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Compared to other dental restorations—a few of which have been around for over a century—implants are a relatively recent development. But even though it's just now entering its fourth decade, recent advances have catapulted implant therapy well beyond where it began.
That's due mainly to digital technology. Two examples of this, computed tomography (CT) and 3-D printing, are increasing the accuracy and efficiency of implant placement.
Properly placing an implant is one of the most important elements in achieving a natural and attractive result. But finding the best location is often difficult due to a lack of suitable bone volume, the patient's bite or the proximity of anatomical structures like nerves and blood vessels. CT imaging, especially Cone Beam CT scanners (CBCT), is helping to make implant placement planning easier.
Unlike the static, two-dimensional views of standard x-rays, CBCT takes hundreds of images and digitally blends them together to create a virtual 3-D model of the patient's jaw and face. Dentists can view this highly detailed model on a computer monitor from various vantage points and better identify possible obstructions. With better information about what "lies beneath," they can more accurately pinpoint the best implant site.
Creating the ideal plan is one thing—successfully implementing it is another. Dentists often create a surgical guide that helps them drill in precisely the right positions during surgery. The guide, which resembles a mouthguard, fits over the gums and contains marker locations for drilling.
Many dentists are now using 3-D printing to create these surgical guides. A 3-D printer turns a digital model of the guide based on measurements of the patient's mouth and proposed implant locations into an actual physical object "printed out" layer by layer of special polymer material. The end product can be more precise than guides created by other means.
These and other technological developments are helping implant therapy rise to a new level of success. With the resulting increase in accuracy, efficiency and less treatment time, tomorrow's implant patients will be the ultimate beneficiaries.
If you would like more information on restoring missing teeth with dental implants, 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 “How Technology Aids Dental Implant Therapy.”
If there’s one essential tool for protecting your dental health, it’s the humble toothbrush. The basic manual brush with a long, slender handle and short-bristled head is still effective when used skillfully. The market, though, is full of choices, all of them touting their brand as the best.
So how do you choose? You can cut through any marketing hype with a few simple guidelines.
First, understand what you’re trying to accomplish with brushing: removing dental plaque, that thin film of bacteria and food particles on tooth surfaces that’s the main cause of dental disease. Brushing also stimulates gum tissue and helps reduce inflammation.
With that in mind, you’ll first want to consider the texture of a toothbrush’s bristles, whether they’re stiff (hard) or more pliable (soft). You might think the firmer the better for removing plaque, but actually a soft-bristled brush is just as effective in this regard. Stiffer bristles could also damage the gums over the long term.
Speaking of bristles, look for those that have rounded tips. In a 2016 study, less rounded tips increased gum recession in the study’s participants by 30%. You should also look for toothbrushes with different bristle heights: longer bristles at the end can be more effective cleaning back teeth.
As far as size and shape, choose a brush that seems right and comfortable for you when you hold it. For children or people with dexterity problems, a handle with a large grip area can make the toothbrush easier to hold and use.
And look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, something you may have seen on some toothpaste brands. It means the toothbrush in question has undergone independent testing and meets the ADA’s standards for effectiveness. That doesn’t mean a particular brush without the seal is sub-standard—when in doubt ask your dentist on their recommendation.
Even a quality toothbrush is only as effective as your skill in using it. Your dental provider can help, giving you tips and training for getting the most out of your brush. With practice, you and your toothbrush can effectively remove disease-causing plaque and help keep your smile beautiful and healthy.
If you would like more information on what to look for in a toothbrush, 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 “Sizing up Toothbrushes.”
Did you know that Halloween hasn’t always involved trick-or-treating for candy? Actually, Halloween used to be undertaken as The Festival of Samhain, which celebrated the harvest and the Celtic New Year – which started on November 1st. So, how did Halloween turn into an all out candy grab? Well, it started right here in America, believe it or not.
Trick-or-treating evolved from an old tradition called “going a-souling” that originated in England and Ireland. “Going a-souling” occurred when children in early 20th century Europe would celebrate the Festival of Samhain by soliciting food door to door. Kids would knock on a neighbor’s door and offer to pray for the souls of their deceased relative in exchange for gifts. They would be handed food, coins, ale and other trinkets in exchange for their kind thoughts. The “souling” tradition made its way to America in the early 1900s, when the United States welcomed a large influx of European immigrants.
From Trinkets to Treats
Trick-or-treating gained popularity in the 1930s and 40s, as cities and towns pushed to emphasize getting to know your neighbor and becoming more communal. However, as Halloween and trick-or-treating became more popular, parents felt unsafe allowing their children to accept unwrapped food from strangers. Some of the most popular homemade treats were cookies, cakes, fruit, popcorn balls and muffins. They argued that the treats could be tampered with and potentially harm their children. Combine this risk with how expensive and time consuming it is to make treats from scratch, and the spooky holiday had a conundrum: high demand without steady, reliable (cheap and quick) supply.
