Magician Michael Grandinetti mystifies and astonishes audiences with his sleight of hand and mastery of illusion. But when he initially steps onto the stage, it’s his smile that grabs the attention. “The first thing… that an audience notices is your smile; it’s what really connects you as a person to them,” Michael told an interviewer.
He attributes his audience-pleasing smile to several years of orthodontic treatment as a teenager to straighten misaligned teeth, plus a lifetime of good oral care. “I’m so thankful that I did it,” he said about wearing orthodontic braces. “It was so beneficial. And… looking at the path I’ve chosen, it was life-changing.”
Orthodontics — the dental subspecialty focused on treating malocclusions (literally “bad bites”) — can indeed make life-changing improvements. Properly positioned teeth are integral to the aesthetics of any smile, and a smile that’s pleasing to look at boosts confidence and self-esteem and makes a terrific first impression. Studies have even linked having an attractive smile with greater professional success.
There can also be functional benefits such as improved biting/chewing and speech, and reduced strain on jaw muscles and joints. Additionally, well-aligned teeth are easier to clean and less likely to trap food particles that can lead to decay.
The Science Behind the Magic
There are more options than ever for correcting bites, but all capitalize on the fact that teeth are suspended in individual jawbone sockets by elastic periodontal ligaments that enable them to move. Orthodontic appliances (commonly called braces or clear aligners) place light, controlled forces on teeth in a calculated fashion to move them into their new desired alignment.
The “gold standard” in orthodontic treatment remains the orthodontic band for posterior (back) teeth and the bonded bracket for front teeth. Thin, flexible wires threaded through the brackets create the light forces needed for repositioning. Traditionally the brackets have been made of metal, but for those concerned about the aesthetics, they can also be made out of a clear material. Lingual braces, which are bonded to the back of teeth instead of the front, are another less visible option. The most discrete appliance is the removable clear aligner, which consists of a progression of custom-made clear trays that reposition teeth incrementally.
How’s that for a disappearing act?!
If you would like more information about orthodontic treatment please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about the subject by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”
Your gums’ primary role is to protect your teeth and keep them firmly in place. But periodontal (gum) disease can damage your gums to such an extent you could ultimately lose your teeth.
Gum disease is a progressive infection caused by bacterial plaque built up on tooth surfaces from poor oral hygiene. The initial infection triggers inflammation, a defensive response of the body characterized by swelling, redness and bleeding of the gums. An initial form of the disease known as gingivitis occurs in most people after just a few days without brushing or flossing.
Resuming hygienic activities to remove daily plaque, along with regular dental cleanings, may be enough to stop gingivitis and restore healthy gums. If the disease is allowed to advance, however, the infected gum tissues will begin to detach from the teeth, turning the slight normal gaps between teeth and gums into wider voids known as periodontal pockets that fill with bacteria leading to infection. Your hygiene efforts will not be enough to cope with this advanced form of periodontal disease.
At this point professional techniques are required to adequately remove plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits), depending on the depth and location of the periodontal pockets. The most basic of these is scaling using specialized hand instruments or ultrasonic equipment to remove plaque and calculus in pockets at or just below the gum line. If plaque and calculus have extended to the roots we may then need to employ root planing, in which we “shave” offending material from root surfaces. In some cases this may require accessing the area surgically beneath the gum tissue.
As plaque removal progresses, inflammation will begin to subside and the gum tissues heal. If, however, swelling, bleeding or pus formation persists, this may indicate bacterial levels remain too high. To decrease these levels we may need to administer antibiotics, or through mouthrinses containing chlorhexidine.
Once under control, it’s crucial from then on for you to maintain a strict daily regimen of brushing and flossing to keep plaque from building up on tooth surfaces. You'll also need to visit us regularly (two or more times a year) for professional cleaning and checkups. Keeping a close eye will help prevent a reoccurrence of this serious disease and prolong the life of your teeth.
If you would like more information on treating periodontal (gum) disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treating Difficult Areas of Periodontal Disease.”
If you’ve had a total joint replacement or similar procedure, you will want your surgeon to decide if you need to take an antibiotic before you undergo dental work. This is a precaution to prevent a serious infection known as bacteremia.
Bacteremia occurs when bacteria become too prevalent in the bloodstream and cause infection in other parts of the body, especially in joints and bone with prosthetic (replacement) substances. It’s believed that during invasive dental procedures bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream through incisions and other soft tissue disruptions.
