How to Know If Your Tooth’s Enamel Is Damaged

Enamel isn’t something we think about every day, or even all that often. However, it is one of the most important things about your oral health. Enamel is the tooth’s outer covering. Over time, enamel can become chipped, worn or even lost due to dental trauma, dental procedures or problems with the supporting tissues of the mouth. While calcium can naturally repair to some degree, damage sustained over time may leave your tooth vulnerable to further enamel loss.

It can be difficult to know if your tooth’s enamel is permanently damaged. We’ve created a list to know if yours is damaged to make it easier for you!

Tooth Sensitivity

One of the most common signs your tooth’s enamel is damaged is sensitivity. You may notice discomfort while eating or drinking something with hot or hot temperatures. The more your enamel gets damaged, the more extreme your sensitivity will become. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, make sure to talk with your dentist as soon as possible!

Color

Another way to know if your enamel is damaged is if the color of your teeth has changed. This color change often occurs first on the central incisors, which are your very front teeth. Those teeth might become transparent around the outer edges. As the enamel continues to erode, your teeth might turn a gray or yellowish color.

Shape

If your teeth change shape, it’s a good indicator that you have enamel damage. Your teeth may begin to appear rounded, develop ridges, and often the gaps between teeth will become more substantial. Eventually, you may notice cracks in your teeth.

How to Stop Enamel Erosion

Tooth enamel loss puts your teeth at increased risk for tooth decay. Some tooth enamel loss occurs naturally with age, but you can help stop harmful tooth enamel loss by following a regular oral care routine of brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly. Your tooth enamel is the first line of defense for your teeth against the tooth decay.

Here at Summit Family Dentistry, we are always happy to help. If you think you are experiencing enamel damage, give us a call at (980) 222-7501, and we’ll set up an appointment. We’ll look at your teeth for any signs of erosion, and talk with you about your options if you do have damage.

Are Dental Implants Safe?

Dental implants have become many dentists’ go-to procedure for replacing missing teeth. Dental implant surgery replaces tooth roots with metal, screw-like posts and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones. This surgery is a great alternative to dentures and can offer an option when a lack of natural teeth roots don’t allow building denture or bridgework tooth replacements.

What are the risks?

Like any type of surgery, there are a few risks to getting dental implants. However, the problems that come with dental implant surgery are rare and typically minor and very treatable. Risks include:

  • Sinus problems, when dental implants placed in the upper jaw protrude into one of your sinus cavities
  • Injury or damage to surrounding structures, such as other teeth or blood vessels
  • Nerve damage, which can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips or chin
  • Infection at the implant site

The advantages of using dental implants

Dental implants are one of the most reliable dental procedures with a 95% success. They also offer advantages that other missing teeth solutions do not, such as:

  • Appearance – Implants look and feel like your natural teeth.
  • Speech – No need to worry about slipping dentures or loose bridges that can cause slurred speech.
  • Comfort – Implants are permanent and stable, so no chaffing or discomfort will happen like with dentures.
  • Oral health – Implant placement does not require modifying surrounding teeth as a bridge does. Also, implants stop bone deterioration and stimulate healthy bone tissue growth.

Dental Implant Procedure

When considering having a dental implant procedure, a patient will typically go through the following steps:

  1. First, the patient will go through a thorough exam and consultation with the dentist. The dentist will then make an individualized treatment plan.
  2. At the next appointment, the team will place your implant, which acts as a substitute tooth root.
  3. Then, the tooth is given time (about 2-3 months) to heal and integrate with the bone tissue.
  4. Once the implant has bonded to the bone tissue, a small connector called an abutment is attached to the implant.
  5. Impressions are taken of your teeth to create either a custom crown to replace one tooth or an implant-supported bridge or denture for multiple missing teeth. Crown restorations are custom tinted, so they blend in beautifully with your natural teeth.
  6. The finished crown, bridge, or denture is attached to the implant(s).

Once you get the finished implant, your new teeth are ready to use! If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at (980) 222-7501. We want your implants to look and feel like real teeth and you smile looking its best!

