What is a Cavity Filled With? Learn About Dental Fillings from our Apex Dentist

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When a tooth is damaged by decay and acid, your dentist will use a filling to restore it to its normal shape and function. If you are going to get a filling in an upcoming dental appointment, or have already had one and are just curious about the procedure, here is everything you need to know about dental fillings from our Apex dentist office.

Popular Dental Filling Materials 

Fillings help close off spaces where bacteria can enter, and prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include:

  • Gold
  • Porcelain
  • Composite resin (for tooth-colored fillings)
  • Amalgam fillings (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).

No one type of filling is “best” for everyone. What’s best for you will depend on the extent of the decay; whether or not you are allergic to certain materials; where the cavity is located; and cost. Below is more information about each cavity filling material.

Gold Fillings

Historically the only filling material that was used, gold fillings are now made to order in dental labs. Gold inlays are well-tolerated by gum tissue, and may last for more than 20 years. For these reasons, many dentists consider gold to be the best filling material. However, it is often the most expensive choice, and is not the most resilient.

Porcelain Fillings

Porcelain fillings usually have a similar cost to gold. If you have ever heard the dental term “inlay” or “onlay”, it was referring to a porcelain filling. Porcelain restorations are a popular choice because they can be matched to the color of the tooth, resist staining, and are very durable. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth.

Composite Resin Fillings

Composite fillings are essentially a type of plastic. These can also be matched to the same color of your teeth, and are therefore another popular choice when the cavity is in a visible area. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings, as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea, or tobacco, and do not last as long as other types of fillings (generally from three to 10 years).

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings are often known as “silver fillings”, but a dental amalgam is actually a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and zinc. Mercury, which makes up about 50% of the compound, is used to bind the metals together. Generally, the amount of mercury in a filling is considered too small to be harmful, as studies have shown that the amount of mercury in a filling is less than the amount most people consume in the food they eat.

Amalgam fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations, and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as the front teeth.

What Happens When You get a Dental Filling?

During a checkup, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth. If your dentist detects a cavity that needs to be filled, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled with one of the materials described above.

Schedule an Appointment with Hansen Dentistry

If you would like to have your teeth cleaned and inspected for cavities, stop on by Hansen Dentistry! Our friendly Apex dentist, Dr. Hansen, will help you achieve your perfect smile. To schedule an appointment, click here.

Should I Get an Electric Toothbrush? Ask an Apex Dentistry

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In a word—yes! An electric toothbrush does the hard work for you, removing much more plaque than a traditional, manual toothbrush. And with so many different types and features available, it’s easy to find an electric toothbrush that suits your specific oral health needs. In today’s blog, our Apex dentist explains some reasons why you should consider buying an electric toothbrush.

Easier to Use

To use an electric toothbrush, you only need only guide it along the surfaces of your teeth. This is much easier than scrubbing back and forth, and many people with arthritis or similar conditions find using a power toothbrush less painful to use. Electric toothbrushes may also help children brush their teeth more effectively.

Better Plaque Removal

Multiple independent studies have shown that electric toothbrushes remove more plaque and reduce gingivitis more effectively than manual brushes, in both the short and long term. Results are especially positive with brushes that have a rotating, oscillating action.

Superior Technology and Features

Some electric toothbrushes are even able to help you improve your brushing habits. Hi-tech toothbrush features may include:

  • Various brushing modes designed for sensitive teeth, whitening, or gum-massaging
  • Pressure sensors which gently signal when you’re brushing too hard
  • Timers which help you keep track of how long you’re brushing each quadrant of your mouth
  • Digital reminders that it’s time to replace your brush head
  • Multiple brush head compatibility, so you can choose which kind of bristle design you prefer

We encourage all our clients to consider switching to an electric toothbrush, because we almost always see a remarkable improvement in the oral hygiene of patients who do. If you would like a recommendation for a particular style or brand, just ask us during your next dental cleaning, and we will be happy to help!

Get the Best Dental Care in Apex at Hansen Dentistry

Hansen Dentistry is a welcoming, family-friendly, judgement-free zone where we only care about one thing: helping you have the healthiest smile possible. To schedule an appointment, fill out our appointment form here.

What is Xylitol? Ask a General Dentist in Apex NC

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We all know about the negative health effects of sugar, especially when it comes to teeth. Fortunately, artificial sweeteners don’t have the same effect on teeth as sugar, and can help you have a much healthier smile. One artificial sweetener, xylitol, even has positive effects on teeth. Here’s everything you need to know about Xylitol from a dentist in Apex, NC.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is categorized as a sugar alcohol. That means that it combines traits of sugar molecules and alcohol molecules to create a structure very similar to that of sugar. However, Xylitol has much fewer calories, doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, and actually kills the harms the bacteria that live on your teeth and cause tooth decay.

