Blog: Healthy Smiles

Sealants: Stop Cavities Before They Start

sealants

 

Few oral health issues can be preempted or totally prevented. There are many factors involved in whether or not you get cavities or develop dental complications, including genetics and daily hygiene. Sealants can help prevent cavities, to preserve your smile for up to a decade!

What Are Sealants?

Sealants are a thin plastic coating painted onto the chewing surface of your teeth to prevent decay, particularly on premolars and molars. They can prevent cavities by bonding to the grooves of teeth where most decay begins – even more effective thanbrushing, flossing, and rinsing alone.

Sealants are most often used on children ages 6 through 14, when they are most vulnerable to cavities. They can also be used on adults who don’t have decay or fillings in their molars, or for babies with deep depressions and grooves in teeth, to preserve them as placeholders for adult teeth. In all cases, your dentist will determine if sealants are age-appropriate and will tailor the treatment to each patient.

Applying Sealants is Quick and Painless

The best thing about sealants is the quick and painless application. In fact, there are four simple steps in the whole process:

  1. Cleaning – each tooth that is being sealed is cleaned to make sure the bond is as strong as possible.
  2. Prep – Once the teeth are clean, they are dried and surrounded by cotton to prevent saliva from getting the tooth wet. An acid solution is also applied to help the sealant bond to your teeth.
  3. Rinse and Dry – After the acid solution, one more rinse and dry is needed before the sealant application.
  4. Applying the Sealant – After the prep work, the sealants are applied. Your dentist or hygienist may also use a special curing light to help the sealants harden more quickly.

Sealants Can Stand the Test of Time

Few dental treatments are permanent and sealants are no different. But they can provide up to 10 years of protection – great for young children, babies and adults.

The best way to prolong the effectiveness of your treatment is regular dentist visits. They can check to see if your sealants are chipping or wearing, and replace them if needed.

Sealants Can Keep Your Smile Beautiful and Functional

Sealants are a simple treatment to prevent tooth decay and protect some of the most functional teeth in your mouth – a worthwhile investment for you and/or your children to keep healthy smiles for life.

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Fact or Fiction? Five Tooth Myths Debunked

fact or fiction

 

Far too many tales are told about teeth, ranging from scary to wacky and everything in between. Find out if they’re fact or fiction!

1. “White teeth are healthy teeth.”

Pearly white does not necessarily mean healthy. Some of the whitening ingredients in toothpastes and mouthwashes can also create an image of perfection, but cavities, gum disease and other dental issues could lurk beneath the surface.

2. “Pregnant women should postpone dental visits.”

Not at all! Regular dental care is strongly encouraged during pregnancy. According to the American Dental Association, pregnant women are more likely to develop periodontal diseases, gum infections that can result in bleeding, sensitivity and loss of tooth support. Mulberry-shaped lumps between the teeth, called “pregnancy tumors,” can also emerge. These are non-cancerous and should go away after pregnancy, but can also be removed.

Pregnant women should inform their dentist of their pregnancy so treatment plans can be adjusted accordingly. Certain procedures and medications may be postponed to avoid any health risks to the baby.

3. “Hot or cold food will crack your teeth.”

It is true that cracks or lines could happen from extreme changes in the temperature of your teeth, but these are usually too shallow to pose a major threat. If you spot a crack, it’s always best to have a dentist take a look. In the rare case that the crack is deep, chewing can widen it and expose sensitive nerves.

4. “Don’t worry about brushing baby teeth – they fall out anyway.”

While baby teeth will eventually fall out, starting with poor dental habits can cause a lifetime of oral health problems. Baby teeth are placeholders for permanent teeth and are important for healthy nutrition. Find out more about the importance of early oral hygiene. Teach children to brush and floss regularly to save them from painful cavities and gum disease, now and later in life.

5. “Bleaching your teeth is bad for you.”

Today’s bleaching treatments use PH-neutral solutions that are absolutely safe for you and your teeth. Treatments may cause tooth sensitivity, but just temporarily.

There’s a chance for an element of truth in any saying you hear, but unless the advice comes from your dentist, don’t let it impact your oral care. Get your dentist’s professional opinion on dental matters or questions that interest you during your next appointment. Or if you’re pressed for time, call us for immediate clarification.

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Understanding Dental Veneers

dental veneers

 

If you want to enhance the color, size, shape, or length of your teeth, dental veneers could be a great way to achieve your perfect smile. The dentists at Dental Design Studio can help outline your treatment plan, explain what veneers are, potential problems they help resolve, the advantages of this type of procedure, and the process for applying them.

What are Dental Veneers?

Veneers are thin, customized shells that cover the front surface of teeth. They are typically made with resin or porcelain, making them a durable and long-lasting solution for several dental and cosmetic issues:

  • Broken, Worn, or Misshapen Teeth: Veneers can cover teeth to hide misshapen teeth to create a new smile.
  • Discolored Teeth – Veneers can help brighten a smile to hide discoloration that often comes from coffee, wine, or certain prescription drugs.
  • Misaligned Teeth – Veneers can help with teeth alignment, and/or to eliminate gaps in between teeth.

What are the Differences in Veneer Materials?

Resin veneers are thinner and can be applied without removing as much enamel, but porcelain veneers are more stain-resistant and can have a more natural appearance to the teeth. The dentists at Dental Design Studio can help you decide the right veneer for you, with either option providing you with a better looking smile.

The Process for Applying Veneers

You will have multiple dental visits when choosing veneers.

First will be a planning session, to conduct an initial exam and to confirm if you are a candidate for veneers. If so, your dentist may take x-rays, photographs and/or impressions of your teeth to determine a treatment plan. You may even get a model of the veneers to see what the teeth will look like in your mouth.

The next visit will be a prep visit to prepare your teeth for veneers. Your dentist will remove approximately ½ millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface and make an impression of each tooth to send to a dental laboratory to make the veneers.

The final visit will be the bonding of the veneers, often one-to-two weeks after your prep visit, once the veneers are made. Your dentist will place and trim the veneers to ensure a perfect fit and apply each veneer with special cement, securing it quickly with a light beam. Once the veneers are all in place, your dentist will make any necessary adjustments to ensure your bite is comfortable and your smile is perfect!

What are the Advantages of Veneers?

Veneers offer several key advantages, including natural looking results that won’t contrast with your natural smile. The results are often quick, with only a few weeks from your consultation to a completed new smile. Veneers are also a natural, comfortable fit and provide long-lasting results.

Are You Ready?

If you would like to improve the shape, color, or alignment of your teeth, veneers could be the right solution. Visit with your dentist to see if veneers could provide the smile you’ve always wanted!

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Bridge Vs. Implant – Which Treatment Is Right for You for Tooth Replacement?

What’s the difference between a dental bridge and an implant? And which treatment option is right for you? Missing or extracted teeth raise concerns of drifting & possible misalignment of not only the adjacent teeth but also the opposing teeth. Proper replacement is the key to a healthy smile! Your dentist may suggest different options, including a dental bridge or a dental implant. Often the dental implant is ideal, but numerous factors will need to be considered, including the timing of the tooth loss and general oral health. Learn more about the differences in the procedures so that you and your dentist can decide the best course of treatment.

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Smokeless Tobacco Is Still Playing with Fire

smokeless tobacco

There are many forms of tobacco without smoke, but no matter how it’s used, smokeless tobacco is still trouble. Cigarettes get the most attention for causing lung cancer, but many don’t realize that using cigarettes and other forms of nicotine can be just as damaging to your general and oral health. Get a closer look at what’s really being sold and how it could be more harmful than you think.

