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All Posts in Category: Dental Care

Is there Pain When Getting Dental Implants Placed?

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You may realize that you can’t go long without replacing lost teeth before the others naturally lean towards that gap and your entire arch gets misaligned, causing other teeth to become loose. You probably know that dental implants are the best solution, lasting much longer than dental bridges and dentures, enabling you to chew and speak as if you had all your natural teeth.

If you hesitate because you are concerned about the pain of having an implant inserted into the tooth socket, you needn’t be. Even if you need a bone graft to build up the area of the jawbone where an implant will be placed, you have a variety of options to be sure you only feel some normal discomfort.

An implant starts with a biocompatible metal screw being inserted into the empty tooth socket and then is allowed to heal for a few months (when a customized dental crown that looks like the original tooth will be attached).

Before an initial implant procedure is done, a topical numbing solution is first swabbed on the area before an injection of anesthesia is administered (which only feels like a pin prick). If you want to minimize anxiety, mild oral sedation (benzodiazepine) is available in pill form. A stronger version will cause you to feel drowsy or even sleep through surgery. Many prefer to have an intravenous (IV) drip, which will put you in a deep state of relaxation, yet you will remain conscious (though you may not recall much in the way of detail and be surprised when it is done).

Many patients find that ibuprofen or acetaminophen are adequate for pain control 4-6 hours afterwards, when the sedation wears off, but you will always be given a prescription for medication in case it is needed. 

It is important to maintain good oral hygiene afterwards to avoid infection. For the first few days, avoid chewing and eat only soft or pureed foods. You should brush softly around the implant, normally everywhere else, and use salt water rinses to keep the area clean for 24 hours.

The success of having a dental implant depends in large part on the experience of the dentist and Dr. Louie is one of the most highly-regarded specialists in the Los Angeles area. The complexity of your individual case and your overall oral health are other factors.

Remember that not having a tooth replaced as soon as possible can lead to much more pain, as periodontal disease spreads, due to the misalignment, and other teeth are lost. Properly done and with good long-term oral care, dental implants can be a permanent and painless solution.

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Why You Should Choose Invisalign as Your Teeth Straightening Solution

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You may have been embarrassed by a crooked smile all your life, but never had orthodontic braces when you were younger. Maybe they were too expensive, you didn’t like the idea of being a “metal mouth” and have severe dietary restrictions for two or three years, or you heard how so uncomfortable and even painful they were.

But it’s never too late to have a more beautiful smile, thanks to the Invisalign revolution in orthodontic technology, which is suitable for both adults and children. Los Angeles dentist, Dr. Louie is an experienced expert and preferred provider in customizing the Invisalign clear trays (called aligners) to gently move your teeth to their ideal positions in just six months to two years.

First, he would do an examination to determine if your oral health is in the right condition to go ahead with Invisalign and the complexity of your case. If appropriate to move ahead, an image of your mouth will be scanned to provide the first set of transparent personalized aligners for both your lower and upper arches. You could be advised about a schedule to receive the next set and return to the office periodically to check the fitting.

For Invisalign to produce the desired effects as fast as possible, it is critical that you wear the aligners all the time, except when you eat, even when you sleep. Unlike traditional braces, which cannot be removed, of course, the trays can easily be lifted out and put back in before you have a meal or a snack. With metal braces, patients are advised not to eat popcorn, nuts, hard candy, peanut butter, caramel, or bite into ice or chew gum.

It is important to care for the aligners properly. Wash them with cool water before putting them back in (after dinner, wash with dish soap first, then brush and floss normally before reinserting the trays). You can keep them on if you drink plain water, but take them out before you drink coffee, tea, red wine, or sodas (even clear ones), then wash them in water and, ideally, brush your teeth before putting them back on (this helps to avoid staining them). You don’t even need to remove them before playing contact sports (with braces, one has to wear a special mouthguard). 

