Posts for: July, 2016
Your Danbury dentist has information on how smoking can affect your smile.
The effects of smoking on your general health are well documented, but did you know that smoking also affects your teeth? Dr. George Landress, your Danbury, CT dentist, explains the impact that smoking has on your smile.
Your teeth become dull and discolored
The tar and nicotine in cigarettes stain your teeth and make them look yellow. After smoking for many years, your teeth may even begin to look brown. Although teeth whitening treatment can temporarily improve the appearance of your smile, if you continue to smoke, your teeth will soon become stained again.
Your cavity risk increases
Tartar buildup occurs more often in smokers. Tartar, a hard deposit that forms on your teeth, causes tooth decay and gum disease. Once tartar forms on your teeth, it can only be removed with special dental instruments.
Gum disease is more likely
Smoking can increase your risk of developing painful gum disease. Tartar buildup causes your gums to pull away from your teeth and create pockets that harbor bacteria. If gum disease isn't treated promptly, it can cause both tooth and bone loss. Treating gum disease in smokers is more difficult because smoking lengthens healing time.
Your risk of developing oral cancer is higher
Smoking doesn't just increase your risk of heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer, but also increases the likelihood that you'll develop cancerous tumors of your throat, mouth or larynx.
Your tooth replacement options are limited
Dental implants feel like your real teeth and offer a long-lasting tooth replacement option. Unfortunately, they're not recommended for smokers. Implants are placed in your jawbone and bond to the bone over the course of a few months. Poor bonding is more likely if you smoke. Smoking can also cause peri-implantitis, an infection that can loosen your implants. Since smokers are more likely to develop this infection, implants generally aren't a good choice.
Protect your teeth from smoking-related complications by visiting your dentist regularly. Call Dr. Landress, your Danbury, CT dentist, at (203) 743-7608 to schedule an appointment.
Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates knows how important it is to present your best face to the world — and one of the most important features of that face is a beaming smile. But there came a point when she noticed something was a little off. “I've always had good teeth, but it seemed to me as I was getting older that they weren't looking as good,” Kathy explained in a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine.
That's when she decided it was time to take action. Kathy had orthodontic treatment when she was in her fifties, and she keeps her smile bright with tooth whitening treatments. She uses a kit provided by her dentist with a safe, effective whitening solution.
Of course, a bright, healthy smile looks great anywhere — whether you're on the red carpet or “off the grid.” And you don't have to be a Hollywood star to have professional whitening treatments. In fact, teeth whitening is one of the most popular and affordable cosmetic treatments modern dentistry offers.
The basic options for professional teeth whitening include in-office bleaching or take-home kits. Both types of dentist-supervised treatments offer a safe and effective means of getting a brighter smile; the main difference is how long they take to produce results. A single one-hour treatment in the office can make your teeth up to ten shades lighter — a big difference! To get that same lightening with at-home trays, it would take several days. On the plus side, the take-home kit is less expensive, and can achieve the same results in a bit more time.
It's important to note that not all teeth can be whitened with these treatments. Some teeth have intrinsic (internal) stains that aren't affected by external agents like bleaches. Also, teeth that have been restored (with bonding or veneers, for example) generally won't change color. And you can't necessarily whiten your teeth to any degree: Every tooth has a maximum whiteness, and adding more bleach won't lighten it beyond that level. Most people, however, find that teeth whitening treatments produce noticeable and pleasing results.
What about those off-the-shelf kits or in-the-mall kiosks? They might work… or they might not. But one thing's for sure: Without a dentist's supervision, you're on your own. That's the main reason why you should go with a pro if you're considering teeth whitening. We not only ensure that your treatment is safe — we can also give you a realistic idea of what results to expect, and we will make sure that other dental problems aren't keeping you from having a great-looking smile.
How often does Kathy Bates see her dentist for a checkup and cleaning? “I go about every four months,” she noted. “I'm pretty careful about it.” And if you've seen her smile, you can tell that it pays off. If you would like more information about teeth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered” and “Teeth Whitening.”
After several treatment sessions your periodontal (gum) disease is under control. But, while we may have won this battle, the war rages on. To keep an infection from re-occurring we'll have to remain on guard.
Gum disease begins and thrives on a thin film of bacteria and food particles on tooth surfaces called plaque. The infection usually begins as gingivitis, which causes the gums to become red and swollen (inflamed). Untreated it can develop into periodontitis, a more advanced form that progresses deeper into the gum tissues resulting in bone loss.
To treat the disease, we must remove all the plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) we can find no matter how deeply they've penetrated below the gum line. Since the deeper it extends the more likely surgical techniques may be necessary to consider, it's better to catch the disease in its earliest stages when plaque can be removed with hand instruments or ultrasonic equipment.
The appropriate treatment technique can effectively stop and even reverse gum disease's effects — but it won't change your susceptibility. Constant vigilance is the best way to significantly reduce your risk of another episode. In this case, our prevention goal is the same as in treatment: remove plaque.
It begins with you learning and applying effective brushing and flossing techniques, and being consistent with these habits every day. As your dentist, we play a role too: we may need to see you as often as every few weeks or quarter to perform meticulous cleaning above and below the gum line. We may also perform procedures on your gums to make it easier to maintain them and your teeth, including correcting root surface irregularities that can accumulate plaque.
Our aim is to reduce the chances of another infection as much as possible. "Fighting the good fight" calls for attention, diligence and effort — but the reward is continuing good health for your teeth and gums.
If you would like more information on continuing dental care after gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Cleanings.”