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Q: Do veneers damage my teeth?:
A: Today, people are looking for ways to look and feel better about themselves. Creating a beautiful smile by bonding thin porcelain to the front of existing teeth, or "veneering" teeth, typically requires only two dental visits!

Veneering teeth can dramatically:

  • straighten crooked teeth without wearing braces
  • whiten and brighten discoloured teeth
  • repair and reshape chipped or awkward looking teeth
  • widen narrow teeth and lengthen short ones
  • cover up unsightly metal at the gum line of existing crowns and bridges

Traditional veneering often requires anaesthetic, drilling and placement of temporary veneers. LUMINEERS by Cerinate are strong, translucent, contact-lens-thin porcelain veneers, that require no reduction of tooth material or temporization. When no removal is required, there is no damage to the teeth because the LUMINEERS are directly cemented to the intact natural tooth structure. In some cases they may ultimately strengthen your teeth by halting severe tooth wear, and restoring your bite.

Veneering can be a painless, permanent solution for those misaligned, stained, chipped or spaced teeth. The procedure can quickly beautify your smile and change your life! Ask your dentist for details regarding your case, and how you can have the healthy, stylish smile you always wanted.

Q: What is Invisalign?:
A: Invisalign is an "invisible" way to straighten teeth without braces. No bands, brackets or wires are required with this breakthrough technology. Impressions are taken of your teeth and moulds are made. A series of very thin, mouthguard-like, removable, clear aligners are fabricated, using advanced 3-D computer imaging technology. Every two weeks a new aligner is placed on the teeth, and on average 18 to 30 trays are required. The Invisaligner trays press on the crooked teeth to straighten them little by little, week by week, until their final position is achieved. Typically treatment time is about a year from start to finish. As case presentation a "movie" of the 3-D changes can be downloaded for the patient to take home and view with friends and family.

Aligners are comfortably worn day and night, but are removable to fit your active lifestyle. You can play sports without worrying about metal irritating your lips or cheeks.

You can easily remove your aligner to attend important business meetings and maintain a professional appearance during public speaking. Chewing food is more enjoyable when you don't have to worry about what you eat, especially when dining out. During Invisalign treatment you can brush and floss normally, to prevent cavities and gum disease.

Invisalign is a wonderful alternative to traditional orthodontics, but it does have its limitations. Complex cases are still better treated by orthodontists using proven traditional methods. However, for those of you who have suffered through years of braces and over time have had some relapse, Invisalign technology is available to correct the minor crowding and perfect your smile!

Q: What are toothprints?:
A: One of the greatest fears for patients today is that their children may get lost or, worse yet be abducted. Toothprints is an arch-shaped thermoplastic wafer that records the size and shape of a child's teeth, their tooth position within the arch and the relationship between upper and lower jaws. Like fingerprints, dental imprints are unique to every person and provide a record that can give parents a greater peace of mind.

The dentist will soften the thermoplastic wafer with hot water, then place on patient's lower arch. The patient will bite into the wafer for 50 seconds, it's that simple. Allowing a 2-3 minute cool down period in a plastic resealable bag (provided) for confidentiality and quick access, the patients' parents will take home the Toothprints bite impression for safekeeping.

When Toothprints are taken, sufficient proteins in the saliva remain on the wafer from which DNA test can be successfully performed for yet a second means of identification, thus making the wafer effective for scent-dog tracking. It will vary in each case as to how long the scent from the saliva on the Toothprints will be useful to any given dog over any given time. Yearly updates of Toothprints are ideal. Initial impressions should be taken at age 3 (or after primary teeth have erupted) updated at age 7 or 8 and then again at age 12 or 13.

Toothprints is a simple, cost-effective way of documenting our young patient's unique tooth characteristics, tooth position within the arch and maxillomandibular jaw relationship - all important identifiers. As a dental professional offering Toothprints bite impression, we play a pivotal role in providing a proven means of identifying children or, better yet, DNA and saliva samples for tracking them.

Q: How can teeth with chipped worn edges be restored?:
A: Today the most popular restorative material for the repair of broken teeth is composite resin. Composite resin is a white filling material that can be used to fill cavities, repair chipped corners and lengthen or aesthetically change the shape of teeth. This is very exciting because very quickly + easily patients can rejuvenate their smiles. In most cases patients can have this work done in a single appointment and without dental freezing. This painless procedure may be covered by dental insurance plans.

In very severe cases patients have extensively ground down their teeth causing shifting of upper and lower teeth towards one another. The only way to restore the teeth to their original state is to first open the bite. The worn teeth can temporarily be repaired with filling materials, but a more permanent solution is to use crowns and veneers.

If whiter teeth are desired, we can bleach the teeth first then match the colour with composite resin. Once your chipped worn edges have been repaired, to protect your investment a mouthguard can be made for you to wear at night. This prevents clenching and grinding so that your new teeth can stay beautiful and chip free as long as possible.

Q: Holiday Sweet Sensitivity?:
A: With the festive season here, we tend to eat a little more than usual, and can suffer from sweet sensitivity. Sticky sugary foods and beverages can lodge themselves into grooves or between teeth and start the decay process.

