Category Archives: Teeth

Do We Really Need to Floss? | Indianapolis Dentist

We all know we’re supposed to floss daily but let’s be honest – most of us don’t. It just always feels like an unnecessary thing to do. But are you sure it’s unnecessary? You may not think so offhand, but then why do you make sure to do it before your appointments? Yes, we are sure you dread when you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair and they ask, ‘How often do you floss?’ While you’re calculating in your head how much you floss and whether or not you should fib to the dentist about your flossing habits, let’s go over why it’s so important to floss daily. After all, taking care of our teeth is important if we want to keep them for as long as we possibly can.

Better than brushing alone. A toothbrush works to removing plaque with its bristles. Brushing alone has one big drawback: A toothbrush’s bristles can’t adequately clean between the teeth or under the gums. That’s where floss comes in, to get in those tiny spaces between your teeth to get the grime out your toothbrush can’t reach.

Protects your gums. Where the gums and teeth meet are where flossing plays its major role. Particles of food can get lodged here, and plaque in this area will harden over time to form tartar, that your dentist will remove with a scraper. Tartar buildup can lead to gingivitis.

Helps prevent other diseases. Gum disease can have effects that go beyond discolored teeth, discomfort and bad breath. Research has shown that the bacteria in an unhealthy mouth can harm the rest of the body, leading to heart disease, diabetes and respiratory illness.

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 It’s too Crowded | Indianapolis Dentist

There is nothing more uncomfortable than being stuck in a crowd. It’s hot, it makes you feel helpless and chances are someone has bad breath. The same goes for teeth. Teeth crowding is the lack of space for all the teeth to fit normally within the jaws, causing the teeth to become twisted or displaced.

One of the common causes of tooth crowding is natural occurrence – so called mesial drift phenomenon, where your front teeth drift slowly to the center of the mouth. In the past, some dentists believed this was caused by the presence of wisdom teeth, crowding the front teeth from the rear of the mouth, though in reality many of the problems are due to simple insufficient space for the number of teeth as adults grow. Beyond mesial drift, other potential causes – such as weakened support due to periodontal disease, thumb sucking, and tongue thrusting – can also influence teeth to move in directions that are undesirable, leading to misalignment and crowding issues. We see many adult patients who had relatively straight teeth as teenagers coming to correct new crowding that has developed, especially in the lower front teeth.

Many see crowding as a cosmetic problem, the reality is that poorly aligned teeth are at an increased risk for periodontal disease, decay, and the patient is more likely to suffer from TMJ (jaw-joint) problems, as their irregular bite may cause strain on their jaw over time. For these reasons, fixing alignment should be considered more than simply a cosmetic procedure – correcting the alignment allows the patient to have better access to brush and floss, and their bite will be more level.

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.

It Shouldn’t Be Like Pulling Teeth | Indianapolis Dentist

Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s like pulling teeth”? It is generally used to describe something unfun. And if you think about it, they’re right – having a tooth pulled is no fun. But there are lots of reason a tooth needs to be pulled.

Your dentist may recommend extraction if you tooth is…

  • Seriously damaged, either due to injury or decay, and cannot be saved
  • A wisdom tooth (third molar), it may cause crowding, alignment problems, pain, or infection
  • Blocking another tooth from coming in
  • A baby tooth that didn’t fall out in time
  • Causing crowding, a dentist or orthodontist may recommend removing some teeth to allow braces to better adjust the remaining teeth
  • Infected, or could potentially be an infection source in high risk patients such as those undergoing organ transplants or cancer treatment

Extractions typically fall into one of two classes – simple and surgical. Dentists often perform simple extractions, where oral surgeons often perform surgical extractions. Simple extractions generally involve a single tooth that is visible in the mouth, with clear alignment – after numbing the area with local anesthetic, the tooth will be loosened using an instrument known as an elevator, and then pulled with an instrument known as forceps. For surgical removal, the surgeon may use local anesthetic, moderate sedation, or general anesthesia, and likely use a combination of tools and techniques to remove teeth that may be difficult to see (or still within the gums).

If your dentist recommends an extraction, it’s likely that you have a potentially serious problem. While it’s unlikely you’ll celebrate the news, you need not fear; pulling teeth today isn’t as painful as the saying makes it out to be.

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 Know Your Teeth? | Indianapolis Dentist

We all have them – in fact, we have two sets within our lifetimes. They help us eat, speak and plenty of other functions. But have you ever stopped to think, what exactly are these hard, white nuggets in our mouths? Believe it or not, but teeth are complicated structures. Let’s start from the outside and work our way in…

The visible surface of the tooth is known as enamel. Enamel is typically light yellow to white in color, but is semi translucent, so when you are looking at the color of your teeth, you are looking at both the enamel and underlying dentin.

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

Below the enamel and cementum lies the dentin, both much softer than enamel and much less brittle. It’s also more prone to decay. 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.

While most people will only see the enamel surface of their teeth, you can see that there are lots of layers that make up a tooth, and all need proper dental care to maintain healthy teeth. By protecting the enamel with proper brushing, and treating cavities formed by decay before they damage the dentin or pulp, proper dental care will ensure a patient has healthy teeth – from pulp to enamel – well into old age.

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.

Just the Facts: Porcelain Veneers Edition | Indianapolis Dentist

Dental work has been known to be rather dicey in the past, but today’s technology has given the option to have it done without anyone noticing with natural-looking materials. Porcelain veneers are considered among the most beautiful and natural-looking means of improving one’s smile. Many people know how aesthetically beneficial these veneers are, but there’s more than meets the eye. Below are a few must know facts about porcelain veneers:

Most cosmetic dentists recommend only 8 to 10 veneers on top since the upper teeth are the ones that show the most when a person smiles, but the decision will be based on a number of factors, including the patient’s smile goals, a patient’s smile, how they speak and their budget.

