My Blog

Posts for: September, 2018

By Dr. Kris O'Neill
September 29, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: loose teeth  
LooseAdultTeethRequireImmediateAttentionandTreatment

During your lifetime you’ll eat thousands of meals — and generate a lot of force from chewing over the years. But thanks to a support system of gum tissues and bone, your teeth can normally handle it.

What your teeth can’t handle, though, are higher than normal chewing forces on a continual basis. This can happen if you grind your teeth, which can produce 20-30 times the normal force. The habit often arises in adults because of high stress and often occurs during sleep.

These abnormal forces can stretch the periodontal ligaments that hold teeth in place, cause the teeth to become loose and at increased risk for loss. The best treatment strategy is to reduce clenching with, for example, muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory drugs or lower the effects with a mouth guard that won’t allow the teeth to make solid contact during clenching.

Your teeth can also become loose even with normal chewing forces if you have advanced periodontal (gum) disease. Gum disease arises from dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles left on teeth due to poor oral hygiene. As it builds up, it causes inflammation of the gum tissues resulting in bone loss and causing the gums to detach from the teeth, increasing pocket depth.

Our first step in this case is to treat the gum disease by removing plaque and calculus (tartar) from all tooth and gum surfaces. This includes infected areas below the gum line and around the roots, a circumstance that could require surgical access.

As treatment progresses in either of these scenarios the gum tissues heal and often regain their attachment to the teeth. But that can take time, so we may need to stabilize any loose teeth in the short term. The most common way is to splint them to other secure teeth. This is done by using a clear acrylic bonding material to join the loose teeth together with a strip of metal or other rigid material (like joining pickets in a fence).

When symptoms arise, quick action is the key to preventing lost teeth. If you notice swollen, painful or bleeding gums or especially loose teeth, don’t delay — contact us so we can begin treatment as soon as possible.

If you would like more information on the causes and treatments for loose 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 “Loose Teeth.”


By DR. KRIS O'NEILL
September 25, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Cosmetic Dentistry   veneers  

Porcelain VeneersThese porcelain restorations could give you the smile makeover you’ve been looking for.

Do you feel embarrassed to smile in public because your smile just isn’t up to par? Do you wish that you had a smile that made you feel confident rather than self-conscious? If this sounds like something you are currently experiencing, then you’ve come to the right place. Our Columbia, SC, cosmetic dentist Dr. Kris O’Neill is here to tell you how dental veneers could improve your current situation.

What are dental veneers?

Veneers are very thin, tooth-colored shells made from medical-grade porcelain. These restorations are designed to cover the entire front surface of one or more teeth to improve the overall look of your smile. Many celebrities have turned to veneers to get that ideal smile and now you can, too.

What can veneers do for your smile?

Veneers are amazingly versatile cosmetic restorations that are able to hide imperfections in your smile so all people see is a beautiful set of teeth. You could be a great candidate for veneers if you are looking to hide:

  • Cracks and chips
  • Uneven or worn teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Minor crowding and overlapping
  • Misshapen teeth

Veneers become the new outer surface of your tooth, providing you with a whiter and more even smile. In fact, in some cases, veneers can even make your smile straighter without needing braces.

How do I get dental veneers?

The first thing that will need to happen is for our Columbia, SC, dentist to examine your smile to make sure that your teeth are healthy enough for veneers and that your treatment goals align with what veneers can offer you (if veneers aren’t the right option, don’t worry. We offer many cosmetic options to help you achieve the results you want).

Once we determine that veneers are right for you, we will next have to prep your teeth to receive your new restorations. Tooth preparation is minimal when it comes to getting veneers; however, it’s important to note that it will require us to shave off a small amount of enamel from the front of your teeth, which isn’t reversible.

Once teeth are prepped we will take measurements of your mouth to send to a dental lab so they can create your very own set of veneers. When the lab has sent back your veneers you will come in so that we can check the look and fit before permanently bonding them to the front of your teeth.

