Do Oral Irrigators Work, Or Should You Just Stick to Your Toothbrush?

Using Oral Irrigators

Many experts will agree that there’s no substitute for a good toothbrush and a reliable toothpaste. However, with new advancements in dentistry, devices like the oral irrigator have already made their way into the homes of many patients throughout the world.

 

If you suffer from gum disease, or you want to get rid of your plaque without going to the dentist, then using oral irrigators is your best choice. But do these devices really work?

 

Depending on the strength of the device and the specific number of pulses per minute that it is capable of, the performance it offers can be greater or less impressive. Experts have found that, when used correctly, a water jet that has about 50-80 psi (medium pressure) and more than 1,000 pulses per minute, can effectively remove plaque.

 

Now, depending on what other things you want to do with the device, it might not work as easily or using the same settings. Moreover, you also have to account for factors such as how sensitive your gums are and how much plaque you have. In some cases, you won’t be able to get rid of all the plaque – as some manufacturers might advertise – and the oral irrigator is certainly no substitute for your regular visits to the Willow Creek Dental office.

All You Need to Know About the Main Cosmetic Dentistry Practices

Cosmetic Dental Results

Cosmetic dentistry has grown a great deal in recent years. While it was still a booming business more than 20 years ago, today you have an impressive number of options when it comes to choosing a cosmetic dentist and their specific cosmetic dentistry procedures.

 

However, whether you’re looking for a better smile or procedures designed to make your teeth look more aligned, the following still remain some of the most important cosmetic dentistry practices in use today:

 

  • Teeth whitening is one of the most common cosmetic dentistry practices used today. Teeth whitening products are also available for purchase and use at home. However, a reliable cosmetic dentist is still considered the best choice when it comes to giving your teeth their perfect color.
  • Cosmetic dentistry also has many procedures that have to do with fixing the damage caused by tooth decay. Onlays and inlays, as well as composite bonding and dental veneers are commonly used for that and similar purposes by professional cosmetic dentists.
  • Finally, we have to mention the science of implants. To properly replace teeth after tooth loss, cosmetic dentists use metallic (usually titanium) implants that are fastened to the jaw in order to support a crown that will act as a replacement for your missing tooth.

Research to find a dentist you feel comfortable with and can easily communicate with you, to attend to your dental needs and wants, be sure to visit http://www.willowcreekdds.com/services/cosmetic-dentistry/.

Is My Tooth Enamel Eroding?

Enamel Erosion

The enamel – the outermost mineral layer of the tooth that protects the deeper dental tissues against contacts with the exterior world – is in constant erosion. The food residues, especially the residues that come from sugary foods and remain in the mouth for a long time and the residues that come from sugary beverages and acidulous fruit juices are transformed by the bacteria naturally dwelling in the oral cavity into acids that attack the enamel by depriving it of the minerals that give the enamel its strength.

The body can counter the erosion process to a certain extent by re-mineralizing the enamel using the mineral supplies available from the food consumed, but too much sugar leads to too much acid and the body might be unable to counter the harm – that is when cavities appear.

The simplest, easiest and most efficient way to help the enamel of the tooth resist erosion is with the help of regular and thorough cleaning. Brush your teeth two times a day, with a mild or medium brush and a fluoride toothpaste, floss at least once a day and use an anti-bacterial mouthwash each time you brush. Try to avoid sugary and acidulous foods and beverages as much as you can and get your teeth checked regularly by your lone tree dentists to identify the signs of erosion when they are still easy to treat.

Important Warning Signs to Look for with a Child’s Gums

Avoid Gum Disease

Gum disease can set in at almost any age, and there are always exceptions to the rule, even when it comes to the least common instances of child development issues. To protect your child from gum disease and make sure their teeth and gums develop properly, it is essential to use preventive knowledge and tactics to identify gum related problems in time.

 

Chronic gingivitis is more common in children than you might expect. The disease can cause gums to swell up and become red and painful. Also, bleeding can occur, and your children can also complain of discomfort when they chew on tougher pieces of food.

 

Another common issue that will alert you that something might be wrong has to do with receding gums. When your child starts developing gingivitis, the affected gums may recede and expose the roots of their teeth.

 

Finally, bad breath that doesn’t clear up once your kids brush their teeth is the final and probably the easiest to spot sign that your child might be experiencing a case of chronic gingivitis, and could require the help of a sedation dentistry Highlands Ranch professional.

 

You will need to act swiftly in order to take proper care of the problem. Preventive measures should include establishing good dental hygiene habits and serving as a dental hygiene role model for your children. When it comes to dealing with an already progressing case of gum disease, schedule an appointment with your family dentist, and follow their instructions to the letter.

