Ever wonder what the old “silver” fillings or “amalgam” fillings look after a few years in the mouth? Here is a good picture! Maybe they should be called “black fillings!”
Silver fillings were created decades ago to allow dentist to fix teeth that were decayed. And while a lot of scientific findings were used to create the filling material, they leave a lot to be desired by today’s standards.
Silver fillings have been placed for a long time (and still continue to be placed in some dental offices and clinics). However, they do pose several major problems. First of all, they look like crap after a few years of service. This is obvious to anyone, not just dentists. They leak and stain the tooth structure around them. Looking at the photo above you can see the gray shadows that’s spreading out from the filling inside the tooth. They cause teeth to break prematurely. Because of their metallic nature, they expand and contract differently than enamel and dentin when exposed to high and low temperatures. Because of this difference in expansion and contraction rate, they place a lot of unnecessary forces on the tooth. Looking at the photo above you can see 2 fracture lines starting on the left side. Oh, and one last minor detail is that they contain mercury. No biggie though!
This is the same tooth after the silver filling and fracture lines were removed and replaced with a white filling. White fillings are not just more esthetic and pretty. They resemble the tooth structure they are replacing making teeth less likely to fracture. Also, these white fillings are bonded to the teeth chemically. This helps solidify the tooth as a unit, instead of having something lodged in the center of the tooth causing it to split over time. These white fillings are also easier to repair and maintain compared to a silver filling.
The next time you are given a choice between a silver filling and a white filling, you’ll be better prepared to choose the white filling knowing it is a better material which not only looks better, but is better for the health of the tooth. At Platinum Dental, Inc. we only use white fillings when a filling is necessary. Follow this link to learn more about white fillings.
It is common knowledge that some people clench or grind their teeth during sleep. You yourself or a loved one may be suffering from this nighttime habit.
And while patients have been told that they probably clench their teeth in their sleep and they should have a nightguard, they don’t know what happens if they don’t get a nightguard.
When we bite down on our back teeth, our chewing muscles generate a tremendous amount of force. During waking hours when we eat our food we can control how hard we bite down. While sleeping, we no longer have this control. So the forces generated by the clenching during sleep can be much higher which place a great amount of stress on the teeth. These repetitive periods of stress on the teeth result in the teeth developing micro-fractures. Over time, these micro-fractures lead to an actually visible fracture where a piece of a tooth breaks off. At other times the nerve in the tooth gets damaged. There is a whole host of other problems that are caused by excessive nighttime clenching such as locked jaws and headaches.
The bottom line is that nighttime clenching and grinding of the teeth end up causing injuries to the teeth and the surrounding structures. These injuries could be minimized (or even avoided all together) with the use of a properly fitted custom mouthguard.
There are different kinds of mouthguards for different problems. For example, people who have headaches due to their nighttime clenching need a different type of nightguard versus someone who is cracking and chipping their teeth.
Mouthguards range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, they more than pay for themselves by saving you the cost of the dental treatment for fixing a broken tooth or a root canal therapy on one or multiple teeth.
Custom-made nightguards worn while sleeping have proven to be effective in reducing the damaging effects of clenching or grinding. If you have been told in the past that you clench, or if you know you do even if no one has mentioned it, talk to your dental healthcare provider or contact us and Dr. Eslampour can help you determine if a nightguard is appropriate for you.
When a tooth is badly injured, treatment choices become limited. A badly damaged tooth can often be saved with a root canal therapy.
The damage to the tooth inevitably leads to nerve damage and often times pain. A root canal is performed to remove the source of infection, along with the damaged and diseased tooth and nerve. Once the root canal is performed, the body begins a healing process where the disease used to be. So if the nerve in the tooth is gone, why do some people still experience pain after the procedure is completed?
Pain or discomfort following a completed root canal therapy can be due to the irritation to the surrounding jaw bone that is caused by some of the medications used during the root canal procedure. Sometimes this is more uncomfortable than the original toothache. But don’t fret. The body will heal itself if the source of the problem is gone. Sometimes antibiotics need to be used to help speed up the recovery and healing phase. In other cases only time and patience is necessary as the healing process is gradual.
