Growing Teeth: A New Dental Frontier

 
Kids reach many milestones as they grow, including frequent visits from the tooth fairy. A series of developmental steps cause baby teeth to fall out and adult teeth to replace them. But sometimes adults lose permanent teeth from disease or trauma. Modern dentistry presents options for every unfortunate scenario, restoring full function and appearance. We enjoy techniques and materials today for tooth replacement not available in previous generations. Yet dental scientists continue their reach for new horizons and innovative possibilities.

Tufts School of Dental Medicine researchers are harvesting stem cells that grow new teeth and jaw bone. These “universal cells,” taken from inside healthy adult teeth, differentiate into tooth buds. But this intricate process of cellular differentiation only takes place under conditions that replicate an embryonic jaw. Growth hormones and nutrients must stimulate development at exactly the right times. As a result, new teeth won’t grow in a petri dish. They need a precise framework, one which the Tufts researchers continue to design.

Progress Continues

The Tuft’s team recently constructed a cellular matrix that allows successful implantation of a tooth bud into a pig’s jaw. Under their design, early adult-stage teeth develop within five months. But the transfer from pigs to humans requires significant advancements yet to come. Researchers project that humans won’t profit from these developments for another ten years. The exciting progress hints at options once believed to be impossible.

In the meantime, dental implants offer the closest alternative to growing new teeth. Titanium pieces placed into the jawbone mimic tooth roots that support life-like porcelain crowns. And research has brought major benefits to implant technology as well. Specialized coatings and modified designs help produce outstanding integration success, while 3D imaging technology allows precise planning of every case.

A Cavity Disappearing Act

Another intriguing frontier in dental research involves dental fillings that stimulate teeth to repair their own damage. Decayed parts of teeth usually are drilled out and restored with various materials. But researchers at Nottingham and Harvard University recently earned recognition from the Royal Society of Chemistry for their innovative approach.

These teams created a filling material that stimulates stem cells to grow dentin, the firm inner layer of every tooth. They’ve also demonstrated the ability to regenerate the internal nerve and blood vessel center of teeth, the pulp. This part of the tooth usually undergoes root canal treatment when it’s infected. Widespread regenerative procedures are a few years off. But these materials could revolutionize the treatment of some common dental problems.

We are excited about the promise of therapeutic biomaterials for bringing regenerative medicine to restorative dentistry.
– Kyle Vining. Fellow, Harvard University
 

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Stay Tuned

Research keeps moving dentistry into fascinating new frontiers with solutions once considered impossible. Dental stem cells open doors to future procedures that will someday be commonplace. But you don’t have to wait for life-changing dentistry: Implants and bio-compatible restorative materials now offer modern options for full function and beauty. The Kirkland Dentistry team constantly monitors our profession for developments that enhance your experience.

 


We look forward to discussing the fascinating world of biomedical research in dentistry with you at future visits!

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Teeth Whitening: A Quick Smile Fix

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In 1992, author John Gray wrote a book declaring Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Selling 50 million copies, the publication spent 121 weeks on the bestseller list and became a key theme in American pop culture. Researchers have since shown that the catchy metaphor applies to smiles, too. When women see a nice smile, they’re inclined to believe it indicates a warm personality. Men look at the same smile and perceive success.

woman-smiling-in-parkRegardless of the measure or those measuring it, your smile matters.  A gorgeous smile connects with those around us and facilitates social and career success in our lives. But sometimes a pleasant smile starts to lose its shine.  Teeth begin to dull, yellowing slowly from exposure to intense food pigments called chromogens.  Commonly found in coffee, tea, and wine, chromogens attach to the white outer enamel of your teeth.
Tar and nicotine are two of the many chemicals found in tobacco that discolor teeth.  While tar is dark, colorless nicotine changes to a yellow stain once it mixes with oxygen.  A potent discoloring mix forms with other food and beverage compounds and embeds into the enamel.  Along with natural aging that thins out enamel or a history of exposure to certain medications, a smile may lose its influence for many reasons.

