My Blog

Posts for: June, 2019

By Dr. Kris O'Neill
June 26, 2019
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  

Dairy foods have played a role in human diets for thousands of years. More than one kid—whether millennia ago on the Mesopotamian plains or today in an American suburb—has been told to drink their milk to grow strong. This is because milk and other dairy products contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy body, including healthy teeth and gums. In honor of National Dairy Month in June, here are four ways dairy boosts your oral health:

Dental-friendly vitamins, minerals and proteins. Dairy products are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals that are important for good dental health. They are packed with calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that work together to strengthen tooth enamel. In addition to the vitamins they contain naturally, milk and yogurt are fortified with vitamin D, which aids in calcium and phosphorus absorption; cheese contains a small amount of vitamin D naturally. What's more, dairy proteins have been shown to prevent or reduce the erosion of tooth enamel and strengthen the connective tissues that hold teeth in place.

Lactose: a more tooth-friendly sugar. Sugars like sucrose or high fructose corn syrup, which are routinely added to processed foods, are a primary trigger for tooth decay. This is because certain oral bacteria consume sugar, producing acid as a by-product. The acid weakens tooth enamel, eventually resulting in cavities. Dairy products—at least those without added sugar—are naturally low in sugar, and the sugar they contain, lactose, results in less acid production than other common sugars.

The decay-busting power of cheese. We know that high acidity in the mouth is a major factor in decay development. But cheese is low in acidity, and a quick bite of it right after eating a sugary snack could help raise the mouth's pH out of the danger zone. Cheeses are also rich in calcium, which could help preserve that important mineral's balance in tooth enamel.

Dairy for gum health. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that people who regularly consumed dairy products had a lower incidence of gum disease than those who did not. And since gum health is related to the overall health, it's important to do all we can to prevent and manage gum disease.

For those who cannot or choose not to consume dairy products, there are other foods that supply calcium naturally, such as beans, nuts and leafy greens—and many other foods are fortified with calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients. It may be wise to take a multivitamin or calcium with vitamin D as a supplement as well.

If you would like more information about nutrition and oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Nutrition & Oral Health” and “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”

By Dr. Kris O'Neill
June 16, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: smoking   dental implant  

Although costly in the beginning, dental implants often turn out to be the least expensive tooth replacement option. That's because their enviable record for longevity often outpaces dentures or bridges. Over the long-term you might spend less for implants than these other restorations.

But even with the high success rate of dental implants (greater than 95% survive the ten-year mark), we can't guarantee they won't fail. And if you're a tobacco smoker, the risk of failure might be even higher. One study, for example, found early implant failures were twice the rate for smokers over non-smokers. Although implant failures overall are low, smoking seems to be a factor in those that do.

There are a number of reasons to account for this. For one thing, inhaled smoke can damage salivary glands, reducing the flow of this important fluid. Saliva helps control bacterial growth and neutralize mouth acid, so without it you're more susceptible to tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease. Either infection could ultimately weaken implant-supporting bone.

The nicotine in tobacco can also restrict oral blood vessels and lower their ability to supply antibodies and nutrients to the teeth and gums. This slows healing, which could have one particular effect on implant durability.

During the intervening weeks between implant placement and crown attachment, the implant's titanium post attracts bone cells that grow and adhere to its surface. The effects of nicotine on healing, especially right after implant surgery, can interfere with this integration process so that the implant doesn't anchor in the bone as well as it should.

If you're a smoker, you can increase your chances of implant success—and have a healthier mouth overall—by quitting smoking beforehand with the help of a cessation program. Or at the least, consider stopping smoking for one week before implant surgery and for two weeks afterward.

And be sure to brush and floss your teeth daily and visit your dentist regularly to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Stopping smoking and practicing effective oral hygiene could make a big difference in the success or failure of your implant.

If you would like more information on smoking and your dental health, 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 “Dental Implants & Smoking.”

June 11, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures

Dealing with cavity? Find out how a tooth-colored filling can help.

When it comes to restoring a tooth after a cavity our Columbia, SC, dentist Dr. Kris O’Neill understands just how important it is to be able to smilesrepair the damaged tooth with something that will look just like real tooth enamel so you won’t even notice it. That’s why we are proud to offer tooth-colored dental fillings to our patients who are dealing with cavities.

What is a tooth-colored filling?

Once the decay has been drilled away from the tooth, the tooth is now just a bit weaker than it once was. Therefore, our Columbia, SC, restorative dentist will need to place a dental filling to fill the areas that have been drilled away to improve the resiliency of the tooth as well as its appearance.

To do this, we will apply a tooth-colored dental filling to the area. This dental filling is usually made from composite resin, a special material that can be molded and shaped over areas of the tooth to rebuild it. Composite resin is the same material used in dental bonding to cover discolorations, chips, and even small gaps between teeth.

How is a tooth-colored filling placed?

