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The Laser Revolution is Changing the Dental Healthcare

laser-dentistry-300Lasers have transformed our everyday lives, especially in healthcare. These intense beams of light of a single wavelength have revolutionized all manner of diagnostics and treatments, from general surgery to cosmetic therapy.

Dentistry has also been influenced by the laser revolution. Here are just a few of the areas where they’re growing in use and popularity.

Early disease detection. Laser instruments can take advantage of “fluorescence,” the tendency of bacteria to “glow” when exposed to certain wavelengths of light. This is proving more effective in detecting early tooth decay in pits and fissures (very tiny areas in a tooth’s biting surface) than traditional needle-like probing instruments called dental explorers. Newer lasers can now detect the same fluorescent qualities in soft tissues, which may reduce the detection time for oral cancer and make the difference between life and death.

Dental caries treatment. Lasers have become an alternative to the dental drill in treating teeth with dental caries (decay). Although with larger cavities lasers are somewhat slower than the conventional drill, they truly shine when it comes to early enamel caries and small cavities because they can be quite precise in the amount of tooth structure they remove. This feature allows them to be less invasive than a dental drill.

Periodontal treatment. Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection caused mainly by bacterial plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) that have adhered to tooth surfaces. Lasers are emerging as an alternative to conventional periodontal (gum) surgery to treat voids or spaces below the gum line called periodontal pockets that have formed because of gum tissue detachment as supporting bone is lost. With their ability to target and destroy infected tissue without damaging nearby healthy tissue, lasers can achieve similar outcomes as traditional techniques but with less tissue damage and discomfort to patients afterward.

Research and development into laser technology continues to perfect these and other applications that promise to make dental procedures less invasive and more comfortable for patients.

If you would like more information on the use of lasers in dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.


What are Cavities?

Find out more about cavities and what your Romeo, MI dentist recommends for reducing your chances of developing them.

Cavities might seem like a normal part of life. After all, just ask anyone around you and they’ve probably had to deal with a cavity at some point in their lives. In fact, about 19 percent of children between the ages of two to 19 have untreated cavities and a whopping 92 percent of adults between the ages of 20 to 64 have had cavities.

So what exactly is a cavity and what can you do to stop them from happening to you? Your Romeo, MI dentist Michael DeLaura, DDS, has the answer.

What are cavities?

A cavity is a hole within a tooth that is caused by tooth decay that occurs over time, eroding and destroying the tooth’s enamel. Our mouths are naturally teeming with bacteria that live on the teeth and soft tissues.

While some bacteria are important for a healthy mouth some can be detrimental to our smile, resulting in tooth decay. These harmful bacteria use the sugar found in the foods we eat and turn them to acid. This acid then begins to wear down and erode tooth enamel. Over time, these acids can cause a cavity to form.

How can I prevent cavities?

cosmetic-dentistryWhile cavities are extremely common and might seem impossible to avoid, it is actually possible to stop or reverse this process from happening so you can prevent a cavity from forming. Might sound like magic but here are some things you can do to keep cavities from ruining your smile:

  • Fluoride can go a long way to prevent tooth decay from getting worse. This means using fluoridated toothpaste every day to clean your teeth. If you are concerned about the amount of fluoride you are getting, talk to your Romeo, MI dentist Dr. DeLaura.
  • Eat a balanced, smile-healthy diet that is rich in lean proteins, milk, fibrous vegetables and crisp fruits. Try to stay away from sugar and starches, which produce the harmful acids that damage teeth.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day: once in the morning and then again at night. Ideally, though you want to aim for brushing your teeth after every meal. Also, brush for a minimum of two minutes each time you brush.
  • Floss every day. Your Romeo, MI dentist can’t preface this enough. Did you know that almost 20 percent of people haven’t ever flossed in their lives? This is a shocking statistic, since flossing is one of the most important habits you can adopt for your smile.
  • If you want to protect your child’s smile, then talk to your Romeo, MI dentist about dental sealants to reduce the chance of decay in molars, which can be tougher to clean properly.

