Austin Smile Creations – Austin Dentist Blog

A blog about implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, general and family dentistry and a healthy living.

Archive for General

Austin Laser Dentistry. What Are Dental Lasers and What Do They Do For You?

By visiting a laser dentist, you’ll have the opportunity to experience a new and exciting technology. We would like to give you some basic information and perhaps reduce any of your concerns.

Dental lasers are a family of instruments. Some lasers are used for surgery ( soft tissue lasers), some to cure restorative materials ( curing lights) and enhance tooth bleaching, and others to remove tooth structure for elimination of disease and restoration, some speed up healing and stimulate tissue growth and repair ( photomedicine) – different lasers for different procedures. All lasers require eye protection. Safety glasses with special lenses will be provided. Family and guests in the dental operatory at the time of your laser treatment may also be asked to wear protective eyeglasses.

Lasers do not make whining sounds or other annoying noises. You may experience the sound of a rush of air, since air suction is often used to keep the area cool and cleaner. You should be able to relax and be comfortable while the dental laser is in use.

Depending on your treatment needs, your Austin laser dentist may use the laser for a long period of time or possibly only for brief moments. However, even those procedures that require only a short period of laser usage benefit from the advantages of laser therapy. With laser surgery, there is a reduced need for local anesthesia, bleeding is minimized, swelling is controlled, and there is usually little, if any, postoperative discomfort. Laser energy enhances the effect of tooth bleaching agents for a faster and more effective result. Natural looking restorative materials for teeth are more quickly cured to greater hardness.

Dental lasers are used for a variety of treatment procedures. Your dentist knows which types of patient care are more patient friendly with a laser than with alternative traditional methods. The dentists using lasers have devoted training time and expense to be able to bring you the many advantages of this exciting new technology.

Read more about the dental lasers that we use here in Austin

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Dental Implants – Discount, express? So many choices, methods, applications. Which one is right for you?

One of the latest trends in healthcare and dentistry in particular is exploring all of the opportunities to keep your health as long as possible in the best condition. In dentistry, dental implants are starting to push full and partial dentures to the sidelines. Dentures are still a valid option for many people, but no matter how well they are maid ( and there is a huge difference between an inexpensive denture and an expensive one) they still do not compare to feel and function of the natural teeth. We won’t even talk about all those sticky pastes we see advertised on TV so often that long-term can cause all kinds of complications in your overall health, like ongoing yeast infections and a myriad of other issues. Dentures reduce your chewing capacity to 10% of normal and most people don’t even use them when they are not in public because they are so uncomfortable. If you are missing all teeth on an arch – a full implant-supported denture may be a great option for you. Four implants are used to serve as anchors to hold a denture in place. All-on-four is another solution to the problem as well, which is a set of porcelain teeth set on a frame that will be held in place by implant-anchors. And then, of course there are single tooth implants which are a great replacement to missing teeth. So many implant options are available to patients nowadays, but how do you decipher what implant solution and what implant office is the right one for you?

With many implant clinics available as a choice, patients should consider their options carefully. They may choose to go to a clinic that specializes in implants and does them all day long. Many people choose that and are happy with the result. Some may prefer a more personalized approach, so they feel like there is a strategy tailored specifically to their personal condition, especially when there are multiple problems at hand that will require several specialists addressing several different problems. So that approach can involve one of the two options. One is going to a general dentist ->be referred to a periodontist or implantologist-> then back to the general dentist or prosthodontist who will complete the job. The other is finding a professional who can complete the whole process by himself. Needless to say the treatment is very multifaceted, so it would require a highly qualified and extensively trained dental professional who can offer you all those services under one roof. It is not easy to find a professional like that, but Austin is lucky to have a few of the best.

In our practice we advocate that approach because it is a comprehensive one, with one professional being in charge of diagnostics, treatment planning and execution on all stages. One person is responsible for the whole treatment is a great benefit to a patient. We often hear that it is the best thing about our dental office – from general, to cosmetic and implant dentistry – you can have it all done in one place, call the same doctor with any concerns or questions, and it also saves you time and money. So choose your dental implant professional wisely! Do your homework. You would not want an express or discount heart or brain surgeon, would you? Read the rest of this entry »

Why Am I Having Tooth Pain?

