Dentures, Partials, Crown & Bridge – We Are Your Source.

posted: January 21, 2019

When it comes to replacing missing teeth these days, a number of adults make the decision to go forward with dental implants. However, dental implants are not always a preferred choice for individuals facing tooth replacement, nor advisable for some.

For example, the health of some individuals may hold potential problems when it comes to implant success. This is true for people undergoing cancer treatment or who take certain medications for osteoporosis. For some of these patients, the risks may be too high.

Additionally, some mouths are too small for implant placement at proper depths or angles. For instance, if a back tooth needs replacing and the bone mass is minimal, even bone rebuilding procedures may fail to overcome the challenge of the best positioning.

Although our office offers advanced skills and training in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants, rest assured that we also have advanced training and skills in other methods to replace teeth.

Our patients also have access to many features and advanced technology that optimize comfort, speed healing time, and minimize treatment time. Some procedures can be completed in just two visits.

In addition to dental implants, options to replace missing teeth include…

Crown-&-Bridge – A fixed bridge is held by teeth on both sides of the area where a natural tooth or teeth are missing. After adjacent teeth are prepared for crowns (also referred to as ‘caps’), a ‘bridge’ (typically an adjoined row of two or more replacement teeth) is affixed to crowns that are placed over prepared teeth on each side. With the support of crowned, natural teeth, a bridge restores appearance and chewing ability. In our Summerville dental office, we utilize CEREC 3D technology to create beautiful, ceramic crowns and bridges — in a single visit! In addition to a significant savings in time, this also reduces numbing requirements by half. These crowns and bridges have the look and feel of natural teeth and are created to blend with neighboring teeth.Partial Dentures – A Partial Denture fills the gaps from missing teeth for natural chewing ability and to curtail shifting of remaining natural teeth. Partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to gum-colored bases that are custom-formed to the contours of your natural gum shape (its height and width). Removable partial dentures typically attach to natural teeth with metal clasps or devices. Precision attachments are generally a more desirable option for many patients since, unlike those held with clasps, telltale signs of wearing an ‘appliance’ are not visible in a smile or while laughing.

Full Dentures – A Full Denture is typically removable and replaces all teeth as well as the foundation of gums that may have diminished over time. New denture wearers need time to get accustomed to their new teeth because even the best fitting denture can feel awkward at first. Some have difficulty eating for several days and may notice a slight change in facial appearance, increased salivary flow, or minor speech difficulty. However, once the patient has adjusted to this new feel, a denture can be worn comfortably and function with stability.

Replacing a tooth is a big decision, and affects a large number of adults. It is estimated that over 69 percent of Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 years have at least one missing tooth.

It is also highly important to replace a missing tooth.

The arrangement of teeth is a balanced support system that provides proper support and stability. Not replacing a tooth can trigger a domino effect of continual oral challenges. Typical problems include drifting, shifting, and an increased risk of gum disease and decay.

In a normal, healthy mouth, there is a natural balance of alignment. Each tooth has three or four companion teeth. These include adjacent teeth on either side as well as the upper or lower teeth that meet them. Upper and lower teeth must work harmoniously to provide comfortable chewing function.

When a tooth is lost, the proper position of neighboring teeth is at risk. When teeth shift or tilt, it can lead to chipped, broken or fractured teeth. Eventually, this can cause problems with the TMJ (jaw joints), which may lead to headaches, migraines, worn teeth, and clenching or grinding during sleep.

Not replacing a tooth also places others at higher risks for being lost. Statistics show that a neighboring tooth is the most likely be lost next when subjected to the same conditions. With each tooth lost, the problems are magnified and the cycle of tooth loss continues. And, so do the associated decisions, costs, and treatment time for replacement.

For many reasons, we recommend dental implants whenever practical and desirable to the patient. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) five million implants are placed in the U.S. each year. They restore dependable biting and chewing, have a nearly 98 percent success rate, and are designed to last a lifetime (making them an excellent investment).

Still, we understand an implant is not the preferred or most practical choice for every patient. Once our patients know the options recommended for their needs, we respect the wishes of each and are committed to the best outcome for each.

If you need to replace missing teeth or an existing appliance, let’s discuss your options during a no-charge consultation appointment. During this time, I’ll explain the advantages and challenges of each and the procedures involved. Call 843-871-6351.

