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Posts for: January, 2022

By Lynda V. Butler, DDS
January 29, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral surgery  
HereAre5CommonOralBirthDefectsorTraitsandHowToTreatThem

According to the CDC, three out of one hundred infants born each year in the U.S. have a birth defect. A fair percentage of these abnormalities involve the mouth, teeth or gums.

Fortunately, though, we often have a solution for even the most serious of these oral abnormalities. In recognition of National Birth Defects Awareness Month in January, here are 5 common birth or genetic defects that affect oral health and what we can do about them.

Orofacial clefts. This birth defect occurs when the tissues of the upper lip, face or palate don't knit together during pregnancy, leaving a noticeable gap or "cleft." Clefts not only disrupt a baby's appearance, but they can also interfere with their ability to nurse or even breathe. Modern surgical procedures, however, are often effective in restoring normal appearance and function.

Missing teeth. One in five people have at least one missing tooth that failed to develop, skewing their smile and possibly creating a problem bite. But there are ways to compensate for these missing teeth, depending on their type and normal location. The most common way is to move any teeth that have invaded the missing tooth space back to their proper position, and then installing an implant to replace the missing tooth.

Weak enamel. Enamel hypoplasia, a genetic disorder prevalent among children with Down, Treacher-Collins or Turner syndromes, occurs when adequate tooth enamel fails to develop. As a result, children with this condition have a heightened risk for tooth decay. Brushing and flossing daily, as well as applied sealants and fluoride treatments to protect and strengthen the weakened enamel, help minimize the threat of decay.

Jaw abnormalities. A child's genetics can also influence their jaw development, which in turn may eventually affect their bite. A narrower than normal upper jaw, for example, may not allow enough space for later teeth coming in, causing them to erupt out of position. We may be able to address this situation if caught early enough with a device known as a palatal expander that widens the jaw as it grows.

Gum thickness. We inherit gum tissue thickness from our parents. If your gums are on the thinner side, you're more likely to encounter problems like sensitivity to cold (as what might occur while eating ice cream) or a higher risk of gum disease. It's important, then, that anyone with thin gum tissues keep an eye on their gum health, and see a dentist regularly for checkups.

The best outcome for many of these genetic traits and defects is to diagnose and initiate treatment as early as possible. Starting regular dental care by age one is the best way to stay ahead of a birth-related dental issue.

If you would like more information about birth defects and oral health, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate.”


By Lynda V. Butler, DDS
January 19, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental care  
ProperDentalWorkCareWillExtendTheirLongevity

Modern dental restorations are not only more life-like than past generations, but also more durable. Today's fillings, crowns and bridges can last for years or even decades.

But that doesn't mean you can set them and forget them—they all require some level of maintenance and care. Here are 3 common restorations and what you need to do to make them last.

Fillings. Whether traditional dental amalgam ("silver") or tooth-colored composites, fillings today are incredibly strong and durable. But they do have one point of vulnerability, especially larger ones—the seam where the filling material meets the natural tooth. Bacteria tend to build up along this seam, which could lead to decay and the formation of a new cavity that weakens the filling. To avoid this, be sure you're brushing and flossing everyday and seeing your dentist at least twice a year.

Veneers. Dentists bond these thin shells of tooth-colored porcelain over the visible surface of teeth to hide chips, stains or other blemishes. But although the bonding agents we use create an incredibly strong hold, the bond between the veneer and tooth could weaken when subjected to higher than normal biting forces produced by nail-biting, ice-chewing or a tooth grinding habit. If you have such a habit, see your dentist about ways to minimize it and protect your veneers.

Bridges. Traditional bridges consist of an array of artificial crowns with those in the middle substituting for the missing teeth, while those on the end attach to the natural teeth on either side of the gap to support the bridge. Bridges can also be supported by dental implants. In either case, tooth decay or gum disease could undermine the natural teeth or bone supporting a bridge. To avoid a bridge failure, keep the areas around supporting teeth or implants clean and regularly checked by a dentist.

Above all, the danger dental disease poses to natural tissues also threatens the restorations that depend on them. Keeping your mouth free of disease is your best strategy for ensuring your dental work enjoys a long, functional life.

If you would like more information on protecting your dental work, 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 “Extending the Life of Your Dental Work.”


AfteraDevastatingInjuryPromptActionSavedSingerCarlyPearcesSmile

Performing for an awards show is a quite a feather in an entertainer's cap. So, up-and-coming country music star Carly Pearce was obviously excited when she gained a slot on last November's Country Music Awards. But an accident a couple of weeks before the event almost derailed her opportunity when she fell and knocked out two of her front teeth.

Fortunately, Pearce took quick action and, thanks to a skilled dental and medical team, was able to put her mouth back together before the show. Those watching her perform her hit single, “I Hope You're Happy Now,” as she smiled broadly would never have known otherwise about her traumatic emergency if she hadn't spilled the beans.

Orofacial injuries can happen to anyone, not just entertainers. You or someone you love could face such an injury from a motor vehicle accident, hard sports contact or, like Pearce, a simple slip and fall. But if you also act quickly like Pearce, you may be able to minimize the injury's long-term impact on dental health and appearance.

Here are some guidelines if you suffer a dental injury:

Collect any tooth fragments. Dental injuries can result in parts of teeth—or even a whole tooth—coming out of the mouth. It may be possible, though, to use those fragments to repair the tooth. Try to retrieve and save what you can, and after rinsing off any debris with cold water, place the fragments in a container with milk.

Re-insert a knocked-out tooth. You can often save a knocked-out tooth by putting it back in its socket as soon as possible. After cleaning off any debris, hold the tooth by its crown (never the root) and place it back in the empty socket. Don't fret over getting it in perfectly—your dentist will assist its placement later. Place a piece of clean cloth or cotton over the tooth and have the injured person bite down gently but firmly to hold it in place.

See the dentist ASAP. You should immediately see a dentist if any tooth structure has been damaged, or if a tooth is loose or has been moved out of place. If you're not sure, call your dentist to see if you should come on in or if you can wait. If a dentist is not available, go immediately to an emergency room or clinic. With many dental injuries, the longer you wait, the more likely the teeth involved won't survive long-term.

A dental injury could happen in a flash, with consequences that last a lifetime. But if, like Carly Pearce, you take prompt action and obtain necessary dental care, you could save an injured tooth—and the smile that goes with it.

If you would like more information about dental injuries, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”




Lynda V. Butler, DDS

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