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By contactus@drjrobb.com
April 21, 2019
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Have you ever heard someone say “I would give my eye teeth for that”? The phrase suggests that your eye teeth are valuable and that giving them up would cause you hardship. Eye teeth are also called canine teeth. They seem to have gotten the name eye teeth because they are usually located below the eyes. They probably got the name canine teeth because they have a pointed biting surface that can be used for tearing food and because they resemble a dog’s tooth.

 

Canine teeth are really quite valuable. They are usually the longest rooted tooth in your mouth, and because of that, they are often the last teeth that a person loses if they lose teeth. The long root also makes them a good candidate for anchoring partials or bridges that replace your missing teeth. This is especially true for your lower arch, where your tongue can cause you problems with keeping a removable appliance in your mouth. The presence of even just the two eye teeth can make a big difference in keeping your lower appliance from moving around while you eat or talk.  (Dental implants are often put in the position of this tooth to help hold a lower denture in place—that’s how valuable this part of your mouth is!)

 

If you agree that you’d give your eye teeth to obtain your best dental health, we invite you to join Dr. Robb’s practice as a new patient.

 

*Note: The information in this article is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.

 

Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist with an office at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. You can reserve your seat by calling 440-960-1940. Dr. Robb can also be reached by way of the contact form on her website at www.drjrobb.com or find her on facebook at www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb

By contactus@drjrobb.com
April 16, 2019
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For most of us, teeth do darken (usually to a more yellow shade) as we age. Tobacco, foods, beverages and tartar deposits can stain your tooth enamel. (Enamel is what covers your tooth. Dentin is what lies between the enamel and your nerve and it is what gives your tooth its color.) Anything that thins, wears down, or erodes your enamel can allow more of the dentin color to show through. (For teeth with amalgam or metal fillings or with crowns that contain metal under the porcelain, those can affect how color reflects through your tooth as well.)

 

If you don’t like the color of your teeth, what can you do?

 

Bleaching (in the dental office or at home) is the most common.  Bleaching (or whitening) will not change the shape of your teeth nor will it change the color of any fillings or crowns that you already have. So if you don’t like the shape or arrangement of your teeth this may not be the best choice for you. If you have fillings or crowns, you may need to plan to replace them once you get your natural teeth to the color that you want.

 

Should you do in-office or home whitening? It depends on your situation.

 

The pros of in-office whitening is that the dentist can customize the bleaching to your specific needs and wants (moreso than a kit bought off the shelf). The cons are:

 

  • Most in-office bleachings require more than one treatment.
  • The cost is higher than take home because of the chair time and professional supervision that is needed.
  • We need to protect your teeth and gums while applying the material—this means your teeth end up very dry and look very white just after the treatment. As your saliva rewets your teeth, the “whiteness” appears to fade. (Similar to how your jeans look darker when they’re wet coming out of the washer than they do once you’ve dried them.) This wet environment is the norm for our teeth.
  • Sensitivity (especially to cold) is common after any bleaching.

 

The pros of take home whitening are:

 

  • You can do it at your convenience (for anywhere from 30 minutes at a time to overnight).  There’s less time spent at the dental office.
  • Less expensive than In Office Whitening
  • It’s often stronger than what you can buy off the shelf.

 

The cons are that you can waste material if you overfill the tray (which can also cause sore gums) and that your teeth can become sensitive (especially to cold).

Learn more about tooth whitening here: Teeth Whitening

If you don’t like the shape and color of your teeth or if whitening isn’t giving you the results you want, you may need to consider a different cosmetic option.

 

White fillings can be used on front or back teeth. White fillings are bonding a tooth colored material onto your tooth and can also be used to cover discolorations, repair chips, and fill gaps. They usually only take one visit to complete. (If you have multiple teeth that need this treatment, you may need more than one appointment.) Learn more here: Cosmetic Tooth Bonding

 

The dental lab can do much more to mask out severe discolorations than can be done with whitening or bonding. However, if you’re only doing some teeth, you do want to whiten your other teeth to a shade you like before you have the lab-made restorations done. It’s much easier to match the crown shade to your teeth than it is to get your teeth to lighten to match what the lab made. There are two types of restorations commonly used for this: veneers and crowns.

