Posts for: December, 2011

By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
December 25, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
ChristieBrinkleysTipsonToothWhitening

Christie Brinkley's world-famous smile has graced the covers of countless magazines for over 30 years. In fact, in her own words from an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the supermodel said, “I think my smile was really my passport to success in the modeling industry.” And while most of her smile's appeal comes naturally, Christie does give it a boost with good oral hygiene, regular dental checkups and tooth whitening. As Christie says, “When it comes to teeth, keep it as natural as possible. Do not go overboard on whitening. You want your teeth to compliment your face…your friends should not be required to wear sunglasses when you smile!”

Aside from some potential minor side effects such as tooth sensitivity, whitening teeth through bleaching is a relatively inexpensive way to brighten your smile conservatively and successfully. There are three common methods, as described below:

  • An external or vital approach where “vital” (living) teeth are bleached through direct contact to the tooth's surface.
  • An internal or non-vital approach where the tooth is whitened from the inside during a root canal treatment.
  • A combination approach in which both internal and external bleaching techniques are used.

But what causes teeth to become discolored?

Tooth discoloration can be caused by a traumatic blow to your teeth resulting in nerve tissue (pulp) death. However, there can be many other causes: consuming or using products that stain the teeth such as coffee, tea, cola, tobacco products and red wine, to name just a few. Aging is another factor, as it results in changes in the mineral structure of the tooth as the enamel, the outermost layer, loses its beautiful and youthful translucency. Other causes include exposure to high levels of fluoride; tetracycline, an antibiotic, administered during childhood; inherited developmental disorders and jaundice in childhood; and tooth decay.

The good news is that we routinely brighten smiles through tooth whitening. To learn more about brightening your smile, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening.” Or if you are ready to have your teeth professionally whitened, contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and discuss your whitening treatment options. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Christie Brinkley, continue reading “The Secret Behind Christie Brinkley's Supermodel Smile.”


WhatDentalDeviceDoesTVHostVannaWhiteKeeponherNightstand

Here's an interesting tidbit of information on Wheel of Fortune host Vanna White: like many people, she grinds her teeth at night. In a detailed interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Vanna explained how she had to replace a filling in a back tooth several times because of her grinding habit. Eventually, she had her dentist make her a nightguard to protect her famous smile.

“I really try to sleep with it every night,” Vanna told the magazine. “I try to keep it on my nightstand so when I go to bed, I remember to put it in. Or I will put it by my toothbrush so I can put it in after brushing my teeth at night.”

The habit of teeth grinding or clenching is often associated with stress and/or sleep deprivation. It is referred to as “parafunctional” (“para” – outside, “function” – normal), meaning it can generate biting forces well outside the normal range — perhaps 10 times normal. This excessive force can affect many areas of the oral system. Teeth may become worn, chipped or loose; jaw joints or muscles can go into spasm; and some grinders (or “bruxers” as they are also called) may even experience discomfort of the head, ears, neck or back. Many times, a person with a grinding habit does not become aware of it until it is pointed out by a sleep partner or dental professional.

Like Vanna White's dentist, we often recommend a nightguard to those with nocturnal bruxing habits. It is made of a very thin, wear-resistant plastic that fits over the biting surfaces of the upper teeth only. The lower teeth are then free to glide or skate over the guard, which prevents them from biting into the upper teeth. Some people wear their guards during the day if they tend to clench their teeth when under stress.

If you are concerned about teeth grinding or interested in learning more about nightguards, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Vanna White, please see “Vanna White.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Stress & Tooth Habits.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
December 11, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
HowWeMakeDentalImplantsMatchExistingTeeth

Dental implants are replacements for missing teeth. They are very stable and can be made to look as good as or better than the teeth they replace. How do we do it? Here are seven frequently asked questions.

What are the parts of a dental implant?
The implant consists of a root, usually made of a titanium alloy, which extends below the gum tissue into the bone; and a crown, which emerges from the gum and resembles the crown of the original tooth.

Why is a dental implant so stable?
Titanium has a property of fusing with the bone of the jaw, so that it actually becomes part of the bony structure. The new implant's stability depends on having the needed volume of bone and gum tissue in the right position to anchor the implant.

How can you make sure I have enough bone?
When a tooth is lost, the bone in which it was anchored will resorb or melt away if care is not taken. It is important to minimize trauma during tooth removal to preserve bone tissue. If tissue has been lost it can be built up by bone grafting techniques.

What factors make a crown on an implant look real?
How real the crown looks depends on its shape, particularly as it emerges through the gum tissues, its color and its position relative to the teeth around it.

What is the emergence profile?
This term refers to the way the crown emerges through the gum tissue. It involves both the shape of the implant and how far it is placed into the gum and bone tissues.

How do you match the color of the crown?
We analyze your tooth color using shade guides and/or photography to provide the dental lab with as much information as possible to create the best color match. This is part of the artistry of reconstructive dentistry.

How will my gums look with my dental implant in place?
When people use the word “gums” they are often referring to the small pink triangles of tissue that fill in the spaces between teeth, called “papillae.” An implant must be placed at the correct distance from adjacent teeth and at the correct depth below the gum tissue for natural looking papillae to form.

You can see that success in matching of color, shape, and location of an implant is not simple and depends on the skill, artistry, and experience of your dental team.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental implants. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Matching Teeth & Dental Implants.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
December 04, 2011
Category: Oral Health
FAQWhatYouNeedtoKnowAboutYourChildsBabyTeeth

Losing a baby tooth is an important milestone in a child's life. Be sure to take a photo of that toothless smile — it will be something you treasure as your child grows up.

You may be wondering what is really happening when a baby tooth becomes loose and eventually falls or is pulled out. Read on for some answers.

What are baby teeth?
An infant's teeth begin to form before birth, by the fifth to sixth week after conception. When the baby is born, 20 primary (baby) teeth are almost completely formed inside the jaws. These first teeth, also called deciduous teeth, begin to erupt through the gums at about the time the baby begins to eat solid food. The front teeth (incisors) are usually the first to come in, at age six months to a year.

Why are they called deciduous teeth?
Deciduous means “falling off at maturity.” The same term refers to trees that lose their leaves every fall. In many mammals, including humans, it refers to the first teeth, which need to come out to make room for the larger permanent teeth to come in.

What causes the deciduous teeth to become loose?
While your child is using his primary teeth to bite and chew, his adult (permanent) teeth are quietly growing inside his jawbone. Starting with tooth “germs” (the word comes from germination, meaning the start of growth), the top part of each tooth, called the crown, grows first. Then the bottom part, or root, begins to grow and elongate. As the roots develop and the permanent teeth take up more room in the child's jaw, they begin to push against the baby teeth. This causes the roots of the baby teeth to melt away or resorb. Eventually little or nothing is left to hold the baby teeth inside the child's gums, they become wiggly, and finally they can easily be pulled out. This may leave a little bleeding gum tissue that quickly heals.

What should you watch for in the transition from primary to permanent teeth?
As the permanent teeth erupt (push through the gums and become visible), you may notice that they are too crowded, have too much space between them, or are crooked. It's a good idea to have an orthodontic (from ortho, meaning straight and dont, meaning tooth) evaluation at age five to seven. Watch to see that the baby teeth are lost in the right sequence. If one is lost prematurely, for example from decay, make sure that the space that it occupied is maintained to make room for the adult tooth that will replace it. We can help you with this.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss whether your child's baby teeth are being lost in the right sequence and if the adult teeth are coming in correctly. For more information see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Losing a Baby Tooth.”




Gina Piccioni, D.M.D. and John G. Hartmann, D.D.S.

River Forest, IL Dentist

River Forest Dental Studio

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