Category Archives: Cosmetic dentistry

A Look at Oral Cancer

oral cancer nycLives all around us are being touched by cancer. We all have friends, family members, or co-workers that have battled this ever-spreading disease, yet we try to ignore the possibility of it ever happening to us. However, ignorance is not bliss in this instance, and we should be aware of warning signs. This is true for the mouth as well. Oral or pharyngeal cancer affects almost 37,000 Americans each year, and is usually far-advanced before it is detected. Traditional methods of detecting oral cancer relied on visual check and physical palpitations by hand. New methods of detection are making dental news, making your Dental Life professional a key part of your cancer prevention regime. And while your dentist is not responsible for treating oral cancer, he is certainly a vital part of early detection and dealing with the effects of cancer.

Risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco and alcohol use as well as HPV (human papillomavirus). Men over 40 are also more susceptible, but just because you don’t fall into one of these categories does not mean you are immune to oral cancer. Anyone can get oral cancer, so it is important to know the signs for early detection.

Symptoms of oral cancer can include:

●      White or red patches in your mouth

●      Loose teeth

●      Oral Bleeding

●      Mouth sores that do not heal

Keep in mind that these symptoms do not mean you have cancer. Many people have similar issues that are not cancerous at all. However, it is important to keep an eye on these issues and check with your dentist if they persist. More advanced signs of oral cancer can include:

●      Earaches

●      Lump in the neck

●      Difficulty or pain with swallowing

●      Numbness in the mouth

nyc oral cancerSo, what should you do if you are suffering some of these symptoms? Scheduling an appointment with your dentist is often a good first step. A dentist will not treat oral cancer, but he can quickly eliminate other factors that may be causing your symptoms. A dental visit may be all you need to put your fears to rest and ensure your mouth is in optimal health. After you have explained your concerns, the dentist will perform an examination of your mouth’s condition. This will involve a physical inspection, but may also include some of the latest technology in dentistry news, including an intra-oral screening light that helps make cancer easier to spot. With three different colors of lights, the tool allows your dentist to check for unusually high cellular activity, and monitor vein condition. If any sign of possible cancer is apparent, your dentist will refer you to a specialist for further investigation.

Oral cancer can lead to damaged teeth which can be addressed after the cancer has been treated. Cosmetic dentistry brings bright smiles back to cancer patients with the use of a number of progressive treatments, including dental implants. NYC cancer survivors have the benefit of many of America’s finest dental professionals. Remember mouth reconstruction is a crucial part of healing from oral cancer.


Pretty Teeth for Everyone?

cosmetic dentist nyc

Start 2012 with a beautiful new smile!

We all see them, those flashy smiles full of beautifully white, perfectly aligned and proportioned teeth. Why were all the models and big names in TV blessed with such good teeth genetics? The truth is that most of them weren’t genetically favored; rather their smiles have been touched up a bit to create a little teeth envy in the rest of us. The good news? Those same “touch ups” are readily available through the miracle of modern cosmetic dentistry, making great smiles attainable by those of us with a little less camera exposure.

In our last post, we discussed ideas for a new smile in the upcoming New Year. We’d like to continue that discussion by looking more in depth at an option often chosen by the people we see on the screen: dental veneers (also known as porcelain veneers or laminates).

porcelain veneers nyc

Porcelain veneers can drastically improve your smile

Porcelain veneers are extremely thin shells of tooth colored material that are individually crafted to fit each person’s teeth. Veneers are designed to fit over the surface of teeth, primarily to improve appearance. Specially formulated bonding material is used to permanently bond the veneers to your teeth, ensuring they keep the flashy good looks in place without cracking or falling off. Porcelain resists stains, and has the ability to reflect light in much the same way as natural teeth, making them less noticeable. Veneers can give you a screen-worthy smile, producing shapely, balanced teeth that are sparkly white and beautifully aligned. They also serve to protect damaged teeth, and can sometimes avert more extensive work.

The reasons for getting porcelain veneers are almost as varied as the people who get them, including:

●      Uneven teeth – Face it, most of us weren’t blessed with teeth that make a neat, well-proportioned line in our mouths. Veneers are an easy way to correct that.

●      Stained enamel – The thin, hard substance that covers the surface of your teeth can become stained as a result of drinking coffee, tea, or soft drinking. Smoking is another major contributor, as well as genetic factors and medications.

●      Chips, cracks, or breaks – accidents happen, and the result can be unsightly damage to teeth. Porcelain veneers are a simple solution.

●      Gaps between teeth

●      Worn teeth

porcelain veneer nyc

Veneers are designed to fit over the surface of teeth

So, how hard is it to get these veneers? Getting porcelain veneers is a much easier process than getting a crown or dental implants. NYC cosmetic dentists can usually produce brighter smiles in just two or three visits to the office. The first visit involves a consultation to determine your goals and if veneers are right for you. This may be combined with the next step on the same visit: preparation. Your teeth need to be prepared for veneers by the removal of about ½ millimeter of enamel from the surface of the tooth.

