Posts for: December, 2013
Tooth decay and other oral diseases aren’t the only dangers your teeth face — accidental injuries also pose a risk. Fortunately, much can be done to save injured teeth, if you act quickly.
Dental injuries where part of the enamel crown has chipped off are the most common. Even if only one tooth appears damaged, adjacent teeth and bone might also have been damaged internally. Most chip injuries can be repaired either by reattaching the broken crown or with a tooth-colored filling or veneer. If the damage has extended into the inner tooth pulp then a root canal treatment might ultimately be necessary.
Teeth that have been knocked loose from normal alignment (dislodged) or where the entire tooth with its root has separated from the socket (avulsed) are rare but severe when they occur. It’s imperative to see a dentist as soon as possible — even more than five minutes’ of elapsed time can drastically reduce the tooth’s survivability. Dislodged teeth are usually splinted to adjacent teeth for several weeks; we would then carefully monitor the healing process and intervene with endodontic treatment (focused on the tooth’s interior) should something unfavorable occur.
With the possible exception of a primary (baby) tooth, an avulsed tooth should be placed back in the socket as soon as possible. This can be done by someone on scene, as long as the tooth is handled gently, the root not touched, and the tooth rinsed with cold, clean water if it has become dirty. If no one is available to do this, the tooth should be placed in milk to avoid drying out the root, and the patient and tooth transported to a dentist immediately. Once in the socket, the treatment is similar as for a dislodged tooth with splinting and careful watching.
The damaged tooth should be checked regularly. Your body’s defense mechanism could still reject it, so there’s a danger the root could be eaten away, or resorbed. Some forms of resorption can’t be treated — the aim then is to preserve the natural tooth for as long as possible, and then replace it with a life-like restoration to regain form and function.
If you would like more information on the treatment of injured 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 “Trauma & Nerve Damage to Teeth.”
Think you already know all about dentures? Answer the following questions, and see whether your understanding of false teeth is more true than false.
True or False: About one-quarter of the U.S. population has none of their own teeth left by the age of 65.
The technical term for the complete loss of all permanent teeth is edentulism, and it's a big issue, affecting 26% of adults between 65 and 74 years of age. Without treatment, many individuals not only suffer a reduced quality of life, but also risk nutritional problems and systemic health disorders. Dentures are a reliable and affordable way to replace their missing teeth.
True or False: Tooth loss has nothing to do with bone loss.
Far from being a fixed, rigid substance, bone is actually growing and changing constantly. In order for it to stay healthy, bone needs constant stimulus. For the alveolar bones of the jaw, this stimulus comes from the teeth; when they are gone, the stimulus goes too, and the bone resorbs or melts away. The missing bone mass can cause changes in facial features, difficulties with eating, speech problems and other undesirable effects.
True or False: Once the teeth are gone, there is little that can be done to mitigate bone loss.
While a certain amount of bone loss is unavoidable, it can be minimized. The techniques of bone grafting may be used to create a “scaffold” on which the body can restore its own bone tissue. Bone loss can also be limited by retaining the roots of teeth that had previous root canal treatment, even when the crowns must be removed. Perhaps the best way to limit long-term bone loss is the use of dental implants, which restores function and prevents excessive resorption from tooth loss. When tooth loss is inevitable, a pre-planned transition to dentures offers the opportunity to retain as much bone as possible, and avoid future problems.
True or False: There are many options available to make wearing dentures a fully functional and comfortable experience.
Fabricating prosthetic teeth is a blend of science and art. Not only must the appearance of the teeth and gums be made to look natural, but the fit has to be exact and the bite must be balanced. After a little practice, most people subconsciously adapt to the slightly different muscular movements required when wearing dentures. For those few who have difficulty, hybrid forms of implant-supported dentures may offer an alternative. In all cases, developing a partnership of trust between a skilled clinician and an informed patient is the best way to ensure that the experience will be a success.
If you would like more information about dentures, 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 “Removable Full Dentures.”
