Dental Care During Pregnancy

dental hygiene during pregnancyWhen you’re pregnant, all kinds of things in your body change, and some of these changes might take you by surprise. Many pregnant women experience dental problems at some point during pregnancy and postpartum period. If you are currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant soon, here is some information you need about your dental care during pregnancy.

Keep an Eye on Your Gums
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause your gums to swell and become inflamed, making proper brushing and flossing extremely important during pregnancy. Let your dentist know that you’re pregnant during your appointment so that he or she can carefully examine your gums for signs of early gingivitis, which is a form of gum disease. It’s possible for periodontitis to trigger premature labor and delivery, so it’s vitally important to be on top of this.
If you notice swelling, bleeding or tenderness and you aren’t scheduled for an appointment soon, give us a call so that we can get you in for an exam.

Schedule Work for the Second Trimester
If you are having pain or another problem, call us as soon as possible, and we’ll get you in to treat you safely, no matter what trimester you are in. For routine matters such as simple fillings or cleanings, however, it’s best to schedule work during the middle of your pregnancy, if possible.

Avoid X-Rays
By letting your hygienist or assistant know that you are pregnant, you can avoid unnecessary dental xrays during your pregnancy. Routine bitewings can simply be taken after you give birth. If you need a root canal or another procedure that requires xrays, you will wear a lead shield over your abdomen in order to protect your baby from the radiation

Talk to Your Dentist About Oral Hygiene Problems
Some women find that it’s difficult to brush their teeth in early pregnancy, because it causes gagging due to morning sickness. Also, vomiting can also wreak havoc on the teeth. If you are having these problems, let your dentist know so he or she can advise you on how to minimize damage while dealing with these parts of pregnancy.

Control Your Cravings
Finally, be aware of your diet during pregnancy. If you are craving and eating sweet or acidic foods, it’s particularly important to step up your brushing and flossing regimen. Some women get their first cavities during pregnancy, and the foods that they eat can be a contributing factor.
If you have concerns about your oral health during pregnancy or any time at all, please give us a call so we can treat any problems in their beginning stages. Remember, being a new mom does not mean that you should neglect your own dental needs, so call us for an appointment if you need one!

 

What Are The Most Popular Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures?

a smiling faceCosmetic dentistry is any dental work that improves the appearance of an individual’s teeth, gums, or bite.
Advances in natural looking dental materials make today’s cosmetic dental treatments more attractive, durable, and predictable than in years past. Additionally, dentists are now utilizing new cosmetic dentistry techniques to preserve as much of an individual’s natural tooth structure as possible, depending upon his or her specific clinical situation.
Here are just a few of the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures.

Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures

Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening is the process of bleaching the teeth (that are often stained from smoking, poor oral hygiene, food etc) so that they are whiter-in-appearance.
Dentist supervised treatments last longer and have better initial results than over the counter treatments. Teeth whitening is the most common cosmetic dental procedure.

Veneers
Veneers are ultra-thin, custom-made composite or porcelain laminates that are adhesively bonded to a tooth’s surface to correct & repair cracks and chips thus improving a worn appearance or severe tooth discoloration. They are the perfect option for closing gaps or disguising discolored teeth that fail to respond well to whitening procedures. Depending on the procedure, tooth reduction may be necessary.

Dentures
Dentures are prosthetic devices constructed to replace missing teeth. They are bolstered by the surrounding soft & hard tissues of an individual’s oral cavity. Removable partial dentures are for patients missing some of their teeth in a specific arch whereas complete dentures are worn by patients entirely edentulous (missing all of the teeth) in a single arch i.e. the mandibular (lower) arch or maxillary (upper) arch. Dentures can help patients through pronunciation, mastication, aesthetics and self esteem.

