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All Posts in Category: Dental Blog

Can a Chipped Tooth Heal on Its Own?

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The anxiety after realizing you’ve chipped a tooth can be overwhelming. Sometimes, the chip is just a filling that comes from wear and tear. But other times, it may be a large piece of your tooth broken off due to an injury, which can be a much more severe issue. 

Chips that are small and not causing any pain or sensitivity can sometimes be left alone and eventually smooth out on their own as you continue to use your teeth for biting and chewing. But if the chip is large, jagged, or causing you pain, it’s best to see a dentist right away.

Do Teeth Grow Back?

Teeth are like any other part of your body—if they’re injured, they need treatment. However, teeth don’t just heal on their own like other tissues in your body. When a bone is broken, for example, it will grow back together over time. But when a tooth is broken, it can’t grow back. 

A chipped tooth can sometimes be repaired with a filling, bonding, or veneers. If the chip is large, you may need a crown. If the tooth is severely damaged, it may need to be extracted. Let’s not forget that a chipped tooth can also be a sign of a more serious underlying dental issue, such as tooth decay or gum disease. So it’s essential to see a dentist in order to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

How Do Dentists Treat a Chipped Tooth?

The type of treatment you need will depend on the size and location of the chip, as well as the severity of the damage.

Small Chips

If the chip is small and not causing any pain or sensitivity, your dentist may just smooth it out with a file. This is called “fracture smoothing.” Fracture smoothing is often used for chips on the chewing surfaces of teeth that are not visible when you smile.

If the chip is on a front tooth and is visible when you smile, your dentist may use bonding to repair it. Bonding is a process where a tooth-colored resin is applied to the tooth and hardened with a light. Bonding can also be used to change the shape, color, or length of your teeth.

Large Chips

If the chip is large, your dentist may use bonding or veneers to repair it. Veneers are thin, porcelain shells that are bonded to the front of your teeth. They can be used to change the shape, color, size, or length of your teeth.

If the chip is large and the tooth is severely damaged, you may need a crown. A crown is a “cap” that covers the entire tooth. It can be made from metal, porcelain, or a combination of both.

You may need a root canal if the chip is large and the tooth is severely damaged. A root canal is a procedure where the nerve and blood supply are removed from the tooth. The tooth is then filled with a rubber-like material and sealed.

If the chip is large and the tooth is severely damaged, you may need to have the tooth extracted and replaced with an artificial tooth.

A chipped tooth can “heal” on its own if it is a small chip and does not cause any pain or sensitivity. However, the tooth does not regrow or repair itself. It simply may smooth out over time as you continue to use your teeth for biting and chewing. If the chip is large, jagged, or causing pain, it is best to see a dentist right away for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

For cosmetic purposes, a chipped tooth can sometimes be repaired with a filling, bonding, or veneers. If the chip is large, you may need a crown. If the tooth is severely damaged, it may need to be extracted. Regardless of the issue, you can schedule a consultation with our Los Angeles dentist to determine which treatment option can work for you.

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Dental Injuries After a Car Accident

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If you are in a car accident, it is likely to involve injuries to your mouth that would require our expertise to heal and restore to health.

Sudden crashes often result in the head of the driver and anyone in the front passenger seat hitting the steering wheel or the dashboard. Airbags don’t always stop these injuries for a variety of reasons. The most common result is chipped teeth, for which dental bonding or veneers would provide the remedy. Our veneers are made of a strong cosmetic porcelain that can last for 10-15 years with proper care.

 

Cracked Teeth

The second most common injury from an auto accident is cracked teeth and a dental crown can hold them together and protect from further damage any tooth that has been cracked or fractured.

If teeth are knocked out in the accident or so severely damaged that they need to be extracted, dental implants are the ideal replacement. An implant consists of a biocompatible metal screw that is inserted into the jawbone and attached to a crown that looks exactly like a natural tooth. This can be a permanent solution.

