We instinctively know an attractive smile when we see one. But although our perceptions are subjective ("in the eye of the beholder"), there are understood aesthetic principles that shape them. For smiles in particular, proportionality is one such principle.
More specifically, an attractive smile's visible gum tissue should be proportional to its visible tooth surface. If the gum amount exceeds this, then the smile will appear too "gummy." There's no set measurement, per se, but most dentists peg it at around four millimeters—just over an 1/8 of an inch—or more.
Fortunately, there are options for improving a "gummy" smile. Notice that we said "options," plural: That's because over-exposed gums can occur due to a variety of causes.
Obviously, an actual over-abundance of gum tissue could be one of those causes. It might also result, however, from the teeth appearing and being too small, less than 10 mm of visible crown length, because the teeth are in themselves abnormally small or they failed to erupt completely during development.
There are also causes beyond the actual teeth and gums. The upper lip may move too far upward while smiling—a problem known as hypermobility—revealing too much gum tissue. The upper jaw may also appear too long because of the position of its attachment to the base of the skull. This in turn might result in too much gum tissue displaying while smiling.
Uncovering a gummy smile's underlying cause thus determines the right treatment to pursue. For oversized gums or undersized teeth, a periodontist might choose to perform a plastic surgery technique called crown lengthening. This procedure reduces and reshapes the gum tissues and underlying bone to expose the full length of the teeth.
Lip hypermobility could be limited temporarily by Botox injections administered about every six months. Another option is a surgical procedure that restricts lip movement and can offer a permanent solution. Similarly, surgery to reposition a long upper jaw could minimize gum exposure and improve smile appearance.
If you or a family member has a gummy smile, there may be an effective way to improve it. Understanding why it's gummy will be your first step to a more attractive smile.
If you would like more information on enhancing a gummy smile, 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 “Gummy Smiles.”
Discover the benefits of getting dental crowns and bridges for your smile.
Accidents happen! Yes, even to your smile. Whether you are dealing with extensive decay, or a cracked or broken tooth, Dr. Heidi Eggers-Ulve (pediatric dentist) and Dr. Eric Ulve (general dentist) at Green Bay Family Dental in Green Bay, WI, is here to tell you how getting dental crowns and bridges could turn your smile around.
What are crowns and bridges?
These fixed dental restorations are custom-made just for you. A crown is a tooth-shaped cap that is placed over a tooth to improve its function and appearance while a dental bridge is used to fill gaps and replace one or more missing teeth.
Why might I get a crown?
A crown is a very versatile restoration that can be used to protect a tooth from further damage. A tooth weakened by decay, infection, or trauma can often benefit from getting a crown. A crown will surround the tooth and provide a stronger and more durable outer layer of protection.
A crown may be recommended if you have a cracked, fractured, or broken tooth, if you have a tooth that is badly misshapen or discolored, or if you just underwent root canal therapy.
When are dental bridges needed?
A dental bridge is a fixed oral prosthetic that is designed to replace a single missing tooth or a few missing teeth in a row. A bridge uses two dental crowns, which are placed over healthy teeth on both sides of the gap. The bridge, which contains false teeth, will be fused with the crowns to anchor the artificial teeth in the middle.
Dental crowns and bridges offer an array of benefits, from treating tooth loss and filling gaps left behind by missing teeth, to protecting teeth from further damage and improving the aesthetics of your smile.
Do you want to know more about dental crowns, bridges, and other restorative dentistry options we offer? If so, all you have to do is call Dr. Heidi Eggers-Ulve (pediatric dentist) and Dr. Eric Ulve (general dentist) at Green Bay Family Dental in Green Bay, WI. You can reach our office at 920-432-2961.
The odds are extremely low that you'll read or hear about an infection outbreak in a dental clinic anytime soon. That's no happy accident. The more than 170,000 dentists practicing in the U.S. work diligently to protect their patients and staff from infectious disease during dental care.
Spurred on by both high professional standards and governmental oversight, American dentists adhere to strict infection control measures. The primary purpose of these measures is to protect patients from bloodborne infections like Hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS.
The term bloodborne refers to the transmission of a virus from person to person via contact with blood. This can occur when blood from an infected person enters the body of another person through a wound or incision.
This is of special concern with any procedure that can cause disruptions to skin or other soft tissues. Oral surgery, of course, falls into this category. But it could also apply to procedures in general dentistry like tooth extraction or even teeth cleaning, both of which can cause tissue trauma.
