Tag Archives: Indianapolis Dentist

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.

Fluoride: What You Need to Know | Indianapolis Dentist

We have all heard of fluoride and we all know it’s good for our teeth, but how much do we really know about it? Let’s take a moment to learn about our smile’s best friend.

Enamel is your teeth’s natural, built-in defense system against various dental problems, such as cavities and tooth decay. Unfortunately, a build-up of bacteria can slowly eat away at it, resulting in cavities and tooth decay, among many other things. To prevent this from happening, dentists recommend using fluoride toothpaste and receiving regular fluoride treatments to help improve the strength of the enamel and even reverse the tooth decay and its effects.

Fluoride is a mineral that’s found naturally in different kinds of food, as well as in water. By receiving fluoride treatments, the strength of the tooth enamel is restored and improved. The treatment also helps make the teeth become more resistant to acid, making them less prone to tooth decay, reverse the effects of early gum disease and replace the minerals in the enamel that plaque has eaten away. To put it simply, fluoride is vital in keeping teeth healthy and making sure it stays that way.

In children, especially those under the age of six, fluoride treatment is important because it can help prevent bacteria from building up in areas like the gums. For those who have been fitted with orthodontic braces and other orthodontic treatments, it helps prevent bacteria from building up and being trapped, improves the average adult’s chance against tooth decay and other dental complications, while also benefiting conditions like dry mouth and gum recession.

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 We Really Need to Floss? | Indianapolis Dentist

We all know we’re supposed to floss daily but let’s be honest – most of us don’t. It just always feels like an unnecessary thing to do. But are you sure it’s unnecessary? You may not think so offhand, but then why do you make sure to do it before your appointments? Yes, we are sure you dread when you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair and they ask, ‘How often do you floss?’ While you’re calculating in your head how much you floss and whether or not you should fib to the dentist about your flossing habits, let’s go over why it’s so important to floss daily. After all, taking care of our teeth is important if we want to keep them for as long as we possibly can.

Better than brushing alone. A toothbrush works to removing plaque with its bristles. Brushing alone has one big drawback: A toothbrush’s bristles can’t adequately clean between the teeth or under the gums. That’s where floss comes in, to get in those tiny spaces between your teeth to get the grime out your toothbrush can’t reach.

Protects your gums. Where the gums and teeth meet are where flossing plays its major role. Particles of food can get lodged here, and plaque in this area will harden over time to form tartar, that your dentist will remove with a scraper. Tartar buildup can lead to gingivitis.

Helps prevent other diseases. Gum disease can have effects that go beyond discolored teeth, discomfort and bad breath. Research has shown that the bacteria in an unhealthy mouth can harm the rest of the body, leading to heart disease, diabetes and respiratory illness.

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.

Choosing the Perfect Smile | Indianapolis Dentist

It’s a new year and a new you. That’s what they tell you anyway. When you think about being that new person, what improvements are you making? Are they physical ones? Do you ever stop to consider improving your smile? Many of us know someone with a great smile, but most of us have imperfections that need improvements. Veneers may be the ideal solution to repair your dental imperfections. They are thin, semi-translucent laminate that are bonded to change the shape and color of your teeth. Yes, you and your dental professional will design your smile to look as natural as possible. No one will notice a thing.

There are two types of veneers – composite resin and porcelain. Surprised? It’s true. But which do you choose? Let’s break down the two options. This way, when you go to your dentist for a consultation, you will have a general understanding of what you’re getting into and can have some questions for your appointment.

Composite:

  • Last about 4-8 years with proper maintenance
  • Made of high-quality reinforced plastic. Given today’s high-end technology these veneers look and feel very good, but under pressure they can damage quite easily.
  • Have a porous surface, which can affect their look after years of use
  • Stain more easily. Often needing whitening treatments to maintain their appearance.
  • Chip easily

Porcelain:

  • Porcelain veneers on the other hand last up to 25 years and do not require as much maintenance
  • Made of high-quality porcelain, natural in color and more resistant
  • Maintain strength and appearance over several decades
  • Do not stain because of the non-porous material

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 It’s too Crowded | Indianapolis Dentist

There is nothing more uncomfortable than being stuck in a crowd. It’s hot, it makes you feel helpless and chances are someone has bad breath. The same goes for teeth. Teeth crowding is the lack of space for all the teeth to fit normally within the jaws, causing the teeth to become twisted or displaced.

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.

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.

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.

It Shouldn’t Be Like Pulling Teeth | Indianapolis Dentist

Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s like pulling teeth”? It is generally used to describe something unfun. And if you think about it, they’re right – having a tooth pulled is no fun. But there are lots of reason a tooth needs to be pulled.

Your dentist may recommend extraction if you tooth is…

  • Seriously damaged, either due to injury or decay, and cannot be saved
  • A wisdom tooth (third molar), it may cause crowding, alignment problems, pain, or infection
  • Blocking another tooth from coming in
  • A baby tooth that didn’t fall out in time
  • Causing crowding, a dentist or orthodontist may recommend removing some teeth to allow braces to better adjust the remaining teeth
  • 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).

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; pulling teeth today isn’t as painful as the saying makes it out to be.

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.