Biannual teeth cleanings performed by a dental hygienist will keep your teeth and gums looking, feeling and functioning their best. During cleanings, your hygienist will remove plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from the surface of your teeth. She’ll also polish your teeth and floss to test the condition of your gums.
After your cleaning, Dr. Recigno will perform a more thorough examination of your teeth, jaw and gums. In addition to a visual assessment, he will check your current restorations and screen for early signs of gum disease and oral cancer. When x-rays have been taken, Dr. Recigno and his assistant will carefully review them to identify any possible areas of concern.
We understand that going to the dentist can be stressful, which is why we’ve designed our Willow Grove dental office to make your visits as comfortable as they are effective. If it’s been a while since your last cleaning, call us today to schedule an appointment. We’ll take great care of you!
Silver (amalgam) has been something of the "gold standard" of dental fillings for years, but recently, composite fillings have become a popular method. Dentists and patients have plenty of reasons to prefer composite fillings, but before you surrender your silver, consider some facts about fillings.
Silver fillings are durable, lasting on average at least 10 to 20 years, and they are very strong, making them ideal for use in the large back molars. They also tend to be less expensive than composite fillings, but usually require more invasive preparations. The biggest drawback to silver fillings is aesthetic, as they can cast a gray hue over the surface of a tooth. Silver fillings have gotten a bad reputation because of their mercury content, but the FDA and the ADA agree that there's no proof that the compound has any adverse side effects. In fact, the mercury in amalgam fillings is only one component of a chemically stable alloy. Silver fillings have been used in dentistry for hundreds of years, and allergic reactions are rare.
Composite fillings, which are made out of a mixture of glass and quartz materials, provide a tooth-colored restoration that looks more like your natural tooth. Composite materials are also versatile and can be bonded (held adhesively) to teeth, which calls for less invasive preparation and leaves more healthy tooth structure beneath the filling. Compared to amalgam, composite fillings can take longer to place and are slightly less durable, which makes them better suited for teeth with light or moderate bite pressure. Depending on your dentist and your insurance options, composite fillings can cost a bit more than amalgam.
Unless Dr. Recigno notices cracks or damages in your current fillings or expresses other concerns regarding your dental health, replacing silver fillings is a matter of personal preference.
Constant pressure from chewing, grinding and/or clenching can cause dental fillings to wear away, chip, and even crack. If the seal between the tooth enamel and the filling breaks down, food particles and decay-causing bacteria can work their way under the filling. You then run the risk of developing additional decay in that tooth. Decay that is left untreated can progress to deeply infect the tooth and even cause an abscess and/or eventual loss of the tooth. Again, regular dental checkups enable us to monitor areas of concern and help keep you in optimal oral health.
When restorations are large, or if recurrent decay is extensive, there might not be enough remaining tooth structure to support a replacement filling. In these cases, we may need to replace the filling with a natural looking porcelain crown.
According to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, about 80 percent of U.S. adults currently have some form of gum disease, ranging from gingivitis to serious periodontal disease. The prevalence of gum disease increases with age, because as we age our teeth wear down, our gums naturally recede, and medications can affect oral changes. The most common symptoms of gingivitis are tender, swollen gums that bleed easily, sensitive or even loose teeth, and persistent bad breath.
If you have any symptoms of gum disease, the first thing to do is get a thorough dental evaluation. Dr. Recigno strongly believes that healthy gums are essential for a healthy mouth and body. Gum disease used to require surgery more often than not, but we can now treat many cases with deep cleanings, local antibiotics, and special rinses. Please come in and let us help you achieve and maintain healthier gums for a healthier you!
Studies have shown that a healthy and attractive smile can raise your self-esteem, increase your confidence, and even help you make better first impressions. Sometimes it doesn’t take much treatment for you to feel MUCH better about your smile, and there are a variety of subtle, yet noticeable ways that smiles can be enhanced. There are also more significant and dramatic treatment procedures and combinations of procedures–often called “smile makeovers”–that can give you the smile of your dreams.
While there is no true “specialist” association with cosmetic dentistry, there are a number of organizations with advanced training and awards associated with cosmetic dentistry. Some dentists place greater emphasis on cosmetic dentistry treatments, especially when they have an exceptionally artistic eye and/or particular enjoyment for cosmetic procedures.
Advancements in dental technology have made it possible for Dr. Recigno to address a wide variety of cosmetic issues right here in his office, including professional teeth whitening, Lumineers® veneers, Six Month Smiles® cosmetic braces, and Invisalign® aligner therapy. Replacing old amalgam (silver) fillings with tooth-colored fillings can also be considered cosmetic in nature, as it is done to improve both the health and the appearance of teeth. Really, all dental treatment aimed to improve the appearance of your teeth, gum shape, and smile can be considered cosmetic in nature.
Metal braces can be a hassle and can take between two to three years of treatment to fully realign your teeth. Advancements in orthodontics are helping adults fit braces into their lives and giving them the smiles they've always wanted.
