My Blog

Posts for: February, 2014

By Ajax Dental Center
February 24, 2014
Category: Oral Health
DealingWithDentalEmergenciesWhileTravelingAbroad

Traveling to faraway places is the stuff of daydreams for many people, and even more exciting when the dream comes true. But that excitement could be dampened should you ever be faced with the reality that your medical treatment options abroad can be quite different from what you enjoy at home in the United States.

Dental care is no exception. If you have a dental emergency abroad, you may be unpleasantly surprised at the lack of available care at the level of quality you’re accustomed to at home. It’s prudent, therefore, to take a few precautions before you go and do a little research on sources of dental care where you’ll be traveling.

Before your trip you should schedule a dental visit, especially if you have some lingering issues that need attending; you should also be sure to plan this well enough in advance to allow time for any subsequent treatment and convalescence. It’s especially important that you have damaged or cracked teeth treated, as well as complete any recommended root canals. You should also schedule a cleaning, and have any teeth with sensitivity issues checked for possible periodontal (gum) disease.

While you can significantly reduce your risk of a dental emergency before you travel, you can’t eliminate it all together — a problem could still arise during your trip. It’s advisable, then, that you bring along contact information for people or organizations that could assist you with obtaining medical or dental treatment. Your hotel concierge, the U.S. Consulate or Embassy, or even other Americans living or stationed in the country you’re visiting can be helpful sources of information. You might also contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (www.iamat.org) or, if in Europe, the American Dental Society of Europe (ADSE) (www.adse.co.uk) for recommendations on care.

A dental emergency during foreign travel could turn that dream vacation into a nightmare. You can lessen the chance of that by taking these few precautions before you go.

For a copy of A Traveler’s Guide to Safe Dental Care, visit www.osap.org. If you would like more information on dental concerns when you are traveling, 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 “Traveling Abroad? Tips for Dealing with Dental Emergencies.”


By Ajax Dental Center
February 21, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
CatherineZeta-JonesAward-WinningSmile

She received an academy award for best supporting actress in Chicago (2002); she regularly stars in big Hollywood films like Oceans Twelve and Side Effects. And she’s been named one of People magazine’s “most beautiful people” of the year… a total of five times so far. According to big-screen heartthrob Antonio Banderas, “She has one of the most beautiful close-ups in cinematography today.”

So would it surprise you to learn that Catherine Zeta-Jones had a little help from cosmetic dentistry along the way? In her childhood, the actress said, “I was teased because I had a really flat-looking nose, and before I got braces, my teeth used to stick out a bit.” According to press reports, she has also had various dental treatments to make her teeth look whiter and more even.

Because she’s been in the spotlight since a young age, Zeta-Jones had her cosmetic dental treatments performed over a number of years. But if you’re unhappy with your smile right now, there’s no need to wait: Getting a complete “smile makeover” starts with a consultation at our office. How does it work?

We begin with a thorough dental exam to check for any underlying issues, and some basic questions, including: What do you (and don’t you) like about your smile? Are your teeth as even and as white as you’d like them to be? Is your smile too “gummy”, or do the teeth seem too large or small in proportion to your facial features? Do gaps, chips or cracked teeth detract from your appearance?

Next, working together with you, we can develop a plan to correct any perceived problems in your smile. We’ve already mentioned two of the most common ways to enhance a smile that’s less than perfect: orthodontics for straightening crooked teeth, and whitening treatments for a more brilliant smile. If your teeth are otherwise healthy, both treatments can be performed at any time — in fact, more and more of today’s orthodontic patients are adults.

Other treatments that are often used include cosmetic bonding to repair small to moderate chips or cracks in teeth; crowns (caps) to restore teeth with more extensive structural damage; and veneers to remedy a number of defects — including discoloration, small irregularities in tooth spacing, and even teeth that appear too long or too short. Plus, we have even more procedures designed to remedy specific dental issues.

Will having a better smile get you on the “most beautiful people” list? We can’t say for sure. But we think you’ll feel better about yourself… and people will notice.

If you would like more information on smile makeovers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor articles “The Impact of a Smile Makeover” and “Great Expectations — Perceptions in Smile Design.”


