Allergies

AllergiesAllergies are seasonal, but for some people, the season seems to never end.  The sneezing, the coughing, the draining sinuses to the back of your throat, sore throat, ear pain, and pressure.  What does this have to do with dentistry?  Well, seasonal allergies cause inflammation of sinus and its adjacent sinus channels and cavities.  All of those things can cause pain and/or throbbing in your teeth.

The first line the defense in treating your dental pain in allergy season is to see your dentist to rule out a dental issue.  Once the dentist has done x-rays and examined you thoroughly, you can make the next step.  See your allergist or primary care physician.  He or she will make the diagnosis and put a treatment plan together to start relieving your allergy symptoms and that will help put a stop to the dental pain.

Until that time comes when the allergy medications starts to take a permanent affect, there are steps you can take to relieve your pain.  Use over-the-counter sinus medications, (ALWAYS FOLLOWING THE DIRECTIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS LISTED ON THE LABEL OF THE MEDICATION YOU CHOSE.)  These medications release the fluid which has built-up and will thus reduce the pressure on your teeth.

Use an over the counter anti-inflammatory, (AGAIN, ALWAYS FOLLOWING THE DIRECTIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS LISTED ON THE LABEL OF THE MEDICATION YOU CHOSE,)  to reduce the inflammation and this will also help relieve the tooth pain.

A dental numbing rub may also do the trick on a very temporary basis.  These medications must be used carefully and always following the precise directions as prescribed by the manufacturer.  This is the most temporary of the fixes and helps in the short term.

You can also take a shower to reduce the inflammation and release the fluid in your sinuses.  Use over the counter nasal pots to clear the passage-ways of your sinus.  What you should never do is stick your head over a steaming pot of water, nor hold a cup of boiling water near your face or ears.  People will tell these work, but they are dangerous options.

The best and only way to help eliminate or reduce the pain in your teeth from allergies is to address the allergies themselves.  If you need any help or have any questions, please, make an appointment to discuss safe and effective methods to treat dental pain associated with allergies.

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Dry Mouth

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, (Xerostomia,) is a serious condition which requires medical treatment.  In simple terms, dry mouth is a condition in which there is an abnormal dryness of the mouth.  It is as the result of a decrease in the saliva in your mouth.  Dry mouth is not considered a disease.  It is in fact a medical symptoms.  It can be a side of medications.  When the flow of saliva in inhibited or halted all together, it affects dental health.

The primary function of saliva is to defend your mouth from the ravages of tooth decay.  It is meant to keep the tissues in your mouth healthy.  Saliva clears away food and other particles in your mouth.   It also acts as a neutralizer against acids which are a result of bacteria.  Saliva also produces substances which fight diseases of the mouth.  This also means it is the first line in defense against disease producing microbes from reaching the rest of your body.

As a result of dry mouth, you can have persistent sore throat, a burning sensation in your mouth and throat.  You may also develop hoarseness and dry sinuses.  Often dry mouth can lead to trouble speaking and problems swallowing.   If you do not have saliva, wide-spread tooth decay can result.  Without saliva, extensive tooth decay can also occur.

There are some treatments you can try until your dental appointment.  They are as follows:  try sugar-free gum and candy as they produce saliva; decrease your caffeine intake as it is believed to make your mouth dryer; use alcohol-free mouthwash;  stop using tobacco; try over-the-counter treatments for dry mouth;  sip water frequently; try breathing through you nose rather than your mouth, (*unless you have a medical condition which prohibits you from doing so.)

You can also stop drinking alcohol, as well as avoiding sugar and acidic foods.  Further, use fluoride toothpaste and a fluoride rinse.  If all these fail, make an appointment with the dentist.  Dr. Rapoport will be able to treat a patient suffering from dry mouth with any number of treatments.

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Dental Disease

Dental Disease

A dental family practice should function to treat the entire family.  Our office treats patients of all ages, both genders, and for all types of dental issues.

Cleanings, fillings, implants, crowns, whitening, pre-orthodontic diagnoses,  dental sealants, gum laser treatment, periodontics, x-rays, salivary tests, old filling replacement, etc….We prescribe night guards, oral appliances, and medications for issues which can not be treated by over-the-counter medications.