While you’re here, we can also have our Insurance Coordinator and Financial Coordinator meet with you to determine easy payment plans according to your needs.

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Losing Teeth As You Age Can — And Should Be — Avoided.

posted: October 16, 2018

It is a misconception that losing natural teeth is a normal part of the aging process. Although previous generations may have assumed that tooth loss (and ending up in dentures or partials) was natural for adults as they grew older, we know today that this is far from true – and certainly not desirable.smiling dental implant patient

When teeth are missing in a smile, it compromises its appearance, often causing people to feel self-conscious when smiling. Yet, the repercussions of missing teeth go far beyond esthetic. It is now known that dental challenges caused by missing teeth can lead to a long list of problems.

The space left by missing teeth needs to be filled to avoid teeth drifting. Drifting teeth can lead to:

• Compromised chewing efficiency
• The tooth above or below the missing tooth growing too long
• Neighboring teeth moving out of alignment
• More challenges with food accumulation, accelerating bacteria growth
• Uneven chewing patterns, which strains jaw joints and can lead to worn teeth, tooth fractures and chips, clenching and grinding, and headaches
• Loss of jaw bone mass in the extracted area
• Facial changes and biting/chewing problems in the area of tooth loss
• Increased risk of tongue biting

Periodontal (gum) disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, it is easily preventable with simple measures applied on a daily basis. Twice daily brushing, daily flossing and twice-a-year dental visits can greatly reduce the risks of gum disease and subsequent tooth loss.

Those most at risk for tooth loss with the highest susceptibility to gum disease are:
•    Males over the age of 35
•    Adults who fail to have professional dental care
•    Not brushing teeth
•    Smoking
•    Having diabetes, high blood pressure or rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Additionally, teeth most commonly lost due to gum disease are in the front of the mouth rather than back teeth. Health issues such as diabetes and arthritis can also make you more vulnerable to developing gum disease.

When a tooth is lost, it is imperative that it be replaced as soon as possible. We recommend dental implants because they restore the look and feel of a natural tooth. Dental implants also recreate the presence of a tooth root in the jaw bone. This helps halt bone loss, protects your facial structure, and preserves the natural alignment of your bite.

Missing natural teeth? We offer many tooth replacement options to restore the look, feel and function of a natural-looking, confident smile. Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule a free consultation to discuss the choices that may be best for your individual needs.

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Dental Implants – How To Avoid Risk Of Failure

posted: September 26, 2018

The definition of “Seniors” has changed rather drastically over the past several decades. No longer deemed the inactive, rocking chair adult, today’s seniors are active — in sports, socially involved, and still learning and participating. And, their numbers are a force to be reckoned with.smiling dental implant patient

According to the U.S. Census, “baby boomers” (Americans born 1956 – 1964), are the fastest growing age group in the U.S.  Currently, 14.5 percent of the nation’s population are ages 65 and over. By the year 2029, the over-65 population is estimated to be 20 percent. (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2017/cb17-100.html)

It is also estimated that one out of every four 65-year-olds will live past the age of 90, and one out of 10 will live beyond the age of 95. (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.html)

One contributing factor to this trend has to do with their determination to stay active and involved. This is one of the reasons why dental implants are so appealing when an individual is faced with tooth loss.

Whereas aging adults were once associated with dentures soaking in a glass by the bathroom sink, today’s senior prefers the stability and confidence of dental implants.

But, how old is too old for dental implants?

It is a common misconception that an individual is beyond the age for dental implants. As long as one’s periodontal (gum) health is good, there is actually no age limit on having a successful outcome when it comes to dental implants.

For seniors who may have experienced loss of multiple teeth, dental implants offer a successful solution for all adults. Too, they not only replace missing teeth, they resolve the many frustrations commonly associated with removable teeth such as dentures and partials.

Quite frankly, any age can expect a successful outcome when the implants are properly selected, placed and maintained. The failure rate is actually very low, with dental implants enjoying one of the highest of all implant-in-bone success rates – up to 98 percent.

