Drs. Curatola & Zagami

Invisalign®: Finally, a Straighter Smile for Anyone!

Invisalign Finally for EveryoneTen years ago, it was rare to see braces on the teeth of an adult. Options for straightening teeth simply did not exist widely for the adult population. It wasn’t that adults couldn’t have braces, it was just that they didn’t want to be seen in public with them. After all, it’s one thing to see a teenager with metal brackets and wires in his or her mouth, but it’s an entirely different matter to see an adult that way.

Not everyone has been presented the opportunity to have braces. For many people who did not have the option as a teen, they simply had to continue their life with crooked, crowded, or over-spaced teeth.

Enter Invisalign®. The invention of clear braces has opened up the door to an improved smile for adults no matter what their age. In fact, we have Invisalign® patients that span the entire range of ages, from teens to seniors in the later stages of life.

Why? Invisalign® knows no age. Because it is nearly invisible, it is a much more realistic choice for adults than traditional braces were in the past. Invisalign® is also removable, allowing you to live a more “normal” life in terms of diet, exercise and oral hygiene.

If you are interested in an enhanced smile, Invisalign® might be the right first step for you. Give us a call for more information!

Are Dental Implants Worth It?

What’s involved in a dental implant? Do they hurt? Can anyone get them? There are a lot of questions surrounding dental implants but one thing is certain; they’ve been reconstructing smiles for over 35 years with amazing results. But what’s the fuss surrounding dental implants and are they really worth it? Lets answer some question to help you decide for yourself.

Are Dental implants worth itCan anyone get a dental implant? Anyone who is healthy enough to get a dental implant can get one as long as they have enough bone to hold the implant. This is where bone grafting comes in for those who have been told their jawbone won’t hold an implant. Keeping up with regular oral hygiene is also an important factor and heavy smokers may be told it’s not a safe option.

What exactly is a dental implant? A dental implant replaces your tooth root with a metal rod. It provides a solid structure on which to place a new tooth that is made to match your real teeth. Dental implants not only improve the overall look of your smile but they’re durable, convenient, and easy to take care of.

What are the steps to getting a dental implant? As your doctor, we will want to develop an individualized treatment plan that focuses on your specific needs. Once we have agreed on a treatment plan, the next step will be the placement of the implant in your jaw. The implant is made of titanium and once placed the jawbone will actually begin to grow around it. In about six to twelve weeks the implant will have completely bonded to your jaw and it will be time to attach a small post that connects your new tooth to the implant. We create a mold of your bite that allows us to create your new tooth. This replacement tooth is then attached to the post and the implant process is complete!

Lastly, how painful are dental implants and are they difficult to take care of? Most patients have said they experienced very little discomfort when receiving their implant. Many have even said the process is much less painful than a tooth extraction. Mild pain that may occur for a few days after you receive your implant can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication. Dental implants require the same care as your real teeth but generally they are much easier to clean and you don’t have to worry about cavities.

We hope this answers some of the questions surrounding dental implants. If you’re missing a tooth or teeth, give us a call to ask more about the procedure. We’ve seen many patients leave happy and comfortable with their improved smile!

Head & Neck Cancer Self Exam (You Know the Most About Your Anatomy)

Head-and-Neck-Cancer-Self-ExamRegular oral pathology exams are extremely important when it comes to preventing head and neck cancer. When you visit us make sure to ask about the exam if you haven’t had one before or have noticed anything strange on the inside of your mouth. It’s also good to perform an oral pathology check on yourself from time to time. Let’s go over how to do an at-home check and what you should be looking out for.

