Q. “I am so confused; I don’t even know what is important.”
A. Dentistry is a very complex issue. When you add the many treatment options with the vast array of materials that can be used, it becomes difficult for even experienced dentist’s. It is good to begin with the basics: What do you want to have as the end result; Are esthetics or function more important to you (you can have both); How much time and money are you willing to dedicate to your goal. Next, make a list of questions you have. Finally, at the risk of sounding like self promotion, get the expertise of an unbiased dentist to help you get an idea of your options, cost and time involved to treat your case. Also, ask them how to find the best person for your treatment. It will be time well spent.
Q. “I have missing teeth, and can’t chew my food. I don’t understand my options, especially about dental implants.”
A. Many of us are 45-90 years of age or older. It is very important to accept that, as we get older, many of the things we use to do are no longer possible. It becomes a much bigger part of our life to be able to enjoy a good meal with friends and family. From a practical point of view, we need to be able to chew our food (also important for digestion). Missing teeth can be replaced with removable (partial and complete dentures) or fixed appliances (implants and bridges).
Implants can offer a very predictable long term result. Yes, they are more expensive initially, but over a 20-30 year period, they become financially competitive with other restorative options, and they do not move around in your mouth. The first step is to have a diagnosis including a panographic radiograph (x-ray) that shows all of the teeth, sinuses and jaw bones.
Q.“What can I do about my gum disease?”
A. The first step to a healthy mouth is to get a “blue print” of what is good and what needs improvement. Then we eliminate any pain and infection. Before the teeth can be restored, the bone and gum tissue that support the teeth must be healthy. This begins by removing all of the long standing calcified deposits, food impaction areas and beginning a home care regimen designed specifically for you. This may also involve removal of any teeth that are beyond saving. Next, we decide if any more advanced procedures like gum surgery, bone augmentation and tooth replacement are necessary. Our last step is to restore and replace missing teeth. As indicated above, a panographic X-ray is invaluable to this entire process. These types of X-rays are digital and can be emailed for consultation purposes.
Q. “Is my dental work affecting my health condition?”
A. Over many years, this question has been asked by progressive researchers and dentist’s. The answer is yes. Research has shown that gum infections can cause or aggravate diabetes, heart disease, respiratory conditions, abnormal pregnancy outcomes (APO’s), kidney disease and more. The mercury in “silver fillings” has been linked to immune system suppression, Alzheimer's Disease and more. Fluoride has been suspected of causing bone problems, thyroid issues and suppression of the immune system. The list is very long indeed. It is important to consult with a bio compatible dentist to insure that these issues and materials are avoided. There are also blood tests available to determine more specifically what restorative materials are compatible with each individual.
Q. “What are the safest dental materials?”
A. Although this is specific to each individual, we know that the following materials should always be avoided: Mercury amalgam fillings, Fluoride in any form, Formacreasol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (and similar compounds), Triclosan, etc. Crown metals should not contain Beryllium or Nickel. Denture acrylics should not contain Cadmium as the pink dye material. As you can see, the list is growing, and we have only scratched the surface of the topic. The best solution is to select a bio compatible dentist AND educate yourself before embarking on your dental journey.
Q. “What is the proper procedure for replacing my mercury fillings?”
A. The following protections should be followed:
1) Begin a mercury detox protocol 2-3 weeks prior to the first removal appointment.
2) Make sure the dentist uses a rubber dam when removing the old filling and placing the new one. This prevents mercury filling debris from entering your mouth.
3) Fillings should be sectioned and removed in pieces to avoid undue irritation to the tooth and excess loss of tooth structure.
4) ALL amalgam should be removed. The dentist should use magnifying glasses to conduct your treatment.
5) Liberal amounts of water should be used during the removal with high speed evacuation.
6) Your nose should be covered and ideally breathing air away from the immediate area.
7) There should be a high efficiency air filtration unit near the treatment chair.
8) The area behind the rubber dam should be checked often to insure no filling particles are in the patient's mouth.
There are other considerations that individual dentist’s may additionally use, but these are the basics.
Q. “How can I improve my smile?”
A. Smile enhancement is very much dependent on the extent of the problem. It can simply be some cosmetic re-contouring of the teeth followed by whitening, or you may require veneers placed over the outer surface of the teeth. The later technique is for cases with crowded teeth a more severe staining. If crowding of teeth is the primary issue, orthodontic treatment to realign the position of the teeth might be suggested as well.
Q. "What causes bad breath and how do I correct it?"
Bad breath or Halitosis is one of the most common dental complaints. The social and business effects of this condition can be a considerable issue. Mouth odor can be a significant indicator of gum disease as well.
The causes are three fold;
1. Foods such as garlic, onions, tobacco, red wines, cheese, etc.
2. Poor oral hygiene resulting in a bacterial build-up around the teeth and gums.
3. Specific bacteria that accumulate on the tongue, tonsillar area and sinuses.
The solutions are;
Rinse your mouth vigorously immediately following consumption of these foods. Eat a small handful of fresh parsley before garlic or onions. Use natural peppermint breath mints or oil. If possible brush and floss directly following these foods or beverages.
Good home care is the corner stone of bacterial laden plaque and decaying food particle removal around the teeth.
There are certain bacteria that produce VSC (volatile sulfur compounds). There are specific products and devices that are available to correct this.
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