However, like anything that is not a natural part of the body, there are issues that can complicate implant success, including:

  • Poor periodontal (gum) health: The leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. is periodontal disease. Gums that are healthy serve as a seal, preventing bacteria from reaching tooth roots and the structures that support them. When infectious gum disease attacks the gums and these structures, natural teeth may require removal. Similarly, dental implants also rely on healthy foundation. Just as a natural tooth cannot survive in a diseased environment, neither can a dental implant.
  • Clenching Teeth or Grinding: People are often surprised to learn that grinding or clenching teeth during sleep (known as bruxing) is a cause of implant failure. This condition, typically from bite misalignment, can exert such force that it can cause teeth to chip, crack or break. When the force of bruxing is applied to a recent implant, it can interfere with its ability to integrate with the bone in which it has been placed, eventually leading to removal.
  • Improper implant selection: There are many types of dental implants, each designed to accommodate specific needs. For example, some implants can be placed in bone that has experienced severe bone loss. Others support non-removable teeth, and so on. The implant best suited for each person should be based on the implant type that is best suited for their specific needs rather than only the types a dentist is trained to place. This is why it is important to have implant treatment coordinated by a dentist who has advanced training in all types of implant systems.
  • Improper Implant placement: For a successful outcome, a dental implant must be placed at a proper depth and angle so it can fully bear the load for biting and chewing. When an implant is placed incorrectly, problems can occur in the future with the only solution being implant removal.
  • Inadequate oral hygiene after placement: Just because a dental implant won’t get a cavity doesn’t mean that the formation of gum disease can’t occur. Just as natural teeth are at risk from gum disease, dental implants are as well. As a matter of fact, it is even more important to maintain good oral health after implant placement. The bacteria of periodontal disease causes infection in the gum tissues, leaving the structures that support implants at risk.
  • Smoking: Smoking creates a health risk throughout the body, particularly in the mouth since it is the entry point of tobacco’s toxic chemical mix. Oral tissues are highly absorbent, making the mouth especially vulnerable to the ill effects of these chemicals. Cigarette smoke is also very drying to oral tissues, which leaves the mouth more susceptible to the development and growth of oral bacteria.

While there are risks, the many advantages of dental implants far outnumber any downside. Dental implants add to everyday pleasures, including the enhanced ability to taste, bite and chew a diet of healthy, delicious foods. The stability of dental implants also restores confidence in social settings, allowing you to speak and laugh without worry.

Dental implants also halt the process of bone loss, helping the jaw bones retain a full, healthy shape. This prevents changes in facial appearance that can be aging far beyond one’s actual years.

The best way to fully understand the risks involved is through a no-charge consultation. Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule. During this time, we can discuss the implant type that may be best for your needs as well as treatment time and costs. If comfort is a concern for you, we can also discuss sedation options, including oral and I.V. sedation (twilight sleep).

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Grinding Or Clenching Teeth Can Lead To Costly Repairs, And More.

posted: September 18, 2018

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.

Worn teeth from grinding

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.

cerec machine

Single visit crowns, bridges and dental implant restorations

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.

 

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Gapped Teeth Often Repaired In Just One Or Two Visits.

posted: September 11, 2018

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

Model Lauren Hutton

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.

Call 843-871-6351 to schedule or tap here to begin. Also, check out our Smile Gallery to see a few smile makeovers!

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How To Spend Less On Dentistry

posted: May 31, 2018

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.

If you’re behind on your regular dental cleanings and exams, call 843-871-6351 to schedule. New patients are always welcome. And, remember – patient comfort is a high priority at every visit!

You may wish to begin with a free consultation. During this time, we can also have our Financial Coordinator discuss easy payment plans, some with no down payment required and interest-free.

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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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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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Why Dental Implants?

posted: November 07, 2017

When an individual is missing natural teeth or facing the removal of a tooth (or teeth), I take time to help the patient understand his or her options for replacement as well as why replacement is needed (even when missing a back tooth that is not visible in a smile).

Like the legs of a table or wheels on a car, each tooth plays a role in proper alignment. When a tooth is missing, the tooth above (or below) will grow longer since it does not have an opposing force to help keep it in place. By the same token, the teeth on either side of the open area will begin to tilt out of their positions.

This misalignment leads to a number of problems, including chipped, cracked, broken and fractured teeth. Improperly aligned teeth also contribute to a misaligned bite that places stress or strain on the jaw joints, which is commonly referred to as TMJ disorder.

The TMJ (temporo-mandibular joints) hinge the lower jaw to the skull. When properly functioning, the joints rotate harmoniously every time the mouth opens, while chewing or speaking and even during swallowing.

