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By East Ellijay Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
May 14, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
WhatitMayTaketoSaveaToothRavagedbyDisease

Although dental implants are the nearest artificial teeth we have to the real thing, we should still consider saving a tooth first before replacing it. Real teeth by nature are better for overall dental health and function better than even a life-like implant.

How we save such a tooth will depend largely on what ails it. In most cases, that will be one of two dental diseases: tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease.

Both diseases begin with dental plaque, a thin biofilm of bacteria and food materials that remain on tooth surfaces. The greater the plaque (often because of poor hygiene), the more these bacteria multiply and, pertaining to tooth decay, the more acid they produce. High acid levels soften and erode tooth enamel, which opens the door to decay.

The degree of decay within a tooth determines the manner of treatment. If it's limited to the enamel and upper dentin layers, we may only need to remove the decayed structure and fill the cavity. Decay reaching the pulp and root canals, however, often requires a more invasive procedure known as root canal therapy.

During a root canal, we drill into the tooth's interior to clear out diseased tissue. We next fill the now empty pulp chamber and root canals to prevent future infection. While general dentists can perform basic root canals, more complex cases often require the services of an endodontist, an interior tooth specialist with the necessary expertise and equipment for just such situations.

Bacteria also causes gum disease, albeit by directly infecting the gum tissues. The disease can quickly spread deeper into the gums, ultimately affecting the roots and underlying bone, and putting the tooth in peril. More teeth, in fact, are lost to gum disease than to tooth decay.

To stop the disease, we must remove any and all dental plaque and tartar (calcified plaque), which feeds the infection. The most effective means for doing this is with hand instruments called scalers and ultrasonic equipment. We may also need to surgically access deeper deposits around the roots to successfully remove them.

As you can see, treating either of these destructive diseases ranges from simple to complex and invasive. But even extensive measures are well worth it for both your tooth and your future dental health.

If you would like more information on dental treatment options, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Save a Tooth or Get an Implant?

By East Ellijay Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
May 04, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: celebrity smiles   crowns  
HowCelineDionOvercameHerSmileObstacle

For over three decades, Celine Dion has amazed audiences and fans with her powerful singing voice. Best known for her recording of "My Heart Will Go On," the theme song for the movie Titanic, Dion has amassed global record sales topping 200 million. In her early singing days, though, she struggled with one particular career obstacle: an unattractive smile.

The Canadian-born performer had a number of dental defects including crooked and discolored teeth, and—most prominent of all—abnormally large cuspid or "canine" teeth (located on either side of the four front incisors). They were so noticeable that one Quebec celebrity magazine gave her the unflattering nickname "Canine Dion."

This isn't an unusual problem. Since human canines are already the longest teeth in the mouth, it doesn't take much for them to stand out. Our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors needed these large, pointed teeth to survive. But with the evolution of agriculture and industry, canine teeth have become gradually smaller—so much so that when they're abnormally large, they don't look right in a smile.

So, what can be done if your canines embarrassingly stand out from the rest? Here are some of the options to consider.

Reduce their size. If your canines are just a tad too long, it may be possible to remove some of the enamel layer in a procedure called contouring. Using this technique, we can reduce a tooth's overall size, which we then re-shape by bonding composite resin to the tooth. It's only a good option, though, if your canines have an ample and healthy layer of enamel.

Repair other teeth. The problem of prominent canine teeth may actually be caused by neighboring teeth. When the teeth next to the canines are crooked, the canines can appear more prominent. Alternatively, other teeth around the canines may be abnormally small. Braces or clear aligners can correct crooked incisors, and applying porcelain veneers to smaller teeth could help normalize their length.

Apply dental crowns. In some instances, we can reduce the canines in size and then bond porcelain crowns to them. This is the option that Dion ultimately chose. The natural teeth are still intact, but the crowning process transforms them into properly proportioned, life-like teeth. There is, however, one caveat: The alteration to these teeth will be permanent, so they will need a crown from then on.

Besides crowning her canine teeth, Dion also underwent other dental work to straighten and whiten her other teeth. As a result, this superstar performer now has a superstar smile to match and so can you if your teeth are less than perfect. These or other cosmetic enhancements can give you the look you truly desire. All it takes is an initial visit with us to start you on the road to a transformed smile.

If you would like more information about various cosmetic solutions for your smile, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Dental Crowns.”

By East Ellijay Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
April 24, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
HeresHowDrinkingAlcoholCouldImpactYourDentalHealth

Alcoholic beverages are interwoven within many cultures across the globe, but this "social lubricant" also has a dark side. Alcohol can become an overwhelming, addictive substance that wrecks relationships and careers, not to mention physical health. In regard to the latter, the teeth, mouth and gums aren't immune.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Throughout the month, healthcare providers, including dentists, highlight the damage heavy alcohol consumption can wrought on physical, emotional and social health. Abstaining or bringing alcohol consumption within recommended limits can improve your life—and your oral health.

While the effects of too much alcohol on general health are well known, it's easy to overlook its connection with dental disease, but it does exist for a number of reasons.

First, many alcoholic beverages and mixers contain high amounts of sugar. Harmful bacteria living in dental plaque, a thin film on tooth surfaces, feed on sugar. The bacteria are then able to multiply, which, increases your chances for gum disease, one of the leading causes of tooth loss.

Many alcoholic drinks also contain high amounts of acid. That, coupled with the acid produced by bacteria, can soften and erode tooth enamel, leading to unpleasant outcomes like increased tooth sensitivity or tooth decay. Like gum disease, advanced tooth decay can also cause tooth loss.

Alcohol consumption also causes dehydration, which in turn can have an effect on the mouth: With less water available, the salivary glands produce less saliva. Because saliva helps neutralize oral acid and fights pathogens leading to dental disease, having less of it available can make your mouth more susceptible to disease and infection.

To avoid these unfortunate consequences, it's important to either forgo drinking alcohol or keep your consumption within moderate limits. Those limits for you individually may depend on things like your age, weight, genetic background and overall health. Generally, though, U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 1 serving of alcohol (akin to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits) per day for women and two for men.

If you're a drinker, you should also look out for your oral health in other ways. Brush and floss your teeth daily to remove harmful dental plaque, and eat a balanced and nutritious diet, rich in vitamins and minerals. You should visit your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups.

Regardless of your relationship to alcohol, it's a part of life you should take seriously. Drinking responsibly not only protects you and others around you, but it can also protect your dental health.

If you would like more information about alcohol and dental health, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition: Its Role in General and Oral Health.”

By East Ellijay Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
April 14, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
ImplantsCanLastaLongTimeIfYoullDoThistoMaintainThem

Dental implants have taken restorative dentistry by storm for a number of reasons: They're incredibly life-like; and their unique design allows them to function much like natural teeth. But perhaps the clincher for many is their longevity. Numerous studies show that more than 95% percent of implants are still performing after 10 years.

The reason for their durability is wrapped up in their "unique design" mentioned earlier—a titanium metal post imbedded into the jawbone, to which a dentist attaches the visible crown. The titanium attracts the growth of new bone cells, which adhere and accumulate on the implant surface.

This "integration," a process which occurs over a few weeks after implantation, creates a strong bond between the implant and jawbone. This ultra-strong hold enables the implant to withstand years, if not decades, of chewing forces you generate on a daily basis.

With that said, though, there are rare instances when an implant loses its hold—or doesn't properly develop it. Integration may not fully succeed due to infection either before or right after surgery, which can inhibit bone growth around the implant.

Other conditions can compromise the bone's integrity like a weakened immune system, diabetes or osteoporosis. And even if integration occurs normally, later problems like gum disease or a teeth-grinding habit can damage the connection between implant and bone.

There are things you can do, however, to further minimize the risk of implant failure.

  • Brush and floss daily (especially around implants) and maintain regular dental visits to lower your risk of gum disease;
  • See your dentist if you notice swollen, reddened or bleeding gums, an indication of a gum infection that could impact your implants;
  • Stop smoking, which increases your infection risk, or abstain a few weeks before and after surgery;
  • Manage issues like diabetes, osteoporosis, or teeth-grinding that could affect your implants.

Implants can be a great long-term solution to tooth loss. You can help ensure their longevity by looking out for both your oral and general health.

If you would like more information on dental implant restorations, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants: A Tooth-Replacement Method That Rarely Fails.”

By East Ellijay Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
April 04, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: root resorption  
AlthoughRareRootResorptionisaPotentialDangertoYourTeeth

You know the "usual suspects": brown tooth spots, toothache, or reddened, swollen or bleeding gums—common indicators for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease, two of the biggest threats to your teeth. But there are other conditions that, although rare in comparison, are no less harmful to your teeth. One of these is root resorption, when an adult tooth's root structure dissolves (resorbs).

Root resorption usually starts on the outside of a tooth, near the neck-like or cervical area around the gum line, and is also known as external cervical resorption (ECR). Your dentist may first notice tiny pink spots on the enamel during an exam: these are tiny lesions where the enamel has eroded, and are filled with pink-colored cells that actually help perpetuate resorption.

We're not fully certain about the underlying causes for root resorption, but some factors like excessive orthodontic force or dental trauma (particularly involving periodontal tissues that hold teeth in place), seem to be present with many cases.

Fortunately, most people experiencing these and similar conditions never contend with ECR. Still, it remains a possibility, particularly for older adults, and is best addressed as early as possible. Regular dental checkups are vital to identifying the condition early with prompt treatment following.

If the lesions are small, we may be able to clean out the pink tissue cells and fill the lesion with a tooth-colored material like a composite resin or glass ionomer cement. Even though this is a relatively simple process, we sometimes may need to expose the affected area below the gum tissue with a surgical procedure. And, if the damage has reached the pulp in the center of a tooth, we may also need to perform a root canal treatment.

At some point, though, the level of resorption may have left the tooth too compromised for any reasonable repair. In such cases, it may be best to remove the tooth and replace it with a restoration, most notably a dental implant.

Needless to say, keeping a regular dental visit schedule is your best defense against experiencing ECR this advanced. Early detection remains the best case scenario for this rare but damaging disease.

If you would like more information on root resorption, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Root Resorption: An Unusual Phenomenon.”





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