Posts for: February, 2015
In his decades long career, pop-music chameleon David Bowie has gone through a dizzying series of transformations. And as he morphed from alien-inspired space oddity to fashion-forward international superstar, his smile benefited from some very dramatic ch-ch-ch-changes. While Bowie hasn't talked much about his dental treatments, a comparison of pictures from the mid 1970s to the mid '90s (not to mention a much-viewed youtube video on the subject) makes it clear: his tooth staining, misalignment and gum recession have been left behind like polyester bellbottoms.
But tooth makeovers aren't just for pop stars! Cosmetic dentistry can benefit anyone who's interested in improving their appearance, at any age. Often, treatment starts with a “smile analysis” — a review of the current aesthetics of your mouth, including the shape, spacing, color and alignment of the teeth, the appearance and general health of the gums, and the way the lips and gums frame the smile.
This analysis can help pinpoint some places where the overall look of your smile may need improvement, and it can also identify some specific treatments to make it better. It's even possible to see a simulation of what you'd look like after the treatments are complete, to help ensure that your goals are realistic and attainable. What are some of the most common cosmetic procedures?
For stained teeth, you can try in-office whitening with concentrated bleaching solutions, or professionally-supervised at-home treatments using plastic trays that are custom-made to fit your teeth. The major difference between the two is the amount of time you need — with in-office treatments, you'll see results right away, while at-home gels may require weeks.
Tooth bonding and restoration with composite resin is a relatively fast and easy way to fix minor to moderate chips, flaws and discoloration. Because the composite material bonds directly to the tooth itself, this method requires only minor tooth preparation, and is often completed in just one office visit.
If your teeth, like Bowie's, need more extensive restoration, dental veneers or crowns may be required. Veneers are super strong, wafer-thin coverings that fit over the front surface of your teeth. Besides giving you that “Hollywood white” smile, they can also lengthen teeth that are too small, correct misalignment and close gaps in your smile. To correct even more extensive problems, crowns (also called caps) can replace the entire visible portion of one or more teeth — or, if teeth are missing, a permanent, long-lasting dental implant can be placed.
Many adults are choosing orthodontics to correct problems of tooth position, alignment or spacing — in fact, some 20% of all orthodontic patients today are grown-ups! It's never too late to start treatment, and with less-noticeable appliances like clear aligners and tooth-colored braces, it's easier than ever to make those ch-ch-ch-changes.
If you would like more information about the options available in cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Orthodontics For The Older Adult” and “Cosmetic Dentistry.”
Since their development in the laboratory over five decades ago, lasers have found increasing use in our everyday lives. In the field of medicine, it’s not uncommon to find lasers in the offices of dermatologists, ophthalmologists and surgeons, to name just a few. Now, some dentists are finding that lasers can offer an alternative means of treating gum disease — and one that may have advantages in certain situations.
You probably know that a laser produces a special kind of light — in fact, its name is an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” Essentially, a medical laser uses electrical energy to produce an intense and narrow beam of concentrated light. This light can be directed to a particular area, often via a fiber-optic channel. The laser’s precision allows a doctor or technician to focus the light energy exactly where it’s needed — to remove diseased tissue, seal off blood vessels, and sterilize a wound, for example.
For several years, periodontists — dentists who specialize in treating diseases of the gums — have been researching the use of lasers for treating certain types of gum disease. In standard clinical practice, hand-held instruments and ultrasonic cleaning tools are used at regular time intervals (3 – 6 months) to remove the sticky bacterial biofilm, as well as calculus (tartar), that forms in between teeth and gums. If that still isn't effective, gum surgery may be required to access the affected area, remove diseased tissue, and reduce pocket depth (the space below the gum line that gets larger as bone loss occurs) to prevent reinfection.
Recently, however, several new procedures have been developed that use lasers to accomplish some or all of these goals. One type of therapy uses a special laser that emits pulses of light with a specific wavelength (color) of 1064 nanometers. This light passes through healthy cells like a sunbeam through a window — but when it encounters darkly-pigmented bacteria, it vaporizes them instantly!
One of the potential advantages of laser treatment is its precision: focused directly on the area where trouble occurs, it targets diseased tissue but leaves healthy tissue alone. Another is that laser treatment is less invasive: It requires less tissue removal, and may cause less discomfort and tissue shrinkage (gum recession) than conventional periodontal surgery. And because it produces small amounts of heat, it can seal blood vessels and help control bleeding.
While lasers have long shown promise for treating gum disease, until recently it wasn’t clear if they offered any advantages over traditional methods. Now, several studies have shown that certain laser treatments can be just as effective as traditional gum surgery in many cases — with the potential benefit of being less invasive. In the future, the use of lasers for periodontal procedures is likely to increase.
It’s important to remember that no single treatment — not even a laser — can “zap” gum disease in one fell swoop. Controlling periodontal disease requires effective at-home oral hygiene combined with regular professional care. If you have questions about periodontal disease, please call our office to schedule a consultation.
Visiting the dentist can be a nerve-wracking undertaking. Learn how IV conscious sedation can help calm your nerves.
If your palms sweat or your heart races at the thought of going to the dentist, you're not alone. Up to 20% of American adults completely avoid the dentist's chair because of their persistent fear of the equipment, the anesthesia or the loss of control. However, this avoidance can lead to more serious problems that could result in unnecessary pain and added expense if a dental emergency arises.
At Valerin Dental Group, conscious sedation through an IV is a mild but effective way of alleviating dental anxiety.
How it works
IV is short for intravenous, which means that the sedatives are administered into a vein. An extremely fine needle is inserted directly into a vein close to the surface of your skin, usually near your elbow or on the back of your hand. You may be given nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") or a topical anesthetic if you are concerned about the IV insertion.
Once the IV is in place, the sedatives will work very quickly since they will be administered directly into your bloodstream. At this point, it is unlikely you will remember much, if anything, about your entire procedure. Although this process is sometimes referred to "sleep dentistry," you are not actually asleep as you would be under general anesthesia. Conscious sedatives simply produce a feeling of deep relaxation. Coupled with the amnesia-like effects, these drugs allow you to receive dental work comfortably and anxiety-free.
The side effects as the sedative wears off are generally minimal. Many people find they are fairly alert as soon as the IV medication is stopped. You will need a friend or family member to drive you home from the appointment, as the medicine is not completely cleared from your system until 24 hours after the end of your appointment. For that reason, you should plan to stay home and not operate any heavy machinery during that time frame.
IV sedation should not be used if someone will likely respond just as well to oral sedatives or nitrous oxide. A thorough consultation at Valerin Dental Group in Peoria will help determine which relaxation method is best for you.