Posts for: December, 2017
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.
Have coffee, smoking or simple aging changed the color of your teeth? You can say goodbye to dental stains with professional teeth whitening from Seymour, IN dentists, Dr. Matthew Pierce and Dr. Lane Severe at Jackson County Dental. Your healthy teeth can brighten by up to eight shades in just one office visit or in the convenience and privacy or your own home. Learn more details about this amazing cosmetic service.
Those awful stains
Your dental health is good except for how dark and dingy your teeth look. How has this happened? Well, many factors contribute to changes in smile appearance:
- Consumption of darkly pigmented and acidic foods and beverages (blueberries, coffee, sports drinks, and tomato sauce, to name a few)
- Use of smokeless tobacco and cigarettes
- The aging process
- Taking prescription drugs such as some anti-hypertensives and antihistamines
- Poor oral hygiene
In short, what we put into our mouths, dulls and yellows tooth enamel.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry says that professional teeth whitening is extremely popular because it dramatically changes smile appearance quickly, comfortably and economically. Also, you and many other adults and older teens qualify for it if, on examination, Dr. Pierce or Dr. Severe find:
- Your teeth and gums are healthy
- You have few restorations such as fillings or crowns
- You are diligent about oral hygiene at home and get routine cleanings and exams at Jackson County Dental
If you do qualify, your dentist will offer you a choice of at-home teeth whitening in Seymour (using custom-made acrylic trays) or an in-office treatment.
What's the secret?
There really is no secret to professional teeth whitening. It's just good science. Whitening offered by your dentist uses concentrated hydrogen peroxide gel. Whether applied by the dental in the office or by you at home, the gel literally lifts staining organic material right out of tooth surfaces. While at-home processes are more gradual, both methods are amazingly effective and give patients a brighter, more youthful look.
Also, it's no secret that professional teeth whitening in Seymour is safe because your dentist knows you and your oral health. The gel is properly applied with no spillage onto sensitive gums or other soft oral tissues. Contrast this method with over the counter strips, rinses and trays which may produce marginal results or irritate the mouth.
Keeping them white
Professionally whitened smiles stay bright with daily flossing and brushing at home and semi-annual in-office cleanings and touch-ups (as needed). Also, you should avoid tobacco and limit staining beverages and foods. Expect your smile to be bright indefinitely!
A new smile
Say goodbye to dental stains with the best teeth whitening treatments in Seymour, IN. Contact the office team at Jackson County Dental today for a cosmetic dentistry consultation. Call (812) 522-8608.
Although periodontal (gum) disease usually affects your gums first, your teeth may eventually suffer. That’s because the disease can damage both attaching gum tissues and supporting bone.
One advanced sign of this is when one or more teeth become loose. A loose tooth is an alarm bell that you’re about to lose it.
Fortunately, we can often treat loose diseased teeth with a two-phase approach. First and foremost, we need to bring the gum infection under control by removing plaque and calculus (tartar) — the “fuel” for the infection — from all tooth and gum surfaces. Depending on how extensive it is, we have options: we can use specially designed hand instruments to remove plaque and calculus, ultrasonic equipment that loosens and flushes plaque and calculus away, or, if necessary, conventional or laser surgery.
Depending on the extent of the infection, in some cases we may need to use regenerative surgical techniques like gum and bone grafting to replace lost tissue. Healing takes time, though, which leads to the second phase of treatment — securing the loose tooth during gum healing.
The most common way is through a bite adjustment, where teeth are altered to equilibrate chewing forces evenly. This results in all the teeth being hit at the same time allowing the loose teeth to heal and tighten up.
Another option is splinting teeth together. Although there are different methods, the basic idea is to join the loose teeth with stable teeth like pickets in a fence. One way is to bond splinting material across the back surfaces of the involved teeth. Another way is to cut in a small channel across the teeth and insert and bond a rigid strip of metal to splint the teeth in place.
The splint is usually a temporary measure while the gums heal. In some situations, though, we may need to perform a permanent splint by crowning the affected teeth and then splinting the crowns together. If you have a grinding habit we may also prescribe a night guard to limit the damage done while you sleep.
Before deciding on which technique is best for you, we would first need to evaluate the health of the affected teeth to see whether the effort would be worth it. It could be the tooth’s supporting bone structure has become so deteriorated that it might be better to extract the tooth and consider an implant or other replacement. First, though, we would attempt if at all practical to save the tooth — and the sooner we begin treating it, the better your chances for such an outcome.
If you would like more information on loose teeth and 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 “Treatment for Loose Teeth.”