Posts for: August, 2013
Dental implants are now the gold standard for tooth replacement. Why? Because not only do they offer the longest-lasting method of restoring missing teeth, but they also help mitigate one of the greatest problems associated with tooth loss — the loss of underlying bone structure. While standard dental implants have been around since the 1970s, mini-implants are a smaller version of the same technology that have recently come into their own. Here are a few things you should know about them.
Mini-implants rely on the same structure and principles as their larger relatives.
Like standard implants, mini-implants are screw-shaped devices made of titanium which are set into the bone of the jaw. Put in place permanently, they become fixed to the bone itself, which grows around and fuses to the implant. Or, they can be used as temporary anchors for the attachment of other dental work.
Mini-implants are a great option for attaching lower overdentures.
Overdentures (implant-retained dentures) are now considered the standard of care for people who have lost all of their teeth in one or both jaws. But the undesired movement of lower dentures has been a perennial problem for many denture wearers. One key use of mini-implants is to anchor overdentures to the lower jaw. Just two mini-implants provide the stability needed to attach a set of lower dentures sturdily, giving the denture wearer increased dental function — and a restored sense of confidence.
Mini-implants offer some real benefits in orthodontics.
TADS (Temporary Anchorage Devices), another type of mini-implants, are finding increasing use alongside of orthodontic appliances (braces). Braces move teeth by placing small forces on them, which are transmitted by a wire. The wire must be anchored at a “fixed” point: usually, other teeth; but it may cause these teeth to move as well! TADS offer an anchorage point that's truly immovable. They help to speed up orthodontic treatment, and give more accurate control as well.
Placing mini-implants is a relatively simple process.
It's an office procedure done by an experienced clinician, normally under local anesthesia. Most patients tolerate the procedure very well, experiencing only minor discomfort. In some cases, a single two-hour visit is all that's needed for implant placement, and the patient can go home and eat a steak afterward!
Mini-implants may be more economical than you think.
These smaller cousins of standard implants are often easier to place. They save treatment time, and, if you're a denture wearer, they may be compatible with your existing dentures. If your dental situation could benefit from using mini-implants, you should give them serious consideration.
If you would like more information about mini-implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Implant Overdentures for the Lower Jaw,” “The Great Mini-Implant,” and “What are TADS?”
A dental implant as a permanent replacement for a missing tooth can match or even look better than your original tooth. How this happens takes knowledge, skill, experience, and even some art.
Here are some of the factors involved:
- Bone quantity and quality: To look and function like an original tooth, an implant must be supported by an adequate base of (jaw) bone and gum tissue. Bone has a tendency to melt away or resorb after a tooth is lost. Using new bone grafting techniques can help minimize the bone loss that occurs during healing at the extraction site. Bone grafting can also be used to rebuild lost bone at the implant site.
- Adequate bone supporting neighboring teeth: If you lose bone that supports teeth on either side of an implant, the papillae (the little pink triangles of gum tissue between the teeth) may not regenerate after the implant is placed.
- Your inborn tissue type: If your gum tissues are thin and delicate rather than thick and robust, they will be more difficult to work with. To ensure that there is sufficient gum tissue support, (gum) grafting may be necessary.
- Using the temporary crown as a template: A dental implant actually replaces a tooth root. Most dental implants are made of commercially pure titanium, which fuses with the bone in your jaw, making it very stable. The crown, the part of the tooth that is visible above the gum line, is attached to the implant; a customized temporary crown can be fitted to the implant. The temporary crown is a trial for the final crown. It can be used to assess color, shape, the appearance of your smile, and the implantâ??s function in your bite and speech. It gives you the opportunity to decide about design adjustments before the final, permanent crown is placed.
- The skill, experience, and collaboration of your dental team: Each situation is different. The final success of your implant depends on your pre-surgical assessment and diagnosis, as well as how the surgical and restorative phases of treatment are performed. The use of an outstanding dental laboratory is vital to a successful result.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for an assessment or to discuss your questions about dental implants. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Matching Teeth & Implants.”
Youth sports can be a positive life experience for your child or teenager. But there's also a risk of injury in many sporting activities, including to the teeth and mouth. An injury to the mouth, especially for a child or young adolescent whose teeth are still developing, can have a significant negative impact on their oral health.
When it comes to teeth or mouth injuries, the best preventive measure is for your child to wear an athletic mouthguard, especially for contact sports like football, hockey or soccer. But be warned: not all mouthguards are alike — and neither is their level of protection.
Mouthguards can be classified into three types. The first is known as “stock,” which is the least expensive and offers the least level of protection. They usually are available only in limited sizes (small, medium, large, etc.) and cannot be custom-fitted for the individual. This significantly lowers their protective ability, and thus we do not recommend these to our patients.
The next type is referred to as “boil and bite.” These mouthguards are made of a material called thermoplastic, which becomes pliable when heated. When first purchased, the guard is placed in boiling water until soft; the individual can then place them in the mouth and bite down or press the guard into the teeth until it hardens and forms to their palates. Although this type offers a better fit and more protection than stock mouthguards, it isn't the highest level of protection available.
That distinction goes to the last type — a custom mouthguard made by a dentist. Although the most expensive of the three, it offers the best fit and the highest level of protection. A well-made custom mouthguard is tear-resistant, fits comfortably, is easy to clean and doesn't restrict speaking and breathing. We recommend this guard as your best alternative for protecting your child athlete from tooth and mouth damage.
If you would like more information on the use of athletic mouthguards for young athletes, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Mouthguards.”
The world is full of options to improve your appearance. But if you really want a dramatic change for the better, don't overlook one of the more prominent features of your face — your smile. The field of cosmetic dentistry has developed a vast array of procedures, techniques and materials to work this transformation.
First, though, it's important to undergo a smile analysis. During this review, we examine the major components of your current smile: the condition of your teeth and their alignment; their natural color and hue; your gum health; and the relationship between your upper and lower jaws. We then analyze these findings in context with the shape of your face, your eyes and your skin. Any changes we propose to make to your smile must fit with this bigger picture.
Of course, nothing is more foundational to a beautiful smile than good, basic hygiene. Besides a daily regimen, regular visits to our office for cleaning and polishing not only remove entrenched decay-causing plaque or tartar, but also staining that can spoil your appearance. Whitening procedures, at home or in our office, can also brighten up an otherwise drab smile.
But what if you have chipped or broken teeth, or some other abnormality? That's where our artistry as a cosmetic dentist can truly make a difference. In some cases, using bonding materials, tooth-colored restorations or veneers may be the best option, if enough of the tooth structure is still intact. If not, porcelain crowns may be in order.
Nor are we limited to those options. Your particular situation may call for a more integrated approach to smile enhancement. Orthodontics to realign teeth and treat for malocclusion (where the teeth on the upper and lower jaws do not meet properly) could be part of that approach, as well as replacing missing teeth with dental implants that replicate the teeth they replace.
The key is to devise the best approach that couples reality with your expectations. It will change not only your smile, but also your life.
If you would like more information on cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry: A Time for Change..”