My Blog

Posts for: December, 2013

By Lake Oswego Smiles
December 30, 2013
Category: Oral Health

While hygiene and regular dental care go a long way to reduce your risk of oral disease and disorders, you’re still subject to your heredity. Everything from tooth alignment to the shape of your jaws is determined by your genes.

So is the biological structure of your gum tissue. Aside from minute variations, gum tissue structure falls into two broad categories — “thin” or “thick,” which refer to the actual thickness of the tissue and the underlying bone. The tooth’s appearance is the best indicator of which type you may have: those with more triangular-shaped tooth (often called scalloped) have thin gum tissue; a person with a squarer appearance (flat) has thick gum tissue. People of Asian descent tend to have thin/scalloped tissue while those with European or African heritage tend to have thick/flat tissues.

Thick gum tissue isn’t superior to thin, or vice-versa. In fact, each type is susceptible to certain types of diseases or adverse conditions.

Thin tissues are more susceptible to the occurrence of receding gums. Caused mainly by periodontal disease and toothbrush abrasion, the gum tissue recedes and exposes more of the unprotected tooth surface that should be below the gum line. This increases the risk of decay and tooth loss. Patients with thick tissue, on the other hand, have a higher risk of developing a condition known as “pocketing.” As the thicker gum tissue becomes inflamed from dental plaque, it loses its attachment to the teeth and forms a small pocket. The end result is possible bone and tooth loss.

There’s not much you can do about which type of gum tissue you have, for which you can thank (or blame!) your ancestors. But there’s something you can do to reduce your risk of periodontal disease. First and foremost, you should practice good daily hygiene, brushing with a soft-bristled tooth brush and gentle flossing. It’s also important to maintain regular cleanings and checkups in our office; not only will this ensure complete plaque and tartar removal, but gives us a better chance to detect either receding gums or pocketing early. Earlier detection can mean better treatment outcomes — and a saved smile.

If you would like more information on genetic types of periodontal tissues, 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 “Genetics & Gum Tissue Types.”


Florence Henderson has inspired generations of people through her portrayal of America's most beloved TV mother, Carol Brady, on one of the longest running situational comedies, The Brady Brunch. Today Florence is still a role model but for a much different audience: senior citizens.

Henderson created the FloH Club as an organization to assist senior citizens with understanding and embracing technology, as she described in an interview with Dear Doctor magazine. “I was inspired to create the FloH Club because of my own fear of technology and because I didn't want to keep asking my children for help,” she said.

And while Henderson was blessed with naturally straight teeth and has had no cosmetic work done, she is not opposed to it. “I wouldn't care how old I was, if I had misaligned teeth or felt I needed cosmetic dentistry I would certainly do it!”

One teeth-straightening option many adults consider is clear orthodontic aligners. They are an excellent way for self-conscious adults to align their teeth without feeling that they will appear as an awkward “brace-faced” youth — a look that is commonplace for the teenage years.

But what are clear aligners? They are an alternative system to traditional braces that use a sequence of individual, custom-fitted trays that are clear and removable to gradually straighten teeth. They are usually recommended for correcting mild to moderate spacing problems or crowding of the teeth, and for cases in which there are no major issues with your bite (i.e., your back teeth fit together properly and biting forces are distributed evenly on all of your teeth).

To learn more about this method of aligning teeth, you can continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Orthodontic Aligners.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and discuss what treatment options will be best for you. And to read the entire interview with Florence Henderson, please see the Dear Doctor article “Florence Henderson.”

By Lake Oswego Smiles
December 12, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: cracked mouth  

You may be suffering from an uncomfortable cracking of the skin at the corners of the mouth. This condition is known as perleche (or angular cheilitis). From the French word “lecher” (“to lick”), it derives its name from the tendency of sufferers to lick the affected areas.

There are a number of causes for perleche. It’s found most often in children who drool during sleep, or in teenagers or young adults wearing braces. Older adults develop perleche due to the wrinkling of skin caused by aging; and anyone can develop the condition from environmental factors like cold, dry weather. Conditions from within the mouth may also be a cause: inadequate saliva flow; inflammation caused by dentures; or tooth loss that diminishes facial support and puts pressure on the skin at the corners of the mouth. Systemic conditions such as anemia, diabetes or cancer can dry out oral tissues and membranes, which may lead to perleche.

Our first priority is to treat any underlying infection. Cracked mouth corners are easily infected, most commonly from yeast called candida albicans. The infection may range from minor discomfort localized in the affected area to painful infections that involve the entire mouth and possibly the throat. Any of these can be treated with an oral or topical anti-fungal medication, including anti-fungal ointments applied directly to the corners of the mouth until the infection clears up. Chlorhexidine mouth rinses can also be used to treat minor yeast infections.

As for healing the cracked skin, a steroid ointment for control of inflammation combined with a zinc oxide paste or ointment will serve as an antifungal barrier while the tissues heal. If the condition is related to missing teeth or dentures, we can take steps to replace those teeth or ensure the dentures are fitting properly. Good oral health also goes a long way in preventing further reoccurrence of perleche, as well as dermatological techniques to remove deep wrinkles due to aging.

If you would like more information on perleche and other mouth sore issues, 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 “Cracked Corners of the Mouth.”

By Lake Oswego Smiles
December 06, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Lake Oswego   Invisalign  
Invisalign Lake OswegoHave you always wanted to straighten your smile, but avoided it because you didn’t want noticeable, traditional braces?  You are now in luck.  Invisalign is invisible, removable, and comfortable.  The set of aligners will give you the beautiful, straight teeth you have always wanted.  The best part is that, no one will be able to tell that you are even undergoing treatment!  Invisalign is great for both adults and teenagers wanting to straighten their smile. Invisalign is a removable orthodontic appliance that is offered as an alternative to more traditional orthodontic solutions. If you are a candidate in Lake Oswego for Invisalign, you can maintain your smile esthetics while straightening your teeth. 

Understanding Invisalign in Lake Oswego

Introduced in 1999 by Align Technologies, Invisalign is a removable orthodontic appliance that incorporates a series of clear, plastic aligners that fit comfortably over your teeth.  The aligners are designed to move your teeth gradually into the desired orthodontic position.  Invisalign is a leading brand of orthodontic appliances.  The removable aligners are designed to be more esthetically pleasing than conventional braces for treating certain types of minor orthodontic problems including:
  • Overly crowded teeth.
  • Widely spaced teeth.
  • Overbite/overjet.
  • Crossbite.
  • Mild relapse.
  • Simple bite irregularities.
Invisalign requires only one set of impressions and photographs of your teeth, which are taken during your initial consultation.  The impressions are used to create a three-dimensional computer projection of how your teeth could be moved in increments, forming the basis for developing a series of custom-made aligners, which are designed to accomplish these movements. 
The aligners are manufactured at the Align Technologies dental laboratory using computer-aided design processes.  Once fabricated, the aligners are sent to your dentist who will typically dispense them in groups of one or two at a time during regular check-up appointments so that treatment is properly managed.  It is important that each aligner is worn in its specific order for approximately two weeks, during which your teeth move in small increments.  Although removable, the aligners must be worn at least 20 hours a day in order to successfully reposition your teeth. 
Not everyone is a candidate for Invisalign in Lake Oswego, but with proper consultation at Lake Oswego Smiles, Dr. Colin Smith can determine the best solution for straightening your smile.  Dr. Smith will examine your teeth and advise you on the best treatment option.  Talk to Dr. Colin Smith, our Lake Oswego dentist, today to see if Invisalign can straighten your smile.