Why I Believe in Sealants

sealant-copyIf I told you that a small piece of plastic would improve your life, would you be interested? Or better yet – if you knew you could invest $50 and it would save you thousands…would you do it? That’s’ the premise behind having sealants placed on your child’s molars. Or your own! I’m a huge fan of them because I believe prevention is preferable to the cost and demands of the cure.

Not sure what a sealant is? Easy enough. Sealants are a thick plastic coating that’s applied to the chewing surface of teeth, then cured rock-hard with a special light. Yes, the teeth do have to be extremely dry before sealants can be placed, which can be a challenge for people with a lot of saliva. In our office we’ve perfected a fast, comfortable way to apply the solution and cure it quickly. Sealants usually last about 3 to 4 years – long enough to protect the tooth during the pre-teen and teen years, until strong adult brushing habits are in place.

The real reason I’m a fan is because both my girls (who are now in college) had sealants and *neither of them* has ever had a cavity. I can’t think of any better endorsement. For a small investment anyone in your family can be one step closer to being cavity-free. I call that money well spent! If you’d like to pursue sealants for yourself or your child, give our office a call.

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What Are Your Teeth Saying?

occlusal-guardIf your teeth could talk, they might actually tell a story about your overall health and well-being. Your body is constantly throwing out clues that you can decipher. What if your teeth are worn or have flat edges? That’s dental warning sign #1! You are under stress. Whether you’ve considered it or not, clenching or grinding your teeth during sleep (or even during waking hours) is a clear sign of too much tension. Can you feel flattened places on your teeth now? Does your jaw ache from clenching? Consider an occlusal guard (also called a “night guard”) that will prevent your teeth from touching, and protect them. Dr. Petrusha is a firm believer in night guards. He has worn one for the past 10 years along with most of his family members.  These appliances have greatly reduced and eliminated the wear and damage to their teeth and as well as stress-related headaches.  Chronic headaches are common with this condition, because jaw muscles spasm after clenching for long periods of time. You might also feel muscle aches in your neck or upper back. De-stressing will help your body and your mind!

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Protect Your Teeth

football player with mouthguardYou brush and floss at least daily, you come to my office twice a year, but are you really doing all you can to protect your teeth or your children’s teeth? If you or your children are involved in a sport – whether for a school, a recreational team or a pick-up game every now and then – you might not be. A custom made mouth guard offers a superior fit, comfort and protection because they are made from the highest quality material molded from an impression of your individual teeth. A better fit means better protection, and you or your athlete will be more likely to wear the mouth guard.

According to the American Dental Association, numerous surveys of sports-related dental injuries indicate that across age, gender and skill levels, everyone is at risk of sustaining dental injuries. While you might think of only collision and contact sports as being prone to dental injuries, they can also occur in activities such as gymnastics and skating.

A properly fitted mouthguard, with the correct thickness and material, separates the lower jaw from the upper jaw. Therefore, when impact occurs, the shock is absorbed and equally distributed throughout the mouthguard. This reduces the force going to the base of the skull and ultimately to the brain cavity. Children who begin wearing custom-made mouthguards at an early age tend to continue this habit into the future. For the best protection and comfort, a custom mouthguard is better than “off-the-shelf” at reducing the risk of injury including:

  • Concussions or brain damage
  • Jaw dislocation or fracture
  • Fractured or lost teeth
  • Cuts or bruises to the mouth or face
  • Stress to the neck
  • Feels better in the mouth
  • Allows the athlete to breath and speak more easily

We believe in providing a safe and comfortable mouthguard to our patients. We are offering custom-made mouthguards for our patients, as well as new patients. To receive the special offer, you must have current x-rays on file and a current dental exam. Call today and schedule an appointment to create a customized mouthguard.

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Fixed Bridge

imagesDo you have missing teeth? A fixed bridge is one natural-looking replacement option you should consider. If you’ve ever wondered why replacing lost teeth is important, think of all your teeth as a string of pearls. When one “pearl” is removed, the other ones move around on the string and spacing consistency is lost.

Each tooth has a companion on each side, and is in a bite relationship with an opposing tooth. A lost tooth means that suddenly the companion teeth no longer have a partner. When the remaining teeth no longer receive the stability supported by this lost tooth; shifting occurs. The abnormally exposed areas are then prone to decay and periodontal disease. Statistics tell us when a tooth is missing, its companion tooth will be lost next. The next tooth will be subjected to the same problems and it creates a domino effect.

What is a fixed bridge?

