Posts for: September, 2011

By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
September 25, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

If you are pleased with your smile except for that one front tooth that appears darker, then we have good news for you. Often a tooth appears darker as a result of trauma that may have occurred years ago. Your tooth may need root canal treatment or may have already had root canal treatment in the past. Regardless, you can whiten this tooth via a process called internal bleaching. And as the name suggests, the tooth can be bleached from the inside out. Here's a brief summary of how this entire process works:

  1. Performing an x-ray exam: The first step is to take a radiograph (x-ray) to make sure that your root canal filling is intact adequately sealing the root canal and the surrounding bone is healthy.
  2. Making an access hole: To apply the bleaching agent, a small hole will need to be made in the back of your tooth to apply the bleach. However, before doing that, the area must be thoroughly cleaned and irrigated.
  3. Sealing above the root canal filling: This step is critical to prevent the bleach from leaking into the root canal space.
  4. Applying the bleach: To obtain the whitening needed, it typically requires between one and four office visits for additional bleaching.
  5. Applying a permanent restoration: Once your tooth has lightened to the desired color, a permanent filling will be placed over the small hole to seal your tooth's dentin. This is then covered with tooth-colored composite resin (filling material) so that the access hole is undetectable to the naked eye.

To learn more about this procedure and see amazing before and after images, continue reading the Dear Doctor article, “Whitening Traumatized Teeth.” Or, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
September 18, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt in the late teens or early twenties — so-called because they come in around the age of maturity or “wisdom.” While teeth are designed to last a lifetime, wisdom teeth are often problematic requiring early removal because they frequently become impacted, meaning they are not able to erupt fully through the gums to become healthy functioning teeth. However, not all wisdom teeth need to be removed if they are fully erupted and functional.

Prevention: Having a tooth submerged below the gum, pressing on the roots of neighboring teeth can cause damage and decay even though you may not be feeling any discomfort. By the time the tooth becomes painful, significant damage may already have occurred. In addition, the ability of the body to heal following oral surgery tends to decrease with age. A recent study sponsored by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Foundation strongly recommends that wisdom teeth be removed in young adulthood in order to prevent future problems and to ensure optimal healing.

Reasons for Removal: If your wisdom teeth are impacted against (pressing on) the roots of other teeth, damage can occur. To prevent infections, gum disease, decay, or damage to other permanent teeth, our office may recommend removal of your wisdom teeth.

What to Expect: If wisdom teeth removal is recommended, it can generally be done in the dental office as a surgical procedure with local anesthesia and conscious sedation (twilight sleep). After the surgery, you may experience some moderate discomfort and swelling depending on the degree of impaction and difficulty. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen, or prescription medication for several days after surgery will provide pain relief and control swelling.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding removal of your wisdom teeth. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth: To Be Or Not to Be?


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
September 11, 2011
Category: Oral Health

Tooth decay is not trivial. It's a worldwide epidemic, one of the most common of all diseases — second only to the common cold. It affects more than one fourth of U.S. children of ages 2 to 5 and half of those 12 to 15. Among adults, tooth decay affects more than ninety percent of those over age 40.

Prevention of cavities starts with a healthy diet and effective brushing and flossing, but it is much more complex than that. Three strategies for reducing dental caries (tooth decay) include:

Protect with Fluoride and Sealants
This works best when fluoride is applied to the crystalline coating of your child's teeth just after they push through the gums (erupt). The fluoride becomes incorporated into the tooth's surface and acts as a barrier to decay. Studies have shown that low doses of fluoride are safe and effective.

Dental sealants are used as a companion to fluoride because they seal tiny pits and fissures in the tooth's structure, creating an even stronger barrier.

Modify Oral Bacteria
Every mouth contains bacteria, no matter how well you clean your teeth. Not all bacteria cause tooth decay. The problem bacteria are those that produce acid as a byproduct of their life processes. We can identify acid-producing bacteria in your mouth, you can reduce their concentrations using antibacterial mouthrinses such as chlorhexidine, and pH neutralizing agents (substances that reduce the amount of acid).

Reduce Sugars in Your Diet
Bacteria in your mouth ferment sugars and other carbohydrates, producing acids that eat into the mineralized outside structure of your teeth, the enamel. So eating fewer sugars — particularly added sugars such as those in juices, sodas, candy and other sweets — will help prevent decay. Your total sugar intake should be less than fifty grams, or about ten teaspoons, per day. If you begin to read labels showing sugar content of common foods, you may be surprised at the amount you consume without knowing it.

If you must snack between meals, non-sugary snacks like raw vegetables and fresh fruits create a better environment for your teeth.

Xylitol, an “alcohol sugar” used in some chewing gums and dental products, has been shown to reduce decay-producing bacteria.

Try these easy strategies to keep your teeth healthy and functional throughout your lifetime.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth decay. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay.”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
September 04, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

Twenty-first Century techniques can create a replacement for a missing or damaged tooth that looks exactly like a natural tooth and actually fuses with the bone of your jaw. How does this amazing technology work? Test your knowledge on these questions.

What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is actually a replacement for the root of a tooth. In the natural tooth, the root is the part of the tooth below the gum line that is suspended in the bone by ligaments that attach the root to the bone. An implant is a root like substitute that is directly attached to the bone by a process referred to as osteointegration. An implant crown is then attached to the implant and is the visible part that we see above the gum tissues.

What is a modern dental implant made of?
Most are made of titanium. This metal is not rejected by the body and in fact fuses with the bone in which the implant is anchored, making it extremely stable.

How long do implants last?
A successful implant can last a lifetime. Factors that can affect an implant's success are smoking, certain drugs, osteoporosis, a history of radiation treatment, or a compromised immune system. We will evaluate all your conditions of dental and general health before deciding on an implant for you.

What makes the crown look like a real tooth?
The new crown looks real if it matches the shape and color of adjacent natural teeth. Its appearance also depends on what we as dentists refer to as the emergence profile (the way the crown seems to emerge from the gum tissue).

What is the function of a temporary crown?
A customized temporary crown can allow details of color, shape, and emergence profile to be worked out during this “temporary” phase of treatment. It can also test whether the tooth will function correctly for speech, biting and chewing. After these details are worked out, the temporary crown can be used as a blueprint for the permanent one.

What is the first step to getting a dental implant?
Make an appointment with us for a full assessment, diagnosis, and plan for placing the implant and crown.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any additional questions about dental implants. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants, Your Third Set of Teeth.”




Dentist - Fort Worth
2551 River Park Plaza
Fort Worth, TX 76116
817-732-4419

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