What are Dental Veneers, and When are They Used?

What are Dental Veneers, and When are They Used?

Dental Venners. Are they right for you?

Strikingly-white, straight, perfect teeth. It’s something we all want – and especially so during our teen years. Whitening kits and toothpastes can help, and sneak-arounds like sipping coffee and soda through a straw can also aid the cause. But what do you do when one of your kid’s teeth gets cracked or chipped – or is genetically off-color or misshapen? Dental veneers may be the answer.

What is a Veneer?

A “veneer” is a wafer-thin layer of material molded to the surface of a tooth to correct a chip or crack, or to enhance its cosmetic appearance. Veneers are made of either porcelain or a composite synthetic resin, such as acrylic polymer or polymethyl methacrylate. These materials are used in dentistry because of their ability to create a strong bond with the tooth, and their ability to mimic the natural color of adjacent teeth. Veneers can either be placed directly onto a tooth at the dental office, or fabricated off-site in a dental laboratory.

Which Type of Veneer is Right for My Child?

There are two types of veneers, and the choice as to which one to use should be made less based on one’s desire (or apprehension of the procedure), and more on the design of your child’s teeth.

  • Traditional Veneers: Traditional veneers are applied to teeth much in the same manner a crown is applied. That is, weak or decayed areas of the tooth are removed, and the tooth is “shaped” to provide a mounting place for the veneer.Even healthy teeth require a minimal amount of re-shaping to ensure a natural look when the veneer is applied. The reason for this is that the veneer itself has a certain degree of thickness, and to not whittle down the tooth would result in a “bulky,” unnatural-looking tooth when compared to adjacent teeth.
  • Prep-less Veneers: On the other hand, with prep-less veneers, there is very little (if any) removal of tooth material. This can be ideal, but is generally limited to situations when there are existing spaces between teeth (like a gap between two front teeth), or when the tooth being treated is smaller than adjacent teeth.

Making the Right Choice

As you can see, deciding on which veneer to choose is as important as the decision to get one in the first place. If you think dental veneers may be an option for your child, speak with your doctor for help in making the right choice.

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Summer Vacation Ready Smiles

Summer ReadySummer is here and so is the fun vacation you spent all year planning for!

So, while you’re thinking about where you’ll go, where you’ll eat, and what you’ll see along the way, don’t forget to plan a visit to your dentist as well. Doing so can save you from the misery of a dental emergency that will surely spoil even the best planned getaway.

The Best Plan of Action

Now, we’re pretty sure, visiting the dentist is the last thing you want to do before a relaxing vacation. Yet we’re also fairly certain that discovering a painful cavity mid-trip isn’t on the agenda either – especially if you’re going overseas.

Can you imagine having to look for emergency dental care in some remote part of the world?

Ouch!

Truth is, a quick check-up can catch a future crisis before it ever materializes, and this is one of the beautiful things about dentistry.

Imagine, for example, if you had a bone in your leg that was weak for one reason or another, and a strong impact upon that leg could cause it to break. Nine times out of ten, you would never even know you had this issue until your leg actually broke and you were laying in the emergency room.

With dentistry, however, oral exams, x-rays and other tools allow your dentist to ferret out problems before they present themselves, and that’s why visiting prior to vacation can help.

So, about a month prior to departure – or at least two weeks before you go – schedule a visit. Your dentist will explore your mouth for any loose crowns or teeth that could cause a problem, and identify any cavities that are close enough to the nerve to cause an abscess or pain.

If you’re traveling by plane, air-pressure in the cabin can cause a recently drilled tooth to be overly sensitive, so you’ll want to be certain to plan your visit at least a month ahead of time if you’re flying.

Of course, any surgery such as the removal of wisdom teeth, or a root canal should be scheduled in significant advance, and if you wear braces, you’ll want to visit your orthodontist as well.

Visiting your dentist prior to vacation might actually be one of the easiest things to plan this summer. You’ll depart with a fresh clean mouth, and the confidence that a sneaking dental emergency won’t be appearing in your vacation scrapbook this year.

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Things You Should Know about Your Teeth as You Age

Smiles-of-Spokane-Aging-TeethIf you’ve ever considered the prospect of living without teeth as you age, it’s probably caused you considerable amount of distress just thinking about it. Multiple tooth loss can indeed be traumatic and costly, and, for some, the remedies are less than ideal. That said, you’ll be pleased to know that aging itself isn’t much of a contributor to tooth loss, and that many people live their entire lives with nearly all of their natural teeth intact. So what’s the best way to ensure you’re among this coveted group?

