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What to Know About Laser Gum Surgery

There are times when it’s necessary to perform surgery on the gums. Sometimes this is necessary due to advanced gum disease that requires the removal of decay. It can also be performed for cosmetic purposes, especially for those concerned with a ‘gummy’ smile. For many years these kinds of surgery required a scalpel, stitches, anesthetic, and significant recovery time. This all passed with the introduction of the dental laser. These tools have turned these procedures into simple operations that dentists can do quickly. Further, the recovery time for these treatments is significantly reduced. 

How Laser Dentistry Has Changed The Face Of Gum Surgery

Some years ago, the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) determined that laser surgery was an acceptable approach for a range of dental procedures. In the earliest stages of laser dentistry, practitioners primarily used it to enhance the results of tooth whitening procedures. Since the FDA has approved it for use in a broader range of treatments. These include:

  • Periodontic Procedures – New root planing and scaling approaches involve using the dental laser. Rather than using a metal tool to achieve these ends, the dental laser is finely tuned to eliminate the presence of biofilm in these areas.
  • Endodontic Procedures – Root canal treatments are the most commonly performed endodontic procedure. The dental laser makes it easier to eliminate all traces of decay and infection without damaging healthy tissue.
  • Oral Surgery: Gum surgery is one example of an oral surgery procedure that can be achieved using modern laser dentistry.

Laser gum surgery achieves its ends using highly focused beams of light to sterilize the treatment area. Throughout the procedure, several approaches may be used. Dental lasers can cause blood to clot in the blood vessels to prevent bleeding. They can also cut and remove diseased tissue from affected areas. During this process, the laser automatically cauterizes the treatment area, eliminating the need for stitches. Further, this approach reduces the need for an anesthetic as the process is nearly painless.

Many types of dental lasers are available, and each is well-suited to its own range of procedures. Each of these devices varies in the degree of power they can deliver and the wavelengths of the lasers they emit. The most advanced models are capable of adjusting both the power of the beam and the wavelength. These versatile tools are genuinely changing the face of dentistry.

What To Expect Following Laser Dental Treatment

Dental laser treatments’ recovery process is generally short and free from complications. You should follow some care guidelines to ensure a full recovery. The treated area should remain unflossed and unbrushed for approximately a week. Instead, rinse your mouth carefully with mouthwash or water. Do not spit during this stage. Instead, you should let the liquid fall from your mouth freely. You should also avoid the use of any nicotine products during this period. 

When we hear the term “tattoo,” the first thing that comes to mind is intentionally acquired permanent body art. An amalgam tattoo is neither art nor does it have to be permanent. This type of tattoo is an unintentional blemish caused by the degrading of a dental amalgam filling. The materials that make up this decaying amalgam include copper, tin, silver, and mercury. When fragments of these materials take up residence in our cheek, gums, or lip, an amalgam tattoo is formed. They often appear as a smooth blemish that is black, blue, or gray. Sometimes these blemishes appear as irregularly spaced patches of metal. In others, they appear as brown or black pieces that tend to follow the path of nerves and blood vessels. While they often appear near the amalgam site, they can form anywhere in the mouth.

Why Do Amalgam Tattoos Form And What Can Be Done?

There are a few common reasons that an amalgam tattoo may form. The most common reason is an accidental deposit that forms during drilling. This deposit occurs because the amalgam is flaking off and presses into the gums near the drilling site. Scrapes and lesions in that area can increase the chance of these forming. Similarly, they can form as the result of flakes coming off as the final amalgam is being polished or when they’re being removed. While amalgam fillings can last 10-15 years after being placed, they need to be replaced. In the rarest cases, the amalgam may splinter, working its way through the tooth to penetrate the gums near the restoration. These concerns are part of the driving force behind amalgam fillings falling out of favor in the dental industry. Modern dentistry tends to lean towards using composite fillings over amalgams. Their plasticity, resilience, and ability to be color-matched to your natural enamel color make them the superior choice.

The markings that appear with an amalgam tattoo are often mistaken for oral cancer, but several symptoms reveal the difference.

