Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S. - 220 North Washington Ave., Cookeville, TN 38501 (931)526-2613

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Posts for: April, 2012

NineThingstoExpectDuringYourAppointmentwiththeDentalHygienist

We say that we are going to have our teeth cleaned — but a lot more than simple cleaning takes place during a visit to a dental hygienist.

  1. Health History
    Your hygienist will ask you about your general health and your dental health and any recent changes in either. By doing so she will pinpoint any issues that require special precautions during your cleaning.
  2. Cancer Screening
    Next, the hygienist carefully examines the skin in and around your mouth looking for lumps, bumps, sores, tenderness or swellings and refers areas of concern to the dentist for further evaluation. The hygienist is one of the few people who get to closely assess your whole mouth, so she is trained to spot cancer and other diseases.
  3. Evaluating Your Periodontal Health
    Your hygienist will look closely at the state of your periodontal health (from peri meaning around and dont meaning tooth). This includes checking your gums and the other tissues surrounding your teeth for inflammation (gingivitis) or bleeding.
  4. Checking for Decay
    The hygienist will examine your teeth for decay and will note the location and condition of stains or hard mineral deposits (calculus or tartar). These deposits result from a buildup of plaque (a film of bacteria) that has not been removed by daily brushing.
  5. Scaling
    The hygienist uses hand tools or a sonic scaler to remove the calculus from your teeth.
  6. Polishing
    A mechanical polisher and an abrasive polishing compound are used to polish the surface of your teeth so that they are smooth, making them more resistant to plaque, removing stains and leaving your teeth feeling squeaky clean.
  7. Measuring
    The hygienist uses a tiny probe to measure the space between your teeth and gums. Periodontal disease begins by forming pockets between the teeth and gums, so this measuring is key to your periodontal health. Generally a space of 3mm or less indicates healthy gums, pockets of 4 to 5mm indicate periodontal disease that may be reversed with good oral care at home, and pockets that are 6mm deep or more require specialized treatment by a dentist or periodontist (a dentist who specializes in care of gums).
  8. Education
    Based on the observed conditions of your gums and teeth, the hygienist will provide information aimed at improving your home oral cleansing routines and about your risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
  9. Making Your Next Appointment
    The hygienist will make an appointment for your next cleaning — in three, four, or six months depending on the health of your gums and teeth. Keeping these appointments not only keeps your teeth looking their best, but it also assures good management of your dental health.
  10. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental hygiene. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Hygiene Visit.”


By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
April 20, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: medication   aspirin  
AspirinNotJustaHarmlessOTCMedication

We tend to think of aspirin as a harmless medication. It is dispensed over the counter and is the most widely used OTC medication in the U.S. We take it without thinking we may be exposing ourselves to risks. But in certain situations aspirin can cause dangerous side effects.

What is aspirin, and how does it work?
The chemical name for aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid. It is used to reduce mild pain, inflammation and fever. When you take an aspirin, it blocks the formation of prostaglandins, substances your body creates that are associated with inflammation. Prostaglandins cause inflamed tissues to become red and swollen, but they also serve protective purposes, such as forming a barrier that protects the stomach from the acid it produces to digest your food. That's why long-term aspirin use can sometimes cause stomach bleeding and ulceration or other health problems.

Why do cardiac patients take aspirin?
Another effect of aspirin is to prevent blood platelets from clumping together. Blood platelets are structures in the blood, smaller than white or red blood cells, that aid clotting by sticking together at the site of an injury. This effect of aspirin can cause prolonged bleeding, but it may be beneficial to people who have cardiovascular (from cardio, meaning heart; and vascular, meaning vessel) disease with narrowed blood vessels.

Aspirin can keep blood flowing in the obstructed vessels and thus prevent heart attacks and strokes; but it can also increase the risk for strokes that are caused by bleeding in the brain. Most physicians attempt to lower such risks by asking their patients to keep their daily aspirin consumption to a low dose 81 mg “baby” aspirin.

How does aspirin affect your teeth and gums?
Be sure to let your medical and dental professionals know you are taking aspirin, and how much you take. Also tell us about other OTC medications you take, including herbal medications and supplements, because they may interact with aspirin to cause side effects.

