My Blog

Posts for: March, 2020

By Petra I Mayer DDS
March 23, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: missing teeth  

When you look at the top row of a normal smile, you'll see symmetrical pairs: the central incisors in the middle, flanked by the lateral incisors and the canine (or eye) teeth on the outside of them.

Sometimes, though, teeth may not form as they should: in fact, it's one of the more common congenital defects with one in five people having missing or deformed teeth, often the upper lateral incisors. In the latter case, it's not uncommon for the eye teeth to drift into the missing lateral incisors' spaces next to the central incisors. This creates a smile even a layperson can tell is off.

There is a way to treat this with orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry that will transform that person's smile while restoring better mouth function too. It's often a long process, however, that's best begun early and must be precisely timed with dental development.

Using braces, we move the drifted teeth back to their proper positions, which will make room for a future dental restoration. It's usually best to begin this treatment during late childhood or early adolescence. The next step is to fill the newly-created space with prosthetic (false) teeth.

Dental implants are an ideal choice since they're durable and life-like, and won't require permanent alteration of adjacent teeth. They do, however, require a certain amount of bone volume at the site to support them; if the volume is insufficient we may have to place a bone graft to stimulate new growth.

It's also best not to install implants until the jaw has finished development, usually in the late teens or early adulthood. In the interim between tooth repositioning and implants we can customize a retainer or other removable appliance with a false tooth to occupy the space. This not only enhances the smile, it also prevents the repositioned teeth from drifting back.

These steps toward achieving a new smile take time and sometimes a team of specialists. But all the effort will be rewarded, as a person born without teeth can have a new smile and improved oral health.

If you would like more information on treating dental development deficiencies, 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 “When Permanent Teeth Don't Grow.”

By Petra I Mayer DDS
March 13, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

How do you know if you have periodontal (gum) disease? Sometimes your gums will tell you—when they’re red, swollen or bleed easily.

But your gums can also look and feel healthy while a gum infection still brews below the gum line. In this case, a regular dental visit could make the difference. Even without overt signs of infection, we may be able to detect gum disease with a slender metal instrument called a periodontal probe.

Gum disease is a bacterial infection that most of the time arises from dental plaque. This thin film of bacteria and food particles accumulates on tooth surfaces, especially because of poor or non-existent oral hygiene. A continuing infection can weaken gum tissues and cause them to pull away or detach from the teeth.

Normally, there’s a slight gap between the gums and teeth. But as the infected gums pull away, the gaps grow larger and deeper, forming what are known as periodontal pockets. They become filled with infection that soon spreads to the root and bone and increases the risk of tooth loss.

These pockets, though, could be the means for detecting a gum infection with the help of the periodontal probe. During a dental exam we gently insert the probe, which has millimeter depth markings etched on it, between a tooth and its adjacent gums. While a depth of 1 to 3 mm is normal, a probe measurement of 4 to 5 mm could be a sign of an early stage infection. A reading of 7 to 10 mm, on the other hand, may indicate more advanced disease.

Along with other factors, periodontal probing can be quite useful identifying both the presence and extent of a gum infection and then how to treat it. The goal of any treatment is to remove plaque and tartar (calculus) deposits that sustain the infection. But probing, along with other diagnostic methods like x-rays, could point to deeper infection below the gum line that require more extensive methods, including surgery, sometimes to access and remove the disease.

Achieving the best treatment outcome with gum disease often depends on finding the infection early. Periodontal probing helps to make that discovery more likely.

If you would like more information on diagnosing and treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

March 09, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

Gum (periodontal) disease is a severe condition that affects more than your oral hygiene. Gum disease has been related to heart disease, dementia, hormonal changes, and HIV. Identifying gum disease in its early stages is critical. For more information about gum disease, contact Dr. Petra Mayer in Albuquerque, NM.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is the result of tissue infection. Frequently, gum disease can be caused by inadequate oral hygiene or smoking. Additional factors that lead to gum disease include the following:

  • Stress
  • Heredity factors
  • Crooked teeth
  • Defective fillings
  • Dry mouth, mainly if caused by medications
  • Ill-fitting bridges

Lack of brushing and flossing causes a build-up of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria on the teeth that hardens and forms tartar.

