|Oral Health Information from A to Z
Please select an item below for more
An abscessed tooth is
collection of infectious material that results in a bacterial infection in the
center of the tooth. The infection will congregate in the affected area and
persist until the bacterial infection is properly treated, an abscess will form
as a result of the infection. In order to properly address the infection the
pus must be drained from the infected area. An abscessed tooth is typically a
result of untreated tooth decay. It is important to properly treat all tooth
decay to avoid a potential abscess. An abscessed tooth can also result from
trauma to the tooth such as a chipped or broken tooth.
disease (gum disease) can also cause an abscess to form in the area of concern.
Gum disease causes the gum tissue to pull away from the tooth creating a pocket
which can trap food. An exposed pocket will allow bacteria to begin to grow and
buildup in the area. An untreated abscess can also cause bone loss and if the
bone loss becomes to extensive, the tooth will become loose and may have to be
extracted. As the infection begins to spread and bone loss occurs, you may
experience less pain, but the infection will persist until the area is properly
treated. If you think you may have an abscessed tooth, it is important that you
see us immediately. If the infection is not treated, it could possibly spread
to other areas of the body and potentially become life threatening.
Symptoms of a tooth
||Pain and irritation, pain is elevated
when pressure is applied to the area.
||Red, swollen, and irritated
||Odd taste in your mouth.
||Swelling in face, jaw or gum
||Bump on the cheek side or tongue side of
the gum near the infected area.
||Antibiotics may be prescribed to destroy
the bacteria causing the infection.
||A hole may be placed in the tooth to
allow the infection to drain.
||If necessary, a small incision will be
made in the surrounding tissue to allow drainage.
||A root canal treatment may be necessary
if the infection and decay is to extensive.
||If the root canal treatment is not
successful an extraction may be recommended.
There are many different
forms of medications available to create a more relaxed and comfortable dental
visit. There are medications to control pain, create a relaxed feeling, and
others that can put you to sleep during the dental treatment. It is best to ask
us which options are available and would suit your best needs. We will take
many factors into consideration when deciding which form anesthesia is best for
you: the types of dental procedures being performed, health history, allergies,
anxiety level, and any other potential complications.
is used to prevent pain by blocking nerves in the area being treated. Topical
anesthesia can also be applied to the area to reduce sensitivity and numb the
tissue in preparation for the local anesthetic injection. Topical anesthetic is
also used to reduce sensitivity during cleanings and other invasive procedures.
Injectable anesthesia is typically administered for placement of fillings,
crown preparations, root canals, extractions, and treatment of periodontal
Analgesics are the most common form of anesthesia to address
toothache or pain after a dental treatment has been completed. These
medications include aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. For more severe pain
wet may prescribe a narcotic based medication such as those containing codeine,
which act on the central nervous system to relieve pain.
Sedation is typically reserved for more complex dental treatment, extreme
dental phobic patients, and individuals that cannot receive dental care under
local anesthetic for one reason or another. This type of sedation does have
some risks, which is why it is important that you know your health status, and
tell us about any illnesses or health concerns you may have. If you have
questions or concerns about your oral health care, don't hesitate to talk to
Dr. Howell and discuss your options for your dental care.
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
breath is an unpleasant condition that can be embarrassing and a potential
health concern. Some individuals that have bad breath aren't even aware that
they have a problem. Some patients are more prone to bad breath because of
health problems, medications, low salivary flow, dietary regiment or dry mouth.
Maintaining good oral hygiene by properly flossing, brushing and use of
mouthwash can sometimes only temporarily mask the odor. Dieters can also
develop an unpleasant odor because of infrequent eating habits. Food that is
collected between teeth, on the tongue, and in the gums can begin to rot and
cause a foul odor. If you are concerned about halitosis, please consult with
Dr. Howell about the potential causes and treatment options.
is a condition that occurs when the flow of salvia decreases and causes a dry
mouth. Saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth and remove any food particles
from the mouth that may cause an odor. Changes in oral health, anxiety,
medications, breathing through your mouth, aging, and salivary gland issues can
cause a reduction of saliva flow. Some indications of dry mouth include cracked
lips, sticky feeling, difficulty in chewing, swallow, talking or tasting, and
Bad breath can also indicate the possibility of a medical
disorder. These medical concerns can include:
||Cancer in the digestion
||Infection of respiratory
||Liver or kidney concerns.
your mouth is healthy we may refer you to your general health provider or a
specialist to determine the cause of your halitosis. It is important that you
visit your dental health location for regular checkups to allow us to check for
periodontal disease, xerostomia or any other conditions that may cause bad
breath. Good oral hygiene is crucial to help with the reduction of bad breath,
continue to brush 2 times a day, floss regularly, and clean your tongue to
remove bacteria. Please consult with us about treating your halitosis and any
possible products that could be helpful to you.
Everyone loves the appearance of a beautiful, healthy
looking white smile and there are a variety of options available to achieve
that beautiful white smile. Many of our dental facilities have at home and
in-office whitening options. Whitening options may not completely reverse all
types of discoloration such as brownish-colored or grayish-hued teeth. For the
most part individuals with yellowish-hued tooth coloration will respond well to
bleaching. It is important to understand that the whiteners will not effect
existing restorations such as crowns or tooth-colored fillings. In cases of
existing restorations you may want to consider replacement of the restorations
prior to proceeding with your bleaching process.