Once we have fully removed the decayed areas of the tooth it’s now time to rebuild the tooth. This involves several steps:

  • Choose the proper shade of tooth-colored resin. Composite resin comes in different shades of white to accommodate all different smiles. We will need to match the resin before we apply it.
  • Next, we will apply a thin layer of the tooth-colored material over the tooth and contour, shape, and trim the material.
  • Once the layer is shaped we will use a special curing light to harden the resin layer to the tooth. Then the process of applying a new layer, shaping it and then hardened it to the tooth will continue until the tooth has been fully rebuilt.
  • The restored tooth is given a final polish.

What are the benefits of tooth-colored fillings?

Getting a tooth-colored filling in Columbia, SC, ensures that you fully restore a tooth after it’s been damaged by decay, which will improve the longevity of your tooth. Tooth-colored fillings, as we mentioned, are designed to blend in with your tooth so you won’t even notice them. Finally, this type of dental filling does not use any metal amalgam, which means that the restoration is completely mercury-free.

Do you have questions about tooth-colored fillings? Need to schedule a routine cleaning? Whatever you need, our Columbia, SC, dentist is here to help. Call us today to book your next visit with us.

By Dr. Kris O'Neill
June 06, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures

As a member of the best-selling pop group Spice Girls, Mel C (AKA Sporty Spice) enjoyed her share of musical superstardom. At the band’s peak in the Nineties, the young singer’s signature look featured baggy sweatpants, an assortment of tattoos, a nose stud and a gold-capped incisor, front and center in her mouth. Today, Melanie Chisholm is still singing — but now she’s a mom, an amateur triathlete… and that gold tooth is just a memory. Not only that, her smile looks more evenly spaced and whiter than it did when she was referred to as the “tomboy” of the group.

What happened? In our view, it all boils down to changing tastes — plus a little bit of help from dental professionals. As the “wannabe” singer proves, there’s no single standard when it comes to making your teeth look their best. Your own look is unique to you — and your smile can reflect that individuality.

For example, crowns (caps) are substantial coverings that may be placed on teeth when they are being restored. They are available in three types: gold, all-porcelain, or porcelain-fused-to-metal. The latter two are tooth-colored, while the gold is — well, shiny like gold bling. Which one is right for you? In many cases, it’s your choice.

Likewise, dental veneers — wafer-thin shells that can correct cosmetic issues by covering the surface of your teeth — can be made in a variety of shades. Their hues may range from natural ivory to Hollywood white, and everything in between. What’s the best color for you? Only you can say.

Some people opt for a “smile makeover” that uses small irregularities in the spacing and color of teeth to create a more “natural” look. Other folks want a perfectly even, brilliant white smile that dazzles the eye. Still others are looking to match or restore the smile they once had — perhaps even re-creating a signature gap between the teeth. As long as there are no other dental issues involved, the choice is yours.

So if you’re unhappy with your smile — or if you feel it doesn’t reflect the person you “wannabe” — why not talk to us about a smile makeover? Just call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”

June 04, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Invisalign  

Your smile is one of your most noticeable attributes, which unfortunately means that its flaws stand prominently out. Straightening your Invisalignteeth and correcting its bite issues can do so much more than just increase the functionality of your smile—it can help you feel great about the way you look! If you are an adult who wishes to upgrade your smile, you need to learn about Invisalign, the discreet answer to traditional braces. Read on to learn all about this wonderful treatment, and contact Dr. Kris O’Neill in Columbia, SC, if you are at all interested!

What is Invisalign?
Invisalign takes traditional orthodontic care and turns it on its head, using completely different materials (but the same underlying idea) to move your teeth. Rather than requiring that your orthodontist permanently place metal brackets and wires onto your teeth, Invisalign uses clear plastic aligner trays. The trays gently place pressure onto the teeth, gradually moving them into their corrected positions. This revolutionary method allows patients the freedom to eat what they want, care for their teeth without any added steps, and, best yet: straighten their smile without sacrificing their look.

Am I a candidate for Invisalign?
Orthodontic care generally is not recommended for patients under the age of 12 due to their still-growing jaws and mouths. A good candidate has a strong at-home oral care routine and is committed to seeing their dentist about once every six weeks for a checkup and maintenance visit. Since patients wear each tray in the series for about two weeks at a time, your dentist will use these frequent appointments to ensure that your treatment is going according to plan.

How do I care for Invisalign?
Invisalign requires almost no extra care. The trays are removable, allowing you to take them out to eat and perform your oral care routine. Simply remove your trays to brush twice a day and floss once. Rinse the tray with water and fit it back into your mouth—that’s it!

Invisalign Treatments in Columbia, SC
If you think you can benefit from Invisalign, schedule a consultation with your dentist to ensure that you are a good candidate for this procedure. You’ll also be able to address any questions or concerns that you have about treatment and gather information to make the best decision for you.

For more information on Invisalign, please contact Dr. Kris O’Neill in Columbia, SC. Call (803) 988-1070 to schedule your consultation with Dr. O’Neill today!