Posts for: August, 2014
Perhaps you’ve heard a lot about dental implants, an increasingly popular tooth replacement system. Although they can be expensive (depending on the exact application) they have a number of important benefits that add value to your investment.
Here are four of those benefits that make dental implants one of the best tooth replacement options available:
Life-like Appearance. Like an automobile, an implant’s “engine” — the titanium post inserted into the jawbone — is covered by a stylish “body” — the visible crown, custom-made to look just like the natural tooth. Composed of porcelain ceramic or a similar translucent material, the implant crown is the key to not only restoring natural function in the mouth but also rejuvenating your smile.
Long-term Durability. Implants have been in use for over three decades (over 3 million placed since their introduction) and have built an impressive track record for durability. If properly cared for, it’s possible for dental implants to last for many years or even a lifetime. Compared with other restorations that may not last as long and lead to additional dental cost, the implant’s “return on investment” can be quite high.
Contribution to Bone Health. Most implants are made of surgical titanium, which has a strong affinity with bone. In time, bone cells will grow and fuse with the titanium. The result is not only a solid anchoring of the implant into the jaw, but also the preservation and possible re-growth of bone mass where it may have been lost.
Versatility. Although implants are often used as a single tooth replacement, they’re increasingly used in multiple-tooth replacements. A few strategically placed implants can permanently support a bridge (two or more teeth linked together), an arch (an entire set of upper or lower teeth), or as a foundational support for a removable denture, particularly the lower arch.
If you’ve experienced tooth loss, a preliminary dental examination will determine if you’re a potential candidate for dental implant replacement. If so, dental implants could be a way for you to not only restore lost function but also regain your smile.
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 Implants 101.”
When it comes to our overall health, many of us think we’re pretty well-informed. But a recent survey quiz given by the American Dental Association (ADA) revealed something surprising: When it comes to dental health, most people could use plenty of “brushing up.” In fact, the average score on the true/false test was a barely passing D! Among the questions most people answered incorrectly were:
- How often should you brush your teeth? (91 percent got it wrong)
- At what age should you take your child to the dentist for the first time? (75 percent wrong)
- How often should you replace your toothbrush? (65 percent wrong)
- Can cavity-causing germs be passed from person to person? (59 percent wrong), and
- Does sugar cause cavities?
We’ll come back to the last question in a moment — but first, let’s recap some basic dental health information.
While you might think it’s best to brush after every meal, the ADA recommends brushing just twice a day. That’s because excessive brushing can erode tooth enamel (especially if it has already been softened by acidic food or drinks), and can also expose and irritate the root of the tooth. But when you do brush, you should keep at it for at least two minutes each time!
Bring your child in to the dental office within six months after the first tooth appears — but no later than his or her first birthday! The age-one dental visit starts your child off right with proper preventive care and screenings, and sets the stage for a lifetime of good oral health.
Most people think it’s OK to change your toothbrush twice a year — but the ADA recommends that you get a new one every three months; that’s because stiff, frayed bristles just don’t clean your teeth and gums as well as they should. Likewise, most people don’t realize that the bacteria that cause cavities can be passed from one person’s mouth to another — by putting a child’s pacifier in your mouth or sharing a toothbrush, for example.
And speaking of cavities: Technically, they aren’t caused by sugar, as 81 percent of people thought. Tooth decay occurs when certain types of oral bacteria release an acidic byproduct that attacks the tooth enamel and creates small holes (cavities). This occurs after the bacteria have metabolized sugar in your diet. So while sugar doesn’t directly cause cavities, it does lead to tooth decay by feeding harmful bacteria. How about partial credit for that one?
If you have additional questions about your dental health, please call our office to schedule a consultation. For more information, see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”
Although your teeth feel as if they’re rigidly set in the jawbone, they’re actually capable of movement. In fact, dynamic tooth movement is an essential mechanism in good dental function — it allows your teeth to adapt to changes brought on by age and other factors.
The periodontal ligament is a key component in this mechanism. This elastic tissue actually holds the teeth to the bone through tiny fibers that attach to the tooth root on one side of the ligament and to the jawbone on the other. The teeth move within the ligament to maintain contact with both adjacent and opposing teeth in response to changes like the normal wear that occurs due to aging.
This is a primary reason why a missing tooth should be replaced by an artificial one as soon as possible. Because of the tendency just described, teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth will begin to move (or drift) into the space at an accelerated rate. The end result is teeth out of their normal position and range, which could seriously disrupt their normal function as well as adversely affect your appearance.
