Sometimes, things can occur without being obvious for quite some time. For example, seeing a tire that has abnormally worn down on one side is an indication that it has been out of alignment for an extended amount of time. Or, losing a button means that the threads gave way a while back and gradually became looser and looser.
As a dentist, I occasionally examine a new patient and see signs of worn teeth. Sometimes, the individual has fractures or chips on teeth as well. These are typically indications of clenching or grinding teeth, which often occurs during sleep. It’s rather common, however, that the patient has no idea this has been taking place.
Like a tire that’s just slightly out of alignment, minor disparities aren’t always noticeable. Eventually, however, the wear and tear does become obvious. Although it may take years for the signs to clearly emerge, like anything, the sooner you resolve the problem, the better.
Clenching and grinding of teeth is known as bruxing in the dental profession. This action often takes place while the individual is asleep, so they are unaware they are doing it. However, upon awakening, the person may notice jaw joint pain, headaches, difficulty opening the mouth fully, ear ringing, or dizziness.
What causes this?
The most common cause is bite misalignment. When the upper teeth do not meet harmoniously with the lower teeth, it can transfer stress or strain to the jaw joints.
These joints, which lie just in front of the ears, are the joints that hinge the lower jaw to the skull. Known as the temporo-mandibular joints (or ‘TMJ’), these joints are in nearly-constant motion. Every time you speak, eat, laugh, yawn, and even swallow, these joints move. If they do not move fluidly and in unity, they can become inflamed.
Like many parts of our bodies, the jaw joints strive for self-repair. The skin heals itself, the immune system fights infection, and broken bones reconnect. When an imbalance in the joints effects efficiency and comfort, they seek to find a more comfortable position when they have the least interference — during sleep.
During sleep, the jaws attempt to shift and ‘force’ themselves to find a place of harmony. This prompts the action of clenching teeth together or grinding them back and forth.
Although the alignment of teeth may seem unrelated to the balanced movement of the jaw joints, the results of disharmony can be pretty severe – and costly. Broken, fractured or chipped teeth can require crowns or even replacement of teeth. Worn teeth typically need crowning or repair of cavities that has occurred when the protective enamel of teeth has been worn down.
For our patients who need these repairs, they have the advanced technology of our CEREC 3D computerized process. This creates crowns and other ceramic restorations (crowns, bridges, implant teeth) in a single visit, saving the patient time and often reducing numbing requirements by half.
Once we verify that your bite is truly out of alignment (and the cause of bruxing), correcting it may be as simple as reshaping selected teeth. Some crowns may be needed and an oral appliance may also be advised. These appliances are custom-made to comfortably fit the unique contours of each mouth and do not interfere with sleep.
When bite misalignment is more severe, we may recommend orthodontic treatment. Although some adults cringe at the need to wear braces, ‘invisible’ options are available that can make treatment more comfortable and seem less awkward than the wires and brackets of traditional orthodontics.
Like a worn tire, the problems of misalignment will only worsen without repair. Let’s restore your bite to a harmonious position so you can avoid the discomfort, costs, and treatment time associated with TMJ disorders. Begin with a free consultation by calling 843-871-6351 or tap here to begin.
What do model Lauren Hutton, songstress Madonna, and actor Samuel L. Jackson have in common? They each share the trait of gapped front teeth. This trait, which actually is fairly common — affecting up to 25% of American adults, according to the American Dental Association (ADA) — is known in the dental profession as a diastema.
Having a gap between upper front teeth is a genetic trait and occurs more often in Black males who are more prone to the trait than females.
Once felt to cause an awkward appearance when smiling, adults today are more comfortable with a disastema, largely due to celebrities who have refused to
let the trait interfere with smiling with pride. After all, can you imagine Lauren Hutton without her smile as it is or Michael Strahan smiling any differently than with his now-famous gap?!
We believe the most important part of smiling has to do with the health of a smile. When teeth and gums are healthy, smiling with confidence is a perk of good oral health. However, some smile traits can make smiling seem awkward for some individuals. In addition to gapped teeth, having a gummy smile (which exposes too much gum tissue above teeth in a full smile) can cause some to ‘hold back’ rather than smile joyfully.
If a diastema is causing you to feel less than comfortable when smiling, you’ll be pleased to learn that filling this space can often be done in just one or two visits, and very affordably. We begin by assessing the width of the gap. When the open space is minimal and the two front teeth are not wide, we may be able to focus treatment on just those two teeth.
