Craig S. Karriker, DMD, P.A.- 400 South Granard Street, Gaffney, SC 29341, (864) 487-0710

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Posts for: April, 2013

By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
April 27, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: bad breath  
BanishBadBreath

Treating bad breath is big business. Just check your local drug store or supermarket and you'll find a mind-numbing array of mints, gums, mouthwashes, sprays, strips and other products that promise to sweeten your breath and make you (or your mouth at least) irresistible. But most of these products only mask halitosis (from the Latin “halitus” – exhalation, and Greek “osis” – disease) and some even contain ingredients, like sugar, that contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. In most cases, for enduring, healthful results, nothing beats a trusty toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, used faithfully and correctly, along with periodic dental checks and cleanings.

Oral bacteria are the number one reason for noxious breath. More than 600 types inhabit our mouth, and some of them emit awful odors — predominantly volatile sulfur compounds characterized by a “rotten egg” smell) — as they consume remnants of food trapped in our mouth. Brushing and flossing regularly, especially after eating, can dislodge food trapped between teeth (interdental) and under the gums (subgingival), depriving microbes of a ready-made meal. It also disrupts the buildup of sticky plaque (microbial “biofilms”) where odor-causing germs can flourish.

When cleaning your mouth, pay special attention to the back of the tongue. It is the primary location for generating halitosis because it is drier and less efficiently cleansed by saliva and normal oral activity than the front. Our office can instruct you on proper oral hygiene including the gentle use of a tongue scraper or brush.

Sometimes more involved periodontal techniques such as scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) are called for; antibiotics may be useful in targeting the offending microbes. If tooth decay and/or periodontal (or gum) disease is contributing to halitosis appropriate treatment is necessary.

Remember that foul breath is just a symptom of some underlying condition. If diligent oral care at home doesn't do the trick, our office can help you get to the root of the problem and determine the appropriate therapy.

If you would like more information about halitosis and ways to prevent or treat it, 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 “Bad Breath.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
April 20, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
ToothBleachingTestYourKnowledge

Dental professionals sometimes use specialized words, and you may not be clear about exactly what we mean. Test yourself on some of the specialized vocabulary concerning tooth whitening. How many of the following can you define correctly?

1. Bleaching?
A method of making yellow, discolored teeth whiter. It is relatively inexpensive and safe, with few side effects.

2. External or extrinsic staining and whitening?
Extrinsic staining mainly results from diet and smoking. For example, foods such as red wine, coffee and tea can produce extrinsic stain. Teeth with these stains are bleached by placing whitening substance in direct contact with the living tooth surface.

3. Internal or intrinsic staining and whitening?
Intrinsic tooth discoloration is caused by changes in the structure of enamel, dentin, or pulp tissue deep within the root of the tooth. When the discoloration originates with the pulp tissue, root canal treatment may be needed to whiten the tooth from the inside.

4. Chromogenic material?
Color generating material that may get incorporated into the tooth's substance. It can be a result of wear and aging, or can be caused by inflammation within the tooth's pulp.

5. Carbamide Peroxide?
A bleaching agent discovered in the 1960s and frequently used for tooth whitening. When used, carbamide peroxide breaks into its component parts, hydrogen peroxide and urea, which bleach the colored organic molecules that have been incorporated between the crystals of the tooth's enamel.

6. Power Bleaching?
This technique is used for severely stained tooth. It uses a highly concentrated peroxide (35 to 45 percent) solution placed directly on the teeth, often activated by a heat or light source. This must be done in our office.

7. Tetracycline?
An antibiotic used to fight bacterial infections. It can result in tooth staining when taken by children whose teeth are still developing.

8. Rubber Dam?
Use of strong bleaching solutions requires protection for the gums and other sensitive tissues in your mouth. This is done using a rubber dam, a barrier to prevent the material from reaching your gums and the skin inside your mouth. Silicone and protective gels may also be used.

9. Whitening Strips?
Strips resembling band-aids that you can use in your home to whiten your teeth. They generally contain a solution of 10 percent or less carbamide peroxide gel. When using them, be sure to read the directions and follow them strictly to avoid injury or irritation.

