Posts for: May, 2012
Why is it important to replace missing teeth with restorations such as dental implants? You might be surprised to find that the damage caused by missing teeth is much greater than the simple gaps left in your smile.
As the years go by, teeth lost early in adulthood cause structural changes in a person's face. By age 45 changes in facial structure are already visible in the form of sunken cheeks. By 60, cheeks and lips lose their support, resulting in an aging look. This process continues and if the teeth are not replaced, much of the structural support of the person's face is lost.
These changes are caused by loss of bone. Although it may seem static, bone is actually living tissue that needs constant stimulation to maintain its form and density. With normal stimulation it is in a constant state of resorption (breaking down) and deposition (building up). Teeth provide the needed stimulation for the bone that surrounds them (called alveolar bone) as they meet each other during biting, chewing, and speech. When the stimulation continues, the bone continues to rebuild itself. Without this stimulation, the bone resorbs, does not build up again, and loses substance.
Without stimulation, alveolar bone loses width, height, and volume. Since your teeth and their surrounding bone support your chin, cheeks, and lips, this has a powerful effect on your appearance. It may also affect your ability to chew and to speak.
As alveolar bone diminishes, the next layer of bone also begins to resorb. This is the bone of the jaw itself. The lower part of the face begins to collapse, and the cheeks become hollow. This effect is especially noticeable for people with no teeth (edentulous).
Usually the first tooth to be lost, due to infection and decay, is a molar (back tooth). In the past, a missing single back tooth was frequently replaced by a fixed partial denture (FPD). A crown is provided for each of the two teeth on the sides of the gap, called abutment teeth, to support a false tooth in the middle. However, if they are not well cared for, the abutment teeth may be the next to succumb to decay.
Today the treatment of choice is an implant. A dental implant is a tooth-root replacement made of titanium, which fuses with the bone — making it very stable. Above the gums it is covered by a crown that looks like a natural tooth. The benefit of the implant is that it continues to provide stimulation to the alveolar bone, preventing bone loss.
Implants are also a good choice in the case of multiple missing teeth. They can be used to support bridges or false teeth (dentures). The results are an improved, younger appearance and better functionality.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about missing teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
For a bride, there is so much to remember when planning the wedding — invitations, a dress, flowers, the site, the caterers, the cake, the photographer — the list goes on and on. In the midst of all these things, don't let a very important piece of the plan be forgotten — your smile!
Your wedding will be celebrated every year on your anniversary and commemorated in beautiful photos at any time. It is a special occasion you, your family, and your friends will always remember. But how will you and your family look in those photos? You have an opportunity to get makeovers that will make your smiles shine radiantly, and not only in your album. Your makeover will improve your appearance, your self-confidence, and your oral health far into the future.
Start with a visit to your dentist to assess your current situation and discuss your goals and dreams. Each person's situation will be different. At a minimum you may need a professional cleaning to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy. Get started on treating any cavities or gingivitis (gum inflammation). If you haven't already, now is a great time to establish healthy dental hygiene habits including proper daily brushing and flossing.
You may feel that your teeth are discolored and need to be whiter and brighter. Your upper and lower jaws may not meet properly for the most effective biting and chewing. Your teeth may be crowded or misshapen. All these things and more can be modified and repaired with today's dentistry.
Teeth can be whitened by bleaching in the dentist's office or with products that can be used at home under a dentist's supervision.
Orthodontia may be needed to repair your bite. Today orthodontia may be done either with traditional braces, or with clear aligners. Remember that this process works slowly, so start well in advance of your wedding day.
After your teeth are properly aligned, your dental team can work on subtle contouring, overall shape and color changes for individual teeth, using techniques such as porcelain laminate veneers. Temporary veneers can be made so that you can try out your new look before the final installation.
Wedding planning works best when started early. To make sure you, your new spouse, and your family look and feel their best, remember to include smile makeovers in your plan.
Humans naturally react with pleasure to a beautiful smile. Starting with our mother's joy at seeing our first smile, we have learned throughout our lives that a smile is an invitation to a positive interaction. But are some smiles more beautiful than others? What is it that makes a smile beautiful?
As with art and music, people's perceptions of beauty differ with their backgrounds and culture. Most people respond well to an appearance of healthy teeth and gums. Some feel that teeth must be very white and bright, while others look for even alignment and proportionally sized teeth. With today's dentistry, all of these factors can be changed and enhanced.
Let's look at the components of a smile, starting with the teeth. Evenly sized, white teeth are generally considered to be the basis of an attractive smile. Chipped or discolored front teeth can be repaired by bonding tooth-colored composite resin restorations. Thin porcelain veneers can be applied to teeth that are too small, misshapen or discolored. Tooth colored fillings can be used to repair damaged or decayed back teeth, or porcelain crowns may be used to replace the top part of a tooth that has been seriously damaged. If teeth are missing because of trauma or loss due to decay, today they can be replaced by dental implants, topped with crowns that are colored and shaped exactly like the natural teeth.
Of course, if your teeth emerge from inflamed, infected gums, your smile needs improvement. Healthy teeth and gums result from good dental hygiene habits and regular professional dental cleanings and checkups. Teeth can be whitened and brightened both through home methods and in the dental office. Ask us about the options available for tooth whitening.
Another factor that goes into a smile is the relation of the upper to the lower jaw, or the bite. A poor bite is called a malocclusion. Orthodontic treatment, with the use of traditional braces or clear aligners, can move the teeth into a better bite position so that they look and function better.
Repairing parts of your smile that make you feel self conscious will help your smile in more ways than one. If you feel good about yourself, you look better. We get the process started, and you do the rest.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry: A time for change.”
While the first recorded attempts at dental implant were recorded around 600 AD during the Mayan civilization, today they have become a normal and integral tool that we use to replace teeth and restore full functionality to dental and oral health. In fact, many dentists now refer to dental implants as a person's third set of teeth, and they are the optimal choice for permanently replacing missing adult (permanent) teeth.
To help you visualize, think of your teeth as having two main parts: the crown or the part that can be seen above the gum tissues and the root, the portion that is suspended in the bone by the periodontal (gum) ligament that keeps the tooth in place. A dental implant is actually a root replacement, but unlike a tooth's root, it is anchored in the jawbone. However, an interesting fact is that the dental implants being used today actually fuse with or integrate in to the bone to become one. This process is called “osseo-integration.”
For the most part, dental implants are made from commercial-grade, pure titanium. This metal is “osteo-philic” or literally a bone loving metal that has been used for many years by both the medical and dental professions because it is not rejected by the body. For these reasons, these dental implants are very successful and can last for a lifetime.
Implant placement is a surgical process that requires prior planning involving collaborative efforts between the implant surgeon, dentist, and a laboratory technician. Periodontists, oral surgeons, or general dentists with advanced training in implantology and surgery normally “place” them. To learn more about dental implants and the entire process, read, “Dental Implants, Your Third Set Of Teeth.” Or if you prefer, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.