Hickory Hills Dental Care

How to Take Care of Your Dental Implant

'man flossing teeth in mirror'Cleaning and taking care of your implant is just as important as cleaning your natural teeth. Here are some things you should know about caring for your implant.

Your implant and your natural teeth are similar because they both rely on healthy tissue for support and both can build up plaque. It’s important to remove that plaque because it can develop into an infection. If the infection isn’t properly treated, it can result in a loss of bone around the implant which could progress to the loss of the implant itself.

It’s important to get your teeth cleaned on a regular basis so your dental hygienist can get that biofilm off your teeth and keep your teeth infection-free. As always, you should be brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day. Never use your teeth, especially your implant as “scissors” to open anything.

Dental implants are the closest thing you can get to real and natural teeth. They don’t require any special products or treatment. Just a simple brush and floss will do the job. They are also long lasting. If they are properly cared for, they can last a lifetime, avoiding any further dental work down the road.

With a dental implant, you can still enjoy all your favorite foods. It will not loosen or fall out if you are chewing something hard.

Overall, dental implants are meant to make life better and easier, not to add issues or interrupt your life. You don’t have to go out of your way to take care of them – a simple brush and floss will ensure that they improve your overall quality of life for many years to come.

If you think a dental implant may be right for you, call Hickory Hills Dental Care at 256-766-8800 to schedule a consultation with us.

Dental Implants: The Recovery

'dental implant recovery'The recovery time following dental implant surgery tends to vary, but is usually based on the amount of teeth being implanted, whether or not a bone graft was needed and the individual and how well they manage their recovery. Luckily, the science and technology behind dental implants has improved drastically over the last few years, improving post-surgery pain and comfort for patients.

The patient requiring the least amount of recovery time would be one who had a standard, single dental implant placed with no bone grafting. With a simple procedure like this one, there is very little discomfort or pain after the surgery. Mild bruising and soreness can occur, but is typically manageable with over the counter pain relievers. In more severe implant cases, such as those where multiple teeth are implanted or severe bone grafting needed in order to accomplish the implant, the recovery time tends to be longer and the discomfort can be more intense.

In any cases, it is important to keep your mouth clean after surgery, which can be done by rinsing your mouth gently with salt water beginning the day after surgery. You may begin brushing your teeth the night after the surgery, but make sure to keep it light around the surgery area as to not disrupt the healing in that area. It is also important to remember that in the week following your surgery, there should be no smoking and no sucking through a straw, as this can seriously inhibit your healing process. It is important to stick to a diet primarily consisting of soft foods for the first 7-10 days following your surgery before beginning to return to your normal diet.

As you can see, the recovery process after receiving a dental implant is fairly predictable and comfortable. It is important to follow the instructions that we give you at Hickory Hills Dental Care, and to always remember that if you have any questions or concerns regarding a procedure or following your surgery, you can always give us a call at Florence Office Phone Number 256-766-8800.

5 Reasons Why Your Teeth Are Changing Color

'woman brushing teeth'Brushing and flossing your teeth every day can keep your smile bright and white. However, you might have noticed that even though you take great care of your teeth, they look a little yellow and have lost their sparkle. This is completely normal. Here are 5 reasons why this could be happening to you.

  1. Food and Drinks: Coffee, tea and red wine play a major role in staining your teeth. They all have Chromogens, which are intense color pigments that attach to the white outer part of your tooth known as enamel.
    Tip: Drink with a straw, keeping those stain-causing dyes in the drink away from your teeth
  2. Tobacco Use: The two chemicals found in tobacco, tar and nicotine, create a tough stain. Tar is naturally dark. Nicotine is colorless, but when it’s mixed with oxygen, it creates a yellowish color. Both together create the stain.
  3. Age: Below the white shell of enamel on our teeth is a softer area called Dentin. Over the years, our outer enamel gets thinner from brushing and the yellowish dentin shows through.
  4. Trauma: If you have experienced an injury to the mouth, your tooth may change color. This is because your tooth reacts to the trauma by putting down more dentin, which is darker than the outer enamel on your teeth.
  5. Medications: Many different kind of medications come with the side effect of darkening your teeth. Also, children who are exposed to medication when their teeth are forming, either in the womb or as a baby, can experience discoloration of their adult teeth later in life.

