Acton Dental Associates

Strawberries and Baking Soda for Whiter Teeth: Debunked

You may have heard the recent claim that a mixture of fruit and baking soda applied to the teeth will whiten them dramatically, inexpensively and in a much more “organic” way than traditional bleaching methods.

Strawberries and Baking SodaIn particular, young adults and teens have shown themselves to be susceptible to this advice. They readily experiment with it and spread the idea throughout their community because the materials involved are so easily accessible.

While the claim has some merit and certainly comes from well-meaning sources, we feel that we should set the record straight. New research done on the subject from Professor So Ran Kwon of the University of Iowa shows that while the mixture does brighten the smile a bit, it does so merely by removing superficial debris. So although the teeth may look whiter, the effect is short-lived. As plaque and debris build up again, the teeth will darken.

In addition to that, the fruit and baking soda mixture method may reduce the surface hardness of your teeth, leaving them vulnerable to decay.

To achieve a permanently whiter smile, what you really need is a substance that penetrates into teeth and breaks down stain molecules, whitening teeth from the inside out for better and longer-lasting results.

If you want whiter teeth, we urge you to use ADA approved methods for achieving that brighter smile!

Porcelain Veneers for a Flawless Smile

Some patients come to us loving their smile but wanting just a little bit more in terms of aesthetics. To perfect an already great smile, we may suggest porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are often our go-to tool to correct minor imperfections on the surface of teeth or spacing issues.

Porcelain Veneers1Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about veneers:

Q: Are veneers heavy or thick? Will I feel them in my mouth?

A: No, in fact veneers are thinner than a fingernail, once they are in place you won’t even know they are there!

Q: How long do they last?

A: Properly installed, veneers can last from 10-20 years. A great investment for an enhanced smile!

Q: How are they attached? Can they fall off?

A: Veneers are attached to your tooth with a very strong bonding compound. They do not fall off and provide years of durable use.

Q: Do veneers look like natural teeth?

A: Porcelain is the perfect material to copy tooth enamel, as it is incorporates luster, shine and translucence to look just like your natural teeth.

Q: What if the surrounding teeth are a different color?

A: Generally what we recommend is that we use a whiter shade of porcelain for the veneer and perform tooth whitening in conjunction with the veneer process to give you a perfect match throughout your mouth.

Q: Do veneers stain?

A: No, porcelain veneers do not stain, even over time.

If you want to take your smile from “okay” to “stunning”, ask us if veneers are a good option for you!

Dental Implants: A Three-Step Procedure

One of the most common questions we hear from patients when it comes to dental implants is “Why does it take three separate procedures?”

Dental Implants - 3 StepIt helps to understand that within the entire dental implant process, there are not just three stages, there are also three important parts to the final product that replaces your tooth. First, there is the implant itself, which is the metal rod that we surgically implant into the bone. Next, there is the abutment, which connects the implant to the artificial tooth. And lastly, the crown (or prosthetic tooth) itself.

The fact that the process has three physical components alone doesn’t tell the whole story though. Here, we explain why the most commonly employed dental implant method is split up into three separate procedures.

Step One: Placing the Implant

The first stage of the dental implant process is to bury the implant in the jaw bone via a surgical procedure. The dental implant replaces the tooth root, and requires healing time. During this healing time, osseointegration (the integration of the bone with the implant itself) occurs. The bone cells actually attach to the implant rod, filling in the spaces to secure the implant in place for permanent residency.   The healing time usually takes from 3-6 months.

Step Two: Placing the Abutment

The abutment is a post that connects the implant to the prosthetic tooth. Essentially, the abutment is a bridge that spans through the gum line so that the implant itself remains buried. As with the implant, the abutment has a healing period of its own. The gum around the abutment must heal and form a cuff or collar around it before the crown can be placed.

Step Three: The Prosthetic Tooth

Once the implant site and abutment have successfully integrated, the prosthetic tooth is fabricated and installed.

If you have any questions about the dental implant process, give us a call!

Oral Cancer: What you Need to Know

One of the most important jobs we have in our practice is to examine, monitor and diagnose head and neck pathology in our patients. What we are really looking for is any sign of oral cancer. Each year, about 42,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with oral cancer. Unfortunately, more than 8,000 of those people will die from the disease because too often it is caught in a late, incurable stage.

Oral Cancer What you Need to KnowTo help you stay healthy and educated about your oral health needs, we have compiled a list of the most important things you should know about oral cancer:

  • Oral cancer affects more than just the mouth. Any cancer in the mouth, lips, throat or back of the mouth is considered oral cancer.
  • Since 90% of oral cancers begin in the surface area of the mouth, tongue and lips, we recommend regular self-exams.
  • Largest risk factors: Not surprisingly, tobacco and alcohol use top the list of biggest risk factors for oral cancer.
  • Other risk factors: Human papilloma virus (HPV), pre-cancerous oral lesion, betel quid use (common in Asia), excessive UV/sun exposure, certain drugs and genetic syndromes.
  • To diagnose oral cancer, we will examine the mouth and neck, ask about your risk factors, and possibly order biopsies and imaging of the head (CT, MRI, etc).
  • Pain is not associated with cancer in its early stages. Usually pain does not occur until the cancer has progressed to a later stage.
  • The most common oral cancer symptoms warrant a call to our office. They include: sores that don’t heal, lumps inside the mouth, white or red patches on soft tissues in the mouth, bleeding, pain when swallowing or chewing, numbness, difficulty moving the jaw or tongue, lumps in the neck, hoarseness, and more.

