Oral Health & Dexterity As We Age

Our Smile Sarasota dental practice accepts patients of almost all ages although we do refer small children to a children’s dentist. Since the demographic of our lovely city is mostly retirees and seniors, this is the average age of the patient we see. What we also see are the difficulties that are inherent as we age, namely dexterity problems with oral home care. When a patient is unable to properly brush and floss, dental disease is a certainty.  Assessment of daily oral care for our senior patients is an ongoing process for our Smile Sarasota team. And as our patients become more debilitated or dependent on caregivers, our dental team is always ready to train the caregiver in providing good daily oral hygiene for the patient.

If you have dexterity problems or a physical disability, you may find it difficult to hold onto your toothbrush or dental floss. Whether it is arthritis, stroke, an injury or carpal tunnel syndrome, there are some useful alternatives to helping those of you who may have some dexterity issues with brushing and flossing. There are things such as electric toothbrushes and flossers out on the market now to aid in good oral hygiene.

Electric toothbrushes come in an array of varieties and come with a substantially larger handle compared to the manual brush.  A good feature of the electric brush is that the head will either oscillate or rotate, so all you have to do is literally hold the brush on your teeth and move it from tooth to tooth. will help reduce the amount of arm movement required and circumvent dexterity problems. They are also easy to use for a caregiver.

Flossers are aids to help someone floss without having to wrap the floss around your fingers.  There are disposable flossers and those that tend to be larger that you have to insert floss into.  An arthritic patient is a great candidate for these flossers, because you don’t have to hold the floss on your fingers and manipulate it in the mouth, you simply hold the handle instead. One of the new aids are water and air flossers. A water flosser is a handheld device that sprays streams of water in steady pulses. The water, like traditional floss, removes food from between teeth. An air flosser  uses a stream of air, interspersed with small micro droplets of water. We will discuss water flossers in detail in an upcoming blog.

 

No matter what your age is, if you have dexterity issues and have questions about improving your homecare, feel free to ask our hygienists, Claire or Ann…they are always happy to assist!

 

 

 

Sources and Credits: ADA, Colgate, Science Direct

Dental Implants by Smile Sarasota

This is the third in a series of interviews with Dr. Adam Still on SNN’s show, Aging Gracefully on the Suncoast with Nancy O’Neil.  Our topic is dental implants. If you are thinking about getting dental implants there’s a lot you need to know!

How long have dental implants been around? The technology involved with placing implants has been around for 40 plus years but it’s becoming more and more mainstream and we are seeing it as the number one go-to option for missing teeth.

So what are dental implants? In a situation where someone loses a tooth, whether from decay or fracture or gum disease, a dental implant is an option…once we take the tooth out, we place an implant. Then we install what you can think of as a titanium screw into the bone, which replaces the root of the lost tooth. From that artificial root, we are able to anchor materials on top of it so we can then restore the space with a crown for example. This gives you a tooth that looks and feels natural in that empty space.

Why would you recommend an implant over some other procedure? There certainly are other options besides an implant. One option for example, would be to place a ‘fixed’ bridge.  In order to do a bridge, we would prepare the teeth on either side of the space where the tooth was lost and then cement bridge in. Think of it as three crowns in a row that are linked together, cemented onto those two abutments. You have a prosthetic tooth in the middle that fills in the space. Another option would be to have a removable appliance like a partial denture. This is made of acrylic and metal and it would have clips which anchor to some of the remaining teeth and fill the space left by the missing tooth. It would be removable by the patient. So as you can see, there are several reasons why dental implants are a better choice in most cases.

When would you recommend and implant? You would use an implant in a case when you want to replace the tooth in the missing space and you don’t want a removable appliance and you don’t want to involve the adjacent teeth. When you are doing a bridge have to you prepare the tooth on either side for a crown as previously described. This means you take the outer layer off the tooth structure off on each adjacent tooth. With an implant, you can be more conservative with tooth structure because you don’t touch the teeth on either side – we are just restoring the space by itself. It also a huge advantage if you don’t want something you have to take in and out. So the alternatives are a bridge which impacts two other teeth that don’t have something wrong or you use something removable.

What are the advantages and disadvantages to implants? As far as advantages, there is the conservation of tooth structure as we just discussed. Another thing I like about implants is cleansability. When we are connecting multiple teeth with a bridge, it makes it harder to clean around and under it. With an implant, it’s more like a natural tooth – you can brush and floss on each side…more of a natural feel. Another thing I like about implants is that they conserve the bone in that area. If we take a tooth out and we -place either a removable appliance or a bridge over it, the bone around the extraction side will resorb down and you will actually lose more jawbone in that area. When an implant is placed, you will actually retain bone in that area.

We’ve been talking about a small space – a single implant – what else can be done with implants? Implant dentistry is by no means is limited to small spaces. It can be used in a myriad of applications. Some of my favorite ones are when we are replacing an entire mouth of lost teeth, whether it be all your upper and lower teeth or just the upper or just the lower teeth. In those cases, we can place multiple implants and we can create a prosthesis that will restore all of the teeth. Another one of my favorite things regards a patient who has been wearing full dentures for many years, using adhesive and is just so sick of using multiple products to try to chew normally. If we place implants, we can fabricate a denture that can actually clip onto those implants and get retention from that. In this case, the patient will have to take the appliance in and out at their discretion but it’s more comfortable and stable. Another option that is similar to that is that if you have a patient who doesn’t want to have a removable denture any longer, we can place multiple implants and fabricate a much smaller version of the denture that will actually screw into the implants so it stays in permanently. It stays permanently and they are able to clean around it. It’s a lot more comfortable and feels more natural because we can take away a lot of that acrylic material that they are used to having in the roof of the mouth.

One final question – what kind of time involved with implants? That’s one of the drawbacks. When a tooth is taken out, first there will be a bone graft that has to heal for a few months.  Then the implant will be placed in the jawbone and the bone has to heal around it, which a another few months. So there’s a longer treatment period but the end result is well worth it.

