Category Archives: Dental Health

The ABCs of Oral Cancer | Indianapolis Dentist

While some think this is a rare cancer, mouth cancers will be newly diagnosed in about 115 new individuals each day in the US alone, and a person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops in any of the parts that make up the mouth and is one of several types of cancer grouped in a category called head and neck cancers. If you notice any of the below changes, contact your dentist or health care professional immediately:

  • Swellings/thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts/or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
  • The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
  • Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
  • A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
  • Ear pain
  • A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
  • Dramatic weight loss

As part of your routine dental exam, your dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening exam. More specifically, your dentist will feel for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity. The American Cancer Society recommends oral cancer screening exams every 3 years for persons over age 20 and annually for those over age 40.

Visit Great Lakes Family Dental today and schedule an appointment to find out what kind of treatment your teeth needs to be healthier and to look better.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Great Lakes Family Dental proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

No Sleep Increases Your Unhealthy Snacking | Indianapolis Dentist

As seen on SleepDallas.com

A decrease in sleep, increases your appetite… and ultimately, your weight.

Ironically in dreamland, we are all our ideal size. Weight issues are non-existent. We don’t have to follow some low-carb diet. There is no working up a sweat running on a treadmill for hours. No need for herbal supplements or any magical pills. We just fall asleep and voila – we are instantly thinner.

Studies have shown that there certainly is a correlation between good health and good sleep. People with sleep deficiencies have distorted quantities of a hormone that has been identified in controlling hunger. This creates an amplified appetite and increases your preference for high calorie foods.

There is an abundance of physical consequences evident when your body lacks sleep. Sleep loss affects your mood, your appetite and your hormones. You’re inclined to desire comfort food when you are tired and it’s more probable that you will indulge your craving for them. You’ll grab for the chips, chocolate and candy rather than choosing carrot sticks.

Even though it may feel like you have a boost in your energy level, you will find yourself hungry more frequently. Your hunger isn’t the real problem; your sleepiness is. That will result in you not just making bad food choices but making frequent bad choices.

For a lot of people, emotional eating is triggered when you are tired. This is because you’re less resistant to stress and stress leads to eating. Also, people will use food as a means to stay awake. Again, your body is craving sleep, not food, but in your sleepy state, you fail to recognize this.

Visit Great Lakes Family Dental today and schedule an appointment to find out what kind of treatment your teeth needs to be healthier and to look better.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Great Lakes Family Dental proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

What Happens at a Dental Checkup? | Indianapolis Dentist

We know that our dental visits help ensure that we continue to have a healthy mouth and bright smile. But if you have never been to the dentist, these dental checkups can seem daunting. After all, no one is raving about having to go to the dentist. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. So, in order to clarify some things for those that may be unaware, here is a basic rundown of what you can expect from a typical dental visit:

The first thing most dentists will do when for a patient’s first visit is conduct x-rays. The x-rays not only provide a current glimpse at the state of the patient’s oral health, but they offer a glimpse at the patient’s dental history. Fillings, crowns, bridges and implants will be plainly visible, as well as any existing problems such as untreated decay.

Based on the result of the x-rays, it’s likely that the dentist will determine if any teeth need attention, a cleaning is needed, etc. Depending on the time allotted for the visit, the dentist may be able to address his recommendations at that time or may ask that the patient make a follow-up appointment. This is also the time you can ask about any questions you may have.

If serious problems are discovered, it’s not unusual for dentists to refer patients to other specialists. Some dentists will refer patients needing root canals to an endodontist, and patients needing corrective braces to an orthodontist.

Visiting the dentist shouldn’t be something to fear or avoid. They are here to help and are willing to address any concerns you may have.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to find out what kind of treatment your teeth needs to be healthier and to look better.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

Swish Like a Fish | Indianapolis Dentist

periodontal diseaseWho doesn’t love that minty fresh feeling your mouth has after a good rinse with mouthwash? Your breath is not only the benefit of mouthwash, though – mouthwash can help keep your gums and teeth healthy if used properly.

