Porteous Family Dentistry
What Color are Your Teeth?
What color are your teeth? Of course, there is no “right” answer. Teeth come in endless shades and ranges. When we talk about tooth color in our office, we try to break it down into no fewer than 40 shades (light to dark) and ranges (color). For example, you could have a very light shade of tooth in the reddish brown range, or a dark shade of tooth in the gray range. Everyone’s teeth are unique and the possibilities are endless.
You may be wondering, what makes a tooth the color it is now or will be in the future? We all know about coffee and tobacco as being major culprits of stained teeth, but what else goes into the making of a tooth color?
Things We Can’t Control:
- Genetics – Did you know that you could inherit your tooth color? You can also inherit your tooth’s propensity for staining.
- Aging – We now know that teeth simply turn yellow, as we age.
- Medicine Use – some medicines, such as certain antibiotics, can cause your tooth color to change.
- Injury – Traumatic tooth injuries can cause intrinsic discoloration of the inner part of the tooth, the “dentin”, which is difficult to remedy. Have you ever seen a tooth that looks “dead”? That gray tone has most likely been brought on by a traumatic tooth injury.
Things We Can Control:
- Food and Drinks – Certain foods and drinks, such as berries, sauces, coffee, dark soda, black tea and red wine, cause staining over time. Limit these foods and practice good oral hygiene habits!
- Over-fluoridation – Too much fluoride in children, while teeth are still developing, can cause tooth discoloration. Be sure to follow guidelines for safe fluoride use. Don’t abandon the use of fluoride altogether though. Fluoride offers numerous benefits such as: preventing tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks and reversing early tooth decay. But, we’ve all heard that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!
- Tobacco Use – It is well known that cigarettes and other tobacco products turn teeth yellow and eventually brown. Don’t smoke or chew.
What can you do about stained teeth? We’re glad you asked! We offer professional teeth whitening options for the best and safest results. No matter what tooth shade you’ve inherited (or created), we can help make it whiter. Give us a call today to find out more!
Oct 21st, 2015
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Veneers – Be The Architect of Your Own Smile
Have you ever wanted to be the architect of your own smile? Do you look in the mirror and pinpoint exactly what you’d change about your teeth, if you could? Veneers are your opportunity to do, just that!
There are certain qualities a veneer candidate’s mouth must possess. These qualities are as follows:
- Good overall health
- Absent signs of tooth decay and/or gum disease
- Not a habitual teeth grinder
- Properly aligned bite, teeth are more or less in normal positions
- Sufficient tooth enamel in order to support the veneer
After you have become an approved veneer candidate, we will become partners in designing your ideal smile! Veneer qualities can be described as: durable, hard, strong, translucent and glassy. Most people may not know this but veneers actually are fairly translucent and act like a contact lens would on your eye. This translucence allows for the natural tooth color to come through, yet that the lab technician can bake your approved hue into your set of veneers can enhance the shade. There are three aspects to the shade selection process.
- Color Tone – the natural tones of teeth are: red, blue and yellow
- Chroma – the intensity of the hue
- Value – the darkness or lightness of the hue
You will still be able to eat hard food (such as an apple) and maintenance of your new veneers will not differ from your current tooth care routine. Brush and floss as normal, simply avoiding abrasive toothpastes. A good home care regimen will insure your veneers lifespan.
If you’re thinking about veneers you should call us so we can help you decide if this cosmetic service is right for you! It’s never too late to get the smile you’ve always dreamed of.
Oct 7th, 2015
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Gum Disease Risk Factors
Here’s a concerning statistic: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of Americans who are over the age of 65 have gum disease. Although brushing and flossing are key factors in preventing gum disease, there are other elements that can contribute to tooth loss as well.
Smoking may actually be one of the most significant risk factor in the development of gum disease. Tobacco is a powerful substance that can damage teeth permanently and actually aid in the progression of periodontitis. Studies have shown that using any kind of tobacco product increases the risk of gum disease.
You might not believe it, but stress is actually a risk factor and can cause gum disease to progress more quickly. Stress is linked to many health issues such as cancer and hypertension. Stress takes a toll on your body and makes it hard to fight off infections. Even infections in your gums!
Sadly, some people just may be more susceptible to gum disease than others. These people need to try harder and brush more often to fight off gingivitis and plaque build up.
