Posts for: September, 2014
By the time you reach adulthood, roughly 100 trillion microscopic organisms will have taken up residence in and on your body, outnumbering your own cells 10 to 1. Most are bacteria, a domain of the animal kingdom considered synonymous with disease. But only a few of the thousands of bacterial species cause us harm; the rest are either benign or actually beneficial to our health, including in our mouths.
Dentistry pioneered much of our knowledge about bacteria, developing processes used to identify, classify and understand those species inhabiting our mouths. Science as a whole is catching up with the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) begun in 2007. Through HMP, researchers have catalogued and begun to study more than 10,000 bacterial species.
We’re finding that our bodies develop a symbiotic relationship with many of these creatures invisible to the naked eye. During our infancy the bacteria we ingest from birth and breast feeding begin to interact with our body’s immune system, “teaching” it to refrain from attacking friendly organisms that contribute to health and searching and destroying enemy species that cause disease.
We’re also learning that an imbalance with our individual population of bacteria has links with disease. Our digestive system is a prime example: bacteria related to obesity can overpopulate our digestive tract, while malnutrition can create an environment that produces too many bacteria that inhibit digestion of vitamins and other nutrients.
The same microbial imbalance can occur in the mouth. For example, our typical Western diet encourages the growth of bacteria most associated with tooth decay (Streptococcus mutans). We’re also finding that tobacco smoking creates a mouth environment more conducive to the bacteria that cause gum disease. Just by quitting smoking you can alter that environment to encourage growth of health-promoting bacteria and inhibit growth of malevolent species.
The desired outcome of this knowledge is to develop treatments that target disease-causing bacteria without harming those beneficial to us (as often occurs with traditional antibiotics). In dentistry, such possibilities could help stop the spread of tooth decay, gum disease or similar bacterial infections, while fostering a healthier oral environment that prevents disease and protects health.
Gum Disease and the Importance of Oral Hygiene
- Oral Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Lung Disease
- Kidney Disease
- Facial and Oral Pain - Infections in the gum line can cause discomfort around the face, teeth and gums. This is a sign of gum disease.
- Heart and Major Organ Malfunctions - Bacterial endocarditis occurs when inflammation reaches the hearth or heart valves, which can worsen heart disease and may cause damage. This is caused by infections of the mouth.
- Digestion Issues - Mouth inflammation can lead to intestinal failure, irritable bowel syndrome, as well as other disorders in the digestive system.
Remember Matthew Lewis? You've seen him in all of the Harry Potter movies, where he played the bumbling Neville Longbottom: a pudgy, teenage wizard-in-training whose teeth could best be described as... dodgy. We won't spoil the movie by telling you what happens to him in the end — but in real life, let's just say his awkward phase is over. Today, he looks more like a young Ryan Gosling. How did this transformation happen?
Well, in part it was some “Hollywood magic” that made his teeth look worse in the films than they really were. But Lewis acknowledges that he also had cosmetic dental work performed. If you've ever considered getting a smile makeover yourself, you may wonder: What kinds of “dental magic” might it take to change an awkward grin into a red-carpet smile? Here are a few of the treatments we might utilize.
It's possible to correct tooth crowding, protrusion, gaps between teeth, and many other bite problems with orthodontic appliances like braces or clear aligners. While some may think orthodontics is just for teens, that isn't so — you're never too old to get the smile you've always wanted! In fact, right now about one in five orthodontic patients is an adult.
This is a popular (and surprisingly affordable) option that can effectively lighten your teeth by six shades or more. We can do in-office whitening for the fastest results, or prepare a take-home whitening kit with a custom-made tray to fit your teeth perfectly and a supply of the proper bleaching solution. How well it will work for you (and how long it will last) depends on various factors, including the original cause of the discoloration, and your preferences for foods and beverages (such as coffee or red wine) that may cause stains.
Sometimes, even professional bleaching isn't enough to get the kind of permanent, “Hollywood white” smile you'd like; that's where porcelain veneers come in. By placing a fingernail-thin layer of ceramic over the tooth's enamel, veneers offer a permanent, pearly white finish that looks just like your natural teeth — only more dazzling! Veneers, long the first choice of celebrities, are gaining popularity with plenty of “regular” folks.
This category covers a wide variety of different methods and materials — like cosmetic bonding, crowns, bridges, and dental implants — which we use to repair or replace teeth that are damaged or missing. Beginning with the simple repair of small chips or cracks with tooth-colored resins, we can progress to more permanent crown restorations when more of the tooth structure needs replacement. To restore missing teeth, we have the option of using the tried-and-true bridge — or, the current gold standard in tooth replacement: the lifelike, permanent dental implant.
Of course, this is just a bare outline of the many tools and techniques cosmetic dentistry offers. We would be happy to talk with you about which ones are right in your individual situation. Will a smile makeover land you a red-carpet role? Maybe... but one thing is for sure: It will help you get the smile you've always wanted.
If you would like more information about smile makeovers and options in cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Cosmetic Dentistry,” “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers,” and “Dental Implants.”