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Sandi L. Hamm DDS Blog

To Prevent Tooth Decay, Practice Effective Brushing and Flossing

May 16, 2016

Filed under: Oral Health — Tags: , , — sandihamm @ 5:26 pm

floss.

There are two basic facts about tooth decay: 1) next to the common cold, it’s the world’s most prevalent infectious disease; and 2) with modern dentistry, it’s preventable.

Getting from Fact 1 to Fact 2 requires the daily hygiene habits of brushing and flossing. You probably learned these tasks when you could barely peer over the bathroom sink; but the real question is: are you getting the most benefit from your efforts? It’s not merely doing them, but doing them the right way.

For example, bearing down on your teeth and brushing vigorously isn’t just unhelpful, it’s damaging. Instead, you should hold your brush with perhaps just two fingers at a 45-degree angle relative to your gum line and “gently” scrub with short circular or “wiggly” strokes. Continue this action around each arch brushing all tooth surfaces, which should take about two minutes.

Your toothbrush itself is also important: most people (unless otherwise directed by their dentist) should use a multi-tufted brush with soft bristles. If you brush with the proper pressure it should last 4 to 6 months before replacing it. You should also replace it if the bristles become worn or splayed.

Flossing once a day is important for removing the plaque between teeth your toothbrush bristles can’t reach. The best technique is to form a “C” with the floss that wraps around each tooth and move it up and down gently three or four times until you hear a squeaky clean sound on both sides of the tooth.

The ultimate test of your efforts comes during your regular dental checkups. You can get a check now, though, on how you’re doing by using your tongue to feel your teeth at the gum line. If they feel smooth and slick, you’re probably doing a good job of plaque removal; but if they feel a bit rough and gritty, you’re missing some of the plaque and need to be more thorough when brushing. You can also use floss by running it up and down the tooth surface — if it squeaks, they’re clean!

Your particular dental condition may require specific treatment or the use of other dental products like antibacterial mouthrinses. But learning and practicing proper brushing and flossing is key to keeping teeth and gums healthy and disease-free.

If you would like more information on proper oral hygiene, please contact Mansfield dentist Dr. Sandi Hamm at (817) 477-4441 and schedule an appointment

Replacing a Missing Tooth isn’t Just About Improving Your Smile

May 3, 2016

Filed under: Cosmetic Dentistry — Tags: , , — sandihamm @ 11:21 am

implant.

Seven out of ten Americans are missing at least one tooth due to decay, periodontal (gum) disease or injury. Unfortunately, the consequences go far beyond a missing tooth — the loss of even one could set in motion a cascade of problems.

Perhaps the most damaging of these problems is bone loss. Like other living tissue, bone has a life cycle — older cells dissolve (resorb) into the body and are replaced by fresher cells. This growth cycle in the jawbone receives stimulation from forces generated by teeth when we chew or bite. If a tooth is no longer present to provide this stimulation, the affected bone cells won’t regenerate at a healthy rate. Over time this causes the volume of bone to diminish, as much as 25% the first year after tooth loss.

The void left by a missing tooth can also adversely affect remaining teeth. Teeth are held in place by a tough but elastic tissue known as the periodontal ligament that lies between the tooth and the bone. The ligament enables teeth to move gradually in response to mouth changes so that the teeth remain tightly aligned with each other. When there’s a gap from a missing tooth, this tendency will cause the teeth on either side to move (or “drift”) toward the open space. Although a natural phenomena, it can result in a malocclusion (poor bite).

That’s why it’s important to replace a missing tooth with a life-like replica — not just for appearance’s sake, but also to improve function and prevent the rise of these other problems. While many options exist (from removable dentures to fixed bridges) the choice most preferred by dentists and patients is the dental implant.

An implant replaces the tooth root as well as the crown, because it’s imbedded securely into the jawbone. Because of a natural affinity with titanium, the principal metal used in implants, bone cells will grow to its surface. Not only will this anchor the implant more securely, it will slow or even stop bone loss.

If you have a missing tooth, you should visit us as soon as possible to consider your options for a replacement. A new tooth will help stop even greater problems from occurring.