This is especially important for back teeth. Because they’re not easily visible to others when we open our mouths, many people will forgo replacement when they’re lost. But missing back teeth can set off a chain reaction of movement that could eventually hinder jaw function.
The best option for a tooth replacement is a dental implant. Life-like and durable, dental implants encourage bone growth at the implant site and adjacent teeth will respond to it as they would a natural tooth. If an implant isn’t feasible, then a fixed bridge is also a viable replacement option that will prevent drift. As a result, tooth movement should continue normally with no adverse effects on function.
If you’ve lost teeth or are about to undergo tooth extraction, it’s in your other teeth’s best interest to consider a permanent replacement. A new implant or bridge will vastly improve your smile and prevent more serious problems in the future.
If you would like more information on the importance of teeth replacement, 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.”
Porcelain veneers are a proven way to achieve a new smile. Composed of thin layers of dental porcelain and other materials laminated together to form one life-like unit, veneers are applied to the outside of a prepared natural tooth to enhance its appearance. Given the right circumstances, they’re an excellent solution for correcting mild to moderate spaces between teeth, slight deviations in tooth position, and problems with the color and shape of a tooth.
Veneers are very strong and can resist most of the forces you generate when you chew your food. But dental porcelain is also a form of glass — strong but not indestructible. Following a few maintenance guidelines will help you avoid damaging a porcelain veneer and incurring additional dental care costs.
Practice daily oral hygiene. Although veneers aren’t subject to disease or decay, the tooth structure they cover and the surrounding gum tissues are. You should, therefore, brush and floss veneered teeth just as you would any other tooth. And, there’s no need for specially formulated toothpastes — any non-abrasive fluoride brand will work.
Avoid excessive biting or chewing. While it’s a good practice for natural teeth to avoid applying too much biting force to hard materials, it’s especially important for veneers. Attempting to open hard-shell nuts with your teeth or chewing on bones, pencils and other hard objects are just a few of the activities that could lead to a shattered veneer.
Use a bite guard for clenching habits. People who excessively grind or clench their teeth (a condition called bruxism) can also put undue stress on their veneers. We can help alleviate some of this stress by fashioning a bite guard you wear at night. The guard will help protect your veneers from teeth grinding while you sleep.
Limit foods and drinks that cause staining. Tea, coffee, wine and similar substances can leave teeth stained and dingy. Although your new veneers won’t typically stain, the natural teeth around them can — the brighter veneers would then stand out prominently from the dingier natural teeth.
Porcelain veneers are proven “smile changers.” Taking care of them with a few common sense precautions will ensure the change is long-lasting.
If you would like more information on porcelain veneers, 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 “Smile Design Enhanced With Porcelain Veneers.”
Water is essential to life. It’s relatively abundant and affordable in the United States, with treated water averaging about $2.00 per thousand gallons. It’s also critical to dental health as part of oral hygiene and as a vehicle for added fluoride to protect against tooth decay.
Water is also big business. We Americans drink an estimated 85 million packaged bottles of water every day. As with any profitable business, there’s no small marketing hype by the bottled water industry, including claims of superiority over community tap water.
These claims should be examined more closely. One advocacy group, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), subjected several brands of bottled water to independent analysis with some surprising results. Many of the samples contained disinfection byproducts, wastewater pollutants like caffeine or drug residue, heavy metals and, in some cases, bacteria. While none of the contaminants found exceeded legal limits, companies weren’t forthcoming with consumers on the possible presence of these substances in their product.
If fluoride is one of those unidentified substances in bottled water it could affect the dental health of an infant or small child. While fluoride is a proven cavity fighter, infants and smaller children can ingest too much for their body weight. For this reason, parents often use bottled water to mix with formula, believing it to be fluoride-free, when in fact it may not be.
Because bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, it isn’t subject to the more rigorous standards for tap water administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Manufacturers also aren’t required to identify the source of their water, the methods and degree of purification and testing for contaminants. There are independent organizations that seek those answers on behalf of the public. For example, EWG publishes a Bottled Water Scorecard online (www.ewg.org/research/ewg-bottled-water-scorecard-2011) with ratings and information on different brands of bottled water.
If you have concerns about your tap water, you may want to consider another alternative to bottled water — in-home water filtration. EWG also has a guide on various types of filtration methods at www.ewg.org/tap-water/getawaterfilter.
The purity of your water greatly impacts your family’s health, including your teeth. Distinguishing between fact and hype will help you make better decisions about the water you drink.
If you would like more information on water quality and safety, 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 “Bottled Water: Health Or Hype?”