Misaligned teeth transfer stress and strain to the the jaw joints. This can lead to night-time clenching and grinding, worn teeth, frequent headaches, migraines, dizziness, ear ringing and sore jaw joints.

Obviously, there is a domino effect when lost teeth are not replaced. At the same time, people who wear dentures or partial dentures may encounter an entirely different set of challenges.

When teeth are missing, the jaw bone that once supported their roots begins to shrink. This process is known as resorption. When the bone resorbs, it declines in height and mass. This reduced mass of bone creates a vulnerable foundation for remaining natural teeth. Statistics show that the next tooth you’re most likely to lose is one adjacent to a missing tooth.

Unbeknownst to many people, wearing dentures or partials actually contributes to the rate of bone loss. The pressure these appliances place on the bone speeds up the process of resorption. For those who sleep in their dentures, bone loss occurs at an even faster rate.

When the bone declines in mass, the denture or partial will eventually begin to slip or rub uncomfortable spots on tender gum tissues. This is because the appliance is custom-designed to the unique contours of an individual’s gum ridge. As the gum ridge flattens due to resorption, the fit becomes less and less secure. Over time, even denture pastes and adhesives will do little to hold the appliance in place.

We recommend dental implants for a number of reasons. The main advantage is how dental implants restore natural biting and chewing ability without requiring the support of neighboring teeth (as with some partials and crown-&-bridge combinations).

Additionally, dental implants are designed to last a lifetime. They will not experience decay, require root canals or cause damage to neighboring teeth. And, because they recreate the presence of tooth roots in the jaw bone, bone loss is halted.

When it comes to dental implants, the only obstacle for some people is cost. Although the fees associated with implants are all ‘up front,’ the problems experienced with dentures and partials that require future expense will not creep up and need continual upkeep.

Dental implants are one of the most successful implant-in-bone procedures, with a nearly 97 percent success rate. When you place your treatment in the hands of an experienced dentist who is trained in all types of implants, you optimize your potential for a successful outcome. He or she can choose the type that is truly best for your individual needs.

In our office, we combine experience, skills and comfort. We offer oral and I.V. sedation and use advanced technology to maximize comfort and precision placement. Here, safety and comfort are priorities with our entire team and our track record is exceptional.

To discuss your individual needs, call 843-871-6351. We will be happy to make recommendations and discuss easy payment plans that require no down payment and are interest-free.

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Worn Teeth & Other Signs Of Bite Problems

posted: October 23, 2017

You’d expect problems to eventually emerge when forcing something to fit when it simply does not. For example, cramming your foot into a too-small sized shoe will eventually lead to problems with the toes and joints in the foot. You’d expect that – right?

This is also true for teeth that are crowded and crooked, which can lead ‘bite’ problems. Bite problems occur when the upper teeth do not rest properly on the lower teeth. The ‘misalignment’ of just one tooth, such as a tooth that is too long or short, can create disharmony in the fit of upper to lower teeth.

Although, visually, a patient may think their fit is an aligned one, the misalignment can lead to a number of problems. Bite problems can result in teeth meeting each other improperly. This can cause teeth to become chipped, fractured or broken. When a tooth breaks below the gum line, it will likely require removal.

Worn teeth from grinding

A misaligned bite can also lead to strain on the jaw joints, commonly referred to as TMJ. These joints, located in front of the ears, hinge the lower jaw to the skull. When these joints are stressed, the jaws may move during sleep in an attempt to find a relaxed position. This attempt to self-adjust can cause the jaws to shift, often triggering a grinding or clenching motion.

In addition to putting teeth at risk from grinding and clenching, TMJ disorder can lead to:

  • Frequent headaches or migraines
  • Sore jaw joints
  • Dizziness
  • Ear ringing
  • Limited ability to open the mouth

Worn teeth from grinding causes the tops of teeth to flatten out. This creates a straight line without the contours of natural teeth. Worn teeth from grinding also compromise the health of teeth in other ways. As teeth grind back and forth, tooth enamel is worn down, leaving them susceptible to decay and sensitivity.

While your 6-month checkups include an evaluation of your bite and detecting signs of abnormal wear, worn teeth are not always present when TMJ problems exist. Many people with TMJ disorder experience symptoms (such as frequent headaches or jaw joint tenderness) before their teeth show signs of wear.

