548 Front Street, Suite C
(On 6th Street, between Main & Front Streets)
PO Box 967, Fairplay, CO 80440
(719) 836-0967

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Digital X-rays

In staying in line with our commitment to provide our patients with superior care, all of our dental imaging is done with modern digital radiography.  Dental digital x-rays have been around since 1998 with the early technology being researched as early as the 1960’s.   Because of the sensitivity of the digital sensors that are placed in your mouth, the reduction in radiation is up to 80-90% less, depending on the number of images being taken.  The images are larger, available immediately and processed without the need for chemicals and drying time.

The advantages to the digital system are many:  reducing x-ray exposure to our patients, immediate viewing, enlarging capabilities, enhancing the images (lighter/darker) for better diagnosis, quicker transfer of images to dentists, specialists and insurance companies, environmentally cleaner (no toxic chemicals to dispose of), healthier work environment (lack of chemical fumes and handling), advanced techniques of image comparison to previous images. 

Tooth Decay and Acid Erosion

Tooth decay is caused by a variety of things; in dental terms, cavities are called “caries”, which are caused by destructive forces acting on tooth structures such as enamel and the tooth’s inner dentin material. Bacteria convert sugars to acids and if not cleaned adequately, the acids etch away the tooth. Acid erosion is the direct attack of acids on the teeth and can be due to low pH foods and drinks, dietary purging and acid reflux.

These biological and mechanical destructive forces include frequent exposure to foods with low pH, rich in sugar and carbohydrates. Soda, candy, milk, and even bottled water are common culprits. Left inside your mouth from inadequate brushing and flossing, these materials break down tooth structure. If cavities aren’t treated early enough, they can lead to more serious problems requiring treatments such as fillings, root canals and even extractions

Preventing Cavities

The best defense against cavities is good oral hygiene, including brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing and rinsing. Your body’s own saliva is also an excellent cavity fighter, because it contains special chemicals that rinse away many harmful materials. Chewing a good sugarless gum will stimulate saliva production between brushings. Special sealants and varnishes can also be applied to stave off cavities from forming.

Brushing

  • Use a good quality, soft brush: it minimizes abrasion and cleans better under the gums
  • Use a circular motion to brush only two or three teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth
  • Place your tooth brush next to your teeth at a 45-degree angle and gently brush in a circular motion, not up and down: otherwise, you will miss the very important space around your teeth where the bacteria begin the formation of plaque. You should brush all surfaces of your teeth -- front, back, top and between other teeth, rocking the brush back and forth gently to remove any plaque growing under the gum.
  • Don’t forget the other surfaces of your mouth that are covered in bacteria: the gums and most importantly, your tongue. Brushing your tongue not only removes trapped bacteria and other disease-causing germs, but also freshens your breath. We recommend you use a tongue scraper after lightly brushing the surface of your tongue.
  • Replace your brush every few months and certainly when the bristles begin to spread. A worn toothbrush will not properly clean your teeth.
  • Effective brushing usually takes about three minutes. Believe it or not, studies have shown that most people rush during tooth brushing!

Air Flossing

"Philips Air Flosser Pro" is the newest technology in flossing and has been proven to be as effective as string flossing in the prevention of gingivitis, tooth decay and periodontal disease. A hand held device, it is rechargeable, lightweight and can hold either warm water or your favorite mouthrinse in the small reservoir. If you have a typical number of adult teeth (28) you can easily floss between them all in about 30 seconds. This is a different technology than a “water pik” which uses much less pressure but much more water. Hence, it is not necessary to use an Air Flosser over the bathroom sink once any bleeding has subsided. The small plastic tip of the Air Flosser is pointed at a 90 degree angle and placed directly in between the teeth to be cleaned. With your index finger, you can activate the button on top of the device and after a short hesitation, a burst of moist air exits the tip. It is simple to use, ergonomically designed for children and adults and is especially advantageous for those with arthritis. Anyone who has had difficulty mastering the correct technique of string flossing, dislikes the aggravation cutting off circulation, breaking floss or any of the other many reasons for not flossing on a daily basis…..will love this advancement in plaque removal!

