Posts for category: Dental Procedures
Most people think of bone as rock-solid, but it's actually a living tissue that's constantly changing. This has significant implications for your oral health, general health, and appearance — if you are one of the 70% of Americans missing at least one tooth.
Throughout the day, your top and bottom teeth make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other. These small stresses are transmitted though the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth) that supports each tooth in its socket like a hammock. Think of it as a gentle push on the hammock, which causes the tooth to gently bump the underlying bone. The bone then builds up in the spot that's receiving stress to counteract it. This constant remodeling of bone is what allows bone to stay healthy and strong.
When a tooth is lost, the bone does not receive that gentle stress. It reacts by literally melting away. Sometimes this happens fairly quickly — in a matter of months. After the tooth-supporting bone is lost, the jawbone itself begins the same process of deterioration. This could eventually change the shape of the face, as the distance from nose to chin can decrease — even if only a few back teeth are missing. The results aren't pretty. But the good news is, there's a way to prevent all this.
Dental implants, which function as substitute tooth roots, actually save underlying bone when teeth are lost. They do this because they are made of titanium, which fuses to the bone in which it's set, stabilizing it. The implant is topped by a realistic-looking crown, which replaces the part of the missing tooth that was visible in the mouth. Together, they look and function just as your natural tooth did.
If you are missing a lot of teeth, implants can also be used to anchor bridges or even removable dentures while providing that same bone-saving benefit. And when you consider that they are so durable they should never need replacement, implants are a great investment.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
The best method for permanently replacing a missing tooth is with a dental implant. But did you know that there are two main techniques for placing implants? Implants can be placed either using a one stage or a two stage surgical technique, and as their names suggests, one is performed in one step while the other requires a second surgery.
With a one-stage procedure, a healing abutment is placed at the time of surgery. An abutment is a connector that attaches the implant from the bone into the mouth and which protrudes through the gum tissues. Following a 3 to 6 month healing period in which the implant fuses to the bone, a crown is then placed on the implant restoring the immediate appearance of a healthy, normal tooth. One-stage implant systems are generally used when the bone quality is good, guaranteeing good initial implant stability. They are also used when cosmetics is not a concern, such as the back areas of the mouth.
Under special conditions an implant can be placed and a crown placed on top of it at the same time. However, this is a very special circumstance requiring ideal conditions and surgical experience as well as crown fabrication know-how. It is generally safer and wiser not to subject an implant to biting forces until it is fully healed and integrated with the supporting bone.
A two-stage procedure is typically used for replacing teeth where there is no immediate need for a cosmetic solution and when more of a margin of safety is required. With this approach, the implant(s) are placed into the jawbone and the gum tissues cover them. They are not exposed to the mouth, but stay buried and left to heal. Once healed, a second surgery is performed to attach an abutment for securing the crown in place. This approach is used when there is poorer bone quality or quantity. This may make it necessary to regenerate bone around the implant at the time of its placement. There may also be other health considerations dictating that a two-stage approach may be indicated.
Depending on your individual situation and medical status, our implant team will determine which approach is best for you. To learn more about these two procedures, read the Dear Doctor article, “Staging Surgery In Implant Dentistry.” You are also welcome to contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
Protecting your children is one of your most important roles as a parent or caregiver. Dental sealants are one way you can protect your children's teeth from the ravages of tooth decay, drilling and fillings — and they can be applied simply, comfortably and quickly right here in our office.
What is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic film that is painted onto the tiny grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (usually the premolars and molars) to prevent caries (cavities) and tooth decay. And by allowing us to use sealants to seal these little nooks and crannies where your child's toothbrush can't reach, you will dramatically reduce their chances for developing tooth decay. This one, simple and quick office visit could save you both money and time with fewer dental visits and healthier, cavity-free teeth.
So will sealants guarantee no (or no more) cavities?