A Bright Return

But returning brilliance to a smile is simple, fast, and safe. Professional whitening methods may remove years of unpleasant color and release the many benefits of a terrific smile. In-office and take-home tray systems offer the most efficient ways to break down color compounds.  But choosing the right approach and proper formulation for your teeth should be determined with the teeth whitening experts at Kirkland Dentistry.  Guidance through a whitening program makes the all the difference in the outcome.

Various factors need a little consideration before starting a whitening program.  And you may be surprised to find some teeth respond to whitening and others prove more resistant. For example, porcelain teeth won’t respond to traditional whitening and should be evaluated to consider their role in your smile. That doesn’t mean we can’t find a solution that works for your teeth.  We specialize in bringing everyone’s smile to another level!

The Professional Advantage

woman-on-park-benchAlthough teeth whitening gels are based on one of two general formulas, you’ll find significant differences in quality and strength.  We only use professional gels from reputable manufacturers, designed to be safe and non-toxic.  In addition, all gels are extremely sensitive to temperature and must be transported and stored correctly. If mishandled, even the best products will deteriorate rapidly and lose their ability to whiten your teeth. If they do, you end up wasting time and money.  We only use products from established companies with proven quality control measures in place.

Teeth whitening lifts years of unpleasant stain from your teeth and brings out the best of your natural beauty.  Or maybe you’ll find an underlying brilliance that you never knew existed!  We’d love to chat with you about your options for bringing your smile to life. Give us a call at Kirkland Dentistry to discover the magic of professional teeth whitening.

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Say Ah! 4 Common Oral Health Symptoms You Should Not Ignore

dentistA person’s mouth can tell them many things about their overall health. From heart disease to a simple cavity, oral hygiene is crucial for maintaining your health. Our mouth can give us clues that we may have a health problem before any other symptoms show up. Here is a list of common oral symptoms you should not ignore.

Your tongue

A tongue can have many looks to it if it is infected. If you notice any of these funky colors or textures, head to your family dentist right away.

Strawberry red: This could mean you have a vitamin deficiency, as a glossy bright tongue signifies a lack in vitamins B12 or iron. These vitamins are crucial in developing the fuzzy papillae on your tongue, so when there’s not enough, the tongue will look very smooth.

Cottage cheese white bumps: These pesky bumps are signs that you have a yeast infection. It can easily be fixed by getting a prescription for antibiotics.

Small patches of white: If this is the case, something in your mouth is irritating your tongue. They are also caused by smoking and can lead to mouth cancer if not treated.

A burning sensation: If your tongue feels like it’s scalded but looks relatively the same in the mirror, hormonal changes such as menopause could be to blame. Or, you could be developing an allergy to your brand of toothpaste.

Consistent bad breath

If you are brushing and flossing regularly, your bad breath should subside. But if it doesn’t, this could be a sign of advanced gum disease. It’s important to talk to your dentist before the condition ruins your pearly whites.

A sour taste in your mouth

This is a symptom of GERD, which is also known as severe acid reflux. Other symptoms may include a sore throat, chest pain, and a raspy voice. When left untreated, this condition can eat away at the lining of your esophagus and cause dental decay.

Brown or white lines on a child’s teeth

This odd phenomena happens when a child is exposed to too much fluoride. Other signs of fluoride poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Keep the fluoride toothpaste away from your child, and contact a family dentist right away if these lines pop up.

It is important to take proper dental health precautions not only for your health but for your self confidence as well. In fact, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 99.7% of all Americans believe a healthy smile is an important social asset, so it is crucial to start practicing proper habits now.

If you see any of these odd warning signs in your mouth, visit Dr. Dave today!

3 Reasons Why Childhood Oral Hygiene Is So Important

dentistsGoing to a family dentist regularly is very important, especially for the children in your family. Oral and gum health has a huge effect on overall health, and getting started early can prevent the onset of dental problems and diseases later on.

Plus, having a healthy and bright smile can help your child build self-esteem and confidence, which in turn leads to improved social success, success in school, and eventually in the workplace. Remember: 75% of people believe that an unattractive smile can affect their career success. If you make an effort to maintain oral hygiene in your child’s early years, you’ll also find that good diet and exercise follow, since whatever is put into the body has some sort of effect on the mouth.