Some of these reasons are preventable and some of these happen over the course of life. Try to avoid some of these things and continue to brush and floss your teeth every day. If you would like to discuss your teeth whitening options with us, please call our office at 256-766-8800 to schedule an appointment.

Teeth Bleaching vs. Teeth Whitening

teeth whitening before and afterYou’ve probably seen someone with pearly white teeth before and wondered, “How have they managed to keep their teeth so bright all these years?” The truth is, many people these days are opting to whiten their teeth with artificial methods to achieve that picture-perfect smile.

Bleaching vs. Whitening

When teeth are whitened beyond their natural color, the process is referred to as “tooth bleaching”. This type of whitening usually involves using some form of “bleaching” agent such as hydrogen-or-carbamide peroxide.

Another method of restoring teeth to their original, whiter state of being is known as “teeth whitening”. This process is different from bleaching in that it involves cleaning the surface of teeth to remove stains, dirt, and other brightness inhibitors to restore the teeth to their original color. Sometimes this process also involves the use of bleaching agents.

Nowadays, these terms are used almost interchangeably – (their distinction is one mostly used by the FDA).

When you get your teeth whitened in our office, we utilize a highly-potent peroxide bleaching gel that can be better activated with a laser. We will also apply a gel to your gums to protect from chemical exposure.

Store-bought whitening kits contain a lower-potency whitening gel, but implement a similar process. These kits can be a significantly cheaper solution, but are usually not as effective and can even be damaging if not applied correctly.

And many people these days are even trying DIY methods to enhance their smile. Whatever method you choose, its always best to contact us first at Florence Office Phone Number 256-766-8800 so that you can make sure you are choosing the safest teeth whitening option for you.

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Where Do Dental Implants Come From?

kids studyingDental implants have a surprisingly rich and interesting history. Across centuries and throughout cultures around the world there is evidence of attempts at replacing missing teeth with various objects and materials.

The oldest dental implants can be traced back to 2000 BC in China, where missing teeth were substituted with bamboo pegs.

Fast forward a bit to around 1000 BC and you’ll find an ancient Egyptian King whose tomb was recently discovered along with his mummified remains; a copper peg hammered into place where a tooth once lived. This may have been the first time in history that we know of when metal implants were used.

Across the globe some time around 300 BC, an iron tooth was found in a French grave thought to be Celtic in origin. It is possible this implant may have been a post-mortem placement to honor the dead, as an attempt to perform the surgery using a live patient would have been an excruciatingly painful process.

Just 2000 years ago missing teeth were being substituted for animal teeth, and the poor were even selling their teeth to the wealthy, just to make ends meet! The body often rejected these surrogate teeth, causing infection.

More recently in 1931 in Honduras, Dr. Wilson Monroe and his wife found a jawbone amongst other artifacts, with teeth fashioned from shells and attached to the jawbone of an ancient man.

Today we are lucky enough to have dental implants that not only look and feel like real teeth, and anesthesia for the pain is also a plus. Thanks to studies conducted by Per-Ingvar Brånemark of Sweden in the 1950’s, oral surgeons have been able to perfect the process over the years to create today’s implants, which have a 98% success rate! Through a process known as osseointegration, metals and other implant materials are able to be skillfully placed so that your jaw bone actually attaches itself to the implant creating a seamless support system.

Missing a tooth or two? Give us a call at Florence Office Phone Number 256-766-8800 to discuss your dental implant options today!

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Bad Breath is Bad News

woman breathing in fresh airDon’t let bad breath be a part of your day! In our office, we are asked on an almost daily basis “How can I get rid of my bad breath?”

Here are some quick and easy tips to help keep your breath fresh and clean:

1. Brush and Floss Regularly:

It’s basic advice, but foolproof. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing and tongue scraping once is the best way to combat bad breath. When the bacteria in your mouth have bits of food and debris to feed on, they create the odors that cause bad breath. Keeping your mouth clean will keep your breath clean at the same time!

