Why Not to Ignore Cracked Teeth

, by

Have you ever had dental pain or discomfort when biting into food or after eating/drinking something that is hot or cold?  This pain or discomfort might not be constant like it is with a cavity, but intermittent.  If so, it is possible you may have a cracked tooth.

There are several reasons that patients develop cracked teeth.  Some situations that can result in fractured teeth are:

  • teeth with large fillings

  • teeth with root canals

  • clenching or grinding teeth

  • chewing ice or other hard foods

  • trauma to the tooth from an accident

  • too much pressure on one tooth as a result of the patient’s occlusion (the way the teeth come together in the mouth)

If the crack in the tooth does not extend further than the enamel, your dentist may not recommend any treatment.   These cracks, known as craze lines, are common in adult teeth.  Think of a teacup with a crack in it but that is still able to hold water without it leaking.

However, if the fracture extends beyond the enamel, it is very important to have the tooth treated. In this situation we have a leaky teacup! It can be difficult for patients to distinguish between the different types of cracks, so it is important to visit your Apex dentist so the fracture can be properly evaluated.  Try to pay attention to exactly where the pain is coming from so that you can tell your dentist.

Molar are more vulnerable to cracks because they absorb most of the impact when chewing food.  Front teeth are more commonly fractured due to trauma.

Your Apex dentist will determine a treatment plan based on the severity of the fracture. Treatment typically includes placing a dental crown on the cracked tooth.  If the fracture effects the pulp chamber a root canal may also be necessary.  If the tooth is split beyond repair, an extraction is likely necessary.  In this situation tooth replacement is possible with implants or bridges.

Postponing treatment can lead to more serious complications such as an infection or a deeper fracture.  That is why it is important not to ignore warning signs or dental pain and sensitivity.  By seeking treatment early, there is a typically better prognosis for the tooth. which also usually results in a lower financial cost of treatment.

Why is it so Important to Replace Missing Teeth.

, by

Everyday we see patients that have missing teeth. Sometimes they are teeth that have been recently extracted.  Other times they have been missing for years.  The reasons for why the teeth are missing vary.  But the answers about why to replace them are usually the same.  So we wanted to share these answers with you!

In the US, about 70% of the population is missing one or more teeth.  Tooth loss can lead to reduced self confidence because of gaps in a person’s smile.  Unfortunately, effects on physical appearance are not the only result.

 

Teeth are lost or missing for several reasons such as trauma, decay, periodontal disease, or even genetics.  It is important to replace missing teeth because when a tooth is missing there is no contact with the opposing arch.  This can cause opposing teeth to gradually extrude which leads to other problem, such as fractures, mobility, tooth loss, shifting in surrounding teeth, and gum problems.

There is more than one option available to patients for replacing missing teeth.  Like most choices, each option has pros and cons.  The 3 most common options are replacing the missing teeth with implants, crowns and bridges or dentures. Sometimes a combination of two of these options can be used, such as a denture that is supported by implants, or a bridge that is supported by implants.  We will cover more about what the pros and cons of each of these treatments are in upcoming blog posts.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, so whenever possible try to avoid loosing the tooth in the first place.  The financial cost of saving a tooth with a crown or even a crown and a root canal is substantially less than the cost of an implant and crown or a bridge.  Not to mention that by saving one tooth, you are also helping keep the surrounding ones healthy as well.

The loss of a tooth is not always preventable, such as in the case of trauma or when a tooth is congenitally missing.  But no matter the cause, it is important to understand the effects of missing teeth so that you can take the necessary steps to prevent further problems. Your Apex dentist can answer questions you have about what treatment best fits your needs and your smile.  And check back here when we explain more about each treatment in the upcoming weeks!

Dental Sealants: FAQ

, by

What is a sealant?  

A sealant is a tooth-colored resin material that is placed on chewing surfaces of teeth to help them stay cavity-free.

crack

Why do teeth need sealants?