Smile Sarasota thanks Nancy and SNN for having Dr. Still on the show and allowing him to share all the new things in the world of dentistry. If you have any questions about the procedures he described here and on the other interviews, don’t hesitate to call Smile Sarasota and he will be happy to sit down and chat with you!

 

Smile for the 3-D Camera!

Smile Sarasota has always been on the leading edge of technology. This is the second in a series of three interviews with Dr. Adam Still on SNN’s show, Aging Gracefully on the Suncoast with Nancy O’Neil.  Our topic is CAD/CAM Dentistry!

So what is CAD/CAM? It stands for ‘computer aided dentistry’ ‘computer aided manufacturing’. It is by no means a technology exclusive to dentistry – is used in a lot of different industries. The most common dental application for example, would be a broken or decayed that tooth we just prepared for a crown. We take 3-dimensional images of that tooth. From those 3-D images, we go to the computer monitor and we design the crown.  Then the crown will get milled out of a solid block of ceramic material; this is a restoration that can then be placed directly on the tooth at that point. So is it like a 3-D printer? It’s similar to that concept but with a printer, instead of printing ‘nothing into something’ we are actually taking a ceramic block and milling it down into something we can use – but it’s a very similar concept to a 3-D printer.

So what are the advantages of this over dentistry from previous years? There are quite a few advantages because this is a system where the procedure is done within the office – we can actually do it one day, in one appointment. You can walk in with an issue and leave with a permanent restoration, so that is one of the great advantages. Another thing I like about it is that we tend to see less sensitivity with these restorations. When we prepare the tooth and we temporize it, we leave it kind of exposed to the oral environment for a while (waiting for our outside lab to make the crown) before it’s sealed again, whereas with this type of instrument, within just a few hours we are sealing it up again. Another big advantage that patients love about this system is that we don’t have to take an impression anymore, so they don’t have to have the big mouthful of goop that people find so annoying. We actually use a camera instead to get the same effect as an impression.

What are the disadvantages, if any? Early on with this technology, you had to really want to be a CAD/CAM dentist. When I say ‘early on’, this technology has been around for over 30 years! In the early stages, the process was really time-consuming. The software left a lot to be desired and it took a long time to get through the process. Then, when you were finally done, the final fit and the precision and the seal of the restoration was in question. But over many years, there have been many advances in the software and the cameras that we use today and this has eliminated these issues. If there really is a drawback, it is the time involved in the office for the patient – we have to do the whole process from start to finish in one appointment. We first have to prepare the tooth but since we are not making a temporary and sending the impression off to the lab, we have to actually mill the restoration and then try it in the patients mouth and make small adjustments. Then it goes into an oven where the the material goes through the final hardening process; then we finally place it (cement it) in the mouth. So there can be 10 minutes here and 25 minutes there where the patient is kind of hanging out reading a magazine or playing with their phone while they wait.

How long have you been using this particular technology? I have been using it for about the last 5 years and it’s come a long way even in that amount of time. They are constantly updating the cameras and the software, so it’s improving every day.

So your office is state-of-the-art…everything you do is current with what’s going on in the industry so of someone wants to get something done, you have it? Yes, we feel it is.

What’s your favorite thing about this technology? Well…it’s kind of fun to use! I liken it to playing with PhotoShop when you are designing the restoration. It’s really enjoyable to use, but because you are designing it yourself, the control is in your hands. I get to say how I want the bite to look and the contacts between the teeth to look, so I have the ultimate control of the outcome of the final restoration. The other thing I enjoy about it is the convenience from the patients’ standpoint and from my standpoint. If I have a patient come in who has just broken a tooth and they are leaving for Europe for the next two months, we don’t have to wait for the lab. We can take care of it right on the spot and they can leave for their trip and I don’t have to worry about them in a temporary during that period of time.

What do you see the future now that you have seen so much growth in just 5 years? We mentioned 3-D printing – that and the combination of  CAD/CAM is the future, I think. What we talk about in dentistry and in other industries is that we are watching a shift from analog to digital. In our particular application, we are taking a 3-dimensional image instead of an impression. With this digital information we can quickly transfer it from one person to the next. I can email it to a lab or to a specialist I am working with on a case and we can more efficiently transfer information and more accurately describe it because both looking at it at the same information at the same time on the computer. The way we plan cases will change for the benefit of the patient.

Have a broken tooth? Call Smile Sarasota today and learn more about restoring it in just one appointment!

 

Many thanks once again to SNN and Nancy O’Neil!

30 Thousand Cycles per Minute!

Smile Sarasota posted a popular Blog a few years ago about ultrasonic toothbrushes and we are glad so many of you have taken advantage of learning from our blog posts. As mentioned in that post, there are many types and makes of ultrasonic toothbrushes. Our favorite is the Phillips Sonicare, so let’s learn more about why we, and our patients, love the Sonicare, along with some recommendations about how to use it and some of the features.

Sonicare was the first brand to develop a toothbrush using sonic wave technology, which vibrates as high as 30K cycles per minute. Wow. It is great at removing the thin layer of plaque and tartar that all of us have on our teeth which can ultimately lead to gum disease and cavity formation. We recommend any of their models—especially for people over the age of 40 with gum recession and spaces between their teeth. We love the pressure sensor, the timer and the comfortable design. Some of the models even have a Smart Phone App to help you use the proper technique.

Choosing the right Sonicare toothbrush is important, but it’s also important to know that no toothbrush is perfect—even the Sonicare. The good news is that the pros of Sonicare generally outweigh the cons.

