Tag Archives: Great Lakes Family Dental

The Ten Most Wanted List of Dental Damages

Let’s face it – we all want a nice shiny set of pearly whites to show off to the world. They are the first thing most strangers see upon meeting, so many of us hold a smile in very high regard. Unfortunately, there are lots of reasons our teeth may not be the brightest at all times. This is when we give our dentist a jingle for a nice dental cleaning / whitening procedure.

In many cases, discolored or damaged teeth are the result of our own bad habits. Bad habits like smoking or dietary issues can lead to our teeth beginning to turn a bit dingy after a while, other problems are caused by chemicals that entered teeth during childhood. Everything we do to or with our mouths can have an impact on our teeth, and not in a good way. Poor habits, like biting your pencil, can all do small damages to our teeth. These are the top ten dental culprits:

  • 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.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

When You Become Too Sensitive | Indianapolis Dentist

If you’ve been experiencing jarring sharp pain when you eat or drink hot or even cold foods, or even surprisingly during your oral care routine. You know it’s not something to ignore but what is it? Chances are you’re developing 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, of course, can cause those jolting pains with tempered food and drink, even when 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:

  • Overbrushing
  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth whitening

Your dental professional 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. But worry not, oftentimes the early stages 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.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

What Is the Real Tooth? | Indianapolis Dentist

Our teeth have so many necessary uses in our day-to-day lives, from first impressions to feeding ourselves. This is why it is so important to do our best to keep them clean, healthy and strong. While most people will only see the enamel surface of their teeth, proper dental care will focus on maintaining each layer healthy. But have you ever thought about what makes up our teeth? What are these 32 white blocks in our mouths that help us to do so many things, like speak and swallow our food?

The visible surface of the tooth is known as enamel. 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. 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.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer? | Indianapolis Dentist

The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Swellings/thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts/or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
  • The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
  • Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
  • A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
  • Ear pain
  • A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
  • Dramatic weight loss

If you find that you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your dental professional as soon as possible. During your routine dental exam, your dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening exam by feeling for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity. When examining your mouth, your dentist will look for any sores, discolored tissue and the symptoms you’re experiencing. Your dentist may perform an oral brush biopsy if they see tissue in your mouth that looks suspicious. This test is painless and involves taking a small sample of the tissue and analyzing it for abnormal cells. Alternatively, if the tissue looks more suspicious, your dentist may recommend a scalpel biopsy, which usually requires local anesthesia. These tests are necessary to detect oral cancer early, before it has had a chance to progress and spread.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

Teach ‘Em Young: Halloween Edition | Indianapolis Dentist

Well, we’ve made it back to yet another Halloween night. And while this night is the spookiest of all, it is the days following that are the spookiest for your dentist. This is why it is so important to keep your dental health up during this sugary sweet time of year. There’s no reason to deny children the enjoyment of Halloween candy, in fact, it is the ideal time to teach an important lesson.

Use Halloween as a way to teach children about moderation. By teaching children to eat sweets in moderation, you’ll encourage them to practice moderation in their daily lives, including other foods that may not be the best for us. 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.

It is important to know that 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. Set a certain amount of time for children to enjoy their Halloween candy. This allows them to prioritize their candy enjoyment, minimize the chances that they’ll consume far too much, and help prevent cavities.

Focus on fun, but effective, tooth brushing. Children don’t care about dental health, so stimulate their interest by swapping a traditional toothbrush for one that has fun characters/colors, or giving them the opportunity to pick their own toothpaste, just make sure it contains fluoride.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

Dental Checkups: What to Expect | Indianapolis Dentist

In order to maintain a healthy smile, it is important to practice dental hygiene on a daily basis and visit the dentist regularly. Not only will they give you a good deep cleaning, but they will also help to detect any issues that may be coming up on the horizon. But what are you really looking at when you sit in that dentist chair? This is a quick rundown of everything you will come to expect during your dental visit. This way, you won’t have anything to worry about.

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, if a professional cleaning is needed, or showing the patient has in good oral health.

You should now have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Not so bad, right? 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.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

Contour Your Smile | Indianapolis Dentist

When we think of a perfect smile, we will tend to focus on bright, white, straight teeth. However, many patients realize that there’s another component as well – healthy, nice looking gums. You may not even think about it, but have you ever noticed that some may have gums that are too high, and others have gums that are too low? This is what we mean by nice looking gums. The causes will vary – genetics play 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. At the end of the procedure, the patient can look forward to a gum line that is both healthy and cosmetically appealing. Think your gums could be changing on you? Make a dental appointment for a consultation and get started on the smile you’ve always wanted.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

Keeping ‘Em White: Refrigerator Edition | Indianapolis Dentist

We all try everything to have the whitest smile we can. Brushing, over-the-counter products and professional teeth whitening procedures are all options, but have you ever thought you could brighten your grin in your kitchen? According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, certain foods naturally cleanse, brighten, and defend against bacteria that can harm your teeth and gums.

The following 10 foods were recommended by the academy for a healthy, brighter smile.

  • Pineapples can help whiten teeth. Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which acts as a natural stain remover. Bromelain also helps break up plaque.
  • Ginger can protect against periodontal disease, an inflammatory process that causes the loss of bone and supportive connective tissue in your mouth.
  • Carrots contain vitamin A, which is needed for healthy tooth enamel. Eating them raw stimulates saliva, your mouth’s natural cleanser.
  • Basil is a natural antibiotic that reduces bacteria in the mouth.
  • Cheese is rich in protein, calcium, and phosphorus, all of which help reduce acid in your mouth.
  • Sesame seeds help “scrub” away the plaque on your teeth. Chewing nuts can also provide this coarse, scrubbing action. Sesame seeds also contain bone and teeth-strengthening calcium.
  • Shiitake mushrooms contain a compound called lentinan, which inhibits bacteria from growing in your mouth.
  • Onions contain the sulfur compounds, thiosulfinates and thiosulfonates, which reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay. Eating them raw is a must as cooking will destroy these tooth-friendly compounds.
  • Salmon not only provides calcium but also vitamin D, another nutrient needed for healthy bones and teeth.
  • Broccoli contains iron, which helps form an acid-resistant film or barrier that can protect the enamel of your teeth.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

Do You Know Your Teeth? | Indianapolis Dentist

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

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

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

Below the enamel and cementum lies the dentin, both much softer than enamel and much less brittle. It’s also more prone to decay. Finally, within the dentin lies the tooth pulp. The pulp is soft tissue, filled with blood vessels and nerves that provide the tooth with oxygen, nutrients, and the ability to transmit ‘senses’ such as temperature, pain, and pressure.

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

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to maintain a healthy smile.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.

Care for a Mint? | Indianapolis Dentist

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

The problem is, that is generally how you find out that you do. It’s something a significant someone will likely point out to you. 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? It isn’t as difficult as you think. The main goal to keeping bad breath at bay is to keep saliva production going. The more saliva you have being produced the less chance odor-causing bacteria have to set up camp in your mouth. 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.

Visit Dr. Kirtley today and schedule an appointment to find out what kind of treatment your teeth needs to be healthier and to look better.  Call 317-841-1111 or www.smilesbygeorge.com.

Dr. George Kirtley proudly serves Indianapolis and all surrounding areas.