Month: March 2016

All About Periodontal Disease

Periodontal diseasePeriodontal disease is the worst! Teeth with tooth decay or nerve problems can be treated with fillings or root canals but periodontal disease causes irreversible damage. Even if the teeth themselves are perfect, they are in danger of being lost if there is insufficient periodontal support. Periodontal disease is a term we use to describe the loss of bone and gums around the teeth. Since bone loss is irreversible, the name of the game is prevention!

What causes periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria. However, the loss of bone and gum support is not directly caused by bacteria. There are many types of bacteria found in the oral cavity. Some are actually good. They can actually assist in the pre-digestion of food as well as preventing harmful bacteria from growing out of control. That good bacteria is called normal flora. There is some bacteria that can cause harm. It can bind to teeth and cause tooth decay. It can also form plaque and tartar and cause inflammation to the gums. The inflammatory process is actually the direct cause of periodontal disease! If we can subside the inflammation, the destruction of the gums and bone will stop.

Periodontal disease progression

How do we stop the inflammation?

Since the cause of inflammation is bacteria, we have to remove plaque and tartar! Most of the time that is a really simple process. I can usually really easily remove it with a ultrasonic scaler. It’s a great instrument that uses water and vibration to loosen the tartar. It is usually painless and fast. I can usually do a full mouth debridement in about a half hour.

Occasionally, I need to do what is called a scaling and root planing. It is a similar treatment but I will anesthetize the inflamed area and clean deep under the gums to reach every speck of tartar. If I leave even a little bit we might not relieve the inflammation. The scaling and root planing is a little more involved but is a really great treatment when needed.

When the gums don’t respond to those treatments, then we may do a periodontal surgery. This involves retracting the gums and repairing any defects in the bone which are preventing the gums from being healthy. Fortunately, this is not a common treatment but it works wonders in rare cases.

Is periodontal disease contagious?

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, it is. We are often pretty lax about spread of germs within families and loved ones. Things like kissing or sharing glasses or utensils can spread bacteria from one person to another. The bacteria found in someone with active periodontitis can spread to someone with healthy gums and that bacteria can grow and cause inflammation in the previously unaffected individual.

So if one member of the family has signs of periodontal disease (bleeding gums, red inflamed gums) Then it actually benefits the other members of the family if that member goes to the dentist to get the inflammation under control.

Prevention is everything! When I am doing an exam I always evaluate the periodontal condition. Sometimes we will need to see someone with the initial signs of periodontal disease more often to prevent any future damage. The good news is that with proper professional maintenance we can control the damage that would otherwise occur. If you think you are having symptoms of periodontal disease than schedule an appointment for evaluation and then stay on top of your regular dental cleaning!

 

Being Green: Conserving Water

Conserving Water in Thousand OaksWe’re Saving Teeth and Saving Water!

I love living in Southern California. But one of the things that is engraved deep into the brains of all children growing up in California is the importance of conserving water! Especially now that we are in one of the worst droughts in recorded history, we really need to due our parts to save water. When I was designing my dental office, I knew that I wanted to make my office green! In this weeks blog I want to share some of the things that we are doing to conserve water.

Vacuum Pump System

About 90% of dental office use what is called a wet ring vacuum pump system.  This creates the suction that removes saliva and water from your mouth.  It uses water to create the suction.  They can use thousands of gallons a day. This article states that some wet vacuum pumps can use up to 200,000 gallons of water per year.  That’s an Olympic size swimming pool worth of water every month.  Even with a recycler they waster hundreds of thousands of gallons a year.  We decided that was unthinkable in Southern California and purchased a dry vacuum.  It requires no water at all.  They are more expensive and require more maintenance but the savings in water makes up for it. 

Toilet and Faucets

I believe the toilet to my building was original to it’s construction. It used a whopping 3.6 gallons per flush. A true antique that is thankfully not in use any more. The new toilet fixture is a Toto ultra high efficiency toilet that only uses 1.0 gallons per flush. It is CalGreen certified and saves a ton of water.

We have a lot of faucets in the building but all of them have regulators on them to limit the water flow and to save water.

Rain Collection

With the rain that we’ve been fortunate enough to get recently, we decided to take advantage of it and purchased a rain collection barrel.  It sits under the down gutter and collects all the rain that is collected from the roof of the building. We can use that water for watering plants and cleaning the exterior of the building.

You can actually get rain barrels for your house for free!  The Thousand Oaks Go Green website was giving out rain barrels and says it plans to give more out in the future. So be sure to check out the city’s website for that and a lot of other green info.

Saving water is something that is vital to everyone living in Southern California.  But we can only make a difference if we all conserve together!

“No Prep” Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers make smiles beautiful

Porcelain Veneers: Easier than ever!

Porcelain veneers are probably the most common procedure in cosmetic dentistry. The idea is simple. We bond a layer of porcelain over the visible surface of a tooth. It’s really not too different from acrylic nails. A manicurist will glue them on to existing fingernails to cover damage and alter the shape. Porcelain veneers have become a lot more popular than you may think and a lot of your friends and acquaintances who you think have perfect teeth actually have porcelain veneers.Porcelain veneers are like acrylic nails

One of the drawbacks of placing veneers has always been that the thickness of the porcelain required to be strong enough to function in the mouth has always had to be too thick to place directly on the teeth.  This required reduction of the enamel to prevent the teeth from looking bulky. So a typical appointment was first numbing the patient with a local anesthetic, preparing the teeth (which is to say, grinding off the enamel surface of the teeth to create a space for the veneers), then pushing back the gums to hide where the veneer meets the tooth, taking an impression, and finally making temporary veneers out of acrylic.  The temporary veneers are very fragile and can be easily dislodged so a lot of care is necessary in eating until the permanent veneers are ready.

Maybe my description sounds laborious but it really isn’t too bad and we regularly do it with many patients to this day. But I do have some patients who really want veneers and they don’t want to go through all of that.
porcelain veneers

Fortunately, this is an alternative.  And it is a really good alternative. We are now doing what we call “no prep” veneers. Innovation in the custom fabrication of veneers have finally allowed us to create a porcelain veneers that is strong and beautiful, yet razor thin so that we can bond it directly over a tooth.

It’s still totally custom and just like a regular veneer. It’s just significantly thinner. So what does that mean to you? We can really simplify the process of getting veneers. The new procedure doesn’t require any anesthetic. No shots! No drilling! We need to take impressions of the teeth. Then we make the veneers. We have you back and we bond the veneers directly to the teeth. It really couldn’t be any easier. It’s really a lot more like getting acrylic nails placed.

There are some limitations that this new type of veneer has so not everyone is a candidate. But it is a great procedure for those who want veneers! The only way to know is to set up a consultation and we can walk you through the process and let you know if it will work for you!

Dr. Sycamore