Posts for: June, 2021

CTImagingTechnologyCanImproveOutcomesforComplexDentalProblems

The mouth is a crowded place with nerves, blood vessels and sinus cavities sharing common space with the teeth and gums. Although important in their own right, these structures can also hinder treatment for complex dental situations like dental implant surgery or impacted teeth.

Treating these and similar situations depends on getting an accurate depiction of “what lies beneath.” Conventional x-rays help, but their two-dimensional images don't always give the full picture. There's another way—cone beam computed tomography (CBCT).

Similar to CT scanning, CBCT uses x-ray energy to take hundreds of “sliced” images that are then re-assembled with special software to create a three-dimensional model viewable on a computer screen. CBCT is different, though, in that it employs a scanning device that revolves around a patient's head, which emits a cone-shaped beam of x-rays to capture the images.

A dentist can manipulate the resulting 3-D model on screen to study revealed oral structures from various angles to pinpoint potential obstacles like nerves or blood vessels. The detailed model may also aid in uncovering the underlying causes of a jaw joint disorder or sleep apnea.

CT technology isn't the only advanced imaging system used in healthcare. Another is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which excites hydrogen atoms in water molecules. This produces different vibration rates in individual tissue structures, which are then translated into detailed images of these structures. Unlike CT or CBCT, MRI doesn't use x-ray energy, but rather a magnetic field and radio waves to produce the atomic vibrations.

But while providing good detail of soft tissues, MRI imaging doesn't perform as well as CBCT with harder tissues like bone or teeth. As to the potential risks of CBCT involving x-ray radiation exposure, dentists follow much the same safety protocols as they do with conventional x-rays. As such, they utilize CBCT only when the benefits far outweigh the potential x-ray exposure risks.

And, CBCT won't be replacing conventional x-rays any time soon—the older technology is often the more practical diagnostic tool for less invasive dental situations. But when a situation requires the most detailed and comprehensive image possible, CBCT can make a big difference.

If you would like more information on advanced dental diagnostics, 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 “Getting the Full Picture With Cone Beam Dental Scans.”


By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
June 17, 2021
Category: Oral Health

Visiting your Marion, AR, family dentist, Dr. Wayne Cook, will help you keep your sparkling smile healthy. In addition to seeing the dentist every six months for a check-up, it's a good idea to schedule an appointment if you experience any of these issues.

You have a toothache

Pain in a tooth is a clear sign that something's wrong. A toothache can occur for a variety of reasons ranging from a cavity to a crack in a tooth or a sinus infection. Fortunately, your dentist can determine why your tooth hurts and offer an effective treatment.

If you have severe, throbbing pain accompanied by a fever, swollen lymph nodes, facial swelling, pus, or a bump on your gum, you may have a dental abscess. Abscesses are caused by bacterial infections and require emergency dental care. If you think you might have an abscess, call the Marion, AR, dental office immediately.

Your gums hurt

Sore, swollen, and red gums could be signs that you have gum disease. Without treatment, the disease could damage your gum tissue and the bone and ligaments that hold your teeth in place.

Your jaw is stiff

Does your jaw feel stiff and painful when you wake up? Jaw stiffness is often related to grinding or clenching your teeth at night. Grinding or clenching can crack teeth and fillings. It also increases your risk of developing temporomandibular joint disorder. Your dentist can provide you with a custom nightguard to protect your teeth and reduce tension on your jaw while you sleep.

You're unhappy with your appearance

Your family dentist offers several treatments that improve the appearance and function of your smile, including:

  • Teeth whitening to erase stains
  • Veneers to hide imperfections and damage on the fronts of teeth and change the shape or length of teeth
  • Dental crowns to strengthen and restore teeth and improve their appearance
  • Tooth-colored fillings to make your dental work blend in with your teeth
  • Bonding to repair damage or enhance the way your tooth looks
  • Dental implants to replace missing teeth
  • Orthodontic treatment to straighten crooked teeth

You have sleep apnea

Treating sleep apnea helps you avoid heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other serious health complications. If you can't tolerate a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, an oral appliance offered by your family dentist offers another option.

The appliance keeps your airway open by holding your jaw forward and preventing your tongue from falling against your airway. Thanks to your brand new sleep apnea device, you'll get a better night's sleep and reduce your risk of serious health issues.

