Category Archives: Teeth

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.

Smile Makeovers Will Change Your Life | Indianapolis Dentist

They say that first impressions last, and few, if any, makes more of an impression than your smile. This is why it’s important that your smile make as good of an impression as it can. If you are, however, like most people, you’ve likely dreamt of having a better-looking smile, one that’s straighter, and preferably, whiter. To get that smile, a process known as a smile makeover may just be what you need.

A smile makeover is a process whose main goal is to improve the appearance of the smile through a combination of various cosmetic dentistry treatments or procedures. The list of treatments includes, but are not limited to, dental veneers, composite bonding, tooth implants and teeth whitening. It is similar to a full mouth reconstruction where multiple procedures are involved. However, the two differ in that a smile makeover is elective, while a full mouth reconstruction is necessary.

More than being a cosmetic procedure, though, a smile makeover carries a lot of functional and health benefits as well. Cosmetic dental treatments alone are expensive enough, which makes it safe to say that a series of such treatments is bound to cost a lot.

But it is worth it? If you’re perfectly content with what you have, then good for you. However, if you’re like many others whose personal and professional life is and has been suffering because of how much trouble they have smiling, then you may want to really consider getting a smile makeover treatment.

Yes, a smile makeover is expensive, but as long as you see your smile as something that you’ll own and wear for the rest of your life, it is a worthy investment for a lifetime of smiles.

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 Cosmetic Dentistry? | Indianapolis Dentist

cosmetic dentistry

We know that the dentist will keep our smiles healthy, but they are also here to improve your smile through the use of cosmetic dentistry. But what exactly is cosmetic dentistry and how does it benefit you and your smile? Let’s take a second to break down the various procedures and how they can improve your smile. Common cosmetic procedures include the following:

  • Composite white fillings repair cavities without having silver filling in the mouth. Existing metal fillings can be replaced with modern white resin
  • Bonding uses composite resin to help change the size, shape, or color of teeth. Because it attaches to teeth in the same way that composite fillings attach, bonding can be used to fix chips on visible front teeth.
  • Teeth that are discolored or stained can be whitened – either in the office or using take-home trays
  • Veneers are a thin layer of porcelain on top of the tooth that can be used to change tooth shape, size, or color.
  • Crowns can be used as a cap on top of teeth damaged by cracks or decay
  • Orthodontics – either traditional or Invisalign – can be used to permanently straighten teeth.
  • Gum tissue can be surgically altered – either added via grafts to help with recession, or removed to create a more appealing tooth length
  • For missing, broken, or severely damaged teeth, full implants can be used to provide a replacement tooth

Because modern dentists have implants as a final catchall, virtually any problem can be solved given enough time and room in the patient’s budget. However, your dentist will be able to guide you through the process, creating a treatment plan that maps the various procedures and prioritizes them for maximum effectiveness.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Just the Facts: Porcelain Veneers Edition | Indianapolis Dentist

Dental work has been known to be rather dicey in the past, but today’s technology has given the option to have it done without anyone noticing with natural-looking materials. Porcelain veneers are considered among the most beautiful and natural-looking means of improving one’s smile. Many people know how aesthetically beneficial these veneers are, but there’s more than meets the eye. Below are a few must know facts about porcelain veneers:

Most cosmetic dentists recommend only 8 to 10 veneers on top since the upper teeth are the ones that show the most when a person smiles, but the decision will be based on a number of factors, including the patient’s smile goals, a patient’s smile, how they speak and their budget.

Cosmetic dentists will have to remove around 0.5 mm of the tooth’s original enamel, making them an irreversible form of treatment.

The typical fabrication time for porcelain laminate veneers is one week, though this may be cut down considerably with CEREC.

While porcelain is a very strong and durable material, but you’ll be making a few necessary changes to one’s lifestyle and diet to prevent damaging the veneer. The use of mouth guards when playing contact sports is also highly recommended.

Porcelain veneers can last for as long as twenty years, but gum line shrinkage may require for the veneer to be removed or replaced.

Porcelain veneers can withstand stains, but the surrounding teeth cannot, so periodic teeth whitening treatments and good oral hygiene at home make sure that the veneers stay natural-looking.

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.