Everyone knows that football players and boxers wear mouthguards to protect their teeth from injury — in fact, it's thought that this essential piece of protective gear was first developed, around a century ago, for the latter sport. But did you know that many other athletic activities carry a high risk of dental injury?
How much do you know about dental injuries in sports? Take this quiz and find out!
True or False: Of all sports, baseball and basketball are associated with the largest number of dental injuries.
True. While these games aren't categorized as “collision” sports, the damage caused by a flying elbow or a foul ball may be quite traumatic. Tooth damage or loss can create not only esthetic problems, but also functional problems, like difficulty with the bite. Missing teeth can also be expensive to fix — running up a lifetime tab of some $10,000 - 20,000 if they canâ??t be properly preserved or replanted.
True or False: In general, oral-facial injuries from sports decline from the teen years onward.
True. Sports-related dental injuries, like other trials of adolescence, seem to peak around the teenage years. It's thought that the increased skill level of participants in the older age groups reduces the overall incidence of injury. But there's a catch: when dental injuries do occur in mature athletes, they tend to be more serious. So, protecting your teeth while playing sports is important at any age.
True or False: Over 80% of all dental injuries involve the upper front teeth.
True. For one thing, the front teeth areâ?¦ in front, where they can easily come in contact with stray objects. An individual's particular anatomy also plays a role: The more the front teeth “stick out” (referred to as “overjet” in dental parlance), the more potential for injury. In any case, theyâ??re the most likely to be damaged, and most in need of protection.
True or False: Your chance of receiving a dental injury in non-contact sports is very slim.
False. Even “non-contact” athletes moving at high rates of speed can be subject to serious accidents. Activities like bicycling, motocross, skateboarding, skiing and snowboarding all carry a risk. The accidents that result can be some of the most complicated and severe.
True or False: An athlete who doesn't wear a mouthguard is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth.
True. This figure comes straight from the American Dental Association. So if you want to reduce your chance of a sports-related dental injury, you know what to do: Wear a mouthguard!
What's the best kind of mouthguard? Like any piece of sports equipment, it's the one that's custom-fitted just for you. We can fabricate a mouthguard, based on a precise model of your teeth, that's tough, durable and offers the best level of protection. And, as many studies have shown, that's something you just can't get from an off-the-shelf model.
If you have concerns about sports-related dental injuries and their prevention, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Athletic Mouthguards” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”
Even after decades of health warnings, approximately 45 million Americans smoke cigarettes. Although three-quarters will attempt to quit at some time in their life, most won’t be successful because smoking is both pleasurable and highly addictive.
Still, it’s in your best health interest to quit, and not just for your general health. Besides bad breath, reduced taste perception and dry mouth, smokers also face higher risk for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.
Quitting is difficult because of the addictive nature of nicotine, one of tobacco’s main ingredients. Nicotine causes the brain to release dopamine, a chemical that regulates our sense of pleasure and reward. In time, this effect transcends the physical sensation — smokers soon rearrange their social, work and family life to accommodate it. For those attempting to quit, the physical and emotional effects of withdrawal are daunting.
Yet, there are a number of effective quitting strategies. Smoking is a behavior you’ve learned and reinforced over time that you must now “unlearn.” You should begin by analyzing your own particular smoking habit — when you smoke, what prompts you to smoke, what activities do you associate with smoking, etc.
Most people will find an abrupt halt to cigarette smoking all but impossible. Instead, gradually reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day over several weeks; a weekly 20% reduction over the previous week is a good norm. As you reduce to just a few cigarettes, you’ll be forced to choose when to smoke those “precious” few. You can also use “brand fading,” in which you switch week by week to brands with increasingly lower amounts of nicotine.
You should also attempt to replace the smoking habit with more positive habits. Keep your hands busy holding items like pencils, straws or stress balls. Snack on healthy foods, chew sugarless gum with Xylitol, and drink plenty of water. You might also join a support group of other smokers trying to quit so you don’t have to face the habit alone.
It may take several weeks to break the smoking habit. The results, though, are worth it — you may extend not only your life but the life of your teeth too.
If you would like more information on how to stop smoking, 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 “Strategies to Stop Smoking.”