Posts for: December, 2012
It is always good to be prepared before you have any dental or medical procedure. Make sure that you are informed and know what to expect to make you as comfortable as possible. We recommend that you have a list of questions with you to ask us during your consultation. If we inform you that you need a crown, consider asking any or all of the following questions:
- Am I a good candidate for a crown?
- Can you do a computer-generated mock-up of my new smile with crowns? (This question is only applicable if the crown is for a front or visible tooth.)
- Is there a way that I can “test-drive” my new smile and crown(s) before making them permanent?
- How long will the entire process take from my first appointment through completion?
- What are the risks, benefits and alternatives associated with the type of crown(s) you are recommending?
- Is there any discomfort associated with crown procedures?
- Will I need or receive any type of sedation when you prepare (drill) the tooth or teeth for a crown?
- Is what you are recommending commonly done?
- Can you show me some before and after photos of cases that you have done?
- How much will my crown(s) cost?
- Will my insurance cover all or a portion of the cost?
- How long can I expect my crown(s) to last?
- Will there be any maintenance required with my crown(s)?
We say that we are going to have our teeth cleaned — but a lot more than simple cleaning takes place during a visit to a dental hygienist.
- Health History
Your hygienist will ask you about your general health and your dental health and any recent changes in either. By doing so she will pinpoint any issues that require special precautions during your cleaning.
- Cancer Screening
Next, the hygienist carefully examines the skin in and around your mouth looking for lumps, bumps, sores, tenderness or swellings and refers areas of concern to the dentist for further evaluation. The hygienist is one of the few people who get to closely assess your whole mouth, so she is trained to spot cancer and other diseases.
- Evaluating Your Periodontal Health
Your hygienist will look closely at the state of your periodontal health (from peri meaning around and dont meaning tooth). This includes checking your gums and the other tissues surrounding your teeth for inflammation (gingivitis) or bleeding.
- Checking for Decay
The hygienist will examine your teeth for decay and will note the location and condition of stains or hard mineral deposits (calculus or tartar). These deposits result from a buildup of plaque (a film of bacteria) that has not been removed by daily brushing.
The hygienist uses hand tools or a sonic scaler to remove the calculus from your teeth.
A mechanical polisher and an abrasive polishing compound are used to polish the surface of your teeth so that they are smooth, making them more resistant to plaque, removing stains and leaving your teeth feeling squeaky clean.
The hygienist uses a tiny probe to measure the space between your teeth and gums. Periodontal disease begins by forming pockets between the teeth and gums, so this measuring is key to your periodontal health. Generally a space of 3mm or less indicates healthy gums, pockets of 4 to 5mm indicate periodontal disease that may be reversed with good oral care at home, and pockets that are 6mm deep or more require specialized treatment by a dentist or periodontist (a dentist who specializes in care of gums).
Based on the observed conditions of your gums and teeth, the hygienist will provide information aimed at improving your home oral cleansing routines and about your risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
- Making Your Next Appointment
The hygienist will make an appointment for your next cleaning — in three, four, or six months depending on the health of your gums and teeth. Keeping these appointments not only keeps your teeth looking their best, but it also assures good management of your dental health.
The best method for permanently replacing a missing tooth is with a dental implant. But did you know that there are two main techniques for placing implants? Implants can be placed either using a one stage or a two stage surgical technique, and as their names suggests, one is performed in one step while the other requires a second surgery.
With a one-stage procedure, a healing abutment is placed at the time of surgery. An abutment is a connector that attaches the implant from the bone into the mouth and which protrudes through the gum tissues. Following a 3 to 6 month healing period in which the implant fuses to the bone, a crown is then placed on the implant restoring the immediate appearance of a healthy, normal tooth. One-stage implant systems are generally used when the bone quality is good, guaranteeing good initial implant stability. They are also used when cosmetics is not a concern, such as the back areas of the mouth.
Under special conditions an implant can be placed and a crown placed on top of it at the same time. However, this is a very special circumstance requiring ideal conditions and surgical experience as well as crown fabrication know-how. It is generally safer and wiser not to subject an implant to biting forces until it is fully healed and integrated with the supporting bone.
A two-stage procedure is typically used for replacing teeth where there is no immediate need for a cosmetic solution and when more of a margin of safety is required. With this approach, the implant(s) are placed into the jawbone and the gum tissues cover them. They are not exposed to the mouth, but stay buried and left to heal. Once healed, a second surgery is performed to attach an abutment for securing the crown in place. This approach is used when there is poorer bone quality or quantity. This may make it necessary to regenerate bone around the implant at the time of its placement. There may also be other health considerations dictating that a two-stage approach may be indicated.
Depending on your individual situation and medical status, our implant team will determine which approach is best for you. To learn more about these two procedures, read the Dear Doctor article, “Staging Surgery In Implant Dentistry.” You are also welcome to contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
For many people, when they hear the term “laser,” they immediately envision a futuristic science fiction movie. However, did you know that lasers have been used in the medical industry for years? Furthermore, this revolutionary technology is now beginning to do the same within the field of dentistry.
Lasers get their name from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” and are literally beams of light that have a single wavelength. Unlike traditional white light or daylight that is a continuum of light with many wavelengths corresponding to the visible spectrum or rainbow, a laser light beam is just a single color.
Dental laser usage typically falls into three categories: disease diagnosis; soft tissue procedures of the gums, lips, and tongue; and hard tissue procedures of the bone or tooth enamel and dentin. For example, common uses include diagnosing cavities, treating disease, and removing both diseased gum tissues and tooth structure, as in decay. They were first used in dentistry for soft tissue surgery such as gum line reshaping procedures and tissue testing (biopsies). In 1997, dentists started using them for removing decay and preparing the tooth enamel and dentin in preparation for fillings. More recently, dentists are using lasers to help detect and diagnose dental disease, as they are especially helpful in identifying dysplastic (“dys” – altered; “plasia” – growth) or precancerous tissue as well as cancerous tissues. Thus they have been used for removing both malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous) lesions in some cases.
As you now see, laser dentistry is an important tool we use at our office to provide our patients with optimal dental care and treatments. And if you want to learn more about laser dentistry, read the article “Lasers Shine A Light On Dentistry.” Or if you want to schedule an appointment to see if laser dentistry is right for you, contact us today.