If teeth are missing for any reason, they always need to be replaced because otherwise the mouth goes through a process of causing neighboring teeth to lean towards the gap, causing them and other teeth to become loose and they may eventually fall out. Alternatively, a dental bridge, which attaches an artificial tooth to neighboring teeth, could slow down this process. 

 

iTero Restorations

Crowns and implants can be made using our in-office iTero, which produces a highly-accurate 3-D digital image of the inside of your mouth, allowing Dr. Louie to plan the process, speed instructions to a dental lab, and make sure the results are an exact match to your natural teeth.

Another common injury from accidents is TMJ Disorder (short for the displacement of the  temporomandibular joint, the hinges that connect the lower jaw to the upper). You can feel them by holding your fingers just in front of your earlobes when you open and close your mouth and if they are displaced, they will make a popping or clicking sound when you do this. Or you may have trouble opening your mouth at all, feel pain in the hinges, soreness on the sides of your face, experience headaches, and neck or shoulder discomfort.

A customized orthotic splint is an oral appliance you can wear to get the jaw back in its proper place. Your bite can also be improved using crowns, bridges, implants, or Invisalign trays to prevent TMJD. We can also show you neuromuscular exercises to help and prescribe anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxers.

If you are in a car accident, call us as soon as possible for a full dental exam to discuss how Dr. Louie can help you recover.

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How iTero Technology Upgrades the Dental Experience

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When it comes to many of the ways that your smile can be upgraded,  we use an advanced scanning  technology that helps us create perfect solutions for your unique oral health and cosmetic dental needs: iTero.

Few dental practices have this, which enables us to use  a small wand that is moved gently around the inside of your mouth, taking 6,000 digital pictures a second to produce 3-D images, free of any radiation. These highly accurate photos even of hard-to-see parts of the mouth allow us to produce a treatment plan that you and we have confidence in to get you on the way to your smile goals.

 The iTero also allows us to skip making physical impression molds, a messy and uncomfortable process that most other practices must do in order to give the dental lab an idea of what needs to be done. These traditional impressions are never as accurate as a digital version, so more adjustments have to be made before the final version of the oral appliance is installed.

iTero Scanner

 

There are many possible applications for iTero’s imaging:

Invisalign Orthodontic Aligners

You have probably heard that to straighten teeth now, instead of the long and uncomfortable process of wearing traditional braces, many patients can utilize aligner trays that they can remove before they eat. The iTero allows you to see what your smile will look like when treatment is finished and enables us to track your progress and adjust the aligners as needed to keep progress on course.

Dental Implants

Replacing a missing tooth, whether due to an accident or poor dental hygiene, with a dental implant is a complicated process to make sure it is anchored into the jawbone and is a good fit for the gap, topped by a crown that matches the neighboring teeth. With proper care, this can be a permanent solution.

Dental Crowns

These look like the visible part of your natural teeth and can restore your bite alignment after teeth are missing, ground down while you sleep, or chipped and need the protection of this cap.

Bridges

A less expensive and quicker alternative to an implant and crown is a dental bridge. This requires an impression to be sent to the dental lab to craft what looks like a natural tooth, which will then be attached to the back of the teeth next to where the missing one was, so no one will know you ever had a gap. It is not anchored into the jaw, however, and may not last as long, but it will keep the teeth from further misalignment (a natural process, as the remaining teeth lean towards any gap and become themselves loose, ultimately resulting in more of them falling out).

Veneers

Made of strong dental porcelain attached to the front of teeth, these can cover cracks, chips, deep discoloration, and gaps, as well as misshapen teeth or ones that are too small or too large. They are increasingly popular with celebrities and the general public for an easy way to correct cosmetic and functional smile flaws. 

Call today for a dental appointment in Los Angeles and Larchmont Village to have a full dental exam and find out what your best options are to achieve your ideal smile.

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How Dental Visits can Help with Gum Disease Prevention

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Other than having had cavities taken care of by the family dentist, most people grow up with little awareness about the importance of good oral care habits. A third of American adults don’t see a dentist each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and half of all Americans suffer from periodontal disease aka periodontitis.