This is approximately the same amount which will be added by the veneer. The dentist will then take an impressing of your teeth that will be sent off to a professional dental laboratory, which will custom make veneers for your teeth. The final visit is the most intensive, and involves the actual bonding of the veneers to your teeth. Your dentist will be very careful to check for proper fit, color match with your other teeth, and correct placement. Once all of these have been verified, he will apply the bonding to your teeth and you will walk out of the office flashing that beautiful smile you never dreamed could be yours.


Smile Makeovers for the New Year

As the old year comes to a close and we prepare to ring in the new, why not consider ringing in a new smile for the New Year? Chipped, stained, misshapen, and missing teeth can all be corrected through prosthodontic procedures. And while the name sounds daunting, these procedures are simply those done by a trained professional to restore stunning good looks to your pearly whites. Prosthodontic procedures are those that involve diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation, and maintenance of the function, comfort, appearance, and health of your mouth. Many of these procedures have become very popular, involve little risk, and have stunning results. We’ll discuss a few of these procedures here, so you can begin to make plans for a stunning smile.

Porcelain veneers are a relatively easy and inexpensive solution for stained, misshapen, or chipped teeth. One of the best things about veneers is that they can usually be applied without anesthesia. Veneers can even be used to remove unwanted spaces, and correct crooked teeth.  Veneers are made from an impression done by your Dental Life professional, and are then glued to your teeth. Veneers will not stain, and are very strong and durable, lasting from ten to fifteen years. Porcelain veneers have been popular with celebrities who need a quick smile makeover.

If your teeth are good looking except for stains and yellowing, then a simple teeth whitening procedure may be your best smile makeover option. While there are many over-the-counter, do it yourself type products available, professional teeth whitening is much more effective and long-lasting. Also, beware of salon-type teeth whitening services, not all whitening products are created equal, and many operating these types of shops do not have the professional training equivalent to that of a cosmetic dentist. Manhattan area residents should choose their teeth whitening options carefully. It is always a good idea to consult with a professionally trained dentist for the safest and most effective whitening methods.

Obviously a little higher on the price range, dental implants are not as expensive as they used to be, and have improved dramatically in technology. Implants are a great option when missing teeth are involved. Nothing is worse than dealing with dentures to replace those missing teeth, and a well done implant can finish off that smile without any embarrassing slips!

Other options include tooth bonding, contouring and reshaping, fillings, bridges, crowns, and caps. Really, the path to a beautiful smile may be much easier than you think. Whether you need your teeth whitened or need some dental implants, Dental Life has the perfect solution for your mouth.  Maybe a smile makeover is just what Santa ordered for the New Year!


What Exactly Are Teeth Anyway?

A look at pulp, enamel, cementum, and dentinWith a few exceptions, teeth don’t heal by themselves. Every cartoon with an elderly character will show them taking out their false teeth. For many Americans, teeth simply don’t stand the test of time. They contain one of the few tissues in the body that is finite. Most people have heard of enamel from toothpaste ads, but that tissue is only 1 of the 4 that comprise a tooth. Enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp are the four major tissues that round out a mouth full of pearly whites. Most of the previous blog entries talk about a specific dental disorder or problem and offer remedies to it. This one will be a bit of primer, a basic introduction to what teeth are, and what can go wrong for each part.

Dental pulp is soft tissue in the center of the tooth; it contains the nerve, blood and lymphatic vessels, and connective tissue. The pulp forms the main bulk, or core, of each tooth and extends almost the entire length of the tooth. It is covered by enamel on the crown portion and by cementum on the roots. The pulp consists of cells, tiny blood vessels, and a nerve and occupies a cavity located in the center of the tooth. If the pulp becomes infected, it is removed by root canal.

Cementum in the tooth

Cementum is the thin surface layer of bone like material covering the tooth’s root. It is yellowish and softer than either dentin orenamel. The fibers of the periodontal membrane, which holds the tooth in lace, are embedded in cementum. Deposition of cementum continues throughout life, especially in response to stresses. When the tooth’s crown is gradually worn down, new cementum is deposited on the roots so that the tooth can slowly rise to maintain a good bite.

Elephant Ivory is almost entirely made of Dentin.

Elephant tusks (Ivory) are solid dentin. Ivory was the preferred material for billiard balls, as dentin has an elastic quality

Dentin is the yellowish tissue that makes up the bulk of all teeth. It is harder than bone but softer than enamel and consists mainly of apatite crystals of calcium and phosphate. Sensitivity to pain, pressure, and temperature is transmitted via the tubes to and from the nerve in the pulp. Secondary dentine, is a less well-organized form of tubular dentine, is produced throughout life as a patching material where cavities have begun, where the overlying enamel has been worn away, and within the pulp chamber as part of the aging process.