  • Swelling
  • Ulcers
  • Dentures that no longer fit
  • Pain
  • Strange pigmentation patterns with asymmetrical or irregular borders

It’s important to remember that amalgam tattoos will typically appear near the dental restoration site. Conversely, oral cancer typically shows up near the palate or the inner portions of the sinus cavity. A common diagnosis method for amalgam tattoos is dental imaging using x-rays. The x-rays will reveal the presence of significant metal deposits in your oral tissues. In cases where the amalgam fragments are fine enough, exploratory methods may have to be used to find them.

Ask Your Dental Provider About Amalgam Tattoos

If you’ve noticed grey or black markings appearing in your oral cavity, speak to your dental provider. They can help you determine if these are signs of an amalgam tattoo or from another source. You must have these inspected by a professional as the survival rate for oral cancer drops sharply if not caught early. If an amalgam tattoo is identified, your dentist can take steps to remove the discoloration and the metal fragments responsible.

Dental anxiety is a problem faced by thousands of people all over the country. It’s no respecter of age or gender and can fade over time or worsen. For some sufferers, the experience is simply a state of heightened nervousness. For others, it can be a paralyzing condition that can induce severe panic at the mere mention of the dentist. One specific trigger reported by those who experience dental anxiety is the high-pitched whine of the rotary drill. This is one part of the dental experience that hasn’t been able to be avoided in the past. Even if you weren’t the one being worked on, that sound would saturate every corner of the clinic. Laser dentistry has arrived to change all that.

How Dental Anxiety Sufferers Benefit From Laser Dentistry

Lasers have been seeing an increasing degree of use in the medical industry over the past few decades. For many years laser dentistry has been limited to stimulating the effectiveness of cosmetic treatments. With the laser dental drill development, a whole new era has come to dental practices. One immediate benefit of these drills is their near-silent operation. No one has ever been caught saying how much they love the sound of the rotary drill. While those who work in the office may be largely indifferent due to exposure, patients rarely were. Laser dental drills bring with them a great number of benefits and the elimination of the whine of rotary drills. Some examples include:

  • Precision Dentistry – Laser dental drills are extremely precise and can be used to eliminate tissue within very small tolerances. This enables them to target only diseased or necrotic tissue, leaving healthy tissue untouched.
  • Fast Recovery Times – These drills don’t just destroy the targeted tissue; they also cauterize the wound immediately. This means that the wound starts healing right away without the need for stitches. This, in turn, shortens recovery times.
  • Reduced Discomfort – Due to the elimination of the vibration from the rotary drill and the immediate cauterization of the target zone, there’s less pain with laser dentistry. This means less need for an anesthetic.
  • Quicker Procedures – There are a lot of factors that go into how laser dental drills reduce procedure times. One that greatly reduces the time spent in procedures is there being no need for stitches. Since no anesthetic is generally required in laser dentistry procedures, there’s no recovery time needed. Patients can get up and head out the door and back to their day.

These four factors make the entire dental experience more pleasant. Even when the drill is involved, eliminating the whine, reducing discomfort, and less time in the chair is an overall improvement. Many patients even report that the soft pulsing sound the laser drill makes when in operation is soothing and eases anxiety.

Speak With Your Dental Provider About Laser Dentistry

Laser dentistry is becoming more available every day. Reach out to your current dental provider and ask them if laser dentistry is used in their practice. They’ll consult you on any existing oral health conditions and how laser dentistry can play a role in treating them.

The toll taken on our mental health from living through the pandemic has had a surprising reach. In addition to being cut off from our friends and family, many of us have experienced significant stress. The concern for our family’s health, how to make ends meet when we’re laid off, and adjusting to a life of remote work and schooling has been challenging. There have been many side-effects of enduring these changes observed, even in the dental industry. 

Bruxism: One Dental Sign Of Excess Stress

Bruxism is a medical condition that involves the subconscious gritting and grinding of our teeth. Dentists are the most likely to catch this condition’s presence. This is due to the amount of damage it can cause to our teeth. Some sufferers may first report to their doctors due to an aching jaw or trouble sleeping. However, no sign is as certain as wear and tear on the teeth. This condition is often brought on by unusual and persistent stress. That kind of stress is certainly more common than it was before the start of the pandemic.  

