meeting you and including you as one of our many happy patients!

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Is Your Face Aging More Than Your Years?

posted: April 04, 2018

I can’t imagine that any adult over the age of 30 wants to look older than they are. Most of us are hoping to go into our elder years with people saying, “Oh, you certainly don’t look your age! I would have guessed you no more than age xx.” (preferably 10 or more years less than we really are!)

Mere flattery or not, we love to hear that we are aging well. And, American adults are willing to invest heavily in keeping a more-youthful look. According to a 2015 article published in Markets & Trends entitled, “U.S. Skin Care Market to Reach Nearly $11 Billion in 2018,” they estimate nearly $11 billion will be spend on skin care in the U.S. this year. (http://www.gcimagazine.com/marketstrends/segments/skincare/US-Skin-Care-Market-to-Reach-Nearly-11-Million-in-2018-311287121.html)

While we slather on expensive creams and color our hair, an unfamiliar factor (to many) that contributes to the appearance of more years than we’re due is the decline in jaw bone mass from tooth loss.

Ever heard the term ‘granny look?’ Although this is the extreme of a shrinking jaw bone, it is pretty descriptive when it comes to an aged appearance that no one wants. It conjures up an image of an older woman who has a pointed chin, deep wrinkles around the mouth, and a mouth that seems collapsed into the face.

This all occurs when the jaw bones that supported natural teeth no longer have tooth roots to provide stimulation. When the roots are removed, the jaw bone doesn’t receive the nourishment and stimulation needed. Without this, they slowly begin to shrink. This process is known as resorption.

As the bone shrinks from a missing tooth or teeth, neighboring teeth are at higher risk. Due to various factors, the next tooth to be lost is typically one that is adjacent to a missing tooth.

Bone loss is not always obvious for people who wear dentures or partial dentures. They tend to look in the mirror when their denture is in place, which plumps up the face. However, it is what’s taking place below the gums that causes changes in facial appearance. These changes will only become more severe with time.

Bone loss contributes to deep wrinkles that form around the mouth with the corners of the mouth turning downward, even in a smile. As it continues, the mouth appears to collapse into the face and jowls form from the detachment of facial muscles.

For those who wear dentures or partials, the pressure this places on the ‘ridge’ actually accelerates the rate of resorption. This is the gum-covered arch that the denture or partial rests upon. For those who sleep in these appliances, the 24/7 pressure speeds the rate of resorption even more.

As resorption continues, the gum ridge begins to flatten as it’s foundation shrinks. Denture wearers often first notice bone loss when their denture begins to move while eating. Eventually, even denture adhesives are unable to prevent uncomfortable rubbing or slips while eating. Speaking and laughing also becomes overshadowed by the fear of embarrassing moments.

Because dental Implants recreate stimulation to the jaw bones that support them, they are able to halt the rate of bone loss. Additionally, because they are placed in bone, just as tooth roots were once, they provide the same dependable foundation of natural teeth.

Dental implant systems have also evolved so they are able to accommodate specific needs. For example, some types can be placed in adults who have experienced severe bone loss. The All-On-4 implant system requires only minimal bone to adequately support a full arch of teeth on just four implants.

Regardless of the implant type selected, a dentist who is trained and experienced in all implant types is your best choice for a successful result. In our office, our patients know their implant treatment is backed by advanced training in all implant types with both oral and I.V. sedation (twilight sleep) available.

Using the cutting edge technology of CEREC 3D, we are also able to create replacement teeth at the same appointment our patients are having their implants placed. This eliminates waiting for a dental lab to create your final restoration (replacement teeth) and a second appointment to place them. It also cuts numbing requirements in half.

Dental Implants restore biting and chewing comfort as well as the ability to speak and laugh confidently. Call 843-871-6351 to schedule a free, private consultation. During this time, I’ll make recommendations based upon your specific needs and goals. We can also discuss treatment costs and easy payment options.