Is Xylitol Natural?

Despite the pharmaceutical-sounding name, Xylitol is found in many fruits and vegetables, and is even produced in small amounts by the human metabolism. It can also be processed from trees like birch, or from a plant fiber called xylan. For these reasons, most health professionals consider it to be a safe, natural substance.

How Xylitol Helps Your Teeth

Xylitol functions a lot like a “mousetrap” for the bacteria that live on your teeth. Normally, these bacteria ingest sugar and carbohydrates and convert them into acid, which destroys the tooth enamel. After the bacteria ingest xylitol, however, they are no longer able to absorb glucose. With their energy-producing pathway clogged up, they end up starving to death. That’s why many dentists recommend using xylitol-sweetened chewing gum: it’s one of very few things that can actually kill harmful tooth bacteria.

Why Xylitol is Toxic to Dogs

If you buy gum or candy that contains Xylitol, it is very important to keep it away from any dogs in your house. When a dog eats xylitol, its body mistakes it for glucose and starts producing large amounts of insulin. Then, the dog’s cells start absorbing glucose from the bloodstream, which can lead to hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, and even death. Xylitol may also have detrimental effects on liver function in dogs, with high doses causing liver failure.

It only takes 0.1 grams per kg of body weight for a dog to be affected. To put that in perspective, a 6 pound Chihuahua could get sick or die from eating a single piece of xylitol chewing gum.

Need a General Dentist in Apex NC? Call Hansen Dentistry

If you are in need of a dental cleaning, oral surgery or other dental service, be sure to contact our general dentist in Apex NC. At Hansen Dentistry, we will do our best to make you feel relaxed and at home while receiving expert dental care. To schedule an appointment, click here.

Signs You Are Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard – Ask a Dentist in Apex

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Many people believe that plaque is hard to remove, and brush their teeth as hard as they can. However, this can erode your enamel and damage your gum line over time. Here are some signs that you are being too rough on your teeth when you brush.

A Frayed Toothbrush

If your toothbrush looks flat and damaged, with bristles that are split or frayed out, you are probably brushing too vigorously. You can minimize the damage by purchasing an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor that lights up or stops if you brush too hard. Some electric toothbrushes also come with a 2-minute timer so that you do not brush for too long.

Receding or Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums are usually a sign of gingivitis, caused by a lack of brushing, but bleeding and receding gums can indicate you are damaging your gum tissue from over-brushing. Gum recession exposes your teeth to infection and decay, so it’s not just a cosmetic issue, but something that needs to be fixed to preserve your overall health. If you suspect your gums are receding, run a finger over your teeth. If you can feel notches or gaps where your gumline used to be, schedule an appointment with a dentist.

Sensitive Teeth

When you over-brush, you wear down the hard enamel protecting your teeth, exposing the sensitive dentin beneath. The more enamel you lose, the more sensitive your teeth will be to hot, cold, and carbonated items, as well as brushing. To preserve the health of your enamel, brush gently, remineralize with fluoride, and avoid toothpastes containing abrasive substances like activated charcoal.

Dull or Yellow Teeth

Yellow teeth can be a result of staining from coffee, wine, and other acidic beverages, but it can also be caused when the white enamel erodes, exposing the naturally yellow dentin beneath. If  your teeth are sensitive and seem to have a yellow sheen, you may be brushing too hard or too often.

Protect Your Teeth – Schedule an Appointment with a Dentist in Apex

If you think you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms listed above, make sure to schedule an appointment with a dentist in Apex. At Hansen Dentistry, we will do our best to make you feel relaxed and at home while receiving expert dental care. To schedule an appointment, click here.

The Dangers of Cheap Veneers – Ask an Apex Cosmetic Dentist

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Dental veneers have soared in popularity in recent years as a fast, easy way to correct worn-out or discolored teeth. But with professional veneer treatments costing in the hundreds or thousands, many people opt for a cheap veneer alternative—and end up sincerely regretting their decision. Here’s why you should only get veneers from an experienced, licensed dentist.

Cheap Veneer Alternatives

There are two basic ways to get cheap veneers, both of which are very risky. The first is traveling to a foreign country and having dental work done there. Another common way is purchasing them from an online retailer and applying them at home. In both cases, good results aren’t guaranteed. It takes artistry and skill to make veneers that are the right thickness, length, and color, and what is promised may not always be delivered. Consider what Benjamin Franklin said: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten!”

