My Blog

Posts for: January, 2014

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 23, 2014
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Actual Patient Before Actual Patient After
Entire Mouth Restorative Before

What is it about your teeth, that you would like to change?

  • Color
  • Crowding
  • Length of front teeth due to wear
  • All of the above

If the color of your teeth is your chief concern, then all you may need to do is to have bleaching done.  Approximate time for treatment: 2 weeks.

Crowding can be helped with braces: 2 years; or 6 month smiles: (cosmetic fix only) 6-9 months.

But if your answer is “All of the Above”, you may be a candidate for cosmetic dentistry such as veneers or crowns to get the smile you’ve always wanted.

In our office, cosmetic dentistry requires planning to come up with specific treatment that addresses your desires, and assures an optimal outcome.  We plan the case in wax first, then modify the wax until it meets your expectations.  We may need to have a specialist perform root canal work or gum surgery, prior to doing the restorative work. We can modify the color of the crowns or veneers to achieve a lighter shade than what we could achieve by bleaching the natural teeth alone.  Time commitment for a restorative case: 3-6 months.

Watch this video of an actual patient that had cosmetic dentistry done in our office:

The Staff at Desert Ridge Smiles  20950 N Tatum Blvd Ste 280  Phx, AZ  85050 480-860-4300

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 20, 2014
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Tongue tied dental patient before Frenectomy

Tongue Tied 1 week post op

Tongue Tied Dental Patient
Before Frenectomy


Tongue Tied Dental Patient
1 week After Frenectomy

Ankyloglossia or Tongue-Tied is a condition that is present in some newborns, where the frenum, a thickened band of tissue under the tongue, is shortened and attached to the end of the tongue.  This can cause decreased mobility in the tongue, and can affect feeding, speech and oral hygiene.

The sounds that are most commonly affected due to ankyloglossia are “D”, “L”, “R”, “S”, “T”, “Th”, and “Z”.  Most often, these children see a speech pathologist when they are tongue-tied, to help them learn to enunciate these sounds better.

A frenectomy can be performed very easily with the use of topical anesthesia and a soft tissue laser, which frees up the tongue and allows for better movement.  These photos were from a 12 year old boy who had the procedure done in our office.  Followup picture was one week after surgery was done.  When asked if the surgery was worth it, the young patient said, “Absolutely!”.  He had been seeing a speech therapist his whole life, prior to the frenectomy.

To see if this procedure is right for you or your kids, contact your dentist for an oral examination.

We welcome your comments and suggestions!

Dr. Elizabeth J Fleming and the Staff at Desert Ridge Smiles. 

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 20, 2014
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Do worries about the economy or your work, stress you out?  Do you wake with headaches, sore jaw muscles, or sensitive teeth? Have you noticed chips in your enamel or broken teeth, fillings or crowns?

You may be experiencing a behavior that is called bruxism.  Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity, which includes clenching and grinding of the teeth in a horizontal direction, using forces that are damaging to the teeth and muscles. Bruxism is considered the most common sleep disorder.

As a dentist, I look for damage to the teeth that may be caused by bruxism.  Often my patients are unaware of this behavior, unless informed by their sleeping partners.  Some common signs in bruxers may include:

  • Headaches
  • Notched teeth
  • Chipped teeth or restorations
  • Pain in teeth, muscles or jaw joints
  • Mobility of teeth
  • Broken crowns or fractured teeth
  • Recession of gums

Causes of bruxism include stress, anxiety, worry, depression, bite problems such as uneven bite, medical conditions and some medications.  Bruxism can be further complicated if it includes a disorder such as sleep apnea. In these patients a sleep study is needed for full treatment of the disorders.

Treatments for bruxism vary from conservative methods such as a protective hard acrylic night guard appliance or bite adjustments that help to equilibrate the minor bite discrepancies, to complete orthodontics, repair of broken teeth with crowns, or full mouth rehabilitation to recreate the most stable bite,  lost due to the parafunctional habit of bruxism.

If you feel you might be suffering with these symptoms, make an appointment for an evaluation today.