In our office patient respect and confidentiality are extremely important.  Your privacy and dignity are among our top priorities.  Not all visits to the dentist are clear-cut.  A dental problem may in fact turn out to be a medical problem. Dr. Rapoport has many years’  experience and can make accurate and professional assessments.  If she feels it necessary, she will refer you to a specialist in either dental care or medical care.

Either one of those might be the case if what appears to be a dental condition turns out to be a sexually transmitted disease.  ANY venereal disease can be transmitted orally.  These would include herpes, HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia,  syphilis, Hepatitis, and the Human Papilloma Virus, (HPV.)

The dental dam is a preventative measure in aiding in the fight against transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.  No method is 100% safe, but any measure of defense is better than no defense.  A dental dam is a latex prophylactic used in dental offices to provide a sterile environment in the area in which the doctor is working.  It fits over and in the mouth.  The original use for this was specifically for dental use only, but has become useful in reducing the risk of transmitting and spreading venereal disease.

This may feel embarrassing, but remember, the dentist is a medical professional and her regard for your confidentiality and your well-being are what is most important to her.  You may ask her any questions you wish.  Dr. Rapoport will treat every patient with skill and compassion.

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Dentures

DenturesFull dentures would not be any person’s first choice if given the choice.  But having something in your mouth to support the other structures in your mouth and face is very, very important.

A set of dentures is either a replacement for some missing teeth in one section of your mouth, in multiple sections, or full reinstatement of your teeth.  They are not real teeth, and will probably never feel like real teeth, but they can change your life.

It does take time to get used to partial dentures and full dentures, however, it is worth the effort.  You will be able to eat a more extensive variety of foods and that is important to your health.  As written in the lead paragraph, they also perform  the important function of support the structures of your mouth and face.  Having teeth even affects how the skin around your mouth hangs.

Full dentures fit entirely over your gums.  The well where your gums will hold the dentures are the color of the flesh of your gums.  The base of the dentures which will fit your upper palate covering the entirety of the roof of your mouth.  The lower full set is the shape of a horseshoe as there must be room made for your tongue.

The only way to properly size a set of dentures is to make an impression of your mouth.  This is done as it would be for a full set of braces.

A conventional set of dentures involves the removal of all of the teeth in one’s mouth.  The areas affected must be left to heal, so denture placement is not immediate.  Then there is a denture which can be worn immediately.  That is for patients who only have a few remaining teeth.  Healing is minimal, but a new denture will have to be at a later date because the bone will change shape as it heals.

Lastly, there is a partial denture.  This will sit on a metal framework that will attach to the natural teeth.  Often a crown is needed to serve as anchors to hold the denture.  A partial denture can be removed, however, a bridge, which a permanent partial, can not be removed.

It takes time and practice to get to speaking and eating with dentures.  It also takes time for the muscles of your tongue and your cheeks to learn to hold the dentures in place.  Often there can be more saliva.  You can also experience irritation, but Dr. Rapoport will address these issues and any others that arise.

Dentures are not real teeth.  They will wear and will need to be replaced.  Caring for your full or partial dentures according to the instructions the dentist outlines is going to keep them in good condition longer.  Treat them carefully and use only products designed for use with dentures.  Each mouth is different and each set unique.  Always follow the directions of Dr. Rapoport before treatment begins, during the course of treatment, and after your dentures are put in place, and all her after-care instructions.

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Dental X-rays Are Safe

Dental X-RayThere has been much concern shown by patients regarding the safety of dental x-rays.   Patients are their own best advocates, so asking questions and doing research is welcomed.

Dental x-rays are used a supplemental diagnostic method by dentists so that accurate and clear information can be obtained.  A thorough diagnosis is the best and easiest road to treatment.  Without the use of x-rays, it is impossible for the dentist to know what is going on beneath the surface of the tooth.

