Friday, November 30, 2012

Are Silver Fillings a Danger to My Health?

When you get a cavity, which is essentially a small hole in your tooth caused by decay, dentists use special materials to fill it. The material used in dental fillings has advanced over the years, but silver fillings have been a common choice for dentists for a long time.

Although there are alternatives available, silver fillings are not harmful to a patients health.

The silver filling material is a mixture of mercury, a silver alloy, tin and copper. Known as dental amalgam, the use of this mixture has been a controversial topic, namely due to the fact that it contains mercury, which can be toxic when ingested in significant amounts. Although scientists speculate that it is possible for mercury to leech into the mouth from a silver filling, several studies have concluded that the amount that could be released is not enough to pose a significant health risk. In fact, the release of mercury in silver fillings is so small that it is much less than what patients are exposed to in food, air and water.

Nevertheless, many patients are turning to alternative restoration materials. These include gold, porcelain, and composite resins. Dental composite resins are probably the most popular type of restoration material available today, due to their more natural look. Some dentists favor composite resins because they are more easy to manipulate, are insoluble and are insensitive to dehydration. Also, composite resins are fairly inexpensive when compared to other materials.

If you have concerns or questions regarding your fillings, feel free to contact Dr. Simon Melcher at Implant & General Dentistry today. Call 919-782-0548.

Our hours are Mon-Fri, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Alternatives to Dentures

If you have little to no non-restorable teeth, you may be thinking that dentures are the only option. Not so! With advances in dental treatments, many offices now provide implant and support choices for their patients.

Strategically placed implants can now be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. The cost tends to be greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble the look and feel of real teeth.

The dental implants are small appliances that are inserted into the upper and lower jaws in order to help restore the mouth by replacing individual missing teeth or supporting an existing bridge or denture. Dental implants are becoming the popular alternative of choice to dentures, due to their many advantages.

Advantages of implants over traditional dentures:
  • Reduces movement of dentures, bridges, crowns and other dental work.
  • Facilitates proper chewing.
  • Provide support and improved stability for removable dentures or fixed bridge work.
  • More closely resembles the "feel" of natural teeth.
  • Enhances the patient's self-confidence, as speech and appearance are often improved.
Although dental implants are becoming a popular alternative to traditional dentures, not everyone is a good candidate for the procedure. Talk to us today about your best options for tooth restoration: 919-782-0548

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What To Do If You Grind Your Teeth At Night

Many people grind their teeth or clench their jaw from time to time. However, teeth grinding and jaw clenching can be very damaging if it is done for an extended period of time.

Medically known as bruxism, teeth grinding is a fairly common problem. Most people do it unknowingly while they are asleep. This condition can cause an eventual wearing down of the tooth surface or in severe cases, loosening and cracking of teeth. If left untreated, chronic teeth grinding can lead to the teeth being worn down to the gum line. In these cases, bridges, crowns, root canals or implants may be needed to restore the patient's teeth.

Additionally, bruxism can lead to jaw problems such as TMD/TMJ. This can even lead to hearing loss and a change in your facial appearance.

Thankfully, bruxism can be easy to combat by wearing a protective mouth guard during the night. If you aren't sure whether or not you grind your teeth at night, contact us to schedule an appointment: 919-782-0548. We will examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, which can include jaw tenderness and abnormalities in your teeth.

One of the leading causes of teeth grinding is stress and anxiety. If you suspect your teeth grinding is a result of emotional stress, talk to your doctor or contact us about stress relief treatments. Some suggestions a doctor may provide are anti-anxiety medication, muscle relaxers or perhaps counseling if you are dealing with something particularly traumatic or stressful.

Other tips for avoiding bruxism:
  • Cut back on caffeine and avoid alcohol. Research suggests that grinding intensifies after consuming these substances.
  • Avoid chewing gum. Chewing gum essentially gets your mouth "in the habit" of clenching your jaw.
  • Be aware of your jaw during the day. If you find yourself clenching or grinding throughout the day, try positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Dehydration may be linked to bruxism.
  • Try to reduce your stress level, especially before bed. Do something that relaxes you before falling asleep. Avoid exercising or working right before bedtime.
For more information or to seek treatment for bruxism or TMJ, contact Dr. Simon Melcher at 919-782-0548

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to Treat Canker Sores

Nobody likes getting canker sores, but unfortunately, they are a common condition. Even if you practice good oral hygiene, you will likely get a canker sore at least once or twice in your life. Fortunately, they are fairly easy to treat.

Canker sores are small, shallow ulcers in the mouth that can cause discomfort and pain when eating, drinking or brushing your teeth. They can be caused by a variety of factors, but there is no definite way to know how a canker sore develops. Tissue injury is thought to be the most common cause, while acidic foods (citrus fruits, figs, tomatoes, etc.) are thought to trigger or worsen the condition. If you have braces or dentures that aren't fitted quite right, you could experience canker sores due to the friction of the dental work against your mouth surface.

Symptoms of a canker sore include a small, painful area within the mouth, a tingling or burning sensation prior to the sore first appearing and, in the case of severe canker sore attacks, fever and swollen lymph nodes. Contrary to what some believe, cold sores and canker sores are not the same thing. Cold sores, also known as fever blisters or herpes simplex type 1, are fluid-filled blisters. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are caused by a virus and are very contagious.

Most canker sores will heal on their own after about a week, but to treat the pain and discomfort, a variety of over-the-counter products are available in most drug stores. If you experience canker sores that last longer than a week, seem to be getting worse, or are experiencing other medical symptoms, you should contact us at 919-782-0548.  We may prescribe a special mouth rinse or ointment to treat the sore.

Here are a few suggestions to avoid canker sores:

  • Stay away from foods and drinks that irritate your mouth, including acidic fruits and veggies or spicy foods.
  • Brush and floss after meals to keep your mouth free of debris that could cause a sore to develop.
  • Use a soft-bristled tooth brush to minimize gum irritation.

Make sure any dental apparatus you use is well-fitted and does not cause irritation to your gums, cheeks or soft palate (the back portion of the roof of your mouth).