All posts by Lou Donato

A Beginner’s Guide to Periodontal Disease

dentistOur teeth and gums are mighty warriors of our body. After all, without them we wouldn’t be able to chew, speak properly, or smile big! But unfortunately, our teeth and gums can be susceptible to a lot of different problems and diseases, most notably periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is an extremely common gum issue that can not only cause discomfort but tooth loss if it goes untreated. Here is everything you need to know about this type of disease and how you can prevent it from happening to you.

What causes periodontal disease?
Our mouths are full of bacteria, and if we forgo brushing and flossing regularly, this bacteria can build up and wear away at teeth and gums. One of the first signs of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which occurs when the plaque and bacteria in your mouth lead to gum inflammation. When this happens the gums can look red, tender, and can possibly bleed. The next step after gingivitis is periodontitis, which is when the gums are so inflamed they pull away from the teeth and become extremely infected.

Are there different risk factors for periodontal disease?
Yes, there are plenty and they include:

  • Not visiting your dentist for bi-annual cleanings and checkup.
  • Smoking and using chewing tobacco.
  • Hormonal changes in girls and pre-menopausal women.
  • Having diabetes.
  • Medications that can cause dry mouth and reduce the flow of salivia.

What are some signs that mean I could be suffering from periodontal disease?
While every single patient differs, our dentists explain that some common symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Bad breath that is either unexplained or won’t go away.
  • Red and swollen gums.
  • Excessive bleeding when brushing your teeth.
  • Tender-to-the-touch teeth and gums.
  • Pain when chewing, or when eating hot and/or cold foods.
  • Receding gums or teeth that look longer than the others.

If you notice any or all of these symptoms, don’t hesistate to call up your family dentist today for an apointment to figure out a solution to your problem.

Considering the fact that periodontal disease increases with age, and that 70.1% of adults over 65 years and older suffer from this, it is crucial you stay on top of your oral hygiene so your teeth are the best they can be. If you have any questions about how you can prevent periodontal disease from happening to you, make sure to call our Fitchburg dentists right away!

Your Dental Cavity Questions Answered

Your Dental Cavity Questions Answered

When your dentist tells you that you need a cavity filled, the questions may begin popping into your head. You’ll want to know things like how long will your appointment be or will it hurt? Let’s take a look at some of the questions and answers when it comes to getting your cavity filled.


Modern dentistry

Why did I get a cavity? 

Cavities are formed by tooth decay. It may be that the cavity formed in a hard to reach place or that it built up over time. You may have an oddly shaped tooth that decay just finds. Many people get cavities so it does not necessarily indicate bad dental hygiene.


Do I need to do anything before my appointment?

No, most fillings are very routine and you do not have to do anything to prepare for this appointment.


What does filling a cavity entail?

Filling a cavity is a fairly easy procedure. According to,

“Before filling cavities, your dentist will numb your teeth, gums and surrounding skin to avoid and lessen discomfort during the procedure. Next, he or she will drill out the decay in the tooth and replace it with a filling.”


Will the procedure hurt?

A filling should not hurt. While numbing is standard procedure, many dentists will also use numbing gel before any injections so not even that part hurts. There may be a little discomfort, but this should not be a painful procedure.


Will it hurt afterward?

You may feel a bit of discomfort afterward, and your mouth will be numb for a few hours, but you should not feel pain.


Do I need to follow up?

Most dentists do not require follow up after filling a cavity. This is one dental procedure that only takes one appointment. It also is a fairly short appointment. You should be out of the dentist’s office within an hour.


What if I don’t get it filled?

Getting a cavity filled is very important. If you don’t, the decay will continue and eventually cause bigger problems, like damage to the root, which may need a root canal or you could even lose the tooth. It also could cause more pain the longer you wait.

Modern dentistry

Does insurance cover this?

If you have dental insurance, it should cover a filling. However, you can check beforehand or ask your dental office billing department to check for you.