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Using Technology to treat our TMJ Disorder Patients

Dr. Mary Blakeley is passionate about helping patients with Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)—also referred to as TMJ Disorder. In addition to undergoing extensive post-graduate training in neuromuscular dentistry and specifically the treatment of TMD, Dr. Blakeley has invested in the latest technology to aide in effectively treating her patients.

While headaches or migraines are the most common symptom of TMD, other signs and symptoms can include jaw joint pain or noise, limited opening, ringing in the ears and locking in the jaw. Patients who suffer from TMD are often faced with daily, chronic pain and other options for treatment often include prescription pain medication or surgery.

In her extensive study of neuromuscular dentistry, Dr. Blakeley has focused on the correlation between the patient’s occlusion (i.e. how their bite comes together) and TMD symptoms. Physiologically, if a person’s bite doesn’t come together in the most ideal way, either from the result of genetics or an accident, it can put additional stress on the TM Joint and produce painful symptoms. While not every patient who suffers from TMD has a “bad bite”, there are many people who may find relief by fixing their occlusion. TMD often means there is a discrepancy between where your teeth come together and where your muscles want to be therefore Dr. Blakeley works to find the position where the teeth, joint and muscles are in harmony. By adjusting teeth so they meet in the ideal position, whether through an orthotic, orthodontics or dental restorations, the stress on the TM Joint could lessen and reduce or eliminate painful symptoms.

To determine if the patient’s TMD symptoms are possibly the result of a “bad bite”, Dr. Blakeley must first determine what the patient’s ideal occlusion is. To do so, she uses a K7 Computerized Mandibular Scanner (CMS) and Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulus (TENS) to measure and record objective information about the patient’s TM joint.

The K7 CMS uses 3 non-intrusive technologies to gather and measure data—jaw tracking (tracks motion), surface electromyography (measures TM joint muscle activity) and joint sonography (assesses joint function through the use of vibration/sound).

TENSing provides a tiny electrical stimulus that travels through nerves that control the muscles of the head and neck. This causes the muscles to exercise mildly, forcing out accumulated waste products of metabolism and providing the muscles with fresh nutrients and oxygen. Any persistent muscle tension that may be present can then be relaxed to find an optimum bite position.

In addition to the use of the K7 and TENS, Dr. Blakeley also has her patients undergo a 3-dimensional x-ray called cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). The CBCT scan provides high-resolution images to allow examination of the TM Joint anatomy, specifically the bone and joint space. The CBCT scan is done at Willow Creek Dental and only takes a few minutes to complete.

After the patient’s information has been gathered, measured and assessed, Dr. Blakeley is then able to recommend a course of treatment. The same technology is then used throughout the patient’s treatment to evaluate progress and determine its effectiveness.

If you or someone you know is suffering from TMD symptoms and would like to find out if you are a candidate for our TMJ Therapy program, contact our office at 303-779-2797 to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Blakeley.

Source: willowcreekdds.com Blog

Elyse Braces On

Does my child need braces?

“Does my child need braces?” is a question we get a lot in our office.

Most orthodontists recommend that you bring your child in at age 7 for their first consultation. At this visit, the orthodontist will typically perform an exam in addition to reviewing photos and x-rays with you. The goal is to look at your child’s occlusion (how the teeth come together), see how much space is available for permanent teeth that still need to come in and determine if your child may benefit from braces at some point.

If nothing is needed at the time, the orthodontist may recommend that you come back at 6 or 12 month intervals to check on your child’s development. In some cases, your child may benefit from a palatal expander and/or Phase 1 braces to reduce the complexity and length of time needed in braces at a later date.

To get started, ask your dentist for a referral to an orthodontist and they will be happy to make a recommendation.

Car Mechanic

Investing in your Oral Health

As we get older, a lot of time and energy is spent thinking about investing. Whether it is in the stock market, in a home or in a business, people want to put their money to work for them and get a return.

In some situations, investing refers to the practice of regular maintenance to prevent larger problems in the long run. For example, it is important to make sure your car gets regular oil changes and tire rotations to help keep it running smoothly. Your mechanic may also run some diagnostic reports to let you know if something is starting to fail or not working properly. It’s often annoying to spend the time and money on these maintenance appointments however if you don’t do it, you know there will be more costly problems that could happen down the road.