Unless you tell people, they won’t even know you are wearing Invisalign trays. This can provide self-confidence as a more beautiful smile is secretly being created. This is especially appealing to teens, who don’t want to be teased about wearing braces as they are building their self-confidence. It’s no wonder then that there are over six million happy patients whose lives have been changed by Invisalign.

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Dental implants Help Prevent Long-Term Effects of Tooth Loss

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The lack of understanding most American adults have about the importance of dentistry is illustrated by the fact that many first think of their experiences with cavities as children.  Yes, dental caries, as they are technically called, remain common: according to the National Center for Health Statistics, among those aged 20-64, 91% had tooth decay. But that is easily treated and should not be the primary concern for adults: losing teeth and not replacing them should be paramount.

Why? More than two-thirds of Americans 35-44 already have at least one missing tooth. Sometimes this is due to trauma, but mostly it is due to poor oral care habits. Few of us are taught how to do this properly, brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing before you go to bed (have our hygienist show you the proper way to be most effective).

Teeth can Loosen Over Time

This problem gets worse over time: bones consist of living tissue and new cell growth is stimulated by chewing. A lost tooth loses this effect and, worse, if you don’t replace a missing tooth, the nearby ones lean in to fill the gap, causing them to loosen. By the time people are 74 or older, 26% have lost all their teeth. 

If you have already lost many, you probably have been wearing dentures and we don’t need to tell you that they are hard to maintain, not always comfortable, and often make it difficult to chew effectively or speak clearly. But you may not be aware that the reason dentures need to be refitted every few years is that they do not prevent the continued erosion of the underlying jawbone, which starts when a tooth is lost.

Dental Implants are a Long-Term Solution

The permanent solution (with proper care) is that no matter how many teeth are missing, they should be replaced with dental implants. These consist of a screw made of biocompatible material, which is implanted into the jaw, stopping that erosion. After this heals for several months, it is attached at the top to a dental crown, which looks exactly like one of your natural teeth, including the same shade of white, so no one will know you have one or more artificial teeth. Implants also provide better support for the facial muscles than dentures, as well as a better ability to eat and speak.

But you need an experienced expert to achieve the overall 95% success rate that dental implants can have. Dr. Sherwin Louie is one of the most highly-regarded specialists in Southern California. Make an appointment with him today for an assessment of your unique dental health situation and whether implants might be right for you.

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How to Prepare Your Smile for a Healthy New Year

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TMJ Treatments

After an especially challenging year for maintaining our health, we are all eager to fulfill our resolutions to commit to improving our health in every way in this new year. As one of our valued patients, you know that dentistry plays a very important role in this goal and these are a few important points you may wish to share with family and friends.

The Importance of a Regular Dental Checkup

Few of us grew up knowing that oral bacteria can travel throughout the body, significantly raising the risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer. Seeing a dentist twice a year for a checkup is vital to catch any infection in the teeth and gums. This may include a low-radiation digital x-ray to examine the health of the underlying jawbone. A third of Americans do not even see a dentist once a year, which allows the bacteria to grow out of control, causing unnecessary pain and expense to stop. Many fear that treatment will cause pain, unaware that a variety of anesthetics can make any of our procedures pain-free.

A checkup with the dentist is also an opportunity to find out if you might have the symptoms of other serious oral-facial problems we can treat, such as sleep apnea (often indicated by frequent snoring and being tired during the day) and TMJ Disorder (common signs are a clicking sound when you open and close your mouth and soreness in your jaw). 

The Importance of a Professional Cleaning

Brushing after breakfast and dinner for a full two minutes can be boring and hard to do exactly right. Flossing can also be challenging. Next time you come in, have our dental hygienist show you how to brush and floss to be sure you get all the bacteria and hardened tartar completely off. She also has the tools, training, and solutions that can do a much better job of rooting out bacteria than any patient can. To avoid emergency cases, you might need this done once or up to four times a year and will be amazed at how quickly your oral health improves.