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Sleeping Without CPAP Is Possible For Sleep Apnea Sufferers.

posted: March 28, 2018

As more and more research is conducted, it’s becoming obvious that the amount of sleep we get each night has a direct impact on our physical and mental well-being.

Want more supple skin? Research shows you need to get good sleep. (https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/beauty/advice/a42908/ways-sleep-can-mess-with-your-face/)

Want to keep your weight in check? Research shows you need to get good sleep. (https://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/why-sleep-no-1-most-important-thing-better-body)

Want to lower your risk for serious health problems? Again, research shows you need to get good sleep.(https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/chronic_disease.html)

Yet, the amount of time we spend in bed each night isn’t a true measure of getting ‘good’ sleep. It is necessary to get ‘quality’ sleep that includes a sufficient amount of REM sleep.

What is REM sleep?

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep makes up about 25% of your total sleep cycle. It typically occurs about 90 minutes into your sleep cycle. Because there are 5 sleep cycles, REM sleep occurs several times each night.

For those who have sleep apnea, the brain reacts to periodic pauses in breathing with signals to wake up in order to ‘reset’ breathing at a normal pace. This leads to fragmented sleep. This fragmented sleep can occur in sleep apnea sufferers for hundreds of times each night, the amount of REM sleep is insufficient.

The brain is the body’s central control system, regulating its overall operation. Because the brain is deprived of sufficient oxygen during these pauses, it becomes less efficient in some areas or sends distorted signals in others. Hence, everything from skin to weight to energy levels are effected.

A common ‘therapy’ for sleep apnea in the past has been a C-PAP device. Although these devices can look pretty archaic, they do the job when it comes to supplying oxygen during sleep.

Most C-PAPs consist of a mask that is worn over the face that has a hose attached to a machine. This machine includes a fan that sends air through the hose at a force that pushes air into breathing passage ways.

While effective at delivering sufficient oxygen to sleep apnea patients, typical complaints are:

“The machine is noisy.”
“I’m unable to move around comfortably in bed.”
“It’s bulky to travel with and they inspect it at airport security like it’s a dangerous threat.”
“I frequently wake up and realize I’ve taken it off sometime during the night.”
“It’s embarrassing.”
“It has caused me to sleep with my mouth open and I wake up with a horribly dry mouth every morning. I had to start using a chin strap in addition to the CPAP.”
“We used to go camping a lot but can’t now since I have no place to plug it in.”

For those who have severe sleep apnea, C-PAP is necessary. However, for people with mild to moderate levels of sleep apnea, an alternative may be an oral appliance. In our office, a number of patients have found these effectively and comfortably resolve their sleep problems.

Oravan Sleep Appliances – Small, Comfortable & Affordable

We use Oravan devices that are FDA approved and custom-designed to fit the unique contours of each mouth. These hold the airway open by bringing the lower jaw slightly forward and position the tongue to keep it from falling backwards during sleep, causing airway obstruction.

We are also Medicaid certified.

If you suspect you suffer with sleep apnea or are frustrated with your CPAP device, call us at 843-871-6351 to request a no charge, no obligation consultation. During this time, we’ll discuss the best way to help restore your quality of sleep so every night provides a good night’s sleep!

 

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The Numbers Your Hygienist Is Calling Out During Your Checkups

posted: March 20, 2018

For years, I never knew what my ophthalmologist was looking for when he shot that puff of air into each eye. I finally asked. Now, knowing it is a test for glaucoma makes it a little easier to tolerate.

As a dentist, I felt the same thing may apply to those 6-month dental checkups. During this time, your hygienist takes a small ‘probe’ and runs it along 3 positions at the base of each tooth and on both sides. During probing, you may hear her record numbers three-at-a-time, such as 3-3-2, 2-3-2, 1-2-2, 2-3-3, etc.

What do these numbers mean?

