Overcoming Dental Phobia

iStock_000060650738_XXXLarge_CompressedOdontophobia, or the fear of dentists, is common in adults. Millions of Americans suffer from some form of odontophobia. While few people look forward to visiting the dentist, those who suffer from the worst anxiety would rather suffer extreme pain than go in for a visit, even if that meant taking the pain away. The fear of the dentist can have many causes, but the most common catalysts are a traumatic experience as a child, fear of loud noises, fear of pain, and the feeling of lacking control when in the dentist’s chair.

If you are one of the many who avoid the dentist out of anxiety, or if you’ve found dental visits a distressing experience until now, we can help. Pittsburgh periodontist Dr. Silberg and his staff are trained to help even the most anxious patient overcome their fear. Read on to learn a few of the things that we can do to help accommodate your particular needs.

Explaining Procedures

We try to explain everything that will happen before it does to help patients feel comfortable with their procedures. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as knowledge truly is power. If you know what to expect, you will be less afraid of it.

Establishing a Safeword

When you first sit in the chair, we will establish a signal or a word that means “Stop.” Common signals include raising a hand, tapping the chair repeatedly, or making a certain sound–things you can do even when you can’t speak. That way, you have control over your dental visit.

Allowing Comforting Objects or People

We encourage our patients to bring something or someone that will help them remain calm during their visit. Many patients bring a friend or relative, especially to their first visit to help them until they are more comfortable with Dr. Silberg.

Seeking Distractions

A similar strategy to the previous one, this idea relies on being too busy to focus on the dental procedure. You can distract yourself by listening to music, watching a movie, or doing something else to keep yourself busy. Find something to do that will keep your mind occupied so that you don’t succumb to your anxiety. As much as possible, we’ll accommodate your need for a distraction.
Dental care can be frightening, but it will improve your life and your health. If you have any questions or concerns about your dental phobia, please contact us!

Options for Dental Implants

Options for Dental ImplantsAt The Silberg Center For Dental Science, we are on a mission to help people find a better solution for missing teeth. Dental implants are a permanent tooth replacement that will keep you comfortable when you eat, smile, or laugh. As part of our mission, we want to educate you about all your implant options. What’s best for you will depend on the details of your dental health; but we can at least give you an idea of what possibilities there are for dental implants in Pittsburgh.

Traditional dental implants for single teeth

Generally, getting implants takes multiple visits. On the first visit we will give you an exam, ask about your dental history, take impressions of your teeth, and discuss your treatment options. Usually, the root portion of your implant is placed during your next visit, topped with temporary crowns until the root fully fuses with your jaw bone. Sometimes a visit is needed to secure an abutment, or connector, to the implant. This abutment in turn connects to your permanent crown. There are also implants in which the post and abutment are one piece, placed at the same time.

Traditional implants for fixed bridges

Even with traditional implants, there are many possible variations. If you are missing multiple teeth, you’ll have the option of choosing individual implants for each missing tooth or getting a single implant which will support a dental bridge. This is the less expensive option, and while it is not as close an imitation of your natural mouth structure, it is still an excellent choice for function and aesthetics.

Immediate Load Dental Implants

Immediate load dental implants are also known as same day implants. If you have strong enough natural bone, you can have an implant complete with temporary crown placed during a single visit; you’ll come back just once to receive your permanent crown, individually crafted to fit your mouth.

Mini Implants

For a less invasive option, talk with us about mini implants, which are smaller in diameter than traditional implants. We consider using mini implants when there is a need to secure a complete lower or loose denture. It is also an option for patients that can’t receive traditional implants.  

Subperiosteal Implants

If there isn’t enough jawbone to secure traditional implants and a bone graft is not an option, we offer subperiosteal implants. These implants are not secured in the bone, but are placed below your gumline and sit on top of the bone. While we’d prefer traditional implants where possible, these can be an excellent second choice.

