Posts for: May, 2014
One’s a singer who made her name playing New York clubs in the 1980’s before catapulting to international pop stardom; the other’s an actress from New Zealand who, in 1994, at the age of 11, became the second-youngest person ever to win an Academy Award. Both remain at the top of the A-list today. What other feature do Madonna and Anna Paquin have in common?
You guessed it — it’s their teeth. Both have a small but noticeable gap between their two front teeth, known as a diastema. This condition is relatively common, and it’s normally easy to treat — if that’s something you’d like to do. But wait a moment… In certain African countries, this kind of smile is considered a sign of fertility; in France, they call it “dents du bonheur” (lucky teeth); some other cultures consider the gap a predictor of future wealth. So if you’ve already made this look work for you, there’s no need to change it — even if you might need other cosmetic dental work.
The “perfectly imperfect” smile has become an increasingly popular option for people having veneers, cosmetic bonding, or even dental implants. Some trend-watchers have even noted a pushback against the ideal of a completely even, flawless, Hollywood-white smile. Does that create a problem at the dentist’s office?
Absolutely not! We call the process of figuring out how your teeth should look “smile design” — and it’s as much an art as a science. When we’re just beginning to design your smile, we look at a number of features — including the size, shape, color and alignment of your teeth, the position of your lips, the amount of gums exposed, and the relationship between your smile and your other facial features. We’re also listening carefully to you: what you like and don’t like about your smile, how you think it could be improved… and what should stay just the way it is.
Of course, before doing any cosmetic work, we will always perform a complete dental exam to detect any underlying condition and determine what treatments are best. Then, we will work with you to help you get the smile you’ve always wanted. Not sure exactly how it will look when it’s all done? Ask us for a preview — from computer-generated pictures to actual 3-D models, we can show you how your new smile will enhance your appearance.
So if your smile needs a little help to look its best — but you still want it to be uniquely yours — maybe now is the time to come in and see us. If you would like more information on smile design, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor articles “The Impact of a Smile Makeover” and “Beautiful Smiles by Design.”
Your teeth have enemies — bacteria that feed on biofilm, a thin layer of food remnant known as plaque that sticks to your teeth, are one such example. After ingestion, these bacteria produce acid, which can erode your teeth’s protective enamel and lead to tooth decay.
Fortunately, you have a weapon against enamel loss already at work in your mouth — saliva. Saliva neutralizes high levels of acid, as well as restores some of the enamel’s mineral content lost when the mouth is too acidic (re-mineralization).
Unfortunately, saliva can be overwhelmed if your mouth is chronically acidic. Here’s how you can help this powerful ally protect your enamel and stop tooth decay with better hygiene and eating habits:
Remove bacterial plaque daily. You should floss and brush with fluoride toothpaste everyday to remove plaque. It’s also recommended that you visit us twice a year for professional cleanings to remove hard to reach plaque. We can also train you on how to properly floss and brush.
Wait an hour after eating to brush. It may sound counterintuitive, but brushing immediately after you eat can do more harm than good. The mouth is naturally acidic just after eating and some degree of enamel softening usually occurs. It takes a half hour or so for saliva to restore the mouth’s pH balance and re-mineralize the enamel. If you brush before then, you may brush away some of the softened enamel.
Limit sweets to mealtimes. Constantly snacking on sweets (or sipping sodas, sports or energy drinks) will expose your teeth to a chronic high level of acid — and saliva can’t keep up in neutralizing it. If you can’t abstain from sugar, at least limit your consumption to mealtime. It’s also a good habit to rinse out your mouth with clear water after drinking an acidic drink to flush out excess acid.
Boost saliva content with supplements. If you suffer from insufficient saliva production or dry mouth, try an artificial saliva supplement. Chewing xylitol gum can also help boost saliva production, as well as inhibit the growth of infection-causing bacteria. We’ll be glad to advise you on the use of these products.
This is the story of a well-known man, fearless in most respects, who was afraid of the dentist. Even though his fears had resulted in neglect and serious damage to his teeth, modern dentistry and a talented dental team were able to restore his smile to health. If you share this fear, his story may inspire you to take action.
We're talking about William Perry, former defensive lineman and fullback for the Chicago Bears. Here is a man who could fearlessly face a football squad — but not a visit to the dentist. Nicknamed “The Refrigerator” for his 380-pound massive frame, Perry played for ten years in the NFL before retiring in 1994. Since retiring he founded and operated a construction company in South Carolina in addition to making celebrity appearances.
With his celebrity in mind, a team composed of a talented restorative dentist, implant surgeon, and lab technician agreed to give “The Fridge” a makeover. After discussing modern technology and virtually pain-free dentistry with him, they managed to overcome Perry's fears. “I had been in constant pain for many years and I neglected myself, not having had any dental care for over 20 years, not even emergency care. Unfortunately, as I grew older my teeth started to get loose,” Perry told an interviewer. He had lost many teeth and became known for his gap-toothed smile.
Perry had severe gum disease and many of his remaining teeth were loose. In the past his only option would have been a full set of dentures. But his new dental team was able to place dental implants (permanent tooth replacements) supporting fixed bridges. In most cases dental bridges are attached to healthy teeth, but in Perry's case the implants served as anchors for the bridges. They also stabilized his jawbone, which would otherwise “resorb” or melt away after his teeth were lost. This is important because it helps preserve the contours of his face.
After careful planning “The Fridge” had eight dental implants placed in his upper jaw and seven in his lower. The final bridgework was completed four months later. It turned out that even though the gap between his teeth had become his trademark, “the Fridge” never really liked it. He was thrilled with his new smile.
Even if you have some fears, don't hesitate to follow Perry's example and make an appointment with us for a consultation about dental implants, smile makeovers, or bridgework. For more information about William “The Refrigerator” Perry, see the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Immediate Implants Saved 'Refrigerator' Perry's Smile.”