Let’s face it. We all want to keep our natural teeth. Here are a few ways to ensure you do just that as you move along in years. And remember, there is no defined age where problems start to arise, so thinking ahead regardless of your current age is always a good idea.

  • Periodontal Disease: Without a doubt, periodontal disease is the number one destroyer of smiles. There is no cure for this leading cause of adult tooth loss in North America, and once it begins, it can only be proactively and professionally managed. So, here’s the familiar refrain: maintain your regular visits, and if you’re placed on a periodic maintenance routine where you visit your dentist more than twice a year, be sure to keep those appointments. Keeping those appointments will help you keep your teeth.
  • Systemic Disease: There are a host of diseases that can adversely affect oral health, (diabetes, heart disease, etc.) so being mindful of this connection, and maintaining an open door of communication with your doctor and dentist while undergoing treatment may help you minimize the effects these diseases can have on your teeth.
  • Poor Habits: We all know a diet high in sugar, starch and acid harms surface enamel and lessens a tooth’s ability to protect itself from decay. You may not know, however, that smokingand excessive alcohol consumption can also do significant harm. For example, both cigarette smoke and alcohol rob gum tissue of the moisture needed to keep it healthy, leaving it acidic and prone to decay, and smoking can interrupt the mouth’s natural healing mechanisms. More benign habits can also damage teeth and consistently gnawing on objects not designed to be in the mouth all day, like pencils, pipes, paper clips and ice cubes, are not good habits to pursue. Additionally, using your teeth as a vice to open bottles and rip apart bags is best left to those among us committed to losing teeth, not keeping them.
  • Prescription Medication: Lastly, certain prescription medicines can dry out the mouth in ways similar to smoking and alcohol, so if you’re taking prescription drugs, be sure to keep your hydration in check as per your doctor’s recommendations, or use chewing gum with Xylitol to help maintain saliva production throughout the day.

So, as you can see, allowing your “permanent” teeth to live up their name really isn’t that difficult. The old TV image of every grandpa throughout the land dropping his teeth into a bedside jar at the close of the day is far from a reality for the majority of today’s seniors, and it doesn’t have to be for you either. Maintain a solid oral care routine, and ask your care providers about keeping a healthy mouth throughout your years, and you’ll be well on your way to ensuring your teeth stay just where you want them to be – in your mouth.

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Another Reason Not To Skip Your Dental Visits

Melanoma-Screening-Dr.-Todd-RogersSkin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. It’s also among the most preventable and curable when caught early. Believe it or not, Dr. Todd Rogers is a critical partner when it comes to detecting this form of cancer.

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, and one of the most serious.

Researchers are not certain as to its causes, but according to studies completed at the University of Minnesota, repeated exposure to the sun is considered a “commonly associated factor.”

That said, even though melanoma is understood in layman’s terms to be a “skin” cancer, we can’t always prevent it by applying sunscreen. Biologically speaking, melanoma can manifest anywhere melanocytes exist, whether that’s in our skin, mouth, heart, or other tissues.

It’s precisely for this reason that maintaining regular visits to your dentist can literally save your life.

How does the dentist help and what are the symptoms?

As with any cancer, early detection is key. And a regular visit to your dentist who can see more areas of your mouth at close range is your best course of action. There are signs and symptoms, however, that should elicit concern if you experience them.

If you have a frequent sore throat, difficulty chewing and swallowing, and red or whitish patches within your mouth, you should see you doctor. Likewise, changes in the color, shape or size of skin pigmentation should prompt a visit to the doctor.

How often do I have to have my mouth checked for this?

Dr. Todd Rogers will review your mouth and neck to look for any abnormalities or changes in tissue at every appointment. This exam often takes place without you even being aware it’s happening, but if you’re ever curious, just ask Dr. Todd Rogers to walk you through it during your next appointment.

Due to their ability to detect cancerous lesions early, an oral cancer screening can literally save your life. Dr. Todd Rogers may also offer additional screening opportunities using special medical screening devices. These also help with early detection by illuminating mouth tissue with a special light.

Ask if your doctor has such a device in their office, or can recommend you to a physician who does.