What are the Pros and Cons of a Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure used to save a tooth that has become infected or injured. The procedure can remove damaged tissues in the tooth and prevent future infection, but is it really worth it? We will examine the benefits and drawbacks to help you decide if a root canal is right for you. If you decide root canal treatment is right for you, Summit Family Dentistry in Denver, NC can help!

Cons of Having a Root Canal

While root canals are pretty common, there are some drawbacks to having this procedure done. One of those drawbacks is that it might weaken the tooth. Dentists have to drill through the tooth in order to get to the pulp, and additional decay might have to be removed. If the tooth is too weak to function, the dentist will add a crown to it, which will strengthen the tooth and allow the patient to use it like a natural tooth.

Another disadvantage of having a root canal is the time it takes in order to get one done. In most cases, a patient will only need to go to the dentist once to get this procedure done. However, two to three appointments are required in complicated cases where the infection or damage is severe. Also, patients might need two to three visits to get root canals on upper first molars. Upper first molars have three to five root canals, and each one must be treated, which takes longer to complete.

Root canals can also cause discomfort to the mouth and jaw, as it will have to remain open the entire procedure.

While there are some cons to having a root canal, there are also some advantages.

Pros of Having a Root Canal

One of the advantages of getting a root canal is that it keeps the natural tooth. Dentists remove the infected pulp tissue, clean out the root canal and replace it with filling material. Because the patient gets to keep the natural tooth, they don’t have to worry about bone loss. The tooth’s root will also continue to stimulate the bone, so the patient can keep their natural smile.

Another benefit of having a root canal is that it stops the tooth pain. Having an inflamed or infected pulp can be pretty painful and can make it difficult to function in everyday life. A root canal cleans out the infected pulp and antibiotics are used to treat the area if needed. Once everything is healed, the toothache will be gone!

If you choose to have a root canal over a tooth extraction, it helps prevent gaps in your mouth. Gaps can lead to alignment issues, which can change your smile and make it difficult to eat. With a root canal, your tooth stays in place so you don’t have to worry about those alignment issues.

Root canals are also more affordable than extracting the tooth and replacing it. You get to keep your real tooth and your real smile.

Like any dental procedure, there are pros and cons. It’s always a good idea to talk with your dentists if you think you may need a root canal. Call Summit Family Dentistry in Denver, North Carolina  today and we’d be happy to schedule an appointment with you.

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Why Are Baby Teeth Important?

Tiny, but important ― that’s how baby teeth are referred to, especially by dentists. While most parents would look at their babies’ tiny teeth and wonder what in the world they could be thinking about, dentists realize early on that these tiny teeth aren’t just for looking at cute smiles and giggles.

Taking good care of your baby’s teeth early on is crucial to their oral health now and for the rest of their lives. We’ve come up with several reasons why you want to keep your baby’s teeth in tip top shape.

  • These teeth are crucial to your child’s health and development. They help with the development of permanent teeth by saving space for them in the jaw. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift to the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in.
  • Baby teeth aid in speech development. Taking care of your child’s teeth will help them speak and communicate better.
  • They help your child maintain good nutrition by permitting him/her to chew properly.
  • Baby teeth help children feel good about themselves and their smile. It’s so important for children to feel confident from a young age and keeping their teeth healthy is imperative.

What happens if baby teeth aren’t taken care of?

Baby teeth can get cavities, just like adult teeth. In addition to the pain caused by cavities, they can also lead to dental infections. Tooth decay is a serious, infectious, and transmissible disease that can spread quickly and lead to infection. If a tooth needs to then get extracted, this can cause the teeth to drift, which may lead to overcrowding and difficulty for the adult teeth to grow in.

Be sure to visit a dentist within six months of your child’s first tooth appearing and definitely by the time they reach the one year mark. Our team will check for cavities and any other pediatric dental problem. We’ll also help show you and your child how to properly take care of their teeth. Give us a call today at (980) 222-7501!