Bacteria present in cavities called "Streptococcus Mutans" use the sugars in the food for energy and produce acids. These acids demineralize tooth material and create little holes, called cavities. Decaying teeth can ache and usually manifest themselves as sweet sensitivity. Today we have the technology to detect early decay. There is a laser available called the "diagnodent" laser which is placed in grooves of teeth to measure the depth of cavity penetration. Also, traditionally x-rays are used to detect small cavities between the teeth that are not visible to the naked eye.

The best way to avoid getting cavities is to brush and floss daily and see your dental professional regularly.

Q: What are "Pit & Fissure Sealants"?:
A: Pit and fissure sealants may be recommended by dentists as a preventive treatment for deeply grooved teeth. Sealants are usually placed on permanent molars, as soon as they erupt. Even though first (six year) molars and second (twelve year) molars are the most commonly choosen teeth, any other teeth with deep grooves can be selected for this service.

The procedure is quick and painless and does not damage the enamel. No anaesthetic is required. The liquid sealant is placed and cured by a quick application of a special light. The appearance of the hardened sealant is usually shiny and either clear of opaque in colour.

Sealants can keep food and bacteria out of cavity-prone grooves for a long time but must be regularly checked by a dentist as occasional touchups or replacements may be required. Good oral hygiene and regular dental care are necessary to maintain the effectiveness of the treatment. Sealing teeth is a very safe, useful and inexpensive method.

Q: What is the Value of a Complete Dental Exam?:
A: When a patient arrives at the dental office it is most important to address the chief complaint. However it is valuable to perform an extended examination and diagnosis. Typically the medical and dental history is taken first. Then a complete clinic examination, and diagnosis is performed, checking hard and soft tissues. This includes looking for cavities, gum disease examining the bite, TMJ and performing a variety of tests, such as charting pocket depths, mobility and vitality of teeth. Radiographs are taken as required.

Radiographic analysis may include traditional film methods or digital radiography. The previous article discussed some benefits of digital methods that, while not necessarily wrong, the following would be stating them more correctly. Depending on the type of film being compared, it is more accurately stated that there is significant reduction of radiation with digital x-rays. With digital procedures there is no need for a chemical recovery system. Dentists today have the lead foil and fixer solution collected and disposed of through a waste management carrier, as endorsed by the province's dental governing body. However, there is a future trend towards the use of digital x-rays.

After careful examination and diagnosis of findings, the treatment plan is then presented to the patient, during which time it always prudent to keep in mind the patients chief complaint and concerns.

Q: Does your dental office offer digital X-rays?:
A: Installation of digital x-ray systems in dental offices offers many advantages over traditional film methods. One example is the use of the Dent-X EVA Digital X-ray System.

A small electronic sensor is placed in the patients mouth parallel to the teeth in question. The sensor instantly captures the images and displays them on a computer monitor. The old fashioned way can take up to 7 minutes to take and process a film. Rapid dental imaging makes dental procedures such as root canals faster and less stressful for patients.

Benefits of digital radiography include eliminating chemicals and waste associated with film use. There is no need for silver halide film, corrosive processing chemistry, or lead which normally ends up in landfills and municipal sewer systems.

Digital x-ray systems are not only enviromentally beneficial but are much better for patients because they allow for a SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION oF RADIATION. Typically, there is a 50% reduction of radiation required to take a digital x-ray as compared to film.

Q: How are dental disease and nutrition related?:
A: Diet and nutrition play an important role in oral health and the development of tooth decay. Nutrition and dental disease are inversely related so that as nutrition declines, dental disease becomes more prevalent. Highly processed foods have much of their nutritional value removed and tend to be high in refined sugar. Over consumption of refined sugar is directly related to dental disease, a bacterial infection that results in tooth decay, and can contribute to gum disease as well diabetes and heart disease.

Factors in the development of tooth decay include food properties, nutrient composition, sequence of foods, and the composition of foods. Foods high in sugar and starch and ones that are dry and sticky, increase the rist of cavities. Fruit chews and raisins are examples of sticky, long lasting foods that may easily cause cavities. Fruit juices and soda pop drinks due to their sugar content, may cause rampant decay. In infants, this is referred to as bottle caries. Prevention includes use of water bottles at nap and bedtime rather than juice or milk. Sweet foods eaten during meals are less cavity causing than when eaten on their own, due to increased salivary flow. Cheese is considered cavity-fighting because it has a buffering effect to help neutralize acids. Hard, crunchy foods, such as apples and raw carrots are beneficial in helping to remove plaque buildup. During pregnancy, nutrition is important as tooth formation for the fetus begins in the sixth week of development. Poor nutrition and illness can interfere with this tooth formation to result in weak defective enamel. As always, brushing and flossing at least 2x a day, good nutrition, and regular visits to the dentist are key in dental disease prevention and maintenance of good oral health.

Q: How is gum disease related to your overall health?:
A: April is Dental Health Month and that means it is time to reflect on how the health of your mouth affects the health of your overall system. Recent studies show a link between severe periodontal (gum) disease and serious health problems!