Risk 1: Too Much Enamel is Removed   

To apply veneers, the underlying tooth enamel must be filed down, much in the same way fingernails need to be buffed before artificial nails can be applied. Inexperienced or poorly skilled dentists might grind away too much enamel, preventing the veneers from fully adhering and eventually causing them to fall off. In addition, having over-filed enamel will make biting and chewing very uncomfortable, if not downright painful.

Risk 2: Not Enough Enamel is Removed

Problems can also arise when the dentist doesn’t grind away enough enamel. Since veneers are about as thick as a plastic credit card, they easily can make the teeth look and feel too bulky. Too much thickness can also impede your speech, making it difficult to pronounce words with “m” or “th” sounds. If the veneers extended too far past the natural tooth, they will crack very easily.

Risk 3: The Color Isn’t Right

Quality veneers should not be an opaque white, but translucent, so they reflect light like real teeth. Making veneers the right color and opacity requires some artistry on the part of the laboratory that mixes the porcelain. Overly white veneers can look extremely fake and garish, and can’t be replaced once they have adhered.

Veneers are Not Reversible

Veneers can be redone, and in fact will need to be redone every 10 or 20 years as they weaken or crack. However, since they adhere to your ground-down tooth enamel, they can’t simply be removed if done improperly. That’s why it’s crucial to visit a professional dentist to have veneers. Yes, it is more expensive, but there is nothing more expensive than a job done poorly—especially when it comes to your teeth.

Get Quality Veneers from an Apex Cosmetic Dentist

If you have cracked, chipped, or stained teeth, be sure to visit our Apex cosmetic dentist office for a consultation. It may be that you are qualified for veneers; or it may be the case that another dental solution will work better for you. To schedule an appointment with us, click here.

A Dentist for Every Member of the Family – Apex Family Dentistry

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family dentist

At Hansen Dentistry, we know that raising and caring for a healthy family is one of the most important things in life. That’s why we’ve made our practice a place that helps every member of your family have the best oral health possible. From the youngest to the oldest, you’ll find that we are your one-stop family dental care headquarters. As a family dentist, Dr. Rylan Hansen is trained in caring for teeth and gums at every stage of life. Visit our Apex, NC dental office to learn more about our services.

Children’s Dentistry

The key to keeping children’s teeth healthy is prevention. Children should come in for routine oral care starting at their first birthday, with regular six-month visits. At preventive visits we give children a check-up, provide a gentle cleaning to remove tartar, and apply preventive treatments to strengthen and protect the teeth. If we find problems, we help parents try to identify what may be the cause of their child’s issues, to keep teeth healthy in the future. If there are cavities, we provide gentle and age-appropriate restorative treatments to keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong.

We love kids and we love giving them happy experiences at the dentist. Dental anxiety is a serious concern for both adults and children, and we believe the best way to prevent anxiety is by taking the time to make sure your children are comfortable with their treatment. We never coerce or force children into situations they are not comfortable with. We also give them plenty of time to get used to what happens during a dental appointment, and make sure they feel empowered to ask questions and communicate their preferences.

Adult Dental Care

As with children, prevention is the key to good oral health. Six-month visits give us the opportunity to remove tartar from the teeth, to prevent the formation of new cavities. They also give us the chance to spot potential problems before they turn into toothaches and major restorations. Even with routine appointments, its easy to develop oral health concerns, such as tooth decay, gingivitis and gum disease. It’s estimated that 99 percent of all adults have experienced some degree of tooth decay; routine visits allow us to treat problems in their earliest stages, before they turn into emergencies.

We also provide a full range of cosmetic dentistry treatments to help our adult patients look their best. As teeth endure years of hard usage, even the most beautiful of smiles may begin to look stained, chipped or misaligned. Cosmetic dentistry can restore the beauty of your smile, for greater confidence and a positive self-image. Whether you seek small improvements or dramatic smile makeovers, we can help you make your smile look new and bright again.

Oral Surgery

If you need a wisdom teeth extraction, dental implant placement or bone grafting, you’ll be glad to know that we provide these treatments in-house. Dr. Hansen performs oral surgery, which means you won’t need to find a separate oral surgeon to get the care you need.

Emergency Treatment

If you’ve ever had a dental emergency, you know that it’s inappropriate to ask a patient to wait several days for an appointment! That’s why we make room for emergencies in our schedule and offer extended hours and Saturday appointments. Whether you are a returning patient or a new patient, we are always welcoming of emergencies. Put our number in your phone right now, as “emergency dentist” and you’ll be glad you did—should you have to deal with an emergency dental problem in the future.