How Does a Cosmetic Dentist Fix Your Teeth?

What’s the first thing you see when meeting someone new? Oftentimes, it’s their smile. And if someone doesn’t have a perfect smile, it can be a source of insecurity for them. Luckily, there are ways to help you fall in love with your teeth and cosmetic dentists are here to help!

Cosmetic dentistry is dentistry aimed at creating a positive change to your teeth and your smile. Whether your teeth are chipped, stained, misaligned, or worn, cosmetic dentistry can improve your smile and your confidence. Here are just a few ways cosmetic dentistry can help fix your teeth.

Enamel Abrasion

This procedure is a way to remove discoloration. The procedure uses a fine pumice in a micro-abrasion machine to remove surface stains. While this process doesn’t work for stains inside the tooth or intrinsic stains, it works wonders to remove stains caused by things like tobacco, wine, coffee and berries.

Dental Veneers

Veneers, the gold standard for cosmetic dental procedures, are thin, custom made shells of tooth colored porcelain that cover the front surface of the teeth. About a half- millimeter of enamel from the tooth is gently shaved and then an impression is taken. Then, the impression is sent to a dental lab for custom veneers.

While you’re waiting for your permanent veneers, you’ll have temporary ones. Once you get your permanent set, they’ll be cemented to the front of the teeth and you can change the size, color, shape or length.

Teeth Whitening

Whitening your teeth is one of the most common and quickest ways to change your smile. This is the perfect solution for someone who doesn’t need anything more than a bit of brightening for their teeth or someone who isn’t quite ready for a huge commitment.

Fortunately, teeth whitening can be done in a dentist’s office, or it can be done at home. However, it’s wise to get the bleach from your dentist to make sure you’re getting the safest and best product.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a great option for people who have deeply stained or chipped teeth. During this procedure, a tooth- colored, putty- like resin is applied to the tooth and hardened with an ultraviolet or laser light, bonding the material to the tooth. Your dentist can then trim, shape and polish it.

Invisalign Braces

These are perfect for not only kids, but adults as well because no one can tell you’re wearing them! They’ll help you get the perfect smile that you’ve always wanted. While they’re great for straightening teeth, they also help with chronic pain caused by misalignment, such as headaches.

 

Whatever you want to do to improve your teeth, we’ve got you covered. We want all of our patients to be confident in their smiles. If you have any questions about different procedures used for cosmetic dentistry, please reach out to us at (980) 222-7501. We’ll get you set up with an appointment and our team will get you the right process for your needs.

Take Care of Your Teeth With Regular Dental Checkups

Regular dental care is so important, not only for your dental health, but your overall health as well. It is generally recommended that you should get a checkup once every six months. However, depending on your dental history, your dentist might ask you to come in more.

Typically, dental checkups are easy and painless. Nonetheless, it is always good to know what to expect when going in for your regular checkup.

How You Can Prepare

If you’re looking for a new dentist or if you’re scheduling your first adult cleaning, ask your family and friends for recommendations. Take into consideration the location of the office and if they participate in your dental plan. If you don’t have a dental plan, make sure you take a look at the office’s membership plan and if it fits your needs.

Talk with the dentist if you’re anxious about your visit and communicate what they can do to help make you more comfortable.

What You Can Expect

No matter where you go for your checkup, you can expect several things to happen.

  • Cleaning. A dental hygienist will typically bring you back and begin cleaning your teeth. Using a small mirror and tool called a hand scaler, the hygienist will remove all the plaque and tartar from your teeth.
  • Expert Flossing. Even if you floss regularly at home, nothing can beat an expert flossing session with a dental hygienist. They can get deep between your teeth and locate any problem spots where you might bleed at the gums.
  • Applying Fluoride Treatment. Fluoride treatment is used as a protectant for your teeth to help fight against cavities for several months. Your dental hygienist may ask you what flavor you like best. They’ll then place the foamy gel (or sometimes a sticky paste) into a mouthpiece that fits over your teeth. It’s usually left on your teeth for one minute. Besides the foamy gel, fluoride varnish is also painted onto the teeth with a small brush. Fluoride varnish will harden when in contact with saliva, so you can eat and drink immediately after.
  • X-Rays. At some of your dental checkups, you might get x-rays done on your teeth. This is to look for decay, gum disease, or other dental problems. X-rays expose you to radiation so in order to avoid having them done more than necessary, bring copies of previous X-rays with you when you’re visiting a new dentist.