If you have been told to take aspirin because of a cardiac condition or procedure, be sure to follow your recommended treatment. Do not suddenly discontinue aspirin therapy; doing so can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Ask us if you should stop taking aspirin before a major dental or oral surgery, but do not stop taking it on your own. We will consult with your physician about your medical condition and let you know our recommendation. In most cases you can continue your aspirin therapy without causing excessive bleeding during the dental procedure.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Aspirin: Friend or Foe?


By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
April 12, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
AFutureSoBrightmdashTeethWhiteningFacts

If you cringe at the appearance of your less than pearly whites when you look in the mirror, you are not alone. A frequently requested cosmetic procedure, teeth whitening is a very successful and relatively inexpensive way to enhance your smile. We can determine which whitening treatment will work best for you after performing a basic oral examination in our office. When will it work and when won't it? Here's some background:

Teeth most commonly become stained or discolored due to surface (extrinsic) changes, the most common of which are dietary and smoking. Foods including red wine, coffee, and tea can cause extrinsic staining. Teeth can also commonly become discolored or stained due to intrinsic (internal) reasons, such as changes in the structure of enamel or dentin or by incorporation of chromogenic (color generating) material into tooth tissue during formation or after eruption.

  1. Toothpastes that claim to whiten teeth are only effective in removing plaque and other surface stains. Although most of these products contain mild abrasives that remove the plaque, they aren't capable of changing the underlying color of stained teeth.
  2. Tooth polishing by your dentist or dental hygienist is effective in removing superficial staining, but will not change tooth color.
  3. Teeth whitening systems work by bleaching, generally with the use of hydrogen peroxide. Using bleaching gels in custom made trays or whitening strips can be done at home, but is slow and the changes are gradual. We can perform quicker and more effective “power bleaching” in our dental office when precautions can be taken to ensure safety due to the higher concentrations of bleaching gels used. Teeth with intrinsic (internal) staining may need internal bleaching to whiten them and this can only be done in the dental office.
  4. Teeth whitening results fade over time, but optimally last from six months to two years. Taking care of your newly whitened teeth by avoiding the foods, beverages, and habits that cause staining will help them remain whiter for longer.
  5. If you have had previous cosmetic dentistry performed, including the placement of composite restorations, porcelain veneers, or crowns, teeth whitening may not be for you. Bleaching agents have little to no effect at all on the materials used to create these restorative products.

If you would like to discuss whitening your teeth with us, call today to make an appointment. To learn more about the various teeth whitening procedures, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening: Brighter, Lighter, Whiter…”


By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
April 04, 2012
Category: Oral Health
WhatShouldYouDoWhenYourToothisChippedorBroken

Damaging the crown of a tooth (the part of the tooth that is visible above the gums) is the most common type of dental injury. The tooth may be broken or chipped. It is good to be prepared by knowing how such cases should be treated.

What is the first thing to do if my tooth is chipped or broken?
If fragments broke off the tooth, try to find and save them. They can probably be reattached to the tooth by bonding.

Does a chipped or broken tooth hurt?
The tooth may be sensitive to touch, hot and cold. Depending on the type of injury and how much of the tooth's inner surface is exposed, there may also be pain.

How long can I wait before getting treatment?
Get treatment right away, within 12 hours if possible. Teeth with crown fractures can be treated within 12 hours without affecting long-term outcomes.

What types of treatment may be used?
The treatment recommended depends on the tooth and the type and severity of the injury. Exposure of a tooth's inner pulp can be treated by a pulpotomy (partial pulp removal) technique. Front teeth can be temporarily restored with special cements, or the original tooth fragments may be reattached by bonding. Composite resin bonding may be used to restore the tooth's original appearance and function. Composites can be made in a wide range of tooth colors and can match the original tooth almost exactly.

Is treatment different if the damaged tooth is a primary (baby) tooth?
Chipped or broken primary teeth are generally treated similarly to permanent teeth. The treatment depends on the extent of the injury and damage to the tooth. Treatment of fractured primary teeth also depends on the proximity of the injured tooth to the permanent tooth beneath it, which will ultimately replace it. If a fractured primary tooth cannot be saved, it may be removed.

What if my tooth is loosened but not broken?
If the tooth is loosened but not cracked, broken or chipped, no dental treatment may be required. However, we will collect baseline clinical and x-ray information and keep an eye on the tooth or teeth in the future. We will need to check the tooth during recall visits to see whether the dental pulp is still living or whether it has died as a result of its injury. The latter condition can lead to a variety of problems and will require treatment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about repairing a chipped tooth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”