Periodontal Care

Gum disease is a frightening condition that can rob you of your healthy gums (and teeth). Unfortunately, gum disease is also extremely common. There’s a fair chance someone in your family may one day need periodontal treatments. These cleanings can often be traumatic for sensitive gums, so we have invested in laser dentistry tools to provide gentler periodontal cleanings.

 

At Hansen Dentistry of Apex, NC, we want to be your family dentist. Call us at (919) 363-8444 to make an appointment for any children or adults in your family who are due for a check-up.

Tooth Colored Fillings vs Silver Fillings? – Learn More from an Apex Dentist

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So you have a tooth that has a cavity and needs a filling. Now what?

Most people know that the two most common options are tooth colored fillings (called composite fillings) and silver fillings (called amalgam fillings).  And most people would agree that the composite fillings are much more aesthetically pleasing than the amalgam fillings.  Some patients prefer not to have amalgam fillings because they contain mercery.  However, it is important to note that ongoing scientific studies conducted over the past 100 years continue to show that amalgam fillings are not harmful.  Sometimes the aesthetic outcome is reason enough to choose a tooth colored filling, especially when the tooth is one that is visible when the patient smiles.

But there are other important reasons that most Apex Dentists these days are choosing to use tooth colored composite fillings rather than amalgam.  And these reasons have to do with the major difference in the way they are placed in the mouth.

Composite fillings are resin-based and are chemically bonded to the tooth.  Amalgams are not.  They are held in place due to a physical retention.  This means that after the dentist removes the decay, he also has to remove additional healthy tooth structure in order to create the proper undercuts and retention grooves to hold the amalgam in place.  This process leaves less remaining tooth structure.

The good thing is that amalgams usually lasts for a really long time.  The bad news is that when they do wear out, they tend to cause larger problems because there is less tooth structure remaining to work with. That is why it is common for a very large amalgam to be replaced with a crown.

If a tooth has a composite filling, the dentist is able to be very conservative in how much tooth structure

he/she removes other than the decay.  This could mean that years later when the composite filling eventually wears out, hopefully another larger composite filling can be placed, rather than a crown.

Another common issue is that teeth with old amalgams tend to develop more cracks.  Because the amalgam filling is not bonded to the tooth, the enamel surrounding the filling is unsupported.  Over time, that unsupported tooth structure microscopically flexes when stress is placed on the tooth.  Years of this flexing can cause cracks to form. These cracks can lead to more extensive (and expensive) treatment, such as a crown,  a root canal, or even loss of the tooth depending on the severity of the fracture.

Whether you have composite or amalgam fillings it is important to maintain your regular cleaning and check-up appointments with your Apex dentist. He/she can keep you informed about the condition of your fillings. That way when one does wear out (and they will, because unfortunately no dental work lasts forever), you can be pro-active, which typically leads to a less expensive and more conservative outcome.

What’s the Difference Between Plaque and Tartar? Ask a Dentist in Apex

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WE OFTEN GET THIS QUESTION from our patients, “What’s the difference between plaque and tartar?” Many patients think they are the same thing. However, there is an important difference between the two.  Understanding how they are different can help explain why a daily oral hygiene routine is so crucial, as well as twice-yearly visits to your dentist.

plaque
What Is Plaque?

Dental plaque is the soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth and under your gums. It starts forming soon after you finish brushing. In other words, plaque is constantly accumulating on your teeth. And guess what? It contains millions of bacteria! When you eat—especially carbohydrates or sugar—you’re not the only one getting a meal…so are the bacteria on your teeth. After these bacteria dine on sugar, they produce acids that erode your tooth enamel and cause cavities.

That’s why good daily oral hygiene is essential to preventing tooth decay and protecting your smile from the bacteria in plaque. To prevent plaque buildup, remember to brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. Drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum after meals and snacks can also help!

What Is Tartar?

So if that’s plaque, what’s tartar? Tartar is what accumulates on your teeth when plaque is not removed. If plaque is left on your teeth for too long, it will harden into tartar and is much more difficult to remove. In fact, tartar can only be removed by a dental professional–you can’t get rid of it with regular brushing and flossing. Tartar removal is one of the reasons that visiting your dentist every six months is so important!

Plaque buildup that hardens into tartar can cause more than just cavities. It can cause tooth discoloration and sensitivity as well as gum recession and periodontal disease. To reduce plaque buildup and tartar from forming, make sure you are brushing and flossing daily.

