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Cosmetic and General Dentistry Articles by Michael A. Tessier, DDS

Residents of Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, and the surrounding communities can find cosmetic dentistry and oral health articles by Michael A. Tessier, DDS, in the Trabuco Canyon News. As a regular contributor, Dr. Tessier advises southeastern Orange County residents on a wide range of dental topics. Dr. Tessier has authored more than 40 articles, including articles covering how much fluoride is appropriate and how to prevent bad breath. Please browse some of Dr. Tessier's articles below for topics that may interest you:

  • Gum Disease and Pancreatic Cancer
  • Tongue Piercing
  • Mouth Guards
  • Snoring and Sleep Apnea
  • Waterlase

Gum Disease and Pancreatic Cancer

Tara Parker-Pope in the Wall Street Journal reports that a new study from Harvard Medical School has found a significant connection between gum disease and a rare but particularly nasty form of pancreatic cancer.

Nobody knows why this is. It may be that chronic infection in the gums initiates inflammation throughout the body, which can stimulate the growth of cancer. Or, maybe, oral bacteria that get into the blood stream might trigger a chemical process in the body that can result in high levels of nitrosoamines, cancer causing compounds that also are found in hot dogs and cigarette smoke. There’s another study out of Boston University showing that treatment for gum disease lowered certain inflammatory markers in the body and improved the function of the epithelium, the lining of the arteries and the heart that produces chemicals related to blood flow.

Treatment of gum disease can include an oral antibiotic or antibiotic gels, applied directly into the diseased pocket between the tooth and gum. The most common non-surgical treatment is “scaling and root planning,” an intensive teeth cleaning above and below the gum-line that often requires a local anesthetic. For advanced case, doctors cut away the diseased gum tissue and sometimes take grafts from the roof of the mouth to help rebuild the gum line. In my office, we incorporate both hot and cold lasers for decontamination and de-epithelialization of infected gum tissue- much more gentle.

When you add the pancreatic cancer connection to the heart disease, stroke, diabetes and pregnancy problems already associated with gum disease, you ought to be calling my office to make an appointment to get your teeth cleaned.

Tongue Piercing- 7/16/2006

So, a young female patient came into the office the other day, a little snooty because some fillings I’d recently done for her had chipped. I put her in the chair and looked in her mouth, and the first thing I saw was a big dumbbell-shaped metal object in her tongue. I sat back and, trying not to be condescending or patronizing, I explained to her that dental work is only designed to withstand normal chewing activities. Her snooty-ness soon evaporated and was replaced by chagrin.

This body-piercing craze that young people do is really weird and I can barely comprehend it. Along with the above-mentioned potential damage to dental work, the medical implications are at least as significant. These include inflammation, which causes swelling and increased vascularization and bleeding and localized infection. Because of the difficulty in cleaning around a tongue-piercing, bacteria (which is vibrant in the most healthy mouth) can actually get into the bloodstream, and that kind of thing can kill you. Worse than death are the possibilities of localized tissue necrosis (tissue death) or permanent nerve damage, leading to numbness and/or loss of motor function. We’re talking about a tongue that’s numb and dis-coordinated, or swollen, or that has to be removed- any of which make talking very difficult.

The National Institutes of Health has identified piercing as a possible route for the transmission of hepatitis. Tongue piercing has become a popular part of young-adult culture. Proper sterilization techniques and the use of gold jewelry can reduce the risks of infection and metal-allergy reactions. Even so, tongue piercing can cause a variety of dental and medical problems and should be considered hazardous to one’s health.

ADAGE: If one hundred thousand people do a stupid thing, it is still a stupid thing.

Mouth Guards

Due to the fact that injuries to teeth and soft tissues of the mouth all too often result from sports-related activities, mouthguards are required in amateur football, lacrosse, and hockey. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry wants mouthguards to be required for school sports like basketball, baseball, and softball. I’d like to take it several steps farther: I suggest mouthguards to my adult patients who ride bicycles on and off road; and I suggest them to the parents of children that ride those cool Razors, which I consider “broken-front-tooth” events just waiting to happen. We make a custom-formed cushy-plastic appliance that effective protects the teeth, lips, and gums from most serious injuries. Our mouthguards are very comfortable to wear and don’t restrict breathing or speech. And, they come in a plethora (thank you, Howard Cosell) of colors and color combinations that make them distinctive and fun. Mouthguards make at least as much sense as helmets, and we strongly recommend them to our active patients.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

I heard a dentist talking on the radio the other day about the anti-sleep apnea mouthpiece he has developed. I’ve been making a similar appliance for over ten years, so I did listen to what he had to say. I’ve written on this subject before, but it’s important enough to talk about again. And, there’s new information available, so you can’t move on quite yet.