10. Fade Rate?
The effects of bleaching may fade over time, from six months to two years. This is called the fade rate. It can be slowed down by avoiding habits such as smoking, along with food or drink that causes tooth staining.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth whitening. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article, “Teeth Whitening.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
April 12, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
ClearOrthodonticAlignersAreTheyRightForYou

If you are considering having your teeth straightened, for cosmetic or other reasons, the idea of using clear aligners rather than traditional braces may be appealing.

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about clear aligners.

What are clear aligners?
Clear aligners are clear removable custom fitted “trays” that gradually straighten teeth. Used sequentially, each individual tray is slightly different from the one before and is worn every day for two weeks before going on to the next one in the series. This slowly moves your teeth to a new position.

How are they made?
The trays are computer-generated, based on impressions and models of your mouth combined with the knowledge of growth, development of teeth and jaws, and most importantly how and why teeth move.

How long does this treatment take?
By wearing clear aligners for at least 20 hours per day for two weeks before changing to the next tray in the sequence, treatment time can range from six months to two years depending on your individual situation.

Can children wear clear aligners?
Clear aligners are generally used for adults who have all their teeth and when jaw growth is complete, but can be used for younger people depending upon the extent and severity of their situation.

What situations can clear aligners be used for?
Clear aligners can realign or straighten teeth, close mild spaces, treat elongated teeth and tip teeth into better position. They are usually recommended for correcting mild to moderate crowding of teeth, particularly if your back teeth already fit together properly.

When are clear aligners probably not the right choice?
If you have a bad bite (your back teeth do not fit together well), or if you have a severe overbite or underbite, traditional braces are probably a better choice for treatment. If your teeth are severely crowded, or if your situation is complex, clear aligners will probably not be the right treatment choice.

How do you decide whether clear aligners are right for you?
An orthodontic assessment of your individual situation must be performed by our office.

What is considered in the assessment?
The assessment includes specialized x-rays of your teeth, jaws and skull, along with photos, impressions, and models of your bite.

For more information about clear aligners vs. traditional braces, make an appointment with us for a consultation and an examination of your own situation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Orthodontic Aligners: An Alternative for Adult Orthodontics.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
April 05, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  
BeWiseAboutYourWisdomTeeth

The old saying, “If it ain't broke, don't fix it,” doesn't really apply when discussing your wisdom teeth. It's great if they are not bothering you, but don't wait for problems to develop before you take action. This may seem counter-intuitive, but you should know that the best time to have your wisdom teeth removed is when they are not causing problems.

Why do wisdom teeth cause problems?

Wisdom teeth are so-called because they appear at ages 17 to 25, the age of supposedly attaining wisdom. They are also known as third molars and are farthest back in your jaws. For some people they come through the gum-line only partially, or they may not erupt into the mouth at all. Unerupted they have the potential to cause problems associated with the neighboring teeth and surrounding gums.

You may have heard of “impacted” wisdom teeth. This means that they are impacted or forced against neighboring structures, teeth or bone that prevent them from coming into the mouth in correct biting position. Since they are your last teeth to come in, space for them may be severely limited. They may push into the teeth that are already in place, becoming stuck as they try to erupt. When wisdom teeth are trapped like this below the gum line and are pushing against neighboring teeth, these molars can cause problems such as infections, cysts, or gum disease.

My wisdom teeth seem OK, so why remove them?

The dilemma is that if you wait until you feel pain connected with your wisdom teeth, their neighboring teeth may already be in trouble.

Another reason to remove these back teeth before they cause problems is that it's a good idea to have your surgery while you are young. Younger, healthy patients with no infections at the site have the best chance of having their wisdom teeth extracted without complications, with an easier recovery and uneventful healing.

Of course, each situation is different. Make an appointment with us for an examination and a consultation to discuss the risks and benefits of removing your wisdom teeth. For more information read the article “Removing Wisdom Teeth” in Dear Doctor magazine.