Monthly Archives: December 2013

Tooth Trauma Doesn’t Have to Mean Tooth Loss

dental injuries.

Tooth decay and other oral diseases aren’t the only dangers your teeth face — accidental injuries also pose a risk. Fortunately, much can be done to save injured teeth, if you act quickly.

Dental injuries where part of the enamel crown has chipped off are the most common. Even if only one tooth appears damaged, adjacent teeth and bone might also have been damaged internally. Most chip injuries can be repaired either by reattaching the broken crown or with a tooth-colored filling or veneer. If the damage has extended into the inner tooth pulp then a root canal treatment might ultimately be necessary.

Teeth that have been knocked loose from normal alignment (dislodged) or where the entire tooth with its root has separated from the socket (avulsed) are rare but severe when they occur. It’s imperative to see a dentist as soon as possible — even more than five minutes’ of elapsed time can drastically reduce the tooth’s survivability. Dislodged teeth are usually splinted to adjacent teeth for several weeks; we would then carefully monitor the healing process and intervene with endodontic treatment (focused on the tooth’s interior) should something unfavorable occur.

With the possible exception of a primary (baby) tooth, an avulsed tooth should be placed back in the socket as soon as possible. This can be done by someone on scene, as long as the tooth is handled gently, the root not touched, and the tooth rinsed with cold, clean water if it has become dirty. If no one is available to do this, the tooth should be placed in milk to avoid drying out the root, and the patient and tooth transported to a dentist immediately. Once in the socket, the treatment is similar as for a dislodged tooth with splinting and careful watching.

The damaged tooth should be checked regularly. Your body’s defense mechanism could still reject it, so there’s a danger the root could be eaten away, or resorbed. Some forms of resorption can’t be treated — the aim then is to preserve the natural tooth for as long as possible, and then replace it with a life-like restoration to regain form and function.

If you would like more information on the treatment of injured teeth, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Trauma & Nerve Damage to Teeth.”

Quitting the Smoking Habit Could Vastly Improve Your Dental Health

quit smoking.

Even after decades of health warnings, approximately 45 million Americans smoke cigarettes. Although three-quarters will attempt to quit at some time in their life, most won’t be successful because smoking is both pleasurable and highly addictive.

Still, it’s in your best health interest to quit, and not just for your general health. Besides bad breath, reduced taste perception and dry mouth, smokers also face higher risk for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Quitting is difficult because of the addictive nature of nicotine, one of tobacco’s main ingredients. Nicotine causes the brain to release dopamine, a chemical that regulates our sense of pleasure and reward. In time, this effect transcends the physical sensation — smokers soon rearrange their social, work and family life to accommodate it. For those attempting to quit, the physical and emotional effects of withdrawal are daunting.

Yet, there are a number of effective quitting strategies. Smoking is a behavior you’ve learned and reinforced over time that you must now “unlearn.” You should begin by analyzing your own particular smoking habit — when you smoke, what prompts you to smoke, what activities do you associate with smoking, etc.

Most people will find an abrupt halt to cigarette smoking all but impossible. Instead, gradually reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day over several weeks; a weekly 20% reduction over the previous week is a good norm. As you reduce to just a few cigarettes, you’ll be forced to choose when to smoke those “precious” few. You can also use “brand fading,” in which you switch week by week to brands with increasingly lower amounts of nicotine.

You should also attempt to replace the smoking habit with more positive habits. Keep your hands busy holding items like pencils, straws or stress balls. Snack on healthy foods, chew sugarless gum with Xylitol, and drink plenty of water. You might also join a support group of other smokers trying to quit so you don’t have to face the habit alone.

It may take several weeks to break the smoking habit. The results, though, are worth it — you may extend not only your life but the life of your teeth too.

Have you tried to quit smoking? Please share your comments below!

If you would like more information on how to stop smoking, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Strategies to Stop Smoking.”

TLC for Your Toothbrush

toothbrush.

