Oral cancer can be detected early with regular dental exams! | Charlotte, NC

April is Oral Cancer Awareness month- have you been screened?

Oral cancer symptoms can include:

  • Persistent hoarseness
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing
  • Lump in the throat or neck
  • Persistent earache- often in both ears
  • Numbness in or around the mouth

Many of the early signs or symptoms of oral cancer can be noticed by Dr. Richard Van Gurp during routine preventive care in his Charlotte dental office: early symptoms are usually subtle and difficult for patients to notice. Oral cancer is on the rise globally and unfortunately leads to approximately 8,000 deaths per year. While smoking and tobacco use has long been considered the major cause of oral cancers, the rise of the HPV virus has led to an increase in the number of cases worldwide and is now considered to be a leading cause of this type of cancer. Unfortunately, oral cancer is often diagnosed in the later stages and is difficult to treat and cure. Dentists like Dr. Van Gurp, who screen for oral cancer during routine visits, are trying to reduce the number of patients who fall into this category.

Oral cancer screening is quick and painless- and can save your life! Dr. Van Gurp will use ViziLite technology to screen for oral cancer in addition to performing a visual exam. ViziLite combines the use of a special solution and light that enables Dr. Van Gurp to identify abnormal cells within the oral cavity.

Preventive dental care is even more important when patients consider that these visits offer Dr. Van Gurp and his staff the opportunity to spot developing health issues in their earliest stages, offering the best chance for successful treatment. Preventive care not only helps to support good dental health, but is a part of maintaining overall health and well being: there is often a correlation between a patient’s oral health condition and the state of their physical health.

If you have been away from the dentist’s chair for some time, now is the perfect time to schedule an appointment to restore your oral health- it may save your life!

Posted in: charlotte dentist, family dentist charlotte, general dentist charlotte, oral cancer awareness, oral cancer screening, preventive care

Why are my teeth cracking? | Charlotte, NC

Breaking or cracking a tooth is no laughing matter.  Usually patients tell me they were just eating something soft and low and behold suddenly they found themselves chewing on a hard piece of tooth. A cracked tooth can be a sign of a more significant problem – a problem with your overall bite.  Imbalances in one’s bite can lead to teeth grinding, which puts a lot of pressure on your teeth.

Studies show that when one grinds their teeth at night, they may do so for several hours at a time.  This can weaken the teeth, resulting in small, microscopic cracks which, over time, get deeper and can eventually cause the tooth to break. Because most of the force of chewing is placed on the lower molars, this is where most cracks occur.

Cracked teeth aren’t the only problems that can occur as a result of an imbalanced bite.

Worn teeth, sensitive and sore teeth, gum recession, loose teeth, “TMJ” and even headaches can be caused by bite problems.

On the other hand, when your bite is right, these problems are rare.

I have had numerous patients whose pain caused them to come see me for emergency treatment.  While most thought a root canal was needed, actually, all they needed was a modification in their bite. I have also had patients who for years thought they had “TMJ” only to find out that their bite was leading to jaw muscle fatigue and not a problem with their jaw joints.

I’ve devoted a significant portion of my post-graduate education to understanding the impact of bite imbalances and how to properly treat them. If you have had episodes of cracked teeth or any of the other problems discussed above, please contact my office.  Patients are amazed at how addressing their bite can solve so many dental problems.

Posted in: charlotte dentist, cracked teeth, damaged teeth charlotte, family dentist charlotte, teeth grinding

What could laser dentistry do for you? | Charlotte, NC

Ready for a visit to the dentist without the use of a drill or needles? Laser dentistry can make your next dental procedure with Dr. Richard Van Gurp in Charlotte a more pleasant experience!

Modern dental technology continues to offer today’s dental patients a better experience with more accurate results and fewer side effects. Dr. Van Gurp uses some of the latest dental technologies in his Charlotte dental office, including dental lasers, enabling him to perform many cosmetic and restorative dental procedures more effectively with better outcomes and less pain!

Laser dentistry enables Dr. Van Gurp, cosmetic and family dentist serving the greater Charlotte area, to treat patients for a variety of dental problems with less pain, less bleeding, fewer side effects and a faster recovery. Dr. Van Gurp uses state of the art dental lasers that enable him to more accurately treat the soft tissues of the mouth, such as the gums, without a metal scalpel. Dr. Van Gurp can perform a gum lift and other periodontal therapies in a much less invasive manner, often with superior results.

The dental laser allows Dr. Van Gurp to create small, accurate incisions with minimized bleeding and swelling: the heat and energy created by the dental laser can both numb the treated area and coagulate blood quickly to reduce bleeding and swelling. For patients, this can mean less pain and a speedier recovery: in many cases there is no need for anesthetics at all!