However, filling a wider gap by trying to widen the two front teeth can result in “bunny teeth.” To avoid this, it may be necessary to involve more than just the two gapped teeth. The material that is used may also depend on the width of the gap. The one recommended for you will be explained. The two options typically used for correcting a diastema are:
• Bonding – This treatment uses a tooth-colored composite resin that is painted onto natural teeth. The material is carefully shaped to fill in the space between the teeth. The procedure often requires just one visit and numbing needs are minimal. The process begins with a careful shade matching so the composite resin blends naturally with the color of the teeth involved in treatment. Then, the teeth are ‘roughed’ and a conditioning material is applied so the bonding adheres properly. After the bonding has been shaped and contoured, an ultraviolet light is used to harden the material. Finally, the material is polished to a natural sheen.
Although bonding is an affordable option that can repair flaws in a single visit, its drawbacks should be considered. For example, bonding material isn’t as strong as porcelain, which is used in veneers and crowns. This makes bonded teeth are at greater risk for chips. Bonding material also stains or yellows more easily.
• Porcelain Veneers & Crowns – The closest thing to the durability and longevity of natural teeth is porcelain. Superior to any other material used in cosmetic dentistry, porcelain restorations even reflect light as a natural tooth and can provide an opalescence so natural no one would suspect you’ve had ‘dental work’. Porcelain is highly durable (a particular advantage for front teeth) and more resistant to staining. For wide gaps, just four or six veneers can recreate a smile beautifully while eliminating the former space.
For some gaps between teeth, moving natural teeth into proper alignment through orthodontic treatment may be the best option. We work with several exceptional orthodontists and can request an evaluation to determine if your diastema requires this type of treatment.
Keep in mind that realigning teeth may not only close the space between your teeth, it may help to create a healthier smile. Teeth that are in proper alignment are easier to keep clean and help you avoid problems associated with misalignment, including TMJ disorder. This can lead to teeth that are chipped, broken or worn as well as jaw joint pain, headaches, migraines, ear ringing, dizziness, night-time clenching and/or grinding, and jaw popping.
Begin by scheduling a free consultation to discuss the options that may be best for you. During this time, I can also have our Financial Coordinator discuss affordable payment plans that can break treatment fees into easy monthly payments.Read More
The health and appearance of your smile depends on a daily commitment of thorough at-home care. It also depends on regular involvement with your general dentist.
These visits are designed to remove plaque and tartar buildup that has accumulated between visits and catch problems at early stages. The appointments are spaced at 6-month intervals to keep you in a better position to maintain healthy gums and teeth.
Not many people look forward to a dental cleaning or exam, although we actually have some who tell us they DO look forward to their oral hygiene visits. They enjoy seeing long-time staff members whom they’ve grown close to. Primarily, though, they like the clean feeling and bright smile they get from these twice-a-year visits.
I understand people who don’t look forward to dental check ups, however. I feel the same way about my ophthalmologist. I know I need an annual eye exam and like the doctor and staff very much. But, the process isn’t something I deem pleasant, even though I appreciate its importance.
One of the reasons many of our patients are such long-time patients is because they trust us. They know we will never over-treat or under-treat, recommend treatment according to their specific needs, respect their preferences, and make their comfort a high priority at every visit.
Comfort is a big deal when it comes to dentistry. There are many individuals who avoid dental care altogether because they have such intense dread or fear associated with these visits. Dental fear or anxiety is said to affect over 70 percent of the American adult population.
To lessen the worries of anxiety or fear of being in pain, we have taken a number of measures. We pride ourselves on having a relationship of trust with our patients — they trust us to keep them comfortable and minimize the potential for discomfort. Yet, we know that comes with time. New patients simply don’t walk in and perceive that; they need to experience it to just know it’s part of our commitment to care.
Below are just a few of the ways my team and I optimize your comfort in our Summerville dental office:
For adults who have fear, anxiety, or even dental phobia, we have been able to help the majority to achieve a healthy, appealing smile while being relaxed and comfortable. Here, we know you can learn to dread less and smile more!
Consider starting with a no-charge consultation appointment. During this time, we will discuss your concerns, make recommendations for your specific needs and goals, and give you a firsthand look at the exceptional Summerville SC environment we offer for your very best smile.
To schedule, call 843-871-6351 or tap here to begin.Read More
As early as grade school, most of us were taught that digestion begins in the mouth.
Through the process of chewing, a flow of acid surges into the mouth via saliva. These acids are the initial stage of digestion, helping to break foods down so, once swallowed, they are better prepared for the next phase of digestion.
