Preventing and Treating Gum Disease

Your gums play a significant role in your oral health and it’s important to take care of them. Unfortunately, periodontal (gum) disease is more common than you may think. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 47.2% of adults over 30 had some form of periodontal disease.

The good news is that gum disease is preventable in the majority of cases. If it is caught early, it is also treatable.

Stages of Gum Disease

To understand how to prevent periodontal disease, it’s helpful to know how it progresses. There are four different stages.

Gingivitis

In this phase, bacteria have not begun to damage your teeth. The disease affects the gingiva, which is the part of the gums around the base of your teeth. Your gums may be sore and more prone to bleeding while flossing.

Early/Slight Periodontitis

If gingivitis progresses without treatment, it becomes mild periodontal disease, also called periodontitis. At this point, your gums pull away from your teeth, creating small “pockets.” Bacteria will often invade these pockets and cause more bleeding and increased sensitivity.

Moderate Periodontitis

As bacteria continues to invade pockets between your gums and your teeth, your teeth start to loosen. Bone loss begins to occur at this point.

Advanced Periodontitis

At this point, bacteria has caused severe destruction of your teeth and jaw bone. Advanced periodontal disease is extremely painful and the risk of tooth loss is high.

Preventing Periodontal Disease

It’s essential to take the steps to prevent gum disease before it occurs. Although it can be treated in the early stages, it is better for your oral health to avoid the issue altogether.

You should:

  • Practice good dental hygiene. Brush twice a day and floss once a day.
  • Avoid smoking, as this can increase your risk.
  • See your dentist every 6-12 months for cleanings. You may need to visit more often if you have an increased risk of gum disease due to a medical condition or medication you are taking.

Gum Disease Treatment

For Gingivitis

When gum disease is in its earliest stage, it can often be reversed with a professional cleaning and adjustments to your home dental care routine.

For Periodontitis

To treat periodontitis, it is necessary to use a type of deep cleaning called scaling and root planing. This removes plaque buildup below your gum line. Depending on the severity, you may also need to schedule additional cleanings throughout the year and/or take antibiotics.

Restorative Dentistry

If your gum disease has progressed to the advanced stage, we may recommend more intensive dental care. You may have lost some teeth by this time and others may need to be extracted. We will work with you to develop a plan to restore your smile, which may include dental implants. Our restorations are realistic and tailored to you.

Schedule Dental Care

Consistent visits to your dentist can help prevent gum disease and reduce the need for more extensive treatment later on. Dr. Atty Smith is here to help you care for your teeth and gums. We treat patients of all ages.

If you have symptoms of gum disease or want help preventing future issues, contact us today.

Signs You Could Benefit From Invisalign Treatment

Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you and if you aren’t happy with how your teeth look, it can have a large impact on your confidence. Luckily, there are many solutions to help correct cosmetic and orthodontic issues. For adults with crooked teeth, Invisalign treatment can be a great way to straighten your smile without the need for awkward metal braces. Dr. Smith is a preferred Invisalign dentist and can evaluate whether this option is right for you.

Some signs you might benefit from Invisalign:

You Are Unhappy With Your Smile

First and foremost, the biggest reason to consider Invisalign is if you are unhappy with how your smile looks. Feeling self-conscious about your teeth can take a toll on your wellbeing and it’s worth a visit to a professional to see what your options are. Even if clear aligners are not the best fit, we can typically make a recommendation for a cosmetic or restorative treatment that matches your needs and desires.

You Notice Symptoms of a Misaligned Bite

Crooked teeth are more than just a cosmetic issue. If your bite is misaligned, you may notice jaw pain when eating, uneven sensitivity, or even headaches. A dental professional can examine your teeth and determine whether misalignment is the cause. Invisalign can treat mild or moderate overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites.

Your Orthodontic Issues are Not Severe

While Invisalign can be used to address a wide range of orthodontic concerns, there are some issues it may not be able to fix completely. If you have severe crowding or misalignment, we may recommend a different route for treatment. The aligners may also be less effective if you have short or rounded teeth.

