Category Archives: General Health

Why Are You Leaving Your Baby Tooth Under Your Pillow? | Indianapolis Dentist

One of the first rites of passage as a child is losing your first tooth. Not only is it fun to wiggle it around, but tiny humans missing a tooth are officially turning into big kids. The bonus is learning that you tuck it under your pillow for a special surprise from the Tooth Fairy.

But where did this tiny dental nymph come from? Some believe that the story begins with a fairy living under a tree’s roots near a riverbank. One of her favorite things to do was to collect the little objects people lost that washed up on the shore. These tiny treasures were not only toys, but she could also feel the memories associated with it.

The one treasure she always wanted but never washed ashore was a child’s tooth. To her, there was nothing happier than a child about to lose their first tooth and she wanted one very badly.

One day, a little girl found our little fairy while playing with her friends. When the fairy noticed she had a loose tooth, she asked if she could have it. The little girl said yes and that she would put it under her pillow as soon as it fell out.

The fairy couldn’t wait for the little girl’s gift, but then she thought, “Oh, no! She’s going to give me her tooth. I need a gift in return!” So, she rummages through her trinkets and finds a coin.

The next morning, the little girl wakes up and finds the coin gift left by the little fairy, so she tells her friends at school to try it and thus, the Tooth Fairy was created. Happy National Tooth Fairy Day!

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.

Tips to Drinking Red Wine Without Staining Your Teeth | Indianapolis Dentist

If you’re a red wine drinker, you know that a purple-tinged smile is a real thing. Because of its dark pigments, it is easy to seep into the porous material that makes up our teeth. This is why our teeth begin to tinge after a while if our dental hygiene isn’t very good. Coffee is the same thing – in fact, any dark foods or beverages will eventually begin to dye our smiles. But it doesn’t need to be a permanent situation. There are plenty of whitening treatment options available, both over-the-counter and in-office variations, like ZOOM! whitening.

While no home remedies are as effective as professional whitening, these tips, along with keeping up with your regular dental checkups and cleaning, can help you reduce keep your smile as bright as possible in between professional cleanings.

Before you drink that wine, brush your teeth. If your teeth are free from plaque and tartar, it is more difficult for stains to adhere to your teeth. By using an enamel-strengthening toothpaste and mouthwash, you begin to build up stain resistance.

If you notice that your lips and teeth are beginning to get that red wine hue, wipe your teeth with a cloth napkin. The sooner you wipe, the less time the wine has to set into your teeth. Another trick is a quick rinse with water after each glass. Ultimately, a good brushing with provide the best results.

Something that goes hand in hand with wine is cheese. Thankfully, cheese is a great way to stave off tooth stains. Cheese contains calcium, which strengthens your teeth and closes those tiny micro-pores that makes staining so easy.

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 Eating Healthy Goes Rogue | Indianapolis Dentist

As we approach our brand-new year, we gear up for loads of life improvements, and many of them focus on our health. But finding the right diet to fit our lifestyle is a tough quest. Not all diets are alike and it’s important to find the right one in order to be effective and keep us on pace to achieving our new year’s goals. But what if your diet is giving you side effects? To be specific, what if your diet was giving you bad breath?

By eliminating all sugar and most carbs, and eating foods high in fat and protein, your body becomes a fat-burning machine. However, by getting your energy from fat and protein rather than carbs, one of the common byproducts is intolerable breath. But why?

The popular ketogenic diet, and most other low carb eating plans all rely on getting your daily calories mostly from fat and protein, and very little from carbohydrates. If you keep your carb intake to less than 30 grams per day, your body eventually enters a metabolic state of ketosis. Instead of breaking down carbohydrates to create glucose for energy, your body instead breaks down stored fat, which release ketones in the body. They are also released in your breath, creating a distinct odor that some keto enthusiasts describe as rotten fruit, or even metallic. 

Unfortunately, that also means ketosis breath can’t be extinguished with the typical handful of mints and swig of mouthwash. Natural remedies to try are drinking extra water, or chewing on fresh mint leaves, cloves, or fennel seeds, or grab a sugar-free gum made with xylitol.

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.

