Articles from past issues
We know that
regardless of our individual experiences, we all have something we can
learn today that we did not know about yesterday. The same holds true
for dental health as for every other aspect of our lives. Our goal with
this newsletter is to assist us in develop an ever-strengthening
partnership with each of our patients. We believe the more our patients
understand about the importance of dental health, the better we can help
them maintain a healthy mouth, as well as treat the causes and symptoms
of any dental condition.
We invite you to look through our
introductory release of the SmileLink newsletter. This newsletter is one
of the many resources being made available to you through our
Learning Center. And more will
become available over time. We hope you will take the time to check out
our website on a regular basis for this new, and changing information.
We also remind you to contact our office with any questions or concerns
you may have that are left unanswered or worry you. Working together, we
can help you achieve a lifetime of healthy and attractive teeth and
Your Great Smiles Family Dental Team
years can be challenging. It takes a lot of energy
and patience making the transition to young
adulthood. Taking a driver's test. Dating. Applying
for a job. Trying out "adult" wisdom. This is no
place for wisecracking. Believe-it-or-not, inside
your mouth is no place for "wisecracking" either.
During late teen-hood
and into your early 20s, the third molars, better
known as wisdom teeth, are erupting. Don't be fooled
by their name. They are not wise. Sometimes they
don't erupt in a timely manner. They only partially
erupt, or don't erupt at all. The result of those
three situations plagues people of all ages, not
just 'tweens and teens. [Image is a
partially-erupted wisdom tooth]
Some time after you
should have had your wisdom teeth, you might have
noticed swollen lymph nodes in your neck. You may
have had a bad taste in your mouth and pain in the
gum tissue around one of your wisdom teeth.
Ahhhh, likely those
symptoms were telltale signs that you had a
condition called "pericoronitis." "Peri" means
"around," "coron(a)" means "crown," and "itis" means
"inflammation." You had an infection in the soft
tissues that surrounded a partially-erupted wisdom
When a wisdom tooth
partially pushes up through the gingiva (soft gum
tissue), it leaves a small flap of gum covering an
area on the top of the tooth. When you eat, tiny
food particles slip under that tissue flap. Bacteria
feed on the trapped food particles and cause an
infection. [Image shows a gum tissue flap]
If you notice
soreness at the site of a partially-erupted wisdom
tooth, we suggest that you brush and floss several
times a day and rinse with warm salt water, an
antimicrobial mouth rinse, or use an oral irrigator.
There is only so
much you can do from home once the infection gets
roiled up. Unfortunately, you might think your
infection will go away by itself, and you don't call
us. Pain means something is wrong. Please, don't
ignore your symptoms and let them get to a serious
If the infection
doesn't go away in 3–5 days, come to our office! We
need to intervene so that the infection won't travel
to other areas of your head and neck and cause
When you come into
the office, we'll examine the infected site and
maybe take x-rays to see if there is anything else
sinister going on. We can thoroughly clean the area
to get rid of some of that smelly pus and flush out
the food particles and bacteria. Depending on the
amount of infection and severity of pain, we might
also prescribe an antibiotic to help the recovery
Once we have done
those steps, it will be up to you to keep the area
clean. We can show you how to properly clean around
your wisdom tooth to help prevent another infection.
Brushing, flossing and rinsing will be key to your
recovery and ongoing health routine.
We can recommend a
style and kind of toothbrush, floss and mouth rinse,
as well as perhaps an oral irrigator. An oral
irrigator is an effective method to rinse because it
delivers a stream of liquid to the area where you
point the wand. [Image shows an oral irrigator
has been a recurring problem or if you get another
infection or infections, we likely will consider
removing the tissue flap. We could also determine
that extracting the problem tooth is our only option
to keep you and your oral tissues healthy.
If you are
experiencing any of the symptoms of pericoronitis,
or anything out of the ordinary, please call our
office right away so that we can get you scheduled
for an examination. The earlier we can intervene,
the better chance you have of recovering quickly and
fending off any future recurrences with those unwise
Father Knew Best
Many of the wonders of modern
medicine trace their roots to people and events thousands of
years ago. One of those ingenious people was Hippocrates, the
father of clinical medicine. Hippocrates discovered that a
certain willow tree bark contained "salicin," which he gave to
his father to ease his father's pain.
Much later, in the early 1800s,
a simple academic research project resulted in a product known
as "acetylsalicylic acid," the main ingredient in today's
aspirin. Over 2000 years earlier, Hippocrates had given
"aspirin" to his father.
We sometimes have patients tell
us that they use aspirin to ease a toothache. That is a
reasonable, short-term treatment. However, when we ask more
questions, we discover that they do not swallow the aspirin;
they hold it against the tooth, or they crush it between their
teeth and let it sit on the tooth. When we examine the tooth, we
can see the result: tooth erosion and damage to the gum.