You Practice Good Oral Hygiene

It’s important to practice proper dental hygiene when undergoing Invisalign treatment. You will want to be sure any problems, such as tooth decay, are treated before you get clear aligners. Additionally, you will need to take care of the aligners and keep your teeth clean while using them to prevent any issues.

You Don’t Smoke

In order for clear aligners to work properly, you need to wear them for 22 hours a day at a minimum. You should plan to only remove them to eat or while brushing/flossing. Taking a smoke break can reduce the overall time you wear the aligners and so you might not see the results you are hoping for. Additionally, nicotine can stain your Invisalign trays, not to mention your teeth.

The Process of Getting Invisalign

The first step is a consultation with our Invisalign dentist. We will examine your teeth and give you recommendations for treatment. We also take a 3D scan that we then use to show you projected results for treatment. You will need to come into the office every few weeks but can usually switch aligners at home. The average length of time for treatment is 12 months, although this might be longer or shorter depending on your specific concerns.

Ready to Straighten Your Smile?

If you are interested in Invisalign treatment, call our Oro Valley dentist office today.

Providing Pain-Free Dentistry

An aversion to dental treatment is more common than you may think. Almost half of adults put off going to the dentist and approximately 22% avoid going altogether due to their dental anxiety. The good news is that modern technology has made pain-free dentistry a reality. At Smith Dentalworks, we use our innovative tools and compassionate approach to ensure that you feel comfortable getting the care you need.

Here are some of the ways we provide pain-free dental care:

The Solea Laser

We have the state-of-the-art Solea Laser, which uses carbon dioxide to generate a laser beam that can be used to precisely and accurately work on both hard and soft tissues. There’s no need for the drill and no need for anesthesia for most patients. The laser feels a bit like eating a snow cone. It’s slightly cold, but not painful at all. We can use the Solea Laser for treating cavities, gum-related procedures, and more. This tool sets our office apart and we are proud to use it to make your dentist visits more comfortable.

Digital Impressions

Getting impressions taken for cosmetic or restorative dental procedures can be uncomfortable and is one of the parts of visiting the dentist that many people dread. At our office, we use digital impressions instead of the traditional method. This is more comfortable for patients and still allows us to get an accurate impression of your smile.

Informative & Individualized Care

In addition to using the most advanced technology available, we also take a human approach to dentistry. Our state-of-the-art tools allow us to make dental care pain-free while our interactions with patients help reduce anxiety. We want you to feel like an active participant in your own care and know how important it is to understand the options available to you. We are never judgmental, and we give you all the information you need to make decisions about what is best for you.

Friendly Team

We know that little touches can make a big difference. Every member of our team works to provide a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. This helps you feel at ease from the moment you arrive at our office.

Read Our Testimonials

You don’t just have to take our word for it when we say we provide comfortable, pain-free dentistry. Many of our patients have shared their positive experiences with Smith Dentalworks. You can check out our testimonials to hear what they have to say.

Book Your Appointment

We provide a wide variety of dental care including preventative, cosmetic, and restorative procedures. Our office treats both adults and children and we can help every member of your family achieve and maintain a beautiful, healthy smile.

Experience pain-free dentistry for yourself and book your appointment today.

What are Craze Lines?

Craze lines are hairline cracks in the outer enamel of the teeth and can appear as vertical lines on the surface. These cracks do not extend into the interior of the tooth, which is also known as the pulp. Craze lines often develop as you age and are not usually an indication of poor oral health. Although they are purely a cosmetic concern in most cases, some patients are unhappy with the appearance of their smile due to these small cracks. There are various aesthetic treatments that may be beneficial.

How Do I Avoid Craze Lines?

Normal wear and tear and time are usually the cause of craze lines, and these cannot be entirely avoided. However, there are a few ways that you can help minimize the formation of craze lines. Avoid putting stress on the teeth by reducing bad habits such as nail biting, eating ice cubes, using your teeth for anything other than eating, or knocking on your teeth with oral jewelry like a tongue piercing. If you play contact sports, you also may be more vulnerable to developing craze lines. It is important to wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth from cracks in the enamel.