These are three specific reasons why childhood oral hygiene is more important than you would think:

Primary Dentition
The primary teeth start erupting in children at the age of six months, and are usually completed by about the two-and-a-half year mark. The enamel on these primary, or baby teeth, is less densely mineralized that that on permanent teeth. These teeth are also important for both chewing solid food and learning to speak. Indeed, a full set of teeth is almost essential to learning to speak and learning correct pronunciation. Primary teeth also have an effect on how the permanent teeth come in.

The Risk of Caries
Since the enamel on the primary teeth is less dense, there is a particular risk for caries, or cavities. Oral hygiene is one way to prevent cavities, and also decrease visits to the dentists office. Another way to prevent caries is to monitor sugar consumption and diet in general.

Habit Formation
The rituals and habits instilled in childhood are carried all throughout life: it is up to the parents to ensure that their children learn to take care of their teeth properly. This includes brushing and flossing regularly, as well as maintaining a healthy diet and exercise. Finding dentists for kids and making regular checkups a normal routine is another great way to establish a baseline and assumption of responsibility for oral health.

Make an appointment at a family dentistry practice today to keep your kid’s smiles healthy and bright. And if you’re looking for a new dentist in the Kirkland area, contact Kirkland Dentistry anytime!

Dental Cleanings: More Than Just Cleaning

dental examsBelieve it or not, dental cleanings are about much more than cleaning your teeth. Your semi-annual cleanings serve as the perfect opportunity for a family dentist to examine the condition of your teeth, your gums, and your bite pattern, as well as any other oral health concerns you may have.

Examining Your Teeth
When you consider that dental exams need to pay particular attention to the enamel of your teeth, the cleaning process can actually seem like just the first step in the process, literally clearing the way for a more involved inspection. Your dentist is looking for areas of decay, discoloration, or sensitivity, as these could be signs of underlying problems.

Examining Your Gums
Your teeth are just the most visible part of the dental picture. Healthy roots are vital to strong, functional teeth, and the gums act as protective blankets for those roots. Unhealthy gums warrant extra attention, to determine if that protective layer is weakening and potentially exposing the roots to danger, or if the weakening of that protective layer is a result of a deeper problem within the root.

Examining Your Bite
Dental exams also inspect how your upper and lower teeth fit together, know as your bite pattern. A healthy bite pattern should distribute the pressure evenly across the contact points of the teeth, so that no area is wearing away faster than another, and so that we can efficiently chew our food. If the bite pattern is shifting, advanced dental technologies like dental digital x-rays can help your dentist determine the cause (such as unerupted wisdom teeth, or significantly weakening roots).

Dental exams and cleanings can help your dentist identify and address areas of concern before they become full-blown problems. Whether or not you enjoy your cleanings, be sure to keep your appointments — your future mouth will thank you.

What Happens During a Dental Cleaning?

dental examProfessional dental cleanings can make your teeth feel great, no question about it. But your dentist is doing much more than just cleaning with those shiny tools. They’re constantly looking for trouble spots, warning signs, and areas of concern. Here are just a few of the ways cleanings do double-duty as your dental exams as well.

  • Sensitivity and Bleeding. Let’s be honest, the dentist is poking around in your mouth with a sharp metal hook — like it or not, a tiny amount of bleeding may be a normal part of every exam. What your dentist is really looking for during your dental exams are areas that bleed more than normal, or more easily than others. Sensitivity can be much harder for your dentist to detect, so be sure to tell them when you’re uncomfortable.
  • How Well You Brush. Your dental exams are when all your bad brushing habits are revealed. Your dentist will know how much attention you’ve given the inside surfaces of your teeth (the sides your tongue rests against), as well as how regularly you’ve been flossing. Don’t take their criticisms personally. This is information you need to know if you want to avoid things like cavities and small cities of harmful bacteria in the plains and valleys of your enamel.
  • Whatever You Tell Them to Look For. If there’s something you’ve been worried about, for goodness’ sake,ask about it. Mind-reading is not part of the standard curriculum in dental schools. It can be anything on your mind — better brushing techniques, cosmetic dentistry, discolorations, braces… Your dentist would much prefer you ask those questions in the office rather than calling their home number in the middle of the night.

