Drs. Curatola & Zagami

Invisible Braces- Not Just for Looks

Invisible BracesWhen most of us think of invisible braces such as Invisalign®, we naturally assume that their sole purpose is to enhance the aesthetic value of one’s smile.

And to a certain extent that assumption is true. For most people with braces of any type, the primary goal of straightening their teeth is improving their look. But did you know that there are actually added health benefits to having a straighter smile as well?

Here, we outline just a few reasons, outside of the obvious aesthetic benefits, that invisible braces can help you:

  • Periodontal Health: Overcrowded teeth can result in swollen, red, irritated gums. More often than not, these symptoms are the result of periodontal disease. Braces help to straighten and evenly space teeth to allow for enhanced gum health.
  • Better Cleaning Access: Because the clear teeth aligners are removable, you can do a better job of brushing and flossing your teeth, just as you would without braces. By contrast, traditional metal braces limit access to the surfaces and in-between areas of teeth, making it difficult to maintain a good brushing and flossing routine.
  • Healthy Diet: Invisible braces are removable, which means that there are no restrictions to what you eat. This allows you to continue your healthy eating habits just as if you didn’t have braces at all. With traditional metal wires and braces, however, some people fall into the trap of eating only soft foods and thus miss out on much-needed nutrients.
  • Overall Health: Because oral infections are thought to be related to other health issues in the body such as an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, keeping your teeth properly spaced and straightened is an important first step toward better health throughout your body.

Allow us to enhance your smile both aesthetically and from an oral health standpoint as well with invisible braces!

Dentures – The End of An Era

You may have heard the term “edentulous”, a term that describes someone that has no teeth. Incredibly, more than 35 million Americans do not have any teeth. Despite advances in dentistry, this number is expected to grow in the next two decades along with an aging baby boomer generation. Tooth loss commonly results from decay and gum disease.

Dentures---The-End-of-An-EraUp until now, the only option for edentulous patients has been dentures. Their history is a long one. Scientists have found evidence of early dentures, dating back to 700 BC in present-day northern Italy, made of human and animal teeth. Over the years, the materials changed, but the inconvenience of ill-fitting dentures did not.

While dentures are extremely common, most patients find them uncomfortable and awkward. They can make daily tasks most of us take for granted, like talking and eating, difficult.

Presently, dental implants are rapidly becoming the standard of care. The biggest difference in the patient’s experience is that dental implants look and function just like their natural teeth. Most dental implant patients even report not being able to feel a difference! They do not slip or move inside the mouth as dentures are prone to do. Dental implants will generally last longer, as well. This is an important point to consider when comparing costs. While implants are more expensive, they usually last a lifetime. Dentures, on the other hand, can wear down and require replacement.

For patients looking for a more affordable replacement option, with the increased stability of implants, they may want to consider implant-supported dentures. Unlike traditional dentures, which rely on suction, implant-supported dentures are secured by dental implants. Regardless of which route an edentulous patient takes, it is clear that benefits of implants far outweigh those of dentures and will pave the way for a new era in tooth replacement.

If you are interested in exploring dental implants as a replacement for your own dentures, give our office a call to reserve a consultation today!

The 6 Tips Your Toothbrush Wants to Tell You

You already know how important I am to your oral health. That’s why you brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day.

6 Tips ToothbrushHowever, are you aware of how much bacteria lives on your toothbrush? Researchers have found that a single toothbrush can have as many as 10 million germs and bacteria! But, don’t let this statistic scare you away from brushing. These bacteria aren’t a huge threat to your teeth according to Everydayhealth.com, because its been researched that these germs don’t make people sick. That’s because toothpaste is made with an anti-germ component.

So what is your toothbrush trying to tell you to help prevent all these germs?

  1. Keep me clean and dry!

It’s important that you use your toothbrush correctly. Always make sure to rinse it in tap water and give it time to air dry. Germs need moisture to survive, so as long as you give your brush enough time to dry before using it, you should be fine. Make sure not to leave any toothpaste or debris in the head of your brush, rinse it well!

  1. Store me upright!

When you’re at home, store your toothbrush upright in a cup or toothbrush holder. This allows it to air dry, which will help kill those germs. On the road? When traveling make sure to keep your toothbrush in a travel holder, that way it isn’t rolling around uncovered and collecting bacteria in your bag.

If you really want to be in the clear you can soak your toothbrush in a toothbrush sanitizer or in mouthwash. Another alternative is to toothbrush in boiling water for 5-10 seconds. Don’t ever put your toothbrush in the dishwasher or microwave, these appliances will damage your toothbrush!