Mouthwash can cut back the level of bacteria in your mouth. Combined with brushing and flossing regularly, rinsing with mouthwash will do a much better job of removing plaque and debris. Research shows that adding a rinse with mouthwash to your oral care routine can in fact improve the overall cleanliness of your mouth and help keep gum inflammation at bay.

Keep in mind – most mouthwashes are at their most effective when in contact with your mouth tissues for 30 seconds per use. It may sound impossible to do with the strong taste, but it’s worth toughing it out if you want the best results. Bonus fact: it’s also a good cleaning agent for mouth guards. Still not convinced? Here are the dental health benefits of mouthwash:

Freshens breath. First and most obviously, mouthwash temporarily reduces bad breath. Mouthwash kills bacteria associated with causing bad breath leaving you with minty fresh breath.

Prevents plaque build-up. Various mouthwashes help prevent plaque build-up on your gums, in-between and on the surface of your teeth. And while it prevents the build-up of plaque, it cannot reduce the plaque that already exists.

Removes particles. We are taught to use mouthwash after brushing but using it prior can loosen particles stuck in your teeth, making it easier to brush.

Cavity prevention. Mouthwashes that contain fluoride can help to prevent cavities and strengthen your enamel at the same time. Remember, not all mouthwashes contain fluoride so check the label.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to find out what kind of treatment your teeth needs to be healthier and to look better.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

Why It’s Important To Get Your Teeth Cleaned Every Six Months

If only you knew just what exactly is happening inside your mouth every day, you probably wouldn’t need to be reminded, nor wonder, why it’s important to get your teeth cleaned every six months.

You see, brushing and flossing alone aren’t enough to keep your teeth clean and healthy, and to further convince you, here are five reasons why you need to visit the dentist every six months:

  1. It’s the best way to prevent oral cancer. Or, at the very least, make sure that it’s diagnosed as early as possible. Remember, just like with any form of cancer, your survival rate increases dramatically the sooner it is diagnosed. If you frequently drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, then it’s even more important to have your mouth checked every six months for signs of oral cancer.
  1. For the prevention and treatment of oral infection. Contrary to popular belief, normal and healthy mouths do not and never will bleed when flossing or brushing. If it does, then either there’s wrong with your mouth, or the way you brush your teeth. Chances are, it’s more of the former. This is true even if you think that it’s normal for your gums to bleed after a round of dental cleaning. Bleeding teeth and gums are one of the earliest signs of gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss and other complications if not treated early. So, the next time you brush and floss your teeth, and it bleeds, take note of it and tell the dentist. Although it probably shouldn’t hurt to try and switch to another toothbrush with soft bristles, or to not brush your teeth as aggressively as before.
  1. No more bad breath. Sure, it’s normal for the mouth to not always smell minty fresh. But, for your breath to stink regularly, sometimes to the point that it affects your sense of taste, isn’t exactly what you’d call normal. That actually is a telltale sign of an oral infection, something that only your dentist can treat. Even if this hasn’t happened to you yet, this should give you even more of a reason to visit the dentist.
  1. Lowered risk for dental problems. Although dentists recommend paying them a visit every six months to lower one’s risk for dental problems, some people actually need to have their teeth cleaned much more often. And, how exactly would you know how often you need to visit the dentist if you don’t even visit them regularly in the first place?
  1. To keep your teeth white and healthy. It may sound superficial, but we tend to judge other people based on what we see first, which usually is the smile – or at least, the lack thereof. By visiting the dentist regularly, you can keep your teeth looking shiny and healthy, allowing you to smile way more often without being so conscious, giving your self-esteem a much-needed boost.

Let Dr. Kirtley help you to prevent gum disease and keep your teeth looking pretty so you never have to worry about those things ever again. Call for an appointment at 317-841-1111. Learn more about our practice by visiting our website at www.smilesbygeorge.com.