If you suspect your TMJ is the source of the symptoms mentioned above, the problem will only worsen without correcting your bite alignment. We begin by using diagnostic measures to pinpoint if TMJ disorder is truly the source of your symptoms. If so, we will develop a treatment plan to restore proper bite alignment and alleviate stress from the jaw joints.

In some cases, we can correct minor problems through the reshaping of selected teeth. However, if more extensive reshaping is needed, crowns may be advised. In our office, we can provide one-visit crowns if this should be part of your treatment plan. (For more information on CEREC 3D crowns, visit: https://www.smilesbyandrews.com/comfort-advanced-features/). Severe misalignment may need orthodontic realignment to adequately restore the proper fit of upper and lower teeth.

Resolving bite problems early can help you avoid more extensive treatment time and expense. Begin with a free, no-cost consultation by calling 843-871-6351. During this time, we’ll discuss options that are appropriate for your individual needs. If desired, our Financial Coordinator can review payment plans are interest-free with no down payment required.

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Missing Teeth? Many Options To Replace Them.

posted: August 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

smiling dental patient

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Headaches & Migraines May Be Due To Bite Problems

posted: March 06, 2017

I was driving behind a car a few days ago and noticed that one of its back tires was obviously out of alignment. The wheel seemed to shimmy madly as the other tires hummed along in harmony. Even though the car’s driver may not have felt the effects of her misaligned wheel, the premature wearing down of the tire will become obvious before long.

Having things in alignment is also beneficial when it comes to your smile. When upper teeth do not fit harmoniously with lower teeth, the delicate balance of teeth, jaw joints and facial muscles can be disrupted, often more than is obvious.

A bite that is misaligned can lead to strain in the temporo-mandibular joints (TMJ) or jaw joints. These joints are just in front of the ears and hinge the lower jaw to the skull. An improper bite can cause the jaws to move during sleep in an attempt to find a relaxed position. However, this effort to self-adjust tends to transfer one problem to another. As the jaws shift, the teeth tend to clamp together. This, in turn, triggers a grinding motion.

Grinding and clenching can lead to frequent headaches, migraines, sore jaw joints, dizziness, ear ringing, and limited ability to open the mouth. Misaligned teeth ‘hit wrong,’ making them more likely to experience cracks, breaks and chips. Even worse than these costly problems is the susceptibility of teeth breaking below the gum line. When this occurs, the tooth will likely require removal.

TMJ disorders can compromise the health of your teeth in other ways as well. As teeth grind back and forth, tooth enamel is worn down. This leaves teeth vulnerable to decay and sensitivity.

Worn teeth, a common sign of bite misalignment, cause the tops of teeth to flatten out. This creates a straight-across line without the natural contours typical of teeth. Worn teeth are also shorter than they should be.

Example of worn teeth from grinding.

In our office, your 6-month checkups include an evaluation of your bite and noting signs of abnormal wear. However, many people experience headaches, dizziness or jaw tenderness before their teeth reveal bite misalignment.

Patients are urged to communicate these symptoms since they may be related to bite problems. Unfortunately, many people are not aware that these symptoms are common signs of jaw joint disorders. They often go from doctor to doctor seeking relief, only to be treated with prescription medications that merely mask the true problem.

The first step is to determine if TMJ is the true source of your problem. If so, we will pinpoint the source and develop a treatment plan to restore proper bite alignment and alleviate stress from the jaw joints.

In some cases, minor reshaping of selected teeth can correct bite problems. However, if more extensive reshaping is needed, crowns may be advised. If misalignment is severe, orthodontic realignment may be needed to restore the proper fit of upper and lower teeth.

Remember, like a worn tire, worn teeth are a sign of a bigger problem that will only worsen without adjustments. Resolving bite problems early can help you avoid extensive treatment time and expense.

For a free, no-cost consultation, call 1-877-966-9009. During this time, we’ll discuss options that are appropriate for you. If desired, you can also meet with our Financial Coordinator to discuss payment plans that allow you to resolve your problem while making affordable monthly payments.

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Natural Teeth Are Worth Keeping!

posted: October 26, 2016

There are many misconceptions when it comes to our smiles. For example, people often assume that seeing blood in the sink when brushing is a good sign. (It’s NOT!) When seeing a new patient who has a problem tooth, however, one of the most troubling things I can hear is, “I’ll lose my teeth as I age anyway so just pull it.”