The Importance of a Beautiful Smile

As obvious as the benefits of physical health are, a wonderful smile is just as important. People often make quick judgments just on appearance when they first meet someone, whether introduced by a friend in a store, at a business conference, a social event, or on a first date arranged by someone else or online. You want to radiate self-confidence with a welcoming smile and we can help you enhance nature through our variety of cosmetic dental treatments, including Invisalign for straightening teeth, veneers to cover imperfections, and porcelain implants for teeth that need to be replaced. Check out our gallery of before-and-after photos of patients who left our office with a special smile because of the new smile we created together.

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How Does Botox Help TMJ Treatments?

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TMJ Treatments

BOTOX is well-known as the purified toxin solution that is injected into the face to stop it from creating wrinkles. You might be surprised to know that dentists are better trained than most other medical professionals to provide such injections. It also helps that we have had extensive experience with everything to do with the face and mouth, including administering anesthesia.

But BOTOX is more than a way to have a youthful-looking face. Among its 20 medical uses is its ability to relieve the pain of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. These joints are the hinges connecting the lower jaw to the skull, which you can feel by putting your finger in front of your lower ears and opening and closing your mouth.

A variety of things can cause the joint to dysfunction, typically indicated by clicking sounds when opening or closing the mouth or difficulty in doing this at all. About 40% of cases last more than five years. Other symptoms can be tooth sensitivity, soreness or swelling on the side of the face, pain or discomfort around the neck or shoulders, dizziness, tingling or numbness in the ends of fingers, migraine headaches, and ringing, congestion, or pain in the ears.

An estimated 20-30% of American adults are affected at one time or another, usually ages 20 to 40, and predominantly female. TMJ disorder in many cases is due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies because of menstruation, which affects the bones of joints. It can also occur in women because of their use of oral contraceptives or because they are undergoing hormone replacement therapy. A range of other causes includes missing teeth that throw off the jaw alignment, excessive gum chewing, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and a blow to the head.

BOTOX can be injected into the muscles surrounding these joints to decrease spasms and restore TMJ function. It can block pain signals from muscles and nerves to the brain and relieve muscle tension in the jaw, which leads to a reduction in the amount of teeth grinding at night.

There can be some unexpected positive side-effect for patients who have received BOTOX treatments for TMJ. They sometimes report that they sleep better, feel less anxious, have fewer and less intense headaches, even for migraines, and have less tooth sensitivity.

There are also other ways we can alleviate TMJ disorder, including creating an oral appliance to gradually reset the jaw and teaching you neuromuscular exercises to relax it. 

If you think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, call us today to set an appointment for a consultation.

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Choosing Porcelain Veneers or Lumineers

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Cosmetic veneers are the most affordable and easiest way to get a complete smile makeover and Dr. Shervin M. Louie is recognized by patients and peers as one of the masters of the process. People from all over the world have heard about his work over the past two decades and come here to get that Hollywood Smile.

A veneer is made of thin material that can be designed to look like a natural tooth and attached to the front of the tooth to cover up discoloration, a chip or crack, or even a gap between teeth. The least expensive material, composite resin, is adequate for emergencies or a tight budget, but is much more easily discolored or chipped than cosmetic porcelain and only lasts 4-8 years.

Porcelain veneers are usually durable for 10-15 years with proper care and are resistant to stains. To avoid having them stick out too much and look artificial, it is necessary to shave off some of the enamel from the front of the teeth on which they will be placed. Impressions are made of the area and sent to a top dental laboratory to craft your veneers. On a second visit, they will be bonded to your teeth for your new, confident smile.

Lumineers are a new type of patented Cerinate porcelain as thin as contact lenses which do not require shaving the enamel. They can be even be placed over existing restorations and last for up to 20 years. The way Dr. Louie designs the Lumineers, they are considered works of art. 

