Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is breast cancer awareness month. To show our support for breast cancer research we will be providing our patients with Oral-B Rise and Shine toothbrushes at their recall hygiene appointments. Sadly most people are affected by this disease in one way or another. So get out there and do something...anything...for your mother, sister, aunt, friend or even a total stranger.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Can brushing too hard damage my gums?

The health of your gums is intricately related to the health of your teeth. We use the phrase, “brush your teeth,” but that really means “brush your teeth and gums.”

One of the most common causes of gum problems is lack of flossing. Over time, lack of flossing leads to bleeding gums and sometimes more severe problems like gingivitis and advanced gum disease. This is one extreme of the spectrum – “gum neglect.”

At the other extreme, some people pay too much attention to their gums – they brush their gums really hard, to the point that their gums actually start to recede up and away from their teeth. (Just like a “receding hairline” – receding gums leave sensitive parts of the tooth exposed, and can lead to discomfort).

One of the misconceptions that a lot of people have about dental care is that you need to brush really hard. This is not true. In fact, it’s often better for your teeth and gums if you use a softer touch. The plaque and bacteria that build up on your teeth can be more effectively removed with a softer, gentler scrub – if you brush too hard, not only are you risking injury to your gums, but you’re also not cleaning your teeth as efficiently as you could be.

So if you’re one of those “gum scrubbers” who tends to brush too hard, here are a few tips:
• Lighten up! If you tend to brush too hard, the first step is to admit that you have a problem. Make a point of practicing a gentler touch with your toothbrush – ask your spouse or a family member to watch you brush and remind you when you start bearing down too hard.
• Find a new angle. Make sure that your toothbrush bristles are contacting your gums at a 45-degree angle – this can reduce the force of the brush against your gums.
• “Power up” with an electric toothbrush. If you can’t train yourself to brush more softly, get a machine to do it for you! Invest in a quality electric toothbrush, like a Braun Oral-B or other toothbrush –ask your dentist for a recommendation. These power toothbrushes give your teeth and gums a steady, consistent and gentle cleaning – just like the professional models used at your dentist’s office. You’ll be sure to notice a difference – most people never go back to the “old fashioned” toothbrush after they’ve experienced a power toothbrush.

If your gums are straining from the pressure of excessive brushing, know that there is hope. You can usually repair the harm that has been done to your gums – or at least prevent the situation from getting worse. Ask your dentist or hygienist for advice – that’s what we’re here for!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Your Teeth Don't Have to Show Your Age

Teeth are one of the first features that people look at. Our teeth deteriorate over the years, gradually taking on more and more imperfections that betray our age ? or make us look even older than we really are. In Western society, where one in six people will soon be over 65, everybody wants to stay as young-looking as possible.

So how can a 50-year old stay young-looking? Well, maybe she has fortunate genes, looks after her skin regularly (often in addition to great genes) and has had excellent cosmetic facial surgery. To look at her, you wouldn't be able to guess her true age ? until she starts smiling. Then her mouth gives the game away. How? Because of the state of her teeth.

Signs of ageing ? your teeth
So how do your teeth betray your age? Their colour changes over time, losing brightness and luminosity, and becoming darker. Dental wear will shorten teeth, making them look ?stubby'. Years of food, nicotine and fluid stains can also stain teeth permanently.

Tooth shape: The natural smile line is a gentle convex. But extensive wear on our front teeth can change this to a straight or even concave line (reversed curve). Tooth grinding (prompted by stress), accelerates this dental erosion. Chipped tooth edges are another sign, creating an unbalanced and disharmonious look.

Tooth surface: The fine ridges on young teeth get smoothed away as we get older. While in early adulthood such smoothing can produce attractive teeth that reflect light more uniformly, too much smoothing will show age.

Tooth crack lines: Over time, micro-fractures can appear on the enamel surface. While perhaps superficial, they can show up as little crack lines, which will downgrade the attractiveness of teeth.

Filled front teeth: White fillings in front teeth need to be regularly replaced or they change colour and start to look obvious. They may even show dark lines between the edge of the filling and the natural tooth.

Smile colour: White reflects light and dark absorbs it. A mouth with silver-mercury (amalgam) fillings in many of the teeth will present an overall dull grey colour that absorbs light and therefore looks dark. It's another sign of ageing.

Signs of ageing ? your lips
Over time the lips lose muscle tone and become thinner and narrower. The top lip can sag, covering more of the upper teeth. The lower lip may also drop, showing more of the lower teeth.

If you had fairly thin lips when young, then they will become even more so. Also thin vertical lines appear in the lips, which are accentuated and hastened by smoking. Crease lines can also appear at the corners of the lips, often with a more significant, deeper crease line, angled downward, which can make you look permanently unhappy.

What can you do restore youthful looks?
Your smile is the key to your facial appearance. So you need to do something about any old, worn, chipped and discoloured teeth you have and remove these obvious clues to ageing. The essence in good cosmetic/ aesthetic dentistry is to combine modern techniques with artistic flair - so that nobody can guess what's been done.

Ways of improving your teeth
Re-contouring: A little bleaching whitens the teeth and slight reshaping restores the edges of the teeth to what they were in youth.

Replacing fillings: Using modern materials for the front and most prominent teeth can cause the dental restoration work to blend in with the general colour of the tooth.

Bonding: A synthetic material that looks like natural tooth enamel is bonded to the enamel tooth surface. Because it can be shaped and polished, this material can alter the colour, texture, size, shape and even, to an extent, the position of the teeth. The treatment can be applied to the eight to twelve upper front teeth. It lasts from three to six years.

Veneering: A technique similar to bonding ? only more permanent. A thin, hard porcelain veneer is individually made for each tooth to the correct colour, size and shape. Porcelain is as durable as the original tooth enamel so the restored tooth will last for decades rather than years. Veneering is often done on front incisor teeth that have been damaged.

Improving your lips
Thin lips can be treated by using fillers to accentuate the lip line (vermillion border) between the red part of the lips and the normal skin. These fillers are, for example, bovine collagen, or natural hyaluronic acid (Restylane). The effect lasts up to twelve months. The substance of the lip can also be increased by injecting Restylane or even fat from another part of the body into the lip itself. The result, of course, depends on how much and where it is placed.

So how can your smile make you look younger?
Look in the mirror for a few minutes. Decide what parts of your face, and particularly your smile, you would like to rejuvenate using the techniques mentioned above. Then consult with a cosmetic dental surgeon, who can show you an accurate simulation of how treatment would look on your face. It is advisable to do this before going ahead with any cosmetic surgery on your face.

Most cosmetic medical surgeons are still not orientated or even knowledgeable enough about what cosmetic dentists are able to achieve with teeth. A few short dental treatments can take years off your looks, helping you evaluate whether other surgery is necessary.

Dr. George Druttman, Cap600 London City Dental