During the 1950s, Halloween became incredibly popular and a holiday celebrated nationwide. However, parents were still concerned over what their children were being served. Candy producers saw this as a golden opportunity to satisfy a need with their product. Candy producers created large advertising campaigns promoting the safety of prepackaged candy. They argued that it was safer for children to eat packaged candy, because it couldn’t be altered without visible marks on the wrapper. As the number of trick-or-treaters swelled, it became much cheaper to buy candy and hand it out to the entire neighborhood.
Remember to Brush
Did you know that the average Jack-o-lantern can hold 250 pieces of candy and roughly 9,000 calories? That’s a lot of calories, and it mostly comes from sugar. This is why it’s so important that your children brush their teeth after trick-or-treating. Remind your little ghouls and goblins to brush after they’re done eating candy so that they can prevent cavities and tooth decay. Visit our office if your child begins experiencing sensitive teeth. We will thoroughly evaluate the state of their oral health, and provide a treatment solution that best fits their circumstances.
Even though your teeth get most of the focus when it comes to your smile, your tongue plays a very important role. To help you not take your tongue for granted, here are some fun facts about your tongue and taste buds:
- No one’s tongue is alike. Your tongue is like your fingerprint; no one else has the same exact size, shape or taste bud as your tongue.
- The tongue is NOT the strongest muscle in your body. The tongue is all muscle, but not just one muscle — it’s made up of 8 different muscles that intertwine with each other creating a flexible matrix, much like an elephant’s trunk. Your tongue muscles do have amazing stamina and are used constantly for eating, talking, and swallowing. The tongue just never seems to get tired!
- Tongue cleaning can prevent overall health issues. Studies show that those who regularly clean their tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper have less heart attacks, pneumonia, premature births and diabetes.
- Your tongue can get fat! If you gain weight, so does your tongue! The human tongue has a high percentage of fat, and there is a correlation between tongue fat volume and obesity.
- Your taste buds aren’t just on your tongue; they’re on the roof, cheeks and back of your mouth.
- More of what we experience as taste is actually smell.
- You can’t taste what your saliva can’t dissolve: Saliva dissolves the chemicals in food allowing the receptors on your taste buds to detect taste. Without it, obviously, food is tasteless. To see (or taste) for yourself, dry your tongue with a paper towel and attempt to taste dry foods consisting of sugar and salt. It’ll be as if you were devoid of the sense altogether!
- As taste senses both harmful and beneficial things, all basic tastes are classified as either aversive or appetitive, depending upon the effect the things they sense have on our bodies. Sweetness helps to identify energy-rich foods, while bitterness serves as a warning sign of poisons
- Taste perception fades with age; we lose almost half of our taste receptors by the time we turn 20!
- Ageusia is the complete loss of taste. The opposite, hypergeusia, is a heightened sense of taste.
- Flies and butterflies have taste organs on their feet, so they can taste anything they land on. Catfish have taste organs across their entire bodies.
- Memories can affect taste! Recalling a positive memory about eating a certain food will make a present experience with it more enjoyable.
I thought I’d take a break from teeth & talk a little bit about the history of our cherished Thanksgiving Day holiday.
There is no historical evidence that turkey was eaten at the first Thanksgiving dinner. It was a three-day party shared by the Wamponoag Indians and the pilgrims in 1621. Historians say they likely ate venison and seafood.
According to National Geographic, the dinner at the Plymouth colony was in October and included about 50 English colonists and 90 American Indian men. The first Thanksgiving dinner could have included corn, geese, and pumpkin.
Today, turkey is the meat of choice. According to the National Turkey Association, about 690 million pounds of turkey are consumed during Thanksgiving, or about 46 million turkeys.
The Side Dishes
The green bean casserole became popular about 50 years ago. Created by the Campbell Soup Company, it remains a popular side dish. According to Campbell’s, it was developed when the company was creating an annual holiday cookbook. The company now sells about $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup each year, which is a major part of the recipe.
While there were likely plenty of cranberries for the pilgrims and Indians to enjoy, sugar was a luxury. What we know today as cranberry sauce was not around in those early Thanksgiving days. About 750 million pounds of cranberries are produced each year in the US, with about 30 percent consumed on Thanksgiving.
Since Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until Lincoln declared it in 1863, the annual parades were not yearly events until much later. The biggest parade that continues to draw crowds is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Beginning in 1924 with about 400 employees, they marched from Convent Avenue to 145th Street in New York City. Famous for the huge hot-air balloons today, it was actually live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo that were the stars of the show then.
However you choose to spend your Thanksgiving holiday, everyone here at Dental South wishes you a safe, happy and healthy holiday with those you love.