One of the reasons we are urged to chew food slowly is to allow these acids to work efficiently. When well-chewed food arrives in the stomach, the continuing process of digestion can more easily cultivate vitamins, protein, fiber, and minerals from newly-arrived contents.
But, back to the mouth. It is in the mouth that, as a dentist, I have a firsthand view of the damage that these acids can cause. While beneficial to the digestive process, oral acids can put teeth at high risk. And, when those acids are mixed with acidic foods and beverages, the acid levels are able to reach a pretty severe level.
Before I touch on acidic foods and beverages, however, I’d like to address sugar. Because sugar is not deemed an acidic food, people are often unaware of just how harmful it can be.
Bacteria in the mouth are living organisms, which mean they eat and reproduce. Sugar is a preferred food since it tends to rev up their growth. The more bacteria that are in the mouth, the greater the risks for problems.
When oral bacteria multiply faster, plaque forms faster, too. This is a sticky film of bacteria that coats the teeth and gums. Sugar helps plaque to grow faster and become glue-like, so it is able to be more adhered to teeth. This means it is more challenging for saliva to remove oral bacteria throughout the day.
Oral bacteria is the origin for nearly every problem that occurs in the mouth. From gum problems (including periodontal disease) to cavities to bad breath to tooth loss – an over-accumulation of bacteria is typically the culprit.
So, back to acid from other eats and drinks. We often overlook the fact that so much of what we consume is acidic. Tomatoes and citrus fruits are generally known as being acid. However, many people are unaware that things like wine, salad dressings, colas, and coffee are all acidic as well.
Adding acids to the mouth through food and beverages means you are adding to already naturally-occurring oral acids. This increases acidic levels in the mouth to such an extent that they can actually soften tooth enamel.
Of course, we’re not saying you should eliminate your morning coffee deny yourself a glass of wine with dinner. We are, however, giving you better awareness of the higher risk you have for developing problems as a result.
How do you minimize acid’s potential for smile problems that can be costly and time-consuming to repair?
First, consider that what you consume enters your body through the mouth — it’s the first contact. Thus, acidic foods and beverages do the most damage at the entry point. Simply being aware of their potential for damage can help you be more proactive in prevention.
Also, it is important to know how to lessen the effect of oral acids, which is pretty easy. Keep a glass of water (unflavored) nearby and take gulps occasionally, letting the water wash over your teeth and gums before swallowing.
Or, better yet, slip away to the bathroom between each drink or meal and swish water in the mouth. Take several mouthfuls of water, swish, and spit it out after each time.
Naturally, brushing twice a day helps to remove oral bacteria. But, it must be done thoroughly. Spend at least two minutes per brushing (even when using an electric toothbrush) and move across all surfaces of each tooth. Finish up by brushing the tongue, which typically harbor millions of bacteria. Floss daily and swish several times afterward.
As we age, saliva becomes less plentiful. Too, many medications have side effects that are drying to oral tissues. To counteract these effects, drink plenty of water throughout the day. Watch your intake of foods and beverages that can be drying to the mouth, such as caffeinated beverages and spicy foods.
If you smoke, you need the added protection of an oral rinse to replenish moisture. It may also be advised that you see your dentist every 3-4 months rather than every 6.
Lastly, be aware that each time you eat or drink (other than water), acid flows into the mouth. This surge of acid continues for 20 or so minutes after your last drink or bite. The longer you spend eating or drinking, the longer your mouth must endure the elevated acidic onslaught.
This is a common reason why children who frequently use a sippy cup of juice or teens who sip colas throughout the day are so prone to cavities. And, adults who are coffee, tea, or cola drinkers throughout the day are also upping their risk for dental problems.
To us, the more our patients know about how to prevent problems in the first place, the healthier and happier their smiles. That’s always the goal!
Begin with an examination and cleaning. We’ll help get your smile in excellent shape so it’s easier to maintain between visits. We’ll customize an at-home program so you are better able to keep it in great shape between visits, too!
Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to begin.
Through decades of research and findings from countless studies, there is no doubt that your oral health plays an integral part of your overall health. Not only does oral bacteria overload lead to tender, bleeding gums, it causes cavities, bad breath and some serious health problems far beyond the mouth.
Studies have shown that oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream. Once bloodborne, it can cause inflammatory reactions that have been associated with a long list of diseases and health conditions. These include stroke, heart disease, preterm babies, diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers.
Still, with all these findings, it’s perplexing that nearly half of American adults have some level of periodontal (gum) disease. I believe the problem lies in the fact that gum disease can begin – and even exist to a certain extent – without obvious symptoms.
To help our readers be in a better position to avoid (or respond promptly to) gum disease, I hope the following Q&A will help in your appreciation of good oral health:
What is gum disease? Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease. It forms from accumulated oral bacteria. Like any infection (which is bacteria that is straining the capability of the immune system), it causes redness, tenderness, and swelling. Because it is hidden inside the mouth, gum disease is easier to ignore than if the same were to occur on a skinned knee. Early-stage gum disease causes the gums to bleed when brushing, tender gums, and frequent bad breath. As it progresses, gums swell and turn red. The gums loosen their grip around the base of teeth. Eventually, persistent bad breath occurs and may be accompanied by pus pockets that form on gum tissues. As the bacteria eats away at the structures that support tooth roots, the need for tooth removal can occur.
Why should I worry about gum disease? As if the discomfort, bad breath, and rotten teeth weren’t enough, many people are unaware that gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. When a tooth is lost, it creates a domino effect that can lead to more tooth loss. Replacing teeth can be expensive. For some tooth replacement options, it typically causes bone resorption. This is when the jaw bones that once supported natural tooth roots begin to shrink in mass. A thinning jaw bone is what causes a denture or partial to slip or rub uncomfortably on tender gum tissues. (Dental implants, fortunately, mimic the presence of tooth roots. This halts the process of resorption.) Additionally, as mentioned prior, gum disease bacteria can enter the bloodstream and contribute to a number of serious, even deadly, health problems.
How do I prevent gum disease? Although I’d like to say that twice-daily brushing and daily flossing is sufficient, that’s only part of the equation. It is necessary to keep the mouth moist. Aging and the side effect of many medications can be very drying to the mouth. This mean that oral bacteria are not being washed away efficiently. Also, American diets are full of sugar. Sugar is especially challenging in the mouth, triggering acids that can damage almost immediately. Too, just over 52 percent of the adult population visit the dentist every six months. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), over 20 percent (in 2014) stated they only saw a dentist every “few years.” (https://www.ada.org/en/science-research/health-policy-institute/dental-statistics/patients) Your dental check-ups are structured to remove built up oral bacteria that has hardened on teeth (known as tartar, or calculus). Seeing your dentist every six months helps you to prevent, or greatly minimize, the risks associated with gum disease.
As a dentist in Summerville, I’ve been pleased to offer a “dental home” where our patients know we will treat them thoroughly, respectfully, and with gentle hands. We keep our fees affordable so all individuals can enjoy the benefits and confidence of a healthy smile.
If you suspect you have gum disease or have not had a dental cleaning in over six months, call 843-871-6351 to schedule an appointment. If preferred, ask to begin with a no-charge consultation appointment. During this time, we’ll discuss your unique needs and how we can assist you in achieving the smile you desire.Read More
Summer in the South means fun in the sun! With summer comes lighter clothing that, unfortunately for most people in the U.S. these days, is more revealing. That’s because over one-third of Americans are fat. Well, more than fat; they’re obese.
The latest estimates show that 40 percent of the population is obese, according to a March 2018 article in the NY Times. Over 7 percent are classified as severely obese. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/health/obesity-us-adults.html)
Diet is certainly a factor. Americans are known to be over-consumers of sugar. And, while the American Heart Association recommends daily intake of sugar to no more than about 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men, the average U.S. adult consumes over 19 teaspoons daily on average.
Fortunately, Americans are becoming more aware of “you are what you eat.” Consumption of sugar has gotten more press these days, emerging as a key contributor to the weight problem of Americans.
Yet, losing weight is a tedious process. While diet and exercise are part of the normal requirements for weight loss, sleep quality has been found to be an influencing factor by crisscrossing brain signals.
Apparently, having the willpower to bypass the dessert cart may be more challenging if you have a sleep disorder. Studies now show that Sleep Apnea can contribute to improper alterations in hormones that regulate satiety and hunger. This means that the brain is actually working against our efforts to lose weight when we are sleep deprived.
Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that deprives the body of sufficient oxygen during sleep. People who have Sleep Apnea can have pauses in oxygen intake, not breathing for up to a minute. These pauses can occur hundreds of times over the course of a night, which robs the heart and brain of sufficient oxygen. Not only does this present a tremendous health risk, it tips the brain’s ability to regulate hunger controls out of whack.
In addition to lacking the energy and drive to exercise, Sleep Apnea sufferers also endure a reaction in the brain that revs up carb cravings for a quick fix of energy. It’s difficult to opt for a handful of raw almonds when your brain is pushing you to down a few Oreos.
Consuming sweets and carbohydrates gives us a temporary energy surge. Because the brain knows this will perk you up, carb cravings are triggered by the brain. The combined “need” to consume carbs and lack of energy results in guess what? Right – weight gain! For those who are trying to lose weight under these conditions, they are fighting an uphill battle.
Research has found that the brain is actually very active during sleep. In REM sleep, the brain is busy removing toxins and other elements that have accumulated during the day. During this time, the brain can restore itself to peak efficiency to properly regulate hormones and other functions in the body. Some hormones trigger hunger cravings and others signal feeling full.
The intake of sufficient oxygen levels during sleep allows the brain to reset itself to keep these hormones operating efficiently for the coming day. When you wake up refreshed from a good night’s sleep, your brain has no need to trigger carbohydrate cravings to pull you out of sluggishness. Nor does it need to urge you to eat more when you really don’t need it.
In addition to fatigue, sleepiness, feeling foggy and food cravings, Sleep Apnea has been linked to a number of serious health problems. These include heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, a
Once diagnosed, a common therapy for many Sleep Apnea sufferers is a CPAP device. This is a mask worn over the face that is attached to a fan that pushes air into airway passages. Although CPAP is an effective oxygen delivery system, it is estimated that only 22% of those who have been prescribed CPAP are consistent users. This is due to patient claims that they can’t move around comfortably in bed, the mask makes some feel claustrophobic, and some find the devices noisy, inconvenient and embarrassing.
For mild to moderate levels of Sleep Apnea, we offer an FDA approved, custom-designed oral appliance that eliminates the need for CPAP. Our Oravan mouth pieces are comfortable and will not interfere with sleep. They are also effective for heavy snoring (a common precursor of Sleep Apnea).
If you are a heavy snorer or suffer with Sleep Apnea (or sleep with one), these problems will not resolve on their own. Begin by calling 843-871-6351 for a free Consultation. During this time, I’ll explain the small, comfortable Oravan mouth pieces we will custom-design for you. You’ll quickly find that you can sleep soundly and wake up feeling refreshed.Read More
Let’s say you’re nearing the time when an ’empty nest’ in on the horizon. In anticipation of having extra space, you may have some ideas as to how free space could be reconfigured. A workout room? A media room? An office for a new in-home business?
Although designers and contractors could come in with a sketch pad and pencil, wouldn’t you be more assured with a visual proposal that gave a firsthand view of where, what, and how?
Today’s technology is designed to eliminate guesswork and provide the means to achieve goals without unexpected glitches.
This is true for dentistry as well. Advanced computerized technology has given dentists the tools to diagnose, treatment plan, and perform procedures with precision based on each individual’s needs and goals.
Dental offices can vary significantly when it comes to advanced technology. Not only does this equipment require a monetary commitment, most require intense training of the dentist and staff members in order to utilize each piece properly. While some of these advancements can seem rather intimidating, I’ve found that they can be of such benefit to our patients that the learning process becomes exciting.
Case in point – when I first invested in CEREC 3D technology, I took a couple of courses but avoided using it for months. When I decided to truly master it, I became so enthralled at the results that I pursued every advanced course I could take. Now, I am a proud Mentor for CEREC 3D, providing training assistance to other dentists who make this positive leap into the future of dentistry.
While my goal has always been to provide options that enhance patient comfort, save them time, and create optimal outcomes, it has also been important to select technology that is ‘green.’ At Smiles By Andrews, we have incorporated features that are environmentally-friendly, which minimize the use of chemicals, save water, and reduce waste.
We are proud of the environment we offer to our patients. Experience the benefits of these features yourself! We are always happy to welcome new patients to our office and even offer a free consult for those who wish to ‘check us out’ before committing to an appointment. Just call our friendly staff at 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule.
While we are pleased to offer this technology, what our patients notice most is the respectful, friendly, compassionate environment we provide. Regardless of your need, we are committed to exceptional care with an emphasis on comfort.
I hope to meet you soon!Read More
When most people think about a dental implant, they envision a replacement tooth that is held by the jaw bone. This is correct since Dental implants are unlike replacement teeth supported by neighboring teeth (as in crown-&-bridge) or a denture that is contoured to fit the ‘ridge’ where tooth roots were once held.
