How Dental Implants Can Save Your Smile | Indianapolis Dentist

lots of smilesMany patients put off going to the dentist. Whether they’re afraid of the pain, the noise of the procedures or the monetary cost of dental work, putting off dental visits can turn small problems into larger ones. Left long enough and your teeth can be lost due to decay, infection, or physical problems like cracking.

For the most severe dental problems, one of the common treatments is the dental implant. Where fillings remove small areas of decay with a synthetic substance and crowns place a cap over an existing tooth root, implants replace the entire tooth – root and all. The process is involved, but done properly, a tooth implant can last many decades, potentially even a lifetime.

The procedure starts by removing the existing tooth and root, and placing a titanium implant post into the patient’s jawbone. This metal post is the foundation for the entire implant, and it should be allowed to heal for 6-12 weeks, as the bone forms a permanent bond with the metal post. Once firmly bonded, the dentist will attach a second metal connector – known as an abutment – to the post, which provides a connecting surface for the replacement tooth. The dentist will then make impressions, modeling the entire mouth so that the replacement crown perfectly matches your existing bite. Finally, the crown will be attached permanently to the abutment, providing a solid, permanent tooth

While there may be some pain in the initial extraction, the rest of the procedure can typically be done under local anesthesia (such as Novocain). The procedure does take a few months to allow the post to properly bond to the jawbone, but once complete, the patient will have a natural looking, durable, convenient replacement for even the most severely damaged teeth.

For more information on dental implants 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.

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.

Smile Makeovers: Are They for You?

479328903Modern cosmetic dentistry has advanced to the point where we can completely overhaul our smile, sometimes in as little as one visit. But nowadays, cosmetic dentistry isn’t just for celebrities and the wealthy. Now there are a wide variety of options and price ranges, putting a fantastic smile within reach for many patients.

Traditional dentistry addresses the health of your teeth and gums, while cosmetic dentistry focuses on their appearance. From subtle changes to major oral surgery overhauls, there are a variety of cosmetic dentistry procedures that can get a smile looking good as new, whether they are discolored, misshapen, chipped or missing.

So is cosmetic dentistry right for you? Let’s take a look at the various procedures possible:

Teeth whitening: Everyone’s teeth get discolored or stained from time to time. Our diet is filled with food that does the damage. Teeth whitening, or bleaching, can be done in a dentist’s office or at home with a system dispensed by the dentist.

Bonding: Life is full of accidental mishaps, sometimes those mishaps mess up our teeth. Bonding can improve the appearance of teeth that are chipped, broken, cracked, stained, or gapped by bonding tooth-colored materials to the tooth surface, making them nearly impossible to distinguish.

Veneers: Another variation of the bonding technique are veneers. These are thin, custom-made porcelain shells that cover the front of the teeth to disguise discoloration or imperfections.

Tooth reshaping: This procedure changes the actual look of your teeth by modifying or removing enamel, completely changing the look of your tooth. Tooth reshaping (also known as dental contouring) is often combined with bonding.

Crown lengthening: Sometimes it isn’t the teeth that are the issue, it’s the gums. This “gummy” smile or an uneven gum line can be fixed by removing excess gum tissue, exposing more of the tooth’s crown to give the appearance of longer teeth.

Smile makeovers: Deciding your smile needs an entire makeover involves a comprehensive assessment of the overall appearance of the teeth and smile. Typically, several cosmetic dentistry procedures are required to overhaul the look of a patient’s smile, but the results will be staggering.

As with all other cosmetic surgeries, your mouth also needs to be in fairly good health in order to have these dental procedures done. Strong healthy teeth are absolutely necessary in order for a cosmetic procedure to work. Many patients think they can walk in with existing problems (cavities, etc.) and walk out with a Hollywood smile. Sadly, that isn’t the case. To determine if you are a good candidate for cosmetic procedures, and to find out which cosmetic procedure will give you the lasting smile you desire, contact Dr. Kirtley today!

For more information on smile makeovers 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.

