Blog

Understanding Dental Specializations

Do you need a dentist or an orthodontist? Where do you go for more serious gum issues?Who can help you with braces? There are many types of dentists available to help you handle the problems you face, but it can be a confusing topic for most people. To help clear up the confusion, we wanted to go over the main types of dental specializations.

General dentists are sometimes called “family dentists” and they are the ones you go to for your regular dental care. This is the where you go for dental cleanings, preventative care, and a range of restorative care options like fillings and repairing cracked teeth. They are generally the first line of defense for your family’s oral health. They are also often the starting for finding other issues and getting to the appropriate specialist.

An Orthodontist is the specialist you’d go to for braces, but they do much more than that. They are largely concerned with correcting misaligned teeth, jaw bones, and supporting facial structures. Their goal is to help improve your bite and restore proper function. To do this they often design customized solutions designed to fix your specific problem.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are medically trained specialists who focus on the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. After dental school, they complete additional training so that they can perform these more invasive procedures. They are responsible for many procedures such as complex tooth extractions, surgical jaw corrections, cleft palate surgeries, and more.

Periodontists specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating various types of gum issues. They are often called into the picture when things are serious, including grafting gums to help heal severe gum disease. Many times they work with your family dentist or other specialists when this type of specialized care is needed.

A Prosthodontist creates oral prostheses to replace damaged or missing teeth or to repair larger issues with the jaw. The work they do is for both cosmetic and reconstructive reasons in case of traumatic injury. To be a prosthodontist, a dentist must complete two to three years of additional, advanced training.

Dr. Petteway is one of the area’s only prosthodontists. He has over 30 years experience, with unique education and training in this specialization. Schedule an appointment here to learn how he can help you!

Posted:

Understanding TMD

Have you heard the term “TMD” and wondered exactly what it was? Perhaps you’ve even heard it from your dentist, but never really understood what having “TMD” meant? We wanted to take a little time and talk about this condition, including what it is and what you can do about it.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is a misunderstood condition that often goes undiagnosed and untreated. It can cause so many different types of discomfort that it’s hard to  know if your symptoms are connected to it or due to something else entirely. This is why TMD is often called “the great impostor.”

At the heart of TMD is the temporomandibular joint, otherwise known as TMJ. This joint is very complex and unlike any other joint in your body. Your jaw has two of these joints, and they must work together in perfect harmony to allow for the complicated motion needed to eat.

If something goes wrong, problems like TMD can result. Some of the most common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain, tenderness in the jaw
  • Tired jaw muscles
  • Migraines or frequent headaches
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Trouble opening your mouth widely
  • Clicking or popping when opening or closing your mouth

A number of things can lead to TMD, including poorly aligned teeth, teeth grinding or even accidents. Unfortunately, if left untreated TMD can lead to larger dental problems. It’s also painful to live with, especially if you find yourself dealing with headaches and jaw pain.

If you suspect you have this condition, then it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible. They can help diagnose the problem and create a treatment plan based on your unique situation.

Posted:

The Benefits of Getting a Dental Crown

A dental crown, or cap, can be a great way to support a tooth that’s cracked or damaged due to decay.  But like any procedure, we know that patients must weigh the benefits against the cost to make a well informed decision. To help you figure it out, we wanted to talk about the benefits of getting a crown.

Here are a few of the top benefits to having a crown:

  • Repairing damage due to tooth decay – A crown will halt the decay and allow you to use your tooth normally. It will also reduce tooth decay-related pain.
  • Restoring tooth function after a root canal  – A crown will enable you to use your tooth normally and without pain.
  • Prevent additional damage due to teeth grinding – A crown will act as a barrier to your actual tooth, hereby limiting damage. This is best used with other tools to reduce grinding, like a night-guard.
  • Improve the appearance of a tooth – A tooth that is discolored, too short,too tall, or too narrow can be covered with a crown to look more like the surrounding teeth.
  • Creating an anchor for a bridge – A crown can provide a solid and safe anchor for dental work, like a bridge.

Of course, there are a few things to be cautious about with a crown too. For instance, it’s vital that the crown be fitted properly. Not only is this necessary to ensure that you have a good bite, but it’s important to prevent bacteria from getting under the crown and causing tooth damage. If a crown is being used over a decaying, it’s important that all decay and any infection is cleaned out before the crown is placed.