Your cleanings are about so much more than giving you that “fresh from the dentist” feel. It’s about examination and prevention. It’s up to you to communicate with your dentist. Or as much as you can, anyway, with a pick and a little mirror in your mouth.

Think You Might Need a Dental Specialist?

Dental SpecialistsIn the dental field, as with any field, there are a number of specialists you can go to. There are restorative dentists, cosmetic dentists, endodontists, periodontists, orthodontists, prosthodontists, pedodontists and oral surgeons. It can be a bewildering search through the phonebook if you don’t know exactly the kind of specialist you need. So what do you do?

When in doubt, a family dentist is your best bet.

A family dentist can take care of your routine dental exams and dental cleanings, recommend treatments for common problems or conditions, and provide many dental procedures right in their office, such as fillings, x-rays, some whitening treatments, and some restorative techniques. But most importantly, they can tell you when and if you really do need to see a specialist.

Everyone should see a family dentist at least twice a year for routine checkups. With regular visits, your dentist can actually spot irregularities and incipient conditions before they ever become full-blown problems, which may make a trip to a specialist completely unnecessary. However, if you’ve been somewhat lax in your preventative dental care, a family dentist can still assess the situation in your mouth, and help you find a cosmetic dentist, orthodontist, or any of the specialists listed above that can give you the specific care you need.

Your teeth are, quite literally, the gateway to your body’s health. If you take good care of them, they’ll take good care of you. If you ever have dental questions or concerns, ask your dentist. That’s what they’re there for. And if you don’t yet have a regular dentist but think you might have a problem that needs investigating, don’t waste any more time. Open a phonebook, do an online search, or ask a friend for recommendations. The sooner you address the problem, the easier (and probably cheaper) it will be to fix.

Give Yourself Something to Smile About Again

Healthy smileHow do you feel about your smile? Over 99% of adult Americans believe that a healthy, straight, white smile is important to a successful life. However, misaligned teeth can be more than just a source of self-consciousness -— they can also delay speech development in young children, contribute to poor nutrition, and unevenly wear down your enamel.

  • Speech Development in Children. The language skills we develop as children are highly dependent on the alignment of our teeth. Improperly erupting adult teeth can hamper speech development from a very early age. The sooner these misalignments are corrected, the easier it will be for the proper language skills to develop. In addition to finding a dentist for dental exams and professional dental cleanings, make sure your children are examined by an orthodontist once they start to lose their baby teeth. Today’s dental technologies can spot and correct irregularities long before they become problems.
  • Proper Nutrition. Your mouth is the first step in the digestive process, and the more efficiently your teeth can break food into smaller pieces, the more efficiently your body will absorb the nutrients that food provides. A well-aligned bite pattern, with no appreciable spaces or gaps when the mouth is closed, is a vital link in the chain of your overall physical health.
  • Uneven Wear. Can a healthy mouth save you money? Absolutely. If your bite pattern is uneven, your enamel can wear down more in some spots than in others, which may make it easier for decay to form. This can lead to increased future trips to the dentist to repair the damage. Braces and proper home care can actually reduce the likelihood that you’ll need more elaborate cosmetic dental treatments down the road. And if you already know you’ll need a procedure done, make sure it’s sooner rather than later -— the longer you wait, the more extensive (and expensive) the procedure could be.

Recent advances in dental technologies are making corrections, adjustments, and cosmetic improvements easier than ever. And with the obvious benefits to your health, your appearance, and your overall quality of life, there’s never been a better time to give yourself something to smile about again.

The Importance of Regular Dental Exams

Dental ExamsAs modern dental researchers continue to develop more innovative technologies, more people are visiting their dentists for reasons other than standard dental exams. This is because recent dental breakthroughs are attracting older patients who are interested in improving the looks of their teeth. As a result, Americans now spend nearly $1.5 billion per year to whiten their teeth.

