My Blog

Posts for: February, 2020

By Ronald L. Schoepflin, D.D.S.
February 22, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

How do you know if you have periodontal (gum) disease? Sometimes your gums will tell you—when they’re red, swollen or bleed easily.

But your gums can also look and feel healthy while a gum infection still brews below the gum line. In this case, a regular dental visit could make the difference. Even without overt signs of infection, we may be able to detect gum disease with a slender metal instrument called a periodontal probe.

Gum disease is a bacterial infection that most of the time arises from dental plaque. This thin film of bacteria and food particles accumulates on tooth surfaces, especially because of poor or non-existent oral hygiene. A continuing infection can weaken gum tissues and cause them to pull away or detach from the teeth.

Normally, there’s a slight gap between the gums and teeth. But as the infected gums pull away, the gaps grow larger and deeper, forming what are known as periodontal pockets. They become filled with infection that soon spreads to the root and bone and increases the risk of tooth loss.

These pockets, though, could be the means for detecting a gum infection with the help of the periodontal probe. During a dental exam we gently insert the probe, which has millimeter depth markings etched on it, between a tooth and its adjacent gums. While a depth of 1 to 3 mm is normal, a probe measurement of 4 to 5 mm could be a sign of an early stage infection. A reading of 7 to 10 mm, on the other hand, may indicate more advanced disease.

Along with other factors, periodontal probing can be quite useful identifying both the presence and extent of a gum infection and then how to treat it. The goal of any treatment is to remove plaque and tartar (calculus) deposits that sustain the infection. But probing, along with other diagnostic methods like x-rays, could point to deeper infection below the gum line that require more extensive methods, including surgery, sometimes to access and remove the disease.

Achieving the best treatment outcome with gum disease often depends on finding the infection early. Periodontal probing helps to make that discovery more likely.

If you would like more information on diagnosing and treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Ronald L. Schoepflin, D.D.S.
February 21, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: veneers  

Dental veneers are restorations that can be fitted to your teeth’s front surface for correcting cracks, chips, minor misalignment, and discoloration. They’re likewise utilized for reducing gaps in between teeth and building up worn teeth to give you a natural-looking and beautiful smile. Want to see if you’re eligible for veneers? Consult one of our dentists, either Dr. Ronald Schoepflin or Dr. Scott Smith here at our practice, Schoepflin Dental Excellence in Port Orchard, WA, to determine your eligibility for veneers.

What are Dental Veneers?

Dental veneers come in two main types, composite resin and porcelain. Porcelain dental veneers look similar to faux nails and are developed to fit over and bonded to the teeth’s front surface. They can be customized to a specific tooth or teeth and they really do feel and look like real teeth. Composite resin dental veneers, on the other hand, are applied to your teeth’s front surface layer by layer to gradually conceal the existing teeth. Your dentist will shape and cure each layer until you’ve achieved the final result.

With both types of veneers, your dentist will need to prep the front surface of the teeth, which will involve buffing away the topmost portion to enable a more comfortable fit and grip for the veneers.

Am I an Ideal Candidate for Dental Veneers?

Most individuals are great candidates for veneers. However, keep in mind that it’s a cosmetic solution and not an orthodontic treatment. This means that it can only hide or mask flaws such as stains, crooked bites, and gapped teeth, instead of actually correcting. Your teeth must be healthy before applying veneers, so if you have gum disease or decay, it should be treated before applying the veneers.

Likewise, if you have bruxism or grind your teeth frequently, you need to get it under control first. Otherwise, the veneers could break, chip, or completely detach from your teeth. A consultation with your dentist in Port Orchard, WA, is required to determine your candidacy and learn more about your treatment options.

Generally speaking, however, veneers could be a practical solution to hide the following cosmetic dental flaws:

  • Discolored or badly stained teeth that can’t be resolved with teeth whitening
  • Gaps in between teeth
  • Irregularly shaped or crooked teeth
  • Cracked, chipped, or broken teeth
  • Unpleasant looking and visible fillings

Interested in dental veneers to reshape your smile?

Contact Schoepflin Dental Excellence in Port Orchard, WA. Arrange your consultation with either one of our dentists, Dr. Ronald Schoepflin or Dr. Scott Smith by calling (360) 871-2959.

By Ronald L. Schoepflin, D.D.S.
February 12, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth pain  

If you have tooth pain, we want to know about it. No, really—we want to know all about it. Is the pain sharp or dull? Is it emanating from one tooth or more generally? Is it constant, intermittent or only when you bite down?

Dentists ask questions like these because there are multiple causes for tooth pain with different treatment requirements. The more accurate the diagnosis, the quicker and more successful your treatment will be.

Here are 3 different examples of tooth pain, along with their possible causes and treatments.

Tooth sensitivity. If you feel a quick jolt of pain when you eat or drink something hot or cold, it may mean your gums have drawn back (receded) from your teeth to leave more sensitive areas exposed. Gum recession is most often caused by gum disease, which we can treat by removing dental plaque, the main cause for the infection. In mild cases the gums may recover after treatment, but more advanced recession may require grafting surgery.

Dull ache around upper teeth. This type of pain might actually be a sinus problem, not a dental one. The upper back teeth share some of the same nerves as the sinus cavity just above them. See your dentist first to rule out deep decay or a tooth grinding habit putting too much pressure on the teeth. If your dentist rules out an oral cause, you may need to see your family physician to check for a sinus infection.

Constant sharp pain. A throbbing pain seeming to come from one tooth may be a sign the tooth's central pulp layer has become decayed. The resulting infection is attacking the pulp's nerves, which is causing the excruciating pain. Advanced decay of this sort requires a root canal treatment to remove the diseased tissue and fill the empty pulp chamber and root canals to prevent further infection. See your dentist even if the pain stops—the infection may have only killed the nerves, but is still present and advancing.

Pain is the body's warning system—so heed the tooth pain alert and see your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner the problem is identified and treated, the better your chances of returning to full dental health.

If you would like more information on tooth pain and what it means, 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 Pain? Don't Wait!

By Ronald L. Schoepflin, D.D.S.
February 02, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures

Moving teeth through orthodontics may involve more than simply wearing braces. There are many bite conditions that require extra measures before, during or after traditional orthodontic treatment to improve the outcome.

One such measure is extracting one or more teeth. Whether or not we should will depend on the causes behind a patient's poor dental bite.

Here, then, are 4 situations where tooth extraction before orthodontics might be necessary.

Crowding. This happens when the jaw isn't large enough to accommodate all the teeth coming in. As a result, later erupting teeth could erupt out of position. We can often prevent this in younger children with space maintainers or a palatal expander, a device which helps widen the jaw. Where crowding has already occurred, though, it may be necessary to remove selected teeth first to open up jaw space for desired tooth movement.

Impacted teeth. Sometimes an incoming tooth becomes blocked and remains partially or fully submerged beneath the gums. Special orthodontic hardware can often be used to pull an impacted tooth down where it should be, but not always. It may be better to remove the impacted tooth completely, as well as its matching tooth on the other side of the jaw to maintain smile balance before orthodontically correcting the bite.

Front teeth protrusion. This bite problem involves front teeth that stick out at a more horizontal angle. Orthodontics can return the teeth to their proper alignment, but other teeth may be blocking that movement. To open up space for movement, it may be necessary to remove one or more of these obstructing teeth.

Congenitally missing teeth. The absence of permanent teeth that failed to develop can disrupt dental appearance and function, especially if they're near the front of the mouth. They're often replaced with a dental implant or other type of restoration. If only one tooth is missing, though, another option would be to remove the similar tooth on the other side of the jaw, and then close any resulting gaps with braces.

Extracting teeth in these and other situations can help improve the chances of a successful orthodontic outcome. The key is to accurately assess the bite condition and plan accordingly.

If you would like more information on orthodontic options, 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 “Removing Teeth for Orthodontic Treatment.”