Posts for: May, 2012
When choosing among different ways to solve a problem, knowledge is power. In the case of selecting the best repair for a dental problem, count on your team of dental professionals to advise you. But you as the patient make the final decision, and it helps to thoroughly understand the different options, their advantages and disadvantages. If you have a chipped or broken front tooth, your likely repair options are composite resin or porcelain veneer.
Composite resins are synthetic materials that can be colored to match your natural teeth. The material is bonded to the tooth surface using adhesives that become part of the tooth structure, strengthening the original tooth. The repair looks as good as, or even better than, your original tooth. Such repairs can be used to restore small to large chips and other damage caused by decay or trauma.
Since the composite resin repair is applied directly to the tooth in the dental office, the repair can be made in a single appointment. You do not need to use a temporary repair while waiting for the final replacement to be made at a dental laboratory. This also means that the repair will cost less.
Another advantage of composite resin is that less of the healthy tooth needs to be removed to prepare the tooth to receive the replacement, since it bonds directly to the original tooth structure.
Porcelain veneers are very thin layers of tooth-colored porcelain that are also bonded to the tooth. They are usually recommended in situations with more serious injury or risk to the tooth, such as teeth that have been fractured, treated for root canal, or injured in contact sports.
Application of porcelain veneers may require more tooth preparation (in which more of the original tooth material must be removed) before the restoration can be bonded in position. Bonded porcelain veneers are likely to be longer-lasting than composite resins. They must be fabricated in a laboratory, so they require more than one visit and cost more.
All of the above are factors to consider in choosing composite resin or porcelain veneer to restore your chipped or damaged tooth. As usual in making such decisions, the final choice will depend on your individual situation.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about bonding to repair chipped teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Artistic Repair of Front Teeth with Composite Resin.”
If you have discolored teeth, the cause is often staining on the enamel surfaces from foods, beverages, or smoking. But tooth discoloration may also originate deep within the root of a tooth. Sometimes this happens to a tooth that had to have earlier root canal treatment because of injury or decay.
In such cases the living pulp tissue and its blood vessels and nerves had to be removed from the root canals, resulting in the death of the dentin layer, which makes up most of the tooth's body. Over time this caused the dentin to darken. The color may come from remains of blood that was left in the tissue, or from filling materials left in the root canal that are showing through.
Since these stains are caused internally (intrinsic) and not on the outside of the tooth (extrinsic) they must be whitened from the inside. This is usually done by putting a bleaching agent into the empty chamber from which the pulp was removed. Usually the bleaching agent is a substance called sodium perborate.
When it is mixed with a solution of hydrogen peroxide, sodium perborate slowly bleaches the color from the tooth's internal material. It is considered to be safe and reliable for this use.
The work begins by taking x-ray images to make sure that the root canal is correctly sealed and the bone is healthy. After this, we will make a small hole in the back of the tooth through which the root canal space will be cleaned. The root canal space will be sealed and the bleach will be applied in a putty-like form and sealed off from the rest of your mouth. Every few days this procedure will be repeated until the bleaching reaches the desired level.
At this point a tooth-colored composite resin will be used to seal the small hole that was made in the dentin to insert the bleach. After the tooth has reached the level of whiteness that matches it to your other teeth, veneers or crowns must sometimes be used to repair the surface if it is chipped or misshapen, for example.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about whitening internally discolored teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Whitening Traumatized Teeth.”
Periodontal (gum) disease can lead to serious infection and even loss of teeth; but it can easily be prevented. Here are seven things you can do to prevent gum disease — or stop it in its tracks if you already have it.
- Understand the causes of gum disease. Diseases of periodontal (from the root words meaning “around” and “tooth”) or gum tissues start with bacteria collecting on your teeth, in the areas where the teeth and gums meet. The bacteria, called plaque or biofilm, irritate the surrounding tissues and cause them to become inflamed and swollen, and to bleed easily on contact. This condition is called gingivitis.
- Brush correctly and effectively. Brushing twice a day is not just to polish your teeth to pearly whiteness. An important reason to brush is to remove the daily coating of plaque from your teeth. At your next dental appointment, ask me or our staff to show you the most effective way to brush.
- Floss every day. Daily flossing removes the plaque that settles in between your teeth, in places where your brush can't reach.
- Have regular professional cleanings. Our hygienist will remove plaque that you missed by brushing and flossing. This plaque hardens into a material called calculus or tartar. In a professional cleaning your hygienist uses special tools to scrape these materials away. The hygienist also measures the distances between your gums and teeth to make sure that inflamed gums have not separated from the teeth, forming pockets in which the bacteria continue to grow.
- Recognize the signs of developing gum disease. These signs include any of the following: gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss; bad breath; red or swollen gums; and sensitive teeth.
- Stop smoking. If you haven't stopped smoking for your heart or lungs, here is another reason to quit. Smokers are more likely to develop periodontal disease than nonsmokers. Smoking masks the effects of gum disease, so smokers are less likely to notice the symptoms, allowing the disease to progress to a greater degree before they seek help.
- See our office right away if your teeth become loose or your gums become red and swollen. If inflamed gum tissues do not heal, the disease continues to progress. The tissues that attach your teeth to your bone, called ligaments, are lost as pockets deepen as the infection advances. Your gums may also become red, swollen, and painful. As the infection gets worse it eats away the bone around your teeth, causing the teeth to loosen and fall out.
So start with prevention and stop periodontal disease in its early stages.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about gum disease. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Warning Signs of Periodontal (Gum) Disease.”
Witnessing or being involved in a sports-related dental injury can be a scary event not only for the player, but also for onlookers even if the injuries turn out to be minor. However, knowing what to do — and more importantly — how quickly to react can make a radical difference to the outcome. This is just one reason why we want to share the following easy-to-remember guidelines for what, how and when you need to respond to various types of dental injuries.
- Immediate — within 5 minutes of the injury: If a permanent tooth is totally knocked out (avulsed), it requires immediate treatment by cleaning and re-implanting the tooth back into its original position to have any hope of saving the tooth long-term. Knocked out baby (primary) teeth are not reimplanted for fear of damage to underlying permanent teeth.
- Urgent — within 6 hours of the injury: If a permanent or primary tooth is still in the mouth but has been moved from its original position, it is considered an acute injury and should be treated within 6 hours.
- Less urgent — within 12 hours of the injury: If a permanent or primary tooth is broken or chipped but has not shifted from its original position, the injury is classified as less urgent. You still need to see a dentist for an exam; however, you generally can wait up to 12 hours before possible irreversible damage occurs.
Want To Learn More?
There are several ways you can learn more about sports-related dental injuries.