Posts for: July, 2012

NineThingstoExpectDuringYourAppointmentwiththeDentalHygienist

We say that we are going to have our teeth cleaned — but a lot more than simple cleaning takes place during a visit to a dental hygienist.

  1. Health History
    Your hygienist will ask you about your general health and your dental health and any recent changes in either. By doing so she will pinpoint any issues that require special precautions during your cleaning.
  2. Cancer Screening
    Next, the hygienist carefully examines the skin in and around your mouth looking for lumps, bumps, sores, tenderness or swellings and refers areas of concern to the dentist for further evaluation. The hygienist is one of the few people who get to closely assess your whole mouth, so she is trained to spot cancer and other diseases.
  3. Evaluating Your Periodontal Health
    Your hygienist will look closely at the state of your periodontal health (from peri meaning around and dont meaning tooth). This includes checking your gums and the other tissues surrounding your teeth for inflammation (gingivitis) or bleeding.
  4. Checking for Decay
    The hygienist will examine your teeth for decay and will note the location and condition of stains or hard mineral deposits (calculus or tartar). These deposits result from a buildup of plaque (a film of bacteria) that has not been removed by daily brushing.
  5. Scaling
    The hygienist uses hand tools or a sonic scaler to remove the calculus from your teeth.
  6. Polishing
    A mechanical polisher and an abrasive polishing compound are used to polish the surface of your teeth so that they are smooth, making them more resistant to plaque, removing stains and leaving your teeth feeling squeaky clean.
  7. Measuring
    The hygienist uses a tiny probe to measure the space between your teeth and gums. Periodontal disease begins by forming pockets between the teeth and gums, so this measuring is key to your periodontal health. Generally a space of 3mm or less indicates healthy gums, pockets of 4 to 5mm indicate periodontal disease that may be reversed with good oral care at home, and pockets that are 6mm deep or more require specialized treatment by a dentist or periodontist (a dentist who specializes in care of gums).
  8. Education
    Based on the observed conditions of your gums and teeth, the hygienist will provide information aimed at improving your home oral cleansing routines and about your risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
  9. Making Your Next Appointment
    The hygienist will make an appointment for your next cleaning — in three, four, or six months depending on the health of your gums and teeth. Keeping these appointments not only keeps your teeth looking their best, but it also assures good management of your dental health.
  10. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental hygiene. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Hygiene Visit.”


UnderstandingTheTypesOfDentalImplantsAndRestorations

Thanks to technological advances, today there are more than 40 types of traditional or standard implants. A traditional dental implant actually replaces the root of a tooth, upon which a crown is built — the part you see in the mouth. There are 2 others types that are quite similar to standard implants. Mini implants are most like traditional implants except they are smaller in diameter. Micro-mini implants are an even smaller variation with an even narrower, more screw-like appearance. Micro-mini implants are also designed to be used on a temporary basis, thus can easily be removed. Together all of these types of implants provide us with a wide variety of options for permanently replacing missing teeth.

The following list details the types of implant restorations:

  • Single tooth replacements: As the name suggests, these implants are used to replace single teeth.
  • Multiple tooth replacements: Implants can be used to replace multiple teeth in a variety of ways. This includes acting as bridge supports to permanently replace missing teeth.
  • Combinations of fixed and removable bridgework: Dental implants can be used to support permanently fixed in teeth, bridgework or removable bridges or dentures. Their biggest advantage over dentures alone is that they stabilize the dentures and preserve the jawbone to which they attach, thus preventing the jawbone from melting away under the pressure of dentures.
  • Over-dentures: These restorations are now considered the new gold standard. In this application two or more standard implants (or multiple mini-implants) are used to attach and stabilize full dentures. Over-dentures are especially useful for tooth replacement in the lower jaw, where denture stability is often problematic.
  • Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADS): These special implants are a tool that orthodontists can use to obtain a stable, non-movable anchor for moving teeth more quickly and easily. They are small, easy to place and easy to remove once their job is done.
  • Temporary bridgework: In this case, mini-implants are used to support temporary bridgework. They are placed between permanent implants and later removed when the permanent implants have healed and teeth are permanently placed on them. Mini-implants ensure that a person is never without teeth during the process of teeth replacement.

To learn more on this topic, read the Dear Doctor article, “Dental Implants, Your Third Set Of Teeth.” Or if you prefer, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.


