Posts for: June, 2016

By Pasadena Dental Implants Peter G. Cooper, DDS
June 20, 2016
Category: Oral Health

When you’re among the top players in your field, you need every advantage to help you stay competitive: Not just the best equipment, but anything else that relieves pain and stress, and allows you to play better. For top-seeded Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic, that extra help came in a somewhat unexpected form: a custom made mouthguard that he wears on the court and off. “[It helps] to not grind my teeth while I play,” said the 25-year-old up-and-coming ace. “It just causes stress and headaches sometimes.”

Mouthguards are often worn by athletes engaged in sports that carry the risk of dental injury — such as basketball, football, hockey, and some two dozen others; wearing one is a great way to keep your teeth from being seriously injured. But Raonic’s mouthguard isn’t primarily for safety; it’s actually designed to help him solve the problem of teeth grinding, or bruxism. This habitual behavior causes him to unconsciously tense up his jaw, potentially leading to problems with muscles and teeth.

Bruxism is a common issue that’s often caused or aggravated by stress. You don’t have to be a world-class athlete to suffer from this condition: Everyday anxieties can have the same effect. The behavior is often worsened when you consume stimulating substances, such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and other drugs.

While bruxism affects thousands of people, some don’t even suspect they have it. That’s because it may occur at any time — even while you’re asleep! The powerful jaw muscles that clench and grind teeth together can wear down tooth enamel, and damage both natural teeth and dental work. They can even cause loose teeth! What’s more, a clenching and grinding habit can result in pain, headaches and muscle soreness… which can really put you off your game.

There are several ways to relieve the problem of bruxism. Stress reduction is one approach that works in some cases. When it’s not enough, a custom made occlusal guard (also called a night guard or mouthguard) provided by our office can make a big difference. “When I don’t sleep with it for a night,” Raonic said “I can feel my jaw muscles just tense up the next day. I don’t sense myself grinding but I can sort of feel that difference the next day.”

 An occlusal guard is made from an exact model of your own mouth. It helps to keep your teeth in better alignment and prevent them from coming into contact, so they can’t damage each other. It also protects your jaw joints from being stressed by excessive force. Plus, it’s secure and comfortable to wear. “I wear it all the time other than when I’m eating, so I got used to it pretty quickly,” said Raonic.

Teeth grinding can be a big problem — whether you put on your game face on the court… or at home. If you would like more information about bruxism, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Stress & Tooth Habits” and “When Children Grind Their Teeth.”

By Pasadena Dental Implants
June 15, 2016
Category: Oral Health

Periodontal disease is not something many people think about on a daily basis. However, this serious dental condition is the number one cause of tooth loss and preventing it is vital to your oral health. Keeping your teeth healthy is just as important as keeping any other part of your body healthy. Learn how to prevent periodontal disease with help from your Pasadena, CA dentist, Dr. Peter G. Cooper.Gums

What is periodontal disease?
Studies estimate about half of all Americans have some form of periodontal disease. This condition occurs when the oral tissues surrounding the teeth become infected or inflamed. Periodontal conditions range from simple irritation of the gums to complex conditions which result in bone and tooth loss. Your at-home oral care routine determines your risk for periodontal disease. Symptoms of periodontal disease include:

  • red, swollen or irritated gums
  • bleeding gums
  • unexplained bad breath
  • receding gums
  • loose teeth
  • pain while chewing
  • tooth sensitivity

What causes periodontal disease? 
The foods you eat, the beverages you consume, your body’s natural secretions and the bacteria in your mouth combine to form a sticky substance called plaque, which grows on the teeth. When plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar. You cannot remove tartar from your teeth without a professional dental cleaning. Over time, plaque and tartar begin to irritate the gums, causing the first stage of periodontal disease called gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis turns into periodontitis, a serious and complicated disease which, if left untreated, results in tooth loss.

Preventing Periodontal Disease in Pasadena
The easiest way to avoid periodontal disease is by being aware of and avoiding its risk factors and committing to a strong at-home oral care routine. Risk factors for periodontal disease include:

  • smoking
  • diabetes
  • medications which hinder the flow of saliva
  • genetics
  • certain illnesses

Brush twice daily for at least two minutes and floss at least once. Be sure to see your dentist at least twice a year for routine examinations and cleanings to keep your teeth healthy and clean. For more information on preventing periodontal disease, or if you've notices some of the symptoms, please contact Dr. Peter G. Cooper in Pasadena, CA. Call (626) 796-1241 to schedule your dental examination and cleaning today!

By Pasadena Dental Implants Peter G. Cooper, DDS
June 12, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: gummy smiles  

You’re a bit self-conscious about your smile. But not because of your teeth — it’s your upper gums, which seem too prominent when you smile. While “too much” is a matter of perception varying from individual to individual, it’s generally accepted that a smile is “gummy” if four or more millimeters (a bit more than an eighth of an inch) of the gums are visible.

The good news is there are ways to improve the appearance of your gums. Which method we use, though, will depend on the underlying reason why the gums are prominent. The amount of gum tissue, in fact, may not be the problem at all, but could be the size of the crowns (the visible parts of teeth), the upper lip’s range of motion, the upper jaw’s position in relation to the face, or a combination of any of these.

For example, if your teeth didn’t erupt and develop properly, the gums might not have moved back to their proper position and stabilized as they should in your late teens or early twenties. A normal crown (the visible part of a tooth) is about 10 millimeters long, with a ratio of width to length of about 75-85%. Below those measurements the teeth can appear smaller, making even normal gum tissue appear larger. In another scenario, the upper lip may rise too high when you smile (hypermobility), which reveals too much of the gums.

If tooth size is the problem, we may recommend a periodontal surgical procedure called crown lengthening that reveals more of the tooth. A hypermobile lip can be treated with Botox shots to temporarily restrict the movement (it must be repeated every six months) or by surgically repositioning the lip muscles that control movement. Similarly, surgically repositioning an overlong upper jaw to make it appear shorter may be the right course.

That’s why our first step is to determine why your gums are too prominent with a complete dental examination. Knowing exactly why they stand out will help us devise a treatment plan that will greatly enhance your smile.

If you would like more information on improving a gummy smile, 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 “Gummy Smiles.”

Pasadena, CA Dentist
Pasadena Dental Implants
175 S. El Molino, Suite 4
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 796-1241
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