It’s worth repeating …

Your teeth aren’t the only things in your mouth worth protecting. So be sure to visit Smiles of Spokane regularly for an oral health screening. Dr. Todd Rogers plays a critical role in the early detection and treatment of oral cancer concerns, so get that checkup!

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Tooth Removal and Socket Preservation

 

Smiles-of-Spokane-Socket-PreservationWhen we experience the loss of a tooth, either through trauma or decay, the bone that surrounds the tooth undergoes a remarkably quick process known as resorption, where the bone is broken down at the cellular level and dispersed elsewhere throughout the body.

Essentially, because the body believes it no longer needs this bony material due to the tooth’s absence, it reclaims this material into the body for other use.

While this might sound like nothing to worry about, your dentist is likely to suggest socket preservation to prevent a host of further complications that accompany this rather intriguing bit of biological science.

What Is Socket Preservation?

Socket preservation is another name for what is clinically known as a bone graft. Essentially, it’s a stopgap measure for filling in the hole where the tooth used to reside, so it can heal in preparation for later treatment.

If nothing were done to stop this dissipation of bone it would likely destabilize your neighboring teeth, and make future implants and other forms of prosthetic devices unlikely to work.

Aside from the clinical consequences of bone loss, what might concern you more is the fact that the bone height determines our facial features, and a loss of that height due to an unpreserved socket can alter one’s appearance dramatically. Because of this, many dentists prefer to proactively stunt this resorption by using a bone graft.

There are four types of bone grafts that can be used at the time of the extraction, to preserve ridge integrity. They are:

  • Autograft: Bone harvested from patient’s own body
  • Xenograft: Bone grafts or collagen from bovine or porcine origin
  • Allograft: Block bone graft from a cadaver
  • Alloplast: Synthetic biomaterials such as PLGA, hydroxyapatite, tricalcium phosphate, bioglass – ceramics, etc.

Generally speaking, a bone graft is a surgical procedure where one of the above materials is layered into the socket where the tooth used to exist.

There is a great variety to the type and procedure involved in bone grafts, and much is dependent on your dentist, your budget, the quality of the extraction performed, your overall health, your oral health, and the type of material to be used.

However, since preserving the bony ridge of your mouth is critical to future restorative work and your appearance, it is wise to consider the procedure if recommended. The benefits of socket preservation are many, chief among them the overall continual health of the other teeth in your mouth. Ask Dr. Rogers if you have more questions about this procedure.

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Pregnancy and Oral Health

 

Pregnancy and Oral HealthBaby on The Brain?

If you’re considering getting pregnant, or are already expecting, concern over the status of your teeth might not be at the top of your list as of late. However, if you’re early enough into a pregnancy, or planning one, you should actually schedule an appointment to see your dentist sooner rather than later.  If your stack of pregnancy-related reading material hasn’t already included a chapter on oral health, let us help by providing you the short version as to why you should make that appointment soon.

Good oral health is the key to good overall health. You know that already. And during pregnancy, your oral health contributes to the health of your baby. Here are a few things to be mindful of in the coming months as you plan your pregnancy:

  • Visit Smiles of Spokane early: Generally speaking, dental work can be safely performed through the first half of the third trimester, but earlier is always better – preferably before pregnancy. The American Dental Association has pointed to research linking premature birth and low birth weight to women with periodontitis (gum disease): a sure enough reason to schedule a full check-up early. While this might seem like something you can brush off if you’re not already suffering from gum disease, that wouldn’t be wise. Why? Hormones, and the sneak-attack caused by Pregnancy Gingivitis.
  • Pregnancy Gingivitis: Hormones play a pivotal role in a woman’s life, and during pregnancy they’re out in full-force. During pregnancy, this natural rise in hormones causes an increase in blood flow to gum tissue which can cause some women to experience swelling and tenderness in their gums. This increase in blood flow also tends to cause gum tissue to exaggerate the way it reacts to existing plaque in the mouth, and can trigger what is known as “pregnancy gingivitis.” If ignored, gingivitis leads to the aforementioned periodontitis, and a true cause for concern during pregnancy. That’s why it’s so important to see your dentist as early as possible.
  • Pregnancy Tumors: While the name might cause you some concern, these benign growths, which frequently appear along the gumline, are more of a nuisance than anything else. Only about 10% of women get them, and typically in the second trimester. Like pregnancy gingivitis, they’re usually the result of increased hormonal activity and improper oral care.

