My Blog

Posts for: July, 2015

By Gary W. Machiko, DMD
July 30, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

If you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’ve no doubt experienced red and swollen gums. If, however, you notice an especially inflamed area next to a tooth, you may have developed a gum abscess.

An abscess is a pus-filled sac that develops as a result of chronic (long-standing) gum disease, an infection caused by bacterial plaque that’s built up on tooth surfaces from inadequate oral hygiene or from a foreign body (food debris) getting stuck below the gums. The abscess, which typically develops between the tooth and gums, may be accompanied by pain but not always (the affected tooth may also be tender to bite on). Abscesses may grow larger, precipitated by stress or by a general infection like a common cold, and then abate for a time.

As with other abscesses in the body, a gum abscess is treated by relieving the pressure (after numbing the area with local anesthesia) and allowing it to drain. This is often followed by cleaning any infected root surfaces of bacterial plaque and then irrigating the area with a saline and/or antibacterial solution. We may also prescribe antibiotics afterward and some form of pain control (usually a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen) to help with discomfort.

Although the results of this procedure can be dramatic, it’s just the first step in treating the overall gum disease. After a few days of healing, we continue with a complete examination and recommend further treatment, usually starting with removing bacterial plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits), the underlying cause for the infection and inflammation, from all tooth and gum surfaces. This may take several sessions before we begin seeing the gum tissues return to a healthier state.

The key to preventing an abscess recurrence (or any symptom of gum disease) is to remove plaque everyday through proper brushing and flossing, and visiting us twice a year (or more if you’ve developed chronic gum disease) for cleanings and checkups. Doing so will raise your chances of avoiding an uncomfortable and often painful gum abscess in the future.

If you would like more information on gum abscesses, 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 “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses.”

By Gary W. Machiko, DMD
July 29, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

Computerized occlusal analysis is a revolutionary new way for your Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania cosmetic dentist Dr. Gary Machiko  to diagnose problems with tooth alignment. This digital test determines where the upper and lower teeth are making contact  Computerized Bite Analysiswith each other, and gives Dr. Machiko an extremely accurate way to learn where your trouble spots are and form your unique treatment plan.

Why is computerized bite analysis needed?

In the past, most dental patients who complained of facial muscle pain and chronic headaches were thought to have a misalignment with the temporomandibular joint, the "hinge" that opens and closes the jaw. Bite problems were somewhat hard to pinpoint, since the standard test - having the patient bite down on a thin sheet of carbon paper and analyzing the prints - only detected major problems. However, even miniscule defects with the way the teeth are making contact can cause the muscles to overwork themselves and pain to commence. This can also cause unnecessary tooth sensitivity, shifting or breakage. Even with restoration, these problems will continue if the bite is not fully corrected.

How is my bite measured?

Dr. Machiko and his Pittsburgh cosmetic dental team will have you bite down on a thin plate attached an electronic wand-like device. The test is safe, painless and takes only seconds to complete. The impression your teeth make on the plate will transfer information to a computer about the way your teeth make contact with each other, how much pressure - if any - is being applied to each tooth and even the time it takes for each surface to touch. This allows your Pittsburgh cosmetic dentist to locate the exact source of your discomfort and treat it accordingly. It is also an excellent way to craft restorations that will fit perfectly the first time.

If you haven't yet experienced computerized bite analysis and you'd like to know how yours measures up, contact cosmetic dentist Dr. Gary Machiko's office in Pittsburgh to learn more about this amazing technology!

By Gary W. Machiko, DMD
July 15, 2015
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.”