While our grandparents may have assumed they would eventually end up in dentures, today’s dentistry knows better. Using proper techniques for twice-daily brushing, daily flossing and keeping the mouth moist means you should be able to enjoy a naturally-healthy smile for a lifetime.

Studies have shown there are tremendous benefits to keeping your natural teeth. Since teeth are positioned in the jaw bone, they help to maintain its mass. Without tooth roots that keep the jaw stimulated, the bone begins to shrink. This can lead to eventual tooth loss.

Aging and tooth loss do NOT go hand-in-hand.

Aging and tooth loss do NOT go hand-in-hand.

It is a fact that people with their natural teeth live ten years longer than denture wearers, on average. This is likely due to the ability to eat a healthy diet and feeling confident to stay socially active. Because of the worry that surrounds denture wearers when it comes to eating and laughing, the sense of insecurity causes many to avoid social situations.

Want to keep your teeth for your lifetime? You can! Be committed to the following steps and you will greatly increase your potential to have a naturally-healthy smile:

• Think the brush-&-floss routine is a dated way to keep teeth healthy? It’s still the gold standard in keeping oral bacteria to a minimum. Brush with a soft to medium bristle tooth brush using a fluoridated toothpaste. (Never use abrasive substances to brush, such as baking soda, which can wear away precious tooth enamel.) Use a swirling motion rather than scrub teeth back and forth. Floss daily or use a water or electronic flosser. Finish up by brushing your tongue or using a tongue scrapper to uproot millions of oral bacteria embedded in the tongue.

Straight teeth are easier to keep healthy. When teeth are crowded and/or crooked, bacteria can easily accumulate in tight angles that become bacterial breeding grounds. Straight teeth are not only easier to keep clean, they support proper bite alignment. This minimizes your potential for stress on the TMJ (jaw joints). Strain on these joints can lead to headaches, night-time grinding and clenching, worn teeth and cracked or chipped teeth.

• Keep your mouth moist. A dry mouth provides an ideal environment for oral bacterial growth. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit foods and beverages that are caffeinated and drying to oral tissues. These include coffee, tea, colas and chocolate as well as spicy foods. If you take medications that are drying to the mouth, ask your Doctor about less-drying alternatives. Also, consider using an oral rinse formulated specifically to replenish moisture. Sugarless gum can help to promote saliva flow as well.

• Limit carbs and sugar. The acids produced in the mouth by carbohydrates and sugary foods and beverages super-charge bacterial growth and are damaging to tooth enamel. Limit these for the good of your smile and your waistline!

• Be committed to your 6-month exams and cleanings. These visits are designed to create a periodic ‘clean slate’ for teeth. During these visits, our Hygienists remove calculus (or tartar) that form the cement-hard bacterial colonies attached to teeth. We also perform an annual Oral Cancer screening using early-detection technology. These screenings are very important since Oral Cancer is one of the deadliest of all cancers with one of the worst survival rates.

Our goal is to help you keep your natural teeth healthy and IN your mouth all of your life! When problems arise, we will recommend treatment to protect and extend the life of your teeth. However, when teeth are lost, we can explain your best options for replacement and to avoid putting other teeth at risk.

If you feel you have a mouthful of problems or have already lost natural teeth, let’s halt the process. Call toll free 1-877-966-9009 for a no charge consultation. Here, we’ll discuss how we can restore your oral health for a lasting, healthy smile!

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OH NOOOOO!!! My Crown Came Off! Now What?

posted: September 26, 2016

A crown (sometimes referred to as a ‘cap’) is a ceramic shell that is custom-designed to cover the top and sides of an individual tooth. Crowns are typically placed to protect the health of a tooth. A crown is often advised when a tooth has more filling than tooth structure or shows signs of cracks or fractures. Some crowns are applied for esthetic reasons and some to correct bite alignment.

While a ‘permanent’ crown (made from ceramic) is ‘cemented’ in place with a special adhesive, it can, in rare instances, give way and dislodge from the tooth. Some causes may be clenching or grinding teeth during sleep, an injury to the mouth, or bite misalignment.

If you lose a crown, the key is to protect the tooth structure by acting quickly. As soon as the crown comes off, rinse it carefully and place it in a hard container so it can be re-cemented. An ideal container would be like the ones that hold a custom mouth guard or a clean pill bottle. Once the crown is in a safe place, call our office immediately to schedule reattachment.