String Flossing

String floss entails a very thin piece of synthetic cord you gently insert between the teeth. It is meant to be moved up and down the sides of teeth. There are two common methods for string flossing, the “spool method” and the “loop method.”

The spool method is the most popular for those who do not have problems with stiff joints or fingers. The spool method works like this: Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around your middle finger. Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the middle finger of your other hand. This finger takes up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed. Move the floss between your teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Maneuver the floss up and down several times forming a slight “C” shape around the tooth. Avoid pressing or snapping the floss against the gum tissues; it should only passively touch the gums.

The loop method is often effective for children or adults with dexterity problems like arthritis. The loop method works like this: Break off about 18 inches of floss and form it into a circle. Tie it securely with two or three knots. Place all of your fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Use your index fingers to guide the floss through your lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth, going below the gum line and forming a slight “C” on the side of the tooth.

With either method of flossing, never “snap” the floss because this can cut your gums. Make sure that you gently scrape the side of each tooth with the floss. Your gums may be tender or even bleed for the first few days after flossing-a condition that generally heals within a few days.

Primary and Permanent Teeth

Every child grows 20 primary teeth, usually by the age of 3. These teeth are gradually replaced by the age of 12 or so with a full set of 28 permanent teeth, and later on, four molars called “wisdom teeth.”

It is essential that a child’s primary teeth are healthy, because their development sets the stage for permanent teeth. If primary teeth become diseased or do not grow in properly, chances are greater that their permanent replacements will suffer the same fate. For example, poorly formed primary teeth that don’t erupt properly could crowd out spaces reserved for other teeth. Space maintainers can sometimes be used to correct this condition, if it is spotted early enough.

Brushing Infants Teeth

It is important to begin cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as they erupt. Cavity causing plaque grows in infant’s teeth too! “Baby Bottle Mouth” is actually advanced tooth decay caused by juices, milk, etc. that are left in the baby’s mouth while sleeping.

Babies’ gums and teeth can be gently cleaned with special infant toothbrushes that fit over your finger or with child-sized toothbrushes. Water is suitable in lieu of toothpaste (because the baby may swallow the toothpaste). Parents are advised to avoid fluoride toothpastes on children under the age of 2.

Remember to use small, peas-sized portions of toothpaste and teach your child to spit out, not swallow, the toothpaste when finished.

Teething, Pacifiers and Thumb-Sucking

Teething can make your baby’s gums sore. This is perfectly normal. You can help relieve this by allowing the baby to suck on a teething ring, or gently rubbing your baby’s gums with the back of a small spoon, a piece of wet gauze, or even your finger.

For babies under the age of 4, teething rings and pacifiers can be safely used to facilitate the child’s oral needs for relieving gum pain and for suckling. After the age of 4, pacifiers are generally discouraged because they may interfere with the development of your child’s teeth. Moreover, thumb or finger-sucking should be strongly discouraged because it can lead to malformed teeth that become crooked and crowded. It can also prevent the proper alignment of the front teeth which can contribute to tongue thrusting and speech problems.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a compound of the element Fluorine which is found naturally in water, air, soil, rocks and food. A process in the body called “re-mineralization” uses fluoride to repair damage caused by acid erosion and decay.

For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that strengthens tooth enamel, which thereby helps to prevent decay of tooth structures. Water fluoridation is endorsed by nearly every major health and safety-related organization in the world. Communities make it a common practice to “fluoridate” their drinking supplies in order for the general population to benefit from this inexpensive and effective preventative treatment. Fluoride absorbs into and strengthens tooth structure.

According to the American Dental Association, more than 144 million U.S. residents in more than 10,000 communities drink fluoridated water, most from public water supplies with sodium fluoride added artificially. If you are one of the thousands of people who drink bottled water or water from home water treatment systems, be aware that the fluoride levels (good or bad) are not monitored, controlled or regulated.

You have the option of in-office fluoride treatments with each visit. If you are expecting reimbursement from your insurance company, be aware that most insurance companies limit the number of applications per year and also often have age limits (usually under age 14). Your child may not be getting enough fluoride just by using fluoride toothpaste.

If you learn that your water has an unacceptable level of fluoride, there are fluoride supplements that can be prescribed.