Pros:

  • Better for cleaning hard-to-reach spots. Sonic technology is the only electric toothbrush method that provides action beyond the bristles which means the sonic waves ensure that even hard-to-reach plaque (that the bristles can’t reach) are broken up.
  • Better for gums. For people with sensitive gums or gum recession, or for those who are hard brushers, the Sonicare is safer for your gums and teeth than other electric/manual toothbrushes. Just remember not to press too hard and that you should probably replace the head every few months.
  • Better cleaning between spaces. Sonicare is better for people with gum recession and deeper spaces between their teeth. As people age, the gums can pull away from the teeth, creating tiny spaces where food can hide. In fact, many of our elderly patients have issues with food impaction. Flossing after every meal is one option, but the Sonicare is great for blasting the food out and is why we love the Sonicare for people over age 40. (You still need to floss though!)

Cons:

  • Not everyone likes the sensation of the sonic waves, and it can take some time to adjust to it. At first it may feel weird or even ‘tickle’…and it may sound weird too. Some of the less expensive models are noisier than others, but just know that it’s for a good reason.
  • Battery may not last as long as other electric toothbrushes. Usually the Sonicare rechargeable battery lasts for about 8-9 months, but there is a lot of variability. Some of our patients say the battery lasted 3 months, while others say theirs lasted 2 years.
  • More knockoffs. There are a lot of copy-cats of the Sonicare so be careful purchasing knockoff brand brushes and heads that may be poorly made and can damage your teeth and gums.

So, how do you use this bad boy? It’s pretty simple!

  • Wet the bristles of the brush head
  • Apply a small amount of toothpaste
  • Place the bristles against your teeth at a 45° angle, towards the gum line
  • Press the power button to start brushing
  • Apply light pressure and move the brush head slowly across the teeth in a small back and forth motion, allowing the brush to do the work. Continue this motion throughout your brushing cycle
  • Some Philips Sonicare Toothbrush models come with a Quadpacer feature which helps you time your tooth-brushing sessions. If you have this feature on your model, it divides your mouth into four sections and will vibrate intermittently to tell you to move on to the next section. (Note: Do not scrub. To maximize, only apply light pressure and let the toothbrush do the brushing for you)

Brushing Modes:

Philips Sonicare toothbrushes have different modes that clean your teeth in different ways. (Brushing modes vary across Philips Sonicare Toothbrushes. Please refer to the user manual for the specific modes that come with your toothbrush). If you only use the Clean mode, you’ll get a superb clean every time. And that’s fine. But if you want to customize your brushing sessions to best suit your needs, try using the different modes described below:

  • Clean – Clean is your toothbrushes’ main mode. At 31,000 brush strokes per minute, it removes plaque with extreme efficiency in a two-minute program. The Clean mode is the base setting on every Sonicare toothbrush. If you’re going to stick to one mode, make it this one.
  • White – In White mode, your toothbrush works a bit harder to remove surface stains caused by things like coffee and tea. After the standard two-minute program is completed, you’ll get an extra thirty seconds to focus on polishing your front teeth, so you get a healthy smile that really shines.
  • Gum Health – The Gum Health mode adds an extra minute of reduced power brushing to the end of the standard two-minute program. Use it to gently massage your gums for a better circulation and ultimately better gum health.
  • Sensitive – If you’ve got sensitive teeth or gums, or you just find the sonic vibrations a little overwhelming at first, switch to the Sensitive mode. In this mode, your toothbrush vibrates with lower intensity, going easier on your teeth and gums.
  • Tongue Care mode is a 20-second mode designed to clean your tongue, together with the Tongue Care brush head. Brushing time is 20 seconds

Click here to learn about ALL the different Sonicare models to see which one is right for you, or ask any team member at Smile Sarasota and we can help you decide! Sonicare brushes can be found at many retailers and online, so shop around for the best price. And be sure to ask about discount coupons when you are at our office – we often have them direct from our Sonicare vendor!

 

Here is our original Blog about ultrasonic toothbrushes:

 

 

Sources and Credits: usa.phillips.com, askthedentist.com

New Year…New You

During the month of January, there is a huge emphasis on looking our best and getting fit for our overall health.  Most of us make resolutions to work out regularly, eat healthier diets and are determined to find a more robust anti-aging regime.  Along with a nutritious diet and exercise program, dental care is very often overlooked as a valuable aspect of keeping us healthy and confident.

Of course, dental hygiene and keeping regular oral checkups up to date are critical for dental health, but what about the way your teeth look?  Are they crooked, have they shifted since you had your braces years ago?  Do you have discolored teeth or spaces?  Perhaps you’re tired of seeing other beautiful smiles and wishing you had such healthy looking, attractive teeth too. If your smile needs a lift, you may be surprised at just how easy it is to shape up your mouth and change you’re the way you feel and are perceived by others.

So, why does it matter what your teeth look like? In psychology, there have been numerous studies on the social and psychological effects of the way we look and feel about our appearance.  Having stained, chipped, crooked, or missing teeth can cause forms of social withdrawal, depression, and anxiety. Many people are unaware of the fact that having an attractive smile increases confidence levels and can be an instant mood lifter, which is essential to our emotional health.  With this newfound self-assuredness, your confidence is perceived by others as a strength and can consequently provide better opportunities throughout the years to come.

There Are Numerous Options to Fit Your Needs:

  • Bonding– A composite resin material that matches your teeth can be applied to the tooth’s surface, and in some cases, it can even fill in interproximal spaces between the teeth, which will close gaps and make the teeth appear more symmetrical.
  • Veneers-Stronger and longer lasting than bonding, veneers are a thin porcelain material that is permanently cemented to the tooth’s surface.  It’s stronger than enamel and helps to make teeth look proportioned, fills in spaces, restores chips or cracks by covering the entire tooth structure on the facial surface.  Veneers wrap around the biting surface leaving the majority of the back of the teeth natural.  Many celebrities have veneers.
  • Crowns- A crown is a permanent covering that fits over an original tooth that is decayed, damaged or cracked. Aesthetic crowns are made of a variety of the highest quality porcelain for the most natural appearance.  The process takes about two weeks, and you will have a high-quality temporary crown until your permanent crown is attached.  At Smile Sarasota, we also use CEREC.  Your crown is milled from a block of porcelain in the office.  The crowns are durable, impervious to stain, plaque resistant, quick, easy, and absolutely gorgeous.  With CEREC, you will receive your crown the same day.  There is no waiting on a lab or the need for a temporary crown.
  • Tooth Whitening- At Smile Sarasota, they offer two options for whitening; the first is an in-office procedure utilizing a LED light for quick, remarkable and safe whitening. Your teeth will be significantly lighter, but not “fake” white, as teeth will only lighten to a natural tooth color.  Although the results are long lasting, you will be given a touch-up kit to take home with you. Typically individuals will see a brighter smile for 6 to 18 months, depending on your diet and dental hygiene.  The second whitening option is to have trays made that fit your teeth precisely and an at-home whitening gel will be used as directed by Dr. Still.

