RETURNING TEETH TO HEALTH AND STRENGTH
Time can certainly take a toll on your teeth, no matter how well you take care of them. For most of us, teeth can eventually wear down, crack, break, and decay. Regardless of the condition your teeth may be in, you owe it to your smile and dental health to restore them. With the many restorative dental treatments offered at Cypress Lake Dental there’s no reason to live with damaged, unattractive or unhealthy teeth.
From natural-looking porcelain restorations that replace metal fillings, to dental implants that permanently replace missing teeth, any smile can be returned to optimal health, appearance, comfort and function. However, not every patient is in a position to afford ideal dentistry, and whenever possible alternate treatment plans will be offered, including spreading the treatment over longer periods of time
Restoration Dentistry Procedures
Dental restorations restore the function, integrity, and morphology of missing tooth structure, which can be caused by caries or external trauma, such as chipping or cracking a tooth. Fabrication of a crown (a type of dental restoration) usually requires two dental visits. The first visit involves an examination of the tooth to determine how it should be restored and preparation of the tooth for the restoration; this visit may include a core build-up (sometimes requiring a post), fabrication of a temporary crown, and making an impression to be sent to the laboratory. The second visit usually involves delivery of the final restoration, which has been fabricated in the laboratory.
A crown is a restoration that covers (or “caps”) a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size, which can strengthen and improve the appearance of the tooth.
Crowns are necessary when a tooth has been damaged significantly and cannot be adequately restored with a filling. A crown can protect a weak tooth from fracturing; it also can prevent a cracked tooth from further damage. Crowns can cover discolored or misshapen teeth for more aesthetically pleasing smiles.
The dentist may use a filling material to restore a more ideal shape for supporting a crown (core build-up) when a tooth is severely decayed or fractured and lacks sufficient tooth structure. In some cases, a dentist will first perform a root canal, a procedure in which pulp is cleared out of the tooth and the canal is sealed with a special material. After the root canal, the dentist may place a post in the open canal and secure it with dental filling to “build up” the structure of the tooth. Once the material has hardened, the tooth can be prepared for a crown
It can, depending on the type of crown you elect to have made. A crown can be fabricated from porcelain, from gold, or from a combination of porcelain and metal. A crown can look just like a natural tooth when it is made with porcelain coverage. Numerous factors are considered when determining the crown material that is best for your particular tooth including the color, bite, shape, space, and location of the tooth in your mouth.
To prevent damaging or fracturing the crown, avoid chewing extremely hard foods and ice. You also should avoid grinding or clenching your teeth. In addition to brushing twice a day and visiting your dentist regularly, cleaning between your teeth is essential if you have crowns. Use floss or interdental cleaners (specially shaped brushes and sticks) to remove plaque from the crown area where the gum meets the tooth. This process helps to prevent both dental decay and gum disease.
If you are still unclear about the process of placing a crown or a post and core build-up, speak to your dentist. Your dentist can walk you through the steps of the procedures and address any questions or concerns you may have. It is important to have these types of conversations with your dentist so that your journey to an improved smile doesn’t start—or end—with a frown.
An empty space, or gap, in your smile may affect your chewing and speaking abilities—and your self-confidence. If you’re missing one or more teeth, your dentist may recommend a fixed bridge as a treatment option.
A fixed bridge is a dental appliance that replaces one or more missing teeth—thus “bridging” the space between the two adjacent natural teeth or implants. Bridges are made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. A traditional fixed bridge consists of a false tooth or teeth fused between two crowns, or caps, that are cemented on the surrounding, or abutment, teeth. An implant bridge is fastened to two or more implants that are submerged in the bone tissue. Bridges are sometimes called “fixed partial dentures.” However, unlike removable partial dentures, bridges cannot be removed by the patient.
If you are missing any teeth, the resulting space could cause speech or chewing problems. Missing teeth also can cause your remaining teeth to move out of position. This repositioning can make you more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease, which can cause further tooth loss. A fixed bridge can replace those missing teeth, correcting your bite, and improving your chewing and speech abilities. A bridge also can help to maintain the natural shape of your face.
There are a couple of steps required and several dental visits needed in order for your dentist to create a bridge that meets both your functional and esthetic needs. The total treatment time for a bridge is usually two to four weeks, depending on how long the tooth has been missing.
