Our Blog

Posts for: December, 2016

By Dentistry by Design
December 29, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.

“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”

That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.

Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!

The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.

If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”

By Dentistry by Design
December 16, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

Teeth whitening can remove those nasty coffee stains and breathe new life into your smile.

It’s amazing how much stains on your teeth can affect not only the appearance of your smile but your self-esteem, as well. Don’t let a teeth whiteningstained, yellowing smile get you down. Our Andover, MA dentists--Dr. Nicholas Papapetros, Dr. Jhon Giraldo and Dr. Leo Kharin--can easily help you regain a radiant, brighter smile with our professional teeth whitening systems.

How does whitening work?

While there are many ways to whiten your smile, from toothpastes to kits, if you are really looking to remove stains and brighten your smile then it might be time to turn to professional teeth whitening in Andover.

Bleaching treatment works by changing the color of your teeth. It’s amazing how in just one session you could get a smile that’s up to eight shades whiter (on average, most smiles become five to seven shades brighter). When the bleaching gel is applied over the front surface of your teeth the active ingredient, usually either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, penetrates the surface of the tooth to remove tough stains. Whitening concentrations can contain anywhere from 10 to 22 percent of the active ingredient, meaning that results will be far superior to anything you’ll achieve with over-the-counter whitening products.

What type of whitening is right for me?

If you are looking to get a significantly more vibrant smile right away, our in-office whitening can’t be beat. However, some patients want to whiten their smiles but they don’t want to spend a lot of money on treatment. In this case, we will recommend our professional at-home system, which can still brighten your smile after a couple weeks. It will require you to wear the bleaching trays for a designated amount of time each night to get the results you want, so it’s important that you are ready and dedicated to your treatment process before you decide on at-home whitening.

Don’t let stains dictate your smile’s appearance. Dentistry by Design in Andover, MA can give you the smile makeover you want with teeth whitening. To find out if professional teeth whitening is the right option for you give us a call today.


While it's possible for a teenager to lose a tooth from decay, it's more common they'll lose one from an accidental knockout. If that happens to your teenager, there are some things you should know to achieve a good outcome.

Our top concern is to preserve the underlying bone following tooth loss. Like other tissues, bone has a life cycle: older cells dissolve and are absorbed by the body (resorption), then replaced by new cells. The biting pressure generated when we chew helps stimulate this growth. But bone around a missing tooth lacks this stimulation and may not keep up with resorption at a healthy rate.

This can cause a person to lose some of the bone around an empty tooth socket. To counteract this, we may place a bone graft at the site. Made of bone minerals, usually from a donor, the graft serves as a scaffold for new bone growth. By preventing significant bone loss we can better ensure success with a future restoration.

Because of its lifelikeness, functionality and durability, dental implants are considered the best of the restoration options that can be considered to replace a missing tooth. But placing an implant during the teen years is problematic because the jaws are still growing. If we place an implant prematurely it will appear to be out of alignment when the jaw fully matures. Better to wait until the jaw finishes development in early adulthood.

In the meantime, there are a couple of temporary options that work well for teens: a removable partial denture (RFP) or a fixed modified bridge. The latter is similar to bridges made for adults, but uses tabs of dental material that bond a prosthetic (false) tooth to the adjacent natural teeth to hold it in place. This alleviates the need to permanently alter the adjacent natural teeth and buy time so that the implant can be placed after growth and development has finished.

And no need to worry about postponing orthodontic treatment in the event of a tooth loss. In most cases we can go ahead with treatment, and may even be able to incorporate a prosthetic tooth into the braces or clear aligners.

It's always unfortunate to lose a tooth, especially from a sudden accident. The good news, though, is that with proper care and attention we can restore your teenager's smile.

If you would like more information on how to treat lost teeth in teenagers, 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 “Dental Implants for Teenagers.”