Healthcare, including dentistry, is similar to taking care of your car. Regular, preventative appointments are encouraged to keep your body healthy and identify anything that is not working as it should. For example, a Dermatologist will tell you it is important to have your skin checked regularly to make sure it is healthy and to also identify any areas that could be cancerous. If something does appear cancerous, then you are hopefully catching it early and taking care of it before it spreads.

In dentistry, this means having cleanings and exams twice a year, in addition to periodic x-rays to help identify any concerns that aren’t visible to the naked eye. This way if a tooth has a cavity and needs a filling, the goal is to identify it early and take care of it before it becomes so large that it needs a crown, root canal, or worse—needs to be extracted.

So the next time you put off your regular dental appointment, we urge you to reconsider. You need to think of it as making an investment in your oral health. And if the dentist recommends treatment, before you reject it because of the cost, take the time to ask questions about what could happen if you do nothing. Often when you realize the dental work that may be needed down the road (and the expense), you may be more willing to make that investment now.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Implants

If you are missing a tooth and considering getting a dental implant, you may have a lot of questions. Below are some answers to the questions we get asked the most.

 

How does a dental implant work?

A dental implant is a small titanium screw that is inserted into your jaw bone. The implant will fully fuse with your jaw bone after a few months of healing and function like a tooth root. An abutment and implant crown (false tooth) will then be attached to the dental implant. It will look and function just like a real tooth, allowing you to eat regular foods. Additionally, because it functions like a tooth root, the dental implant will continue to stimulate your bone and prevent future bone loss. Other tooth replacement options, including bridges and dentures, do not offer this option.

 

What are other tooth replacement options?

If you are missing a tooth, you do have a few options and it is important to weigh the pros and cons before you determine the best way to move forward.

  1. You can choose to do nothing. This is obviously the least expensive option however it will have the biggest cost on your oral health. If you do not replace a missing tooth, eventually the teeth adjacent to it will start to move to the open space. This shifting can change how your other teeth come together when you bite down. Additionally, the bone where the tooth is missing is no longer stimulated and eventually starts to deteriorate.
  2. You can get a dental bridge. A bridge is when crowns are placed on the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth and a false tooth is attached in the middle. Aesthetically, a fixed bridge can give the appearance of a normal tooth however it can have limitations on the types of foods that can be eaten. While the initial investment may be cheaper than a dental implant, a bridge typically last about 5-10 years before it will need to be replaced.
  3. If you are missing all of your teeth, you can get dentures. Dentures are removable arches of false teeth that fit over your gums and need to be adhered daily. They need to be relined at the dentist’s office regularly to make sure they are fitting properly as your bone level continues to diminish. Dentures can impact the way you speak and severely restrict the types of foods you eat. Similar to bridges, dentures have a life span of 5 – 10 years before needing to be replaced.

 

How much do dental implants cost?

This is the question we receive most often and the answer is “it depends”. There are many factors that go into the total cost of a dental implant, including dental insurance contracted fees and how many additional services are needed.

While some offices may offer a “sale” discount price on dental implants, they may not be including the additional services that are also needed. Before moving forward, make sure to ask about what is all included in that price so you can fully understand what your total cost will be.

Below are potential services that may be needed when considering the cost of a dental implant.

  1. Extraction (removal) of the tooth
  2. Cone beam x-ray
  3. Placement of the actual dental implant
  4. Sinus lift and/or bone grafting (adding bone or bonelike material to your jaw if needed)
  5. Anesthesia
  6. Flipper (a retainer with a tooth attached to fill in the missing gap while the implant is healing)
  7. Implant crown and abutment (the false tooth that is attached to your implant once it is healed)

Dental implants alone are often in the $1,500 – $2,500 range, however when you add in the additional services (including the final implant crown) the cost will typically be in the $3,500 – $6,000 range. The good news is that many dental insurance policies offer some type of coverage for dental implants. Additionally, the costs can often be spread out over a few appointments. For example, the final implant crown and abutment won’t be needed until the implant is fully healed (approximately 3-6 months after placement). Various financing options are also available to those who qualify.

While the initial cost of a dental implant may be higher than the cost of a bridge, dentures or doing nothing at all, when you look at it over time dental implants can actually save you money in the long run. When taken care of properly, dental implants can last a lifetime. Bridges or dentures, on the other hand, only have a life expectancy up to about 5 – 10 years before they need to be replaced. Additionally, dental implants act like real teeth so they help stimulate your bone to help prevent future bone loss and the loss of other teeth.

Family Dentistry services for a lifelong healthy smile for you and your family. Serving families in Lone Tree, Denver, and Highlands Ranch.

How well do you know your teeth?

How well do you know your teeth?

