It doesn't take much—some staining, a chipped tooth or a slight gap—for you to lose confidence in your smile. But you may be able to regain your smile confidence with porcelain veneers.
A veneer is a thin, tooth-colored shell of dental porcelain that we bond to the face of a tooth. As the name implies, a veneer covers mild to moderate imperfections in such a life-like fashion that it's difficult to tell a veneered tooth from a natural one.
Although veneers can't correct every dental appearance problem, they do have a wide range. Here are 4 situations where veneers could be a great choice for improving your smile.
Discoloration. People often turn to teeth whitening to help brighten dull or dingy teeth. But this technique may not work as well with heavy staining, or not at all if the discoloration originates from inside of a tooth. Veneers offer a permanent solution for heavily stained or discolored teeth.
Shaping and size. Teeth look best when they're in proper proportion to other oral or facial features. But congenitally small or odd-shaped teeth, as well as inordinate tooth wearing, could cause your smile to look out of place. Veneers can improve the appearance of small or worn teeth and restore proper balance to your smile.
Dental defects. Teeth with chips, craze lines (vertical cracks) or other dental flaws can distract from your smile. As with discoloration, veneers can mask mild to moderate dental flaws and restore teeth to their beautiful perfection.
Misalignments. We often correct bite misalignments that affect appearance with braces or clear aligners. But if it's a mild orthodontic problem like a slight tooth gap between the front teeth or a slight rotation, it's often possible to cover the misalignment with the help of dental veneers.
So, could veneers make a difference in your smile? There's only one way to find out—see your dentist for a complete dental assessment. Depending on the nature of the problems disrupting your appearance, veneers could be a great way to transform your smile.
If you would like more information on porcelain veneers, 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 “Porcelain Veneers.”
The term periodontal disease refers to bacterial infections that target the gums. These infections typically start as inflammatory responses to dental plaque, a bacterial biofilm collecting on tooth surfaces, especially around the gum line.
Early on, we can often stop the infection and minimize damage by removing accumulations of dental plaque and tartar (hardened plaque), which tend to fuel the disease. This process, known as debridement, effectively "starves" the infection and allows the gums and other infected tissues to heal.
But if gum disease is anything, it's stubborn: An infection can continue to advance rapidly. As it does, it weakens gum attachment and causes bone loss, both of which could eventually cause tooth loss.
When it reaches this state, advanced gum disease can turn into a long-term siege of keeping the infection at bay and trying to limit bone loss. To stay ahead of it, we may turn to additional treatments besides debridement, especially for difficult-to-treat areas around the roots.
Mouthrinses. Dentists often prescribe antimicrobial agents to patients with advanced gum disease to help further control bacterial plaque buildup. The most common of these is chlorhexidine, typically in a 0.12% solution mouthrinse. Chlorhexidine is quite effective in controlling bacteria, but prolonged use can lead to tooth staining.
Topical antibiotics. Dentists may also apply antibiotic treatments, usually tetracycline, directly to affected areas. Topical applications like these are often more effective in penetrating hard-to-reach areas than manual cleaning tools. Dentists must be selective, though, in using this tool, because long-term application could disrupt "good" oral bacteria along with the bad.
Other medications. In addition to antibiotics, dentists may also use other drug treatments like chlorhexidine chips or doxycycline gel that continues to deliver effects over a long period. These "sustained release" medications continue to suppress bacteria, and are often used in conjunction with mechanical cleaning to reduce inflammation.
These additional tools can improve the overall treatment outcomes for advanced gum disease. But they must be used prudently and only in those cases where the benefits of better gum health outweigh the risks.
If you would like more information on preventing and treating gum 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 “Treating Difficult Areas of Periodontal Disease.”
Performing for an awards show is a quite a feather in an entertainer's cap. So, up-and-coming country music star Carly Pearce was obviously excited when she gained a slot on last November's Country Music Awards. But an accident a couple of weeks before the event almost derailed her opportunity when she fell and knocked out two of her front teeth.
Fortunately, Pearce took quick action and, thanks to a skilled dental and medical team, was able to put her mouth back together before the show. Those watching her perform her hit single, “I Hope You're Happy Now,” as she smiled broadly would never have known otherwise about her traumatic emergency if she hadn't spilled the beans.
Orofacial injuries can happen to anyone, not just entertainers. You or someone you love could face such an injury from a motor vehicle accident, hard sports contact or, like Pearce, a simple slip and fall. But if you also act quickly like Pearce, you may be able to minimize the injury's long-term impact on dental health and appearance.
Here are some guidelines if you suffer a dental injury:
Collect any tooth fragments. Dental injuries can result in parts of teeth—or even a whole tooth—coming out of the mouth. It may be possible, though, to use those fragments to repair the tooth. Try to retrieve and save what you can, and after rinsing off any debris with cold water, place the fragments in a container with milk.
