Posts for: August, 2014
A crown is an effective way to save a tooth and restore its form and function. These life-like “caps” that fit over and are permanently attached to teeth have been used for decades with good results.
For this type of restoration to be effective, though, there must be enough of the natural tooth remaining above the gum line for the crown to “grab on to.” This poses a problem if the tooth has broken or decayed too close to the gum tissue.
Fortunately, there is a way to expose more of the remaining tooth for applying a crown. Known as crown lengthening, this surgical procedure is also used for “gummy” smiles, where normal tooth length is obscured by excess gum tissue that makes the teeth appear shorter.
We begin the procedure by first numbing the tooth and gum area with a local anesthetic. We then make tiny incisions inside the gum line on both the tongue and cheek side of the tooth to create a small flap. With this area below the gum line now open to view, we then determine whether we need to remove excess gum tissue or a small amount of bone around the tooth to expose more of the tooth itself. We then position the opened gum tissue against the bone and tooth at the appropriate height to create an aesthetic result.
You shouldn’t experience any discomfort during the procedure, which usually takes about sixty minutes for a single tooth area (which needs to involve at least three teeth for proper blending of the tissues). The pressures and vibrations from equipment, as well as any post-procedure discomfort, are similar to what you would encounter with a tooth filling. After the gum tissue has healed (about six to eight weeks), we are then able to fit and attach a crown onto the extended area.
Crown lengthening a small area may result in an uneven appearance if you’re dealing within the aesthetic zone. One option in this case is to consider undergoing orthodontic treatment first to correct the potential discrepancy that may result from surgery. After orthodontics, we can perform crown lengthening on just the affected tooth and still achieve an even smile.
Crown lengthening is just one of many tools we have to achieve tooth restorations for difficult situations. Using this technique, we can increase your chances of achieving both renewed tooth function and a more beautiful smile.
If you would like more information on crown lengthening, 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 “Saving Broken Teeth.”
If you’re experiencing chronic halitosis (bad breath), it could be a sign of oral disease (as well as a systemic condition or treatment). In fact, it’s quite possible to visit our office about bad breath and find the cause is actually tooth decay, gum disease or some other oral condition.
In those cases treating the more serious condition might also result in a reduction in bad breath. Here are a few scenarios where such treatment could result in both better health and fresher breath.
Repairing decayed teeth. Repairing teeth damaged by decay — removing diseased tissue, filling cavities or repairing defective fillings — will also reduce the level of decay-causing bacteria. Such bacteria are often responsible for bad breath since they also release volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs), characterized by a foul “rotten eggs” odor. After treatment, these odors can diminish significantly.
Treating gum disease. Periodontal gum disease is a progressive infection caused by bacterial plaque. The basic treatment is to remove as much offending plaque and tartar (hard deposits) as possible. This may require extensive cleaning techniques (like root planing) to remove plaque from tooth root surfaces beneath the gum line, as well as antibiotic therapy. Periodontal therapy not only restores health to gum tissues, it may also alleviate bad breath caused by bacteria.
Extracting third molars (wisdom teeth). The opercula (flaps of gum tissue) around wisdom teeth have a tendency to trap food debris, which fosters bacterial growth. If this leads to chronic infection we may recommend removing the wisdom teeth. This not only reduces the chances of infection but may also alleviate bad breath caused by the bacterial growth.
Treating candidiasis. This is a yeast infection arising as a result of antibiotic use that suppresses normal oral flora. It’s also a source of bad breath. Treating the infection and restoring normal balance in the mouth may help alleviate bad breath as well as prevent disease.
You may see a pattern here: many of these conditions that simultaneously contribute to bad breath stem from high levels of bacteria, which flourish in plaque built up on tooth surfaces due to inadequate oral hygiene. Effective daily brushing and flossing (along with semi-annual office cleanings) removes much of the offending bacterial plaque. As a result you’ll experience better oral health — and maybe fresher breath too.
If you would like more information on controlling chronic bad breath, 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 “Bad Breath.”
Not long ago, a certain Royal Baby made his first major public appearance. At a “crawl-about” in New Zealand, young Prince George (the 8-month-old son of Prince William and Kate Middleton) was formally introduced to the world, along with a group of adorable tots and their proud parents. The press was quick to note not only the future King of England’s cute expressions and his determined crawling — but also the appearance of his first two tiny bottom teeth.
Congratulations, William and Kate — and now, it’s time to think about the taking care of those royal baby teeth. In fact, before you know it, it will be time for the age one dental visit. Why is this so important? Essentially, because proper dental care in the early years helps to establish routines that will lead to a lifetime of good oral health.
It’s a misconception to think that baby teeth aren’t important because they will be shed after a few years. In fact, not only do they have a vital function in a child’s ability to eat and speak properly — they also serve as guides for the proper development of the permanent teeth that will follow. So caring for a tot’s primary teeth is just as important as it is for grown-up teeth.
What’s the best way to do that? To prevent tooth decay, clean an infant’s gums after each feeding with a soft cloth moistened with water — and don’t let your baby go to sleep with a bottle in his or her mouth! When teeth appear, gently brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a tiny dab of toothpaste. At around age two, your child can begin to learn how to brush — with your careful supervision and follow-up, of course.
Avoiding sugary and acidic drinks (including some fruit juices) is another excellent way to keep those tiny teeth healthy! If you do allow any sugar, limit it to mealtimes; this gives the saliva plenty of time to do its work of neutralizing the sugar and acid that can cause tooth decay.
And don’t forget the first visit to the dentist, which should take place by age one! Even at that early age, we’ll make sure your child (and you) feel comfortable in the dental office, and help you get started with the best oral hygiene practices. We will also check for signs of cavities, watch for developmental milestones, and screen for potential future problems.
If you have questions about caring for your young child’s teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment. For more information, see the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Top 10 Oral Health Tips For Children” and “Age One Dental Visit.”