My Blog

Posts for: January, 2016

By Phil Hart, DDS
January 23, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
TheDangersofDIYBraces

Let’s say you’ve always wanted to have straighter teeth, and you’re wondering if it’s time to seek help from a dentist or orthodontist. So you search online and find a YouTube video called “Cheap easy braces!! Without going to the dentist!!!!!” Your instincts are screaming “NO,” but you can’t help wondering… could it really be worth trying?

First of all, in case all of the exclamation points didn’t clue you in, the teenager who made this video doesn’t have any medical or dental training whatsoever. And just to make it clear right now, there’s no such thing as do-it-yourself braces — at least, none that are safe or effective. But the real problem with this video — along with many others in the same vein — is that if you try out what they suggest, you can seriously harm your teeth.

Recently, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) issued a consumer alert about the use of so-called “gap bands” and other home remedies for straightening teeth. It was accompanied by a graphic picture of teeth that had been seriously damaged by placing a rubber band around them (one of the methods suggested in the video). The New York Times followed up with an item about a young man who lost both front teeth as a result of DIY orthodontics. And Seventeen magazine ran a story called “Why the DIY Braces Trend is Seriously SO Dangerous: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.”

So we’ll add our voices to the chorus: Braces aren’t something you can do yourself. Seriously. Trust us on this.

Why not? Because it really does take quite a bit of training and experience to gain the necessary skill, knowledge and competence to move teeth safely. That’s why all practicing dentists successfully complete a four-year dental school program; orthodontists and other specialists have an additional three years of training on top of that. (And do you really think it would take seven years of training if it was easy?) We are familiar with the science behind moving teeth, and up to date on the best clinical practices. As medical professionals, that’s our job.

There is one tiny grain of truth in those videos: we do sometimes use elastics to move teeth. The difference is, we’re using them in safe and effective ways. We know, for example, that if an elastic band is placed around teeth the wrong way, it can work its way into the gums and destroy the ligaments and bone that hold the teeth in place. This can cause teeth to loosen and fall out.

So don’t be misled. If a promised treatment seems too good to be true, it probably is… even if it’s being touted on YouTube.

If you have questions about orthodontic treatment, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics” and “Moving Teeth With Orthodontics.”


WhiteSpotsonYourTeethAfterBracesMayBeAnEarlySignofEnamelLoss

After months of treatment we’ve removed your braces and your new smile emerges. Upon closer view, however, you notice a number of chalky white spots on your teeth.

These pale areas are white spot lesions (WSLs), the result of mineral breakdown from the long-term contact of acid with the enamel surface. The underlying cause is built-up bacterial plaque due to inadequate oral hygiene, and as such WSLs are the beginning stages of tooth decay.

While anyone can develop WSLs, brace wearers are highly susceptible because of the extra care required to clean around orthodontic hardware. Poor dietary habits such as frequent snacking on sugary or acidic foods and beverages also increase the risk of WSLs.

To reduce the risk of developing this condition, brace wearers must give extra attention and effort to daily oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing. The extra effort required in brushing can be aided by specialized toothbrushes designed to clean around brackets and wires, along with prescription-level fluoride toothpastes for added enamel strength. Floss threaders or a water flosser, a device that uses pulsating water under high pressure, may help you maneuver around hardware to remove plaque between teeth. It's also important to maintain a healthy mouth environment by limiting intake of sugary or acidic snacks and beverages, avoiding tobacco or excessive alcohol or caffeine, and drinking plenty of water to keep your mouth from drying out.

If you’ve already developed lesions, it’s important to stop the decay process before it causes more damage. One way is to assist your body’s natural mechanism for re-mineralizing tooth enamel with fluoride pastes or gels or re-mineralizing agents, or undergoing micro-abrasion to repair a tooth’s surface.

To improve a tooth’s appearance a procedure known as “caries infiltration” involves injecting a liquid tooth-colored resin into the lesion, which is then hardened with a curing light. The spot becomes less noticeable and appears more like normal enamel. For extensive defects, conventional bonding with composite resins or porcelain veneers can be used to cosmetically cover the tooth.

Getting ahead of the problem with effective oral hygiene and good dietary and lifestyle practices will keep WSLs at bay while you undergo orthodontic treatment. If they do develop, however, there are ways to minimize their effect and restore the look of your teeth.

If you would like more information on dental care during orthodontic treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.


By Phillip W. Hart D.D.S.
January 14, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Crowns   Bridges  

Many people consider dental work a nuisance. A missing tooth is a missing tooth, they believe, and that is that. However, did you know that a missing tooth actually causes more harm to your mouth once it is gone? Crowns and bridges can fill the gaps left from missing teeth, providing you with a happy, healthy smile.Crowns

What are crowns and bridges? 
Crowns are a tooth-shaped cap made from porcelain which fits over a broken, cracked, filled or otherwise compromised tooth. The crown strengthens and stabilizes the tooth, restoring functionality. If a tooth breaks down to the root, it oftentimes must be extracted. Crowns keep that from happening. Bridges fill the gap left behind from a missing tooth. Crowns can also be used to secure permanent fixed bridges. Crowns on either side of a prosthetic tooth create a bridge across the gap, where the prosthetic tooth sits. Crown-supported bridges are non-removable and permanent. Additionally, crowns may cover a dental implant, which replaces the tooth’s root.