One option is Invisalign®. The Invisalign system involves a series of custom-made plastic trays, called aligners, that are replaced every two weeks to straighten your teeth step by step. The trays are comfortable for the sensitive tissues of your gums and cheeks, and they're conveniently removable so you can eat and brush your teeth normally. Because the trays are made from a transparent plastic material, Invisalign clear braces are hardly noticeable. If you don't tell them, people might not even notice you're wearing braces!
These alternatives to metal braces are great options for patients with mild to moderately crowded teeth, widely spaced teeth, overbites, crossbites, and underbites. If you're ready for straighter teeth, ask your dentist about your treatment possibilities. A beautiful new smile could be closer than you think!
Crowns cover teeth to restore them to their appropriate shape and size after large fillings, fractures, and/or weakening forces such as intense grinding. In all of these cases, crowns not only cover teeth but provide added support as well. Crowns can also be used to attach bridges, cover dental implants, restore seriously discolored or misshapen teeth, and even as a preventive measure to protect a tooth in danger of breaking.
Crowns can be made of all-porcelain (ceramic) material, porcelain fused to metal (for added strength), gold alloys (high noble), or base metal alloys (non-noble). Each of these restorative materials has its advantages and disadvantages. All-porcelain restorations most closely mimic natural tooth appearance. Their strength depends on adequate porcelain thickness, thus this material requires more extensive preparation. Porcelain fused to metal alloy restorations are tooth-colored and stronger than all-porcelain crowns. Gold alloy crowns are very strong and wear resistant. They are well tolerated in terms of biocompatibility, but metal colors do not match natural teeth. Base metal alloy crowns are similar to gold for strength and durability. However, allergy to the non-noble base metals may be an issue with some patients.
Crowns can be placed in as few as two appointments. For porcelain crowns, properly matching the aesthetics of teeth can take more visits but the natural looking cosmetic results are worth it to most patients. Due to normal wear, most crowns will eventually need to be repaired or replaced after 10-15 years.
Beneath the top layer of your tooth (the enamel) and the second layer (the dentin), there is a pulp, or nerve, which delivers sensations such as heat, cold, and pain to the brain. Whether from excessive decay or physical trauma, this nerve can become damaged, causing an abscess to form at the root of the tooth. Root canal therapy will prevent further damage or decay, extend the life of your natural tooth, and most importantly, relieve your pain.
Symptoms of an infected root include severe toothaches, tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and upraised lesions on your gums. Though root canal therapy has a reputation for being painful, the toothaches associated with an infected root are most likely causing you more pain than the treatment will. In addition, there are a number of ways to relieve discomfort during and after treatment, including oral sedation, and medication.
Root canal therapy is highly successful, and a tooth that has received the treatment can last you a lifetime. Especially when used in conjunction with a natural-looking crown or composite filling, no one will even notice a difference in your smile.
If you’ve been avoiding that ice cream cone or cup of coffee because of sensitive teeth, you don't have to! Tooth sensitivity has a number of possible culprits: involuntary tooth grinding, jaw clenching, gum recession, and enamel loss can all cause teeth to become extra sensitive, because the usually-protected layer of dentin--the nerve-packed surface beneath the enamel--is exposed to external stimuli. Surface irritants such as braces and teeth whitening can also cause temporary sensitivity.
Because the causes of sensitivity are so diverse, and because sensitive gum tissue can indicate a more serious problem, it’s important to ask Dr. Recigno which treatment is best for you. A softer toothbrush is usually the first step, and special toothpastes can reduce sensitivity over time. There are also over-the-counter and in-office rinses that will protect your enamel against further damage. Ask us about your options at your visit!
Oral conscious sedation medications are measured and evaluated by pharmacists and physicians on a safety scale called the therapeutic index, where the higher the number on the scale, the better the safety rating of the drug. The sedation medications commonly used by dentists have high numbers on this index, and you will probably recognize some of the names of the drugs (including Valium®, Halcion®, and Sonata®). When Dr. Recigno is working with you to choose a drug protocol, he takes factors such as age, weight, and level of dental anxiety into careful consideration. Health history, including medications (prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins and supplements), and habits such as alcohol consumption and smoking are also critical. Prior to your sedation visit he will guide you through the proper preparation steps, from diet adjustments and possibly taking a sleep agent the night before, to having a companion drive you to your appointment and what to expect after treatment.
Most patients experience little to no discomfort or remaining effects from a sedation dentistry visit. Immediately after treatment, you might feel a little wobbly while the medication wears off, but Dr. Recigno will give you simple, helpful instructions for the rest of your day.
Accidents happen, and they can be especially frightening when they involve our teeth and mouths. It's important to know when home care will suffice and when a trip to the dentist is necessary. Here are some guidelines to help you through common dental emergencies:
Rinse with warm water to remove any food or debris; if you notice anything lodged between teeth, floss to remove it. Take an over the counter pain medication (but never apply the medication directly to your teeth or gums), and schedule an appointment with Dr. Recigno if the pain persists.
Save the pieces if you can, and rinse them thoroughly. Apply an ice pack or a cold compress to the swollen lip or gum tissue near the chipped tooth to prevent swelling. If the area is bleeding, apply gauze for ten minutes, or until the bleeding has stopped. See Dr. Recigno as soon as possible.