If you would like more information on effects and treatment of tooth loss, please contact Mansfield dentist Dr. Sandi Hamm at (817) 477-4441 and schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”

Find Out Why You or Your Partner Snores – it may be Sleep Apnea

April 28, 2016

Filed under: Oral Health — Tags: , — sandihamm @ 5:19 pm

snoring.

If your sleeping partner snores, it could be more than an annoyance: it could be a sign of sleep apnea. This occurs when air flow into the lungs becomes obstructed in the throat for a few seconds during sleep. The obstruction can take many forms, but a common one arises from the tongue relaxing against the back of the throat, producing snoring sounds as air attempts to pass through this restricted area.

Sleep apnea can cause severe problems: lower daily energy levels and mood from poor sleep; lower oxygen saturation that could affect brain function; and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. So, if you’re awakened by your partner’s snoring (or they’re complaining about yours!), it’s important to have it checked and treated.

This begins with a visit to us for a complete oral examination. Like many dentists, we’re well trained in the anatomy and structures of the mouth, as well as the causes and treatment of sleep apnea. We’ll examine your mouth, take into account any possible symptoms you’re experiencing and, if your suspicions are correct, refer you to a sleep physician to diagnose if you have sleep apnea.

Treatment will depend on its cause and severity. An oral appliance worn during sleep is the recommended first treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea that involves the tongue as an obstruction. We develop a custom appliance that helps move your tongue away from the back of the throat, reducing both apnea and snoring sounds. For more advanced sleep apnea you could benefit from a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. This device generates continuous air pressure through a mask worn while sleeping that helps keep the airway open.

Of course, there are other causes for obstruction, some of which may require surgical intervention to relieve the problem. Abnormally large tonsils, adenoids or excessive soft tissue can all restrict air flow. Surgically removing or altering these structures could help reduce airway restriction.

Whatever type or degree of sleep apnea you or your partner may have, there are solutions. The right treatment will not only improve overall health, it will help both of you get a better night’s sleep.

If you would like more information on sleep apnea and how to treat it, 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 “If You Snore, You Must Read More!

Quitting Smoking can Improve the Health of Your Teeth and Gums

April 14, 2016

Filed under: Oral Health — Tags: , , — sandihamm @ 8:27 am

smoking.

While cigarette smoking has been linked with lung cancer and heart disease, it, can also contribute to dental disease. You can reduce these risks by doing one thing — quitting smoking.

But that’s easier said than done: forty-six percent of smokers try to quit every year, but only one in ten are successful long term. The difficulty is tied to tobacco’s active ingredient, nicotine, an addictive substance that triggers chemical and behavioral dependence. Nicotine “re-wires” the brain to feel pleasure when it encounters the chemical, and to feel bad when it’s deprived. Social, occupational or recreational activities can further reinforce the habit.

Many smokers try to quit through sheer willpower or “cold turkey.” Because of nicotine’s addictive properties, this rarely works — instead, you need a comprehensive strategy tailored to you.

You should begin first with trying to understand your individual smoking patterns: when do you smoke, how frequently, or during what activities? To help with this you can use a “wrap sheet”, a piece of paper you keep wrapped around your cigarette pack. Each time you take out a cigarette, you would record how you feel on the sheet. This also slows down the action of taking out a cigarette and lighting it, which can help you become less mechanical and more mindful of your habit.

You can also break your dependence by gradually introducing restrictions to your smoking: smoke only in certain locations or at certain times; substitute other stress-relieving activities like a walk or other physical exercise; or gradually reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke. You can do the latter by setting a goal, say to smoke 20% fewer cigarettes each successive week; this will force you to increasingly make choices about when you smoke.

Finally, don’t try to go it alone. You can benefit greatly from professionals, including your dentist, to help you kick the habit through Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NTR) with prescription medication, counseling or smoking cessation support groups.

Quitting smoking isn’t so much stopping a behavior as it is “unlearning” one and establishing new, healthier ones. The first step, though, is accepting you need a change, one that will benefit your whole life.

If you would like more information on quitting smoking, please contact Mansfield dentist Dr. Sandi Hamm at (817) 477-4441 and schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Strategies to Stop Smoking.”

4 Novel Ways Implants can be Used to Treat Dental Problems

January 23, 2016

Filed under: Restorative Dentistry — Tags: — sandihamm @ 9:33 am

implant.

You’ve no doubt heard about dental implants — they’re considered the premier tooth replacement option because of their life-likeness and durability. More accurately described as a “root” replacement, the implant’s titanium post imbeds in the jawbone where bone cells grow and adhere to it to form a strong union over time. A porcelain crown is either cemented or screwed to the metal post to produce a life-like replacement that functions — and looks — like a real tooth.

But did you know implant technology is useful in other situations besides replacing an individual tooth? Here are 4 ways implants can be used to improve your mouth’s function and your smile.

Fixed Bridgework. Replacing multiple teeth with separate implants for each one can be quite expensive. But a fewer number of implants can also be used to support bridgework. A three-tooth bridge, for example, can be attached to and supported by two implants; bridges of ten or more crowns can usually be supported by four to six implants.

Removable overdentures. Traditional partial or full dentures are an affordable restoration for multiple or total tooth loss, but they have one major drawback: they can’t stop, and may even contribute to, bone loss in the jaw. This leads to poor denture fit over time that can affect both comfort and nutrition. An implant-supported denture using two to four implants that connect with the appliance to hold it in place can help reduce bone loss.

Fixed implant-supported dentures. This option may work well for patients who have already incurred extensive bone loss. Supported by four to six implants, this denture can be fixed into place to provide for full mouth function and to provide support for facial structures like the lips or cheeks.

Orthodontic anchorage. Some tooth-movement treatments can be a challenge — the key is to move only the teeth intended for movement while making sure adjacent teeth don’t. Implants in the form of temporary anchorage devices (TADs) imbedded in the jaw can be used as anchorage points that isolate only those teeth that need to move. These devices can streamline and even speed up treatment time and are then removed after orthodontic treatment is complete.

If you would like more information on dental implants, please contact Mansfield dentist Dr. Sandi Hamm at (817) 477-4441 and schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants: Your Best Option for Replacing Teeth.”

3 Places to Find Inspiration for Your Smile Makeover

January 7, 2016

Filed under: Cosmetic Dentistry — Tags: , — sandihamm @ 1:32 pm

smile makeover.

We have the materials, techniques and equipment as cosmetic dentists to transform any problem smile into an attractive one. But there’s one thing we don’t have — your expectations. That has to come from you, and the range can be wide.

It’s best if you have a general idea of what you want in a new smile before your first visit. But where can you look to find out what you want? Here are 3 places to look to inspire your smile makeover.

The mirror. This is the starting point — take a good look at your smile in a mirror and ask yourself what you like or don’t like about it — are your teeth chipped, misaligned, stained or perhaps too widely spaced? Do your gums seem to overwhelm your teeth? Once you know what pleases or displeases you, you then need to imagine what your “ideal” smile would look like — is it Hollywood-dazzling or a more nuanced, natural coloring? The mirror may hold the key to what makes you happy or unhappy about your smile.

The magazine rack. Spend a little time looking at smiles in a variety of magazines: which ones do you find attractive and why? Which ones don’t appeal to you? Many, especially with celebrities or professional models, will be technically good — but not all will be a good fit for you. However, the ones you do like can help give you insight about what you would like to change in your own smile.

Your photo albums. If you’re a little older, you may remember a time when your smile seemed brighter and more attractive. Age-related wearing, staining, injury or disease can all take their toll. You may simply want to return to a time when your smile made you happy, something you might find in your photo albums. Not only can this help you fine tune your expectations, we can also use old photographs of you to recreate and recapture an earlier look.

The possibilities for smile design are wide and varied — but you can narrow those possibilities with realistic expectations for yourself. With that information we can achieve the smile you want — or once had.

If you would like more information on smile makeovers, please contact Mansfield dentist Dr. Sandi Hamm at (817) 477-4441 and schedule an appointment.

