There are a variety of methods for treating periodontal (gum) disease depending on its severity — from routine office cleanings to periodontal surgery. But the goal behind all of them remains the same: remove bacterial plaque and calculus (tartar), the root cause for gum disease, from all tooth and gum surfaces.
The traditional method for doing this is called scaling in which we use special hand instruments (scalers) to mechanically remove plaque and calculus. Scaling and a similar procedure called root planing (the root surfaces are “planed” smooth of plaque to aid tissue reattachment) require quite a bit of skill and experience. They're also time-consuming: full treatment can take several sessions, depending on how extensive the infection has spread.
In recent years, we've also seen a new method emerge for removing plaque: lasers. Commonly used in other aspects of healthcare, lasers utilize a focused beam of light to destroy and remove diseased or unhealthy tissue while, according to studies and firsthand accounts, minimizing healthy tissue destruction to a better degree than traditional techniques. Procedure and healing times are likewise reduced.
Because of these beneficial characteristics, we are seeing their use in gum disease treatment, especially for removing diseased and inflamed tissues below the gum line and decreasing sub-gingival (“below the gums”) bacteria.
Dentists who have used lasers in this way do report less tissue damage, bleeding and post-treatment discomfort than traditional treatments. But because research is just beginning, there's not enough evidence to say laser treatment is preferably better than conventional treatment for gum disease.
At this point, lasers can be an effective addition to conventional gum disease treatment for certain people, especially those in the early stages of the disease. As we continue to study this technology, though, the day may come when lasers are the preferred way to stop gum disease from ruining your dental health.
If you would like more information on treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Lasers Versus Traditional Cleanings for Treating Gum Disease.”
Is flossing part of your daily oral hygiene routine? The habit can help you avoid tooth decay and gum disease. The dentists at 1st Choice Dental Care in Kennesaw, Woodstock and Marietta, GA, describe a few benefits of flossing and offer a few flossing tips.
Flossing improves your breath
Have you ever looked in the mirror and been surprised that no one told that you had been walking around for hours with a piece of broccoli or a stray sesame seed between your teeth? When food becomes trapped between teeth, it can contribute to bad breath. If you can see the food, obviously you'll remove it as soon as possible. Unfortunately, some pieces of food are so small that they can't be seen. If they remain in your mouth, they may eventually begin to give off a very unpleasant aroma. Flossing daily ensures that food debris doesn't linger in your mouth.
Flossing reduces your cavity and gum disease risk
Removing plaque from your teeth regularly is the easiest way to prevent tooth decay. No matter how often you brush, you won't be able to get rid of plaque between your teeth unless you floss. Plaque build up eventually turns into a deposit called tartar. Tartar is so hard that floss won't budge it. It can only be scraped off with the special instruments the dental hygienist uses in the 1st Choice Dental Care offices in Marietta, Kennesaw and Woodstock. Tartar accumulation is a risk factor for gum disease, a painful condition that causes a bacterial infection that can loosen your teeth. Removing plaque with floss prevents it from ever changing into tartar.
What's the best way to floss?
Gentle pressure is the key to good flossing. Pressing too hard with the floss may damage your gums. Rub the floss up and down between two teeth at least three or four times before moving on to the next set of teeth. Start from one side of your mouth and work your way across to ensure that you don't miss a tooth.
Daily flossing can help you avoid painful cavities. If you suspect you have a cavity, or you need a dental cleaning and exam, call the dentists at 1st Choice Dental Care to make an appointment. Schedule your visit in the Kennesaw, Woodstock or Marietta, GA, offices by calling (678) 293-8773.
Sometimes improving your smile is as simple as covering up small imperfections that detract from the appearance of your teeth. The dentists at 1st Choice Dental Care in Kennesaw, Marietta and Woodstock, GA, explain how veneers can touch up your smile.
Veneers transform teeth
The veneers process involves bonding a thin layer of porcelain over the front surface of teeth to conceal flaws or alter the shape. Veneers are made of porcelain or resin, two materials that look very much like tooth enamel. They're available in many shades of white, which makes it easy to match tooth color exactly.
Veneers treat several cosmetic issues
Crooked teeth are very noticeable every time you smile. Although orthodontic treatment may be helpful, you may want to consider veneers instead if you have one or two crooked teeth. Once a veneer is applied, a crooked tooth will look perfectly straight. Veneers are also a good choice if your tooth is strangely shaped or a little too short.
Decay, dental procedures and side effects of prescription medications can lead to tooth discoloration. Although teeth whitening treatment at our Kennesaw, Marietta or Woodstock offices can remove stains in the enamel layer of your tooth, it won't be helpful if the stain originates inside your tooth. Veneers hide these stains very effectively, improving your appearance. Would you like to whiten your entire smile but don't want to bother with teeth whitening treatment? Veneers offer a longer-lasting alternative to whitening treatments.