2. Drink Water:

You don’t always have access to a toothbrush. As it turns out though, water can be an effective way to freshen your breath until you can get home and brush. Water helps clean out your mouth and prevents dryness, another major cause of bad breath.

3. Eat Good Foods:

A good way to prevent bad breath is to stay away from foods that make your breath smell bad, and eat foods those that will help your breath smell good! Melons and citrus fruit are high in Vitamin C, and help kill bacteria in your mouth. Fibrous foods like apples and celery can help remove food stuck in your teeth, reducing smells caused by bacteria feeding on them.

4. Choose gum and mints with Xylitol:

Sugary gum and breath mints are often used to tackle bad breath. However, the stinky bacteria in your mouth love sugar, and giving them more tends to produce acid that can make your breath smell worse AND lead to tooth decay. Xylitol is a sugar alternative that bacteria cannot break down, which makes it a perfect method for keeping your breath fresh and clean.

If you are troubled by your bad breath, ask us for more tips on staying fresh and clean!

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Yes, You Still Have to Floss.

woman flossingThe AP recently released an article making the claim that “there’s little proof that flossing works”. Their review cited a series of studies that found flossing does little or nothing to improve oral health.

Here’s the problem: the studies were flawed

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The AP concluded that floss does little for oral health, but it’s important to note that the evidence they cited was very weak at best. In fact, they said so themselves.

As acknowledged by the AP, many of these studies were extremely short. “Some lasted only two weeks, far too brief for a cavity or dental disease to develop” (Associated Press). They also say that “One tested 25 people after only a single use of floss” (Associated Press).

Of course the evidence is unreliable. You don’t simply develop gum disease because you forgot to floss yesterday. Cavities and gum disease do not happen overnight. You can prevent gum disease by maintaining a clean mouth over a long period of time. Wayne Aldredge, President of the American Academy of Periodontology explained: “gum disease is a very slow disease”. In his interview with the AP he recommended long-term studies which he believes would clearly show the difference between people who floss and people who don’t.

Lets put it this way: If a study claims drinking milk does nothing for bone health, but draws conclusions after only three glasses of milk, is it a reliable study? What do you think?

The fact of the matter is floss removes gunk from teeth. You can see it. Gunk feeds bacteria which leads to plaque, cavities, poor gum health, and eventually gum disease. Floss has the ability to reach the food particles that your brush can’t get to.

Aldredge also pointed out that most people floss incorrectly, using a sawing motion instead of moving up and around the teeth to clean the cracks. Positive results come from correct use and it’s critical that people learn to use a tool properly before discarding it as useless.

That’s just what floss is: a tool. Just like your toothbrush, it is designed to keep your mouth clean, and therefore keep your body safe from infection. Both your toothbrush and floss are designed to do what the other can’t, and both successfully remove bacteria from your mouth. Just like proper brushing technique, it is important that you know how to use floss properly, so that you can reap the long-term health benefits of good oral hygiene.

It’s a shame that studies on an important tool such as floss have yielded poor results, but it’s a bigger shame that the studies themselves were poorly designed. Oral hygiene is a long term process, and requires long term observations to make worthwhile conclusions. In the mean time, it’s obvious that you should continue to do everything you can to protect your well being, and floss is one of many tools that can help you do that. If you would like a refresher on the best, most efficient techniques for floss use feel free to call our office today at 256-766-8800!

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Taking care of your veneers

woman smiling with veneersCongratulations! You’ve just received your brand new veneers. Your smile has never looked this good, and you probably want to make sure it stays that way! Good veneers can last a long, long time, but only if you take good care of them along the way.

Here are some tips to make your veneers last a decade and even more:

Treat Them Like Teeth

You can ensure that your veneers last a long time if you brush them with the same care that you would your original teeth. Brush twice and floss once daily for best results!

Regular Cleanings

It’s important that we continue to schedule appointments with you so that we can make sure your veneers are looking their best, and that they stay that way. The week after the veneers are placed is the most important visit, followed by your regular dental hygiene visits, during which we can keep an eye out for potential problems.