Do you need to see Dr. Cook, your family dentist in Marion, AR? Call 870-739-8799 to schedule your appointment.


By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
June 17, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
AnEatingDisorderMayShowItselfinTheMouth

Although dental care is our primary focus, we dentists are also on the lookout for other health problems that may manifest in the mouth. That's why we're sometimes the first to suspect a patient may have an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are abnormal dietary patterns that can arise from mental or emotional issues, the most common being anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Each has different behaviors: Anorexics abnormally restrict their food intake (“self-starvation”), while bulimics typically eat heavily and then induce vomiting (“binge and purge”).

Although bulimics are more likely to binge and purge, anorexics may also induce vomiting. That practice in particular can leave a clue for dentists. While vomiting, powerful stomach acid enters the mouth, which can then soften and erode tooth enamel.

It's the pattern of erosion a dentist may notice more than the erosion itself that may indicate an eating disorder. A person while vomiting normally places their tongue against the back of the lower teeth, which somewhat shields them from acid. The more exposed upper teeth will thus tend to show more erosion than the bottom teeth.

A dentist may also notice other signs of an eating disorder. Enlarged salivary glands or a reddened throat and tongue could indicate the use of fingers or objects to induce vomiting. Lack of oral hygiene can be a sign of anorexia, while signs of over-aggressive brushing or flossing may hint of bulimia.

For the sake of the person's overall well-being, the eating disorder should be addressed through professional counseling and therapy. An excellent starting point is the website nationaleatingdisorders.org, sponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association.

The therapy process can be lengthy, so patients should also take steps to protect their teeth in the interim. One important measure is to rinse out the mouth following purging with a little baking soda mixed with water. This will help neutralize oral acid and reduces the risk of erosion. Proper brushing and flossing and regular dental visits can also help prevent dental disease.

An eating disorder can be traumatic for both patients and their families, and can take time to overcome. Even so, patients can reduce its effect on their dental health.

If you would like more information on eating disorders and dental care, 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 “Bulimia, Anorexia & Oral Health.”


3QuickDentalProcedurestoPuttheDazzleinYourWeddingDaySmile

The traditional June wedding season hit a bump last year during the COVID-19 pandemic as many couples down-scaled or postponed their ceremonies. But with hopes that the virus is finally waning, this year the early summer tradition shows signs of reviving. If you're one of those happy couples, you're no doubt working right now to look your best—and that would include your smile.

And there's no time like the present to make sure your teeth and gums are spruced up for the big day. True, some cosmetic enhancements can take weeks or even months to complete. But some can give you a brighter, more attractive smile with just a dental visit or two.

Here are 3 procedures that could help your smile match that once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Dental cleaning. The main purpose for visiting us every six months is to remove any harmful plaque and tartar missed with daily hygiene. But an added benefit for these single-visit dental cleanings can be a brighter, fresher smile. To take advantage, schedule a dental cleaning within a week or so of your wedding.

Teeth whitening. If you want to take your smile brightness to another level, you may want to consider professional teeth-whitening. The professional bleaching solutions we use can restore shine and translucence to dull, yellowed teeth that could last for months or, with touch-ups, a few years. We can also fine-tune the level of brightness you're most comfortable displaying to your wedding guests.

Dental bonding. Do you have a chipped or disfigured tooth that puts a damper on your smile? We may be able to make that defect disappear in just one visit with dental bonding. Using a dental resin material matched to your natural tooth color, we can fill in your tooth flaw and then sculpt it to look as natural as possible. The end result is a life-like, durable finish that will have you beaming on your big day.

Like we said, if your wedding is just around the corner, these particular techniques can make a big difference for your smile. If, however, you still have a few months before your wedding, you may be able to take advantage of other therapeutic and cosmetic measures like dental veneers, crowns or even possibly orthodontics.

To learn more about your cosmetic options, see us for a full evaluation of your smile needs. We'll work with you to help you achieve the most attractive smile possible for your once-in-a-lifetime day.

If you would like more information about cosmetic dental choices, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Planning Your Wedding Day Smile.”




Marion, AR Family Dentist
Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
303 Bancario Rd.Suite 7
Marion, AR 72364
870-739-8799
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