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Posts for category: Oral Health

By Coweta Dentistry Associates
May 31, 2013
Category: Oral Health
GumRecessionandPlasticSurgery

Did you know that millions of Americans have some degree of gum recession? Are you one of them?

Gum recession is the loss of the pink gum tissue that surrounds your teeth and can lead to exposure of the root surface of your teeth. In addition to the obvious aesthetic issues, recession can also result in tooth loss in very severe cases.

So, what causes gum recession? Well, first of all, if you are genetically predisposed to having thin gum tissues, your gums will be more prone to receding than those with thick tissues. However, other factors include ineffective oral hygiene, excessive brushing and mal-positioned teeth. In addition, poor fitting appliances, such as partial dentures can also cause gum recession.

If you think you are suffering from gum recession, you should make an appointment with us immediately, so that we can perform a thorough examination to accurately diagnose your condition. We'll look at your teeth and their position within the supporting bone and surrounding gum tissue. Depending upon our diagnosis, we may recommend a technique known as gum or soft tissue grafting, which allows us to regenerate lost or damaged gum tissue. Grafting is the surgical manipulation of tissue, taking it from one site and moving it to another, so that it can attach and grow.

There are two basic gum tissue grafting techniques, the free gingival graft and the connective tissue graft. Here is a description of each:

  • Free Gingival Grafting. With this technique, we remove a thin layer of tissue from the roof of your mouth or any other site where the tissues are identical to gum tissue (the donor). We then shape and transplant it to the recipient site to create new gum tissue. Both donor and recipient sites heal within two to three weeks.
  • Connective Tissue Grafting. This technique is used to cover exposed roots in the treatment of gum recession. It involves more microsurgical maneuvers to prepare both the donor and recipient sites. We take donor tissue from beneath the surface of the roof of your mouth and then cover it with the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. Another alternative is to use processed tissue rather than your own tissue as a donor material.

When you visit us for an appointment, we will assess which procedure is best-suited to your needs.

If you would like more information about gum recession and plastic surgery, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”

By Coweta Dentistry Associates
April 20, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   tmj   tmd  
TMDHowCanSuchSmallJointsCauseSuchBigProblems

If you have pain in your jaws or related headaches, you may have Temporo-mandibular Joint Disorder, TMD. You are probably wondering what this is — and how it can be treated. If this sounds like something you may have, read on for some answers.

What is TMD? TMD describes a group of disorders or diseases that have the same symptoms, but may have different causes, hence it is known as “The Great Imposter.” Pain in and around the temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ), the jaw joint involved in opening and closing your mouth — is characterized by pain and soreness in the region of one or both joints, ears, jaw muscles and even the sinuses.

How does the temporo-mandibular joint work? You can feel your jaw joints working if you place your fingers in front of your ears and move your lower jaw up and down. On each side the joint is composed of an almond shaped structure at the end of the lower jaw, called the condyle, which fits neatly into a depression in the temporal bone (the bone on the side of your skull near your ear). A small disc between the two bones allows the lower jaw to move forward and sideways. The joints are stabilized by ligaments and moved by muscles, like all your joints.

What is the most common cause of TMD? Many people clench or grind their teeth as a reaction to stress. This is generally a subconscious habit, and can even occur during sleep. Continual tooth grinding habits can cause the muscles to go into spasm, which is the most common cause of TMD pain. Structures associated with the jaws — teeth, air sinuses, and even neck and back muscles — share nerves with the muscles in the joints, so the pain may be felt in those structures too, making the exact source of the pain difficult to diagnose. Symptoms of TMD may limit your ability to open your jaw and talk or eat normally.

What is the treatment for TMD? Treatment will depend on the cause, but generally the first step is to relieve pain and discomfort with heat, mild painkillers, muscle relaxants, a soft diet, and simple jaw exercises. A bite guard may be recommended, which should be custom made in our office; a rigid yet unobtrusive plastic appliance that fits over the biting surfaces of your upper teeth. Properly fitted and adjusted, it aids and causes jaw muscle relaxation by preventing clenching and grinding. It is worn during times of stress when oral habits tend to recur, and can also be worn at night.

If you are suffering from TMD — whether the pain is moderate or severe — schedule an appointment with us to have it evaluated and treated. You can learn more about TMD by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “TMD: Understanding the Great Imposter.”

By Coweta Dentistry Associates
March 22, 2013
Category: Oral Health
SportsInjuriesToKidsTeeth

Your son has fallen and hit his face against a hard surface. Not only is he in pain but now there is also a chip missing from his front tooth. He is worried that his smile will never be the same. What should you do?

