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Posts for: November, 2020


You can't correct a poor bite with braces or clear aligners overnight: Even the most cut-and-dried case can still require a few years to move teeth where they should be. It's a welcome relief, then, when you're finally done with braces or aligner trays.

That doesn't mean, however, that you're finished with orthodontic treatment. You now move into the next phase—protecting your new smile that took so much to gain. At least for a couple of more years you'll need to regularly wear an orthodontic retainer.

The name of this custom-made device explains its purpose: to keep or “retain” your teeth in their new, modified positions. This is necessary because the same mechanism that allows us to move teeth in the first place can work in reverse.

That mechanism centers around a tough but elastic tissue called the periodontal ligament. Although it primarily holds teeth in place, the ligament also allows for tiny, gradual tooth movement in response to mouth changes. Braces or aligner trays take advantage of this ability by exerting pressure on the teeth in the direction of intended movement. The periodontal ligament and nature do the rest.

But once we relieve the pressure when we remove the braces or aligners, a kind of “muscle memory” in the ligament can come into play, causing the teeth to move back to where they originally were. If we don't inhibit this reaction, all the time and effort put into orthodontic treatment can be lost.

Retainers, either the removable type or one fixed in place behind the teeth, gently “push” or “pull” against the teeth (depending on which type) just enough to halt any reversing movement. Initially, a patient will need to wear their retainer around the clock. After a while, wear time can be reduced to just a few hours a day, usually during sleep-time.

Most younger patients will only need to wear a retainer for a few years. Adults who undergo teeth-straightening later in life, however, may need to wear a retainer indefinitely. Even so, a few hours of wear every day is a small price to pay to protect your beautiful straightened smile.

If you would like more information on orthodontic retainers, 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 “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.”

November 25, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: tooth extractions  

Maintaining good oral health by brushing and flossing daily, as well as visiting the dentist regularly, can help you avoid tooth loss and keep your teeth for life. However, there are situations in which tooth extraction is needed to prevent more serious oral health problems. Dr. Colin Smith, the experienced dentist at Lake Oswego Smiles in Lake Oswego, OR, can determine if tooth extractions are needed in your case.

When Extraction is Needed

There can be many reasons why a tooth must be pulled out. For example, a severely infected tooth that cannot be saved through root canal therapy should be extracted. Pulling out the tooth helps prevent the infection from spreading to other areas of the mouth. Additionally, extracting the tooth alleviates any pain and sensitivity caused by the infection. Tooth extraction is needed in the following situations:

  • A tooth is severely infected, damaged, or decayed
  • The teeth are overcrowded and do not have enough space
  • The wisdom teeth are impacted and will not fully erupt
  • Baby or deciduous teeth have not fallen out on their own

Tooth Extraction Procedure

The procedure for performing tooth extractions at our office in Lake Oswego is fairly straightforward in most cases. X-ray images are taken prior to extracting a tooth. The images enable the dentist to examine the positioning of the tooth’s root, as well as the bone tissue surrounding the root. If the root is in an unusual position, adjustments can be made to help the extraction procedure go as smoothly as possible. For instance, the tooth might need to be pulled out of an angle.

Local anesthesia is administered to numb the mouth in advance. Oral sedatives or nitrous oxide might also be used to help patients relax and remain as comfortable as possible throughout the extraction process. Different factors can affect the method used to extract the tooth. A simple extraction involves using tools to lift and loosen the tooth so it can be pulled out. A surgical extraction is used for more challenging situations, such as an impacted tooth, and can involve breaking the tooth before pulling it out.

During the procedure, various steps are taken to protect the bone tissue surrounding the tooth root so it is not damaged. If necessary, bone-grafting material can be placed in the tooth socket following the extraction to help preserve bone tissue, which can diminish when teeth are missing. Once the tooth has been successfully extracted, the area can be stitched closed. In most cases, the gums heal completely within one to two weeks.

Even though we’d like to keep our natural teeth for life, there are times when extracting a problem tooth can improve oral health.

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Smith to learn more about tooth extractions by calling Lake Oswego Smiles in Lake Oswego, OR, at (503) 635-3653.

November 17, 2020
Category: Cosmetic Dentistry
Tags: Veneers  

Porcelain veneers are among the most sought after cosmetic dentistry services. Offered by Lake Oswego Smiles, these realistic laminates correct many kinds of dental flaws. Top dentist in Lake Oswego, OR, Dr. Colin Smith, can tell you more about veneers.

What are porcelain veneers?

Veneers are also called dental laminates. Imitating the color, shape and size of your teeth--minus the flaws--veneers are thin layers of superior-grade ceramic. Dr. Smith permanently bonds them to the front side of teeth which are:

  • Deeply discolored and unresponsive to professional teeth whitening
  • Chipped, pitted or cracked
  • Dark due to metal fillings, tetracycline or root canal treatment
  • Gapped, slightly crooked or crowded
  • Irregular in shape and/or size

How do porcelain veneers work?