How to Keep Your Breath Fresh | Indianapolis Dentist

Chewing GumDo you suspect you have bad breath? If so, it might be an indication of other problems and not just a lack of proper oral hygiene. With perpetual bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth may be a warning sign of gum (periodontal) disease. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth. Bacteria cause the formation of toxins, which irritate the gums. If gum disease continues untreated, it can damage the gums and jawbone.

The medical condition dry mouth (xerostomia) also can cause bad breath. Saliva is necessary to moisten the mouth, neutralize acids produced by plaque, and wash away dead cells that accumulate on the tongue, gums, and cheeks. If not removed, these cells decompose and can cause bad breath. Dry mouth may be a side effect of various medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous breathing through the mouth.

Many other diseases and illnesses may cause bad breath. Here are some to be aware of: respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, chronic acid reflux, and liver or kidney problems.

Below are five easy ways to keep your breath fresh all day:

Stay hydrated. If you can’t brush your teeth after a meal, drinking a lot of water can help speed up the process of cleaning harmful bacteria and debris from between your teeth, by rinsing your mouth out as well. Drinking milk can even help deodorize some offensive breath odors. So make sure you drink your daily intake of water and avoid sugary drinks!

Keep coffee use to a minimum. It may be tasty, but coffee is a tough smell to get off the back of your tongue. If you feel like you can’t function without it, don’t quit completely. Instead, keep the intake to a minimum and have a toothbrush or sugar-free gum handy for afterwards.

Stay away from tobacco products. Cigarettes, pipes, and snuff can not only make you more susceptible to health issues, but smoking gives people horrible breath. Keeping them out of your life will have multiple benefits.

Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol can lead to a dry mouth. Too much beer, wine, and hard liquor can make your breath smell less than fresh for up to eight to 10 hours after you finish drinking.

Chew sugarless gum. Wait for a good half hour after a meal before popping in a piece of sugarless gum. It can help with saliva flow, cleaning cavity-forming bacteria from your mouth before they can do any damage. Gum that’s 100% xylitol-sweetened can help reduce cavities, so feel free to indulge in this sweet treat after a good meal.

For more information regarding bad breath and/or to make an appointment call, Dr. Kirtley at 317-841-1111 or visit his website dentalimplantsinindianapolis.com.

Dr. Kirtley gladly welcomes patients from Indianapolis, Spring Hill, Beech Grove, Wynndale, Speedway, Rocky Ripple, Warren Park and all surrounding areas.

Why Athletes Have to Worry About Their Teeth | Indianapolis Dentist

thinkstockphotos-166340009When we think about athletes, we think about strong healthy individuals that take their sport by storm with all of their physical ability. They train hard, they eat well to give their bodies the proper nutrition in order to perform at their peak. But what if I told you that athletes actually have more to worry about when it comes to their oral health. It’s true. We may all have the same basic guidelines when it comes to oral care, but an athlete’s lifestyle isn’t the same as ours and needs to be treated as such. During their training, athletes often have high-carb diets and drink lots of energy drinks to keep up with things. Those two things alone are driving sugars and acids into their mouths, and these are the main causes for tooth decay and cavity-causing erosion. What they don’t realize is that when you have issues in your mouth, it can progress to cause pain. These pains may not be directly involved in the sport, but it can cause issues with sleeping and training in general, two necessities for all athletes to perform their best. So, if you are an athlete looking to better your overall performance on the field, track, court, or ice, you should look into your oral health!

Recent studies done and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2012 showed that 18 percent of athletes who attended the dental clinic of the London 2012 Olympic Games reported that their oral health damaged their training and performance in the games.

Researchers surveyed and examined 302 athletes from 25 sports and concluded these results:

  • Fifty-five percent had dental caries, the disease that causes cavities
  • Forty-five percent had dental erosion
  • More than three-quarters had gingivitis and 15 percent had gum disease
  • More than 40 percent of athletes were “bothered” by their oral health with 28 percent saying it impacted their quality of life and 18 percent saw an impact on their training and performance
  • Nearly half of the participants had not had an oral exam or hygiene care in the previous year

This just goes to show that oral health is an important tool and element of overall health, as it can effect one’s overall performance. And if you are in a sport that is more physical, make sure to see your dentist for a custom-fit mouthguard to ensure your teeth are protected from those tough hits. Preventative measures are key to keeping your entire athletic machine running in tiptop shape.