  1. How many primary (baby) teeth are there?
    1. There are 20 primary teeth. Children tend to get them starting at age 6 months and they may continue erupting until about 6 years old. Primary teeth help children learn to speak, chew and also act as placeholders for the permanent teeth.
  2. How many permanent teeth are there?
    1. There are 32 permanent teeth, including wisdom teeth. They are numbered 1 – 16 on the top (starting on your upper right) and 17 – 32 on the bottom (starting on your lower left). Your wisdom teeth are numbered 1, 16, 17, and 32.
  3. Do we lose all 20 primary (baby) teeth?
    1. Yes, we lose all 20 of our primary teeth by about the age of 12 or 13. By this age, most people will have all of their permanent teeth (with the exception of wisdom teeth).
  4. Do we lose our “baby” molars?
    1. Yes. We get our first primary molars around 12 – 19 months and then our second primary molars around 23 – 33 months (upper and lower teeth vary). Most people lose the first primary molars around age 9 – 11 and then the second primary molars around age 10 – 12.
  5. What about permanent molars?
    1. Molars are the first permanent teeth that don’t replace a primary tooth. There are 3 sets of permanent molars—the first are 6-year molars, the second are 12-year molars and the third are the wisdom teeth (often referred to as 3rds). Wisdom teeth usually erupt between the age of 15 – 25 (or may not erupt at all) and actually got their name because a person is generally “wiser” and more mature at that age.
  6. Why are wisdom teeth removed?
    1. Wisdom teeth are often removed because there may not be enough space in the mouth. In addition to making the mouth crowded, they can make it difficult to maintain good oral hygiene due to the difficulty of properly brushing and flossing so far back.
  7. What are premolars?
    1. Premolars, also known as bicuspids, are adjacent to your molars. They are not as large and have only 2 cusps (points) instead of 4. There are 2 sets of premolars—the first and second—and they replace the baby molars when they fall out.
  8. Why are the canine teeth called that?
    1. Just as you would imagine, our canine teeth are called that because they are similar to those of a dog’s and have the same purpose for biting and tearing food. They also look similar with their long, pointed shape.
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What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. There are 3 types of sleep apnea—Obstructive, Central and Complex. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common and results from the airway collapsing or becoming blocked during sleep. Central Sleep Apnea is less common and refers to when your brain stops sending signals to your breathing muscles. Complex Sleep Apnea is when someone has both Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is estimated that over 18 million American adults have sleep apnea. Often it is the person’s partner who first notices symptoms of sleep apnea—snoring, stoppages in breathing and/or gasping for air. Frequent awakenings from sleep apnea often result in a poor night’s sleep and feeling excessively tired throughout the day. Other symptoms include snoring, high blood pressure and in many cases an exhausted partner who also doesn’t sleep well. Untreated sleep apnea can be very dangerous or deadly, most notably increasing the patient’s risk of diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

If you think you have sleep apnea, the first step is to contact your Primary Care Physician. After discussing your symptoms, your doctor may refer you to a sleep medicine physician to have a sleep test. During the sleep test, the sleep lab will measure the number of apneas (pauses in breathing) and hypopneas (overly shallow periods of breathing) in an hour and how long the pauses last (generally 10 seconds or longer). You will receive your Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) score which determines the severity of sleep apnea. A score of 5 to 15 indicates mild sleep apnea, a score of 16 to 30 indicates moderate sleep apnea and a score of 30 or more indicates severe sleep apnea. A score less than 5 indicates you do not have sleep apnea. The sleep test will also help the sleep medicine physician determine the type of sleep apnea you have.

Based on your diagnosis, your doctor may first recommend some lifestyle changes including losing weight, sleeping on your side, stopping smoking and avoiding alcohol or drugs. They also may prescribe Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The CPAP is worn while you sleep and provides a constant flow of pressurized air to keep the airway open during sleep. Given the success of CPAP therapy, it is often the first treatment recommended to patients suffering from sleep apnea. Unfortunately, however, some people are unable to sleep with the CPAP due to feeling claustrophobic or never getting comfortable enough to sleep well. Those patients often look for an alternative treatment option.

For patients with mild or moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the use of a mandibular advancement device can be effective. It works by holding the jaw in a more forward position to prevent the airway from being obstructed. Other forms of treatment may also include surgery to remove excess tissue in the airway, surgery to remove tonsils and/or adenoids or use of a nasal pressurized airway device.

Sleep apnea can be a dangerous and potentially deadly medical condition and symptoms should not be dismissed. If you are concerned that you or your partner may have sleep apnea, contact your Primary Care Physician to have it checked out.