Posts for: September, 2013
Edentulism — the complete loss of all the permanent teeth — is a condition that affects over one-quarter of all Americans over the age of 65. For many seniors, it can be a devastating blow to their confidence and self-image. Worse, if left untreated, it may lead to nutritional problems, periodontal disease, and bone loss.
Fortunately, an affordable, time-tested treatment option is available: full denture prosthetics, or false teeth. Denture technology has changed over time, but one aspect of the process remains the same: making a superior set of dentures requires an equal blend of science and art.
To replicate the look of a patient's natural teeth, a dentist must make many choices: What size should the new teeth be? How much of them should show above the gum line? How should they be spaced? Photographs of the patient before tooth loss can help in making the decisions. We will use these, combined with clinical acumen and an artist's eye, to achieve the best aesthetic results.
But dentures not only simulate the teeth and gums they replace — they also help support the facial skeleton and the soft tissues of the lips and cheeks. Balancing the muscular forces of the jaws and tongue, they help restore natural functions like speech and eating. In order to perform these tasks properly, it is essential that they be well crafted.
At each stage of their progress, from temporary wax rims through the hard plastic resins of the final product, the dentures are carefully custom-fitted to the contours of the patient's mouth. Their bite must be balanced, meaning that upper and lower dentures come together to properly stabilize each other. This ensures that they will be comfortable to wear and will function properly.
Most people have only minor issues as they make the adjustment to wearing dentures; but for some, it's more troublesome. There are various options available to those patients, including implant-supported hybrid dentures. We can recommend alternatives based on your individual needs and preferences.
If you would like more information about dentures, 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 “Removable Full Dentures.”
It can be daunting for parents to know just what to do when their child complains of an ache or pain. What if your child tells you their tooth hurts — is that cause for alarm? That's actually not so easy to determine, but there are some things you should do when your child has a toothache.
First, try to determine from your child exactly where the pain is coming from and how long it's been hurting. Look for an apparent cause for the pain: the most common is tooth decay, considered a type of infection caused by bacteria, and normally indicated by brown spots or tiny holes (cavities) on the biting surfaces or between teeth. Look for swelling or tenderness in the gum tissues, a sign of a possible abscess. Debris caught between teeth may also cause pain.
The pain might stem from an injury. Though the lips and outer tissues may appear fine, a blow to the face or other traumatic incident may have damaged the teeth. Without treatment, pulp tissue within a traumatized tooth may die and lead to an infection and potential tooth loss.
If you see any of these signs or symptoms, or the pain keeps your child up at night or continues into the next day, you should contact our office as soon as possible so that we can do a full evaluation of the tooth. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to help lessen the pain. First, clean the teeth to remove any debris. Administer ibuprofen or acetaminophen (in the proper dosage for a child) for pain relief. An ice pack against the jaw may also help, but alternate on and off in five-minute intervals to prevent burning the skin with the ice.
If these steps stop the pain within an hour, you can wait until the next day to make an appointment. If not, this may be indicative of an abscess forming and you should not delay contacting our office. The quicker we can properly diagnose and begin treatment, the less chance your child will suffer from any long-term damage to their teeth.
If you would like more information on caring for a child's toothache, 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 “A Child's Toothache.”
You've just had porcelain laminate veneers placed on your teeth to improve their appearance, color and shape. Now what? How do you maintain them and keep them looking their best?
A dental porcelain veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that is bonded to a tooth, replacing the enamel (the outermost layer of a tooth). Dental porcelain is a glass-like substance that can be used to mimic natural tooth enamel perfectly because of its bright, reflective and translucent (see-through) qualities.
To look after your veneers, it is important to maintain the health of the teeth on which they were placed, and of the surrounding gums.
- About a week after your veneers have been placed, return to our office so that we can check them to make sure they are functioning well.
- Brush and floss regularly using non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste; make sure you remove biofilm, the film of bacteria that collects on the teeth, every day. Flossing or brushing will not harm your veneers.
- We recommend regular dental checkups to review the state of your veneers and your dental health in general.
Porcelain is a ceramic glass-like material, and like glass it is strong but brittle and can fracture when placed under too much stress.
- You can eat almost all foods without harming your veneers, but avoid biting into hard things like candy apples.
- Many people habitually grind or clench their teeth. If you are one of them, let us know. We can make a protective bite guard that you can wear to reduce stress placed on your teeth (and your veneers) while you sleep.
With good dental hygiene, and regular dental check-ups porcelain veneers can last from seven to twenty years or even longer. This makes them a good solution that will improve your smile for years to come.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about porcelain laminate veneers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Smile Design Enhanced with Porcelain Veneers.”
If you've recently had a dental implant placed, congratulations! You have made a good investment in your smile that should last for a lifetime — if you take proper care of it. This is easy to do with a good oral hygiene routine and regular professional cleanings. Here are some important things to keep in mind about implant care:
- Implants can last as long as teeth. A dental implant made of titanium will fuse to the bone surrounding it and function just like a natural tooth. It is a highly successful method of tooth replacement that succeeds more than 95% of the time.
- Implants and natural teeth attach to surrounding bone and gums very differently. A natural tooth does not actually fuse to the bone that surrounds it. Instead, it is held in place by a periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth) made up of tiny fibers that insert into the bone on one side and into the tooth on the other. Farther up, these collagen fibers attach the tooth to the gum tissue. Implants and the crowns that go on top of them are not anchored to the gum in this way. An understanding of this biology is important for maintaining good periodontal health when implants are present. We will go over this with you so can care for your implants correctly.
- Infection is the enemy. Bacterial infection is a concern with both natural teeth and implant-supported teeth. A bacterial biofilm (plaque) builds up daily on implant teeth, just as it does on natural teeth. If it is not regularly cleared away, various oral infections can develop. In the case of natural teeth, this might result in tooth decay, gum disease, and the loss of tooth-supporting bone. Implants can't decay, but they can be threatened by a rapidly progressing infection known as peri-implantits (“peri” – around; implant “itis” – inflammation), which can lead to a well-like or dish-shaped loss of bone around the implant. The implant can become loose as greater amounts of bone is lost.
- Good oral hygiene is as important as ever. Daily removal of bacterial biofilm is key to preventing peri-implantitis. You'll want to make sure you brush your teeth twice daily with a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste, and floss gently at least once per day.
- Your dental hygienist has an important role to play. Professional cleanings here at our dental office are also still as necessary as ever, if not more so. Dental hygienists have special instruments they use to clean areas around your implant that can't be reached by your brush or floss — without scratching the surfaces of your implant components.