Whiten Your Teeth the DIY Way | Indianapolis Dentist

187957730We call them pearly whites. The more brilliant your teeth, the better your smile looks. The problem with white teeth really lies in the degree you take your oral hygiene. You can brush & floss every day, but your teeth may not keep its natural sheen. You can make appointments with your dental professional to have teeth whitening sessions, but that can get pricey. There’s always over-the-counter versions you can buy to do it at home, but what if there was a way to do it without going the chemical route? Here are six easy ways to DIY your smile back to the pearly white scene you’re used to:

The version most people are used to hearing about is a hydrogen peroxide and baking soda paste, or “old reliable”. You can find a lot of toothpastes with these ingredients, but if you want to do it DIY style, just drop a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into a little bit of baking soda makes a paste. Apply it as you would regular toothpaste.

These next couple are sure to throw you off, but they take natural to a whole new level. Strawberries and banana peels. Yes, having these fruits handy will help brighten your smile in the most delicious way possible. Strawberries contain malic acid, and malic acid is fantastic at breaking down stains you would get from drinks like wine or coffee. So grab a couple, add about a teaspoon of baking soda & rub the paste on your teeth for 5-7 minutes. When it comes to the banana, it’s the peel that will shine up that smile. After you brush your teeth, peel a ripe banana and rub a piece along the inside of your teeth for two minutes. Minerals like potassium, magnesium, etc. will absorb into the enamel on your teeth, brightening it in a very nutritious way.

If you have some apple cider vinegar in your pantry. By diluting it with some water (3 parts water, 1 part vinegar) and mixing it with an all-natural toothpaste, you’ve made yourself a pretty efficient tooth whitening solution. If you are one that has discovered the many uses for coconut oil, you may also know that swishing it around in your mouth for 20 minutes also helps dingy teeth. But did you also know that you can turn it into a paste, just like apple cider vinegar? Heat a cup of coconut oil, add two teaspoons of baking soda & five to ten drops of natural spearmint essential oil. Not only does the coconut oil turn into a teeth whitening enzyme when mixed with saliva, but the spearmint adds antimicrobial benefits for your gums. It’s a one two punch of smile brightening goodness!

One of the latest detoxifying trends is to use activated charcoal. The porous nature of the charcoal turns out that it can also be fantastic at binding to bacteria before it can leave stains on teeth. The recipe is just as simple as all of these others: mix with a little bit of water, gently apply it to your teeth, leave to set in your mouth for two minutes, then rinse.

As you can see, it is possible to keep your smile the brightest it can be without busting your budget or using harsh chemicals. None of these DIY ideas should completely replace your oral practices in any way. In fact, no whitening solution can replace your daily brushing and flossing regime. These teeth whitening recipes are intended to be used every couple months when you want your smile the best it can naturally be.

For more information on teeth whitening sessions 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.

Taking Care of Business: Dental Implant Edition | Indianapolis Edition

Dental ImplantYou never thought it could happen, but your dentist tells you that you need dental implants. What exactly does that entail? A dental implant is an artificial tooth root similar to a screw that is placed in your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Like a prosthetic for your smile. It will take a few procedures but once it’s done, it’ll be like you never had a missing tooth.

But what now? You have a basic grasp of daily oral care, but implants can’t possibly be the same to maintain as normal teeth, right? Does this mean you will need to retrain yourself a new dental care routine in order to look after them? Not exactly, but you will definitely have some things to alter a bit. The following are just a few things to keep in mind as you are going forward with your brand new teeth.

Once you have your implants in place, you will have a tooth/teeth that will look just like the others. You will be able to eat normally, speak without issue and no one will be able to tell so you can smile just as you did before losing the tooth. While implants are designed to withstand quite a bit, but just because they aren’t your originals, it doesn’t mean you can go neglecting them. They may not be able to get cavities like your originals, but they can go bad on you like the real versions. You can get inflamed gums and infections, or periodontal disease, just like before. So consider them exactly like your real teeth when you are looking after them. Dental implants are generally meant to last for decades to come, but they are still breakable. Handle them with care. Make sure you are careful when you are cleaning or caring for them.

Your “new teeth” will require periodic checking by your dentist to ensure that everything is working properly and the surrounding gums and bone are being maintained and remain healthy. They will also require x-rays periodically to evaluate the level of bone around your implants. If gum disease is taking place, your gums will recede, showing your implants and making them weaker and prone to breaking. Dental restorations attached to your implants will also require periodic checking by your dentist to verify that they are secure and functioning properly.

