Tag Archives: Dental Health

What is Gingivitis? | Indianapolis, Il Dentist

Smiling woman with perfect teethGingivitis is one of those things none of us want to hear we have. Hearing you have gingivitis can be embarrassing, since it probably means you haven’t been keeping up with your home oral care. Gingivitis is not the same thing as periodontitis, although sometimes a person may be affected by both. Gum disease is mostly caused by improper oral hygiene that allows bacteria in plaque and calculus to remain on the teeth and infect the gums. Gingivitis is inflammation of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth and is most commonly a result of poor dental hygiene. Gingivitis is a very common condition and varies widely in severity. It is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed easily when teeth are brushed or flossed.

But there are other factors that increase the risk of developing gingivitis. Some of the most common risk factors are as follows:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco prevents the gum tissue from being able to heal.
  • Crooked, rotated, or overlapping teeth create more areas for plaque and calculus to accumulate and are harder to keep clean.
  • Hormonal changes in puberty, pregnancy, and menopause typically correlate with a rise in gingivitis. The increase in hormones causes the blood vessels in the gums to be more susceptible to bacterial and chemical attack.
  • Cancer and cancer treatment can make a person more susceptible to infection and increase the risk of gum disease.
  • Stress impairs the body’s immune response to bacterial invasion.
  • Mouth breathing can be harsh on the gums when they aren’t protected by the lips, causing chronic irritation and inflammation.
  • Poor nutrition, such as a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates and low in water intake, will increase the formation of plaque. Also, a deficiency of important nutrients such as vitamin C will impair healing.
  • Diabetes mellitus impairs circulation and the gums ability to heal.
  • Medications such as anti-seizure medications promote gum disease(Source: medicinenet.com)

The longer that plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more they irritate the gingiva. If harmful bacteria is not removed from teeth, they will begin to irritate the gums and cause gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis will often extend from the gums to the bone and lead to periodontitis. When the underlying bone gets infected, it will start to recede away from the teeth and form deep gum pockets. These pockets collect plaque and bacteria as they are very difficult to keep clean, and more bone loss occurs. As periodontal disease progresses into later stages and more bone tissue is lost, the teeth may eventually become loose and fall out.

Gingivitis can be prevented by proper and consistent oral hygiene. Make certain to eat a balanced diet and visit the dentist regularly. Brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. As always, floss your teeth every day!

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

Dr. Kirtley gladly welcomes patients from Spring Hill, Beech Grove and Warren Park.

Dental Sealants | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

Woman having teeth examined at dentistsTooth decay is likely to occur when food particles sit in the depressions, nooks, and crannies in and between teeth, allowing bacterial colonies to form, creating acid that eats holes into teeth. While brushing and flossing will do a reasonably good job of removing food particles from the depressions in teeth, dental sealants are a procedure used by dentists to help prevent accumulation of food in the depressions of teeth in the first place.

Dental sealants are a thin plastic coating painted onto the chewing surfaces of teeth – typically molars or premolars – to help keep food from settling within the bite surface. Dental sealants bond to the bite surface, providing a protective surface between the tooth and the food, so that patients are even less likely to experience tooth decay. Because sealants can not only keep food out, but also prevent treatment of existing decay, dental sealant is typically a procedure applied to young patients – often children and teenagers in their most cavity prone years (6-14).

The process for applying sealants is fairly straightforward. First, teeth are thoroughly cleaned and dried. An acidic solution is used to roughen the surface of the enamel to allow the sealant to properly bond, and then teeth are rinsed and dried again. Finally, the sealant is painted on in a thin layer, and hardened with a special light used to cure the plastic. Properly applied, a dental sealant can protect the bite surface of teeth for up to 10 years.

If you have children in the cavity prone age ranges, or if you’re concerned about tooth decay on rear teeth that are difficult to brush, ask your dentist about dental sealants. They may not be an option for every patient, but your dentist will be able to advise you about whether or not you or your children are good candidates, as well as informing you of the cost and time frame of the procedure.

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

Dr. Kirtley gladly welcomes patients from Spring Hill, Beech Grove and Warren Park.

Halloween Candy & Your Oral Health | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

Pail Full of Halloween CandyThe end of October features one of America’s favorite holidays: Halloween. Ghosts, goblins, witches, and princesses roam the streets delivering frights and collecting candy. While many parents have echoed the line that candy will rot children’s teeth, there’s no reason to deny children the enjoyment of Halloween candy, but it’s important to supervise them to ensure that their Halloween is enjoyed in a way that keeps their teeth safe.

Use Halloween as a way to teach children about moderation – by teaching children to eat a moderate amount of treats, you’ll encourage them to practice moderation in their daily lives, including other sugary foods they’ll encounter year round such as sweet juices and starch heavy breads. Allow your children to choose the candy they want to eat, but set a limit on the number of pieces, and remove the extras – they can be saved for a future day, frozen for later, thrown away, or donated.

While sugar does promote decay, the effect of sugar is not instant. If children eat candy for a short time period, and then brush their teeth a short time later, the impact of the sugar is fairly minimal. For that reason, allow children to eat candy during a fixed time period – rather than an all day feast, they’ll have a fixed window for candy. This allows them to prioritize their candy enjoyment, minimizes the chances that they’ll consume far too much, and by following treats with brushing, helps prevent cavities.

Focus on fun, but effective, tooth brushing. Children often need stimulation beyond simple health to brush regularly and sufficiently, so swap toothbrushes every few months with new, fun characters/colors, and give your children the opportunity to pick their own toothpaste (but check the label to ensure it contains fluoride).

If you have questions about how Halloween impacts your children’s dental health, contact your dentist, or ask during one of your scheduled appointments – they’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

For more information on candy and tooth decay and to make an appointment call, Dr. Kirtley at 317-841-1111 or visit his website  porcelainveneersindianapolis.com

Dr. Kirtley gladly welcomes patients from Spring Hill, Beech Grove and Warren Park.

Tooth Decay | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

477787597Cavities. It may be the word most closely associated with a trip to the dentist. While many patients think of cavities, many dentists tend to call the condition tooth decay.

Whether you call it a cavity or tooth decay, the problem is the same: germs in your mouth create acid that eventually eats away at the hard surface of your teeth. If not treated, the decay can cause infection, pain, and eventually tooth loss.

As you eat food or drink beverages, a clear sticky substance, plaque, builds up on your teeth and consumes the remnants of the food and beverages. Consisting primarily of bacteria, the plaque consumes the sugars left on and between your teeth after meals. The acid from the plaque slowly destroys the enamel – the hard surface of your teeth – allowing acid and bacteria to reach the softer, less protected parts of your teeth, where decay and infection accelerates.

Dentists will use a combination of X-rays and close visual inspection to identify areas of decay in your mouth. If the decay has eaten through your enamel, the dentist will likely correct the issue by removing the decay with a dental drill, and fill the resulting void with a filling – typically resin or a substance known as amalgam.

With regular visits, it’s likely that your dentist will discover and correct decay before it becomes a major problem. Ideally, your dentist will be able to treat decay with simple fillings, rather than more invasive procedures like root canals and full tooth extractions. If you have pain in a specific tooth, schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as possible, so that you can treat the source of the problem before it gets much worse.

For more information on tooth decay and to make an appointment call, Dr. Kirtley at 317-841-1111 or visit his website  porcelainveneersindianapolis.com

Dr. Kirtley gladly welcomes patients from Spring Hill, Beech Grove and Warren Park.

What to Expect on a Visit to the Dentist | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

Woman having teeth examined at dentistsMost dentists recommend you visit their offices every 6 months for a professional cleaning, and during those visits it’s common for patients and dentists to learn more about each other, know what to expect, and have an idea for how the visit will unfold. But it’s also common for patients to move, change insurance, or otherwise visit a dentist for the first time, and knowing what to expect on that first visit can cause some mild patient anxiety.

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.

As the dentist reviews the x-rays, it’s likely that the dentist will discuss your dental history – what problems has the patient had? What prompted the visit? What concerns does the patient have?

Based on the result of the x-rays, it’s likely that the dentist will determine that certain teeth need attention (perhaps a cavity needs to be filled), or that a general professional cleaning is needed, or perhaps that the patient is generally in good oral health. 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.

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. This allows the dentist to focus on the patient’s general overall oral health, and leave the specialized procedures to experts in those fields.

If you’ll be visiting a new dentist for the first time, you should now have a pretty good idea of what to expect. If you’re still unsure, or if you have any questions, call the dentist’s office – they’ll be more than happy to walk you through the plans, and give you more details about what to expect on your first visit.

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

Dr. Kirtley gladly welcomes patients from Spring Hill, Beech Grove and Warren Park.

 

The Benefits of Gum Chewing | Indianapolis Dentist

close up smile red lipstickMillions of Americans chew gum. Of course some gum options can be detrimental to teeth, but did you know others can be highly beneficial? We may chew gum to distract from a bad habit, for the taste of ‘sweetness’, or to freshen our breath. The act of chewing and chewing the right kind of gum is what we’re going to focus on.

The physical act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in your mouth. If you chew after eating, the increased salivary flow can help neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by the bacteria in plaque on your teeth. In fact, clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay.

While simply chewing gum is a great way to protect your teeth after a meal out, it’s not typically a replacement for brushing and flossing – given the opportunity, it’s always best to brush and floss, but if you’re not at home, sugar free gum is a great second option. Unfortunately, chewing gum is not recommended for all patients – patients with jaw pain or known problems with their jaw / temporomandibular joint should avoid chewing gum until they consult with their regular dentist. For everyone else, finding a favorite sugar free gum sweetened with Xylitol is an easy way to keep your teeth healthy no matter where you are.

It’s important to note that not all gum is created equally: it’s important to chew sugarless gum, and if possible, choose gum sweetened with Xylitol. Tooth decay starts when bacteria in your mouth consumes sugar – whether it’s in a sugary drink such as cola or ice cream from dessert, the sugar stays within your mouth and attaches to the surface of your teeth. When that sugar is allowed to stay in contact with your teeth, it provides an opportunity for decay to set in as bacteria has food to grow and multiply within your mouth. When you chew gum, the additional saliva neutralizes oral acids and flushes sugar away from the teeth, starving bacteria and protecting your teeth from cavities. Xylitol – a sugar alcohol popular in low-calorie foods – not only provides the sweetness that gum chewers may enjoy without adding sugar, the chemical itself neutralizes bacteria known to cause cavities.

Next time you go to reach for that gum, make sure it’s sugar-free and definitely make sure it’s sweetened with Xylitol!

Contact Dr. George Kirtley for an appointment today to get the bright white smile you have always wanted at 317-841-1111 or generaldentistryindianapolis.com.

Dr. George Kirtley welcomes patients from Spring Hill, Beech Grove and Warren Park

Is Sedation Dentistry for You? | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

sedation-dentistryAre 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. Which is why Dr. Kirtley offers sedation dentistry.

Dental anxiety and phobia are extremely common. It has been estimated that 9% to 15% of Americans avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear. That’s about 30 million to 40 million people. 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. The British Dental Health Foundation has found that 1 in 10 people suffer from dental anxiety. Also, 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:

  • You feel tense or have trouble sleeping the night before a dental exam.
  • You get increasingly nervous while you’re in the waiting room.
  • You feel like crying when you think of going to the dentist. The sight of dental instruments — or of white-coated personnel in the dentist’s office — increases your anxiety.
  • The thought of a dental visit makes you feel physically ill.
  • You panic or have trouble breathing when objects are placed in your mouth during a dental appointment(Source: colgate.com).

Dr. George Kirtley offers sedation dentistry for patients with dental phobias and anxiety. For those that are very anxious or if you are undergoing a longer procedure we offer conscious sedation. This treatment uses a combination of medications that put you into a very relaxed dream like state.

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.

If the above describes you, contact Dr. Kirtley for a consultation about what sedation dentistry can offer you.

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

Dr. Kirtley gladly welcomes patients from Spring Hill, Beech Grove and Warren Park.

The Benefits of Mouthrinse | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

Healthy teeth conceptWe all want to optimize our oral health but what can we do in our daily oral routine at home that will give your mouth an added layer of protection? Mouthrinse!

Who doesn’t love that minty fresh feeling you get after rinsing with mouthwash? But mouthwash can do more than just give your breath a boost. Mouthwash can help keep your gums and teeth healthy—but only if you use them properly. The benefits from using a mouthwash depend largely on the type of product used. Mouthwash can be classified as cosmetic or therapeutic. Rinsing with a cosmetic mouthwash will loosen bits of food from your teeth, lessen bacteria in your mouth, temporarily reduce bad breath and leave a refreshing taste in your mouth. But these products can’t make any greater claim than that.

Mouthwash can cut back the level of bacteria in your mouth. Of course, you still have to brush and floss your teeth regularly and combined 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.

Gargling and rinsing for a few seconds doesn’t quite cut it.  Most mouthwashes are at their most effective when in contact with your mouth tissues for 30 seconds per use. That proves to be quite tasking for most of us, some people say mouthwash is so strong that it’s difficult to use for that long. Still, it’s worth toughing it out if you want the best results. Did you know it’s also a good cleaning agent for mouth guards?

Did you know that rinsing daily with certain mouthwashes can improve your oral health. We’re talking whitening your teeth, helping to prevent gum disease and fighting plaque!

What are the benefits of swishing daily with an oral rinse?

1)     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.

2)     Prevents Plaque build-up – Various mouthwashes help prevent plaque build up on your gums, in-between teeth, and on the surface of your teeth. Although it prevents the build up of plague, it cannot reduce the plaque that already exists on your teeth.

3)     Removes particles – Most people use mouthwash only after brushing. This is a perfectly fine practice, but used before before brushing to rinse out loose particles in your mouth will make the brushing and flossing more effective.

4)     Stop cavities from forming – Regular use of mouthwash before and after you brush and floss, you can reduce the chances of cavities forming. Mouthwashes that contain fluoride can prevent cavities and strengthen your enamel. Remember, not all mouthwashes contain fluoride(Source: WebMD).

Mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing and should be used along with good oral health habits. It only takes a moment to rinse but the positive impact on your oral health is much greater. With rinsing daily you can successfully navigate around dental problems.

Contact Dr. George Kirtley for an appointment today to get the bright white smile you have always wanted at 317-841-1111 or generaldentistryindianapolis.com.

Dr. George Kirtley welcomes patients from Spring Hill, Beech Grove and Warren Park

Bruxism | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

Young Man Suffering From Toothache

Bruxism is the excessive grinding of the teeth and/or excessive clenching of the jaw. Bruxism can be very damaging to your teeth and jaw. Teeth grinding can be caused not just by stress and anxiety but by sleep disorders, an abnormal bite or teeth that are missing or crooked. It’s imperative if you grind your teeth to see your dentist right away. Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard needed to protect your teeth during sleep and develop a long term solution to your teeth grinding problem.

Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?

Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth.

How Do I Find Out if I Grind My Teeth?

Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night. You dentist can also examine your jaw and abnormalities with your teeth.

Why Is Teeth Grinding Harmful?

In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear their teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns,root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.

Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, result in hearing loss, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face.

What Can I Do to Stop Grinding My Teeth?

Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep.

If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered.

Other tips to help you stop teeth grinding include:

  • Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
  • Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
  • Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
  • Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
  • Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.

Call your physician or dentist if you have symptoms of bruxism, or if you are told that you grind your teeth while you sleep.

For more information and to make an appointment call, Dr. Kirtley at 317-841-1111 or visit his website smilesbygeorge.com

Dr. George Kirtley welcomes patients from Spring Hill, Beech Grove and Warren Park

When Sleep Decreases, Your Overall Risk Increases

When sleep decreases, your overall risk increases.

“Coming up on the 6:00 news. A fatality on our roads today as the driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel . . . “

Their annual summer vacation was all but over and the Brown’s were driving down the highway. They were on their way back home, the kids all safe and fast asleep in the back seat. Suddenly, a truck on the opposite side of the highway swerved into the ditch and continued to roll a dozen times before completely stopping just short of a telephone pole.

The Browns were shocked and the next morning made a point of scanning the paper to determine the fate of the occupants in the vehicle. The paper reported the lone inhabitant was pronounced dead at the scene and the crash was a result of the driver falling asleep at the wheel.

A major cause of accidents is impaired sleep. Plain and simple. Carelessness and fatigue resulting from sleep loss play a huge factor in far more disasters than ever get reported on. When polled, more than one-third of all people who said they have driven while drowsy, indicated they have fallen asleep at the wheel.

It comes as no surprise to learn that lack of sleep alters emotions and moods. What may be a surprise to learn is sleep deprived individuals compared to someone under the influence of alcohol – have similar reaction times. Recently a study showed more than half of all road accidents are committed by sleep deprived individuals.

Your reaction time and attentiveness are affected by inadequate amounts of sleep. An estimated twenty percent of all workplace related injuries transpire because of a person’s sleepiness. Accidents in the workplace result in financial burdens affecting corporations, society, the health care system and the individual.

You get behind the wheel when you are tired and you don’t think twice about it. Driving while sleepy sounds harmless enough. Going about your day when you are a little tired doesn’t appear to be hurting anyone. The truth is – it’s hazardous and risky. Sleepiness is a liability that doesn’t discriminate. It impairs your reaction time, your mental and physical ability and your capacity to make judgments and process information.

For more information and to make an appointment call, Dr. Kirtley at 317-841-1111 or visit his website smilesbygeorge.com

As seen on SleepDallas.com

Dr. George Kirtley welcomes patients from Spring Hill, Beech Grove and Warren Park