If you have had a root canal treatment recently and you are still experiencing discomfort, be patient and discuss it with your doctor. If the discomfort is subsiding and getting less noticeable daily, then you’re on the right path.
For more information about this procedure or any other dental treatment, contact our staff and schedule an appointment with Dr. Eslampour for an exam and consultation .
Most people wonder how often they should see the dentist to have their teeth checked. Some people only consider going to the dentist if they have some type of pain or discomfort. Others only go when “the insurance pays for it” and still others don’t set foot in a dentist office for years without giving it a second thought.
Most people should see the dentist at least twice a year for a routine check ups and cleanings. Much like your car getting a tune up at recommended intervals, so should the teeth. Some patients need to see the dentist more frequently for treatment of chronic diseases (like gum disease) and such.
People often “fear the dentist” because of the anticipated pain. These same group of people often refuse going to the dentist ’til something is really wrong and hurting them. So they are already primed with pain and fear of what will happen even before they see the dentist.
Ignoring an occasional toothache or a small chipped tooth can lead to bigger problems in the long run. Visiting the dentist at least twice a year will help catch and detect these problem when they are smaller and easier to fix.
Teeth are lost for a number of reasons. Sometimes a badly decayed tooth cannot be saved and needs to be removed. Other times trauma can cause tooth loss such as in a fight or sporting accident. But no matter what caused the tooth loss, replacement of the lost tooth needs to be seriously considered.
People often say “I have so many teeth, so what if I lose a couple?” We also have 10 fingers and toes. Have you ever considered losing a finger or toe since we have so many? NO. In fact, people will do anything to save their fingers and toes. So why are teeth treated any differently than another body part? No one knows for sure, but perhaps it’s like the saying “out of sight, out of mind”. After all, if we cannot see something, how can we expect to have any memories or feelings towards it?
Untreated tooth loss is the beginning of the journey to destination “edentulism”, which is a fancy word for no teeth. In the case above, the patient had lost a lower molar years ago but never got the tooth replaced. Fast forward to today, the same patient is going to lose the over-erupted upper tooth because of biting issues. Plus, the loss of the lower molar placed the rest of the adjacent teeth under greater stress from chewing. Since there were less teeth to chew the food with, they had to be used more. This led to faster breakdown of these teeth due to over use. These problems could have been avoided all together if the lost tooth was replaced.
Nowadays there are many ways to replace lost or missing teeth. The consequences of not replacing missing teeth has multiple negative health implications. If you have missing teeth but do not want to become totally tooth less one day, contact us for a dental consultation to see what can be done to stop the journey to edentulism.
Teeth, especially our molar teeth (the back ones) get tremendous amounts of forces exerted onto them as a result of normal day to day chewing and eating. Pair these forces up with say crunchy foods or snacks and the force that is exerted on these teeth increases dramatically. All of these forces can lead to fracture of healthy teeth, let alone teeth with large old silver fillings. Another reason a crown is necessary for a back tooth is following root canal therapy. After the root canals therapy is done, the tooth becomes considerably weaker. This weakening process leads to the tooth being more susceptible to fracture. This is what happened in the picture above. The patient had his molars root canal treated, but because of insurance limitations, no crowns were placed on the teeth. Patient presented 3 months after the root canal completion with a cracked tooth.
Unfortunately not much can be done to salvage the tooth. It needs to be extracted.
All of this could have been avoided by placement of a crown on the molar tooth. To learn more about root canal therapy or crowns follow the links above.
Dental insurance has really not kept up with the cost of living increases since its inception some 80 years ago. Back in the 20’s and 30’s at the very beginning of the dental insurance era, insurance companies had benefit amounts equal to $1000 per year. Back then this amount was a lot and it covered all of the dental needs of the patient. Fast forward to today and you’ll be surprised to see that most insurance plans are still offering this amount for an average plan. Maybe they think that dental care has been immune to changes in our economics.
And, to top it off, insurance companies place ridiculous restrictions and a lot of exclusions on some benefits. For example, you may think that since you have dental insurance it can pay for you if you had a tooth knocked out. Nope! The insurance will typically help pay for the least costly treatment forcing the patient to choose a less desirable treatment (e.g. partial denture) if they expect the insurance to help pay for the treatment.
Bottom line with dental insurance companies is expect disappointment, and then you will be not be as surprised at the outcome.
