Accidents happen, especially to teenagers involved with sports or similar activities. In an instant they can lose one or more teeth and permanently alter their smile.
Fortunately we can restore a teenager’s lost teeth, but often not immediately as a permanent restoration with a dental implant requires maturity of their jaw structure. Our focus then turns to the age of the patient and the condition of the underlying bone. A future dental implant, your best choice for tooth replacement, depends on bone for support, but also the age of the patient as it relates to jaw development.
There are a couple of ways an accidental tooth loss can harm supporting bone: first and foremost, the impact of the accident itself can damage the bony socket. To find out for sure we may need to perform a cone beam scan, a type of x-ray that allows us to view the area three-dimensionally. If we do find damage, we can attempt to repair the socket through bone grafting.
Bone can also suffer from the long-term absence of a tooth. Bone has a growth cycle in which older cells dissolve and new ones form to take their place. The force generated by teeth when we eat or chew helps stimulate this growth. Without stimulation, as with a missing tooth, the bone may not grow at a healthy rate. In time, it could lose some of its volume and density and not be able to support an implant.
Installing an implant right after tooth loss could help avoid this situation. Bone has a natural affinity with the titanium post imbedded in the jaw and will naturally grow and adhere to it. But we can’t place an implant with a teenager. This is because the jaw is still developing so an implant would gradually become misaligned as the jaw grows. It’s best to install an implant later after full jaw development in early adulthood.
Today, we can place a bone graft in the empty socket right after tooth loss. The graft serves as a scaffold for bone cells to grow on and will help keep the bone volume at a healthy level until we can install an implant.
Timing is everything in restoring a teenager’s accidental tooth loss. But with coordination and care for the supporting bone, a teenager can eventually enter their adult years with their smile intact.
If you would like more information on restoring your teenager’s smile after tooth loss, 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 for Teenagers.”
Has your once sparkling smile become dull? Teeth whitening treatments erase stains that cause yellowing and discoloration on tooth enamel. Anchorage, AK, dentists Dr. Max Swenson, Dr. Frank Cavaness and Dr. Robert Morehead of Anchorage Dental Arts discuss the benefits of professional teeth whitening.
Professional products make a difference
Over-the-counter kits contain weaker forms of hydrogen peroxide, the whitening agent that removes stains. When you visit our Anchorage office, we'll use professional strength hydrogen peroxide to quickly and effectively remove stains that have built up over the years.
There's no waiting involved with professional whitening
Many over-the-counter whitening products take weeks to work. Professional whitening eliminates the waiting. In fact, your smile will be visibly brighter after your hour-long whitening session. Although results will depend on the severity of your stains, it's not uncommon to see a difference of three- to eight-shades.
Your oral health is our priority
Foods and tobacco stains aren't the only reasons your teeth become discolored. Some dental problems can also cause discolorations in teeth. If your dull smile is caused by a dental issue, or you have a cavity, it's important to treat these issues before proceeding with whitening.
When you whiten your teeth at home, you may increase the risk of gum and root irritation if you don't apply the product perfectly. Unfortunately, that can be more difficult than it sounds. Before whitening your teeth, our staff will apply a layer of gel to your gums and roots to protect them and pull back your lips and cheeks with retractors. Once your gums and roots are protected, we'll carefully brush on the hydrogen peroxide gel.
In-home whitening kits make touch ups easy
We also provide in-home whitening kits that are perfect if you prefer to whiten at home or want to occasionally touch up your smile. We'll make an impression of your mouth that will be used to create trays for your upper and lower teeth. You'll also be given a supply of whitening gel, which you'll add to the trays before you put them in your mouth. If you choose in-home whitening, you'll need to use the trays for a few weeks to achieve your desired results.
Professional teeth whitening can revamp your smile. Call Anchorage, AK, dentists Dr. Max Swenson, Dr. Frank Cavaness and Dr. Robert Morehead of Anchorage Dental Arts at (907) 276-1712 to schedule your appointment.
During his former career as a professional footballer (that's a soccer star to U.S. sports fans) David Beckham was known for his skill at “bending” a soccer ball. His ability to make the ball curve in mid-flight — to avoid a defender or score a goal — led scores of kids to try to “bend it like Beckham.” But just recently, while enjoying a vacation in Canada with his family, “Becks” tried snowboarding for the first time — and in the process, broke one of his front teeth.