Step 1: Know what you’re looking for. Oral cancer signs include:

• A difference in color in one particular area

• A change in texture

• Lumps of any kind (especially if it’s something you haven’t noticed before)

• Lesions

Step 2: Take a bright light such as a flashlight and while looking in a mirror, check the following:

• Tongue

• Lips

• Cheek walls

• Top and bottom of mouth

• Back of throat

If you notice any of the above signs, give us a call immediately to schedule an appointment. It’s also beneficial to perform an extra-oral screening. When performing an extra-oral exam on yourself, you want to feel for any lumps or bumps. Here are the steps for doing this exam at home:

Step 1: Place your hands on the back of each side of your jaw under your ears. Open and close your jaw while feeling for any bumps.

Step 2: With your hands in the same position work your way down your neck.

Step 3: Turn your head to the right and feel your left side-neck muscles. Turn your head left and feel your right side neck muscles.

Step 4: Grab your gullet and swallow.

Step 5: Put your chin down and with your palms facing away from you feel the underside of your jaw with your fingers.

We hope we don’t have to see you in the office if you’ve discovered something wrong but we are here to help. We can catch the early signs of oral cancer! If you feel anything strange, call us to schedule an appointment.

Oral Health Spotlight: Gums

Why should teeth get all the fame? Since the beginning of time, teeth have taken center stage in the oral health arena, while their close cousins, the gums, have occupied more of a back-seat role. So we have decided to dedicate this article to gums. What makes them healthy, what makes them sick, and why they are so important for whole-body health!

Oral-Health-Spotlight-GumsGingiva, or “gums”, are the mucosal tissue that cover the jaw and hold the teeth in place. When they are healthy and properly intact, they offer a protective barrier for the jaw and tooth roots against food, bacteria and other materials, of which there are many that enter the mouth.

Healthy Gums:

Healthy gums typically are coral pink and color, and not recessed far above the tooth. They show a scalloped appearance over each tooth, and are firm and resist movement. They take brushing and flossing well, usually with no reaction whatsoever.

Unhealthy Gums:

By contrast, unhealthy gums may exhibit red, white and even blue hues, have a puffy or orange peel texture and may bleed when brushed or flossed. Untreated periodontal disease can affect the whole body, as it is related to health problems such as diabetes and heart disease, and also can result in lost teeth and poor nutrition down the road.

Prevention is Key:

The good news is that most cases of periodontal disease are preventable. While we don’t know exactly what role genetics play in terms of periodontal health, we do know that practicing good oral health is the first step to preventing periodontal disease. Habits such as brushing twice and flossing once per day and regular exams and cleanings can help many people prevent or slow the progression of gum disease.

We hope you have learned something new about your gums!

If you have any questions about your gums or any other part of your mouth, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

Dental Implants: Learning the Basics

Dental-Implants-learning-the-basicsDid you know that over 69% of adults in America are missing at least one tooth?  Whether it is from an accident, neglect, or even being born without certain teeth, not everyone is supporting a full set of teeth. There are many solutions to replacing missing teeth, each with its own benefits. With the influx of technology and precision of modern dentistry, dental implants are becoming more affordable, and are the premier long-term solution for missing teeth. Dental bridges tend to be a cheaper alternative to dental implants, but over time a single dental implant is generally more cost-effective. Dental implants can last decades or even a lifetime, which allows a patient to treat the implant as they would their real teeth, and continue on with life without having to worry about them. Whether you’re in the market for one tooth, or multiple teeth, dental implants not only can lower your overall healthcare costs, but also increase your quality of life!

How the implant works: 

In place of the original root where the tooth was, a dental implant is connected to the existing bone, as a base, and can then stably hold the new (fake) tooth in place. 

Am I a candidate for dental implants?

The quick answer is: “most likely yes.” Restrictions such as age do not apply to the possibility of receiving dental implants. There are very few restrictions that would prevent a patient from receiving dental implants and they include:  Those who do not have enough existing bone in the jaw, and those who have had radiation to the jaw (from cancer or similar treatments), which could prevent fusion of implant to the bone. Recent studies have even shown that even patients with diabetes have little to no restrictions in the ability to receive dental implants. 

If you are interested in dental implants, give us a call today and see how we can help you!

Dental Implants- A Three-Step Procedure

One of the most common questions we hear from patients when it comes to dental implants is “Why does it take three separate procedures?”

It helps to understand that within the entire dental implant process, there are not just three stages, there are also three important parts to the final product that replaces your tooth. First, there is the implant itself, which is the metal rod that we surgically implant into the bone. Next, there is the abutment, which connects the implant to the artificial tooth. And lastly, the crown (or prosthetic tooth) itself.

The fact that the process has three physical components alone doesn’t tell the whole story though. Here, we explain why the most commonly employed dental implant method is split up into three separate procedures.

Step One: Placing the Implant

The first stage of the dental implant process is to bury the implant in the jaw bone via a surgical procedure. The dental implant replaces the tooth root, and requires healing time. During this healing time, osseointegration (the integration of the bone with the implant itself) occurs. The bone cells actually attach to the implant rod, filling in the spaces to secure the implant in place for permanent residency.   The healing time usually takes from 3-6 months.

Step Two: Placing the Abutment

The abutment is a post that connects the implant to the prosthetic tooth. Essentially, the abutment is a bridge that spans through the gum line so that the implant itself remains buried. As with the implant, the abutment has a healing period of its own. The gum around the abutment must heal and form a cuff or collar around it before the crown can be placed.

Step Three: The Prosthetic Tooth

Once the implant site and abutment have successfully integrated, the prosthetic tooth is fabricated and installed.

If you have any questions about the dental implant process, give us a call!

Oral Cancer- What You Need to Know

Oral Cancer What you Need to KnowOne of the most important jobs we have in our practice is to examine, monitor and diagnose head and neck pathology in our patients. What we are really looking for is any sign of oral cancer. Each year, about 42,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with oral cancer. Unfortunately, more than 8,000 of those people will die from the disease because too often it is caught in a late, incurable stage.

To help you stay healthy and educated about your oral health needs, we have compiled a list of the most important things you should know about oral cancer:

  • Oral cancer affects more than just the mouth. Any cancer in the mouth, lips, throat or back of the mouth is considered oral cancer.
  • Since 90% of oral cancers begin in the surface area of the mouth, tongue and lips, we recommend regular self-exams.
  • Largest risk factors: Not surprisingly, tobacco and alcohol use top the list of biggest risk factors for oral cancer.
  • Other risk factors: Human papilloma virus (HPV), pre-cancerous oral lesion, betel quid use (common in Asia), excessive UV/sun exposure, certain drugs and genetic syndromes.
  • To diagnose oral cancer, we will examine the mouth and neck, ask about your risk factors, and possibly order biopsies and imaging of the head (CT, MRI, etc).
  • Pain is not associated with cancer in its early stages. Usually pain does not occur until the cancer has progressed to a later stage.
  • The most common oral cancer symptoms warrant a call to our office. They include: sores that don’t heal, lumps inside the mouth, white or red patches on soft tissues in the mouth, bleeding, pain when swallowing or chewing, numbness, difficulty moving the jaw or tongue, lumps in the neck, hoarseness, and more.

Don’t hesitate to us if you are experiencing any of these symptoms of oral cancer.

Porcelain Veneers for a Flawless Smile

Some patients come to us loving their smile but wanting just a little bit more in terms of aesthetics. To perfect an already great smile, we may suggest porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are often our go-to tool to correct minor imperfections on the surface of teeth or spacing issues.

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about veneers:

Q: Are veneers heavy or thick? Will I feel them in my mouth?

A: No, in fact veneers are thinner than a fingernail, once they are in place you won’t even know they are there!

 

Q: How long do they last?

A: Properly installed, veneers can last from 10-20 years. A great investment for an enhanced smile!

 

Q: How are they attached? Can they fall off?

A: Veneers are attached to your tooth with a very strong bonding compound. They do not fall off and provide years of durable use.

 

Q: Do veneers look like natural teeth?

A: Porcelain is the perfect material to copy tooth enamel, as it is incorporates luster, shine and translucence to look just like your natural teeth.

 

Q: What if the surrounding teeth are a different color?

A: Generally what we recommend is that we use a whiter shade of porcelain for the veneer and perform tooth whitening in conjunction with the veneer process to give you a perfect match throughout your mouth.

 

Q: Do veneers stain?

A: No, porcelain veneers do not stain, even over time.

 

If you want to take your smile from “okay” to “stunning”, ask us if veneers are a good option for you!

Heart Disease – The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Heart Disease and the ImportanceDid you know that poor oral hygiene could increase your chances of developing heart disease? Practicing good oral health habits isn’t just an important part of preventing tooth decay; it’s crucial in maintaining your overall health. But how are heart disease and oral health connected? What we’ve come to understand is that bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream and attach to blood vessels, which can increase clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart and in turn cause an elevation in blood pressure thus increasing the risk of a heart attack.

We can help patients who have a history of heart disease by examining them for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation. Brushing and flossing combined with annual check-ups will help to fight the harmful bacteria that cause inflammation and eventually lead to heart disease. Check out these oral hygiene facts and make sure to establish a routine to ensure a great smile and a healthy life.

According to the American Dental Hygienists Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Eating healthy snacks like celery, carrots, or apples help clear away food loosely trapped in-between teeth.
  • The leading oral health problem for infants is baby bottle tooth decay, which can be caused when babies are given a bottle filled with sugary liquids, like milk or juice, when put to bed.
  • Nearly 78% of Americans have had at least one cavity by age 17.
  • Men are more likely than women to have more severe dental diseases and oral cancer occurs twice as frequently in men as women.
  • Dental fluorosis (overexposure to fluoride) is higher in teens than in adults and highest among those aged 12–15.
  • Three out of four patients don’t change their toothbrush as often as is recommended. Toothbrushes should be changed every two to three months and after illnesses.

Issues that go untreated can end up costing a lot more than routine visits to your dentist. Prevention through daily cleaning and regular office visits is the best for both your health and your budget. Remember, regardless of how old you are, it’s never too late to start taking serious care of your teeth and mouth.

Dental Implants vs Dentures and Bridges

Whether it was during a consultation in our office or perhaps while you were doing your own research online, you have probably come across the term “dental implant” at some point. A dental implant is a great way, often the best way, to replace a missing tooth.

So how do you decide if a dental implant is the right path for you, or if a more traditional tooth replacement method such as dentures or bridges is the best way to go?

We have been asked this question many times, and have compiled a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits that implants offer over their conventional counterparts. We hope that this guide will help make the decision process easier for you.

Dental Implants vs. Dentures and Bridges: Things to Consider

  • Longevity: Dental implants offer a long-term solution (often lasting a lifetime) to missing teeth, while dentures and bridges require replacement every 5 to 10 years. Not only does this mean less hassle, it also means that implants may be more affordable over time.
  • Quality of Life:
    • Simply put, dental implants look, feel and function more like natural teeth than do dentures and bridges.
    • With a dental implant, our patients can hardly notice the difference when biting into hard objects. They also look more natural.
    • In addition to that, dental implants are fixed – they are not going to fall out while you are talking or smiling, and you don’t have to put them away each night when you go to sleep. They remain in your mouth, anchored to your jawbone at all times.
  • Bone Stability and Health: Just like muscles, bones also need a “workout” in order to maintain their mass and health. So when a tooth is missing from the jawline, the bone underneath the old tooth site becomes atrophied and shrinks. Dentures and bridges do nothing to help this deterioration. However, dental implants actually screw into the bone and integrate with it, actually encouraging new bone growth.
  • Overall Health: Because implants allow for a normal range of food choices in the diet (a benefit not afforded by dentures), they encourage you to continue your healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life!

Do you still have questions? As always, we are here to answer any questions you have. Give us a call for more information!