What you may not know is how these probes have measurements near the blunted tip. A dental probe is actually a gauge that shows the depth between your tooth and the gum tissues that surround it. Depth? Allow me to explain.

Of course, your teeth are more than the white, enamel-coated portions you see in the mirror. Each tooth is wrapped tightly with gum tissues at its base. Gum tissues help to seal bacteria from penetrating the structures below.

As you know, each tooth has roots that we can’t see. The root portion is what is anchored into the upper or lower jaw, giving the tooth a firm foundation and the stability necessary for biting and chewing.

The portion of your teeth that is beneath the gums is not coated by protective enamel as the portion of the teeth we see. The root areas are very sensitive. This is why darker, tooth root areas appear when the gums recede. This is the reason you may experience a jolt of pain when drinking hot or cold when these sensitive areas are exposed.

Not only are these parts of the tooth highly sensitive, they are more susceptible to the penetration of oral bacteria. When bacteria accumulation eats away at healthy gum tissues, it can weaken the gums and interfere with their ability to keep the tight seal around teeth.

The numbers your Hygienist is calling out during the probing part of your cleaning indicate how far down the gum tissue has loosened from the tooth (the depth). The higher the number, the farther down the probe can go. So, like a golf score, a lower number is better.

Hearing 1 or 2 is good. That means the probe is unable to go down into the gums or can penetrate only slightly. A 3 means there is room for improvement. Perhaps you were not as thorough when brushing at certain angles around back teeth. Or, you weren’t flossing often enough to remove food particles caught between teeth. When oral bacteria builds, the gums react by becoming inflamed.

This inflammation is what causes the gums to feel tender. If you dread a cleaning because it is uncomfortable, it’s likely because your gums are sensitive due to inflammation. They may also appear more red in color versus a healthy pink and be swollen in some areas. This is the same reaction you’d have from a cut on the skin that is becoming infected – it becomes red and swollen.

Naturally, hearing a 4 or a 5 from the hygienist is not good. These numbers indicate trouble. The higher numbers indicate a depth that is due to bacterial overload that has created inflammation.

Periodontal (gum) disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, research has found that the potent bacteria of gum disease is linked to a number of serious health problems far beyond the mouth.

Oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in diseased gum tissues. It has been shown to cause inflammatory triggers that contribute to diseases and conditions that range from cancer to stroke. (https://www.humana.com/learning-center/health-and-wellbeing/healthy-living/gum-disease-and-health)

When you take good care of your oral health at home and have regular dental checkups, you’re doing more than protecting your pearly whites. You are keeping your gums healthy, which in turn help to support good overall health.

At your next hygiene visit, ask your hygienist how to have all 1’s and 2’s. She’ll develop an individualized program that works well for you. Thorough, twice-daily brushing and daily flossing can help you avoid expensive repairs for cavities and gum disease as well as mean a more comfortable dental cleaning.

If you are behind on regular dental checkups, call 843-871-6351 to schedule. We’ll be happy to help you get back up to speed!

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No Need To Fear Dentistry. Here, Dental Care Is Gentle, Comfortable.

posted: March 12, 2018

Dental fear is fairly common – perhaps more common than you realize. It is estimated that 75% of American adults have some level of fear associated with dental visits. Approximately 5 – 10% of these can be categorized as dental phobics. These are who are so fearful they seek dental care only when an emergency need forces them into a dental office or an emergency room.

It’s not unusual for adults with dental fear to avoid regular dental care. Unfortunately, these delays often force fearful patients into treatment for problems that could have been avoided. More-involved treatment can require lengthy time in a dental chair, the very place that fearful patients want to avoid.

When more involved treatment is needed, it tends to reinforce these fears rather than remind of the benefits of regular care that could have prevented these problems from occurring in the first place.

Regular dental check-ups are structured to help patients avoid problems altogether. For the problems that do occur, regular dental checkups help us to catch these problems early so they can be resolved with minimal treatment. Allowing us to help you address your dental fear can save you much in treatment time and expense (not to mention restore your smile to a healthy, confident look and feel!).