X-rays enable the dentist to see cavities, infected pulp, inflamed nerve, deeper decay under a crown, etc…
Using-rays alleviates more painful and invasive exploratory options.  Once diagnosed, treatment can begin.  Some procedures require x-rays after they are performed to ensure completion.  If you suspect a dentist is using x-rays too frequently, seek-out a new dentist.

Dr. Rapoport does not take the use of x-rays lightly and uses them ONLY for diagnoses and treatment, and only when necessary..  She uses all precautions and adheres to the guidelines set by the State.  Each State has different guidelines for the use of x-rays machines, the training of staff, and the protocols required.  Contact the State if you have any questions regarding the above information.

According to the American Dental Association,  *“Dental X-ray exams are safe; however, they do require very low levels of radiation exposure, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects very small. Dental X-ray tools and techniques are designed to limit the body’s exposure to radiation and every precaution is taken to ensure that radiation exposure is As Low As Reasonable Achievable (the ALARA principle). A leaded apron minimizes exposure to the abdomen and should be used when any dental radiograph is taken. Also, a leaded thyroid collar can protect the thyroid from radiation, and should also be used whenever possible. The use of a leaded thyroid collar is recommended for women of childbearing age, pregnant women and children.

If you are pregnant, tell your dentist. During your pregnancy, you may need to have X-rays taken as part of your treatment plan for a dental disease. Use of the leaded apron and thyroid collar will protect you and your fetus from radiation exposure. Dental X-rays do not need to be delayed if you are trying to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.”

If you have any questions, please, ask the dentist.  She is always happy to answer and provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions.

*http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/x/x-rays

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Choosing a Toothbrush

Toothbrushes

Choosing a toothbrush is one of the most important decisions a patient can make regarding his or her dental care.  Making the correct choice is entirely individual and must be made by your dentist.

Brushes are made with  various levels of firmness.  They are made with hard bristles, medium bristles, soft bristles, and extra-soft bristles.  The bristles used on the toothbrushes for small children are usually extra-soft.

Making the choice with your dentist is crucial to keeping your teeth and gums healthy. The dentist is educated and well-informed, and has experience with every brand of toothbrush on the market.  She will know precisely which bristle strength and level of pressure you should use when brushing your teeth.  After an exam, the dentist can see the condition of your teeth and gums and find a match for you.

Every well-known toothbrush manufacturer makes a bristle of each strength.  Each large manufacturer also make toothbrushes with varied bristles shape and form.  These bristle configurations are meant to fit around teeth for a more effective cleaning.  The dentist will also take this into consideration when choosing a toothbrush best for your dental needs.

No matter which level of firmness she chooses for you, always, always brush gently.  Force on teeth and gums can spell disaster for dental health.  Gums are especially sensitive and once damaged, reversing the damage is unlikely.  Hard brushing can lead to gum recession and exposed nerve.  It is as unpleasant as it seems!

An important thing to remember is to stay away from off-brand or ultra cheap toothbrushes as they are often made with inferior materials.  Be especially cautious when choosing for your small children as a potentially defective product can be dangerous.

It may seem that a toothbrush is a small part in dental care; perhaps even an insignificant part of dental in the minds of some people. The facts are that most patients only see the dentist twice a year, so the other 363 days a year you are in charge of your dental care.  How you care for your teeth and what you use to care for your teeth are crucial to gaining and maintaining good dental health.

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Endodontic Treatments

Endodontic TreatmentsEvery student attending dental school receives training in Endodontic treatment. Any dentist having studied Endodontic medicine can perform procedures for which he or she has received training.

There a many reasons one may require Endodontic treatment. It is a necessary course of treatment if the pulp tissue of the tooth, which consists of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue, are damaged. If the above-listed tissues become inflamed or infected, Endodontics is the only course of treatment.

Deep decaying, multiple procedures on a tooth, a chip or crack, are the most common reasons for an Endodontic approach to treatment. Some of the symptoms of pulp damage are pain, extreme and persistent sensitivity cold or hot stimulus, discoloring of the tooth or teeth, and swelling and tenderness in the gums around the symptomatic area. However, it is possible to have no symptoms. If an infection or the inflammation go untreated, the pain will continue, increase in intensity, and may lead to an abscess.