Clenching and Grinding:
Grinding your teeth is bad for your teeth’s overall health. Excess force on the tissues that support your teeth can encourage gum disease to progress.
Certain medications can upset your oral health and cause gum disease to progress faster. Anti-depressants and certain heart medications are the biggest culprits. If you’re taking any meds and begin to see a change in your overall oral health, please let us know at your next appointment.
Poor Nutrition and Obesity:
Your diet is incredibly important and affects your overall health. Eating foods low in important nutrients weakens your immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight infections. Gum disease starts with infections, which is why it’s important to take care of your body and think about your overall health.
Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you think you might be in the early stages of gum disease!
Sep 23rd, 2015
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Weighing the Costs of Dental Implants
When compared to the costs of other tooth replacement options, boy do dental implants seem expensive! Yet you may be surprised to learn that, in the long run, dental implants can be more affordable than their traditional counterparts. Understanding this procedure and the factors that determine the costs can help you decide if dental implants are a good investment for you!
What is a Dental Implant? A dental implant is a permanent replacement for lost teeth. It is made of an artificial tooth firmly held in place by a tooth root made of titanium (which is biocompatible) that is surgically placed into your jaw. Dental implants help stabilize the jaw and the bone around it to avoid future bone loss and maintain the shape of your jaw. They never have to be removed and feel more natural and comfortable than dentures. And unlike bridges or crowns, which are cemented in, the chances of slippage or shifting are eliminated. With implants, talking and eating become worry free.
Steps In a Dental Implant Procedure. We will first use extensive imaging to determine bone health, height, and thickness to assess your bone and teeth structure carefully. The surgery itself is done in our office in separate stages. First, the implant is surgically placed into your jawbone, completely hidden within your gum tissue. Once the implant has integrated into your bone, a healing process of about 4 to 6 months, the next stage is the placement of the abutment, or the post that penetrates the gum and will connect the replacement tooth to the implant. The final stage involves attaching your artificial tooth (made from impressions of your natural tooth) to the abutment. If more than one tooth is being replaced, a removable bridge is used, as it is more affordable than implanting each tooth separately. For a bridge, it takes only one implant on either side to span an area holding several teeth. The bridge snaps into place for a more permanent and natural fit than dentures.
Factors That Affect the Cost. While dental implant surgery is a safe and routine option, it is a complex procedure that takes time and expertise to be done effectively. There are many factors that will influence the final costs including what X-ray and CT scans are necessary to evaluate and assess the implant area and the brand and material of the post, abutment and artificial teeth. However, the biggest cost factor is the complexity of the surgery itself. For example, how many teeth are we replacing and what is the location? Will additional procedures, such as bone grafting or sinus elevation be required? We do our best to make sure that your estimate includes all of the possible costs of each of the steps of your procedure.
While dental implants may seem expensive, they are often more affordable in the long run than traditional restoration methods such as crowns and bridges, which are more vulnerable to damage and usually require repairs or replacement every few years.
Dental implants are known to have a 95% success rate when completed by professionals with the right experience and training, such as us! Because dental implants offer a permanent solution, are natural and comfortable, and require little maintenance, they are a cost effective choice for most of our patients.
Sep 9th, 2015
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Evolution of Braces: Then and Now
Braces are a far cry from the teeth-alignment practices of hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Now, more than half of American teenagers wear braces, but back in the day some pretty strange gadgets were used in orthodontic care. Take a look at these braces of the past!
Even ancient civilizations believed that a beautiful smile goes a long way. Ancient Greeks apparently aligned their teeth using gold wires – that would be a pretty expensive luxury today! Even stranger, Egyptian mummies have been found with catgut bands, which are made from animal intestines, wrapped around their teeth. Imagine having that in your mouth!
A Frenchman named Pierre Fauchard invented a device called the “Bandeau,” a metal object shaped like a horseshoe that attached to gold wires and corrected tooth alignment. This bulky metal “Bandeau” would have been a lot less fun to wear than the trendy bandeau tops people wear today!
In the early 1900s, people aligned their teeth using all kinds of materials: gold, silver, copper, even ivory and wood. Gold worked great because it was soft and easy to mold, but its softness was also a downside because it bent out of place and had to be adjusted frequently.