We take pride in the many patients we’ve helped to overcome their dental fears here, for good! Many of these patients began their care with the help of Oral Sedation, which creates a fully-relaxed state. This also eliminates most or all memory of treatment afterward.

I am also Certified to administer I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep) for those who desire a deeper level of sedation. Throughout any treatment that includes sedation, you will be monitored by trained staff members and advanced safety equipment.

In addition to a gentle touch, we also feature advanced technology for many procedures. These enhance comfort and reduce treatment time, many decreasing treatment time and numbing requirements by 50 percent. Our patients know us for the comfort level they receive. However, fearful patients also appreciate that we schedule treatment at a pace that is comfortable based on individual preferences.

Don’t wait until an emergency need occurs. Call 843-871-6351 to schedule a free Consultation. We’ll discuss your and options to enhance comfort throughout your visit. Before an emergency need arises, let’s design a customized plan to create a healthy, beautiful smile!

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Being Afraid Of Dental Visits Fairly Common

posted: March 08, 2018

Most of us know someone who enjoys roller coaster rides or scary movies. Quite frankly, I’m not one of them and not afraid to admit it!

Yet, I know that a scary thought to many people is a visit to the dentist. Those who experience fear or anxiety associated with dental visits are plentiful — nearly 75 percent of the adult population by some estimates. And, an estimated 5-10 percent of those can be categorized as ‘dental phobics.’ These people have such intense fears of dentistry that they avoid care until something becomes so painful that they have no choice.

Unfortunately, what prevents fearful patients from having regular dental care is a past, traumatic experience in a dental office, more often than not. When a dentist continues to work on a patient who is not fully numb or indicating discomfort, the damage inflicted can be lifelong.

What the individual is left with is a looming fear of dental care. And, the health of your mouth has been found to be even more vital to overall health than ever.

Recent research has shown that the bacteria of gum disease can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. This systemic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction and impotency.

As a dentist who is experienced in caring for fearful patients, I understand that past traumas are difficult to set aside. I know these fears are common and try to reassure these patients that they have nothing to be ashamed of, not in our office anyway.

My entire team is focused on providing gentle care to all patients at every visit. Our desire is to provide a positive experience from the time an individual walks through our front door through the time they check out.

Here, each person is treated with respect, compassion and to the highest standards possible. We’ve also incorporated advanced dental technology and techniques to enhance every aspect of treatment, regardless of the procedure.

For example, we use a ‘silent’ drill. Rather than a high-pitched whine, these make a gentle whir sound. Another example is our CEREC 3D technology. This creates crowns and implant ‘restorations’ (replacement teeth) in one visit. This eliminates the need for the patient to have to return for a separate placement visit and have an additional numbing.

For new patients with dental fears, I often offer oral or I.V. sedation. For many, sedation helps them to relax through their initial visits so, in many cases, they come to relax on their own. Many, after only one or two visits, state they no longer need a sedative.

Oral sedation is a pill that is taken prior to one’s visit. By the time the patient arrives to our office, he or she is in a relaxed state. We seat them immediately in a comfortable treatment chair and administer numbing medications while they are in this relaxed state.

I.V. sedation, for which I am certified, is an ‘in-the-vein’ drip of anesthetic. This creates a deeper ‘sleep state’ for patients with a greater amnesiac effect. However, oral sedation also erases most (if not all) memory of the procedure. It also has a faster recovery time.

Both are safe and patients are monitored throughout treatment with trained staff members and advanced safety equipment.

As a dentist with a track record of helping hundreds of fearful patients achieve healthy, confident smiles, I know sedation options are but a piece of the puzzle to feeling good about dentistry. When it comes to a patient who has no fear of being in pain and enjoys achieving the look and feel of a healthy, beautiful smile, that comes from a relationship of trust.