It is important to have your natural teeth professionally whitened in advance of having veneers placed, so that the shade you have chosen will match the best your natural teeth look. You may need to do this especially for teeth which have dead roots that appear dark or which have had root canals done and may seem yellow. You can’t whiten veneers, but you can keep your teeth the same color by cleaning frequently, especially after drinking coffee, tea, or red wine or smoking. Be aware the using some medications, like tetracycline, and strong mouthwashes can stain teeth. Dr. Louie will also discuss whether you should consider having misaligned teeth first corrected with transparent Invisalign aligners.

Set an appointment with Dr. Louie today so you can get the smile you have always dreamed about for all the benefits to your personal and professional life.

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Even the Most Minor Cosmetic Procedure Can Make a Difference

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Few of us learned how important good dental care was when we were growing up. We thought going to the dentist was just about getting a filling for a cavity. Dentistry is actually the most underappreciated medical specialty for many people, who are not aware that good oral health can prevent a greater risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

But cosmetic dentistry also has many benefits, even the most minor procedures, because a great smile is the easiest way to start a new friendship or begin building a relationship with a prospective customer.

Sometimes just using white bonding resin can repair chipped teeth, cover stains, close gaps between teeth, or protect enamel or roots.

Tooth-colored composite fillings can inexpensively and easily replace unsightly old silver or gray ones that many feel may be harmful.

Inlays and onlays made of porcelain, gold, or resin to cover a area of the bite that has been damaged and a filling is not enough.

Or a professional whitening by our dental team can give you that Hollywood smile by removing up to eight layers of discoloring in an hour (more, if you want).

Veneers, thin pieces of porcelain that are placed on the front of teeth, are a step up in cosmetic dentistry, but are an easy fix for many problems, including cracks and chips, teeth that are too small or too large compared to others, misshapen teeth, and gaps.

Perhaps the biggest reason for veneers is for discoloration that is hard to remove with whiteners. This is usually due to either smoking and chewing tobacco or excessive consumption of coffee, tea, and red wine, but even apples and potatoes can stain. Many medications and even mouthwashes or excessive fluoride in water can discolor. A dead root can darken a tooth and with age the outside enamel surface can wear down and show the yellow dentin underneath. Properly made and customized to your needs, veneers can mask anything.

Even a single dental crown is an affordable and simple way to cover a damaged tooth that stands out.

If you are missing a tooth, you may know that unless something takes its place, the nearby teeth will lean in to fill the gap, which can cause misalignment and eventually the loss of other teeth. The easiest way to prevent this is to place a dental bridge on the adjacent teeth, with a natural-looking artificial tooth in between. 

Come in to have Dr. Louie assess your cosmetic dental needs and recommend a path to a new life with a brighter smile.

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How Skipping Dental Check-Ups Can Affect You

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los angeles dentist

For many patients, a dental checkup is the absolute essential to maintaining the longevity and health of their smile. Dentists advise that dental checkups are scheduled twice per year. However, not everyone actually goes through with having their regular dental exams and checkups in the year. Skipping a check-up can leave your teeth vulnerable to many risks and conditions. Here are things that can go awry with your teeth without a regular checkup schedule.

Cavities can Occur

Cavities are not easily detectable or visible right away. This can be risky as without a check-up, your dentist may not be able to see the clear signs of cavities. In addition, they can worsen overtime is you may not have the timely and preventative treatment necessary to restore your teeth.

Gum Disease Becomes a Higher Risk

Another risk of missing dental check-ups is the occurrence of gum disease. This condition generally is treated best when it is detected early. Many patients are not aware that they have this condition because the symptoms do not stand out right away. With a dental check-up, you can have a cleaning perform that targets the gum lines and helps manage any bacteria from accumulating. In addition, a good cleaning can reduce the chances of long-term gum disease and even conditions such as jaw deterioration.

Other Important Notes

It is imperative to understand that dental check-ups are necessary to reduce the most serious conditions that can affect your teeth, gums, and jaw. Except for cavities and gum disease, the jaw can be prone to shifting over time, which can lead to issues with your bite as well as crowding of the teeth. With timely treatment as a result of a regular check-up schedule, you can prevent the chances of these conditions occurring or worsening.