 

Veneers are thin shells that cover the front of your teeth.  They can change the color and/or shape of your teeth as well as closing gaps or covering badly stained teeth. There are at least two appointments involved since the veneers are usually made at a dental lab. Sometimes teeth do need to be cut down to allow space for the veneer—and it is hard to get a temporary to stay in place for a veneer preparation. Learn more about veneers here: 

 

All ceramic crowns have no metal underneath. (Metal often causes a gray coloration at your gumline.)  They are used mostly for front teeth but new materials are said to work well on back teeth too. They do take two visits at the dental office. The first one is to cut down your tooth to create space for the crown and to make a temporary crown for you to wear while the dental lab makes your all ceramic crown. The second visit your crown is tried in and if all looks good and fits well, your crown is cemented into place. (Every once in a while the color or fit will be off and a third visit may be necessary.) Learn more about Crowns here: Crowns & Bridgework

 

So if you don’t like the color of your smile, ask your dentist what possibilities might work best for you! If you don’t have a dentist, we’ll be glad to invite you into our dental family.

Some other links you may find helpful: Tooth Contouring & ReshapingSmile Makeover

*Note: The information in this article is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.

 

Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees both adults and children.

1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd.
Lorain, OH 44053

440-960-1940

By contactus@drjrobb.com
April 06, 2019
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Teeth are meant to last a lifetime. It is a myth that you have to lose teeth as you get older. The two most common reasons that adults lose teeth are 1. Loss of support around the teeth due to gum disease and 2. Large cavities/dental decay. This article will focus on cavities/dental decay.

 

Bacteria are present in all our mouths. (Yes, even in the mouths of your dentist!) Some of these bacteria feed on sugar and put out an acid that eats away at your tooth to create the cavity. What may surprise you is that the frequency of sugar is more important than quantity of sugar. Each time bacteria contact sugar they produce acid for about 20 minutes. So eating a whole roll of LifeSavers candy at once means 20 minutes of acid production, but eating each one throughout the day means 20 minutes each time you have one.!

 

Many medications have a side effect of dry mouth (xerostomia) other medications reduce saliva flow. Either of these increase your risk of cavity formation because there is less rinsing action of the saliva on your teeth. For example, people with allergies get more cavities than those who aren’t allergy sufferers. Antihistimines, which are used to treat allergies, also dry up your saliva (a side effect). The dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay and gum inflammation. (The recommendation is to increase fluids (but not sugar-filled ones) when you’re taking antihistimines and brush more often with fluoride toothpaste.)

 

What else can you do if this is a problem for you? If possible try to switch to a medication that does not have dry mouth as a side effect. Use plain water and/or sugarless gum or candy to help with your dry mouth. Sugared drinks and candies will increase your risk of cavities. There is some evidence that xylitol (used as a sweetener) may help decrease your risk of cavities. For severe cases of dry mouth, there are saliva substitutes available by prescription.

 

When a cavity is just starting, we call it incipient decay. Incipient decay areas may experience sensitivity to sweets, cold, or hot. . . but there may also be no symptoms at all. Unfortunately, pain can also signal nerve involvement—meaning the decay has penetrated to the dental pulp where the nerve and blood vessels of the tooth are.   When a cavity is this deep, it needs more than “just a filling” to fix. You’re often looking at a root canal if you want to keep the tooth or having the tooth removed.

 

Tooth roots can be exposed if you have gum disease. Our tooth roots are covered by cementum which is not as hard as the enamel that covers the part of the tooth that’s normally exposed to saliva and bacteria in your mouth. Tooth roots can decay faster than other areas of your tooth.

 

So now that you’ve had your decay removed and the tooth filled (or crowned), you don’t need to worry any more, right? Actually the opposite is true. Fillings do eventually break down and need to be replaced.  This can be from normal wear and tear caused by the expansion and contraction of teeth and fillings over time as we eat and drink items of various temperatures. Teeth or fillings can also fracture or break. Bacteria accumulate in any defect and cause what we call recurrent decay. (It’s the same process as what happens for dental decay, just in a different spot.) A crown has less tooth surface area exposed, so there are fewer places a cavity can start, but you can still get decay around a crown.