Cosmetic dentistry is an excellent way to boost your confidence and make you feel like you’ve had a little lift to your appearance.  Whiter, straighter teeth are perceived as healthy; knowing that you take pride in your appearance will have a positive impact on you, and those around you. 

Smile Sarasota provides the highest-quality services for restoring mouths that have been damaged by dental disease, injury and common problems that require cosmetic dentistry. Their primary goal for patients is to achieve and maintain optimum oral health through advances in techniques, technologies, and by keeping their scheduled dental exams.

To find out more about CEREC or other ground-breaking dental methods, please call (941) 957-3311.

Will Your Future Dentist be a Robot?

With driverless cars, advanced robotics and machine learning all dramatically improving very quickly, it’s easy to worry that we’re about to enter an age where the ordinary human will be out of work. There have been a lot of things published lately, as well as in the past, about artificial intelligence. This is not a new topic but more and more it’s moving quickly to the forefront. Our image is a list of 23 things artificially intelligent computers can do better/faster/cheaper than you can!

Smile Sarasota has always been on the leading edge of technology with things like digital X-rays, intraoral cameras and the CEREC CAD/CAM crowns. However, we believe that there are some things that need the warmth of us humans!

A 2013 study by the Economist Intelligence Unit showed that technology was giving humans the time to focus on more productive tasks, rather than replacing them. Regardless of how much automation our business has, our patients are still going to be people, which means we need that human touch to interact with them. Technology can’t pick up on all of the subtleties of human emotion in the same way, which means they’re not ideal for dealing with real people. They can’t replicate creativity; recombining higher-level abstractions and imagining futures based on very little information or example. They can’t have a hunch, like even scientists do.

In other words, they lack the general underpinning of “common sense” which we have. Robots can’t innovate or think up new ideas. They can’t think out of the box, never mind engage in such human professional skills such as negotiating a sale, building professional relationships, and so on.

Even more fundamentally, behind every technology – no matter how sophisticated and advanced – sits a human to either manage it directly or offer support in the event that it fails or otherwise goes wrong. Especially the understanding and judgment – let alone the empathy – required to successfully deliver services such as dental and medical care; or that lead us to enjoy and value interacting with each other rather than with machines. There are elements of dental care that computers just aren’t capable of handling: chair-side manner, making tough decisions from incomplete patient data, dealing with human psychology, and so forth.

Technology will be integral in changing how care is provided. Healthcare workers such as our fantastic Smile Sarasota team, will remain integral to healthcare because the entire care system is dependent on their knowledge, experience, and intuition. So the next time you visit our office, we know you will appreciate our technology, but even more so, the warm hugs we give you!

Sources and Credits: Seth Godin, Leadspace.com, 247wallst.com, theurbantechnologist.com, makeuseof.com

White or Silver?

One controversy in dentistry over the last decade deals with the choice of using an amalgam (silver) or a white filling for cavities. Over the past few years, the popularity of white filling materials have increased tremendously. The white filling material is tooth colored so it blends in with your tooth and it can also be used for cosmetic improvements (Usually called cosmetic bonding) of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth. Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.

The dental amalgam (‘silver’) filling material has been used for 150 years and has a good track record. But there has been a controversy dealing with the safety of the filling material. Dental amalgam is a mixture of mercury, silver, tin and copper. Mercury, which makes up about 50 percent of the compound, is used to bind the metals together and to provide a strong, hard, durable filling. While extremely toxic, when the mercury is combined with other materials in dental amalgam, its chemical nature changes so it can’t be released into your mouth in significant amounts. While the FDA maintains that amalgam fillings are within current safety limits, there is still a major controversy about the safety of the toxic metals used to make up the amalgam.  A few years ago, the FDA upgraded them from low risk to a moderate risk treatment due to published research on the health effects of mercury in our fillings. At Smile Sarasota, we take a conservative approach to amalgam removal. If the mercury-silver amalgam filling is decayed or compromised, we will replace it with a composite resin filling. We have not used amalgam at Smile Sarasota for many years. We dispose of the removed amalgam filling in our amalgam separator to prevent the mercury from entering Sarasota’s sewage and water-supply.

Composite resin fillings are the most popular type of filling used in a modern dental practice. They are tooth-colored fillings that replicate the natural appearance of healthy enamel, making them a more life-like cavity treatment. They form a chemical bond with the tooth for a more reliable fit. They don’t have the same risks as mercury-silver amalgam fillings and are more attractive than metal fillings. Because composite resin fillings are so versatile, we recommend them for most types of cavities.

What are the advantages of composites? Aesthetics is the main advantage, since we can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of the actual tooth. Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes. Composites often allow usto prepare a cavity much smaller than can be achieved with gold, porcelain or silver amalgam fillings. Making a smaller filling is very important to the strength of a tooth and for increasing the amount of time a filling will wear. Composites work very well with laser prepared cavities.  Composite bonding on the front teeth can be made very beautiful and natural looking. Composites can be used to seal a tooth in young people to prevent the most common pit and fissure decay. Composites can many times be repaired instead of having to remove the whole filling if part of it has failed.

What are the disadvantages? Composites are technique sensitive and intolerant of any moisture when being placed. It is sometimes impossible to keep a cavity dry to place a composite. Also, the shade of the composite can change slightly if the patient drinks tea, coffee or other staining foods. Composites tend to wear out sooner than silver fillings in larger cavities, although they hold up as well in small cavities.

