Posts for: November, 2012
Even with modern knowledge about oral health and how to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, more than 25 percent of Americans have lost all their teeth by the time they are 65. Perhaps they did not have access to dental education, quality care or treatment. Whatever the reasons, those who suffer from “edentulism” — the complete loss of all permanent teeth — also suffer from poor self-image, impaired nutrition, and reduced quality of life.
Removable full dentures are often the solution of choice for those suffering from edentulism. Dentures can be made to look good and feel great; but successful denture-wearing demands the collaboration of a skilled dentist and a willing patient.
A set of well-fitting full removable dentures starts with detailed planning. We need to work out where each tooth will be placed and how the upper and lower teeth will meet together. To do this, we make use of photos taken before the teeth were lost, as well as using the facial features as a guide. You as the patient have to decide whether you want your dentures to look much like your natural teeth did, including any gaps and uneven areas, or whether you want to make your new teeth more regular and uniform than the originals.
In addition to the size, spacing and locations of the teeth, decisions must be made regarding the colors and textures of the part of the denture that fits over and looks like gum tissue. Photos can help with this aspect as well. Ridges can be added to the section of the denture behind the upper front teeth to aid in natural speaking and chewing.
The upper and lower dentures must be designed so that in the process of biting they stabilize each other. This is called “balancing the bite.” This is necessary for normal function and speech.
All this careful planning and design are only the beginning. The dentures will be created in a wax form, tested and modified. They are then completed in a dental laboratory, where the new teeth and gums are created out of a special plastic called methyl methacrylate. With careful planning, skill and artistry they are made to look like natural teeth and gums.
At this point the role of the denture wearer becomes vitally important. He or she must relearn how to bite, chew, and speak while wearing the dentures. As the dentures press down on bone and gum tissues, over time some bone will be lost. This will require coming in for frequent checkups and modifications to make sure the dentures continue to fit well and comfortably.
If you have missing teeth, dental implants are the state-of-the-art tooth replacement system. They act as substitutes for natural tooth roots, stabilizing the bone with which they fuse and become integrated with. This protects the remaining bone and prevents its further loss, the natural occurrence after the natural teeth are lost. Done correctly, implants can offer a long-term solution to the problem of missing teeth.
Key factors assuring dental implant success are having an experienced dental team consisting of:
- A surgeon (periodontist or oral surgeon, or dentist trained in surgical techniques to place the implants)
- A dental technician who will design the crowns (tooth portion of the implant)
- A restorative dentist to place the crowns
The whole team is necessary to plan the process as well as carry out their individual roles. They will ensure that there is enough bone and that it is in the right place prior to treatment to allow for proper implant position, and that the implant/s are correctly placed, which is necessary to allow for natural aesthetics and proper function.
Replacing missing teeth is imperative to maintaining normal oral health and function. Dental implants will help support the entire structure of the face. If back teeth are lost, the vertical height of the lower face and mouth can begin to collapse, negatively impacting biting function and causing creasing and cracking of the lips and facial skin, resulting in a prematurely aged look.
Implants differ from bridgework in several ways, making them the most favorable option for tooth replacement in many cases. For starters, they do not affect adjacent teeth, nor do they decay like teeth, and they are less susceptible to gum disease. In the long-term, implants are a more cost-effective solution based on the fact that once they are placed, their life expectancy is longer than bridgework.
If you have missing teeth that have negatively affected your appearance, self-confidence, and ability to chew, call us today to talk about the possibility of replacing them with dental implants. To learn more about the use and capabilities of dental implants, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants: Evaluating Your Options For Replacing Missing Teeth.”
Nearly everyone has snored at some point in life. However, if your sleeping partner routinely tells you that you suffer from this problem, you really should take action to confirm or deny your suspicions. You may be like one of the 50 to 70 million people in the US alone that suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a medical condition in which the upper airway (the back of your throat) collapses during sleep thus limiting your intake of oxygen. And this condition is serious. If left untreated, OSA can lead to a stroke, impotence, an irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and other forms of heart disease.
The first and most important step you should take if you snore is to obtain a thorough examination by both your primary-care physician and our office. We have completed specialized training in sleep medicine so that we can not only diagnose but also thoroughly treat your sleep disorders.
If you are diagnosed with this problem, relax. We have many ways we can treat your condition. One of the most common methods is to provide you with oral appliance therapy. This first line of treatment involves our making a customized oral appliance (mouthpiece) that will hold your lower jaw forward. By doing this, we can move your tongue away from the back of your throat so that your airway is less likely to get blocked while you sleep. (It is this blockage that causes the infamous snoring sound.)
Another option we may consider using to treat your sleep apnea if it is moderate to advanced is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. These machines require you to sleep with a mask over your nose and/or mouth and produce continuous pressure in your windpipe so that your tongue is forced forward away from your airway. Not only can these machines potentially eliminate your snoring, but they can also give you the restful night's sleep that you have been missing.
The last and most permanent solution for treating certain non-responsive cases of sleep apnea is surgery. This option is typically reserved for the most advanced cases to eliminate or reduce an obstruction to the airway.
Contact us today to discuss your questions about sleep apnea or to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about sleep apnea when you continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”