Periodontal disease is the gum infection that results from inadequate oral hygiene. The right way to do it is to use a soft brush for two minutes twice a day, stroking from the gum line towards the end of the tooth. Flossing needs to be done at the end of the day, carefully holding the string against each side of every tooth. If food and beverage particles are left, a sticky bacterial forms on them and an infection at the gum line begins to peel  away the support of the gums for the tooth.

Without an improvement in oral care, this will ultimately lead to teeth becoming loose and either falling out or needing to be extracted. Some 69% of Americans 35-44 have lost at least one tooth, while 70% of those 75 or older have no teeth.

But even the most dedicated brushers and flossers can’t do the type of cleaning that a dental hygienist can. She has the tools and techniques that enable her to reach difficult areas , scraping off the plaque (aka tartar when it hardens) and injecting antibacterial solutions as needed. This should be done at least twice a year.

Another reason to come into our office at least twice a year is for a full dental exam, including a digital x-ray at least once a year, which is the only way to determine whether a periodontal infection has reached the jawbone. If so, it needs to not only be surgically removed, a bone graft will probably be necessary to make it possible for a dental implant to be done, if a tooth is so loose it needs to be extracted.

Making sure periodontal bacteria are not out of control is also important because this would otherwise raise the risk for having diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. 

Dr. Louie can also look for signs of oral cancer and make sure there are no other dental problems developing. Call for an appointment today in Los Angeles and Larchmont Village before minor problems develop into crises.

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Without Treatment, Chipped Teeth can Lead to Tooth Decay

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A chipped tooth needs to be examined and treated quickly to avoid it becoming a bigger problem. A mere hairline crack in the outer protective layer of enamel due to an accident can expose the more vulnerable inner layers and the tooth could become decayed or even result in a dead root and the need for root canal therapy.

Chipping can occur from a wide variety of causes: an car or bike crash, a fall, a blow to the face playing sports, chewing on a pen, pulling off clothes with your teeth, munching on ice, tearing at jerky, eating nuts, hard candy, bones, nuts, hard breads like pretzels, corn on the cob, popcorn with unpopped kernels, or fruits and vegetables with pits.  

If the chip is painful and sensitive, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers until you come into our office. If there is any bleeding, put a cold pack on and off every 15 minutes for a couple of hours to prevent swelling, and rinse your mouth with salt water to reduce the risk of infection. Eat soft foods and avoid chewing in the area of the injured tooth. Dentemp is a product available at most drug stores to temporarily treat a chipped tooth.

Once Dr. Louie has examined the tooth he will recommend the appropriate solution. If the chip is relatively minor, he may feel that it can be covered and the tooth strengthened by placing a veneer on the front, a very thin piece of biocompatible dental porcelain. This can be exactly matched to the shade of the neighboring teeth so no one will know it was ever harmed. He will use our iTero scanner to create a 3D image of the area to be treated and send this to a top dental lab to craft the veneer. On a second visit, the veneer will be fitted and attached.

If the chip is more of a crack that could endanger the health of the entire tooth, Dr. Louie may feel that it is better to cover it with a crown, a cap to hold it together that also is made to appear exactly like one of your natural teeth.

If you are concerned about any current or potential dental issues, call to set up an appointment for a thorough exam in Los Angeles and Larchmont Village to explore your best options for creating the perfect smile.

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Fighting Coffee Stains on Your Teeth

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Staying home a lot more in the past couple of years made it easy to sip on coffee all day. Now that we’re all out and about again, we realize that this has resulted in very stained teeth and trying to use over-the-counter whitening toothpastes, gels, strips, pens, or trays is not very effective. Los Angeles dentist Dr. Shervin Louie, can help you get back that gleaming smile.