Am I prone to cavities now?

Just because you have a cavity doesn’t mean you are prone to them, but unfortunately, some people are more prone to cavities than others. A lot of factors can affect this, like saliva production, tooth shape and diet. This article in Scientific American goes into great detail about why some people get more cavities than others.


What can I do to prevent cavities?

Brush your teeth and do it well. Flossing is also important. Eating and drinking less sugary foods can help, and brushing after eating sugary or sticky foods can reduce your chances of cavities.

The good thing is that with modern dentistry, dental cavities are easily treated. Finding a good dentist helps, and gentle dentists, like Watkin Dental Associates (request information), can take all the fear out of getting a cavity filled. If you have questions, ask and your dentist should be happy to tell you as much as you want to know.

Why Your Teen Athlete Absolutely Needs a Custom Mouth Guard

You’ve got your teen cleared with her physical forms from the doctor, she’s made the team and you’ve purchased the uniform. So she’s all ready to jump on the sports field and get playing. Right? Wait – there’s one more thing that is just as important as all the gear and the physical checks. It’s a mouth guard.

Whether your teen is playing lacrosse, football, soccer or any other sport with impact or airborne objects, they need a mouth guard. It’s a good idea to talk to your dentist about this and decide what is the best mouth guard to get. Many of them will agree on one thing – go for a custom guard.

Modern dentistry


What are athletic mouth guards?

First off, what exactly is a mouth guard and what does it do? According to Colgate’s Oral Care Center:

Sports guards, mouth guards and mouth protectors are different names for the same thing: a device worn over your teeth that protects them from blows to the face and head. Mouth guards are an important piece of athletic equipment for anyone participating in a sport that involves falls, body contact or flying equipment. This includes football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, gymnastics, mountain biking — any activity that might result in an injury to the mouth.

Mouth guards typically cover the upper teeth, and are designed to protect against broken teeth, cut lips and other damage to your mouth. If you wear braces or other fixed dental appliances (such as a bridge) on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.

So no matter what sport your teen is doing that falls into these categories, they need a mouth guard.


Why a custom guard?

A custom guard is usually made in your dentist’s office and not only is more comfortable than another type of guard but the fit, therefore the protection, is better. After making an impression of your child’s teeth, the dentist makes a custom guard that will fit over the teeth just right, even over braces.

Custom mouth guards also let the athlete breathe more naturally, helping not only their performance but their comfort and overall health. They also tend to outlast other types of mouth guards as they are usually of higher quality material and construction.

Gladiator Custom Guards reports that Over 5 million teeth are knocked out each year and the lifetime cost to replace one tooth is approximately $20,000. If one custom guard can prevent high cost and tooth loss, it’s worth it.


How your dentist can help

Modern dentistry

Speak to your dentist about helping you find the best custom mouth guard for your teen. This is an all important piece of sports equipment, and your family dentist can be an integral part of finding the best one for your athlete. Modern dentistry covers much more than simple basic cleanings. Whether your dentist can make the mouth guard for your child or direct you to your best source, the dentist should be your first stop in checking this out. Remember, your dental health should be a regular part of your family’s medical and well being routine. Call us. We will be happy to help.

Top 10 Advances for Patients in Modern Dentistry

Dentistry has come a long way since the days of the first dentists hundreds of years ago and the use of wooden teeth. Advanced dental technology is not only important because the more cutting edge the technology is the safer and more effective the procedures can be. The patient can also be much more comfortable. Modern dentistry is a better, safer experience all around.

Here are 10 of the top advances in dental technology:

Implants – Implants take the place of a damaged tooth. Even these have come a long way since first introduced. They are able to maintain the integrity of the mouth and bite in a way that would be impossible without the tooth.

Clear Aligners – These introduced a new way to straighten teeth without the metal look of braces. Invisalign was the innovator in this area and still holds a prominent place in the market. Clear aligners have opened the door for a new group – adults – to enjoy the benefits of teeth straightening and adjusting alignment.