Remember, the best option for you will depend upon the health and shape of your mouth. If you are looking in Pittsburgh for dental implants, please contact us today to learn more about your choices. We’ll answer your questions and help determine the treatment option that fits your situation.

Aging and Tooth Loss: Is It Inevitable?

Aging and Tooth LossAccording to a survey conducted by the Canadian Dental Association, nearly half of all seniors are under the mistaken impression that as we age, we will inevitably lose our teeth. But tooth loss is far from inevitable.  Losing baby teeth is completely normal, but losing adult teeth is not.  While time and age can cause a decline in oral health, it is not age itself that causes tooth loss and other problems.  Read on to learn more about aging and tooth loss.  

Causes of Tooth Loss

Periodontal Disease

The number one cause of tooth loss is not aging, but rather periodontal disease, which slowly wears down the supporting tissues in the mouth, often leading to tooth loss. Periodontal disease becomes more likely as you age, both because plaque and tartar accumulate over time, and because oral hygiene may become more difficult as time goes on. If you don’t yet suffer from serious periodontal disease, you may only need a few tricks to make daily brushing easier, such as using an electric toothbrush. if you do suffer from periodontal disease, then regular treatment and maintenance at the Silberg Center for Dental Science is essential.  

Missing Your Appointments

Patients in need of gum disease treatment and periodontal maintenance are often encouraged to visit our office four times a year, depending on your exact circumstances. This may sound like a lot–after all, most people visit their dentists twice a year! But once periodontal disease has set in, frequent care is necessary to keep the disease from progressing. Regular dental care has a profound effect on your likelihood of keeping your teeth. As an added bonus, if anything unusual happens to your teeth, such as sudden pain or injury, then you already know exactly where to come. If you experience any tooth damage or pain, come to our office as soon as possible to take care of the problem.

Poor Nutrition

You have probably heard the importance of good nutrition emphasized over and over, but did you know that in addition to all the other associated health problems, not getting the proper vitamins and minerals can cause tooth loss?  A diet lacking calcium can increase your risk of tooth loss, and if you consume too much sugar, acid, or carbohydrate-rich food, you may be unknowingly damaging your teeth and gums.

Unhealthy Habits

Statistics show that those who smoke are twice as likely to experience tooth loss as those who do not.  This is because smoking increases your risk of tooth loss.  Other bad habits that can cause tooth loss are: drinking alcohol, bruxism (tooth grinding), opening bottles with your mouth, or chewing ice or hard candy.  

Preventing Tooth Loss

The best thing that you can do to ensure that you have a healthy smile for years to come is to brush your teeth twice per day, floss daily, and visit the Silberg Center for Dental Science as often as Dr. silberg recommends in your case. If you haven’t yet scheduled your next dental checkup, contact us today.

Securing Your Dentures

Securing Your DenturesHistorically, the options for dental prosthetics have been limited. But today, if you need dentures, there are several options based on the way you want to secure them. The three main choices are natural suction, suction augmented with adhesives, and dental implants. Each has strengths, but there are also drawbacks to watch out for.

Natural suction has been around for some time, and has only improved through the years. Today it is usually achieved through soft silicone liner suction cups that are applied to the denture. There are many small suction cups that all work together to form a powerful grip using air pressure. They can also be added when relining existing dentures. This is a simple and inexpensive method.

Suction cups augmented with adhesives offer many of the benefits of adhesives, with the added benefit that the adhesive keeps them more firmly in place. They can also assist with dry mouth conditions that can interfere with denture cohesion. On the downside, adhesives can sometimes leave an unpleasant taste, texture, or sensation from adhesive materials that leak out from under the dentures. They can also hamper a dentist’s evaluation of gums and tissue, and the area’s adjustment to dentures. Finally, dental adhesives can expose patients to excess zinc, with detrimental effects on their health.

The last option is in many ways the best. Implant-supported dentures are known to be the most stable type, and rarely if ever come loose. Dental implants are placed in your jawbone itself, which helps stimulate the bone to maintain volume and density, preserving your appearance and health. With as few as six implants total, you can have an entire set of upper and lower dentures with no need for other adhesive methods. Current dentures can also often be adjusted for use with dental implants.