I’ve spent plenty of time thinking about the meaning of the saying, “long are the days, and short are the years.” We are a busy people, aren’t we? While the days can seem long, certainly each year continues to fly by without regard. Simply, time continues to slip away from us. Pertaining to dental health, there are various occasions patients call and can’t believe the amount of time that’s passed since the last time they’ve been to a dentist. All too often we don’t think about our health, and often much less our oral health, because we are just too busy! When we do get around to making that ever-elusive dental appointment, it’s frequently pain that’s the motivator. But there are all classifications of pain that can be associated with both teeth and the bony structures surrounding them. It’s helpful to know the causes certain tooth pains may be related to, so we’ve enclosed a guide to identifying the possible origins of those pains.

Sensitivity to cold– There are a variety of reasons someone can be sensitive to cold, but the common reasons we see most often in our practice are related to malocclusion (bite not being aligned), clenching and grinding habits, recession that exposes root surfaces, and/or tooth fractures.

Sensitivity to hot– Sensitivity to hot can often be related to having new decay or recurring decay from an existing restoration that’s failing/failed, an infection, recession that exposes root surfaces, and/or tooth fractures. Sensitivity to hot is often combined with being sensitive to cold, sweets and/or pressure.

Sensitivity to pressure– There are different kinds of pressure pain that can be associated with an infection, malocclusion (bite not being aligned), clenching and grinding habits, and/or tooth fractures.

Sensitivity to sweets– The main contributing factor to pain linked to sweets is when we have new or recurring decay under an existing restoration that’s failing/failed. In other words, it’s often a cavity.

Many of these tooth pains can be combined with others, meaning you can be sensitive to hot, pressure, cold and sweets at the same time, and any combination in between. At Austin Smile Creations, not only do we encourage patients to identify the specific tooth or area the pain is coming from, but also recognize when the pain arises and for how long. Are you drinking cold water and feel a sharp pain along your gum line? You could have some exposed root surfaces. Do you avoid chewing on one side of your mouth because there’s too much pressure on the other? It could be the source of wear patterns from clenching and grinding your teeth.

So, what can you do about it? Tooth pain can be complicated, so the more information and monitoring you’ve done as the patient, the better chance a dentist has of identifying the source of the problem. Of course, in order for a dentist to properly diagnose pain-related symptoms, you need to call and make an appointment with your dentist, as there are diagnostic protocols to follow to rule in or rule out the source of the pain. Once the problem is diagnosed, your dentist can formulate an action plan. And the good news is there is always a solution! While proactive, preventative trips to the dentist are the best attempt to staying away from tooth pains, we know as much as anyone that life gets busy. Pain is often the reminder to stop and take the time to care for our selves and our health.

Restore Your Gum Health with Laser Dentistry

Your gums are the foundation for healthy teeth. Because correcting periodontal problems are so important, Dr. Tor Gotun is always eager to find and use tools and methods that will best assist his patients. One of the latest advanced in gum treatment is dental lasers – Dr. Gotun is happy to use this technology to help his patients have healthy teeth and gums.

How Periodontal Disease Develops

In the battle for good oral health, your biggest enemy–the heart of periodontal disease–is bacteria. Failing to brush and floss regularly leaves these microorganisms to grow and spread, and eventually, they form a sticky film known as plaque. Plaque, in turn, can harden into calculus as it absorbs minerals in your saliva. Through this process, plaque tends to build up right where the tooth and gums meet. The plaque irritates the gum tissue, which becomes swollen, bleeds easily and fails to keep a good seal around the tooth. Bacteria find their way down into the pockets that develop as the gum tissue separates from the teeth, and plaque and calculus start to build up below the gum line. If the disease continues, toxins from the bacteria can start to destroy both gum and bone tissue, compromising the stability of your teeth.

