By Scott A. Leggio, DMD
February 09, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  
GumDiseaseAroundtheToothRootsCanBeDifficulttoAccessandTreat

Periodontal (gum) disease may begin superficially, but it can eventually work its way deeper below the gums to become a threat to the teeth and the underlying bone. The tooth roots are especially vulnerable to the disease with long-lasting implications to the tooth's survival.

An infection usually begins with dental plaque, a thin biofilm on tooth surfaces that harbor the bacteria that cause gum disease. The infection may eventually reach an area around the tooth roots called a furcation, where the roots branch off from the main tooth body. If the disease gains a foothold in a furcation, it could seriously erode the infected bone structure.

This often occurs in stages, commonly classified as early, moderate or advanced ("through and through"). In the first stage, the infected area exposes a slight groove in the tooth, but no significant structural loss. The next stage shows bone loss of at least two millimeters. In the most advanced stage, the bone loss now extends all the way beneath the tooth from one side to the other.

As with any situation caused by gum disease, it's best to catch a furcation involvement early and initiate treatment. As with any case of gum disease, the objective is to remove accumulated plaque and tartar (hardened plaque), which both fuel the infection. With plaque removed, the periodontal tissues can begin to heal and possibly regenerate.

It can be hard to achieve these outcomes because furcations are difficult to access. Although we may be able to clean the roots with tools like scalers (curettes) or ultrasonic equipment, we might still need to surgically access the area to completely remove the infection.

Initial treatment of furcations is often only the beginning. Someone with this level of gum disease usually needs continuous, heightened dental care and maintenance to prevent reinfection, often by an experienced hygienist working in consultation with a periodontist (gum specialist). It's also common to surgically alter the tissues around a furcation to make them easier to inspect and clean.

The best scenario, of course, is to avoid an infection altogether, or at least diagnose it before it becomes this advanced. The best way to stay gum (and tooth) healthy is to be sure you brush and floss every day, and see your dentist for cleanings and checkups at least twice a year.

If you would like more information on treating furcations, 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 “What are Furcations?

YouCanMakeCosmeticDentalChangesWhileStillKeepingYourUniqueSmile

According to Dr. Suess, "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You." Indeed, you are different from everyone else on the planet. Your fingerprints, your DNA, even the shape of your outer ear, are all unique to you. And, in a society that pressures all of us to be alike, it's good to be reminded from time to time that it's okay to be different—including how your smile looks.

In fact, the thought has such a nice ring to it that some folks designate January as "It's OK to be Different Month," a good time to celebrate all the many ways we're unique from one another—and even in ways that might be considered imperfections.

For example, in terms of smiles, some people have a slight gap between their front teeth. Technically, it's a dental defect, and we can usually correct it with veneers or orthodontics. But a lot of people, including celebrities like Michael Strahan and Madonna, want to keep their gap—they consider it part of their personality, something that makes them, them.

The same could be said for other smile "quirks" like moderate dental misalignments (crooked teeth) or color variations—even a chipped tooth. If you consider it a comfortable part of who you are, then you do you, boo.

On the other hand, if there's something about your smile that you feel detracts from your appearance, you shouldn't have to live with it. And, fortunately, you don't.

Chipped tooth? Composite bonding could make it whole again. Misaligned teeth? Braces or clear aligners can straighten your smile. Missing teeth? You have numerous tooth-replacement options, with durable and life-like dental implants far and away the reigning champ of restorations.

More importantly, we can ensure that any cosmetic improvements you undergo enhance your uniqueness rather than diminish it. For example, we can fine-tune teeth whitening of dull and dingy teeth to achieve the level of brightness with which you're most comfortable—be it subtly natural or Hollywood dazzling.

The bottom line is that you can certainly undergo a complete smile makeover that radically transforms your appearance. Or, you can simply receive a few light cosmetic touches to make the smile you already like even better.

It's your decision—and it all begins with an exam to assess your current dental situation, followed by a discussion of your options. From there, you can choose just how much you want to change about your "Youer than you" smile.

If you would like more information about creating your own unique smile, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry.”

By Scott A. Leggio, DMD
January 20, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
3EmergingTechnologiesThatImproveDentalImplants

Historically speaking, implants are a recent blip on the centuries-long march of dental progress. But few innovations in dentistry can match the impact of implants in its short history on dental function and appearance.

Dental implant therapy has already established itself as a restoration game-changer. But it also continues to improve, thanks to a number of emerging technologies. As a result, implant restorations are far more secure and life-like than ever before.

Here are 3 examples of state-of-the-art technologies that continue to improve this premier dental restoration.

CT/CBCT scanning. Functional and attractive implants depend on precise placement. But various anatomical structures like nerves or sinuses often interfere with placement, so it's important to locate these potential obstructions during the planning phase. To do so, we're increasingly turning to computed tomography (CT). This form of x-ray diagnostics is the assembly of hundreds of images of a jaw location into a three-dimensional model. This gives us a much better view of what lies beneath the gums.

