My Blog
By Douglas L. Schneck, DDS
May 21, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
YouMayNeedaDifferentTreatmentApproachtoClearUpThisFacialRash

We all value clear skin as a sign of health and vitality—and attractive facial skin certainly enhances a beautiful smile. So, when a rash or other skin outbreak mars our facial appearance, we may turn to an array of remedies to clear it up. But one type of facial rash doesn't respond well to these common ointments or creams. In fact, the standard approach may just make the condition worse.

The rash in question is peri-oral dermatitis. Literally "rash around the skin of the mouth," it has a red appearance as it erupts on the skin near or around the lips. The rash can happen to anyone of any age, but mainly in women 20-45. Although we're not fully sure of its underlying causes, peri-oral dermatitis may be related to the types of cosmetics and skin care we use. Incidences of it are higher in industrialized cultures with a heavy use of cosmetics.

Researchers also suspect a link between the rash and the prolonged use of steroids, an anti-inflammatory substance found in many skin treatment products. The steroid can cause the blood vessels in the skin to constrict and temporarily improve the skin's appearance. In just a few minutes, though, the rash may look worse than ever.

The takeaway here is to limit your use of topical steroids for skin ailments, especially if you're diagnosed with peri-oral dermatitis. In that case, you should stop using any topical steroid products, even non-prescription hydrocortisone and only wash your face with a mild soap. The rash may initially appear to flare even worse, but be patient, as it should begin to clear over time.

In extreme cases, your dentist can also prescribe antibiotics to help boost healing, usually something mild like doxycycline, minocycline, or tetracycline. Normally taken orally or sometimes applied topically, this antibiotic treatment can take several weeks before your skin shows any marked improvement.

So, if you've encountered a pesky facial rash that won't seem to go away, talk with your dentist. With their help, you may be able to find the right approach to relieve you of this irritating and unattractive condition.

If you would like more information on facial rashes, 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 “Rash Around the Mouth: Peri-Oral Dermatitis.”

WhoHastheBestCelebritySmileofAllTheseObjectiveTestsAttempttoFindOut

Which celebrity has the most attractive smile? You might think the answer is purely subjective. What strikes you as the fairest may fall flat with someone else.

A dental group attempted to answer the question objectively by measuring the size and alignment of celebrities' teeth on a scale based on the "golden ratio." Often used in fields like art or architecture, the golden ratio (1.618 in decimal form) is universally considered the aesthetically ideal proportion for object sizes, and in relation to other objects—in this case, teeth.

The group applied the ratio to various aspects of individual celebrities' smiles using a pre-determined grading scale. And, their winner: actress Ellen Pompeo, scoring 5.91 out of 10 for overall attractiveness. She was closely followed by Gal Gadot, Melissa McCarthy, and Scarlett Johansson, respectively.

Not to be outdone, another group chose a different method to identify the top smile among the world's royalty by analyzing online search data for the most "Googled" royal smile. The winner: Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, with an astounding 36,000 average searches each year. Her sister-in-law, Meghan Markle, came in a distant second.

Although you may not warm to these purportedly objective approaches to smile beauty, you'll have to agree the winners do have beautiful smiles. And, so do many others in the celebrity world where an attractive smile is the rule, not the exception. And while some celebrity smiles come naturally, quite a few have overcome dental flaws by cosmetically enhancing what nature gave them.

The good news, though, is that a beautiful smile isn't the exclusive domain of the rich and famous. Anyone can improve their dental appearance, and oftentimes affordably.

For example, restoring the teeth's original shine and luster can do wonders for a smile. Daily hygiene and regular dental cleanings help reduce staining. And for a truly bright smile, a professional teeth whitening can give you just the right amount of shine you desire.

You may be able to overcome chips, cracks, or similar defects with dental bonding, the application of dental material to the teeth to make them flawless. For more extensive defects, including slight gaps, porcelain veneers bonded directly to the tooth face can hide those defects from view.

Is your smile crooked? You can straighten it with braces or removable clear aligners—and at any age, so long as you and your teeth are reasonably healthy. Orthodontics also improves your dental health as well as your appearance.

These and many other cosmetic techniques can turn a lackluster smile into a winner. No objective test needed—one look in the mirror will leave you happy and satisfied.

If you would like more information about improving your smile, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”

By Douglas L. Schneck, DDS
May 01, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
HowaRootCanalCouldSaveYourDiseasedTooth

Just a century ago a heavily decayed tooth was most likely a goner, but that all changed in the early 1900s when various treatments finally coalesced into what we now call root canal therapy. The odds have now flip-flopped—you're more likely to preserve a decayed tooth than to lose it.

By decay, we're not referring only to cavities in a tooth's enamel or outer dentin. That's just the start—decay can quickly spread deeper into the dentin close to the pulp, the central portion of a tooth containing bundles of nerves and blood vessels. It can then move into the tooth's pulp chamber, causing the pulp to die and producing infection that will eventually infect the surrounding supporting bone.

Root canal treatments are often a lifeline to a tooth in this perilous condition. After numbing the tooth and surrounding tissues with local anesthesia, we start the procedure by drilling a tiny hole to access the central pulp and root canals. We then use specialized tools to remove all of the infected tissue within these interior spaces.