Try Not to Grind

Many people grind their teeth, but it’s important that you let us know if you have a history of doing so. Measures can be taken to avoid damage to your new veneers over time, such as a nighttime mouth guard to protect your new smile.

Avoid Damage

Biting down on hard food is dangerous for any teeth, and even more so for veneers. Avoid using your veneers to bite down on hard materials and foods. The less stress you put on them the better.

Staining

Veneers keep their shade beautifully over the years, but they are not immune from staining. Avoid the same foods and beverages that you do for your natural teeth such as coffee, tea, wine (and smoking)!

What is involved in the procedure?

First we evaluate your teeth using various kinds of imaging and impressions to ensure that veneers are a good choice for you. Next we create a mock-up so that you can see what your teeth will look like after the procedure, before you make your final decision. If you decide to proceed the first step is to remove a thin layer of enamel from the teeth and then make an impression from which we can build the veneers. The veneers are bonded to the teeth with dental cement and hardened using a special light. That’s where the procedure ends and your new smile begins.

If you are ready for a smile upgrade with veneers, give us a call at Florence Office Phone Number 256-766-8800!

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Missing Teeth: More than Just a Gap in Your Smile

man smiling with no missing teethWhile it is true that the most obvious effect of missing teeth is a gap in your smile, missing teeth can cause other problems that you might not be immediately aware of. For example, did you know that for every missing tooth you have you lose 10 percent of your chewing ability? Read on to get a better idea of how a missing tooth can affect your life.

Surrounding Teeth

A missing tooth usually means more stress for the remaining teeth. In addition to that, if you are missing a tooth on the lower jaw, the opposing tooth on the top can grow longer to fill the gap in a process known as superuption or extrusion. This could lead to teeth tilting and move out of place by drifting into the space that was left by your missing tooth – a disaster for your beautiful smile!

Digestive Health

If you are missing teeth, you can’t enjoy all of the foods that you are used to eating – bad for your health and bad for your mood! Say goodbye to caramel apples, saltwater taffy, crunchy carrots and even gum. And because the variety in your diet is reduced when a tooth is missing, digestive problems are unfortunate yet common.

Decay and Hygiene Problems

The shifting of your teeth may cause new hygiene issues as it may be difficult to brush and floss like you normally would. This leaves your mouth more vulnerable to gum disease and tooth decay.

Facial Aesthetics

People with more than one missing tooth may also have issues with a collapsed bite which causes a loss of vertical dimension. This could make your face appear shorter, as the distance between the tip of your nose and your chin would decrease.

The good news is that you don’t have to suffer anymore! Dental implants can help you avoid all of the problems listed above and let you live your life normally again. It’s never too late for a dental implant, give us a call at Florence Office Phone Number 256-766-8800 to find out about this life-changing procedure.

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Take Care of Your Veneers!

Congratulations on your new veneers! You’ve got your smile exactly the way you want it!

It’s not just for Christmas – it’s for a lifetime! What should you do to keep those pearly whites nice and tidy?

Keep them clean

Your veneers require the same kind of care your natural teeth do. Brush twice and floss once a day for at least two minutes, and drink plenty of water in between. Pick a non-abrasive toothpaste that contains fluoride, and choose a soft-bristled toothbrush to make sure you don’t harm the porcelain.

smile with veneers

Stay Away from Stains

Your natural teeth still are vulnerable to staining. So, to keep your natural teeth matching your veneers for an all-over bright smile, you will want to avoid the following stain-culprits as much as possible. Several types of food and drink can cause your natural teeth to stain, such as red wine, coffee, black tea, curry, berries, and tomato sauce. You don’t have to cut these out completely, just remain stain free by practicing moderation!

Watch That Bite

Avoid biting into hard foods such as nuts and ice cubes, as this could cause your veneers to crack or chip.

Buddy-Up with Your Dentist

A visit to the dentist should be as important as remembering your best friend’s birthday, so mark it down in your calendar!

Regular visits to Hickory Hills Dental Care as well as at-home care can keep your porcelain veneers looking shiny and new for a very long time! Call us today to book your appointment! 256-766-8800