Posts for: March, 2013
Edentulism — the complete loss of all the permanent teeth — is a condition that affects over one-quarter of all Americans over the age of 65. For many seniors, it can be a devastating blow to their confidence and self-image. Worse, if left untreated, it may lead to nutritional problems, periodontal disease, and bone loss.
Fortunately, an affordable, time-tested treatment option is available: full denture prosthetics, or false teeth. Denture technology has changed over time, but one aspect of the process remains the same: making a superior set of dentures requires an equal blend of science and art.
To replicate the look of a patient's natural teeth, a dentist must make many choices: What size should the new teeth be? How much of them should show above the gum line? How should they be spaced? Photographs of the patient before tooth loss can help in making the decisions. We will use these, combined with clinical acumen and an artist's eye, to achieve the best aesthetic results.
But dentures not only simulate the teeth and gums they replace — they also help support the facial skeleton and the soft tissues of the lips and cheeks. Balancing the muscular forces of the jaws and tongue, they help restore natural functions like speech and eating. In order to perform these tasks properly, it is essential that they be well crafted.
At each stage of their progress, from temporary wax rims through the hard plastic resins of the final product, the dentures are carefully custom-fitted to the contours of the patient's mouth. Their bite must be balanced, meaning that upper and lower dentures come together to properly stabilize each other. This ensures that they will be comfortable to wear and will function properly.
Most people have only minor issues as they make the adjustment to wearing dentures; but for some, it's more troublesome. There are various options available to those patients, including implant-supported hybrid dentures. We can recommend alternatives based on your individual needs and preferences.
If you would like more information about 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 Full Dentures.”
Once an exclusive procedure reserved for movie stars and millionaires, teeth whitening has become increasingly popular among all sectors of the population — including teens. While long-standing research has proven the process to be safe and effective, there are a few things everyone should know in order to make the experience as pleasant and successful as possible.
Teens, perhaps even more than others, can benefit from the confidence that comes with a healthy smile. And, because sensitivity of the gums is rarely a problem in younger people, their whitening treatments are less likely to cause discomfort. However, it's important for teens (and everyone else) to get treatments under the watchful eye of a dentist. Why?
For one thing, immature adult teeth are relatively vulnerable to the whitening process. And for young and old alike, a discolored tooth may be a symptom of an underlying dental problem, like an abscess or a root canal infection. These problems must be treated before the whitening process is begun. Also, teeth can't always be lightened to the same degree, and existing or planned dental work may have an impact on the whitening procedure. So it's best to come in and see us before you begin any tooth whitening treatment.
There are generally three methods used in tooth-whitening: in-office treatments with concentrated bleach application, at-home treatments with custom-made trays and appropriate dentist-supplied bleach, and over-the-counter (OTC) products. All use a type of peroxide to lighten the teeth, and all are safe when used as directed, under a dentist's supervision.
So what's the difference? Time! One study showed as few as three in-office visits were needed to lighten tooth color by six shades — a change that required 16 days with OTC products. Many opt for the cost-effective middle ground of custom-tray bleaching, which can achieve the same whitening in one week.
But what's especially important for a teen is that a dentist becomes involved in his or her treatment. In some cases, over-enthusiastic young people have used OTC bleach excessively, causing severe damage to the enamel layer of their teeth.
If you would like more information about teeth whitening for teens, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about these issues by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Whitening Safety Tips” and “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered.”
Tooth decay is not trivial. It's a worldwide epidemic, one of the most common of all diseases — second only to the common cold. It affects more than one fourth of U.S. children of ages 2 to 5 and half of those 12 to 15. Among adults, tooth decay affects more than ninety percent of those over age 40.
Prevention of cavities starts with a healthy diet and effective brushing and flossing, but it is much more complex than that. Three strategies for reducing dental caries (tooth decay) include:
Protect with Fluoride and Sealants
This works best when fluoride is applied to the crystalline coating of your child's teeth just after they push through the gums (erupt). The fluoride becomes incorporated into the tooth's surface and acts as a barrier to decay. Studies have shown that low doses of fluoride are safe and effective.
Dental sealants are used as a companion to fluoride because they seal tiny pits and fissures in the tooth's structure, creating an even stronger barrier.
Modify Oral Bacteria
Every mouth contains bacteria, no matter how well you clean your teeth. Not all bacteria cause tooth decay. The problem bacteria are those that produce acid as a byproduct of their life processes. We can identify acid-producing bacteria in your mouth, you can reduce their concentrations using antibacterial mouthrinses such as chlorhexidine, and pH neutralizing agents (substances that reduce the amount of acid).
Reduce Sugars in Your Diet
Bacteria in your mouth ferment sugars and other carbohydrates, producing acids that eat into the mineralized outside structure of your teeth, the enamel. So eating fewer sugars — particularly added sugars such as those in juices, sodas, candy and other sweets — will help prevent decay. Your total sugar intake should be less than fifty grams, or about ten teaspoons, per day. If you begin to read labels showing sugar content of common foods, you may be surprised at the amount you consume without knowing it.
If you must snack between meals, non-sugary snacks like raw vegetables and fresh fruits create a better environment for your teeth.
Xylitol, an “alcohol sugar” used in some chewing gums and dental products, has been shown to reduce decay-producing bacteria.
Try these easy strategies to keep your teeth healthy and functional throughout your lifetime.