Another culprit can be bruxism, which is the medical term for grinding your teeth. Work on eliminating stress and unconscious clenching and grinding. This will help lessen the chances of craze lines. If you suffer from bruxism, ask your dentist about a mouthguard or night guard. Getting treated for bruxism can reduce jaw/tooth pain and prevent serious damage.

An uneven bite can also lead to craze lines. When your bite is uneven your teeth do not meet where they are supposed to when you close your mouth. For many patients, an uneven bite can be corrected by Invisalign, which will shift the teeth to form an even smile.

When Are Craze Lines a Problem?

While craze lines are usually harmless, sometimes they can become stained and can impact your appearance. If you drink coffee, red wine, tea, dark sodas, or smoke or chew tobacco, these can further darken these lines. Craze line stains rarely respond to brushing. Don’t let these stains keep you from smiling. If you are unhappy with the look of these lines, then we can help with professional teeth whitening. Porcelain veneers may also be beneficial to cover surface-level cracks.

Craze lines are usually purely cosmetic but if you suffer from pain, sensitivity, or swollen gums, you will need to see your dentist immediately to be assessed and treated. These symptoms can be an indication of a cracked tooth that extends into the pulp. If left untreated, this can damage not only the exterior of the tooth, but the interior as well.

While craze lines are cosmetic in nature, it is still important for your overall oral health to get the proper dental care for them. Treatments like veneers and dental bonding not only make you look better, they also have restorative benefits and make your teeth stronger. Straightening your teeth and correcting your bite can have many positive effects like an easier time eating, talking, brushing, and flossing and a reduction of pain in your teeth or jaw and other more serious issues.

Treatment for Craze Lines

If you have questions about craze lines or any other marks in the enamel of your teeth, our team at Smith Dentalworks can help. We have many cosmetic treatments available to remove staining or repair damage.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss craze lines and what we can do to treat them.

What is Dental Bonding?

If you have damaged or discolored teeth, dental bonding can help repair and create a natural-looking, aesthetically pleasing, brighter smile. Bonding is a cosmetic dental procedure that uses composite resin material to repair minor issues and to restore and improve your natural look. This procedure can fill in and eliminate small cracks, chips, fractures, and reduce gaps between teeth. It can also help hide discoloration, help fix excessive wear and tear on your teeth, and can reshape teeth to remove inconsistencies and make them appear more uniform. Additionally, bonding is one of the easiest and least expensive cosmetic dental options.

Dental Bonding Procedure

At Smith Dentalworks, we use the same composite material for our fillings as we use for our dental bonding treatment. After examining and cleaning the tooth or teeth, we will roughen up the tooth enamel slightly. We will then apply a mild conditioning liquid that will help the material adhere. This bonding material is applied in several coats and shaped to match the tooth size. Next, it is hardened with a specially designed light. Once the tooth has been built up enough, the bond is then sculpted to the desired shape and texture to match the surrounding natural teeth.

Advantages of Dental Bonding

Dental bonding can help repair your teeth and unlike veneers or crowns, this procedure removes little or none of the original tooth. It’s quick, non-invasive, and painless. The tooth remains intact so most people do not need anesthesia or pain medication for the bonding procedure. It is typically less expensive than dental crowns or porcelain veneers. This is because all work is done in the office without the need for a dental lab.

Caring for Your Bonded Teeth

While restorative bonding is a long-lasting solution, you should always follow the same good oral health practices that you do for your regular teeth. You should floss daily and brush your teeth twice a day with a soft brush. Practicing good oral hygiene and getting regular dental care can help ensure that your bonded teeth last.

The composite material can be more prone to stain than other types of restorations. As a result, it is best to avoid food and drinks like wine, coffee, tea, berries, brightly colored candies, and colored drinks like sports drinks as much as possible. (This helps keep your natural teeth bright as well.) Porcelain veneers may be a better option if you are concerned about staining.

This material can also be more fragile than a veneer or crown and can chip. For the best and longest-lasting results, avoid biting your nails, or chewing on ice or other hard food objects. In general, these are good tips even if you have not had any dental bonding done. If you do notice that it feels odd biting down or if you develop a sharp edge on your bonded tooth, it is important to call us.