Internal bleaching is
used to lighten a discolored tooth a chemical process. This procedure may
require more than one office visit and each visit may take from 30 minutes to
one hour. It involves placing a chemical oxidizing agent within the coronal
portion of a tooth to remove discoloration. The etiology of tooth discoloration
can be intrinsic, extrinsic, or both; it can involve dentin, enamel, or pulp;
it may be brought on by diet, age, or habits; it may be local or systemic.
There are several products available for use at home, which we can
dispensed. These products contain peroxide(s), which actually bleach the tooth
enamel. These products typically rely on percent carbamide peroxide as the
bleaching agent, carbamide peroxide comes in several different concentrations
(10% & 15%). Peroxide-containing whiteners come in a gel and are placed in
a bleach tray that is fabricated by our staff to provide a custom fit.
There are some potential side-affects to using a whitening system,
teeth can become sensitive during the period when you are using the bleaching
solution. In many cases, this sensitivity is only temporary and will subside
once the whitening treatment is completed. Use of a fluoride gel in your bleach
tray after your bleaching session is strongly recommended to reduce potential
sensitivity. Please ask us which options is best for you and if you are
eligible to receive whitening.
bridge may be recommended if you're missing one or more teeth. Gaps left by
missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift into the
empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite. The imbalance caused by missing teeth
can also lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
Bridges are commonly used to replace one or more missing teeth. They span the
space where the teeth are missing. Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth or
implants surrounding the empty space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as
anchors for the bridge. A replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to
the crowns that cover the abutments. As with crowns, you have a choice of
materials for bridges. Dr. Howell can help you decide which to use, based on
the location of the missing tooth (or teeth), its function, aesthetic
considerations and cost. Porcelain or ceramic bridges can be matched to the
color of your natural teeth.
Unlike a removable bridge, which you can
take out and clean, since the bridge is permanently fixed bridge and if
necessary should only be removed in our office to avoid fracturing your natural
teeth or damaging the bridge. Implant bridges are also very effective at
replacing missing teeth without having to rely on natural teeth for support.
Depending on which type of bridge we recommend, its success depends on its
foundation. So it's very important to keep your remaining teeth healthy and
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding and
Bruxism is a clinical term for clenching, gnashing,
or grinding of the teeth. This condition affects both children and adults. Some
individuals with bruxism unconsciously clench their teeth together during the
day, often when they are stressed or tense. Clenching can exert an immense
amount of pressure and stress on the muscles, tissues, and other surrounding
structures of the jaw. Clenching can cause jaw joint disorders, headaches, neck
pain, ear pain, muscle tension, and excessive wear on the occlusion surface of
the teeth. These symptoms are referred to as TMJ problems (temporomandibular
joint). If clenching of the jaw is not properly treated it can cause permanent
damage to the temporomandibular joint.
The majority of the
individuals that experience clenching throughout the day also are affected by
nighttime grinding. Grinding is when the individual slides their teeth back and
forth over each other in a sideways motion. This is often a subconscious
behavior that is not realized by the individual. Typically the condition is not
diagnosed until we observe significant occlusion wear, visual cracks and
fractures, abfractions, and complaints of jaw pain by the patient. A partner or
significant other will often times be the first to hear the noise of the
individual grinding their teeth at night. If left untreated, excessive grinding
can cause significant damage to the occlusion surface of the teeth. Researchers
have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of bruxism, but many specialists
agree that stress and anxiety play a major role.
While the symptoms of
bruxism can be treated, usually the condition cannot be cured. Treatment
typically focuses on reliving acute symptoms and limiting permanent damage to
teeth. Stress and anxiety must be considered as a factor in bruxism. Reducing
stress can be achieved by a number of techniques such as visual imagery and
autosuggestion, aversive conditioning (such as awakening the patient during
episodes of teeth grinding), massed negative practice (the patient voluntarily
clenches the teeth for 5 seconds and then relaxes the jaw for 5 seconds),
pharmacologic therapy to suppress REM sleep, and changes in sleep position
(lying supine with neck and knee support allows the lower jaw to rest). We may
also suggest a nightguard or splint to prevent damage to the teeth. The
appliance is custom made to your bite for proper fit and comfort.
Over-the-counter appliances are not recommended because of the ill-fit and
possible dislodging of the appliance during bruxism. Please consult with Dr.
Howell if you believe you are clenching or grinding your teeth.
Canker/Cold sores are
unpleasant and irritating and typically caused by a bacterial, viral or fungal
infection. They can also be caused by an ill-fitting denture, fractured tooth,
or orthodontic appliance or wire. Some patients with a disease or medical
disorder may also have mouth sores. Most mouth sores come and go within a week,
any sores that lasts a week or longer and return on a regular basis, should be
examined by Dr. Howell.