Cosmetic dentists will have to remove around 0.5 mm of the tooth’s original enamel, making them an irreversible form of treatment.

The typical fabrication time for porcelain laminate veneers is one week, though this may be cut down considerably with CEREC.

While porcelain is a very strong and durable material, but you’ll be making a few necessary changes to one’s lifestyle and diet to prevent damaging the veneer. The use of mouth guards when playing contact sports is also highly recommended.

Porcelain veneers can last for as long as twenty years, but gum line shrinkage may require for the veneer to be removed or replaced.

Porcelain veneers can withstand stains, but the surrounding teeth cannot, so periodic teeth whitening treatments and good oral hygiene at home make sure that the veneers stay natural-looking.

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.

What Will a Smile Makeover Repair? | Indianapolis Dentist

Your smile is typically the first thing that people will notice about your appearance, whether good or not so good. After all, life revolves around social media, and thus, selfies. But if you don’t have that typical Hollywood smile, do we just give up altogether? Not at all – you just need to head over to your dentist’s office for a consultation. You may benefit from a smile makeover.

The term smile makeover usually refers to the combination of certain dental procedures to give someone a flawless smile. Through a discussed treatment plan, your dental professional will take a unique approach to each patient’s smile goals and needs, recommending options that are in their best interest. Together you will decide which procedures will be best to achieve your perfect smile. Whether your teeth are broken, chipped, missing, discolored, or otherwise damaged, don-t you worry – it can be improved.

So, what do smile makeovers repair? Smile makeovers can address a broad range of aesthetic flaws, including:

  • Discoloration of the teeth
  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Eroded, misshapen, or disproportionately sized teeth
  • “Gummy” smiles
  • An uneven gumline
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Slightly crooked teeth

Smile makeover are designed to enhance or even transform your self-image by giving you a brighter and more youthful smile, making your teeth look and function better through cosmetic and restorative dental procedures. Keep in mind the primary focus of a smile makeover is to improve the appearance of your smile rather than the health of your mouth. Therefore, if you have underlying oral health issues, they will need to be addressed before your makeover can begin to help you reach all your dental goals.

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 Are My Teeth Turning Yellow? | Indianapolis Dentist

teeth whiteningYou have all the tools you need to keep your smile bright and shiny, but for some reason the brilliant white in your teeth has begun to fade. How is this happening? Isn’t brushing the main reason our teeth stay white? The answer is yes…and no. Yes, daily dental hygiene is the way you need to keep your dental health intact. But your teeth can also begin to change because of other factors, like your diet. When you keep a certain diet regularly, the outer layers of your teeth get stained over the years. When these outside sources of staining are left to sit on the teeth until your next brushing, the dentin on your teeth becomes yellowish or darkened. Contributing factors to yellowing, stained teeth:

  • Tetracycline based antibiotics used before the age of 8 years old
  • Excessive exposure to fluoride as a child
  • Internal bleeding due to trauma
  • Discoloration due to a health condition
  • Natural aging- as time goes by enamel gets thinner and thinner and will get a yellowish hue
  • Soda
  • Wine
  • Smoking
  • Caffeine

So, now that we know what causes our teeth to become dingy looking, how do we prevent this from happening? The best way to help your stained discolored teeth is professional tooth whitening. But in between these treatments, keeping your daily dental hygiene up by brushing with a toothpaste with whitening agents at least twice a day. If a toothbrush isn’t available at the time, rinse your mouth with water several times a day with water. Sound too easy? It really is.

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.

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.

Dental Crowns: The Key to Your New Smile | Indianapolis Dentist

crownsHaving a perfect smile is something that not many people have, but many strive to achieve. One of the biggest issues with teeth are damages incurred by everyday activities, whether it be a natural occurrence that developed over time or something that happened completely by accident. The good news is, there is a procedure that can be done to bring your smile back. And this cosmetic procedure is to replace your flawed tooth with a dental crown. With the use of crowns, you can have the smile you have always dreamed of.

No, we aren’t talking about the shiny hat worn by royalty. Dental crowns are a cosmetic restoration used to improve your tooth’s shape or to strengthen a tooth. Crowns are most often used for teeth that are chipped/broken, worn, or have portions destroyed by tooth decay.

Crowns are “caps” cemented onto an existing tooth, fully covering the portion of your tooth above the gumline. In effect, the crown literally becomes your tooth’s new outer surface. Crowns can be made of porcelain and/or metal, but porcelain crowns are most often preferred because they mimic the characteristics of an actual tooth, both in their translucency of natural teeth and because the chemical makeup of porcelain makes these types of crowns very strong. Dental crowns also drastically decrease the amount of bacteria build-up that can lead to the loss of more teeth.

When debating between getting a crown or a filling, crowns are often preferable to silver amalgam fillings. Unlike fillings which apply metal directly into your mouth, a crown is fabricated away from your mouth. Your crown is created in a lab from your unique tooth impression which allows a dental laboratory technician to examine all aspects of your bite and jaw movements. Your crown is then sculpted just for you so that your bite and jaw movements function normally once the crown is placed.

Dental crowns look extremely natural because the porcelain and composite resin crowns match the exact shade of your natural teeth. With dental crowns, you will not be able to tell the difference from your crowns and natural teeth. Because dental crowns are made from porcelain, a material that is not prone to discoloration, dental crowns are stain-resistant. With durable materials used for your dental crowns, dental crowns can last up to 15 years. With dental crowns, patients can go about their daily routines without constantly worrying about their dental crowns falling out of place.

For more information on dental crowns and 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.