Gettysburg Family Dentist Blog

Why do I need a Crown?

Posted by Julie Berger on Wed, May 24, 2017 @ 15:05 PM



What is a crown?

A crown, sometimes referred to as a cap, is a protective covering for the tooth. Many materials are used to make crowns. 

Solid gold crowns are still an excellent option for molar teeth.  Gold is very biocompatible.  Some crowns are metal on the inside with porcelain on the outside.  Zirconium and lithium disilicate, all ceramic crowns are extremely lifelike and esthetic. There is no metal to show through at the gum-line. Crowns are custom-made for each patient and are cemented, or bonded to the natural tooth structure. Missing a tooth?  Crowns can also be specially made to be held in by dental implants.

How will I know if I need a crown?

A dentist may recommend a crown for various reasons. The most common reasons are:

  • Cracked tooth
  • Tooth with a large filling
  • Molar or premolar with root canal treatment 
  • Badly worn or decayed tooth

Cracked teeth usually cannot be restored with just a filling. To help prevent the crack from spreading and breaking the tooth, the tooth needs a crown to cover and protect it.

Teeth with very large fillings are more susceptible to breakage than other teeth. If the tooth has more filling than natural tooth, your dentist may recommend a crown to prevent the tooth from cracking and breaking.

Molars and premolars are the back teeth that perform most of the chewing. Root canal treatment can leave teeth brittle, and without proper protection the teeth can break. Since the molars and premolars bear the brunt of our chewing forces, once they have had root canal treatment, they usually need a crown to give them extra strength and support.

Badly worn or badly decayed teeth need structural restoration. When loss of tooth structure is significant, a filling is not enough to fix the tooth. A crown can replace lost tooth structure and protect the tooth from further damage.

Julie C. Berger, DDS, MS is a local Gettysburg dentist and prosthodontist and former clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.



Topics: Crowns, Porcelain Crowns

Chewing Kills

Posted by Peter Samuels on Mon, May 15, 2017 @ 17:05 PM




Chewing Tobacco -- it's been touted as a safer alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, chewing tobacco for the long-term still causes many health problems and is a hard habit to break. But did you know that tobacco use can cause serious oral health problems as well? 

Just like smoking, tobacco contains the extremely addictive chemical known as nicotine. But in addition to nicotine, there are approximately 30 cancer-causing substances found in smokeless tobacco. So what kinds of problems can you run into with chewing tobacco?

Gum Disease

Users place chewing tobacco along the gum line and let it sit there for long periods of time. While it sits, it releases chemicals that irritate the gums, causing the gums to recede. This significantly increases your risk of gum disease potentially leading to serious infection (periodontitis) and tooth loss. 


Smokeless tobacco contains a lot of sugar. If you are placing it next to your teeth and just letting it sit there, the sugar feed bacateria that cause tooth decay. Chewing tobacco also has sand and grit in it that wears down tooth enamel, opening the door for even more cavities. 


It really should come as no surprise that chewing tobacco can also cause cancer anywhere in your mouth or throat. In particular, you can get small, white, pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakia in your mouth. The more you chew, the higher your chances of getting cancer. 

It may seem like a better idea to chew tobacco rather than smoke. But the reality is that smokeless tobacco can do just as much harm to your health as smoking. Quitting can be difficult, but with medications or help from a doctor you can kick the habit and look forward to a brighter future of oral health.

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.       717-334-0555

Periodontal Disease 101

Posted by Peter Samuels on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 @ 11:08 AM

Diagnosed With Periodontal Disease: Now What?

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Being told by a dentist that you have periodontal disease can be a startling experience. Usually there is no pain and, until teeth become loose, there are few symptoms. Your dentist can make the diagnosis bases on dental x-rays which can show bone loss and clinically by looking for periodontal pockets between the gums and the teeth. Advanced periodontal disease cannot really be cured. Generally, once supporting jaw bone is lost, it will not grow back. There is a lot, however, that we can do to help stop the disease from progressing.

Schedule Your Root Planing and Scaling

The first step to managing your periodontal disease will often be a non-surgical gum treatment known as root planing and scaling. During this procedure, you will be numbed so that a hygienist, dentist, or periodontist can use special instruments to thoroughly clean underneath your gum line. The goal of root planing and scaling is to remove plaque and tartar that has built up and become inaccessible with just standard teeth-cleaning.

Often times, dentists will recommend that you complete your root planing and scaling in two sessions: one side of your mouth in one session and the other side during the next session. This way, you don't need to have your entire mouth numbed at once. Some patients elect to be sedated to have the entire procedure completed in one relaxing visit.

Follow Up With Regular Maintenance Cleanings

After your root planing and scaling procedure, you'll probably find that your gums look and feel a lot healthier. The swelling and redness should subside, and your gums probably won't bleed as easily as they used to--especially when brushing and/or flossing.