By Ajax Dental Center
February 13, 2014
Category: Oral Health
GumInflammationCouldHaveanEffectonYourHeartHealth

Your body’s organ systems are interlinked — what happens in one system may affect another. An example of this is the interrelationship between periodontal (gum) disease and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Medicine has discovered a common link between these two different conditions — inflammation. A result of the body’s defense mechanisms, chronic inflammation is damaging to both your mouth and your heart. Inflammation can destroy the gum’s soft tissue and underlying bone and lead to tooth loss. In the cardiovascular system, inflammation can begin and accelerate the buildup of plaque within arterial blood vessels (atherosclerosis). This inhibits the flow of oxygenated blood to both the heart and brain, which sets the stage for a heart attack or stroke.

Gum disease begins with poor oral hygiene. When brushing and flossing aren’t performed on a regular basis, or not performed adequately, it allows a thin layer of bacterial plaque called biofilm to build up on the teeth. The bacteria cause infection in the soft tissues of the gum that triggers the chronic inflammation. Because it’s often unaccompanied by other signs of infection like fever, a patient may not even be aware of it. There’s evidence now that inflammation caused by moderate to severe gum disease can contribute to a similar response in blood vessels.

We can treat the gum disease and reduce or eliminate the inflammation. This first requires the removal of all plaque and calculus (harder deposits) on the teeth, down to the root level. It may require surgery to access these areas and to help regenerate some of the lost tissue and bone that support the teeth. It’s also important to institute proper oral hygiene — effective daily brushing and flossing, semi-annual office cleanings and checkups.

In a similar way, you should address signs of inflammation in your cardiovascular system, including blood pressure management and the control of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Because both gum disease and CVD share many of the same risk factors, you can positively impact both your oral and general health by eating more nutritional foods, engaging in regular exercise and quitting tobacco products.

Treating any symptom of inflammation is important to improving your total health. By bringing gum disease and its accompanying inflammation under control, you may in turn help your heart and blood vessels.

If you would like more information on the relationship between heart and gum diseases, 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 “The Link Between Heart & Gum Diseases.”


By Ajax Dental Center
February 05, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gummy smile  
TreatingaGummySmileDependsonitsCause

Something about your smile isn’t quite right. It’s too “gummy” — too much of the upper gum line is visible and it looks out of proportion to your teeth and lips. Most dentists identify a smile as too gummy if four millimeters or more (approximately an eighth of an inch) of the gum tissue is visible at a full smile.

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize this effect. It’s important, though, to first determine the true cause before we embark on any treatment plan.

Your teeth may be the actual cause. As we mature, teeth “erupt” through the gums and the supporting bone and appear in the mouth. They continue to erupt until meeting their “antagonists,” the opposing teeth from the opposite jaw. In addition, the gums go to the proper position where the root meets the enamel of the teeth around late adolescence. The normal result is a length of the crown (the visible portion of the tooth) of approximately 10 mm.

If the teeth don’t erupt fully or the gums don’t go to their proper position, the teeth appear shorter and the gums more prominent. Using a surgical technique called crown lengthening, we remove excess gum tissue and, if necessary, reshape the underlying bone to reveal the proper amount of tooth length. Teeth also shorten due to excessive wear; the teeth continue to erupt to compensate for the wear that occurs over time. The attached gum tissue follows with the tooth. This can be corrected with orthodontic treatment (for bite correction) and porcelain veneers.

Two more causes of a gummy smile are when a person has a hyper-mobile upper lip — the upper lip can raise too much lift when smiling — and an upper jaw length that appears too long for the face. If lips rise higher than the normal 6-8 mm when we smile, too much of the gum line appears. This can be treated temporarily with Botox injections to reduce the mobility of the muscles, or there is a surgical procedure that reduces the mobility of the upper lip. For an elongated upper jaw, orthognathic (“to straighten the jaw”) surgery relocates the jaw to a more upward position that diminishes the amount of gum tissue that shows during smiling.

Treatments for a gummy smile range from simple techniques to more complex surgical procedures. Only a thorough dental exam will reveal the best treatment path to follow.

If you would like more information on treatments for “gummy” smiles, 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 “Gummy Smiles.”