Posts for: November, 2017
People with diabetes have special concerns when it comes to dental care. In fact, 1 in every 5 cases of total tooth loss is linked to this widespread health condition. November is National Diabetes month, so it’s a good opportunity for us to answer some frequently asked questions about oral health and diabetes.
Q. Can I get a dental implant to replace a missing tooth even if I have diabetes?
A number of studies have shown that people with diabetes can be good candidates for dental implants, but there are some concerns regarding dental implant treatment, which involves minor surgery. Wounds tend to heal more slowly in people with diabetes, who are also more infection-prone than those without diabetes. In diabetic individuals with poor glucose control, research has also shown that it takes longer for the bone to heal after implant placement. We will take these (and other) factors into account when planning your implant treatment. However, in many situations even poorly controlled diabetes does not necessarily preclude dental implant treatment.
Q. I’ve heard people with diabetes have a higher risk for gum disease. Is that true?
Yes. Research shows that people with diabetes are more susceptible to periodontal (gum) disease, especially when their diabetes is poorly controlled. The reverse is also true: untreated periodontal disease can worsen blood sugar levels. So it’s important to manage both of these inflammatory conditions. If you notice the early signs of gum disease, such as inflamed or bleeding gums, please bring this to our attention. Early gum disease (gingivitis) is much easier to treat than more advanced forms—which can eventually lead to tooth loss.
Q. If I have diabetes, how can I protect my oral health?
Keep doing your best to control your blood sugar levels with exercise and a healthy diet—and stick to an effective daily oral hygiene routine, which includes both brushing and flossing and coming in for regular dental checkups and cleanings. Make sure to let us know what medications you are taking and update us on any changes. If you notice any mouth sores, swelling or inflammation, bring this to our attention as soon as possible.
Of course, you want your teeth to look good--nice and straight, no gaps, bright and shiny. Your professional teeth cleaning at Great Meadows Dental Group in Bedford, MA is the first step your dentist takes to keep your smile aesthetics as vibrant as possible. But, did you know that hygienic cleanings also support your oral health? Partnered with your careful brushing and flossing at home, a semi-annual cleaning can be one of your smile's best benefits.
Why bother with in-office cleanings?
At-home brushing and flossing just does not remove all the plaque and tartar your teeth and gums accumulate. So what's the big deal? Bacteria-filled plaque and tartar lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Undetected and untreated, these oral health conditions escalate to tooth loss. So when your dentist in Bedford asks you to come in for a cleaning and check-up every six months, it's really for your own good.
Other benefits of professional cleanings
Your friendly hygienist at Great Meadows Dental Group does more than just manually scale your teeth. She also takes digital X-rays as needed to help the dentist see hidden areas of your mouth, bone and root structure. She measures your gum pockets, too. This simple, painless procedure tells your Bedford dentist how healthy your gums are. The AAP states that gum pocket depth greater than five millimeters is diagnostic for gum disease.
Additionally, both your hygienist and your dentist check your mouth for signs of oral cancer by looking under your tongue and at the other soft tissues of the mouth and back of the throat. They also palpate, or feel, the lymph nodes at the sides of the neck and under the chin. This takes just a few minutes but can catch oral cancers in their earliest stages when they are most treatable.
Finally, your hygienist uses a mildly abrasive toothpaste and rotary tool to polish your teeth to a sparkling and squeaky-clean finish. Try getting that super, stain-free smile at home!
For your next check-up and cleaning...
Please contact Great Meadows Dental Group in Bedford, MA where the staff believes that preventive dental services, including hygienic cleanings, are the best way to keep a bright, strong smile. Call today: (781) 275-7707.
Some people are lucky — they never seem to have a mishap, dental or otherwise. But for the rest of us, accidents just happen sometimes. Take actor Jamie Foxx, for example. A few years ago, he actually had a dentist intentionally chip one of his teeth so he could portray a homeless man more realistically. But recently, he got a chipped tooth in the more conventional way… well, conventional in Hollywood, anyway. It happened while he was shooting the movie Sleepless with co-star Michelle Monaghan.
“Yeah, we were doing a scene and somehow the action cue got thrown off or I wasn't looking,” he told an interviewer. “But boom! She comes down the pike. And I could tell because all this right here [my teeth] are fake. So as soon as that hit, I could taste the little chalkiness, but we kept rolling.” Ouch! So what's the best way to repair a chipped tooth? The answer it: it all depends…
For natural teeth that have only a small chip or minor crack, cosmetic bonding is a quick and relatively easy solution. In this procedure, a tooth-colored composite resin, made of a plastic matrix with inorganic glass fillers, is applied directly to the tooth's surface and then hardened or “cured” by a special light. Bonding offers a good color match, but isn't recommended if a large portion of the tooth structure is missing. It's also less permanent than other types of restoration, but may last up to 10 years.
When more of the tooth is missing, a crown or dental veneer may be a better answer. Veneers are super strong, wafer-thin coverings that are placed over the entire front surface of the tooth. They are made in a lab from a model of your teeth, and applied in a separate procedure that may involve removal of some natural tooth material. They can cover moderate chips or cracks, and even correct problems with tooth color or spacing.
A crown is the next step up: It's a replacement for the entire visible portion of the tooth, and may be needed when there's extensive damage. Like veneers, crowns (or caps) are made from models of your bite, and require more than one office visit to place; sometimes a root canal may also be needed to save the natural tooth. However, crowns are strong, natural looking, and can last many years.
But what about teeth like Jamie's, which have already been restored? That's a little more complicated than repairing a natural tooth. If the chip is small, it may be possible to smooth it off with standard dental tools. Sometimes, bonding material can be applied, but it may not bond as well with a restoration as it will with a natural tooth; plus, the repaired restoration may not last as long as it should. That's why, in many cases, we will advise that the entire restoration be replaced — it's often the most predictable and long-lasting solution.
Oh, and one more piece of advice: Get a custom-made mouthguard — and use it! This relatively inexpensive device, made in our office from a model of your own teeth, can save you from a serious mishap… whether you're doing Hollywood action scenes, playing sports or just riding a bike. It's the best way to protect your smile from whatever's coming at it!
If you have questions about repairing chipped teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Artistic Repair of Chipped Teeth With Composite Resin” and “Porcelain Veneers.”