This is where once-fearful patients find a solution. In knowing they are in the hands of people who care about their comfort, will never rush them, and respect their unique needs and concerns, our patients are able to enjoy smiles they are proud to share!

If fear has kept you from achieving the healthy, appealing smile you have only ‘hoped for,’ call to request a no-charge consultation appointment. This visit occurs in a private consultation room that is removed from the clinical side of our office. During this time, I’ll learn about your concerns, make recommendations, and answer your questions.

We are here for you. We know your smile is important to you. Call 843-871-8351 to schedule.

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All-On-4 Dental Implants Solve Many Challenges

posted: February 27, 2018

After years of wearing a denture, many people realize the fit is not as dependable as when it was first made. It begins to slip while chewing and also rub sore spots on tender gum tissues.

The reason for this is due to bone loss. When natural tooth roots no longer exist in the upper or lower jaw, the bone begins to shrink, or ‘resorb.’ Resorption is also the reason a once-secure fitting denture feels less and less so after each year.

Most people are not aware that wearing a denture places pressure on the jaw bones, which speeds up the process of bone loss. For those who sleep in their dentures, the rate is accelerated even more.

Initially, after a denture is first made, patients may be advised to wear it 24/7 until becoming used to its presence in the mouth. However, after an adjustment period, you should remove it before bedtime. Studies have also shown that people who sleep in their denture have a higher risk for pneumonia. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541085/)

For people who do everything possible to care for their dentures, however, there is no way to prevent bone resorption. In addition to the looser fit with each passing year, changes to facial appearance will begin to take place.

These changes include deep wrinkles that form around the mouth, having the corners of the mouth turn downward (even while smiling), a more pointed chin, having a mouth that seems collapsed into the face, and jowls that form as facial muscles detach from bone structures.

A temporary fix to loose dentures is a reline. This reshapes the gum base portion to fit the less prominent contours of a declining gum ‘ridge’ to which it was originally fitted. Yet, the problems will reappear as bone loss continues.

In the past, people who had experienced severe bone loss were required to first have a bone graft, often using a piece of hip bone to rebuild the jaw bone where implants were to be placed. As dental techniques advanced, bone rebuilding materials were developed that could regenerate bone mass, preventing the need for the more-involved surgical grafting procedure.

Fortunately, in 1998, a new dental implant system was introduced that enabled implant placement in even severely resorbed bone mass. All-On-4 dental implants relied on specially designed implants placed at unique angles. This technique evenly distributed the load among four implants.tooth implant individual

There were additional advantages to the All On Four system. First, the procedure itself was less complex than traditional implant placement, making it possible for the patient to recover quickly. Too, teeth could be attached immediately after placement. So, not only could the patient walk out of the dentist’s office and meet a friend following the procedure, they could enjoy lunch together!

For many, the best advantage of all is in the lower cost as compared to many other implants systems. Because only 4 dental implants are needed to support a full upper or lower arch of teeth, treatment costs are typically quite lower than traditional implant types.

While All On 4 dental implants won’t work for every individual who is missing teeth, they are a beneficial option for a number of patients who wish to be rid of a bothersome denture. If you’re one, call 843-871-6351 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.

During this visit, we’ll discuss comfort options, payment plans, and what to expect during treatment.

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Research Clarifies That Oral Health Is Connected To Whole Health

posted: February 20, 2018

Dentistry is an exciting field. I love that I can replace missing teeth in our patients with the durability and stability of Dental Implants. I am always pleased to watch a patient get that first look at their new smile after a cosmetic dentistry. Yet, I am thrilled that research is now proving the links between our oral health and our overall health.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Consider that the majority of the bacteria that enters the body comes in through the mouth. When gum disease weakens oral tissues, the potent bacteria can enter the bloodstream.

Years ago, researchers found that many serious diseases were the result of systemic inflammation. This occurs when the body’s immune system goes haywire and turns on itself. This chronic inflammation has been blamed for heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, erectile dysfunction (ED) and a series of other problems.