Crowns
A crown is a type of dental-restoration that completely encircles or caps a dental implant or a tooth. Crowns are often required when a large cavity threatens the ongoing health of an individual’s health. They’re bonded on the tooth utilizing dental cement and can be made from a variety of materials, which are often fabricated using indirect methods.
The most common approach of crowning-a-tooth entails utilizing a dental-impression of a prepared tooth by a pertinent dentist to fabricate crown outside of the mouth. The crown can then be inserted at a subsequent-dental-appointment.

Cosmetic dentistry includes numerous options for individuals unhappy with their smile. Unlike conventional dentistry that focuses on oral hygiene & preventing, diagnosing & curbing oral diseases, dental cosmetic procedures focus on improving appearance of an individual’s teeth, mouth and smile.

This post contributed courtesy of Mark J Andrews DDS who specializes in cosmetic dentistry and is located in Cary, North Carolina.

Oral Cancer Screenings

a hand holding a cigaretteThere is increased evidence that younger people are being diagnosed with oral cancer than ever before. The average age of someone getting oral cancer used to be 55 or older, now people in their 20’s and 30’s are being diagnosed, and they are non-smokers and non-drinkers so the traditional risk factors are no longer playing a major role.

The traditional risk factors that can increase your chances of getting oral cancer include tobacco use of any kind, excessive alcohol use, over exposure to sunlight (lip cancers), poor nutrition that includes a lack of fruits and vegetables and age. But the newest factor causing oral cancer is the HPV virus, a virus that is sexually transmitted. This may be why younger adults are being diagnosed with oral cancer.

There are 43,250 cases of oral cancer diagnosed every year with nearly 8,000 deaths annually and it is the least talked about cancer. The survival rate is less than 64% because it is a cancer that is usually diagnosed at a late stage. As with any other cancer, the earlier the detection the better the survival rate is.

The visual screening includes examining the face for any swelling, the neck for any lumps, the lips for any spots, the interior of the mouth, to include tongue, tonsils, mouth floor, cheeks, for any red or white patches, any persistent sores inside the mouth and any loose teeth.

If your doctor or dentist does find an abnormality while doing the visual examination, he/she will probably order a biopsy to confirm the findings. Another form of diagnosing is to rinse your mouth with a special dye then a special light is shone into the mouth area and any abnormal cells will light up. These abnormal cells can then also be biopsied to check for cancer.

Symptoms you should tell your doctor or dentist about include: unexplained weight loss, change in voice, persistent bad breath, difficulty chewing or swallowing, tongue numbness, persistent sore throat, the feeling that something is caught in your throat, and unexplained pain in the mouth or teeth.

If you are diagnoses with oral cancer, you and your doctor or dentist will devise a plan of action together.

Remember, early detection is the best protection so talk to your dentist or doctor about having an oral screening done annually. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your health.

When Should You Get Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt from the gums during the late teens or early twenties. These teeth can become a problem if the jaw structure does not have additional space to accommodate the new addition. The overcrowding and pressure from the additional wisdom teeth may cause discomfort for the patient and may threaten existing teeth. Removal of wisdom teeth is a common procedure that can be done quickly and safely with minimum inconvenience.
Reasons Why Wisdom Teeth May Need Removal
A number of issues can cause problems with wisdom teeth that may require their removal.

  • The teeth may only break through the gum part of the way, which can cause infection. Incomplete eruption can cause a cyst at the gum level, which can cause pain and difficulty eating.
  • Wisdom teeth can come in crooked or facing the wrong direction. The eruption of the new teeth may cause pressure on teeth that are already present.
  • Wisdom teeth can also become impacted in the gum, causing severe pain.
  • In some cases, the dentist can anticipate some of the problems that the eruption of wisdom teeth will cause. In these cases, he or she may suggest removal of wisdom teeth as a preventative measure.

Signs of Wisdom Tooth Problems
Problems of wisdom tooth eruption can exhibit as a number of different symptoms.
The patient may feel pain or stiffness of the jaw or in the area where the wisdom tooth is erupting.
Irritation of mouth tissues may occur from the erupted tooth or from teeth being pushed by the new tooth.
Swelling or puffiness may occur in gums where the new tooth has failed to erupt completely.
Increased tooth decay may occur in teeth surrounding the new tooth as they become crowded and harder to clean.