It’s important to note that not every instance of clenched teeth is a case of bruxism. It’s not uncommon to clench our teeth when concentrating or in a periodic moment of high stress. But ongoing, uncontrolled clenching and grinding can negatively affect our overall oral health. Even mild grinding insufficient to harm the teeth can lead to sore jaws, headaches, and even migraines.

Common Symptoms of Bruxism Include:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth fractures
  • Reduced Oral Mobility
  • Discomfort when talking and/or chewing
  • Molar wear
  • Damaged oral restorations

Bruxism can be caused by factors other than stress, however. During the pandemic, many people have been shifted to work in a home office. This has led to these individuals setting up make-shift spaces to work. Some may not have appropriate space or may opt to spend their day on an unpadded kitchen chair. Not only can this cause pain in the back and neck, but posture can also be affected. This change in posture is another known cause of teeth grinding.

In a case of circular symptoms, bruxism can also make it difficult to sleep well. The pressure we exert on our jaws and teeth can lead to a persistent ache that keeps us awake. This ache can lead to bouts of insomnia, leaving us irritable, exhausted, and even more stressed. Inadequate sleep alone can cause dental grinding, so it certainly doesn’t help when unusual stress is also present. Dentists have been reporting the appearance of an increasing number of stressed and fractured teeth in their offices.

Speak To Your Dentist About Bruxism

Your dentist will be an important source of information about bruxism and how to treat it. They have extensive experience identifying the signs and can provide options to manage them. One common treatment option involves the use of a mouthguard. These mouth guards help to protect your teeth from the grinding and can even stop you from grinding your teeth altogether. Schedule a consultation with your dentist to get advice on putting an end to your bruxism symptoms today!

There’s been a steady change in the nature of medical care over the past decade. This change has only accelerated with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors from every industry have been looking for ways to better serve their patients and to provide service to underserved areas. Dentistry has seen the addition of new treatments and better payment models. Most significantly, however, has been the embracing of new technologies that have ushered teledentistry into it a new era.

Teledentistry Will Change The Face of Dental Care

Teledentistry is a term that describes the use of remote technology to help improve access to dental care. With the growing prevalence of high-speed internet, personal devices, and video calling, teledental practices have been more practical than ever. This approach to care has helped protect patients from spreading the COVID infection while saving them both time and money. These tools allow for consultations from remote specialists, follow-ups that don’t require an office visit, and even orthodontic care by mail.

We would be remiss not to focus on how teledentistry took off during the pandemic. Through the efforts of a dedicated, diverse, and creative dental workforce, new programs were created to make teledentistry more available and effective. Private practices, health centers, community programs, and health systems all took steps to integrate teledentistry into their practices. Consider the following examples:

Oregon dentists instituted a rural teledentistry program that made it possible for dental hygienists to perform visual inspections of schoolchildren’s oral health. They were able to take pictures, x-rays, chart tooth decay, and then transmit this information to remote dentists. These professionals would process the data collected and create an effective treatment plan for the child.

California developed a Virtual Dental Home model to a similar effect. This program took steps to train dental assistants and hygienists to collect dental records and deliver preventative care at schools around the state. This allowed a system of preventative care to be more available than ever. All of the information handled was transmitted through a secure telehealth system to qualified dental offices to reach a diagnosis and create a treatment plan.

Another example can be found in Missouri, where public health dentists, dental hygienists, and private practices coordinated to extend available office hours and create satellite dental offices to provide coverage. Hygienists would use systems such as asynchronous teledentistry to collect the necessary diagnostic information for new patients.

The Future of Dentistry Is Teledentistry

What all of this means is that teledentistry is no longer a fall-back plan for dental practices. Instead, it has started to become a mainstream method of delivering dental care. There are countless people who will be able to benefit from this trend. Those with a busy lifestyle that doesn’t make room for a traditional office visit are among them. Also included are patients that live in remote areas of the country that may be underserved, those who have difficulty moving, and those without the necessary transportation. When your dental care is just a phone call away, there’s no reason not to get the treatment you need.