How long will a composite last? Studies have shown that composites last 7-10 years, which is comparable to silver fillings except in very large restorations, where silver fillings last longer than composites. We now believe there is no advantage, (and indeed there is a distinct disadvantage), in using dental silver amalgam for reasons of durability.

Why has Smile Sarasota elected not to use dental amalgam? Smile Sarasota has considered all information very carefully and we have concluded that with the advances of composite restoration and now the addition of CEREC in office porcelain restorations that there is no need for us to use dental amalgams in our dental practice.  If you have any questions about the best procedures for you, call us today to set up a consultation and Dr. Still will be happy to answer your questions!

Sources and Credits: American Dental Association, Federal Drug Administration, WebMD, Academy of General Dentistry

Same Day Crowns – Magic!

One thing that many people definitely do not have is patience. Whether they are sitting in traffic or awaiting test results, many people find happiness in instant gratification. When it comes to their smiles, people are no different, wanting results as soon as possible. From teeth whitening to correcting a misalignment, many people opt for the easiest, quickest way to see results. When it comes to crowns, you may think that you have to wait in order to have a custom-made crown delivered, but thankfully, Dr. Adam Still is able to give you a beautiful crown in a single appointment thanks to CEREC ‘Same-Day’ Crowns.

The first thing we do in order to get you ready for your crown is to prepare your natural tooth – any old filling material is removed along with decay. After that, a special camera will study and image your prepared tooth and the areas surrounding it, and send the information it has acquired to a computer. When the computer has translated the information it has received, a picture of your new crown is displayed on the computer screen. Our in-office milling machine will then begin to sculpt your crown from a single block of porcelain that matches your natural tooth color, ensuring it blends in seamlessly with the rest of your smile. In fact, you can watch your new crown being made! Dr. Still will place then place it on your prepared tooth and bond it in. At the end of your appointment, you are left with a beautiful, smile!

What is CEREC?

CEREC is an acronym for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, or CERamic REConstruction. Translated, it means that we can restore damaged teeth in a single appointment using a high-quality bio-compatible ceramic material that matches the natural color of your other teeth.

A tooth-colored restoration means no more silver fillings discoloring smiles. The filling is natural-looking, compatible with tissue in the mouth, anti-abrasive and plaque-resistant. The CEREC process eliminates you having to come back for the second visit because the CEREC equipment resides in Smile Sarasota’s office. Given this new process, here are some advantages of this CEREC crown technology for patients over traditional dentistry:

  • The patient only needs one visit instead of two or more
  • The computer-aided design ensures an exact fit eliminating biting problems and return visits
  • The patient does not have the bother of a temporary crown
  • The CEREC dental crowns are made out of ceramic, use no metal and are aesthetically pleasing

If you are ready to make an appointment Dr. Still for a CEREC crown, contact our Smile Sarasota office today! We are happy to take care of whatever general, cosmetic, and restorative dental need you may have. We are proud to serve patients in the downtown Sarasota, Longboat Key, and St. Armand’s communities.

Take a look at this video showing Dr. Still doing the procedure on one of Smile Sarasota’s patients:

Why We Embrace Dental Technology

We recently asked our Technology Coordinator to research Virtual Reality Headsets for use by our patients in the treatment rooms. We are always looking for the ‘latest and greatest’ to better serve our patients. As far back as 2004, The Journal of the American Dental Association published a study about the integration of technology in the dental practice. The author discovered that integration of technology was “crucial to the efficient and effective functioning of the dental office.” Smile Sarasota has embraced technology from the very beginning and we continue to stay on the leading edge.

Why is this important to our patients? There are three major reasons we use technology in our practice:

  • Dental Technology increases efficiency. How? By consolidating communication and information into a well-integrated platform. First and foremost, Dr. Still is there to provide quality dental care to his patients. When you can find ways to boost your efficiency without compromising the quality of your work, it’s good for all involved. There are many ways that technology helps a dental practice improve efficiency and productivity. Our practice management software allows everyone on our dental team to communicate effortlessly, with notes and images included with the patient files. Digital radiography and imaging allows for instantaneous sharing of information, either with the team or to referring specialists. Our CEREC Same-Day Crown CAD/CAM allows the creation of dental restorations in the office the same day, not requiring a second appointment for the patient. All of this communication and sharing of information boosts productivity in the office, and reduces chair time for the patients.
  • Dental Technology improves the patient experience and impression of the office. The same things technology does to improve the efficiency and productivity are also improvements for the patient experience. When patients have less time in the dental chair, have fewer appointments, you have elevated the patient experience. In addition, with the large, flat panel displays in each of our treatment rooms, and the ability to examine images together and helps educate and help our patients understand why we are recommending the necessary treatment.
  • Technology also improves the patient experience through the patient’s perception of the office. All of us love our technology. Smartphones, apps, tablets, and ‘the cloud’ have infiltrated even the most mundane parts of our lives. When patients go to the dentist, they like to see that technology is everywhere there as well. It shows our patients the that our practice has invested in providing them state-of-the-art care. And hopefully, our patients then share their experience on one of the many social apps that lives on the smartphone they have with them all the time.

The array of digital equipment available to dentists has increased significantly. Such advancements in dental technology enable patients to receive modern solutions to traditional dental problems. Among the digital technologies we use at Smile Sarasota are digital radiography, intraoral cameras and CEREC CAD/CAM same-day crowns, discussed above.

Digital radiographs capture dental images through a sensor that processes the image onto a computer screen. Digital X-rays provide greater comfort than traditional X-rays and reduce radiation exposure. Additionally, digital radiographs allow dentists to magnify images for greater diagnostic accuracy, ensuring more timely and appropriate treatments.