Give us a call or click here if you have any questions about dental implants. Pittsburgh’s Silberg Center for Dental Science boasts a premier dental implant expert, and we would love to help you in any way we can.

Smoking: A Danger to Healthy Gums

There are many reasons to quit smoking, including your dental health.It is well-known that tobacco use is a health hazard. Chewing or smoking tobacco can lead to problems in the lungs and throat, and it is infamous in its role as a carcinogen (meaning that it causes cancer). Next to that, dental health may seem unimportant; but it is yet another reason to avoid tobacco use.

One of the more serious dental concerns that can occur in dental patients is periodontitis. Periodontitis causes the degradation of the soft gum tissue as well as the bone structure in the upper and lower jaws which support the teeth. When these supporting structures are compromised, this leads to bleeding, pain, irritation and inflammation in the short term, and loose teeth, pocketing, and eventually loss of teeth in the long term. When the first signs of periodontitis occur, it is critical to see Dr. Silberg, a qualified periodontist who can evaluate your condition and begin treatment as soon as possible.

Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of periodontitis. In fact, studies have shown that those who smoke are at least three times more likely to develop soft gum deterioration, and that bone loss was up to five times more severe than in the cases of those who never smoked.

Because of the oral dryness caused by smoking, infection is also more likely to occur, and therefore the healing process can be prolonged and complicated. The chemicals in cigarette smoke cause deterioration to the lining of the mouth, and prevent the natural flora within the mouth from protecting it as they usually would.  Even when advanced periodontitis is surgically treated, the treatment often fails because of these factors, resulting in the loss of teeth and an unstable environment for replacements such as dental implants.

If you smoke or chew tobacco, be sure to visit your Pittsburgh periodontist to evaluate the health of your bones and gum tissue, and to discuss how you can treat or prevent the bone loss associated with periodontitis. Pittsburgh periodontist Dr Silberg and our team here at The Silberg Center for Dental Science are qualified and experienced in the treatment of gum disease in patients who use or have used tobacco. Please contact us or stop by today to discuss your options and to get you on your way to a speedy recovery and a strong, healthy smile.

Bad Breath: Causes and Prevention

Have you ever been astonished by the smell of bad breath, only to realize in horror that the bad breath was your own? Luckily, most instances of halitosis or bad breath can be prevented quite simply. Read on for the common causes of bad breath and how to prevent them.

Causes of Halitosis

Certain Foods and Habits

Eating foods with strong odors such as onions or garlic can temporarily cause bad breath. Habits such as smoking also contribute to more lasting bad breath.

Dry Mouth

Chronic dry mouth (xerostomia) or a temporarily dry mouth can cause bad breath because there is not enough saliva in the mouth to neutralize acids and wash away dead cells.

Improper Oral Hygiene

If you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly, bacteria to build up inside your mouth, which is a leading cause of bad breath.  It can also cause gum disease, which makes the bacteria multiply even faster in the periodontal pockets, making your bad breath even worse.  If you’re suffering from gum disease in Pittsburgh, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with our team of specialists today.

Medical Conditions

There are many different medical conditions and illnesses such as xerostomia (dry mouth), salivary gland problems, pneumonia, sinus infections, diabetes, chronic acid reflux, postnasal drip, and kidney or liver problems that can cause chronic bad breath. Unfortunately, there is not much that you can do if your bad breath is caused by an underlying health issue, until you clear up the cause.

Halitosis Prevention

Good Oral Hygiene

The best thing you can do to prevent bad breath is to practice good oral hygiene.  Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice a day and after every time you eat, and use floss to remove food and plaque stuck between the teeth at least once a day.

Visit the Dentist

Don’t skip your semiannual visit with Dr. Silberg, as we do not only give you a professional teeth cleaning, but check for diseases such as periodontal disease or dry mouth.

