Posts for: December, 2012

By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
December 29, 2012
Category: Oral Health
LearntheSignsofPeriodontalDisease

Periodontal (gum) diseases are sometimes called “silent” because those who have them may not experience painful symptoms. But certain signs point to the existence of these common diseases. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, it is time to visit our office so these problems can be treated before they lead to serious infection and loss of teeth.

Gums that bleed during the brushing of teeth. Some people think that gums bleed from brushing too hard. In fact, healthy gum tissues will not bleed with normal brushing. The usual cause of bleeding gums is an accumulation of dental plaque in the areas where your teeth meet your gums. Plaque is a film of bacteria, called a biofilm, which accumulates on your teeth. If you are not brushing and flossing effectively, plaque irritates your gum tissues and causes an inflammation and swelling called gingivitis. This causes your gums to bleed easily on contact with a toothbrush or floss.

Gum tissues that appear red and swollen. If plaque is allowed to accumulate for 24 hours or more, the inflammation in your gum tissues becomes chronic. The continuous presence of bacteria makes it impossible for your body's natural defenses to fight the infection. Chronic inflammation leads to a breakdown of the normal attachment between the teeth and the gums, causing the formation of “pockets.” Inside these pockets the infection continues to attack the tissues that support your teeth. Eventually this can lead to a breakdown of the bone that surrounds your teeth.

Bad breath. Bad breath is another sign of accumulated plaque. The bacteria in plaque may emit gases that have an unpleasant odor.

Gums that are sensitive to hot or cold. Chronic inflammation can also cause the gums to recede, exposing the roots of the teeth in which nerves may be close to the surface, leading to sensitivity to heat and cold.

Teeth that are getting loose, or a painful area in the gums. If you experience these symptoms, the infection has progressed a long way from the “silent” stage. It is time to seek immediate professional help.

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, a professional dental examination is in order. With daily removal of plaque by effective brushing and flossing, along with frequent professional cleanings to remove any plaque that you were unable to catch, you will go a long way to preventing periodontal disease. Also, be aware that smoking tends to mask the effects of gum disease. Generally, if you smoke your gums will not bleed when brushing or flossing, nor will they show signs of swelling.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about gum disease. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Bleeding Gums” and “Warning Signs of Periodontal (Gum) Disease.”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
December 19, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: veneers   prepless veneers  
DontLiketheDrillNowTheresDrill-FreeCosmeticDentistry

If you have a tooth that just doesn't look good because of decay or injury, a porcelain laminate veneer is probably a good way to make it look as good as it ever did — and maybe even better! Dental veneers are composed of thin layers of dental ceramic material. They essentially replace the original tooth enamel and require preparation of the tooth by removing a small amount of enamel to allow room for the placement of the veneer.

Recently, more and more dentists have been using minimal prep or prepless techniques that do not require this preparation. In such cases, the porcelain is bonded directly to the outer layer of the tooth's enamel. Highly skilled dental technicians can design a custom-fit veneer that feathers into the tooth just short of the gum line.

Prepless techniques cannot be used in all situations, but when they are used appropriately the results are beautiful and very stable. Should you get prepless veneers? The following is a list of advantages and disadvantages of prepless veneers.

Advantages of prepless veneers include:

  • Tooth preparation or reduction is not needed, leaving the original tooth whole.
  • They are not placed under the gum tissue, eliminating the possibility that the restorations negatively impact the gum tissue.
  • They can be used to change the appearance of teeth that are too small or misshapen making the teeth look larger and eliminate unwanted spacing.
  • They can be used to “lengthen” teeth that have been worn down by grinding.
  • Since the underlying tooth has not been reduced, prepless veneers are reversible and practically risk-free.

Disadvantages include:

  • There are many cosmetic situations in which they cannot be used, and traditional veneers (requiring preparation) must be used instead.
  • Prepless veneers cannot be used in cases in which orthodontic treatment is recommended to move the teeth, such as improper tooth position, poor bite, or a poor facial profile.
  • Since they are added on to existing tooth structure, they do not work for teeth that are relatively large or in a forward position in a smile.
  • They do not usually work for lower teeth because of space restrictions.
  • They cannot replace lost or damaged enamel.