Endodontic treatment is performed so that the tooth can be saved. The dentist will remove the inflamed or infected pulp. The interior of the tooth is cleaned and shaped, then filled and sealed. A crown will more than likely be necessary to further protect the integrity of the tooth, but another form of restoration might be possible.

Leaving the treatment incomplete and putting off the completion of the restoration can lead a tooth fracture. Please, make an appointment to have the restoration of your tooth completed as soon as the dentist deems suitable. A properly performed Endodontic treatment will last as long as the natural tooth or teeth.

Please discuss with your dentist which kind of anesthetic she feels is best for you. Each patient is different and each has a different tolerance level, as well as anxiety level. There are a few options which can make the procedure much more comfortable. Be sure to notify the dentist about any medical conditions, allergies to medications, and any medications you are taking BEFORE you receive an anesthetic in the dental office. ALWAYS follow the pre-care and after-care instructions of the dentist and anesthesiologist very carefully.

It is possible for a previously treated tooth to require new treatment. If decay appears, if a filling becomes loose or cracked, it can lead to an infection, thus requiring new treatment. If you sense pain or see evidence of infection, contact the dentist for an appointment and assessment.

Not all teeth can be treated Endodontically. Only the dentist can make the decision. If another course of treatment is required, she will be able to put together a course which best suits your needs. This can mean tooth removal and an implant or bridge. These require Endodontic surgeries. All synthetic replacements can be made to feel, look, and function like natural teeth, but nothing beats the original, so care for your teeth, and do not hesitate to call the dentist if you suspect you have any of the above symptoms. The sooner you are assessed, the sooner proper treatment can begin.

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Dental Scamming

Dental InsuranceScamming people is not just for mechanics any longer.  There are unscrupulous dental practitioners, as well. There have been many news stories in the press over the past several years about over-billing, unnecessary dental procedures, and  criminal charges being brought against dentists.  There are ways to avoid being caught up in scams or becoming the victim of a dishonest dentist.

First, search the internet for reviews on the dentist you have chosen.  It is a great place for patients to express themselves, and if unhappy, most people can not wait to share their experiences.  Also, ask the office for the doctor’s dental school information and get the license number.  Every dentist has to be licensed in the state in which he or she practices.  Further, ask for the dentist’s insurance information.

The next step is to check with the licensing board.  Also, check with the insurer to be sure your dentist has paid his policy to the current date.   Check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if there are any complaints against the dentist.  There is always a patient unhappy with a dentist at one time or another, but a long list of complaints is an indication there is a problem with the dentist.

Whether or not you have taken the above steps and you find you are with a dentist who made diagnoses which you feel are too extensive or seem unreasonable, you have every right to get a second opinion.  First, ask to see the x-ray of the tooth or teeth in question.  Ask, also, to be shown the tooth with a dental mirror.  Most dentist now have cameras so you can be shown a close-up view of your cavity.  If he or she hesitates, find another dentist.

Refuse to move forward with any major dental work until you have gone for a second opinion.  You should always be concerned if you visit a dentist finds many problems on the first visit.  Unless you have gone a long time without seeing a dentist, you would more than likely not have a mouth full of work.

Always avoid any treatments that are not covered by your insurance policy.  Many dental insurance policies cover legitimate and customary treatment.  If the dentist advises a procedure not listed on the allowed procedures, do not agree to pay out of pocket until you have contacted your insurance company.  The American Dental Association and the State Dental Board have information on accepted mediation.

If your dentist is refusing to comply with the pricing set by insurance, find another dentist.  Dentists are required to accept the terms of your insurance.  There is a set price schedule.  If the dentist is not satisfied with the rate he or she will be paid by the insurer, he or she must deal with the company themselves or send you on your way.

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Dental Veneers

Dental VeneersPorcelain or Resin Veneers are the magic trick of dentistry!  They can cover any number of dental imperfections.   No matter the cause of the imperfection, Dental Veneers may be for you.

First, there must be a diagnosis made by the dentist.  Once the dentist has diagnosed whether or not you are a candidate for Veneers, she will move forward with a plan for treatment.