A canker sore is a painful, open sore in the
mouth, which is white or yellow and surrounded by a bright red area. Canker
sores will develop inside of the mouth and are non-contagious. Canker sores
usually appear on the inner surface of the cheeks and lips, tongue, soft
palate, and the base of the gums. It is possible to have several canker sores
or only one and they often return. Canker sores can run in families. They may
also be linked to problems with the body's immune system. The sores may occur
after a mouth injury due to dental work, aggressive tooth cleaning, or biting
the tongue or cheek. The exact cause of canker sores is uncertain but many
experts contribute their presence to immune system problems, bacteria, fatigue,
stress, allergies or viruses. Intestinal problems, such as ulcerative colitis
and Crohn's disease, also seem to make some people more susceptible.
Canker sores typically heal on their own after a week or two, but an
outbreak may occur. It is important to avoid hot, spicy, or acidic foods, which
can irritate the sore and prolong the healing process. Rinsing with warm salt
water will also help and speed up the healing process. Antibiotics and some
oral bandages can reduce a secondary infection. Cold sores that are often times
referred as fever blisters or herpes simplex (HSV-1) are groups of fluid-filled
blisters. The outbreak usually occurs around the lips, mouth, and occasionally
inside the mouth. It is highly recommended not to come into contact with any
other person while you experience a cold sore, as the virus can be easily
transmitted. The initial infection (primary herpes), which often occurs before
adulthood, may be confused with a cold or flu and can cause painful lesions to
erupt throughout the mouth. It is important to not touch an active cold sore
and then touch other parts of your body. Be especially careful about
touching your eyes, if it gets into the eyes, HSV-1 can cause a lot of damage.
In fact, if you have a cold sore or you're around someone with a cold sore, try
to wash your hands as often as possible. Once a person is infected with primary
herpes, the virus stays in the body and causes occasional attacks, for some
individuals they will only carry the virus but will never show signs of its
presence and will remain inactive. An attack may follow a fever, sunburn, skin
abrasions or emotional upset.
Cold sores usually heal within 7-10 days
by themselves. Although there are no prescriptions that can make the infection
go away, over-the-counter topical anesthetics can provide some relief.
Prescription antiviral drugs may reduce these kinds of viral infections.
Leukoplakia is a thick, whitish-color patch that forms on the inside of
the cheeks, gums or tongue. Not all white patches are Leukoplakia, just the
ones that cannot be rubbed off and cannot be diagnosed as any other condition
or disease. It is important to keep an eye on these white patches because over
time they can develop into oral cancer. Many times the exact cause of these
patches cannot be identified, however, many experts believe the patches are
caused by excess cell growth and are more common for individuals that use
tobacco products. We may recommend a biopsy if the patch appears threatening.
Please notify us if you believe that you may have an advanced case of
In treating Leukoplakia, we will examine the lesions and
possibly recommend a biopsy of the tissue if there appears to be problem. The
results will help determine how to manage the disease. Types of treatment
depend on several things, including the location of the Leukoplakia, size, age,
habits, and other medical problems. Treatment begins with removing the factors
that contribute to the lesion in the first place: quitting tobacco, replacing
ill-fitting dentures, attempt to curb cheek biting, or replace current bridges.
For cases that are moderate or severe, removal of the white patches may be done
by traditional scalpel excision, electrocautery, liquid nitrogen application,
or laser surgery. Each of these removal options has its advantages and
disadvantages, it is important to discuss which removal process is best for
decay is the destruction of tooth enamel, which occurs when foods containing
carbohydrates are frequently left on and in-between the teeth over a prolonged
period of time. Plaque interacts with food deposits on your teeth to produce
acid that will slowly dissolve the calcium in your teeth, the surface of the
tooth..."enamel" is 97% calcium, causing tooth decay and some of the other
products cause gum disease and bad breath. The acidic plaque rests against the
tooth and the acid dissolves the calcium molecules from the tooth surface. When
enough calcium dissolves from the tooth surfaces, the surface breaks and forms
a hole. Cavities have been identified as a bacterial infection caused by a
specific bacteria. The bacteria that caused the decay are called streptococcus
mutans. If tooth decay is left untreated for a prolonged period of time the
complications can be intensive, lengthy, and costly to treat.
decay can be prevented by:
||Brush twice a day with a fluoride based
||Utilizing fluoride trays on a routine
basis to remineralize your teeth.
||Clean between your teeth daily with
||Eat nutritious and balanced meals and
limit frequent snacking.
|| Check with us about receiving tooth
||Visit us regularly for professional
cleanings and oral examination.
Balanced pH levels and proper oral hygiene will help prevent tooth decay,
however, some individuals are more prone to tooth decay than others even if
they are taking all the necessary steps in tooth decay prevention.
Changes that occur with aging make cavities an adult problem as well
and not solely isolated to children. Recession of the gums creating separation
from the teeth, combined with an increased potential of periodontal disease can
expose tooth roots to plaque and bacteria. Tooth roots are softer than enamel
and more susceptible to caries if exposed. The majority of people over the age
of 50 have some signs of gum recession, this combined with changes in salivary
flow, health issues, and an increase in medication can expose this age
demographic to higher amounts of tooth decay and periodontal disease. Decay
around edges or margins of existing restorations are common to older adults.
Using fluoride will help prevent decay and remineralize your teeth. Utilizing a
diagnodent (laser technology) can help us determine if a patient has failing
restorations or an area of concern. Please ask us if a diagnodent assessment
would be a vital asset to maintaining your oral health.
