Posts for: December, 2015
Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.
“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”
That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.
Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!
The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.
If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”
Fluoride has been proven to strengthen tooth enamel against decay. That’s why it’s not only added to toothpaste and other dental products, but also to drinking water — in nearly three-quarters of U.S. water systems.
While research has eased most serious health questions about fluoride, there remains one moderate concern. Too much fluoride over time, especially in infants and young children, could lead to “enamel fluorosis,” an excess of fluoride in the tooth structure that can cause spotting or streaking in the enamel. While often barely noticeable, some cases of fluorosis can produce dark staining and a pitted appearance. Although not a symptom of disease, fluorosis can create a long-term cosmetic concern for the person.
To minimize its occurrence, children under the age of 9 shouldn’t regularly ingest fluoride above of the recommended level of 0.70 ppm (parts per million). In practical terms, you as a parent should monitor two primary sources of fluoride intake: toothpaste and drinking water.
Young children tend to swallow toothpaste rather than spit it out after brushing, which could result in too much fluoride ingestion if the amount is too great. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry therefore recommends a small “smear” of toothpaste for children under two, and a pea-sized amount for children up to age six. Brushing should also be limited to no more than two times a day.
Your child or infant could also take in too much fluoride through fluoridated drinking water, especially if you’re using it to mix infant formula. You should first find out the fluoride levels in your local water system by contacting the utility or the health department. If your system is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “My Water’s Fluoride” program, you may be able to access that information on line at http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/MWF/Index.asp.
If the risk for developing fluorosis in your area is high, you can minimize your infant’s intake with a few recommendations: breastfeed rather than use formula; use “ready-to-feed” formula that doesn’t need mixing and contains lower fluoride levels; and use bottled water specifically labeled “de-ionized,” “purified,” “de-mineralized,” or “distilled.”
Fluoride can be a wonderful adjunct to dental care in reducing risk for tooth decay. Keeping an eye on how much fluoride your child takes in can also minimize the chance of future appearance problems.
If you would like more information on the possible effects of fluoride on young 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 “Tooth Development and Infant Formula.”
We know that our Redlands, CA patients lead busy lives, which is why your dentist Dr. Brenna Hamrick-Stotts makes every effort to provide treatments that are as fast and efficient as possible. Find out how you can get some dental restorations in only one visit.
Q. What is CAD/CAM and how does my dentist use it for dental crowns?
A. CAD/CAM stands for computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing. While this might seem like quite the mouthful, it’s really quite simple. We use unique computer software to help us design the shape, color and overall look of your dental crown and then use computer technology to then mill the restoration. CAD/CAM technology can do everything from crowns and veneers to onlays and dental bridges.
Q. Do same-day restorations last as long as traditional crowns?
A. With advancements in CAD/CAM technology your dentist in Redlands, CA can now offer a dental crown or other dental restoration with a superior fit, that looks more like a natural tooth and is stronger than other CAD/CAM restorations in the past. Furthermore, these crowns are also less likely to fracture.
Q. What should I expect when I get my same-day crown in Redlands?
A. Once we’ve examined your tooth and determined that a same-day crown is the right choice, we will use a handheld digital camera to take photos of the tooth. This is much more pleasant than using messy molds to take impressions of your smile. These images are immediately uploaded to the computer where your general dentist in Redlands can start to design your crown based on the measurements taken from your digital impressions. You will also help us determine the right shade for your new tooth.
Once the crown has been designed our CAM technology will be hard at work milling and fabricating your new crown (this process only takes about 20 minutes). Once the crown is created we can go ahead and cement it onto the prepared tooth. The whole process takes about an hour to complete.
Q. Are same-day crowns right for everyone?
A. While we would love to be able to give all patients the opportunity to repair their smiles with same-day restorations, it isn’t right for everyone. By coming in for a consultation we will be able to determine whether this is the right option for you. Sometimes if the tooth has fractured below the gumline same-day crowns aren’t the best option.
Furthermore, even with vast improvements the materials used for CAD/CAM restorations still don’t offer the same aesthetic superiority as traditional crowns. You may think they don’t offer the same translucency or realism that other restorations do.
Turn to Dr. Brenda Hamrick-Stotts for all your general and cosmetic dental needs. Call our office today and get a new smile during your next visit.