There's a lot to like about dental implants, today's state-of-the-art tooth-replacement system. We consider them the best choice for replacing missing teeth because implants are:
You may not realize this, but when a tooth is missing, the bone underneath it begins to melt away. That's because bone needs constant stimulation to rebuild itself and stay healthy, and it receives this stimulation from teeth. It's a delicate balance that's disrupted by the loss of even one tooth. Because implants are made of biocompatible titanium, they actually fuse to the bone and prevent bone loss.
The fusion of implant to bone is an extremely solid connection. Not only does it offer a strong replacement for a missing tooth, but it can also offer support to other tooth-replacement methods such as fixed bridges or dentures. By themselves, these other methods would not preserve bone and might even hasten its loss in the case of dentures. But with implants, bone-loss is prevented — as is embarrassing and uncomfortable slippage of dentures.
When you receive your implant, it is left alone for a few months to complete the fusion process described above. Then it is topped with a crown made of a realistic tooth-like material. The result is so convincing as a tooth replacement, only you and your dentist may be able to tell it's not a natural tooth.
Dental implants have an amazing success rate — over 97%. And once they fuse to the jawbone, they should never need replacement. In fact, they will likely outlast the crowns to which they are attached, but this is not a problem. Implant crowns are precision components that detach for easy replacement, should the need arise.
Implants have a higher initial cost than other forms of tooth replacement, but when you consider how long they last, they are very economical. Consider it an investment in your health, appearance and self-confidence.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
When it comes to your oral healthcare, we strive to provide state-of-the-art care along with education to both our patients and community. One way we do this is by taking a moment to answer some of the questions we are most often asked about a certain topic. And one topic that almost always ignites questions is the subject of lumps and bumps in the mouth.
Help! I just found a small lump in my mouth — what should I do?
Not to alarm you, but your first priority is to contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment so that we can review it. Most often, we will know what it is by taking a history, knowing how long it's been there and what it looks like. Depending on what we find, we may want to take a biopsy so that we can determine exactly what it is and how we need to treat it.
What is involved in having a biopsy performed?
A biopsy is a normal and routine procedure that is used to definitively diagnose and confirm exactly what the abnormal lump, bump or other tissue is. It is typically performed with local anesthesia so that a small tissue sample can be removed without any pain for examination under a microscope. Depending on the size of the wound, it may require two to three sutures (stitches), leaving a flat and flush surface that heals in a few days to a week. The procedure usually lasts between 10 and 15 minutes with the lab results processed within a few days.
Does this mean I have cancer?
No, the chances are slim that you actually have cancer. However any change or sore in the mouth that does not heal in a week or two should be evaluated by a dentist and if necessary biopsied. If it is pre-cancerous and removed, it could save your life. The most important fact you need to remember is that no one can tell for sure what the abnormal tissue growth is until an expert in oral pathology (“patho” – disease; “ology” – study of) examines it under a microscope. While it is human nature to be concerned, until you have the facts, you are suffering needlessly.
To learn more about this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Common Lumps and Bumps In The Mouth.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific questions so that we can put your mind at ease.
A pregnant woman has a lot to think about while preparing to welcome a new member of her family. It's important to think about her oral health as well. She is sharing her body with the developing infant, so problems with her health — including her dental health — can affect the baby. The following facts will help you understand the relationship between oral health and pregnancy.
- A baby's primary (baby) teeth begin to form during the sixth week of pregnancy. They begin to form their enamel (the hard outer layer of the teeth) and dentin layer (just under the enamel) at about the third or fourth month. The calcium, phosphorous, and protein that are needed for these structures must all be provided by the mother's diet.
- A good diet for a pregnant mother, in order to provide for both her needs and those of the fetus (the developing baby), includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables — including green leafy vegetables — proteins and dairy products. A doctor may also recommend iron and/or folic acid supplements.
- If the mother's diet does not provide enough calcium for the baby's bones and teeth, it will come from calcium stored in her bones — not from her teeth. The old idea that a mother's teeth lose calcium during pregnancy has been found to be a myth.