Sealants – Now a common practice for children, sealants keep bacteria, excess sugar, and acid from getting into the hard to reach areas around molars. Easily applied in the dentist office, this is a great preventative form of dental technology.

CAD/CAM – Definitely in the field of modern technology, this allows dentists to create precisely fitted restorative pieces in a single visit. Not only does the technology make the procedure itself more successful, but it also enhances the experience for the patient.

Composites – This technology has made it possible for restorative work in the smile zone to go unnoticed. With a wide array of shades available to match the patient’s natural teeth and new strides in bonding reliability, this is a technology that has helped patients look and feel great.

Numbing gel – This bit of technology removes a lot of pain and discomfort from dental procedures. No more sting of the shot of the Novocain, the numbing gel makes everything pain free.

Loupes and magnification – Dental work is intricate and detailed. With new technology in loupes (surgical telescopes) and magnification, dentists have a better perspective to ensure successful procedures.

Comfort – Maybe this doesn’t really fall under technology, but non-dental forms of technology have helped the patient be more comfortable and relaxed during procedures. The use of headphones, heated blankets and movies streamed into offices have made the experience more comfortable.

Power toothbrushes – Able to reach smaller spots and get more bacteria out of teeth, power toothbrushes have helped in the preventative side of dental cleaning. The patient can use these without brushing too hard and still get teeth clean.

Electronic reminders – Again, not so much in the field of dental technology, but electronic reminders, such as emails and texts, can remind patients of upcoming appointments and when it’s time for preventative care, leading to more appointments and healthier mouths.

Technology has come a long way in the dental field, making appointments and procedures more successful and more comfortable. Offices and practices, like Watkin Dental Associates (request information ), provide great care and great comfort to their patients. The dentist can actually be an enjoyable place now.

Been a While Since Your Last Dentist Appointment? Let Use Ease Your Mind

fitchburg family dentalWhether it was an issue with anxiety or insurance, returning to the dentist after months or years of neglecting that appointment can be very intimidating. It might be tempting to push back your appointment date as it draws closer, or even cancel it all together. But it’s important that you don’t.

Around 20% of Americans, or one in five, have an untreated cavity. While this number is often tied to lower income, it’s also important to understand that chronically skipping your dental appointments can also increase the chance that you will be among that 20%.

We at Fitchburg Family Dental want to ensure that your return to the dentists is as smooth as possible. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide — so you know what to expect.

Prep Work

The best deterrent to anxiety is preparation. Leading up to your appointment, you should make sure that you have your insurance information, as well as a list of allergies and medications you are taking.

When planning your day around your dental appointment, it is best to give yourself extra time, not just before the appointment but also after. Arriving early is good practice because you will likely have paperwork to fill out. Besides, who needs the extra stress of running late?

As we mentioned, you should also not make other plans too close after your appointment. There is a good chance your appointment will run later than a typical appointment, especially if it’s been more than a year since your last cleaning.

What to Expect

First and foremost, your can expect your dentist to do a thorough search for cavities and other problems that might have crept up during your absence. But something you might not be expecting is the amount of time it can take to clean your teeth after a long gap in care.

It’s a basic tenant of dentistry that if given the opportunity, plaque will move in. Depending on the length of your absence, quite a lot of plaque can build up, meaning your dentist will need to work a little harder to get you back into tip top shape. But don’t be afraid! This is a painless process, and one you will be grateful for afterwards.

It can be difficult to return to the dentist after you’ve had a long delay. At Fitchburg Family Dental, we believe that the wait is worse than the actual appointment. Hopefully having a better understanding of what your return will entail will help alleviate some of the anxiety.

Is “Teeth in a Day” for Real?