If you are opposed to the use of fluoride and choose to minimize your level of intake and don’t know the level of fluoride in your home drinking water, I invite you to bring a sample to my office so that it can be tested for fluoride content.  Please contact my office for more information on this very important service.  You may also contact the Soil, Water and Plant Testing Laboratory at Colorado State University at (970) 491-5061 should you choose to have your water tested directly.

Varnish

A topical application of fluoride, it can be applied by dental professionals to enamel, dentin, and cementum to prevent decay, re-mineralize the teeth and treat dentin hypersensitivity. Fluoride varnish is not a permanent treatment. It should be left on the teeth for several hours for maximum absorption. It is the preferred fluoride application for young children who are more likely to swallow fluoride in rinses, gels or foam applications. Varnishes can be applied up to 4 times a year. Studies confirm that children with frequent applications have fewer cavities.

Community Water Fluoridation

Optimal levels recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for drinking water range from 0.7 (ppm or mg/L) for warmer climates, to 1.2 ppm for cooler climates accounting for the tendency to drink more water in warmer climates. Due to our higher elevations, Park, Chaffee and Summit County residents may consume more water to prevent dehydration.

People seeking information on whether their water system is fluoridated can find out by visiting a web site at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). From www.cdc.gov you can scroll to “Fluoridation, Community Water” to get to “Data and Statistics” which will lead you to “My Water’s Fluoride”. As of 2008, the most recent update for the website, Park County fluoride levels range from .16 -1.2 ppm; Summit County levels from 0 to 1.1 ppm; and Chaffee County levels from .10-1.5 ppm (*with the exception of Mountain Vista Village, Mt. Princeton Hot Springs and Mt. Princeton HOA. See notes below).

The new feature, “My Water’s Fluoride” allows consumers in participating states to check out basic information about their water system, including the number of people served by the system and the target fluoridation level. States that are currently participating include Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

* The fluoride levels in the water exceeds the recommended safe level as established by the CDC. Children under the age of 8 years old are recommended to use an alternative drinking water source as these fluoride levels range from 1.6 – 10 ppm! Please contact the Chaffee County Health Department at (719) 530-5572 for more information.

Halitosis (Bad Breath)

An estimated sixty-five percent of Americans have bad breath. Over forty-million Americans have “Chronic halitosis,” which is persistent bad breath. Ninety percent of all halitosis is of oral, not systemic, origin. Americans spend more than $1 billion a year on over the counter halitosis products, many of which are ineffective because they only mask the problem.

Bad breath is caused by a variety of factors. In most cases, it is caused by food remaining in the mouth-on the teeth, tongue, gums and other structures, collecting bacteria. Dead and dying bacterial cells release a sulfur compound that gives your breath an unpleasant odor. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contribute to breath odor. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, the odor is transferred to the lungs, where it is exhaled. Brushing, flossing and mouthwash only mask the odor. Dieters sometimes develop unpleasant breath from fasting.

Periodontal (gum) disease often causes persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, and persistent bad breath may be a sign that you have gum disease. Gum disease is partially caused by plaque -- the sticky, often colorless, film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth.

Dry mouth or xerostomia may also cause bad breath due to decreased salivary flow. Saliva cleans your mouth and removes particles that may cause odor. While drinking water will hydrate you, it will not lubricate the teeth or soft tissues of the mouth.

Tobacco products cause bad breath, stain teeth, reduce your ability to taste foods and irritate your gum tissues. Bad breath may also be a sign that you have a serious health problem, such as a respiratory tract infection, chronic sinusitis, post-nasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailment.

Preventing Halitosis

Daily brushing and flossing and regular professional cleanings, will normally take care of unpleasant breath. And don’t forget your often overlooked tongue as a culprit for bad breath. Bacterial plaque and food debris also can accumulate on the surface of the tongue. The tongue’s surface is extremely rough and bacteria can accumulate easily in the cracks and crevices.

Controlling periodontal disease and maintaining good oral health helps to reduce bad breath. If you have constant bad breath, make a list of the foods you eat and any medications you take. Some medications may contribute to bad breath.

Improperly cleaned dentures can also harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles. If you wear removable dentures (partials), take them out at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them.