Working with prepless veneers requires special skills and training. Please discuss our credentials and experience with us when you inquire about this technique. We can assess your specific situation and let you know whether restoration without the drill is appropriate for you.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about prepless veneers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Veneers Without the Drill.”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
December 14, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: pregnancy   pediatric care  
EightReasonstoTakeGoodCareofYourTeethWhenPregnant

A pregnant woman has a lot to think about while preparing to welcome a new member of her family. It's important to think about her oral health as well. She is sharing her body with the developing infant, so problems with her health — including her dental health — can affect the baby. The following facts will help you understand the relationship between oral health and pregnancy.

  1. A baby's primary (baby) teeth begin to form during the sixth week of pregnancy. They begin to form their enamel (the hard outer layer of the teeth) and dentin layer (just under the enamel) at about the third or fourth month. The calcium, phosphorous, and protein that are needed for these structures must all be provided by the mother's diet.
  2. A good diet for a pregnant mother, in order to provide for both her needs and those of the fetus (the developing baby), includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables — including green leafy vegetables — proteins and dairy products. A doctor may also recommend iron and/or folic acid supplements.
  3. If the mother's diet does not provide enough calcium for the baby's bones and teeth, it will come from calcium stored in her bones — not from her teeth. The old idea that a mother's teeth lose calcium during pregnancy has been found to be a myth.
  4. Progesterone, a normal female hormone, is elevated during pregnancy. This hormone stimulates production of prostaglandins, substances that cause inflammation in gum tissues if the bacteria that cause periodontal (gum) disease are present. The resulting swelling, redness, and sensitive gum tissues, called pregnancy gingivitis, are common during the second to eighth months of pregnancy.
  5. The bacteria involved in periodontal disease can affect whole body conditions such as heart disease and strokes, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. The inflammation resulting from such bacteria can also cause premature delivery (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or low birth weight in the baby.
  6. Periodontal disease is also related to pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure, during pregnancy.
  7. Dental x-rays do not expose the mother to very high radiation, but in any case every precaution is taken to minimize exposure to the fetus. These include a leaded apron that shields the baby from exposure.
  8. Most drugs commonly used in dentistry, including local anesthetics, can safely be given to pregnant women without affecting the fetus. However, it is important to let your dentist know you are pregnant before embarking on any treatment to make sure anything that is done will be safe for the fetus and its developing teeth.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about pregnancy and your oral health. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Pregnancy and Oral Health.”


By Sarah J. Morris, DDS, PLLC
December 05, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   nutrition  
HowMuchDoYouKnowAboutNutritionandOralHealth

How many of these questions can you answer correctly? The more you know about nutrition and oral health, the healthier you are likely to be.

What are free sugars?
“Free sugars” is a term for sugars including refined cane, beet and corn sugar, which are added to foods or occur naturally in honey, syrups or fruit juices.

You probably know that foods with added sugars are not healthy for your teeth. What is the maximum recommended sugar intake for oral health?
The recommended daily limit for free sugar is 10 teaspoons per day. Note that one can of soda contains over 6 teaspoons.

If a sugary snack is bad for your teeth, what could you substitute that would be better?
Fresh fruits and vegetables would be a better snack. Fresh fruits contain fructose, a sugar that has not been shown to be harmful to teeth if eaten in reasonable amounts.

How can you get enough fluoride to guard your teeth against decay?
If your water supply does not contain fluoride, or if you usually drink bottled water, you may or may not be receiving enough fluoride from your toothpaste. We can assess if you are receiving enough fluoride by examining your teeth, testing your plaque and reviewing your past history of tooth decay. If you are having a problem with tooth decay, we can create fluoride trays for you so you can apply a fluoride solution to your teeth daily.

What is dental erosion and how is it different from tooth decay?
Some acidic foods, particularly drinks such as juices and sodas, wear away your teeth's outer coating (the enamel) when exposed to the teeth's surface. Erosion does not involve bacteria, the cause of dental caries (tooth decay).

Can certain foods stop acidity from attacking your teeth?
Yes, there are foods that reverse the increase in acidity that comes from eating free sugars. One of these is cheese. Cheese stimulates saliva in your mouth, and it contains high levels of calcium, allowing calcium to be added back to your teeth. Many vegetables and starchy whole grain foods require thorough chewing, which also stimulates production of saliva and guards against tooth decay.

We hope you learned some useful facts from this nutrition quiz. If you modify your habits so that you eat less free sugar; drink more water (preferably fluoridated), drink fewer juices and sodas; and snack on fresh fruits, vegetables, and cheese, you can count on having healthy teeth and gums.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about diet and oral health. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition & Oral Health.”




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

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