A dental crown is a
tooth-shaped "cap" that is placed over a misshapen or broken tooth to restore
its shape and size, strength, and/or to improve its appearance. A crown is not
only intended to improve the aestethics of a tooth but also to aid in
functionality of the tooth structure. Crowns can be used to salvage a tooth
that has been badly decayed or broken and increase the strength of a weakened
tooth. A crown can be utilized to cover and support a tooth that has a large
restoration where there isn't a large portion of natural tooth remaining. A
crown is also used to cover a dental implant.
Crowns come in a variety
of different materials including all gold, porcelain-fused-to-gold, all resin
or all ceramic. There are also instances when a crown can be a mix of two
different types of materials. Patients that have a small clearance between
opposing teeth or that grind their teeth may benefit from the advantages of a
gold crown. Gold crowns are fabricated from yellow gold and give patients more
room for placement and the mailability of the gold are gentle on the opposing
tooth. These crowns are typically reserved for molars. For areas of aesthetics
an all ceramic crown may be recommended to give natural and cosmetic
appearance. Please ask us about possible crown upgrades and which type of crown
is best for you.
It is possible for your newly seated crown to create
discomfort or sensitivity to your natural supporting tooth. Your newly crowned
tooth may be sensitive immediately after the procedure as the anesthesia begins
to wear off. If the tooth that has been crowned still has a nerve in it, you
may experience some hot and cold sensitivity. Pain or sensitivity that occurs
when you apply pressure to the area usually means that the crown is too high on
the tooth. If this is the case, Dr. Howell may be able to make a minimal
adjustment to the occlusion of the crown or the opposing tooth.
made of all porcelain can sometimes chip. If the chip is small, a composite
resin can be used to repair the chip with the crown remaining in your mouth. If
the chipping is extensive, the crown may need to be replaced for proper fit.
Sometimes crowns fall off which can be caused by the cement washes out
from under the crown. Not only does this allow the crown to become loose, it
allows bacteria to leak in and cause decay to the tooth that remains. If your
crown feels loose, contact our office. Crowns also fall off because of an
improper fit or a lack of cement. You can replace the crown temporarily using
dental adhesive or temporary tooth cement that is sold in stores for this
purpose. Contact our office immediately. We may be able to recement your crown
in place; if not, a new crown will need to be made.
A dark line next to
the gum line of your crowned tooth is normal, particularly if you have a
porcelain-fused-to-metal crown with a metal margin. This dark line is simply
the metal of the crown showing through. This can be reduced by adding a
cosmetic upgrade porcelain margin to the restoration (please ask Dr. Howell
about this crown upgrade). All-porcelain crowns are also a great option to
eliminate the dark line appearance.
A denture is a removable appliance that is
used to replace missing teeth and surrounding tissue. There are two types of
dentures available, complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used
when all teeth are missing in an arch and a partial denture is used to replace
missing teeth in an arch that has natural teeth still remaining.
some cases, an immediate denture can be fabricated prior to removing the teeth,
which will be placed at the time of extraction. The benefit of an immediate
denture is that the patient does not have to be without teeth during the
healing period. Shortly after the extractions and placement of the immediate
denture, the gums and jawbone will begin to shrink. As a result the immediate
denture will need adjustments for proper fit throughout the healing process. An
immediate denture should be considered a temporary solution until a complete
denture can be fabricated.
Complete dentures are made after the teeth
have been removed and the gum tissue has completely healed, a conventional
denture is ready for placement in the mouth about 8 to 12 weeks after the teeth
have been removed. In some cases a longer amount of healing time may be
required before starting the fabrication process. It is important that the
tissue and jaw bones are completely healed before starting a complete denture.
Even if you wear full dentures, you still must take good care of your
mouth. Brush your gums, tongue and palate every morning with a soft-bristled
brush before you insert your dentures to stimulate circulation in your tissues
and help remove plaque.
New dentures may feel awkward for a few weeks
after initial placement until you become accustomed to them. The dentures may
feel loose while the cheek and tongue muscles learn to operate with the new
appliance. It is possible to experience soreness or minor irritation as well as
a temporary increase in salivary flow. As the mouth becomes accustomed to the
new dentures these issue should begin to subside. Two or three follow-up
appointments may be required to make any necessary adjustments for proper fit
or to address any sore areas that the denture has created. It is important that
you consult with Dr, Howell if any problems persist, particularly prolonged
irritation or soreness.
Dentures are delicate and can easily break if
not properly handled. When the dentures are not being used it is important to
clean the dentures to remove food deposits and plaque. Daily maintenance is
important to prevent permanent staining and helps the gums stay healthy. It is
best to use a soft bristled toothbrush to clean the denture, hard bristled
toothbrushes can damage the denture. Please consult with us on which
over-the-counter cleaning products would be best for your particular denture.
A dry socket is
a complication of an extraction. A dry socket is any tooth socket in which a
patient is having pain due to the loss of the blood clot thus exposing the bone
to air, food, and fluids along with an offensive odor. A dry socket can be very
painful for three to five days. It is normal to have some pain after an
extraction, but the pain should begin to diminish after the second day.
