Dentist Blog

By Thomas W. Kauffman, DDS
May 24, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral surgery  

There are many instances where oral surgery may be required. When you’re looking for dental expertise and a dentist near you in oral surgeryAtlanta, Georgia, seek the help of Dr. Thomas Kauffman for everything you need to know about dental procedures and preparing for them.

FAQs about Oral Surgery

1. What is oral surgery?

Oral or maxillofacial surgery is surgery administered in order to treat injuries, defects in mouth or jaw, or for diseases in the region.

2. What does a dental surgeon treat?

Procedures at your Atlanta dentist's office, such as tooth extractions, reconstructive oral surgery, treatment of infections, wisdom tooth removal, and dental implants are all issues that can be dealt with.

3. What is a tooth extraction?

A tooth extraction means having a tooth removed. It is done for many reasons from injury to spacing issues or infection in the mouth or jaw.

4. What are wisdom teeth?

These are third molars that erupt in the mouth and typically don’t have enough room. When this occurs, wisdom teeth can come in sideways or only partially and become impacted. Some symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth include pain or swelling in the gums or lower face. If they are left untreated, the infection can ensue.

5. How long does it take to recover from wisdom tooth removal?

Recovery time after wisdom tooth extraction varies from patient to patient. Initial pain or swelling can take up to two weeks.

Ultimately, your dental surgeon in Atlanta, Georgia, will provide adequate instructions regarding any oral surgery you are having done. This will include information about medications, swelling or follow-up visits (if applicable). By following these instructions closely, you can guarantee optimal healing after your oral surgery procedure. For more information about oral surgery or wisdom teeth, call Dr. Thomas Kauffman at (404) 524-1981.

By Thomas W. Kauffman, DDS
May 20, 2017
Category: Oral Health

Ever since childhood, when her career as a model and actress took off, Brooke Shields has enjoyed worldwide recognition — through advertisements for designer jeans, appearances on The Muppet Show, and starring roles in big-screen films. But not long ago, that familiar face was spotted in an unusual place: wearing a nasal anesthesia mask at the dentist's office. In fact, Shields posted the photo to her own Instagram account, with the caption “More dental surgery! I grind my teeth!” And judging by the number of comments the post received, she's far from alone.

In fact, researchers estimate that around one in ten adults have dental issues that stem from teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism. (Many children also grind their teeth, but it rarely causes serious problems, and is often outgrown.) About half of the people who are teeth grinders report problems like persistent headaches, jaw tenderness and sore teeth. Bruxism may also result in excessive tooth wear, and may damage dental work like crowns and bridges; in severe cases, loosened or fractured teeth have been reported.

Researchers have been studying teeth grinding for many years; their findings seem to indicate that it has no single cause. However, there are a number of factors that play a significant role in this condition. One is the anatomy of the jaw itself, and the effect of worn or misaligned teeth on the bite. Another factor relates to changes in brain activity that occur during the sleep cycle. In fact, nocturnal (nighttime) bruxism is now classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. Still other factors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, and a high level of stress or anxiety, can make an individual more likely to experience bruxism.

What can be done for people whose teeth grinding is causing problems? Since this condition may have many causes, a number of different treatments are available. Successful management of bruxism often begins by striving to eliminate the factors that may cause problems — for example, making lifestyle changes to improve your health, creating a soothing nighttime environment, and trying stress-reduction techniques; these may include anything from warm baths and soft music at bedtime, to meditation and mindfulness exercises.

Several dental treatments are also available, including a custom-made occlusal guard (night guard) that can keep your teeth from being damaged by grinding. In some cases, a bite adjustment may also be recommended: In this procedure, a small amount of enamel is removed from a tooth to change the way it contacts the opposite tooth, thereby lessening the biting force on it. More invasive techniques (such as surgery) are rarely needed.

A little tooth grinding once in a while can be a normal response to stress; in fact, becoming aware of the condition is often the first step to controlling it. But if you begin to notice issues that could stem from bruxism — or if the loud grinding sounds cause problems for your sleeping partner — it may be time to contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more about bruxism in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Stress and Tooth Habits.”

By Thomas W. Kauffman, DDS
May 05, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

Most children's permanent teeth erupt on a fairly predictable schedule. Sometimes, though, one or more teeth might not develop as they should — or at all.

These absent teeth pose functional problems for chewing and hygiene, which can affect long-term dental health. But they can also have a disruptive effect on an otherwise attractive smile if the missing teeth are the upper lateral incisors in the most visible part of the smile.

You normally find this pair of teeth on either side of the upper central incisors (the two front-most teeth). On the other side of the lateral incisors are the canine or eye teeth, known for their pointed appearance. Without the lateral incisors, the canines tend to drift into the space next to the central incisors. This can produce an odd appearance even a layperson will notice: only four teeth where there should be six!

It's possible to correct this abnormality, but it will take time and expense. The first step is usually to move the teeth in the upper jaw with braces to their correct position. This puts teeth where they should be and also opens space between the canines and central incisors so we can eventually replace the missing teeth with dental implants.

But the key to all this is timing. It's usually appropriate to undertake tooth movement with braces during late childhood or adolescence. But implants shouldn't be installed until the person's jaw fully matures, usually in early adulthood. An implant placed before then could eventually become misaligned.

