What is a Waterpik and why does my dentist get so excited when talking about it?

A Waterpik is one of the best dental tools you can own. It is a great addition to your dental hygiene protocol.

“But I already have an electric toothbrush! Why do I need a Waterpik?”

An electric toothbrush is fantastic. We are big fans of them. We are also big fans of flossing! Many patients use their electric toothbrush daily, and floss regularly, but it’s not always enough. The question to ask yourself is, “What is my goal in brushing and flossing everyday?” The answer is, “To remove plaque buildup.” Plaque, a soft sticky film builds up on your teeth everyday.  You can’t avoid plaque. But you can avoid TARTAR. Tartar is a hardened, mineralized form of plaque. Tartar occurs when the plaque on your teeth is not sufficiently removed DAILY. Once tartar forms on your teeth, there is no getting it off, no matter how much brushing and flossing you are doing. Only a dentist or hygienist can scrape it off. When tartar sits on your teeth for a long period of time, it begins to cause gum inflammation. Eventually this leads to bleeding, swelling, and finally, bone loss around the teeth. That is why regular visits to the dentist are so important-to remove any remnants of tartar that may have formed.

One way to avoid tartar buildup is to brush. That will help remove the plaque around the gums. Flossing will help remove the plaque BETWEEN your teeth. But even doing these two important things doesn’t always remove ALL the plaque. That is where the Waterpik comes in!

A Waterpik is a motorized jet spray that comes out thru a thin clear nozzle. You direct this nozzle toward the junction between your teeth and gums, and move it along the entire mouth. Because people have different shapes to their teeth, the thin toothbrush bristles and the narrow size of floss can’t always remove everything. The strong water stream of the Waterpik helps to remove any remaining plaque and food particles that may still be lodged in various crevices around the teeth and gums. It’s amazing to see more “stuff” flying out of your mouth into the sink even after brushing for 2 minutes and flossing!

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The first few times you try it, your mirror will be splattered with water, and maybe even your face. But after you get the hang of it, your mouth will feel sooo clean. And your gums and teeth will be at their healthiest!

 

Is a “cap” the same thing as a “crown?”

Yes, it is. Patients often call crowns by the more familiar layman’s term, “cap.” What IS  a “cap” anyway?

A “crown” or “cap” is the name of a dental restoration that covers the entire tooth. In the picture above, the crown is the one with the little baseball etched into the side! Crowns are usually made from porcelain, metal, gold, or a combination of porcelain and metal.

In order to get a tooth ready for a crown, a moderate amount of the original tooth must be cut back and prepared for a new crown. If the crown material is too thin, the crown can fracture or break off.  Once the tooth is “prepped,” a new crown can be placed over the existing tooth and cemented into place.  After a few days or weeks, the crown should feel like any of your other teeth. You may not even notice that you are biting onto a crown at all.

Happy eating!

Face photos? I never had to take photos of my face at a dentist’s office??

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Yes, at Esthetic Dentistry, we will ask to take photos of your face. And it’s not just because we think you are so good-looking!  Our dental assistants will take 3 “face” photos. A smiling photo, a non-smiling photo, and a profile photo. It may feel like a mug shot, but there are truly  good reasons for each of these images.

“Well, what are they?” you ask.

The smiling photo shows us exactly how your smile fits on your face. It shows us if you show top and bottom teeth, or top teeth only. It shows the shape of your teeth and how it complements your face shape. We can see if you have a low lip line or a “gummy” smile. We can see if your teeth are very worn down, or if they appear normal.   There are so many things we can see by looking at this smiling photo.

The non-smiling photo is important too. “But you can’t even see my teeth!” Maybe not, but it helps to see how your “resting” face position may be influenced by the position of your teeth. For example, a patient may complain that he has “buck” teeth. In the non-smiling photo, his upper lip may stick out, because his upper teeth are positioned too far forward. Or another patient may say her upper lip is too”flat,” perhaps because at the resting position, her upper teeth may be angled too far back, and not giving enough lip support.

The profile photo, or the what patients like to call, “the mug shot” gives us a great visual on the position of your head, neck, and shoulders. If a person has tension in the jaw and neck, often due to teeth grinding and stress, it may show up in a postural change. The head may seem to stick out, or seem positioned forward.  We can also get a good overview of the shape of the patient’s jaw, which helps when orthodontic treatment is indicated.  It is also very valuable to assess how the nose and mouth line up in relation to the jaw.