- Progesterone, a normal female hormone, is elevated during pregnancy. This hormone stimulates production of prostaglandins, substances that cause inflammation in gum tissues if the bacteria that cause periodontal (gum) disease are present. The resulting swelling, redness, and sensitive gum tissues, called pregnancy gingivitis, are common during the second to eighth months of pregnancy.
- The bacteria involved in periodontal disease can affect whole body conditions such as heart disease and strokes, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. The inflammation resulting from such bacteria can also cause premature delivery (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or low birth weight in the baby.
- Periodontal disease is also related to pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure, during pregnancy.
- Dental x-rays do not expose the mother to very high radiation, but in any case every precaution is taken to minimize exposure to the fetus. These include a leaded apron that shields the baby from exposure.
- Most drugs commonly used in dentistry, including local anesthetics, can safely be given to pregnant women without affecting the fetus. However, it is important to let your dentist know you are pregnant before embarking on any treatment to make sure anything that is done will be safe for the fetus and its developing teeth.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about pregnancy and your oral health. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Pregnancy and Oral Health.”
Dental professionals agree that effective removal of plaque, the film of bacteria (also called a biofilm) that gathers on everyone's teeth, is the key to good dental health. Daily brushing and flossing are the usual recommendation for plaque removal. It is important to ask us about effective brushing and flossing. At your next appointment, ask us for a demonstration.
Effective brushing removes plaque from the easily accessed surfaces of the teeth. To remove plaque from between the teeth, you must floss.
Some people find it awkward to hold the floss with their fingers as they move it around their teeth. One technique for flossing, suggested by a dentist in Dear Doctor magazine, may make it easier than more traditional methods, although it does take a little practice.
This method requires tearing off a 10 to 12 inch length of floss and tying it to form a circle big enough for your fingers, but not your thumbs, to fit within it. The circle should be knotted with a double knot.
To Clean Teeth and Gums
Keep the floss taut at all times, with about and inch or less between your thumb and index fingers for your upper teeth, or index fingers only for your lower teeth. Curve the floss around each tooth and gently move it up and down until you hear a squeaky clean sound. Extend the downward movement of the floss to just below the surface of the gum, without being too harsh and causing injury. As you move from tooth to tooth, move around the floss circle so that each tooth gets a clean section of floss.
Place all your fingers in the ring, with the floss over your left thumb and right index finger to floss your upper left teeth, and over your right thumb and left index finger to do the other side.
Use both index fingers to floss all your lower teeth.
You may only need to floss once a day before or after brushing to keep your gums health and ward off periodontal (gum) disease. Your dentist will guide you as to how often you may need to floss your teeth. Try this technique and see how it works for you.
If you are insecure about your misaligned crooked teeth, then you may be a perfect candidate for clear orthodontic aligners. This system is an alternative to traditional braces that uses a sequence of individual, clear, removable “trays” that fit over your teeth to gradually straighten them. Each tray is completely clear and covers all the teeth thus making it virtually invisible. Each tray is designed to slightly move the teeth until the teeth are in proper alignment. Typically, each tray must be worn for 20 hours a day for 2 weeks before progressing to the next tray in the sequence with each tray moving you closer towards your goal — perfectly aligned teeth.
However, clear orthodontic aligners are not for everyone. If you are interested and wonder if they can benefit you, contact us so that we can schedule an appointment for a thorough evaluation to assess your specific situation. Below, we have briefly outlined some situations when they will and will not work.
Clear orthodontic aligners work if...
- You have mild to moderate crowding or spacing issues between teeth
- Back teeth fit together properly
They may not be the right choice if...
- You have moderate to severe crowding or spacing issues between teeth
- When your bite does not align properly (for example, if you have a large over-, under-, or cross-bite)
- When your teeth are “rotated” way out of position; such misaligned teeth will require special or complex techniques to rotate them back into position, or to pull them down into place or to fill the space left after pulling a tooth to resolve excessive crowding of teeth
Want to learn more?
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Marjorie Miller, DDS, MAGD
Western Springs, IL 60558
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