If you are interested in getting dental veneers or cosmetic dentistry in Columbia, SC, and want to find out whether you are an ideal candidate for this restoration, it’s the perfect time to call Dr. O’Neill’s office to schedule a consultation with us. Getting a beautiful smile has never been easier thanks to veneers.


By Dr. Kris O'Neill
September 19, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene   oral health  
KeepUpGoodDentalHabitsinCollegetoProtectYourTeethandGums

Starting college is one of life’s biggest transition moments, the first time many young people can truly say they’re on their own. Their freshman year can be both exhilarating and frightening.

The reason for this seeming dichotomy is that both exciting opportunities and harmful pitfalls abound in college life. One such pitfall that’s often overlooked involves dental health: it’s all too easy to neglect good habits and adopt bad ones. But while it may not seem as harmful as other dangers, inattention to your dental health could create consequences that plague you long after graduation.

But being diligent about dental care can help you avoid serious problems now and in the future. At the top of the list: brush and floss your teeth daily and continue seeing a dentist at least twice a year. Hopefully, your parents or guardians have trained you in these vital habits—and they’re definitely habits you should continue for the rest of your life.

Close in importance to good oral hygiene is a healthy diet. Besides eating primarily “natural” food—fresh fruits and vegetables and less-processed foods—you should also set limits on your sugar consumption. This carbohydrate is a primary food for disease-causing bacteria, so limiting as much as possible the sugar you eat to just meal times will lower your risk for tooth decay.

Another area in which you should tread wisely is alcohol consumption. Besides the obvious consequences of alcohol abuse, immoderate drinking can also cause dental problems. Alcohol (and smoking) tends to dry out the mouth, which can increase the levels of oral bacteria and in turn increase your risk of both tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Finally, avoid getting piercings involving the lips, mouth or tongue even if it’s the thing to do. Piercing hardware can chip teeth and contribute to the shrinking back of the gums (recession). And be sure you practice safe sex: unprotected sexual activity could expose you to viral infections that cause oral problems including cancer.

Your college years should be an exciting and memorable experience. By practicing these and other common sense dental habits, you’ll be sure to remember these years fondly.

If you would like more information on dental care during college, 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 “10 Health Tips for College Students.”


By Dr. Kris O'Neill
September 08, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gummy smile  
TheTrueCauseofYourGummySmileDeterminesHowWeTreatit

What makes a beautiful smile? The teeth, of course: bright, evenly shaped and precisely aligned with each other. But your teeth can be as perfect as can be and your smile will still appear unattractive.

The reason? Your gums show more than they should when you smile.

What's considered a gummy smile is largely a matter of perception that can vary from person to person. As a rule of thumb, though, we consider a smile “gummy” if four millimeters (mm) or more of the gums show.

Fortunately, we can minimize the gums' prominence and make your smile more attractive. But what methods we use will depend on why your gums stand out. And it's not always because of the gums themselves.

It could be your teeth didn't erupt normally during dental development. Mature crown (the visible part of the tooth) length is normally about 10 mm with a width about 75-85% of that. But an abnormal eruption could result in teeth that appear too short, which can make the gums stand out more. We can correct this with a surgical procedure called crown lengthening in which we remove excess gum tissue and, if necessary, reshape the underlying bone to expose more of the tooth crown.

Another potential cause is how far your upper lip rises when you smile. Normally the lip rises only enough to reveal about 4 mm of teeth. In some cases, though, it may rise too high and show more of the gums. We can modify lip movement in a number of ways, including Botox injections to temporarily paralyze the lip. A more permanent solution is a lip stabilization procedure. It sounds bad, but it's a fairly simple procedure to surgically reposition the muscle attachments to restrict movement.

Your gummy smile may also result from an upper jaw too long for your facial structure. We can correct this with orthognathic (“ortho” – straighten, “gnathos” – jaw) surgery. During the procedure the surgeon permanently positions the jaw further up in the skull; this will reduce the amount of teeth and gums displayed when you smile.

Discovering the true cause of your gummy smile will determine how we treat it. After a complete oral examination, we can then discuss your options to transform your smile into a more attractive one.

If you would like more information on treating gummy smiles and other cosmetic problems, 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.”