Posts for: June, 2014
Q: Why should I consider cosmetic gum surgery to improve my smile?
A: If you’re looking to enhance the natural beauty of your smile, you may have heard about various cosmetic procedures that can improve the appearance of your teeth. But don’t forget about the other, equally important element of a bright, appealing smile: the healthy-looking and well-proportioned gums that surround and support those pearly whites. Many times, cosmetic flaws are caused by gum tissue that’s covering too much or too little of the tooth’s surface; in other situations, the gum line is uneven, and covers some teeth more than others. Cosmetic gum surgery can successfully remedy these imperfections.
Q: How exactly does cosmetic gum surgery resolve smile defects?
A: There are several minor surgical procedures that may be recommended, depending on what’s best for your individual situation. For example, some people have a “gummy smile,” where teeth seem excessively “short” because they’re covered with too much gum tissue. In this case, a “crown lengthening” procedure can be performed, where gum tissue (and perhaps a small amount of bone tissue) is removed; this makes the teeth appear in better proportion to the smile. In the opposite case — where the teeth appear too “long” due to receding (shrinking) gums, tissue can be grafted (added on) to the gums. Gum recontouring procedures are used to re-shape the gum line for a more even, pleasing effect.
Q: Are there non-cosmetic reasons for having gum surgery?
A: Yes. A tooth with too much of its root area exposed is often more prone to decay, and may become extremely sensitive to hot or cold. Covering an exposed root with gum tissue is just one non-cosmetic reason why gum surgery may be necessary.
Q: What’s involved in gum surgery — do I have to go to the hospital?
A: Cosmetic gum surgery is normally performed in the dental office, and usually involves only a local anesthetic. However, if you need a deeper level of relaxation, other forms of sedation may be available. In some cases, lasers can be used instead of conventional surgical tools to remove excess gum tissue. If you need a tissue graft, the grafting material can be taken from your own mouth, or may come from donor tissue that is processed to ensure your safety. Gum surgery is minimally invasive, and most people experience only minor discomfort.
If you’d like to know whether cosmetic gum surgery could help you get the smile you’ve always wanted, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Gummy Smiles” and “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”
When Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi wanted to help her kids develop good oral health habits, the gold-medal-winner made good use of a family connection: Her father Jim Yamaguchi is a practicing dentist in the San Francisco Bay area who treats her entire brood. As she said in a recent interview, when she suspects the kids may be spending a little less effort on oral hygiene than they should, she playfully admonishes them: “You've got to brush your teeth better than that. Papa-san is going to know!”
Not all kids are lucky enough to have a grandpa who's a dentist — but every child can learn how to help take care of his or her oral health with age-appropriate techniques, plus plenty of parental guidance and encouragement. What's the best way to help your kids develop good oral hygiene routines? We're glad you asked!
Through babyhood and the toddler years, parents have the main responsibility for keeping kids' teeth clean. But as they begin to put away pacifiers and cease sucking thumbs — around ages 2 to 4 — children can also begin to help with their own oral hygiene routine. By then, kids will probably be used to the feel of gentle brushing, and may be eager to try it themselves.
A soft-bristled brush with a pea-sized dab of toothpaste is all they need to get started… along with a good dose of parental patience. Show them how to wiggle the brush back and forth from the gum line, and all around the upper and lower teeth, both in front and in back. At first, they will probably need plenty of help. But after the age of 6 or so, as their manual dexterity increases, so will their ability to get the job done.
You'll still have to check their work periodically — but you can also teach them how to do it on their own: Have your child run his or her tongue over the tooth surfaces. If they feel smooth and silky, they're probably clean too. If not… try, try again. This test is a good guideline to brushing effectiveness — but if you want to know for sure, use a temporary dye called a disclosing tablet (available at many drugstores) to reveal unseen buildups of plaque bacteria.
What else can you do to give your children the best chance at keeping a healthy mouth and sparkly teeth? Set a positive example! Make sure you (and your kids) eat a healthy diet, get moderate exercise, limit between-meal treats — and visit the dentist regularly. The encouragement you'll get after having a good dental checkup will make you feel like a gold medalist — even if the praise isn't coming from grandpa.
If you would like more information on how to help your child develop good oral health habits, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dentistry & Oral Health For Children” and “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”
Q: What exactly are porcelain veneers?