Porcelain Veneers tend to resist staining much better than a Resin Veneer.  They also reflect a more natural color and light reflection of a natural tooth.  Resin Veneers are thin and require  stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth. Resin Veneers are thinner and less Tooth surface has to be removed to bond them in place.  The dentist will discuss both options and help you decide which material is best for you.

Veneers are typically for the following problems:

-Discolored teeth

-Worn-down teeth

-Chipped or broken teeth

-Misaligned or uneven teeth

-Oddly shaped teeth

-Teeth with gaps

The placement of Veneers will take more than one visit.  After the initial assessment, and you inform the dentist of your goal, the dentist makes the plan for treatment.  Then the doctor will take an impression and x-rays.  Next, the teeth need to be prepared before the bonding process.

The bonding process involves removing approximately 1/2 a millimeter of enamel from the tooth’s surface.  The thickness of the Veneer is equal to the amount of enamel removed.  For this treatment the dentist will help you decide which type of anesthetic is best for you.  Another impression will be made and sent to the laboratory the dentist uses to make the Veneers.  The manufacturing of the Veneers can take from one to two weeks.

Once the Veneers are returned, the dentist will use a temporary bonding to your teeth to check size and fit.  More than likely, they will have to be removed and trimmed to ensure an exact fit.  This may take some time, so prepare to be in the office for a while.

Next, the Veneer will be polished and etched.  The etching process allows for grooves to make the bond to your natural tooth stronger.  For the permanent adhesion, the color of the cement will aid in perfecting the match your teeth.

After proper placement is complete, the dentist uses a light beam which activates the chemicals in the cement and makes the hardening take place faster.  The finals steps are cleaning the excess cement, checking your bite, and making any final adjustments necessary.  A follow-up visit will more than likely be required to check the Veneers and the surrounding tissue.

If Porcelain Veneers or Resin Veneers appeal to you, make an appointment with the dentist for an assessment.  A nice smile goes a long way!

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Laser Dentistry

Laser DentistryLaser Dentistry may seem like something out of a science fiction movie, but it is very real.  Dentistry has made enormous progress in the past few decades, and the adoption of Laser Dentistry as part of care and treatment has made something once thought out of the realm of possibility, a reality.

The laser itself is an instrument which  gives forth a precise beam of light energy.  This beam causes a reaction when it comes in contact with the target area and can remove or re-shape tissue.

Lasers have been used in dentistry since 1990.  They can be used safely and thoroughly for any number of dental treatments.  The dentist will assess your teeth and make a determination with regard to a care plan and which tools are best suited for your treatment.

There are many benefits to using laser dentistry.  The dentist may not have to use a drill nor any anesthesia for your procedure.  This will make the dental treatment experience much less anxiety producing and for the exceptionally anxious patient, this can make a world of difference in seeking treatment promptly.
In addition, lasers can decrease symptoms and in healing time which can result from traditional treatments.  They can also reduce the amount of bacteria which can result from diseased gum tissue or cavities.  The laser can also help control bleeding during a dental surgery.

Dental Lasers are safe if used by a dentist trained in proper  operation and in accordance with accepted dental standards.  Special sunglasses are necessary to protect against eye exposure.
The benefits of Laser Dentistry are numerous.  The laser causes less pain, helps reduce bleeding, sterilizes the surgical sites, coagulates blood vessels, cauterizes nerve endings, and promotes faster healing.

Laser Dentistry methods include the following procedures for treatment:
  • reduction of the pain associated with canker and cold sores
  • exposure of partially erupted wisdom teeth
  • removing muscle attachments which limit proper movement
  • managing gum tissue during impressions for crowns and other procedures
  • removing overgrown tissues caused by certain medications
  • performing biopsies
  • removing inflamed gum tissues and aid in treatments for gum diseases
  • removing or reshaping gum tissue and bone during crown lengthening
  • helping in treating infections in root canals
  • speeding up tooth whitening routine

The doctor with laser credentials and expertise can make or break a dental treatment.  Please, make an appointment and cover all your options.  It will be much less painful than you may think.

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