Don’t hesitate to us if you are experiencing any of these symptoms of oral cancer.

Heart Disease and the Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Did you know that poor oral hygiene could increase your chances of developing heart disease? Practicing good oral health habits isn’t just an important part of preventing tooth decay; it’s crucial in maintaining your overall health. But how are heart disease and oral health connected? What we’ve come to understand is that bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream and attach to blood vessels, which can increase clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart and in turn cause an elevation in blood pressure thus increasing the risk of a heart attack.

Heart Disease and the ImportanceWe can help patients who have a history of heart disease by examining them for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation. Brushing and flossing combined with annual check-ups will help to fight the harmful bacteria that cause inflammation and eventually lead to heart disease. Check out these oral hygiene facts and make sure to establish a routine to ensure a great smile and a healthy life.

According to the American Dental Hygienists Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Eating healthy snacks like celery, carrots, or apples help clear away food loosely trapped in-between teeth.
  • The leading oral health problem for infants is baby bottle tooth decay, which can be caused when babies are given a bottle filled with sugary liquids, like milk or juice, when put to bed.
  • Nearly 78% of Americans have had at least one cavity by age 17.
  • Men are more likely than women to have more severe dental diseases and oral cancer occurs twice as frequently in men as women.
  • Dental fluorosis (overexposure to fluoride) is higher in teens than in adults and highest among those aged 12–15.
  • Three out of four patients don’t change their toothbrush as often as is recommended. Toothbrushes should be changed every two to three months and after illnesses.

Issues that go untreated can end up costing a lot more than routine visits to your dentist. Prevention through daily cleaning and regular office visits is the best for both your health and your budget. Remember, regardless of how old you are, it’s never too late to start taking serious care of your teeth and mouth.

Dental Implants vs. Dentures and Bridges

Whether it was during a consultation in our office or perhaps while you were doing your own research online, you have probably come across the term “dental implant” at some point. A dental implant is a great way, often the best way, to replace a missing tooth.

Dental lmplants vs DenturesSo how do you decide if a dental implant is the right path for you, or if a more traditional tooth replacement method such as dentures or bridges is the best way to go?

We have been asked this question many times, and have compiled a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits that implants offer over their conventional counterparts. We hope that this guide will help make the decision process easier for you.

Dental Implants vs. Dentures and Bridges: Things to Consider

  • Longevity: Dental implants offer a long-term solution (often lasting a lifetime) to missing teeth, while dentures and bridges require replacement every 5 to 10 years. Not only does this mean less hassle, it also means that implants may be more affordable over time.
  • Quality of Life:
    • Simply put, dental implants look, feel and function more like natural teeth than do dentures and bridges.
    • With a dental implant, our patients can hardly notice the difference when biting into hard objects. They also look more natural.
    • In addition to that, dental implants are fixed – they are not going to fall out while you are talking or smiling, and you don’t have to put them away each night when you go to sleep. They remain in your mouth, anchored to your jawbone at all times.
  • Bone Stability and Health: Just like muscles, bones also need a “workout” in order to maintain their mass and health. So when a tooth is missing from the jawline, the bone underneath the old tooth site becomes atrophied and shrinks. Dentures and bridges do nothing to help this deterioration. However, dental implants actually screw into the bone and integrate with it, actually encouraging new bone growth.
  • Overall Health: Because implants allow for a normal range of food choices in the diet (a benefit not afforded by dentures), they encourage you to continue your healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life!

Do you still have questions? As always, we are here to answer any questions you have. Give us a call for more information!

Veneers: Doorway to a Successful Smile

For minor tooth imperfections, veneers provide the opportunity of an improved smile with little hassle and minimal time invested.   In fact, with veneers, we can help you achieve a new smile! Here are some commonly asked questions about veneers and how they can help to resolve a variety of cosmetic dental issues!

Veneers cWhat are veneers?

Veneers are thin layers of porcelain placed over damaged teeth to improve the durability and aesthetic appeal of your smile. As a bonus, veneers also offer strength and resilience similar to that of natural tooth enamel! First we will analyze your smile to identify where veneers might make improvements. Next we will create the veneers and finally we will bond them to your teeth.

Why should I get veneers?

Veneers are ideal for fixing imperfections that are caused by one or more of the following situations:

  • Discolored teeth: Often, drug use, smoking, excessive amounts of fluoride and even root canal treatments can lead to a discolored smile.
  • Worn down teeth.
  • Broken or chipped teeth.
  • Gaps between teeth.
  • Misaligned or uneven teeth.

How can I get veneers?

Give us a call to set up a veneers consultation. We will examine your mouth and decide whether you are a good candidate for veneers.