Some fans worried that the missing tooth could be a “red card” for Beckham's current modeling career… but fortunately, he headed straight to the dental office as soon as he arrived back in England. Exactly what kind of treatment is needed for a broken tooth? It all depends where the break is and how badly the tooth is damaged.
For a minor crack or chip, cosmetic bonding may offer a quick and effective solution. In this procedure, a composite resin, in a color custom-made to match the tooth, is applied in liquid form and cured (hardened) with a special light. Several layers of bonding material can be applied to re-construct a larger area of missing tooth, and chips that have been saved can sometimes be reattached as well.
When more tooth structure is missing, dental veneers may be the preferred restorative option. Veneers are wafer-thin shells that are bonded to the front surface of the teeth. They can not only correct small chips or cracks, but can also improve the color, spacing, and shape of your teeth.
But if the damage exposes the soft inner pulp of the tooth, root canal treatment will be needed to save the tooth. In this procedure, the inflamed or infected pulp tissue is removed and the tooth sealed against re-infection; if a root canal is not done when needed, the tooth will have an increased risk for extraction in the future. Following a root canal, a tooth is often restored with a crown (cap), which can look good and function well for many years.
Sometimes, a tooth may be knocked completely out of its socket; or, a severely damaged tooth may need to be extracted (removed). In either situation, the best option for restoration is a dental implant. Here, a tiny screw-like device made of titanium metal is inserted into the jaw bone in a minor surgical procedure. Over time, it fuses with the living bone to form a solid anchorage. A lifelike crown is attached, which provides aesthetic appeal and full function for the replacement tooth.
So how's Beckham holding up? According to sources, “David is a trooper and didn't make a fuss. He took it all in his stride." Maybe next time he hits the slopes, he'll heed the advice of dental experts and wear a custom-made mouthguard…
If you have questions about restoring damaged teeth, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Trauma and Nerve Damage to Teeth” and “Children's Dental Concerns and Injuries.”
Teeth-replacing dental implants not only look life-like, they’re made to last. For one thing, the metals and dental materials used in them are impervious to bacterial infection.
But that doesn’t mean implants are impervious to failure. Implants depend on the bone and other natural mouth structures for support. If the bone becomes weakened due to disease, the implant could become unstable and ultimately fail.
Peri-implantitis, the condition that can lead to this kind of failure, is a major concern for implant longevity. It’s a type of periodontal (gum) disease triggered by plaque, a thin film of food particles that can build up quickly in the absence of adequate brushing and flossing. The gum tissues around the implant become infected and inflamed.
If the infection isn’t properly treated with renewed oral hygiene and clinical plaque removal, it could spread below the gum line and begin to damage the underlying gum tissues and bone. This could destroy the all-important connection between the titanium implant post and the bone. The implant could eventually loosen and become completely detached from the bone.
The key is early intervention before the bone becomes damaged. Besides plaque removal we may also need to apply antibiotics in some form to control the growth of disease-causing bacteria. If the disease has fairly advanced we may also need to consider surgical repair to strengthen the attachment between implant and bone.
You can help to avoid peri-implantitis altogether by practicing consistent daily brushing and flossing around all your teeth including the implant, and seeing your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups. And by all means see your dentist if you notice any signs of gum swelling, redness or bleeding. Staying on top of your gum health will help not only the natural tissues and remaining teeth in your mouth, it will help preserve your implants for decades to come.
When to Visit Your Dentist
- To prevent gum disease. Gum disease is one of the leading causes of adult tooth loss. If diagnosed in its early stages, gum disease can be easily treated and reversed. However, if you wait for treatment, gum disease will advance to a more serious stage called periodontitis.
- To prevent oral cancer. The Oral Cancer Foundation informs us that someone dies of oral cancer every hour of every day in the United States alone—that’s a lot. Visiting your dentist in Anchorage will help you to prevent this deadly disease because as your teeth are cleaned, your dentist will also perform an oral cancer screening.
- To prevent tooth loss. Gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults, which means regular visits are vital to keeping your teeth. Your dentist will help clean your teeth and make sure gum disease is kept at bay.
- To prevent dental emergencies. Most toothaches and dental emergencies can be easily avoided just by regular visits to your dentist. Your dentist maintains the ability to detect any early signs of problems with your teeth and gums, which helps to prevent emergencies later on. However, if you do encounter an emergency due to an injury, etc. then your dentist is available for emergency visits, as well.
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