By the 1970s, modern braces were taking hold. Professionals ditched the bulky, embarrassing wires and headgear for direct bonding, or gluing stainless-steel brackets to the teeth using dental adhesive. The subtlety of these braces was taken a step further with lingual braces, where the brackets are placed on the backs of teeth instead of the front. Tooth-colored brackets became another new way to disguise braces.
Modern Braces and Invisalign
In the 1990s and early 2000s, Invisalign took orthodontic care to a whole new level with invisible, removable teeth alignment. With Invisalign, you can eat all the foods that you can’t eat with braces, because you simply take it out while eating and pop it back in when you’re done. No wires for food to get stuck in!
Now, people even customize their braces, adding a personal flare by choosing brightly colored rubber bands. Aren’t you glad to live in a time when braces are constantly developing from the unusual orthodontic methods of the past?
Aug 26th, 2015
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No Root Canal? What’s the Worst that Could Happen?
Have you ever wondered: “Do I have to have root canal therapy? What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t?”
We are glad you asked! Having a root canal may seem like an intimidating and painful experience, so we are not surprised when some patients are hesitant to go through with it.
But, the fact of the matter is that: root canal treatments save natural teeth. And saving your natural teeth is the most important thing we do as oral health professionals.
Still not convinced? Here are some more compelling reasons to follow through with that root canal treatment:
- An infected root won’t get better on its own. The pain may go away after some time, but that is not because the infection is gone, it is because the nerves are no longer working properly due to that infection.
- Abscesses and Systemic Infections: Left untreated, an infected tooth can spread to the gums, causing a serious abscess in the jaw that requires emergency treatment. In rare cases, that could spread even further, creating a systemic (whole body) infection, which has the potential to be life threatening.
- The role that natural teeth play in the overall health of your body during its lifetime is something that we are learning more about every day. This important role cannot be overstated. A lost, permanent tooth may not seem like a big deal to you now, but it creates a domino effect of health problems down the road. For example, a missing tooth causes nearby teeth to shift, exposing them to more decay and more tooth loss down the road. This can affect your ability to maintain a healthy diet and, in turn, affect the quality and even the span of your life.
- Money: Even if aesthetics don’t matter to you, a lost tooth will probably cost you more money in the long run than a root canal will, now. When a tooth is missing, the jaw underneath that site atrophies. This makes it more expensive to perform restorative procedures such as dental implants in the future, as they will require more extensive prep-work such as bone grafting.
The bottom line is that your natural teeth are best. Endodontic therapy is typically the best way to save a natural tooth. It is also the most commonly used procedure, that we as oral health professionals have to help you keep your natural teeth for life.
Aug 12th, 2015
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Teeth Whitening: What You Should Know
Teeth whitening can lead to a brighter smile and a more confident you. Whether your teeth have been stained from drinking coffee and tea, or you are just looking to make your teeth a few shades lighter to match your new tan, teeth whitening is a great way to start with a fresh “you.”
When it comes to choosing your options of obtaining a brighter, whiter smile, there are a few options. We offer “in office” whitening (could be a single session, some could require multiple appointments), using bleaching or gels. Then there are alternative, “at-home” treatments, which include over the counter strips, gels, and other options. Each option has its benefits, whether it is convenience, price, time, longevity of brightness, quality, the list goes on and on. There is no perfect formula to obtain the ideal brightness of teeth. You definitely will get what you pay for. Although more expensive, in-office treatments will boast the highest results, but not everyone wants to dedicate the time or money. The benefits of an at-home remedy are that they are more wallet friendly, and can be done on your own schedule for merely minutes a day, as frequently as you desire.
What you should to know:
Regardless of which approach you take to making your smile brighter, there are a few things you need to know about dental health when it comes to teeth whitening. Your teeth (more than likely) will be sensitive. The sensitivity should only last a short while after bleaching, but some of the at-home strips do seem to leave a lingering feeling, especially when exposing your teeth to extremely cold, or extremely hot food and drinks. If your teeth continue to be sensitive for multiple hours or even days, it is recommended to avoid using those whitening products and consult us for the best alternative. In addition to tooth sensitivity, the gums may also become slightly irritated when exposed to the peroxide in the gels and bleaches. We generally use a rubber “dam” to protect patient’s gums from contact, but the at-home kits are usually one size fits all and may involve contact to the gums.