When aspirin lies against the
gum, it burns the tender gum tissue and causes the top layer of
the gum to slough off. Underneath is a red ulcer or lesion that
can cause you to experience severe pain. This may prompt you to
use even more aspirin, which only makes the condition worse.
When aspirin comes in contact
with a tooth, the acid in aspirin "eats" into the tooth's
enamel, which can expose the tooth to an infection or decay.
Once the enamel is eaten away, it cannot be put back. Some teeth
are so severely damaged that they have to be restored with
We know of patients who give
aspirin to their children and tell the child to hold the chewed
aspirin between the teeth. When the teeth were examined, the
grains of aspirin were wedged into the pits and fissures on the
biting surface of their molars and pre-molars. Their teeth
suffered severe damage. [Bottom image—pits and fissures]
It is so very important to take
proper care of primary teeth so that they can prepare the
child's jawbones for their permanent teeth.
The father of modern medicine
did know best. Little could Hippocrates have realized then that
his discovery is the most popular non-prescription pain-relief
drug in history!
Because aspirin is so common in
your daily life, you may forget it is a powerful drug that has
potential harmful effects when incorrectly used. Holding aspirin
in the mouth does not speed up its pain-relieving ability.
Please use aspirin cautiously and according to directions so
that it doesn't harm your precious teeth and oral tissues.
If you are experiencing oral
pain or are having another dental issue, please call our office
and schedule an appointment. We will do an exam and determine
its cause. We can recommend a treatment plan to get you back on
the road to health!
a Dub Dub
I'm not sure if the three tub
occupants in the nursery rhyme "Rub-a-Dub-Dub" had a spotless
tub, but I do know how important it is to have spotless teeth.
Your teeth can become stained
from an infection, a fever, fluoride, and a mishap when the
enamel on your teeth was developing, for example. We often see
stain or discoloration in children's permanent teeth, but
adults, too, sometimes have teeth that need a little
intervention to make them dazzling white.
We can approach stain and
discoloration removal three ways, depending on the severity. If
the stain is on the surface, the dental hygienist can often just
polish it off using a pumice paste. Most stains are like that.
If, on the other hand, your stain is built into the enamel or is
a result of poor oral care during your time with braces, we can
bring out the big guns.
The first procedure we can try
is whitening your teeth by applying a bleaching solution to
them. We can either brush the solution onto your teeth or pour
it into a special bleaching tray that covers your teeth. We may
also use a high-intensity light or laser to help the bleaching
solution do its job.
If the stain remains after the
whitening treatment, we can use microabrasion. Microabrasion is
considered a minimal intervention treatment and is a good option
to remove stain or discoloration. According to a 2007 study,
microabrasion is still considered an effective method to remove
A microabrasion technique
developed in the late 1980s is pretty much the same procedure
Microabrasion simply means that
we carefully rub a mild abrasive substance (grit) onto the
stained teeth, much like you may use a household cleanser to
remove water and soap stains from your bathtub. Typically, the
abrasive substance is pumice, which is a soft, porous stone
produced by a volcanic eruption. Pumice is a common ingredient
in many cleaning agents including some hand soaps.
Microabrasion treatment takes
about 30 minutes. This is a little longer than it takes you to
clean your tub, but your teeth and tub will sparkle.
Our third option is to use
microabrasion and an at-home whitening treatment if the first
two options don't produce satisfactory results. After your
microabrasion treatment, we'll send a custom-fitted bleaching
tray and solution with you to be used at home. The tray may need
to be kept on your teeth over night.
More recently, remineralization
products have been marketed and can really make an astounding
difference. These products are beneficial to someone whose
braces have just been removed. Remineralization products help
whiten stains that resulted from inadequate oral care while the
braces were in place.
It's not all done in the office
though; you'll have to do a little at home. You would wear the
remineralization paste in a custom-fitted tray for about five
minutes each day for up to a month.
If your teeth don't respond
satisfactorily to microabrasion, the home bleaching follow-up,
or the remineralization product, then we may consider other
options such as veneers or porcelain crowns. These procedures
take more time and effort, and there is quite a difference in
If you or your child has stains
or discolorations on your teeth, please call and schedule an
appointment. We can decide the best option for you and return
your teeth to their shiny white best.
Share and Share Alike
Someone may have shared their
special warm and fuzzy feeling with you when you were a child.
You may have shared your special warm and fuzzy feeling with
You could be one of the 85
percent of the world population who has experienced a warm and
fuzzy feeling. Once you have that special warm and fuzzy
feeling, you will get it again and again.