 

If you are prone to cavity development, you will want to brush at least twice a day (three or four times a day can also be your normal). You will also want to floss at least once a day to keep areas in between your teeth clean. Make water or non-sugared beverages your usual and if you do have a sugared beverage try to drink it fairly quickly to minimize acid exposure to your teeth. You can also ask your dentist about fluoride for home use either as a rinse, a brush on, or to use in a tray.

 

*Note: The information in this article is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.

 

Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees both adults and children.

1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd.
Lorain, OH 44053
440-960-1940

www.drjrobb.com      www.Facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb

By contactus@drjrobb.com
March 31, 2019
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April is Oral Cancer Awareness month. In the past year, I personally know two people who were diagnosed with head & neck cancers. Other people you may have heard of that have had oral cancer are: Jim Thorpe, Ulysses S. Grant, George Harrison, Jack Klugman, and Roger Ebert.

Oral cancer includes mouth cancer, tongue cancer, lip cancer and throat cancer. Think it won’t happen to you? I’m sure all the people listed above thought so too. It’s estimated that over 43,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancers in 2014, that’s 115 people each day in the United States alone! And 2014 was the fifth year in a row that the reported cases of oral cancer had gone up. 

The main causes of oral cancer are the newly discovered link to the HPV-16 virus (the same one that causes cervical cancer in women), tobacco use and alcohol use. Only about 7% of oral cancers come from no currently identified cause. People who use both tobacco and alcohol have a higher risk of developing oral cancer.

Why is this important? The death rate for this type of cancer is higher than most others that we routinely hear about.  The survival rate for oral cancers has remained very steady at 57% at 5 years after diagnosis. The death rate associated with this cancer group is high because often the cancer is discovered late in its development.

In the early stages, many mouth cancers can look like other things, such as a burn, a canker sore, or biting your tongue. They can be white in color, red or a mixture of the two; painless or painful. You can see some images online at www.oralcancerfoundation.org The only way to know for sure if it is cancer or not  is to have a biopsy and look at it under a microscope. Most traumatic type injuries like burning your tongue on hot coffee or biting your cheek should heal within two weeks—as long as you don’t injure it again. Any area that does not heal within two weeks is an area of concern.

For years, visual screening by your dentist or doctor has been the gold standard in finding potential oral cancer. Recently, many new products have come on the market that claim to find oral cancer. Studies so far have not shown that they are any more effective than the visual screening.

 

What should you watch for?

 

  • An ulcer or sore that does not heal after 2 or 3 weeks
  • Difficulty or pain with swallowing
  • Pain during chewing
  • Persistent sore throat or hoarse voice
  • Swelling or lumps in your mouth
  • Painless lumps on the outside of the neck which have been there for several weeks
  • Persistent numbness of your mouth or lips
  • Constant coughing
  • An earache on only one side which lasts for more than a few day

 

Of course, these may have causes that are not oral cancer, particularly if you only have one, but see your doctor or dentist to be sure.

 

What can you do to lessen your risk?

 

If you smoke, chew or dip tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, snuff, dip, snus, etc.) stop. All tobacco products contain a number of DNA-damaging chemicals. Tobacco damages cells in your mouth and throat and makes it more likely that cancer causing agents can get into those areas. The body also tries to get cells to divide rapidly to repair the area (rapid cell division is one aspect of cancer).  Talk to your doctor or dentist if you need assistance with quitting. Many resources are available: nicotine gum or patches, prescriptions like Chantix, online help.

Reduce your consumption of alcohol. Alcohol dries the mouth, which may allow cancer causing agents to gain entry into your tissues. Heavy alcohol use also creates nutritional deficiencies that lower your body’s natural defenses.

Decrease your number of sexual partners. The greater the number of sexual partners you have, the more likely you are to come in contact with someone who has an HPV infection. The HPV-16 virus can be spread by oral sex or by contact with broken skin to an area of infection on another part of the body.

 

More information on oral cancer can be found at www.ada.org or www.oralcancerfoundation.org or by asking Dr. Robb on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb The Oral Cancer Screening is often done as part of your dental check-up (cleaning/exam).  Mention this article to get a free Oral Cancer Screening during the month of April 2019 at my office. Call 440-960-1940 to reserve the seat we’re saving for you!

By contactus@drjrobb.com
March 23, 2019
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You may think all dental cleanings are the same, but in reality, there are different cleaning types for different circumstances. The type of cleaning you need is determined by how much space there is between your tooth and gum (periodontal pocket) and how much plaque/tartar/calculus you have on your teeth. Your periodontal pockets are measured using a ruler type instrument called a periodontal probe.