For more information on dental implants 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.

Porcelain Fillings: Could the Pirates Be Wrong? | Indianapolis Dentist

periodontal diseaseIf there’s anything that we do know, it’s that pirates love their gold. They search the high seas looking for the stuff and buried boxes of it everywhere they went so as not to robbed by other water-bound marauders. And when they lost a tooth what was its replacement? Gold. Next to Donald Trump and ancient Egypt, pirates hold high rank in the gold loving department. But were they correct in preferring to use gold in their mouths?

Let’s take a look at the pros. Gold is exceptionally durable. Your fillings will generally last over a decade but could last a lifetime if taken care of and corrosion is impossible, so this is a great way to go. If aesthetics is more important to you than durability, gold will always win out over silver. Point to the pirates. However, with every pro comes a con. Gold costs a lot more than silver and takes longer to set the filling. Like, two entire dentist visits to set the filling. But if you can handle the extra cost and time required, grab yourself a bottle of rum. You are team pirate.

But what if you aren’t in the market to look like a pirate? Well then, porcelain fillings are where you should be heading. This tooth-colored filling is not only tough like the precious metal, but it is more versatile when it comes to where you can use it in your mouth as it isn’t as obvious as a gold one. The price point is somewhat similar as well. Something that does not compare is the fact that porcelain does not adjust to hot and cold and won’t wear down as quickly as their metal counterparts. Even the installation is kept to a minimum. In fact, the American Dental Association believes that porcelain fillings are the most wear-resistant fillings on the market. Looks like porcelain has a bit more of an edge over the golden version.

There are a few factors that will lead to your final decision. Making sure you have all your options is the most important and your dentist will have those options for you after a quick checkup. Regardless of the choice you make, if you need a filling done, see your dental professional as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more damage you can do to your teeth. Whatever you decide to use to fill your tooth, with proper oral care, your fillings will not only be taken care of for years to come, but your teeth will be so healthy you won’t need any more fillings. Two birds!

If you need to have porcelain fillings done, contact Dr. George Kirtley at 317-841-1111 to schedule a consultation to help treat the underlying cause, or visit www.smilesbygeorge.com for information about Dr. George Kirtley and his practice.

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

How Do Dental Sealants Work?

89683018Sealants, also known as dental sealants, are made out of a plastic material that’s placed on the molars and premolars for added protection against tooth decay.

The main reason why sealants are primarily placed on the permanent back teeth, or the molars and premolars, is that these teeth have fissures or grooves. These deep fissures or “pockets” can trap bacteria and food particles, as well as are difficult to clean. This combination makes the permanent back teeth vulnerable to tooth decay. Although using fluoride toothpaste and getting fluoride treatment at the dental office does help provide protection to all the surfaces of your teeth, your permanent back teeth need extra protection and that’s where dental sealants come in.

Dental sealants help make sure that the grooves and fissures are not at more of a risk for plaque buildup and tooth decay as your other teeth are.

Are dental sealants applicable only to the permanent back teeth?

Although dental sealants are usually placed on the premolar or molars, dental sealants can also be used on other permanent teeth, so long as they have grooves or pits.

In some children, for example, their baby teeth may also have grooves that could benefit from having dental sealants placed on them.

Are dental sealants exclusive to children?

No. While children are the ones who usually get dental sealants on their molars and premolars, adults too can sometimes have dental sealants placed on their back teeth. That is, if their teeth with grooves and fissures do not have fillings or dental sealants yet.

How are dental sealants placed?

The dentist first cleans the tooth surface thoroughly using a paste and rotating brush. Then, the dentist washes the tooth and lets it dry for a few seconds or minutes. The dentist then appliances an acidic solution on the grooves of the tooth’s chewing surface. The solution is left there for a few seconds before the dentist rinses it off. The use of the solution helps create small microscopic areas in the grooves and fissures, as well as fine rough surfaces. The rough surface and microscopic areas help the dentist attach the dental sealant to the tooth.

Once the tooth has completely dried up, the dentist places the dental sealant on the tooth. The sealant is then hardened using a light. Although some dentists may choose to use a two-component dental sealant that sets and hardens on its own.