Murphy’s Law usually has most people losing a crown during the weekend. If this occurs, you can temporarily secure the crown until we can see you on the next business day. You can purchase a putty-like dental cement or denture adhesive available at most drug stores. Follow the directions to reapply the crown. Then, avoid chewing in the area of the crown and floss in a downward motion only.

These temporary adhesives are not made to withstand much in the way of friction. However, if you cannot get to a drug store quickly, apply petroleum jelly to the inside of the crown until you can. This will give some help in holding it in place, although for a brief time.

DO NOT use household glue to reattach your crown! These products generally contain toxic ingredients which can leak into your mouth and get into your system. And, because some glues like Super Glue and Gorilla Glue are permanent glues, removing this material can be very difficult and even cause damage to the tooth structure in an attempt to remove it. Additionally, your crown can be damaged in the process of removing this glue.

If you’ve lost the crown, you may risk sensitivity to hot or cold until a new crown can be created and attached. This area should be covered until that occurs. You can place a layer of the drug store dental cement on the tooth to fill it in and cover sensitive nerves. Again, avoid chewing in that area and floss downward only. We will get you in and create a new crown quickly.

One of the advantages of the computerized technology we use is having the ability to create beautiful, durable crowns in a single visit. Unlike offices that have you wear a temporary while a dental lab creates your crown (which can take weeks), our CEREC 3D technology shapes your crown to precision measurements while you wait.

Our goal is to get your smile back to a healthy state and give you smiling comfort and confidence. We are happy to see emergency patients who have experienced mishaps that result in a crown coming off or tooth loosening (or loss). CEREC 3D technology makes the solution quick and easy with exceptional results.

Call our office at 843-871-6351 to schedule. If after hours, a message will instruct you on the best way to reach me.

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Headaches? Migraines? Bite Misalignment May Be Cause.

posted: August 24, 2016

The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly 22% of American adult females suffer from migraines or severe headaches while 10% of adult males do. If you suffer with frequent headaches and/or migraines, you are in the company of nearly 50 million Americans.

Pain from headaches and migraines can be debilitating, interfering with daily activities, work, parental responsibilities and social involvement. Unexplained pain is often attributed to other aspects of the patient’s life, such as stress, eyesight, hormones or posture. Adults are often prescribed drugs or referred for ongoing therapy while some are told it’s all in their head. While many sufferers spend years searching for a solution, they (and many physicians) often fail to connect the dots between headaches and dental anatomy.

The position of how upper and lower teeth meet is a typical cause for headaches, jaw pain, sore muscles, neck and back pain, limited range of motion of the neck, poor posture, stuffy and ringing ears, grinding and breaking teeth, dizziness, fatigue and more. All of these symptoms can be due to one’s bite being off, perhaps by only a millimeter (1/25th of an inch).

Your dental make-up is an intricate composition of muscles, joints and teeth and plays a major role in your overall comfort and health. Because humans are incredibly adaptable, the body’s muscles, bones and joints can function although these are not in ideal alignment. This is as true with the bite as with other parts of the body, such as when one leg is shorter than the other. However, there are times when the body cannot adapt, which is just as true with dental problems.

In dentistry, we understand that the temporo-mandibular joints (TMJ) need to have a comfortable resting position for the joints, muscles, bones and teeth. When this occurs, all structures work together harmoniously without stress or strain.

In addition to the jaw joints, the unity of teeth is just as critical.  The forces of the bite must be distributed in a balanced way. If the bite is tilted, for example, these forces are misdirected. This can cause stress or strain on jaw joints and on facial, neck and shoulder muscles. In addition to headaches and migraines, bite misalignment can lead to worn, chipped or broken teeth. A common symptom is also grinding or clenching teeth while sleeping.

Worn teeth from grinding

Worn teeth from grinding

By incorporating proper bite alignment into restorative and esthetic procedures, we can help patients avoid problems or correct those they may have been dealing with for years. It’s a delicate balance in the mouth when it comes to the muscles, joints, bones and teeth working together. I’ve seen patients who’ve suffered from migraines for years, simply because of one crown being too high.

If you are suffering with headaches, migraines or other symptoms such as ear ringing or dizziness, schedule a free consultation. We’ll discuss the diagnostic process and potential treatments to resolve your problem — for good! Call toll free 1-877-966-9009.

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