Dental Group of Amarillo

Where Do Dental Implants Come From?

Dental 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 Commerce Street Office Phone Number 806-358-7633 to discuss your dental implant options today!

Bad Breath is Bad News

Don’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!

Teeth Bleaching vs. Teeth Whitening

You’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 Commerce Street Office Phone Number 806-358-7633 so that you can make sure you are choosing the safest teeth whitening option for you.

Taking Care of Your Veneers

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Congratulations! 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 Commerce Street Office Phone Number 806-358-7633!

Missing Teeth: More than Just a Gap in Your Smile

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While 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 Commerce Street Office Phone Number 806-358-7633 to find out about this life-changing procedure.

Yes, You Still Have to Floss.

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The 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.

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 806-358-7633!

Orange Juice and Toothpaste

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Everybody’s day starts a little differently, but we can agree brushing your teeth should always be a part of your morning routine!
Are you a before-breakfast brusher? If so, you know the dreaded orange-juice-and-toothpaste taste that can follow! Orange juice is bitter and cereal with milk tastes strange! It’s only temporary, but it can really put you off your breakfast!
Why does food taste so bad right after you brush your teeth?
The reason for this bad taste is sodium lauryl ether sulfate, known as SLES or SLS (sodium laureth sulfate), which makes toothpaste foamy and disperses it around the teeth. However, sodium laureth sulfate is not as helpful when it comes to the tongue. Although completely harmless, sodium laureth sulfate suppresses the taste bud receptors for sweetness, and amplifies the taste bud receptors for bitterness. This heightened sensitivity to bitterness and dulling of sweetness is what makes your breakfast taste so strange.
Your tongue is covered with taste-sensitive cells spotted with proteins. If a particle of food you have eaten hits one of these cells, it sends a message to your brain signaling which taste sensation it is; sweet, bitter, sour, salty or umami.
Sodium laureth sulfate is a “detergent” molecule, which disperse fat molecules. This works in soaps for your body, hair or dishes. However, SLS affects the membranes of our tongue cells, blocking our sweet taste buds and enhancing our bitter taste. This results in the unpleasant flavor you get drinking orange juice after the SLS in your toothpaste has dulled your taste buds!
It is only temporary, but if it bothers you, try purchasing a toothpaste made without sodium laureth sulfate (SLS). However, keep in mind that some of these natural toothpastes may also be made without fluoride. Fluoride is absolutely essential in strengthening tooth enamel and preventing cavities. If you have concerns about SLS or fluoride, call us on 806-358-7633 here at The Dental Group of Amarillo!

Oral & Oropharyngeal Cancers

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Worldwide, over 550,000 new cases of Oral, Head and Neck cancer are diagnosed each year.

Oropharyngeal cancer is slightly different from oral cancer. Oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV (Human papilloma virus) and usually occur in the tonsils or at the base of the tongue, while oral cancers are in the mouth and usually associated with tobacco use.

The Oral Cavity
The oral cavity incudes the lips, the inside lining of the lips and cheeks, the teeth, the gums, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the floor of the mouth below the tongue, and the bony roof of the mouth – also known as the hard palate.

The Orpharynx
Behind the wisdom teeth is considered the oropharynx, which is part of the throat just behind the mouth. It also includes the base of the tongue, the soft palate (back of the mouth), the tonsils, and the side and back wall of the throat.

Categories
Oral and Oropharyngeal cancers are sorted into 3 categories: Benign (non-cancerous), harmless growths that may develop into cancer, and cancerous tumors. This is why regular check-ups with your dental professional are key to your overall well-being.

The Team Involved
The treatment of head and neck cancers does not involve just your dental team, the assistance of many different professionals contributes is required. There may be surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, dentists, nutritionists, and speech therapists all involved in your treatment.

Oral cancers are found as late stage three and four diseases about 66% of the time.
It is very important for you to check yourself at home as well as visiting your dentist.

Call The Dental Group of Amarillo to schedule your routine dental check up and oral cancer screening today 806-358-7633

Timing Your Brushing!

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When do you brush your teeth? It is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day – once in the morning and once at night. But in the end it’s really up to you to decide when brushing best fits into your schedule (as long as you make time to do it!)

Here are some interesting notes about how food, brushing and time affect your teeth to help you better “time” your brushings:

Brush to Remove Plaque
The goal of brushing your teeth is to remove plaque. Plaque bacteria along with the carbohydrates and sugars in your food create acid, which can lead to cavities and tooth decay. By removing the plaque, you can help minimize the amount of acid that is created and may avoid some types of decay. Because plaque builds up overnight while you are sleeping, we generally recommend that you brush first thing in the morning when you wake up to minimize the process of plaque bacteria feeding on sugars in your mouth.

But Don’t Brush Right After Eating
Plaque bacteria create acid almost immediately. Within seconds of bacteria’s exposure to sugars, the acidity of saliva changes from a neutral pH of 7 to an acidic pH of 4.5. This acidity leaves tooth enamel in a vulnerable state – not a good time to brush your teeth as the bristles may cause damage to the unprotected tooth. It takes about thirty minutes for saliva to return to a neutral, non-acidic pH so if you must brush after your meal, wait for at least a half an hour.

A Word on Acidic Foods/Drinks
Similarly to carbohydrate-rich foods, those that contain citric acid, like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, also weaken tooth enamel. By brushing soon after eating these foods, you may cause damage to your teeth. Furthermore, exposure to phosphoric acid, found in soft drinks, can also cause acid erosion, wearing away enamel from the tooth surface and causing permanent damage. The bottom line is that to keep acid erosion at bay, limit soda consumption and be mindful of sugary snack foods.

Regardless of the time of day you choose to brush, the best defense is a good offense! Grab your toothbrush, toothpaste and get ready to attack that plaque! Call The Dental Group of Amarillo on 806-358-7633 to discuss your oral health options or to add an exam and cleaning to your oral health routine!

Oral Health and Pregnancy

 

Keep Up Your Routine. It is important to keep up your brushing and flossing routine. You may be indulging your cravings for sweets, so make sure you brush regularly. It is important to continue regular check ups and cleanings. pregnancy and oral healthLet us know your stage of pregnancy when you make your appointment, as well as any changes in your medication or special advice you may have received from your doctor. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or other medical condition, we may recommend certain procedures be postponed.

Pregnancy Gingivitis. During pregnancy some women are prone to a mild form of gum disease, called gingivitis that causes gums to be red, tender, and sore. Keeping your teeth clean is important for the prevention of pregnancy gingivitis. We may recommend more frequent cleanings to help control any signs of the disorder, because if left untreated, it can lead to more serious gum disease.

X-ray Safety. If you suffer a dental emergency or need an assessment, dental X-rays are sometimes necessary. Don’t worry – you will be covered with a leaded apron that will protect you and your baby from any harmful exposure.

Food for You and Your Baby’s Teeth. While pregnant, many women tend to crave sweets or snack more, both of which can put you at higher risk of tooth decay. It is important to choose low-sugar snacks that contain the nutrients your body needs. Your baby’s teeth will begin to develop between the third and six months of your pregnancy. Eating foods rich in vitamins A, C, and D, as well as protein, calcium, and phosphorous will give both you and your baby what you need for good dental health.

Morning Sickness. If you have frequent vomiting or morning sickness, rinse with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water to stop stomach acid from attacking your teeth.

Being a mother is exciting, but it is a huge responsibility. Start your healthy dental routine now for the benefit of you and your baby!