Posts for: August, 2012

By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
August 30, 2012
Category: Oral Health
BleedingGumsMeanSomethingisWrong

If you see blood when you brush or floss your teeth, it generally indicates a problem with your oral health. You may think you are brushing too hard, but this is not usually why gums bleed. The usual culprit is dental plaque.

Plaque is the sticky, whitish film of bacteria that forms on your teeth every day. If you brush regularly, you probably remove most of it — but some may remain behind and accumulate where your teeth meet your gums, particularly between your teeth. As the bacteria build up, along with by-products of their metabolism (the chemical reactions that maintain their lives), they cause inflammation, called gingivitis, in the adjacent gums.

Bleeding gums are an early symptom of gingivitis. Continuing contact with plaque at the gum line can cause your gum tissue to separate from nearby teeth, creating pockets in which the inflammation becomes even worse. The process leads to periodontal disease (“peri” – meaning around, “odont” – tooth). The increasing infection can eat away the bone that anchors the teeth, leading to possible tooth loss. Periodontal disease is not an uncommon problem. About 90% of the population has bleeding gums at some time or another, and approximately 10% go on to develop periodontal disease.

When you lose bone around your teeth, the gums separate from the tooth and “pockets” form between your teeth and gums. The inflammation and infection may continue within the pockets even if your gums have stopped bleeding when you brush. That's why it is important to have regular dental exams — to check up on and stop periodontal disease before it has a chance to cause serious damage.

There may also be other reasons for bleeding gums that have to do with your general state of health. Women who have elevated levels of hormones caused by birth control pills or pregnancy may experience an increased response to plaque that makes their gums bleed more easily. Increased bleeding in your gums can also be caused by some diseases or as a side effect of some medications.

The most important way to prevent bleeding gums is to learn proper brushing and flossing techniques so that you effectively remove plaque from your teeth on a daily basis. If you are not sure you are using the right techniques, make an appointment and have us demonstrate at your next dental visit.

With all the best intentions, some plaque may remain. Plaque that is allowed to stay on your teeth hardens into a substance called tartar or calculus. This must be removed periodically with a professional cleaning by me or by our hygienist.

With not too much effort, you can ensure that your teeth are clean and plaque free, and your healthy gums no longer bleed.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about bleeding gums. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
August 23, 2012
Category: Oral Health
TreatingSnoringampSleepApnea

If you suffer from snoring or think you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), did you know that your dentist could play an important role in treating your condition? For most people this is surprising; however, we can provide both education and some treatment options. And as needed, we will work with your other healthcare professionals to get an accurate diagnosis so that you can improve both your sleep and your health.

Oral Appliance Therapy: These devices may look like orthodontic retainers or sports mouthguards, but they are designed to maintain an open, unobstructed, upper airway (tissues at the back of your throat) during sleep. There are many different oral appliances available but less than 20 have been approved through the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for treating sleep apnea. Depending on your specific condition, we may use it alone or in combination with other means of treating your OSA. Here’s how they work. They reposition the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula (the tissue in the back of the throat that dangles like a punching bag); stabilize the lower jaw and tongue; and increase the muscle tone of the tongue — unblocking the airway.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): CPAP bedside machines generate pressurized air delivered through a tube connected to a mask covering the nose and sometimes mouth. Pressurized air opens the airway (windpipe) in the same manner as blowing into a balloon; when air is blown in, the balloon opens and gets wider. This treatment option is generally not used for snoring, but rather for the more serious condition, OSA.

Surgery: Specially trained oral and maxillofacial surgeons may include more complex jaw advancement surgeries. Additionally, an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist (otolaryngologist) may consider surgery to remove excess tissues in the throat. It also may be necessary to remove the tonsils and adenoids (especially in children), the uvula, or even parts of the soft palate.

The first step towards getting a great night's sleep if you are a snorer that has never been diagnosed or treated for your condition is to obtain a thorough examination by a physician specifically trained in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. And depending on the seriousness of your condition, he or she may strongly encourage you to participate in a sleep study. The results from this “study” can provide your dentist and other healthcare professionals with precise data about your snoring, breathing and sleeping habits. This information is key to treating OSA, if you are in fact diagnosed with this condition. Learn more when you read, “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.” Or if you are ready for a thorough examination and to discuss your snoring, contact us today to schedule an appointment.


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
August 14, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
WhatIsCosmeticDentistry

“Smile, and the world smiles with you,” the old saying goes. For people who are afraid to smile because they don't like how their smile looks, the twenty-first century offers a myriad of solutions. Smiling shows your teeth in their various shapes, colors, and sizes, your gums and gum line, your tooth alignment, spacing, and bite all in relation to the rest of your face. Any of these can now be improved.

Through the knowledge, skills, and combined experience of our dental team, it is now possible to make teeth whiter, brighter, and more evenly aligned, to alter tooth shape and size, and to make the teeth and gum line more proportionally balanced. Here are some options for cosmetic dentistry:

  • Polish. Remove unwanted stains on outside tooth surfaces by having your teeth polished.
  • Teeth Whitening. If teeth are stained or have just lost their luster, whitening is a safe and effective way to lighten a smile.
  • Porcelain veneers. Applying a thin layer of dental porcelain restorative material to replace stained or damaged tooth enamel can truly change a smile.
  • Porcelain crowns. If teeth are damaged by decay or trauma, porcelain crowns can replace the parts of the teeth that show above the gum line.
  • Orthodontics. For teeth that are not in their correct and functional position, a variety of orthodontic techniques can be used including traditional braces, clear aligners and more—to improve crooked teeth or a malaligned bite.
  • Dental implants. Nothing ruins a smile more than missing teeth. Entire teeth can be replaced, including the roots and the crowns, using dental implants. These are exact replicas of the natural teeth and can be made to match their neighbors exactly.