Patients should avoid smoking or any sucking actions such as sneezing, sucking
or spitting. The sucking action creates a negative pressure, which can dislodge
the blood clot that has developed at the extraction site. The blood clot helps
healing and prevents the area from developing a dry socket.
extractions will have some level of discomfort at the extraction site. In most
cases where a dry socket forms, the patient will typically notice that the
level of discomfort is not diminishing with in the first few days. If the pain
begins to intensify between three to five days after the extraction, you should
us or your oral surgeon to address the pain.
If a dry socket does
develop Dr. Howell or your oral surgeon will place medicated gauze in the
affected area. Once the medication is placed the pain should significantly
diminish. The use of an irrigation syringe to keep the area clean and free of
debris may also be recommended.
An extraction is a removal a nature tooth
because the tooth is non-salvageable, experienced trauma, crowding, severe bone
loss in the area due to periodontal disease, or teeth associated with cysts or
tumors. There are two types of extractions, simple and surgical.
simple extraction is one in which we can remove the tooth by loosening the
surrounding tissue, grasping the crown of the tooth above the gum line and then
applying side-to-side lateral motion on the tooth until it loosens from the
bone. Teeth are normally held in the bone by a thin sheathe of soft tissue. The
key to simple extractions is to rock the tooth side to side slowly enlarging
the socket in the bone while at the same time breaking the ligament, which
binds the tooth in the socket.
A surgical extraction is more difficult
and invasive procedure to remove a tooth. Typically this involves the removal
of the root of the tooth by using a sharp instrument that can be forced between
the root and the surrounding bone. When dealing with multiple rooted teeth, the
roots are separated and individually removed. An incision in the tissue
surrounding the tooth may also be made to raise a flap of gum, exposing the
tooth, roots, and surrounding bone. The use a drill to remove obstructing bone
to aid the extraction of the tooth may also be necessary. Once the tooth has
been removed from the bone sutures are placed in the surrounding tissue so the
healing process can begin.
After the tooth has been extracted we will
advise you on a post-operative regimen to follow. In some cases, a small amount
of bleeding at the extraction site is normal. Avoid anything that may prolong
the healing time. It is best not to smoke or rinse your mouth vigorously, or
drink through a straw for 48 hours. These activities can dislodge the blood
clot that has formed at the extraction site and delay healing. It is important
to continue to brush and floss your teeth as usual, but avoid abrasive cleaning
the area of the tooth socket. Keep the area clean to avoid a buildup of food
and debris in tooth socket. You should be able to return to your normal daily
cleaning regiment at the extraction site within 5-7 days after the extraction.
Please consult with your us or oral surgeon if you believe that there may be a
problem with the extraction site.
There are two types of fillings available
to restore missing tooth structure, composite/resin (tooth-colored) or amalgam
Composite fillings (tooth-colored) are comprised of
glass and quartz filler in a resin medium that creates a tooth-colored filling.
Composite fillings are beneficial for many reasons:
||Provide good durability.
||Resistant to fractures in small to
medium sized restorations.
||Can withstand a large amount of chewing
||Aesthetic and cosmetic
||Requires the removal of less tooth
structure when preparing the tooth.
|| Material is bonded to the tooth rather
than held in with retention, which allows for more conservation of natural
Amalgam fillings (silver) have been used by dentists
since the mid-1800's, when they became the first true standard of filling
material. Amalgam is a stable alloy that is created by mixing mercury, silver,
tin, copper and other metallic elements. Once the amalgam capsule is thoroughly
mixed the dentist will begin packing amalgam in the area where the decay was
removed. The dentist will typically remove healthy tooth structure in order to
allow retention of the mercury filling. There have been many studies regarding
the safety of mercury based filling and the results have shown that they are
safe in accordance with dental standards. Amalgam fillings are very durable,
easy to place, resistant to wear, and many times less expensive than composite
based fillings. Patients that have received amalgam fillings have complained of
short-term hot and cold sensitivity after the placement of the filling. One of
the biggest complaints by patients of amalgam fillings is the unnatural
appearance of the silver.
*Dr. Howell is aware of the
recent studies regarding the safety of amalgam, but has chosen to abandon the
use of mercury-based amalgam fillings in the best interests of our patients and
to maintain a high standard of dental care. If you have any questions regarding
this issue please ask prior to proceeding with the placement of your fillings.
Research and studies have found that the use of
fluoride in individuals of all ages has been major factor in the reduction of
dental caries. When used appropriately and in moderation fluoride is safe and
effective in preventing dental caries. There are three primary factors that
contribute to dental caries (tooth decay): a susceptible site on a tooth, an
infective strain of bacteria (streptococcus mutans), and sugars or other
nutrients that stimulate the bacteria's growth. As these bacteria grow, they
produce an acidic by-product that can dissolve the minerals in the enamel and
eventually destroy the tooth. Fluoride directly inhibits bacterial growth so
less acid is produced in the mouth and fluoride stored in plaque is released
when the bacteria produce enough acid to lower the acid-base balance on the
tooth. Fluoride enters the tooth through tiny pores in the enamel, which
replace the hydroxyl ions of the hydroxyapatite crystals. These ions and
crystals are part of the tooth's enamel; the fluoride helps form a new compound
called fluorapatite, which strengthens the tooth. This form of enamel is less
soluble to acid and helps protect against decay. Fluoride can be found in many
different sources such as fluoridated water, toothpaste, tablets, drops, and
rinses. Many of our dental practice can fabricate fluoride trays that can very
effective in properly administering the fluoride to the teeth. Please consult
with us about the benefits of using fluoride trays to boost your oral health
and reduce your exposure to tooth decay.
