Posts for: September, 2018
While lasers still seem like science fiction, they’ve been used commercially (and medically) for decades. But there’s still room for growth in practical applications with this developing technology. One promising area is in the treatment of periodontal (gum) disease.
Gum disease is a bacterial infection triggered by plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles caused by inadequate oral hygiene. The disease is highly destructive and can eventually lead to both tooth and bone loss. Treatment procedures vary widely, but they all have the same goal: remove the offending plaque and calculus (tartar) from tooth and gum surfaces. Without plaque the infection subsides and the gums can heal.
For decades now, dentists have removed plaque and calculus manually with special hand instruments or ultrasonic equipment. If the disease has advanced below the gum line or formed deep voids filled with infection called periodontal pockets, the dentist may also employ surgical techniques to access the infected areas.
While all these techniques have a long track record for effectiveness, they can cause the inadvertent destruction of healthy tissue, as well as create discomfort for some patients afterward. This is where a new protocol called Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP®) may be able to make a difference in the future.
With the LANAP® protocol, surgeons direct a laser beam of light through a fiber optic the width of three human hairs onto diseased tissue. The particular color of light interacts with the tissue, which contains the darkly-pigmented bacteria causing the disease, and “vaporizes” it. The beam, however, passes harmlessly through lighter-pigmented healthy tissue; as a result diseased tissue is eradicated with little to no harm to adjacent healthy tissue.
With these capabilities, trained dentists using LANAP® for gum disease treatment might be able to achieve conventional results with less tissue removal and bleeding, less discomfort for patients, and less tissue shrinkage than traditional procedures — and without scalpels or sutures. And some post-surgical studies have indicated LANAP® might also encourage gum tissue regeneration in the months following.
LANAP®, however, is still developing and requires further research. Thus far, though, the results have been encouraging. As laser technology advances, it’s quite possible tomorrow’s patient may experience less discomfort and more effective healing with their gum disease treatment.
If you would like more information on gum disease treatment, 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 “Treating Gum Disease with Lasers.”
What your dentists in Woodbridge, VA, want you to know about orthodontic treatment
There are many reasons you may need orthodontic treatment. The dentists at Mapledale Family Dentistry in Woodbridge, VA, want to share what you should know about orthodontic treatment and how it can help you.
Everyone knows orthodontic treatment is used to correct tooth and jaw alignment problems. So, why are proper tooth and jaw alignment so important? A properly aligned jaw can save you from future problems like temporomandibular joint or TMJ problems, which can result in headaches, facial pain, and other long-term problems.
When your teeth are properly aligned, it can save you from tooth wear which can result in needing dental restorations or root canal treatment. Straight teeth are also much easier to floss, which can save you from periodontal disease.
Some of the signs you may need orthodontic treatment are if you have:
- An overbite, when your upper jaw excessively protrudes over your lower jaw
- An underbite, when your lower jaw excessively protrudes in front of your upper jaw
- A crossbite, when your upper and lower jaws cross each other
- An open bite, when your front teeth don’t close together when you bite down
At Mapledale Family Dentistry you can choose from several different options to straighten your smile. Consider:
- Conventional braces, which come in several types including metal brackets and wires, tooth-colored brackets and clear wires, or lingual braces, which are placed on the tooth surfaces next to your tongue.
- Invisalign revolutionary clear plastic aligners. The aligners are comfortable, virtually invisible, and typically require only 9 to 15 months to complete treatment. You can also remove the trays to eat, brush, and floss, making them a very convenient, user-friendly choice.
Whether you choose braces or aligners to straighten your teeth, the dentists at Mapledale Family Dentistry are committed to providing excellent dental care before, during, and after your orthodontic treatment. To schedule a consultation and find out more about braces or Invisalign treatment call the dentists at Mapledale Family Dentistry in Woodbridge, VA, today!
A loose permanent tooth is not a good thing—and not something you should put off having examined. That’s because a loose tooth could soon become a lost tooth.
How we treat it depends on its underlying cause, which could be one of two types. One is primary occlusal trauma, meaning the affected tooth has experienced accidental trauma or higher biting forces than it normally encounters. This usually happens because of teeth grinding habits.
It could also be secondary occlusal trauma. Unlike primary trauma where the supporting gums and bone may be reasonably healthy, secondary trauma occurs because these structures have been severely damaged by periodontal (gum) disease. As the gums begin to detach from a tooth and its underlying bone deteriorates, even normal biting forces can loosen it.
If gum disease is present, our first priority is to bring it under control. We do this primarily by removing all dental plaque (a thin film of bacteria and food particles that triggers the infection and sustains it) and calculus or tartar (calcified plaque). This can take several sessions and, in the case of deep infection, may require a surgical procedure.
On the other hand, if teeth grinding is the primary cause, we’ll focus on minimizing the habit and its effects. One way is to create a custom-fitted guard worn to prevent upper and lower teeth from making solid contact. You may also need to improve your management of stress—another factor in teeth grinding—through medication, therapy or biofeedback.
In either case, improved periodontal health will help the gums naturally regain their strong attachment with help, if necessary, from gum tissue or bone grafting surgery. But this healing process can take time, so we may need to secure a loose tooth in the interim by splinting it to neighboring stable teeth. This usually requires bonding rigid material or metal across the back of all involved teeth or in a channel cut along the teeth’s biting surfaces. In this way the more stable teeth support the loose one.
Splinting may be temporary as the mouth heals from disease or trauma and the teeth regain their stability. In some cases, though, it may be permanent. Either way, dealing promptly with a loose tooth can help ensure it’ll survive—so see your dentist as soon as possible.
If you would like more information on treating loose 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 “Treatment for Loose Teeth.”