Category Archives: Oral Health

When Your Tooth Zings You | Indianapolis Dentist

When the seasons change from cold to hot, or hot to cold, our diets begin to change drastically. Soups and cocoa changes to salads and iced teas. Unfortunately, if we aren’t taking good care of our teeth, this can cause our teeth to give us a painful signal when we test its sensitivity. 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 may have developed sensitive teeth.

But these are the foods of the season, so what gives? 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 or even cold air. Here are some reasons this may be happening:

  • Over-brushing
  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth whitening

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. If caught early enough, it can be easily treated. Many times, sensitive teeth can be treated with a good cleaning and use of a special toothpaste. If you wait to get treatment, you often end up with a bigger problem that is more difficult to treat.

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.

Ever Wonder What a Tooth Is? | Indianapolis Dentist

We use them to eat, smile and speak, but have you ever stopped to think about what exactly your teeth are? Like, what exactly are these strong white teeth taking up space in your mouth? They may look basic, but teeth are actually complicated structures.

Enamel. The visible surface of the tooth is known as enamel. A hard, mineral surface, the enamel is typically light yellow to white in color, but is semi translucent, so the actual color of your tooth is determined by both the enamel and the underlying dentin. Made of a crystalized calcium phosphate known as hydroxyapatite, the enamel is both incredibly strong and incredibly brittle.

Cementum. While enamel covers to outside of the tooth above the gum line, below the gum line the surface of the tooth is covered in a substance known as cementum. A yellowish substance, it contains less than half of the mineral content as enamel, making it much softer. The primary purpose of cementum is to provide a surface to allow the periodontal ligaments in the gums to hold onto the tooth.

Dentin. Below the enamel and cementum lies the dentin. Dentin is a combination of mineralized hydroxyapatite, organic material and water, and is both much softer than enamel and much less brittle, making them more prone to decay and severe cavities.

Pulp. Finally, within the dentin lies the tooth pulp. The pulp is soft tissue, filled with blood vessels and nerves that provide the tooth with oxygen, nutrients, and the ability to transmit ‘senses’ such as temperature, pain, and pressure. The pulp also helps to form and repair dentin from within the tooth.

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.

Keep Your Grin Bright at Home | Indianapolis Dentist

Getting teeth whitened in the dentist’s office is one way to improve your confidence and make you want to smile a lot more. However, the maintenance of this whitening treatment really comes into play once we leave the dental chair. It’s still important that you continue to look for ways to maintain your smile, or if possible, make it whiter and brighter. Listed below are four very useful tips for those who want to have a brighter and whiter smile:

Use whitening toothpaste. Visits to the dentist are important not just to get treatment to have your teeth whitened, but also to remove the bacteria and plaque that have built up over time. Ask for any tips they may have for upkeep.

Chew gum and crunchy produce. Saliva is your mouth’s naturally means of cleaning bacteria and plaque, so pop in a stick of sugar-free gum. Speaking of consumption, munching on crunchy produce such as apples, carrots and celery can also help you keep your teeth bright and clean.

Take better care of your tooth enamel. Although considered as the hardest substance in the human body, tooth enamel cannot repair itself if it breaks down. It is important that you take good care of your tooth enamel by providing it with necessary protection, such as by getting fluoride treatment at the dentist’s office and using a fluoride-toothpaste.

Drink plenty of milk. Dairy products are high in calcium, which helps keep your teeth white and bright. Dairy gives your teeth the calcium it needs to keep enamel strong and helps rid your teeth of food particles that can cause stains and discoloration.

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.

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.

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.

Your Dental Visit Doesn’t Have to Be Scary | Indianapolis Dentist

Dental treatmentIt will always be a nerve-wracking time preparing to see any sort of health professional. As adults, we seem to try dodging these appointments whenever possible. You aren’t exactly sure why, you just know you don’t want to go. For many, the thought of the unknown is the worst part about these meetings. So after years of deflecting the inevitable, don’t you want to understand why?

The good thing about returning to the dentist after a long hiatus is that our first encounter is going to be virtually painless. The goal for this visit is to basically get to know you and your oral health. It’s going to be a breeze, so make your appointment to get that first consultation taken care of. Every journey begins with a proverbial first step, even if that step is your mouth’s.

When you appointment begins, your dentist is going to do is ask about your health history. It may seem intrusive because dentists focus on oral health, but a lot of issues can be determined via the mouth, so it’s important that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your general health.

Typically, next will be x-rays. They’re necessary in order for your dentist to monitor your bone & jaw health. If you have recent ones, bring them with you to bypass this step. But prepare to have them done. Once they are done, your dental professional will clean your teeth. This will help them see any issues, like chips and cavities that may be developing due to your daily oral care or other health issues. Once that is done, not only will your mouth feel amazing, but your dentist can give you a better idea about things you need to do in order to take preventative measures. We want to stay ahead of anything that may happen in the future, so a good cleaning will help see the current state of your teeth.

And that’s basically it as far as the exam is concerned. Now it’s your turn to ask the questions. Take this time to discuss any questions or concerns you have going forward. They will have the best ideas about how to treat any issue they find necessary and prepare you for any surgeries that may need to take place. Be thorough. They are there to help you feel more at ease about your health, so don’t hesitate to mention any fears you may have.

Don’t worry. This first dental visit isn’t anything to worry about. In fact, it’s your first step to a beautiful smile. That in and of itself is good news.

For more information regarding 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.