<i>What is periodontal or gum disease?</i>
Periodontal disease is a result of bacterial infection and is largely preventable with proper oral hygiene. Early and moderate periodontal disease may exhibit few, if any, symptoms and is usually painless. Gingivitis is typically the first sign of advancing periodontal disease with inflamed or bleeding gums. Left untreated, periodontal disease progresses to bone loss which then causes permanent teeth to shift in their bite, loosen or fall out. Periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults.
During each routine checkup, Dr. Cabot will examine you for periodontal disease. A periodontal probe is used to determine if there is any breakdown in the gum tissue attachment or if pockets have developed between your gums and teeth.
It is important to understand that patients with mild periodontal disease don’t feel discomfort. It is essential to have a professional evaluation to determine if you are prone to or already have periodontal disease. If one or both of your parents suffered tooth loss from periodontal disease you should make sure you will not have the same problems. With proper oral care, you can prevent the same outcome from happening to you.
<i>How can I prevent gum disease?</i>
Good oral hygiene starts at home, though it needs to be supplemented by regular visits to our family and cosmetic dentistry practice, Queen Village Family Dentistry. Steps you can take to prevent tooth decay and gum disease include:
Brush at least twice daily using a soft-bristle toothbrush and an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. This helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and the need for costly cosmetic or restorative dentistry in the future. Replace your brush every three to six months.
We at Queen Village Family Dentistry recommend using the Sonicare toothbrush which uses dynamic sonic technology to remove plaque, reduce gingivitis, improve gum health and reduce stains.
Flossing is crucial to the health of your teeth and gums and the prevention of gum disease. Flossing is the best way to remove plaque and tartar between the teeth. It is also effective at preventing build-up that can lead to decay and bone loss/gum disease. When flossing, use an 18-inch strand of floss. Ease the floss between each tooth; then, sweep it up and down several times while curving around the tooth at the gum line. Don’t forget to floss behind your last tooth and to floss bridges and artificial teeth with the aid of a floss threader.
Regular dental visits, along with a thorough home care regimen, are critical to a lifetime of good oral health. General dentistry of this type can prevent the need for cosmetic or restorative dentistry later in life. Queen Village Family Dentistry looks forward to being your partner in managing your dental health needs.
<i>Why is it important to use dental floss?</i>
Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gum line. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up and creating an infection in your gums.
Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that cause cavities and irritate and inflame the gums. Also, when plaque is not removed above and below the gum line, it hardens and turns into calculus (tartar). This can cause infection that can lead to destruction of the bone which holds your teeth.
When flossing, use an 18-inch strand of floss. Ease the floss between each tooth; then, sweep it up and down several times while curving around the tooth at the gum line. Don’t forget to floss behind your last tooth and to floss bridges and artificial teeth with the aid of a floss threader.
<i>Should I use an inter-dental brush? I see them in the store.</i>
Floss is the ideal tool for cleaning in between healthy teeth and gums. Healthy gums hold close to the teeth and floss is thin enough to do the job without causing injury to the gums. Inter-dental brushes are effective for large dental gaps but can cause injury to otherwise healthy gums if forced into too-small spaces. Ask Dr. Cabot if an inter-dental brush is appropriate for your circumstances.
<i>How does fluoride help prevent tooth decay?</i>
Fluoride helps reverse and prevent tooth decay in three ways:
1. Promoting Tooth Remineralization
Acids can demineralize a tooth — that is, create a weak spot that develops into a cavity. Fluoride helps promote the opposite process, called remineralization, which can reverse the very early stages of tooth decay.
2. Helping Teeth Become More Resistant to Tooth Decay
Fluoride actually strengthens teeth, giving them natural protection against future tooth decay.
3. Inhibiting Oral Bacteria’s Ability to Create Tooth-Attacking Acids
Fluoride disrupts bacteria’s ability to create sugars, the process that causes decay of tooth enamel.
<i>What causes sensitive teeth?</i>
Sensitive teeth can be caused by a range of factors. The porous part of the tooth, called dentin, is the region that registers pain, and dentin can become exposed due to:
- Fractured or chipped teeth
- Teeth injured by clenching or grinding
- Receding gums caused by gum disease
<i>How can sensitive teeth be managed?</i>
Pain from sensitive teeth often comes and goes, but if you experience constant pain, you may have a more serious problem. There are many effective treatments for sensitive teeth, including:
- A soft-bristle toothbrush to prevent gum irritation,
- Toothpaste designed to insulate the nerve that registers pain, or
- A fluoride rinse or gel, available at Queen Village Family Dentistry
- A night guard to alleviate sensitivity caused from overnight teeth grinding
- Bonding to prevent irritation of exposed roots
If you have sensitive teeth, ask Dr. Cabot about your options for treatment. He can help determine the cause of your pain and develop a course of treatment.