However, a dental implant is not one piece, but actually made up of three parts. The first part is the implanted portion. This piece is similar to a hollow screw that is positioned in the jaw bone beneath the gum tissues. This is your tooth root replacement. This piece is designed to recreate the presence of a tooth root, which is beneficial for the bone that supports it as well as the replacement teeth that will be attached to it.
Once placed, the bone begins to grow around the implant, securing it in place. This process takes approximately 3-4 months and is known as “osseo-integration.” During this phase, patients are able to wear temporary teeth (or often, their existing denture or partial) comfortably.
The second and third components of dental implants are referred to as the abutment and the restoration. These are typically placed in the same appointment. After the phase of osseo-integration is complete, an opening is made in the gum tissue over each implant site. Into the implant, a post is secured and a replacement tooth (or bridge) is then attached to the post.
With the implant held by the jaw bone and the replacement tooth secured to the implanted portion, the look, feel and function of real teeth is restored. This means that your implants will have the same foundation as that of natural teeth so you can enjoy dependable biting and chewing strength and stability.
When more than one tooth is missing in the same area, a bridge of two or more teeth can often be attached to one implant. For those missing all upper and/or lower teeth, a full arch of teeth can often be secured to 4 to 8 strategically-placed implants. This is an appealing option for people who are missing all of their upper or lower teeth and want to replace the discomfort and frustrations of a ‘rocky’ denture.
This option also minimizes the expenses associated with dental implant treatment. Because the cost for dental implants is largely based on the number of implants placed, attaching a bridge of teeth or securing a full arch can translate into a tremendous savings.
In our office, we utilize advanced CEREC 3D technology to create single crowns, bridges, and even full arches of replacement teeth. These ‘restorations’ are made of beautiful ceramic that is natural-looking and durable. This also saves you a tremendous amount of time by eliminating waiting time for a dental lab. Additionally, there is no need for a second appointment for a dental lab’s final teeth to be placed.
In addition to restoring the ability to eat and chew securely and comfortably, dental implants help to halt bone resorption that occurs when tooth roots are no longer present in the jaw bone.
What is this?
Without the presence of tooth roots, the bone lacks necessary stimulation that helps to maintain its mass. Dental implants recreate this stimulation, preserving the bone’s height and mass.
In addition to placing neighboring teeth at risk, bone loss can create changes in facial appearance that are aging far beyond one’s actual years. These changes include deep wrinkles around the mouth, a pointed chin, jowls that form from detached facial muscles, and a mouth that appears collapsed into the face.
There are many types of Dental Implants, each designed to accommodate individual needs and preferences. We offer a free Consultation that allows interested adults to learn the types best for them and have their questions answered thoroughly.
During this time, we can also discuss affordable payment plans. These can break your treatment costs into easy monthly payments, often with no interest charged and no down payment required.
Call 843-871-6351 to schedule your no-charge appointment.Read More
For a number of reasons, we often recommend Dental Implants to our patients when it comes to replacing natural teeth. For those who are missing all upper or lower teeth, several strategically-placed implants can often support a full arch. This restores biting and chewing comfort and dependability.
However, not everyone can afford Dental Implants or wants to undergo the procedures to have them. Here, we are respectful of all patients as to the tooth replacement option that is best for their preferences. Our goal is to provide each patient with an excellent fit and optimal comfort for all options in tooth replacement. For some, this may be through a full denture.
People are often surprised to learn that today’s Cosmetic Dentures can restore the ability to eat comfortably and securely with the added benefit of providing a more youthful smile. In addition to having advanced training and skills, I use advanced dental technology and materials to create a natural look and feel with a secure fit and exceptional durability.
Cosmetic Dentures are able to provide a more youthful smile because the process begins with the custom-design of the gum base that supports the teeth. With the proper increase in the distance between the upper and lower jaws, Cosmetic Dentures can often provide a sort of ‘mini facelift.’ This helps to smooth out the wrinkles around the mouth and lift lower facial muscles that lessens facial sagging.
In addition to creating a more youthful look of the face, your smile will have a more flattering look as well. For each individual, we enhance the look and feel of the teeth in Cosmetic Dentures and design your smile according to your preferences. For example, we can create teeth to the degree of whiteness you desire. We can also design the height of teeth so they are at a more flattering height. Lastly, we can adjust the gum line (area that shows above each tooth) so it is to a level that is esthetically-pleasing.
You’ll also appreciate that Cosmetic Dentures will never LOOK like dentures! No one will suspect you are a denture wearer or are wearing ‘fake’ teeth. Rather than feel self-conscious with replacement teeth created by cheap denture clinics, the teeth in Cosmetic Dentures are made so you will never look like you wear dentures! The teeth will also provide the luminosity and opalescence of natural teeth, even reflecting light as natural teeth.