As you can see, Dr. Todd Rogers can and should be one of your many allies in the path to motherhood. So see us at Smiles of Spokane early, and as often as is suggested during your pregnancy. You’ll be pleased you did, and so will your baby!

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Signs of Gum Disease and Your Health

 

Unhealthy Gums and Your HealthSmiles-of-Spokane-Gum-Disease

Do you suffer with red gums, or is the roof of your mouth swollen? Without fail, you follow your dentist’s orders to keep your teeth and gums healthy — but did you know that the condition of your mouth can also shine light on other health problems? Some dental conditions, such as bad breath, pale gums and red gums, can be signs of gum disease. But other oral symptoms may point to seemingly unrelated health problems. (Hint: Eroded teeth could be a sign of an eating disorder or chronic heartburn.)

If you have gum disease, you’re not alone. More than 1 out of 2, or 64.7 million Americans, have mild, moderate, or severe gum disease, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Gum disease ranges from unhealthy gum swelling, called gingivitis, to serious tissue and bone destruction. In the worst cases of gum disease, you will lose teeth.

Healthy mouths are full of bacteria, mucus, and other food particles that form a sticky, colorless “plaque” on the teeth. Normally, you get rid of plaque by brushing and flossing regularly. But when plaque builds up because of poor oral hygiene, it causes inflamed, bleeding gums or gingivitis.

Gingivitis is the mild form of gum disease. Good oral health habits — brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, getting regular dental checkups, and not smoking — can help prevent and reverse gingivitis.

Plaque that is not removed hardens into tartar. This will lead to increased bleeding and a more serious form of gum disease, called periodontitis. With this advanced gum disease, the unhealthy gums pull away from the teeth and form small pockets that can become infected. If periodontal disease goes untreated, the bones, gums and connective tissue that support the teeth are destroyed.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, certain people have a higher risk of gum disease than others. Risk factors for gum disease include:

  • Aging
  • Diabetes
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Hormonal changes in girls and women
  • Medication
  • Other illnesses, such as AIDS and cancer treatments
  • Smoking

Taking care of unhealthy gums or gum disease can save your teeth. Here are some lifestyle and home remedies to consider:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Use a soft toothbrush
  • Replace your toothbrush every three months
  • Floss daily
  • Use an over-the-counter mouth rinse after brushing to reduce plaque
  • See your dentist regularly for professional dental cleanings and mouth checks
  • Don’t smoke

Take a look at these oral symptoms to find out what they could be telling you about your health.

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FSA 101: Use it or Lose it

FSA Reminder Smiles of Spokane

Maximize your FSA so you don’t lose any of that money when the year comes to an end.

Ding ding ding! Your time is coming up! If you have money set aside in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), but have no clue what your current balance is, now’s the time to look it up!

In most cases, money in your FSA is forfeited at the end of the calendar year. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it! And if you lose it, that’ll be sad. And we don’t want you to be sad.

If you’re confused on the specifics of your account, that’s perfectly okay! This is insurance after all, things can get a little confusing

You don’t have to be an expert on all things FSA. All you need know is how much money you have. From there, you’ll need to know what it can be used for.

Here are some tips for maximizing your FSA and not losing any money at year’s end.

Your FSA can be used for dental expenses

Your FSA dollars can be used for anything that “treats or prevents a dental disease.”

This includes regular cleanings and checkups, as well as bonding, bridgework, crowns/caps, dentures, extractions, fillings, gum surgery, root canals, sealants, and in most cases, orthodontia.

Your FSA cannot be used for anything considered cosmetic, including whitening and veneers.

Inquire about your balance

On the back of your FSA card is a telephone number.  You can call it to receive balance updates and learn what procedures are covered by your FSA. The person on the end of the line is there to help you, and is a very good resource to answer specific questions. Make use of them!

Ask if your employer allows a grace period or carryovers

In most cases, you forfeit any leftover dollars as soon as the new year begins. Sometimes, however, your employer will offer a grace period of 2-and-a-half months, or will allow you to carry over $500 (but no more) into the next year. If you aren’t sure if your company offers these, ask!

Your FSA doesn’t come with you after changing employers

Your FSA is company-specific. The only way you can still use your FSA is if you continue your health insurance under COBRA. Once you begin new health insurance with your new employer, you will no longer have access to your previous FSA.