Drink Water

Bad breath is often caused by a dry mouth, so make sure that you drink plenty of water.  You should drink ½ oz to 1 ounce of water each day for every pound that you weigh.

Quit Smoking

Smoking causes not only bad breath, but stained teeth, irritated gums, and many health problems as well. The best thing you can do for your health is reduce or eliminate your use of tobacco.

If you have bad breath and don’t know the cause, we can help. Contact the Silberg Center for Dental Science to make an appointment, and let us help you find a solution to your problem.

What Is a Canker Sore?

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small ulcers in the mouth caused by various irritants. There are two main types of canker sores: simple canker sores and complex canker sores. Simple canker sores crop up a few times a year, lasting a few days to a week, while complex canker sores are rare, and crop up in people who have previously had canker sores. Complex canker sores may be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion and possibly fever. Canker sores are not contagious, but no one is quite sure what causes them.

Causes of Canker Sores

There is an old wive’s tale that canker sores are caused by eating too many tomatoes, but that isn’t always the case. As stated above, no one is quite sure what causes canker sores, but it is likely that there are many causes which all produce similar symptoms. Possibilities include:

  • Food allergies
  • Eating acidic foods such as lemons, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, etc.  
  • Irritants in the mouth such as braces, dentures, or mouth piercings
  • Consistent stress
  • Underlying health conditions such as improper nutrition, celiac disease, impaired immune system, iron deficiency, etc.
  • Accidentally biting your cheek
  • Brushing your teeth too hard
  • Hormonal shifts
  • Family history of canker sores
  • And many more.

The Difference Between Canker Sores and Cold Sores

Although they are commonly mistaken for each other, cold sores and canker sores are very different. Cold sores are painful blisters caused by a viral infection, and they usually appear outside the mouth on the lips or under the nose  (canker sores tend to stay inside the mouth). Unlike canker sores, cold sores are very contagious, so you should avoid contact.

Healing a Canker Sore

If left alone, most canker sores heal within a few weeks, and any pain caused by a canker sore should subside within 10 days. However, if the pain is unusually strong, come in to the Silberg Center for Dental Science, your periodontist in Pittsburgh, and we can give you a prescription that may help, such as a mouth rinse, topical products (such as Benzocaine, Fluocinonide, or hydrogen peroxide), or oral medications; or we can provide cautery (burning) of the sore. Home remedies include: a baking soda or salt water rinse, avoiding spicy or acidic foods, applying ice to the wound, placing a whole clove on the infected area, or doing a hydrogen peroxide rinse.  

Preventing Canker Sores

The best way to prevent canker sores is to be careful of what you put in your mouth. Be careful not to eat foods that irritate your mouth, be gentle when brushing your teeth, eat healthy, and try to reduce your stress levels.

At the Silberg Center for Dental Science, we want to help you keep your mouth healthy and comfortable. While canker sores are not always avoidable, we’ll do whatever we can to make them bearable.

Don’t Ignore Gingivitis!

shutterstock_109993853_compressedA mild and common form of gum disease, gingivitis results in the redness, inflammation and irritation of your gums. Often because it is mild, it goes undetected in patients. It is, however, a serious condition as it can lead to eventual tooth loss if it remains undetected for an extended period of time. We encourage you to continue reading below to learn more about the signs of gingivitis and some treatment tips to ensure that you fight gum disease.

What are the Signs of Gingivitis?

Gingivitis isn’t too hard to detect – you should be able to look in the mirror and feel your gums to determine whether or not you are suffering from gum disease. You can come into our office where we will perform a thorough examination to make that determination, but at home, there are several signs to look for when detecting gingivitis. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have gingivitis:

  • Persistent bad breath.
  • Gums that feel tender, soft, puffy, or swollen.
  • Gums that are receding.
  • Gums that are a dusky red instead of a healthy pink.
  • Gums that bleed when you floss or brush.

How Can I Treat Gingivitis?