Laser dentistry can effectively be used for treating gum disease, placing dental implants and other dental procedures that would traditionally require a surgical incision. The use of laser dentistry reduces or eliminates the need for using sutures- which frequently require a return trip to the dentist for removal.

For patients who suffer from dental anxiety, the use of laser dentistry can provide a much more predictable experience with less noise and discomfort during treatment. If you have been avoiding the dentist due to feeling anxious about possible treatment, Dr. Van Gurp can discuss how laser dentistry may enhance your dental treatment and allow you to feel more relaxed and comfortable.

Posted in: charlotte dentist, family dentist charlotte, general dentist charlotte, gum disease charlotte, laser dentist charlotte, laser gum lift charlotte, laser gum surgery

Do I really have TMJ? | Dr. Van Gurp, Charlotte, NC

Charlotte Dentist Dr. Richard Van Gurp

It is not uncommon for patients to seek my services because of what they refer to as “TMJ”.  Interestingly enough, I have found that many of these patients do not have “TMJ”, but instead have a disorder related to their bite and the muscles that open and close the lower jaw.

In dentistry, we refer to this bite-muscle problem as an “occluso-muscle disorder”.

Think of it this way: your jaw joint, bite and the muscles that open and close the lower jaw are supposed to work together as a finely tuned machine – like the workings of a fine watch.  All of the supporting elements have to perfectly line up and work together in order for the system to function properly.

If just one of the three is functioning out of sync, it can lead to a variety of problems.  While some patients actually develop an issue with their jaw joints or “TMJ”, most that I see actually have an issue with their jaw muscles and their bite causing various degrees of soreness, headaches and teeth grinding that may be misinterpreted as “TMJ”.

It is only via a thorough examination that a dentist specifically trained in this area can determine whether you have a true TMJ problem and/or a bite problem.

The bad news is that patients with these disorders can expect problems to worsen over time.

The good news is that many times by correcting the bite, issues such as the soreness, headaches, and teeth grinding can be addressed and as a result, damage can be halted.

Posted in: bite disorders charlotte, charlotte dentist, damaged teeth, family dentist charlotte, general dentist charlotte, restorative dentist charlotte, tmj charlotte

Celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month! | Charlotte, NC

National Children’s Dental Health Month is here!


During the month of February we want to take a moment to consider the importance of keeping your child’s teeth strong and healthy- even their primary, or “baby” teeth. Dr. Richard Van Gurp, a Charlotte family dentist, recommends that children begin to come in for routine dental visits around the age of 3- this is approximately when all primary teeth have erupted.

These preventive care visits are an important part of your child’s physical health and well being at a time when they are growing and establishing routines that can last a lifetime! Keeping your child’s primary teeth healthy is important for many reasons and early preventive care visits give Dr. Van Gurp and his staff the opportunity to teach proper brushing and flossing techniques. Dr. Van Gurp also takes the time to emphasize the role that a healthy diet can play in reducing tooth decay and keeping teeth strong and healthy for the long run.

Your child’s primary teeth play a role in their speech development and nutrition: strong, healthy teeth allow a child to eat a wide variety of foods and enable their speech patterns to develop normally. Children who lose these early teeth to decay may have trouble eating a varied, healthy diet and may also develop altered speech patterns at a time when they are mastering these skills for future development. These teeth also serve as “place holders” for the permanent teeth, helping to ensure their proper alignment when they come in between the ages of 6 and 12.

Although the incidence of cavities in young patients has been declining in recent years, there has been a slight increase in cavities for pediatric patients. Early visits to the dentist can enable Dr. Van Gurp to spot cavities in their early phases when conservative treatment can be most effective and serve to keep the tooth strong and healthy. Left untreated, tooth decay in a young patient may eventually lead to the loss of a primary tooth.

Conveniently located across from the Arboretum, Dr. Van Gurp offers the dental services a growing family needs for a lifetime of healthy smiles!

Posted in: care of primary teeth, charlotte dentist, childrens dentist, family dentist charlotte, general dentist charlotte, national childrens dental health month, pediatric dentist charlotte, preventive care

Dental implants vs dentures: which offers long term benefits? | Dr. Van Gurp, Charlotte

Slipping dentures? Loose or missing teeth?

Missing teeth, damaged teeth or poor fitting dentures can be traumatic experiences and affect daily life for many patients: chewing food is difficult in many cases and speech can also be affected. Frequently, embarrassment is also a factor and patients find themselves trying not to smile and avoiding social situations.

