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Posts for: August, 2016

By Dentistry by Design
August 23, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: missing teeth  

When you look at the top row of a normal smile, you'll see symmetrical pairs: the central incisors in the middle, flanked by the lateral incisors and the canine (or eye) teeth on the outside of them.

Sometimes, though, teeth may not form as they should: in fact, it's one of the more common congenital defects with one in five people having missing or deformed teeth, often the upper lateral incisors. In the latter case, it's not uncommon for the eye teeth to drift into the missing lateral incisors' spaces next to the central incisors. This creates a smile even a layperson can tell is off.

There is a way to treat this with orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry that will transform that person's smile while restoring better mouth function too. It's often a long process, however, that's best begun early and must be precisely timed with dental development.

Using braces, we move the drifted teeth back to their proper positions, which will make room for a future dental restoration. It's usually best to begin this treatment during late childhood or early adolescence. The next step is to fill the newly-created space with prosthetic (false) teeth.

Dental implants are an ideal choice since they're durable and life-like, and won't require permanent alteration of adjacent teeth. They do, however, require a certain amount of bone volume at the site to support them; if the volume is insufficient we may have to place a bone graft to stimulate new growth.

It's also best not to install implants until the jaw has finished development, usually in the late teens or early adulthood. In the interim between tooth repositioning and implants we can customize a retainer or other removable appliance with a false tooth to occupy the space. This not only enhances the smile, it also prevents the repositioned teeth from drifting back.

These steps toward achieving a new smile take time and sometimes a team of specialists. But all the effort will be rewarded, as a person born without teeth can have a new smile and improved oral health.

If you would like more information on treating dental development deficiencies, 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 “When Permanent Teeth Don't Grow.”

By Dentistry by Design
August 18, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Jaw Pain  

Do you suffer from frequent jaw pain? Dr. Nicholas Papapetros and Dr. Leo Kharin, your Andover, MA dentists at Dentistry by Design, explain how TMJ and other conditions cause jaw pain.

Causes of jaw painJaw Pain

Jaw pain occurs due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • Alignment Issues: If your teeth are widely spaced or aren't correctly aligned, you may experience jaw pain. Braces can correct your alignment issues and end your pain.
  • Grinding or Clenching: Grinding and clenching not only causes jaw pain but can also erode your enamel and cause your teeth to break. Wearing a nightguard will prevent damage from the habit.
  • Infections: Abscesses can radiate from your tooth to your jaw. These painful infections are treated with antibiotics and root canal treatment. A bone infection called osteomyelitis can also cause jaw pain, in addition to swelling and fever. Antibiotics treat the infection, although surgery may be needed to remove portions of dead jawbone in severe cases.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ): TMJ, a common cause of jaw pain, affects the muscles and joints in your jaw. If you have TMJ, you may notice a popping or clicking sound when you chew or open or close your mouth. Pain in the jaw, temples, cheeks and ears is common. You may also experience headaches, jaw tenderness or swelling. TMJ can make chewing more difficult, particularly if your jaw locks while you eat.

How is TMJ treated in Andover?

Inflammation and pain can be relieved by applying ice and heat to your jaw and taking over-the-counter pain relievers. If your pain continues, it's time to visit your dentist. Prescription muscle relaxants ease pain by relaxing stiff jaw muscles, while prescription pain medications and cortisone injections can address severe pain.

If a bite or orthodontic issue is the cause of your symptoms, your dentist may recommend bridges or dental implants to replace missing teeth or braces to correct a misalignment. He may also suggest that you begin wearing a bite guard at night to relieve the pressure on your jaw joint.

You don't have to suffer with TMJ pain. Dr. Papapetros and Dr. Kharin, your Andover, MA dentists at Dentistry by Design, offer treatments that will relieve your symptoms. Call them at (978) 475-5333 to schedule an appointment.

By Dentistry by Design
August 08, 2016
Category: Oral Health

Are bleeding gums something you should be concerned about? Dear Doctor magazine recently posed that question to Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors. He answered with two questions of his own: “If you started bleeding from your eyeball, would you seek medical attention?” Needless to say, most everyone would. “So,” he asked, “why is it that when we bleed all the time when we floss that we think it’s no big deal?” As it turns out, that’s an excellent question — and one that’s often misunderstood.

First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “bleeding all the time.” As many as 90 percent of people occasionally experience bleeding gums when they clean their teeth — particularly if they don’t do it often, or are just starting a flossing routine. But if your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, it almost certainly means there’s a problem. Many think bleeding gums is a sign they are brushing too hard; this is possible, but unlikely. It’s much more probable that irritated and bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.

How common is this malady? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of all  Americans over age 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease — and that number increases to 70.1 percent for those over 65! Periodontal disease can occur when a bacteria-rich biofilm in the mouth (also called plaque) is allowed to build up on tooth and gum surfaces. Plaque causes the gums to become inflamed, as the immune system responds to the bacteria. Eventually, this can cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming bacteria-filled “pockets” under the gum surface. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious infection, and even tooth loss.

What should you do if your gums bleed regularly when brushing or flossing? The first step is to come in for a thorough examination. In combination with a regular oral exam (and possibly x-rays or other diagnostic tests), a simple (and painless) instrument called a periodontal probe can be used to determine how far any periodontal disease may have progressed. Armed with this information, we can determine the most effective way to fight the battle against gum disease.

Above all, don’t wait too long to come in for an exam! As Dr. Stork notes, bleeding gums are “a sign that things aren’t quite right.”  If you would like more information about bleeding gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.” You can read the entire interview with Dr. Travis Stork in Dear Doctor magazine.