Veneers are often the only solution to severely worn enamel.

Veneers are often the only solution to severely worn enamel.

Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body. It covers part of or the entire crown of the tooth. Enamel is not living and contains no nerves. The thickness and density of enamel vary over the surface of the tooth; it is hardest at the biting edges, or cusps. Normal enamel may vary in color from yellow to gray. The surface enamel is harder and contains more fluoride than the underlying enamel. It is very resistant to tooth decay. Enamel is also finite. Worn enamel is a symptom of most dental problems: erosion, attrition, abrasion, and the first part of the tooth to decay from cavities. A loss of enamel over time can lead to transparent and fragile teeth. Sensitive teeth can be relieved with desensitizing toothpastes, which often contain ingredients such as potassium nitrate, potassium chloride or potassium citrate seem to make the tooth less receptive to pain. In the case of severely worn enamel, veneers are often the only option.

This concludes the reading for dental anatomy 101. I hope that it provides a greater understanding to the past and future blog entries. And if you didn’t much care for the anatomy of your chompers, there is good news. With good dental hygiene, the dentist won’t have to bother you with any of these terms and explanations; you can just take a free toothbrush and be on your way.


Long in the Tooth

Aside from the usual worries like gum disease and cavities, there is a whole other realm of dental problems that most people may be unaware of. Teeth are finite, they will not last forever if they are not carefully preserved and protected. There are three major ways that teeth can wear away: attrition, abrasion, and erosion. With the proper knowledge and dental advice, tooth wear away won’t be a problem until you’re long in the tooth.

 

Tooth Wear AwayAttrition – Wear away of tooth surface by chewing, one of its primary causes is Bruxism.

Abrasion – When brushing too vigorously wears away the tooth surface. (Usually evident where the gum and tooth meet)

Erosion – When acid wears away the tooth’s structure.

Attrition is a disorder usually brought on by stress, it also known as Bruxism. A mouth guard for nighttime use is usually recommended to prevent further deterioration. Severe attrition may only be able to treat with extensive too replacement, through either caps or crowns.

Abrasion is another one. This disorder is usually seen where the tooth meets the gum in a wedge or aAttrition on teeth v shaped mark. A hard bristle tooth brush is one of the biggest contributing factors to abrasion victims, although a hard brushing with a soft bristled brush can be just as harmful. Tooth abrasion can be repaired by bonding a tooth colored filling to the damaged area. The recommended way to brush your teeth is to place the brush at a 45 degree angle toward the junction of the gum and tooth and move the brush in a gentle circular motion. To make sure you’ve brushed properly try discoloring tablets, bright pink tablets that are chewed before brushing. Any place that hasn’t been brushed properly will be slightly tinged pink.

Erosion's effect on teeth.Tooth erosion is caused by acid. Teeth and acid do not mix. Acid is the bacterial by-product that causes cavities. Food and drink that are highly acidic can cause the enamel and the dentine to break down. The acid dissolves the calcium in the tooth. All soft drinks are acidic, including any carbonated: soda, diet soda, sports drinks, diet sports drinks, and sparkling mineral water. Soft drinks are a major cause of tooth erosion and the degree of erosion directly correlates to the amount and frequency of soft drink consumption. Other acidic foods include: citrus fruits, fruit juices, pickles, vinegar, and yogurt. Stomach acid is very powerful, strong enough to dissolve any food along with whatever tooth and bone fragments that might accidentally be ingested. When stomach contents are regurgitated acid comes into contact with the teeth. Any condition that causes repetitive vomiting will result in tooth erosion. The dentist is often the first one to the notice the problem because the back of the tooth is more susceptible to erosion. When a tooth is sufficiently eroded, the enamel will give way and expose the dentine, which can result in pain and increased sensitivity to: sweet, hot, and cold food or drinks. Erosion is a serious problem. If the nerves or blood vessels have been affected, those teeth will require a root canal and a replacement crown. To prevent tooth erosion, it is important to limit your exposure to acidic food and drink. It is also shown that chewing sugar-free gum can dilute acidity by increasing saliva flow.

Ask the dentist about tooth wear away. An early diagnosis and treatment regimen can be the difference between a $10 mouth guard, and a Cadillac’s worth of oral surgery.

Dental Mouth Guard


Play it Safe!

Long Island dentist, dentistry newsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are over 600,000 sports-related dental injuries treated in emergency rooms across the U.S. annually. Now that the kids are back in school and sports programs are in full swing, it’s a good idea to think about protecting their mouth and teeth from accidents with a mouth guard.