Another way to ensure that your teeth remain healthy is to keep up with your six-month dental cleanings. If it’s time you had your teeth examined and cleaned by your Romeo, MI dentist then it’s never too late to schedule an appointment. Call Dr. DeLaura at Delaura Dental today.


Frequently Asked Questions About Heart and Gum Diseases

gum-disease-heart-disease3Recent research has revealed that there is a link between cardiovascular (“cardio” – heart; “vascular” – blood vessel) disease (CVD) and periodontal (gum) disease. The link is Inflammation. This is why it is important to learn more about this important relationship so that you can take proactive steps to improving your health and life.

What causes periodontal disease?
Simply put, irregular and ineffective brushing and flossing are the root causes of periodontal disease. Over time and when bacterial biofilms (dental plaque) are left unchecked, they lead to the emergence of a small set of highly pathogenic (“patho” – disease; “genic” – causing) organisms that are consistently associated with periodontitis (“peri” – gum; “odont” – tooth; “itis” – inflammation) or gum disease.

Is periodontal disease common or am I one of the few who have it?
It is a quite common disease, with mild to moderate forms of it impacting 30 to 50% of US adults. More severe cases affect 5 to 15%. One of the reasons these numbers are so high is because periodontal disease is a silent, painless disease that often occurs without any symptoms.

So how does my gum disease link to potential heart disease?
Inflammation is a characteristic of chronic disease. People with moderate to severe periodontitis have increased levels of systemic (general body) inflammation. If left untreated, the same bacterial strains that are commonly found in periodontal pockets surrounding diseased teeth have been found in blood vessel plaques of people with CVD.

This all sounds bad…is there any good news?
Yes! Research has revealed that if periodontal disease is treated, inflammation and infection can be reduced. This also reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes, both of which are common results of CVD. All it may take is a thorough exam for gum disease and thorough dental cleaning. During your exam, we can also make sure you are brushing and flossing properly so that you are effectively removing bacterial biofilm. But if you have severe periodontal disease, you may need deeper cleanings and more advanced treatment to save your teeth and your heart.

To learn more on this subject, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Link Between Heart & Gum Diseases.” You can also contact us today with any questions or to schedule an appointment.


Understanding Dry Mouth

dry-mouth4The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia (“xero” – dry; “stomia” – mouth), something that many of us have experienced at some point in life. However, for some people it can be a chronic condition that is ideal for promoting tooth decay. It can also be a warning sign of a more serious health condition.

Dry mouth occurs when there is an insufficient flow of saliva, the fluid secreted by the salivary glands. Your major salivary glands are located in two places: inside the checks by the back top molars and in the floor of the mouth, with about six hundred tiny glands scattered throughout your mouth. And many people are surprised to learn that when they are functioning normally, saliva glands secret between two and four pints of saliva per day! While this may sound like a lot (and it is), saliva is key for buffering or neutralizing acids in the mouth. Without this powerful protection, tooth decay can increase quickly. This is especially true for older individuals who have exposed tooth root surfaces.

It is also important to note that there are times when mouth dryness is perfectly normal. For example, when you wake, you will probably have a slightly dry mouth because saliva flow slows at night. Another example is if you are dehydrated when it is simply a warning sign that you need to drink more fluids (especially water). Other causes for temporary dry mouth include stress as well as what you consume: coffee, alcohol, onions, and certain spices.

You can also have a dry mouth due to a side effect from an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication. If it turns out that this is the cause in your case, you need to talk to the prescribing physician to see if there is something else you can take to avoid this side effect. If there are no substitutes, one tip you can try is to take several sips of water before taking the medication followed by a full glass of water, or chew gum containing xylitol, which moistens your mouth and decreases the risk of tooth decay.

