My Blog

Posts for: February, 2020

By Rick K. Harrison, DMD, PA
February 22, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

How do you know if you have periodontal (gum) disease? Sometimes your gums will tell you—when they’re red, swollen or bleed easily.

But your gums can also look and feel healthy while a gum infection still brews below the gum line. In this case, a regular dental visit could make the difference. Even without overt signs of infection, we may be able to detect gum disease with a slender metal instrument called a periodontal probe.

Gum disease is a bacterial infection that most of the time arises from dental plaque. This thin film of bacteria and food particles accumulates on tooth surfaces, especially because of poor or non-existent oral hygiene. A continuing infection can weaken gum tissues and cause them to pull away or detach from the teeth.

Normally, there’s a slight gap between the gums and teeth. But as the infected gums pull away, the gaps grow larger and deeper, forming what are known as periodontal pockets. They become filled with infection that soon spreads to the root and bone and increases the risk of tooth loss.

These pockets, though, could be the means for detecting a gum infection with the help of the periodontal probe. During a dental exam we gently insert the probe, which has millimeter depth markings etched on it, between a tooth and its adjacent gums. While a depth of 1 to 3 mm is normal, a probe measurement of 4 to 5 mm could be a sign of an early stage infection. A reading of 7 to 10 mm, on the other hand, may indicate more advanced disease.

Along with other factors, periodontal probing can be quite useful identifying both the presence and extent of a gum infection and then how to treat it. The goal of any treatment is to remove plaque and tartar (calculus) deposits that sustain the infection. But probing, along with other diagnostic methods like x-rays, could point to deeper infection below the gum line that require more extensive methods, including surgery, sometimes to access and remove the disease.

Achieving the best treatment outcome with gum disease often depends on finding the infection early. Periodontal probing helps to make that discovery more likely.

If you would like more information on diagnosing and treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Rick K. Harrison, DMD, PA
February 20, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Tooth Replacement  

Find out what your options are for replacing missing teeth.

Our Jacksonville Beach, FL, family dentist Dr. Rick Harrison and his team are always driven to provide you with the care and treatment you need to save teeth; unfortunately, sometimes teeth can’t be saved and when this happens we know you want the next best thing to replace your missing tooth or teeth whether that be through dental implants, bridges or other options. Don’t worry; our dental team is happy to answer any and all questions about these top tooth replacement options,

Dental implants

Implants have become one of the most popular ways to replace one or more missing teeth because they are truly as close as you can come to having a natural tooth. An implant is a small metal post, usually made from titanium, that is placed into the jawbone to replace your tooth roots. The implant and the jawbone will fuse together during the healing process, making the implant a permanent part of the jawbone in a matter of months.

Here are some of the benefits of getting dental implants from our Jacksonville Beach, FL, dentist:

  • A false tooth that feels and functions just like the real thing
  • A restoration that can last a lifetime and offers a very high success rate
  • Fully restored chewing, biting and speaking
  • Prevents bone loss and supports the muscles of the face
  • Prevents teeth from shifting into open gaps in your smile
  • Takes years off your appearance
  • Restores your confidence

Dental bridge

If you are only missing a single tooth and you want a quick replacement tooth then a dental bridge may be the best option for you. A dental bridge can be either fixed in place or removable and this oral appliance contains a pontic, or false tooth that is sandwiched between two dental crowns. These crowns are then cemented into place over healthy natural teeth near the gap to support the false tooth.

The benefits of a dental bridge include:

  • A quick treatment that doesn’t require surgery
  • You’ll typically can get your bridge in about two appointments
  • Bridges are made from the highest-quality material made to look like a real tooth
  • An inexpensive option for patients on a budget
  • Teeth that are stable and fixed in place, making it easier to chew and talk


If you have lost a significant amount of your permanent teeth then dentures may also be an ideal option for you. Dentures are a custom-fitted oral prosthetic that replace several missing teeth. You can choose from partial or full dentures, depending on how many teeth you need to replace.

The benefits of dentures include:

  • A restoration that just about anyone with tooth loss can benefit from
  • Achieving a full smile again quickly and easily
  • A simple, non-invasive treatment option
  • A very inexpensive and budget-conscious treatment

Don’t let tooth loss affect your oral health, your appearance and your confidence. Our Jacksonville Beach, FL, cosmetic dentist is happy to discuss your candidacy for dental implants or any of the tooth replacement options our practice offers. Call our office today at (904) 241-4237 to discuss your options.