What To Do In Between Regular Dental Checkups

After your exam, the dentist or hygienist will discuss your oral health, including your risk of tooth decay, gum disease and other oral health problems, and preventive measures you can take to improve and protect your oral health. Be sure to take care of your teeth and gums in between your regular dental visits. Plaque is always forming on your teeth, but you can manage it by brushing and flossing regularly. Make sure to schedule your next appointment to ensure you keep on track with your checkups.

 

Regular dental checkups are a must to keep a healthy and clean mouth. Remember to talk with your dentist about any issues you are having with your teeth right away. Here at Summit Family Dentistry, we’re always here to help you. Call us at (980) 222-7501 to get an appointment for a dental checkup. The key is to keep going back to the dentist for regular teeth cleanings to prevent problems altogether. By understanding what is going on in advance, you’ll feel more at ease and maybe even look forward to visiting your dentist!

Pediatric Dental Care: Starting Your Child Off on the Right Tooth

The quality of dental care a child receives while growing up can have a huge impact on their teeth — and even their general health — for the rest of their life. Dental care sets the stage for the way teeth develop as they grow, and it’s important to begin with a good foundation. To reinforce healthy brushing habits with children and make sure their teeth are coming in nicely, we recommend visiting the dentist early, with a first visit at about twelve months of age, which is usually less than six months after their first tooth shows up.

Here are a few specific reasons to take your children to the dentist early in their lives:

Baby Teeth are Important

Your child’s baby teeth aren’t disposable just because they’re temporary. They play an important role in your child’s development. Making sure their baby teeth are in order will have a positive effect long after they lose them. Baby teeth act as placeholders for adult teeth; they help your child’s jaw and gums develop in the right way. Not only that, healthy baby teeth help children learn to speak by supporting the shape of the mouth correctly. And a dazzling smile is good for their self-esteem.

Experience Calms Anxiety

Many grownups feel anxious about going to the dentist. However, if you bring your children in for a visit at about the age of twelve months, they’ll be too young to think anything bad is going on and they won’t likely be very worried. One of the best ways to help children avoid the development of dental anxiety is to begin building a habit of regular dental visits early in life. Parents who wait until children are two years of age or older likely will have a much rougher time with visits at early ages, and the children could develop lifelong anxiety about going to the dentist.

Tooth Decay Comes Early

Tooth decay can set in as soon as your child develops their first tooth. A CDC report showed that as many as 40% of children will develop some form of tooth decay before they reach kindergarten. And that decay can have a long-term effect on the health of their teeth and gums.

Nip Problems in the Bud

After children have stopped growing, it can be difficult to get crooked teeth back in order. The process is likely to be more difficult, longer and more uncomfortable for the patient than if the problems are taken care of early in life. That’s why there’s no better time to fix misaligned or crooked teeth than when your child is still growing. As soon as their teeth show signs of these problems, we can begin early to guide their teeth into the correct position.

Giving your child’s teeth the care they deserve sets them up for dental success in the future by introducing good dental hygiene habits and preventing problems from getting worse as their teeth age. If you have any questions about how to give your child the best dental care possible or would like to set up an appointment, give us a call at (980) 222-7501. Begin proper dental care as soon as your child’s first tooth shows up and you’ll put them on the road to a healthy, beautiful smile all their lives.

4 Signs You Need Emergency Dental Care

Damage to teeth and gums can’t be ignored. It’s always important to act quickly if something is wrong, but some dental issues are more pressing than others. How can you know the difference between a dental problem that needs to be solved soon and a problem that needs to be solved now?