Your treatment doesn't end here, however. Even once root planing and scaling is over with, you will need to see your dentist for periodontal maintenance cleanings from this point on--and probably for the rest of your life. Generally, maintenance cleanings are recommended every three to four months and involve a deeper cleaning than your traditional teeth cleaning. Keeping up with these appointments will be key managing your periodontal disease, so make them a priority.

Focus on Your Overall Dental Health Habits

Finally, there are some steps you can take at home when it comes to managing your periodontitis. Specifically, if you weren't taking the time to floss regularly before your diagnosis, now is the time to start. In addition, flossing at least once a day and brushing your teeth at least twice a day will help to keep your gums nice and healthy. Are you a smoker? Time to stop! Smoking makes you more prone to periodontal disease. Be sure to replace your toothbrush with a new one at least once every few months.

Managing your periodontal disease will take some effort on your part, but it will be more than worth it when you have the best chance of being able to keep your teeth for a lifetime.


Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.   717-334-0555

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Topics: dentist

New Denture Technology

Posted by Julie Berger on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 @ 09:07 AM

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These Ain’t your Grandparents Dentures!
There is nothing like your natural teeth.  That’s why, as dentists, we encourage you to keep your natural teeth for a lifetime.  Sometimes, however, due to decay or trauma or periodontal disease, that’s just not possible.  When most people think about dentures, they visualize the ill-fitting ones that made Grandpa slur his words and struggle to eat. However, there have been many advances in denture technology. Modern dentures are comfortable to wear and often allow the user to eat, talk, and laugh normally. Today's dentures are also cosmetically appealing and, in many cases, look better than the natural teeth they replace!  
Immediate dentures
After complete tooth loss, immediate, removable dentures are usually fitted. These first dentures are made before the teeth are even removed.  That way you never have to go without teeth. No one needs to know.  During the next months your mouth will heal and the gums and bone will shrink.  The immediate denture will gradually loosen.  Once the healing process is complete, new, properly fitted dentures, can be constructed. 
Dental implants are often a life changer for denture wearers.  Rather than just having to rely on suction or denture adhesive to hold in dentures, two or more dental implants can be placed in the jaw bone to snuggly hold dentures in place.  Now you can eat and laugh and talk without fear of dentures slipping.  If several implants are placed the denture can sometimes be replaced altogether with permanent, fixed teeth. 
Denture Specialists
Whether you opt for implants or not, getting the most secure denture fit possible requires careful attention to detail. The way the teeth fit together (occlusion) is critical and the size and the shape of teeth should be proportioned to your particular mouth and face. Making excellent dentures is an art and skill that can require a lot of experience. The key to having a good denture experience, with or without dental implants, is getting the fit of the dentures right. The skill of the dentist in making molds and adjusting the dentures to fit properly can dramatically affect the final results. If the bite is right and the contours of the denture are made to ideal, wrinkles around the mouth can be reduced and you can look years younger!
Who should I go to for dentures?
It’s a good idea to select someone with extensive experience in making dentures. A prosthodontist is a dentist that specializes in this kind of treatment. A prosthodontist trains for three additional years after the four years of dental school to be proficient in all kinds of denture treatment options. He or she can advise you on the most modern options so you will look and feel your best.
Julie C. Berger, DDS, MS is a dentist and board certified  prosthodontist in Gettysburg, PA.  She is a former full time clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.
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A Guide to the TMJ

Posted by Peter Samuels on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 @ 11:07 AM

gettysburg dentistTMJ: What Is It and How Is It Treated?

What is TMJ?

The TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint.  This is the sliding joint connection between the lower jaw and the skull.  If someone says they have “TMJ” really this doesn’t make sense.  It’s like saying “I have knee!”  The correct terminology would be TMD or temporomandibular disorder.

OK, then what is TMD?

Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds are sometimes indications of displacement or damage to the cartilage within the joint. Locking of the jaw on opening can indicate a displaced joint disc.   Pain can occur within the joint or in muscles surrounding the joint. Many people unconsciously grind their teeth at night.  Grinding, also called bruxing, can put tremendous stressing forces on the joints as well as the teeth.  This is especially the case if the occlusion, the way the teeth fit together, is not in good harmony with the position of the jaw joints. Joints can become inflamed. Arthritic changes can occur.  Muscles can tense and ache.  Headaches, muscles aches, and even neck aches, can result.

How Is TMD Treated?

Generally we try to treat TMJ problems conservatively.  A night-time, hard, acrylic splint appliance that is carefully adjusted to restore the proper harmony between the joints and the bite is often very effective at relieving pain and preventing headaches. The appliance should be custom made in a laboratory in such a way that the jaw condyles are properly positioned when the teeth bite on the appliance. This position tends to relax muscles activity and help prevent further joint damage. If a splint appliance proves effective, then the bite can often be adjusted, (equilibrated) to improve the bite even when the appliance is not in the mouth.  Sometimes medications such as pain relievers, tricyclic antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and sedatives are helpful. Botox injections of the jaw muscles can also provide relief. Physical therapy and jaw exercises can also help.


