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Posts for: January, 2016


A recent episode of “America’s Got Talent” featured an engaging 93-year-old strongman called The Mighty Atom Jr. The mature muscleman’s stunt: moving a full-sized car (laden with his octogenarian “kid brother,” his brother’s wife, plus Atom’s “lady friend”) using just his teeth. Grinning for host Howie Mandel, Atom proudly told the TV audience that his teeth were all his own; then he grasped a leather strap in his mouth, and successfully pulled the car from a standstill.

We’re pleased to see that the Atom has kept his natural teeth in good shape: He must have found time for brushing and flossing in between stunts. Needless to say, his “talent” isn’t one we’d recommend trying at home. But aside from pulling vehicles, teeth can also be chipped or fractured by more mundane (yet still risky) activities — playing sports, nibbling on pencils, or biting too hard on ice. What can you do if that happens to your teeth?

Fortunately, we have a number of ways to repair cracked or chipped teeth. One of the easiest and fastest is cosmetic bonding with tooth-colored resins. Bonding can be used to fill in small chips, cracks and discolorations in the teeth. The bonding material is a high-tech mixture of plastic and glass components that’s extremely lifelike, and can last for several years. Plus, it’s a procedure that can be done right in the office, with minimal preparation or discomfort. However, it may not be suitable for larger chips, and it isn’t the longest-lasting type of restoration.

When more of the tooth structure is missing, a crown (or cap) might be needed to restore the tooth’s appearance and function. This involves creating a replacement for the entire visible part of the tooth in a dental lab — or in some cases, right in the office. It typically involves making a model of the damaged tooth and its neighbors, then fabricating a replica, which will fit perfectly into the bite. Finally, the replacement crown is permanently cemented to the damaged tooth. A crown replacement can last for many years if the tooth’s roots are in good shape. But what if the roots have been dislodged?

In some cases it’s possible to re-implant a tooth that has been knocked out — especially if it has been carefully preserved, and receives immediate professional attention. But if a tooth can’t be saved (due to a deeply fractured root, for example) a dental implant offers today’s best option for tooth replacement. This procedure has a success rate of over 95 percent, and gives you a natural looking replacement tooth that can last for the rest of your life.

So what have we learned? If you take care of your teeth, like strongman Atom, they can last a long time — but if you need to move your car, go get the keys.

If you would like more information about tooth restoration, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Crowns & Bridgework.”

By John Sartorio, D.M.D.
January 10, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  

Considering all the intensive conditioning, practice and training they do, most people would expect elite athletes to be… well… healthy. And that’s generally true — except when it comes to their oral health. A major study of Olympic contenders in the 2012 London games showed that the oral health of athletes is far worse than that of the general population.

Or to put it more succinctly: “They have bodies of Adonis and a garbage mouth.”

That comment, from Dr. Paul Piccininni, a practicing dentist and member of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission, sums up the study’s findings. In terms of the numbers, the report estimates that about one in five athletes fared worse in competition because of poor oral health, and almost half had not seen a dentist in the past year. It also found that 55 percent had cavities, 45 percent suffered from dental erosion (excessive tooth wear), and about 15 percent had moderate to severe periodontal (gum) disease.

Yet, according to Professor Ian Needleman of University College, London, lead author of the study, “Oral health could be an easy win for athletes, as the oral conditions that can affect performance are all easily preventable.”

Many of the factors that had a negative impact on the athletes are the same ones that can degrade your own oral health. A follow-up paper recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine identified several of these issues. One is a poor diet: The consumption of excessive carbohydrates and acidic foods and beverages (including sports drinks) can cause tooth decay and erosion of the protective enamel. Another is dehydration: Not drinking enough water can reduce the flow of healthy saliva, which can add to the damage caused by carbohydrates and acids. The effects of eating disorders (which are more commonly seen in certain sports, such as gymnastics) can also dramatically worsen an individual’s oral health.

Sound familiar? Maybe it’s because this brings up some issues that dentists have been talking about all along. While we don’t mean to nag, this study does point out that even world-class competitors have room for improvement with their oral hygiene. How about you? Whether you’re a triathlete in training, a weekend warrior or an armchair aficionado, good oral health can have a major effect on your well-being.

If you have additional questions about oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. For more information, see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”

By John Sartorio, D.M.D.
January 07, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Veneers  

I Have Dental Veneers, Now How Do I Take Care of Them? The Do’s and Don’ts of Porcelain Veneer Care.

You smile at yourself in the mirror, and now a gorgeous set of sparkling porcelain veneers smile back at you. The color and shape of veneersthem are perfect, and you might be wondering how to keep them perfect. You want to know how to take care of them.

Porcelain veneers, like those placed by John Sartorio, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are strong, but there are still some things you don’t want to do, in order to keep them in perfect shape. When you have porcelain veneers, it’s important to remember:

  • Don’t use them as tools- don’t use your teeth to open bags or tear things
  • Don’t bite into hard foods like apples or candy, and don’t chew ice or bite your fingernails
  • Don’t play contact sports without wearing a mouthguard

If you grind your teeth at night, this is very hard on your teeth, and extremely hard on veneers, so make an appointment with Dr. Sartorio immediately to be fitted with a night guard.

Veneers should be treated just like you would treat your normal teeth. For proper care of porcelain veneers, you should remember to:

  • Brush and floss daily to protect your gums and your teeth from periodontal disease and decay
  • Consider getting a sonic toothbrush- vibrating toothbrushes are very effective for daily oral care
  • Visit Dr. Sartorio regularly so he can check your veneers for any problems
  • Get regular dental cleanings- your hygienist will examine your gums for any signs of irritation or infection, and will polish your veneers with a mild, non-abrasive paste.

You’ve made the perfect choice with dental veneers, and you’ve made a commitment to yourself to look your very best. You owe it to yourself to maintain your veneers so you can get the most from your investment.

If you want to know more about caring for your veneers or you want to have them checked out by an expert, stop in and visit Dr. John Sartorio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, your partner in dental veneers. He is there to help you keep your dazzling smile. Call today!