My Blog

Posts for: March, 2013

By Dr. Patrick H. Collins
March 26, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   pregnancy  
MythorFactTestYourKnowledgeaboutPregnancyandOralHealth

Already read every “What to Expect” book twice over? Think you know something about how pregnancy affects your teeth and gums — and vice versa? OK, ace — test your knowledge by taking the quiz below. No peeking at the answers!

Myth or fact: The calcium in baby's teeth comes from mom's teeth.

MYTH. Calcium is needed to build baby's teeth and bones, but it should come primarily from the mother's diet, not her body. If an expectant mom's diet contains too little calcium, however, this essential mineral may be supplied from calcium stored in her bones. That's one reason why a proper diet — with an adequate intake of dairy products, plus dietary supplements, if recommended — is important throughout pregnancy.

Myth or fact: Developing symptoms of periodontal disease is common during pregnancy.

FACT. The levels of many hormones, including progesterone, are higher during pregnancy. When periodontal disease is present, progesterone stimulates the body to produce prostaglandins, which cause inflammation of blood vessels in the gum tissue. This can result in a disease called pregnancy gingivitis. Excess growths of gum tissue called “pregnancy tumors” may also develop. These benign growths are probably related to dental plaque.

Myth or fact: Untreated dental infections pose a risk to the fetus as well as the mother.

FACT. Studies have shown that pregnant women with severe periodontal disease are at greater risk for preterm birth and low birth weight babies, and may be susceptible to an increased rate of pre-eclampsia, a serious complication. This seems to be due to the fact that oral bacteria can trigger inflammatory responses in other parts of the body — even the placenta. That's why a dental evaluation is so important at the first sign of a potential problem.

Myth or fact: All moms should take fluoride supplements to help their babies form strong teeth.

MYTH (for now). The benefits of parental fluoride supplements are poorly studied, and at present remain controversial. Although baby's teeth begin forming in the second month, fluoride works best after the teeth have erupted in the mouth. So, at present, this practice isn't recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Myth or fact: Once your baby is born, it's OK to feed them pre-chewed food or slobber over them.

Myth (we gave that one away). First of all, it's gross. Second, while your baby isn't born with the bacteria that cause tooth decay, this behavior can transmit them from you to her, causing dental problems down the road. So don't do it. But do come in for a dental evaluation as soon as you know you're expecting. And have a safe and healthy pregnancy!

If you would like more information about pregnancy and oral health, 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 “Pregnancy and Oral Health,” and “Expectant Mothers.”


By Dr. Patrick H. Collins
March 18, 2013
Category: Oral Health
TreatmentOptionsForStainedTeeth

Do your teeth stain easily? Are you worried that your new white fillings won't remain white for very long? Staining generally falls into one of two categories — extrinsic (external) staining, which affects the outside of the teeth, and intrinsic (internal) staining, which is discoloration of the tooth structure itself. The good news is that both can be treated and, once we determine the exact cause, there are a number of options to remedy it. You can have whiter teeth in almost no time!

External staining is generally caused by beverages or foods like red wine, tea, coffee and some spices, or even substances like tobacco. Stain that is brown, black or gray can become even worse in the presence of dental bacterial plaque and when the mouth is dry. On the other hand, internal tooth staining can make the teeth appear more yellow as a natural result of aging, or after root canal treatment when tooth structure can become more brittle and dry.

Treatment for external (extrinsic) staining includes:

  • Lifestyle modification: You can help put a stop to your staining problem by reducing or eliminating the habits that cause it, such as smoking and drinking red wine.
  • Practicing efficient oral hygiene: Preventing extrinsic staining can be as simple as brushing twice a day with toothpaste that contains tooth-whitening agents or other solutions to reduce the appearance of stains. Don't be embarrassed to ask our office about brushing and flossing because most people do it wrong until they're properly instructed.
  • Professional Cleaning: We can remove some extrinsic staining with ultrasonic cleaning followed by polishing with an abrasive prophylactic paste.

Other treatment options to reverse either intrinsic or extrinsic staining include:

  • Whitening by bleaching: Bleaching for extrinsic stains can be performed either in our office or at your home using a whitening kit. Bleaching for internal (intrinsic) stains can only be conducted in our dental office because it typically involves bleaching the tooth or teeth from the inside.
  • Fillings and restorations: For teeth that have been stained due to decay, or for fillings that are old and discolored we can remove the decay and restore the teeth, which will restore them to their natural brighter color.

If you are ready to say goodbye to your stained teeth, call our office today to make an appointment. For more information about treating stained teeth, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Staining: Getting To The Cause Of Tooth Discoloration Is The First Step Toward Successful Treatment.”


SinusSurgerymdashCreatingBoneforDentalImplantsldquoOutofThinAirrdquo

FAQs About This New and Miraculous Procedure

How can sinus surgery contribute to the replacement of missing back teeth with dental implants?
Dental implants must be anchored the in bone to be successful. Maxillary sinus surgery can help regenerate bone that has been lost and is critically needed to anchor dental implants.

What are the maxillary air sinuses?
Inside the upper jaw, or “maxilla,” are structures known as the maxillary air sinuses, one on either side of the upper jaw. Each sinus is an air-filled space lined by a membrane. Upper back teeth are normally encased in the bone of the maxilla, below the sinuses.

Why is it important to replace missing back teeth?
Replacing back teeth restores the ability to eat, chew, and talk properly. The back teeth also provide facial and cheek support.

Why use dental implants?
Dental implants are the state-of-the-art method for replacing missing teeth.

Why does bone loss occur?
Unless special precautions are taken to prevent it, when teeth are lost, the bone supporting them is also lost.

If there is insufficient bone to anchor dental implants, what are the alternatives?
If all the back teeth are lost and dental implants cannot be placed, removable upper dentures may be the only alternative.

How do you determine whether a sinus surgical procedure is necessary?
The size, shape, and remaining bone of the maxillary sinuses influence whether you can have dental implants with or without a sinus surgical procedure.

How does surgery grow bone?
A small window is created in the sinus wall above where implants need to be placed. The sinus membrane is lifted and the space thus created filled with bone grafting and biologically active bone generating materials. The window is then closed and simply heals.

How is the surgery done?
The surgical procedures are performed from inside the mouth in the area just above the missing back teeth. They are generally carried out under local anesthesia (small shots, just like for a filling), sometimes with the addition of sedation or anti-anxiety medication.

How do bone grafts work?
Bone grafts act as scaffolds that the body replaces with its own bone. The most well researched bone substitute grafting material is currently bovine (cow) bone. All grafting materials are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They are specially treated to render them completely sterile, non-contagious, and free of rejection factors.

What can I expect after surgery?
Moderate swelling and discomfort after surgery generally lasts for a few days to a week, about the same as having an upper impacted wisdom tooth removed. Supportive treatment usually includes a course of antibiotics to prevent infection and prescription strength medication of the aspirin or ibuprofen type. A decongestant may also be prescribed, if necessary. Healing is generally uneventful.

Who performs this surgery?
Maxillary sinus augmentations are usually carried out by oral surgeons, periodontists, or appropriately trained general dentists. Proper assessment of your situation and diagnosis are critical pre-requisites to the right procedure.

If you are missing upper back teeth, contact us today to schedule an appointment and discuss maxillary sinus augmentation. You can also learn more about this procedure by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sinus Surgery: Creating Bone for Dental Implants out of Thin Air.”