My Blog

Posts for: March, 2017

By Great Meadows Dental Group
March 25, 2017
Category: Oral Health

If you suspect you have periodontal (gum) disease, it's important to get a correct diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you begin treatment the better the long-term outcome.

Gum disease is a bacterial infection that's most often triggered by plaque, a thin film of food particles on tooth surfaces. Plaque buildup most often occurs when a person doesn't practice effective oral hygiene: daily brushing and flossing and professional cleanings at least twice a year.

The most common type of gum disease, gingivitis, can begin within days of not brushing and flossing. It won't always show itself, but you can have symptoms like swollen, red or bleeding gums, as well as bad taste and breath. You could also develop painful abscesses, which are localized pockets of infection within the gums.

If we don't stop the disease it will eventually weaken the gum attachment to the teeth, bone loss will occur and form deep pockets of infection between the teeth and bone. There's only one way to stop it: remove the offending plaque from all tooth surfaces, particularly below the gum line.

We usually remove plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) manually with special hand instruments called scalers. If the plaque and calculus have extended deeper, we may need to perform another procedure called root planing in which we shave or “plane” the plaque and calculus (tartar) from the root surfaces.

In many cases of early gum disease, your family dentist can perform plaque removal. If, however, your gum disease is more extensive, they may refer you to a periodontist, a specialist in the treatment and care of gums. Periodontists are trained and experienced in treating a full range of gum infections with advanced techniques, including gum surgery.

You can also see a periodontist on your own for treatment or for a second opinion — you don't necessarily need a referral order. If you have a systemic disease like diabetes it's highly advisable you see a periodontist first if you suspect gum disease.

If you think you might have gum disease, don't wait: the longer you do the more advanced and destructive the disease can become. Getting an early start on treatment is the best way to keep the treatment simple and keep gum disease from causing major harm to your teeth and gums.

If you would like more information on the diagnosis and treatment of 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 “When to See a Periodontist.”

By Great Meadows Dental Group
March 21, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Straight Teeth  

Find out whether or not Invisalign is the right way to fix your smile.

All of your life you’ve been wanting to have a straighter smile. Perhaps you were never afforded the opportunity to get braces as a child, and now that you are an adult you may feel as if that ship has sailed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Our Bedford, MA, dentists are here to tell you how Invisalign could finally give you the smile you’ve always wished for.

People often look at an Invisalign aligner and wonder how on Earth it will straighten their teeth. It may look no different than the trays you get in whitening kits, but Invisalign aligners are completely different. In fact, when you get Invisalign in Bedford, MA, you will be given a series of aligners. Each aligner is custom designed to move certain teeth around until you achieve the finished results.

How does Invisalign move teeth?

Each aligner is uniquely crafted to fit snugly over the upper or lower teeth. By applying a slow, controlled amount of force in the proper direction, teeth will begin to shift. The power lies in how the thermoplastic of the aligners flexes to generate the force needed to move teeth. Pretty neat, huh?

Smiles that don’t require a lot of movement won’t need as many aligners that require more significant tooth movements. Whether you want to close up gaps between teeth, reduce crowding or improve overbites, there are many malocclusions that Invisalign can handle.

How often do I wear these aligners?

Aligners should be worn as often as possible. Yes, we know they are removable (and we know that’s a big selling point), but you sill need to be committed to wearing your aligners for about 22 hours out of the day. A good rule of thumb is to only remove your aligners prior to eating or before brushing and flossing your teeth. The rest of the time those aligners should stay in your mouth.

Aligners are worn for about 2 weeks at a time, after which they will be replaced with the next set in your treatment. You will notice how snug each new aligner is when you first put it on. This is necessary to help move the teeth closer to their ideal position.

Great Meadows Dental Group in Bedford, MA, is here to give you the dental care you need. Whether you want to find out if you are a good candidate for Invisalign or you want to find out what other treatment options are right for you, we are happy to sit down with you and help you create a treatment plan that works for you.

By Great Meadows Dental Group
March 10, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

If we could go back in time, we all probably have a few things we wish we could change. Recently, Dr. Travis Stork, emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors, shared one of his do-over dreams with Dear Doctor magazine: “If I [could have] gone back and told myself as a teenager what to do, I would have worn a mouthguard, not only to protect my teeth but also to help potentially reduce risk of concussion.”

What prompted this wish? The fact that as a teenage basketball player, Stork received an elbow to the mouth that caused his two front teeth to be knocked out of place. The teeth were put back in position, but they soon became darker and began to hurt. Eventually, both were successfully restored with dental crowns. Still, it was a painful (and costly) injury — and one that could have been avoided.

You might not realize it, but when it comes to dental injuries, basketball ranks among the riskier sports. Yet it’s far from the only one. In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are some two dozen others — including baseball, hockey, surfing and bicycling — that carry a heightened risk of dental injury. Whenever you’re playing those sports, the ADA recommends you wear a high-quality mouth guard.

Mouthguards have come a long way since they were introduced as protective equipment for boxers in the early 1900’s. Today, three different types are widely available: stock “off-the-shelf” types that come in just a few sizes; mouth-formed “boil-and-bite” types that you adapt to the general contours of your mouth; and custom-made high-quality mouthguards that are made just for you at the dental office.

Of all three types, the dentist-made mouthguards are consistently found to be the most comfortable and best-fitting, and the ones that offer your teeth the greatest protection. What’s more, recent studies suggest that custom-fabricated mouthguards can provide an additional defense against concussion — in fact, they are twice as effective as the other types. That’s why you’ll see more and more professional athletes (and plenty of amateurs as well) sporting custom-made mouthguards at games and practices.

“I would have saved myself a lot of dental heartache if I had worn a mouthguard,” noted Dr. Stork. So take his advice: Wear a mouthguard whenever you play sports — unless you’d like to meet him (or one of his medical colleagues) in a professional capacity…

If you would like more information about mouthguards, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.”