If the odor is not oral in nature, you may be referred to your family physician or to a specialist to determine the cause of the odor and possible treatment. If the odor is due to gum disease, your hygienist can either treat the disease or refer you to a periodontist, a specialist in treating gum tissues. Gum disease can cause gum tissues to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. When these pockets are deep, only a professional deep cleaning can remove the bacteria and plaque that accumulate.

There are two types of mouth rinses, therapeutic and cosmetic. Therapeutics actually fight cavities, plaque and gingivitis; cosmetics merely treat breath odor but do not treat or prevent gingivitis. If your bad breath persists even after good oral hygiene, a special antimicrobial mouth rinse may be prescribed. Some antiseptic mouth rinses have been accepted by the American Dental Association for their breath freshening properties and therapeutic benefits in reducing plaque and gingivitis. Instead of simply masking breath odor, these products have been demonstrated to kill the germs that cause bad breath. Ask your hygienist about trying some of these products.

Definitions

  • Abrasion: An area of increased wear or friction on a tooth
  • Acid Erosion: Irreversible breakdown of tooth structure due to chemical, not bacterial processes (i.e. diet, bulimia)
  • Antimicrobial Mouth Rinse: see Therapeutic Mouth Rinse
  • Biofilm: A sticky, colorless group of microorganisms that form on teeth
  • Bite-wing:  Radiographic images that shows only the crowns and supporting (alveolar) bone of the teeth but not the root areas.
  • Calculus: A hard, calcium like deposit on the teeth that is due to inadequate plaque control; also called “tartar”
  • Cavity: A hole; the destructive dental infection caused by toxins produced by microorganisms
  • Decay: A progressive action of acid attacks on a tooth
  • Deep Cleaning: See Scaling and Root Planing
  • Dry Mouth: A condition of decreased salivary flow; also called Xerostomia
  • Fluoride Rinse: A mouth rinse containing the Fluorine ion
  • Fluoride Varnish: A type of fluoride application
  • Fluoride: An ion, naturally occurring in minerals, that strengthens tooth structure
  • FMX: Full Mouth Radiographic Survey consisting of 14-22 periapical and bite-wing images which are intended to display the crowns and roots of all teeth, periapical areas and alveolar bone.
  • Gingivitis: Acute or chronic inflammation of the gum tissue
  • Gum Disease: Early and late stages of bacterial gum infection in the mouth
  • Halitosis: Bad breath
  • Hyper-sensitivity: Painful reaction in teeth to stimuli (air, water, cold, heat, sour, sweet, salty, mechanical)
  • Implant: A metal replacement for a missing tooth that is surgically placed in the jawbone
  • Inflammation: The body’s reaction to harmful toxins
  • Local Anesthesia: Drug delivery to a specific site for the purpose of partial or complete pain control (numbing)
  • Microorganism: Microscopic organisms, including bacteria
  • Periapical: Around the apex of the tooth’s roots
  • Periodontal Disease: A form of gum disease that affects the supporting structures around the teeth
  • Periodontist: A dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum diseases
  • Periodontitis: A late stage of gum and bone infection of the mouth which causes pockets and bone loss
  • pH: A measure of acidic and basic (neutral) levels of aqueous solutions. Acidic = Less than 7; Basic (Alkaline) = More than 7
  • Plaque: See Biofilm
  • Pockets: Depth of inner layer of gum tissue and bone level after they have pulled away from the teeth
  • Receding Gums: See Recession
  • Recession: Exposure of the roots of the teeth caused by migration of the gum tissue towards the roots of teeth
  • Saliva: The lubricating fluid in the mouth that contains water, enzymes, bacteria, viruses, mucus, blood cells and undigested food particles
  • Scaling and Root Planing: The non-surgical removal of hard and soft deposits from the roots of teeth
  • Sealant: A thin resin substance placed on the biting surfaces of bicuspids and molars to prevent decay
  • Tartar: See Calculus
  • Teeth Whitening: A chemical or laser process to lighten the color of teeth
  • Therapeutic Mouth Rinse: A mouthrinse that is capable of killing or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms
  • Topical Anesthetic: A gel or spray that provides mild anesthesia when applied to gum tissues
  • Xerostomia: See Dry Mouth