Diagnosing Wisdom Tooth Problems
If x-rays indicate that wisdom teeth are intruding on other teeth or causing problems with mouth tissues, your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon to remove the wisdom teeth. Although removal of wisdom teeth is a relatively easy procedure, you may require some time away from work to recover from the procedure.
When Should You Get Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled?
If you are suffering a great deal of pain as your wisdom teeth erupt then they could be impacted and you should contact a dentist immediately to schedule an extraction. Even if your wisdom teeth erupt with no complications, they can often be difficult to reach and clean properly and can eventually contribute to periodontitis and tooth decay.

Reasons to Choose a Family Dentist

Before you can choose a dentist, you have to choose what kind of dentist you want to go to. That can be more confusing than it sounds. People don’t just go to the dentist anymore; they go to the cosmetic dentist, the pediatric dentist, the sedation dentist, or any one of a number of other specialty dentists. Deciding which of these specialties is right for you can be tough, but there is a good argument for choosing a family dentist to take care of your dental needs and the needs of the rest of your family. Take a look at a few good reasons to choose a family dentist.

Convenience You’re a busy adult, and you know what a hassle it can be to schedule those biannual dental checkups. What’s even worse is when you have to make dentist appointments on several different days because you, your partner, and your kids all go to different dentists. When you choose a family dentist, you eliminate some of that hassle. Since the same dentist can treat both the adults and the children in the family, as well as any senior citizens, you can schedule a block of appointments and take care of the whole family’s dental check-ups in one day.

Expertise During the course of a typical workday, a family dentist will see a little bit of everything, from baby teeth to braces to cavities to dentures. Unlike most specialists, a family dentist has expertise in pretty much any type of dental problem. While it’s true that some dental problems are age-specific, there are occasionally reasons why a child may need false teeth or an adult may need braces. With a family dentist, you can rest assured that no matter what the problem is, they’ve seen it before and know how to treat it. That may not be true of a dentist who is too focused on only one specific age group or area of dentistry. Rest assured that if you do need specialist care, your family dentist can refer you without a problem.

Continuity of Care Continuity of care is perhaps the most important benefit that you’ll receive from a family dentist. Since your dentist will be familiar with the whole family, you’ll develop a relationship that you might not have with a dentist that sees only you or only your children. For example, your family dentist may be able to spot problems with your child’s teeth before they become serious, based on your history with the same dentist. What’s more, your children won’t have to leave a dentist that they know and like just because they reach a certain age. They can continue to see the same dentist that they trusted as children as they grow into teenagers and adults. You do have a lot of choices when it comes to your dental care, but choosing a dentist is easier than you might think. Choose a family dentist to simplify and improve your family’s dental care. Please give us a call to schedule an appointment if you or any of your family members are due for a cleaning and checkup!

5 Common Dental Problems and How To Treat Them

Most dental problems can be avoided by scheduling regular dental exams and cleanings but we understand that sometimes life can get in the way. Here are 5 common dental problems and their treatments. If you are suffering from any of these problems, schedule an appointment with us today.

  1. Gum disease is caused by a combination of the bacteria we have in our mouths, along with mucus and other particles which form plaque on our teeth. Plaque is easily treated by regular brushing and flossing, if the plaque is left to harden it turns into tartar, which can’t be cleaned by brushing. Tartar can only be removed by a professional cleaning that is done by a dentist or dental hygienist.

Gingivitis is a common gum disease that occurs when plaque and tartar have been on teeth for a long time, the bacteria causes inflammation of the gums which is known ad gingivitis. The gums become swollen, and turn red, which leads to the gums bleeding. Gingivitis can be treated with regular brushing of the teeth, flossing, using antibacterial mouthwash, and regular cleaning by a dentist. Gingivitis does not affect the bones and tissue that hold teeth in place.