Your teeth play an important role in more than just eating properly. They change the shape of your face, affect how you speak and can change other people’s perception of you. Maintaining proper oral hygiene practices is essential to preserving good oral health. Failing oral health can lead to a host of other health problems, even increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease. Keeping up with an effective oral health routine that includes bi-annual visits to the dentist is an excellent start. Your dentist uses numerous forms of technology to provide you with the best smile they can. Today we’re going to touch on some of the tools they use to keep your smile looking sharp.

The Tools Your Dentist Uses To Care For Your Teeth

Your dentist has a broad range of tools and technologies that play an important role in your care. Each of these tools helps them address specific dental concerns and develop an effective treatment plan. These treatment plans help maintain or restore a healthy smile with beautiful teeth. Some of the most prominently used tools include:

  • Digital scanner – Being able to determine the current health of your smile requires getting accurate information about them. Intraoral scanners are used to take thousands of pictures that are stitched together using special software to create a 3D image. This image can be displayed on a screen or used to print a physical model of your oral cavity.
  • Zoom! Bleaching – Many clinics are taking advantage of this tooth whitening technology to provide better care for their patients. It combines LED light and a specialized whitening gel to brighten the patient’s teeth by several shades. With consistent oral hygiene, the shade change can last for months or years.
  • Digital Smile Design (DSD) – Helping a patient decide which treatment course is right for them is easier when the results can be seen first. Digital Smile Design is a system that was designed to make this possible. It creates a virtual visualization of the potential results of a course of treatment.
  • Laser Dentistry – The high-pitched whine of traditional dental drills is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Laser dentistry first made an appearance in 1989, but ongoing development has made it become a prominent part of modern dentistry. It has been instrumental in creating a noise-free, pain-free dental experience with shorter recovery times.
  • Digital X-Rays – X-rays have been an essential imaging tool in dentistry for well over a century. Recent innovations have reduced the already safe levels of radiation patients are exposed to down to nearly negligible levels. They accomplished this while improving the accuracy and clarity of the images and rendering them in a 3D digital format. Physical films are a thing of the past, as is losing the films in transit to another specialist.

These represent some of the most common and popular tools in use in dental offices all over the world. 

Talk To Your Dentist About Their Equipment

Ask your dentist about the equipment they use at their practice during your next visit. You may discover other types of technology that are in use as part of your care.  

The dental industry is filled with many economic costs, and one of those costs is where dentists go once they finish going to college. Many dentists are often encouraged to develop their own practices and manage their careers full-time. In other cases, however, many dentists often join themselves with group practices or practices run by several doctors. Both solo practices and group practices offer their benefits and disadvantages, and while a heated debate by many dentists in the community, patients wondering what these terms mean can often wonder what impact these practices will have on their care.

To further dive into this topic, we’re going to explain some of the ins and outs of these types of practices, what ultimately shapes them, and which type of practice is better for patient care.

The Two Forms of Practice in Dentistry

When dentists talk about their practices, they’re often referring to business strategies to help maintain their careers. Our practices represent the name we put out to the world to define who we are, and for dentists who’ve recently graduated, there’s a huge amount of pressure placed on them to determine where they’ll find their place within the industry. On the other hand, many dentists who have run 10 to 20 years in the industry are often facing significant economic struggles that lead them to sell off their solo practices and join in with group practices to mitigate costs and bring better security.

The choice between a solo practice or a group practice all depends on the individual’s circumstances, but what do these types of practices actually entail? Here’s a short summary of both:

  • Solo Practices: Solo practices are practices owned and operated by a single dentist. Most dentists often go this route despite economic concerns and tend to operate on specific criteria. PPO plans are more often accepted by solo practices, often catering to higher-income patients, and more often than not perform more restorative treatments such as crowns, composite resin restorations, and fixed prosthetics. While more restorative treatments tend to be the major driving force for solo practices, solo practices tend to have more responsibility for their decisions, and depending on how finances are handled, solo practices can run successfully and provide a more personalized experience for the patient.
  • Group Practices: These practices, which work to consolidate dentists and their teams into multi-branch organizations, come with their own benefits and disadvantages. Group practices tend to accept HMO plans to be able to receive patients, which tend to be carried by lower-income patients. These practices often work with treatments such as direct restorations, amalgams, dentures, and fillings. Group practices have become an ever-growing trend due to economic disparity and have increased efficiency with their finances, thus providing more security for those in the dental industry.