How would you like to have your dental problems solved in a day? You aren’t alone there. In the late 20th century, thanks to advancing dental technology, it became possible for specialists to give patients new “dentures in a day.” Busloads of hopeful travelers would travel long distances to receive the “dentures in a day” service. They had complete extractions and, by the next day received a new set of teeth.

The idea of getting new teeth in a day can seem too good to be true. It certainly was back in “the good old days.” If you’ve struggled with dental issues for years, it may seem hard to believe that the solution can be handled so quickly. After all, the process of replacing a single tooth may take a few months, depending on the treatment that’s needed. However, the truth is that dental implants are a doable “teeth in a day” option when you have a one or more teeth that need to be replaced.


Teeth in a dayLearning About the Sought-After Procedures

Getting new teeth in a single day is a popular concept, but it sometimes refers to multiple procedures. The most common is “all-on-4” denture implants. As The New York Times reported, dental implants are often preferable to dentures. This one-day series of procedures can replace your teeth permanently.

The surgical placement of multiple implants may require some visits to the dentist’s office prior to the “one-day” plan. Having a long-term success rate is the goal. Sedation dentistry is often used to help avoid discomfort.


Exploring the Option of Mini Dental Implants 

Mini dental implants are a way for dentists to replace missing teeth without conventional dental restorations. If your jaw cannot support traditional dental implants, mini dental implants can empower you to enjoy restored teeth without the surgery. Because the procedure for mini dental implants can be completed in a single day, it’s a popular choice.

Mini dental implants are fixed by insertion directly into a patient’s jaw. That eliminates the frustration of having to remove and clean them outside the mouth each day. While the procedure for mini dental implants is done in a day, it takes approximately three to six months for the bone to fuse completely around the abutment of the implant.


Considering the Benefits of Teeth in a Day

If you are ready to go from removable dentures to fixed-in teeth as soon as possible, the “teeth in a day” option is especially appealing. Since your new teeth will have a totally natural appearance, you may feel like you are wearing your own natural set of teeth again.

If you get “teeth in a day,” you will no longer have to worry about denture adhesives, fixing loose dentures, or removing dentures at night. The rapid treatment time and subsequent short recovery time can help you avoid missing a lot of life while you have your teeth problems fixed.


Teeth in a day

Determining Whether You’re a Candidate for Teeth in a Day

If you are missing some of your natural teeth, you may be an ideal candidate for the “teeth in a day” procedure. If you currently wear dentures, you may benefit from the treatment. You can go into your dentist’s office in the morning wearing dentures and leave with a full set of fixed teeth that evening.

It’s important to see your dentist to determine which is the best fit for your needs.

Finally, keep in mind that “teeth in a day” is a real thing. It’s not too good to be true. It has its pros and cons like anything else. The modern “teeth in a day” process can be completed with temporary or permanent teeth. If you would like to learn more about this and other quick and painless dental procedures, request information today.

You’ll Be Amazed at the Success of Dental Implants

Modern dentistry
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people have successful dental implant surgery.

Are you considering dental implants, but worried about the success of the surgery, as well as the long-term success of your dental implants? It’s understandable to have concerns. After all, you’re probably less familiar with dental implants than you are with other types of tooth replacements, like dentures. Dental implants also require more of an investment upfront, so you want to be sure that you’ll see a return on your investment in the longevity of the implants. If you’re not familiar with the statistics on dental implants, you may be surprised to learn just how successful they are. Take a look at some amazing facts about the success rates of dental implants.


Surgical Success 

While you may not be as familiar with dental implants as you are with other dental procedures, more people have them than you might think. About 3 million Americans already have dental implants, and dentists are seeing that number grow by about half a million patients every year. That means that there’s plenty of patient data to study. Scientific journals report a 98% success rate for dental implant patients.

Individual dentists also report great success. Some dentists do hundreds of dental implants a year and maintain an overall success rate of 99%. Although any surgery, no matter how minor, comes with risks and the possibility of complications or failures, dental implant surgeries are amazingly successful and one of the most low-risk surgical procedures that you could hope for.