Once done, your dentist will send you on your way and you can chew on your tooth again as you did before.

Dental sealants have been used to great effect since the 1970s. There are enough studies to show how dental sealants can help tremendously in lowering one’s risk for tooth decay, essentially preventing it on the chewing surfaces it’s applied to. Dental sealants have also been known to last for years, if not decades. Although if you want and if deemed necessary, the dentist can place a new dental sealant on your permanent back teeth.

While dental sealants and fluoride treatments tremendously help lower your risk for tooth decay and other dental problems, it’s still important to take proper care of your teeth at home and to visit the dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleaning.

 

The Different Types of Gum Disease

gum diseaseGum disease is an inflammation of the gums and is caused primarily by the bacteria found in plaque. If you didn’t already know, plaque is a colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. The more often you brush your teeth, the less time that plaque has to build-up on your teeth and the lower your risk is for gum disease. If, however, you let plaque buildup by not brushing and flossing every day, the bacteria can end up infecting your gums, teeth and eventually, the tissue and bone that support your teeth. The result? A severely infected tooth that has to be removed by a dentist, or in worse cases of infection, the tooth may fall off on its own.

There are three stages of gum disease and these are:

  • Gingivitis. This is the earliest stage of gum disease and is also when the inflammation of the gums are evident, mainly due to plaque buildup at the gumline. The resulting infection also causes the gums to bleed as well, which you may notice when you’re flossing or brushing your teeth. It is important to note that gingivitis is still reversible, but only through proper dental care and by observing proper oral hygiene at home.

 

  • Periodontitis. At this stage, the damage is usually already irreversible. There may also form pockets below your gum line, which can trap food and plaque and make your condition much worse. Frequent visits to the dentist and improved oral care at home is important to help prevent further damage to the teeth and gums.

 

  • Advanced Periodontitis. This is the final stage of gum disease and is where the infection has not only affected, but has already destroyed the fibers and bone supporting your teeth. This can result into your teeth shifting or being loose, which can severely affect your bite and eventually cause tooth loss. At this stage, aggressive and constant periodontal treatment is the only way to save the infected teeth and gums. Although treatment is not always enough and the infected teeth may already be beyond saving.

How Do You Treat Gum Disease?

Gingivitis, as mentioned earlier, can still be reversed via proper brushing and flossing. Rinsing with mouthwash isn’t necessary, but will still help. If you take proper care of your teeth and gums, you’ll prevent plaque from building up in your mouth and prevent, or even reverse, gum disease.

If, however, you have failed to take proper care of your teeth and let plaque buildup and let it harden to become tartar, your only option is to go to a dentist for a professional cleaning. The only way to remove tartar that’s found above and below your gum line is to scale your teeth. If scaling isn’t enough, a root planing procedure may be necessary. This is a procedure that will help smooth out any irregularities on the roots of your teeth to help prevent plaque buildup in the future.

As early as today, make the necessary changes to your oral hygiene and take better care of your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss once and rinse with mouthwash, preferably one that’s prescribed to you by your dentist. If you do all these, and visit your dentist regularly, you significantly lower your risk for gum disease. Also, in the off chance that you do have gum disease, you increase the chances your dentist catching and treating the infection before it spreads and causes serious damage to your teeth and gums.

Four Useful Tips For A Whiter and Brighter Smile

Chewing GumGetting teeth whitened in the dentist’s office is one way to improve your confidence and make you want to smile a lot more. However, getting treatment is just a start. 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.

  1. 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. Also, during dental visits, you may want to ask your dentist to recommend you a specific type of whitening toothpaste to use at home, as well as further instructions on how to use such whitening products.

 

  1. Chew gum and crunchy produce. Saliva is your mouth’s naturally means of cleaning bacteria and plaque. The more saliva you have, the cleaner your mouth will be and chewing gum has been known to increase saliva production. Although make sure that you chew gum that’s sugar-free and with Xylitol so you do not end up damaging your teeth by consuming too much sugar.

 

Speaking of consumption, munching on crunchy produce such as apples, carrots and celery can also help you keep your teeth bright and clean. Although such vegetables and fruits don’t necessarily whiten your teeth, they are naturally abrasive and help remove from your teeth the substances that can cause stains and discoloration.

 

  1. Take better care of your tooth enamel. Your smile may already be white, but it may not be as bright as you want it to be because of weak enamel. Although considered as the hardest substance in the human body, tooth enamel cannot repair itself if it breaks down. This means that if the tooth enamel has been affected by gum disease in the past, there’s no way to restore it. If it’s weak, it’s also much more susceptible to stains. As such, 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.

 

  1. Drink plenty of milk. Or pretty much any other dairy product you can think of. This is because dairy products are high in calcium, which helps keep your teeth white and bright. Also, aside from giving your teeth the calcium it needs to keep enamel strong, cheese can also help rid your teeth of food particles that can cause stains and discoloration.

Seeking professional treatment to have teeth whitened are certainly the best way to improve the appearance of one’s teeth. However, the effects of such treatment can only last for so long if you don’t take proper care of your teeth.

To help keep your teeth white and bright all the time, make sure that you follow the teeth whitening tips given above, practice good oral hygiene at home and of course, visit the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.

If you’d like to whiten your smile, contact Dr. George Kirtley at 317-841-1111 to schedule a consultation to help treat the underlying cause, or visit www.smilesbygeorge.com for information about Dr. George Kirtley and his practice.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

girl eating appleIf you’ve ever experienced a sharp and annoying pain in your teeth whenever it comes contact with anything hot or cold, then you’re probably suffering from tooth sensitivity. While not all too severe, tooth sensitivity can cause you to avoid certain foods and beverages, which is why it’s important that you get to the bottom of this annoyance.

What Causes It?

Loss of tooth enamel, which leaves the dentin exposed, is the main reason why tooth sensitivity occurs. This may happen if you’ve been using a hard-bristled toothbrush instead of a soft one, as it may wear away as the abrasion can wear away the tooth enamel. However, it can also be the result of frequent consumption of acidic foods or gum recession.

It is important to take note, however, that the sharp pain when exposed to hot and cold food and beverages is not always caused by tooth sensitivity.

Sometimes, it may be because of the following:

  • A cracked, chipped or fractured tooth
  • Dental caries
  • Constant grinding or clenching of the teeth, or a condition known as bruxism
  • A broken restoration that’s been leaking
  • A side effect of certain teeth whitening procedures, namely tooth bleaching

Why Does Tooth Sensitivity Hurt?

You see, there are microscopic tubular structures in the dentin that help provide the tooth with the necessary blood and nutrients. These tubules are also responsible for connecting with the nerve fibers within the pulp. If the dentin tubules are somehow exposed to an external stimulus, such as heat, cold or a sudden change in pressure, the said stimulus alters the fluid flow in the dentin, causing the nerve fibers to perceive it as pain.

Now, that wouldn’t have happened if you had just enough tooth enamel, which, believe it or not, is considered as the hardest and most mineralized part of the human body.

What You Can Do About It

The first step is to talk to your dentist about your tooth sensitivity. Be sure to describe your symptoms in detail. Try your best to recall when the pain first started. Also, do not be afraid to let your dentist know about anything that you’ve done that has had an effect on the pain, whether it’s positive or negative.

Using your descriptions, the dentist will try to find out the possible cause of your sensitivity, and once finished, the dentist will then treat the underlying cause.

The treatment will usually vary, depending on the case. It may be something as simple as filling up a cavity, or fixing up a worn filling. Your dentist may also apply an in-office fluoride gel to help strengthen the tooth enamel, and make the experience a bit less painful. However, if your case is severe enough that the sharp pain is because your tooth’s root is already exposed, your dentist may refer you to a periodontist to get undergo gum graft surgery.

If you’ve been suffering from painful tooth sensitivity for quite some time and have avoided eating some of your favorite food because of it, be sure to set an appointment with your dentist today – and you could soon be indulging yourself on that ice cream as soon as tomorrow.

If you’re suffering from tooth sensitivity, contact Dr. George Kirtley at 317-841-1111 to schedule a consultation to help treat the underlying cause, or visit www.smilesbygeorge.com for information regarding Dr. George Kirtley and his practice.