  1. Don’t brush where you flush!

Try to store your toothbrush as far away as possible from the toilet. This is because each toilet flush sends a spray of bacteria into the air and I’m sure you don’t want that near your open toothbrush! We recommend at least 3 feet!

  1. I only want one owner!

Don’t share! Forget what your kindergarten teacher told you about sharing. When it comes to toothbrushes, it’s an absolute no! No matter how close you may be to that person, whether it’s your sibling or spouse, don’t ever use their toothbrush.

  1. It’s time for us to say Goodbye!

The American Dental Association recommends getting a new toothbrush about every three months. This also depends on the wear of the bristles. Some people brush with a heavy hand and therefore their bristles may wear out sooner. It’s important to judge when it’s time for a replacement based upon the bristles, so don’t mark it in your calendar, just keep a look at your bristles. If you have children be sure to check their brushes regularly because they will probably need to be replaced more often.

  1. Let me remind you!

Some toothbrush brands feature color-changing bristles that remind you when it’s time to get a new brush. You could also make a reminder to replace your toothbrush the first day of every season.   That way you’re replacing it four times a year, with an average of 3 months per brush.

Dental Checkups: How Important Are They?

We know that for most people, going to the dentist’s office is not high on their list of favorite things to do. A visit to the dentist takes up valuable time in our busy, modern schedules!

Dental CheckupSo we are not surprised that we hear this question time and time again from our patients: “Is going to the dentist twice a year really worth it?” And the answer is always the same: “Absolutely!”

Why? We’ll give you two good reasons right here:

Reason #1: Save yourself from pain!

The fact of the matter is that dental problems do not simply heal themselves on their own. In our practice, we are trained to detect problems and fix them before they get out of hand, saving you pain (and money) down the road. Using the dentist’s office only as an emergency room when you have an agonizing toothache will only cause you more pain in the long run.

Reason #2: Save yourself money!

Regular checkups and cleanings are also relatively inexpensive when compared to the cost of fixing much bigger dental problems (for example, a tooth that requires a root canal or extraction). Let us treat your oral health problems before they become unnecessarily complicated and costly.

Twice a year for better oral health!

Most oral health professionals recommend that you have your gums and teeth cleaned and checked once every six months. If they appear healthy, then this interval may be extended.

Don’t wait until you have tooth pain that is out of control! If we see you regularly for check ups, we can avoid many of these bigger problems together! Call us to schedule your next checkup.

What To Expect When Having a Tooth Extracted

What-To-Expect-When-Having-a-Tooth-ExtractedOne of the most common procedures done in our office is tooth extraction. The removal of teeth can be necessary for a number of reasons, including:

  • Joint problems in your jaw
  • Shifting teeth
  • Too much damage to tooth to be repaired
  • Baby teeth that don’t fall out
  • 3rd molars (Wisdom Teeth) impacted (wedged between the jaw and another tooth or teeth)
  • May be needed to create room for other teeth (such as when you’re getting braces)

Prior to Surgery

In preparation for surgery, we will obtain a full medical and dental history, as well as a list of all medications you take. This includes any vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter drugs, as well as any medications you are allergic to.

An x-ray is then taken to assess the best way to remove the affected tooth.

You may be required to take antibiotics before or after surgery, depending on the duration of the surgery, or if you have a specific medical condition. We will discuss this with you if necessary.

Day of Surgery

At the time of surgery, your oral surgeon will numb the area around the tooth or teeth to be extracted with a local anesthetic, specifically numbing the affected tooth or teeth, your jawbone and the surrounding gums.

During the simple extraction process it is common to feel a lot of pressure. The affected tooth is firmly rocked back and forth so as to loosen it for removal. You should not feel any pain, just pressure. If, for any reason, you feel pain, please notify your oral surgeon immediately so that they can administer more numbing agent.

Surgical Extraction

A surgical extraction is a slightly more complex procedure that occurs when a tooth has not yet broken through the gum line, or has not yet fully grown into the mouth. When a surgical extraction is needed, your oral surgeon makes a small incision into your gum in order to access the affected tooth. From here, the procedure is similar to a simple extraction. Your oral surgeon may stitch the incision site if necessary.

After Oral Surgery

After the extraction you will be asked to bite down on a piece of gauze for 20-30 minutes. This pressure helps to form a blood clot in the extraction site, a crucial part of the healing process. Be careful not to dislodge the clot.

It is common to have a small amount of bleeding 24 hours after surgery. We will provide you with detailed instructions after your procedure, but here are some important things to remember:

Medications/Pain Management

  • Take pain medication as prescribed and recommended by your oral surgeon
  • Research has shown that taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil and Motrin (NSAIDs) greatly decrease pain after an extraction
  • Using an ice pack on your jaw can reduce swelling. 10 minutes on and 20 minutes off is standard for the first 24 hours. A warm compress can be used if your jaw is sore after the swelling has gone down

 

Eating/Drinking

  • Eat soft and cool foods for the first few days
  • Avoid hot foods and alcoholic beverages for the first 24 hours
  • Chew food away from the extraction site
  • Do not use a straw or spit after surgery. This can cause the blood cut to dislodge, greatly delaying healing

Brushing/Cleaning

  • Avoid brushing the area around the extraction site for the first 24 hours
  • Avoid using antiseptic and commercial mouth rinses – they can irritate the extraction site
  • 24 hours after surgery you can rinse with warm salt water after each meal and before bedtime (1/2 teaspoon in one cup of warm water)

Healing

The extraction site will generally close up in about 2 weeks time, but it can take three to six months for the bone and soft tissue to regrow. Remember, tooth extraction is a common procedure and our caring team has years of experience helping patients through this easy treatment.

Serving Patients with Special Needs

We are committed to making care available for all patients who need it, regardless of special healthcare needs. Patients with special needs include the elderly, those with limited mobility, mentally disabled individuals, immuno-compromised people and those with mental illness. Specific diseases that can frequently hinder proper dental care include autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis and Down syndrome.

Serving-Patients-with-Special-Needs copyOften times, these individuals have higher rates or poor hygiene, which leads to greater incidence of gingivitis, periodontitis and dental caries. These conditions can sometimes require root canal therapy or other dental procedures to save the patient’s tooth. While treating a patient with special needs, we strive to ensure:

  • A friendly and comfortable environment
  • Sensitivity and compassion from team members
  • Predictable experiences at each appointment

Our team posses the compassion and understanding that is imperative when caring for a special needs patient. Some cases involving severe disabilities may require specialized equipment and anesthesia. We realize that each individual with special needs is a unique case and will require different systems and skills to properly treat. We are confident we can provide competent care for the majority of patients who are labeled as special needs.

For patients who are specifically incapable of ideal hygiene, it is essential that the people in daily contact with them become involved in their oral healthcare requirements. If you are a caregiver for a patient with special needs, the best course of action to determine if we can offer treatment is to call our office with any questions and possibly reserve an appointment to tour our facilities. If more complex oral care is required, we will refer you to the appropriate specialist who also works with the special needs population.

Traveling and Oral Health: Tooth Tips for the Holidays

We don’t have to tell you: the winter holidays mark one of the busiest seasons of the year. With shopping, parties and vacations jam-packed on the calendar, it’s no wonder that many people take shortcuts when it comes to oral health maintenance during this time. If you are traveling during the holiday season and you want to avoid a January surprise cavity (or worse), here are some simple tooth travel tips to help you keep your smile intact.

  1. TravelDon’t leave home with a toothache! If you suspect you have any lurking problems in your mouth, schedule an appointment prior to your travel date so that you don’t end up with a tooth emergency while out of town. Research emergency dental clinics in your destination city and have those numbers handy to ensure that your time off is as relaxing as possible.
  2. No one ever regrets buying travel-sized gear. Keeping a travel toothbrush, floss and toothpaste on hand in addition to trial sizes of your favorite toiletries reduces your packing time, and not just during the holidays.
  3. Splurge on probiotics! Diseases and germs run rampant in buses, airports and other communal places that you might encounter during your trip. Researchers believe that probiotics are not only good for the gut; they may help maintain optimal oral health too!
  4. Toothbrushes don’t last forever! Generally, dentists recommend that you buy a new toothbrush every two to three months when at home. However if you are traveling, your toothbrush is exposed to even more bacteria. It’s best to toss it when you return home and swap it for a fresh brush, even if it hasn’t hit the three-month mark yet.
  5. Chewing gum is a limitless oral-health-on-the-go tip! Bringing sugar-free gum with you has multiple benefits; not only does it taste good and make your breath smell fresh, but the gum can help remove food that may be stuck in your teeth as well, acting as a secondary toothbrush.

5 Possible Cavity Killers You Wouldn’t Expect

The Green Goblin of oral hygiene is an influx of cavities in one’s mouth. Most patients are aware that brushing and flossing is the central defender of cavities. However, few people know about these foods, drinks, and other tips that may help prevent cavities and tooth decay.

