Posts for: December, 2012
If an adult has lost his or her teeth (a condition called “edentulism”), full removable dentures (false teeth) can restore the person's appearance and ability to bite, chew, and talk properly. Even with our current extensive knowledge about tooth care and restoration, over 25 percent of Americans have lost all their teeth by the time they are 65.
How much do you know about dentures? Test yourself below.
How does tooth loss affect your bones?
Bone is a living substance that is constantly changing and rebuilding itself, depending on signals it receives from surrounding tissues. The bone that surrounds your teeth is called alveolar bone (from “alveolus,” meaning sac-like). To keep healthy, alveolar bone needs stimulation or function such as chewing and your teeth touching your opposing teeth. If you lose your teeth, bone begins to melt away (resorb).
How can we minimize bone loss during tooth extraction?
We can maintain bone volume by using bone grafting techniques. While this sounds scary, it is a relatively easy procedure. The principle of bone grafting is to build a sort of scaffolding on which your body begins to build and maintain its own bone. Bone loss can be prevented by the placement of a few dental implants.
How are dentures designed and created?
The dentures that look best and work best for you are based on your original teeth. We often utilize photographs of how you looked with your natural teeth, along with your input about possible changes you would like to see. First we take detailed impressions (molds) of the residual ridges in which your teeth once rested. From these we make denture bases of a light cured plastic resin. We attach horseshoe-shaped rims made of wax to the bases, to simulate the position of the teeth as we work out their design and spacing, based on both appearance and function. The prosthetic teeth are then tried out in your mouth, adjustments are made, and the dentures are processed in a dental laboratory. The final product substitutes a pink colored plastic (methyl methacrylate) to represent the gums and white plastic material as the teeth, created to make them look as natural as possible.
What is your part in the denture fitting process?
As a patient with new dentures, you must learn to use your jaw joints, ligaments, nerves, and muscles in new ways to help stabilize your dentures and to relearn to speak, bite, chew, smile, and laugh with these new structures. It takes a little practice, but with your removable dentures you can once again enjoy a complete and normal life.
Witnessing or being involved in a sports-related dental injury can be a scary event not only for the player, but also for onlookers even if the injuries turn out to be minor. However, knowing what to do — and more importantly — how quickly to react can make a radical difference to the outcome. This is just one reason why we want to share the following easy-to-remember guidelines for what, how and when you need to respond to various types of dental injuries.
- Immediate — within 5 minutes of the injury: If a permanent tooth is totally knocked out (avulsed), it requires immediate treatment by cleaning and re-implanting the tooth back into its original position to have any hope of saving the tooth long-term. Knocked out baby (primary) teeth are not reimplanted for fear of damage to underlying permanent teeth.
- Urgent — within 6 hours of the injury: If a permanent or primary tooth is still in the mouth but has been moved from its original position, it is considered an acute injury and should be treated within 6 hours.
- Less urgent — within 12 hours of the injury: If a permanent or primary tooth is broken or chipped but has not shifted from its original position, the injury is classified as less urgent. You still need to see a dentist for an exam; however, you generally can wait up to 12 hours before possible irreversible damage occurs.
Want To Learn More?
There are several ways you can learn more about sports-related dental injuries.
Dental caries (tooth decay) is similar to the pesky bumblebee that invades your lovely summer barbecue. You can find temporary solace from this intruder by eliminating that very first bee that you see, but if you are situated in an area that is close to the bee's nest, it won't be long before the next bee buzzes along. This is similar to tooth decay. Having one cavity-laden tooth drilled and filled is really just a temporary fix. The underlying conditions that led to tooth decay in the first place need to be addressed in order for your risk of future infection to decrease.
Researcher Dr. John Featherstone created the concept of the Caries Balance in 2002, in which he explained that tooth decay and overall dental health are dependent upon a proper balance of disease-causing and health-promoting factors. Discovering what the fundamental problem really is (and getting as far away from that hornet's nest as possible) can help both determine and curb your risk for future tooth decay.
Here's the issue in a nutshell: Susceptible teeth, in the presence of acid producing bacteria when fed by sugar from your diet, basically, will create all the conditions necessary to cause tooth decay.
To determine your risk for tooth decay, see how many times you answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Do you brush your teeth twice a day to reduce bacterial plaque sticking to the teeth?
- Do you use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the teeth against acid attack?
- Do you use a fluoride mouthrinse?
- Do you floss daily?
Every affirmative answer decreases your risk of getting cavities, but even doing all of this may not be enough!
Now, how many times can you answer “Yes” to these questions?:
- Do you smoke? Smoking causes mouth dryness, and creates a host of other health problems.
- Do you snack frequently between meals? One sugary snack and your mouth is acidic for the next hour. One snack per hour and your mouth is acidic all day.
- Do you frequently have acid reflux or heartburn? Reflux creates extreme acidity in the mouth and directly erodes tooth enamel.
- Do you drink soda, sports drinks, or acidic beverages frequently? These beverages are very acidic.
- Is your mouth frequently dry? Do you take any medications that cause mouth dryness? Saliva is nature's own defense against acidity and helps neutralize acid in the mouth.
- Have you had frequent cavities in the past and/or have you had any crowns or fillings in the past three months? The best indicator of future disease is past disease!
Every affirmative answer increases your risk of getting cavities!
Now that you are a little more knowledgeable about your personal risk for tooth decay, make an appointment with us to discuss the preventative measures that can give you some control over the future condition of your teeth. Ignoring the risks and then ending up with a mouth full of rotting teeth when you knew better could really sting a little!
To learn even more about the delicate balance between the disease causing and protective factors related to tooth decay, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”
If you cringe at the appearance of your less than pearly whites when you look in the mirror, you are not alone. A frequently requested cosmetic procedure, teeth whitening is a very successful and relatively inexpensive way to enhance your smile. We can determine which whitening treatment will work best for you after performing a basic oral examination in our office. When will it work and when won't it? Here's some background:
Teeth most commonly become stained or discolored due to surface (extrinsic) changes, the most common of which are dietary and smoking. Foods including red wine, coffee, and tea can cause extrinsic staining. Teeth can also commonly become discolored or stained due to intrinsic (internal) reasons, such as changes in the structure of enamel or dentin or by incorporation of chromogenic (color generating) material into tooth tissue during formation or after eruption.
- Toothpastes that claim to whiten teeth are only effective in removing plaque and other surface stains. Although most of these products contain mild abrasives that remove the plaque, they aren't capable of changing the underlying color of stained teeth.
- Tooth polishing by your dentist or dental hygienist is effective in removing superficial staining, but will not change tooth color.
- Teeth whitening systems work by bleaching, generally with the use of hydrogen peroxide. Using bleaching gels in custom made trays or whitening strips can be done at home, but is slow and the changes are gradual. We can perform quicker and more effective “power bleaching” in our dental office when precautions can be taken to ensure safety due to the higher concentrations of bleaching gels used. Teeth with intrinsic (internal) staining may need internal bleaching to whiten them and this can only be done in the dental office.
- Teeth whitening results fade over time, but optimally last from six months to two years. Taking care of your newly whitened teeth by avoiding the foods, beverages, and habits that cause staining will help them remain whiter for longer.
- If you have had previous cosmetic dentistry performed, including the placement of composite restorations, porcelain veneers, or crowns, teeth whitening may not be for you. Bleaching agents have little to no effect at all on the materials used to create these restorative products.
If you would like to discuss whitening your teeth with us, call today to make an appointment. To learn more about the various teeth whitening procedures, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening: Brighter, Lighter, WhiterÃ¢Â€Â¦”