Re-insert a knocked-out tooth. You can often save a knocked-out tooth by putting it back in its socket as soon as possible. After cleaning off any debris, hold the tooth by its crown (never the root) and place it back in the empty socket. Don't fret over getting it in perfectly—your dentist will assist its placement later. Place a piece of clean cloth or cotton over the tooth and have the injured person bite down gently but firmly to hold it in place.
See the dentist ASAP. You should immediately see a dentist if any tooth structure has been damaged, or if a tooth is loose or has been moved out of place. If you're not sure, call your dentist to see if you should come on in or if you can wait. If a dentist is not available, go immediately to an emergency room or clinic. With many dental injuries, the longer you wait, the more likely the teeth involved won't survive long-term.
A dental injury could happen in a flash, with consequences that last a lifetime. But if, like Carly Pearce, you take prompt action and obtain necessary dental care, you could save an injured tooth—and the smile that goes with it.
Periodontal (gum) disease may begin superficially, but it can eventually work its way deeper below the gums to become a threat to the teeth and the underlying bone. The tooth roots are especially vulnerable to the disease with long-lasting implications to the tooth's survival.
An infection usually begins with dental plaque, a thin biofilm on tooth surfaces that harbor the bacteria that cause gum disease. The infection may eventually reach an area around the tooth roots called a furcation, where the roots branch off from the main tooth body. If the disease gains a foothold in a furcation, it could seriously erode the infected bone structure.
This often occurs in stages, commonly classified as early, moderate or advanced ("through and through"). In the first stage, the infected area exposes a slight groove in the tooth, but no significant structural loss. The next stage shows bone loss of at least two millimeters. In the most advanced stage, the bone loss now extends all the way beneath the tooth from one side to the other.
As with any situation caused by gum disease, it's best to catch a furcation involvement early and initiate treatment. As with any case of gum disease, the objective is to remove accumulated plaque and tartar (hardened plaque), which both fuel the infection. With plaque removed, the periodontal tissues can begin to heal and possibly regenerate.
It can be hard to achieve these outcomes because furcations are difficult to access. Although we may be able to clean the roots with tools like scalers (curettes) or ultrasonic equipment, we might still need to surgically access the area to completely remove the infection.
Initial treatment of furcations is often only the beginning. Someone with this level of gum disease usually needs continuous, heightened dental care and maintenance to prevent reinfection, often by an experienced hygienist working in consultation with a periodontist (gum specialist). It's also common to surgically alter the tissues around a furcation to make them easier to inspect and clean.
The best scenario, of course, is to avoid an infection altogether, or at least diagnose it before it becomes this advanced. The best way to stay gum (and tooth) healthy is to be sure you brush and floss every day, and see your dentist for cleanings and checkups at least twice a year.
If you would like more information on treating furcations, 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 “What are Furcations?”
Historically speaking, implants are a recent blip on the centuries-long march of dental progress. But few innovations in dentistry can match the impact of implants in its short history on dental function and appearance.
Dental implant therapy has already established itself as a restoration game-changer. But it also continues to improve, thanks to a number of emerging technologies. As a result, implant restorations are far more secure and life-like than ever before.
Here are 3 examples of state-of-the-art technologies that continue to improve this premier dental restoration.
CT/CBCT scanning. Functional and attractive implants depend on precise placement. But various anatomical structures like nerves or sinuses often interfere with placement, so it's important to locate these potential obstructions during the planning phase. To do so, we're increasingly turning to computed tomography (CT). This form of x-ray diagnostics is the assembly of hundreds of images of a jaw location into a three-dimensional model. This gives us a much better view of what lies beneath the gums.
Digital-enhanced planning. Implant success also depends on careful planning. And, it isn't a one-sided affair: The patient's input is just as important as the dentist's expertise. To aid in that process, many dentists are using digital technology to produce a virtual image of a patient's current dental state and what their teeth may look like after dental implants. This type of imaging also allows consideration of a variety of options, including different sized implants and positions, before finalizing the final surgical plan.
Custom surgical guides. To transfer the final plan details to the actual implant procedure, we often create a physical surgical guide placed in the mouth that marks the precise locations for drilling. We can now produce these guides with 3-D printing, a process that uses computer software to produce or "print" a physical object. In this case, the 3-D printer creates a more accurate surgical guide based on the exact contours of a patient's dental arch that's more precise than conventional guides.
Obtaining a dental implant is a highly refined process. And, with the aid of other advances in dental technology, it continues to provide increasing value to patients.
If you would like more information on restoring teeth with dental implants, 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 “How Technology Aids Dental Implant Therapy.”
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