A: The term “veneer” usually means a very thin covering that’s designed to improve the way a surface looks. The porcelain veneers we use in cosmetic dentistry are just like that: They cover up flaws in the natural teeth, while preserving their strength and vitality. Porcelain veneers are wafer-thin layers of super-strong material, which are bonded to the front surfaces of the teeth. Once placed on your teeth, they offer a permanent way to improve a smile that’s less than perfect.
Q: What kinds of smile defects can porcelain veneers fix?
A: Veneers can help with a whole range of issues, including:
- Color: Teeth that are deeply stained or yellowed — even those which can’t be lightened with professional bleaching — can be restored to a brilliant white (or a natural luster) with porcelain veneers.
- Shape and size: If your teeth have become worn down with age, or have chips or roughened edges, veneers can restore them to a more pleasing shape. They can also lengthen teeth that appear too short, for a dramatic enhancement of your smile.
- Alignment and spacing: For closing a small gap between teeth or making other minor adjustments in tooth spacing or position, veneers may be just what you need; more serious issues can be handled with orthodontics.
Q: What's involved in getting porcelain veneers?
A: First, we will talk with you about what aspects of your smile you’d like to improve, and develop a plan to accomplish that. When we’re all agreed, the next step will probably be to remove a small amount of tooth material in preparation for placing the veneers. (Some types of veneers, however, don’t require this step.) Next, we will make a mold of your teeth and send it to the dental lab; you’ll leave our office with a set of temporary veneers. In a few weeks, you’ll return to our office to have the final veneers permanently bonded to your teeth.
Q: Is it possible to preview the results?
A: Yes! The options for a preview range from computer-generated images of your new smile to an accurate, life-sized model of your teeth with veneers applied. It may even be possible to make acrylic “trial veneers” that we can actually place on your teeth to try on! So if your smile could use a little help, ask us about porcelain veneers.
Dental implants are a popular and effective restoration for lost teeth, if there’s enough bone present to support the implant. That might not be the case, however, because without the stimulation of the lost tooth, the bone may dissolve (resorb) over time. It’s possible, however, that you may need to re-grow bone in the back area of the upper jaw where your upper (maxillary) sinus is located.
Sinuses are air space cavities located throughout the skull. This feature allows your head to be light enough to be supported by your neck muscles. Inside each sinus is a membrane that lines your sinus cavities, nasal passages and other spaces. The maxillary sinus is located on each side of the face just below the eyes. Pyramidal in shape, the floor of the pyramid lies just above the upper back teeth.
A surgeon approaches the sinus through the mouth, with the objective of moving the sinus membrane up from the floor of the sinus. This is accomplished by placing bone-grafting material in the area. Over time the body uses the grafting material as a scaffold to produce new bone that then replaces the grafting material. The resulting new bone becomes the support for the implant.
If enough bone exists to stabilize an implant but not anchor it, then the surgeon can approach the sinus from the same opening that’s used for the intended implant site, insert the grafting material, and install the implant during the same procedure. If not, the surgeon creates a small “window” laterally over the teeth to access the sinus and insert the graft. The implant is installed a few months later after the new bone is created.
The procedure usually requires only a local anesthetic, although some patients may require additional sedation or anti-anxiety medication. After the surgery, you normally experience mild to moderate swelling and discomfort, about the same as having a tooth removed. All these symptoms can be managed with non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory pain medication and a decongestant for minor congestion in the sinus. We might also prescribe an antibiotic to help prevent infection.
Although this procedure adds another step and possibly more waiting time to implantation, it gives you an option you wouldn’t otherwise have — a life-like, effective replacement of your back teeth with dental implants.
If you would like more information on bone regeneration for implants, 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 “Sinus Surgery.”
- Cosmetic Contouring
- Crowns and Bridges – Synthetic caps that are placed on top of a tooth.
- Specialty Dentures
- Cosmetic Fillings
- Veneers – Porcelain pieces that are cemented over the front of your teeth to change the color or shape.
- Whitening – Effectively restores the bright white color of a patient’s teeth through a small, quick procedure.
- DIAGNOdent Laser
- Root Canal Therapy
- Scaling and Root Planing
- Full Mouth Rehabilitation
- Orthodontia and Short-term Orthodontics – Invisalign – Invisible, removable aligners that give you a straight smile with comfort and ease.
- Family Dentistry – Offering services for children-adults.
- Cosmetic Dentistry – Dental Implants – used to occupy a missing tooth and is anchored in the jawbone for maximum comfort and convenience.