How Dental Insurance Influences Your Care

Both of these types of practices have their own systemic problems when it comes to their care, but one important factor to pay attention to when looking for a dentist is how your insurance influences your treatment. Because of this, we highly suggest contacting your dental insurance company to talk about your treatments to learn which dentists accept your insurance in your area.

Toothpaste is such a common part of our oral healthcare routine that we rarely think of what’s in it. Most of us know to check and be certain that we’re using toothpaste with fluoride. Beyond that, it’s rare for any of us to read the label too closely. It’s hard to counter the idea that we should know what we’re putting in and using on our bodies. Below we’re exploring some of the more common ingredients in toothpaste and what role they play.

What Ingredients Can Be Found In Toothpaste?

The majority of ingredients on most toothpaste can be hard to pronounce. Regardless, each of them has a role to play in the protection of our teeth. Some toothpaste brands will have additional ingredients that will help them whiten our teeth or make them gentler on sensitive teeth. Together, the ingredients in your toothpaste can:

  • Prevent decay and development of plaque
  • Eliminate particles of food from our teeth
  • Enhance taste and texture of the toothpaste
  • Help the toothpaste penetrate difficult areas
  • Fight halitosis
  • Fight dental staining
  • Ease dental sensitivity

With the abundant types of toothpaste available at your local pharmacy, it’s no wonder it’s difficult to make a choice. Further, it can be difficult to understand the full impact of the ingredients in the toothpaste on your overall health.

The first point to know is that the ingredients in your toothpaste can penetrate your oral membranes. This includes your cheeks, gums, and other soft tissues in the mouth. These tissues are responsible for helping sense temperature, taste flavors, and keep your mouth properly moistened. They also have an important part in fighting toxins and bacteria.

Common Ingredients In Toothpaste And What They Do

The most well-known ingredient in toothpaste is fluoride. This mineral occurs naturally throughout the world and has been found to be beneficial in battling tooth decay. So prominently so, in fact, that it is often included in city water, toothpaste, and mouthwash. On your toothpaste label, it may be called stannous fluoride, sodium fluoride, or monofluorophosphate. Other ingredients include:

  • Triclosan – Included for its antibacterial properties and ability to help battle gum disease.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Helps your toothpaste to foam and thus makes it easier to move around your mouth. It also has the ability to dissolve grease and dirt in the mouth.
  • Abrasives – In order to remove plaque and tartar effectively, your toothpaste needs to be slightly abrasive. Calcium carbonate, hydrated silica, aluminum hydroxide, activated charcoal, and mica are just a few abrasives that may be found in your toothpaste.

If you want to educate yourself further about the ingredients in your toothpaste and the role they play in protecting your teeth, speak to your dentist. They’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the products you use and how the ingredients play a role in oral health. Remember, learning about the contents of your toothpaste is a way of empowering yourself and taking an active role in your dental care. Bring your favorite toothpaste to your next dental visit for more information.

Maintaining our teeth with oral hygiene is an important part of maintaining a lasting smile. We all want to be able to flash our pearly whites with pride. How often do you take steps to reduce the environmental impact of keeping them looking great? You’ll have a hard time finding an individual, let alone a family, who doesn’t live a life that thrives on the convenience of plastic. Unfortunately, convenience comes with a cost down the road.  

The High Cost of Dental Hygiene Generated Plastic Waste

Every tube of toothpaste, skein of floss, and bottle of mouthwash must eventually reach the end of its usefulness. When they do, they often find their way into the garbage bin and, ultimately, into a landfill. Toothbrushes alone account for well over 50 million pounds of plastic waste alone each year. This is all the result of a set of guidelines for caring for our teeth written by the American Dental Association decades ago. Every piece of advice offered in those guidelines is excellent for caring for your teeth. Unfortunately, they don’t address the environmental impact of doing so. Consider the following:

  • Toothbrushes – Each toothbrush is responsible for about 4-6 ounces of plastic waste from packaging to disposal. The ADA says to dispose of your toothbrush every six months, causing up to 12 ounces of waste by doing so. Across billions of people, this adds up fast.
  • Mouthwash – One person using an average-sized bottle of mouthwash twice a day will go through two bottles a month.
  • Floss – The floss itself is made from Nylon, a plastic fabric. The container is made from plastic as well. A family of three will go through a little over a pack of floss a month with regular use.

While there’s little doubt our daily oral hygiene practice produces a significant amount of waste, it’s also effective at protecting our teeth. Thankfully, there are numerous choices available to keep our teeth healthy while also taking steps to keep our planet healthy as well. Recycling your dental products is a great first step. Recycling your plastic toothbrush may be better for the environment than switching to one made of natural products like bamboo.

Mouthwash is available in pill form and comes in a small metal plastic container you can refill. This saves water and plastic alike. A similar option exists for floss. There are brands of floss made from mulberry silk that will decompose naturally once it enters a landfill. Even the container it is stored in is biodegradable.

Speak To Your Dentist For Further Advice

Are you dedicated to a low-impact oral hygiene routine that still keeps your teeth looking great? Get your dentist involved. They’ll often have good advice about products that are safe, effective, and have a lower impact on the environment. They can also serve as an effective source of alternative methods of caring for your teeth that are just as effective. Consider the use of charcoal toothpaste for whitening, for instance. You can also ask your dentist about the steps they take to protect the environment as part of their practice. Call for your appointment today!

In most treatment cases, it isn’t necessary to have any advance work done prior to having a dental procedure performed. Some of the more advanced procedures, however, may require that the area be prepared. In the simplest cases, any presence of gum disease needs to be eliminated to make the procedure safe to perform. In other cases, such as implants, it may be necessary to perform a bone graft to ensure there’s sufficient material to hold the restoration. If you’ve discovered that you’re going to need a bone graft, this guide will let you know what to expect.

What Is a Bone Graft? Why One Be Needed?

A bone graft procedure helps to supplement existing bone by adding extra material. This is generally necessary when an area of the mouth has lost material from degeneration or disease. In some cases, there may simply have never been enough bone structure in the area, to begin with. Bone grafts require surgery and are performed under anesthesia by a qualified dental surgeon.

The most common reason a bone graft is needed is for a dental implant. When a tooth is lost, the hosting jaw bone begins to degrade from a lack of stimulation. This results in the jaw shrinking and losing strength as a lack of stimulation prevents nutrients and blood from moving to the area. Inserting healthy tissue into the location helps create an environment suitable for placing an implant.  

There are four common sources for bone graft material:

  • Autograft – This describes bone taken from the patient’s own body. This is done in the majority of cases where a bone graft is needed. It eliminates the risk of rejection and aids in healing.
  • Allograft – This describes bone material received from a donor. In this case, the source is specifically bone from a cadaver that’s been thoroughly sanitized. 
  • Allopast – When synthetic bone material is used in the procedure, the material is known as alloplast.
  • Xenograft – This describes the placement of bone material from a non-human source, typically a cow. This is incredibly successful when significant amounts of material are needed.

Your dentist will thoroughly discuss which of these options will be used in your procedure.

What to Expect From the Bone Graft Procedure

In most cases, the bone graft procedure will be performed in your dentist’s office. The procedure will take place under local anesthesia and sedation if possible. In some cases, it becomes necessary to use general anesthesia, which will render you unconscious. Before the procedure, your dentist will walk you through the whole procedure, including what to expect from the healing process. You typically will have to wait to have your implant placed until the graft heals, but this isn’t always the case.

If you’re seeking to learn more about bone grafts, call your dentist. They’ll go over all the particulars of your case, the materials used, what the procedure will look like, and what to expect from recovery. Bone grafts are an effective way of making sure your dentist can rebuild your smile and produce fantastic results.

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