Posts for category: Oral Health
Why is it important to replace missing teeth with restorations such as dental implants? You might be surprised to find that the damage caused by missing teeth is much greater than the simple gaps left in your smile.
As the years go by, teeth lost early in adulthood cause structural changes in a person's face. By age 45 changes in facial structure are already visible in the form of sunken cheeks. By 60, cheeks and lips lose their support, resulting in an aging look. This process continues and if the teeth are not replaced, much of the structural support of the person's face is lost.
These changes are caused by loss of bone. Although it may seem static, bone is actually living tissue that needs constant stimulation to maintain its form and density. With normal stimulation it is in a constant state of resorption (breaking down) and deposition (building up). Teeth provide the needed stimulation for the bone that surrounds them (called alveolar bone) as they meet each other during biting, chewing, and speech. When the stimulation continues, the bone continues to rebuild itself. Without this stimulation, the bone resorbs, does not build up again, and loses substance.
Without stimulation, alveolar bone loses width, height, and volume. Since your teeth and their surrounding bone support your chin, cheeks, and lips, this has a powerful effect on your appearance. It may also affect your ability to chew and to speak.
As alveolar bone diminishes, the next layer of bone also begins to resorb. This is the bone of the jaw itself. The lower part of the face begins to collapse, and the cheeks become hollow. This effect is especially noticeable for people with no teeth (edentulous).
Usually the first tooth to be lost, due to infection and decay, is a molar (back tooth). In the past, a missing single back tooth was frequently replaced by a fixed partial denture (FPD). A crown is provided for each of the two teeth on the sides of the gap, called abutment teeth, to support a false tooth in the middle. However, if they are not well cared for, the abutment teeth may be the next to succumb to decay.
Today the treatment of choice is an implant. A dental implant is a tooth-root replacement made of titanium, which fuses with the bone — making it very stable. Above the gums it is covered by a crown that looks like a natural tooth. The benefit of the implant is that it continues to provide stimulation to the alveolar bone, preventing bone loss.
Implants are also a good choice in the case of multiple missing teeth. They can be used to support bridges or false teeth (dentures). The results are an improved, younger appearance and better functionality.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about missing teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
Why is it the right time to quit smoking? The answer is simple: one, smoking is bad for both overall and oral health, and two, there are now plenty of resources to help quit.
How smoking impacts oral health
We all know how smoking cigarettes ruins overall health by contributing to lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic lung issues such as COPD. But, what does smoking do to the mouth--i.e, the teeth, gums, tongue and so on?
The American Academy of General Dentistry states that when men smoke for 10 years, they likely to lose an average of 2.9 teeth. When women smoke 10 years, they will probably lose 1.5 teeth. The fact is that smoking comprises every aspect of oral health including:
- the body's immune system. With lowered immunity, an individual is more susceptible to infections and gum disease. A smoker heals less quickly after a dental procedure, too.
- plaque and tartar. Studies show that these substances build up more quickly in a smoker's mouth. This means more frequent cleanings are necessary, and if plaque and tartar are not addressed, tooth decay, advanced gum disease, bone recession and tooth loss are soon to follow.
- tooth sensitivity. Smoker's teeth hurt with very hot or cold drinks and food.
- bad breath. The medical term is halitosis, and smoking is one of the big culprits.
- leukoplakia. These whitish oral lesions on the inside of the cheeks and on gum tissue are common and concerning in the smoker's mouth. They are definitely pre-cancerous.
- tooth staining. Nice pearly whites get ugly yellow and brown discoloration from cigarettes.
- oral cancers. The National Institutes of Health state that smoking greatly increases the chance of developing cancer in the mouth. Cigarettes combined with alcohol consumption makes the risk even higher.
Why quitting smoking may be easier now
Yes, quitting the nicotene addiction related to cigarette smoking has always been difficult, but the American Dental Association emphasizes that there are many helps available to smokers these days. One is the extensive network of support groups and one on one coaching. Contact the local branch of the American Cancer Society to find a group or go online to connect with a telephone quit line.
Another available tool is pharmacological support. The primary physician can prescribe nicotene replacement therapy (NRT) in the form of a gum or another drug that he or she thinks can help the individual give up smoking.
Alaska's Trusted Dental supports quitting
Robert Morehead DMD, Max Swenson DMD and Frank Cavaness DDS want you to have your best general and oral health. Their training and experience in a wide range of dental services can help you on your way to a great smile. Also, they assist you with being smoke-free.
Call their friendly staff for a consultation at the Anchorage, Alaska location today. At Anchorage Dental Arts, LLC, 2600 Cordova Street, call 907-276-1712.
It is not often that you find a celebrity who is willing to speak candidly about any cosmetic or restorative dentistry that he or she has had. Instead, most prefer that their fans just assume that their dazzling “Hollywood” smile is something that just happened naturally. However, that is not the case with Kathy Ireland, the former Sports Illustrated cover girl, current business mogul and founder of kathy ireland Worldwide, a billion dollar marketing and design firm. In a Dear Doctor magazine cover story she talks openly about her dental experiences, injuries and treatment so that people worldwide can understand what may be possible for them.