Quick, Non-Invasive Cosmetic Dentistry

Dental bonding is an excellent procedure for fixing minor damage and cosmetic problems with your teeth. At Smith Dentalworks, we will take the time to get to know your needs and help you choose the treatment that best fits you. We can meet with you, examine your teeth, and discuss how dental bonding or another cosmetic procedure can help improve your smile.

Contact our Oro Valley dentist office today to schedule an appointment to learn more about dental bonding and other dental procedures.

Fixing Gap Teeth

An overly-large space between two teeth is known as diastema or gap teeth. This can occur between any two teeth and a person can have multiple gaps. The type that is most noticeable and therefore usually presents the biggest concern for patients is a gap between the upper front teeth. There are some situations where this can cause other oral health issues but in most cases it is just a cosmetic concern. While some individuals like the appearance of this space, others are bothered by it. Luckily, there are many options for fixing gap teeth.

These include:

Invisalign Clear Aligners

Orthodontic treatment can close the gap between teeth in addition to fixing other types of misalignment. Invisalign is a great solution for many patients. The clear aligners are discreet and you remove them while eating so you can still enjoy all of the foods you love. The timeline varies depending on your unique situation, but the average time for treatment is approximately 12 months. Clear aligners may be the right option for you if your gap teeth are severe or if you have other orthodontic issues you would like to address at the same time. Dr. Atty Smith is a preferred Invisalign dentist and can evaluate whether this course of action is best for you.

Veneers

Veneers are thin porcelain shells that cover your teeth and can address a wide variety of cosmetic dental concerns, including gap teeth. One of the major benefits of porcelain veneers is that they can give you a new smile in as little as two appointments. They are also durable and stain resistant. However, enamel does need to be removed during the preparation process, so this is something to consider before getting veneers. Additionally, this may not be the best option if you have a very wide gap or if your gap is related to other oral health issues, such as gum disease.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is the process of using tooth-colored resin to make repairs or adjustments to your smile. This can be a good option for a small gap. Our cosmetic dentist is highly skilled and will ensure the bonding looks natural and that you are completely satisfied with the results. This is the quickest option for fixing gap teeth and is typically done in one appointment. This is also a more affordable option. However, bonding will need to be replaced or redone sooner than veneers and is typically less durable. The resin is also less resistant to stains than porcelain.

A Gap From a Missing Tooth

Instead of a gap between two teeth, you may have a gap in your smile caused by a missing tooth. In this case, we would discuss either a dental implant with a crown or a dental bridge. An implant prevents bone loss and will typically last longer. However, a bridge may be more affordable and could be a good solution if the teeth on either side of the gap need crowns due to tooth decay or another concern.

Cosmetic Dentistry in Oro Valley, AZ

At Smith Dentalworks, we can evaluate your tooth gap and can recommend a solution that would be best for you. We take your aesthetic goals, financial considerations, and other oral health concerns into account to develop a customized treatment plan.

To discuss solutions for gap teeth, contact us today.

Teeth Straightening by our Invisalign Dentist

If you have crooked teeth, our Invisalign dentist can help give you a straighter and more beautiful smile. Compared to traditional metal braces, Invisalign clear aligner trays are more discreet and can be a great option for orthodontic treatment.

More information about the process of straightening your teeth with Invisalign:

Initial Invisalign Dentist Consultation

During an initial appointment, Dr. Atty Smith will examine your teeth and will take photos and X-rays. As a preferred Invisalign provider, Dr. Smith can verify whether this method is best for your needs or can recommend alternative options. Our office uses state-of-the-art 3D image technology to create a treatment plan and design your first aligner.

How Invisalign Works

Invisalign aligners work by getting progressively tighter. This process moves your teeth into alignment and usually targets one or a small number of teeth at a time. Typically, you will switch the plastic aligners every two weeks. You will need to wear the aligners for at least 22 hours every day and should only remove them for eating, brushing, and flossing.

When You Need to See Your Invisalign Dentist

Unlike with braces, you will not need to visit your dentist every time you tighten your aligners. The switch to a new set can typically be completed at home. Every few weeks, you will come into the office and we will make sure the treatment is progressing properly.

Length of Invisalign Treatment

If your teeth are mildly crooked, you may be able to complete treatment in as little as six months. Other patients have a timeline of closer to 12 months. This will depend on your unique circumstances and Dr. Smith will discuss the amount of time you can expect to wear your aligners.

After Invisalign

After your teeth have been straightened, they may shift due to changes in your jawbone during orthodontic adjustments. As a result, it’s important to wear a retainer after your treatment in order to make sure your smile stays straight. Once you finish your initial treatment plan, we will fit you for a retainer. You will need to wear this full-time at first but as your teeth become more stable in their new positions, we can discuss adjusting how often you need to wear the retainer. Our Invisalign dentist is happy to answer any questions you may have about this or any other aspects of the teeth straightening process.

Fixing Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth can impact your self-confidence and oral health. At Smith Dentalworks, we can help you get a new smile that you will love. We are a preferred Invisalign provider and also offer a variety of other cosmetic and restorative dental treatments including veneers, teeth whitening, crowns, and more.

To schedule a consultation with our Invisalign dentist, contact us today.

Tips for At-Home Dental Hygiene

Seeing your dentist regularly is essential for your oral health. In addition to this, the steps you take at home are also important. Day-to-day maintenance of your teeth and gums helps keep them healthy. This can prevent a wide range of issues from gum disease to tooth loss. It’s worth the time to create good at-home dental hygiene habits.

Maintaining Dental Restorations

If you have dental restorations such as crowns, bridges, dentures, et cetera, there may be specific oral hygiene instructions you need to follow to maintain them. Your dentist can help you understand how to do this.

Flossing

You should floss once daily. Whether you do this in the morning or at night is up to you, but it is usually recommended that you floss before you brush. This is because brushing clears away any food particles that may become dislodged.

To floss properly, you should wind the floss around your middle fingers, leaving one to two inches in the middle. Place this portion between your teeth and gently move it along the gum line on both sides. Then, move the floss to reveal a new, clean portion, and continue until you have cleaned between all of your teeth. If you prefer, you can also use a water flosser.

Brushing Your Teeth

Choosing a Toothbrush

When choosing a toothbrush, make sure to choose one with soft bristles. Harder bristles can wear away at your enamel and damage your teeth over time.

When it comes to manual vs electric toothbrushes, both can be good options. Electric brushes make it slightly easier to clean your teeth effectively but are more expensive. A manual toothbrush is usually okay to use and the most important thing is that you brush regularly no matter what type of brush you use. You also need to replace either type of brush once the bristles begin to wear down or after four months at a minimum.

Choosing Toothpaste

The toothpaste you use should have at least 1,000 parts per million of fluoride and a seal of approval from the American Dental Association. Beyond this, which brand you choose is usually a matter of personal preference. If you have sensitive teeth, you should choose a toothpaste that is specifically made for this problem. If over-the-counter sensitive toothpastes are not able to help, it’s a good idea to talk to your dentist to get a prescription option and to check for any underlying issues.

Toothbrushing Technique

Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and gently move it back and forth, making sure to reach all the surfaces of each tooth as well as your gums. Continue this process for at least two minutes and repeat twice daily.

Preventive Dental Care in Oro Valley, AZ

At Smith Dentalworks, we can help you maintain your oral health and provide teeth cleanings, check-ups, and other types of preventive dentistry. Our dentist can also give you helpful tips for maintaining your dental hygiene at home.

To schedule an appointment with our general dentist, contact us today.

The Process of Getting Implant-Supported Dentures

If you are missing all or most of your upper or lower teeth, dentures are typically the best restorative solution. They can allow you to eat, speak, and smile with confidence again. Although well-made conventional dentures will fit snugly and comfortably in your mouth, implant dentures are even more secure and have the added benefit of supporting the health of your jaw. If you are interested in getting implant-supported dentures, Smith Dentalworks can help.

