Category Archives: General Health

You Really Should Get Your Teeth Cleaned Twice a Year | Indianapolis Dentist

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:

Oral cancer prevention. Just like with any 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.

Treatment and prevention of oral infections. Contrary to popular belief, normal and healthy mouths do not and never will bleed when flossing or brushing, even after a round of dental cleaning. Bleeding gums are one of the earliest signs of gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss and other complications if not treated early.

Clean, fresh breath. Sure, it’s normal for the mouth to not always smell minty fresh. But bad breath on a regular basis is a telltale sign of an oral infection, something that only your dentist can treat.

Dental problems lower. 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.

Keeping your teeth white and healthy. The first impression we make to strangers is our smile. By visiting the dentist regularly, you can keep your teeth looking shiny and healthy, allowing you to smile way more often without being self-conscious.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

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

Do You Have Dental Phobia? | Indianapolis Dentist

Are you one in the millions of Americans considered to have a dental phobia? Maybe you had a bad experience as a child, maybe you just can’t handle people and instruments that close to your face. Whatever it is, you’re definitely not alone.

Dental anxiety and phobia are extremely common. In a survey by the British Dental Health Foundation, 36% of those who didn’t see a dentist regularly said that fear was the main reason. Dental phobia keeps many people from seeing their dentists for regular check-ups, which could result in poor oral health. Women are more likely to suffer from this phobia than men.

The most common fear of visiting the dentist is having a tooth drilled and the local anesthetic injection. People are not born with a fear of the dentist, you develop it and can overcome it. Today dentistry is much different than it used to be. It can be a pain free, anxiety free experience. Relaxation and sedation techniques have been proven in helping overcome dental phobias. Some of the signs of dental phobia include:

  • Tension or having trouble sleeping the night before a dental exam
  • Increasingly nervous while you’re in the waiting room
  • The sight of dental instruments or personnel increases your anxiety
  • The thought of a dental visit makes you feel physically ill
  • Panic or trouble breathing when objects are placed in your mouth during a dental appointment

Our patients have commented that if they had known how comfortable treatment was under sedation they never would have had any worries about dental treatment. This is such a relaxing procedure that it’s often referred to as sleep dentistry.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

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

Missing Teeth? Make a Dental Appointment Today | Indianapolis Dentist

There are many adults that have had a couple of decayed or missing teeth replaced. While replacing your missing teeth for aesthetic reasons is understandable, it’s important to have any missing teeth replaced for your oral health. Your teeth are meant to work together to help you chew, smile and speak. When you have missing teeth, these can be difficult to do. The loss of your back teeth may cause your mouth to shift and your face to appear older or sunken in. Fortunately, with the help of modern dentistry, missing teeth can be replaced. The following are some of the tooth replacement options that should be available to you by your dental care professional:

Dental implants. Many people opt for dental implants to replace a single tooth, several teeth, or to support a full set of dentures. The process of getting dental implants placed typically involves three phases that take place over several weeks, which is the main disadvantage.

Bridges. If your teeth can be fixed with a dental bridge, which is basically a dental appliance that is used to fill in the missing space. Unlike dental implants that are surgically placed and securely integrated into your jawbone, bridges rely on the neighboring teeth for support.

Dentures. Dentures are removable dental appliances that can replace a single tooth or a full set. Dentures usually have replacement teeth attached to a plastic base that matches the color of your gums and, depending on your case, are either partial dentures or full dentures.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

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

Ways to Brighten Your Smile | Indianapolis Dentist

teeth whitening

As we prepare to embark on another year, it is important to try to start it off on the right foot. For some of us, it is a brighter smile. And while we do our best to keep up with our dental hygiene, over time our teeth will begin to develop a yellowish tinge. It’s time for a teeth whitening treatment. But which to choose? Here is a quick breakdown to help you as you decide which option to choose.

Zoom! Plus teeth whitening

Teeth whitening can help you achieve a beautifully white smile by bleaching your teeth and removing any deep stains that cannot be removed by brushing or hygiene appointments. Here at our Indianapolis teeth whitening office, we use the latest Zoom! Plus, in-office laser tooth whitening system as seen on hit TV shows such as Extreme Makeover. The Zoom! system delivers great results and in about 1 hour we can brighten your teeth by several shades.

Home bleaching

In addition to in-office power whitening, we also offer professional home bleaching kits. We custom fabricate whitening trays to fit over your teeth and then supply you with a professional-grade tooth whitening solution to carry out the whitening procedure in the comfort of your own home. The home bleaching delivers results over a longer time period. Many of our patients choose combination treatment with in-office whitening followed by the home bleaching. This enables you to maintain your beautiful white smile and top it up whenever you want.

There is no reason we have to start the year with a less than perfect smile. It’s time to schedule an appointment to get the smile you’ve always wanted.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

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

What Is Cosmetic Dentistry? | Indianapolis Dentist

cosmetic dentistry

We know that the dentist will keep our smiles healthy, but they are also here to improve your smile through the use of cosmetic dentistry. But what exactly is cosmetic dentistry and how does it benefit you and your smile? Let’s take a second to break down the various procedures and how they can improve your smile. Common cosmetic procedures include the following:

  • Composite white fillings repair cavities without having silver filling in the mouth. Existing metal fillings can be replaced with modern white resin
  • Bonding uses composite resin to help change the size, shape, or color of teeth. Because it attaches to teeth in the same way that composite fillings attach, bonding can be used to fix chips on visible front teeth.
  • Teeth that are discolored or stained can be whitened – either in the office or using take-home trays
  • Veneers are a thin layer of porcelain on top of the tooth that can be used to change tooth shape, size, or color.
  • Crowns can be used as a cap on top of teeth damaged by cracks or decay
  • Orthodontics – either traditional or Invisalign – can be used to permanently straighten teeth.
  • Gum tissue can be surgically altered – either added via grafts to help with recession, or removed to create a more appealing tooth length
  • For missing, broken, or severely damaged teeth, full implants can be used to provide a replacement tooth