Before the veneers are designed, we will scrape about half a millimeter of enamel off of your tooth, roughly equal to the thickness of the added veneer. This ensures good bonding and adequate space for the veneer. After the veneer has been created (roughly two weeks after your first visit), we will carefully examine whether it fits in your mouth and how it looks next to your other teeth. Then we will apply a special adhesive to your tooth and finally place the veneer on top!

Call us today to set up an appointment to reclaim your perfect smile!

Dental Implants: Five Things You May Not Know

How much do you know about dental implants? With the increasing popularity and availability of dental implant surgery worldwide, patients are gaining more and more knowledge about dental implants every day.

But did you know these five important facts?

  1. Dental Implant FDental implants are appropriate for almost all ages. Not just for the elderly, dental implants are frequently placed even in the mouths of young adults. As long as the jaw has stopped growing (after puberty; age 16 for girls and age 18 for boys), a dental implant can be placed with great success.
  2. The titanium post actually fuses (osseointegrates) with the natural jawbone. They grow together to form a stronger foundation for replacement teeth. So dental implants actually improve the bone structure in the jaw, they don’t just fill it in.
  3. The “dental implant” is actually just the titanium post, one of three parts of the whole process. Other parts used in the full procedure that we think of as “dental implant surgery” are known as the abutment (the connector) and the actual replacement tooth itself (the crown).
  4. Dental implants preserve jawbone, whereas other teeth replacement options can lead to bone deterioration. Bone is similar to muscle in that it must be used in order to maintain its mass. When a tooth goes missing and the site is left untreated, the jawbone underneath tends to deteriorate. Dental implants eliminate this problem by securing a natural-like tooth right into the jawbone and thus utilizing (and preserving) that area of bone.
  5. Dental implants protect their neighbors. By contrast, a traditional, tooth-supported bridge involves the grinding away of the teeth on either side to act as a hammock for the bridge. With dental implants, the jaw is the anchor and support for the artificial tooth.

The bottom line? Dental implants offer a safe and manageable alternative to traditional tooth replacement methods.

Teeth Nerve Stem Cells Signal New Age of Recovery

Have you ever thought about the possibility of growing new teeth? Of course, when we are younger, this phenomenon does occur, with adult teeth replacing our missing baby teeth. Many scientists and doctors, however, believed it was impossible, or highly unlikely for adults to ever form new teeth.

teeth nerve stem cellsYet only recently, researchers in Sweden have discovered that such a feat may one day become commonplace. While most scientists did know that the pulp in teeth contains a certain amount of stem cells, the Swedish researchers of the Karolinska Institute have discovered the origin of these cells.

These stem cells are typically used to help reform damaged teeth by assisting with the restoration of tooth tissue. Upon further examination, however, the researchers have discovered that these stem cells originally were nerve cells of the tooth. These cells leave the nerves at early stages of development, changing their identity to become part of the connective tissue, which forms dentin underneath the enamel.

The future possibilities for this discovery are almost endless. Using these nerve tissues, it may be possible for scientists to manipulate the stem cells to form new adult teeth. As these teeth will essentially be copies of one’s original teeth, this innovative process may replace veneers and other restorative processes as the best form of teeth restoration.

In fact, the benefits of this discovery may not stop with just teeth. Igor Adameyko, from Sweden’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, believes that all types of peripheral nerves, not just the ones found in teeth, “may function as important stem cell reserves.” Adameyko hypothesized that these “multipotent stem cells can depart from the nerves and contribute to the healing and reformation of tissues in different parts of the body.”

To summarize this exciting research, tooth nerve cells may be the key to a new wave of human recovery and restoration, and adult tooth creation is only one of these recently discovered benefits!

Dental Implants: What Should I Believe?

Dental Implants have become commonplace, with over 3 million people worldwide hosting some sort of implant. Unfortunately, their rising popularity has been accompanied by an increasing number of misconceptions about what they can and can’t do.

Dental Implant eLet us help you to understand which of these common messages are true and which are fabricated.

Message #1: Dental implants are more expensive than traditional restorative methods.

Verdict: True and False. While the initial implant installation is more costly than other dental restorative procedures, over time, maintaining dental implants is much easier and cheaper. Other procedures require eventual replacement. For example, dentures require replacement after 5-10 years while dental bridges must be replaced every 7-10 years. So in the long run, dental implants can be less expensive than these alternative procedures.

Message #2: Dental implants are exceedingly painful.

Verdict: False. Like most forms of oral surgery, dental implant installation does involve some discomfort. However, patient accounts reveal that the pain is not worse than any typical tooth extraction as doctors use local anesthesia to address and minimize any discomfort during the procedure.

Message #3: Dental implant placement often fails.

Verdict: False. While dental implants do have the possibility of falling out, it is very rare for this to happen. In fact, reports show that 98% of dental implant surgeries are successful.

Message #4: Only young people should get dental implants.

Verdict: False. There is no reason healthy, elderly patients cannot receive implants. In fact, there are many cases of patients 90 and older undergoing dental implant placement surgery with great success!

Don’t let these common misconceptions get in the way of your decision to get dental implants. Give us a call…we’d be happy to discuss your concerns about dental implants with you to give you a better idea of what this procedure can do for you.