Molar and premolar teeth often have very deep pits and fissures.  While bacteria can easily enters these groves, toothbrush bristles are often too large and therefore ineffective.  As a result, these areas become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to multiply which can lead to dental decay. A sealant does just what its name suggests…it seals off the grooves so that bacteria can’t enter.  After a sealant is placed these areas can no longer harbor bacteria and your tooth brushing once again becomes effective.

tooth-groove

What teeth need sealants? 

Any teeth that have deep groves or pits can benefit from sealants.  These are most often found on molar and premolar (teeth right in front of the molars) permanent teeth, but varies from one individual to another.  One person might benefit from sealants on all molars and premolars (16 teeth), while another may only need their molars (8 teeth) sealed.

Once a tooth has a dental filling in it, it no longer benefits from a sealant.

People often think that only children benefit from sealants.  That is because sealants are typically placed on a child’s molars when they first erupt.  The reality is that any teeth with deep pits and fissures (that do not already have fillings) can benefit from sealants because they  will help prevent future cavities.

How is a sealant applied?

No tooth structure is removed in order to place a sealant.  Instead it is kind of like painting your fingernails: resin material is only added, nothing is taken away.  The tooth is thoroughly cleaned with a pumice and etch.  The tooth is then washed thoroughly. Finally, the sealant material is applied and then cured with a light in order to harden it.

before-after-sealantHow long do sealants lasts?

Sealants typically last two to five years.  Although, it is not uncommon to see sealants in adults that were placed in childhood and are still intact.

Avoiding sticky, chewy, and hard foods can potentially prolong the life of a sealant.

If a sealant is no longer fully intact then it is no longer effective and should be replaced by your dentist.  If it has been less than two years since the sealant was placed, ask if your Apex family dentist offers a warranty for sealants.

Four Things to Consider When Choosing a Dentist in Apex, NC

, by
apex

Are you new in town or looking for a different dental experience?  There are many dentists to choose from in the Apex Cary area and so sometimes it can be overwhelming as you try to find a good fit for you and your family. It is important to choose a dentist who you feel you can trust. Look for a dentist who…

 1)  Is an Active Listener

You should feel like your dentist gives you a customized dental experience. Not a one size fits all appointment.  This can only be done if the dentist takes time to not only look in your mouth, but to listen to you.  The dentist might be an expert on what is going on in your mouth, but you are the expert on why.  What’s is going on in your life and how is that effecting your overall and dental health?  Are you a mom who is busy doing a fabulous job taking care of your children but tend to put yourself on the back burner?  Are you a bride preparing for your wedding and want the best smile of your life?  Did you just get your first job, have dental insurance for the first time since before college and want to get back on track? How do you feel about your smile?  If there is something you could change about your smile, what would it be?

Your dentist should be interested in you.  Not just your mouth.

2) Respects Your Time and Your Resources

A dentist should not keep you in the waiting room too long and should be punctual for appointments.  Scheduling coordinators should give you options for appointments that are convenient for you. If taking off work is difficult, find a dental office that offers appointments on Saturdays or late weekday hours.

 A dentist should also offer different billing options so that your financial resources can be optimized.  For example, hopefully they file your insurance, have financing options, and/or offer a cash discount if you are a cash paying patient.

3)  Educates You about all aspects of your appointment

The entire dental team should be good educators.

The dentist will educate you on all matters related to your oral health and how it effects your overall health and well being. This includes performing oral cancer screenings as a part of a head and neck exam.

The dental hygienist should educate you on what you can do daily to keep your teeth healthy and maintain your smile.

Insurance can get confusing.  What you will pay, what insurance will pay? Do you pay up front?  Or only the difference? The financial coordinator’s job is to help you understand all aspects of your financial arrangement.

4)  Stays Current with Technology and Continuing Education

 You wouldn’t use a phone from 15 years ago.  So why go to a dentist who does not stay up to date with current technology?  Advancements in technology in the dental field offer many of the same benefits as those outside the field.  More comfort, less time, better results. For example, same day CEREC crowns mean less wait time for patients. They also mean no annoying temporary crown while you wait for the permanent one to come back from the lab.

Continuing education allows dentists to stay current with technology and procedures.  It gives them an opportunity to brush up on procedures they are already comfortable with and expand their scope of practice.

