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

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Posts for: December, 2013

By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
December 23, 2013
Category: Oral Health
TakingtheStressOutofChildhoodDentalVisits

Dentists have been saying for years that it helps to see children as early as possible — ideally, around the time they reach one year old. Just recently, an evidence-based study was released that backs this up: It shows that starting dental visits prior to age one actually reduces the cost of oral health care, and helps ensure that kids have pleasant dental experiences in the future.

Why do young children need to go to the dentist if they only have one or two teeth (and they’re baby teeth, to boot)? For one thing, those early dental visits get a child used to the new sights and sounds of the office: the big chair, the shiny equipment, and the friendly staff who will be taking care of them. And even at this tender age, it’s not too soon to check for signs of decay, make sure gums are healthy, and show everyone the best techniques for keeping up good oral hygiene in a growing mouth.

Still, it’s natural for a child to be a little nervous before an office visit. (Even grown-ups have been known to show some anxiety at the dental office from time to time.) To ease their way through, there are several techniques you can borrow from behavioral psychology to help make the experience as stress-free as possible.

First… just relax. Remember that kids quickly pick up on non-verbal cues that tell them something’s wrong — so try and stay positive, and keep smiling. You should prepare the little ones for what’s coming — but not too much information, please! We go to great efforts to make children feel safe and comfortable in our care, and we can tell them all they need to know in age-appropriate terms. In fact, most of your child’s first dental visit may consist of a show-and-tell about what we do and what tools we use.

Another thing to keep in mind is that parents are the major role models for their children, both in and out of the home. Kids naturally follow along — in both good and bad ways. If parents take good care of their own teeth, it helps kids develop good oral hygiene habits too. That includes brushing and flossing regularly, limiting sugary snacks between meals, and avoiding non-nutritious drinks — not only sodas, but also so-called “sports” and “energy” drinks, which can be extremely high in sugar and caffeine.

Of course, regular visits to the dentist should also be a part of every adult’s oral hygiene program. If your child sees you relaxing in the chair, it’s much easier for them to do it too. And that’s good for everybody’s health.

If you would like more information about children’s dental visits, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Taking the Stress Out of Dentistry for Kids.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
December 20, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dental implants   tooth loss  
ItCouldbeMoreThanaToothYoureLosing

There’s more to tooth loss than you might think. Because teeth are part of a larger system that facilitates speaking, eating and digestion, a lost tooth could eventually affect your overall health.

Tooth loss is actually about bone loss. As living tissue, bone continually reforms in response to stimuli it receives from the body. The alveolar bone (which surrounds and supports the teeth) receives such stimuli as the teeth chew and bite, as well as when they contact each other. All these stresses — hundreds a day — transmit through the periodontal ligament to the bone, stimulating it to grow and remodel.

A lost tooth reduces this stimulation and causes the alveolar bone to resorb (dissolve) — as much as 25% of its width the first year alone. Unless the process is stopped, the underlying basal bone and the periodontal (gum) tissue will begin to resorb too. Without this structural support the facial height shrinks and the front teeth begin to push forward, making chewing and speaking more difficult. These teeth begin performing functions outside their normal range, leading to damage and possible loss.

The primary goal of oral hygiene and dental care is to prevent tooth loss. When tooth loss does occur, however, it’s then important to restore the lost tooth with an artificial replacement if at all possible — not only to regain form and function, but to also stop further bone loss.

While the fixed partial denture (FPD), also known as a fixed bridge, has been the restoration of choice for many decades, dental implants may be the better long-term option. Although more expensive initially, implants can achieve a life-like restoration without involving or altering adjacent teeth as with FPDs. Plaque retention and tartar accumulations are much less likely with an implant, and the bone-loving quality of titanium, the metal used for implants, actually encourages bone growth. As a result, implants have a much higher longevity rate than FPDs.

Taking care of your teeth through effective hygiene practices and regular checkups may help you avoid tooth loss altogether. But if it can’t be avoided, restoring lost teeth is the single most important thing you can do to prevent even greater problems down the road.

If you would like more information on dental implants, 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 “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
December 12, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: crown  
ConsideralltheCostFactorsWhenDecidingonaCrownRestoration

A crown restoration is a fabricated replica of a natural tooth. The mechanics and methods to prepare the tooth and attach the new crown are standard procedures in dentistry. But the crowns themselves — their individual shape, color and material from which they’re constructed — can differ greatly depending on each patient’s individual needs and desires. All these factors can have a bearing on cost — not to mention the process a dentist may employ to produce a custom crown.

Crowns are usually fashioned by a dental laboratory technician using castings of the patient’s mouth prepared by the dentist. These professionals should be considered artists as well as scientists. And, like artists with certain areas of strength and expertise, individual technicians may also develop high practical skill for a particular type of tooth replacement; it’s not uncommon for a dentist to use a different dental technician for a particular type and size of tooth to be restored. This could prove to be a factor in the final cost.

The efforts to create the best color in the crown can also affect cost. While we think of teeth as uniformly “pearly white,” there really are variations and gradations in normal tooth color (even within the same tooth). Again, a bit of artistry is important here, as the dentist communicates with the technician on not only the color but also the subtle hue gradations along the length of the crown. Your input as a patient is also valuable in determining color — you must be satisfied with the final product. Fortunately, it’s now possible to take a “test drive” of your potentially new look with a provisional crown that will allow you to see just how your permanent crown (which will be made of longer-lasting, higher quality materials) will appear.

These factors, as well as the limitations you may face by your insurance coverage, can greatly influence the final cost of treatment. As your dentist, we will consult and work with you to find the best crown restoration option that will fit both your dental needs and your financial ability.

If you would like more information on your options for crowns and other restorations, 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 “Value of Quality Care.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
December 04, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   smoking  
QuittingtheSmokingHabitCouldVastlyImproveYourDentalHealth

Even after decades of health warnings, approximately 45 million Americans smoke cigarettes. Although three-quarters will attempt to quit at some time in their life, most won’t be successful because smoking is both pleasurable and highly addictive.

Still, it’s in your best health interest to quit, and not just for your general health. Besides bad breath, reduced taste perception and dry mouth, smokers also face higher risk for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Quitting is difficult because of the addictive nature of nicotine, one of tobacco’s main ingredients. Nicotine causes the brain to release dopamine, a chemical that regulates our sense of pleasure and reward. In time, this effect transcends the physical sensation — smokers soon rearrange their social, work and family life to accommodate it. For those attempting to quit, the physical and emotional effects of withdrawal are daunting.

Yet, there are a number of effective quitting strategies. Smoking is a behavior you’ve learned and reinforced over time that you must now “unlearn.” You should begin by analyzing your own particular smoking habit — when you smoke, what prompts you to smoke, what activities do you associate with smoking, etc.

Most people will find an abrupt halt to cigarette smoking all but impossible. Instead, gradually reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day over several weeks; a weekly 20% reduction over the previous week is a good norm. As you reduce to just a few cigarettes, you’ll be forced to choose when to smoke those “precious” few. You can also use “brand fading,” in which you switch week by week to brands with increasingly lower amounts of nicotine.

You should also attempt to replace the smoking habit with more positive habits. Keep your hands busy holding items like pencils, straws or stress balls. Snack on healthy foods, chew sugarless gum with Xylitol, and drink plenty of water. You might also join a support group of other smokers trying to quit so you don’t have to face the habit alone.

It may take several weeks to break the smoking habit. The results, though, are worth it — you may extend not only your life but the life of your teeth too.

If you would like more information on how to stop smoking, 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 “Strategies to Stop Smoking.”