How Lasers Fight Back

Dental lasers can whip your gums back to health by supplementing mechanical scaling and root planing. This procedure is essentially a deep cleaning for both the teeth and gums, getting all the way down to the root area. Dr. Gotun can use the laser to help remove plaque and calculus from both above and below the gum line. Dental lasers also can smooth out the rough areas you have on your root surfaces so that the bacteria can’t cling to them and build up as easily.

Some dental lasers are effective at reducing the number of bacteria in dental pockets after we finish mechanical root planing and scaling.

Lasers are also helpful in removing gum tissue through a procedure called gingivectomy. This treatment surgically removes diseased gum tissue, when necessary, and eliminates the pockets that have formed in the early stages of periodontal disease. With the pocket gone, bacteria no longer can hide and build up in that area, so the gums can heal.

Make Your Gums Healthy: Schedule Your Laser Dentistry Appointment!

For effective laser dentistry in Austin, Texas call Dr. Gotun at (512) 277-5140 or use our appointment request form to schedule your consultation now!

Do you really know how to brush your teeth???

Brushing Your Teeth the Right Way

This topic never gets obsolete and we cannot emphasize enough how important it is. Proper brushing is probably the most important way to keep your mouth healthy.  Brushing correctly and with the proper frequency can help you prevent problems before they appear.  There are four important things you will need to properly brush your teeth:  a toothbrush with soft bristles, toothpaste with fluoride, the correct angle of brushing, and brushing in a pattern.  Use the following tips to help you get the most out of your brushing.

  • It is important to brush at least twice a day, after breakfast and before bed.
  • You should use a toothbrush with soft bristles.  Soft bristles with rounded tips are gentler to your teeth and gums, and they also make it easier to remove plaque below the gum line where periodontal disease starts.
  • Use about a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride.  Fluoride hardens the outer enamel layer of the teeth.  It can stop a cavity before it worsens as well as provide you with more resistance to future cavities.
  • Angle the brush along the gum line at a 45-degree angle and apply firm pressure so that the bristles slide under the gum line.
  • Vibrate the brush while you brush in short back and forth strokes and in small circular motions.  Brush two or three teeth at a time and then move to the next two or three, allowing some overlap.
  • Tilt the brush and use the tip to brush the backs of the front teeth.
  • It is OK to brush in any regular pattern you choose but since the insides of the teeth tend to get less attention, you might start with the insides of the upper teeth and then move to the insides of the lower teeth.  Then switch to the outsides of the upper teeth and then the outsides of the lower teeth.  Brush the chewing surfaces of the upper teeth, then the same on the lower teeth.  Complete your routine by gently brushing your tongue and the roof of your mouth.  This will remove germs that can cause bad breath.
  • Change your toothbrush at least every three months or when the bristles are worn or bent.  Old bristles don’t clean well under the gum line and they host more plaque and disease-causing bacteria than new ones.

We also recommend electric toothbrushes, like Sonicare, as they do a really great job. Call us with any questions or for more instructions on oral hygiene. (512) 329-5555.

We always love to see you smile!

Mom’s gum disease treatment safe for baby

Pregnant women can safely be treated for gum infections without having to worry about their baby’s health, according to a new study.

The concern among dentists had been that treating the problem could cause bacteria to get into the mothers’ bloodstream, where they could harm babies’ development.

Gum disease — caused by a bacterial infection that breaks down gum tissue and can cause tooth loss and serious health problems — is a particular problem during pregnancy.

Hormonal changes appear to make a pregnant woman more susceptible to developing it, yet the standard antibiotic-based therapy is not recommended because it stains the baby’s teeth.

What’s more, dentists have shied away from aggressive teeth-cleaning, which is also effective, out of fears they’d help the bacteria get into the bloodstream. In principle, that could harm the brain development of the fetus.

But those fears are baseless, the new study shows.

“Women can be confident that it’s not going to have clinically meaningful effects on their child’s development,” said Dr. Bryan Michalowicz, whose findings are published in the journal Pediatrics.

Michalowicz, a dentist at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in Minneapolis, and his colleagues tested more than 400 two-year-olds, who’d been born to mothers with gum disease.

Half the mothers had been treated with aggressive teeth-cleaning — called scaling and planing — during pregnancy, while the rest had not.