A bridge is created when crowns are placed on either side of the missing tooth space, and a false tooth is fabricated for the void. The two anchoring teeth are called abutments, just like those on a bridge you drive over. The false tooth in the center is called a pontic (which means, “false tooth”), and can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of the those materials. Dental bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants.

Who should get a bridge?

If you are missing any teeth you may be a good candidate for a bridge. Fixed bridges can correct an altered bite, or maintain appearance by preventing the collapse of your facial features, which will result in premature wrinkles and age lines.

What procedures are involved?

For a traditional fixed bridge, during the first appointment I will reduce the adjacent abutment teeth that will act as anchors, impressions are made, from which a metal framework, including the pontic, is created. By the second appointment, the final bridge is fitted over the teeth.

The total treatment time is usually between two and four weeks, depending on the type of bridge.

How do I care for a bridge?

Proper cleaning and flossing under your bridge is imperative. If you do not control the buildup of food debris and plaque, the sticky film of bacteria formed from acids in foods, your teeth and gums can become infected, requiring further treatment and expense. If you maintain optimal oral hygiene care, you can expect your fixed bridge to last as many as 10-15 years, or even longer.

The modern materials used in bridges make them more beautiful and stable than ever before. Metal frameworks are swiftly being replaced with flexible materials that make the bridge invisible to others. There’s no reason to have a missing tooth, or shifting; bridges are a quick and reasonable alternative to both. Act quickly for the best results after an extraction.

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What is a root canal?

en2651365A root canal is a method used to repair and save a tooth that’s badly decayed or infected. When a tooth is compromised, there is usually pain involved. The root canal removes the nerve tissue, which eliminates pain. We also clean the inside of the tooth, fill it full of medicine and seal it so food and moisture can’t get in. Many people describe a root canal as a filling from the bottom to the top of the tooth. Once the nerve is removed, the tooth structure becomes soft and must be protected, which makes the final and necessary step of the root canal a crown. If your tooth is sensitive to hot temperature, you may need a root canal. If anything is bothering you about your teeth, please give us a call. We can help!

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Better Quality of Life, With an Over-denture?

Ooverdenturever the past several years, there have been many improvements in tooth replacement. Implants have certainly made an impact on the lives of patients, and one choice they’ve been given is the over-denture. What is an over-denture, you wonder?  It is a denture that is held down permanently using precision attachments.  The over-denture attachment can be placed in tooth roots that have been saved, or placed onto dental implants. It certainly looks like a traditional prosthesis; however the part of the denture overlying the implants is modified to be projected above the gum. Studies show that even though only roots are preserved, and they are covered by a denture; a patient still has a sensory experience similar to patients who have their natural teeth, as opposed to individuals with conventional dentures and no preserved roots. Over-denture patients also appear to have more natural chewing activities. In other words, many patients relate that they still feel like they have teeth.  The over-denture can easily be removed for cleaning purposes.

Generally, there are two phases involved with the over-denture: surgical and prosthetic.

Surgical insertion stage

Implants are inserted into the jaw bone. While there are various implant configurations, they are essentially cylindrical in shape and made of pure titanium metal. While a minimum of two implants may be inserted for an acceptable outcome, a patient may need to receive three or more – – depending upon individual needs. More implants will give additional support and retention to the implant denture.

During healing, an existing or temporary denture may continue to be worn after adjustments have been made to adapt the site. If the existing denture cannot be altered sufficiently, a provisional one would be fabricated.

Prosthetic stage

A precision denture is fabricated which will be screwed or snapped into the implant extensions. The denture configuration helps to secure the denture while eating and speaking, and still allows a person to comfortably and easily remove it for cleaning purposes.

 Advantages:

  • Feels more like having teeth
  • Helps reduce shrinkage of surrounding bone
  • Creates confidence  – the denture won’t slip/move while eating or talking
  • Enhances the patient’s ability to eat a wide range of foods
  • Reduces pressure to the bone where teeth once were, creating fewer sore spots
  • Positive psychological advantage of still having teeth

 Disadvantages:

  • Oral hygiene is essential in order prevent decay and gum disease in existing roots
  • The over-denture may feel bulkier than a conventional denture.
  • Frequent maintenance examinations may be necessary, over time
  • Generally this is a more expensive approach than a conventional denture

Call our office to discuss the many options we offer regarding implants.  We’ve been creating smiles for over 25 years and would love to enhance or customize yours!

