Posts for category: Dental Procedures
Primary ("baby") teeth may look cute and adorable, but they're a big player in your child's dental health. A primary tooth lost prematurely could eventually lead to a major bite problem.
Primary teeth fulfill a number of functions, most notably enabling young children to eat solid foods, speak and relate to people with a normal smile. But they also serve as placeholders and guides for future permanent teeth developing within the gums.
Problems arise, though, when a child loses a primary tooth early due to disease or trauma, leaving an open space on the jaw. Nearby teeth tend to drift in to fill the space intended for the permanent tooth, leaving little to no room for it when it's time to erupt. This can cause it to erupt out of position, which in turn could force other teeth out of alignment. The end result is a poor bite.
You can, however, avoid this costly outcome by either treating and preserving a decayed baby tooth, or preventing other teeth from drifting into a vacancy left by a lost primary tooth until the permanent tooth comes in.
Depending on the level of decay, treating a diseased primary tooth can include fillings, crowns or modified root canal therapy. For children at high risk for decay, a dentist may also apply sealant to the teeth to inhibit plaque buildup. Although some of these procedures can be extensive, they're often worth the time and effort to prevent a poor bite.
If, on the other hand, we eventually lose the tooth, we can still intervene by installing a space maintainer. This is essentially a loop of wire securely attached to a tooth on one side of a gap, while the other end of the loop butts up against the tooth on the other side. This prevents either tooth from migrating into the space until the permanent tooth is ready to come in.
Primary teeth may not seem all that important, but in the greater picture, they truly are. By taking care of them, you'll be doing your child's soon arriving permanent teeth a favor.
If you would like more information on pediatric dental care, 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 “Importance of Baby Teeth.”
Replacing missing teeth can do wonders for a smile. And you have solid options for doing so, from a partial denture to state-of-the-art dental implants. But there might be a roadblock to your restoration plan—literally. Some of your other teeth may be in the way.
When a tooth has been missing for a while, the teeth on either side of a tooth gap will naturally begin to move or “drift” into the space. This could result in an inadequate amount of available space for a prosthetic (false) tooth.
If that happens, we'll first need to move the errant teeth back to where they belong, either with traditional braces or removable clear aligners. If we're successful, we can then proceed with the missing tooth restoration.
But before starting orthodontic treatment, there may be another problem that needs our attention first. If your missing teeth are the result of periodontal (gum) disease, your gums and supporting bone may not be as healthy as they need to be. This can interfere with orthodontics, which often depends on the gums and bone around a tooth being healthy enough to reform as the tooth moves. That may not be possible if they're still infected with gum disease or you've suffered significant bone loss.
If that's the case, it may be necessary to first treat any gum disease present and rebuild the bone. The latter can often be done by grafting bone material to the area of loss. The graft then serves as a scaffold of sorts upon which new bone can grow and accumulate. And reducing gum disease, mainly by removing bacterial plaque, allows the gums to heal and regain attachment with the teeth.
Once your gums and bone are healthy again, we can then proceed with orthodontics. After the teeth are reasonably aligned, we can then complete the restoration for replacing your missing teeth, and any other cosmetic enhancements for your remaining teeth like veneers or crowns.
The entire process may take some time and multiple treatment visits. But gaining a more attractive smile in the end is well worth it.
A year ago, former Australian footballer Jake Edwards got married. On television. To a woman he'd just met. No, not in a Vegas wedding chapel—it was all part of a reality TV series called Married At First Sight. Unfortunately, the marriage didn't last, which led to Edwards reevaluating his life. And one area in particular that came under his inward scrutiny was his smile.
Although otherwise possessing movie star looks, Edwards' teeth were anything but handsome: Besides a few that were chipped and cracked, his teeth overall looked small. His less-than-perfect smile was no secret, and he had plenty of offers from dentists to transform his smile.
He finally decided to do so, but with a twist: In addition to his own, he offered a full smile makeover to two other people for free (each valued at $30,000). The impetus for his makeover contest undoubtedly stems from his own lifelong experience: After years of being teased and bullied about his teeth, he knew firsthand how an unattractive smile can affect your personal and social confidence.
You too might feel the same confidence drain every time you look in the mirror. The problem, though, is that a full-scale makeover may seem out of reach financially and there aren't many Jake Edwards-style contests around to enter. But not to worry! There are a few ways to change your smile for the better without taking out a second mortgage on your house.
Teeth whitening. Even a smile with straight and perfectly formed teeth can be unattractive if those teeth are stained and dull. A professional teeth-whitening procedure can change that: Using a bleaching solution, we can turn drab and dingy teeth into a bright and dazzling smile in one sitting. With a little care and occasional touchups, your whiter smile could last for quite a while.