Periodontal disease refers to chronic bacterial infections in the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. Gingivitis is the mildest form, manifested by swollen, red gums that tend to bleed easily. Periodontitis is the more advanced form of gum disease, resulting in pocket formation, bone loss and recession of the gingiva (gums).

The World Health Organization (WHO) introduced a community periodontal index (CPI) to compare periodontal health status in different countries around the world. Ten to fifteen percent of all adults, had the worst CPI score, measuring 6mm+ pockets. The most common CPI score measures gingival bleeding and tartar, reflecting in the poor oral hygiene of the population. In addition to poor oral hygiene, other important risk factors for severe periodontal disease including smoking, malnutrition, excessive alcohol use, stress and diabetes.

Oral bacteria can enter the blood stream and travel throughout the body. The body's response to the bacteria can lead to health problems, such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, stroke, aggravation of diabetes and even adverse pregnancy outcomes. In light of these potential effects of moderate to severe periodontitis on the body, it is important to recognize the proper oral hygiene and regular professional scaling can improve not only your oral health but your overall well being.

Q: When is a Crown Advised?:
A: Broken down teeth from previous cavities or trauma that have hairline fractures, root canal treatment and/or are heavily restored are vulnerable to breakage. A crown or thimble like cap can be permanently cemented overtop of a tooth for the purpose to hold the tooth together and keep it from breaking down.

Other purpose for crowns are whitening procedures to mask discoloration, and multiple units can be used to close spaces between teeth to improve aesthetics. The dental procedure typically involves two appointments; chair side preparation of the tooth and placement of a temporary acrylic crown, followed by permanent cementation of the final crown approximately two weeks later. Final crowns are either comprised of porcelain, metal or a combination of the two materials, and are strong and long lasting. Although a crown is the recommended procedure for heavily restored, root canal treated or fractured teeth, less expensive restoration can be done until a more permanent solution is available.

Q: I've been thinking of whitening my teeth... what are my options?:
A: Media bombards us with various methods to whiten our smiles, "paint on", toothpastes, "Zoom", laser whitening, home bleaching trays... How do you know what really works? To determine the best type of whitening, the type of staining needs to be identified. Extrinsic, or surface staining, caused by coffee, smoking or dark foods, responds well to a professional cleaning and over-the-counter systems. Intrinsic stain (stain incorporated into the tooth material) tends to be more resistant to whitening. Older, metal fillings or decay also cause the teeth to become discoloured. It is important to discuss these factors with your dentist prior to any whitening process to prevent possible damage to the teeth.

Most intrinsic stains respond well to professional teeth whitening systems. For rapid results, in-office bleaching will generally lighten the teeth a couple of shades. The teeth are isolated and the whitening solution is placed on the teeth and carefully monitored. For more stubborn stains, custom trays are designed to wear at home for 1 to 4 hours, with a lower concentration of whitening solution.

The "Zoom" whitening system has received a lot of media coverage on such programs as "Extreme Makeover". It is advertised as a 1 appointment, approximately 1 hour whitening technique, done in the dental office. Custom filled trays are usually recommended to continue the whitening process at home, with a lower concentration of bleaching gel. Effectiveness and appropriateness are assessed on an individual basis.

Q: What Options Exist for the Replacement of Missing Teeth?:
A: Tooth loss can be the result of many different causes. Individual or several teeth may be lost due to gum disease or periodontitis. As periodontitis advances, bone loss occurs, causing mobility and eventually can lead to the loss of one or more teeth. Trauma that causes a blow to the mouth can also result in tooth loss. Teeth can also be congenitally missing, such as in the case of missing laterals. Heavily restored teeth and root canal treated teeth without crown preparation, may fracture vertically and be non-restorable, resulting in extraction. A crown or "cap" covers over and encases a tooth, thereby strengthening it.

Options for replacement of missing teeth include bridges, implants and dentures. A bridge is a false tooth, or pontic fused to two crowns, and it is cemented over the teeth on each side of the space. Fixed bridges cannot be taken out of the mouth, and with excellent oral hygiene may last many years. Removable partial dentures, on the other hand, do get taken out of the mouth. They may have a cast metal framework base and acrylic compnents, and may have clips that attach to some teeth for anchorage. Dentures are certainly more bulky, but are excellent and inexpensive options for the replacement of many missing teeth.

Implants are used to replace missing roots of teeth, and they can support a crown, bridge or removable denture. Implants are not for everyone. Good general health, enough jaw bone, and cost are factors that must be considred. However, false teeth attached to implants are a terrific option for tooth replacement because they look and act much like natural teeth.

Prior to replacement of missing teeth, a full dental exam is necessary to look at the mouth as a whole. Perhaps whitening should be done first or maybe there is severe crowding, and rather then replacing, orthodontic treatment can shift teeth into the extraction space.

Whatever method is used to replace missing teeth, it is usually a better option than doing nothing at all. Advantages include improving chewing, aesthetics, speech, and the prevention of shifting and drifting teeth that could lead to other problems.

2012, Dr. Berta Bacic & Associates, Creative FX Web Design