Posts for: November, 2013

By Arnold Cutler, D.D.S.
November 26, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
OralPiercingsFiveThingsYouShouldKnow

Whether you think they're the height of fashion or the depth of “ice,” oral piercings like tongue bolts are a sign of our times. But along with these bodily adornments come a host of questions about risks to the wearer's health, both immediate and long-term. To help sort out these concerns, here are five facts everyone ought to know about oral piercings.

Oral piercings can cause acute health problems.

Rarely, nerve problems may result from an oral piercing. In at least one case, a teenager who had just gotten a tongue bolt developed severe facial pain and the feeling of electrical shocks. A neurologist traced these symptoms to an irritated nerve in the tongue, and the bolt's removal made the pain go away. More commonly, however, the immediate problems are soreness in the area of the piercing, bleeding in the mouth, and the risk of infection.

Oral piercings can lead to gum disease.

Periodontal problems associated with oral piercings include gum recession, inflammation, and even infection. Long-term bone loss may also be an issue. Over time, all of these conditions may affect a person's general health.

Oral piercings can lead to tooth problems.

Tooth pain and sensitivity are sometimes reported after the installation of an oral piercing. Chipping of the teeth is also a possibility, due to repeated contact with the metal of the ornament. People who decide to wear oral piercings should consult with us about increasing the frequency of their dental checkups.

Closing the hole left by a tongue piercing may require minor surgery.

As is the case with an ear piercing, the hole made for a tongue bolt often closes on its own. If it doesn't, a little surgery may be required to help it. In some cases, the tissue around the piercing may need to be removed before the hole itself can be sewn closed. Carried out under local anesthesia (a numbing shot), however, the procedure is usually simple and quick to heal.

Removing an oral piercing improves your oral health.

Losing the piercing reduces your risk factors, and thus improves your oral health. It's as simple as that. But any decision about oral piercings is ultimately yours to make. You should have a frank conversation about its risks and benefits with a knowledgeable health professional.

If you would like more information about oral piercings, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “How Oral Piercings Affect Your Oral Health,” and “Body Piercings and Teeth.”


By Arnold Cutler, D.D.S.
November 18, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
DentalImplantMaintenance5FactsYouShouldKnow

If you've recently had a dental implant placed, congratulations! You have made a good investment in your smile that should last for a lifetime — if you take proper care of it. This is easy to do with a good oral hygiene routine and regular professional cleanings. Here are some important things to keep in mind about implant care:

  1. Implants can last as long as teeth. A dental implant made of titanium will fuse to the bone surrounding it and function just like a natural tooth. It is a highly successful method of tooth replacement that succeeds more than 95% of the time.
  2. Implants and natural teeth attach to surrounding bone and gums very differently. A natural tooth does not actually fuse to the bone that surrounds it. Instead, it is held in place by a periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth) made up of tiny fibers that insert into the bone on one side and into the tooth on the other. Farther up, these collagen fibers attach the tooth to the gum tissue. Implants and the crowns that go on top of them are not anchored to the gum in this way. An understanding of this biology is important for maintaining good periodontal health when implants are present. We will go over this with you so can care for your implants correctly.
  3. Infection is the enemy. Bacterial infection is a concern with both natural teeth and implant-supported teeth. A bacterial biofilm (plaque) builds up daily on implant teeth, just as it does on natural teeth. If it is not regularly cleared away, various oral infections can develop. In the case of natural teeth, this might result in tooth decay, gum disease, and the loss of tooth-supporting bone. Implants can't decay, but they can be threatened by a rapidly progressing infection known as peri-implantits (“peri” – around; implant “itis” – inflammation), which can lead to a well-like or dish-shaped loss of bone around the implant. The implant can become loose as greater amounts of bone is lost.
  4. Good oral hygiene is as important as ever. Daily removal of bacterial biofilm is key to preventing peri-implantitis. You'll want to make sure you brush your teeth twice daily with a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste, and floss gently at least once per day.
  5. Your dental hygienist has an important role to play. Professional cleanings here at our dental office are also still as necessary as ever, if not more so. Dental hygienists have special instruments they use to clean areas around your implant that can't be reached by your brush or floss — without scratching the surfaces of your implant components.