Intra-oral cameras can produce accurate images of your teeth and the supporting structures as you see Dr. Still doing in the photo. This allows you, Dr. Still and our hygienists to see tooth defects. It also allows you to better understand the need for the recommended treatment. Intra-oral cameras also help you to learn more about dental hygiene practices, including where to focus on brushing your teeth.

The technology of the Internet has also made a huge difference in communication with our patients. We send appointment reminders via email and text messages as well as that friendly phone call if you wish. Additionally, communication programs make it easy for us to securely share information about a patient’s case with their  our specialists, as well as with our seasonal residents who have a dentist up north.

So you can rest assured that Smile Sarasota will stay on the leading edge. As for those Virtual Reality headsets, we will have them someday when they are a bit more streamlined!

Why We Take Dental X-rays

A couple of years ago, we published a Blog about the benefits of digital X-ray vs. ‘the old fashioned way’ of taking X-rays.  In this Blog, we will discuss more about WHY we take X-rays.

Dental X-rays (radiographs) are images of your teeth that Dr. Still takes to evaluate your oral health. These X-rays are used with low levels of radiation to capture images of the interior of your teeth and gums. This can help him identify problems, like cavities, tooth decay, infections, abscesses, periodontal disease (bone loss) and impacted teeth. Dental X-rays may seem complex, but they’re actually very common tools that are just as important as your teeth cleanings.

Dental X-rays are typically performed yearly, or more often if Dr. Still is tracking the progress of a dental problem or treatment. If you’re a new patient to Smile Sarasota, we take a full series (18 digital images) so Dr. Still can get a clear picture of your dental health. This is especially important if you don’t have any X-rays from your previous dentist – if you do, we are glad to request and use them if they are of good quality and within the past two years. Typically, we take a full series every three years, and four checkup ‘bitewings’ once per year.

Patients will sometime say “I don’t need X-rays – nothing is bothering me”. Early tooth decay and periodontal disease do not tend to show many physical signs. Sometimes the tooth looks healthy, but we will be able to see from an x-ray whether you have any decay under the enamel or under a crown or old filling, any possible infections in the root, or any bone loss around the tooth. X-rays can also help our dental team to see in between your teeth or under the edge of your fillings. Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can help ward off painful conditions and save both time and money.

All health care providers are sensitive to patients’ concerns about radiation. By using state-of-the-art digital radiography technology and staying knowledgeable about recent advances, your dentist knows which techniques, procedures and x-ray films can minimize your exposure to radiation. The amount of radiation received from a dental x-ray is extremely small. We get more radiation from natural sources, including minerals in the soil, and from our general environment. With modern techniques and equipment, risks are kept as small as possible. Smile Sarasota has been using digital radiography for more than ten years.

Dental x-rays are an extremely valuable part of dental treatment and without them, Dr. Still would not be able to properly diagnose or treat dental disease. If you have any questions about dental X-rays, feel free to call us and anyone on our staff can assist!

 

Sources and Credits: ADA.org, Dentalhealth.org, webMD

Part 1: What are all those numbers my Hygienist calls out?

Periodontal Charting Software

Part 1: What are all those numbers my Hygienist calls out?

During your dental cleaning (prophylaxis) appointment, you will hear your hygienist calling out a series of 6 numbers per tooth. These measurements are usually done yearly. What she is doing is measuring, in millimeters (mm), the depth of the cuff of gum tissue around each tooth. This depth is the difference in height between the level of your gumline and the point at which the gum actually attaches to your tooth. 2-3 mm is considered healthy and anything over 5 mm usually indicates that the bone that supports your tooth has begun to be destroyed by disease. Here is a little more detail on what measuring the “pockets” mean:

  • 0 to 3 mm without bleeding: Congratulations! No issues!
  • 1 to 3 mm with bleeding: This is mild gingivitis which is the mildest form of gum disease. Usually a good prophylaxis with therapeutic scaling coupled with effective oral home-care is all that is recommended.
  • 4 to 5 mm without bleeding: The periodontal disease process is being maintained. Four visits per year with effective home-care is the recommended treatment.
  • 4 to 5 mm with bleeding:Early to moderate gum disease (Periodontitis) which may require periodontal therapy over several visits as well as effective home care and four visits per year.
  • 6mm and above: Advanced periodontal disease which means aggressive treatment to save your teeth. Periodontal Therapy appointments over several visits is the recommended treatment. Additionally, referral to a periodontist and surgery is almost always required to repair the damage done.Periodontal disease is not curable, therefore maintenance visits are recommended every 3 months thereafter, alternating with the Periodontist.

As noted, the presence of bleeding or pus when your periodontal numbers are being charted is a strong indicator of disease. Healthy gums do not bleed! The presence of gum disease leads to tooth loss and a greatly diminished quality of life. Gum disease is also implicated in serious health issues such as heart disease and strokes, diabetes, and respiratory problems. So, don’t put off you dental prophylaxis and checkups!  The earlier these problems are detected, the easier and more predictable the treatment is.

We will discuss the second set of numbers, which reflect gum recession, in an upcoming blog.

The Real Tech Decade

Smile Sarasota is a very high-tech dental practice and most of us think all this stuff was just recently developed. Not true. We just wanted to share this because it’s so interesting to read about incredible advances that were made decades ago. We would not be where we are were it not for the brilliant minds who came before us.

Article by By Vaclav Smil
Photos, Clockwise from Top Left: United States Patent and Trademark Office; Chicago Architectural Photographing Company/Wikipedia; LennyWikidata/Wikipedia; Wikipedia; Project Gutenberg/Wikipedia; Infographic: Erik Vrielink 

The Miraculous 1880’s! The real tech decade happened rather earlier! 

According to the worshipers of the e-world, the late 20th century brought us an unprecedented number of profound inventions. But that is a categorical misunderstanding, as most recent advances have been variations on the microprocessor theme and on the parsing of the electromagnetic spectrum. Perhaps the most inventive time was the 1880s. Have any two sets of primary inventions and epochal discoveries shaped the modern world more than electricity and internal combustion engines? Electricity alone, without microchips, is enough to make a sophisticated and affluent world (we had one in the 1960s). Yet a microchip-governed e-world is utterly dependent on an electricity supply whose fundamental design remains beholden to thermal- and hydro-powered-generation systems, both reaching the commercial market in 1882, which still provide more than 80 percent of the world’s electricity. And we aspire to make it available at least 99.9999 percent of the time, so that it can serve as the cornerstone of everything electronic.

And we think we’re so smart!

Do you use an ultrasonic toothbrush?

Do you use an ultrasonic toothbrush? If not, what are you waiting for? If you’ve been on fence about switching to an electric/ultrasonic toothbrush we’re here to help. Let’s to review the top benefits of using an ultrasonic  toothbrush:

  • An ultrasonic toothbrush keeps your teeth, gums, and tongue cleaner and healthier: An electric toothbrush’s rotating head features bristles which can reach further thanks to the combination of motion and equal pressure from the brush itself.
  • An ultrasonic  toothbrush makes for longer, more thorough teeth brushing: Most ultrasonic toothbrushes are set for equal time for each quadrant which ensures a better, longer brushing and a great, clean feeling.
  • An ultrasonic  toothbrush does the work for you: Although we mean well our manual brushing can often be too hard for our gums and our own good. An ultrasonic toothbrush not only times your brush but takes the guesswork out of teeth brushing too.
  • An ultrasonic toothbrush is a great way to fight gingivitis and gum disease: Electric toothbrush can find those hard to reach places that you miss with a manual toothbrush.
  • Using an ultrasonic  toothbrush can help you get rid of bad breath: An electric toothbrush and regular flossing can work together to get rid of bad breath by finding and eliminating the food between your teeth.

Where can you buy an ultrasonic  toothbrush? Most any pharmacy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Amazon, etc. Here at Smile Sarasota, we recommend Philips Sonicare ultrasonic  toothbrushes but there are other choices that are great as well.

Worth a Thousand Words

There is a lot of information needed for Dr. Still to perform a proper diagnosis. Depending on the reason for your visit to our office, we might make use of one of our favorite diagnostic tools: a digital intra-oral camera. Between a visual exam, x-rays, and sometimes study models for more involved cases, we use the intra-oral camera to diagnose many oral conditions. This technology allows us to see your mouth magnified 50 times, so anything wrong with your teeth or your mouth will be obvious,and can be viewed on a large, flat panel monitor. Simply put, the intra-oral camera allows us to see what an x-ray might not reflect such as micro cracks so small, even magnifying glasses could miss.

Whether it is swollen gums, a crown off, or a lost filling, we now can record all these photos as part of our assessment in just a few clicks and show in more detail the exact condition of your mouth. The intra-oral camera is an incredible tool which allows the doctor and the patient to visualize the condition hiding behind the dental terms. After all a picture is worth a thousand words!

Change is Difficult

YAY!! Our office is officially CHARTLESS! Thanks to Dentrix, our world-class dental charting and administrative software, Dexis, our digital X-ray system and to the hard work of our front desk staff over the past 5 years, all of our patient records are now digital. Several thousand paper charts have been scanned and are stored and backed up on encrypted servers.

This is a big change for any office…we had to leave behind many procedures we have been used to for decades and suffice it to say, it has been difficult…but worth it! We found that change is good is for our practice. We cannot expect to thrive in today’s competitive market unless we stay current with modern trends. In this way, we must not only accept change, we must embrace it. Change should be seen as an opportunity to grow the practice and keep us up-to-date in the field of dentistry. We are constantly seeking to learn more about the technology that is available to us, and we use this information to make informed decisions regarding the need for that technology in our office. The thought of change is scary, but not changing is even scarier. We have not let the fear of change keep us from growing.

Additionally, a powerful motivator to go paperless has grown out of concern for the environment. Consider a few of the environmental impacts of using paper in our business:

  • The U.S. pulp and paper industry is the second largest consumer of energy.
  • 56,000 gallons of oil are used for every 10 million pages.
  • More than 400 million ink and 100 million toner cartridges end up in landfills each year.

(Data Sources: www.epa.gov, Dentrix Magazine, Lisa Marie Spradley, FAADOM)

We Combine the Passion of Yesterday with the Technology of Today

So what does compassion mean when choosing a dental office? Compassion requires the ability to identify with a patient’s overall well-being. Relieving pain and suffering is a common attribute of dental practice. Acts of kindness and a sympathetic ear for the patient are all qualities of a caring, compassionate dentist.  We feel that the most important person should be you, the patient. We put you and your comfort at the top of our priority list. Dr. Still sees only one patient at a time, so you will never feel like a number at the bottom of a chart. At Smile Sarasota, compassion is part of the services offered…we care about you, your needs, and you can feel it from the moment of your first contact with our office.

So what does technology have to do with compassion? In the ‘Old Days’ of dentistry (about 15 years ago!) most dental offices were not digital. X-rays were taken and developed using the ‘wet’ method and diagnosing from them was not nearly as accurate as the images we are able to view in today’s modern office. We can enlarge and zoom in and see details like never before and share these views with the patient on large, overhead monitors so you, the patient, have a clear understanding of the treatment Dr. Still may recommend. We can find out more about your mouth and teeth now than ever before, usually without you feeling a thing.  Smile Sarasota is also pleased to offer another advanced dental technology to our patients: CEREC® is a revolutionary technology that eliminates the need of temporary crowns and multiple visits. At your next appointment, ask the Dr. Still if this technology is right for you! Through the use of this new technology, we can save more of the healthy tooth structure while creating beautiful, tooth-colored porcelain restorations that are durable and metal free.

Dr. Still’s motto is to always “do the right thing” for our patients. Most successful dentists and practices outline and follow a comprehensive, health-centered, ideal treatment approach for patient care. Patients will be able to make educated, well-informed decisions about their care. Dentistry is a wonderful profession that has the ability to vastly improve the quality of life, health, well-being, and self-esteem for our patients.