The standard dental cleaning by your dentist or hygienist is meant to clean the enamel covered portions of your tooth and slightly below the gumline (usually the 1-3 mm pockets which are considered in the normal range). Surface stains, soft plaque, and hard calculus/tartar are removed. This can be done for adults or children. Your insurance company calls it a PROPHYLAXIS, sometimes abbreviated to pro or prophy. People often call them routine cleaning, regular cleaning or “just a cleaning”.  It’s meant for people with good gum health or with slight or localized areas of gingivitis. (If you have widespread gingivitis, you may need scaling in the presence of gingivitis discussed below.)

Since the standard cleaning only cleans to about 3 mm below your gumline, it will not be any help if you have periodontal pockets that are 4 mm or higher. At that point you are considered to have gum disease or periodontal disease, and  you need a different type of cleaning. Depending on your insurance, these may be covered at the same level as the prophylaxis or they may be considered under the periodontics section of your insurance. What are the other types of cleanings?

 

FULL MOUTH DEBRIDEMENT: If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while and if you have so much plaque and tartar/calculus that your dentist doesn’t think he or she can do a complete, full mouth examination because of it, this type of cleaning may be use to remove the bulk of the plaque and tartar/calculus. If you need this, you will need to return to your dentist at a separate visit for your dental exam and treatment plan. You may also need additional types of cleanings once your examination has determined your dental condition. Your teeth will probably not be polished after a full mouth debridement.

 

SCALING IN THE PRESENCE OF GENERALIZED MODERATE TO SEVERE GINGIVAL INFLAMMATION: For ease of reading, I’m going to abbreviate this long name to scaling with inflammation in this paragraph. Your dentist should perform your dental examination and find that your gums are swollen, inflamed, or bleeding, but you should not have periodontal pocketing that’s over 4 mm. This type of cleaning removes surface stains, plaque, and calculus/tartar from areas both above and below your gumline. (This is where it differs from the standard cleaning where going below the gumline is not as common.) Your teeth will probably be polished after a scaling with inflammation.

 

PERIODONTAL SCALING AND ROOT PLANING: I’m going to abbreviate this to SRP for this paragraph. SRP is done when your periodontal pockets are 4 mm and higher. It involves using instruments to clean plaque and tartar/calculus from both the enamel-covered portion of your tooth and the root of your tooth. During instrumentation, some soft tissue and bacteria may be dislodged as well. According to the definition, SRP is therapeutic treatment not preventive treatment which may be why many insurances consider it under the periodontics section of your insurance coverage rather than the preventive section of your insurance coverage. Some people will refer to this type of cleaning as a “deep cleaning”.  Most times we will focus on half your mouth, or even a quarter of your mouth, at a time in order to make sure we are removing as much of the plaque and calculus/tartar as we can reach. In most cases, the side worked on that day will be polished. Sometimes, we may wait until both sides are done and polish all your teeth at the same time. At this point, you will need to return to your dentist more frequently than the average—usually 3 or 4 periodontal maintenance cleanings a year. (See below for Periodontal Maintenance). It differs from a standard cleaning because it: 1) goes below your gums and 2) is designed to treat your gum problem.

 

PERIODONTAL MAINTENANCE: This type of cleaning is begun after scaling and root planing or other gum treatment/therapy and continues usually at 3 or 4 month intervals for the remainder of the life of your teeth. It includes removing surface stains, plaque, and calculus/tartar from above and below your gumline as well as site specific scaling and root planing where needed. Periodontal Maintenance differs from a standard cleaning in that it does go deeper below your gumline and in some cases it is treating early recurrences of your gum disease before it can take firm hold, especially if you keep to the recommended time between your visits.

 

Unfortunately, if you do have gum disease or periodontal disease we cannot do “just a cleaning” on you as it is asking us to be negligent in our treatment—something we can’t ethically do. This doesn’t mean that you must have gum treatment. You can refuse the treatment, but most dentists shouldn’t go ahead with a standard cleaning when they know it is not addressing your problem.

*Note: Information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.

Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees both adults and children in her dental practice.
1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053
440-960-1940

www.drjrobb.com            www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb