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Posts for: January, 2015

By Advanced Dental Concepts
January 29, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Veneers  

Even people with healthy smiles can be dissatisfied with how their mouths appear. When teeth are stained, discolored, misshapen, cracked, chipped, or have gaps or other minor misalignments, individuals hide their smiles and have difficulty speaking and laughing in public.

If this sounds familiar, explore the cosmetic and restorative choice known as dental veneers. A skilled cosmetic dentist is the best person to evaluate an individual's health and cosmetic needs and to discuss solutions. They can help the individual decide if they are a candidate for dental veneers and how they can improve the look of the patient's teeth.

What are dental veneers?

Dental veneers, also called porcelain veneers or dental laminates, are very thin, tooth-colored pieces of porcelain which are glued to the front surfaces of teeth to improve their appearance and to strengthen them. The dentist uses a special adhesive to permanently place the veneer over the front side of the tooth. The result is a tooth that is has a natural color, pleasing and appropriate shape, and is more resilient. With routine dental check-ups and cleanings, plus proper brushing and flossing, dental veneers last for years.

What is the procedure like?

1. First, the dentist will discuss what the patient's goals and options are.

2. He will preform an oral exam and take x-rays or do other types of imaging to see if veneers will work.

3. With the decision made to apply veneers, the dentist does some preparation work by removing a very small amount of material from the front side of the tooth or teeth. This is painless and prepares the surface to accept the porcelain veneer. With some very thin veneers, little or no preparation may be necessary.

4. The dentist will take impressions and send them to a lab so the veneers can be custom fabricated.

5. At the next appointment, the dentist will prepare the teeth by cleaning and polishing their natural surfaces. After lightly abrading the teeth, he will use a special bonding adhesive to glue on the veneers. A hardening light completes the bonding process.

5. Finally, the treated teeth are shaped and adjusted. The dentist checks the bite to ensure the teeth are closing together properly. In a re-check visit, the dentist looks at how well teeth and gums are dealing with the veneers.

What are the signs that you may want dental veneers?

If you are self-conscious about a smile that stained from coffee, tea and cigarettes or if nature has equipped you with teeth that have gaps or are overlapping, you may want to explore the option of dental veneers. In addition, the shape of teeth can change over time, especially if an individual has excessive wear due to grinding. Dental laminates can address this, too.

As a practitioner who is highly experienced in all aspects of preventative, restorative and cosmetic dentistry, Richard Hapgood DDS can evaluate whether dental veneers are right for you. Call his friendly staff for an appointment at his Andover, Maryland office: 978-475-2431.

By Advanced Dental Concepts
January 29, 2015
Category: Oral Health

While the prevention and treatment of tooth decay has improved dramatically over the last half century, it continues to be a major health issue, especially for children. One in four children 5 and younger will develop some form of the disease.

Although tooth decay in children stems from the same causes as in adults — the presence of decay-causing bacteria in plaque, unprotected teeth and the right mix of carbohydrates like sugar left in the mouth — the means by which it occurs may be different. We even define tooth decay differently in children as Early Childhood Caries (ECC), “caries” the dental profession’s term for tooth decay.

ECC highlights a number of cause factors specific to young children, such as: continuous use of a bottle or “sippy cup” filled with juice or other sweetened beverages; at-will breast-feeding throughout the night; use of a sweetened pacifier; or regular use of sugar-based oral medicine to treat chronic illness.

If you noticed sugar as a common denominator in these factors, you’re right. As a primary food source for bacteria, refined sugar is a major trigger for the disease especially if it constantly resides in the mouth from constant snacking or sipping. In fact, it’s the primary driver for a particular pattern of decay known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD). This pattern is specifically linked to sleep-time bottles filled with juice, milk, formula or other sweetened beverages, given to an infant or toddler to help soothe them through the night or during naps.

All these factors cause a cycle of decay. To interrupt that cycle, there are some things you as a parent should do: perform daily hygiene with your child to reduce decay-causing bacteria; reduce the amount and frequency of carbohydrates in the diet, particularly sugar; and protect the teeth by having us apply fluoride or sealants directly to the teeth.

Early tooth decay could affect your child's oral health for years to come. With a little care and vigilance, you improve your chances of avoiding that encounter.

If you would like more information on preventing tooth decay in children, 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 “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”

By Advanced Dental Concepts
January 14, 2015
Category: Oral Health

You may think snoring is a minor problem, but it can be a lot more than that. Just ask hoops star Shaquille O'Neal, whose rambunctious snoring bothered his girlfriend enough for her to suspect a health problem. Her observations eventually led to Shaq's diagnosis of moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which occurs when the soft tissue structures at the back of a person's throat, including the tongue, partially close off the upper airway and prevent air from moving into the lungs during sleep. Sometimes airflow can be blocked completely for 10 or more seconds.

When air flow is reduced, blood oxygen levels drop. This leads to brief waking episodes known as “micro-arousals,” which can happen sometimes more than 50 times an hour. The sleeper might not even be aware of this, even while gasping for air. Micro-arousals prevent the person from ever reaching deep, restful sleep.

Besides suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness, studies show sleep apnea patients are at higher risks of heart attacks, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, brain damage and strokes. People with sleep apnea also have a higher incidence of work and driving-related accidents.

OSA can be treated in a few different ways. On the advice of his doctor, Shaq opted for a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, which generates pressurized air delivered through a face mask worn while sleeping. The force of the pressurized air opens the airway (windpipe) in the same way as blowing into a balloon does.

For people with milder OSA, or who find they can't tolerate wearing a mask during sleep, an oral appliance supplied by a dental professional might be the answer. Oral appliances are worn in the mouth and are designed to gently reposition the jaw and move the tongue forward away from the back of the throat. Success rates of 80% or more have been reported using oral appliances, depending on the severity of the OSA.

If you would like more information on sleep apnea, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about sleep apnea by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”