Dr. Shervin Louie and his team in Los Angeles can provide consistent dental care to help you maintain your smile. Contact our team today to schedule a consultation.

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Are You Brushing Your Teeth Differently?

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Woman flossing teeth

When patients are asked about their brushing habits, the common response is how hard can it be? Most patients are actually surprised to hear that oral discomfort and other conditions can indeed be the result of incorrect teeth brushing methods. One of the most valuable parts of your appearance is your smile, if you brush it differently than others, are you really sure that your teeth are getting thoroughly cleaned? 

Here are several teeth brushing techniques that your dentist recommends.

Use a Soft-Bristled Brush

Not all toothbrushes are made the same when it comes to quality and material. Do not select your toothbrush by its color and design. Find a toothbrush that has soft bristles that will not be too irritating to your teeth and gums. There are toothbrushes which feature the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval, this can help you determine the brushes that meet official quality standards. 

Brush at a 45-Degree Angle 

When brushing your teeth early, aim your brush at a 45-degree angle inside your mouth. This angle is particularly effective because the toothbrush can clean your gum line. Without the proper cleaning styles performed each day, gum disease or infections can occur. 

Use Shorter and More Rounded Strokes 

Cartoons and shows may exaggerate teeth brushing as a simple left and right motion. However, this technique is not as sufficient as using a more circular motion in cleaning your teeth. Instead of brushing aggressively, use a softer circular motion that is more akin to massaging your teeth, rather than scrubbing them. 

Take the Necessary Time to Clean 

The dentist recommends brushing for at least two minutes per session, twice per day. You can take more time as well, which will help you thoroughly clean your teeth. 

For additional information on good teeth cleaning or brushing habits, contact the office of Dr. Shervin M. Louie today.

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What Kind of Dental Crowns Are Best for You?

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Choosing what type of dental crown is right is a tough choice to make. After all, it’s going to be in your mouth and if it’s not perfect, it will affect the way you look, the way you talk, the way you chew, and will affect your other teeth. So how do you make such a critical decision that could affect so much? What are your choices?

Color

One of the key considerations will be color because not everybody loves the idea of looking like a bad Bond villain with a discolored front tooth. For front teeth, porcelain and ceramics fused with metal will be most commonly used as they are relatively easy to blend the color with your own teeth. This will mean nobody will even know that one of them is a crown. If you want to be bold and have either a metal or gold front tooth, this is possible too, but obviously, this is a big decision to make because it is not subtle and will show every time you smile or speak.

Materials

Crowns come in all different types of materials and not every material is suitable for every placement. Metal alloys and gold crowns are the strongest crowns. They don’t wear down, they don’t chip or break. If you grind your teeth, this would be an excellent choice as they have the best resistance to wear. Metal and alloys stay so smooth, they don’t aggravate the teeth next to them. This would make them the ideal material to place everywhere, but due to the color they do tend to only be used for back teeth where their strength suits them.

Porcelain and porcelain infused with metal base are tough too, but they can chip and break. If used for back teeth, they are a little more likely to become damaged if you grind your teeth. Porcelain can also become a little rough. If this occurs, then the teeth that are next to them can quickly become roughed and sensitive.

Hold

Every crown requires the tooth that it is going to be cemented onto is prepared and filed for a good fix. Some require more of the natural tooth to be taken away than others. A metal alloy requires the least natural tooth to be removed, which is obviously better for the mouth in general. If a crown ever comes out, it is rare that it doesn’t cause some damage to the remaining tooth, so to have more left behind is good.

Price

The final thing to consider is price. Each type of crown has a different cost associated with it so you should talk to your cosmetic dentist about pricing and payment schemes for all dental crowns and pick the best fit for you and your budget.

Choosing the right dental crowns is a big undertaking. Hopefully this article has helped you understand what the factors are in getting the right fit.

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