Dental implants are often the ideal choice to replace missing teeth. Unfortunately, "ideal" and "affordable" don't always align simultaneously for people. Even if implants are right for you, you may have to put them off to a more financially appropriate season.
In the meantime, though, you're still missing teeth—and perhaps some of them are right square in the middle of your smile. What can you do now, even if temporarily?
The solution might be a flexible removable partial denture (RPD). These newer types of RPD fit somewhere between the lightweight "flipper" and the more traditional rigid plastic appliances often made for permanent use. The flexible RPD is made of nylon plastic (technically known as a super-polyamide), which although lightweight, is highly durable.
Super-polyamides change their shape under high heat, a characteristic dental technicians take advantage of by injection molding heated material into flexible denture bases, to which they then attach the replacement teeth. Like other RPDs, a flexible RPD is custom-designed for the individual patient to match their jaw contours, as well as the types and locations of their missing teeth.
Flexible RPDs also differ from other RPD types in how they stay in place. While the more rigid RPD depends on metal clasps that grip to some of the remaining natural teeth, a flexible RPD uses finger-like extensions of the nylon material to fit around teeth near the gum line where they're difficult to see. As such, the flexible RPD is both comfortable and securely held in place.
A flexible RPD, like their counterparts, does require regular maintenance. Any RPD can accumulate dental plaque, a thin biofilm buildup on teeth that causes dental disease. For this reason, wearers should regularly remove their RPD and clean it thoroughly with an antibacterial soap (never toothpaste). All RPDs should also be removed at night to limit bacterial growth.
With a little care, a flexible RPD could last for several years. It could be just the solution to buy you time while you're waiting to obtain dental implants.
If you would like more information on restoration options for missing teeth, 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 “Flexible Partial Dentures.”
Dental accidents do happen, especially among active tweens and teens. When it does, saving traumatized teeth becomes priority one. It's especially important for these younger age groups whose developing dental structures depend on having a jaw-full of permanent teeth.
But because their permanent teeth are still developing, it's often more difficult to treat them than fully grown teeth. That's because the standard treatment—root canal therapy—isn't advisable for an immature tooth.
During a root canal, a dentist removes the diseased or traumatized tissues inside the pulp and root canals, and subsequently fills the empty spaces to prevent further infection. It's safe to do this, even though we remove much of the pulp's nerve and blood vessel tissue in the process, because these tissues aren't as critical to a fully matured tooth.
But these tissues within the pulp are quite important to a tooth still under development—they help the tooth form strong roots and a normal layer of dentin. Their absence could stunt further growth and lead to future problems with the tooth.
For that and other reasons, we avoid a traditional root canal therapy in immature teeth as much as possible, opting instead for techniques that leave the pulp as intact as possible. The approach we use depends on the condition of the pulp after an injury.
For injuries where the pulp remains unexposed and undamaged within the dentin layer, we might remove as much of the damaged tooth structure as possible, while leaving a small portion of dentin around the pulp. We would then apply an antibacterial agent to this remaining dentin to protect the pulp from infection, and fill the tooth.
If an injury exposes the pulp and partially damages it, we might fully remove any damaged tissues and apply a material to the exposed pulp to stimulate new dentin growth. If successful, the dentin around the pulp will regenerate to restore protective coverage.
The methods we use will depend on the degree of damage to the tooth and pulp tissues, a traditional root canal serving as a last resort. Our aim is to not only save the tooth now, but also give it the best chance for long-term survival.
If you would like more information on dental injury care for children, 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 “Saving New Permanent Teeth After Injury.”
You can't rid your body of the trillions of bacteria that inhabit it—nor would you want to. Many of the thousands of species taking up residence in and around you are beneficial to you.
That includes the bacteria in your mouth living together in an invisible community known as a "microbiome." Our immune systems gradually learn to discern between those that mean us well and those that don't, and for the most part leave the former alone.
But although harmful bacteria are in the minority, they can still cause devastating infections like tooth decay and gum disease. Fortunately, we've identified their "base of operations"— a thin film of leftover food particles, that when joined with bacteria is referred to as dental plaque. Plaque buildup serves as the primary food source for harmful bacteria.
We can prevent disease by depriving bacteria of this food source—by brushing and flossing daily to remove plaque buildup. Oral hygiene, along with regular dental care, is the best way to reduce harmful oral bacteria and our risk for disease.
Without these measures disease can develop and advance quickly, damaging the teeth, gums and supporting bone. And in cases of advanced gum disease, dentists often turn to antibiotics to reduce bring rampant bacteria under control.
But we've learned the hard way that overused antibiotic therapy can cause more harm than good. For one, it can create resistance within the bacteria we're targeting that often render the antibiotics we're using impotent.