Another cause of dry mouth is radiation treatment for cancer in the head and neck region. Yes, these treatments are crucial for fighting cancer; however, they can inflame, damage or destroy salivary glands. You can also have dry mouth from certain systemic (general body) or autoimmune (“auto” – self; “immune” – resistance system) diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dry Mouth.” Or, you can contact us today to ask your questions, discuss your circumstances or schedule an appointment.


Avoid These Foods to Keep Braces Safe

Protect your braces against damage by staying away from these harmful foods.

braces(2)You just finally got your braces; however, the last thing you want to do is damage or break them. While there may seem like a lot of rules for how to care for your braces, it’s important to know the dos and don’ts of wearing orthodontics so you can protect your braces from harm. One of the most important things you can do is to eat an orthodontic-friendly diet that won’t damage your braces. Your Katy orthodontist recommends avoiding these foods to keep your braces safe.

Hard foods

It might seem rather obvious, but any kind of hard food could break or pull off a wire or bracket. Therefore, it’s best to stay away from hard breads like bagels and baguettes, nuts, pizza crusts, chips, hard taco shells and even raw veggies like carrots.

Sticky foods

There are a lot of candies that will need to be removed from your diet to protect the health of your braces. This means no gum, licorice, gummy bears, jelly beans, caramels or anything that could actually get stuck in your brackets or pull them off. Plus, these sticky, sugary treats can also just as easily get stuck to your teeth, making it hard to effectively brush away. This means that you may also deal with cavities on top of damaged braces.

Tough meats

Any kind of jerky or tough foods is also off limits, as the tearing motion needed to eat these types of foods can easily break wires and brackets.

Ice

Chewing ice is probably responsible for a large portion of damage to braces. Just avoid this altogether, no matter how refreshing it might seem at the time. To prevent yourself from accidentally chewing ice, either keep it out of beverages or limit how much ice you put in your glass.

While removing some of these foods can be hard, it will be worth it once you are able to finally remove your braces to reveal a straighter smile. In the meantime, you can enjoy these foods while wearing your braces:

  • Dairy
  • Soft breads (sure, hard taco shells and bagels aren’t good for your braces, but there is nothing wrong with soft taco shells or muffins!)
  • Grains
  • Soft, cooked meats
  • Seafood
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Soft fruits (e.g. bananas or applesauce)

Besides sticking to a diet that’s safe on your braces, you need to see your Katy dentist every couple of weeks to make sure your braces are performing as they should and that your smile looks healthy. If it’s time to schedule your upcoming orthodontic appointment contact Dr. Michael DeLaura at DeLaura Dental.


Did You Know? February Is National Children’s Dental Health Month!

national-childrens-dental-health-300Every February, the American Dental Association sponsors a campaign called National Children’s Dental Health Month. The purpose of this operation is to raise awareness about how important it is to get an early start on developing good dental hygiene habits — and how this can lead to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. So we thought this might be a good time to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about how to do exactly that:

When is it time to start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
As soon as you see one! The earlier your child gets used to a daily dental hygiene routine, the better. Baby teeth that have not fully emerged from beneath the gums can be wiped with a clean, moist washcloth after feedings. A tooth that has grown in completely should be brushed twice daily (once in the morning and once in the evening) with a soft, child-sized tooth brush and a thin smear of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is an important weapon against tooth decay, but you don’t want your child to swallow too much.

Can babies get cavities?
Absolutely — especially if they are allowed to fall asleep routinely with a bottle filled with anything but water. Milk, formula — even breast milk — all contain sugars that should not be left to pool around your baby’s teeth during sleep, facilitating decay. Juice is an even bigger no-no because it is not only sugary but also acidic.

Can’t I give my child sweets once in a while?
We realize total avoidance of sweets may not be realistic, as beneficial as this would be for your child’s teeth. If you are going to allow your child to have sweets once in a while, better that the treat be given immediately following a meal, and not as a between-meal snack. Soda should really be avoided completely — it’s that bad.