Periodontitis is another gum disease that occurs when gingivitis is left untreated, when this occurs, gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that become infected. The immune system fights the plaque as it spreads below the gums, which cause the bones to break down, as well as the tissue holding the teeth in place. If it is left untreated, the bones and tissue get completely destroyed, leading to tooth loss.

Periodontitis can be treated with surgical and nonsurgical methods; the non surgical methods are used if it is not in an advanced state, and are generally less invasive.

The nonsurgical procedures used are:

  • Scaling: This is when a dentist uses instruments or an ultrasonic device to remove the bacteria and tartar from tooth surfaces and beneath the gums.
  • Antibiotics: The dentist may use oral or topical antibiotics to stop the bacterial infection; they include antibiotic mouthwash, or gels that are put in the pockets after teeth cleaning.
  • Root Planing: This smoothes the root surfaces, preventing further tartar buildup.

The surgical methods used to treat periodontitis are:

  • Flap Surgery: This is also known as pocket reduction surgery, the periodontist makes small incisions in the gums to lift a section of the gum tissue back. If there is bone loss, the remaining bone gets recontoured before the gum tissue is lifted back.
  • Soft Tissue Graft: This procedure replaces damaged gum tissue with some tissue from the roof of the mouth to reduce gum recession and to cover the exposed roots.
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration: This allows the regrowth of bones damaged by bacteria, a biocompatible fabric is placed between the existing bone and tooth to prevent unwanted tissue from getting into the healing area, which allows the bone to grow back.
  • Bone Grafting: This is performed when the disease has destroyed the bone surrounding the tooth root; small fragments of the patient’s bone are grafted to hold the tooth in place.
  1. Tooth decay is caused by a combination of food and bacteria, the bacteria in the mouth feeds on the sugar people eat, forming acids which attack the teeth for over twenty minutes after eating. After some time, the acids destroy teeth enamel, causing tooth decay. Tooth decay is treated differently depending on the severity, mild cases can be treated with fluoride, the dentist can also fill the cavities with another substance, usually referred to as fillings. Severe cases are treated with a root canal, and in some extreme cases the tooth is removed.
  2. Tooth Loss occurs for a number of reasons like trauma, which occurs when people put too much pressure on their teeth by using their teeth to open bottles, cracking nuts, and even chewing on pens and pencils. Another cause of tooth loss is gum disease; people who don’t observe proper oral hygiene are at risk of losing their teeth. Tooth loss can be prevented by not putting unnecessary pressure on teeth, and by practicing good oral hygiene.
  3. Halitosis is also known as bad breath; it is caused by a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. It can also be caused by acid reflux or diabetes. Halitosis can be treated by brushing at least twice a day, flossing regularly, using mouthwash, and regular visits to the dentist. People who practice good oral hygiene but still have bad breath should see a doctor to find out what the cause is.

5. Toothaches are generally caused by a tooth fracture, damaged fillings, tooth decay, or infections at the root of a tooth or between a tooth and gum. Treatment of toothaches depends on the cause. If it is damaged filings, a dentist can put new fillings in the affected cavity. If it is nerve damage, the patient will have to undergo a root canal. Dentists can prescribe antibiotics for infections, and there are over the counter medication that can help with the pain.

I Need a What?!? All About Root Canal Therapy

You’ve heard the words you never wanted to pass your dentist’s lips with you in the chair: “You need a root canal.” What?? Your heart quickens and you feel panicked. Everyone knows that root canals are simply awful and they take several visits!

Truth be told, having root canal therapy, which is sometimes called endodontic therapy and more often shortened to simply “root canal,” is usually not much different from having a filling done, from the patient’s perspective. Chances are extremely good that you will feel no pain, and technology has made it possible to perform many (though not all) root canals in one appointment that lasts 60 to 90 minutes. If you are worried about an upcoming root canal, read on to learn more about this common procedure.