If you would like more information about dental implants, please call us or schedule an appointment. You can also read more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implant Maintenance.”


By Arnold Cutler, D.D.S.
November 15, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: tooth extraction  
HavingaToothRemovedisaNo-AnxietyAffair

Many people view a tooth extraction (removal) as a major ordeal; but from a dentist’s standpoint it’s a routine procedure. That’s not to say, though, that all extractions are alike — there are varying levels of complexity depending on the type, size and location of the tooth.

Teeth are held in place to the jawbone by a tissue known as the periodontal ligament, whose collagen fibers attach the tooth to the bone of the jaws. By gently manipulating the tooth, we can release the hold that these fibers have on the tooth. This takes not only skill but also a kind of “feel” that comes with experience.

From that point, removing the tooth will depend on its root structure and how it’s positioned in the jaw. Upper front teeth have a single, straight root usually shaped like a cone; their path of removal is relatively straight and uncomplicated. Many teeth in the back, however, have more than one root, and not as straight in shape as an upper front tooth, that complicates the path of removal. Depending on the level of complication, the extraction may require an oral surgeon, a dental specialist.

After the tooth is extracted, it may be necessary to fill the socket (the area of the bone once occupied by the tooth) with some form of grafting material that will encourage bone growth. This new growth will aid with any future plans for dental implants.

After the procedure, we will give you instructions for cleaning and caring for the extraction site as you recover over the next few days. We may also prescribe medications to help you cope with discomfort and swelling, as well as antibiotics and antibacterial mouth rinses.

Before undertaking any extraction, we would first conduct a thorough examination and provide you with your options and our recommendations for treatment. We would also discuss your options for replacing the teeth after theyĆ¢??ve been extracted.

The thought of having an extraction may fill you with anxiety. But in the hands of an experienced professional, removing a tooth is a routine and safe procedure.

If you would like more information on tooth extractions, 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 “Simple Tooth Extraction?


By Arnold Cutler, D.D.S.
November 06, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene  
SeekingReliefFromBurningMouthSyndrome

There are some people, particularly women around the age of menopause, who experience an uncomfortable burning and dry sensation in their mouths most of the time. The exact cause of this condition, known as “burning mouth syndrome,” is often difficult to determine, though links to a variety of other health conditions have been established. These include diabetes, nutritional deficiencies (of iron and B vitamins, for example), acid reflux, cancer therapy, and psychological problems. Hormonal changes associated with menopause might also play a role.

If you are experiencing burning sensations and dryness, please come in and see us so we can try to figure out what's causing these symptoms in your particular case. We will start by taking a complete medical history and getting a list of all the medications you are taking as some drugs are known to cause mouth dryness. We will also give you a thorough examination.

In the meantime, here are some ways you might be able to get some relief:

Give up habits that can cause dry mouth such as chronic smoking, alcohol and/or coffee drinking, and frequent eating of hot and spicy foods.

Keep your mouth moist by drinking lots of water. We can also recommend products that replace or stimulate production of saliva.

Try different brands of toothpastes, opting for “plain” varieties that don't contain the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate, whiteners, or strong flavoring such as cinnamon.

Keep a food diary of everything that you put into and around your mouth (including food, makeup and personal care products). This might give us some clues as to what's causing your discomfort.

Check with us about any medications you are taking, either prescription or over-the-counter. We can tell you if any are known to dry out the mouth and maybe help you find substitutions.

Reduce stress in your life if you possibly can. This might be achieved through relaxing forms of exercise, joining a support group for people dealing with chronic pain, or seeking psychotherapy.

If you have concerns about burning mouth syndrome or any other type of oral discomfort, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation.




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