Each individual dentist or clinic formulates a formal infection control plan designed to prevent person to person blood contact. These plans are a set of protocols based on guidelines developed by on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Barrier protection is an important part of such plans. Dentists and their staff routinely wear gloves, gowns, masks, or other coverings during procedures to block contact between them and their patients.
Additionally, staff members also disinfect work surfaces and sterilize reusable instruments after each treatment session. They isolate disposable items used during treatment from common trash and dispose of them separately. On a personal level, dental staff also thoroughly wash their hands before and after each patient visit.
Because of these practices and the importance placed on controlling potential infection spread, you have nothing to fear in regard to disease while visiting the dentist. If you have any questions or concerns, though, let your dentist know—your safety is just as important to them as your dental care.
If you would like more information on infection control in the dentist's office, 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 “Infection Control in the Dental Office.”
If your child suddenly begins complaining about a toothache, your average day can immediately turn into something else. It can become even more worrisome as you try to decide what to do.
It doesn't have to. There are definite things you can do to calmly and methodically deal with the situation at hand. Here, then, are action steps you can take when your child has tooth pain.
Find out where and when. To get the big picture, first ask the child where in the mouth it hurts and if they remember when it started. A rough estimate of the latter is usually sufficient to establishing how long it's been going on, which could help determine how soon you should call the dentist.
Take a look inside. You'll want to then look in their mouth for any observable signs of what might be the cause of the pain. Look for spots or small holes (cavities) in the affected tooth, an indication of decay. Also check the gums for swelling, a sign they may be abscessed.
Remove trapped food debris. While checking in the mouth, look for pieces of food like popcorn hulls or candy that might be wedged between the teeth. This could be the cause of the pain, so attempt to remove it by gently flossing between the teeth. If it was the source, their pain should subside soon after.
Ease their discomfort. You can help take the edge off their pain by giving them an appropriate dose for their age of either ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Don't, however, rub aspirin or other pain relievers around the affected tooth or gums—these medications can be acidic, which could severely irritate interior mouth tissues.
Call your dentist. It's always good for a dentist to check your child's mouth after a toothache. The question is when: If your child has responded well to pain medication and has no swelling or fever, you can wait to call the next day. If not, call as soon as possible for an appointment.
A toothache is rarely an emergency, but it can still be disconcerting for you and your child. Knowing what steps to take can help resolve the situation without a lot of discomfort for them and stress for you.
If you would like more information on dealing with a child's tooth pain, 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.”
Hannah Bronfman, well-known DJ and founder of the health and beauty website HBFIT.com, took a tumble while biking a few years ago. After the initial pain and bruising subsided, all seemed well—until she started experiencing headaches, fatigue and unexplained weight gain. Her doctors finally located the source—a serious infection emanating from a tooth injured during the accident.
It's easy to think of the human body as a loose confederation of organs and tissues that by and large keep their problems to themselves. But we'd do better to consider the body as an organic whole—and that a seemingly isolated condition may actually disrupt other aspects of our health.
That can be the case with oral infections triggered by tooth decay or gum disease, or from trauma as in Bronfman's case. These infections, which can inflict severe damage on teeth and gums, may also contribute to health issues beyond the mouth. They can even worsen serious, life-threatening conditions like heart disease.
The bacteria that cause both tooth decay and gum disease could be the mechanism for these extended problems. It's possible for bacteria active during an oral infection to migrate to other parts of the body through the bloodstream. If that happens, they can spread infection elsewhere, as it appears happened with Bronfman.
But perhaps the more common way for a dental disease to impact general health is through chronic inflammation. Initially, this defensive response by the body is a good thing—it serves to isolate diseased or injured tissues from healthier tissues. But if it becomes chronic, inflammation can cause its own share of damage.
The inflammation associated with gum disease can lead to weakened gum tissues that lose their attachment to teeth. But clinical research over the last few years also points to another possibility—that periodontal inflammation could worsen the inflammation associated with diseases like heart disease, diabetes or arthritis.
Because of this potential harm not only to your teeth and gums but also to the rest of your body, you shouldn't take an oral injury or infection lightly. If you've had an accident involving your mouth, see your dentist as soon as possible for a complete examination. You should also make an appointment if you notice signs of infection like swollen or bleeding gums.
Prompt dental treatment can help you minimize potential damage to your teeth and gums. It could also protect the rest of your health.
If you would like more information about the effects of dental problems on the rest of the body, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Link Between Heart and Gum Diseases.”
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