People, apparently men more than women, snore (noisy breathing while asleep) for several reasons, including flabby tissue in the throat, loose or long soft palates, or obstructed nasal passages. Sleep apnea (the temporary cessation of breathing) is a result of some of that redundant tissue or the base of the tongue covering the wind- pipe. Snoring and sleep apnea prevent a good, deep night’s sleep, which can lead to a sleepy day, even narcolepsy (essentially falling asleep in the middle of a sentence). Severe apnea- this is from the guy on the radio- can occur up to sixty times an hour and last twenty or even thirty seconds per episode. That’s a long time to starve or deprive a body of oxygen. Undue stress on the heart can be a result of a poor night’s sleep. And it has now been determined that there is a correlation between sleep apnea and strokes.

There are surgical procedures used today to cut away redundant tissue and open up the breathing passage. Alternatively, I make a non-invasive removable oral appliance (like a retainer) that comfortably repositions the lower jaw forward, thereby clearing the base of the tongue away from the windpipe. I have tried several designs, both on myself and patients with similar problems, and have finally found THE WINNER. My wife and my neighbors, and all the patients for whom I’ve made this appliance and their neighbors, are very grateful. We all awaken more refreshed in the morning because we got a more profound, more restful nights sleep.

I just got my braces off after fifteen months, during which I couldn’t wear my anti-snoring appliance. Because I wasn’t sleeping well at night, the sensation of fatigue I experienced all day, or the almost daily need for a nap, was remarkable. As soon as I started wearing the appliance again, both were almost totally gone.

If your sleep habits are disturbing other people, or your sleeping-time is not adequately restful, this mouthpiece is definitely worth a try before going the surgery route. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ


I worked on three first molars this morning. I placed crowns on two of them, and prepared the third for a crown. First molars are called “first molars” because they’re the first permanent teeth to come in, usually at about age six, and often before parents are even aware of it, since they come in behind the baby teeth, way in the back of the mouth. Because they come in before the individual knows how to eat properly and take care of their teeth, they very frequently decay. All three of these teeth needed crowns because they had broken. They had broken because they already had large fillings. Those fillings were placed after the teeth had been drilled. Teeth are crystalline in nature. Drilling on any crystalline material, due the heat of friction involved, creates tiny fractures in that material. The fractures, or cracks, are not immediately a problem, and rarely cause symptoms. But they do predispose the tooth to pieces breaking off. So, the teeth need to be crowned to restore them to their intended shape and utility.

The laser (in my office we use the MD Waterlase manufactured by Biolase in Lake Forest), when used to fill teeth, removes damaged tooth structure and decay with water energized by the laser. There’s no drilling, so there’s no heat of friction, so there are no micro-fractures, so there are no broken teeth needing crowns fifteen or twenty years down the road.

As if that weren’t enough, there’s no high-pitched whine from the drill.

Want more? The laser apparently interrupts the sodium-potassium pump that is responsible for transmitting nerve impulses. That means that, in many cases, no anesthetic is required- meaning no shot. I know a family dentist in San Clemente who’s been using the laser for three years and says that, in that time, he has only given thee shots of anesthetic to children to do fillings.

The two things that people complain about most often when it comes to a trip to the dentist are the whine of the drill and the numbness left after the procedure is finished and the patient has. left the office.

Last major point: I don’t charge more for working with the laser without a shot than I do for using a drill with a shot.

Better call me.

Please Contact Michael A. Tessier, DDS, for Rancho Santa Margarita and Mission Viejo-Area Cosmetic Dentistry

If you live in the Rancho Santa Margarita or Mission Viejo area and are interested in cosmetic or general dentistry, please contact our Las Flores office today. Dr. Michael Tessier will be happy to discuss any dental concerns you may have.

Get In Touch

(949) 459-7212

Michael A. Tessier, DDS


Rancho Santa Margarita Office

(949) 459-7212

28562 Oso Pkwy
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688