Your toothbrush serves the invaluable purpose of minimizing bacterial buildup (plaque) that can irritate gums and lead to periodontal disease, infection of the bone and tissues supporting your teeth. Brushing also helps dislodge food particles that certain oral bacteria would otherwise feed on, producing acids in the process that can eat through protective tooth enamel and the vulnerable dentin below. Given its importance to your oral health, you can maximize your toothbrush’s effectiveness by using and storing it properly, and replacing it (or the brush head if you have a powered model) regularly.

Using and Storing Your Brush
All that’s needed to dislodge plaque from oral surfaces is a relaxed grip and a gentle jiggling motion. Too much pressure can wear away tooth enamel, cause gum tissue to recede, and shorten the life of your brush head.

When you’re done using your brush:

  1. Thoroughly rinse it to remove any remaining tooth paste, food particles, etc.
  2. If you’re super-vigilant, you also can disinfect your brush by soaking it in mouthwash, brush-sanitizing rinse, or a half water/half hydrogen peroxide solution, or dipping it in boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds.
  3. Air dry in an upright position and do not routinely cover your toothbrush or store it in a closed container. A dark, moist environment is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms.

Replacing and Recycling Your Toothbrush
Even with the best of care, toothbrush bristles become frayed and worn and their cleaning effectiveness diminishes after 3 or 4 months, according to the American Dental Association, though it could be sooner depending on factors unique to each patient. Besides checking the bristles regularly, a good way of keeping track is to write the date you start using your toothbrush in permanent pen on a big-enough spot on the handle (or doing it on masking tape applied to the base of a power brush).

Once your brush has passed its useful life for oral hygiene, you can still get plenty of mileage out of it. You’ll find plenty of ideas on the internet for cleaning grout between tiles and grime-filled spots around taps and toilet lid hinges; removing mud from boot treads; scrubbing off corrosion from around car battery terminals and more!

How often do you change your toothbrush? Tell us below!

If you would like more information about oral hygiene, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Toothbrush Lifespan” and “Manual vs Powered Toothbrushes.”

New Permanent Teeth – Faster Than Ever!

dental implants.

If you have lost your natural teeth, you may already have heard that dental implants are the best option for tooth replacement. Unlike removable dentures or bridgework, implants actually fuse to your jawbone — providing lifetime support for a full set of great-looking replacement teeth. But you may not know that for many people without teeth, it’s possible to receive an entire set of new implant teeth in just one surgical appointment!

Here are the steps:

Initial Consultation — We will assess your existing condition with the help of x-ray imaging. CT scans allow us to see the jawbone in three dimensions, which is particularly helpful for planning implant treatment. These scans provide critical information about anatomical structures such as bone, sinuses and nerves, and help us determine the ideal location for the implants as we design your new smile.

Implant Surgery — The surgery to place implants is actually minor and routine. If you need to have any failing teeth removed, we will do that first. Depending on the quality of your tooth-supporting bone, you may need as few as four or, at most, eight implants in each jaw (upper and lower) to replace all of your teeth.

Temporary Teeth — If the bone in your jaw is healthy and strong enough, we can immediately attach temporary acrylic replacement teeth to the implants so that you can leave the office with teeth the same day as your implant surgery! Once you have fully healed, we will replace your temporary teeth with permanent ones.

Healing — During the first 6-8 weeks after surgery, you”ll need to go easy on the new teeth, avoiding chewy or tough foods so that the implants remain stationary as they complete the process of fusing to your jawbone. People generally have little postoperative discomfort after surgery and begin functioning with their new temporary teeth almost immediately.

A Revitalized Smile — When we are satisfied that your implants have successfully fused to the jawbone, we will remove your temporary teeth and replace them with your permanent ones. These are generally made of stronger, more durable materials and fit the healed gum tissues more precisely. They should feel just like your own teeth. In fact, neither you nor anyone else should be able to tell that they are replacement teeth!

Have you considered dental implants? Please share your comments below!

If you would like to learn more about replacing all of your missing teeth with dental implants, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “New Teeth in One Day.”