Periodontal disease is an
infection that attacks the tissue and bone structure that supports your teeth.
The sulcus is a shallow u-shaped crevice located between the tooth and gums.
Gum disease attacks just below the gum line in the sulcus where the supporting
tissue and attachments of the tooth begin to breakdown. As the supporting
tissues are damaged by the infection, the sulcus begins to develop a pocket.
The depth and magnitude of the pocket depend on the severity and advancement of
the periodontal disease. Periodontal classifications are determined by the
severity of the disease. The two major stages of gum disease are gingivitis and
periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder form of periodontal disease that only
affects the gums. Gingivitis may lead to more serious, destructive forms of
periodontal disease called periodontitis. Treatment methods of periodontal
disease depend on the severity and extent of its progress.
factors that can increase the likelihood of developing periodontal
||All forms of tobacco use
||Systemic diseases such as diabetes.
||Some types of medication such as
steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium
channel blockers and oral contraceptives.
||Poor fitting bridges.
Warning signs of periodontal disease:
||Gums that bleed easily and
|| Red, swollen, tender gums.
|| Gums that have developed pockets in the
sulcus or tissue separation from tooth.
|| Persistent bad breath or odd taste.
||Permanent teeth that have become
||Changes in your natural bite or the way
your teeth fit together.
|| Changes in the fitting of existing
possible to have periodontal disease without have any signs of its presence.
That is why regular checkups with your dental provider are crucial to avoiding
periodontal disease. Good home care and maintenance can help ensure that you
maintain beautiful and healthy gums. Regular brushing, flossing, balanced diet,
and regular dental visits can provide for a lifetime of healthy, beautiful
A dental implant is an artificial tooth
root that is placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental
implants are an ideal option for people with good general oral health who have
lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other
reason. While high-tech in nature, dental implants are actually more tooth
saving than traditional bridgework, since implants do not rely on surrounding
teeth for support. Dental implants are so natural looking and feeling that you
will forget you ever lost a tooth. You know that your confidence about your
teeth affects how you feel about yourself, both personally and professionally.
Perhaps you hide your smile because of spaces from missing teeth. Maybe your
dentures don't feel secure. Perhaps you have difficulty chewing. Under proper
conditions, such as placement by a periodontist and diligent patient
maintenance, implants can last a lifetime. Long-term studies continue to show
improving success rates for implants. Dental implants can replace one or more
teeth without affecting bordering teeth, support a bridge and eliminate the
need for a removable partial denture, provide support for a denture, making it
more secure and comfortable.
Placement of the implant
you have a bone graft or not, the dental implant must be surgically placed in
your jawbone. This is done in the comfortable setting of your dental office
under local anesthetic. During the surgery, your gum is cut open to expose the
bone where the implant is going to be placed. Then a hole is drilled in the
bone to allow placement of the implant. Once the implant is securely placed in
the bone the gum tissue is positioned into its original location and sutures
are placed to hold the gum tissue together. The sutures are typically removed
two weeks after placement.
Once the implant is
placed bone integration begins, this is a process where the bone begins to fuse
with the dental implant. This process typically takes between 5-6 months. This
time allotment allows for a thorough healing and a strong foundation for the
Placement of abutment and implant
Approximately at the 6-months from the time of the implant
placement the area is reopened and a healing abutment is placed to allow the
gum to properly heal around the restoration. This healing abutment is screwed
into the implant and the tissue surrounding the implant is contoured for the
implant restoration. The healing abutment will remain temporarily for
approximately 4 weeks. Once the healing abutment is removed an impression for a
custom abutment and implant crown are taken of the area. The abutment and crown
typically take approximately 3 weeks for the lab to fabricate.
Importance of Early Detection
In the United States more than 30,000
cases of oral cancer is diagnosed annually. There are many forms of oral cancer
that affect the tongue, lip, cheek, throat, and other areas of the mouth. In
all cases, the cancer involves abnormal growth process, which if left untreated
can result in death. Currently only half of all patients diagnosed with oral
cancer survive more than five years.
Dr. Howell has the knowledge
and accessible tools to diagnose early signs of oral cancer and pre-cancerous
conditions. Early detection and regular check-ups can help avoid oral cancer.
If we detect any potential signs of oral cancer a scalpel biopsy or brush
biopsy may be recommended. Normally you will be referred to an oral surgeon to
address the potential issue.
Signs of Oral Cancer
||White patches along the side of the
tongue, cheek or on the lip.
||Swelling, thickening or roughness of the
tongue, cheek or floor of the mouth.
||A sore that bleeds easily or does not
||Unexplained bleeding in the mouth or
||A color change of the oral
||Persistent pain, tenderness, or numbness
in the back of the mouth or throat.
||Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking
or moving the jaw or tongue.
