Posts for: December, 2014

SolvingtheProblemofMissingTeethWithOrthodonticsandRestorations

Normally, teeth erupt and grow in a symmetrical alignment: on the top palate, for example, the two central incisors take center stage; on either side are the lateral incisors, and then beside these the canines (cuspids).

But what happens when teeth don’t grow in? The result can be a smile that just doesn’t quite look right; more importantly, normal function is impaired because the person can’t grasp and chew food correctly.

These missing teeth are the result of a congenital (“from birth”) defect. It’s estimated that almost a quarter of all people are missing one or more wisdom teeth, and more than 5% are missing one or more second premolars or upper lateral incisors.

In a normal arch (the upper or lower set of teeth), each tooth type performs a particular role during eating. A missing tooth causes the remaining teeth to compensate, but beyond their capacity. The remaining teeth also tend to move to fill in any gaps left by the missing teeth, as when the eye teeth move toward the central incisors in the absence of the lateral incisors. This puts them out of position, so they can’t cover (“occlude”) their counterparts on the other arch and grasp food properly.

To improve the smile and restore proper chewing function it’s necessary to first move these “out of position” teeth to their correct position through orthodontics. We would then fill the gaps that result with life-like restorations (preferably dental implants with crowns) that resemble the type of tooth that should be there.

The restoration needs to be timed carefully, especially for young patients whose jaw structure has not fully developed. If implants are installed before the jaw’s full maturity (usually late teens or early twenties), the implant crowns may not appear to be the right length as the jawbone continues to grow. Since bone growth depends on the normal pressures exerted by the teeth, there may also be insufficient bone mass in the gap area to support a dental implant. Growing bone with bone-grafting material may be necessary before installing implants.

The total process could take many months or even years, depending on age and other conditions. In the end, though, the results can be astounding — better function and a vibrant, new smile.

If you would like more information on developmental problems with 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 “When Permanent Teeth Don’t Grow.”


AmericasDentistsGotTalent-forFixingDamagedorMissingTeeth

A recent episode of “America’s Got Talent” featured an engaging 93-year-old strongman called The Mighty Atom Jr. The mature muscleman’s stunt: moving a full-sized car (laden with his octogenarian “kid brother,” his brother’s wife, plus Atom’s “lady friend”) using just his teeth. Grinning for host Howie Mandel, Atom proudly told the TV audience that his teeth were all his own; then he grasped a leather strap in his mouth, and successfully pulled the car from a standstill.

We’re pleased to see that the Atom has kept his natural teeth in good shape: He must have found time for brushing and flossing in between stunts. Needless to say, his “talent” isn’t one we’d recommend trying at home. But aside from pulling vehicles, teeth can also be chipped or fractured by more mundane (yet still risky) activities — playing sports, nibbling on pencils, or biting too hard on ice. What can you do if that happens to your teeth?

Fortunately, we have a number of ways to repair cracked or chipped teeth. One of the easiest and fastest is cosmetic bonding with tooth-colored resins. Bonding can be used to fill in small chips, cracks and discolorations in the teeth. The bonding material is a high-tech mixture of plastic and glass components that’s extremely lifelike, and can last for several years. Plus, it’s a procedure that can be done right in the office, with minimal preparation or discomfort. However, it may not be suitable for larger chips, and it isn’t the longest-lasting type of restoration.

When more of the tooth structure is missing, a crown (or cap) might be needed to restore the tooth’s appearance and function. This involves creating a replacement for the entire visible part of the tooth in a dental lab — or in some cases, right in the office. It typically involves making a model of the damaged tooth and its neighbors, then fabricating a replica, which will fit perfectly into the bite. Finally, the replacement crown is permanently cemented to the damaged tooth. A crown replacement can last for many years if the tooth’s roots are in good shape. But what if the roots have been dislodged?

In some cases it’s possible to re-implant a tooth that has been knocked out — especially if it has been carefully preserved, and receives immediate professional attention. But if a tooth can’t be saved (due to a deeply fractured root, for example) a dental implant offers today’s best option for tooth replacement. This procedure has a success rate of over 95 percent, and gives you a natural looking replacement tooth that can last for the rest of your life.

So what have we learned? If you take care of your teeth, like strongman Atom, they can last a long time — but if you need to move your car, go get the keys.

If you would like more information about tooth restoration, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Crowns & Bridgework.”


By Wes Park Family Dentistry
December 11, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
CountdownToAPerfectWeddingDaySmile

Invitations, dresses, the cake, the photographer: there's so much to think about when planning your wedding. And remember to plan for one more thing, your smile. Your wedding photographs will record the magic of your wedding day forever, so you'll want your smile to look radiant. Bonus: you'll be providing for a lifetime of good oral health.

Start planning as far ahead as possible. We can help you select from the variety of treatments, therapies and procedures that can enhance your smile on that special day. Together, we'll assess your starting point, decide what needs to be changed, and create a plan of action. Remember that the bigger the changes you want to make, the longer they are likely to take.

Plan the indicated amount of time before your wedding for the following:

  • Several months to three years: Orthodontics
    From minor movement using clear aligners to full braces to correct a bad bite, this treatment allows us to accurately and precisely move teeth for better appearance and function. The process can seem like magic.
  • Six months to a year: Dental Implants
    Implants are natural looking, functional stand-alone tooth replacement systems. They take planning and time. An implant consists of a root replacement that permanently joins to the bone and to which a crown is attached.
  • Two to four visits: Periodontal Plastic Surgery
    Consult with us to find out your needs. Today, surgical techniques can alter your gum tissues and their relationship to the teeth, improving the appearance of your smile.
  • Multiple visits over one to four months: Crowns and Bridges
    A crown or “cap” is generally required when a tooth has been ravaged by decay or trauma. A crown can also be used to improve tooth color and shape. Missing teeth can be replaced by bridges, which span the space created by a missing tooth. Bridges do require crowns on the adjacent teeth to which the bridge is attached.
  • At least three months: Veneers
    Porcelain veneers are bonded directly to the enamel to change the shape and color of darkened or unsightly teeth. Usually, a small amount of enamel must be removed to make room for the veneers and for them to work their magic.
  • At least two months ahead of your wedding day: Bonding
    You can replace anything from small chips on your front teeth to broken discolored old fillings with the latest tooth-colored bonding composite resin materials. These procedures, generally done in one visit, provide life-like restorations that become part of the teeth and look very natural.
  • Allow for one or two office appointments: Whitening
    A professional “in office” tooth bleaching procedure is quicker and more predictable than an “at-home” kit, which may brighten your smile by several shades, but requires months.
  • Schedule well ahead of your wedding date: Dental Cleanings
    Remove unwanted stains and freshen your breath, so you look and feel your best on the big day. You may need more than one cleaning, depending on how much stain and tartar there is and how long it has been since your last cleaning.

We can make sure that your wedding day smile makes you look and feel great, not just for those treasured photos, but for years to come. For many of these procedures, results can last a lifetime. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to prepare for your best wedding smile. For more information read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wedding Day Smiles.”