Smokeless Tobacco

There are many forms of smokeless tobacco, and even one try can lead to addiction and serious throat and mouth issues. You should also know that regulations differ by country, so the lack of clear warnings doesn’t mean the product is less harmful. Here are some examples of common smokeless tobacco products:

  • Chewing tobacco: loose leaves (sometimes in pouches) for placement inside the cheek
  • Snuff or “Dip”: ground or shredded tobacco stored in tins for sniffing or chewing
  • Tobacco lozenges: powdery, tobacco-infused candies that dissolve in the mouth

Risk to Your Oral Health

Your oral health is greatly affected by tobacco use:

  • Stained or yellowed teeth from contact with tobacco juices
  • Periodontitis, or gum irritation from exposure to tobacco
  • Bad breath as tobacco mixes with saliva and other food particles
  • Cavities due to the sugar found in sweetened tobacco products
  • Oral cancer

Other possible side effects include teeth sensitivity, enamel erosion and decreased sense of taste or smell. As bad and potentially costly as these dental problems may be, they pale in comparison to the lethal threat of cancer.

Symptoms Of Oral Cancer

Smokeless tobacco contains over 20 carcinogenic chemicals, which can result in cancer of the mouth, tongue, lip, and throat, as well as many other cancers of the body. Warning signs of oral cancer include red or white lesions inside the mouth that won’t heal, usually referred to by dentists as “leukoplakia.” However, not all symptoms are easily detected without the help of your dentist.

Kicking Your Tobacco Problem

Your best bet is to seek professional help to kick your nicotine habit, and prevent long-term and possibly irreversible damage to your health. Although it may be difficult to share your struggles, your dentist can offer guidance and point you to effective treatments. Regular dental care is critical to minimizing your risk for oral cancer and other serious health problems.

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Habits that Harm Your Smile

Healthy teeth last a lifetime, but only if you take care of them. You might not realize it, but some common habits could be harming your teeth and their durability.

By recognizing these behaviors, you can take steps to protect your teeth and the health of your smile.

1. Skipping Regular Dental Care

Some individuals avoid regular trips to the dentist for hygiene visits or procedures due to anxiety, busy schedules, or other personal reasons. But doing so puts your teeth at risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues. Be sure to visit the dentist every six months for a thorough cleaning, or as needed if you notice a change or issues with your teeth.

2. Brushing Too Hard

Brushing is the basic component of good oral health, but only when done correctly. If you brush too hard, you can wear down tooth enamel, irritate the gums, and further teeth’s sensitivity. An electronic toothbrush [link to past blog post on electric toothbrushes] can help you avoid damage while increasing brush strokes to remove more plaque. A soft-bristled toothbrush can help protect your teeth against aggressive brushing.

3. Using the Wrong Tools on Your Teeth

If you’re on the go, or out of floss, it can be tempting to reach for other objects like toothpicks, paper clips or paper to remove food stuck in your teeth. But these things can cause damage to your teeth and gums. We have small floss containers at Dental Design Studio that can easily go in your purse, bag or car – stop by the office for floss on-the-go!

4. Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw can cause many oral health issues, including fractures, headaches and jaw pain. There are many causes and solutions to this issue. [link to past blog post on teeth grinding] If the grinding or clenching happens while sleeping, a night guard can help cushion your teeth and reduce impact to your jaw. Chewing sugar-free gum may help to prevent teeth clenching during the day.

5. Biting On Your Nails, Ice, Pens or Other Hard Objects

Biting on your nails or chewing on hard objects such as pens, ice, or even hard candy, could cause cracks in your teeth and irritate the jaw muscles. But biting any foreign object can also introduce bacteria to your mouth, which could cause infections. Overcoming these habits can help protect your teeth and avoid additional germs in your mouth.

6. Using Your Teeth As Tools

You may use your teeth improperly without thinking about it and more often than you realize – to open a package or cut something with your teeth. Even biting off a shirt thread can cause micro cracks that can lead to more serious damage over time. Try to use the proper tools, not your teeth!

