Posts for: August, 2014
One of the many reasons for dental implant popularity is their reliability — studies have shown 95% of implants still function well after ten years. Still, on rare occasions an implant will fail. We can minimize this risk by taking precautions before, during and after installation.
Long-term success begins with careful planning before surgery. We thoroughly examine your teeth and jaws, using x-rays or CT scanning to map out the exact location of nerves, sinus cavities and other anatomical structures. Along with your medical history, this data will help us develop a precise guide to use during implant surgery.
We’ll also assess bone quality at the intended implant site. The implant needs an adequate amount of bone for support — without it the implant will not be able to withstand the biting force of normal chewing. It may be possible in some cases to use bone grafting or similar techniques to stimulate growth at the site, but sometimes other restoration options may need to be considered.
The surgery can also impact future reliability. By precisely following the surgical guide developed during the planning stage, the oral surgeon can increase the chances of success. Still, there may be an unseen variable in play — a pre-existing or post-operative infection, for example, that interferes with the integration of the implant with the bone. By carefully monitoring the healing process, we can detect if this has taken place; if so, the implant is removed, the area cleansed and the implant (or a wider implant) re-installed.
Even if all goes well with the implantation, there’s still a chance of future failure due to gum disease. Caused mainly by bacterial plaque, gum disease infects and inflames the supporting tissues around the teeth; in the case of implants it could eventually infect and weaken the surrounding bone, a condition known as peri-implantitis. This calls for aggressive treatment, including plaque and infected tissue removal, and possible surgery to repair the bone’s attachment to the implant. Without treatment, the implant could eventually detach from the weakened bone.
Maintaining your implants with good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups is the best insurance for long-term reliability. Taking care of them as you would natural teeth will help ensure a long, happy life for your “third set” of teeth.
If you would like more information on dental implants, 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 “Dental Implants.”
She's an international star who's recognized everywhere she goes. As Carol Brady, she was an ambassador for the “blended family” before most of us even knew what to call her bunch. And her TV Land Pop Culture Icon Award is on permanent display in the National Museum of American History. So what item that fits inside a purse can't Florence Henderson do without?
“I will never leave home without dental floss!” she recently told an interviewer with Dear Doctor magazine. “Because I have such a wide smile, I have found spinach or black pepper between my teeth after smiling very broadly and confidently.”
Henderson clearly understands the importance of good oral hygiene — and she's still got her own teeth to back it up! In fact, flossing is the best method for removing plaque from between the teeth, especially in the areas where a brush won't reach. Yet, while most people brush their teeth regularly, far fewer take the time to floss. Is there any way to make flossing easier? Here are a couple of tips:
Many people have a tendency to tighten their cheeks when they're holding the floss, which makes it more difficult to get their fingers into their mouths and working effectively. If you can relax your facial muscles while you're flossing, you'll have an easier time.
To help manipulate the floss more comfortably, try the “ring of floss” method: Securely tie the floss in a circle big enough to easily accommodate the fingers of one hand. To clean the upper teeth, place fingers inside the loop, and let the thumb and index finger guide the floss around each tooth. For the lower teeth, use two index fingers. Keep moving the floss in your hand so you always have a clean edge... and remember, the goal is to get the tooth clean, but it shouldn't hurt — so don't use too much pressure or go too fast.
So take a tip from Mrs. Brady: Don't forget the floss! If you would like more information about flossing and other oral hygiene techniques, please contact us for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Flossing: A Different Approach.”
Q: What is a gummy smile? I’ve never heard that term before.
A: You may not have heard the phrase, but you’ve probably noticed the condition. A “gummy smile” occurs when too much gum tissue (in technical terms, over 4 millimeters, or about one-eighth of an inch) is visible in the smile. Different people have different ideas about when this issue becomes a problem… but if you feel it detracts from your appearance, there are several ways dentists can treat a gummy smile.
Q: What can cause a smile to appear “gummy”?
A: A number of factors can contribute to this perception. One is simply that an excess of gum tissue is covering up the teeth. Another is that the teeth themselves are relatively short; this can be a natural anatomical feature, or it can result from the teeth being worn down by a grinding habit or another cause. In some cases, the problem is that the upper lip is hypermobile, meaning it rises too high when you smile. And in rare instances, the upper jaw is proportionately too long for the face, making the gums and teeth extend down too far.
Q: What’s the best way to fix this condition?
A: It all depends on what is causing the smile to appear gummy. If it’s too much gum tissue, a periodontal procedure called “crown lengthening” can be used to remove the excess tissue and reveal more of the teeth. If the teeth themselves are responsible, they can be crowned (capped), or covered by porcelain veneers. A hypermobile lip can be controlled temporarily with Botox injections, or permanently with a minor surgical procedure. Jaw problems present the most complex condition, but can be successfully treated with orthognathic (jaw-straightening) surgery. Orthodontic treatment may also be recommended in conjunction with these therapies.
Q: I’m unhappy with the way my smile looks, but I’m not sure exactly what’s wrong. What should I do?
A: A great-looking smile comes from the harmonious dynamic between teeth, lips and gums. If you feel your smile could use a little improvement, we can help you identify the things you like about it, and point out the things that need improvement. Working with an experienced cosmetic dentist is the best way for you to get the smile you’ve always dreamed about.
If you’d like more information about cosmetic gum treatments or cosmetic dentistry in general, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gummy Smiles.”