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Posts for: November, 2015

By John Sartorio, D.M.D.
November 26, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

When the multi-platinum recording artist, songwriter and TV personality Jason Derulo was recently asked about his ideal woman, his answer covered a remarkably broad spectrum. "There’s no specific thing," he said, "so I think it’s unfair to say what my ‘type’ is." But it turns out that there is one thing the So You Think You Can Dance judge considers essential: A beautiful smile.

"I’m not into messy teeth," Derulo said. "If the grill has spaces and different colors, it’s not my vibe."

As it turns out, he may be on to something: A number of surveys have indicated that a bright, healthy smile is often the first thing people notice when meeting someone new. Yet many are reluctant to open up that big grin because they aren’t satisfied with the way their teeth look. If you’re one of them, consider this: Modern cosmetic dentistry offers a variety of ways to improve your smile — and it may be easier and more affordable than you think.

For example, if your smile isn’t as bright as you would like it to be, teeth whitening is an effective and economical way to lighten it up. If you opt for in-office treatments, you can expect a lightening effect of up to 10 shades in a single one-hour treatment! Or, you can achieve the same effect in a week or two with a take-home kit we can custom-make for you. Either way, you’ll be safe and comfortable being treated under the supervision of a dental professional — and the results can be expected to last for up to two years, or perhaps more.

If your teeth have minor spacing irregularities, small chips or cracks, it may be possible to repair them in a single office visit via cosmetic bonding. In this process, a liquid composite resin is applied to the teeth and cured (hardened) with a special light. This high-tech material, which comes in colors to match your teeth, can be built up in layers and shaped with dental instruments to create a pleasing, natural effect.

If your smile needs more than just a touch-up, dental veneers may be the answer. These wafer-thin coverings, placed right on top of your natural teeth, can be made in a variety of shapes and colors — from a natural pearly luster to a brilliant "Hollywood white." Custom-made veneers typically involve the removal of a few millimeters of tooth enamel, making them a permanent — and irreversible — treatment. However, by making teeth look more even, closing up spaces and providing dazzling whiteness, veneers just might give you the smile you’ve always wanted.

If you would like more information about cosmetic dental treatments, please call our office to arrange a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry — A Time for Change.”

By John Sartorio, D.M.D.
November 11, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: x-rays  

One of the most widely used forms of dental imaging is the bitewing x-ray. So called because of the shape of the device that holds the exposable film a patient clenches between their back teeth, the bitewing x-ray is an effective means for detecting the earliest stages of tooth decay.

These early signs are small lesions on a tooth surface caused by mineral loss in the enamel. While we can identify them on front teeth through visual examination or bright lighting, they’re nearly impossible to see on the biting surfaces of back teeth. The bitewing x-ray solves this problem.

During the procedure, a narrow beam of x-rays is directed at the back teeth area. Since X-rays can transmit through solid matter, they pass through the teeth and gums to expose the film attached to the bitewing assembly.

X-rays pass through matter at different rates depending on the density of the tissue — a slower rate for harder tissues like teeth and bone and a faster rate for soft tissues like the gums. As a result, x-rays through teeth expose less of the film and appear as a lighter image than the gums. This difference is so precise even a tooth’s softer dentin appears slighter darker than its harder outer enamel.

This precision helps us identify decay lesions. Because the lesions on the enamel are less dense than the normal enamel, they’ll appear as dark spots. By detecting them at this stage we have a better chance for reversing the effects of decay or at least minimizing damage that’s already occurred.

Because x-rays emit radiation, there’s a natural concern about over-exposure and we go to great lengths to reduce it. Children may undergo a bitewing x-ray twice a year for developing teeth, while adults with healthy teeth are typically x-rayed just once a year. Advances in digital film and other technology have also helped lower the exposure rate.

Today’s standard 4-film bitewing x-ray produces about four days worth of what we receive on average from normal background radiation, so the health risk is quite negligible. The benefit, on the other hand, is much greater — the early detection of tooth decay could ultimately save a tooth.

If you would like more information on the use of bitewing x-rays in dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By John Sartorio, D.M.D.
November 03, 2015
Category: Cosmetic Dentistry

Find out how your Pittsburgh, PA dentist will repair a chipped tooth.

I just chipped a tooth. Now what? If your tooth has been broken or chipped it’s time to see your Pittsburgh dentist Dr. John Sartorio as soon as possible. If you leave this problem untreated this could put you at risk for further complications such as infection or tooth loss. Chipped toothDon’t let this happen to you!

How is a Chipped Tooth Treated?

How we handle your tooth will depend on the extent of the damage. Here are the most common ways to treat a chipped tooth:

Dental Bonding/Filling

If only a small amount of enamel has been removed, dental bonding or a dental filling may be all that’s required. During either of these cosmetic treatments your Pittsburgh cosmetic dentist will apply a tooth-colored resin over the chipped portion of the tooth, mold it into the proper shape and then use a UV light to harden the material. This procedure is non-invasive and does not require anesthesia prior to treatment.

Dental Veneers

For those with small chips that might be a bit too large for dental bonding the next best option are dental veneers. These thin, tooth-colored porcelain shells are applied over the front surface of the tooth to improve the tooth’s appearance. Veneers are able to cover chips, cracks and discolorations, and give you a straighter, whiter smile.

While we won’t have to remove as much enamel from your teeth as we would with dental crowns, since some tooth preparation is necessary this procedure is considered irreversible.

Dental Crown

If a more significant piece of enamel breaks off then we may need to file some of the tooth down and cover it with a tooth-shaped crown or cap to protect it from further damage and to restore it to its original shape. Dental crowns can be made from metal, resin or ceramic and all offer their own benefits.

Getting a dental crown will require two visits to our office. During these visits we will take X-rays to also check the health of the tooth roots and jawbone to make sure no additional damage has occurred. We will then numb the area and file down enough of the tooth to make room for the crown.

Then we will take impressions of your damaged tooth from which we will build your custom-made dental crown. While your crown is being made we will place a temporary one over your tooth. In a couple of weeks you will come in to have your permanent crown cemented into place.

Find out which treatment is the right on for your chipped tooth. Turn to your Pittsburgh cosmetic dentist for the answers. Call our office today to schedule your next appointment.