Come And See Us Every Six Months

No matter how great your oral hygiene is, plaque and tartar formation are inevitable. So come in to see us every six months! Our job is to help you maintain a beautiful, healthy smile that’s plaque- and tarter-free!

Tips for a Healthy Back to School Smile from a Family Dentist in Apex

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It’s that time of year!  Back to school!!!  The time of year that Moms and Dads are found scratching their heads at Target trying to figure out whether the 3 prong, plastic, 2 pocket folders comes in 5 different colors so they can check it off the school supply list (There is always one item that makes buying the whole list in one trip impossible).  We have been there!

Along with school supply shopping, it is also time to start thinking about what to pack in your child’s lunch.  Among the seemingly endless options there are prepackaged lunches and individual serving sizes of chips and cookies. These foods are usually high in sugar, sodium, and fat and, while easy to grab at the last minute before you miss the bus, do not make the best choices for school lunches.  Sticky foods, such as fruit roll ups and fruit snacks, get stuck in the grooves of your child’s teeth and will likely stay there until they brush later that evening…giving bacteria an abundant supply of sugar.

The good news is that there are other choices that are convenient and far healthier for your child’s teeth and body.

Here are a few ideas the are both convenient and healthy (and please feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below…we believe in the “it takes a village” philosophy).

Cheese- Cheese is actually one of the best foods for your teeth because it neutralizes acids caused by bacteria and contains calcium, which can help the teeth remineralize. Cheese sticks are convenient because they offer single portion servings.

Hard boiled eggs-another healthy and convenient option that provides protein which is helpful for tissue development.

Nuts-especially raw nuts, the rough texture can help clean acid off the teeth and the provide protein.

Vegetable cups- vegetables are much lower in sugar than fruits and also tend to provide more fiber.  Carrots and cucumbers are popular, but try sugar snap peas or sweet bell peppers to keep kids from getting bored as this often makes them crave quick and often unhealthy alternatives.

Water-Opt out of sending juice boxes and sport drinks to school and just send water, which neutralizes the acids in the mouth and cleanses your teeth.

Another important part of helping keep your child’s smile healthy is by keeping them up to date with their dental exams, cleanings, and fluoride treatments. In 2015, the CDC reported that almost 20% of school age children have untreated dental decay.  Taking your child to visit their Apex Dentist helps keep their teeth healthy and helps them have positive dental experiences from a young age.

If your child is old enough to play sports requiring mouthguards, ask your Apex Dentist if they can provide you with a custom mouthguard.  It is important for your child to protect their teeth by wearing a mouthguard. One thing we know is that a better fitting mouthguard is one your child is more likely to actually wear.

Good luck to all our beautiful kids on their first day back at school, whether its the first day of kindergarten or their senior year of high school.  They grow up so fast, so remember to cherish every moment and every (healthy) smile!

Do Wisdom Teeth Need to be Extracted? Ask an Apex Oral Surgeon

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We have found that while many of our patients with wisdom teeth know that they should be extracted, very few of them understand why.

So here you go…A Little Wisdom about Wisdom Teeth.

There are several reasons your Apex Dentist might recommend having your third molars, also known as Wisdom teeth, extracted.   Very few people have adequate space in their dental arch for wisdom teeth.  If you are one of the lucky ones that does have enough room, be sure your toothbrush is reaching all the way back to those teeth, as they are often very difficult to keep clean.  If/when 3rd molars develop cavities (as they often do), it is usually better to put financial resources towards having these teeth extracted rather than filled as they usually only cause more problems down the road.

dental-arch

For patients who do not have enough room in their dental arch, the 3rd molars are often unable to properly erupt, making it difficult or even impossible to keep clean.  The improper eruption can cause a variety of problems including but not limited to, periodontal infections, dental decay, and dental abcesses.

The first radiograph was of a patient for whom Dr. Hansen had to perform an extraction not only the partially erupted  wisdom tooth but the 2nd (more important) molar as well due to the decay caused by the wisdom tooth.

radiograph

The second radiograph demonstrates another reason that 3rd molars often need to be extracted:  dental abcesses.  This particular abcess was so large that this patient was a risk of her lower jaw breaking. The radiograph also demonstrates the importance of routine dental check ups, as this patient did not have any pain associated with the dental abcess.   She literally would not have ever known that it was there except that she was consistent with her dental examinations, including dental radiographs.

Understanding dental problems that can arise from  wisdom teeth is important so patients are able to take necessary steps to seek treatment. Typically, your Apex dentist will recommend having wisdom extracted between ages 15 and 25 because healing and recovery is much easier for younger patients.

If only our wisdom teeth made us all-knowing and wise…that would make for a good case in keeping them!