What Is Root Canal Therapy?

Root canal therapy is done when there is a problem with the nerve of the tooth. It could be that it’s highly inflamed due to decay or bacteria; in this case, you might be suffering with hypersensitivity and tooth pain. Another reason to perform a root canal is that there is an infection at the end of one or more of the roots. This could be asymptomatic and only detected on an xray, or you might have a feeling in intense pressure or even facial swelling.

During the root canal, your dentist will drill a hole in the tooth. He or she will use small files, both attached to a handpiece (drill) by hand, to remove the infected or inflamed nerve tissue. Once it’s all out and the canal space is clean and dry, a synthetic material called gutta percha will be used to fill the space. In most cases, you’ll have a post and a crown placed; sometimes, however, a different type of permanent restoration will be used.

Will It Hurt?

The main question that most patients have is about pain. In the vast majority of cases, regular novocaine will provide the right amount of anesthesia so you won’t feel anything. If you feel any discomfort as the nerve of the tooth is removed, your dentist can always give you more local anesthetic into the nerve itself, which immediately eliminates any lingering twinges of discomfort.

In rare cases, it might be difficult for you to get numb. This is normally due to an advanced infection. In this case, you might require nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or other pain relief. Sometimes antibiotics are given first so the infection is more under control.

After the procedure, once the novocaine has worn off, you will probably have some soreness for a few days. Most of the time, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen will take care of the discomfort. If you need stronger pain medication, your dentist will give you a prescription.

Why Do Root Canals Have Such a Bad Reputation?

In decades past, dental anesthesia was not as effective as it is now. Also, some patients have severe infections that make it difficult for the anesthesia to work well. Finally, many patients come to the office for an emergency root canal because they are in severe pain with a toothache. Although the procedure itself is pain-free, once the anesthesia wears off, those patients continue to experience some pain while healing, though it is markedly less than before the root canal was performed.

Today, most patients who require root canal therapy are surprised at how pain-free the experience is. Remember that at any time during any dental procedure, you can let your dentist know if you are experiencing pain, and he or she will use a different method to relieve it whenever possible.

If you find out that you need a root canal, don’t panic! Get it taken care of before you are suffering with a severe toothache, if at all possible. If you are already in a lot of pain, be sure to let your dental staff know so they can do whatever they can to relieve your discomfort and nervousness.

Top 5 Questions Concerning Invisalign Braces

If you have cosmetic flaws in your teeth and smile, Invisalign braces are one of the most popular options today. Not only is it the clear solution to braces, it is also a solution that will take far less time than traditional metal braces. For individuals in the working world, or college students, the clear trays are ideal; no one has to know you are wearing the Invisalign trays other than you, all while receiving the benefits of an improved smile, and straighter teeth.invisalign retainer

Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions our patients have concerning Invisalign clear braces:

How does Invisalign work?

The Invisalign system is a series of trays, that are specifically designed to help straighten the teeth, close a gap, or otherwise improve the overall appearance of your teeth and smile. The orthodontist (or dentist) will take an initial mold of your teeth. Using a computer, they will project the final outcome. With the projected finish, a series of clear Invisalign trays are created, each one conforming to help you achieve that perfect smile, in much less time.

How Long Does Invisalign Take?

One of the biggest benefits of Invisalign braces, is they are much quicker than traditional braces. With metal braces, most patients generally require 2 to 3 years of use; the clear trays can be worn from as little as 6 months (for minor issues), up to 1 to 2 years, for more severe problems. Depending on the issues being resolved, each tray will be worn for a few weeks or months at a time. You will progress through a series of trays, until the last one is worn, and should place the teeth to the final projected position, which was initially depicted in the computer positioning that is done at your first consultation.

Does Invisalign Hurt?

Just a little; the trays will tighten (as traditional braces would), in order for the teeth to move to the appropriate position. The pain is going to bother some more than others, and should subside after a few days, or one week after the new tray is being used.

How Do I Use Invisalign Trays?