The steps of the implant denture process:

Initial Implant Dentures Consultation

The first step to getting implant dentures is a consultation with your dentist. We will examine your mouth, take X-rays, and discuss your goals. This allows us to determine whether or not implant-supported dentures are a good fit.

Other Dental Treatments, As Needed

Depending on your specific circumstances, other types of dental care may be necessary before you can get implant-supported dentures. For example, if you have some remaining teeth, these will need to be extracted. We will discuss your treatment plan with you in detail so you know exactly what to expect.

Dental Implant Surgery

Your dentures will be supported by dental implants, which are titanium posts implanted in your jaw. These act as artificial tooth roots and stimulate your jawbone, which helps prevent bone loss. In order to get dental implants, you will need to undergo surgery. At Smith Dentalworks, we work with an experienced and trusted oral surgeon and they will complete the placement of the implants. If you have already experienced substantial bone loss, bone grafting may be necessary prior to surgery.

Healing and Temporary Dentures

After your surgery, you will need time to heal so your implants can fully integrate with your jaw bone. This process is known as osseointegration and typically takes between three and six months. We will fit you for temporary dentures that you can wear until your final ones are ready. Temporary dentures are not designed for long-term use, but look natural and are durable enough for the period between surgery and getting your final dentures.

Implant-Supported Denture Placement

Once your dental implants have healed, we can place your final dentures. We will make sure you love the way they look and feel and you will be able to make any adjustments necessary. After this, you will be able to enjoy your new smile.

Maintaining Your Implant Dentures

Implant-supported dentures are easy to maintain and clean at home. You will need to brush twice daily with a non-abrasive denture toothpaste and should also clean between the dentures and your gum line. You should also visit our office regularly for professional cleaning and check-ups.

Smile with Confidence Again

If you are ready to restore your smile, we can help. Implant dentures are an excellent option and may be the solution for you.

To make an appointment to discuss implant-supported dentures, contact us today.

How We Use Laser Dentistry for Cavities

Our innovative Solea® Laser makes dentistry pain-free and can be used for a wide variety of procedures. One example is utilizing laser dentistry for cavities. During this process, we use our dental laser to remove decayed parts of the tooth and prepare the area for a filling. There is no need for a needle or noisy drill, and there is no pain.

How the Solea Laser Works

Our dental laser produces a beam of infrared light using electricity and carbon dioxide gas. This invisible light reflects off a series of mirrors that intensify it. The final laser is optimized based on the type of tissue is that is being cut. In the case of cavity filling, the laser cuts through the enamel and has a wavelength of 9.3 microns. This is the peak absorption of hydroxyapatite, the major component of tooth enamel, and using this wavelength makes it possible for the laser to make precise and accurate cuts.

Filling Preparation

If left untreated, tooth decay will continue to spread. As a result, treatment requires removing the damaged tissue from the tooth and filling the space left behind. When we use laser dentistry for cavities, we cut through enamel with the high-intensity infrared beam. We make sure to remove all affected tissue and the fact that the laser also sterilizes as it cuts makes it process easier. Once we have cleared away the decay, we fill the tooth using tooth-colored composite resin. This blends in with the tooth and looks natural.

Benefits of Laser Dentistry vs Traditional Filling Preparation

Pain-Free

The beam produced by the Solea Laser vibrates at a frequency that your nerves are unable to process. This means that the process is pain-free. This means there is no need for a needle and your experience is more comfortable.

Less Time in the Office

Because anesthesia is usually unnecessary, the process of preparing the tooth and filling the cavity is quicker. This means you don’t need to spend as much time in the office. Additionally, you won’t leave with a numb mouth, as is often the case when the procedures are done with local anesthesia.

No Drill

The sound of a dental drill can be unnerving for many patients. Our dental laser makes the drill unnecessary so there’s less noise and less stress.

Laser Dental Care at Smith Dentalworks

At Smith Dentalworks, we use our Solea Laser to give you a better experience at the dentist. We can use this technology to prepare your tooth for a filling. This process is suited for both children and adults in most cases. Innovation is one of the focuses of our dental practice and we are committed to using the best technology available for our patients.

To learn more about how we can use laser dentistry for cavities, contact us today.