By Jennifer L. McCoy, DDS, Cosmetic & Family Dentistry
January 20, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: cosmetic dentistry  
YouCanMakeCosmeticDentalChangesWhileStillKeepingYourUniqueSmile

According to Dr. Suess, "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You." Indeed, you are different from everyone else on the planet. Your fingerprints, your DNA, even the shape of your outer ear, are all unique to you. And, in a society that pressures all of us to be alike, it's good to be reminded from time to time that it's okay to be different—including how your smile looks.

In fact, the thought has such a nice ring to it that some folks designate January as "It's OK to be Different Month," a good time to celebrate all the many ways we're unique from one another—and even in ways that might be considered imperfections.

For example, in terms of smiles, some people have a slight gap between their front teeth. Technically, it's a dental defect, and we can usually correct it with veneers or orthodontics. But a lot of people, including celebrities like Michael Strahan and Madonna, want to keep their gap—they consider it part of their personality, something that makes them, them.

The same could be said for other smile "quirks" like moderate dental misalignments (crooked teeth) or color variations—even a chipped tooth. If you consider it a comfortable part of who you are, then you do you, boo.

On the other hand, if there's something about your smile that you feel detracts from your appearance, you shouldn't have to live with it. And, fortunately, you don't.

Chipped tooth? Composite bonding could make it whole again. Misaligned teeth? Braces or clear aligners can straighten your smile. Missing teeth? You have numerous tooth-replacement options, with durable and life-like dental implants far and away the reigning champ of restorations.

More importantly, we can ensure that any cosmetic improvements you undergo enhance your uniqueness rather than diminish it. For example, we can fine-tune teeth whitening of dull and dingy teeth to achieve the level of brightness with which you're most comfortable—be it subtly natural or Hollywood dazzling.

The bottom line is that you can certainly undergo a complete smile makeover that radically transforms your appearance. Or, you can simply receive a few light cosmetic touches to make the smile you already like even better.

It's your decision—and it all begins with an exam to assess your current dental situation, followed by a discussion of your options. From there, you can choose just how much you want to change about your "Youer than you" smile.

If you would like more information about creating your own unique smile, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry.”

By Jennifer L. McCoy, DDS, Cosmetic & Family Dentistry
January 10, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: celebrity smiles   retainer  
TakeItFromTaylorSwift-LosingYourOrthodonticRetainerisNoFun

For nearly two decades, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has dominated the pop and country charts. In December she launched her ninth studio album, called evermore, and in January she delighted fans by releasing two bonus tracks. And although her immense fame earns her plenty of celebrity gossip coverage, she's managed to avoid scandals that plague other superstars. She did, however, run into a bit of trouble a few years ago—and there's video to prove it. It seems Taylor once had a bad habit of losing her orthodontic retainer on the road.

She's not alone! Anyone who's had to wear a retainer knows how easy it is to misplace one. No, you won't need rehab—although you might get a mild scolding from your dentist like Taylor did in her tongue-in-cheek YouTube video. You do, though, face a bigger problem if you don't replace it: Not wearing a retainer could undo all the time and effort it took to acquire that straight, beautiful smile. That's because the same natural mechanism that makes moving teeth orthodontically possible can also work in reverse once the braces or clear aligners are removed and no longer exerting pressure on the teeth. Without that pressure, the ligaments that hold your teeth in place can “remember” where the teeth were originally and gradually move them back.

A retainer prevents this by applying just enough pressure to keep or “retain” the teeth in their new position. And it's really not the end of the world if you lose or break your retainer. You can have it replaced with a new one, but that's an unwelcome, added expense.

You do have another option other than the removable (and easily misplaced) kind: a bonded retainer, a thin wire bonded to the back of the teeth. You can't lose it because it's always with you—fixed in place until the orthodontist removes it. And because it's hidden behind the teeth, no one but you and your orthodontist need to know you're wearing it—something you can't always say about a removable one.

Bonded retainers do have a few disadvantages. The wire can feel odd to your tongue and may take a little time to get used to it. It can make flossing difficult, which can increase the risk of dental disease. However, interdental floss picks can help here. ¬†And although you can't lose it, a bonded retainer can break if it encounters too much biting force—although that's rare.

Your choice of bonded or removable retainer depends mainly on your individual situation and what your orthodontist recommends. But, if losing a retainer is a concern, a bonded retainer may be the way to go. And take if from Taylor: It's better to keep your retainer than to lose it.

If you would like more information about protecting your smile after orthodontics, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.”

By Jennifer L. McCoy, DDS, Cosmetic & Family Dentistry
December 31, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   nutrition  
3ThingsYouCanDotoKeepHolidaySweetsFromInterferingWithYourDentalHealth

In his iconic poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," Clement Moore wrote of children sleeping "while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads." Indeed, sweet treats are still interwoven into the holidays—and a prime reason why we tend to put on pounds during the season. It may also be why your next dental visit might come with some unpleasant news.

The starring actors in much of traditional holiday snacking and feasting are naturally-occurring or added sugars. Carbohydrates like refined sugar in particular can dramatically affect your dental health if you over-consume them, because they can feed the bacteria that causes both tooth decay and gum disease.

There are ways, though, to reduce their impact on your teeth and gums. You can, of course, go "cold turkey" and cut refined sugar out completely, as well as curtail other carbohydrates like refined flours and fruit. It's effective, but not much fun—and what are the holidays without fun?

More in line with "moderation in all things," there are other ways to minimize the impact of carbohydrates on your teeth and gums during the holiday season. Here are a few of them.