Trays are to be worn all day, and during sleep; they should be worn as many hours of the day as possible, to ensure they properly shift the teeth. You will remove them to eat and brush your teeth.

What Are the Benefits of Invisalign Braces?

There are a number of benefits which Invisalign provides, over traditional braces; these include:

– A much shorter projected period of use, and less pain to attain the ideal finished product.

– They are clear; no one has to know you are wearing them, other than you.

– They do not leave marks on the teeth (soda and other stains), where braces might, under each bracket on the teeth.

– For those in the business world, college students, or others who do not want to wear the shiny metal braces, they trays are far more subtle, and less visible.

Not all cases can be resolved with Invisalign. But, for most issues braces would resolve, today the option to go with the clear tray solution, is one that many patients are choosing, as opposed to the original metal braces. Call us today at 910-763-1072 to schedule a free Invisalign consultation.

Common Tooth Problems in Children

From the time your baby is about six months old and those first little chompers start breaking through her gums, you’ll be keeping a good eye on the development of those teeth. At first, you can use a piece of gauze to keep them clean. As time goes on, you’ll switch over to a baby toothbrush, and before you know it, she’ll be using her own toothbrush to take care of her own teeth.

a boy with cavitiesWhile most of the time teeth develop as they should, there are a few issues that might crop up. Regular visits to your child’s pediatrician and dentist will help you detect these potential concerns. Here is a list of some of the more common tooth problems in children for you to be aware of:

  • Baby Bottle Decay  This type of dental decay goes by a few different names, including nursing caries and nursing bottle syndrome. What happens is that sugary liquid (baby formula, breast milk or juice) pools in the baby’s mouth after she’s been put to bed with a bottle (or after she falls asleep while nursing) and can cause decay. This decay can be painful and can interfere with eating and speaking. There are a few things that you can do to avoid the problem. First, don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or formula. A pacifier will allow her to suck without exposing her teeth to the sugar that bacteria will feast on. An older baby could also be given a bottle with a small amount of water. If you are breastfeeding, try not to let your baby nurse continuously all night long. Once nursing has been well-established (which should occur before teeth are an issue, in most babies), switching to a pacifier if the baby needs to suckle without actually eating is not a problem. Use a piece of gauze to wipe off your little one’s teeth after each feeding, if possible. Finally, ask your dentist about the need for fluoride drops. If your water supply does not contain fluoride, supplements may help ward off dental decay.
  • Overbite  When your child’s baby teeth come in, spaces between them are normal. These teeth are “place holders” for the adult teeth, which are bigger, so it’s good to see spaces between them that will later be filled by the larger teeth. Sometimes, however, the front teeth seem to stick out too far. This is called an overbite, and it can be caused by a few habits in your preschool-aged child. The first is thumb-sucking. Most dentists agree that the adult teeth are not likely to be impacted by thumb-sucking until the age of four or five, so if you have a toddler who always has her thumb in her mouth, don’t worry! If your child is about to head off to kindergarten, however, some encouragement to stop is warranted. (Nagging, threatening or punishing will not work, because this is a self-soothing behavior. If your child feels nervous or sad, she’ll pop her thumb right back into her mouth!) Other ways that an overbite can be caused by your child include lip-sucking and tongue-thrusting. If you have concerns about any of these, it’s a good idea to talk to your child’s dentist.
  • Clenching and Grinding  Many children get into the habit of grinding their teeth. You may hear it at night, or you might figure it out when your child complains about pain during chewing. Sometimes being aware of the problem via gentle reminders is enough to help a child stop grinding. Other times, your child’s dentist might want to make her a night guard. This is a removable appliance that will stop your child’s teeth from rubbing together.

As with anything else impacting your child’s health, it’s important to be on the lookout for potential tooth problems. Your dentist is a wealth of knowledge on this topic, so if you have questions or concerns, simply give us a call. We want to work with your child so that she enjoys a lifetime of beautiful smiles.