The restorative options for replacing a missing tooth – or teeth- are dentures, dental bridges or dental implants. In most cases, unless a patient is not a good candidate, Dr. Van Gurp of Charlotte recommends dental implants. Dentures can offer patients natural looking replacement teeth that are removable for cleaning and can be adjusted for fit as needed. However, this feature can also cause discomfort for many patients who may find it difficult to eat certain foods due to slippage. Additionally, over time the jaw bone may begin to recede and dentures will begin to feel loose and uncomfortable.

Dental implants, while more costly up front, offer many long term benefits and provide a natural looking AND functioning replacement for lost teeth. Anchored into the jaw bone with a tiny titanium post, a dental implant acts much like a natural tooth. The post can also help to preserve jaw bone, minimizing bone recession that naturally occurs when a tooth is removed.

Dr. Van Gurp will place a custom made crown on the post once it heals which will feel secure and blend with surrounding natural teeth. Implants do not require patients to watch what they eat because they are permanently attached to the bone!

Patients with ill fitting full dentures often choose to replace them with implant secured dentures: Dr. Van Gurp permanently secures the dentures with strategically placed implants. No more slipping dentures or adhesives!

If you have questions about dental implants and the dental implant process, contact Dr. Van Gurp in Charlotte, NC, to schedule a consultation.

Posted in: cosmetic dentist charlotte, damaged teeth charlotte, dental implants charlotte, dental implants dentures, dentures charlotte, missing teeth charlotte, restorative dentist charlotte

Restorative dentistry helps support a healthy smile! | Dr. Richard Van Gurp, Charlotte

Dentistry today has evolved into a number of specialized fields that can address almost any dental health problem and help patients keep their natural teeth in good health for a lifetime!

Restorative procedures can repair and strengthen a damaged tooth, avoiding the need for a tooth extraction. Modern dentistry emphasizes that it is always in the best interest of a patient to keep their natural teeth as this also supports a healthy bite: losing a tooth can lead to bone loss in the jaw and shifting of other teeth which can disrupt the natural function of the bite.

Charlotte area dentist Dr. Richard Van Gurp offers restorative dentistry to his dental patients and has over 20 years of experience as well as extensive post graduate education in the treatment of complex dental problems. Restorative dentistry can also replace a tooth that is missing or too damaged to repair. Dr. Van Gurp offers dental implants and dental bridges for patients who have lost a tooth. Dental implants offer the most comfortable, natural looking and functioning results and can also help to stabilize bone loss because of the implanted post that fuses with the bone and becomes a natural part of a patient’s occlusal system.

Restorative Procedures:

Dental crowns: a dental crown is often used to repair a damaged or decayed tooth, providing a “cap” that will strengthen and secure the tooth;
Dental Veneers: also used for cosmetic changes, veneers can also be used to repair minor tooth damage and maintain the integrity of a natural tooth;
Dental Bridges: bridges can be used as a conservative method to replace a missing tooth, or teeth, using neighboring teeth as support for a custom fit prosthetic tooth;
Dental Implants: often considered the best long term option for replacing missing teeth, implants function much like a natural tooth.

In addition to regular preventive care, restorative dentistry is an important part of maintaining you oral health!

Posted in: charlotte dentist, damaged teeth charlotte, dental implants charlotte, dental veneers charlotte, porcelain veneers charlotte, restorative dentist charlotte

Daily diet has an impact on your oral health! | Dr. Van Gurp, Charlotte

The typical modern American diet often contains a high percentage of fast and processed foods which can contain hidden added sugars- even though they may not taste sweet!

Busy and on the go, we don’t often take the time to consider how much sugar is in our daily diet and how it may adversely affect our dental and overall health.

Adding in the consumption of sodas and sugary beverages- this also includes sports drinks- and most adults today are consuming much more sugar than is recommended by the American Heart Association: 9 teaspoons for men and 6 teaspoons for women. A single soda may contain as many as eight teaspoons of sugar!

This “invisible” consumption of added sugars causes adverse health affects on both oral health and overall physical well being. Recent studies have shown the connection between our oral health and our overall health: it has been shown that poor dental health is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and an increased risk of stroke. Sugars also contribute to tooth decay, cavities and gum disease, all of which can lead to complex dental and physical health issues when left untreated. It is more important then ever to visit the dentist twice per year for dental cleanings and a thorough exam!

Dr. Richard Van Gurp, a Charlotte family and cosmetic dentist, and his staff educate their dental patients on the many benefits of routine dental care- as well as good at home oral hygiene and a healthy lifestyle!

There are easy ways to begin to reduce the amount of added sugars consumed daily: reduce the amount of sugar added to coffee and tea, replace soda with a glass of water, or snack on fruit and nuts instead of cookies or baked goods!