This isn't an ordinary warm and
fuzzy feeling. This warm and fuzzy feeling has a special zing to
it. First, this feeling turns into tingling sensation. A couple
days later it turns into a nasty red blister on your lip. You
have a herpes simplex 1 virus, commonly known as a cold sore or
fever blister. And it's very contagious.
When you were 6 months to 7
years old, that first herpes outbreak (gingivostomatitis) caused
tiny gray or yellowish blisters with red edges on the inside of
your cheeks, your gums, tongue, tonsils, or soft palate. You may
have had trouble swallowing because your throat swelled. But
after a week or so, the blisters went away by themselves.
The adult version of a cold
sore is a little different than the juvenile outbreak. As an
adult, the outbreaks will appear on the outside of your mouth.
Only in rare instances do the blisters occur on the gums or roof
of the mouth.
Sometimes cold sores are
confused with canker sores. A canker sore occurs only on the
soft tissues inside your mouth, and it's not contagious.
You might have cold sores 2–6
times every year. The initial warm and fuzzy, tingling sensation
usually lasts no longer than 2 days. Next, is the blister phase
that lasts another 1–2 days. The blisters contain fluid that can
spread the virus to other parts of your body and to other
The blisters weep during the
third stage. Weeping usually lasts 1 day. It is extremely
important not to touch the fluid with your bare hands. If you
do, immediately wash your hands because the virus can attack
your fingers. If you were to touch your eye, you could spread
the virus to your eye.
If you use a towel, tissue or
wash cloth to blot or wipe the fluid, do not put the cloth or
tissue where anyone else can come in contact with it. The virus
can also be transmitted if someone uses your coffee cup,
toothbrush, lipstick or eating utensil, for example.
Once the fluid has seeped out
of the blisters, the sore will form a crust. The crust usually
comes off in about 4 days.
Finally, as each crust gets
smaller and smaller and falls off over a 3–4 days time span, the
outbreak is done.
While the cold sores are active
and painful you could offer your child acetaminophen or
ibuprofen (never give aspirin to someone under 20 years of
age!). For yourself, you could use aspirin, acetaminophen or
ibuprofen. We may also prescribe an antiviral medication.
When you have a cold sore
outbreak, it's important to maintain your oral health care
routine. Brush and floss as usual, being careful not to brush
against a sore. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before and
after handling your toothbrush or any object you use during your
oral care routine.
If you experience any unusual
pain in your mouth while you are in the throes of an outbreak,
please call our office and schedule an appointment so that we
can examine your teeth and gums and rule out any other issue.
The earlier we can intervene, the better chance you will have an
uncomplicated recovery and maintaining your healthy teeth.
We There Yet?
Your bags are packed and in the
trunk of your car. You made a list and checked it twice.
Swimsuits—check. Extra socks—check. Toothbrushes—check.
Newspaper carrier—check. Everyone excitedly piles into the
family auto and you are on your way to get a few days R&R.
As you get out of the car at
your destination, you stub your toe and stumble headlong onto
the pavement. Ouch! Your lip feels pulverized and your front
tooth hurts. Checking in the mirror you see that you chipped
your front tooth and it's wiggling.
What to do now so far from
home? It's then you realize our phone number isn't programmed
into your cell phone or on your emergency number list!
When you plan a trip away from
home, even for a couple of days, it's a good idea to include
dental health need items, as well as that swimsuit, in your
To help you keep your R&R
relaxing and stress-free, consider these tips:
- Call and schedule a
check-up in advance of your vacation so we can make sure
your teeth are in good health or take care of any issues
before you leave.
- Ask us for a list of
temporary treatments for different types of tooth injuries.
- Write down our office and
emergency phone numbers in case you have questions or need a
- If we are unable to offer
a referral, call the local or state dental society, or ask a
local hospital to recommend a dentist.
- If you are traveling
internationally, the hotel concierge will be able to help
you locate a dentist. Or call the U.S. Embassy or consulate.
- Review your dental health
plan before you leave. You might need supplemental dental
coverage for travelers.
Then, pack a few just-in-case
items in your bag:
- aspirin or other
anti-inflammatory for a toothache
- a temporary filling
material that can be purchased at your local pharmacy
- gauze in case you stub
your toe and chip a tooth
- cotton wool if a brace or
retainer wire becomes misshapen. Cotton wool refers to a
flat "sheet" of cotton rather than a cotton ball.
- nail file to file off
rough edges of a broken tooth in case you can't get medical
attention right away
- sugarless chewing gum,
which will help cover misshapen dental wire or be a
temporary filler if absolutely necessary.
A vacation is a great time to
relax and unwind. To help you be worry-free, call and make an
appointment so we can give you a clean bill of health and send
you on your way. And don't forget to send me a postcard!
To see the current issue: