My Blog

By Root River Dental
April 16, 2019
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
WhatYouShoulddoAboutThisBizarreDrugSideEffect

Drugs play an indispensable role in treating disease. For example, life without antibiotics would be much more precarious—common infections we think nothing of now would suddenly become life-threatening.

But even the most beneficial drug can have disruptive side effects. Antibiotics in particular can cause a rare but still disturbing one: a growth on the tongue that at first glance looks like dark hair. In fact, it's often called "black hairy tongue."

It isn't hair—it's an overgrowth of naturally occurring structures on the tongue called filiform papillae. These tiny bumps on the tongue's upper surface help grip food while you're chewing. They're normally about a millimeter in length and tend to be scraped down in the normal course of eating. As they're constantly growing, they replenish quickly.

We're not sure how it occurs, but it seems with a small portion of the population the normal growth patterns of the papillae become unbalanced after taking antibiotics, particularly those in the tetracycline family. Smoking and poor oral hygiene also seem to contribute to this growth imbalance. As a result, the papillae can grow as long as 18 millimeters with thin shafts resembling hair. It's also common for food debris and bacteria to adhere to this mass and discolor it in shades of yellow, green, brown or black.

While it's appearance can be bizarre or even frightening, it's not health-threatening. It's mostly remedied by removing the original cause, such as changing to a different antibiotic or quitting smoking, and gently cleaning the tongue everyday by brushing it or using a tongue scraper you can obtain from a pharmacy.

One word of caution: don't stop any medication you suspect of a side effect without first discussing it with your prescribing doctor. While effects like black hairy tongue are unpleasant, they're not harmful—and you don't want to interfere with treatments for problems that truly are.

If you would like more information on reactions to medication that might affect your oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Root River Dental
April 06, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: tooth decay  
YourSinusInfectionMightbeaSignofaToothProblem

Each year thousands of people develop sinus infections from various causes. But there's one cause for sinusitis that might surprise you—tooth decay.

Tooth decay begins when the acid produced by oral bacteria erodes a tooth's enamel protection to create a small hole or cavity. Left untreated, the infection can move into the inner pulp of the tooth and tiny passageways leading to the roots called root canals. The decay can then infect and break down the structure of the supporting jawbone.

This could affect the sinus cavities, hollow air-filled spaces in the upper portion of the face. The maxillary sinus in particular sits behind the cheek bones just above the upper jaw. Tooth roots, particularly in back teeth, can extend quite near or even poke through the floor of the maxillary sinus.

If decay affects these roots, the bone beneath this floor may begin to break down and allow the bacterial infection to enter the sinus. We call this particular kind of sinus infection maxillary sinusitis of endodontic origin (MSEO), "endodontic" referring to the interior structure of teeth.

While advanced decay can show symptoms like pain or sensitivity with certain hot or cold foods, it's also possible to have it and not know it directly. But a recurring sinus infection could be an indirect indication that the root of your suffering is a deeply decayed tooth. Treating the sinus infection with antibiotics won't cure this underlying dental problem. For that you'll need to see a dentist or an endodontist, a specialist for interior tooth issues.

The most common way to treat deep tooth decay is with root canal therapy. In this procedure, the dentist enters the decayed tooth's pulp (nerve chamber) and root canals and removes the diseased tissue. They will then fill the empty pulp and root canals with a special filling and seal the tooth to prevent future infection. The procedure stops the infection and saves the tooth—and if you have MSEO, it eliminates the cause of the sinus infection.

So, if you're suffering from chronic sinus infections, you might talk with your dentist about the possibility of a tooth infection. A thorough examination might reveal a decayed tooth in need of treatment.

If you would like more information on how dental problems can affect your overall health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

APartialDentureCanRestoreaSmileMarredbyaFewMissingTeeth

Dentures in one form or another have been around for centuries. Although dental implants have earned a well-deserved prominence of late, the denture still remains a viable tooth replacement option.

What's more, dentures aren't reserved for total tooth loss only. Even if you've lost just a few of your teeth, we can fit you with a removable partial denture (RPD). Although mainly considered a temporary solution for missing teeth, some people depend on an RPD for many years due to finances or other issues.

The traditional RPD consists of a rigid acrylic plastic base that resembles gum tissue supported by a metal framework, with prosthetic (false) teeth precisely placed to fill the space of the missing teeth. They're held in place with metal clasps that extend from the metal framework to fit over the remaining natural teeth.

Although they're an effective restoration, traditional RPDs have a few drawbacks. Some people find them uncomfortable to wear or have an allergy to the acrylic plastic. They also have a propensity to stain from beverages like tea, coffee or wine.

But there's a more recent version called a flexible RPD that addresses these and other concerns. It's made of a pliable nylon that's durable, yet comfortable to wear. Rather than metal clasps, they're secured in place with thin, finger-like nylon extensions that fit into the small, natural depressions in the crowns of the teeth around the gum line.

Flexible RPDs are also highly adaptable to appear life-like in many situations. We can fashion the nylon base to cover areas around natural teeth where the gums may have receded due to gum disease.