To create and apply veneers, Dr. Smith will examine your teeth and gums and discuss your ideas for a renewed smile. Oral impressions give the dental lab an accurate way to create each veneer individually, and the laminates possess a complementary color and sheen.

To ensure proper fit, Dr. Smith removes a small portion of enamel from each tooth. When your veneers are ready, he bonds them to your smile using a long-lasting and tooth-colored cement. Most people acclimate to their veneers quickly and really enjoy their sparkling appearance.

Other benefits of porcelain veneers

1. Your new smile takes just two visits with your dentist in his Lake Oswego, OR, office.

2. The porcelain is highly stain-resistant (reports EverydayHealth). Unlike tooth enamel, it is smooth and non-porous.

3. Veneers make your tooth structure more resilient to the forces exerted when you bite and chew.

4. Veneers often finish more complex smile makeovers.

5. Daily maintenance of your refinished teeth is as simple as brushing, flossing and avoiding dense, hard foods, such as almonds, taffy and candy apples.

6. Porcelain veneers last for many years.

What would you do for a beautiful smile?

Really, achieving this goal may be easier than you think. Why not contact Lake Oswego Smiles for an informative cosmetic dentistry consultation with Dr. Colin Smith? He loves giving his patients their dream smiles. Porcelain veneers could be your best choice. Call our Lake Oswego, OR, office today at (503) 635-3653.

By Lake Oswego Smiles
November 16, 2020
Category: Oral Health

Perhaps the only thing worse than having a toothache of your own is when your child has one. Tooth pain can be a miserable experience, especially for children. It can also be confusing about what to do to deal with it.

Fortunately, a toothache usually isn't a dental emergency, so take a deep breath. Here's what you should do if your child is experiencing tooth pain.

Get the 411 from them. Before you call the dentist, find out more first about the tooth pain from your child with a few probing questions: Where exactly does it hurt? Do you feel it all through your mouth or just in one place? Is it all the time, or just when you bite down? When did it start? You may not get the same level of detail as you would from an adult, but even a little information helps.

Take a look in their mouth. There are a lot of causes for toothache like a decayed tooth or abscessed gums. See if any of the teeth look abnormal or if the gums are swollen. You might also find a piece of food or other particle wedged between the teeth causing the pain. In that case, a little dental floss might relieve the problem.

Ease the pain. While you're waiting on your dental appointment, you can help relieve some of their discomfort by giving them a child-appropriate dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You can also apply an ice pack on the outside of the jaw for five minutes on, then five minutes off to decrease swelling. Under no circumstances, however, should you give your child aspirin or rub it on the gums.

See the dentist. It's always a good idea to follow up with the dentist, even if the pain subsides. In most cases, you may be able to wait until the next day. There are, however, circumstances that call for a visit as soon as possible: if the child is running a fever and/or has facial swelling; or if the tooth pain seems to be related to an injury or trauma.

It can be unsettling as a parent when your child has a toothache. But knowing what to do can help you stay calm and get them the care they need.

If you would like more information on pediatric dental care, 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 “A Child's Toothache.”

By Lake Oswego Smiles
November 06, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: fluoride  

For over half a century now, community water systems have been adding fluoride to drinking water to help reduce the risk of tooth decay. Numerous long-term studies have demonstrated the soundness of this practice, prompting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to call water fluoridation one of the ten most effective public health measures of the 20th Century.

In the 1960s, after years of study into the teeth-strengthening effects of fluoride, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended that drinking water utilities add fluoride at a rate of between 0.7 and 1.20 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or parts per million (ppm) of water. This recommendation held fast until 2015 when the service changed the recommendation to no more than 0.7 mg/L.

Why the change to guidelines that had been in place for over fifty years? The revision was in response to an increasing occurrence of dental fluorosis. This condition happens when the teeth absorb more fluoride than necessary, leading to discoloration of the surface enamel, creating effects like small white spots or brownish “mottling.”

Dental fluorosis is the only known health condition caused by fluoride. As such, it doesn't damage the tooth itself, and is mainly a cosmetic problem. But it can still be avoided if fluoride intake is kept at moderate levels.

The original recommendation was sound science when first introduced. Since then, though, the prevalence of fluoride in everyday life has grown, with the chemical commonly found in dental care products like toothpastes or mouthrinses, as well as many processed foods and beverages and even infant formula. Our society's overall intake of fluoride has been growing as a result.

The new recommendation came after several years of research to verify water fluoridation levels of 0.7 mg/L would still be effective in the fight against tooth decay while lowering the risk of dental fluorosis. With this adjustment, this important and safe measure for keeping your family's teeth protected against disease is safer than ever.

If you would like more information on how fluoride can help your family fight tooth decay, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.