To learn more about all types of cosmetic dentistry, read “Cosmetic Dentistry, a Time for Change.” Or if you prefer, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
August 13, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
HowtoGetWhatYouWantinYourSmileMakeover

When you begin a smile makeover in our office, you are embarking on an exciting partnership with my laboratory technician and me. You should be full of excitement and anticipation — if you have been dissatisfied with your current smile, and you have great expectations for the results of this project. You will really like what you see in your mirror.

Being completely satisfied with your new look depends upon successful communication — between you and me and also between my dental lab technician and me. As you might expect, your perceptions of how your teeth appear are different from a dentist's perceptions. My education leads me to think of factors that untrained individuals probably won't consider, such as crown (tooth) length, midlines (how the teeth line up with other facial features) and the distance from gum to lip.

It is helpful to be able to describe what you like and don't like about your current smile, and what changes you would like to see. Using visual aids is a good idea. Bring photos and magazine illustrations to show what you have in mind. (Remember that we cannot make you look exactly like a celebrity or anyone else. The pictures are guidelines.)

Things to think about:

  • The color, size, shape, alignment and spacing of your teeth.
  • How much of your teeth and gum tissues show when your lips are relaxed and when you smile.
  • Tooth color: bright “Hollywood” white or more natural looking off-white.

Your makeover is more likely to meet your expectations if you get an advanced view of the results. Computer imaging is one way to do this. Another is for us to make a mock-up of the proposed dental work in tooth-colored wax on models of your mouth.

Finally, a “Provisional Restoration” can be used as a test to make sure that what I envision is also what you, the patient, want to see. A provisional restoration, made from temporary materials, gives you a chance to test out the changes and make sure they work for you — that they not only look good, but they are also functional in terms of biting, chewing, speech, and gum health.

If the provisional restoration works, it is used as a blueprint to make durable and long lasting porcelains in the same design. We will take impressions of the provisional restoration and communicate the relevant information to a dental laboratory technician, who will make the final porcelain tooth replicas for your new smile.

Competent communication and a provisional restoration will put you on track to meet your expectations and obtain the most aesthetic and functional result in your Smile Makeover.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about Smile Makeovers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations — Perceptions in Smile Design.”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
August 12, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
CountdownToAPerfectWeddingDaySmile

Invitations, dresses, the cake, the photographer: there's so much to think about when planning your wedding. And remember to plan for one more thing, your smile. Your wedding photographs will record the magic of your wedding day forever, so you'll want your smile to look radiant. Bonus: you'll be providing for a lifetime of good oral health.

Start planning as far ahead as possible. We can help you select from the variety of treatments, therapies and procedures that can enhance your smile on that special day. Together, we'll assess your starting point, decide what needs to be changed, and create a plan of action. Remember that the bigger the changes you want to make, the longer they are likely to take.

Plan the indicated amount of time before your wedding for the following:

  • Several months to three years: Orthodontics
    From minor movement using clear aligners to full braces to correct a bad bite, this treatment allows us to accurately and precisely move teeth for better appearance and function. The process can seem like magic.
  • Six months to a year: Dental Implants
    Implants are natural looking, functional stand-alone tooth replacement systems. They take planning and time. An implant consists of a root replacement that permanently joins to the bone and to which a crown is attached.
  • Two to four visits: Periodontal Plastic Surgery
    Consult with us to find out your needs. Today, surgical techniques can alter your gum tissues and their relationship to the teeth, improving the appearance of your smile.
  • Multiple visits over one to four months: Crowns and Bridges
    A crown or “cap” is generally required when a tooth has been ravaged by decay or trauma. A crown can also be used to improve tooth color and shape. Missing teeth can be replaced by bridges, which span the space created by a missing tooth. Bridges do require crowns on the adjacent teeth to which the bridge is attached.
  • At least three months: Veneers
    Porcelain veneers are bonded directly to the enamel to change the shape and color of darkened or unsightly teeth. Usually, a small amount of enamel must be removed to make room for the veneers and for them to work their magic.
  • At least two months ahead of your wedding day: Bonding
    You can replace anything from small chips on your front teeth to broken discolored old fillings with the latest tooth-colored bonding composite resin materials. These procedures, generally done in one visit, provide life-like restorations that become part of the teeth and look very natural.
  • Allow for one or two office appointments: Whitening
    A professional “in office” tooth bleaching procedure is quicker and more predictable than an “at-home” kit, which may brighten your smile by several shades, but requires months.
  • Schedule well ahead of your wedding date: Dental Cleanings
    Remove unwanted stains and freshen your breath, so you look and feel your best on the big day. You may need more than one cleaning, depending on how much stain and tartar there is and how long it has been since your last cleaning.

We can make sure that your wedding day smile makes you look and feel great, not just for those treasured photos, but for years to come. For many of these procedures, results can last a lifetime. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to prepare for your best wedding smile. For more information read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wedding Day Smiles.”




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

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