Digital-enhanced planning. Implant success also depends on careful planning. And, it isn't a one-sided affair: The patient's input is just as important as the dentist's expertise. To aid in that process, many dentists are using digital technology to produce a virtual image of a patient's current dental state and what their teeth may look like after dental implants. This type of imaging also allows consideration of a variety of options, including different sized implants and positions, before finalizing the final surgical plan.

Custom surgical guides. To transfer the final plan details to the actual implant procedure, we often create a physical surgical guide placed in the mouth that marks the precise locations for drilling. We can now produce these guides with 3-D printing, a process that uses computer software to produce or "print" a physical object. In this case, the 3-D printer creates a more accurate surgical guide based on the exact contours of a patient's dental arch that's more precise than conventional guides.

Obtaining a dental implant is a highly refined process. And, with the aid of other advances in dental technology, it continues to provide increasing value to patients.

If you would like more information on restoring teeth with dental implants, 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 “How Technology Aids Dental Implant Therapy.”

HowYouTooCouldHaveLindseyVonnsViralVideoSmileMakeover

Instagram, America's humongous digital photo and video album, is chock-full of the silly, mundane, and poignant moments of people's everyday lives. That includes celebrities: Tom Hanks buying a used car; Ryan Reynolds sporting tiny sunglasses; Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran taking a hike. And then there's former Olympic alpine skier, Lindsey Vonn—posting a video of her recent dental visit.

Winner of several World Cup competitions and the first woman to gain the gold for downhill racing at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vonn broke her two front teeth during a—you guessed it—skiing competition a few years ago. This past September, she went to the dentist to update her restoration and gave her followers a fascinating firsthand look at dental bonding, a technique for repairing a chipped or broken tooth.

Although dental bonding has been around for decades, it's taken a leap forward in the last few years because of improvements in bonding material. A mixture of plastic and glass components, composite resins can produce a strong and durable result when bonded to teeth. To begin the technique, the tooth's surface is prepared so that the composite resin can better adhere. Along with an adhesive agent, the bonding material is applied as a paste, which makes it easier to shape and sculpt for the most realistic look. This is usually done layer by layer, with each individual layer hardened with a curing light.

The technique allows us not only to achieve the right tooth shape, but also to incorporate your natural tooth color. We can tint the composite resin as we work so that your restored tooth blends seamlessly with the rest of your natural teeth. The result: A “new” tooth that's both beautiful and natural-looking.

What's more, dental bonding is more affordable than veneers or crowns and can often be done in a single visit. You will, however, need to exercise care with your new restoration. Although highly durable, it can be damaged if you bite into something hard. You'll also need to watch foods and beverages like tea or coffee that can stain the dental material.

Even so, we can help you regain the smile you once had before you took your teeth skiing—Lindsey Vonn-style—or whatever you were doing that resulted in a “whoopsie.” All it takes is a call for an appointment to start you on the path to a more attractive smile.

If you would like more information about cosmetic dental enhancements, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Repairing Chipped Teeth” and “Artistic Repair of Front Teeth With Composite Resin.”

By Scott A. Leggio, DMD
December 31, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
AsWinterLoomsHereare3ThingstoWatchFortoProtectYourOralHealth

Here in the Western Hemisphere, sunlight hours steadily shrink day by day as we approach December 21st. This shortest day of the year marks the winter solstice and the official start of its namesake season. Love it or hate it, winter can have an impact on your health—including your teeth and gums.

Fortunately, winter doesn't sneak up on you—you can see it coming as the days wane. And, knowing what's up ahead gives you time to get yourself—and your mouth—ready. Here, then, are 3 things to prepare for during the winter months to protect your oral health.

Holiday eating. Winter starts off nicely enough with a bevy of festivities. But that could also mean you're eating more carbohydrates—particularly refined sugar—that feed the bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease. To lessen your chances of dental disease, exercise moderation while eating sweets and other holiday goodies. And, don't neglect your daily brushing and flossing routine.

Winter weather. Winter's chill could trigger some unpleasant oral experiences. If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, for instance, colder temperatures can worsen your symptoms. Harsh and windy conditions also make you more susceptible to chapped lips. For the former, be sure you're using a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. For the latter, apply lip salve to your lips that offers sun protection (SPF+) while you're outside.

Cold sores. You may be more apt to get sick during winter. That's because shorter days and more of your skin covered against the cold means you may absorb less Vitamin D from sunlight, leading to a weakened immune system. In addition to infections like colds and flu, this might also make you more susceptible to cold sores forming around your lips and mouth. If you feel a sore coming on, be sure to keep the area clean and apply an appropriate topical antibiotic cream to curtail any infection.

Winter also signals the beginning of a new year—the perfect time to get back on track with your dental care. If you haven't done so already, schedule a visit with your dentist for a cleaning and a checkup. By following these guidelines, you're sure to sail through the frigid winter months toward a brighter spring.

If you would like more information about dental care throughout the year, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Bitter Truth About Sugar.”





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