My Blog

Posts for: July, 2019

By Ronald L. Schoepflin, D.D.S.
July 27, 2019
Category: Oral Health
BeontheAlertforWhiteSpotsonTeethWhileWearingBraces

While wearing braces is the path to a healthier and more attractive smile, it can be a difficult journey. One of your biggest challenges will be keeping your teeth clean to avoid a higher risk of tooth decay.

Tooth decay starts with dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles that accumulates on teeth. Daily brushing and flossing clear this accumulation. But the hardware of braces makes it difficult to access all tooth surfaces, and can even become a haven for plaque.

One sign in particular of tooth decay while wearing braces is the appearance of chalk-like spots on the teeth known as white spot lesions (WSLs). WSLs occur because the minerals in the enamel beneath them have begun to break down in response to decay. The spots can eventually cause both structural and cosmetic problems for a tooth.

The best approach to WSLs is to prevent them from developing in the first place. You'll need to be extra vigilant with daily oral hygiene while wearing braces to reduce plaque buildup. To help with the increased difficulty you might consider using a special toothbrush designed to maneuver more closely around orthodontic hardware. You may also find using a water flosser to be a lot easier than flossing thread.

Preventing tooth decay and WSLs also includes what you eat or drink to reduce the effects of enamel de-mineralization. The bacteria that cause decay thrive on sugar, so limit your intake of sweetened foods and beverages. And to avoid excessive demineralization cut back on acidic foods as well.

If despite your best preventive efforts WSLs still form, we can take steps to minimize any damage. For one, we can give your enamel a boost with fluoride applications or other remineralization substances. We can also inject a tooth-colored resin beneath the surface of a WSL that will make it less noticeable.

With any of these and other treatments, though, the sooner we can treat the WSL the better the outcome. Practicing good hygiene and dietary habits, as well as keeping an eye out for any WSL formations, will do the most to protect your new and improved smile.

If you would like more information on preventing dental disease while wearing braces, 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 “White Spots on Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment.”


By Ronald L. Schoepflin, D.D.S.
July 17, 2019
Category: Oral Health
PrimaryTeethareCriticaltoFutureDentalHealthandWorthPreserving

Ask any kid and they'll tell you just how valuable "baby" teeth really are—out of the mouth, of course, and under their pillow awaiting a transaction with the Tooth Fairy. But there's more to them than their value on the Fairy Exchange Market—they play a critical role in future dental health.

Primary teeth provide the same kind of dental function as their future replacements. Children weaned from nursing can now eat solid food. They provide contact points for the tongue as a child learns to speak. And they play a role socially, as children with a "toothsome" smile begin to look more like what they will become when they're fully mature.

But primary teeth also serve as guides for the permanent teeth that will follow. As a future tooth develops below the gum line, the primary tooth preserves the space in which it will erupt. Otherwise, the space can be taken over by other teeth. This crowds out the intended tooth, which may erupt out of position or remain impacted below the gum line.

In either case, the situation could create a poor bite (malocclusion) that can be quite costly to correct. But if we can preserve a primary tooth on the verge of premature loss, we may be able to reduce the impact of a developing malocclusion or even prevent it.

We can help primary teeth last for their intended lifespan by preventing tooth decay with daily oral hygiene or clinically-applied sealants and topical fluoride. If they do become infected, it may be worth the effort to preserve them using procedures similar to a root canal treatment.

If a tooth can't be preserved, then we can try to reserve the empty space for the future tooth. One way is a space maintainer, which is a stiff wire loop attached to metal band bonded around an adjacent tooth. This keeps other teeth from drifting into the space until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, at which time we can remove the appliance.

Your child may be anxious to get another tooth to put under their pillow. But helping that primary tooth go the distance will be more than worth it for their future dental health.

If you would like more information on the care and treatment of baby teeth, 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 “Importance of Baby Teeth.”