What the researchers began to note was how oral bacteria could contribute to inflammatory triggers. For example, an article published in 2010 by the Journal of Oral Microbiology, they point out that “individuals with periodontitis (advanced gum disease) are reported to have an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease, stroke, myocardial infarction, and atherosclerosis” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3084572/)

The surge of research surrounding the link between periodontal disease and serious health problems has reached as far as showing connections with Alzheimer’s disease, preterm babies, some cancers (including lung, oral and pancreatic cancers), and contributing to elevated PSA (Prostate-specific antigen) levels.

Now, researchers are fast-tracking studies surrounding microbes. These have been found to be mixes of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Although it sounds like an icky cesspool, these microbes are much like the bacteria in our guts.

For those of us who take a daily probiotic capsule, we do this so the good-guy bacteria in our digestive system can keep the bad-guy bacteria in check. It’s a similar issue with microbes. Researchers have determined that microbiome send signals to certain parts of the body. These signals can help with the efficiency of certain functions, but like bad-guy bacteria in the gut, they can also misfire. It is in the misfire that has become the focus of many studys. What causes them to misbehave?

Getting back to the bacteria in your mouth, we’ve acknowledged that it is plentiful and can enter the bloodstream. When certain strains of periodontal disease bacteria settle in at certain points, a chain reaction begins, none of it good. One study found that the makeup of the bacteria found in advanced gum disease was almost identical to tissues taken from arthritic joints. And, findings also showed that the successful treatment of gum disease could create significant reductions in arthritis symptoms. (https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/gum-disease/ra-and-gum-disease.php)

When it comes to the devastating diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, scientists are looking diligently for potential sources. In one study, a team at Chung Shan Medical University used data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database to examine whether patients age 50 or older with chronic periodontitis had an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Although no overall link was determined between periodontitis and Alzheimer‘s, they found that “people who had the chronic gum inflammation for 10 or more years were 70 percent more likely than people without periodontitis to develop Alzheimer’s disease.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-alzheimers-gum-disease/long-term-gum-disease-linked-to-alzheimers-disease-idUSKCN1AX2F0)

Certainly, we want fresh breath and bright smiles, which are good reasons to brush and floss. However, these findings are pretty telling that a healthy mouth contributes to a healthy body, and vice versa.

If you’re behind on regular dental checkups and cleanings, let’s get you seen sooner than later. You may be doing a lot more than avoiding cavities! Call 843-871-6351 to schedule, or ask to begin with a free, no obligation consultation. During this time, I can discuss a program that may be appropriate for your needs as well as comfort options and easy payment plans.

 

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Slow Down For Effective Brushing & Flossing

posted: February 15, 2018

We live in a hurry-up society. We all seem to have more to do than there are hours in a day. However, the time we devote to some things can save us much in time and money later on.

I’ll use flu season as an example, since it’s running rampant right now. Imagine you’ve been to the grocery store. You grabbed a shopping cart but bypassed the sani-wipe stand because someone was there and you were in a hurry. You checked out at the self-check, then unloaded the cart and returned it to the store. Again, someone was at the sani-wipes so you headed to your car rather than wait.

Once home, you put the groceries away. Now, also running behind on meals, you grabbed an apple to munch while you prepared dinner. Yet, halfway through the apple, you realized you hadn’t washed your hands or the apple. So, when flu symptoms began, you may not have put two and two together, but from the cart handle, the touch screen at checkout, the grocery items and an unwashed apple, you’ve handled zillions of germs.

Hindsight being 20-20, the devotion of a minute here and a minute there could have meant avoiding getting sick in the first place. The same process can also help you avoid the time and costs to repair a cavity or treat gum disease.

Most people brush their teeth twice a day. Yet, like anything, it’s not always that it’s done, it’s that it’s done properly. Getting a dab of toothpaste on a wet toothbrush and running it across teeth in a rushed manner doesn’t do much good.