Dr. Elizabeth J Fleming & the staff at Desert Ridge Smiles  20950 N. Tatum Blvd Ste. 280 Phoenix, AZ 85050                   480-860-4300

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 20, 2014
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Does your mouth feel drier than the Arizona Desert?  There are different things that may be contributing to this problem:

*  Medications, such as those used to treat anxiety or depression, pain medications, antihistamines,       decongestants, and those used to treat incontinence or Parkinson’s disease.

*  Damage to the salivary glands due to radiation or chemotherapy treatments.

*  Certain conditions or diseases such as Sjogren’s, Alzheimer’s or Stroke.

Saliva is used as a natural digestive aid, and helps with chewing and swallowing.  With a decrease in salivary output, tooth decay and gum disease are more likely to occur.  In cases of dry mouth, you need to practice exceptional oral hygiene techniques to cut down on the risk of dental problems:

  1. Brush your teeth at least two times/day, but preferably after every meal and before bedtime.
  2. Floss daily.
  3. Use fluoride containing toothpaste.
  4. Visit your dentist regularly for checkups (at least 2x/year).  Extra prescription fluoride may be helpful to decrease the harmful effects of dry mouth. Discuss this with your dentist.

There are over the counter artificial saliva products available that may help with minor decreases in salivary function.  Prescription medication may be needed in more severe cases of xerostomia to increase the production of saliva.

If your symptoms of dry mouth are less severe, here are some recommendations to help:

  • Breathe through your nose                                                                                                     
  • Follow a low carbohydrate diet
  • Sip water frequently
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco
  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Use xylitol products
  • Keep up with oral hygiene at home
  • Get regular examinations at your dental office

For these and any other dental problems, visit us online:  We welcome your questions and comments!

Elizabeth J Fleming and staff at Desert Ridge Smiles  20950 N Tatum Blvd Ste 280 Phoenix, AZ 85050 480-860-4300

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 20, 2014
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So your dentist tells you that you have gingivitis, or worse yet, that you have bleeding pockets.  What does that mean and what can you do about it?

Bleeding or inflammation in any part of your body is not good.  Your goal for your mouth would be to step up your brushing and flossing techniques to eliminate the bacteria and plaque that cause these problems.  The response in your mouth to the bacteria and plaque is for the gums to become inflamed.  This residual plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria, is the root of many dental problems. It produces acid on your teeth, causes decay, and should be removed at least every 24 hours.

The majority of the tooth surface can be cleaned by using a toothbrush.  Use either a soft bristle manual toothbrush using a circular motion for 2 minutes throughout your mouth or a good electric toothbrush with a small bristle head for 2 minutes.  My favorite electrics are Rotadent or Sonicare.

If you only use your toothbrush and don’t floss at least once/day, you will miss about 35% of the tooth surfaces and could end up with “flossing cavities” between the teeth, in addition to bleeding gums, which can lead into deepening pockets and more periodontal disease.

An added benefit of daily flossing would be in reducing bad breath!  Getting rid of the plaque and bacteria from between your teeth, keeps the acid production down, and reduces your chance of getting cavities.  Once the flossing removes the decomposing food, normally broken down by bacteria which produce acid, your rate of decay will be less and so will the bad breath!  But it must be done every 24 hours, or the plaque solidifies on the teeth, and then can only be removed by the dental office at your next cleaning.  We call solidified plaque tartar or calculus.

When calculus is present on your teeth, it is a major cause of gum inflammation and bleeding.  The longer it is present, the more likely the bone may become involved.  This is when the pocket depths increase as the bone is shrinking away from the calculus, and the gums are becoming more inflamed due to the calculus.  The biggest problem: gum inflammation can be reversible with good brushing and flossing, but once the bone becomes involved, it is not reversible and it is called periodontal disease.  With a diagnosis of periodontal disease, your cleanings would be done at 3-4 month intervals, since periodontal disease is not curable.  The goal would be to keep the plaque and inflammation under control to  maintain the current level of bone.  The best way to do this is with proper homecare: Brushing 2x/day and Flossing once/day, in addition to having regular cleanings at your dental office.

Remember: Daily plaque removal is good smile insurance!