But first, you need to understand how stains occur. Enamel, the hard outer layer of teeth, resists stains when it is smooth, but if you have a dry mouth, due to lack of protective saliva or as a side-effect of medications, enamel can begin to erode. Acid reflux can also harm it, as can drinking acid drinks, like sodas. You can counter these by drinking more water (especially after sodas), using an oral rinse for dry mouth, chewing sugar-free gum that stimulates saliva, and reducing the amount of spicy and salty food you consume.

Enamel can also be weakened by periodontal bacteria, which are sticky and capture dark pigments, so it is also important to be diligent about brushing for two minutes after breakfast and dinner and flossing after your last snack each and every day. If you have had dental work, such as veneers, crowns, and fillings, pay attention to the edges, which may be rough and more vulnerable to coffee and other staining agents (like tea, red wine, blueberries, and tomatoes). You may need to ask Dr. Louie to smooth those areas. Also have your dental hygienist do a professional cleaning twice a year.

 

 

An electric toothbrush can smooth rough surfaces, and some toothpastes may be helpful, especially those with fluoride, the amino acid arginine, amorphous calcium phosphate, or nanohydroxyapatite. 

You can also upgrade the shade of your teeth by having Dr. Louie provide a professional whitening, which involves relaxing in a dental chair and listening to music or watching a video for an hour while a dental bleach is applied to the teeth and activated with a special light, while up to eight shades of darkening are removed. It is advisable to do this once a year to maintain a gleaming smile and it is helpful to use a professional grade whitening kit we provide at home for touch-ups in between.

For really tough cases, where whitening products and processes do not reach your goals, dental veneers applied to the front of teeth can solve the problem. 

Set an appointment today for a full dental exam in Los Angeles and Larchmont Village to find out what your best options are for a smile that will make you proud to flash fully every time you meet others, letting them know how truly friendly you are.

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Dental Problems Can Make You Look More Aged

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Having a bright and healthy full smile has always been considered a sign of youthfulness, no matter your actual age.

Unfortunately, most people don’t keep up good dental habits and the negative impact accumulates over time. Ultimately, unless a dentist intervenes, many lose their teeth and end up wearing full dentures, which not only do not allow optimum chewing and clear speaking, but do not provide the support for the facial muscles, making these individuals look older than they really are.

The roots of these problems go back to the fact that few of us grew up being taught just how important oral health was. The prevention of cavities was emphasized, which wasn’t too hard to do with even basic brushing and flossing (though dental caries, as they are technically known, are still the second most common disease, next to the even more common cold).

But even most American adults don’t fully recognize the danger of periodontal bacteria–the sticky film that develops around food particles that are not completely cleaned off each day. Allowed to flourish, the infected gums eventually pull away their support for teeth. Once a single tooth is missing, the others nearby naturally lean in to fill the gap, causing a chain reaction that leads to them also becoming loose. Some 69% of Americans aged 35-44 have already lost at least one tooth and by 75 or older, 26% have no teeth left.

Fortunately, Dr. Shervin Louie and his team are recognized leaders in keeping patients healthy and looking youthful when they smile. It is never too late to learn how to prevent the loss of further teeth and to replace them so that no one will know that you did not always look so vital. 

Step one is to be sure you brush for two full minutes after breakfast and dinner, then floss thoroughly before bedtime. If you aren’t sure of the exact technique, ask your dental hygienist to show you.

Second, if you continue to have cavities and gum disease, come in for a professional cleaning more often, since your hygienist has special tools and techniques that will remove even hardened tartar (which is what plaque becomes when it is not cleaned off effectively). Ask for advice on whether a water pik, a small brush for cleaning tight spaces, or a dentist-grade mouthwash would help.

Third, be sure to have a full examination by Dr. Louie twice a year, including a digital x-ray (which involves minimal radiation and can reveal the health state of the jawbone, catching infections there before the teeth that are rooted in it are undermined).

In the event you do lose some teeth, we can provide dental implants that are a perfect match for the ones you still have, so that no one will ever know some were once missing. And best of all, implants stop the erosion of the jawbone, while dentures have to be adjusted about every five years because bone continues to be lost. 

