Posts for: April, 2012
For many people, when they hear the term “laser,” they immediately envision a futuristic science fiction movie. However, did you know that lasers have been used in the medical industry for years? Furthermore, this revolutionary technology is now beginning to do the same within the field of dentistry.
Lasers get their name from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” and are literally beams of light that have a single wavelength. Unlike traditional white light or daylight that is a continuum of light with many wavelengths corresponding to the visible spectrum or rainbow, a laser light beam is just a single color.
Dental laser usage typically falls into three categories: disease diagnosis; soft tissue procedures of the gums, lips, and tongue; and hard tissue procedures of the bone or tooth enamel and dentin. For example, common uses include diagnosing cavities, treating disease, and removing both diseased gum tissues and tooth structure, as in decay. They were first used in dentistry for soft tissue surgery such as gum line reshaping procedures and tissue testing (biopsies). In 1997, dentists started using them for removing decay and preparing the tooth enamel and dentin in preparation for fillings. More recently, dentists are using lasers to help detect and diagnose dental disease, as they are especially helpful in identifying dysplastic (“dys” – altered; “plasia” – growth) or precancerous tissue as well as cancerous tissues. Thus they have been used for removing both malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous) lesions in some cases.
As you now see, laser dentistry is an important tool we use at our office to provide our patients with optimal dental care and treatments. And if you want to learn more about laser dentistry, read the article “Lasers Shine A Light On Dentistry.” Or if you want to schedule an appointment to see if laser dentistry is right for you, contact us today.
In times of stress, people have many ways to comfort themselves. For adults, it can be habits such as eating, drinking, or smoking. For children, it is often sucking their thumb, fingers, or a pacifier. Babies have been observed in scans to suck on their fingers and thumbs even before they are born. It makes them feel secure.
When is thumb sucking a problem?
Sucking on fingers or thumbs can be a problem when it is done too vigorously and too long. A young child's jaws are soft and can change their shape to make room for the thumb if the child sucks too hard and too often. If thumb, finger or pacifier habits continue too long, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come into the correct position in the mouth.
How do you know if your child falls into the group that will suffer from the results of too much thumb sucking? It's best to visit our office so we can check on how the child's teeth and jaws are developing.
What can be done about thumb and finger sucking?
Most children naturally stop sucking their thumbs, fingers, or pacifiers between the age of two and four. The pacifier habit is easier to break than the thumb or finger sucking habit, probably because it is always easier to find their fingers or thumbs. It is a good idea to try to transfer your child's habit to a pacifier at an early age. The next steps are to cut down pacifier usage and gradually stop by 18 months.
If your child is still engaging in these habits at age three, we can recommend strategies for cutting back and stopping. Remember that positive reinforcement, in which a child is rewarded for the desired behavior, always works better than punishment for the behavior you don't like.
Also remember that finger and thumb sucking is normal. Help your child to feel safe, secure, and comfortable as the behavior will probably disappear by itself. If you are worried about your child's sucking a pacifier, thumb or fingers, please visit us to put your mind at rest.
People always wonder when it is appropriate to contact their dentist. To answer this, we have put together the following list to provide some guidelines for you and your family. However, your calls are always welcome! Our goal is simply to give you some clear scenarios that illustrate when you should give us a call or come in to our office.
For Bite Related Problems
- Early or late loss of baby teeth.
- Difficulty in chewing or biting.
- Mouth breathing.
- Finger sucking or other oral habits.
- Crowding, misplaced, crooked or even missing teeth.
- Jaws that shift, jaw joints that “pop” or “click” or are uncomfortable.
- Any change causing speech difficulty.
- Cheek or tongue biting.
- Protruding teeth — large overbite.
- Teeth that meet in an abnormal way or don't meet at all.
- Facial imbalance or asymmetry.
- Grinding or clenching of teeth.
For Injuries And Immediate Care
- Knocked out permanent tooth: Call us immediately. You need to take action within 5 minutes of the injury for best results.
- Injuries to lips, cheeks, tongue or gums that appear to require stitches: Call us for instructions as soon as possible.
- Tooth injury — if a tooth has shifted from its original position: Call us to tell us you are on your way to our office and see us within 6 hours of the injury.
- Chipped or broken tooth that is still in its original position: See us within 12 hours of the injury.
- A knocked out baby tooth: Call us as soon as possible.
- Bleeding without any significant tears in tissue that could require stitches: Call us for instructions.
What To Do Now
If any of the above describe you or another member of your family, then contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule a consultation. You can also learn more about treating dental injuries by reading the Dear Doctor article, “The Field-Side Guide To Dental Injuries.”
When dentists talk to patients, they often use specialized vocabulary referring to various dental conditions. Do you understand what they mean when they use these words — or are you wondering what they are talking about?
Here's your chance to test your knowledge of ten words that have a particular meaning in the context of dentistry. If you already know them, congratulations! If you don't, here's your chance to learn what these words mean in the dental world.
In dentistry, enamel is the hard outer coating of your teeth. It is the hardest substance produced by living animals. It is a non-living, mineralized, and composed of a crystalline form of calcium and phosphate.
The dentin is the layer of a tooth that is just beneath the enamel. It is living tissue similar to bone tissue.
When dentists speak of pulp, we mean the tissues in the central chamber of a tooth (the root canal) that nourish the dentin layer and contain the nerves of the tooth.
Many people exert excess pressure on their teeth by clenching or grinding them. This is called bruxism, a habit that can be very damaging to teeth.
By this we mean how the upper and lower teeth are aligned, and how they fit together. This can also be referred to as your bite.
This term refers to tooth decay. Dental caries and periodontal disease (see below) are two of the most common diseases known to man. Today, these diseases are not only treatable, but they are also largely preventable.
A term for gum disease, this term comes from “peri,” meaning around and “odont,” meaning tooth. It is used to describe a process of inflammation and infection leading to the progressive loss of attachment between the fibers that connect the bone and gum tissues to the teeth. This can lead to loss of teeth and of the bone itself.
When you consume acidic foods or drinks, the acids in your mouth react directly with minerals in the outer enamel of your teeth, causing chemical erosion. This is not the same as tooth decay, which is caused by acids released by bacterial film that forms on your teeth (see below).
A dental implant is a permanent replacement for a missing tooth. It replaces the root portion of the tooth and is most often composed of a titanium alloy. The titanium root fuses with the jaw bone, making the implant very stable. A crown is attached to the implant and can be crafted to match your natural teeth.
Dental plaque is the whitish film of bacteria (a biofilm) that collects on your teeth. Your goal in daily brushing and flossing is to remove plaque.