My Blog

Posts for: August, 2015

By Peter Elton DMD, PLLC
August 17, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  

If you’ve noticed redness or small skin cracks at the corners of your mouth, you may have a common infection known as perleche or angular cheilitis. Depending on its cause, there are ways to treat the redness and skin cracking to lessen your discomfort.

The term perleche comes from the French word “lecher,” meaning to lick. This is derived from the tendency of perleche patients to constantly lick the area to ease irritation; unfortunately, this also helps perpetuate the inflammation. Once the skin is broken the area is commonly infected by yeast called candida albicans.

Initially, perleche may arise from a variety of sources, most of them locally from either inside or around the mouth, although it can be triggered by a general body infection or disease like diabetes or cancer, or vitamin or iron deficiencies. Inside the mouth reduced saliva flow, tissue inflammation under a rarely cleaned denture (denture stomatitis), pressure on the mouth corners caused by a collapsed bite due to missing teeth and similar conditions can elevate the risks for infection. Around the mouth wrinkling or “marionette lines,” deep lines that extend from the mouth to the chin due to aging or environmental exposure, can contribute to crack formation. Drooling during sleep or as a result of orthodontic treatment is also a contributing cause.

The main focus of treatment for perleche is to bring any infection under control. This can be accomplished with a course of oral or topical antifungal (yeast-attacking) medication. If the infection has spread into the mouth or throat we might then prescribe a troche, a small lozenge designed to dissolve, which you would rinse with and then swallow to affect other portions of the mouth. Steroid or zinc oxide ointments applied directly to the skin can control inflammation and serve as a barrier agent with antifungal properties to promote healing.

If the cause is more related to dental problems (ill-fitting dentures or missing teeth), then it’s important to have these addressed and treated. You may also consult a dermatologist for treatments to lessen wrinkling around the mouth that might also contribute to chronic cases of perleche.

If you would like more information on cracked mouth corners, 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 “Cracked Corners of the Mouth.”

By Elton Dental Group
August 11, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  

Dental ImplantsDental implants get a lot of press these days. Dentists and patients alike tout them as the best tooth replacement options available. You may think these state of the art prosthetic teeth could complete your smile. Still, you have questions.

Peter Elton, DMD, PLLC offers dental implants in his Gig Harbor, WA practice. As a skilled and experienced general family dentist and fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, Dr. Elton knows dental implants. He is happy to answer these frequently asked questions about dental implants when a patient comes in for a tooth replacement consultation.

  1. What are dental implants made of? A dental implant is a true prosthetic tooth. Surgically inserted into the patient's empty tooth socket, the titanium metal device melds with the jaw bone through osseointegration. This natural process secures the implant so that after healing, a titanium post or abutment can be attached. A customized porcelain crown finishes the new tooth.
  2. How long does the implant process take? Dr. Elton carefully evaluates each patient's oral health through visual examination, x-rays or other imaging. When gums are healthy and the jaw bone is dense and sizable, a successful implant placement is assured. The titanium screw placement takes one dental visit. After a period of healing, the abutment and crown are bonded in place. In total, implant process may take several weeks to months.
  3. Can implants fail? Implants will fail if patients don't brush, floss and get regular hygienic cleanings at Elton Dental Group. The devices can succumb to an infection called peri-implantitis, a condition similar to advanced gum disease. However, with good care, failure is extremely unlikely as implant materials are biocompatible and durable.
  4. How long do implants last? They last for decades, unlike partial dentures and bridgework which may have a "shelf life" of around 10 years.
  5. When multiple teeth are missing, does a patient require multiple implants? A titanium screw can support a two or three unit bridge or even a full fixed or removable denture. Dr. Elton designs implant solutions according to individual patient need.
  6. What if a patient has an insufficient bone to support an implant? People who have worn dentures for a long time or have neglected to replace a missing tooth experience jawbone deterioration. However, this does not mean they cannot get dental implants. Skilled implant dentists such as Dr. Elton have ways to augment the jaw bone with donor tissue and other materials so the alveolar ridge is dense enough and big enough to accept one or more dental implants.

More questions?

Dr. Peter Elton and his team are ready to answer any and all questions regarding this wonderful tooth replacement option and other issues related to restorative dental services. Call his Gig Harbor office today to schedule your personal consultation regarding dental implants: (360) 362-1572.

By Peter Elton DMD, PLLC
August 09, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

As a member of the best-selling pop group Spice Girls, Mel C (AKA Sporty Spice) enjoyed her share of musical superstardom. At the band’s peak in the Nineties, the young singer’s signature look featured baggy sweatpants, an assortment of tattoos, a nose stud and a gold-capped incisor, front and center in her mouth. Today, Melanie Chisholm is still singing — but now she’s a mom, an amateur triathlete… and that gold tooth is just a memory. Not only that, her smile looks more evenly spaced and whiter than it did when she was referred to as the “tomboy” of the group.

What happened? In our view, it all boils down to changing tastes — plus a little bit of help from dental professionals. As the “wannabe” singer proves, there’s no single standard when it comes to making your teeth look their best. Your own look is unique to you — and your smile can reflect that individuality.

For example, crowns (caps) are substantial coverings that may be placed on teeth when they are being restored. They are available in three types: gold, all-porcelain, or porcelain-fused-to-metal. The latter two are tooth-colored, while the gold is — well, shiny like gold bling. Which one is right for you? In many cases, it’s your choice.

Likewise, dental veneers — wafer-thin shells that can correct cosmetic issues by covering the surface of your teeth — can be made in a variety of shades. Their hues may range from natural ivory to Hollywood white, and everything in between. What’s the best color for you? Only you can say.

Some people opt for a “smile makeover” that uses small irregularities in the spacing and color of teeth to create a more “natural” look. Other folks want a perfectly even, brilliant white smile that dazzles the eye. Still others are looking to match or restore the smile they once had — perhaps even re-creating a signature gap between the teeth. As long as there are no other dental issues involved, the choice is yours.

So if you’re unhappy with your smile — or if you feel it doesn’t reflect the person you “wannabe” — why not talk to us about a smile makeover? Just call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”