Dental Implants:  Changing the Way We Treat Missing Teeth

Dental Implants Changing the wayDental implants are rapidly becoming the standard of care in how we, as dental professionals, deal with missing teeth.    And while the incidents of adults losing permanent teeth has been declining for decades, there is still a good chance that at some point in your life you too will require treatment for a lost permanent tooth.

The way this was treated in the past was by one of two methods.  The first method was to install a bridge.  The second commonly used method was dentures.  But both of those methods present their own challenges and hassles to patients.  Thankfully, dental implants have improved so much over the years that more often than not they are a better choice for a patient’s oral care plan.

Here are our top five reasons that dental implants have a leg up on their old competitors.

  1. Almost Natural:  Dental implants are so sturdy that they feel and function just like a natural tooth.  This is achieved by inserting a screw into the jaw which is allowed to bond with the bone in that area.
  2. Longevity:  Dentures are a long term solution and have the ability to last a lifetime when properly placed and taken care of.  By contrast, traditional bridges last only about 5-7 years.
  3. Fully Functional:  Unlike dentures, which have a tendency to slip or feel uncomfortable and might even cause worry about possible embarrassments in public, dental implants don’t move when you are eating, talking or moving around.
  4. Face Shape Protection:  When a permanent tooth is lost, over time the face and smile can sag.  Dental implants fill in those spaces and allow you to keep your natural face shape longer!
  5. Keeps your Jaw in Shape!  Dental implants actually stimulate natural bone growth when set in the jaw.  Without them, the jaw gets lazy and can deteriorate.

If you have a site in your mouth where you are missing a tooth and have been wondering what to do about it, give us a call today for a consultation to see just how great dental implants can be!

Considering an Upgrade to Dental Implants?

Considering an upgrade to dental implantsHave you been thinking of upgrading your current tooth replacement strategy but aren’t sure where to start?  This is a great time of growth in modern dentistry, especially when it comes to replacing missing teeth!  With the evolution of dental implants, patients don’t have to suffer some of the pains of the past when older, traditional tooth replacement methods were used.

Traditionally, missing teeth were always “fixed” with bridges or dentures.  And while both of those procedures are still in use by dentists and do still serve an important purpose, they often cause unintended problems in the mouth that modern dental implants may be able to alleviate, or avoid completely.

 

What is a dental implant, you may be asking?  At the most basic level, a dental implant is simply a prosthetic tooth that is mounted to a metal post which is screwed into the jaw bone.  The procedure is typically done in two visits.  During the first procedure, a titanium screw is inserted into the jawbone, where it is allowed to “settle in” and bond, a process that takes about six to eight months.  After that, the dentist creates a prosthetic tooth and attaches it to the titanium post for a fully functional (yet fake) tooth!

The benefit of dental implants is that, unlike dentures, they are almost unnoticeable by the patient.  Anyone who has had dentures knows that they tend to slip and wear down and sometimes even cause mild pain or discomfort.  With dental implants, you will not even know they are there.  They function just like a natural tooth in your mouth, no slipping, movement or separate cleaning required.  Similarly, patients who are used to receiving bridges may benefit by an upgrade to an implant as bridges have a tendency to invite bacteria and infection, requiring additional replacements.

Whatever your concerns about dental implants are, we are here to help.  Give us a call today to see if dental implants might be right for you!

Can My Dental Implants Get Cavities?  And Other Common Questions…

Can My Dental Implants Get CavitiesIn my practice, I hear dozens of questions every day about dental implants from concerned (or simply curious) patients.  Every one of those questions is a good question and I always try to provide an equally good answer.  To help you better understand an upcoming dental implant procedure, we’ve compiled a top-five list of the most common questions about dental implants that we field in our office every day:

1.  Can dental implants get cavities? 

No.   Because the implant-restored crown is an artificial (not natural) material, it cannot grow cavities, phew!  However, you still need to have regular gum care and cleanings around the implant site just like you would for a natural tooth.

2.  Can implants slip or fall out like dentures?

No.  The artificial tooth (crown) is attached to the permanent titanium post that is set in the jaw.  They will not slip around or fall out like you may have experienced with dentures.

3.  Can I sleep with my dental implants in?

Yes!  They are practically “permanent”, unlike dentures.  You do not need to remove and soak them overnight.