Bonding. We can repair mild to moderate chips and other tooth deformities simply and affordably with dental bonding. We gradually apply a resin dental material color-matched to your tooth, building it up and sculpting it to look natural. In just one sitting, a chipped tooth that once stood out like a sore thumb can regain its attractiveness.
Veneers. Many people like Edwards suffer from teeth that appear overly small or have slightly widened gaps. Problems like these and other deformities can be overcome with dental veneers, thin layers of porcelain bonded to the surfaces of teeth. Veneers can mask all manner of dental defects and truly transform a smile.
These and other affordable cosmetic procedures can truly change your smile, and many only take one visit. To learn more about your personal options, see us for a complete dental exam and consultation.
If you would like more information about other cosmetic dental procedures, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Repairing Chipped Teeth.”
Although the term "surgery" is broad enough to drive a proverbial truck through, we can roughly categorize procedures as either major or minor. Installing an implant is decidedly in the minor column.
Akin to having a tooth extraction, implant surgery can be done painlessly in a dentist's office with very little discomfort afterward. If you're considering a dental implant, going through this surgical procedure shouldn't worry you.
Still, it's hard not to feel a little nervous about any type of surgery, even one as minor as getting an implant. That's where shining a little more light in the way of information can help dissolve any lingering anxiety. Here, then, is an overview of dental implant surgery from start to finish.
First, a little planning. Preparation beforehand helps eliminate any potential snags during surgery. During earlier visits, your dentist will completely map out the procedure with x-rays or CT scanning of your jaws to locate any obstacles, followed by the preparation of a surgical guide placed in the mouth to direct drilling.
Numbing the pain. The dentist begins the surgery by completely deadening the area with local anesthesia. This is usually done with an anesthetic swab of the surface gums to numb the needle prick, which is then used to deliver the remaining anesthetic to the deeper tissues and bone.
Creating the channel. After ensuring the area is fully anesthetized, the dentist will expose the bone by making small incisions in the gums. Then, using the surgical guide, they'll drill a small hole, incrementally enlarging it until it matches the size of the implant post.
Installing the implant. After drilling, the dentist removes the implant from its sterile packaging and directly places it into the prepared channel. The dentist then ensures the implant positioning is correct, often checking with additional x-rays. They'll then suture the gums back into place to protect the implant.
You may initially have a few days of mild discomfort, usually manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers. Over the next few weeks new bone cells will form and adhere to the implant to create a durable bond. You'll then be ready for the attachment of a life-like crown.
Surgery is one step in a long process. But it's an important step—and with the resulting smile outcome, well worth it.
If you would like more information on dental 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 article “Dental Implant Surgery.”
Dental implants are considered by both dentists and patients as the top choice for teeth replacement, with a fixed bridge a close second. Implants and bridges, however, can be financially challenging for many people. Fortunately, there's another effective and affordable choice: a removable partial denture or RPD.
Like full dentures, RPDs are oral appliances that are generally supported by the bony ridge of the gums. They differ, though, in that they replace one or more teeth among the existing natural teeth rather than all the teeth on a jaw. In general, RPDs are designed to hook on to the adjacent dental teeth so that they stay in place during function inside the mouth.
We should also make a distinction between two types of RPDs. One is a lighter version known commonly as a "flipper" because a wearer can easily "flip" it out of the mouth with their tongue. These are only intended for short-term use until a dentist can install a more permanent restoration like an implant or bridge. As an example, a teenager with lost teeth may wear a flipper until their jaw has matured enough for implants.
The other RPD is heavier and designed to be a permanent tooth replacement. These RPDs have a rigid frame made of a strong metal alloy called vitallium, to which a dentist attaches artificial teeth made of porcelain, resins or plastics. The frame may also have colored resins or plastics attached to mimic gum tissue. To hold the RPD in place in the mouth, they may have tiny vitallium clasps that grip onto the natural teeth.
RPDs are precisely engineered to match not only the position and placement of the artificial teeth, but the balance of the frame within the mouth. The latter is important because an unbalanced frame could rock during biting and chewing, which could reduce the longevity of the denture and cause wearing of the bone beneath the gum ridge.
A well-designed and maintained RPD can last for many years. They can, however, harbor bacteria, so they and the rest of the teeth and gums must be cleaned daily to prevent dental disease. They also can't stop or slow bone loss at the missing teeth sites, one of the benefits of dental implants.
But even with these drawbacks, an affordable RPD can still be a sound choice for replacing missing teeth and restoring an attractive smile.
If you would like more information on removable partial 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 Partial Dentures.”