When done properly, a crown can restore your ability to eat normally and give you years of reliable use. So while crowns do come with a higher price tag, they truly can improve your quality of life.

Posted:

How to Target Coffee Stains on Your Teeth

For early risers, coffee is a lifeline. It is just the jolt you need shortly into the day to fire up your energy and get you going. Even if you do not get up early, coffee beverages from places like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are popular among many age groups at many hours of the day. As much as coffee can help wake you up and sustain you throughout the day, it may not have as great of an effect on your teeth.

As with any drink that is not clear water, coffee can stain and harm your teeth. The coffee coloring can get stuck in your teeth’s many ridges. If the coloring gets embedded in your teeth and you do not take the proper steps to fight the problem, then your teeth get stained

Thankfully, fighting coffee stains is rather simple. You can counter the staining effects by pairing your coffee with water. When you drink water in between the coffee sips, you rinse out your mouth and help your teeth. Flossing, brushing, and using mouthwash on a consistent basis is a terrific idea, especially since you should be practicing good oral hygiene anyway. Drinking water and incorporating strong oral hygiene also combats any sugar or creamer you put into your coffee or coffee beverage, preventing other problems for your teeth as well like plaque and cavities.

Interested in more tips on how to help your teeth? Be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages!

Posted:

Denture Care 101

Dentures are removable replacements for missing teeth. They may be partial–where you clip them onto your remaining teeth–or complete–where they replace all your missing teeth. As with natural teeth, you must clean your dentures regularly to keep them looking great and working well. 

Before you put your dentures on in the morning, brush your whole mouth. Brushing your gums and your tongue removes any plaque that could ruin your dentures. At the end of the day before you go to bed, brush your dentures just as you would your teeth. This takes out plaque and food from your dentures, and it also decreases the likelihood of them getting stained. When you take your dentures out of your mouth for the night, keep them in a jar next to your bathroom sink filled with cool water or the occasional denture cleanser. Never use hot water–this changes your dentures’s shape and ruins them!

Have additional questions about denture care? Contact us by phone or email, and we will get back to you as soon as we can!

Posted:

Make Valentine's Day Sweet for Your Teeth

Valentine’s Day is a sweet day, but it may be too sweet for your teeth! As we have mentioned before, everybody’s mouth is filled with bacteria called streptococcus. This bacteria occurs naturally, and it feeds on sugar. Streptococcus breaks sugar down into acids that erode your enamel. When you eat Valentine’s Day sweets like chocolate covered cherries and candy hearts, you are giving the streptococcus too much sugar, making your tooth enamel erosion a very bad problem!

Of course, the best way to avoid these sugary candies is to opt for other Valentine’s Day gifts. Flowers, cards, and balloons may not be very tasty, but buying them will not harm your dental care! Some flowers like a bouquet of roses may be on the expensive side, but you know what is more expensive? Costly dental care to fix the damage sugary candies cause!

However, you may be one of those people who must have a sugary treat for Valentine’s Day. That is okay too! Just remember to go for sugar-free candies, or those with small amounts of sugar. Do not neglect your typical dental habits during this time, like regular flossing and brushing. Follow these steps, and Valentine’s Day will be a sweet day for your dental care!

Posted:

Dental Care Resolutions

2017 is here! By now, you have probably already settled on your New Year’s Resolutions. We suggest adding some dental care resolutions to your list! Here are a few of our suggestions:

  • If you want teeth whitening, get it done professionally. At-home teeth whitening strips are cheaper and likely more convenient. However, not only do they not work as well as professional cosmetic teeth whitening can, they may cause problems like uneven lines if applied incorrectly.
  • Have migraines or chronic headaches? Talk to a cosmetic dentist. Sometimes migraines and chronic headaches come from a dental malady called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMD. These cases are complex and time-consuming to fix, so be prepared to discuss your thorough dental history at your appointment!
  • Need veneers? Opt for porcelain. Porcelain veneers do a much better job of replacing or repairing your teeth than plastic veneers do. While plastic veneers are less expensive, they are less convincing than porcelain veneers. They also do not last as long.

If you want to make these suggestions your New Year’s Resolutions for 2017, then we are happy to help! Just schedule an appointment with us here, and we will go over your options!