The ABCs of Tooth Extractions | Indianapolis Dentist

There’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 situations in which you’ve likely developed a toothache and it hurt enough to visit the dentist. And while it isn’t our idea of a fun day, dental extractions have come a long way, and you shouldn’t have a bad feeling about getting one. Here are some of the reasons your tooth needs to be extracted:

  • Seriously damaged teeth, either due to injury or decay, unable to be saved
  • A wisdom tooth (third molar) that may cause crowding, alignment problems, pain, or infection
  • Teeth blocking another tooth from coming in
  • Baby tooth that didn’t fall out in time
  • Crowded teeth may require removal to allow braces to better adjust the remaining teeth
  • Infected teeth that 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, which 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 – there are worse problems to have than pulling 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.

Halloween Sweets that Are Harming Your Smile | Indianapolis Dentist

As parents, we want to give our children the world, even if that means we have to play ‘bad cop’ once in a while. Halloween is the brink of the holiday season, a season that is filled with delicious treats everywhere we look. And that’s bad news for our smiles if we aren’t careful. The following is a list of a few culprits – the more you avoid them, the better off your smile will be. We aren’t saying don’t celebrate the season, just do it in moderation to avoid issues in the future:

Skittles. Skittles may want you to taste rainbows, but they are also letting you ruin your teeth’s enamel by combining sweet and sour for a pH level of 2.5, levels so high they can cause serious damage to your little one’s teeth. 

Caramel. Not only does the sticky texture stick to your teeth’s surface and loves to get deep into the crevices, but it can also loosen dental fixtures, like braces or fillings, making it especially harmful for those with dental work. 

Gummy Bears. Similar to caramels and other sticky candies, the gelatin used to make the gummy candy gummy, also sticks to the crevices of your teeth, making it difficult to remove.

Jolly Ranchers. Not only are they a hard candy that can damage teeth when bitten but sucking on hard candy isn’t a quick process, and the sugar wastes no time working their way into a tooth.

Halloween is an exciting holiday for the little humans. It is important to impart good habits early, while still allowing the fun to continue. The best way to do that is to make it a family affair. Happy Halloween!

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.

All Is Not Lost if You Lose a Tooth | Indianapolis Dentist

For most of us, losing a tooth can be a nerve-wracking experience. Not only do you have every reason to panic because you were likely in an accident of some sort, but there is no need to fret if you think your smile is doomed. Because hockey players may consider a lost tooth a badge of honor, but it is possible to re-implant a knocked-out adult tooth. A severed root experiences damage to blood vessels and tissue, but the ligaments connecting the tooth to the bone can be re-formed. The key to a successful reimplantation is how the missing tooth is stored and for how long.

Assuming you can find the tooth, avoid scraping off any dirt particles, as you risk damaging the root further. Instead, rinse it gently with a saline solution while carefully handling it by the crown. If possible, place the tooth back in its original socket, or store it in a small container with saline or milk. Milk – containing proteins, sugar, and antibacterial substances—provides the ideal environment for a lost tooth. As an added bonus, the sugars in milk help feed cells, which need to remain alive and growing in the short term.

Don’t have access to any of the above? Don’t panic. Your cheek will work well for storage in the interim; just be careful not to swallow your precious cargo.

Placing pressure on the gums will also help to reduce the bleeding and pain as you are en route to the dentist. Depending on the damage, a successful reimplanted tooth can heal significantly in three to four weeks and become fully repaired within two months.

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.

Being Tired Will Slowly Kill You | Indianapolis Dentist

When you snore, it isn’t some type of self-discovery – someone we love has been sleeping next to us and it has disturbed their sleep. And if you are the culprit of stealing someone’s sleep, it’s an awful feeling. We wish we could fix it. The good thing is, there are many ways to help ease your snoring issues. And it is important that you get it checked because unfortunately, snoring can kill you.

Everybody has a snoring story to share, and most of them are really funny. What isn’t funny are the damaging affects snoring has on your health. Health concerns ranging from frustrating to life-threatening can result from inadequate or lack of sleep.

Sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea can increase the risk of hypertension, heart disease and strokes. It can also lead to serious illness and major accidents. Just think about it – people fall asleep driving all of the time, and sleep apnea sufferers are over 300% more liable to be involved in a fatal car crash.

The label “sleep with sound” has been given to snoring but one thing is for sure. A snorer acquires no sound sleep. Those lacking regular, quality sleep increases their chance for heart attacks by more than 23 times. The compounded strain and stress on your body can activate depression, disease, illness, mental disorders and a myriad of physical obstacles.

If you or someone you love snores and is habitually tired during the day, the possibility for health complications and even death, are increased. That is no laughing matter. Schedule a sleep study so everyone involved can get a good night’s sleep.

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.