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Mini dental implants

Mini-Dental-Implant-DiagramPerhaps you’ve know someone who’s had a dental implant to secure a denture or replace a missing tooth.  But are you familiar with this device’s lesser-known cousin:  the mini implant?  So called because of a smaller diameter, the name can be deceiving.  A mini implant is a permanent device, secured in bone just like the implant; and, in many cases just as effective.  However, the mini implant is a less invasive procedure with a shorter recovery time and lower risk… all those things translate to a lower cost for you.  If you have been putting off scheduling dental work because of the cost or time commitment associated with traditional implants, call us today to see how mini implants can benefit you.

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Happy Father’s Day!

pictureHappy Father’s Day  To all you Dads who work long hours, then coach the sports teams and attend practices, games and recitals; we salute you!  As a Dad you have much more influence on your kids (and kids around you) than you can imagine. If you’re a dad, it’s very likely that you show your love by doing things for others, or in words of wisdom – and for that we’re so grateful. Busy Dads are the least likely to keep up with their regular check-ups, because of work and after-work activities. You are important to so many people; take time to take care of yourself. After your day of relaxation and family fun, give us a call to stay on track to good health! Until then, thanks for all you do.

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Food For Your Teeth

Take care of your body and teeth.

Take care of your body and teeth.

We know that our food choices have an effect on pretty much everything; our hair, skin, sleep and even our mood.  But did you know that our diet has an impact on our smile, too?  The following foods have shown to improve your smile:

Milk:  Because milk is rich in calcium, it helps to keep your teeth and jawbones healthy and vitamin D helps your body to absorb it.  Are you trying to avoid dairy?  Try almond milk, rice milk, and soy milk which are all fortified with the same amount of calcium and vitamin D as regular milk.

Wild salmon:  This healthy fish is naturally rich in vitamin D.  Try it on the grill, broiled or baked.

Broccoli: This vegetable is a great source of nondairy calcium, plus it has vitamin C, which has been proven to help prevent gum disease and gingivitis.

Bell peppers: All colors — green, yellow, orange, red — are packed with vitamin C. When you eat them raw, they’re like nature’s toothbrush. They stimulate your teeth, massage your gums and help dislodge debris before bacteria can take hold.

Unsweetened green tea:  Drinking a cup of unsweetened green tea after a meal can help in removing food stuck in your teeth plus the tea’s antioxidants may help reduce the risk of periodontal disease.

What should you avoid?  Avoid sugary beverages like soda, white starchy foods like bagels and pretzels, and dried fruit which can get stuck in your teeth and cause decay. If you do indulge in them, drink a glass of water or chew on a piece of sugarless gum to rid your mouth of debris until you can floss and brush.

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Are you taking medications on a daily basis?

drugs_rx_37211043_mWe all know that many medications have side effects, but some medications can even affect oral health.

In most cases, the oral side effects of medicines resolve shortly after you stop taking them. It’s imperative that I know all medications you are taking, so be sure to update your medical history form when you are in the office for your next visit.  Whether the medication is prescription or over-the-counter you should know whether there are side effects on oral health.

Some common oral side effects include:

Dry mouth – antihistamines and other drugs can cause saliva to decrease and leave your mouth prone to soft tissue inflammation, pain and infection. Tooth decay can also develop, and chronic dry mouth can create problems for people who wear dentures.  To alleviate dry mouth start drinking more water or using sugarless lozenges or gum to stimulate the flow of saliva. There are also Xylitol-based mouth sprays that are perfect for hydration.

Gum tissue overgrowth — also referred to as “gingival hyperplasia,” gum tissue overgrowth is associated with anti-seizure medications, immunosuppressant drugs – those taken by organ transplant patients and calcium channel blockers taken by heart patients. Studies suggest that gum tissue overgrowth can be controlled if meticulous oral hygiene is started at the same time or before medication is taken. Tissue overgrowth can complicate oral hygiene. Sometimes, a gingivectomy (a procedure used to remove excess tissue) may be necessary.

Soft-tissue reactions — oral sores, inflammation or discoloration of the soft tissue can result from taking medications prescribed for blood pressure control, immunosuppressive agents, oral contraceptives and some chemotherapeutic agents. I can recommend an oral hygiene program which can limit the discomfort associated with such side effects.

Abnormal bleeding — reduced blood clotting is a result of aspirin and prescribed anticoagulants, like heparin or warfarin. These medications are prescribed to treat strokes or heart disease, but can cause bleeding problems during oral surgery or periodontal treatment. If you’re having dental treatment, please tell my staff and me that you are taking these medications, so we can take measures to limit the effects of the specific medicine you are taking.

Tooth discoloration – taking tetracycline products when teeth are developing can cause permanent staining in those teeth. Cosmetic dentistry techniques such as veneers, crowns, bonding procedures, or, in some cases, bleaching may be used to lighten teeth with tetracycline stains.

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