7. Drinking Soda, Sports Drinks, and Alcohol

Healthy nutrition is all about moderation, so be aware of beverage consumption with drinks that contain higher amounts of sugar that leave teeth susceptible to cavities. Sports drinks and soda contain acid and sugar that feed bacteria in your mouth and erode teeth enamel. Alcohol produces a similar effect and dries out the mouth, which reduces saliva production allowing bacteria and plaque to thrive.

8. Tobacco Use

Smoking cigarettes or cigars, or using chewing tobacco, also puts your teeth and overall health at risk. Not only does nicotine stain your teeth, but it also increases your risk for oral cancer. Chewing tobacco is worse as it puts the carcinogens directly in contact with your gum tissues for longer amounts of time.

Quitting tobacco can be difficult, but there are tools to help. It’s worth the effort when you consider the oral, and general, health risks of tobacco use.

Turn Bad Habits into Good

Transforming bad habits into protective measures can help keep your smile looking great for years to come. The first step is noticing the behavior, followed by alternative habits and practicing new behavior. Ask your dentist for advice on how you can eliminate bad habits that harm your smile – ensuring you keep healthy smiles for life!

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Composite Fillings – Tooth-colored Solution for Cavities, Broken or Decayed Teeth

Composite filling is a tooth-colored plastic and glass mixture used to fill cavities or reshape broken or decayed teeth. This procedure provides good durability and resistance to cracks in smaller to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth. Beyond cavities, composite fillings are used for cosmetic improvements by changing the color or shape of teeth. Watch how anterior and posterior composite fillings are done and how they might help improve your smile.

Composite Filling (Anterior) Video    Composite Filling (Posterior) Video

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Reshape Your Smile

 

tooth reshaping

If you’re on the quest for a perfect smile, we can help by reshaping any chipped, pointed, overlapping or uneven teeth. Dental contouring, or tooth reshaping, is a quick and painless cosmetic dental procedure to help even out the surface of a tooth.

What Is Tooth Reshaping?

Tooth reshaping is an easy dental procedure, done in the Dental Design Studio office, which in most cases is accomplished by removing a minimal amount of enamel to reshape the tooth. Our dentists use a hand-piece to sculpt and polish rough or pointed edges, or trim down the length of a “taller” tooth. Anesthesia is not usually required unless the reshaping work is close to the root of the tooth.

In the case of a chipped tooth, or one that appears smaller than its neighbors, dental contouring involves adding an enamel-like resin in a similarly easy procedure called bonding. (Click here for a video about this process.)

Benefits Beyond a Beautiful Smile

There are many cosmetic reasons for tooth reshaping, but the contour of your teeth can also affect your oral health. Dental contouring can help with:

  • Even teeth can help improve your bite to aid in chewing and speech
  • Reshaping cracks, holes or gaps can lessen the risk of future damage, fixing the issue before it gets worse
  • Even tooth surfaces are easier to clean and reshaping can lower the risk for tooth decay and gum disease
  • Fixing pointed or jagged teeth can help avoid irritation to the inner lining of the mouth

In some cases, dental contouring can save patients orthodontic treatment, such as the case of misalignment due to a minor tooth overlap.

Know the Risks

Tooth reshaping is a simple procedure, but not for everybody. Here are some important considerations:

  • With any enamel removal, there is a risk for damage and increased tooth sensitivity
  • This procedure is usually not recommended for those with tooth decay, gum disease or root canals.
  • The results of the procedure are subtle, and you may need more work to improve your smile.

Contouring and bonding does not preclude restorative work or additional cosmetic procedures, but talk to your dentist about your overall dental goals. The Dental Design Studio doctors are happy to create an individualized and comprehensive treatment plan to help you have healthy smiles for life.

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Dental Design Studio, LLC 561 Merchant Drive Norman, OK 73069 Phone: (405) 321-6166