To learn more about dental insurance be sure to read our article on dental insurance.
Snoring and sleep apnea are 2 separate forms of sleeping disorder with serious medical, professional as well as social implications.
Snoring at its most benign form places a strain on the social life. Whether it’s the bed partner or the kids in the other room, those people who live with someone who snores dread going to bed in the same room (and sometimes even in the adjacent rooms) to sleep.
People who snore are typically more tired during the day that non snorers. This leads to lowered productivity at work. For a student this means falling behind at school and performing at substandard levels. Other responses seen in young children is inability to pay attention or sit still during class. These children are usually diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and are placed on strong medications.
Social and professional implications aside, there are serious medical consequences associated with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea places a greater load on the cardiovascular system throughout the night. Over time this leads to heart disease with an increase in risk for heart attacks and strokes. Diabetes is also another serious medical disorder which is seen in patients with sleep apnea.
As you can see sleep apnea and snoring place a great deal of stress on the body and social life. To learn more about these group of disorders visit us online. >Learn about sleep apnea and snoring
With the holidays fast approaching it is easy to over do it with the candies and the sweets. Whether you like to sink your choppers into some candy or sip on a sweetened beverage (with or without alcohol) here are some tips to help defend your teeth against cavities.
If given the choice between candies, choose the ones that are easier to bite into. Hard candies can not only crack healthy teeth, but they can also break crowns and fillings.
Avoid sticky candies. These tend to “stick” to the teeth and the nooks and crannies around the teeth causing more damage to the teeth.
Avoid candies that are both hard and sticky. See the reasons above.
Try to consume your candy or chocolate bar within a reasonable period of time. You want to minimize the total time the sugar is in contact with your teeth.
Drink non-carbonated water afterward. This helps wash away remnants of what you were eating without harming the teeth anymore.
Avoid candies and sweet drink combinations together. Have some tea with your cake instead of a sweetened Frappuccino for example.
Don’t brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking sweets. The healthy tooth structure has had some of its “good” contents sucked away and damaged by the sweets. Brushing now would harm the remaining tooth structure even faster because you can “brush away” these weakened areas of your teeth. Wait at least 30 minutes before you brush.
Buy some ACT which is sold over the counter and start rinsing daily now. This helps strengthen your teeth against cavities. This is like shoring up your defenses.
For more protection, you can get a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste or rinse.
Floss once a day at night time or for those who work at night before you go to bed.
Brush twice a day, using a soft bristle brush with the correct gentle circular motions pointing the bristles 45 degrees towards your gums. Brush and massage your teeth and gums instead of abrading them.
Cavities can happen despite of your best efforts. But the steps above will help you minimize the risk of developing cavities at a fast rate.
If your teeth become sensitive contact us and we’ll get you in to take a look and see and nip the problem before it becomes a bigger headache.
Some people suffer from pain in their head and neck area. Sometimes this pain is originating from within the muscles, like the muscles we use for chewing or for turning the neck or stabilizing the neck.
To aid in eliminating the pain in what seems to be muscle pain, some doctors prescribe a “muscle relaxant” such as Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine).
While this medication is considered a muscle relaxant, it acts by numbing the nerves. Nerves are like highways in our body used for transporting various sensory inputs (such as touch, pain, heat, etc.) to the central nervous system (the brain) for processing. These nerves also transport motor signals from the brain to the rest of the body (such as moving your leg, turning the head, chewing, etc.).
The “numbing” effect produced by this medication on the nerves causes less transmission of messages to and from the brain. Medications such as Flexeril can lessen the pain not because they are fixing the problem. They lessen the pain by masking the pain. What is worse is that this class of medications increase the risk for serotonin toxicity, when used alone or in combination with certain other medications like anti-depressants. Due to its risks along with a whole host of unwanted side effects (like drowsiness, constipation, headaches, etc.) it is used for no more than 2 weeks since its intended effect lasts for only 2 weeks, regardless of how much or how long the medication is taken for.
Cyclobenzaprine medications such as Flexeril are intended for treatment of “acute” trauma or pain due to muscle spasms. Long standing jaw pain or headaches or muscle pain that is not due to muscle spasm will not benefit from this class of medication.