Protecting your children is one of your most important roles as a parent or caregiver. Dental sealants are one way you can protect your children's teeth from the ravages of tooth decay, drilling and fillings — and they can be applied simply, comfortably and quickly right here in our office.
What is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic film that is painted onto the tiny grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (usually the premolars and molars) to prevent caries (cavities) and tooth decay. And by allowing us to use sealants to seal these little nooks and crannies where your child's toothbrush can't reach, you will dramatically reduce their chances for developing tooth decay. This one, simple and quick office visit could save you both money and time with fewer dental visits and healthier, cavity-free teeth.
So will sealants guarantee no (or no more) cavities?
No, just like life, there are few guarantees. Your child's oral hygiene, regular dental visits, fluoride, sugar consumption and genetics are the other important factors that will determine to what degree your child experiences tooth decay. However, research shows that pit and fissure (chewing surface) decay accounts for approximately 43% of all decayed surfaces in children aged 6 to 7, even though the chewing surfaces (of the back or posterior teeth) constitute only 14% of the tooth surfaces at risk. This demonstrates the vulnerability of the chewing surfaces of the posterior teeth to decay. By placing a protective seal over the areas of teeth at risk, you can effectively and proactively protect your children's teeth.
How long do sealants last?
Research has shown that some sealants can last up to 10 years. However, if you opt for sealants for your children's teeth, we will closely monitor them with each office visit to ensure that they are still doing their job. As needed, we can apply more sealant.
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), which was formerly known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), is an interesting condition because it can be hard to diagnose and often mimics many other conditions. It arises when there are problems inside the temporomandibular joint, and the muscles attached to it, causing pain. When treating TMD, we typically start by relieving the symptoms of pain and discomfort with heat, mild pain medications, a diet of soft foods, and some simple jaw exercises. We feel that it is critical to address your pain issues as soon as possible before preceding any further with treatment.
Once we have provided some pain relief and after having completed a thorough history and examination, we can move to the next phase of treatment. This may include the introduction of a bite guard or some form of oral appliance therapy. A bite guard is an unobtrusive yet rigid plastic horseshoe-shaped appliance that fits snuggly over the biting surfaces of the upper teeth. When in place and properly adjusted, this custom-made appliance allows your muscles and therefore jaw joints to relax. And it will prevent you from grinding your teeth, another contributing factor to TMD. We will probably ask you to wear it when sleeping or in times when you are feeling stressed when clenching or grinding habits may be active. We may also suggest that you obtain some relaxation therapy and/or biofeedback from a licensed therapist, as this can prove helpful in treating TMD.
If you have suffered from frequent jaw pain in the past and suspect that you may have TMD, please let us know so that we can address it at your next appointment. Or if you are currently in constant or severe pain, contact us immediately to schedule an appointment. You can learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for TMD by reading “TMD — Understanding The Great Imposter.”
Everyone agrees that education is an important part of personal growth. However, one area of study that often slips through the cracks centers on oral healthcare basics. And whether or not we all do it as often as we should, most people know they should brush and floss their teeth daily. But other than that, do you feel you are knowledgeable and thus have a healthy dental IQ?
We have developed a quick and easy oral health IQ test to help you self-assess your expertise. The answers are listed at the bottom of this article.
- What has been the largest, single factor influencing the decline in tooth decay over the past 40 years in America?
- Fluoridated water
- Fluoridated toothpaste
- Your dentists can help treat which of the following problem(s)?
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Snoring and sleep apnea
- Headaches, Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), or Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
- All of the above
- The most important aspect of brushing your teeth is...?
- The brand of toothpaste you use
- Your brushing technique and frequency
- The brand of your toothbrush
- Using an electric toothbrush
- At a minimum, how often should you have a thorough dental evaluation?
- Every six months
- Once a year
- Every five years
- Only if you are experiencing pain
- At a minimum, how often should you have your teeth professionally cleaned?
- Every six months
- Once a year
- Every five years
- It depends on your age and oral health
Want to learn more?
1) a = fluoridated water, 2) d = all of the above, 3) b = your brushing technique and frequency, 4) b = once a year, 5) d = It depends on your age and oral health
If you are unhappy with the appearance of your smile and would like to change it, we can help you determine what will work best, from a simple whitening to brighten your smile to a complete smile makeover — the possibilities are almost limitless! Consider a “Smile Design” customized just for you. One method of improving your smile is with porcelain veneers. Porcelain laminate veneer tooth restorations are thin layers of dental ceramic — a glass-like material created by dental laboratory technicians, the “artists” who exactly mimic natural teeth making them straighter, whiter, and brighter. They are used to replace worn, dull-looking stained enamel. In addition to making your teeth and smile whiter and brighter, veneers can even be used to change tooth shape and color, close small spaces, and reshape slightly crooked or mis-shapen teeth.
In order to determine if porcelain veneers are a viable solution to help you achieve the smile you have always longed for, consider the following questions:
- Do you want to permanently alter the appearance of your smile?
- Are you hoping to make improvements to your smile that don't take a very long time to complete?
- Are you looking for a way to improve your smile with minimal or even no removal of your natural tooth material?
- Would you like to have more evenly aligned teeth?
- Do you want to change the color of your teeth?
- Do you want whiter teeth and a brighter smile?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is yes and whitening or other treatments have not given you the smile you want, we can help you assess the feasibility of porcelain veneers as one of the many options to enhance and improve your smile. We can fully discuss all the benefits, risks, alternatives, and costs associated with improving your smile.
Call us to make an appointment for a Smile Design consultation and we can get started. If you would like to read more information about porcelain veneers, as well as see a few before and after photos, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Smile Design Enhanced With Porcelain Veneers.”
In modern society, a bright, white smile conveys optimal health, youth and sound teeth. However, various influences including age, wear, diet, and lifestyle may prevent you from having and maintaining the glistening smile you long to share with the world. Luckily, there are many safe, inexpensive, and successful treatment options for discolored or stained teeth.
We can perform a “power bleaching” in our office to whiten teeth that are severely stained or discolored. This procedure whitens the external surfaces of the teeth by using a high concentration (35-45%) hydrogen peroxide solution, which is sometimes activated by a specialized light. To prevent irritation of the mouth's soft tissue lining during this procedure, we will isolate your gums and membranes with a rubber dam, a silicone or other effective barrier. Professionally applied in-office power bleaching provides control, speed, and predictability capable of lightening teeth up to ten shades in an hour. Don't try this at home! Our staff will take precautions in the office to avoid side effects and possible tooth sensitivity.
We can also provide you with custom-made, vacuum-formed, plastic bleaching trays for use with a take-home whitening application. In this instance, a gel made from carbamide peroxide (4-7% hydrogen peroxide, safe for home use) is delivered to the tooth surfaces in the bleaching trays. You will need to wear the tray for 30 minutes twice a day, which is a longer process than in-office bleaching. The first subjective signs of whitening will occur after three or four sessions, allowing whitening of up to eight shade units.
Another home-based option, whitening strips, essentially look like band-aids for the teeth. They are capable of lightening teeth by about three shades after being worn directly on the surface of the teeth for 30 minutes twice a day for one week.
If you have always wanted whiter teeth, schedule an appointment so we can determine which of these treatment options would work best for you. For more information on the fundamentals of teeth whitening, read the informative Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening: Brighter, Lighter, Whiter...”
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