Answer: If you can find that missing chip, sometimes we can bond the fragment back on to the tooth. The tooth should be evaluated and repaired as soon as possible, although in the absence of other signs and symptoms of injury, and if your child is not in acute pain, it can probably wait up to 12 hours.

If the fragment can't be found, then the tooth can be restored with tooth-colored filling materials, which are also physically bonded to the natural tooth. Done well, these “composite resin” fillings can last for years and look perfectly natural. They may eventually need to be replaced with something more permanent.

If the chipped tooth is a child's primary (baby) tooth rather than a permanent (adult) tooth, the treatment will be similar.

However, a blow to a tooth can cause damage to the pulp — the living tissue within the tooth, which can become infected and die. If the damage to a primary tooth is too extensive it may be better to remove it to avoid damage to an underlying and developing permanent tooth. A place-holding appliance called a space maintainer may be used. If it is a permanent tooth it may need root canal treatment.

If a tooth is not chipped but is loosened or tender to the touch, it may require temporary stabilization, called splinting, until it has healed. Sometimes no treatment is required. If there has been a fracture to the tooth's root (the part below the gum line) it may heal by itself, or it may require further treatment especially if it is a permanent tooth, depending on the individual situation.

It is important to evaluate teeth that have been hit or damaged as a result of injury to ensure that they remain healthy and functional. We will keep track of the tooth or teeth, with observation, x-rays when necessary and monitoring over time to make sure no permanent damage has been done.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about repairing a chipped tooth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”

By Coweta Dentistry Associates
March 07, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: celebrity smiles   sealants   diabetes  
MariaMenounosDiscussesDiabetesDietAndDentalSealants

As the youngest person ever to host Entertainment Tonight, Maria Menounos, an independent filmmaker, actress, and co-host of daily entertainment news program Extra, has made a huge splash in the world of entertainment journalism. However, she is also an avid ambassador for the American Diabetes Association, a cause that is very dear to her heart because her father is a diabetic.

Her father's illness taught Menounos and her family about the importance of maintaining good general and dental health. This included a diet packed with fruits and vegetables, many of which they raised themselves. According to Menounos, they also ate little-to-no junk food. These habits still help keep the busy celebrity journalist fit and smiling with beautiful, healthy teeth.

Speaking of her smile, Menounos openly discusses her oral health in her interview with Dear Doctor magazine. She has had no major dental enhancements — not even braces — but does occasionally brighten her smile with tooth whitening. She also feels that her teeth are healthy due to the sealants she had as a child.

We could not agree more with Maria! Sealants for the tiny grooves in teeth known as “pits and fissures” are something that every parent or caregiver should consider for their children. The enamel of newly erupted teeth is more permeable, meaning that the acids produced by bacteria in the mouth can damage these teeth more easily, making them more susceptible and less resistant to decay. The good news is that dental sealants help protect teeth until the enamel has matured. Because of sealants — along with fluoride, good hygiene, and better nutrition (including less sugar consumption), tooth decay has been dramatically reduced.

If you are interested in learning more about dental sealants, contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination. During this private consultation, we will also discuss any questions you have as well as what treatment options will be best for you or your children. However, to learn more about dental sealants now, you can continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sealants for Children.” And to read the entire interview with Maria Menounos, please see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Maria Menounos.”

By Coweta Dentistry Associates
February 17, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   tmj   tmd  
CommonWaysWeCanTreatYourTemporomandibularDisorderTMD

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), which was formerly known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), is an interesting condition because it can be hard to diagnose and often mimics many other conditions. It arises when there are problems inside the temporomandibular joint, and the muscles attached to it, causing pain. When treating TMD, we typically start by relieving the symptoms of pain and discomfort with heat, mild pain medications, a diet of soft foods, and some simple jaw exercises. We feel that it is critical to address your pain issues as soon as possible before preceding any further with treatment.

Once we have provided some pain relief and after having completed a thorough history and examination, we can move to the next phase of treatment. This may include the introduction of a bite guard or some form of oral appliance therapy. A bite guard is an unobtrusive yet rigid plastic horseshoe-shaped appliance that fits snuggly over the biting surfaces of the upper teeth. When in place and properly adjusted, this custom-made appliance allows your muscles and therefore jaw joints to relax. And it will prevent you from grinding your teeth, another contributing factor to TMD. We will probably ask you to wear it when sleeping or in times when you are feeling stressed when clenching or grinding habits may be active. We may also suggest that you obtain some relaxation therapy and/or biofeedback from a licensed therapist, as this can prove helpful in treating TMD.

If you have suffered from frequent jaw pain in the past and suspect that you may have TMD, please let us know so that we can address it at your next appointment. Or if you are currently in constant or severe pain, contact us immediately to schedule an appointment. You can learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for TMD by reading “TMD — Understanding The Great Imposter.”



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