Joint infections are a serious matter and can require extensive therapy to bring it under control. Out of this concern, the use of antibiotics as a prophylactic (preventive measure) against bacteremia once included a wide range of patients for a variety of conditions and procedures. But after an in-depth study in 2007, the American Dental Association concluded that the risks for many of these patient groups for infection triggered by a dental procedure was extremely low and didn’t warrant the use of antibiotic premedication therapy.
As a result, recommendations for antibiotic therapy changed in 2009, eliminating many groups previously recommended for premedication. But because of the seriousness of joint infection, The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons still recommends the therapy for joint replacement patients about to undergo any invasive procedure, including dental work. It’s especially needed for patients who also have some form of inflammatory arthritis, a weakened immune system, insulin-dependent diabetes, hemophilia, malnourishment or a previous infection in an artificial joint.
The guidelines for antibiotic premedication can be complex. It’s best, then, to speak with both your orthopedic surgeon and us about whether you should undergo antibiotic therapy before you undergo a dental procedure. The ultimate goal is to reduce the risks of any disease and to keep both your mouth and your body safe from infection.
If you would like more information on the use of antibiotics in dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Premedication for Dental Treatment.”
Dental implants are an exciting long-term option for replacing missing teeth. At Fairfield Smiles by Design, Dr. Pablo Cuevas is your knowledgeable prosthodontist for dental implants in Fairfield, CT.
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant and crown function as replacements for a missing tooth and its root. Installation of a dental implant involves three components: a metal implant, an abutment and a porcelain crown. The hypoallergenic metal implant is drilled into the jawbone below the gum line and acts as the tooth root, anchoring the artificial tooth in place. The porcelain crown is installed above the gum line and acts as the replacement tooth. The abutment securely joins the implant and crown together. Following installation, the implant looks and functions like a natural tooth.
Benefits of Dental Implants
There are several benefits to choosing dental implants for replacing missing teeth and closing the gaps in your smile. As a tooth replacement option, one of their primary advantages is that they are permanent. Other options, such as dentures, require the use of dental adhesives. Aside from the hassle of applying an adhesive to hold the dentures in place on a daily basis, adhesives can also be messy. Installation of dental implants is permanent so there is no need for adhesives. Further, the implants will not come loose, slip out of place or fall out.
Another benefit of getting dental implants is improved tooth functioning. Dental implants perform just like natural teeth so regular biting, chewing and eating functions are restored. This also takes some of the strain off of the surrounding teeth that had been compensating for the missing tooth or teeth. Speech also improves with dental implants. As the gaps from missing teeth are filled in, tongue placement when speaking returns to normal and speech improves. Replace your missing teeth with dental implants at Fairfield Smiles by Design.
Achieve the smile you desire by choosing dental implants to close the gaps in your smile. Learn more about dental implants in Fairfield, CT and schedule an appointment with Dr. Cuevas by calling Fairfield Smiles by Design (203) 254-0545.
Do you visit the dentist twice a year for checkups? If you only schedule a dental appointment when you have a toothache, you may be putting your oral health at risk. Our Fairfield, CT, dentist, Dr. Pablo Cuevas of Fairfield Smiles by Design, shares a few reasons why regular exams are so important.
Plaque and tartar accumulate on your teeth without periodic cleanings
Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque is the sticky bacteria-laden film that covers your teeth every day. Tartar, a deposit that forms if you don't remove plaque from your teeth quickly enough, can cause gum disease. The grayish-brown deposit is so hard that brushing and flossing won't get rid of it.
Brushing and flossing are very effective in removing plaque, but it can be difficult to get rid of the film when it forms in hard-to-reach places. When you visit our Fairfield office every six months, you'll receive a thorough dental cleaning that will remove both plaque and tartar. As a result of your visit, your teeth will look and feel clean, and you'll have taken an important step in lowering your cavity and gum disease risk.
Tooth decay is detected during dental exams
Cavities usually aren't visible on the surface of teeth unless there is significant tooth decay. When you schedule twice-yearly dental visits, cavities can be spotted when they're still small and easily treatable. Filling small cavities prevents decay from destroying a large portion of healthy tooth structure and reduces the chance that you'll need more extensive dental work in the future.
Has it been more than six months since your visited Fairfield Smiles by Design in Fairfield, CT? If it's time for your next appointment, call Dr. Cuevas at (203) 254-0545.
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