Posted:

One Last Round of Holiday Dental Health

Christmas and New Year’s Eve close out December, which means the 2016 holiday season is almost over! We discussed how to keep your teeth clean and healthy during Halloween and Thanksgiving, and now we focus on this last round of holiday dinners and parties. You and your teeth have made it this far this year, and we are here to help you through these last hurdles!

  • Do not fill stockings with candy. In recent months, your teeth already endured Halloween candy and Thanksgiving desserts. Since you will likely have more desserts at holiday dinners/parties, then try avoiding loading your family’s stockings up with candy bars and other sweets. Gift cards and gift certificates are perfect for stockings.
  • When not at home, take travel dental care. Many of us travel for holiday dinners. Often, it is many hours before we return home and get a chance to clean our teeth. Make sure you take a small bag with you that contains your floss, toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. This way you can clean your teeth quickly after eating and don’t give any food and drink time to stick to and harm your teeth.
  • For snacks, stick with cheese and vegetables. Many holiday parties serve alcoholic beverages. If you drink any of them, be sure to eat cheese in between sips. Not only does cheese counteract the acidity in alcoholic drinks, but cheese has calcium that is excellent for your dental health. Vegetables are also perfect snacks for their healthiness, especially those high in vitamin A. Vitamin A strengthens tooth enamel, and some of the vegetables high in this vitamin are sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and broccoli. 
Posted:

Great Thanksgiving Dental Tips

Excited about Thanksgiving? We know we are! However, what we are not excited about is what all those sugary and fatty foods will do to our teeth. Most cookies and pies contain mountains of sugar, which has microbes that stick to our teeth and erode tooth enamel. Those sweet treats are not so sweet to our teeth. They present problems for those of us who want to enjoy Thanksgiving treats without wrecking our dental health.

As always, avoid sugary desserts as best as you can. If you are making desserts, then opt for recipes that require less sugar. You cannot control what other people bake into their own desserts, but you can definitely monitor what you put into your own foods. When eating other people’s desserts, eat smaller portions so as not to overload your teeth with sugar.

 
On Thanksgiving, you also need to pay attention to what you drink. Many families provide soft drinks, iced teas, and juices for their holiday feasts. Since you are already indulging in sugary desserts, then it is an even wiser idea to avoid sugar-overloaded drinks. Drink plenty of water instead. If you do choose tea or juice, then make sure they either have no sugar or very little sugar.

 
Desserts are not all you have to worry about on Thanksgiving. Foods high in carbohydrates like casseroles are bad for your teeth as well. Stick to foods high in protein like vegetables and fruits. However, be cautious when eating vegetables like candied yams. Tasty though they may be, they have more sugar than a simple yam would have. Avoid foods like these, or eat them in moderation.

 
As with any day, brush your teeth after meals and use mouthwash to ensure less sugar sticks to your teeth. Avoiding sugar altogether is tricky on Thanksgiving, but moderation and good dental habits minimize the damage any sugary foods and drinks may cause on that day. Most importantly of all — happy Thanksgiving, and remember to enjoy your holiday!

Posted:

Good Halloween Dental Health -- It's Possible!

As much fun as Halloween is, it is not so much fun for your teeth! Everyone’s mouth has naturally occurring bacteria called streptococcus. This bacteria feeds on sugar and breaks it down into acids that erode your tooth enamel, making sugary Halloween candy particularly dangerous for dental care. Getting your children not to eat their candy after they’re done trick-or-treating, though, is not exactly easy. Even if you do not have children, you may not feel comfortable giving away too much candy that will rot teeth.

If you give out treats on Halloween night but don’t want to be the house that gives out raisins, then there are ways to give out good treats without being the “boring house.” Many popular candies have sugar-free versions that are a bit more expensive, but usually not much more. If you prefer not to buy sugar-free candy because you aren’t a fan of sugar substitutes, then candies such as solid chocolate, peanut packets, popcorn packets, and trail mix are a decent option.

Of course, if you take your children trick-or-treating instead, it is practically impossible to avoid sugary Halloween candy altogether. Make sure your children eat these treats in moderation to reduce the risk of sugar overload and cavities. Remind them to practice good dental habits as they go through this candy-eating period. Flossing and brushing regularly should combat any Halloween cavities that want to terrify your children’s teeth!

Posted: