No one wants to experience pain when they go to the dentist. However, are you aware that anesthesia is beneficial to both you and your dental professionals? It enables us to concentrate on doing our best work with the assurance that you are perfectly comfortable. In fact, local anesthesia has literally revolutionized pain control; it is one of the most effective tools in dentistry and medicine.
But before we continue, let's cover a few of the basics. “Anesthesia” (“ana” – without; “esthesia” – sensation) literally means without feeling or pain. “Local” refers to the site at which the anesthesia is used, in other words, where the action (and pain relief) is needed. Local anesthetics come in two varieties: topical and injectable.
We use topical anesthetics to numb just the top surface of the gums or oral lining surfaces of the mouth to provide surface comfort during procedures such as a superficial teeth cleaning. We apply them in a variety of ways: with a Q-tip, cotton swab, adhesive patch or a spray. Most importantly, we use them before administering injections (shots) so you don't feel a thing.
Injectables deliver medication though a needle that will briefly block the sensation of pain from the teeth, gums and bone. They accomplish this by temporarily blocking the conduction of electrical impulses along the nerves that supply the gums and teeth with feeling so that you can be treated comfortably. They are especially important for treatments such as filling a deep cavity, tooth cleaning or extraction, or for gum surgery.
So which anesthesia is right for you?
Depending on the type of treatment or procedure we are performing, we will select the most suitable anesthetic. However, if you normally feel anxious about your dental visits, please let us know this in advance when scheduling your appointment. Having this knowledge in advance, we can ensure that your experience is free of both anxiety and pain — a result that will make both of us happy!
To learn more about this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Local Anesthesia For Pain-Free Dentistry.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions.
When a device meant to make your life easier doesn't function properly, it can be extremely frustrating. This is sometimes the case for people who wear lower dentures, which loosen over time. These removable replacement teeth can become less reliable and more uncomfortable. Why does this happen?
The answer is bone loss. When a tooth is lost, the bone surrounding it deteriorates and this will change the shape of the jawbone in your mouth. You may find that a lower denture that once had a snug fit on your lower jaw is now sliding around. This happens more often on the bottom because your muscular tongue pushes against the denture. Also, a top denture has more surface area due to an artificial palate to help create suction to the roof of the mouth and keep it in place.
Dental implants, which permanently replace the roots of teeth, do not loosen and they also prevent bone loss. But replacing a whole set of bottom teeth with dental implants and crowns is expensive. What to do?
There's a relatively new solution that combines the security of implants with the affordability of a removable denture. It's called an overdenture, and it may be something you want to consider. An overdenture is a lot like the removable lower denture you already have, only it fits over two implants strategically placed in your lower jaw. While the lower denture is still removable, its stability is greatly improved.
Studies have shown that people with two-implant overdentures have a higher quality of life, and receive better nutrition, than those wearing conventional dentures. It's not hard to figure out why: A more stable denture makes it easier to eat healthy foods such as vegetables — or, really, any foods — and prevents embarrassing slippage of false teeth.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Implant Overdentures for the Lower Jaw.”
Some of the most popular smile enhancers on the market today are both over-the-counter (OTC) and professional teeth whitening products. And while studies indicate that bleaching can successfully achieve noticeable increases in whitening of stained teeth, there are some facts you need to know about these products and the results that they can deliver.
- Nearly all bleaching products contain the same basic ingredient, carbamide peroxide or its breakdown product, hydrogen peroxide. However, the products our office uses to professionally whiten your teeth are much stronger without compromising the health and safety of your teeth, gums, and mouth.
- OTC bleaches typically contain no more that 10% carbamide peroxide while professional bleaches can contain between 15% and 35%. And to make professional bleaching even more effective, we may use them in combination with specialized lights or lasers.
- Bleaching is NOT a permanent solution and thus results will diminish over time. The “fade rate” begins to occur 6 to 12 months after treatment.
- While you can't avoid the fading process, you can extend your bleaching results by avoiding foods and drinks that stain your teeth, such as red wine, red (tomato-based) sauces, coffee, tea, sodas/colas, and blueberries to name a few.
- Another method for extending your results is to use a straw when drinking beverages that can stain your teeth so that the liquid does not come in contact with your teeth.
- If you have visible crowns and/or veneers mixed with your natural front teeth, it may be quite difficult for you to bleach your natural teeth so that they perfectly match your veneers or crowns. Remember, tooth whitening is not effective on crowns, veneers, bridgework, or any type of artificial tooth.
- One of the most common side effects of whitening teeth is tooth sensitivity and irritation of the gum tissues. They both are usually temporary and often occur when you start bleaching; however, they generally subside after a few days.
Overall, bleaching your teeth is an effective way to brighten your smile with minimal side effects. If it is something you are interested in pursuing, talk it over with us first — even if you plan to use OTC products — so that you have a clear understanding about your specific options and projected outcomes. Or, learn more by reading the Dear Doctor article, “Teeth Whitening: Brighter, Lighter, Whiter....”
While the first recorded attempts at dental implant were recorded around 600 AD during the Mayan civilization, today they have become a normal and integral tool that we use to replace teeth and restore full functionality to dental and oral health. In fact, many dentists now refer to dental implants as a person's third set of teeth, and they are the optimal choice for permanently replacing missing adult (permanent) teeth.
To help you visualize, think of your teeth as having two main parts: the crown or the part that can be seen above the gum tissues and the root, the portion that is suspended in the bone by the periodontal (gum) ligament that keeps the tooth in place. A dental implant is actually a root replacement, but unlike a tooth's root, it is anchored in the jawbone. However, an interesting fact is that the dental implants being used today actually fuse with or integrate in to the bone to become one. This process is called “osseo-integration.”
For the most part, dental implants are made from commercial-grade, pure titanium. This metal is “osteo-philic” or literally a bone loving metal that has been used for many years by both the medical and dental professions because it is not rejected by the body. For these reasons, these dental implants are very successful and can last for a lifetime.
Implant placement is a surgical process that requires prior planning involving collaborative efforts between the implant surgeon, dentist, and a laboratory technician. Periodontists, oral surgeons, or general dentists with advanced training in implantology and surgery normally “place” them. To learn more about dental implants and the entire process, read, “Dental Implants, Your Third Set Of Teeth.” Or if you prefer, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
Modern dental implants not only help you maintain your normal chewing ability and speech patterns after you have lost a tooth or teeth — they also keep you looking younger. How do they do this? Read on.
Do lost teeth cause tooth-supporting bone to “melt” away? Yes. Of course, the bone does not actually melt. Bone is a living tissue, and under normal conditions it constantly dissolves and rebuilds. Stimulation by the small stresses from the contact of upper and lower teeth — something that normally happens hundreds of times each day — keeps these two forces in balance. When a tooth is missing, the bone that normally surrounds and supports the tooth (called alveolar bone) no longer receives the stimulation that causes it to rebuild, and it begins to diminish over time.
What happens if you don't replace missing teeth? The first year after a tooth is lost, the width of the bone that once surrounded the tooth decreases by 25 percent. Over the years, gradually increasing bone loss results in sunken cheeks and lips, making you look older. Gum tissue also decreases, affecting your ability to chew and speak.
What happens if you lose all your teeth? For people who have lost all their teeth, called edentulous, the effects are severe. After the alveolar bone is lost, the bone beneath it, called basal bone, also begins to be resorbed, eventually causing the lower part of the face to partially collapse.
Do partial or full dentures prevent bone loss? Unfortunately, just the contrary is true. A removable denture pressing on a person's gum increases bone loss because the pressures from biting are not transferred into the internal structure of the bone but instead are compressive, which damages the bone over time. This is why dentures begin to fit poorly after they have been worn for a while. This problem can be reduced by anchoring dentures with strategically placed dental implants.
What is a dental implant? A dental implant is a tooth-root replacement that is made of titanium. This metal is able to osseointegrate, or fuse with the bone. For a single tooth replacement, a crown that looks and functions like natural tooth is attached to the titanium implant. As mentioned above, implants can also be used to anchor dentures.
Does an implant prevent bone loss? Yes. When dental implants fuse to the jaw bone, they stabilize the bone. They also provide tooth-to-tooth stimulation that was formerly supplied by the natural tooth.
How long do dental implants last? Dental implants have been shown to last at least 10 years. For most people, implants will last the rest of their lives.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth loss and dental implants. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
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