Tag Archives: oral health

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.

Digital Imaging to Improve Your Dental Visit | Indianapolis Dentist

cosmetic dentistry

Computer digital imaging is nothing new, however it’s use has been used more frequently for everyday patient examinations. Simplicity, predictability and accuracy are the key components defining successful computer imaging, technology and it’s use. Software systems in the past have been known to be difficult and time consuming.

So, what is the solution to this dilemma? Improve the patient experience through the use of pictures. Why do we have pictures? Because, according to the adage “pictures are worth a thousand words”. In fact, it comes in so handy because a dental professional can give their patients a visual about what the treatment options will result in.

Is a patient more apt to accept aesthetic treatment when they can visualize themselves with an end result before they commit to it? The answer is yes. ‘Outside of the credentials of the doctor and staff and the comfort you felt with them, what was the most significant factor in deciding to have your smile makeover done?’ The response was resounding – being able to see themselves with a new smile before it was ever done. In addition, the digital imaging can be used as a communication tool to the surgeon, with the use of a visual aid.

Evaluating a patient’s smile to determine discrepancies in length to width ratios, buccal corridor deficiencies, gingival height and balance all affect the realism of a computer-generated image but also the end clinical result. Computer digital imaging is an integral part of a successful cosmetic dental practice. It is the most visually important method of communication to our patients in establishing the aesthetic possibilities for them.

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.

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.

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.