For more information on dental care for athletes and/or to make an appointment call, Dr. Kirtley at 317-841-1111 or visit his website dentalimplantsinindianapolis.com.

Dr. Kirtley gladly welcomes patients from Indianapolis, Spring Hill, Beech Grove, Wynndale, Speedway, Rocky Ripple, Warren Park and all surrounding areas.

DIY Remedies: The All-Natural Edition | Indianapolis Dentist

Vector cartoon sick tooth. Decay and destroy tooth.There are lots of dental problems that arise as we progress in life, and they range from minor to serious. Sometimes you don’t have time to make it to the dentist, and sometimes you are just waiting for your appointment. There must be something you can do in the meantime to help remedy a few of the more common problems that may present itself. There are loads of different over-the-counter remedies to counter these issues, but there are also natural remedies you could actually have in your home at this very moment. The following is a list of things you can do at home for a quick fix to various dental issues, listed from minor to major:

Bad breath. No one likes to know they have bad breath. It’s awkward and embarrassing, for everyone involved. Try chewing on fennel seeds or parsley. Fenugreek leaves boiled into a tea can be used as a mouthwash. Grab a handful of leaves and swish the tea around in your mouth twice a day.

Discolored teeth. There are a few things you can do to gradually turn your yellowed teeth to a sparkling white grin. Make a paste with some baking soda and water and brush your teeth with it once a week. Turn some strawberries into a paste and rub it onto your teeth. It may sound strange but the acids in strawberries scrub your teeth in the most delicious way possible. If you are looking for something a bit more exotic, mix mustard oil with holy basil leaves. The paste is fantastic for fading your teeth’s tinge.

Gum infections. If you find that your gums have become inflamed, chances are you will need to take a trip to the dentist. But in the meantime, rinse with warm saline water three times a day. It will keep the area clean and plaque-free. Chewing basil leaves is also known to sooth gums so have some handy if you begin to feel some discomfort. Mustard oil come in handy here too. Mix a little with a pinch of salt to help relieve any mild infection, or loose tooth, you may have.

Toothaches. If your pain has progressed all the way to full-blown toothache, it may feel like nothing will help it. Would you believe it can be fixed by pressing a clove of garlic on the pain? It works. Turmeric powder pressed on a cavity will work wonders on a cavity. Similar to a topical anesthetics we use for cuts, clove oil will do the same anti-bacterial things, but for your mouth.

Dental problems are bound to happen at some point. It’s natural. And as you can see, there are lots of natural ways we can help relieve some of our dental problems. They may not be total solutions, but they will work great until you can get into the dental chair.

For more information on dental emergencies and/or to make an appointment call, Dr. Kirtley at 317-841-1111 or visit his website dentalimplantsinindianapolis.com.

Dr. Kirtley gladly welcomes patients from Indianapolis, Spring Hill, Beech Grove, Wynndale, Speedway, Rocky Ripple, Warren Park and all surrounding areas.

The Terrible Ten Smile Saboteurs | Indianapolis Dentist

Beautiful smile with withe teethThere are lots of reasons our teeth may not be the brightest at all times. We go to the dentist for regular cleanings, but in the end, they always seem to go back to the way they were. But why? What are we doing to make our smile dingy or flawed? A lot of times, it isn’t how well we clean our chompers. In many cases, discolored or damaged teeth are the result of our own bad habits, says Indianapolis dentist George Kirtley; other problems are caused by chemicals that entered teeth during childhood. The way we eat,what we put into our mouths, even habits you don’t realize you’ve picked up, like biting your pencil, can all do small damages to our teeth. The biggest offenders he sees in Indianapolis:

  • Drinking tea. Hot or cold, tea stains teeth more than any other kind of drink.
  • Smoking, because tobacco yellows teeth.
  • Drinking coffee; it stains the teeth.
  • Drinking red wine; it stains the teeth.
  • Consuming too many soft drinks, which leave sugars on teeth that can create cavities.
  • Eating highly acidic foods, including starchy snacks such as potato chips and tortilla chips. They can drive enamel-busting acids deep into teeth, breaking the teeth down.
  • Ingesting too much fluoride during childhood, which can actually damage teeth.
  • Treating childhood diseases with antibiotics, such as Tetracycline, that can discolor teeth.
  • Chewing ice or your nails; it cracks teeth.
  • Grinding teeth; habitual grinding damages teeth.

For more information on habits that can cause damage to your smile and/or to make an appointment, call Dr. Kirtley at 317-841-1111 or visit his website smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves patients from Indianapolis, Spring Hill, Beech Grove, Wynnedale, Speedway, Rocky Ripple, Warren Park and all surrounding areas.

Why Do I Need Fluoride Treatment?

ThinkstockPhotos-146796980The enamel is the hard, protective shell that covers much of the surface of your teeth. It is strong and durable. It also happens to be your teeth’s natural, built-in defense system against various dental problems, such as cavities and tooth decay.

Unfortunately, regardless of how strong the enamel is, bacteria, especially when allowed to build up, can slowly eat away at it. This can result into cavities and tooth decay, among many other things.

To prevent this from happening, dentists recommend using fluoride toothpaste and receiving regular fluoride treatments to help improve the strength of the enamel and even reverse the tooth decay and its effects.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that’s found naturally in different kinds of food, as well as in water.

By receiving fluoride treatments, the strength of the tooth enamel is restored and improved. The treatment also helps make the teeth become more resistant to acid, making them less prone to tooth decay down the line.

Why is Fluoride So Important?

Of course, the main benefit of fluoride is that it helps in preventing tooth decay. However, fluoride can also reverse the effects of early gum disease, as well as replace the minerals in the enamel that plaque has eaten away.

To put it simply, fluoride is vital in keeping teeth healthy and making sure it stays that way.

In children, especially those under the age of six, fluoride treatments is important because it can help prevent bacteria from building up in areas like the gums. This helps tremendously in establishing long-term dental health early on, while at the same time, it also improves the child’s chance against gum disease.

Those who have been fitted with orthodontic braces and other orthodontic treatments can also benefit from fluoride treatments as it helps prevent bacteria from building up and being trapped.

Can Adults Benefit From Fluoride Treatments?

While you’ve probably heard about how fluoride can help in strengthening developing teeth, which basically means that children benefit the most from fluoride treatment, such a treatment is just as important when it comes to fighting off tooth decay.

Fluoride, whether coming in the form of a fluoride treatment, a mouth rinse or wash or a toothpaste, can improve the average adult’s chance against tooth decay and other dental complications.

Certain conditions can also benefit from fluoride treatments, including but not limited to:

  • Xerostomia. Certain diseases or medications can cause Xerostomia or dry mouth. However, regardless of what exactly caused it, having a dry mouth means there’s little saliva in your mouth, which is a major risk factor for gum disease.
  • Gum recession. Gum disease, in its worse stages, can cause the gums to recede and teeth to appear shorter. While this is not pleasing to look, the recession of the gums can eventually lead to the roots being exposed and prone to tooth decay, or eventually, tooth loss.

 

Patients whose teeth have deep pits and grooves, as well as those who’ve had dental work done on them in the past can also potentially benefit from the presence of additional fluoride in their mouth.

Then again, it is up to your dentist to decide whether or not your oral health could use the additional fluoride and just how much extra it needs.

Request an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to know how you could provide your teeth with additional protection, whether it is through fluoride treatments or other means.

If you feel that you would benefit from a fluoride treatment, contact Dr. George Kirtley at 317-841-1111 to schedule a consultation today or visit www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley welcome patients from Spring Hill, Beach Grove and Warren Park.