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?
The experts say: Get it done in year one. That’s right — even though your child won’t have many teeth by age 1, there’s a lot we can do at that first visit to ensure good oral health now and well into the future. We will do everything possible to make sure your little one has a positive first experience in the dental chair; this helps set the tone for the many important preventive visits yet to come. It’s also a great opportunity for you to ask any specific questions you may have, and receive hands-on instruction on how to care for your child’s teeth and gums.

If you would like more information about children’s oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Taking the Stress Out of Dentistry for Kids” and “Age One Dental Visit.”


Orthodontic Relief For Your Broken Brackets

braces(2)If you’ve had braces placed in your mouth to straighten misaligned or crooked teeth, congratulations: braces remain one of the leading choices for perfectly-aligned rows of teeth and a beautiful smile.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean braces are perfect all the time, every time: brackets, which are the metal or ceramic pieces attaching your braces to each individual tooth, can occasionally become loose, dislodged, or broken, putting the integrity of your braces at risk.Because brackets are made from a material known as composite resin (similar to the material used for many dental fillings), they’re particularly susceptible to coming undone if you chew on something hard or sticky, or if you like to tear things open with your teeth. If you have a dislodged or otherwise faulty bracket, it can cause persistent pain and discomfort as the unchained piece pokes into your gums, tongue, or cheek.

But at DeLaura Dental, you can get your broken brackets fixed as soon as they start to deteriorate, as the expert orthodontists on site make it their goal to get your braces straightened out once and for all. These helpful oral technicians can repair the dislodged bracket and can even apply a special wax over it to keep it in place for the future. They’ll likely give you this wax if they haven’t already, too, so you can rely on it yourself to ensure your brackets don’t get loosed and start poking the innards of your sensitive oral cavity again later on down the road.

For more information on what to do if you have a broken bracket, give the orthodontic professionals at DeLaura Dental a call today at 855-601-2948 for the full oral relief you deserve right here in Romeo, MI! After all, your braces’ job is to keep your teeth straight– not get you all bent out of shape!


Test Your Dental Vocabulary

testWhen dentists talk to patients, they often use specialized vocabulary referring to various dental conditions. Do you understand what they mean when they use these words — or are you wondering what they are talking about?

Here’s your chance to test your knowledge of ten words that have a particular meaning in the context of dentistry. If you already know them, congratulations! If you don’t, here’s your chance to learn what these words mean in the dental world.

Enamel
In dentistry, enamel is the hard outer coating of your teeth. It is the hardest substance produced by living animals. It is a non-living, mineralized, and composed of a crystalline form of calcium and phosphate.

Dentin
The dentin is the layer of a tooth that is just beneath the enamel. It is living tissue similar to bone tissue.

Pulp
When dentists speak of pulp, we mean the tissues in the central chamber of a tooth (the root canal) that nourish the dentin layer and contain the nerves of the tooth.

Bruxism
Many people exert excess pressure on their teeth by clenching or grinding them. This is called bruxism, a habit that can be very damaging to teeth.

Occlusion
By this we mean how the upper and lower teeth are aligned, and how they fit together. This can also be referred to as your bite.

Dental caries
This term refers to tooth decay. Dental caries and periodontal disease (see below) are two of the most common diseases known to man. Today, these diseases are not only treatable, but they are also largely preventable.

Periodontal disease
A term for gum disease, this term comes from “peri,” meaning around and “odont,” meaning tooth. It is used to describe a process of inflammation and infection leading to the progressive loss of attachment between the fibers that connect the bone and gum tissues to the teeth. This can lead to loss of teeth and of the bone itself.

Erosion
When you consume acidic foods or drinks, the acids in your mouth react directly with minerals in the outer enamel of your teeth, causing chemical erosion. This is not the same as tooth decay, which is caused by acids released by bacterial film that forms on your teeth (see below).