4.  Aren’t dental implants more expensive than bridges and dentures? 

It depends.  If you are talking about just a few teeth, implants may be cheaper over time than bridges because they last longer.  However, if you need a whole row of teeth replaced, dentures may be a less expensive option for you.  Each case is unique, however, so be sure to call us for a proper consultation.   We are here to help you understand your costs and benefits so that you can make an informed decision.

5.  How long will my dental implants last?

If implanted and cared for properly, dental implants can last for many decades or possibly even a lifetime.  Some implants have been in patients for over forty years!

Don’t see your question on our list?  Contact us today for quick answers! 

What Good Oral Health Means When You Are Pregnant

What Good Oral Health Means if Your PregnantIf you are pregnant, you probably already know how important it is to take care of your body during this exciting time.  A good, nutritious diet, regular moderate exercise and adequate sleep help protect both your health and the health of your baby.  But what you may not already know is how important your oral health is during pregnancy also.

Recent research has suggested that women with periodontal disease may have a higher risk of unwanted childbirth complications, such as pre-term labor and low birth weight of the baby.   However, luckily, the opposite is also true!  A thorough exam by your oral health  practitioner may decrease the chance that you will have these pregnancy and labor problems.

Now we may have you wondering, “What exactly is periodontal disease?”  Simply put, it is “gum disease”, a chronic inflammatory condition in the gums that is caused by the presence of bacteria.

So what can you do about it?  To ensure the best health outcome for you and your baby, in addition to receiving regular medical care from your obstetrician, be sure to see your dentist or periodontist on schedule during your pregnancy as well.  And, as always, practice good dental hygiene at home with routine brushing and flossing.

These simple steps that we all should be doing anyway might just save you and your baby from potentially serious complications when the birthday comes!

 

Calming Your Nerves Before Dental Procedures

Almost everyone has some feelings of nervousness when thinking about visiting the dentist.  We hear it all the time from our patients.  But don’t worry (I know, easier said than done).  It is totally normal to have a bit of anxiety (or even a lot of anxiety) before you come to our office.

In our office, we have many years of experience in dealing with nervous patients.  So to help you out, we’ve compiled this quick yet effective set of tips for dealing with those inevitable nerves before your dental procedure. Calming Your Nerves

  1. Let us know!  Sometimes just saying the words, “I’m a little bit nervous” can help by normalizing the nervousness itself a little bit, which instantly releases some of that stress that has the tendency to build up in your system. It also alerts us, which is great!  In fact, we might just be able to help by doing procedures a little bit differently than we normally would or even just by offering some words of encouragement and reassurance.
  2. Music – Ask us to turn up (or down) the music in your exam room if that helps.  Or, depending on the procedure, you may even be able to listen to your own MP3 player while we work away.  Ask us ahead of time to be sure the procedure will allow for this.
  3. Breathe – Did you know that consciously taking a breath instantly calls to action your parasympathetic nervous system which is the part of the brain responsible for calming you down?  The good news is that you always have your breath with you, so don’t forget to use it!  Just by paying attention to your breath, for example, how it feels coming in and going out and the other sensations it creates, you can access the calming center of your brain.  An easy breathing exercise that can be used anytime, anywhere, including in the dental chair is to breathe in for 4 counts, then out for 4 counts.   You will instantly feel better.

We hope you find these tips helpful in dealing with your dental fears.  Just remember, you are not alone.

Crown Lengthening to the Rescue:  When Gums and Teeth Need an Intervention

When the gum to tooth relationship has deteriorated, you may hear us suggest a procedure called “crown lengthening”.  Many patients are a little bit hesitant about having this procedure done because it’s a relatively new idea.  They simply aren’t sure what it is and more to the point: they aren’t sure why they have to have it.  So if you have an upcoming crown lengthening procedure Smile 2scheduled, read on to find out why we might be doing it and what to expect.

What is Crown Lengthening?

The idea behind crown lengthening is to expose more of the tooth or bone under the tooth by contouring and reshaping your gum tissue.  This restores a good “gum-to-tooth relationship” (so that more tooth is showing).

Why am I having this procedure?

Sometimes crown lengthening is done for aesthetic reasons, for example to reveal more pearly white teeth when a patient is concerned about an overly “gummy” smile.

Other times, crown lengthening is necessary if we need to install a new crown or perform other restorative work in the area but there simply isn’t enough tooth showing for us to work with.

What’s the big deal about crown lengthening?

Crown lengthening is a great improvement when you consider the old way we used to deal with this issue which was to remove what was left of the tooth and use a removable denture instead.  Now you get to keep your naturally rooted tooth and we will install a more or less permanent crown – no dentures to deal with!