Furthermore, antibiotics can't always discern "good" bacteria from "bad." Beneficial strains may be destroyed in the process, leaving the rich bacterial "microbiome" in our mouths a wasteland. And as we're learning, our health could be worse for the loss.
To avoid this, we're beginning to use treatment applications that narrowly target malevolent bacteria while avoiding more benevolent strains. One helpful advance in this matter was the development of the Human Oral Microbiome Database HOMD, part of which has enabled us to precisely identify the individual bacteria that cause certain diseases. This has made it easier to target them with specific antibiotic drugs.
We still have much to learn about the microscopic world within our mouths. As we do, we can better cooperate with those "inhabitants" that help us maintain our health while fighting those that cause us harm.
If you would like more information on oral bacteria, 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 “New Research Shows Bacteria Essential to Health.”
It's easy to assume our favorite performers were born with perfect looks. And, while that may be mostly true, many of them still put in a lot of time and expense to make themselves more attractive. One area in particular that gets a lot of focus from celebrities is their smile.
That's because even the most endearing famous smile may still have a few dental flaws. You'll often find a celebrity addressing those flaws to improve their physical appeal—and in ways not necessarily exclusive to the rich and famous. In fact, anyone could benefit from many of the same procedures the stars use to make their smiles more attractive.
Here, then, are 3 celebrities who addressed specific issues with their smile in ways that could benefit you.
Hugh Jackman. Best known as X-Men's Wolverine, Jackman says he once had a dentist look at his teeth and exclaim, "My God, you've got gray teeth." Fortunately, the dentist followed up his outburst with a viable solution: professional teeth whitening. Depending on the exact nature of a discoloration, having your teeth whitened by a dentist with a bleaching solution can turn up the brightness on a dingy smile. Jackman chose a professional application because it offered better control on the degree of whiteness.
Zac Efron. The famous actor who got his start in the movie High School Musical had a defect common among celebrities—a gap between his front teeth. While many celebs like Michael Strahan or Madonna choose to keep their trademark gap, others like Efron opt to lose it. He had his gap "closed" with porcelain veneers, thin shells of dental material that are bonded to teeth. If you have a slight gap that you'd like to close, veneers might be a great solution.
Celine Dion. This beautiful Canadian singing sensation has been going strong for three decades. Although she now looks stunning, she once had a smile only Dracula could love—elongated eye teeth that looked like fangs and overly large front teeth. Unlike our first two stars, though, Dion's experience was truly a "smile makeover" that included oral surgery, orthodontics and veneers. Even so, such a comprehensive smile upgrade is still within the realm of possibility for the average person.
These are just three of the many celebrities who've turned to cosmetic dentistry to improve their smiles. So can you! Visit us for a complete assessment of your smile needs, and we'll provide you options for making your wonderful smile even better.
If you would like more information about cosmetic dental options, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry: Fix Your Smile With Veneers, Whitening and More.”
If you notice a loose tooth, don't wait! Call your dentist ASAP. That loose tooth may be in danger of being lost or damaged permanently—and you won't know if that's true without having the tooth examined.
To understand why, let's first consider how your teeth are normally held in place—and contrary to popular belief, it's not primarily through the bone. The actual mechanism is a form of gum tissue called the periodontal ligament attaching the tooth to the bone. This ligament secures teeth in place through tiny collagen fibers that attach to both the tooth and bone.
The periodontal ligament can effectively secure a tooth while still allowing for some movement. However, these ligaments can come under attack from periodontal (gum) disease, a bacterial infection primarily caused by dental plaque. Without aggressive treatment, the infection can destroy these tissues, causing them to eventually detach from the teeth.
This can result in loose teeth, which is, in fact, a late sign of advanced gum disease. As such, it's a definite alarm bell that you're in imminent danger of losing the teeth in question.
Treating a gum infection with accompanying loose teeth often has two components. First, we want to stop the infection and begin the healing process by removing any and all plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) on tooth surfaces. This includes deposits below the gum line or around the roots of the tooth, which may require surgery to access them.
Second, we want to help stabilize any loose teeth while we're treating the infection, which can take time. We do this by using various methods from doing a bite adjustment of individual teeth tat are getting hit harder when you put your teeth together to splinting loose teeth to healthier neighboring teeth. We may also employ splinting when the tooth is loose for other reasons like trauma. This provides a loose tooth with needed stability while the gums and bone continue to heal and reattach.
Securing a loose tooth and treating the underlying cause isn't something you should put off. The sooner we address it, the more likely you won't lose your tooth.
If you would like more information on permanent teeth that become loose, 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 “When Permanent Teeth Become Loose.”
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