Posts for: April, 2013
The image of Grandma and Grandpa taking out their dentures every night and placing them in a glass of water by the bed is still a reality for a lot of people.
If you have dentures, you probably know that the conditions in your mouth will or have changed over time, necessitating adjustments. This is because full dentures exert continuous pressure on the gum tissues and underlying bone of your jaw resulting in a slow shrinkage. The gum tissues, and the bone beneath, atrophy or melt away. The result — over time the dentures lose their original tight fit and become loose. This can cause discomfort and embarrassment as the dentures slip and slide around.
Reline (refit) your current dentures. If your dentures are in good condition and are functional, applying a new inner lining to the dentures will restore their former fit. Because the rate of bone loss differs from person to person, some denture wearers may need more frequent relines than others. A temporary reline involves adding a layer of moldable plastic material under the denture while you are in the dentist's chair. The material will harden and fill in spaces where the gums have shrunk away from the denture. For a more permanent relining, the dentures must be sent to a dental lab, which will replace the temporary material with permanent denture material. This can usually be done in one day.
A new set of dentures. If your dentures are worn or you cannot speak, eat, bite or chew properly with them, a new set of dentures may be the answer. The condition of your jaw is another factor. If examination shows that a reline will not achieve the fit and stability you need, then remaking the dentures is another option.
Dental Implants — State-of-the-art tooth replacement systems. Dentures used to be the only solution to the problem of missing teeth, but with today's technology it's amazing what dentists can do. Implants do not only replace teeth but also stabilize the gradual bone loss that takes place when teeth are missing. Choose dental implants to replace at least two of your missing teeth to anchor your dentures and make them more stable.
Have all your missing teeth replaced with dental implants. Dental implants are generally the best option for long-term denture wearers who have endured jawbone loss and can no longer tolerate dentures alone. Bridgework (or dentures) are attached to the implants, stabilizing them and the underlying bone. The new teeth also provide support to the face, lips and cheeks giving a more youthful appearance.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about dentures and other tooth restorations. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Loose Dentures.”
You've probably heard about dental implants — today's best option for replacing missing teeth; maybe you even have one or more already. A dental implant is a tiny screw-shaped metal post that sits in your jawbone and supports a lifelike dental crown. Natural teeth and implant-supported teeth have differences and similarities.
The main difference between implants and natural teeth — besides the fact that you were born with one and not the other — is the way they attach to your bone. Implants actually fuse to the bone, becoming part of it. This is a unique property of titanium, the metal from which implants are made. Maintaining that attachment is extremely important; we will discuss how best to ensure that in a moment.
Natural teeth do not ever become part of the bone that surrounds them. Instead, they attach to it via the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth), which is made up of tiny fibers that go into the tooth on one side and the bone on the other. These fibers form a sort of hammock for each tooth.
Another difference is that natural teeth can decay while implant-supported teeth can't. But that doesn't mean you don't have to worry about dental hygiene — far from it! And here's where we get to the main similarity: oral hygiene is extremely important to maintain both teeth and implants. Lax oral hygiene for either can result in bacterial infections that may lead to gum disease, and even bone loss.
The main enemy of a properly fused implant is a bacterial infection known as “peri-implantitis” (“peri” – around; implant “itis” – inflammation), which starts when bacterial biofilm (plaque) is allowed to build up on implant-supported crowns. Peri-implantitis can lead to a well-like or dish-shaped loss of bone around the implant, which in turn can cause the implant to lose its attachment to the bone. If this happens, the implant can no longer function. Fortunately, this infection is preventable with good brushing and flossing techniques at home, and regular professional cleanings here at the dental office.
So another similarity, then, is that natural teeth and implants can last a lifetime with proper care. And that's the result we're aiming for!
Are the following statements true or false?
Thumb sucking in children may cause problems with their teeth later on.
Prolonged thumb sucking may be responsible for many problems with the bite. The constant pressure of the thumb itself can create a gap between the top and bottom teeth in front, a condition called an “open bite.” It also reinforces the habit of using the “tongue thrust” motion in swallowing, where the tongue is positioned between top and bottom teeth. This habit may also block full eruption of the front teeth.
Infants and young children swallow exactly the same way that adults do.
When they swallow, young children use what is called the “infantile swallowing pattern.” In this method, which begins before their teeth have erupted, the tongue is thrust forward in the mouth, sealing and supporting the lips. In adult swallowing, the tongue touches the roof of the mouth, behind the front teeth. The transition from the infantile method usually happens naturally, by around age 4.
Most open bites result from the habit of positioning the tongue too far forward.
Failure to transition between the infantile and adult swallowing pattern is believed to be the cause of most open bites. The tongue's position alone may prevent the front teeth from fully developing. Allowing the thumb to rest between the teeth has the same effect — and it can also push the front teeth forward. Other causes of an open bite are skeletal or jaw-related problems.
It is harder to cure open bites caused by thumb sucking or bad tongue position than those from other causes.
Open bites that are caused by skeletal factors (patterns of bone growth, etc) are often difficult to resolve. Those caused by dental factors (tongue position, tooth eruption, etc) are generally easier to fix. However, the pressure exerted by the thumb over a long period of time can influence bone growth in the jaw.
There is a dental appliance that can help discourage thumb sucking.
A thin metal “tongue crib” placed behind upper and lower incisors discourages the thumb-sucking habit. It also helps to “re-train” the tongue, keeping it from going between upper and lower teeth. To successfully treat an open bite caused by dental factors, and to prevent its reoccurrence, it is essential to eliminate the unhelpful habits of both the thumb and the tongue.
If you would like more information about thumb sucking or open-bite problems in children, 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 “How Thumb Sucking Affects The Bite.”
A consistently dry mouth is not only uncomfortable and unpleasant but also probably more serious than you think. Dry mouth, medically known as xerostomia (“xero” – dry; “stomia” – mouth) affects millions of people, but few understand why it happens or why it is important.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
It is normal to awaken with a dry mouth because saliva flow decreases at night. But if your mouth is persistently dry throughout the day, it may be a result of habits such as smoking, alcohol or too much coffee drinking or even dehydration. It is also a common side effect of some medications. Xerostomia is not a disease in itself, but it could be a symptom of salivary gland or other systemic (general body) disease.
Why is Saliva Important?
A persistently dry mouth can be a problem. Not only does it feel unpleasant and lead to bad breath, it can also significantly increase your risk for tooth decay. Saliva lubricates your mouth for chewing, eating, digestion and even speaking. Saliva also has important antibacterial activities. Most importantly normal healthy salivary flow neutralizes and buffers acids in the mouth to protect the teeth from the acids produced by bacteria on the teeth that cause decay, and by acids in sodas, sports drinks and juices that can erode tooth enamel.
Not only does saliva neutralize acids but with its high mineral content it can actually reverse de-mineralization — the process by which acids attack enamel and remove calcium from the enamel surface. Healthy saliva actually re-mineralizes the outer layers of tooth enamel, but the process can take 30-60 minutes. That's why it's important not to snack on sugars or drink sodas between meals — one an hour and your mouth is acidic all the time.
Individuals without enough saliva are especially at risk for root decay and fungal infections, and they are also more likely to lose tooth substance through abrasion and erosion.
What Can We Do for a Dry Mouth?
If your mouth is usually dry, make an appointment with us to assess the causes of the problem. However it may be more serious with medical implications. The solution may be as simple as drinking more water and using good daily oral hygiene, or it may necessitate prescription medication to promote more saliva flow.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your dry mouth and what we can do to help. For more information read the article in Dear Doctor magazine “Tooth Decay – How To Assess Your Risk.”