Other Important Information about Oral Cancer
||Smoke and chewing tobacco users are more
susceptible to oral cancer.
||Alcohol consumption in addition to
tobacco use greatly increases risk.
||Long-term exposure to the sun increases
the risk of oral cancer.
||More than 25% of oral cancers occur in
people who do not smoke and have no other risk factors.
||Individuals over the age of 40 are more
||Research has shown that diets high in
vegetables and fruits can help prevent the development of oral
(also called orthodontic appliances) can have a variety of appearance options.
The braces can either be as inconspicuous as possible or as noticeable as you
would like. Brackets that hold the retention wires in place are attached to the
facial side of the tooth. In some cases, smaller brackets can be placed on the
back of the tooth, which is significantly less noticeable. The brackets can be
made of metal, ceramics, plastics or a combination of these materials. The
brackets can either have a metallic or tooth-colored appearance.
Treatment should begin when the malocclusion often become noticeable
between the ages of 6 and 12, as the child's permanent (adult) teeth erupt.
Malocclusions can be caused by trauma, disease, malnutrition, hereditary or
unhealthy dental habits. Orthodontic treatment often begins between ages 8 and
14 but is not limited to those ages. Orthodontic treatment that begins while a
child is still growing helps produce optimal and ideal results. Children should
have an evaluation by the age of 7 as whether or not orthodontia could be
beneficial to the patient. By that age the child will have a mix of primary and
permanent teeth. We can assess areas of concern with emerging teeth and jaw
growth in the early stages of development, while primary teeth are present.
Regular dental visits starting early in life is important to an individual's
Adults can also benefit from the positive results of
orthodontics such as crooked or crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, incorrect
jaw position, or jaw-joint disorders. The fundamentals and biological process
of moving teeth is the same no matter the age of the patient. Orthodontia in
adults typically requires a longer duration of treatment because an adult's
facial bones are no longer developing or as malleable as a child's bone
structure. No matter your age, it's never too late to improve your dental
health and beautify your smile.
Most general dentists receive very
little orthodontic training in dental school. This requires that general
dentists, such as Dr. Howell, receive special training and certification to
properly practice orthodontics. Dr. Howell is
Certified and is a member of
Orthodontic Society. The purpose of orthodontics is to treat malocclusions
with braces or aligners to correct teeth and jaw alignment problems.
Dental plaque is a general term
for the diverse microbial community (predominantly bacteria) found on the tooth
surface, embedded in a matrix of polymers of bacterial and salivary origin.
Plaque develops naturally on teeth, and forms part of the defense systems of
the host by helping to prevent colonization of enamel by exogenous (and often
pathogenic) microorganisms (colonization resistance). Plaque is found
preferentially at protected and stagnant surfaces, and these are at the
greatest risk of disease and lesions. If plaque is not properly removed from
the surface of the tooth it will eventually buildup calculus or tartar.
Brushing and flossing become more difficult once the tartar and
calculus has buildup above the gum line. If the tartar and calculus begins to
develop subgingivally (beneath the gum line) the tissue may become irritated,
swollen, and may bleed. These are typically early signs of periodontal disease.
To prevent plaque buildup it is important to brush your teeth and floss your
teeth twice a day and visit your us regularly for professional cleanings and
oral examinations. We may also recommend application of a tooth sealant to
protect the tooth.
The American Heart Association (AHA) has
recommended that patients with certain heart conditions take prescription
antibiotics prior to receiving dental care to prevent infective endocarditis
(IE), which is a bacterial infection. Infective endocarditis is an infection in
the lining or valves of the heart. These bacteria enter these areas of the
heart through the bloodstream. Bacteria are naturally found in a variety of
locations throughout the body including in the mouth and on the skin. The ADA
had expressed the concern surrounding the necessity of a premedication because
of the exposure of bacteria to the bloodstream when dental work is done. Even a
standard cleaning can disrupt bacteria and any exposure to bleeding allows the
bacteria to access the bloodstream. According to latest guidelines released by
the AHA regarding the necessity of premedications prior to dental work: the
AHA recommends that most of these patients no longer need short-term
antibiotics as a preventative measure before their dental treatment. In
addition to the findings by the AHA, the Infectious Diseases Society of America
and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society also endorses the approved
The newly created guidelines are based on scientific
experts belief that the risks of taking antibiotics for preventative measures
outweigh the benefits for most patients. Some of the risks associated with
taking a premedication include: adverse reactions to antibiotics, inappropriate
use can lead to drug-resistant bacteria, and overuse of antibiotics. Experts
also found that there is no concrete evidence to support prior claims that
taking preventative antibiotics before dental work prevent infective
endocarditis in patients who are at risk of exposure to a heart infection.