All in all, as with most things, there are general side affects, and will affect everyone differently. Be cautious and observant when considering whitening options. Read all instructions carefully and understand that some products will offer results quicker than others, and one product may work well for one person, but not for others.
Contact our office today to find out what the best whitening option is for you!
Jul 29th, 2015
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Oral Health Spotlight: Gums
Why should teeth get all the fame? Since the beginning of time, teeth have taken center stage in the oral health arena, while their close cousins, the gums, have occupied more of a back-seat role. So we have decided to dedicate this article to gums. What makes them healthy, what makes them sick, and why they are so important for whole-body health!
Gingiva, or “gums”, are the mucosal tissue that cover the jaw and hold the teeth in place. When they are healthy and properly intact, they offer a protective barrier for the jaw and tooth roots against food, bacteria and other materials, of which there are many that enter the mouth.
Healthy gums typically are coral pink and color, and not recessed far above the tooth. They show a scalloped appearance over each tooth, and are firm and resist movement. They take brushing and flossing well, usually with no reaction whatsoever.
By contrast, unhealthy gums may exhibit red, white and even blue hues, have a puffy or orange peel texture and may bleed when brushed or flossed. Untreated periodontal disease can affect the whole body, as it is related to health problems such as diabetes and heart disease, and also can result in lost teeth and poor nutrition down the road.
Prevention is Key:
The good news is that most cases of periodontal disease are preventable. While we don’t know exactly what role genetics play in terms of periodontal health, we do know that practicing good oral health is the first step to preventing periodontal disease. Habits such as brushing twice and flossing once per day and regular exams and cleanings can help many people prevent or slow the progression of gum disease.
We hope you have learned something new about your gums!
If you have any questions about your gums or any other part of your mouth, don’t hesitate to give us a call!
Jul 15th, 2015
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It’s Alive! Your Tooth, That Is!
People often wonder, “How does a tooth get to the point of infection?”
It’s a common misconception that teeth are not alive. That belief leads to confusion about how teeth become infected. Because you can’t “feel” the part that you can see (the crown), many people think that their teeth are not alive. Yet, the opposite is true. Most of the material that makes up your teeth is, in fact, made of living cells. Since the material is alive, it makes a great hosting site for bacterial infections!
Similar to hair and fingernails, there is a part of your teeth that is not alive – it is the outermost part, called “enamel”. This is the hard, white part that you can see. It is made of calcium phosphate, a very hard mineral that is perfect for breaking down food when you eat. Underneath that enamel, however, is where all of the live action happens!
Starting on the outside and working our way in, we find dentin (alive), and then the pulp cavity and root canal, through which nerves and blood vessels flow.
Generally speaking, if the enamel is intact, bacteria cannot get through to the pulp to cause problems. However, if there is a crack in the outer part of the tooth due to injury or decay, this creates a pathway for bacteria to enter into the innermost part of the tooth (the pulp cavity and canal) causing infection of the living tissue.
That is when endodontic treatment becomes essential! The only way to remove the infected material is manually, by accessing the canal itself, irrigating and then filling, or closing off access, to the inside of the tooth again.
Jul 1st, 2015
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Is Periodontal Disease Contagious? And other questions…
In our practice, we hear many great questions about periodontal disease and gums in general. So, to help educate our patients better, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions for you here:
Q: Is periodontal disease contagious?
A: Yes and no. The disease, which is an inflammatory response to bacteria under the gums, itself is not contagious. However, that bacteria can be spread through saliva, which could in turn cause periodontal disease in another person. To be safe, don’t share utensils or toothbrushes in your house.
Q: Can children get periodontal disease?
A: No. Periodontal disease has only very rarely been found in children and adolescents. However, it’s never too soon to adopt good healthy gum habits! Teach your kids to brush twice and floss once every day.
Q: Do I need antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria?
A: Possibly. A number of factors go into our determination about whether a patient needs topical antibiotic treatment after a periodontal cleaning. If you do need it, it will be applied under the gums during treatment.
Q: Are diabetes and periodontal disease related?
A: Yes, periodontal disease is a common complication of diabetes, most likely because diabetes makes a person more prone to infection. New evidence also shows that good perio health may have a positive effect on blood sugar levels as well!
Q: What about heart disease?
A: This is less clear, however several studies have shown that gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease as well.
As always, we are here to help. If you have additional questions that don’t appear on this list, give us a call!
Jun 17th, 2015
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