No, just like life, there are few guarantees. Your child's oral hygiene, regular dental visits, fluoride, sugar consumption and genetics are the other important factors that will determine to what degree your child experiences tooth decay. However, research shows that pit and fissure (chewing surface) decay accounts for approximately 43% of all decayed surfaces in children aged 6 to 7, even though the chewing surfaces (of the back or posterior teeth) constitute only 14% of the tooth surfaces at risk. This demonstrates the vulnerability of the chewing surfaces of the posterior teeth to decay. By placing a protective seal over the areas of teeth at risk, you can effectively and proactively protect your children's teeth.
How long do sealants last?
Research has shown that some sealants can last up to 10 years. However, if you opt for sealants for your children's teeth, we will closely monitor them with each office visit to ensure that they are still doing their job. As needed, we can apply more sealant.
If you are unhappy with the appearance of your smile and would like to change it, we can help you determine what will work best, from a simple whitening to brighten your smile to a complete smile makeover — the possibilities are almost limitless! Consider a “Smile Design” customized just for you. One method of improving your smile is with porcelain veneers. Porcelain laminate veneer tooth restorations are thin layers of dental ceramic — a glass-like material created by dental laboratory technicians, the “artists” who exactly mimic natural teeth making them straighter, whiter, and brighter. They are used to replace worn, dull-looking stained enamel. In addition to making your teeth and smile whiter and brighter, veneers can even be used to change tooth shape and color, close small spaces, and reshape slightly crooked or mis-shapen teeth.
In order to determine if porcelain veneers are a viable solution to help you achieve the smile you have always longed for, consider the following questions:
- Do you want to permanently alter the appearance of your smile?
- Are you hoping to make improvements to your smile that don't take a very long time to complete?
- Are you looking for a way to improve your smile with minimal or even no removal of your natural tooth material?
- Would you like to have more evenly aligned teeth?
- Do you want to change the color of your teeth?
- Do you want whiter teeth and a brighter smile?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is yes and whitening or other treatments have not given you the smile you want, we can help you assess the feasibility of porcelain veneers as one of the many options to enhance and improve your smile. We can fully discuss all the benefits, risks, alternatives, and costs associated with improving your smile.
Call us to make an appointment for a Smile Design consultation and we can get started. If you would like to read more information about porcelain veneers, as well as see a few before and after photos, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Smile Design Enhanced With Porcelain Veneers.”
In modern society, a bright, white smile conveys optimal health, youth and sound teeth. However, various influences including age, wear, diet, and lifestyle may prevent you from having and maintaining the glistening smile you long to share with the world. Luckily, there are many safe, inexpensive, and successful treatment options for discolored or stained teeth.
We can perform a “power bleaching” in our office to whiten teeth that are severely stained or discolored. This procedure whitens the external surfaces of the teeth by using a high concentration (35-45%) hydrogen peroxide solution, which is sometimes activated by a specialized light. To prevent irritation of the mouth's soft tissue lining during this procedure, we will isolate your gums and membranes with a rubber dam, a silicone or other effective barrier. Professionally applied in-office power bleaching provides control, speed, and predictability capable of lightening teeth up to ten shades in an hour. Don't try this at home! Our staff will take precautions in the office to avoid side effects and possible tooth sensitivity.
We can also provide you with custom-made, vacuum-formed, plastic bleaching trays for use with a take-home whitening application. In this instance, a gel made from carbamide peroxide (4-7% hydrogen peroxide, safe for home use) is delivered to the tooth surfaces in the bleaching trays. You will need to wear the tray for 30 minutes twice a day, which is a longer process than in-office bleaching. The first subjective signs of whitening will occur after three or four sessions, allowing whitening of up to eight shade units.
Another home-based option, whitening strips, essentially look like band-aids for the teeth. They are capable of lightening teeth by about three shades after being worn directly on the surface of the teeth for 30 minutes twice a day for one week.
If you have always wanted whiter teeth, schedule an appointment so we can determine which of these treatment options would work best for you. For more information on the fundamentals of teeth whitening, read the informative Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening: Brighter, Lighter, Whiter...”