Posts for: May, 2012

By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
May 30, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: bad breath   tongue scraper  
BadBreathTryaTongueScraper

Bad breath can have a serious impact on a person's social and business life. Americans are well aware of this fact, and spend nearly $3 billion each year on gums, mints, and mouth rinses in order to make their breath “minty fresh.”

Bad breath or halitosis (from the Latin halitus, meaning exhalation, and the Greek osis, meaning a condition or disease-causing process) can originate from a number of causes; but oral bacteria are the most common source. About 600 types of bacteria grow in the average mouth. If bacteria act on materials that have been trapped in your mouth, many of them produce unpleasant odors.

Most often, bad breath starts on the back of the tongue, the largest place in the mouth for a build-up of bacteria. In this area bacteria can flourish on remnants of food, dead skin cells, and post-nasal drip. As they grow and multiply these bacteria produce chemical products called volatile sulfur compounds or VSCs. These compounds emit smells of decay reminiscent of rotten eggs.

In addition to bacteria on the tongue, halitosis may come from periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, or other dental problems. If you have halitosis, it is thus important to have a dental examination and assessment, and to treat any such problems that are found. Treating bacteria on the tongue without treating underlying periodontal disease will only temporarily cure bad breath.

The next step is to take control of tongue bacteria by brushing or scraping your tongue, with possible addition of antiseptic mouth rinses. People who have bad breath have more coating on their tongues than those who don't, and regularly cleaning the surface of the tongue has been demonstrated to reduce bad breath.

Implements have been designed specifically for the purpose of scraping or brushing the surface of the tongue. Using a toothbrush is not as effective because it is designed to clean the hard tooth surface, rather than the spongy surface of the tongue. To keep your breath fresh, you must regularly remove the coating from your tongue. This means acquiring a tongue scraper or brush and using it every day.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tongue cleaning and bad breath. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tongue Scraping” and “Bad Breath.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
May 22, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
BelieveItorNotYourBodyCanRegrowLostBone

Of all the of amazing procedures in today's dentistry, surgery that causes new bone to grow — in places where it had previously been lost — is high on the list of the most extraordinary. (When bone is lost or resorbed, it is broken down into its mineral components, which are dissolved into the bloodstream. Resorption of tooth-supporting bone often takes place after teeth are lost.) Dental techniques that cause new bone growth are important because a certain amount of bone is needed to replace lost teeth with dental implants.

Today's dental implants themselves are an amazing innovation. Implants consist of a replacement for the tooth's root, usually made of a metal called titanium. A replacement for the crown, the part of the tooth that is visible above the gums, is attached to the titanium root. Titanium has the remarkable quality of being able to fuse with the bone in which it is anchored. This process, first discovered in the 1950s, is called osseointegration.

In the case of missing upper back teeth, many people who wanted dental implants in the past were told that they did not have enough bone to anchor the implants and that they had to get removable dentures instead.

But now a new surgery called maxillary sinus augmentation can cause your body to regenerate bone where it was lost and is needed to anchor dental implants.

Bone in the upper jaw or maxilla usually supports your upper back teeth. Inside the maxilla, on either side of your upper jaw, are air spaces in the bone, which are lined with a membrane. These spaces, called the maxillary sinuses, are generally shaped like pyramids; but their shape and size is different in each person. The new surgical procedures involve lifting up the sinus membrane in the area where bone is needed and filling the space thus created with a bone grafting material. Your body then creates new bone to fill the space. This usually takes about six months. If you have almost enough bone to stabilize the implants, they can be placed simultaneously with the graft, thus saving time and avoiding a second surgical procedure.

All grafting materials used today are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and must be prepared according to their guidelines. They are specially treated to render them completely safe for human use.

After the surgery there is usually no more than mild to moderate swelling and some discomfort, about the same as having a tooth removed.

If you are missing upper back teeth, contact us to schedule an appointment to evaluate your upper jaw. You can also learn more about this procedure by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sinus Surgery.”


NotJustFillingintheGapsLostTeethHaveUnexpectedConsequences

Why is it important to replace missing teeth with restorations such as dental implants? You might be surprised to find that the damage caused by missing teeth is much greater than the simple gaps left in your smile.

As the years go by, teeth lost early in adulthood cause structural changes in a person's face. By age 45 changes in facial structure are already visible in the form of sunken cheeks. By 60, cheeks and lips lose their support, resulting in an aging look. This process continues and if the teeth are not replaced, much of the structural support of the person's face is lost.

These changes are caused by loss of bone. Although it may seem static, bone is actually living tissue that needs constant stimulation to maintain its form and density. With normal stimulation it is in a constant state of resorption (breaking down) and deposition (building up). Teeth provide the needed stimulation for the bone that surrounds them (called alveolar bone) as they meet each other during biting, chewing, and speech. When the stimulation continues, the bone continues to rebuild itself. Without this stimulation, the bone resorbs, does not build up again, and loses substance.

Without stimulation, alveolar bone loses width, height, and volume. Since your teeth and their surrounding bone support your chin, cheeks, and lips, this has a powerful effect on your appearance. It may also affect your ability to chew and to speak.

As alveolar bone diminishes, the next layer of bone also begins to resorb. This is the bone of the jaw itself. The lower part of the face begins to collapse, and the cheeks become hollow. This effect is especially noticeable for people with no teeth (edentulous).

Usually the first tooth to be lost, due to infection and decay, is a molar (back tooth). In the past, a missing single back tooth was frequently replaced by a fixed partial denture (FPD). A crown is provided for each of the two teeth on the sides of the gap, called abutment teeth, to support a false tooth in the middle. However, if they are not well cared for, the abutment teeth may be the next to succumb to decay.

Today the treatment of choice is an implant. A dental implant is a tooth-root replacement made of titanium, which fuses with the bone — making it very stable. Above the gums it is covered by a crown that looks like a natural tooth. The benefit of the implant is that it continues to provide stimulation to the alveolar bone, preventing bone loss.

Implants are also a good choice in the case of multiple missing teeth. They can be used to support bridges or false teeth (dentures). The results are an improved, younger appearance and better functionality.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about missing teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
May 06, 2012
Category: Oral Health
ToothSensitivityFAQs

It can start with a simple twinge or be as severe as excruciating pain. From time to time, we have patients asking questions about tooth sensitivity — what causes it? What can be done about it? For these reasons, we have put together the following list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) so that you can develop a healthy understanding about this painful and often avoidable condition.

What is tooth sensitivity?

The first layer of protection of the teeth is enamel. Enamel is a dense crystalline structure, the hardest substance produced by animals. It is an inert substance that has no nerve supply and thus it protects the teeth from temperature and pressure changes. When it is compromised, worn thin, or exposed due to gum recession, it leaves the dentin exposed and vulnerable. Unlike enamel, dentin is living and has delicate nerve fibers within it.

What triggers tooth sensitivity?

Once dentin is exposed, it can become sensitive. It typically occurs when the dentin comes in contact with heat, cold, or the “double whammy” combination of both cold and sweets. Even the bristles of a soft toothbrush can irritate exposed dentin causing sensitivity and pain.

What can be done to minimize tooth sensitivity?

One of the simplest ways to minimize or prevent sensitivity is by teaching proper brushing techniques so that teeth are cleaned without causing either sensitivity or damage. Brushing too hard is a frequent culprit. Being overzealous can literally cause gum recession, leave dentin, and wear it away leaving it grooved. Another step to minimize sensitivity is to use a toothpaste containing fluoride. Fluoride increases the strength of tooth surfaces and thus makes teeth more resistant to attack by acids and sweets. If severe, we may need to apply a barrier to cover the sensitive areas. These barriers may range from concentrated fluoride varnishes to replacing lost tooth structure with filling materials.

Want to learn more?

To learn more about this topic, read the article “Sensitive Teeth.” Or if you are suffering from this condition, please contact our office to schedule an appointment. During your appointment, we will conduct a thorough examination to ascertain what is causing your sensitivity as well as what we can do to treat and/or prevent future issues.




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

River Forest, IL Dentist

River Forest Dental Studio

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