For patients who still have remaining natural teeth, we use the same artistry in designing Cosmetic Partial Dentures. These are created with a gum portion that blends naturally with existing gums and custom-designed teeth that have a highly-natural appearance.
In our dental office, we make the design of a beautiful smile part of the overall construction of Cosmetic Dentists and Partials. We want you to have a smile you feel good about; one that makes you want to share it often! Let’s discuss the tooth replacement option of your choice during a no-charge, no obligation consultation. Call 843-871-6351 to schedule.Read More
I have a friend who struggled for years to quit smoking. He tried every kind of patch, gum, and hypnosis available to try to kick the habit. He eventually did, but I remember him telling me that the lectures and chastising he received from (mostly) well-meaning friends, family and strangers had very little impact on his decision to quit.
Cigarettes are manufactured to be addictive. In a 2006 ruling from a lawsuit filed by the federal government, it was found that cigarette makers deliberately misled the public about the dangers of smoking. (https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/content/what_we_do/industry_watch/doj/FinalOpinion.pdf)
The ruling cited that the tobacco companies intentionally designed their products to be addictive, even while knowing their use led to harmful, and even deadly, effects.
For most smokers, they’re aware of the health risks associated with smoking. However, many are unaware of the risks that smoking poses to their oral health. Yes, gum disease and tooth loss are more prevalent in people who smoke.
The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) warns that:
• Smokers have double the risk for gum disease compared to nonsmokers.
• The more cigarettes an individual smokes, the higher their risk for developing gum disease.
• The longer you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease.
The CDC also warns that smoking can make treatment for gum disease less effective. (https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/periodontal-gum-disease.html)
With these challenges in mind, we want to help smokers be aware of their unique needs while providing an environment that supports their ability to prevent the development of periodontal (gum) disease and subsequent tooth loss.
In our office, we see each individual as, well… just that – an individual. Every mouth is different. And, the lifestyle and habits of each patient is different as well. Some of our patients eat too much sugar, which is a challenge in the prevention of cavities and gum disease. Others are infrequent brushers, leaving their mouths more prone to bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. Some are arthritic and have difficulty managing thorough at-home oral care.
For every patient, we strive to help them work around these particular issues so their smile is always healthy and bright. Being committed to good oral health means you can avoid the time and costs associated with treatment for cavities, gum disease, and even tooth replacement.
If you smoke, here are some at-home tips to help you keep your smile in good shape:
• Cigarette (and cigar) smoke is very drying to the tissues in the mouth. This provides an environment for the accumulation of oral bacteria that attack tooth enamel and gum tissues. The goal is to keep your mouth moist throughout the day. Drink lots of plain water (or add cucumber slices or fresh mint as smile-friendly additives). Swish water around your mouth after each cigarette. This will moisten the oral tissues and remove some of the oral bacteria from the mouth. You may also want to begin using a mouthwash that is specifically-designed to replenish oral moisture. These are available over-the-counter in most stores’ pharmacy section.
• Brush thoroughly twice a day. Spend two minutes each time you brush (even if you use an electronic toothbrush). Be careful to reach all sides of every tooth, especially back teeth. Use a soft to medium toothbrush and a toothpaste with fluoride. This will help toughen up tooth enamel. Consider finishing up by brushing the tongue with your toothbrush. There are ka-zillions of bacteria embedded in the tongue and this will help management bacteria levels. Swish and spit several times after.
• Flossing is another area that we try to avoid lecturing. However, this action gives you a ‘leg up’ when it comes to managing bacteria in the mouth. If you find the process uncomfortable, our hygienists can show you easy techniques so you’re doing an effective job in a minimal amount of time (less than 2 minutes). If preferred, use a ‘water flosser.’ Our patients (whether they smoke or not) really like these. They are affordable and easy to use. Too, studies have shown that they can be just as effective as manual flossing. (Read one article on the studies in Dental Economics: https://www.dentaleconomics.com/articles/print/volume-101/issue-30/features/water-flosser-can-address-futility-of-floss.html)
• Your regular dental check-ups (cleanings and exams) are designed to remove the buildup of oral bacteria (that forms plaque, which can harden into tartar). If you smoke, your gums are more susceptible to the hazards of cigarettes. For some patients, we arrange their dental cleanings to occur every 4 months rather than every six. This additional visit helps many of these patients avoid problems in the first place.