After thoroughly disinfecting the tooth of any decay, we shape up the root canals for filling. We then inject a rubbery substance known as gutta percha and completely fill the tooth's resulting empty spaces. This filling helps to prevent a recurrence of infection within the tooth.

Once we've filled the tooth, we seal off the access hole to complete the procedure. You may experience a few days of mild discomfort, but it's usually manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers. Later, we'll cement a crown over the tooth: This provides additional protection against infection, as well as adds support to the tooth structure.

One more thing! You may have encountered the notion that undergoing a root canal is painful. We're here to dispel that once and for all—dentists take great care to ensure the tooth and the area around it are completely dead to pain. In fact, if you were experiencing a toothache beforehand, a root canal will alleviate the pain.

To get the best treatment outcome for tooth decay, it's important to uncover it as soon as possible. The earlier we begin treatment, the more likely we can bring your tooth back to good health.

If you would like more information on root canal treatment, 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 “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment.”

By Douglas L. Schneck, DDS
April 21, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
HeresHowDrinkingAlcoholCouldImpactYourDentalHealth

Alcoholic beverages are interwoven within many cultures across the globe, but this "social lubricant" also has a dark side. Alcohol can become an overwhelming, addictive substance that wrecks relationships and careers, not to mention physical health. In regard to the latter, the teeth, mouth and gums aren't immune.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Throughout the month, healthcare providers, including dentists, highlight the damage heavy alcohol consumption can wrought on physical, emotional and social health. Abstaining or bringing alcohol consumption within recommended limits can improve your life—and your oral health.

While the effects of too much alcohol on general health are well known, it's easy to overlook its connection with dental disease, but it does exist for a number of reasons.

First, many alcoholic beverages and mixers contain high amounts of sugar. Harmful bacteria living in dental plaque, a thin film on tooth surfaces, feed on sugar. The bacteria are then able to multiply, which, increases your chances for gum disease, one of the leading causes of tooth loss.

Many alcoholic drinks also contain high amounts of acid. That, coupled with the acid produced by bacteria, can soften and erode tooth enamel, leading to unpleasant outcomes like increased tooth sensitivity or tooth decay. Like gum disease, advanced tooth decay can also cause tooth loss.

Alcohol consumption also causes dehydration, which in turn can have an effect on the mouth: With less water available, the salivary glands produce less saliva. Because saliva helps neutralize oral acid and fights pathogens leading to dental disease, having less of it available can make your mouth more susceptible to disease and infection.

To avoid these unfortunate consequences, it's important to either forgo drinking alcohol or keep your consumption within moderate limits. Those limits for you individually may depend on things like your age, weight, genetic background and overall health. Generally, though, U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 1 serving of alcohol (akin to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits) per day for women and two for men.

If you're a drinker, you should also look out for your oral health in other ways. Brush and floss your teeth daily to remove harmful dental plaque, and eat a balanced and nutritious diet, rich in vitamins and minerals. You should visit your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups.

Regardless of your relationship to alcohol, it's a part of life you should take seriously. Drinking responsibly not only protects you and others around you, but it can also protect your dental health.

If you would like more information about alcohol and dental health, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition: Its Role in General and Oral Health.”

By Douglas L. Schneck, DDS
April 11, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay  
HeresHowtoMinimizeOralBacterialGrowthandStopToothDecay

Finding out you have a cavity can be an unwelcome surprise. The truth is, though, it didn't happen overnight, but the result of ongoing conditions in the mouth.

Those conditions usually begin with harmful oral bacteria. As a life form, these bacteria need food and lodging, which they readily find from the carbohydrates in your diet. The bacteria and food remnants form a thin biofilm that accumulates tooth surfaces called dental plaque. The bacteria in turn produce oral acid, which can soften and erode the teeth's protective enamel. As bacteria multiply the mouth's acidic levels rise, making cavity formation more likely.

But there's also a flip side to this scenario: Interrupting bacterial growth can help prevent cavities and other dental diseases. Here's how you can do just that.

Remove plaque buildup. It's a simple principle: Deprive bacteria of their refined carbohydrates to reduce their toxicity and remove daily plaque buildup with brushing and flossing. For an added boost, see your dentist at least twice a year for a thorough dental cleaning.

Curtail snacking on sweets. Bacteria love the refined sugar in pastries, candies and other sweets as much as we do. Thus, constant snacking on sweets throughout the day could actually foster bacterial growth. Instead, ease up on your sugar intake and limit sweets to meal times only.

Rinse after sugary drinks. Sodas, sports or energy drinks also provide bacteria with added sugar. They may also contain added forms of acid that further lower your mouth's pH level into the acidic danger zone for teeth. Make it a habit, then, to rinse out your mouth with clear water after drinking one of these beverages to dilute excess sugar or acid.

Take care of your saliva. Saliva neutralizes acid even more than plain water, usually in 30 minutes to an hour after eating. By contrast, not having enough saliva increases your risk for decay and other dental diseases. So, be sure to drink plenty of water, monitor medications that might interfere with saliva production, and use saliva boosting products if needed to keep your saliva production healthy.

If you would like more information on managing your dental health, 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 “Cost-Saving Treatment Alternatives.”





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