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Benefits of Dental Implants

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 @ 15:07 PM

Why Consider Dental Implants? Learn Five Important Benefits Here 
gettysburg dentist dental implants 
Many people suffer from tooth loss, typically due to tooth decay, gum disease, or injuries. If you're missing teeth, you might wonder how you can restore your smile. Today, dentures aren't the only option for those who suffer from tooth loss; dental implants are a viable treatment option for many.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
For many years, bridges and dentures were the primary options available to people who were missing teeth. Today, dental implants-- which are artificial tooth roots placed in the jaw-- serve as a foundation for permanent or removable replacement teeth. The benefits of using dental implants are numerous and include:
Improved confidence. Many people who suffer from tooth loss describe themselves as lacking in self-esteem. They often hesitate to smile and feel self-conscious about their appearance. With dental implants, patients can feel a renewed sense of confidence and smile without reservation.
Speech improvement. If dentures are not fitted properly, they can cause speech problems, including slurring of the words. With dental implants, patients never have to worry about their dentures slipping and causing them to have difficulty speaking.
Easier mealtimes. Denture wearers know that eating can sometimes feel like a chore. Dentures can slip, making mealtime a hassle instead of an enjoyable experience. Implants allow you to eat as you would with your natural teeth.
Improved smile. The vast majority of implant patients will agree that their smiles have improved as a result of their implants. In fact, many feel that their overall appearance improved after getting dental implants.
Ease of use. Dentures, while functional, are rarely described as convenient. After all, they're removable, and thus can slip out of place. They also require inconvenient adhesives. Because dental implants are treated as natural teeth, they are convenient and allow patients to bypass potentially embarrassing situations resulting from denture removal.
Caring for your dental implants
With proper care, dental implants can last a lifetime. Fortunately, implants don't require special care; patients should care for them as they care for their natural teeth. This includes brushing at least twice daily, flossing at least once a day, and visiting the dentist for regularly scheduled check-ups and cleanings.
Questions about implants? Give us a call!
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.   737-334-0555

A Different Kind of Crown

Posted by Peter Samuels on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 @ 07:06 AM

gettysburg dentist crown
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.."  - Shakespeare
While most people likely do not look forward to getting a dental crown, it sometimes becomes necessary. However, not everyone is familiar with what a crown is-- or why they're needed. So, what exactly is a dental crown? A crown-- which is kind of like an artificial layer of enamel placed over a tooth-- serves a number of functions. A dental crown not only improves the appearance of a damaged tooth, it also strengthens the tooth and restores it to its original shape and size. Crowns are usually custom made for your particular tooth by a dental lab technician. Sometimes it is also possible to make an in -office, CADCAM designed Cerec crown. Let's discuss some more information about crowns below.
When is a crown needed?
If your dentist has recommended a crown to you, you might wonder why it's necessary. Crowns are typically recommended in the following situations:
  • Large filling replacement. If you have a large filling that needs replacement, your dentist might recommend a crown instead. This is particularly true if the filling is so large that there is very little tooth remaining.
  • Repair a fractured tooth. Sometimes, fractured teeth are restored by using dental crowns. The tooth-shaped cap is placed over the damaged tooth, helping to strengthen it.
  • Prevent fracture. Not only are crowns used to repair fractured teeth, they are also sometimes used to prevent fractures in weak and at-risk teeth.
  • Root canal. If you've had a root canal, your dentist will likely place a crown over the affected tooth.
  • Improve appearance. If you have a chipped, discolored, or otherwise damaged tooth, a crown is sometimes used to improve its appearance.
Caring for your dental crown
When cared for properly, a dental crown can last between five and fifteen years. It's important to maintain good oral hygiene and remember that your crown isn't immune to tooth decay or gum disease. Thus, brushing your teeth at least twice a day and daily flossing is essential. When flossing and brushing, take special care of the area around the crown, where the tooth and crown margins meet. Make sure to visit your dentist and hygienist for regular preventative care as well.
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.
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Topics: Cosmetic Dentistry

Prevention; The Cheapest Dental Insurance!

Posted by Peter Samuels on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 @ 08:06 AM

Prevention; the Cheapest Dental Insurance!


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Taking care of your teeth is an important part of your overall health, yet many people avoid going to the dentist altogether. One of the most commonly cited reasons for avoiding the dentist's office is the cost. If you don't properly manage your teeth, however, you're much more likely to spend a significant amount of money in restorative dental care down the road.