The researchers found the kids did just as well on language, motor and mental tests regardless of whether their mothers had been treated.

On the other hand, treatment didn’t seem to benefit the kids either. That was the researchers’ original hypothesis, because earlier studies have linked gum disease to developmental delays.

“We asked the question, does treatment of periodontal disease in pregnant women improve child development?” said Michalowicz. “We found it doesn’t.”

The researchers did find a slight increase in toddlers’ test scores when the mothers’ gum disease improved. But the effect was so small it doesn’t have any practical consequences, they say.

Nonetheless, he said, “As a dentist I think that improving oral health is a goal in its own right.”

Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, a dentist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who wasn’t involved in the study, said it couldn’t rule out that treatment might benefit the baby in some cases.

“You need to have a higher risk population in order to draw a conclusion,” she told Reuters Health. “I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that we should let periodontal disease run rampant in pregnant women.”

But, she added, women should try to maintain good oral health in the first place.

“They need to use a soft toothbrush and floss the right way,” wrapping the floss around the tooth, she said. “The first goal with almost all dental disease is prevention, prevention, prevention.”

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/e3YPjA Pediatrics, April 11, 2011.

The Ugly Truth About Your Toothbrush

Your toothbrush may be nastier than you think. Find out when to ditch it.
By Stephanie Watson
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Do you know what’s lurking on your toothbrush?

Your toothbrush is loaded with germs, say researchers at England’s University of Manchester. They’ve found that one uncovered toothbrush can harbor more than 100 million bacteria, including E. coli bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, and staphylococci (“Staph”) bacteria that cause skin infections.

But don’t panic. Your mouth wasn’t exactly sterile to begin with.

Mouthful of Bacteria

“The bottom line is, there [are] hundreds of microorganisms in our mouths every day,” says Gayle McCombs, RDH, MS, associate professor and director of the Dental Hygiene Research Center at Old Dominion University.

That’s no big deal. Problems only start when there is an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the mouth. McCombs says.

“It’s important to remember that plaque — the stuff you’re removing from your teeth — is bacteria,” says dentist Kimberly Harms, DDS, consumer advisor for the American Dental Association. “So you’re putting bacteria on your toothbrush every time you brush your teeth.”

Could Your Toothbrush Be Making You Sick?

Probably not. Regardless of how many bacteria live in your mouth, or have gotten in there via your toothbrush, your body’s natural defenses make it highly unlikely that you’re going to catch an infection simply from brushing your teeth.

“Fortunately, the human body is usually able to defend itself from bacteria,” Harms says. “So we aren’t aware of any real evidence that sitting the toothbrush in your bathroom in the toothbrush holder is causing any real damage or harm. We don’t know that the bacteria on there are translating into infections.”

Still, you should exercise some common sense about storing your toothbrush, including how close it is to the toilet.

Don’t Brush Where You Flush

Most bathrooms are small. And in many homes, the toilet is pretty close to the bathroom sink where you keep your toothbrush.

Every toilet flush sends a spray of bacteria into the air. And you don’t want the toilet spray anywhere near your open toothbrush.

“You don’t store your plates and glasses by the toilet, so why would you want to place your toothbrush there?” McCombs says. “It’s just common sense to store your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible.”

You also wouldn’t eat after going to the bathroom without first washing your hands. The same advice applies before brushing your teeth, McCombs says.

Toothbrush Storage Tips

Once you’ve moved your toothbrush away from the toilet, here are a few other storage tips to keep your brush as germ-free as possible:

  • Keep it rinsed. Wash off your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water every time you use it.
  • Keep it dry. “Bacteria love a moist environment,” Harms says. Make sure your brush has a chance to dry thoroughly between brushings. Avoid using toothbrush covers, which can create a moist enclosed breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Keep it upright. Store your toothbrush upright in a holder, rather than lying it down.
  • Keep it to yourself. No matter how close you are to your sister, brother, spouse, or roommate, don’t ever use their toothbrush. Don’t even store your toothbrush side-by-side in the same cup with other people’s brushes. Whenever toothbrushes touch, they can swap germs.