Author: Dr. Chea Rainford

Prevention: Let It Shine

While lasers were at one time just material for science fiction writers, they’ve become a common part of our everyday life. They zap through your groceries, they open garage doors … and now they can detect wear and tear on your tooth’s surface before it becomes a cavity.

Is it caries [cavity]? Or is it a healthy tooth? Dentists often experience anxiety when attempting to diagnose the phenomenon known as hidden caries. A suspicious-looking tooth presents a treatment dilemma for dentists. Should the tooth be opened up? What if no cavity is found? Should the tooth just be watched? Or does that give caries more time to destroy the tooth’s structure? In the case of hidden caries, traditional diagnostic methods all too frequently yield indeterminate results. If you can’t detect a sub-surface lesion, how can you treat it?

Diagnodent is a revolutionary new dental laser tool that safely and effectively detects changes on your tooth’s surface that might not be visible on a traditional x-ray. When this light source is directed at your tooth, anything unusual about the tooth’s surface, such as the beginnings of a surface breakdown, or the start of a cavity, causes a different type of light to be bounced back to the instrument. This light is transferred into an acoustic signal and the wavelength is then evaluated by the control unit. This lets us know what type of preventive treatment you might need. Diagnodent can even detect decay occurring under a crown, allowing us to quickly catch what could later become a problem.

Treatment decisions require a higher degree of certainty. The Diagnodent laser caries detection aid removes the doubt from treatment decisions regarding hidden caries or questionable stained grooves. The device’s ability to see into a tooth’s biting surface pits and fissures enables dentists to treat sub-surface caries lesions with confidence.

We want to ensure that every tooth remains yours for life, and that your visit to our office is comfortable and pleasant. Diagnodent is a unique development that will not only reduce your need for x-rays, it will catch problems before they even get started.

Regular Dental Check-ups

One of the most common reasons that people avoid the dentist is that they think that everything is ok. Their logic is simple; no pain means no problems. Unfortunately, most dental conditions including cavities, gum disease and oral cancer give little or no warning, because they may remain painless for months or even many years. By the time a person is in pain, the dental problem is usually so advanced that the treatment required may be much more involved, costly and may require more down time after the procedure.

Everyday, your dentist sees patients with untreated cavities that eventually cause infection to the nerves and blood supply within the tooth. A tooth that may have only needed a simple and inexpensive filling a few months ago will now require a root canal or surgical removal of the tooth.

The same is true for patients with gum disease. Gum disease can progress quietly for many years before it becomes advanced and teeth become loose or cause pain. While early gum disease can usually be treated with a deep cleaning under the gum, advanced gum disease may require gum surgery and antibiotics.

Oral cancer is also something that your dentist looks for on every dental examination. Tragically, those who avoid dental care are often the victims of aggressive forms of oral cancer that are difficult to treat. Those who wait for an unusual growth in the mouth to become painful may be taking a gamble. Oral cancer has a 50%, five-year fatality rate.

The moral of the story is very simple; visit your dentist at least twice a year for dental cleanings and check-up examinations. You will save time and money by treating all dental problems as soon as they occur and greatly improve your oral health. In fact, some research suggests that those in good dental health will actually live longer than people who do not take care of their teeth. It is also important for people without teeth to see their dentist at least once a year. The dentist will need to check the fit of removable dentures and also look for any signs of oral cancer.

X-Rays: Yes or No?

While we share your concerns about potential risks from too much exposure to radiation, x-rays [radiographs] are a necessary part of the dental health process.

Our philosophy is that x-rays should not be routine but utilized when they will contribute to diagnosis or treatment of oral disease. Of course, we will cover you with appropriate body shielding prior to taking any x-rays.

Radiographs allow us to see and interpret signs of disease or potential problems that are not visible through direct observation. X-rays can be used to discover abscesses [pus-pocket], cysts, and/or tumors. They help us locate impacted, unerupted or extra teeth or determine congenitally missing teeth. Radiographs can demonstrate the presence or degree of periodontal [gum] disease. They can pinpoint the location and severity of cavities that are not visible to the naked eye. Basically, radiographs provide us with a view of the underlying structure and condition of your teeth, soft tissue and bone. Foregoing x-rays could result in an inaccurate diagnosis or incomplete treatment.

Usually, new adult patients will be given a full series of x-rays that will serve as a frame of reference for future changes or problems. The time frame between [6-18 months], type and number of follow-up x-rays will be determined by our assessment of your individual needs and the condition of your mouth. Growth and development are additional factors taken into account with young children. Certain situations such as root canal treatment necessitate several x-rays as part of the procedure. Patient with periodontal disease or implants will require radiographs at specific intervals to monitor their condition. As we are sensitive to your concerns, our office continues to keep abreast of ongoing radiological advances, and we utilize techniques and x-ray films that will minimize your exposure and maximize your excellent oral health.

Tough Brushing Tortures Teeth

Most dentists don’t go a day without seeing patients who are damaging their teeth and gums by brushing too hard. Some report that as many as two out of three patients brush their teeth too hard. This is a problem. A stiff-bristled toothbrush combined with overzealous brushing teeth can cause serious dental problems over time, including gum disease and tooth sensitivity.
People think that if they brush twice as hard, they will do twice as much good, In fact, overzealous brushing can cause significant damage to the periodontal tissues and bones that support the teeth. If you used the same amount of force and brush the side of your arm, you could take your skin off.
One way to avoid damaging your teeth and gums is to purchase a “soft” toothbrush featuring rounded bristles which are less abrasive to teeth. You should hold the brush between the thumb and forefinger, not with the fist. When brushing, do not `scrub’ the teeth with a horizontal, back-and-forth motion.
Instead, start at the gum line and angle the brush at a 45-degree angle. Brush both the teeth and the gums at the same time. Push hard enough to get the bristles under the gumline but not so hard that the bristles flare out. It’s also a wise move to limit the amount of toothpaste because it is abrasive.
The irony is that dentists want people to brush longer, not harder. Children and adults tend to spend less than one minute at a time brushing their teeth, even though removing plaque from the mouth requires at least two to five minutes of brushing at least twice a day. Remember: brush longer, not harder.

Let Your Smile Do the Talking!

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and a brilliant smile can make a big impact. Come see us for a total smile makeover and you’ll send the right message with every single flash of your pearly whites.
Did you know that new advances in cosmetic dentistry mean you can perfect your smile in just a few appointments? Our practice offers veneers, bonding and long-lasting whitening — we can even straighten crowded teeth and close gaps in no time at all!
You deserve to look and feel your best. Call us today and let our team give you a smile that says it all.
Call 678 810 1100

I Lost my Dental Insurance!

Occasionally we get a call from a patient who wants to cancel their cleaning appointment because they have lost their dental insurance. If you have been a regular patient and your teeth are in good shape, the worst thing you can do is try to save money by avoiding preventive care.

If you do not have dental insurance, we offer the convenient option of getting your own Smile Solutions Dental Plan.  We accept most insurance plans. If you don’t have insurance, you can get an individual plan through us.

Preventive maintenance can keep your mouth healthy for less than the premium costs of a decent dental insurance plan. Too often when we have insurance coverage we don’t even know how much our treatment really costs.

I don’t think any of us would neglect the regular maintenance of our car considering the cost of an oil change vs. a new engine. The same is true (but thankfully on a much less expensive scale) for our teeth.  By letting our office check for cavities regularly, most problems can be found while they are small and relatively inexpensive to cure. We can catch a small cavity before it becomes a root canal, a cracked filling before it needs a crown or gum disease before it results in extractions and dentures.

If you do need more extensive treatment we can work with you to design a course of treatment to bring your mouth back to good oral health. There are usually several ways to restore your mouth to better health – each with its own unique cost and time frame.  We can discuss the options, organize your treatment in order of necessity and make financial arrangements to suit your budget.

Let us help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile and don’t let your insurance dictate your dental care.

Diet A Big Factor In Controlling High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls. It is measured in millimeters of mercury and recorded as two numbers-systolic pressure (when the heart beats) over diastolic pressure (when the heart relaxes between beats). Both numbers are important. Blood pressure rises and falls during the day. But when it stays elevated over time, then it’s called high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard, and the high force of the blood flow can harm arteries and organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes. High blood pressure often has no warning signs or symptoms. Once it occurs, it usually lasts a lifetime. If uncontrolled, it can lead to heart and kidney disease, stroke, and blindness.

High blood pressure affects more than 65 million-or 1 in 3- American adults. About 28 percent of American adults ages 18 and older, or about 59 million people, have prehypertension, a condition that also increases the chance of heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure is especially common among African Americans, who tend to develop it at an earlier age and more often than Whites. It is also common among older Americans-individuals with normal blood pressure at age 55 have a 90 percent lifetime risk for developing high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can be controlled if you take these steps:

 Maintain a healthy weight.

 Be moderately physically active on most days of the week.

 If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

 If you have high blood pressure and are prescribed medication, take it as directed.

 Follow a healthy eating plan, which includes foods lower in sodium.

The lower your salt intake is, the lower your blood pressure. Studies have found that the DASH [http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov] menus containing 2,300 milligrams of sodium can lower blood pressure and that an even lower level of sodium, 1,500 milligrams, can further reduce blood pressure. All the menus are lower in sodium than what adults in the United States currently eat-about 4,200 milligrams per day in men and 3,300 milligrams per day in women.

Scientists supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute conducted two key studies. Their findings showed that blood pressures were reduced with an eating plan that is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat and that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.

This eating plan-known as the DASH eating plan-also includes whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts. It is reduced in lean red meat, sweets, added sugars, and sugar-containing beverages compared to the typical American diet. It is rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, as well as protein and fiber.

The DASH eating plan also emphasizes potassium from food, especially fruits and vegetables, to help keep blood pressure levels healthy. A potassium-rich diet may help to reduce elevated or high blood pressure, but be sure to get your potassium from food sources, not from supplements. Many fruits and vegetables, some milk products, and fish are rich sources of potassium. However, fruits and vegetables are rich in the form of potassium (potassium with bicarbonate precursors) that favorably affects acid-base metabolism. This form of potassium may help to reduce risk of kidney stones and bone loss. While salt substitutes containing potassium are sometimes needed by persons on drug therapy for high blood pressure, these supplements can be harmful to people with certain medical conditions. Ask your doctor before trying salt substitutes or supplements.

Burning Mouth Syndrome Still A Mystery

Burning mouth syndrome affects about 1.3 million Americans with the large majority being postmenopausal women, and it still remains a medical/dental mystery. It is characterized by a burning sensation in the tongue or other areas of the mouth. Once the oral burning sensation starts, it usually persists for many years.

Pain is the chief complaint in this condition. More than half of all patients with Burning Mouth Syndrome report the onset of pain as spontaneous with no specific triggering factor. About 1/3 of all patients who are diagnosed with Burning Mouth Syndrome attribute the time of onset to a recent illness, a dental procedure or therapeutic medication.

Besides the burning sensation of the tongue, some people also have a burning feeling in the front of their hard palate and/or their lower lip. Affected individuals often have multiple oral complaints including dryness of their mouth and taste alterations.

Typically, individuals awaken without pain but discomfort occurs at a moderate level by mid-morning and progressively worsens into the afternoon and evening.

Hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies [vitamins B1, B2 and B6 and zinc] high glucose levels, dysfunction of cranial nerves, dry mouth, Candida infections or personality and mood swings are often seen in people with Burning Mouth Syndrome. However, no causal relationship has been established.

What can be done to alleviate this problem? After resolving local oral conditions and/or managing systemic situations, if burning persists, a diagnosis of Burning Mouth Syndrome should be considered.

Some of the methods of treatment include Hormone Replacement Therapy, nutritional supplementation, high fluid intake and medication. In low doses antidepressants such as Elavil and Librium may be effective with Burning Mouth Syndrome. It is not clear why these medications work.

Call our office if you are experiencing any of the symptoms.

Straighten Out and Smile Right

Orthodontics is a specialty in dentistry that concerns itself with aligning the teeth and jaws in proper position when they are out of sync. This happens commonly when the growth of one jaw does not keep pace with the other. This is a problem that you might inherit from your parents. Thumb sucking, mouth breathing and tongue thrusting are other factors that could contribute to malocclusion [misaligned teeth]. When the occlusion [bite] is out of balance and/or teeth are crooked or crowded, a person becomes more susceptible to gum disease, tooth decay and chipping or fracturing teeth. Speech and phonetics may be compromised. It’s not unusual for people with teeth irregularities to refrain from smiling, because they are embarrassed by the looks of their mouth. With orthodontic treatment, crooked or crowded teeth, underbites or overbites, spaces between teeth and improper jaw position [i.e. retruded or protruded lower jaw] can be corrected. Both function and cosmetics can be restored. Orthodontic treatment consists of removable or fixed appliances and may involve brackets, bands, wires and/or elastics to provide the necessary movement of your teeth. The ideal time for braces is for youngsters between 10-14 years of age, while their face and mouth are still growing. However, many adults are now improving their smiles and correcting minor problems by wearing braces. The time required for treatment depends on the complication of the problem. The average time is 1-3 years followed by several months of wearing a retainer to stabilize the straightened teeth. As one get older, the same treatment could take longer. During the treatment, there will be periods of some discomfort as the wires are tightened to apply the necessary pressure, and extra special care must be taken in oral hygiene to prevent demineralization or decay of your teeth. Just look at orthodontics as an investment in your appearance and long-term, continual dental health. So straighten out and smile right!

Can Teenagers get Gum Disease?

Can Teenagers Get Gum Disease?
Gum disease might seem like something only adults get, but the truth is it affects people of all ages. In fact, TeenHealth.com reports that 60 percent of 15-year-olds have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Other studies show that teenage girls may be even more vulnerable to gum disease because of hormonal changes.

This is bad news for teenagers, who may have bad breath or sore gums as the result of gingivitis. But there’s also good news: Gum disease can easily be treated and prevented.

Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Just one SRP treatment can reverse the signs of gingivitis and prevent gum disease from progressing.

But how do you keep gum disease from coming back? Pretty much the same way you can prevent it from developing in the first place: brush, floss, get dental cleanings AND eat healthy foods. Healthy eating is where teens often get tripped up – sweets, sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are heavily marked to and consumed by teenagers.

You can make it easy for your teen to choose healthier options for their teeth and body by making sure the fridge is always stocked with things like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and water.