My Blog

Posts for: December, 2016

By Gary W. Machiko, DMD
December 30, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

Although techniques for treating periodontal (gum) disease can vary, they all boil down to one objective: remove the bacterial plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) that cause the infection. The initial treatment usually involves two techniques known as scaling and root planing.

Scaling uses hand instruments, ultrasonic equipment or a combination of both to manually remove plaque and calculus from the tooth and root surfaces. Root planing takes it a step further by minutely “shaving” infected material from the root surfaces. While more invasive techniques (including surgery) may be needed, scaling and root planing are the first line of treatment for any recent diagnosis of gum disease.

In recent years, an adaptation to these treatments has emerged using the Nd: YAG laser. The laser uses a particular crystal that’s adaptable for many different types of surgery. In the case of gum disease, it’s been found as effective as traditional methods for removing the infected linings of periodontal pockets. Voids created by detaching gum tissues as bone loss occurs, enlarge the small natural gap between the teeth and gums, which fill with pus and other infected matter. Removing the diseased lining from these pockets reduces bacteria below the gum line and speeds healing.

Periodontal laser therapy may have one advantage over traditional treatments: less tissue damage and swelling, and hence reduced post-treatment discomfort. While some research seems to confirm this, more controlled studies are needed to render a verdict on this claim.

Regardless of whether you undergo traditional scaling and root planing or a laser alternative, the aim is the same — to bring the disease under control by removing plaque and calculus and reestablishing good daily oral hygiene practices. Stopping gum disease as soon as possible will help ensure you’ll have healthy teeth and gums for a long time.

If you would like more information on treatments for periodontal (gum) disease, 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 “Lasers versus Traditional Cleanings for Treating Gum Disease.”

By Gary W. Machiko, DMD
December 15, 2016
Category: Oral Health

Cavities can happen even before a baby has his first piece of candy. This was the difficult lesson actor David Ramsey of the TV shows Arrow and Dexter learned when his son DJ’s teeth were first emerging.

“His first teeth came in weak,” Ramsey recalled in a recent interview. “They had brown spots on them and they were brittle.” Those brown spots, he said, quickly turned into cavi­ties. How did this happen?

Ramsey said DJ’s dentist suspected it had to do with the child’s feedings — not what he was being fed but how. DJ was often nursed to sleep, “so there were pools of breast milk that he could go to sleep with in his mouth,” Ramsey explained.

While breastfeeding offers an infant many health benefits, problems can occur when the natural sugars in breast milk are left in contact with teeth for long periods.  Sugar feeds decay-causing oral bacteria, and these bacteria in turn release tooth-eroding acids. The softer teeth of a young child are particularly vulnerable to these acids; the end result can be tooth decay.

This condition, technically known as “early child caries,” is referred to in laymen’s terms as “baby bottle tooth decay.” However, it can result from nighttime feedings by bottle or breast. The best way to prevent this problem is to avoid nursing babies to sleep at night once they reach the teething stage; a bottle-fed baby should not be allowed to fall asleep with anything but water in their bottle or “sippy cup.”

Here are some other basics of infant dental care that every parent should know:

  • Wipe your baby’s newly emerging teeth with a clean, moist washcloth after feedings.
  • Brush teeth that have completely grown in with a soft-bristled, child-size toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice.
  • Start regular dental checkups by the first birthday.

Fortunately, Ramsey reports that his son is doing very well after an extended period of professional dental treatments and parental vigilance.

“It took a number of months, but his teeth are much, much better,” he said. “Right now we’re still helping him and we’re still really on top of the teeth situation.”

If you would like more information on dental care for babies and toddlers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Age One Dental Visit” and “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”

By Gary W. Machiko, DMD
December 07, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: cosmetic dentistry  

Loving your smile is hard to do when all you see are its imperfections. Luckily, your cosmetic dentist can help you repair these sometimes irritating chips, cracks or discolorations and get your smile back exactly where you want it. Learn more about cosmetic dentistry and what it can do for you with Dr. Gary Machiko in Pittsburgh, PA.

What is a cosmetic dentist? 
A cosmetic dentist is someone who holds a dental degree and state dentistry license in cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry focuses on the aesthetics of the teeth rather than their functionality, often gravitating toward making your smile look better than ever. Cosmetic dentists like Dr. Machiko are knowledgeable in these procedures and can help you determine the best one for you.

How can cosmetic dentistry improve my smile? 
Cosmetic dentistry can work wonders on your smile. For those who wish to brighten or whiten their smile, procedures, like professional teeth whitening session or dental veneers, can help you accomplish your goal of better-looking teeth. Patients who would like to straighten their smile or correct their bite problems may benefit more from orthodontic treatment like traditional braces or Invisalign. People who have chips or cracks in their teeth can benefit from procedures like dental bonding and contouring to even the length of the tooth or teeth and fill in the chips before they become larger. All in all, cosmetic dentistry can truly benefit anyone who wishes to improve the appearance of their smile.

Cosmetic Dentistry in Pittsburgh, PA
Your cosmetic dentistry procedure will almost always begin with a dental examination to ensure that this procedure is your best treatment option. Examinations may also include a professional cleaning to ensure no plaque or bacteria remain on or between your teeth before your cosmetic procedure. The length of your visit and the steps your dentist takes will vary, depending on the cosmetic procedure you choose. Be sure to brush twice daily and floss at least once between regular, bi-annual dental visits to keep your teeth healthy and clean.

For more information on cosmetic dentistry, please contact Dr. Machiko in Pittsburgh, PA. Call (724) 719-2866 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Machiko today!