My Blog

Posts for: July, 2016

By Phillip S. Tully III DMD
July 16, 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 Phillip S. Tully III DMD
July 11, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

The facts about dental fillings

If you have a tooth that is decayed, there is a good chance your tooth can be restored with a dental filling. Dental fillings can give back fillingsyour full set of teeth, restoring teeth broken by trauma, worn down by age or decayed from poor hygiene and too much sugar. Dr. Phillip S. Tully III in Columbus, GA wants you to know all the facts about dental fillings and what they can do to restore your smile.

Dr. Tully first has to remove the damaged or decayed area of your tooth, making sure you only have healthy tooth structure remaining. Then Dr. Tully will discuss the different materials and choices for your filling. Together, you can determine the best choice for your needs and budget. Consider:

Metal (amalgam) fillings, if you want the strongest and most durable filling material; metal fillings are a good choice for back teeth where biting forces are the strongest.

Gold fillings, if you want a strong filling and you like the beautiful color of gold; these fillings are custom-made in a dental laboratory and require more than one appointment.

Composite or tooth-colored fillings, if you want a filling that is virtually indistinguishable from your existing teeth. Your Columbus dentist can match the color of composite perfectly so people will notice your smile, and not your fillings.

Porcelain fillings, if you want a cosmetically beautiful, strong filling. This type of filling is created in a dental laboratory, and so it requires more than one appointment to complete.

Glass ionomer fillings, if you need a filling along the gumline; these fillings are also tooth-colored and can be matched very well with your existing teeth.

A dental filling placed by Dr. Tully can provide you with years of protection, restoring both full chewing function and creating a beautiful addition to your smile. If you have teeth that are damaged or decayed, don’t wait! Restore your teeth with a dental filling before the damage or decay gets worse. Call Dr. Tully in Columbus, GA today and get back your smile!

By Phillip S. Tully III DMD
July 01, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: braces   gum disease  

Your child has had braces for a few months and making good progress with correcting a poor bite (malocclusion), but you’ve also noticed something else: his gums are becoming red and swollen.

These are symptoms of gingivitis, a periodontal (gum) disease. It’s an infection that arises when plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles, isn’t adequately removed from teeth with daily brushing and flossing. The braces increase the risk for gingivitis.

This is because the hardware — metal or plastic brackets cemented to the teeth and joined together by metal bands — makes it more difficult to reach many areas of the teeth with a brush or floss string. The plaque left behind can trigger an infection that causes inflammation (swelling) and bleeding.

To exacerbate the situation, gums don’t always take well to braces and can react by overgrowing. Wearing braces may also coincide with a teenager’s surge in hormones that can accelerate the infection. Untreated, gingivitis can develop into advanced stages of disease that may eventually cause tooth loss. The effect is also heightened as we’re orthodontically putting stress on teeth to move them.

You can stay ahead of gingivitis through extra diligence with daily hygiene, especially taking a little more time to adequately get to all tooth surfaces with your brush and floss. It may also help to switch to a motorized brush or one designed to work around braces. You can make flossing easier by using special threaders to get around the wires or a water flosser that removes plaque with a pulsating water stream.

And don’t forget regular dental visits while wearing braces: we can monitor and treat overgrowth, perform thorough dental cleanings and treat occurrences of gingivitis. In some cases you may need to visit a periodontist, a specialist in gums and supporting teeth structures, for more advanced treatment. And if the disease becomes extensive, the braces may need to be removed temporarily to treat the gums and allow them to heal.

Orthodontic treatment is important for not only creating a new smile but also improving your teeth’s function. Keeping a close eye out for gum disease will make sure it doesn’t sidetrack your efforts in gaining straighter teeth.

If you would like more information on dental care during orthodontics, 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 “Gum Swelling During Orthodontics.”