Which Cosmetic Dental Procedure Will Improve Your Smile? | Indianapolis Dentist

teeth whitening

When the time comes for a new smile, there are loads of procedures available to repair whatever condition your smile is in. All you need to get started is a dental appointment. Once you’re there, you can discuss the various dental procedures available to you depending on your particular case. Here are the common cosmetic procedures and how they can improve your smile.

Teeth whitening. Everyone’s teeth get discolored or stained from time to time. Teeth whitening, or bleaching, can be done in a dentist’s office or at home with a system dispensed by the dentist.

Bonding. Life is full of accidental mishaps, sometimes those mishaps mess up our teeth. Bonding can improve the appearance of teeth that are chipped, broken, cracked, stained, or gapped by bonding tooth-colored materials to the tooth surface, making them nearly impossible to distinguish.

Veneers. Another variation of the bonding technique are veneers. These are thin, custom-made porcelain shells that cover the front of the teeth to disguise discoloration or imperfections.

Tooth reshaping. This procedure changes the actual look of your teeth by modifying or removing enamel, completely changing the look of your tooth. Tooth reshaping (also known as dental contouring) is often combined with bonding.

Crown lengthening. Sometimes it isn’t the teeth that are the issue, it’s the gums. This “gummy” smile or an uneven gum line can be fixed by removing excess gum tissue, exposing more of the tooth’s crown to give the appearance of longer teeth.

Smile makeovers. Deciding your smile needs an entire makeover involves a comprehensive assessment of the overall appearance of the teeth and smile. Typically, several cosmetic dentistry procedures are required to overhaul the look of a patient’s smile, but the results will be staggering.

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 Eating Ice Cream Begins to Hurt Your Teeth | Indianapolis Dentist

If you’ve ever experienced a sharp and annoying pain in your teeth whenever you indulge in the wonderful frozen treats this summery weather can provide? No one wants to hear that they can’t have ice cream or iced tea because their teeth are too sensitive. So, what causes this cruel summertime malady?

Loss of tooth enamel, which leaves the dentin exposed, is the main reason why tooth sensitivity occurs. This may happen if you’ve been using a hard-bristled toothbrush instead of a soft one, as it may wear away as the abrasion can wear away the tooth enamel. However, it can also be the result of frequent consumption of acidic foods or gum recession.

It is important to take note, however, that the sharp pain when exposed to hot and cold food and beverages is not always caused by tooth sensitivity. Sometimes, it may be because of the following:

  • A cracked, chipped or fractured tooth
  • Dental caries
  • Constant grinding or clenching of the teeth, or a condition known as bruxism
  • A broken restoration that’s been leaking
  • A side effect of certain teeth whitening procedures, namely tooth bleaching

In order to find out if your teeth are indeed sensitive, talk to your dentist. Be sure to describe your symptoms in detail, like when the pain first started or anything you’ve done for the pain. Using your descriptions, the dentist will try to find out the possible cause of your sensitivity, and once finished, the dentist will then treat the underlying cause. The treatment will usually vary, depending on the case.

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 to Consider When Getting Dental Veneers | Indianapolis Dentist

Who doesn’t want their idea of a perfect smile? No one has the same idea of the ideal grin, but it’s one that will make them excited to smile every day. Unfortunately, not everyone is born with that smile. If you think you have less than perfect teeth, veneers are a great way to give you the smile you’ve always wanted.

Dental veneers are composed of thin custom-made shells of either porcelain or composite resin that fit over teeth. They are a cosmetic dental product that’s used to mask tooth imperfections, all the while giving teeth a natural and attractive tooth. Aside from discolored, chipped or misshapen teeth, veneers can also be used to fix and improve worn down and uneven teeth, as well as uneven spaces or gaps in between them.

But that’s not all – beyond aesthetics, one good thing about veneers is that there’s very little tooth structure lost during the process. The procedure also requires the use of little to no anesthesia, which decreases the chances of complications from the use of anesthesia.

There are two types of materials commonly used in dental veneers – composite resin and porcelain. However, porcelain veneers are considered better for the following reasons:

Appearance. The translucent properties of porcelain allow porcelain veneers to look as natural as possible.

Durability. Although very thin and brittle, they can last for years and even decades if they’re taken care of properly.

Stain-resistant. Porcelain, as a material, is an impervious ceramic and is also quite smooth. Also, the material will not pick up permanent stains from highly pigmented drinks and food, cigarettes, tobacco, coffee and so on.

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.