Which Is Worse –Bad Gums Or Teeth?

This may sound like a trick question, but really it’s not. The “correct” answer, of course, is that both are equally important. But, I have a different view and will share it later in this article.

Both gums and teeth require good to excellent daily hygiene to remain healthy.   Prevention of both periodontal disease and dental decay is accomplished using the same techniques and products.  Both gum disease and dental decay are caused by the attack of bacteria which produce acid.  This acid causes damage to both hard and soft oral tissues including gums, enamel, dentin and bone. Both conditions if not properly and promptly addressed will result in the eventual loss of teeth as well as the inability to properly chew food.   And, both problems are a source of embarrassment and self consciousness due to missing teeth, bad breath, swollen and red gums, black holes, etc., etc.

Both teeth and gums are checked at every dental re-care appointment.   Commonly, both june3of these dental diseases go unnoticed by patients until more involved and expensive treatments are required. In the case of cavities, decay which has advanced to the point when a patient feels pain will generally require root canal therapy. And, in the case of gum disease, by the time a patient realizes that there is a problem, the solution often involves the services of a periodontist, possible gum surgery and / or loss of teeth.   Unrecognized and untreated periodontal disease will eventually lead to loose teeth as a result of the loss of bone and the attachment of the teeth.

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Finally, both gum disease and tooth decay result in the existence of chronic infection and inflammation which has detrimental affects on the overall health of the body. A chronic infection which becomes acute, can result in serious illness which may require hospitalization. The hidden impact of such diseases, however, is that these chronic inflammations increase the risk of other health issues including heart disease, cancer, complicated births, etc.

As promised, my view whenever planning the treatment for patients and explaining its need is that once acute infection and pain are under control, the health of the gums is the number one priority.  Consider the gums and bone to be the foundation which supports the teeth.   Without a solid foundation, even the healthiest teeth can be lost. Once the periodontal condition is stable and healthy, then the teeth can be addressed as needed.

If you have any questions about gum disease or dental decay, please feel free to contact us by telephone @ 908.359.6655 or via our website www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com

Is Invisalign a Reasonable Option to Straighten Adult Teeth?

Invisalign is a system for straightening teeth and improving the bite which is an alternative to conventional metal orthodontic “braces”.  This system utilizes a series of clear plastic aligners, each of which is worn 22 hours per day for a period of 2 weeks. The company began in 1997 and has gone through a series of improvements which have made this method increasingly utilized and accepted by the dental community as well as patients.

There is no question that our practice is seeing more and more adult patients who  request Invisalign to improve their bite and appearance, as well as to help turn back the clock.

There are a number of conditions which can be addressed using this system:

  1. Those who had orthodontics as a child but have seen significant relapse over the years.
  2. Patients who are concerned about the shifting or increasing misalignment of their teeth.
  3. Those who have teeth which are wearing down unevenly.
  4. Patients with teeth that appear crowded or misaligned.
  5. Those who have an underbite, overbite or open bite.
  6. In some cases, those who have gaps between their teeth.
  7. Increasingly, those who desire to improve their appearance and look younger.
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Click this image for a concise video on Invisalign.

There are significant benefits of Invisalign as compared to conventional metal orthodontics:

  1. InvisalignThere are no dietary restrictions because the aligners are removed before eating.
  2. There are no special dental hygiene requirements because the liners can be removed to brush and floss the teeth.
  3. Because the aligners are made from a clear plastic material, they are practically invisible.

As the system begins with a virtual treatment plan called a “ClinCheck”, both the dentist and the patient are provided a digital preview of the treatment.   This preview, if used properly, helps to determine how well the treatment will result.  In our experience, patients truly enjoy this preview and its use to track the progress of their case.  It’s important to note that In some severe cases, the use of Invisalign may not offer the best solution. Some cases may still require either surgical intervention, conventional metal braces or a combination of the two.

There are several long-term benefits of having straight teeth and a good bite:

  1. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean and food particles and plaque are not trapped in uneven spaces.  The result is a decreased likelihood of both dental decay and gum disease.
  2. Healthier teeth and gums contribute to a person’s overall systematic well-being and health.
  3. Uneven wear due to misaligned teeth is alleviated.
  4. Patients enjoy a more confident smile and an improved, more youthful appearance.

 If you have any questions about Invisalign, please feel free to call us at 908.359.6655 or via our website at www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com

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Smile Enhancements for Healthy Aging

Earlier this month, we discussed common dental problems which affect us as we grow older and how to address them.  In this installment, we will describe three popular methods to improve both the appearance and the function of your teeth. At the end of this article, we will reinforce what we believe to be the best ways to improve the health and beauty of your smile.

smile enhancementsYou may be surprised to hear about the first popular procedure which has increased in frequency over the past several years.  Once considered only appropriate for adolescents and teenagers, orthodontics has become an excellent means for adults (even those well into their 60s) to improve their smile, take years off their facial appearance, and improve their self-esteem.  This, in turn, improves their overall outlook on life. Alternatives to the metal braces commonly seen in the past have grown in popularity as they have become more comfortable, effective and invisible.  In our office, Invisalign™ orthodontics has proven to be a discrete and successful method for adults to address bite issues and crooked teeth.  Even patients who had braces as a teenager find the system an excellent way to realign teeth which have relapsed over the years.

invisalign, smile enhancements

Invisalign™orthodontic treatment, combined with either tooth bleaching and/or bonding, can help you to achieve your dream smile, improve your appearance, help you look younger, and feel a renewed sense of self confidence.  In addition, a properly aligned bite serves to preserve your overall health and well-being.  Teeth which are not aligned and bites which are not properly balanced are much more at risk for a variety of dental issues.  These issues include tooth fractures, tooth wear, loosening teeth, gum recession, ineffective chewing ability as well as a variety of jaw, neck, and shoulder pain and headaches.

The second popular dental enhancement which has steadily gained in popularity over the last twenty-five plus years is implants. Titanium implants have evolved and become a staple in the replacement of missing teeth for those who wish for comfort, convenience, and excellent appearance. Implants can be used in a number of different ways to replace missing teeth. The simplest way, of course, is for replacing a single missing tooth. But implants can also be used to replace a series of missing teeth or even an entire arch of missing teeth. Contrary to popular opinion, the placement of implants does not involve significant discomfort and their success rate is very high.

implant, smile enhancements

There are many patients who have struggled with dentures for years. Such patients have had as few as two implants placed to stabilize their existing dentures. The benefits of such procedures are astounding for those who have struggled to eat and speak with loose plates for years. We even see patients who are about to lose all their remaining teeth in one or both arches. Such patients can have their hopeless teeth removed, four implants placed, and a set of teeth mounted on those implants all in a single appointment. That procedure is called “All-On-Four” and requires collaboration between a prosthetic dentist, an implant surgeon and a laboratory technician.  The results in these cases are life changing.

The third popular smile enhancement involves bonding or porcelain to restore worn, broken, or otherwise damaged teeth. “Bonding” utilizes tooth-colored filling material which is placed on one or a group of teeth to restore natural appearance, shape, and color. Similarly, porcelain is used in more advanced cases for those patients who wish to have the most long-lasting and cosmetic solution to their dental problems. Porcelain can be used to cover the entire tooth or limited areas of the tooth as needed in any given situation. The porcelain is bonded to the teeth which results in a very strong, cosmetic, and natural result.

Bonding and porcelain can be used to enhance smiles in a number of different ways. Teeth which have mild misalignment can be made to look perfectly aligned instantly using these materials. Similarly, problems with symmetry, proportion, color and shape can all be addressed using these materials. The next time that you are in our office, make sure to look at some of the photographs on our walls which exhibit the results gained by using these materials.

Finally, let us reiterate the best ways to ensure healthy aging at least as far as oral health is concerned.  As we grow older, we are all more prone to have decay which can sometimes develop very quickly.  It is not uncommon for adult patients to have some gum recession which results in the exposure of root surfaces.  Such surfaces are very prone to decay and must be carefully monitored both at home and in the dental office.  In addition, as our gums recede, food is more likely to lodge between the teeth creating another cause for decay developing.  Increased use of medications and other medical issues may lead to a condition of dry mouth.  Without the buffering effects of saliva, the likelihood for increased dental decay as well as gum disease is highly likely.

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So what is one to do to prevent an increase in gum disease and dental decay? Here are our favorite as well as most effective recommendations:

  1. Use an electric toothbrush and brush where the teeth and gums meet.
  2. Clean between your teeth with an appropriate sized tool. Large spaces require a proxy brush and smaller spaces require fluffy floss.
  3. Brush before bed!
  4. Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash especially before bed.  During this month we have been handing out Listerine Zero which is a good product found in the grocery store but any similar product which includes no alcohol can be used.
  5. Have regular checkups! This is the best way to make sure that small problems do not become big ones! In the past few years, we have seen more and more patients who have returned after extended periods with more severe problems. Regular checkups will save you money and give you more peace of mind.

In closing, cosmetic dentistry may be key to a person’s health in later life.  Here is a quote from a cosmetic dentist in Texas:

“We often hear older patients just wanting things patched up as opposed to getting something aesthetic. They may have the idea that they are not worth it, or their families have the idea that they are too old for cosmetic dentistry. This may lead to an attitude that things are ending.

“Improving an older person’s mouth can bring them more happiness and joy, not only by improving chewing efficiency, but also bringing joy back. They will want to smile more.”

If you have any questions concerning this article or any other dental questions, please call our office at 908.359.6655 or contact us via our website at www.designsfordentalhealth.com.