In past generations, cosmetic dentistry was primarily the domain of teens and young adults – in the form of braces. For older adults, cosmetic dentistry usually consisted of bridges, crowns, or dentures, all of which were more functional than aesthetic. Due to advances in cosmetic dentistry, however, almost anyone can have a straight, sparkling smile in less time and with minimal discomfort.

Most of us know that correcting misaligned teeth is necessary to prevent future dental problems. This is the reason that so many teens get braces almost immediately following the appearance of all their adult teeth. However, cosmetic dental technology has come a long way since the days when “tinsel teeth” was a commonly heard schoolyard refrain.

Among the most popular cosmetic dental procedures today are dental implants and dental veneers. Although there are a variety of ways to correct missing, crooked, or dingy teeth, porcelain veneers and implants are the most effective methods for restoring the natural-looking aesthetics of teeth that have been chipped, lost, or damaged.

When dental patients who are missing teeth decide that dental implants might be the right choice for them, their dentists will complete thorough dental exams to determine how to approach each individual case. Oftentimes, a dentist will work with an oral surgeon, who will permanently insert a titanium post into the jawbone via the vacant tooth pocket. At a later date, the dentist will place a customized porcelain crown atop the post to complete the implant. Dental implants are 99% successful and can last a lifetime, with proper care.

For patients who want to repair chipped teeth, dental veneers are fast and realistic-looking alternatives. Most dental veneers can be completed in less than an hour, and involve the dentist smoothing the tooth surface and using resin cement to bond a natural-looking porcelain veneer to the tooth. Unlike dental implants, porcelain veneers usually need to be replaced within 10 years.

Cosmetic dentistry patients spend an average of $5000 and $6000 dollars per procedure. However, most feel the aesthetic and social improvements are well worth the cost. No matter how your teeth look, today’s cosmetic dentists have the ideal solution for you.

How Can a Visit to the Dentist Benefit the Health and Appearance of Your Teeth?

How Can a Visit to the Dentist Benefit the Health and Appearance of Your Teeth?
Did you know that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for people over the age of 35? On the bright side, in the majority of cases, gum disease can be either controlled or prevented. For this to happen, though, you need to visit a dentist for a professional dental cleaning.

For various reasons, 40% of adults do not visit the dentist at least once a year, the timeframe recommended by health professionals. Here are three ways a dental visit can benefit you.

1. Professional Dental Cleanings

A part of every routine dental exam is the process of cleaning your teeth. During the check up, a dental hygienist will polish your teeth, as well as clean off tartar and plaque buildup. You might even receive a fluoride treatment to prevent weak spots from forming in your enamel. Plaque is a colorless film that develops on teeth after sugars and starches are consumed. Plaque bacteria produce acids that eat through your teeth, causing permanent damage and tooth decay that will require expensive fillings. In other words, prevention is worth the price!

2. Dental Crowns

Did you know that more than 2.3 million crowns are made for patients every year? Crowns are a form of restoration. They are basically tooth “caps” that either encircle or completely cover a dental implant or tooth. They are needed when there is a large cavity, and they are bonded onto the tooth using dental cement. Crowns not only improve the appearance of the tooth, but they eliminate the ongoing risk of a developing cavity, and improve the strength of the tooth. Common materials include porcelain, gold and silver.

3. Dental Veneers

Have you ever wondered how celebrities get their perfect looking teeth? Many of them, in fact, have veneers. Veneers are thin, porcelain shells adhered to the surface of the tooth in order to improve its appearance. They can cover up everything from cracks to serious stains, and help to create a uniform and brighter looking smile. Although “chicklet” style veneers were popular in the 90s, today patients usually prefer veneers that have a more natural, if improved, appearance. Porcelain veneers are not cheap, though, and cost an average of $1,000 per tooth.

If all you need is whiter teeth, a dentist can apply a peroxide based solution to your teeth instead, and this only costs an average of $200.

What are your thoughts on these dental procedures?