Tag Archives: General Dentistry

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 Gum Contouring for You? | Indianapolis Densist

Close-up of dental tools

We all desire an exceptional smile. When our patients think of a perfect smile, they focus on bright, white, straight teeth. However, many patients realize that there’s another component as well: great looking gums.

Some patients may have gums that are too high, and others have gums that are too low. The causes vary – genetics plays a part, but certain prescription drugs can cause gums that cover more of your teeth than normal, and activities such as smoking can cause gum recession, causing your teeth to look longer than expected.

Gum contouring is typically considered a cosmetic procedure – most insurance plans do not consider it medically necessary, and will not cover the costs. However, it is available from many dental and periodontal offices. For severe cases of gum recession, exposed tooth roots can cause gum contouring to be considered a medical necessity, as the receding tissue can contribute to long term problems such as tooth decay and tooth loss.

The procedure can be done with traditional surgical techniques or lasers – ask your dentist to determine which they recommend. In many cases, local anesthesia is sufficient, though general anesthesia may be considered for larger procedures. The recovery is typically straightforward – there is some bleeding and swelling expected, but generally the soreness will subside within a week.

How does the process work?  Watch this video to see gum contouring take place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfZwanwhtxA

At the end of the procedure, the patient can look forward to a gum line that is both healthy and cosmetically appealing.

If you think gum contouring is for you contact Dr. Kirtleys office today.

For more information on gum contouring 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

Sensitive Teeth Solutions | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

459953231If 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 know it’s not something to ignore but what is it? Chances are you’re experiencing sensitive teeth. Luckily this is very treatable.

What causes a tooth or teeth to become sensitive? 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 os course can cause those jolting pains with tempered food and drink or even if cold air hits the tooth. This is the most likely case or why you’re experiencing the tooth pain. But there can be other reasons, such as:

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

Dr. Kirtley has a solution for all of the above conditions. 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.  Often beginning problems can be easily treated.  If you wait to get treatment, you often end up with a bigger problem that is more difficult to treat.  Many times sensitive teeth can be treated with a good cleaning and use of a special toothpaste. Dr. Kirtley will find the right solution to prevent sensitive teeth from recurring.

For more information on your sensitive teeeth 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.

Teeth Whitening Methods | General Dentistry Indianapolis

close up smile red lipstick

It seems as though obtaining a beaming white smile is on everyone’s agenda now a days. Either with their oral care routine at home or professionally with their dentist.

Many brands of toothpaste claim to whiten teeth, and stores sell all varieties of tooth whitening products – trays, gels, strips, and rinses – over the counter. The most basic form of teeth whitening is available as toothpaste – toothpaste, whether it’s labeled as whitening or not – typically contains small abrasive components that gently polish the surface of your teeth, removing discoloration caused by surface staining.

Other over the counter whitening products typically contain a bleaching agent – such as hydrogen peroxide – to lighten the color of your teeth by chemically bleaching them.  By applying the bleaching chemical to strips or trays, the peroxide can stay in contact with your teeth for 30 minutes at a time, often twice a day, providing quite a bit of whitening benefit.

Your dentist, however, can typically offer two different whitening options. The first is take-home tray based, using chemicals stronger than over-the-counter trays, but working on the same basic principle. Often times dentist provided trays are custom-molded to the patients teeth, providing a smooth, comfortable fit suitable for wearing for multiple hours each day – often even overnight.  Beyond the trays, dentists can often perform whitening in the office, using light and heat activated bleaching chemicals, providing a significant whitening in as little as 60 minutes. Because the procedure is supervised by a dentist, much stronger chemicals can be used, and much more dramatic results can be seen almost immediately.

No matter which method of teeth whitening you choose, the results will likely not be permanent. Your teeth are exposed to foods and drinks that will stain them over time, but your dentist can advise you on the proper procedure for repeating the whitening process at regular intervals.

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.

What are Teeth? | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

186932212Your teeth outside of your oral care routine are probably not something you think about in depth. Teeth are actually complicated structures.

So we all know the proper care for our teeth, but what IS a tooth? Most of us have 32 teeth – hard, calcified white objects we use to chew, cut, crush, and swallow food.

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.

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.

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. However, it’s also more prone to decay, and severe cavities can cause significant dental problems if not treated rapidly.

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 also the ability to transmit ‘senses’ such as temperature, pain, and pressure. The pulp also helps to form and repair dentin from within the tooth.

While most people will only see the enamel surface of their teeth, proper dental care will focus on maintaining each layer healthy. By protecting the enamel with proper brushing, and treating cavities formed by decay before they damage the dentin or pulp, dental care will focus on providing a patient with healthy teeth – from pulp to enamel – well into old age.

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

Foods to Avoid for a Healthy Mouth | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

multiple smilesMost people probably don’t look forward to their biannual rendezvous at the dentist’s. But the discomfort from the poking and scraping of routine cleanings is nothing compared to the pain of more intensive procedures, like fillings and root canals. So wouldn’t it be nice to seriously lower your chances of needing dental work with some strategic eating?

There are plenty of foods that people should be avoiding if they want to keep their teeth in good shape. But what’s not in your dentists kitchen?

Soda (even diet):

Your favorite sugary soda is a total smile saboteur.

Hard Candy:

Savoring a sweet sucker might seem innocent enough, but not so fast. Sucking these candies exposes your mouth to harsh sugars for longer periods of time. And chewing on them can break or crack teeth, fillings, and sealants.

Ice:

Sure, ice is sugar-free—but if you tend to chew on the cubes once you’ve finished a beverage, they can cause major damage. Dental experts say nibbling on ice is a major no-no as it can easily crack or break teeth.

White Wine:

Sorry chardonnay fans. While the deep color of red wine can cause discoloration, white wine might actually trigger even more damage. The acidity in wine makes teeth more susceptible to stains, and white wine is generally more acidic.

Chewy Candy:

That dentists avoid taffy and caramels like the plague isn’t exactly surprising. Sticky candies get stuck between braces and teeth, allowing plaque to build up. Plus, a chewy candy in the wrong place at the wrong time can easily take a tooth out.

PB&J:

Noshing a pb&j is reminiscent of childhood, but it’s a surefire way to prematurely age your teeth. The high sugar content of all three ingredients means that as soon as you bite in, enamel-eroding bacteria go on a feeding frenzy. And because peanut butter and jelly are both sticky, they allow the bacteria to adhere to your teeth.

Dried Fruit:

Things like raisins, figs, and dried apricots are bursting with nutrition. Unfortunately, they’re also packed with a dense dose of sugar and non-soluble cellulose fiber, which can bind and trap those sugars around the tooth to the same extent as saltwater taffy. Your best bet? Sticking with the fresh version as much as possible(Source: prevention.com).

Keep your smile healthy with proper oral care and diet!

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

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

How to Curb Bad Breath | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

We all want to maintain fresh breath throughout the day but if we don’t have a toothbrush at our disposal how do we accomplish that?

Nobody wants to hear, “You have bad breath.”

Below are five easy ways to keep your breath fresh all day!:

  • Stay hydrated. If you can’t brush your teeth after a meal, drinking a lot of water can help speed up the process of cleaning harmful bacteria and debris from between your teeth. Drinking milk can even help deodorize some offensive breath odors. Avoid sugary drinks!
  • Don’t drink too much coffee. It may be tasty, but coffee is a tough smell to get off the back of your tongue.
  • Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products. Cigarettes, pipes, and snuff can foul your breath. Smoking gives people horrible breath!
  • Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol can lead to a dry mouth. Too much beer, wine, and hard liquor can make your breath reek for up to eight to 10 hours after you finish drinking.
  • Chew sugarless gum. Doing so 20 minutes after a meal can help with saliva flow. Gum that’s 100% xylitol-sweetened can help reduce cavities(Source: WebMD).

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

 

 

Are Dental Crowns for You? | Indianapolis Cosmetic Dentist

Dental Crowns are dental restorations that are placed over teeth to restore the strength and structure. So how do you know if you need a dental crown?  If your tooth is in danger of breaking a dental crown procedure may be the right solution for you. A breaking or damaged tooth indicates that there is a significant amount of decay that causes the tooth to become frail. In order to restore your tooth to its natural strength, a dental crown will be used to improve the longevity and durability of your tooth. Discoloration on the tooth also indicates that you may need a dental crown. This can easily be solved with a dental crown that will not only improve your oral health, but give you a confident and radiant smile.

Dr. Kirtley can determine whether or not a dental crown is right for you so call today. Avoid living with damaged and discolored teeth because dental crowns may be the solution to your dental predicaments.

Below are some benefits of dental crowns:

-Undergoing a cosmetic dental crown procedure can improve the look of broken or cracked teeth. If you are suffering from a loss of teeth, dental crowns are the solution to replace any missing teeth.

-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.

-Dental crowns are stain-resistant. This is because dental crowns are made from porcelain, a material that is not prone to discoloration.

-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.

-Dental crowns are restorative and preventive measures that improve missing or damaged teeth. Dental crowns also drastically decrease the amount of bacteria build-up that can lead to the loss of more teeth.

If you are embarrassed of your missing or damaged teeth? Then dental crowns are the perfect solution to build your confidence!

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