What is the procedure like?

Usually it can be done in less than an hour, depending on how many teeth need work.  Also, typically the procedure can be done under local anesthesia so you can be in and out on time!

Still have questions?  Call us today to ease your anxieties about this smile-transforming, modern procedure!

Chomp!  Fun Facts about Teeth

chomp!As children, we are obsessed with our teeth.  Counting them, watching them fall out and grow back in.  Waiting for the tooth fairy’s surprise.  And as adults, we are still obsessed with them, but maybe in a different way (as in “why do they always hurt and why aren’t they white anymore?”)  So just for fun, and to further indulge in this fascination with teeth (See?  It’s not just dentists that are obsessed with them), here are some fun facts about teeth.

 

This is a great article to share with your children!  How many of these facts did you already know?

 

Sharks don’t get cavities.  Why?  Because their teeth are coated in fluoride.  That combined with the fact that they have rows and rows of replacement teeth, ready to go at a moment’s notice, give them an unfair advantage over humans when it comes to oral health.

 

You are lucky!  You have three types of teeth:  (1) Incisors to bite pieces off, (2) Canines to hold and tear, and (3) molars to grind food.  This allows you to eat a wide variety of foods.  Some animals, like crocodiles, aren’t so lucky, they only have sharp teeth to grab and kill, which greatly reduces their restaurant choices.

 

Enamel is the hardest material in the human body.  It is considered the last line of defense for your tooth.  Normal wearing down of enamel does occur over time and is simply a part of aging.  But bacteria can cause this breakdown to accelerate, which is why we brush and floss regularly!

 

Taste buds only live for about 10 days, or 2 weeks if they are lucky.  They go through a life cycle just like every other cell renewal processes in the body.

 

Sharkskin is covered in teeth.  Don’t believe me?  Both sharks and their cousins, rays, are covered in what are called dermal denticles.  Although they look like scales they are actually just modified teeth, with an enamel coating and all!  These protect them and also help them swim faster, but enough about sharks.

 

The jaw muscle, called the “masseter”, is the strongest muscle in the body if we are talking about strength based by weight.  When all of these muscles work together, the jaw exerts 55 pounds of weight on the incisors and 200 pounds on the molars.  This is why we take jaw disorders like teeth grinding, TMJ and bruxism very seriously – that’s a lot of force!  Call us today if you suspect you might be a teeth grinder.

 

Did you know any of these fun facts about teeth already or did we surprise you?

 

 

A Clean Tongue 101

Did you know that 50% of the bacteria in your mouth live on the surface of your tongue? Also, a tongue cleaning is the single most important step you can take toward diminishing bad breath.

germs - bacteriaWe all know just how important brushing and flossing is to our oral health, and sometimes tongue scraping takes a seat behind these important steps. However, tongue scraping is just as important! The best way to rid you of bad breath is by scraping the smelly bacteria off. While scraping off tongue bacterium sounds somewhat gross, imagine all the bacteria just sitting on your tongue!

The tip of your tongue is less likely to harbor odor-producing bacteria since it constantly comes into contact with your hard palate when eating and speaking. The friction and contact creates a cleansing action that prevents debris build up. However, the back of your tongue only touches your soft palate, and results in a build up of bacteria. Even if you stick out your tongue while looking in the mirror, you’ll see white, or even a brown colors on the surface of the back of your tongue.

Brushing your tongue is better than not paying any attention to your tongue, but there are other much more effective ways to get your tongue to be squeaky-clean. If you do choose to use your toothbrush, gently move the toothbrush from back to front and along the sides. Try to brush as far back as possible to get all the gunk on the back of your tongue. Be careful, you might find that you have an active gag reflex, but don’t worry there’s a good chance it will diminish over time.

Another option is using a tongue scraper. Many people find that scraping the tongue is much more effective than brushing. You can either purchase a tongue scraper in the toothbrush aisle of your local drugstore, or even use a spoon from home! Just moisten the spoon, turn it upside down and place it at the back of your tongue and drive it forward. You’ll notice that using a tongue scraper/spoon has less of a tendency to gag.

Daily tongue cleaning is a well-established practice in many cultures, however is much less spoken about in the US and Canada. Since cleaning your tongue is relatively easy and quick, we recommend that the tongue be cleaned both morning and evening. According to studies, practicing good tongue cleaning is especially good if you have significant stress, as tongue coating tends to increase during stress. In addition to your tongue cleaning, be sure to brush and floss your teeth daily!