By Ronald L. Schoepflin, D.D.S.
July 16, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Crowns and Bridges  

Crowns and bridges offer numerous benefits. When used in conjunction with one another, crowns and bridges make it possible to restore dental-crownsyour smile by filling in the gaps where teeth are missing. Crowns and bridges also restore the ability to bite and chew food with ease, while taking the strain off surrounding teeth that had been compensating for missing ones. At Schoepflin Dental Excellence, Dr. Ronald Schoepflin and Dr. Scott Smith are your dentists for crowns and bridges in Port Orchard.
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How Crowns and Bridges Work

Crowns and bridges can be used to securely replace multiple missing teeth all at once. Bridges helps close the gaps between teeth where other teeth are missing, while crowns help hold bridges securely in place. A crown is positioned at either end of a dental bridge. Each crown fits over a natural tooth and holds the bridge in place. In the middle of the bridge are pontics, which are the artificial teeth that fill in the gaps where natural teeth are missing. Your dentist for crowns and bridges in Port Orchard can determine if crowns and bridges could work for you.
 

Benefits of Crowns and Bridges

There are several benefits associated with crowns and bridges. A primary benefit is that they restore your smile by filling in the gaps where teeth are missing. Another benefit is that they are secure. Since crowns hold the bridge firmly in place, you do not need to worry about the bridge slipping out of place or falling off. In addition to these benefits, crowns and bridges offer several others, such as improving speech, reducing strain on surrounding teeth, and restoring the natural contours of the face.

Several problems can result when teeth are missing, but filling in the gaps with crowns and bridges helps correct these problems. One outcome of having missing teeth is that there is less support for facial muscles, which can result in drooping and sagging and cause a person to look older. Replacing missing teeth with crowns and bridges can reduce sagging by providing additional support for facial muscles.

Speech can also be affected when teeth are missing as the tongue slips into the gaps when speaking. Filling in those gaps with crowns and bridges helps correct placement of the tongue when speaking. Another adverse outcome of having missing teeth is that the remaining teeth can sustain extra wear and tear as they compensate for the missing ones. Restoring your smile with crowns and bridges helps distribute biting and chewing functions more evenly across a full set of teeth and reduce the extra strain on certain teeth.

The benefits of crowns and bridges are numerous and a dentist can help you decide if a bridge with crowns is the right tooth replacement option for you. For crowns and bridges in Port Orchard, schedule an appointment with Dr. Schoepflin or Dr. Smith by calling Schoepflin Dental Excellence at (360) 871-2959.


By Ronald L. Schoepflin, D.D.S.
July 07, 2019
Category: Oral Health
DrTravisStorkDontIgnoreBleedingGums

Are bleeding gums something you should be concerned about? Dear Doctor magazine recently posed that question to Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors. He answered with two questions of his own: “If you started bleeding from your eyeball, would you seek medical attention?” Needless to say, most everyone would. “So,” he asked, “why is it that when we bleed all the time when we floss that we think it’s no big deal?” As it turns out, that’s an excellent question — and one that’s often misunderstood.

First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “bleeding all the time.” As many as 90 percent of people occasionally experience bleeding gums when they clean their teeth — particularly if they don’t do it often, or are just starting a flossing routine. But if your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, it almost certainly means there’s a problem. Many think bleeding gums is a sign they are brushing too hard; this is possible, but unlikely. It’s much more probable that irritated and bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.

How common is this malady? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of all  Americans over age 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease — and that number increases to 70.1 percent for those over 65! Periodontal disease can occur when a bacteria-rich biofilm in the mouth (also called plaque) is allowed to build up on tooth and gum surfaces. Plaque causes the gums to become inflamed, as the immune system responds to the bacteria. Eventually, this can cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming bacteria-filled “pockets” under the gum surface. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious infection, and even tooth loss.

What should you do if your gums bleed regularly when brushing or flossing? The first step is to come in for a thorough examination. In combination with a regular oral exam (and possibly x-rays or other diagnostic tests), a simple (and painless) instrument called a periodontal probe can be used to determine how far any periodontal disease may have progressed. Armed with this information, we can determine the most effective way to fight the battle against gum disease.

Above all, don’t wait too long to come in for an exam! As Dr. Stork notes, bleeding gums are “a sign that things aren’t quite right.”  If you would like more information about bleeding gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.” You can read the entire interview with Dr. Travis Stork in Dear Doctor magazine.