Posts for: January, 2015
There’s no question that chewing sugary candy and gum wages quite an assault on your teeth. The sugar combines with the bacteria in your mouth and forms acid, providing an ideal environment for cavities to form.
But what about sugar-free foods? Are they good for your teeth?
Remember, Cheetos are low in sugar content but that doesn’t make them a health food! Sugar-free foods can be a preferable alternative to sugary foods, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to eat them with reckless abandon. It’s true that sugar-free products do not promote tooth decay and can actually help prevent cavities. Xylitol, a common ingredient in sugar-free gum, has been found to help fight tooth decay. Some research has shown that Xylitol can inhibit growth of Streptococcus Mutans, the oral bacteria that causes cavities.
But beware! Sugar-free foods can actually cause other dental problems.
Many sugar-free products often contain preservatives and flavors that are highly acidic, thus contributing to erosion of your teeth. Diet soda (just like regular soda) also contains phosphorous and carbonation, which wear away the enamel on your teeth.
So it is true that advertisers can accurately say that sugar-free foods do not cause tooth decay. They could also accurately say sugar-free foods don’t cause blindness or leprosy! It still doesn’t mean sugar-free foods are healthy for your teeth, and they may actually contribute to enamel erosion!
Overall, it’s probably a good idea to swap out sugary gum with a sugar-free alternative. However, don’t assume that “sugar-free” means tooth-friendly! And let’s face it, it’s tough to go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of water, and brushing your teeth after every meal and snack!
Before she began hosting the long-running TV competition Top Chef, Padma Lakshmi was a well-known model and successful cookbook author. (Appropriately, she is said to have been “discovered” by a modeling agent while sitting in a café in Madrid.) Yet the Indian-born beauty's striking look — at once exotic and familiar — doesn't come from any cookie-cutter mold.
So when Lakshmi had cosmetic work done on her teeth, early in her career, her dentist didn't use a cookie-cutter approach either: Instead, her smile was carefully designed, using small amounts of bonding material to brighten her teeth and to bring their shape and spacing into harmony with her facial features.
Dentistry by Design
What exactly is smile design — and what could it do for you? Essentially, it's the process of evaluating your smile in concert with the appearance of your entire face, and visualizing the changes — some dramatic and some subtle — that will make it really shine. Some aspects we consider include the face's shape, the proportion or “balance” of facial features, the complexion, eye and lip color and form, and the overall dimensions of the smile.
Based on dental aesthetics and clinical experience, we will probably have a number of suggestions to make on how you can improve your smile. Your input will also be very important; while some individuals prefer perfectly even teeth and a sparkling “Hollywood white” smile, others are looking for a result that's more in keeping with a “natural” look: slight irregularities in tooth shape, spacing, and even color.
There's no right or wrong answer here: Having a “perfect” smile means what's perfect for you, so it's very important for dentists and patients to communicate openly during the smile design process. But sometimes, words alone just aren't enough to convey the subtle dimensions of beauty.
The Trial Smile
Fortunately, it's now possible to preview your “perfect” smile using a number of different techniques. Advances in computer imaging make this the first step in previewing your new smile — you can see the changes before a single tooth is touched! Still, many people find that having a more concrete picture is helpful. The next step is to make a 3-D mock-up the proposed dental work on an actual model of your mouth. That way, you can see a physical representation of the final results — and even turn it around and hold it in your hands.
There's still one more way to really experience the difference cosmetic treatments can make without committing to a permanent change: the provisional restoration. Here, tooth-colored bonding material and other techniques are used to actually create the new smile — temporarily. This gives you time to “live with it,” and see if the proposed changes work for you. If everything goes well with the provisional work, the permanent restoration is guaranteed to please.
So if you want holiday treats, get out the cookie cutter — but if you're looking for a smile that's uniquely yours, and one that enhances your own individual appearance… call our office and ask about a smile design consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Great Expectations — Perceptions in Smile Design” and “Beautiful Smiles by Design.”
Did you ever think a dentist might suggest that you have a bone graft performed as part of a standard tooth replacement procedure? Believe it or not, it's now a routine treatment — and it's not as complicated as you may think. Welcome to 21st Century dentistry!
If you're thinking about getting a tooth implant — an attractive, strong and long-lasting option for tooth replacement — here are four things you should know about bone grafting.
A bone graft may be needed prior to placing a dental implant.
One major reason why dental implants work so well as replacements for natural teeth is that they actually become fused to the underlying bone. This system offers superior durability, and a host of other advantages. Unfortunately, when a tooth is lost, the surrounding bone often begins to disappear (resorb) as well. In that case, it may be necessary to rebuild some of the bone structure before an implant can be placed effectively.
Bone regeneration for tooth implants is a routine procedure.
When it's needed, bone grafting has become a standard practice in periodontal and oral surgery. It is often performed prior to (or, occasionally, at the same time as) placing a dental implant. The grafting procedure itself can be done in the office, using local anesthesia (numbing shots, like those used for a filling) or conscious sedation (“twilight sleep”) to relieve anxiety.
The process may use a variety of high-tech materials.
The small amount of bone grafting material you need may come from a variety of sources, including human, animal or synthetic materials. Before it is used, all grafting material is processed to make it completely safe. In addition to the grafting material itself, special “guided bone regeneration” membranes and other biologically active substances may be used to promote and enhance healing.
Bone regeneration lets your body rebuild itself.
Your body uses most bone grafting materials as a scaffold or frame, over which it is able to grow its own new bone tissue. In time, the natural process of bone regeneration replaces the graft material with new bone. As we now know, maintaining sufficient bone tissue around the teeth is a crucial part of keeping up your oral health. That's why today when a tooth is going to be extracted (removed), often a bone graft will be placed at the time of extraction to preserve as much bone as possible.
Are you considering dental implants for tooth replacement, and wondering whether you may need bone grafting? Come in and talk to us! With our up-to-date training and clinical experience, we can answer your questions, and present the treatment options that are best in your individual situation.
If you would like more information about bone grafting, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Can Dentists Rebuild Bone?”