Check the Ingredient List First When Purchasing Toothpaste

December 20, 2015

Filed under: Oral Health — Tags: , — sandihamm @ 11:31 pm

toothpaste.

“Brighter teeth!” “Fresher Breath!” “Fewer Cavities!”

There are a lot of toothpaste brands making claims like these — choosing one to use among the many can be overwhelming. Is there a way to cut through the marketing noise and get to the essentials about toothpaste?

Absolutely, if you keep in mind the main objective for brushing — removing plaque, the thin film of food remnant and disease-causing bacteria on tooth surfaces. Toothpaste formulations play a big role in this effort, so you should first zero in on the ingredient list for substances needed to do the job of plaque removal.

For example, toothpaste needs abrasives: these substances’ grainy texture help make the mechanical action of brushing more effective. Look for abrasives like hydrated silica (made from sand), hydrated alumina, calcium carbonate or dicalcium phosphates, which effectively remove plaque and staining but won’t damage tooth enamel.

Detergents are also important for loosening and breaking down food particles that won’t dissolve in water (non-soluble). The most common detergent in toothpaste is sodium lauryl sulfate, often found in a variety of hygiene products. It’s been used safely in toothpaste for over fifty years, but it can irritate canker sores. If you’re prone to these, you may want to steer clear of this ingredient.

And, don’t forget to look for fluoride. This natural chemical, known for strengthening tooth enamel, has been a regular in many toothpaste formulations since the 1950s. Although there have been concerns about its safety, years of research has found only one relatively minor health condition linked to fluoride: internal tooth staining called fluorosis caused by overexposure at an early age. It’s effectiveness as a tooth decay fighter, however, is well substantiated.

Be sure also to look for one other item on toothpaste packaging — the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association. A brand with this seal has passed independent testing substantiating the product’s claims.

Looking for these basic ingredients will help you choose a toothpaste brand that’s right for you. Along with an effective brushing technique, you really can have brighter teeth, fresher breath and fewer dental problems.

If you would like more information on dental hygiene products, please contact Mansfield dentist Dr. Sandi Hamm at (817) 477-4441 and schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Toothpaste.”

Oral Care for Older Adults can be Challenging

December 3, 2015

Filed under: Oral Health — Tags: , — sandihamm @ 11:30 pm

oral health.

Caring for an elderly parent or family member requires a lot of focus on their health. That includes the state of their teeth and gums, either of which can impact their overall health and quality of life.

As we age, our risk of dental diseases like tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease rises. Loss of teeth due to disease can impact diet, speech and, of course, our smile. There are also links between dental disease and other systemic conditions like heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, for which the presence — or absence — of oral care can have a significant effect.

As at any stage of life, good oral hygiene and care in our later years are essential for a healthier mouth. For many older people, though, this can be a challenge as tasks like brushing and flossing may become physically demanding. So it’s important to introduce adaptations to make brushing and flossing easier, like attaching a bicycle handle grip on a toothbrush or using a water irrigation flosser rather than floss string to remove plaque from between teeth.

There are also health conditions that could affect our mouths as we age. Chronic dry mouth (xerostomia) may develop, sometimes resulting from medications, with the resulting drop in saliva increasing the chances of tooth decay. Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is also prominent in older adults and can cause stomach acid to come into the mouth and cause enamel erosion.

As your loved one’s caregiver, you’re part of a unique partnership with us as their dentist. As such, you can have a positive influence on their oral care: offer to accompany them on dental visits; be sure you’re up to date on their medications, supplements and medical history in case there are questions; and be sure to bring along all of their oral appliances.

We in turn will screen for oral cancer and other signs of dental disease, check appliance fit and monitor the effectiveness of their hygiene habits. Together, we can make sure they’re getting the very best oral care they can, and have a positive impact on their health and quality of life.

If you would like more information on caring for teeth during your later years, please contact Mansfield dentist Dr. Sandi Hamm at (817) 477-4441 and schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Aging & Dental Health.”

Actor David Ramsey Says: Don’t Forget to Floss!

November 26, 2015

Filed under: Preventive Dentistry — Tags: , , — sandihamm @ 11:24 am

ramsey.

Can you have healthy teeth and still have gum disease? Absolutely! And if you don’t believe us, just ask actor David Ramsey. The cast member of TV hits such as Dexter and Arrow said in a recent interview that up to the present day, he has never had a single cavity. Yet at a routine dental visit during his college years, Ramsey’s dentist pointed out how easily his gums bled during the exam. This was an early sign of periodontal (gum) disease, the dentist told him.

“I learned that just because you don’t have cavities, doesn’t mean you don’t have periodontal disease,” Ramsey said.

Apparently, Ramsey had always been very conscientious about brushing his teeth but he never flossed them.

“This isn’t just some strange phenomenon that exists just in my house — a lot of people who brush don’t really floss,” he noted.

Unfortunately, that’s true — and we’d certainly like to change it. So why is flossing so important?

Oral diseases such as tooth decay and periodontal disease often start when dental plaque, a bacteria-laden film that collects on teeth, is allowed to build up. These sticky deposits can harden into a substance called tartar or calculus, which is irritating to the gums and must be removed during a professional teeth cleaning.

Brushing teeth is one way to remove soft plaque, but it is not effective at reaching bacteria or food debris between teeth. That’s where flossing comes in. Floss can fit into spaces that your toothbrush never reaches. In fact, if you don’t floss, you’re leaving about a third to half of your tooth surfaces unclean — and, as David Ramsey found out, that’s a path to periodontal disease.

Since then, however, Ramsey has become a meticulous flosser, and he proudly notes that the long-ago dental appointment “was the last we heard of any type of gum disease.”

Let that be the same for you! Just remember to brush and floss, eat a good diet low in sugar, and come in to the dental office for regular professional cleanings.

If you would like more information on flossing or periodontal disease, please contact Mansfield dentist Dr. Sandi Hamm at (817) 477-4441 and schedule an appointment. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Understanding Gum (Periodontal) Disease.”

Dental Implants Help Maintain Bone Health

November 12, 2015

Filed under: Restorative Dentistry — Tags: , — sandihamm @ 10:23 am

bone health.

You’ve probably heard a lot about dental implants as replacements for missing teeth. So, why are they so popular with both patients and dentists? While other restorations can mimic the color, shape and texture of natural teeth, dental implants have one clear advantage — and it’s all about the bone.

The bone in your jaws provides stability and structure for teeth — without it and the intricate system of gum tissue attachments teeth couldn’t survive the normal biting and chewing forces they encounter every day. That’s why bone health is crucial for maintaining tooth integrity.

Teeth also help bone to remain strong and healthy. The forces we generate as we chew transmit through the tooth roots to the bone, which stimulates continuing growth. If a tooth is missing, however, the bone around it doesn’t receive this stimulation and may begin to lose some of its volume and density — up to a quarter of its width in just the first year after tooth loss.

This bone loss continues even with other restorations because they’re not able to stimulate bone growth. But dental implants can. This is because the portion of the implant imbedded into the bone is constructed most often of titanium, which has a natural affinity toward bone. Bone cells are naturally attracted to titanium and will begin to grow and attach to the metal surface, a process known as osseointegration.

Through osseointegration, the implant develops a durable bond with the jawbone a few weeks after surgery that surpasses other restorations, and is a prime reason for their success rate. Although installing implants can be an expensive undertaking, their proven longevity may result in less maintenance, repair or replacement costs over time than other replacement options.

If you’re considering dental implants, remember it’s what you can’t see beneath the attractive crown that makes them special. And it’s a choice you can depend on to provide you a beautiful smile for years to come.

If you would like more information on dental implants, please contact Mansfield dentist Dr. Sandi Hamm at (817) 477-4441 and schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants.”

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1830 East Broad St. Suite 100, Mansfield, TX 76063 USA
Dr. Sandi L. Hamm Dr. Sandi Hamm offers General and Cosmetic Dentistry for her patients, giving them excellent dental service and bringing smiles to their life. (817) 477-4441 dllaine@drsandihamm.com