Dr. Van Gurp stresses the importance of regular preventive care, which enables him to keep an eye on a patient’s oral health, spotting dental problems in their early stages when conservative treatment is most effective. Regular dental cleanings and exams also provide a thorough removal of plaque build up that brushing at home cannot achieve.

Dr. Van Gurp will take the time to educate his Charlotte area dental patients on effective brushing and flossing to help them maintain optimal oral health between visits.

Posted in: charlotte dentist, diet and oral health, family dentist charlotte, general dentist charlotte, preventive care, sugar and oral health

Porcelain Veneers can solve a variety of dental problems! | Dr. Van Gurp, Charlotte

There are many general and cosmetic dentistry options for patients wanting everything from a subtle change to a complete smile makeover! One of the most popular options are dental veneers, including porcelain veneers.

Charlotte cosmetic dentist Dr. Richard Van Gurp offers dental patients both composite resin and porcelain veneers as a cosmetic option for those seeking a change to their smile as well as to treat a variety of dental problems:

  • Close spaces between teeth
  • Improve the appearance of crooked teeth
  • Repair chipped or broken teeth
  • Cover stained or discolored teeth

While composite veneers, also known as tooth bonding, are removable veneers that are attached directly to the tooth, porcelain veneers are permanent and can last for many years with proper oral hygiene, including regular preventive care visits to Dr. Van Gurp for thorough dental cleanings and exams. Porcelain veneers are made from a translucent material and both appear and function just like a natural tooth. They are also highly stain resistant, offering years of bright, white smiles!

Dr. Van Gurp will perform a thorough exam and recommend the best treatment option to suit a patient’s oral health needs, their personal goals and their budget. Porcelain veneers may be more costly up front, but they can provide years of comfortable, natural looking results.

Dr. Van Gurp also offers patients the convenience of same day treatment: using CEREC technology, Dr. Van Gurp can fit, create and place a porcelain restoration in a single visit. Dr. Van Gurp is one of a few Charlotte cosmetic dentists that offer this same day service for restorations. Traditionally, porcelain veneers and similar restorations require several visits to complete. The porcelain veneer procedure typically produces only mild tenderness that will go away within a day or two.

Porcelain veneers may offer the solution to your dental health issue or cosmetic concerns: schedule a visit with Dr. Van Gurp to discuss your options.

Posted in: charlotte dentist, cosmetic dentist charlotte, damaged teeth charlotte, dental veneers charlotte, porcelain veneers charlotte, preventive care, tooth bonding charlotte

Considering a cosmetic dental procedure? We have options! | Dr. Richard Van Gurp, DDS

Are you looking for the right cosmetic dental procedure to bring back or freshen up your smile?

Cosmetic dentistry offers many options for today’s dental patients and it is important to consider a variety of factors when determining which one(s) will bring long lasting results that meet your needs and goals.

Dr. Richard Van Gurp, a cosmetic dentist in Charlotte, offers patients several options for “making over” their smile and freshening their appearance. Cosmetic dentistry procedures can range from a “quick” teeth whitening to a more complete makeover using porcelain veneers or crowns. Dr. Van Gurp will take the time with each patient to both evaluate their dental health and discuss their personal goals before recommending a cosmetic treatment plan.

With the use of digital technology, Dr. Van Gurp will thoroughly evaluate each patient’s bite and jaw position in order to diagnose any structural issues that may be causing a cosmetic problem. Dr. Van Gurp understands that it is just as important to determine the underlying cause of any oral health issues that may be affecting a patient’s smile. This comprehensive approach can help to ensure that the results of any procedures will be both comfortable and long lasting.

Dr. Van Gurp offers his Charlotte area dental patients a variety of options when it comes to cosmetic dental procedures:

Teeth whitening: Dr. Van Gurp uses the acclaimed KoR teeth whitening system and offers in-office and at-home whitening options for patients looking to brighten their smile.
Dental veneers: there are several types of dental veneers, depending on the desired outcome and condition of a patient’s teeth. Dr. Van Gurp may recommend a type of veneer after meeting with a patient and discussing their case.
Invisible braces: Dr. Van Gurp is an Invisalign provider and recommends this convenient clear retainer system for patients needing mild to moderate orthodontia.

If you are considering a cosmetic procedure for either a subtle or dramatic change to your smile, contact Dr. Van Gurp at his Charlotte dental office and schedule a consultation.

Posted in: cosmetic dentist charlotte, damaged teeth, family dentist charlotte, invisalign charlotte, porcelain veneers charlotte, teeth whitening