We never want our patients to put off a dental procedure when it could lead to lasting harm, so we’ve compiled a list of important warning signs that mean you should get your teeth checked out as soon as possible. After all, you’ve only got so many teeth — it’s best to keep them all in good shape.

1. Broken or missing teeth

It goes without saying that obvious physical damage to your teeth is one of the most urgent dental emergencies you can experience. If your tooth has been damaged, rinse your mouth with warm water immediately and call us as soon as possible. If your tooth has come out, gently try to put it back into the socket (without touching the root!) or keep it in your mouth to protect it until we can see you.

2. Dental abscesses

A dental abscess is a small collection of pus inside of a tooth or gums that is caused by a bacterial infection. If your symptoms include shiny red swollen gums, a fever, or pain that spreads to your jaw or neck, you may have an abscess, even if you don’t see it. Try to see us as soon as possible, but, in the meantime, you can reduce the pain of the abscess by avoiding cold drinks. Use a soft toothbrush to very gently clean the area until we can get you into the office.

3. Lost filling or crown

A crown or filling can become loose or even fall out for a variety of reasons. If you lose a crown or filling, it’s important to try to save it — we may be able to reuse it. Rinse the area with warm salt water and continue to brush the damaged tooth (gently!) until we can see you.

4. Significant pain or swelling in the teeth, gums or jaw

Constant pain or swelling in your mouth is never normal! This symptom may seem vague or common, but it could be a sign of major damage or an infection that could have nasty results if left untreated. Don’t tough it out. Call us and we will decide together whether you need to come in for an appointment.

 

Ignoring any of these four dental problems could result in the permanent loss of teeth. Infections can even spread to other parts of your body and cause serious general medical issues, so it’s extremely important to get your teeth examined if you experience any dental emergency on this list!

We want your tooth pain or mouth pain to stop.

First and foremost, if you are in pain, we want to help you get some relief. Then we can address any underlying causes to solve the problem using dental best practices. If you believe you’re experiencing a dental emergency, give us a call at (980) 222-7501 as soon as possible. We’ll get you an appointment in the near future, so you can go back to your life and leave tooth pain behind.

The Truth About Dental Abscesses

What is an Abscess?

An abscess is an infection. There are two types of dental abscesses. A periapical abscess, which happens at the root of a tooth and a periodontal abscess which happens in the gum. A periapical abscess can occur when decay gets into the nerve chamber, killing the nerve and pulp tissue. Sometimes a traumatic injury or crack in a tooth can damage the delicate nerve inside, resulting in the death of the nerve. Periodontal disease is a chronic gum infection that can weaken the bone and may result in bone and tooth loss if untreated. It can also trigger widespread infection throughout the mouth. Regardless of where in the mouth the infection occurs, if it goes untreated for too long, a pus-filled area forms and that is called the abscess.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of an abscess include:

  • Severe pain and a throbbing toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, neck, or ear
  • Hot or cold tooth sensitivity that lingers
  • Pressure sensitivity
  • Fever
  • Facial swelling
  • Bad breath
  • Soreness in your neck and jaw from swollen lymph nodes
  • Rotten or sour taste in your mouth

It’s important to mention that sometimes an abscess causes no pain, or sometimes the pain goes away suddenly. The discomfort of a toothache is usually caused by the buildup of fluid or gases inside the tooth as the nerve dies. Sometimes the infection works its way into the gum, creating a bubble on the gum. Once this bubble pops, the infection begins to drain into the gum tissue and mouth, and the pain goes away. This doesn’t mean that the infection is getting better, it just means the pressure is relieved.

Treatment

Once an abscess has been diagnosed, there are a few methods of treatment. Antibiotics can be prescribed to destroy the bacteria, but the central issue of an infected tooth, dying nerve, or periodontal disease must still be dealt with.

If your abscess is due to a dying nerve, a root canal may be recommended to clean out the infected tissue, shape the canals and place a rubber-like material in the canals to seal them. A crown or cap might be put over the tooth to help preserve the remaining tooth and prevent further breakage.

If the infection has gone too far and affected the root of the tooth, an extraction might be suggested, and an implant with a crown on top may be put in its place.

If your abscess is due to periodontal disease, root planing and scaling may be done. This is a deep cleaning done with anesthetic and specialized instruments. Sometimes lasers are used to help sterilize the pocket to help prevent bacteria from reinfecting the area.

Preventing an Abscess

While you can’t always avoid a sudden traumatic impact causing a nerve to die, there are plenty of ways you can prevent decay-related infections and periodontal disease:

  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups and professional cleanings
  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day
  • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months and never, ever share it with anyone
  • Drink tap water or fluoridated bottled water
  • Watch your sugar and carbohydrate intake because they are bacteria’s favorite food
  • Use a mouth rinse before bed so it can sit on your teeth overnight

With a little care, you can help prevent an abscess and periodontal disease before they develop, saving yourself the inconvenience and pain of a toothache and the expense of major treatment.

Tooth Extractions: 4 Steps to an Easy Recovery

There are more than seven billion people in the world, and every one of them has a set of teeth—32 of them, in fact. Unfortunately, from time to time, some of them have to go. It’s not something anyone’s looking forward to. After all, your teeth have all been with you for years, reliably chewing anything you asked them to. Most of us are pretty attached to them!

Many patients dread the recovery period after an extraction, but as long as you know how to take care of yourself, an extraction can be one of the least troublesome medical events of your life. Today, we’ll tell you what you can expect, and what you can do to make your recovery as comfortable as possible.

The main concern in the period after a tooth extraction is the possibility of a dry socket. This is when a blood clot fails to form over the extraction site, or when the clot comes loose and exposes the wound, possibly even leaving the bone underneath exposed. Fortunately, it’s not incredibly common (it occurs in less than 5% of routine dental extractions).

The pain of a tooth extraction can be avoided by following these steps.

Step 1: Clear your schedule

The most important thing you can do to prepare for this procedure or any other is to make sure you’re ready for the recovery period. If you were thinking about going on a ten-mile bike tour or pushing a new one-rep-max at the gym, you’ll have to postpone it. Clear your schedule of strenuous physical activity for a few days after the extraction, so you don’t risk loosening the clot before it has a chance to heal.

Step 2: Stock up on soft foods

Avoid eating anything you’ll have to chew or suck. Stock up on soft foods like yogurt and applesauce. Or you could make a smoothie—but be careful not to use a straw. Sucking up any liquid may dislodge the clot and leave the wound exposed. Eggs can work too, if you’re craving something a little more substantial.

Step 3: Manage your pain

After the procedure, your poor gums are going to need a bit of babying. You’ll probably want a painkiller of some kind. The extraction site might not hurt badly right away, but you can manage the pain best by taking a Tylenol or similar drug early. The pain likely will increase for the first three days or so, but don’t worry, that’s normal. If pain continues to increase after the third day or doesn’t decrease, it’s possible you have a dry socket. Contact your dentist, and they’ll decide how to handle things from there.

Step 4: Be gentle with your teeth

Your nighttime routine will have to change, too. For the first two days, avoid rinsing out the extraction site so the wound can heal. After that, you should rinse gently with warm salt water to encourage healing. Brush your teeth gently but avoid teeth right next to the extraction site for the first couple of days. Even after the first couple days, be very careful not to brush the site itself. When it’s time to go to bed, it’s best to prop your head up with an extra pillow or two.

Tooth extraction is a little uncomfortable for the first few days. But with just a little care, you can minimize the pain, and your teeth will be chewing reliably for you once again in no time. The key is to be patient with the healing process and gentle with your mouth for a few days. Putting up with the pain and inconvenience of an extraction is much better than living with the pain and infection risk of a cracked or impacted tooth!

 

Summit Family Dentistry is here to support you through extractions and all your dental needs. If you’re having tooth pain, or if you have questions about tooth extraction or any other procedure, give us a call at (980) 222-7501, and we’ll do everything we can to help.