For truly effective brushing, use a medium to soft bristle toothbrush and a fluoridated toothpaste. Pretend your mouth is divided into four parts (quadrants): the upper right side, the lower right side, the upper left side and the lower left side.

Using a swirling motion, move the toothbrush across all sides and the tops of teeth. Don’t press down so the bristles splay out. You want to keep a gentle touch so the tips of the bristles sweep across the surfaces of the teeth. Spend 30 seconds on each quadrant. Finish up by brushing the toothbrush over the tongue. This dislodges millions of oral bacteria embedded in the tiny bumps on the tongue. Rinse thoroughly by swishing several times.

About 30 percent of Americans say they floss daily with about 37 percent being less-frequent flossers. Thirty-two percent say they never floss. (https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-02/how-many-americans-floss-their-teeth)

If you’re not flossing, think of the food particles that are rotting in your mouth because they’re caught between teeth. As they rot, realize these are creating bacteria, which are living, breathing and breeding organisms. And, because they’re alive, they eat, and what eats, produces waste. In your mouth! This is a pretty good reason to floss!

However, like brushing, flossing should be performed properly to be truly effective. Remember to avoid popping the floss between teeth. You want to avoid cutting into tender gum tissues. This tends to happen when you’re trying to hurry through the process. So, like brushing, slow down and take the time to do it correctly.

If flossing is awkward, ask our hygienist to help you with a comfortable technique. Or, if you have large hands or problems with manual dexterity, consider using a water flosser. These are affordable and can be just as effective as manual flossing.

If washing your hands can prevent you from catching the flu, that’d be well worth the time – right? If spending 5 minutes a day at the sink can save you time and money at the dentist, that’s definitely worth the time. Plus, you’ll enjoy fresh breath and a sparkling smile!

Show your smile some love by slowing down as you care for it at home. If you are behind on your dental check-ups, call 843-871-6351 to schedule.

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Need A Crown (Cap)? CEREC Makes It Fast, Simple, Affordable!

posted: February 08, 2018

Remember when your sister (or you!) used to roll her hair and sit under a hair dryer on Saturday afternoons? The process often required hours for washing, rolling and drying to get ready for ‘date night.’

Of course, today’s females have it much easier. Blow dryers, heated rollers and flat irons have made the process much more efficient and with excellent results.

Times have certainly changed. Today’s technology has simplified the process for many things. We no longer have to stand by a stove, waiting for water to boil when a microwave oven can ‘zap’ it to a boil in a couple of minutes.

Dentistry has also simplified some once-laboring procedures to what is now much more time efficient, more comfortable, and affordable. The 3D computerized technology of CEREC is a highly-advanced method for creating custom-made crowns (caps) in a single visit.

Let’s revisit the ‘old’ method for crowning a tooth. First, the tooth had to be reshaped so the ‘cap’ could fit over it. Then, a mold of the tooth was made so a dental lab could create a ‘final’ crown according to the dentist’s instructions of shape, size and shade.

Because it would take several weeks for the dental lab to make the crown and have it back to the dental office, a ‘temporary’ was placed. This gave the patient a fake tooth that would protect the remaining tooth structure while enabling some ability to eat.

The reason drug stores sell a dental paste that is specially made to replace temporaries is because they can come off fairly easily during this wait time. The adhesive that is used to attach a temporary to a tooth is designed for easily detachment. This lighter adhesive prevents damage to the remaining tooth structure when the temporary is removed.

However, as many individuals find, it doesn’t take much chewing to dislodge a temporary. And, as Murphy’s Law would have it, these instances seem to occur on a weekend more often than not.

But let’s say your temporary holds until the dental lab has the final crown delivered to the dentist’s office. You must return for a second appointment for the placement process and go through another numbing. The final crown is placed, proper shade matching is verified, and your bite is checked.