Not sure what your dentist does to stay up to date?  Just ask!  If your dentist is already doing this, he/she would most likely love the opportunity to share this information with you!

 

Overall, just remember to trust your gut.  Taking some time to find a dental practice that meets your specific needs is worth the effort. Perhaps that means calling to ask for an office tour and to meet the dentist and staff before scheduling your first appointment.  Once you find the right fit, you will be glad you did!

TRUE or FALSE: Sparkling water is bad for your teeth.

, by

We have been asked this question a lot lately, maybe because it is summer and people are looking for a cold refreshing alternative to water that is not soda or juice.  I mean, who doesn’t love a Coconut La Croix every now and then!?!

 Unfortunately the answer is True.

The problem is that the CO2 that gives sparking water its fizziness is converted to carbonic acid in your mouth.  This acid lowers the pH level and while buffers in our saliva work to neutralize pH levels, the process is slow.

What happens in a mouth with a reduced pH level?  Teeth are demineralized.  In other words, the hard enamel that protects the soft inner part of your teeth (dentin) literally looses some of the minerals that make it hard.  When the enamel is soft, dental erosion occurs…even in the absence of sugar. Adding sugar to the equation creates even more of a problem.  This is because your teeth are not only at risk for erosion, but decay also.  So while sparkling water is worse for your teeth than regular water, it is not as bad as non-diet soda.

One important factor to consider is the length of exposure.  If you pop open a can of

La Croix and drink it with a meal over a 15 minute time period, that is not so bad. Swishing with a mouthful of regular water when you are done makes it even better. However, if you sip on that same size can, without food, for over an hour, the exposure time is much higher.  Your saliva just can’t keep up and so more erosion will occur.

deer-parkBottomline:  The best thing you can drink is water.

When you drink other beverages, try to consume over a shorter duration of time, rather than sipping throughout the day.  If you drink something acidic, don’t brush right away, as the enamel is soft and you will be literally brushing away your teeth!  Instead, rinse with water and brush with fluoride toothpaste an hour later.

The goal of this post is not to say that sparkling water is horrible and you should never drink it.  After all it is a more “natural” alternative to soda and does not have any sugar. However, when a bottle of sparkling water looks almost identical to a regular bottle of water it can be hard to tell if there is any difference.  And it is important to understand the difference so that we can enjoy these beverages and then take the necessary steps to keep our teeth healthy and strong!

Cheers!

Exciting Month at Renaissance Dentistry

, by

Hey Everyone!

What an exciting Month at Renaissance Dentistry!  I enjoyed meeting everyone who came to the office during the last week of May and the month of June.  Building relationships is the best part of my job.  I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to be your dentist.  After years of looking for the right practice to join, I know I have made the right choice coming to Renaissance Dentistry.

Several patients have asked how we came to find out that the Simpsons were selling their practice.  My family and I go to church with the Simpsons.  They actually approached us when they heard that were looking for practice purchase opportunities.  So we kind of feel like they hand picked us!  As you might imagine, because Apex is such an amazing, incredible place to live, opportunities in this area are not too easy to come by.  But it was when I saw how Dr. Simpson’s attention to detail mirrored my own, that I knew it was a good fit.

There have been some exciting changes too!  We have a new website, and a new logo.

You will probably also notice we have made some cosmetic

changes around the office.  A little paint and new lighting…did you know I was an electrician before I went to dental school?  We are also now in-network with most insurance companies.  More on this to come.

One of the changes that is the most exciting to me is that we now have the ability to do in-office same day CEREC crowns, root canals, and implants.  Less referrals means less cost for our patients.  Plus

it is just more convenient.

And I guess another change is this blog!   This is just the first blog post so I will keep it short and sweet.  We will be updating regularly with educational posts and fun posts to share about what we are doing at the office.

We would love any feedback from you.  If there are topics that we can cover here to help you better understand your dental health, feel free to comment or call us!

Thanks for a great first month!

Happy Independence Day to you!  How blessed we are!

-Dr. H