Keep all receipts and documentation

For IRS purposes, just keep them all in a file somewhere. This will also help you plan your FSA contribution for next year. If you still have money left in your FSA account, now’s the time to schedule your appointments! Remember: Keeping up with regular dental cleanings and preventative care will save you big bucks in the long run. Prevention is always cheaper than treatment!

For more information on Flexible Spending Accounts, visit Zenefits and the FSA Store.

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Dental X-Rays: Are They Safe and Necessary?

X-Rays

Dentists and hygienists are often asked about the safety and necessity of X-rays. This is a great question – with answers that differ from patient to patient.

So let’s examine it a bit further. You may be surprised to learn just how safe today’s X-rays are, and which audience asks this question even more so than patients.

X-ray Safety Is Always Being Tested

So, who asks this question more often than patients? Would you believe, dentists? That’s right!

Together with the FDA (Food & Drug Administration), the American Dental Association (ADA) routinely asks this question, and revises its guidelines when advances in science and technology provide new methods to reduce exposure.

In fact, thanks to faster film speeds, digital X-rays, and the use of protective aprons and thyroid collars, the X-ray of today is far superior to those of even just a decade ago.

Below are the general guidelines the ADA and FDA recommend for adults.

It’s important to remember that because all dental care is patient-specific, these guidelines are to be used to accompany the professional opinion of your dentist. Only your dentist has knowledge of your health history and vulnerability to oral disease, and is in the best position to make such recommendations.

New Patients

Full X-rays are generally suggested for new patients to provide your dentist with a full history of your prior oral care and current needs.

Continuing Care Patient with, or at increased risk for cavities

One set of X-rays every 6-18 months.

Continuing Care Patient with no clinical cavities and not at increased risk for cavities

One set of X-rays every 24-36 months.

Continuing Care Patient with periodontal disease

Dependent upon the professional judgment of your dentist.

New and Continuing Care Patients being monitored for dental/skeletal relationships

Dependent upon the professional judgement of your dentist.

Patients with, but not limited to, proposed or existing implants and root canals

Dependent upon the professional judgement of your dentist.

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Are there Non-Surgical Means of Fixing an Underbite?

Smiles of SpokaneIf you’ve ever had the occasion to speak with someone about how to correct an under bite, your conversation no doubt centered on the painful idea of having to “break” the jawbone, weeks on a liquid diet because of a jaw that was then wired shut, and the application of braces both before and after surgery. Understandably, such conversations tend to elicit a lot of wincing from any parent considering the same for their child. There are alternatives, however, IF you act early.

Why it’s Important to Act Early

When a child is young, the bones in their jaw are more malleable and welcoming to adjustment than at a later age. If treatment is delayed until later in life, the “tender” jawbones of a child become fused to such a degree that surgery presents itself as the only option. The options we’ll discuss below play upon this particular window of opportunity.

  1. Expanders:  As is the case when a child has a crossbite, initial treatment for an underbite typically involves the use of an expander to adjust the spread of a child’s teeth so the bite matches evenly on all sides. Expanders resemble orthodontic retainers, and include a screw that is tightened nightly so as to “spread” a child’s bite to the prescribed measurements.
  2. Braces: If a child is presented with a minor underbite restricted to tooth overcrowding, braces alone can sometimes alleviate the concern. Most often, however, braces are used in conjunction with, or as a precursor to a headgear appliance, which can apply a more direct, and significant, amount of “pull-pressure” to the lower jawbone.
  3. Reverse-pull Face Mask (with or without a chincap): Sometimes used in combination with or after an expander, headgear can provide additional stimulation and directional guidance to a jaw not wanting to develop in the correct fashion. Headgear works by applying forward “pull pressure” to the jaw by resting atop the face, and connecting to either braces or an expander contained within the mouth.
  4. Veneers: Very mild underbites can be cosmetically altered with veneers so the teeth give the appearance of no underbite. There is a good degree of artistry with this approach, and when done correctly, this creative placement of veneers on the upper jaw mimics a jaw in proper alignment.

Fixing an under bite doesn’t have to be fraught with expense and pain if dealt with in a timely fashion. Speak early and often with your dentist and orthodontist about the options available to your child. If you have any questions please call our office or complete the form below.

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