For Kathy, it happened several years ago when she was playing with her husband and children in their driveway. Kathy decided that she would stand in her children's wagon and surf across their driveway. Instead, she ended up “face-planting,” as she describes it, in a freak accident that left her with a broken nose, split forehead and several broken teeth. She recalls that it sounded like a watermelon had smashed. Luckily, her husband, an emergency room physician, was on hand to care for her. Kathy is just as thankful to her cosmetic and restorative dentist who restored her trademark smile with some veneers and a dental implant. Today, the only reminder she has from this accident is a small scar on her nose that she covers with a little makeup.
You would think that this accident would be enough trauma for one person; however, Kathy describes an earlier accident where she knocked out a tooth and then later knocked it loose again. Kathy also wanted to take the time to let readers know that her dental implant experiences were “pretty easy.” She did recall, “hearing all the sounds while all of it was going on” and then added, “but I have to tell you, that after being a mom and having kids, going to the dentist...is like going to the spa!” She said that she has even fallen asleep in the dental chair.
To learn more about Kathy Ireland, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Kathy Ireland.” Or if you think cosmetic or restorative dentistry is right for you, contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific goals.
There’s no question that x-ray imaging has transformed how we diagnose and treat dental problems. But traditional x-rays have at least one limitation — they are two-dimensional portraits that can only provide a portion of the information available. If you could view the interior of teeth or other mouth structures in three dimensions, you would have access to more detail about their conditions.
Computerized axial tomography (CAT) scanning has brought that third dimensional view to physicians generally and, in more recent years, to dentists. The latest development in this technology is known as Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT). A CBCT emits a spiral of x-rays that form a cone-shaped beam that is caught on detectors. Using digital geometry, the CBCT then generates a three-dimensional image by precisely “layering” this large series of two-dimensional images caught by the detectors on top of each other.
CBCT is already making a significant impact in dentistry and its related specialties. Dentists now can visualize with amazingly precise detail the three-dimensional anatomy of the teeth, jaws, facial bone and other structures in the head and neck area. Orthodontists can examine the growth stages of a patient’s teeth eruption to better prepare treatment strategies. Oral surgeons can determine the precise location of impacted teeth and their exact proximity to nerves and sinuses. And, periodontists who specialize in gum disease and treatment can better determine the level of bone loss and gum attachment for more accurate diagnoses and effective treatment.
While a CBCT delivers a higher dose of x-rays than a traditional panoramic radiograph, it actually delivers a lower dosage than a digital standard 18 film full mouth series or than conventional medical CT scanners. The field of view also determines the level of x-ray exposure — the smaller the field of view (and more concentrated the x-rays) the higher the dosage and the better detail of anatomy.
The good news, though, is that a low dosage CBCT scan can still provide a level of detail that can provide dentists with a very accurate view of anatomical features, including bone density and mass, in three dimensions. That capability can vastly elevate the accuracy of diagnoses and lay the groundwork for effective dental treatment.
If you would like more information on the uses of CBCT scanning to help you maintain dental health, 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 “CAT Scans in Dentistry.”
Did you know that the bacteria that cause tooth decay are usually transmitted to children from their parents, through sharing the same spoon or kissing? Once inside the child's mouth, the bacteria live on the teeth in what is called a biofilm. When the child consumes sugary foods or drinks, the bacteria act upon the sugar to produce acids that eat away at the child's teeth, producing tooth decay.
These bacteria thrive on carbohydrates such as bread, sweets, and sodas. Even fruit juices, which offer more vitamins than soda, are filled with sugars that lead to decay. The child's saliva works hard to neutralize the acidity produced from these foods, but if the child often snacks between meals this neutralization process doesnÃ¢Â€Â™t have a chance to occur.
The first sign of decay may be white spots on the teeth, an indication that minerals in the surface enamel have been dissolved in certain locations. Before it goes any farther, this process can be reversed by reducing the exposure to acids and using fluorides to strengthen the tooth surface.
Make sure your child sees a dentist by his first birthday, to provide preventive care and treat any beginning decay.
You can also help your child develop the habit of brushing his teeth with fluoridated toothpaste. It is important to use only a smear of toothpaste on the brush for very young children, and a pea-sized amount on the brush for children over the age of 2. Sometimes small children swallow their toothpaste, and excessive amounts of fluoride can cause staining on the teeth. When your children are very young, you must brush their teeth. As they get older, they can do it themselves, with your supervision. We can also apply fluoride varnish to strengthen the tooth surface and make it resistant to acids.
Brushing twice a day is a good start. But it can't prevent tooth decay when a child is eating carbohydrates all day. One way to reduce the use of sugar is to use xylitol, a naturally occurring sweetener that looks and tastes like table sugar and improves oral health. Studies have shown that use of this sweetener reduces tooth decay in children.
Another good idea is to wean children from bottles and training cups as early as possible. Sometimes children are given bottles filled with milk or sugary beverages at bedtime to help them relax. A better idea for their teeth is to teach them to drink from a regular cup filled with milk — or preferably, with water.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth decay in children. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Managing Tooth Decay In Children With Chronic Diseases.” While this article focuses on children with health challenges, it contains excellent advice to help all children prevent tooth decay.