Posts for: March, 2018

By James P. Watts, DMD
March 28, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay  

Other than the common cold, tooth decay is the most prevalent disease in the world. And while a cavity or two may seem like a minor matter, tooth decay’s full destructive potential is anything but trivial. Without proper prevention and treatment, tooth decay can cause pain, tooth loss and, in rare cases, even death.

This common disease begins with bacteria in the mouth. Though these microscopic organisms’ presence is completely normal and at times beneficial, certain strains cause problems: they consume left over carbohydrates in the mouth like sugar and produce acid as a byproduct. The higher the levels of bacteria the higher the amount of acid, which disrupts the mouth’s normal neutral pH.

This is a problem because acid is the primary enemy of enamel, the teeth’s hard protective outer shell. Acid causes enamel to lose its mineral content (de-mineralization), eventually producing cavities. Saliva neutralizes acid that arises normally after we eat, but if the levels are too high for too long this process can be overwhelmed. The longer the enamel is exposed to acid, the more it softens and dissolves.

While tooth decay is a global epidemic, dental advances of the last century have made it highly preventable. The foundation for prevention is fluoride in toothpaste and effective oral hygiene — daily brushing and flossing to removing plaque, a thin film of food remnant on teeth that’s a feeding ground for bacteria, along with regular dental visits for more thorough cleaning and examination. This regular regimen should begin in infancy when teeth first appear in the mouth. For children especially, further prevention measures in the form of sealants or topical fluoride applications performed in the dentist office can provide added protection for those at higher risk.

You can also help your preventive measures by limiting sugar or other carbohydrates in your family’s diet, and eating more fresh vegetables, fruit and dairy products, especially as snacks. Doing so reduces food sources for bacteria, which will lower their multiplication and subsequently the amount of acid produced.

In this day and age, tooth decay isn’t a given. Keeping it at bay, though, requires a personal commitment to effective hygiene, lifestyle choices and regular dental care. Doing these things will help ensure you and your family’s teeth remain free from this all too common disease.

If you would like more information on preventing and treating tooth decay, 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 Decay.”

By James P. Watts, DMD
March 22, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

Store-bought tooth whitening pastes and strips may give your smile a little boost, but teeth whitening done by your dentist can produce teeth whiteningsome truly amazing results in a very short period of time. Dr. James Watts offers this in-demand cosmetic treatment at his Mystic, CT dentist office. Here are a few things to consider when you’re deciding if professional whitening is right for you.

You're Unhappy With Your Smile
If you’ve noticed that your teeth have changed in color and it’s causing you to hesitate to smile  around  other people, then professional teeth whitening may be right for you. You should be happy with the way your teeth look and never feel intimidated in social settings. It only takes about an hour to remove years of dental stains and discoloration when you go to the dentist.

You Have Extrinsic Stains
If the discoloration and staining of your teeth  is  extrinsic (the stains are on the outer layer of the tooth) then professional tooth whitening may be right for you. These stains usually form because of the foods you and the beverages you drink. Dental bleaching solutions are most effective at whitening the outer enamel. 

You Tried Other Whitening Methods That Didn’t Work
If you have tried to whiten your teeth with over the counter products, but your teeth are still dull and yellow, you should talk to your Mystic, CT dentist about professional teeth whitening. Dentists have access to prescription-grade bleaching solutions that are far superior to what you can buy at the store.

You Have Gum Sensitivities
Some people have sensitive gums, which can make it more difficult to use teeth whitening products. The best part about seeing a dentist for teeth whitening is that the procedure will be done safely and carefully. So if you have gum sensitivities, leave the whitening process to a professional.

Teeth Whitening Can Work for You
If you want to have a smile that’s up to eight shades brighter and will stay beautiful for years, see a dentist for a teeth whitening session. Call (860) 536-6446 today to schedule an appointment with Dr. James Watts at his office in Mystic, CT.

By James P. Watts, DMD
March 13, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gummy smile  

What makes a beautiful smile? The teeth, of course: bright, evenly shaped and precisely aligned with each other. But your teeth can be as perfect as can be and your smile will still appear unattractive.

The reason? Your gums show more than they should when you smile.

What's considered a gummy smile is largely a matter of perception that can vary from person to person. As a rule of thumb, though, we consider a smile “gummy” if four millimeters (mm) or more of the gums show.

Fortunately, we can minimize the gums' prominence and make your smile more attractive. But what methods we use will depend on why your gums stand out. And it's not always because of the gums themselves.

It could be your teeth didn't erupt normally during dental development. Mature crown (the visible part of the tooth) length is normally about 10 mm with a width about 75-85% of that. But an abnormal eruption could result in teeth that appear too short, which can make the gums stand out more. We can correct this with a surgical procedure called crown lengthening in which we remove excess gum tissue and, if necessary, reshape the underlying bone to expose more of the tooth crown.

Another potential cause is how far your upper lip rises when you smile. Normally the lip rises only enough to reveal about 4 mm of teeth. In some cases, though, it may rise too high and show more of the gums. We can modify lip movement in a number of ways, including Botox injections to temporarily paralyze the lip. A more permanent solution is a lip stabilization procedure. It sounds bad, but it's a fairly simple procedure to surgically reposition the muscle attachments to restrict movement.

Your gummy smile may also result from an upper jaw too long for your facial structure. We can correct this with orthognathic (“ortho” – straighten, “gnathos” – jaw) surgery. During the procedure the surgeon permanently positions the jaw further up in the skull; this will reduce the amount of teeth and gums displayed when you smile.

Discovering the true cause of your gummy smile will determine how we treat it. After a complete oral examination, we can then discuss your options to transform your smile into a more attractive one.

If you would like more information on treating gummy smiles and other cosmetic problems, 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 “Gummy Smiles.”