New guidelines indicate that patients who have taken prophylactic
antibiotics routinely in the past but no longer need prophylactic
antibiotics include people with:
||Mitral valve prolapse.
||Rheumatic heart disease.
||Bicuspid valve disease.
|| Calcified aortic stenosis.
||Congenital heart conditions such as
ventricular septal defect, atrial septal defect and hypertrophic
guidelines for preventative antibiotics prior to a dental procedure are advised
for patients with:
||Prosthetic cardiac valve.
||Congenital heart disease only in the
incompletely repaired cyanotic congenital heart disease, including those with
palliative shunts and conduits.
congenital heart defect with prosthetic material or device, whether placed by
surgery or by catheter intervention, during the first six months after the
congenital heart defect with residual defect at the site or adjacent to the
site of a prosthetic patch or a prosthetic device.
||Cardiac transplantation recipients with
cardiac valvular disease.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), and the
Association (ADA) has found that there is insufficient evidence to
recommend the routine use of antibiotics for patients with orthopaedic implants
to prevent infections prior to having dental procedures because there is no
direct evidence that routine dental procedures cause prosthetic joint
*If there are any questions regarding the necessity of a
Premedication, please contact your primary physician for clarification.
Root canal therapy is designed to correct
disorders of the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains nerves, blood
vessels, and connective tissues (dental pulp). Abscessed teeth or infected
nerves that were once extracted can now be salvaged through the benefits of
modern endodontic procedures. Once the dental pulp is traumatized or injured
the tooth cannot repair itself on its own. The most common cause of pulp death
is a fractured tooth or deep untreated tooth decay. If left untreated the
dental pulp will become infected, pus will develop at the root tip and jawbone,
forming an abscess. The abscess can also cause damage to surrounding tissue and
Symptoms of pulpal nerve damage may include:
||Pain when pressure is applied to the
||Localized sensitivity to hot and
root canal therapy typically involves one to three dental visits. The treatment
begins with your general dentist or endodontist removing the pulp of the tooth.
The pulp chamber and tooth canal(s) are cleaned, enlarged, and sealed with a
buildup. The final step in the process is the fabrication of a dental crown
which is permanently placed over the tooth.
A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating
that is applied to the pits and grooves of the chewing surface of molar teeth
to aid in the prevention of decay caused by bacterial plaque and acids. The
sealants are easy to apply and only take a few minutes to apply to each tooth.
It is important for the occlusion surface of the tooth to be completely clean
of debris and bacteria. The sealant material is painted onto the tooth enamel,
where it bonds to the tooth. In some cases, a curing light may be used to help
the sealant dry and harden.
Sealants can withstand the normal forces
caused by chewing and will typically last for a couple years before a new
sealants need to be applied. Sealants can provide the same benefits to adults
just as they do for children. The barrier that is created by the dental sealant
will also help adults in the prevention of attracting decay and causing damage
to a tooth. It is an effective way to reduce the need for fillings and more
expensive treatment that may be required to repair the damage from cavities, so
sealants can also save you money.
TMJ/TMD describes a group of diseases that can
involve the jaw joints, the muscles that control jaw movements and the dental
occlusion. TMJ/TMD are physical disorders arising from an imbalance in the
delicate working relationship of the jay and skull with the muscles that move
the jaw as well as the nervous system associated with these systems. This
imbalance results in muscle fatigue, spasm and/or joint dysfunction, and even
changes in teeth, which in turn cause a variety if symptoms, unique for each
person. Treatment options for patients with TMJ/TMD may include stress
reduction exercise, medications, or wearing a nightguard to alleviate some the
stress on the teeth. Many conditions that cause TMJ/TMD may be related, but can
vary, and are often difficult to pinpoint. Your dentist may also recommend a
specialist to treat your TMJ/TMD conditions.
A porcelain veneer is a thin
shell of porcelain that fits over damaged, discolored, or misshaped teeth. This
procedure has several advantages over other tooth restoration procedures.
Porcelain is an extremely durable material with a color, translucence and
texture that is similar to tooth enamel. It is not susceptible to decay and
resists staining while maintaining a natural appearance. Veneers can
effectively close diastemas (gaps between teeth), lengthen and reshape teeth,
repair chipped, broken, or misshapen teeth, and cover stains and
discolorations. Benefits of porcelain veneers are that they provide a natural
tooth appearance, stain resistant, and offer a conservative approach to
changing a tooth's color and shape. Some disadvantages of porcelain veneers is
that the process is nonreversible, usually not repairable should they crack or
chip, may cause slight sensitivity to hot or cold, and teeth with veneers are
still susceptible to decay. Individuals that clinch or grind their teeth are
typically not good candidates for veneers because of the increase likelihood of
chipping or cracking of the veneers. Please ask us how veneers can add to your
teeth (Third Molars)
Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last
to come in and can frequently cause problems. Most often, they are trapped in
the jawbone or gums, and fail to come in at all. These impacted teeth can cause
many problems; they may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum, or even
remain trapped beneath the gum & bone. Partial eruption can leave an
opening around the tooth in which bacteria can grow and eventually cause
infection. The results include swelling, stiffness, pain & illness. If
these teeth are not removed, they will continue to grow damaging adjacent
teeth. Extraction of third molars is typically recommended when the tooth is
only partial erupted and no longer breaking through the tissue, eruption is
causing crowding of other teeth, cyst formation that begins to destroy
surrounding tissue and bone or taking preventative measures to avoid any
possible complications in the future.
|Dental Health of Longmont
|1260 South Hover Street, Unit H, Longmont, CO.
|Serving the preventative, restorative,
cosmetic and dental wellness needs for Longmont, Berthod, Mead, Niwot, Dacono,
Firestone and Frederick.
Top of Page
Copyright © 2013 Longmont Dental Health