My Blog

Posts for: February, 2017

By Steven F. Hinchey, DMD
February 13, 2017
Category: Oral Health

Ever since childhood, when her career as a model and actress took off, Brooke Shields has enjoyed worldwide recognition — through advertisements for designer jeans, appearances on The Muppet Show, and starring roles in big-screen films. But not long ago, that familiar face was spotted in an unusual place: wearing a nasal anesthesia mask at the dentist's office. In fact, Shields posted the photo to her own Instagram account, with the caption “More dental surgery! I grind my teeth!” And judging by the number of comments the post received, she's far from alone.

In fact, researchers estimate that around one in ten adults have dental issues that stem from teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism. (Many children also grind their teeth, but it rarely causes serious problems, and is often outgrown.) About half of the people who are teeth grinders report problems like persistent headaches, jaw tenderness and sore teeth. Bruxism may also result in excessive tooth wear, and may damage dental work like crowns and bridges; in severe cases, loosened or fractured teeth have been reported.

Researchers have been studying teeth grinding for many years; their findings seem to indicate that it has no single cause. However, there are a number of factors that play a significant role in this condition. One is the anatomy of the jaw itself, and the effect of worn or misaligned teeth on the bite. Another factor relates to changes in brain activity that occur during the sleep cycle. In fact, nocturnal (nighttime) bruxism is now classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. Still other factors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, and a high level of stress or anxiety, can make an individual more likely to experience bruxism.

What can be done for people whose teeth grinding is causing problems? Since this condition may have many causes, a number of different treatments are available. Successful management of bruxism often begins by striving to eliminate the factors that may cause problems — for example, making lifestyle changes to improve your health, creating a soothing nighttime environment, and trying stress-reduction techniques; these may include anything from warm baths and soft music at bedtime, to meditation and mindfulness exercises.

Several dental treatments are also available, including a custom-made occlusal guard (night guard) that can keep your teeth from being damaged by grinding. In some cases, a bite adjustment may also be recommended: In this procedure, a small amount of enamel is removed from a tooth to change the way it contacts the opposite tooth, thereby lessening the biting force on it. More invasive techniques (such as surgery) are rarely needed.

A little tooth grinding once in a while can be a normal response to stress; in fact, becoming aware of the condition is often the first step to controlling it. But if you begin to notice issues that could stem from bruxism — or if the loud grinding sounds cause problems for your sleeping partner — it may be time to contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more about bruxism in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Stress and Tooth Habits.”

By Steven F. Hinchey, DMD
February 07, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

Losing teeth is something that most people probably don't really think about until it happens. Even with greater awareness and dental implantsinformation about the risk of gum disease and potential tooth loss with age, the number of Americans missing at least one tooth is over 100 million, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Dr. Steven Hinchey, a dentist at Glastonbury Center for Dental Medicine in South Glastonbury, CT, offers dental implants for qualified adult patients suffering from various degrees of tooth loss.

Get Your Smile - and Oral Health - Back with Dental Implants in South Glastonbury, CT

When a tooth is lost, either through trauma, extensive tooth decay or gum disease, the primary concern is usually about the cosmetic and functional implications. What will I look like when I smile? Will I be able to chew my food and speak clearly without noticeable issues? While they are all valid concerns, there are further implications to tooth loss. When a tooth falls out, the bone tissue in the gums immediately starts to erode. When left untreated, bone loss can lead to infections, inflammation and instability to the surrounding bone tissue and teeth. Dental implants address the problem by replacing both the root and the crown of a missing tooth.

An implant is made of a biocompatible titanium screw, which is surgically placed in the space of the missing tooth. Once the implant is in place, it fuses with the surrounding bone tissue in the gums, which helps to permanently secure the implant in place and to preserve the existing bone and spur the growth of new bone tissue. Once healed, the implant is attached to a cosmetic crown to complete the restoration.

Find a Dentist in South Glastonbury, CT

Although some forms of tooth loss are preventable, millions of Americans continue to lose at least one or more teeth every year. To learn more about the benefits of dental implants, and whether they are the right tooth replacement option for you, contact the Glastonbury Center for Dental Medicine by calling (860) 633-6518 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hinchey today.

By Steven F. Hinchey, DMD
February 05, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

Tooth decay can wreak more havoc than just producing cavities. It can work its way into the innermost parts of the tooth — the pulp and tiny passageways called root canals that lead to the tooth's connection with the bone.

If that happens, you'll need more than “drilling and filling.” Without intervention, your tooth could be lost. That intervention is a root canal treatment, a procedure that removes the infection from within the tooth and preserves it from re-infection.

You've probably heard the old belief that root canal treatments are painful. With modern anesthetic techniques to deaden pain, that's not true. In fact, root canal treatments stop the pain caused by infected nerves within the pulp and root canals. More importantly, it saves your tooth.

Root canals can be performed by a general dentist. More extensive decay or complex root canal networks may require the services of an endodontist, a dentist who specializes in root canal anatomy and treatments. Endodontists have advanced techniques and equipment to handle even the most difficult case.

Regardless of who performs it, the basic procedure is the same, as is the goal: to completely remove all diseased tissue within the tooth and seal it with a special filling to prevent re-infection. To access the diseased pulp, we first drill an access hole, usually in the biting surface of a back tooth or the back of a front tooth. We then use specialized instruments to remove the infected tissue and flush out the space with antibacterial solutions.

We then insert a filling called gutta percha into the empty pulp chamber and root canals, seal off the filling with adhesive cement, and close the access hole with filling. These fillings and sealants prevent bacteria from reentering the tooth. For added protection against infection and fracturing, we also recommend placing a full-coverage dental crown. This also enhances the appearance of the tooth, which must be modified during the root canal procedure.

The end result: your once endangered tooth has been preserved for hopefully many years to come. So if we recommend you undergo a root canal treatment, don't wait — the tooth you save may be your own.

If you would like more information on root canal treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.