By Rick K. Harrison, DMD, PA
February 12, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   vaping  

Vaping, the use of an electronic cigarette or E-cigarette, has exploded in popularity over the last few years. But although touted by proponents as a cleaner and healthier alternative to smoking, vaping has also gained recent notoriety with the rise of lung injuries and even deaths linked to the practice.

But long before these headlines of late, dentists were sounding the alarm about vaping in regard to oral health. There are a number of elements associated with vaping that can make it as hazardous to your teeth and gums as traditional smoking.

Nicotine. While vaping and smoking are different in many ways, they do share one commonality: They both deliver nicotine through the lungs into the bloodstream. Nicotine in turn can constrict blood vessels, including those in the mouth. This restricts the delivery of nutrients and disease-fighting agents to the teeth and gums, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Flavorings. One of the big appeals of vaping, especially with young people, is the availability of various flavorings. But while they may have cool names like “cotton candy” or “cherry crush,” the additives themselves and the compounds they create in the mouth can irritate and inflame oral membranes. They may also diminish enamel hardness, which dramatically increases tooth decay risk.

Mouth dryness. The vapor produced by an E-cigarette is an aerosol: Many of the solid particles for the various ingredients in the vaping solution are suspended within the vapor. The combination of all these chemicals and compounds can lead to mouth dryness. Not only can this cause an unpleasant feeling, it creates an environment favorable to bacteria that contribute to dental disease.

For the good of both your general and oral health, it's best to avoid vaping. The risks it may pose to your teeth and gums far outweigh any proposed benefits over smoking. The best course if you're a smoker wanting a healthier lifestyle, including for your mouth, is to undergo a medically-supervised tobacco cessation program to quit the habit. That's a far better way than vaping to protect your general and oral health.

If you would like more information on the oral hazards of E-cigarettes, 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 “Vaping and Oral Health.”

By Rick K. Harrison, DMD, PA
February 02, 2020
Category: Oral Health

Basketball isn't a contact sport—right? Maybe once upon a time that was true… but today, not so much. Just ask New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. While scrambling for a loose ball in a recent game, Smith's mouth took a hit from an opposing player's elbow—and he came up missing a big part of his front tooth. It's a type of injury that has become common in this fast-paced game.

Research shows that when it comes to dental damage, basketball is a leader in the field. In fact, one study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) found that intercollegiate athletes who play basketball suffered a rate of dental injuries several times higher than those who played baseball, volleyball or track—even football!

Part of the problem is the nature of the game: With ten fast-moving players competing for space on a small court, collisions are bound to occur. Yet football requires even closer and more aggressive contact. Why don't football players suffer as many orofacial (mouth and face) injuries?

The answer is protective gear. While football players are generally required to wear helmets and mouth guards, hoopsters are not. And, with a few notable exceptions (like Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry), most don't—which is an unfortunate choice.

Yes, modern dentistry offers many different options for a great-looking, long lasting tooth restoration or replacement. Based on each individual's situation, it's certainly possible to restore a damaged tooth via cosmetic bonding, veneers, bridgework, crowns, or dental implants. But depending on what's needed, these treatments may involve considerable time and expense. It's better to prevent dental injuries before they happen—and the best way to do that is with a custom-made mouthguard.

Here at the dental office we can provide a high-quality mouthguard that's fabricated from an exact model of your mouth, so it fits perfectly. Custom-made mouthguards offer effective protection against injury and are the most comfortable to wear; that's vital, because if you don't wear a mouthguard, it's not helping. Those "off-the-rack" or "boil-and-bite" mouthguards just can't offer the same level of comfort and protection as one that's designed and made just for you.

Do mouthguards really work? The same JADA study mentioned above found that when basketball players were required to wear mouthguards, the injury rate was cut by more than half! So if you (or your children) love to play basketball—or baseball—or any sport where there's a danger of orofacial injury—a custom-made mouthguard is a good investment in your smile's future.

If you would like more information about custom-made athletic mouthguards, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Athletic Mouthguards” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”