Tag Archives: Dr. Kirtley

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.

Why Implants Are Better Than a Bridge or Denture

Dental ImplantAs far as missing teeth go, you have three dental options to choose from, namely dental implants, bridges and dentures. Each one of the three has its own set of distinct advantages and disadvantages. However, of all three options, dental implants are considered as a much better option.

Why so?

Why Implants Are Better

Dental implants are permanent fixtures of titanium posts. The posts are anchored to your jawbone and topped off with an all-new replacement tooth or a bridge that’s screwed or cemented into the posts themselves.

Of the three, dental implants are the ones that feel and function like natural teeth.

To further convince you on why implants are just better, let’s talk about the different advantages of both bridges and dentures.

Bridges

Bridges are dental restorations that span the gap left by missing teeth and is connected to the teeth adjacent to the space left behind. Typically, bridges consist of filler teeth, which are anchored or attached, then bonded to a crown or the surrounding teeth.

  • The procedure for bridges is easy and rarely takes no longer than two visits
  • Bridges do not require surgery
  • Dental bridges are cheap, especially when compared to the initial costs of other procedures, such as dentures and implants.

Dentures

Dentures can either be partial or complete and are used to replace the bottom arch or the top arch of your mouth. If the situation requires it, dentures can also be used to replace all of the patient’s teeth.

Unlike bridges, it’s hard to find where dentures hold an advantage when compared to dental implants. This is especially evident when you consider the many issues concerning dentures, such as potential warping and an uncomfortable and loose fit that may lead to embarrassing moments when speaking and/or eating.

Why Implants Are Often The Best Choice 

Dental implants are not always the best choice, which is where fixed bridges and removable dentures come in. However, the majority of the time, dental implants are a better solution because unlike removable dentures, implants do not slip, or make embarrassing clicking sounds when eating or speaking. Also, unlike bridges, there’s no partial cutting involved when it comes to having dental implants placed inside your mouth.

The most important factor, though, as to why dental implants are just better is because dental implants do not put the patient’s teeth at as much of a risk to recurrent decay and gum disease as dental bridges and dentures would.

As an added bonus, dental implants can last for as long as 25 years. This is a full ten years to the 7 to 15 years that fixed bridges and removable dentures can only last for until they need to be replaced.

Getting a Dental Implant

Again, as mentioned earlier, dental implants are not always the best solution and this has often been because a patient is not an ideal candidate for the said procedure.

Ideal candidates for dental implants are those with good general and oral health, as well as having enough bone in their jaw to help support the implant. Although, those who’ve lost bone in their jaws in the past do not have to worry as much as they can still have implants if they go through a bone-grafting procedure first.

If you’re already wearing a partial or full denture, you can choose to have them replaced with dental implants. Or, you can also use implants to help stabilize and secure the denture to ensure a more comfortable fit.

For additional information regarding dental implants, contact Dr. George Kirtley at 317-841-1111 to schedule a consultation today or visit www.smilesbygeorge.com to learn more.

Chew on This: The Good and Bad of Chewing Gum

Chewing Gum

Ever since we were old enough to have candy, we have been more than delighted by the offer of a stick of gum. As kids, it was a sweet treat to chew on as we challenged each other to blow the biggest bubbles. As adults, we pop in a stick when we have a hot date and want fresh breath. But regardless of our ages, chewing gum has been a go-to candy staple we’ve loved as far back as the Neolithic period. Yes, the actual Neolithic period! It isn’t exactly what we now know as chewing gum. Originally, it was made from trees and thought to have medicinal benefits. Today, chewing gum is more of a confection than it is a medicine. So is it still good for us? While sugar is never going to be considered an all-around good thing for us, you’d be surprised just how good gum actually is.

Of all of the reasons we decide to chew a stick of gum, fresh breath is one of the main ones. Something that may surprise you is the fact that lots of gum contains natural oils that fight bad breath causing germs, instead of just covering them up. Some of the best odor-fighting flavors are cinnamon, citrus and any minty flavor you can get your hands on. But beyond the fresh burst of flavor, chewing gum also perpetuates saliva production. Saliva helps fight against dry mouth and the odors created as it helps clean your teeth and stave off sugary snacks in between meals, thus further combatting bad breath.

While there is lots of sugary gum is available on the market, there have also been advances in chewing gum production that can help PREVENT cavities and promote other health benefits than the more cavity-inducing versions. The substitution of Xylitol for sugar has not only reduced cavity production, but it also attacks micro-organisms that damage teeth so our teeth can re-mineralize faster. Add calcium lactate to the mix and now Xylitol has help in the re-mineralization of our tooth enamel.

If you want to go even further with the health benefits of chewing gum, doctors have also used chewing gum to help patients with their cognitive brain functions, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and even abdominal or gastrointestinal surgery recovery time. So not only is gum good for your oral health, it can also help out lots of other issues!

Of course, what goes up must come down and chewing gum is no different. But I will say that the down sides of it aren’t quite as harsh as you may think. Yes, chewing sugary gum is bad for you and will give you cavities and other issues with your teeth if you don’t take care of them. Yes, some artificial sweeteners they swap out to make sugar-free gum (like aspartame) aren’t great for us either. They can cause diseases we would never even link with chewing gum. And yes, you can also develop issues with your jaw from chewing it so much. But these are all issues of excessive use. To deflect these issues, don’t make chewing gum an obsession. Just look at what happened to Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…

While chewing gum can prevent oral problems, it can also cause them as well. To prevent oral problems, contact Dr. George Kirtley at 317-841-1111 for a checkup or professional cleaning or visit www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Two of the Best Ways to Whiten Your Teeth

teeth whitening

Some people are just born with much more yellowish teeth compared to others. That’s a fact. It’s also a known fact that our teeth also become yellow as we age. Though, there are also other factors affecting the color of our teeth, such as:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco.
  • Drinking certain beverages such as red wine, tea, coffee and others.
  • Eating cherries, blueberries and other highly pigmented types of food.
  • The hardening of plaque resulting from the lack of proper oral hygiene.

Whitening Your Teeth

Frequent dental cleanings can easily remove most of the stains caused by certain food, drinks and tobacco. Using a whitening toothpaste can also help remove such stains in between visits to the dentists. Though, if your stains have been present for years, simply cleaning and brushing just won’t cut it.

Stubborn stains will have to be removed either by bleaching, bonding or capping. All of these methods are considered by dental care experts as very safe and effective. However, it’s usually up to your dentist to determine which type of treatment is based on both the results you want to achieve and the current state of your teeth.

How Teeth Whitening Works

Bleaching requires the use of tooth-bleaching gels to oxidize out the stain and can be done either by the dentist or at home.

A common side effect during the process is for teeth to become slightly more sensitive than usual.

  • At-home whitening. This is usually the preferred method by many people since it’s much more convenient. This is done by letting your dentist take an impression of your teeth and making a custom-fitted tray. You’ll then have to fill the tray with whitening gel and wear it for two hours a day for as long as two weeks. If done correctly, at-home whitening can be a very effective teeth whitening solution.
  • In-office whitening. This type of procedure is done in the dentist’s office. Each visit takes somewhere around 30 minutes to one hour and multiple visits are usually required to achieve the desired results.

Of the two, in-office whitening is considered the most effective solution, but it’s also much more expensive.

Tooth Bonding

Bonding is another dental procedure that relies on the use of composite resins and porcelain/composite veneers to cover the surface of stained teeth. This procedure can help not just in whitening teeth, but also giving broken and misshapen teeth a better appearance.

There are generally two types of bonding techniques:

  • Composite bonding. In this procedure, the front teeth are usually reduced so that once the composite resin is bonded or fitted, the teeth will not look too bulky. The composite resin is carefully matched with the color and shape of the surrounding teeth, so you don’t have to worry about them standing out.
  • Veneer bonding. The process is generally the same with veneer bonding, but with minor differences. Though, the biggest difference between the two is that porcelain veneers are considered to be much more durable and may last for as long as 10 years.

Taking Care of Your Newly Whitened Teeth

Whether it’s been whitened in the office, or at home, or if you’ve had veneers or bonds, your teeth can and will stain over time. The best way to prevent that from happening is to avoid smoking, heavily colored foods and generally, practicing good oral hygiene, including frequent trips to the dentist.

 

Caring for your Implants | Cosmetic Dentist Indianapolis

177406608Receiving a dental implant(s) treatments isn’t the easiest procedure. There are many steps, visits and waiting time to go through the entire process correctly. You’ve put in a lot of time and money in to your new restorative, now how can you ensure they last a lifetime? Once you have your dental implants in place, you want to make sure they are taken care of properly.

Dr. Kirtley also wants to make sure your dental implant(s) are cared for properly as well! We’ve compiled a short list of easy steps to properly care for your new implant(s).

Proper care for your new implant(s):

-Brush and Floss twice a day – just like your regular teeth, implants need to be cleaned and flossed to prevent food particles from invading your gums and implant structure.

-Say no to Staining – dental implants can stain the same as normal teeth. Steer clear of smoking, coffee, tea, sodas and wine. Moderation is key.

-Mouthwash – special germicidal mouthwash is often prescribed by dentists for patients with dental implants. It helps reduce the risk of infection.

-Dental visits twice a year – regular dental visits are a part of normal dental hygiene; however this is especially true for people with dental implants. Your dental implants will need a thorough cleaning and plaque removal. Along with the cleaning, the condition of your gums, jaw and anchors will be checked.

Caring for restorations is just like caring for your natural teeth: brush, floss and maintain regular dental cleanings and check-ups, as scheduled. Easy, right? With proper care, your dental implants can last you a lifetime.

Contact Dr. George Kirtley for an appointment today for more information on implants at 317-841-1111 or generaldentistryindianapolis.com.

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

Teeth Crowding Solutions | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

woman smileMany people have – or believe they have – problems with their teeth crowding that goes untreated. Crowding can be caused by a number of different factors, and knowing the actual cause may impact the treatment options. Crowding is the lack of space for all the teeth to fit normally within the jaws. The teeth may be twisted or displaced. Crowding occurs when there is disharmony in the size or number of teeth to available jaw size.

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. It is still not completely understood why this happens, but we do know that presence of the wisdom teeth are not usually directly related.

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.

If you notice crowding in your front teeth, make a point of asking Dr. Kirtley about options during your next regular checkup. There are a number of treatments available, and treating the crowding early can help prevent more serious problems from developing in the future. Even if your concerns are simply cosmetic, we can work with you to ensure that your teeth will have the best chance for minimal movement in the future.

For more information on tooth crowding 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.

Is a Dental Implant for You? | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

tooth whiteningMany people are living with damaged teeth in form or another. Perhaps you are one of those people? Do you have a cracked tooth, a severe cavity or physical trauma to a tooth, stemming from an accident? With circumstances like these the chances are more than likely that your tooth may not be able to be saved. Modern dentistry has a number of options that look and feel like a natural tooth, and one of the most common solutions for teeth that can’t be saved is the dental implant.

What is a dental implant? A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge(perio.org), through a combination of procedures that work together to provide a prosthetic tooth for patients. The procedure for installing the implant is straightforward, but takes time.

Implants consist of three primary components:

– A titanium post screwed into the bone of the tooth socket

– A titanium extension post is attached to the screw base and provides a socket for the crown

– A dental crown – often porcelain – is attached to the middle titanium post

Once the damaged tooth is removed, the area will be allowed to heal. Once healed, the post is attached to the bone, and again the mouth is allowed to heal. During this time, a lightweight temporary crown will be placed (often using a retainer) to maintain the patient’s smile and protect the post. After the screw is healed in place, the new permanent crown is attached, and the patient has a new artificial tooth that looks exactly like the tooth it replaced.

Dental implants are a popular choice because they last a very long time, have a high success rate, can be used for treating a wide variety of serious problems, and provide a replacement tooth that is almost indistinguishable from a natural tooth. Dental implants are popular among patients because the implant looks and feels like a tooth, implants do not require special cleaning like bridges, and they do not need to be removed nightly like dentures.

Once the procedure is complete, the resulting implanted tooth will allow you to eat normally, speak normally, and will look and feel just like a natural tooth. The dental implant has a very high success rate. However, there are many variables, especially the timing between each step of the procedure, so be sure to talk to your dentist about specifics before you commit to the procedure.

Properly cared for dental implant can last for decades.  If you have a tooth that is damaged, or if you believe a dental implant may be right for you, ask your dentist about implants.

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 Spring Hill, Beech Grove and Warren Park.

Dental Extractions | Indianapolis, Il Dentist

skd284147sdcThere’s a classic idiom in the English language that compares unpleasant, difficult tasks to pulling teeth. Known as dental extraction, pulling teeth is recommended in some situations. While it’s certainly true that few people are ever excited about having teeth pulled, dental extractions have come a long way, and the procedure is no longer cause for dread.

Your dentist may recommend extraction for a number of reasons:
– If the tooth is seriously damaged, either due to injury or decay, and can not be saved
– If the tooth to be extracted is a wisdom tooth (third molar), it may cause crowding, alignment problems, pain, or infection
– If the tooth to be extracted is blocking another tooth from coming in
– If the tooth to be extracted is a baby tooth that didn’t fall out in time
– If the tooth to be extracted is causing crowding, a dentist or orthodontist may recommend removing some teeth to allow braces to better adjust the remaining teeth
– If the teeth are 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).

While extractions are very common and generally safe, they do have some risk. The most common complications are dry sockets (where the bone is exposed to air during healing), accidental damage to nearby teeth, and incomplete extractions (where a portion of the tooth remains in the gum). You should talk to your dentist about the risks of these complications.

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: there are worse problems to have than pulling teeth.

For more information on tooth extractions 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.