Plaque consists of bacteria, mucus, and other particles. Once it hardens into tartar, only a professional dentist or hygienist can remove the tartar. For treatment, contact Dr. Mayer in Albuquerque, NM.

As the condition worsens, you can develop sore, bleeding gums, pain when chewing, and tooth damage or loss.

Symptoms of gum disease

You should contact your dentist as soon as possible if you develop any of the following symptoms.

  • Bad breath that doesn't respond to the usual treatment
  • Gums that become red, swollen, tender or begin to bleed
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost half of adults over age 30 have some form of gum disease. As you age, chances of gum disease increase.

Diagnosis of gum disease

Once you suspect symptoms of gum disease, you should make an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist will examine your teeth and gums to determine any potential damage and extent of the disease.

The examination will begin by searching for signs of gum inflammation. The dentist will check and measure the pockets surrounding the teeth. If your gums are healthy, the pockets are usually between 1 and 3 millimeters. The dentist will also want to know your medical history, particularly conditions such as diabetes and smoking, that can increase your risk of gum disease. Your dentist may also take x-rays to see if there is bone loss.

Treatment in Albuquerque, NM

Controlling the infection is the first step. All procedures require that you maintain daily care of good oral hygiene. There are multiple methods, but the best approach is, to begin with non-surgical treatments.

Non-surgical treatments include scaling and root cleaning. This process removes plaque and tartar for deep pockets and removes bacterial toxins from the tooth's root. Dentists also provide custom trays that you can use to deliver medication at home.

Surgical treatments include the following methods.

  • Grafting to replace damaged gum tissue
  • Treating with laster instead of scaling and root cleaning
  • Regenerating bone and tissue loss
  • Reshaping gum and bone to expose more of the crown
  • Replacing lost teeth with dental implants

Determining the best treatment to maintain your oral health should be discussed with your dentist. You should be aware of the symptoms and immediately contact your dentist if you notice gum disease symptoms.

For more information about gum disease, call Dr. Mayer in Albuquerque at (505) 881-2400.

By Petra I Mayer DDS
March 03, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures

Whether she’s singing, dancing or acting, Jennifer Lopez is a performer who is known for giving it all she’s got. But during one show, Lopez recently admitted, she gave a bit more then she had planned.

“I chipped my tooth on stage,” she told interviewers from Entertainment Tonight, “and had to finish the show….I went back thinking ‘Can I finish the show like this?’”

With that unlucky break, J-Lo joins a growing list of superstar singers—including Taylor Swift and Michael Buble—who have something in common: All have chipped their teeth on microphones while giving a performance.

But it’s not just celebs who have accidental dental trouble. Chips are among the most common dental injuries—and the front teeth, due to their position, are particularly susceptible. Unfortunately, they are also the most visible. But there are also a number of good ways to repair chipped, cracked or broken teeth short of replacing them.

For minor to moderate chips, cosmetic bonding might be recommended. In this method, special high-tech resins, in shades that match your natural teeth, are applied to the tooth’s surface. Layers of resin, cured with a special light, will often restore the tooth to good appearance. Best of all, the whole process can often be done in just one visit to the dental office, and the results can last for several years.

For a more permanent repair—or if the damage is more extensive—dental veneers may be another option. Veneers are wafer-thin shells that cover the entire front surface of one or more teeth. Strong, durable and natural-looking, they can be used to repair moderate chips, cracks or irregularities. They can also help you get a “red-carpet” smile: brilliant white teeth with perfectly even spacing. That’s why veneers are so popular among Hollywood celebs—even those who haven’t chipped their teeth!

Fortunately, even if the tooth is extensively damaged, it’s usually possible to restore it with a crown (cap), a bridge—or a dental implant, today’s gold standard for whole-tooth replacement. But in many cases, a less complex type of restoration will do the trick.

Which tooth restoration method did J-Lo choose? She didn’t say—but luckily for her adoring fans, after the microphone mishap she went right back up on stage and finished the show.

If you have a chipped tooth but you need to make the show go on, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Artistic Repair of Chipped Teeth With Composite Resin” and “Porcelain Veneers.”