Veneers might be thin, but they provide excellent coverage for a range of surface flaws. They're particularly effective in hiding chips, pits and cracks.
Veneer care is simple
With proper care, your veneers will last for 10 to 15 years or longer. Regular brushing and flossing is the best way to keep your veneers looking good. And, although veneers they're deceptively strong, they can be damaged. Biting your nails or opening packages with your teeth can chip or break veneers. If you tend to grind your teeth at night, you'll want to wear a nightguard to prevent damage to your veneers.
Enhance your smile with veneers. Call your dentist's at 1st Choice Dental Care to make an appointment in their Kennesaw, Marietta or Woodstock, GA, offices.
Ever since childhood, when her career as a model and actress took off, Brooke Shields has enjoyed worldwide recognition — through advertisements for designer jeans, appearances on The Muppet Show, and starring roles in big-screen films. But not long ago, that familiar face was spotted in an unusual place: wearing a nasal anesthesia mask at the dentist's office. In fact, Shields posted the photo to her own Instagram account, with the caption “More dental surgery! I grind my teeth!” And judging by the number of comments the post received, she's far from alone.
In fact, researchers estimate that around one in ten adults have dental issues that stem from teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism. (Many children also grind their teeth, but it rarely causes serious problems, and is often outgrown.) About half of the people who are teeth grinders report problems like persistent headaches, jaw tenderness and sore teeth. Bruxism may also result in excessive tooth wear, and may damage dental work like crowns and bridges; in severe cases, loosened or fractured teeth have been reported.
Researchers have been studying teeth grinding for many years; their findings seem to indicate that it has no single cause. However, there are a number of factors that play a significant role in this condition. One is the anatomy of the jaw itself, and the effect of worn or misaligned teeth on the bite. Another factor relates to changes in brain activity that occur during the sleep cycle. In fact, nocturnal (nighttime) bruxism is now classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. Still other factors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, and a high level of stress or anxiety, can make an individual more likely to experience bruxism.
What can be done for people whose teeth grinding is causing problems? Since this condition may have many causes, a number of different treatments are available. Successful management of bruxism often begins by striving to eliminate the factors that may cause problems — for example, making lifestyle changes to improve your health, creating a soothing nighttime environment, and trying stress-reduction techniques; these may include anything from warm baths and soft music at bedtime, to meditation and mindfulness exercises.
Several dental treatments are also available, including a custom-made occlusal guard (night guard) that can keep your teeth from being damaged by grinding. In some cases, a bite adjustment may also be recommended: In this procedure, a small amount of enamel is removed from a tooth to change the way it contacts the opposite tooth, thereby lessening the biting force on it. More invasive techniques (such as surgery) are rarely needed.
A little tooth grinding once in a while can be a normal response to stress; in fact, becoming aware of the condition is often the first step to controlling it. But if you begin to notice issues that could stem from bruxism — or if the loud grinding sounds cause problems for your sleeping partner — it may be time to contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more about bruxism in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Stress and Tooth Habits.”
A half million people are diagnosed every year with oral cancer. While other cancers are more prevalent, oral cancer is among the most dangerous with only a fifty percent five-year survival rate.
A major reason for this low rate is because this fast growing cancer is difficult to detect early — diagnosis comes far too often after the disease has already well advanced. In an effort to detect cancer earlier many dentists visually screen for oral abnormalities during checkups, especially patients over fifty, tobacco or heavy alcohol users, patients with a family history of cancer or a medical history of exposure to the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus, HPV-16.
If they detect an abnormality, the dentist often refers the patient to an oral surgeon or other specialist for a possible biopsy. In this procedure the surgeon removes a sample of the abnormal tissue, which is then examined microscopically for cancer cells. A biopsy remains the most effective way to diagnose oral cancer.
Because of the disease's aggressive nature, many dentists lean to the side of caution when referring patients for biopsy. As a result 90% of oral biopsies reveal no cancer. Reducing the number of biopsy referrals is highly desirable, especially for the patient undergoing the procedure. Tissue samples tend to be large to ensure complete detection of any cancer cells. Depending on the size and location of the sample, there may be a risk for loss of function or disfigurement.
A new screening tool using a sample of a patient's saliva could help reduce the number of biopsy referrals. Besides DNA, saliva also contains dormant genes called biomarkers that activate in response to the presence of a specific disease. This particular saliva test identifies those biomarkers for oral cancer if they're present.
A sample with a low score of biomarkers indicates no cancer present (with a statistical confidence of 99%). A medium or high score indicates cancer may be present, but only a biopsy can determine for sure. Using this test, dentists might be able to reduce the number of biopsy referrals and instead be able to employ watchful waiting in certain cases. Because of its simplicity and non-invasiveness, saliva screening could help identify oral cancer earlier.
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