A mouth guard is a plastic device that fits over the upper teeth, cushioning and protecting them from impact. Generally, there are three types of mouth guards are available including:

  1. “Stock” mouth guard: These are preformed, ready to wear, and available at most sporting good stores. They are usually inexpensive and come in a few different sizes, but the fit is not adjustable. These devices are bulky, and can make breathing and talking difficult. Most dentists don’t recommend these, because the protection they offer is minimal.
  2. “Boil and bite” mouth guard: These are also available at most sporting goods stores often fit better fit than stock mouth protectors. The “boil and bite” mouth guard is softened in hot water, and then placed shaped around the teeth. Not always a perfect fit, these mouth protectors are an acceptable budget-conscious choice.
  3. Custom designed mouth protectors are designed and made in a dental office or dental laboratory based on individual needs and to fit individual anatomy. Your dentist will make mold of your teeth, and a mouth guard is then constructed from the model using special plastic material. The extra time and work involved in making a custom mouth guard means that it is more expensive than the other types; however, the benefit is that it provides the most comfort and protection possible.

Dentist Long Island, dentistry newsThe American Dental Association recommends the use of custom made mouth guards for anyone who participates in vigorous physical activity such as baseball, football, basketball, hockey, skateboarding, wrestling, bicycling, racquetball, skiing, and even weightlifting. Evidence indicates that a custom made mouth guard can prevent or minimize some of the most common oral and facial injuries which include:

  1. Lacerations. A custom-fit, professionally made mouth guard covers the sharp surfaces of the teeth to protect the soft tissues of the cheeks, lips, gums and tongue from cuts that can result from a blow. This is especially important for people wearing braces.
  2. Jaw and tooth damage. A mouth guard also helps to prevent injuries to the jaws and teeth, which can include but chipped and broken teeth or teeth that are partially or fully knocked out of their natural position.
  3. TMJ (jaw joint) Trauma. A mouth guard that fits well will reduce the potential for knocking the jaw out of place or fracturing the joint, because the jaws are cushioned against the impact. This is especially important for individuals with TMJ problems.
  4. Jaw Fracture. A custom made mouth guard absorbs and distributes impact forces so that jaws are protected. And it is this reduction in force that can help prevent the jaws from fractures.

dentistry news, long island dentistMake a dental appointment for your child (or for yourself) to discuss whether a mouth guard is important protection during your favorite activity. Prevention is always less expensive and less uncomfortable than treating damage or injury… Play it safe!


Do I Need a Root Canal?

People often have the misconception that root canal therapy is a painful experience and mistakenly believe that having an infected tooth removed is a preferable choice. Also known as endodontic (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) treatment, a root canal will relieve the severe pain that is caused when the tooth nerve has become inflamed. Unfortunately, extracting an infected tooth can introduce many additional problems that could be avoided with a root canal.

A root canal may be necessary if a deep cavity or trauma to the tooth has occurred, causing the inside pulp to become infected or inflamed. Often, pressure develops inside the core of the tooth which is the source of sharp, lingering pain when biting down or when exposed to temperature changes, particularly from hot foods and liquids. Sometimes, a dull ache may be present and the gum may be sensitive to pressure. Left untreated, an abscess may develop and infection can spread from the tooth to the surrounding bone, and even into the bloodstream.

Immediate dental treatment for a suspected endodontic infection is always the best course of action, and the treatment is relatively pain free and is performed under a local anesthetic administered by the dentist. First, the dentist will have to x-ray the suspicious tooth to diagnose the problem and will sometimes test the tooth to determine whether the nerve is in the process of dying. Once it has been determined that an infected tooth requires a root canal, and the tooth and surrounding area are numb, a small opening is made into the tooth, just as if one were having a filling placed. The infected, dying nerve and blood vessels are removed and the root canals are smoothed, cleaned, disinfected and filled with a rubber material. Some patients feel slight tenderness around the tooth for a day or two, but generally aspirin or ibuprofen will provide sufficient relief. After the nerve has been removed a tooth is no longer living, and the lack of blood supply causes it to become brittle over time. Your dentist will almost always advise you to have a crown placed on an endodontically treated tooth to protect it.
Most of the time a root canal can be performed in a single appointment and the crown will require two more visits to complete. The end result is that you will have kept your natural tooth and restored it to full function. Because bone loss and shifting of the remaining teeth often result when a tooth is extracted, the root canal avoids these complications as well.If you are confronted with the recommendation to have root canal treatment, or if you are experiencing unexplained pain when chewing or to temperature, don’t hesitate to inquire about your options or ask for further information about endodontic treatment to restore your smile and comfort. Have you had a positive experience with root canal therapy? We would like to hear your comments… and they may even help alleviate the concerns of others.