Should I consider crowns and bridges? 
If you have a weakened tooth, whether from a large filling or breakage, you can benefit from a dental crown. Dentists’ number one focus in restorative dental work is saving your natural tooth. Crowns restore strength and stability to the tooth and help you avoid losing the tooth altogether. If you are already missing a tooth, a bridge reduces the chance of bone loss due to lack of stimulation. Additionally, a bridge keeps the surrounding teeth from moving to compensate for the missing tooth.

Caring for Your Crowns and Bridges
Crowns and bridges are made to last. With proper care, your crowns or bridges should last for upwards of 20 years without needing any repairs or maintenance. However, these dental appliances require diligent care. Brushing and flossing twice a day knocks away decay-causing plaque and tartar. If you have a bridge, special flossers threaded underneath the bridge clean the gums and underside of the bridge itself. Twice a year appointments with your dentist ensures we catch any problems that may arise before they develop into more serious issues.

For more information on crowns and bridges, please contact Dr. Phil Hart, DDS in Bartlett, TN. Call (901) 386-9299 to schedule your appointment for a consultation.


By Phillip W. Hart D.D.S.
January 14, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  

If you have one or more missing teeth and are considering their replacement, you have probably heard of dental implants. This revolutionary dental restoration is implanted directly into the bone of your jaw to create an incredibly sturdy and permanent foundation for your replacement tooth. American Dental Associates in Gainesville, VA can Dental Implants help you determine if dental implants are the best treatment option for your situation.

The Benefits of Dental Implants

  • Prevents Bone Atrophy: When a tooth is missing, the bone underneath it is no longer stimulated. This causes the bone to break down, or atrophy. This bone loss causes the skin to sink in or sag, resulting in a prematurely aged face. Dental implants, once installed, stimulate the bone once again, preventing bone loss from happening further.
  • Safe for Your Natural Teeth: Since the implant is connected directly to the jawbone and not held in place with the support of any other teeth, it has no negative affect on the teeth around it. Bridges require the teeth surrounding your gap to be prepared and shaped for the crowns which hold it in place. This permanently changes the tooth’s appearance, meaning it will always need a crown, connected to a bridge or on its own, to function correctly.
  • Easy Care: Caring for your dental implants is just as easy as caring for your natural teeth. Simply brush and floss twice a day as you normally would. Be sure to visit your dentist twice a year to ensure that your teeth are regularly examined and cleaned. This allows your dentist to monitor your implants’ progress and adjust them if necessary.
  • Long-Lasting and Durable: Your dental implant will integrate directly into your bone. It does not get more permanent than that. Instead of replacing only the tooth, dental implants replace the tooth’s root as well. Dental implants are made to last a lifetime.
  • The Most Natural Appearance: Your implant will blend right in with your natural teeth. The dental crown which attaches to the implant is customized to your mouth. Additionally, the crown is meticulously color-matched to the surrounding teeth. This ensures the most natural appearance possible.

For more information on dental implants in the Gainesville, VA area, please contact your dentist at American Dental Associates. Call (703) 753-6695 to schedule your appointment today!


DeterminingtheRightWhiteningApproachisKeytoBrighteningaDullSmile

Bright, naturally white teeth are a key component in a beautiful smile. But the opposite is also true: nothing diminishes an otherwise attractive smile more than stained or discolored teeth.

There is good news, however, about tooth staining: it can be greatly reduced with the right whitening technique. But before taking action we need to first uncover the cause for the staining — whether from the outside or inside of the tooth, or a combination of both.

If it’s an external cause — known as extrinsic staining — our diet is usually the source. Foods and beverages that contain tannins, like red wine, coffee or tea fall in this category, as do foods with pigments called carotenes as found in carrots and oranges. Besides limiting consumption of stain-causing foods and maintaining daily oral hygiene, you can also diminish extrinsic staining with a bleaching application.

There are two basic ways to approach this: with either a professional application at our office or with a home kit purchased at a pharmacy or retail store. Although both types use similar chemicals, the professional application is usually stronger and the whitening effect is obtained quicker and may last longer.

Discoloration can also occur within a tooth, known as intrinsic staining, and for various reasons. It can occur during tooth development, as with childhood overexposure to fluoride or from the antibiotic tetracycline. Poor development of enamel or dentin (the main sources of natural tooth color), tooth decay, root canal treatments or trauma are also common causes of intrinsic discoloration.

There are techniques to reduce the effects of intrinsic staining, such as placing a bleaching agent inside the tooth following a root canal treatment. In some cases, the best approach may be to restore the tooth with a crown or porcelain veneer. The latter choice is a thin layer of dental material that is permanently bonded to the outer, visible portion of the tooth: it’s life-like color and appearance covers the discoloration, effectively renewing the person’s smile.

If you’ve been embarrassed by stained teeth, visit us for a complete examination. We’ll recommend the right course of action to turn your dull smile into a bright, attractive one.

If you would like more information on treatments for teeth staining, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening.”