We want to support you in finding the best way to have fresh breath, healthy gums, and teeth that create a fabulous smile! If you are behind on regular dental visits, you may want to begin with a no-charge consultation. During this time, we can discuss ways we can help you have a confident smile.
If dental fears have prevented you from having regular dental care, we can also discuss ways to help you achieve the smile you desire through oral or I.V. sedation. You’ll also find that our entire team is committed to providing a comfortable experience with a gentle touch, at every visit!
Call 843-871-6351 to schedule or learn more.
Every time I go to have my oil changed or tires rotated, I know the time and money required is to prevent problems or extend the life of my investment as much as possible. It makes handing over my credit card a little easier since I’m willingly taking steps to avoid larger expenses that could have been prevented.
This is why your 6-month dental check-ups and cleanings are so important. By removing built-up tartar, you can avoid the time and expense for cavity repair and gum disease treatment. However, these visits can help you avoid much greater expenses, some you may not realize.
For example, during these appointments, we check your bite alignment. Why is this important?
Every tooth in your mouth is designed to interact with neighboring teeth. For instance, an upper front tooth is bordered by teeth on each side as well as one below it. The teeth on each side help to keep adjacent teeth in their proper positions. The one below it – the one it ‘meets’ – helps to keep it at a proper length. Without the tooth below, the upper tooth would elongate. Without the teeth on each side, the tooth would turn or tilt.
It doesn’t take much to create a domino effect when it comes to the balanced alignment of how the upper teeth meet lower teeth. When just one tooth moves out of position, the others can bear the brunt of misalignment or malocclusion.
While a tooth that has become crooked may seem to create like a minimal flaw in your smile’s appearance, the problem can go much deeper than esthetics. For example, bite misalignment can lead to teeth that break, chip, or crack. It is also what leads to TMJ (jaw joint) disorder.
TMJ disorder can result in frequent headaches; migraines, ear ringing; dizziness; night-time clenching and grinding; jaw popping, and sore facial and neck muscles. Because some of these symptoms are seemingly unrelated to bite alignment, many people spend years seeking relief, going from doctor to doctor, trying different medications, and undergoing procedures – all coming up short of actually resolving the true source of the problem.
Another check we perform during your dental hygiene visits is to look at the condition of your gums.
Periodontal (gum) disease can begin without obvious symptoms, symptoms that YOU may not notice. However, we are trained to catch early warning signs such as gums that are pulling away from their tight seal around teeth. Gums that bleed easily during ‘probing’ are also signs we note.
Yet, when it comes to your gum tissues, which cover the entire oral cavity, there ae additional problems that we can address during your oral hygiene visit. One, in particular, is to examine any lumps or bumps that can indicate oral cancer.
During your exam, you may notice us feeling around inside your mouth. We look under your tongue and on the inside of your cheeks. What we’re looking for are unusual areas that can be early signs of oral cancer.
Oral cancer is one of the deadliest of all cancers due to its dreadful survival rate. If caught early, treatment requirements may be minimal. During this exam, we check for discolored spots, lumps, and growths that may indicate the need for a biopsy.
Other problems that your gum tissues can reveal are oral fungal infections, such as thrush. This can be an uncomfortable condition that is contagious. Even pregnant females can pass this on to their unborn babies. We can also note the emergence of things like canker sores and recommend ways to minimize their discomfort and duration.
If signs of a cavity exist, we can address the problem before it becomes a bigger problem! Filling a small cavity is a much simpler procedure than having to crown a tooth that has a large cavity. And, it is less of an expense.
We can also help in the prevention of tooth loss by checking teeth that are showing signs of break down. When a tooth is cracked, fractured, or overloaded with fillings, the potential for losing the tooth increases.
Tooth removal is necessary when a tooth breaks off below the gum line. To save the tooth, we can advise an inlay or a crown (cap) to help prevent the need to remove it (resulting in time and expense to replace it).
One of the most effective ways we can support patients during their cleanings and exams is to provide easy-to-follow recommendations and instructions for their at-home care. For example, if we note that a patient is being less-than-thorough with certain back teeth, our hygienists can discuss holding the toothbrush at a different angle. Or, the hygienist may advise using an oral rinse to replenish moisture if ‘dry mouth‘ seems to be a challenge.
So you see, these 6-month check-ups are important ways to have a healthy mouth and enjoy a bright smile between visits! They can help you save time and money by helping you avoid problems, or minimize those that do occur.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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:
• Clenching and/or grinding teeth during sleep
• Aching jaw joints
• 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.