Posts for: April, 2018
Each part of the human body is an intricate wonder. Take your teeth, for example: they’re so woven into everyday life we don’t notice them, yet they each work seamlessly with the jaws and mouth so we can eat, speak and even smile.
Here, then, are a few facts to help you understand — and appreciate — these tiny, amazing wonders we call teeth.
Layer Upon Layer. Rather than one solid mass, teeth are composed of different layers of slightly different tissues each with a unique role in protecting and enabling a tooth to function. Innermost is the pulp filled with connective tissue encasing blood vessels and nerves that transmit sensations to the brain. The next layer out is the dentin, a bone-like material sensitive to touch and other stimuli, which also absorbs some of the forces generated when biting or chewing. The outermost layer is enamel, the hardest material in the body and the tooth’s first defense against infection and other dangers.
Front and Center. Teeth perform different functions depending on their type and location. Front teeth are our “onstage performers” — they help us to speak and enunciate words clearly and, of course, contribute to our smile. They’re also adept at cutting through food when it first enters our mouths.
The Support Team. In keeping with our theater analogy, back teeth are our “backstage crew”: they help support our facial height, provide balance for the jaws as we swallow and protect the front teeth from too much vertical force. They’re also able to crush food before we finally swallow, which aids in the digestive process.
Intended for a Lifetime. If you consider all the environmental factors our teeth face — acidic foods, biting forces and temperature swings to name a few — you then can appreciate their resiliency. Of course, teeth have their enemies: decay, infection and trauma. With daily brushing and flossing and at least a couple of visits a year to our office for cleanings and checkups, you can help thwart many of those enemies. With both our efforts we can make sure your teeth really do last a lifetime.
If you're older than 10, you've probably never said, "I wish I could wear cool silver braces!" Although traditional braces offer an effective way to straighten teeth, they're not exactly attractive. Invisalign offers a much more discreet way to straighten your teeth and improve your bite. Our Kirkland, WA, dentist, Dr. Bernard Pak, explains how the innovative orthodontic system works.
No wires, no problem
Unlike ceramic or metal braces, Invisalign doesn't use wires and brackets to reposition teeth. The system relies on a series of clear, removable aligner trays that exert constant gentle pressure on teeth. Each set in the series is custom-designed for you by Dr. Pak in his Kirkland office using CAD/CAM technology. After two weeks of wear, you'll replace your set with the next one in the series.
Invisalign offers a more comfortable orthodontic experience
Adjustments are an important part of traditional orthodontic treatment, but they can be a little painful. No adjustments are needed with Invisalign. Your aligner trays gradually change the position of your teeth, ensuring that your orthodontic experience is much more comfortable. You also won't have to worry about cuts to your mouth or tongue due to loose brace wires.
Frowning doesn't have to be your default facial expression
Because your Invisalign trays are transparent, you'll never feel that you have to hide your teeth during your treatment. Trays are created from digital images, impressions, and X-rays of your teeth to ensure that they fit snugly. They won't interfere with your speech or attract attention to your smile. In fact, your friends may not even realize that you're straightening your teeth.
Aligner trays make eating and oral hygiene easy
Popcorn, gum, sticky foods, and hard raw vegetables are among the foods you'd have to avoid if you chose traditional braces. All of those foods can damage wires or get stuck in wires and brackets. Fortunately, you don't have to stay away from your favorite foods when you wear Invisalign aligner trays. You'll take out the trays when you eat or drink anything other than water and can continue to eat anything you want. Your oral hygiene routine won't change either, as you'll also remove your trays before you brush and floss.
Are you ready to improve your smile with Invisalign? Call our Kirkland, WA, dentist, Dr. Pak, at (425) 893-9500 to schedule an appointment.
Dental cleanings are an important part of regular dental office visits. Performed by a dental hygienist or dentist, cleanings serve two purposes: to remove bacterial plaque and calculus (hardened deposits of plaque) from tooth surfaces missed during daily brushing and flossing; and to remove stains that can dull your smile.
There are different degrees of cleaning, including root planing that removes plaque and calculus deep below the gum line, usually for patients affected by periodontal (gum) disease. For patients in good oral health, the basic cleaning approach is known as prophylaxis, a term derived from the Greek for guarding or preventing beforehand. The techniques used in a prophylaxis remove both “coronal” (tooth surfaces visible above the gum line) plaque and staining, providing both therapeutic and cosmetic benefits.
A typical prophylaxis includes a procedure known as scaling. Hygienists use special instruments known as scalers to remove plaque and calculus by hand, or an ultrasonic device that vibrates plaque loose and is flushed away with water. The procedure removes that rough coating you often feel as you rub your tongue against your teeth, leaving the tooth surfaces feeling smooth.
Tooth polishing is a subsequent procedure to scaling that also removes plaque and surface stains. Polishing is carried out with a motorized instrument with a rubber cup in which a polishing (or “prophy”) paste is contained. The hygienist moves the rapidly rotating cup filled with the paste over the tooth surface to remove plaque and stains. The end result is a highly smooth surface and a much shinier appearance.
People with dental insurance plans are often concerned tooth polishing may be viewed strictly as a cosmetic procedure, and thus not fully qualify for benefits. This should not be the case if coded properly: tooth polishing is part of the overall prophylaxis to remove plaque and staining. The primary purpose is therapeutic and preventive; the cosmetic effect is a by-product. Most dental plans will cover one or two prophylaxes (scaling and tooth polishing) a year, but there are variations so individuals should check their plans.
If you would like more information on dental cleaning, 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 “Tooth Polishing.”