Posts for: August, 2013
A crown is a common type of dental restoration that has been available, in different forms, for a long while. When properly done, it may last for decades — and if desired, it can be made to match the shade of the natural teeth so well that it's nearly impossible to tell them apart. Some recent technological innovations may offer patients who need this treatment even more choices. To begin learning about dental crowns, let's start with five facts everyone should know.
Crowns are a type of restoration that can solve many dental problems.
There are many factors that may cause the structure of a tooth to become compromised. It can be weakened by grinding or chipping, gradually removed by repeated dental fillings, or suddenly broken by trauma. Sometimes, a more conservative treatment (like inlays or veneers) may be enough to take care of the problem. When it isn't, the missing tooth structure can be replaced by a crown.
Crowns replicate the form and function of natural teeth.
Because they must fit into your mouth perfectly and match your bite exactly, each crown is an individually-crafted item, made just for you. That means the form of a crown must look just like the tooth it replaces — before it was damaged. And, especially if it's for a front tooth, a crown is often carefully designed to match the particular shade of your teeth. If you are unhappy about the color of your other front teeth, tooth whitening should be done first before your new crown is created to get the best results possible.
Crowns can be made of different materials.
For over a hundred years, crowns have been made of gold. While this extremely long-lasting material remains popular, its use has been declining recently due to aesthetic factors. Two tooth-colored alternatives are all-porcelain and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. The exact shade and luster of these substances can be made to closely simulate the natural teeth. Each has advantages and disadvantages in particular situations but we will be happy to make recommendations as to what is in your best interests.
New technologies are changing the way crowns are prepared.
Advances in the field of materials science have led to crowns being fabricated from more durable high-tech substances, like ceramics made of zirconium dioxide. And the availability of small-scale computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies means that in some situations, it's possible for a crown to be fabricated right in the dental office, in minutes. Undoubtedly, these technologies will continue to improve in the future.
Delivering a quality crown is a blend of science and art.
No matter how high-tech the process becomes, producing a fully functional, long lasting and natural-looking crown remains a blend of aesthetics and science, seasoned with a healthy dose of clinical experience. It's also a team effort involving a skillful dentist, a talented dental laboratory technician and a knowledgeable patient — you.
If you would like more information about crowns, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers,” “Gold or Porcelain Crowns,” and “Creating In-Office Dental Restorations With Computers.”
There are some people, particularly women around the age of menopause, who experience an uncomfortable burning and dry sensation in their mouths most of the time. The exact cause of this condition, known as “burning mouth syndrome,” is often difficult to determine, though links to a variety of other health conditions have been established. These include diabetes, nutritional deficiencies (of iron and B vitamins, for example), acid reflux, cancer therapy, and psychological problems. Hormonal changes associated with menopause might also play a role.
If you are experiencing burning sensations and dryness, please come in and see us so we can try to figure out what's causing these symptoms in your particular case. We will start by taking a complete medical history and getting a list of all the medications you are taking as some drugs are known to cause mouth dryness. We will also give you a thorough examination.
In the meantime, here are some ways you might be able to get some relief:
Give up habits that can cause dry mouth such as chronic smoking, alcohol and/or coffee drinking, and frequent eating of hot and spicy foods.
Keep your mouth moist by drinking lots of water. We can also recommend products that replace or stimulate production of saliva.
Try different brands of toothpastes, opting for “plain” varieties that don't contain the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate, whiteners, or strong flavoring such as cinnamon.
Keep a food diary of everything that you put into and around your mouth (including food, makeup and personal care products). This might give us some clues as to what's causing your discomfort.
Check with us about any medications you are taking, either prescription or over-the-counter. We can tell you if any are known to dry out the mouth and maybe help you find substitutions.
Reduce stress in your life if you possibly can. This might be achieved through relaxing forms of exercise, joining a support group for people dealing with chronic pain, or seeking psychotherapy.
Even before your infant's first tooth emerges, you can take steps to reduce the risk for cavities!
Cavities occur when decay-causing bacteria living in the mouth digest carbohydrates (sugars) introduced into the mouth via food and beverages. This produces acid, which can eat through the protective enamel surface of teeth and attack the more vulnerable dentin below. Infants aren't born with decay-promoting bacteria; however, they can acquire them from their caregiver(s) through close contact, for example:
- Kissing on the mouth
- Sharing food
- Sharing eating utensils (e.g., a spoon or glass)
- Cleaning off a pacifier by mouth
Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease! It can start as soon as the first tooth erupts — which generally happens around age 6 to 9 months but can be as early as 3 months or as late as 1 year. Besides being potentially painful, severe tooth decay may cause your child to lose the affected primary (baby) tooth before it's due to fall out on its own. That, in turn, can raise the risk of orthodontic problems because primary teeth maintain space for permanent teeth, which also use them as their guide for coming in properly.
It's important to clean your child's teeth regularly once they appear and to refrain from certain feeding activities that have been linked with early tooth decay. For example, use of a sleep-time bottle containing a liquid with natural or added sugars, such as formula or juice, can result in a pattern of severe decay once referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay.” These days, the term early childhood caries (ECC) is more commonly used to also encompass decay linked to continuous sippy-cup use, at-will breast-feeding throughout the night, use of a sweetened pacifier, or routine use of sugar-based oral medicines to treat chronic illness.
We recommend that you schedule a dental visit for your baby upon eruption of his or her first tooth or by age 1. This first visit can include risk assessment for decay, hands-on instruction on teeth cleaning, nutritional/feeding guidance, fluoride recommendations, and even identification of underlying conditions that should be monitored. Your child's smile is a sight to behold; starting early improves the odds of keeping it that way!
If you would like more information about infant dental care, 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 “Age One Dental Visit.”
Billions of bacteria live in each of our mouths, sharing a common environment with teeth and soft tissues. Most of the time, they coexist in symbiotic balance. But sometimes that balance becomes disrupted, leading to a destructive condition known as periodontal disease.
From the Latin peri (“around”) and the Greek odont (“tooth”), periodontal refers to the tissues that are around the teeth. When they become diseased, it's a serious matter; and not just because of potential tooth loss — there is evidence that periodontal disease has links to cardiovascular disease and, for pregnant women, low birth weights in pre-term babies.
There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing periodontal disease, like smoking, poor nutrition, and your systemic health. The biggest factor, however, is increased bacterial plaque due to poor oral hygiene practices.
Periodontal disease is progressive. As unhealthy bacteria levels increase, the bacteria eventually cause bone loss, the gums separate from the teeth and create what is referred to as periodontal pockets. As the pockets deepen around the teeth, plaque and tartar become extremely difficult to remove, even if you resume a proper hygiene routine. At this stage, treating the disease will require a different approach. And if left untreated, the teeth will most likely continue to lose bone and eventually be lost.
Through a dental exam, we can determine the presence and extent of the disease and recommend a treatment strategy. Besides lifestyle changes and better hygiene habits, this strategy might also include treatment with antibiotics, a thorough mechanical cleaning to remove tartar and plaque, surgical techniques to remove infected tissue, or occlusal bite therapy.
Above all, prevention is the key. Through proper dental hygiene and regular dental exams and cleanings, stopping periodontal disease from beginning in the first place is your best defense.
If you would like more information on the treatment of periodontal disease, 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 “Understanding Gum Disease.”