Posts for: February, 2017

By Thompson Lee & Chalothorn
February 23, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

Magician Michael Grandinetti mystifies and astonishes audiences with his sleight of hand and mastery of illusion. But when he initially steps onto the stage, it’s his smile that grabs the attention. “The first thing… that an audience notices is your smile; it’s what really connects you as a person to them,” Michael told an interviewer.

He attributes his audience-pleasing smile to several years of orthodontic treatment as a teenager to straighten misaligned teeth, plus a lifetime of good oral care. “I’m so thankful that I did it,” he said about wearing orthodontic braces. “It was so beneficial. And… looking at the path I’ve chosen, it was life-changing.”

Orthodontics — the dental subspecialty focused on treating malocclusions (literally “bad bites”) — can indeed make life-changing improvements. Properly positioned teeth are integral to the aesthetics of any smile, and a smile that’s pleasing to look at boosts confidence and self-esteem and makes a terrific first impression. Studies have even linked having an attractive smile with greater professional success.

There can also be functional benefits such as improved biting/chewing and speech, and reduced strain on jaw muscles and joints. Additionally, well-aligned teeth are easier to clean and less likely to trap food particles that can lead to decay.

The Science Behind the Magic

There are more options than ever for correcting bites, but all capitalize on the fact that teeth are suspended in individual jawbone sockets by elastic periodontal ligaments that enable them to move. Orthodontic appliances (commonly called braces or clear aligners) place light, controlled forces on teeth in a calculated fashion to move them into their new desired alignment.

The “gold standard” in orthodontic treatment remains the orthodontic band for posterior (back) teeth and the bonded bracket for front teeth. Thin, flexible wires threaded through the brackets create the light forces needed for repositioning. Traditionally the brackets have been made of metal, but for those concerned about the aesthetics, they can also be made out of a clear material. Lingual braces, which are bonded to the back of teeth instead of the front, are another less visible option. The most discrete appliance is the removable clear aligner, which consists of a progression of custom-made clear trays that reposition teeth incrementally.

How’s that for a disappearing act?!

If you would like more information about orthodontic treatment please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about the subject by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”

By Thompson Lee & Chalothorn
February 08, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: apioectomy  

A root canal treatment is a highly effective way to save a deeply decayed tooth. Sometimes, though, complications make it difficult or even impossible to perform the traditional procedure. In those cases, we may need to use a different option.

Tooth decay becomes an imminent threat to a tooth's survival if it works its way into the pulp, the innermost layer of a tooth. It's only a short advancement from there into the roots by way of the root canals.

In a typical root canal treatment, we access the pulp by drilling a small hole in the biting surface of a back tooth or the back side of a front tooth. We remove all the tissue within the pulp and fill it and the root canals with a special filling to prevent re-infection. After sealing the access hole, we cap the tooth with a crown to further protect it.

Although root canal treatments have a high success rate, re-infection can still occur. Often, a second root canal will save the tooth from the new infection.

In some cases, though, using the traditional procedure might do more harm than good. It's possible we may find extra canals previously undetected branching out from the primary canal at the root end. Canals can calcify and narrow, making them extremely difficult to fill. Subsequent dental work may also prove troublesome: we would have to take the restoration apart, which could further weaken the tooth.

The alternative is a procedure known as an apicoectomy. Instead of accessing the pulp through the crown, we access the root end through the gum tissue. We then focus on removing infected tissue at the tooth's root end, along with a tiny amount of the root tip. We then place a small filling at the end of the root canal (essentially plugging it up) to prevent further infection. We may also perform grafting to encourage bone growth in any voids left by the procedure.

Endodontists, specialists in root canals, have the advanced training and specialized equipment to perform an apicoectomy. With their expertise, they may be able to save your tooth with this specialized procedure when a root canal treatment won't work.

If you would like more information on options for treating decayed teeth, 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 “Apicoectomy: A Surgical Option When Root Canal Treatment Fails.”

By Thompson Lee & Chalothorn
February 07, 2017
Category: Dental Health

How you care for your smile now could tell you a lot about your oral health for the future.preventative dentistry

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. While he might have been talking about fire safety at the time this quote can most certainly apply to your oral health, as well. While it might seem much easier to care for your smile once an issue arises, isn’t it much less of a hassle to give your smile the care it deserves all the time so that you don’t have to deal with unexpected problems? Our Lexington, KY, dentists - Dr. John Thompson, Dr. William Lee and Dr. Pada Chalothorn - think so, too. Here are some helpful tips for how to prevent decay and other issues from affecting your smile.

Brush Teeth Regularly

Remember that the best way to keep plaque from building up on your teeth and gum line is to brush your teeth. While brushing your teeth after meals is the best way to keep your teeth clean, brushing twice a day for about 2-3 minutes at a time is all you’ll need to keep your smile looking and feeling its best. Always opt for an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste, which will keep enamel healthy and strong.

Remember the Importance of Flossing

Flossing is one component that often gets overlooked but is the most effective way to clean between teeth. Your toothbrush won’t be able to get into all those nooks and crannies like floss can. Flossing once a day right before your brush each night can keep plaque and tartar from forming between teeth.

Know When to Replace Your Toothbrush

A toothbrush head is not supposed to last forever. So how long should a toothbrush head last? While the average is about 3-4 months, you’ll want to take a look at those bristles. If they are fraying, it’s time to get a new toothbrush head. You should also replace your toothbrush after getting over an illness.

Stay Away from Cavity-Causing Foods and Drinks

Sugar and processed carbs can increase your chances of cavities. Stay away from foods and drinks like sports drinks, white breads and desserts that could cause decay. Instead, fill up on foods like whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits, and lean proteins, which will give you all the nutrients you need to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

See your Lexington Dentist for Routine Care

No matter how healthy your smile seems you still need to come in twice a year to get a professional cleaning and a thorough exam. During these exams, we can remove plaque and tartar buildup, prevent decay, check for cavities and treat any issues. We can also catch and monitor issues before they occur so that you don’t have to deal with expensive corrective procedures down the road.

Whether you need to schedule your six-month cleaning or you have questions about how to care for your smile, know that the general dentists at TLC Dentistry in Lexington, KY, are always here for you no matter what.

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