Long-Term Success

Modern dentistry
You can count on your dental implants to last a lifetime.

But what about the long-term success of dental implants? There’s good news there too. While dentures may wear out or lose their fit and need to be replaced in five to seven years, and even bridges only last up to ten years, dentists say that successful dental implants last for the rest of your life. Once your mouth has healed from the surgery, as long as you take care of your new implants properly, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to keep your dental implants forever.

The long-term success of dental implants is what makes them such an amazing investment. Rather than having to repeatedly spend money to maintain and replace your dental implants, the way that you might with other types of dental work, simply care for them the way that you would care for natural teeth, and you’ll have them forever.


Why Are Dental Implants So Successful?

There are several reasons why dental implant surgery is such a successful procedure in both the short and long-term. But one major reason for the amazing success of dental implants is the equally amazing advances in dental implant technology, including image-guided implant surgery.

Using cone beam scanning technology, your dentist can take hundreds of pictures of your mouth in a very short time. Those images are then used to create a map of your mouth that will be programmed into a computer and used as a kind of GPS system during surgery. This ensures accurate placement of your implants, decreases the chance of human error and allows for less invasive surgery, which results in fewer complications. New dental implant technology has helped to increase the success rate of an already very successful procedure.

If you’ve been apprehensive about dental implants, knowing how overwhelmingly successful the procedure is can help put your mind at ease. To find out more about dental implants, contact us to request information.

Need Dental Implants Today? We Can Do That!

Dental implants
Dental implant technology has made it possible to replace your damaged teeth with functional ones in one appointment.

Some advances in modern technology are highly visible.

You can’t help but notice that cell phones have rapidly become more powerful, more affordable, and more ubiquitous as the technology has advanced.

You can’t miss the new features of computers or the excitement over new driverless car technology.

Other advances, however, fly under the radar, and that’s often true of dental technology. After all, one hallmark of excellent dental work is that no one but you and your dentist knows that you had it. So, you may be surprised to learn that not only have dental implants become one of the best and most reliable forms of tooth replacement, they can now be implanted in only one day.


How it Works

Same-day dental implants are often placed using image-guided surgery technology. Your dentist will use a 3D cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scan to capture multiple detailed images of the layout of your mouth. With those images, your dentist can use computer technology to create a highly accurate map of your mouth that can be used as a precise guide during surgery to ensure that the implants are placed accurately.

Once the map is made and a treatment plan has been created, your surgery can begin. If you need to have teeth extracted, your dentist will use the extraction sites to insert the implants in the exact right spot.


Dental implants
Tooth extractions provide your dentist with the perfect spot to insert dental implants.

What Are The Benefits?

There are several reasons why same-day dental implants might be a perfect choice. In addition to being able to leave the dentist’s office with a complete smile, there’s also a short healing time for patients who need extractions. Instead of waiting for the extraction site to heal, then having implant surgery later and waiting for that to heal, you’ll heal from both the extraction and the implant surgery concurrently.

Having implants placed immediately after extraction also helps avoid atrophy of the bone and gum tissue that may occur between tooth loss or extraction and dental implant surgery. This leads to better and more attractive outcomes for patients.


Are You A Candidate for Same Day Dental Implants?

Dental implants are now widely available, even to patients who were once thought not to be candidates can now successfully get implants. Meet with your dentist for a personal evaluation. You may discover that you can have a smile that you are proud to flash to everyone. To find out more about whether same-day dental implants are right for you, contact us to request information.

*Some health conditions and medications that interfere with your body’s ability to heal or suppress your immune system may affect whether or not you’re eligible for same day implants. 

2 Ways Digital Abutments Make Implant Procedures Easier

Digital dentistry
Abutments provide a connection between the implant and the crown.

Dental implants are widely acknowledged as the superior method of tooth replacement. As dental technology advances, dental implants are becoming more reliable.