They do, however, have a few downsides. Unlike traditional dentures, they're difficult to reline or repair. Like any oral appliance, they can suffer from wear and neglect, so you must properly clean and maintain them. And, like any RPD their best role is as a temporary bridge rather than a permanent restoration.

In the meantime, though, you can count on a flexible RPD to restore your ability to eat and speak proficiently, as well as smile with confidence. It's a great affordable way to address a few missing teeth.

If you would like more information on dentures as a restoration option, 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 “Flexible Partial Dentures.”

Is it time to do something for yourself? Are damaged teeth and smile gaps embarrassing and discouraging? Bring function and beauty dental crownsback to your smile with dental crowns and bridges from Dr. Jeffrey Welnak, your dentist at Root River Dental in West Allis, WI.

What happens when you lose teeth

Your oral function--biting, chewing, tasting and speaking--change dramatically. Your bite height diminishes as your gums and underlying jaw bone degrade. Confidence in social situations suffers.

Preventive dentistry services from your dentist in West Allis work to avoid tooth loss, preserving natural tooth structure and minimizing the impact of decay and gum disease. Dr. Welnak recommends six-month cleanings and examinations, along with digital X-rays, to keep oral health strong.

If you do lose teeth...

The team at Root River Dental can help. Two significant restorative procedures are dental crowns, which support and cover damaged teeth, and fixed bridgework, which fills a smile gap with realistic pontic, or artificial, teeth.

How crowns work

Today's crowns are custom-crafted from lifelike and durable porcelain according to oral impressions and Dr. Welnak's specific directions. He recommends a crown when a tooth has heavy decay, many fillings, a large crack or chip, or needs root canal treatment due to injury or infection.

An examination and X-rays tell your dentist if your tooth can survive and function if crowned. If so, Dr. Welmak removes the damaged enamel and prepares the tooth to accept the crown. A temporary restoration protects the remade tooth while the dental lab fashions the permanent crown. When it's ready, you'll return to Root River Dental, and your dentist will take the temporary off and bond the new crown in place with a strong cement.

Crowns approximate real teeth in color, shape, durability and size. They cover teeth right to the gum line. Typically, crowns last for ten years or more when you brush and floss daily and get your routine check-ups and cleanings.

How bridges work

Bridges do what their name implies: they bridge gaps when someone loses one, two or more adjacent teeth. The pontics, or artificial teeth, attach to natural teeth via porcelain crowns, blending away the unsightly gap and returning the ability to eat properly.

Some bridgework is implant-supported--that is, attaching to titanium implants inserted into the jaw for maximum anchorage and bone maintenance. All bridgework requires regular and diligent oral hygiene habits both at home and at the dental office.

How can we help you?

The right replacement and restorative dental solutions take the proper balance between your smile goals and the tools your dentist has. At Root River Dental, count on the finest materials and skill, plus the compassionate listening ear of Dr. Jeffrey Welnak. Call today for more about crowns and bridges: (414) 545-2050.

By Root River Dental
March 17, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
LadyGagaWasntBornThisWay

Sometimes, looking at old pictures can really bring memories back to life. Just ask Stefani Germanotta—the pop diva better known as Lady Gaga. In one scene from the recent documentary Five Foot Two, as family members sort through headshots from her teen years, her father proclaims: "Here, this proves she had braces!"

"If I had kept that gap, then I would have even more problems with Madonna," Lady Gaga replies, referencing an ongoing feud between the two musical celebrities.

The photos of Gaga's teenage smile reveal that the singer of hits like "Born This Way" once had a noticeable gap (which dentists call a diastema) between her front teeth. This condition is common in children, but often becomes less conspicuous with age. It isn't necessarily a problem: Lots of well-known people have extra space in their smiles, including ex-football player and TV host Michael Strahan, actress Anna Paquin…and fellow pop superstar Madonna. It hasn't hurt any of their careers.

Yet others would prefer a smile without the gap. Fortunately, diastema in children is generally not difficult to fix. One of the easiest ways to do so is with traditional braces or clear aligners. These orthodontic appliances, usually worn for a period of months, can actually move the teeth into positions that look more pleasing in the smile and function better in the bite. For many people, orthodontic treatment is a part of their emergence from adolescence into adulthood.

Braces and aligners, along with other specialized orthodontic appliances, can also remedy many bite problems besides diastema. They can correct misaligned teeth and spacing irregularities, fix overbites and underbites, and take care of numerous other types of malocclusions (bite problems).

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that kids get screened for orthodontic problems at age 7. Even if an issue is found, most won't get treatment at this age—but in some instances, it's possible that early intervention can save a great deal of time, money and effort later. For example, while the jaw is still developing, its growth can be guided with special appliances that can make future orthodontic treatment go quicker and easier.

Yet orthodontics isn't just for children—adults can wear braces too! As long as teeth and gums are healthy, there's no upper age limit on orthodontic treatment. Instead of traditional silver braces, many adults choose tooth-colored braces or clear aligners to complement their more professional appearance.

So if your child is at the age where screening is recommended—or if you're unhappy with your own smile—ask us whether orthodontics could help. But if you get into a rivalry with Madonna…you're on your own.

If you have questions about orthodontic treatment, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Magic of Orthodontics” and “Orthodontics For The Older Adult.”





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