Call our office immediately. With recent advancements in restorative and cosmetic dentistry, you might not lose your tooth. If there is enough remaining healthy tooth structure, Dr. Recigno can create a crown that will “grab onto” your natural tooth, eliminating the need for root removal. While the success of this process, known as “crown lengthening,” depends on the severity of the break, it’s worth asking about alternatives to complete removal.
Holding the tooth by the crown (top) only, rinse it briefly with warm water. If possible, gently reinsert it into the socket and bite down on gauze or cloth to keep it in place. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place it in a container of mildly salty water. See Dr. Recigno as soon as possible—if treated within two hours, the tooth may be salvaged.
Our gums, cheeks, lips, and tongue tend to bleed heavily when injured, because the soft tissues in our mouths contain a great deal of blood flow. To control the bleeding, rinse with warm salt water then apply pressure with gauze or a moistened towel for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, to reduce swelling and help stop residual bleeding, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth. If the bleeding is profuse or the damage is visibly traumatic, it's best to stay calm, keep applying pressure, and go to your nearest emergency room.
You could be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, which affects the flexibility and function of the temporal jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Because this area controls bite, speech, chewing, and all other jaw movements, the pain can be severe.
TMD has been associated with a number of different causes, but the most common factor is the bite itself. A misaligned bite places pressure on the jaw joint, forcing the muscles to work overtime to correctly align the upper and lower jaws. This not only compromises the function of your jaw, but also causes a good deal of fatigue and pain in the facial muscles. Headaches, toothaches, and jaw clenching, popping, or locking are other common symptoms of TMD. TMD can also occur after a jolting face injury which causes a normally aligned jaw joint to become damaged or repositioned.
Professional treatment of TMD ranges from minor in-office procedures to surgery. If Dr. Recigno determines that the main cause of your jaw pain is an irregular bite, he may recommend a retainer-style mouthguard or even a reshaping of the biting surfaces of your teeth, which subtly changes the way your upper and lower jaws meet. If it's a structural issue occurring in your jaw bone (especially if your TMD is a result of injury), you may benefit from surgery. Whatever the case, he’ll help you choose the most conservative plan for your individual needs.
In the meantime, treating the symptoms can give you some relief from the pain. Heating pads or cold compresses will reduce swelling, and limiting your jaw movement (for example, cutting gum and chewy or crunchy foods out of your diet) can stop the clicking or popping. Massages can temporarily relieve muscle tension, and painkillers (medicated or over the counter) can reduce inflammation and make you more comfortable.
Advancements in laser technology have reinvented a variety of dental procedures. Lasers are not only remarkably precise, but they can also shorten procedure time, minimize pain, and speed the healing process of many treatments. Even better, lasers are as useful in common procedures as they are in complicated ones, having been incorporated into everything from cavity detection and fillings to complex periodontal surgery. During routine cleanings or surgical procedures, dental lasers can reduce or completely eliminate the need for drills, scalpels, anesthesia, and sutures. Surgery without sutures carries less risk of infection and need for repeat visits.
Just as doctors use different scalpels for different procedures, dentists have different lasers for the various surfaces in your mouth. There are lasers for cavitiy detection, for teeth whitening, for viewing purposes, and lasers for surgical procedures. Hard tissue lasers are used on teeth and bone, to prepare teeth for certain treatments, remove decayed areas, or repair fillings. Soft tissue lasers, as the name implies, are better suited for gum, cheek, and tongue tissue, and as they seal blood vessels in the process, these lasers can reduce the pain and healing time associated with surgery.
The Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD) has been actively researching technology and developing standards of excellence since 1993, and is dedicated to educating and certifying dentists internationally in the safe use of laser technology. Though most experts agree that lasers are the future of dentistry, it’s estimated that only around 5% of dentists currently offer them in their offices.
Numerous studies have examined the effects of whitening and bleaching methods. Some products, including certain whitening toothpastes and take-home kits available through our office, have been evaluated and approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). While having the ADA seal of acceptance is a good sign, many safe and effective products don't have an ADA seal simply because their manufacturers did not seek one. Bleaching is not recommended for children under 16, as their teeth are still developing, and is also not recommended for women who are pregnant.
The most common side effects of teeth-whitening--both the in-office and take-home varieties--are teeth and gum sensitivity. This sensitivity is usually temporary, and should subside soon after you've stopped using the product.
Each day, foods and acids feed bacteria in your mouth, which can accumulate on your teeth to form plaque. Plaque wears away at a tooth's enamel in a process known as demineralization. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that can promote the remineralization of enamel, replacing important minerals that strengthen your teeth and can protect them from decay. Fluoride can also help reverse early stages of decay.
Children with newly-erupted permanent teeth benefit a great deal from fluoride exposure, but adults should make sure their teeth come into contact with it, too. The safe and easy way to ensure your teeth are getting enough fluoride is to use fluoride toothpaste, available at drugstores in a variety of types and flavors. If your dentist recommends more intense fluoride treatments, there are a number of gels, rinses, or even in-office procedures that can do the trick. Though the most fluoride is absorbed from direct contact with the teeth, many public drinking water systems contain small, safe amounts of fluoride that can have positive health effects.
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