Posts for: February, 2013
While lasers have been effective (and safe) tools for healthcare professionals in the medical field for years, did you know that they are fast becoming a vital tool in the field of dentistry for diagnosing dental disease? Lasers, named from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation,” are beams of light that are of a single color and wavelength. They also have the unique ability to help dental professionals detect disease in much earlier stages than they have ever before.
Diagnostic lasers are very effective in diagnosing pit and fissure decay — the tiny grooves of the biting surfaces that cannot be seen by visual inspection or reached by a traditional dental tool. They are able to accomplish this by producing a glowing effect known as fluorescence, which is produced by the optical properties of early tooth decay. This enables us to treat tooth decay in its earliest stages as well as monitor teeth from visit to visit.
Another area where lasers have proven valuable is in the detection and localization of dental calculus (tartar) beneath the gums. Calculus is hardened or calcified bacterial plaque that attaches to the teeth. Using lasers, we can find and remove this calculus during periodontal (gum) therapy. Lasers are also helpful in detecting dysplastic (“dys” – altered; “plasia” – growth) or precancerous tissue as well as cancerous tissues. And should we find any of these conditions, lasers are extremely useful in removing tissue close to the margins or edges of where diseased tissue meets healthy tissue. But best of all, lasers are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding, and less discomfort for patients after surgery.
Our office can design a customized smile for you. We will want to know what you really want changed and we will listen to your ideas, look at pictures of the kind of smile you had when you were younger, and even create computerized pictures of what you think you'd like to look like. And then, with all the modern techniques at our disposal, we'll put together a blueprint, a plan to give you the smile you want.
We will start with a smile analysis to determine your facial balance, which indicates how all of the elements of your smile currently relate to each other. These elements include much more than just the teeth, such as the shape of your face, skin color, eye color, lip form, and smile dimensions to name a few.
A detailed periodontal evaluation, which includes bone and gum tissues — the supporting structures of the teeth — will determine whether the foundations of your teeth and bite are healthy. Similar to the way you would ensure that the foundation of a house is intact before you renovate, we will make sure that your periodontal tissues are healthy and sound before we begin a smile makeover.
Modern restorative dental techniques include teeth whitening, enamel reshaping, gum contouring, porcelain veneers and crowns, or a combination of several of these procedures. In some cases, orthodontic treatment (braces) or clear aligners may be necessary to ensure that the teeth are in the best position for both the aesthetics and function of your new smile.
We will inform you of all the possible paths that can lead to the final desired outcome, and will discuss all the benefits, alternatives, and risks together with the time it will take and the finances involved. Bottom line — we'll find a way to get you what you want and need, a new smile, with improved function as well as appearance. We'll also provide instruction on all that you need to know and do to keep your new smile healthy and to maintain your investment for years into the future.
So, if you have been unhappy with your smile and would like to revamp it, call our office to learn about how a smile redesign could help boost your self-image. To find out more about the details involved in a smile makeover and to view some before and after photos, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Beautiful Smiles By Design.”
Lost teeth can cause a host of problems, including a loss of your jaw bone and a collapsing appearance of your face, along with difficulty chewing and speaking.
Clearly, it is important to replace missing teeth as soon as possible. Options for replacement include the more traditional methods and the newest technique — dental implants. We believe that implants are your best choice for the following reasons.
Implants prevent bone loss.
Dental implants are substitute tooth roots. Like the roots of your original teeth, they stabilize the bone into which they extend — but in a different way.
The part of the bone that encases the teeth is called alveolar bone, from the word root meaning “sac.” This bone has a special relationship with the teeth it surrounds. It develops as they first erupt into the mouth. If they are lost, the alveolar bone goes, too. It resorbs, or melts away, giving an impression that the bone, gums, and sometimes the lips are collapsing.
Implants are made of titanium, which has the ability to join biochemically to bone. It takes the place of the original tooth root and prevents resorption.
Implants support adjacent teeth.
Your teeth work in harmony, an all for one, one for all relationship with each other. If one is missing, the remaining teeth will slowly move and shift causing them to receive forces that may not be well received. Losing any tooth increases the pressure on the remaining teeth. Losing a back (posterior) tooth can put pressure on the front teeth and they can be forced out of position. All these movements can change a person's appearance as well as in their ability to speak, bite and chew.
They are easier to clean than “traditional” options.
Fixed bridges are non-removable tooth replacements that attach to adjacent natural teeth. These teeth that are adjacent to the missing tooth have to be cut into small peg shapes on which the bridge is attached. The removal of their enamel may make them more prone to tooth decay and gum disease.
Older replacement methods include removable options such as plastic “flippers” and partial dentures. These replacements rest on the teeth and gums, making the teeth they attach to receive greater pressure causing more mobility. In addition, they exert pressure on the gums, causing additional bone loss and increasing the potential for bone loss on the neighboring teeth.
Full dentures, in cases where all teeth are missing, are kept in place by pressing on the gum tissues. This causes even more pressure on the bone, leading to bone loss and changing facial structures.
They are longer lasting.
Studies have shown that removable partial dentures are replaced about every five years; bridges are only 67% successful at 15 years; and implants are over 95% successful for 20 or more years.
- They are cost effective in the long term.
Because implants last longer than other alternative tooth replacements, they may seem more expensive at first; but they will be cost effective over the long term.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental implants. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants. Evaluating Your Options.”
Oral sedation can be an ideal and safe solution for someone who suffers from fear and anxiety regarding dental appointments — the very reason we offer it to our patients. However, there are some things you need to do prior to and following your treatment for optimal oral sedation benefits and treatment results.
- Being completely honest about your health history and any medication you are taking is a critical aspect, as it lets us know that oral sedation medication is safe and will work for you. We also ask you to let us know about any over-the-counter (OTC) medications, remedies, or vitamins and/or supplements you are taking. The reason this is so vital is that some can negatively impact your treatment, recovery, and the effectiveness of the oral sedation medications.
- You should not eat or drink anything six hours prior to your appointment unless we instruct you otherwise.
- You should make arrangements to have someone drive you to and from your appointment, as it may not be safe for you to drive or operate any heavy machinery until the effects of oral sedation have worn off. It is important to note that this will vary depending on what medication is used, so do not assume your reaction/response will always be the same.
- Drink plenty of fluids (especially water) to stay hydrated after your appointment.