 Preventive dentistry emphasizes both at-home care and regular dental check-ups. By making a commitment to practice preventive dentistry, you can save yourself thousands of dollars!  Let's discuss five tips for saving money on dental treatment.

At-home care. Brushing and flossing at least twice a day, while so simple, is

 the most important first step in preventive dentistry. Remove the plaque from between your teeth and prevent 90 percent of all problems!

Fluoride treatments. After every dental cleaning, have your dentist or hygienist provide a fluor

ide treatment, which strengthens the teeth and helps to prevent tooth decay. Additionally, there are toothpastes and mouthwashes containing fluoride that you can use at home. Don't hesitate to ask your dentist for recommendations.

Regular dental visits. Preventive dentistry means visiting your dentist at least every six months for regularly scheduled check-ups and cleanings. Only a dentist or hygienist can remove hard tartar deposits from around the gumline. Remove it frequently and you avoid gum disease. Many dental conditions aren't initially painful, which means you're often unaware of their existence until they've progressed enough to cause significant--and costly-- damage. Regular check-ups help to ensure that any potential concerns are caught and treated early. Want to know a secret?  Most dentists I know have their teeth cleaned every 3 months!

Digital x-rays. Not all dental problems are visible to the naked eye. Digital x-rays allow dentists to catch problems-- such as cavities between the teeth or issues below the gum line-- before they become expensive. Special lasers can be used to detect cavities while they are still small and easy to restore. 

Healthy diet. What you eat has a significant impact not only on your physical health, but your oral health. Additionally, diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates can ultimately lead to tooth decay. This is because the acid-producing bacteria in your mouth that causes dental plaque, feasts on carbohydrates. Stop with the all day soda sipping habit! 

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland Dental School.



Topics: dental habits

Information about Gum Disease and Diabetes

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, Jun 3, 2015 @ 13:06 PM

What You Should Know about Gum Disease and Diabetes

        If you are diabetic you are more likely to develop periodontal disease because of an increased susceptibility to infection. In fact, gum disease is frequently considered a complication of diabetes. If diabetes is not well controlled, there is an increase in your saliva’s glucose levels and this causes harmful bacteria to fester. These bacteria form a sticky film called plaque. According to diabetes research, the relationship between gum disease and diabetes is reciprocal. The findings suggesgettysburg dentistt that periodontal disease may make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar.

       While gum disease may not be painful, there are warning signs to watch for including: • Bleeding gums when you floss or brush your teeth. This bleeding is a red flag and you should see a dentist.• Gums that are red, swollen, or tender. • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth. You may be able to see the roots of your teeth or they may look longer. • Pus appears when you press your gums. • Bad breath.Loose teeth. • Changes in the way your teeth fit when you bite together. • Changes in the fit of partial dentures.

       Taking care of your teeth at home can help prevent gum disease. It’s important to brush and floss at least once every day. But professional dental care is also extremely important. Gum disease causes pockets that are deeper than the normal gaps between the teeth and gums. Only a professional cleaning can remove the bacteria from deep pockets. Often gum disease can be avoided or well controlled by cleanings three or 4 times a year. Your diabetes will be easier to control, you’ll be healthier, and you can avoid dentures and gum surgery.

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.


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A Beginner's Guide to Gum Disease and Diabetes

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 15:05 PM

Gum Disease and Diabetes: What’s the Connection?


Diabetes is a common disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, 9.3% of the American population had diabetes in 2012. It’s also a serious disease being the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2010.

Diabetes is serious because it can lead to so many complications. It may increase your chances for heart disease. It can lead to blindness. Foot problems are a common complication. In 2010 complications from diabetes resulted in 73,000 amputations.

While the statistics seem depressing,Gum Disease and Diabetes the good news is that with the proper care many of these complications can be delayed or avoided altogether. Listen to your physician and do what he or she tells you.

Make sure to visit your dentist as well!  One of the complications of diabetes is gingivitis or gum disease. According to the Cleveland Clinic, gum disease has been called the fifth complication of diabetes (after heart, nerve, kidney and eye disease).

What’s the link between gum disease and diabetes?  Diabetes results in a greater inflammatory response to the bacteria present around the teeth and gums. If left untreated, the resulting inflammation and infection can then develop into periodontal disease, which can lead to bone loss and, ultimately, tooth loss.

Conversly, gum disease can affect diabetes..  As periodontal infection progresses it can make it increasingly difficult for someone with diabetes to control his or her blood sugars. In other words, not only can diabetes lead to periodontal disease, but periodontal disease can then increase the severity of the diabetes.

There is a happy side to this, though. Periodontal disease can often be treated conservatively and without surgery.  If your gum disease is treated, it will make it easier, in the long run, to keep your blood sugar under control.

With the right care, today's diabetic can usually live a long and happy life. Your dentist has an important part to play in helping you stay healthy!

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.  334-0555

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