Soft & Healthy Foods After Dental Implant Surgery

Foods-After-Surgery1-300x300On our website and social media channels, we have thoroughly explained why and how oral surgery is beneficial. Here’s a reason that has gone unmentioned: it will make you appreciate the solid foods and acidic drinks that you aren’t able to eat or drink immediately after your procedure.  Sandwiches, chips, and orange juice should all be avoided after your wisdom tooth removal, dental implant surgery, orthagnathic surgery etc. Too much chewing can possibly re-open the sensitive areas of your mouth, and can cause bleeding or even infection. But don’t worry – we have a few healthy food and beverage recommendations when your mouth is delicate.

First 24 Hours

For the first 24 hours after your surgery, your teeth/jaw will need some time off. Therefore, smoothies, low-fat jello/puddings, and cold soups will be the most beneficial for your healing process. It is extremely important to refrain from using a straw, as the sucking causes excess strain, which ultimately can delay the healing process. Here are a few recommendations:

Banana Mango Shake- A healthy, filling way to start the day after your surgery. Also, bananas help replace electrolytes and maintain fluid balance within your body.

Applesauce- You can’t eat apples, but this is the next best thing!

Tomato Soup- A great snack even when your mouth isn’t sensitive.

Cold Pasta- Ever tried a Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Orzo? Might be the perfect time to expand your taste buds!

Next Few Weeks

Over the next few weeks, you will start easing into enjoying solid foods again. Here are some tasty transitional foods (some can even help the healing process!)

Broccoli Omelet: Who would’ve thought thathealing from oral surgery could be so healthy? Broccoli contains enough calcium to speed up the healing process, and the eggs provide enough protein to make this a fully substantial meal while taking it easy on your teeth/jaw.

Chicken Salad: Finally some real meat! Chicken that is chopped up into small pieces can be eaten with a salad, or even a cold pasta. The chicken provides the protein, while the salad (with soft vegetables) provides the healthy goodness.

 

5 Points for Wearing a Mouth Guard During Sports

It’s easy for people to not realize what they have until it’s gone. Imagine what it would be like if you were missing one of your front teeth? You’d probably be a bit embarrassed smiling and talking, and not to mention eating would feel pretty abnormal as well. The good news is that taking preventative measures to protect your smile can diminish the chances of you having a toothless smile.

Wearing a mouth guard when playing sports decreases the risk of injuries to the mouth or jaw. Some sports players don’t like to wear mouth guards because of the inconvenience of their appearance while wearing one, but more injuries can happen when not wearing a mouth guard that can affect your appearance in a much more inconvenient way. Here are five reasons why you should always protect your pearly whites when participating in any contact sports or collision sports where unexpected contact can happen:

1. Protection Against Tooth Fractures

Mouth guards protect your teeth from chipping and breaking. Even though tooth fractures can usually be saved, why go through the risk when wearing a mouth guard can save you all the trouble.

2. Protection Against Tooth Replacement

Wearing a mouth guard is cushion for your teeth, so if a ball hits your face your teeth don’t receive a crushing force. However, if a ball hits your mouth without a mouth guard, it can result in completely breaking or ruining your tooth, leaving you with a toothless smile and an emergency call to Dr. Silberg’s office. Having a gap in your smile due to an accident that could have been prevented isn’t worth it.

3. Protection Against Soft Tissue Injuries

Some contact sports involve quick impacts that could leave you biting through your tongue or lips! A mouth guard can prevent soft tissue injuries by creating a soft resistance from teeth contacting your lips and tongue.

4. Protection Against Concussions

According to the American Dental Association, mouth guards could help reduce the severity and incidence concussions. A properly fitted mouth guard decreases the likelihood of sustaining concussive injury because the padding between the mandible and the maxilla can lessen the force of the mandible pushing up on the skull near the brain, which causes a concussion.

 

5. Protection Against Jaw Fractures

Wearing a protective mouth guard protects you from jaw fractures. Impact to the neck or jaw could result in serious injury, but with the protection of a mouth guard during an impact, it reduces the likelihood of jaw dislodgement or neck trauma.

 

The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that mouth guards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year! Using a mouth guard won’t only help prevent you from dental and jaw injuries but can also prevent damage to braces or other orthodontic work. If you’re ready to take the step to save your smile when playing sports, contact Dr. Silberg for more information about mouth guard protection.