Although rare, the dental lab may have gotten the shade wrong or failed to follow the dentist’s instructions for crown height, for example. Guess what? Back to the temporary as the process begins again. Another crown, another appointment, another numbing, etc.

CEREC 3D has eliminated much of this process by providing in-office technology the dentist can oversee. In just one visit, your tooth is prepared, a custom crown is created, and securely placed. No wearing a temporary. No second appointment. No second numbing. You walk out with a beautiful, durable crown that has the look, feel and function of a natural tooth!

As a CEREC Mentor, I help other dentists learn the proper utilization of the technology. The latest advancements also enable me to create bridges, partials and dental implant ‘restorations’ (replacement teeth). All of this saves the patient greatly in the time spent in a dental chair — something that is especially appealing for those with busy schedules or who feel anxious at dental visits.

Crowns are needed when a tooth is holding too much ‘filling’ material or has cracks or fractures. Crowning teeth helps to protect the remaining tooth structure and tooth roots that are invaluable to maintaining a healthy jaw bone. Keeping your natural teeth also helps protect the life of neighboring natural teeth.

If a crown has been recommended for you, consider the ease and quick process of CEREC technology. Call 843-871-6351 to learn more or ask for a free consultation appointment.

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Many Ways To Improve The Appearance Of A Smile

posted: January 30, 2018

I remember a patient sharing with me the reason she decided to have a smile makeover. “A friend showed me a photo she’d recently taken and I thought ‘What a horrible picture,’ until I realized I’d been saying that about EVERY photo I’d seen of me for the past ten years.”

My sentiments exactly! We all want to think of ourselves as looking a certain way (which is usually younger and thinner!). As we age, that image we have of ourselves may age, too, but usually not at the same pace as our actual years!

When we find that our smile isn’t as bright or as wide as it used to be, could it be because it hasn’t aged very well?

The aging process tends to dull or darken the shade of teeth. Too, smiles with a few slightly crooked teeth in younger years tend to worsen with age, tilting more and bunching up. Teeth may also chip or become worn from night-time clenching or grinding.

None of these things help create a smile that is aging gracefully. They are flaws that cause many people to ‘hold back’ on smiling fully.

With a new year, consider a new YOU by achieving a more youthful, flattering smile. Modern dentistry offers exceptional techniques, materials and technology to create results that are beautiful, natural-looking, durable and long-lasting.

In our office, we utilize advanced technology that enables many procedures to be completed in just one or two visits. We even use a ‘silent’ drill that makes a gentle whir rather than the high-pitched whine people anticipate (and always dread hearing) in dental procedures.

Here, your comfort is always a priority. We offer a number of comfort options, including Oral and I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep) in addition to a gentle touch. Your safety is monitored by trained staff members throughout treatment and all sterilization meets or exceeds standards set forth by OSHA.

Yet, what sets us most apart are the results. Our patients are wowed by the fabulous results that a smile makeover has on their appearance, self-confidence, and feeling of outgoing-ness. Patients who have had smile enhancements tell me they smile more often, smile wider and feel more positive about their overall appearance. It’s not unusual for a patient who has completed smile enhancement to lose weight, update their hairstyle or become more involved socially.

For most smile makeovers, we use porcelain veneers and/or porcelain crowns. Porcelain is highly durable and resists stains better than any other material used in dentistry. It has a natural opalescence, even reflecting light as a real tooth. And, porcelain lasts a long time. It’s ‘staying power’ is excellent.

For those who are missing natural teeth, we can place porcelain crowns on implants or create porcelain bridges that are supported by porcelain crowns. We can also discuss whitening natural teeth prior to placing porcelain crowns or veneers to ensure you receive the preferred degree of whiteness that blends all teeth together attractively.

If you’d like to feel great about smiling, let’s discuss your smile during a no-charge consultation appointment. Call our friendly staff at 843-871-6351 to schedule.

 

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