At Smile Sarasota, we make the care of our patients our first concern, and no, this is not always in case in some dental offices whose bottom line tends to be the first concern. Here’s a secret. Where you find great service, you’re likely to find superior quality. They go hand in hand. It’s all about dedication to excellence, and that dedication extends to all aspects. Go to a modern, high tech dentist like ours and find out for yourself what it’s like. You will be pleasantly surprised!

We see a lot of patients every day, and let’s face it, most of them do not really run to a dentist’s office as if they were going for a massage, or have their hair styled. After getting to know us here at Smile Sarasota, our patients leave, hugging us and looking forward to seeing us again. For those who have had extensive work, some actually say that they are going to miss seeing us once their treatment is over. Yes, you’ve read it right! And it is the most rewarding part of our job: putting smiles back on our patients’ faces. We can honestly say that beside the excellent dentistry we provide, hearing these beautiful kind words from our patients is one of our favorite parts of the treatment. We believe we have this effect on patients thanks to the great deal of compassion that comes with our treatments. Dr. Still and his dedicated staff bring the expertise to provide you with a refined, tech-savvy and compassionate experience.

Technology Has Changed Our Lives

If you are a patient at Smile Sarasota, you already know that our office is very high-tech and has been for many years. We have the latest and greatest digital X-ray system as well as having a completely chartless office – all patient records are encrypted and computerized. We just celebrated scanning the final paper chart last week! YAY!

It really amazing how quickly technology has changed our lives. Consider that back in the 1960’s, most of the first electronic desktop calculators cost over $1,000 compared to about $5 at the corner drugstore. In fact, back then, a new calculator could cost more than a new car! “What do you think honey, a new car or a new calculator?” Today this seems truly absurd. And perhaps not so many years ago some of you remember sitting with your mother helping her balance her checkbook by hand.  You entered all the checks and subtracted to get the balance. Then you quickly did it by hand but then grabbed a calculator to check your math. Your mother probably approached it from the opposite end. She used a calculator but then did it again by hand because she did not trust the calculator. It’s interesting that:

  • Your parents’ generation used technology but did not really trust it.
  • Our generation trusts technology more than we do error prone humans.
  • Our children’s generation says, “What’s a checkbook?”

Now, in our office, we can say “What’s a paper chart”?! And yes, you CAN trust the technology at Smile Sarasota!

Smile for the Digital X-Ray Sensor!

Dental X-rays are an important part of your regular dental visits. Yes, we know this may be a boring topic. Dental X-rays are necessary to help diagnose problems not visible to the naked eye. At Smile Sarasota, we use  digital a X-ray system and have for many years. What are the benefits for you? There are many benefits to using digital radiography over traditional film X-rays:

  • Shorter Dental Appointments
    Digital radiography can also shorten your dental appointment! With traditional dental X-rays, you’ll have to wait while your dentist develops the film. With digital radiography, the sensor develops the picture almost instantly and projects it onto a computer screen right before your eyes.
  • Higher Quality Images
    The standard size of traditional X-rays can make viewing difficult, but digital radiography has done away with the “one size fits all” mentality. Once on the screen, digital X-rays can be enlarged or magnified for a better visual of the tooth’s structure. Brightness, contrast and color can also be adjusted, allowing us to see small cavities easier. If you need a hard copy of your X-ray, digital images can also be printed out.
  • Transferring Dental Records
    Digital images can be encrypted and e-mailed to a dental specialist for immediate review. Digital X-rays are taking away the expense and time needed to copy files and mail them to another dentist, making it easier to transfer dental records or get a second opinion. As more offices are turning to electronic patient charts, computers may eliminate the need to mail dental records altogether.
  • Environmentally Friendly
    Digital dental X-rays are better for the environment! With digital radiography, no chemicals are used to develop film. There’s also no wasted space of a darkroom and no need to store film, which can pile up in a dentist’s files.
  • The Complete Picture
    X-rays can be very difficult to the untrained eye to read, but with the newest technology available, we can now “super-size” the images so that they are much easier to see. We have invested with the best digital x-ray imaging company in the world.
  • Less Radiation
    The equipment used in digital radiography exposes dental patients to much less radiation. In fact, digital X-rays use up to 90 percent less radiation than film X-rays. While conventional dental X-rays are relatively safe, digital radiography is an excellent option for those who take X-rays on a regular basis or for those who are concerned about radiation.
  • Are dental x-rays safe?
    Dental x-ray examinations require very low levels of radiation exposure, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects extremely small. Digital x-rays are also safer because the exposure is much lower (almost half) than film based x-rays. The digital sensors are so sensitive they require less radiation to generate an image. We cannot tell you how often we are asked about the radiation exposure when dental x-rays are taken, so we did a little research into exactly how much radiation our bodies are exposed to. The whole-body radiation exposure associated with four bitewing ‘checkup’ X-rays is equivalent to a seven-hour flight. These estimates are based on traditional film-based x-rays; many digital x-ray systems may require even less radiation.

So…SMILE for the digital X-ray sensor!

Always Learning New Stuff

I am very fortunate to work in a Sarasota, Florida dental office that provides the staff with on-going education in all aspects of dentistry. I am the digital technology coordinator for our office and I recently returned from a fantastic, two day hands-on workshop for continuing education on the software used at our Smile Sarasota office. Why is this important?

We use the latest in digital technology hardware and a state-of-the-art program that not only manages appointments and accounting – it also contains your entire chart, meaning when we look at the monitor, we see all of your X-rays, all the restorations on each tooth, what restorations are needed and other oral conditions. Because the software is so all-encompassing, we are always striving to keep abreast of enhancements in order to serve you better. Dr. Still and all of our staff are constantly updating their knowledge in this ever-changing environment. There are always new products hitting the market, new equipment, new techniques, etc. and we will always make sure our patients have the ‘latest and greatest’ experience!

 

 

By Liz Beahm, Technology Coordinator
Smile Sarasota