  • 5 possible cavity killersCheese- Evidently, being cheesy isn’t always a bad thing. Casein, a protein included in cheese, increases calcium levels in the mouth. Because teeth already partially consist of calcium, salivary calcium helps mineralize teeth, which prevents cavities. This does not mean that you should eat 5 cheese sandwiches a day. However, a dose of cheese every now and then wouldn’t hurt. In fact, it might help!
  • Sugar Free Gum- Believe it or not, chewing sugar free gum has been doctor recommended to avoid cavities for years. The reason – sugar free gum consists of a sugar substitute called “xylitol.” This isn’t the same teeth-rotting sugar substitute included in diet soda. Xylitol prevents cavities because bacteria cannot use it to grow or produce acid.
  • Dark Chocolate- Perhaps indulging isn’t as guilt-stricken as one would think. It turns out that dark chocolate contains cocoa beans with strong antioxidants that can prevent tooth decay. Tannins, the component in dark chocolate that give it its bitter taste, prevent oral bacteria from sticking to one’s teeth. The polyphenols in dark chocolate not only limit bacteria, but also work to cease bad breath by neutralizing microorganisms. Remember that DARK CHOCOLATE – not milk chocolate or white chocolate – is the cavity killer.
  • Using a Straw- Carbonated beverages are never a wise choice regarding oral health. However, there is a way to limit cavity growth while consuming soda: using a straw. Using a straw prevents the soda from hitting your teeth, reducing the chances of tooth decay and cavities. However, the best way to avoid cavities regarding soda is NOT DRINKING SODA.
  • Red Wine- *For the 21+ only* While many believe that wine is an unfavorable drink for teeth due to the stain left behind, one study suggests otherwise. It was found that wine has many components that actively prevent tooth decay and cavities. This isn’t saying that one should excessively drink wine, and isn’t even proof that red wine is effective in fighting cavities. It merely says that wine consists of cavity fighting components.

 

Calming Your Nerves Before Dental Procedures

Almost everyone has some feelings of nervousness when thinking about visiting the dentist.  We hear it all the time from our patients.  But don’t worry (I know, easier said than done).  It is totally normal to have a bit of anxiety (or even a lot of anxiety) before you come to our office.

Calming Your NervesIn our office, we have many years of experience in dealing with nervous patients.  So to help you out, we’ve compiled this quick yet effective set of tips for dealing with those inevitable nerves before your dental procedure.

  1. Let us know!  Sometimes just saying the words, “I’m a little bit nervous” can help by normalizing the nervousness itself a little bit, which instantly releases some of that stress that has the tendency to build up in your system. It also alerts us, which is great!  In fact, we might just be able to help by doing procedures a little bit differently than we normally would or even just by offering some words of encouragement and reassurance.
  2. Music – Ask us to turn up (or down) the music in your exam room if that helps.  Or, depending on the procedure, you may even be able to listen to your own MP3 player while we work away.  Ask us ahead of time to be sure the procedure will allow for this.
  3. Breathe – Did you know that consciously taking a breath instantly calls to action your parasympathetic nervous system which is the part of the brain responsible for calming you down?  The good news is that you always have your breath with you, so don’t forget to use it!  Just by paying attention to your breath, for example, how it feels coming in and going out and the other sensations it creates, you can access the calming center of your brain.  An easy breathing exercise that can be used anytime, anywhere, including in the dental chair is to breathe in for 4 counts, then out for 4 counts.   You will instantly feel better.

We hope you find these tips helpful in dealing with your dental fears.  Just remember, you are not alone.

Join Us In Staying CLEAN and GREEN to Raise Money for MSKH Kid’s Cancer Fund

Each year millions of toothbrushes, dental floss containers, toothpaste tubes, and other plastic dental hygiene products end up in landfills. In an effort to encourage our patients to stay clean and go green, we have partnered with the Terracycle company and their corporate sponsors to recycle or upcycle these waste materials into fun and innovative products for sale. In turn Terracycle will donate money to our designated charity, Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital’s Children’s Cancer Fund. This project was originally brought to our attention through one of our daughter’s fundraising efforts in grammar school. Such a simple concept, with minimal effort, and positive results. We have decided to invite our patients in joining this effort to raise money for Kids with Cancer!!

So … start collecting your used dental products in a Ziploc bag and present it at your next visit to our office !!  We’ll take care of the rest !!

Let’s stay CLEAN and GREEN while raising money for Children’s Cancer !!!