Because modern dentists have implants as a final catchall, virtually any problem can be solved given enough time and room in the patient’s budget. However, your dentist will be able to guide you through the process, creating a treatment plan that maps the various procedures and prioritizes them for maximum effectiveness.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

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

Sorting Through Your Trick-or-Treat Bag | Indianapolis Dentist

Sorting Through Your Trick-or-Treat Bag

When we think about Halloween, we think about overflowing bags of free candy. And while we hate to admit it, these sweet treats are not very tooth-friendly and can have devastating effects. When candy gets stuck in the grooves of your teeth it can cause a damaging acid to form in your mouth. This acid from the candy affects the teeth 20 minutes before it’s neutralized. Here’s a breakdown Halloween’s favorite candy from best to worst for our smiles:

Best Candy for Teeth

  • Chocolate dissolves quickly, which decreases the amount of time the sugar stays in contact with teeth. Choose your favorite chocolate but avoid the fillings like nuts or caramel, as they can damage to teeth.
  • Sugar-free lollipops and hard candies stimulate saliva production, which flushes away bad bacteria from your teeth, gums and tongue.
  • Sugar-free gum can help remove food particles and stimulate saliva production.

Worst Candy for Teeth

  • When it comes to sticky candy, stickier the candy, the worse it is for teeth.
  • Hard candy stays in your mouth longer, drenching your mouth in sugar.
  • Candy corn is full of sugar that produces acid that eats away tooth enamel.
  • Sour candy is high in acid levels, which can break down tooth enamel.
  • Jawbreakers are so hard they can actually chip a tooth.

Make sure to brush and floss your teeth after indulging in your Halloween treats. If you can’t brush right away, drink plenty of water to help loosen some of the residue left behind. Brushing and flossing your teeth is a must, especially during Halloween.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

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

The Ten Most Wanted List of Dental Damages

Let’s face it – we all want a nice shiny set of pearly whites to show off to the world. They are the first thing most strangers see upon meeting, so many of us hold a smile in very high regard. Unfortunately, there are lots of reasons our teeth may not be the brightest at all times. This is when we give our dentist a jingle for a nice dental cleaning / whitening procedure.

In many cases, discolored or damaged teeth are the result of our own bad habits. Bad habits like smoking or dietary issues can lead to our teeth beginning to turn a bit dingy after a while, other problems are caused by chemicals that entered teeth during childhood. Everything we do to or with our mouths can have an impact on our teeth, and not in a good way. Poor habits, like biting your pencil, can all do small damages to our teeth. These are the top ten dental culprits:

  • 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.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

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

When You Become Too Sensitive | Indianapolis Dentist

If you’ve been experiencing jarring sharp pain when you eat or drink hot or even cold foods, or even surprisingly during your oral care routine. You know it’s not something to ignore but what is it? Chances are you’re developing sensitive teeth. Luckily, this is very treatable.

What causes a tooth or teeth to become sensitive? Well, there are a variety of answers here. As we age, so do our teeth. With age the enamel on your teeth can wear, leaving your tooth roots exposed. This, of course, can cause those jolting pains with tempered food and drink, even when cold air hits the tooth. This is the most likely case or why you’re experiencing the tooth pain. But there can be other reasons, such as:

  • Overbrushing
  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth whitening

Your dental professional has a solution for all of the above conditions. Depending on the cause and severity of your sensitivity, you will benefit from professional treatment. There are a variety of treatments from simple solutions to oral surgery. Sensitive teeth solutions include:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste
  • Desensitizing or bonding
  • Surgical gum graft
  • Root canal

See your dentist at the first sign of sensitivity. But worry not, oftentimes the early stages can be easily treated. If you wait to get treatment, you often end up with a bigger problem that is more difficult to treat. Many times, sensitive teeth can be treated with a good cleaning and use of a special toothpaste.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

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

What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer? | Indianapolis Dentist

The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • 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

If you find that you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your dental professional as soon as possible. During your routine dental exam, your dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening exam by feeling for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity. When examining your mouth, your dentist will look for any sores, discolored tissue and the symptoms you’re experiencing. Your dentist may perform an oral brush biopsy if they see tissue in your mouth that looks suspicious. This test is painless and involves taking a small sample of the tissue and analyzing it for abnormal cells. Alternatively, if the tissue looks more suspicious, your dentist may recommend a scalpel biopsy, which usually requires local anesthesia. These tests are necessary to detect oral cancer early, before it has had a chance to progress and spread.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

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

Fluoride: What You Need to Know | Indianapolis Dentist

We have all heard of fluoride and we all know it’s good for our teeth, but how much do we really know about it? Let’s take a moment to learn about our smile’s best friend.

Enamel is your teeth’s natural, built-in defense system against various dental problems, such as cavities and tooth decay. Unfortunately, a build-up of bacteria can slowly eat away at it, resulting in 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.

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, reverse the effects of early gum disease and 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 treatment is important because it can help prevent bacteria from building up in areas like the gums. For those who have been fitted with orthodontic braces and other orthodontic treatments, it helps prevent bacteria from building up and being trapped, improves the average adult’s chance against tooth decay and other dental complications, while also benefiting conditions like dry mouth and gum recession.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

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