“Are you going to splash my photos all over the internet?” Patients ask this all the time. Of course, because of patient privacy laws we would never share your photos. In fact, the only time that could occur is with YOUR permission.  These photos are strictly for our comprehensive exam and assessment during your initial visit to our office.

So are you ready to flash your pearly whites? We promise to keep it confidential! 🙂

 

Why do I have to see a dentist regularly?

This might seem like an obvious question. But we do hear this on occasion. WHY do I need to see a dentist once or even twice a year?

The simple answer is PREVENTION. By visiting a dentist at regular intervals, dental conditions can be detected in their early stages. A dentist can detect small cavities forming by looking in your mouth and evaluating your x-rays. A dentist and/or hygienist can also detect early signs of periodontal disease.  Treating cavities when they are smaller means removing less tooth structure. It also may mean avoiding a root canal and a crown in the future. Regular cleanings and reinforcement of oral hygiene practices will help to decrease the progression of periodontal disease, which will keep the bone around each tooth intact and healthy. This can help avoid tooth loss in the future.

Another very important reason to visit your dentist regularly is for the oral cancer screening. At your regular recall visits, the dentist and/or hygienist will look for any suspicious abnormalities or lesions in your mouth. The tongue, cheeks, gums, palate, and other soft tissues in the mouth are evaluated. By detecting an abnormality in its early stages, the lesion can be treated before it progresses to a more serious diagnosis.

A visit to the dentist isn’t all that bad, is it?

 

 

What’s the deal with flossing?

Let’s face it, many people don’t floss. A hygienist’s mantra might as well be “You must floss daily! Or your teeth will fall out!” How many of us actually heed this advice? Most think, “Come on, that’s not going to happen.”

There is truth to this mantra. Is it an exaggeration? Perhaps. The point is this, brushing alone cannot reach all those “in-between” spots. That’s where floss comes in. Why should you care about those spots? Let’s go back to the basics.

Q: Why do we brush in the first place?

A: It is to remove PLAQUE, a biofilm that forms on your teeth daily. It is white and soft, but sticky.

Q: Why do we need to remove plaque from our teeth?

A: If plaque is not removed, it will soon become hardened by minerals in your saliva. The plaque changes into something called, TARTAR, or CALCULUS (no, not the dreaded math class).

Q: Why should I care if my plaque turns into tartar?

A: While plaque is easily removed by brushing and flossing, tartar is not. Once it is stuck to your teeth, it cannot be removed, except by a dentist or hygienist. Tartar is a breeding ground of bacteria and minerals. Overtime, it causes inflammation, bleeding, and eventually, loss of bone around the teeth if not removed. Most of these symptoms will go unnoticed by the patient, because it doesn’t cause pain in the initial stages.

Q: Are there other benefits to flossing?

A: YES! It helps with bad breath, believe it or not! The more plaque you can remove on a daily basis, with brushing your teeth and tongue, in addition to flossing, the fresher your breath will be!

 

I’m an adult, why do I need braces?

At Esthetic Dentistry, the majority of our clientele is the adult population. And yes, we offer short-term braces to our adults patients. Braces are not just for teenagers anymore!

“I can’t wear braces! I’m 40 years old!” Well why not? These days, seeing braces on adults has become more common. Clear brackets reduce the stigma of “train tracks”  and the overall look of braces has become more esthetic than years past.

We also offer clear removable trays or aligners, but often a patient will choose the clear braces over the clear trays. Why? First, the short-term braces we offer usually work a bit faster than the clear trays. Second, they are significantly more affordable than aligners. Third, there are no excuses. The braces are stuck to your teeth no matter what. With clear trays, the patient has the ability to remove them at any time. When the trays are not in your mouth, they are not moving your teeth. The braces are bonded to your teeth, and are working, 24 hours a day.

Any downsides to braces? Well, some may say esthetics. But it’s only temporary, maybe 6-8 months in most cases. Also, oral hygiene can be more challenging with braces. Our solution is to have the patient use a Waterpik-it is a fantastic tool and keep the gums healthy during the braces process.

If you want to improve your smile and need orthodontic work, consider short-term braces. You may be able to achieve the straight and beautiful smile you have always wanted in six months or less!

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