Dental implant
A dental implant is a permanent replacement for a missing tooth. It replaces the root portion of the tooth and is most often composed of a titanium alloy. The titanium root fuses with the jaw bone, making the implant very stable. A crown is attached to the implant and can be crafted to match your natural teeth.

Plaque
Dental plaque is the whitish film of bacteria (a biofilm) that collects on your teeth. Your goal in daily brushing and flossing is to remove plaque.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have about your teeth and gums. You can also learn more by reading Dear Doctor magazine article “How and Why Teeth Wear.”


Why Your Retainer is Important

General-SmileIt can feel like a very momentous occasion when you finally get your braces taken off. When you have been wearing them for multiple years it can feel so freeing to finally say goodbye to them and to say hello to a straighter smile; however, there are still some things you need to do to help maintain those beautiful new results. This is when your Romeo orthodontist will recommend wearing your retainer.

What is a retainer?

A retainer is a removable oral appliance that is made from either metal wires or a translucent plastic that helps your teeth maintain their new position after orthodontic treatment.

Why do I need to wear my retainer?

After you get your braces taken off your Romeo orthodontist will recommend wearing your retainer each day. This is to help maintain the new shape of your smile and to keep teeth from shifting back after wearing braces.

How long will I need to wear my retainer? How often should I wear it?

This will vary depending on the patient; however, because we need to give the bone and tissue time to adjust to the shift in your teeth, we need to use a retainer to help maintain your new bite. If you don’t wear your retainer your teeth will slowly return to their original position. If you used braces to close gaps between your teeth expect to wear your retainer regularly for a bit longer.

However, on average we tell our patients that you will wear your retainer for as long as you wore your braces. Some patients may need to wear their retainer all the time for about six months and then switch to only wearing them at night, and some will only need to wear their retainers full-time for a couple weeks before switching to only nightly usage. If patients want to truly keep their new smiles, however, they will most likely need to wear their retainers for the rest of their lives.

How do I care for my retainer?

You should always take out your retainer before eating and brushing and flossing. You can clean your retainer by using a soft-bristled toothbrush and water and gently scrubbing it. Then be sure to brush your teeth after cleaning your retainer. Also, when you aren’t wearing your retainer it should stay in its box to prevent damage.

If you have any questions about your retainer or braces, or you just need to schedule a routine appointment with your Romeo orthodontist, then call our office today to schedule an appointment. We are here to give you the smile you deserve!


Sedation Dentistry FAQs

sedation-dentistry2For some people, going to the dentist is just like any other routine healthcare visit that they manage without any qualms. For others, the experience can cause some trepidation or even anxiety. In fact, some people even contemplate canceling appointments and neglecting their oral healthcare. If the latter better describes how you or someone you know feels about going to the dentist — even for a routine exam and cleaning — then we have great news for you! We offer our patients oral sedation (sedation dentistry) that allows you to relax both your mind and body so that you can focus on feeling peaceful and at ease rather than anxious.

What is oral sedation?

Often referred to as “comfortable” or “relaxation” dentistry, sedation dentistry offers an approach to dentistry that includes gentle management of your anxiety by using an anti-anxiety prescription medication that simply dissolves away your anxiety. The medications are administered by mouth (orally) to help transition you from feeling nervous to a more comfortable state of being.

Is it easy to take?

Another reason oral sedation is so popular is because it does not require an injection (shot), so, if you are afraid of needles, you simply do not need to worry. Typically, a pill is first placed under your tongue (sub-lingually) where it dissolves and penetrates the skin going straight into your system and then the rest is simply swallowed. This method and the quick-acting sedation medication make relaxation both effective and safe.

Is it safe?

Pharmacists and health professionals measure medications’ effectiveness by measuring their “therapeutic index.” The larger the number is on this scale, the safer the drug. The oral sedation medications we use have the highest numbers possible on this scale and thus they are the least likely to cause any adverse (negative) reactions.

Want to learn more?

Contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more by reading the article “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”