Set an appointment today to find out your best options to keep your face looking youthful.

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Educating Your Children About Good Dental Habits

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Did you know that around 30% of kids aged 5-6 have already started experiencing tooth decay? This is proof that it has never been a better time to begin educating your children about good dental habits. We all know just how hard it can be to get your kids to do the essential things that keep them healthy.

Such as eating their vegetables, going to bed early, and practicing good dental habits. However, it is so important to teach your children good oral hygiene to prevent future issues such as tooth loss. Otherwise, they may deal with gum disease, overcrowding from tooth loss, cavities, and infections.

Here are some simple ways to make dental hygiene fun for your little ones. 

Be a Good Role Model

The reality of it is that good dental habits and oral care begins with you. If this is an area of your life that you neglect, your child will too. However, if they see you flossing and brushing every single day, they will want to follow in your footsteps.

Kids love to mimic everything they see you do. So, if they think you’re having fun or doing something cool, you will soon see them doing the exact same.

Turn It into a Fun Song

You can find thousands of fun songs and dances on the internet these days. All you need to do is open up Google and search “toothbrush song” or “brushing teeth song” and you will find hundreds of videos to help you out. 

This exercise helps to turn dental hygiene into a fun and uplifting experience. 

Make a Game of It

One of the best ways to teach your kids about great oral care is to turn it into an engaging game. Try to get them to brush their doll’s teeth while you brush theirs. Or you can get them to brush yours until all of your teeth are clean.

They will have far more fun and turn it into a positive experience. 

Find an Amazing Family-Friendly Dentist

It is incredibly important to find an amazing family-friendly dentist who makes your kids feel comfortable, welcome, and entertained throughout their dental care and procedures. The environment should be bright, full of toys, and engaging.

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6 Reasons Tooth-Colored Fillings Can Be Valuable

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Having a cavity (aka dental caries) is second only to the common cold in frequency among all diseases. Yes, it is a disease, although when we were growing up we only thought of it as a pain when we ate too much candy and didn’t brush our teeth enough. Even small ones need immediate attention and you should be checking regularly to see if you see the telltale spot before you start feeling it and it’s more costly to have it removed to keep it from spreading.

Now there is even a cosmetic alternative to having a filling of ugly amalgam silver that everyone might see if you just grin, laugh, yawn, or talk. It takes away from  the beauty of your smile, but the new tooth-colored composite resin filling is a biocompatible plastic that can be shaded so it looks like part of your natural tooth.

Second, it probably has mercury in it, like inexpensive amalgam fillings used to have. While the American Dental Association does not believe it is a toxic amount, conventional wisdom in any field is often far behind the ultimate proof of a problem. It is better to be safe than sorry and have it removed in the proper way and replaced with the new resin.

Third, you need strong fillings to keep protecting teeth that once had cavities. No filling lasts forever and they need to be carefully examined by your cosmetic dentist regularly to see if they have been damaged by unconsciously grinding your teeth while you sleep, chewing on pens, ice, or hard foods that can even dislodge them, or just normal wear and tear. Since the new resins last 3-10 years with good dental hygiene, older ones almost certainly need to be checked for replacement to keep teeth healthy. Otherwise, bacteria can cause new cavities.

Fourth, tooth-colored fillings do not require as much of the healthy structure of the tooth to be removed  as the amalgam ones did or even the expensive gold ones do now.

Fifth, they do not stain easily. You still need to brush twice a day for two minutes to keep them as white as possible, drink water and brush soon after consuming coffee, tea, or red wine, and have them cleaned by a dental hygienist twice a year.

Sixth, they are the least expensive and quickest solution to cavities. After the numbing takes effect, it typically only takes 15 minutes to replace or put in a resin filling.

Call today to set up a full dental examination so that you know the state of your oral health, including whether you have old fillings or new cavities that need attention.

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