To accommodate the time between bite correction and implant placement, the patient can wear a retainer appliance that will keep the newly created space open. We can also attach artificial teeth to the retainer to camouflage the empty space.

It usually takes a team of a family dentist, an orthodontist and a surgeon to see this kind of “smile makeover” project through, possibly over several years. But the gains in better aesthetics and health are well worth the time and expense.

If you would like more information on replacing non-developing teeth, 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 “When Permanent Teeth Don't Grow.”

By Thomas W. Kauffman, DDS
April 20, 2017
Category: Oral Health

Some people are lucky — they never seem to have a mishap, dental or otherwise. But for the rest of us, accidents just happen sometimes. Take actor Jamie Foxx, for example. A few years ago, he actually had a dentist intentionally chip one of his teeth so he could portray a homeless man more realistically. But recently, he got a chipped tooth in the more conventional way… well, conventional in Hollywood, anyway. It happened while he was shooting the movie Sleepless with co-star Michelle Monaghan.

“Yeah, we were doing a scene and somehow the action cue got thrown off or I wasn't looking,” he told an interviewer. “But boom! She comes down the pike. And I could tell because all this right here [my teeth] are fake. So as soon as that hit, I could taste the little chalkiness, but we kept rolling.” Ouch! So what's the best way to repair a chipped tooth? The answer it: it all depends…

For natural teeth that have only a small chip or minor crack, cosmetic bonding is a quick and relatively easy solution. In this procedure, a tooth-colored composite resin, made of a plastic matrix with inorganic glass fillers, is applied directly to the tooth's surface and then hardened or “cured” by a special light. Bonding offers a good color match, but isn't recommended if a large portion of the tooth structure is missing. It's also less permanent than other types of restoration, but may last up to 10 years.

When more of the tooth is missing, a crown or dental veneer may be a better answer. Veneers are super strong, wafer-thin coverings that are placed over the entire front surface of the tooth. They are made in a lab from a model of your teeth, and applied in a separate procedure that may involve removal of some natural tooth material. They can cover moderate chips or cracks, and even correct problems with tooth color or spacing.

A crown is the next step up: It's a replacement for the entire visible portion of the tooth, and may be needed when there's extensive damage. Like veneers, crowns (or caps) are made from models of your bite, and require more than one office visit to place; sometimes a root canal may also be needed to save the natural tooth. However, crowns are strong, natural looking, and can last many years.

But what about teeth like Jamie's, which have already been restored? That's a little more complicated than repairing a natural tooth. If the chip is small, it may be possible to smooth it off with standard dental tools. Sometimes, bonding material can be applied, but it may not bond as well with a restoration as it will with a natural tooth; plus, the repaired restoration may not last as long as it should. That's why, in many cases, we will advise that the entire restoration be replaced — it's often the most predictable and long-lasting solution.

Oh, and one more piece of advice: Get a custom-made mouthguard — and use it! This relatively inexpensive device, made in our office from a model of your own teeth, can save you from a serious mishap… whether you're doing Hollywood action scenes, playing sports or just riding a bike. It's the best way to protect your smile from whatever's coming at it!

If you have questions about repairing chipped teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Artistic Repair of Chipped Teeth With Composite Resin” and “Porcelain Veneers.”

By Thomas W. Kauffman, DDS, PC
February 28, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: tooth extractions  

Find out why having a permanent tooth removed might actually be a good thing for your oral health.tooth extraction

You always hear that maintaining your natural teeth is the most important thing you can do for your oral health. After all, while there are more options than ever before for replacing missing teeth, really the best option is to keep your natural teeth healthy. Of course, here are some instances in which our downtown Atlanta, GA, dentist, Dr. Thomas Kauffman, will recommend having a tooth extracted:

Crowded Smiles

Are you planning on getting braces to fix a crowded or crooked smile? Even orthodontics may not be able to shift and align your teeth if your mouth is too small to accommodate all of your teeth. In this case, our Atlanta dentist will recommend having one or two teeth pulled prior to getting braces to help make your orthodontic treatment and results more effective.

An Infection

If you don’t come in every six months for routine cleanings then you may not even notice decay or damage brewing until it’s too late. Once the decay or infection has reached the inside of the tooth you’ll often be greeted with a pretty nasty toothache. In many cases, a root canal treatment is all that’s needed to treat the infection and remove the damaged dental pulp. However, if a root canal doesn’t treat the issue then the tooth may need to be removed.

Gum Disease

If you don’t know that you have gum disease and you don’t get routine dental care like you should then you probably won’t notice the early and subtle signs of periodontal disease. If gum disease is ignored or left undetected the infection can continue to grow, affecting the health of your jawbone. Once this happens, teeth can become loose.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Most wisdom teeth will need to be removed at some point during your lifetime. These third set of molars that come in during your late teens or early twenties can often cause issues such as crowding, damage to neighboring teeth or an infection. If this is the case, the best option will be to have your wisdom teeth removed.

Severe Injury

From a terrible fall to a sports injury there are many problems that can lead to a damaged tooth. While a dental crown is often the way to restore a tooth that has a mild to moderate crack, if the crack goes below the gumline then the tooth may no longer be viable and will need to be removed. If we determine that a tooth extraction is the best option we will also talk to you about your tooth replacement options.

Do you have questions about tooth extractions? Wondering whether you need to have your wisdom teeth removed? Then it’s time you scheduled a consultation with our downtown Atlanta, GA, dental office today.

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