Digital abutments are one of the advancements that have helped to change the implant procedure and make it both easier for the patient and more likely to produce predictable results. Take a look at some of the ways this new advancement in digital dentistry is improving the dental implant process.


Better for The Patient

A dental implant has three basic parts:

  1. The titanium implant, which integrates with your jawbone and serves as a tooth root,
  2. The tooth-shaped crown that serves as the visible, functional tooth substitute, and
  3. The abutment, which is a connector piece that attaches the two together.

The titanium implant is put in place first, then impressions of your teeth are taken in order to shape and create the crown.

In analog dentistry, the abutment is placed on top of the implant, then the dentist makes an impression of your teeth by covering the abutment with a modeling substance and allowing it to “set” in your mouth before removing it. It becomes a mold that allows the lab to create the crown. This is a time-consuming and sometimes unpleasant process for the patient, especially those with dental anxiety or sensitive gag reflexes.

Digital abutments streamline the process considerably. Once the abutment is in place, the dentist uses a scanning device to create a digital impression of the abutment. This requires far less time and setup and requires no modeling material in the patient’s mouth, making the procedure relatively pleasant for the patient. Basically, you’ll spend less time in the dentist’s chair, and the time you do spend there many actually be enjoyable.


Better for the Dentist

Digital dentistry
Digital abutments provide accurate scans that dentists can use for a model, facilitating proper placement.

 In addition to being a more comfortable procedure for the patient, digital abutments streamline the process of placing implants for the dentist. The analog dental implant procedure contains a number of different steps. The more steps that are involved, the greater the chances for problems to occur at any of those stages. By reducing the number of steps involved, digital abutments also reduce the chance of complications during the procedure.

Newly designed digital abutments, as well as scan posts that can be used to scan images that are used for placement purposes, serve to help dentists achieve an accurate placement technique and reduce the difficulty of making needed angle adjustments. Take a look at this video explanation of how scan posts are used to gather accurate digital impressions during the dental implant process.

Digital dental technology is advancing rapidly, making many improvements in dental procedures that patients undergo. This technology helps to improve planning, techniques, and quality of care. If you’re considering dental crowns, bridges, partials, or implants, be sure to ask your dentist about digital abutments and implant-guided dentistry. Contact us to request information.

Quick and Simple Ways to Ensure Your Child Has Fantastic Teeth!

family dentistAccording to a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, a whopping 99% of adults believe a healthy smile is socially important. A healthy smile starts at a young age, but many parents forgo this important habit when it comes to their children as they believe it is too stressful to deal with.

However, creating healthy dental habits couldn’t be easier with these top tips in mind!

  • Start as early as possible
    It is never too early to take your children to a family dentist! As a rule of thumb, you should take them no later than their first birthday, or by the time their first tooth comes in, whichever comes first. Creating a habit of taking care of their mouth and oral hygiene will stick with your children for the rest of their lives, so don’t hesitate and start now!
  • Use yourself as an example
    Make brushing your teeth a family activity and encourage your little ones to brush their teeth with you! If they notice that you are working to be an example, they will try and mimic you — make sure to always talk about how good your teeth feel when they are clean, how excited you are to go to the dentist, and how brushing your teeth is your favorite part of your bedtime routine. Simple statements like this go a long way!
  • Get messy!
    Kids love bubbles, and not only do they like the sensation of bubbles in their mouth, they like to see them as well. Don’t be afraid to get messy when your child starts out brushing as they will learn visually this way.
  • Give rewards
    Children are almost always motivated by rewards, and this is true even with brushing their teeth. Set up a rewards chart that they can fill in every morning and night when they finish brushing their teeth, and their reward can be something fun and dental themed such as a new electric toothbrush, flavored toothpaste, or colored floss.

In addition to these tips, it is important that you regularly schedule appointments with your family dentist. Make sure to call our dentists today to get started with ensuring your child’s healthy smile from day one!