Posts for: September, 2014
For most people, replacing missing front teeth takes a higher priority over missing back teeth. The reason is obvious: others can see those missing in front, but not necessarily those in the back.
From a functional view, however, you should still consider replacing missing back teeth. Not only will it improve your chewing ability, it may also prevent a chain reaction of negative effects to your remaining teeth.
Teeth are held in place in the jawbone by a membrane called the periodontal ligament. The ligament is a living tissue that allows teeth to move to keep contact with adjacent and opposing teeth as natural wear occurs. When a space is created by a missing tooth, this natural movement accelerates and the teeth may shift beyond normal ranges.
As a result you can encounter excessive mobility of teeth from bite irregularities, uneven tooth wear, bone loss, potential painful problems with the temporo-mandibular joints (connecting the lower jaw to the skull), and a loss in facial height.
There are three basic options for this kind of tooth replacement. The best option is dental implants: these free-standing replacements don't normally affect surrounding teeth, they're easier to clean, and they help support the bite. On the downside, there must be enough remaining bone to support the implant.
The next best option is a fixed bridge. This option only works, however, if there are teeth on either side of the missing tooth space capable of supporting the bridge, and they must be reduced in size by removing the enamel with the dental drill. They also have a tendency to retain plaque, the main cause of gum disease.
That leaves the last, and least favorable, option, a removable partial denture. They may also trap food and be difficult to wear. They can move in the mouth, stressing — and possibly loosening — the remaining teeth that hold them in place. With all its drawbacks, though, if a partial denture is the only solution to missing back teeth, it's a better alternative than doing nothing and risking long-term problems.
If you would like more information on replacement options for back teeth, 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 “Replacing Back Teeth.”
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..”
If you’re apprehensive about visiting the dentist, you’re not alone. Studies show a majority of us — as high as 75% — have experienced some form of anxiety about dental treatment. Between 10% and 15% of those have a high degree of anxiety that may cause them to avoid visiting the dentist altogether.
If you’ve experienced this level of anxiety, you weren’t born with it. Such fears develop from early experiences with dentistry, or from stories or attitudes relayed to us by others. While this undue emotional stress could adversely affect your general health, the greater threat is to your oral health, if it causes you to avoid dental care altogether.
Fortunately, anxiety from the thought of dentistry can be overcome. The best approach is relatively simple — counteract the bad experiences of the past with new, more positive experiences. Moderate dentistry should be able to completely eliminate any discomfort during treatment. And with each new good experience, your feelings and attitudes will gradually change over time for the better.
The first step is to discuss your anxiety about dental care with us. It’s important to establish trust with your care provider from the outset if you want to successfully overcome your anxiety. We will listen and not discount or diminish the reality of your fears and their emotional and physical effect; instead, we will work with you to include overcoming anxiety as a part of your treatment plan.
The next step is to proceed with treatments and procedures you feel you can easily undergo, so that at the end of each visit you’ll have a more positive view of that particular treatment (and that you could undergo it again). We won’t rush to complete treatments until you’re ready for them. Although this may extend the duration needed to complete a procedure, it’s important for us to proceed at a pace more conducive to creating and reinforcing new positive feelings and attitudes about dental visits.
In the end, we want to do more than treat an immediate or emergency-related dental condition. We want to help you overcome the anxiety that has kept you from seeking long-term dental care — and thus better dental health — a part of your life.
If you would like more information on overcoming dental treatment anxiety, 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 “Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety.”
Your dental appliance plays a big role in restoring function and improving your appearance. Taking proper care of it will ensure it can do that for a long time.
Cleaning is a top priority. Though it might seem natural to use toothpaste, you should avoid using it on your appliance. The abrasives in toothpaste are necessary to break up plaque on natural teeth’s hard enamel surfaces, but will leave micro scratches on the surface of your appliance that eventually become havens for bacterial growth — a sure recipe for discoloration and unpleasant odors. If you plan to use boiling or hot water to disinfect your appliance, don’t. The heat distorts the plastic and can disrupt its precise mouth fit. You should also avoid using bleach because it can break down the composition of the plastic, can leave a strong odor, and can whiten the pink “gum tissue” areas of the denture.
Instead, use plain liquid detergent or hand soap with warm water to clean your appliance — and use a brush designed for it rather than your toothbrush. If you have a long-term appliance like a denture, you might consider investing in an ultra-sonic cleaner that uses high frequency sound vibrations to clean out small crevices a brush can’t reach.
Remember the old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt?” With dental appliances, too much time in the mouth breeds bacteria. Dentures, for example, should be taken out at night to allow saliva and its antibacterial capacity to work in your mouth. You also should be on the lookout for signs of infection — if anything appears amiss, contact us for an exam as soon as possible to minimize the effects of tooth decay or gum disease.
One final item: be careful where you place your appliance when it’s not in your mouth. Lying out in the open (like on a nightstand) is a tempting lure for the family pet or a curious child. Keep it in its case in accordance with the care instructions given you when you received your appliance.
Doing the right things — and avoiding the wrong things — when caring for your dental appliance will go a long way to increasing its life and reducing problems along the way.