Limit refined sugar. While you and your family may not be up for banning sugar during the holidays, you can reduce it significantly. For instance, prepare more savory items rather than the sweeter kinds. If you must go for sweet, opt for naturally occurring sugars in fruit or dairy rather than refined table sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

Eat sweet treats with meals. Constant snacking often comes with the holiday season. And, why not—all those abundant goodies are just begging to be eaten. But noshing all the time never allows your mouth's saliva, which neutralizes the enamel-eroding acid produced by the bacteria fueled by sugar, a chance to finish its buffering. Instead, try as much as possible to limit treats to mealtimes.

Use different sweeteners. There are a number of alternative sweeteners to regular sugar, both natural and artificial. Some work better in baked goods, while others are more suitable for candies or beverages. Xylitol in particular, a sugar alcohol, actually discourages oral bacterial growth. You can also use natural sweetening agents like stevia or erythritol to help reduce refined sugar in your treats.

Even if you normally limit carbohydrates, it's understandable if their consumption rises during the holidays. That's why it's important you don't neglect daily brushing and flossing to help control bacterial plaque, the main driver for dental disease. Both effective oral hygiene and reining in the sweets will help your teeth and gums sail through the holidays into the new year.

If you would like more information about protecting your oral health during the holidays, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Bitter Truth About Sugar.”

By Jennifer L. McCoy, DDS, Cosmetic & Family Dentistry
December 22, 2021
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  

Find out when a root canal might be necessary to maintain the health of your smile.

There has been a throbbing in your tooth and you’re not sure what’s going on. It looks fine, so you want to just ignore it and hope it goes away, but this would be a bad idea. A toothache can be a sign that you need a root canal. When this problem arises, our Lawrenceville, GA, dentists Dr. Jennifer McCoy and Dr. Katherine Copeland are here to provide the immediate treatment you need to feel better fast.

Why is a root canal performed?

The tooth is made up of a harder outer layer known as enamel, which is designed to protect the rest of the tooth from damage; however, sometimes bacteria can get in through a crack or decay in the outer layers of the tooth, which can then infect the dental pulp. Once the pulp has been damaged, the only way to stop it from getting worse is for our Lawrenceville, GA, dental team to perform a root canal as soon as possible to remove the pulp and to disinfect the inside of the tooth.

What can infect or inflame the dental pulp?

One of the most common causes of an inflamed or infected pulp is a cavity. Other causes of pulpitis include,

  • Direct impact or injury to the tooth
  • A cracked or fractured tooth that exposes the pulp chamber
  • Repeat trauma to the tooth often caused by teeth grinding

What are the warning signs of an infected dental pulp?

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of an infected dental pulp is important so that you know when to seek proper dental care from our Lawrenceville, GA, dentists. Here are just some of the common signs that you may need to undergo root canal therapy,

  • An intense, throbbing toothache
  • A toothache that gets worse when putting pressure on the tooth
  • Localized swelling of the gums around the tooth
  • Sudden tooth sensitivity to hot or cold
  • The development of an abscess (a bump on the gums that is a sign of infection)
  • Darkening or graying of the tooth

Is there any alternative to root canal treatment?

We know that the idea of getting a root canal or any dental procedure isn’t appealing, but it’s important to have this procedure performed to maintain the health of your tooth and your oral health. A root canal is often the most conservative approach, as it allows us to remove the source of the problem while still preserving the natural tooth.

While some people may choose to extract the tooth, this alternative is often more time-consuming and expensive in the long run since they will then need to replace the missing tooth with a bridge or implant after its extracted. A root canal is a simple procedure that can be completed in just a couple of hours and it will save your natural tooth.

It’s important that you never ignore dental pain, especially since it could mean that you need a root canal. Our Lawrenceville and Suwanee, GA, dental team is here to provide you with the same-day care you require when toothaches and other serious issues happen. Call us right away at (770) 963-2424 and (678) 269-4910.

By Jennifer L. McCoy, DDS, Cosmetic & Family Dentistry
December 21, 2021
Category: Oral Health
Tags: teeth grinding  
GetAheadofTeethGrindingtoAvoidHarmtoYourTeeth

We like to think we're more prone to stress in our modern, fast-paced world than those who lived in "simpler" times, but a finding from the recent discovery of Richard the III's remains in England suggests differently. Investigators noted the king had well-worn teeth, perhaps from grinding them out of stress.

We can't be sure this was the cause for the king's dental problems, or if teeth grinding was common in the 15th Century. But we are sure the problem exists today among adults.

Tooth grinding is the grinding, gnashing or clenching of teeth involuntarily when not engaged in regular dental functions like eating or speaking. It can occur while a person is awake, but most often while they're asleep.

The habit regularly occurs in children, but is not considered a major problem as most outgrow it by adolescence, usually with no lingering damage. Not so with adults: Because the habit generates abnormally high biting forces, teeth grinding can lead to accelerated tooth wear. It can also weaken teeth, making them more susceptible to fracture or disease.

People who grind their teeth will typically awaken with sore jaws or the complaints of family members about the loud chattering noise emitted during an episode. If you suspect a problem, you should see your dentist for a definitive diagnosis, and to learn how to reduce its occurrence and effects.

Treatments for the habit vary depending on underlying causes. They may involve lifestyle changes like quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol or altering your use of certain drugs or medications.  Because stress is often a major factor, learning better relaxation techniques through meditation, group therapy or biofeedback may also help reduce teeth grinding.

These treatments, though, can take time, so you may also need ways to minimize the effects of the habit in the meantime. One of those ways is for your dentist to create an occlusal guard that you wear while you sleep. The guard prevents the teeth from making solid contact, thus reducing the potential biting forces.

It's important, then, to see your dentist as soon as possible if you suspect you're grinding your teeth. Finding out as early as possible and then taking positive steps to stop or reduce its effect can save your teeth from a good deal of harm.

If you would like more information on teeth grinding, 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 “Teeth Grinding.”





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