<i>What is the purpose of a nightguard?</i>
Custom designed nightguards and mouthguards are made of either a hard plastic or soft plastic and molded to fit the shape of your teeth. Nightguards are recommended for patients who clench or grind their teeth at night as a way to protect their teeth and bite. Mouthguards are recommended to protect the jaw and teeth during physical activity and sports such as boxing, football, basketball, or other activities where your mouth may get hit. In addition, these guards protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining.
If you have decided a guard is right for you, Dr. Cabot will take an impression of your teeth which will then be sent to a lab to make a custom fit guard for you. In most cases you can choose from a variety of colors and styles for your guard. On average, guards last between 3 and 10 years.
<i>What is Root Canal treatment?</i>
The interior of a healthy tooth is filled with nerve tissue (pulp). When a tooth is injured, cracked, or decayed, the nerve tissue can die, thereby causing an infection or abscess. It may become necessary to open the tooth and clean out infected tissue in the center. This space is then filled and the opening sealed. This procedure is called a “root canal.”
A crown or cap is necessary to protect the tooth, once the root canal treatment has been completed. The tooth, which is no longer alive after the root canal, can become dry and brittle. To ensure that your tooth can last a lifetime, a crown is always recommended.
Dr. Cabot and the staff at Queen Village will answer all of your questions regarding root canal and crowns.
<i>Will I be comfortable throughout treatment?</i>
We dental professionals know how you feel. After all, we’re patients too. We do everything we can think of to make it more comfortable. We use the best equipment, topical gel to pre-anesthetize the area to be injected, and we use the most effective, fastest acting, anesthetic.
We have recently incorporated a new tool that actually delivers an almost completely painless injection. It’s called the STATM, which stands for single tooth anesthesia. It was formerly called The Wand. It is a computerized device that delivers the anesthetic at a very slow rate making it almost imperceptible.
The other advantage (and this might actually be the biggest advantage) is that it can numb a single tooth and nothing else – not the lip, not the tongue. That means no slurring speech or drooping face for hours after the appointment, and no biting lips by mistake (a big deal for young kids).
Talk to Dr. Cabot about your concerns. Ask about pain management options such as nitrous oxide and the STATM system. Our team will provide you with all the support and comforts to make your experience a good one.
<i>What is tooth whitening?</i>
Tooth whitening is a well-established procedure in cosmetic dentistry. The active ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, has been safely used for many years in the treatment of gums and other oral soft tissue.
The whitening process is effective on most discolored teeth. Darker stains, such as those caused by antibiotics, may take longer to respond to treatment. The degree of whiteness will vary from patient to patient, depending on the duration of time that the system is used.
Learn more about whitening treatments available at Queen Village Family Dentistry.
<i>What if I have a gap in my teeth or a chipped tooth?</i>
If you have a gap between your teeth, a chipped tooth or staining that doesn’t respond to a whitening treatment, veneers or bonding can help you achieve the beautiful smile you desire.
Porcelain veneers are thin layers of porcelain designed to look like your natural teeth. Veneers are individually and permanently attached to the fronts of your existing teeth to address issues such as chipped teeth, gaps, persistent stains or misaligned teeth.
Bonding is a similar process that utilizes a composite material made of plastic. The composite material is not as durable as the porcelain and can stain or wear over time.
Both porcelain veneers and bonding are color-matched to the rest of your teeth. Dr. Cabot can review your individual situation to determine the best approach for you.
<i>Caps, crowns, inlays, onlays… What's the difference?</i>
These are all ways to fix tooth that has been damaged by fracture or decay. Caps and crowns are the same thing. The correct term is crown, but many people refer to them as caps because they sit on a tooth like a cap sits on your head. Crowns, inlays, and onlays are all made in a laboratory. This means that they are made from impressions taken of the tooth. To place these restorations, two visits are needed. At the first visit, the tooth is prepared, the impression is taken, and a temporary restoration is made and placed. At the second visit, the temporary is removed and the permanent restoration is placed.
Which one of these restorations is used depends on how much of the tooth has been damaged and needs to be replaced. If the cavity is small, a filling works fine. For cavities that are a little larger, fillings are harder to place well and don’t hold up as well. For that reason, an inlay, this is made outside the mouth and cemented in place, will work better and last longer.
If part of the remaining tooth structure is weak, then the restoration can be made to wrap around that part. This supports the weak section and prevents it from breaking. If only part of the tooth needs to be protected, then it is called an onlay. If the entire tooth needs to be covered, it is a crown.
Crowns, inlays and onlays can be made from white material or gold. The white materials look beautiful. In fact, they are often invisible in the mouth; they look just like natural teeth. Gold does have one advantage: longevity.
In some cases, the choice is obvious. Sometimes, there are reasonable options depending on your priorities (cost, longevity, appearance). In every case, the situation will be discussed with you in advance so you can participate in the decision making process.