With poor oral hygiene being the main cause of gingivitis, the first thing you should focus on for treatment is practicing good oral health habits. This includes brushing a minimum of twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and receiving regular dental checkups and professional cleanings. The dental checkup is crucial because we can demonstrate to you the proper techniques for brushing and flossing; improper technique could be why the gingivitis is occurring. A proper dental cleaning also allows for the plaque and tartar to be removed—taking out the main causes behind gingivitis.

Gingivitis Examinations and Questions

You should have a better idea of what gingivitis can do to a person now. If you have any questions regarding what you’ve read, please contact us as we’d be happy to help answer your questions and address your concerns. You can make an appointment with our Pittsburgh, PA, office to get an examination for gum disease, a teeth cleaning, or any other procedure that you need. Silberg Center for Dental Science is to help you and your family with keeping their mouths happy and healthy – ensuring that you’re well equipped against gingivitis.

Cosmetic Gum Lifts

You may not have any missing teeth, but if you feel that something about your smile is just “off,” it may be due to the fact that your gums rest too low on your teeth. If that’s the case, you’re the perfect candidate to receive a cosmetic gum lift.

A gum lift will even out your gum line, providing you with a smile that you won’t be afraid to flash as often as you can. One of the best things about gum lifts is the fact that your local Pittsburgh periodontist can perform this procedure right here in our office.

The procedure is very simple: you’ll head to Dr. Silberg’s office, and we’ll use a combination of techniques to get your gums looking marvelous. Often, Dr. Silberg will use a pen or marker to illustrate where your new gum line will appear in your smile. You can expect a local anesthetic to be applied to the area (just like when cavities are filled) and the usual discomfort associated with any dental procedure.

The recovery process after you undergo a cosmetic gum lift varies from person to person. It’s recommended that you limit your activity level the day of the surgery, and to expect to wait at least three days to a week for your gums to heal completely. Dr. Silberg will give you very specific instructions on how you can help your gums heal more quickly. Following these instructions to the letter will make the process as comfortable as possible. You’ll obviously be advised to eat soft foods – yogurt, cheese, ice cream, eggs, and pasta for the first few days after your surgery. You’ll also be given direct instructions on how to brush your teeth following the gum lift.

In the end, your gum cosmetic gum lift will drastically improve the quality of your smile. If you think you’re in need of a cosmetic gum lift, get on the phone today or schedule a consultation online.

For Dental Implants, Choose a Periodontist

If you’re considering getting dental implants in Pittsburgh, you should give careful consideration to who should perform the procedure. While many dentists across varying specialties advertise this service, and many are competent in it, the best chance of success comes from someone who specializes in the supporting structures of a mouth—in other words, a periodontist.

However realistic a dental implant may look, it isn’t living tissue. The only living tissue at an implant site is the gum and bone being operated on—the primary focus of a periodonist’s training. This expertise comes in handy before, during, and after the process of placing an implant. Before, we need to monitor the health of your mouth and make sure you’re in the best shape possible, to give the implant its best chance of success. During, we work with the bone and gum to fit them around the implant in a way that is secure, natural, and comfortable. And afterward, one of the most important things to do is to monitor the implant site for signs of any complications.

The need for a periodontist’s specialized knowledge becomes even more apparent when you consider that most tooth loss in adults is due to periodontal disease. If you have lost teeth to anything other than a sudden accident, chances are the infection remains active. A dental implant can’t be placed in infected tissue without risking implant failure; instead, the infection must be treated to prepare you for the implant procedure. Every day, we clean and disinfect irritated periodontal pockets. Our office is even equipped with a soft tissue laser which we can use to sterilize infected gum tissue and encourage new growth. To create the perfect environment for implants, no one is better equipped or qualified than a periodontist.

If you are missing teeth, Dr. Silberg can provide all the care you need. The Silberg Center for Dental Science is the first choice among Pittsburgh Periodontists for many. Call us today, and start on the path to a healthy, brilliant smile.