Sports-RelatedDentalInjuriesmdashDeterminingYourRisks

A recent study revealed that on average there are 22,000 dental injuries in children under the age of 18. This alarming reality makes it clear that parents, caregivers, and coaches need to understand the risks for dental injuries so that they are best equipped to prevent them...or at least be prepared to manage one should it occur. The four most common categories for measuring risks associated with sports injuries are:

  • Age: Age is an important factor when accessing risk. Sports-related dental injuries tend to spike during the teenage years. Recent research shows that children under the age of 13 tend to not be injured as often.
  • Gender: Gender is probably the second most influential factor. The facts are that males top the list for experiencing dental injuries during sports or vigorous activities. However, more and more females are playing highly competitive and contact sports or activities; thus, their risk of injury is increasing.
  • Shape and position of your teeth: Both the condition and positions of the teeth affect their risk of injury. More prominent or “buck” teeth are considered a higher risk for injury than teeth in a more normal position. Furthermore, 80% of all dental injuries involve the upper front teeth.
  • Sports type: This last category is the one most often asked about, as parents, caregivers and athletes want to know which sports or activities have the highest risks for dental injuries. And while baseball and basketball top the list, the American Dental Association (ADA) has put together a comprehensive list of sports and activities. To review this list, read the Dear Doctor article, “Athletic Mouthguards.” The ADA also urges athletes to wear professionally-fitted mouthguards to protect against dental and facial injuries.

Knowing the above categories can help you assess your risk for a dental injury while playing in a sport or recreational activity. To learn more about sports-related dental injuries, read, “An Introduction To Sports Injuries & Dentistry.” Or if you have a traumatized, damaged, chipped or missing tooth from a sports or any other type of injury, contact us to discuss your situation or to schedule an appointment.


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
July 01, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
CommonQuestionsAboutWhiteningYourTeeth

Teeth whitening is a great way to improve your smile. For best results and to ensure your safety, teeth should be bleached under professional supervision. We can help you choose the whitening method that's right for you, and monitor the effects of your treatment. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this relatively inexpensive cosmetic procedure:

Is teeth whitening safe?
A lot of research has been done on teeth whitening, so we know that specific bleaching formulas, from a reputable source, are safe if used as directed and after a proper dental examination. You should be aware that tooth sensitivity is a common side effect of bleaching, but brushing with a desensitizing toothpaste containing potassium nitrate for two weeks prior to bleaching can reduce sensitivity. Using potassium nitrate during the bleaching process can also help.

Is it effective?
Professional bleaching is very effective. Peroxide goes through tooth enamel (the outermost layer) and the dentin (middle layer) to the pulp (the innermost layer) in 5 to 15 minutes. The bleach actually changes the color of the enamel and dentin, and removes stains.

How is teeth whitening done?
Basically there are three options: in-office whitening (done by a dentist), at-home bleaching with custom-made flexible plastic trays (with prescription bleach), and over-the-counter (OTC) products. Not all OTC products are equal, and the results will take longer to achieve than with professionally supervised procedures.

How long does it take?
That depends on what method you choose and, in the case of at-home whitening, how conscientious you are about following through with your course of treatment. One study found that a six-shade change required either: three in-office applications of 38% hydrogen peroxide; one week of 10% carbamide peroxide used at home nightly in a custom-made tray; or 16 daily application of 5.3% hydrogen peroxide on a whitening strip.

Will it last?
It really depends on the individual. No bleaching method can whiten teeth permanently, though some people's teeth remain white for over 10 years with no touch-up treatment. More typical results vary from six months to two years. Keeping up with your regular oral hygiene routine at home and your professional cleanings at the dentist's office will help maintain the results; so will avoiding tobacco and beverages that stain, such as red wine, tea and coffee. You can also consider a bleaching touch-up once or twice a year at home or here at the dental office.

I want to go for it! What's the first step?
Step one is a pre-bleaching dental examination to determine the cause of your tooth discoloration. We want to make sure that your discoloration is not the result of an oral health-related problem. For example bleaching will mask but not resolve issues such as abscessed teeth, decay, and root canal problems. We want your teeth not only to be beautiful, but healthy, too!

If you are interested in learning more about teeth whitening, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. For more information on teeth whitening, please see the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered” and “Tooth Whitening Safety Tips.”




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

River Forest, IL Dentist

River Forest Dental Studio

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