The success of a bridge depends on its foundation—the abutment teeth or implants—so it’s vital for patients with bridges to maintain their oral health. If you have a bridge, it’s more important than ever to brush for two minutes, twice a day and to see your dentist every six months. Your dentist also might recommend that you use floss threaders to reach the spaces between the bridge and the adjacent teeth and gums. With proper care, your fixed bridge should last as long as eight to 10 years, or even longer.
Partial and Full Dentures
Missing teeth can affect the way you eat and speak, and they can impact your appearance and self-esteem. Dentures are custom-made removable appliances, provided by a dentist, that can help alleviate these problems by replacing missing teeth. Dentures are made of acrylic resin, sometimes in combination with various metals. Learn more about the process of receiving dentures and which types of dentures are available to you.
Those who have lost all or most of their teeth are candidates for complete dentures, which replace all of the teeth. Those who have some natural teeth remaining may consider a partial denture, which can fill in the space created by missing teeth and prevent other teeth from changing position. This type of denture usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, which is held in place by a metal framework and clasps, or natural-looking connectors called precision attachments. Conventional dentures are placed in the mouth after any remaining teeth are removed and the tissue has healed, which may take a few months. Immediate dentures are placed in the mouth the same day that the remaining teeth are removed. This means you won’t have to go without teeth during the healing period, but your denture may need to be relined or remade after healing is complete. Overdentures fit over a small number of remaining teeth or implants after they have been prepared by the dentist. Your dentist will usually try to preserve your remaining natural teeth. Saving these teeth can help preserve your jawbone and provide support for the denture.
The process of getting dentures takes about three to six weeks and consists of several appointments. After the initial diagnosis, the dentist will take impressions and measurements of your jaw and create models to determine the appliance’s shape and position. The dentures’ color, shape, and fit will be assessed during multiple tryin appointments before the final appliance is cast. After you receive the final dentures, the dentist or prosthodontist will make adjustments as necessary.
Your dentures may feel awkward and loose for a few weeks as your cheek and tongue muscles learn to keep them in place. Your speech may be temporarily affected, and saliva flow may increase for a short time. It’s also normal to experience some minor irritation and soreness. As your mouth becomes accustomed to the dentures, however, these problems should subside. If they persist, talk to your dentist.
Your dentist will provide you with instructions regarding how long to wear your dentures and when to remove them. You may be asked to wear them all the time, including during sleep, for the first several days to identify areas that need adjustment. Under normal circumstances, however, it is likely your dentist will recommend that you remove your dentures at night.
Dentures should be brushed every day to remove food particles and plaque, and to prevent staining. After rinsing the appliance, gently brush all of its surfaces using a soft-bristle toothbrush and nonabrasive denture cleaner (not toothpaste). When you’re not wearing your dentures, keep them in a safe place and soak them in water to keep them from losing their shape. If you use a denture adhesive, make sure to follow all of the product’s usage instructions carefully. Before inserting your dentures, brush your gums, tongue, and the roof of your mouth with a soft-bristled brush to stimulate tissue circulation and remove plaque. In addition to maintaining good oral hygiene, you should continue to see your dentist for follow-up appointments and regular checkups. If you encounter any problems with your dentures’ fit or they become damaged, contact your dentist.
Root Canal Therapy
Inside your teeth is a soft material called pulp that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. If this pulp becomes infected, it can cause severe tooth pain. In some cases, that infection will require root canal therapy.
Nerves enter at the tip of the tooth’s roots and run through the center of the tooth in small, thin root canals, which join up in the pulp chamber. Each tooth has at least one root canal but may contain more.
Injury or trauma to a tooth may cause the pulp to become inflamed or infected; eventually, the pulp may die. Damaged or dead pulp leads to increased blood flow and cellular activity, creating pressure inside the tooth that cannot be relieved. This may result in pain when biting down or chewing with the affected tooth, or when consuming hot or cold drinks. Without treatment, the infection may spread, the bone around the tooth may degenerate, and the tooth may fall out.
Root canal therapy is a procedure to remove damaged or dead pulp. After the pulp chamber and root canal are cleaned out and reshaped, the canal is filled with a rubber-like substance called gutta percha to prevent recontamination, and the tooth is permanently sealed. Treatment usually involves one to three appointments. After cleaning and reshaping, the dentist may seal the tooth with a temporary crown, leave it open to drain, or fill the canals, depending on the tooth’s condition. A topical medication also may be applied in the area to fight bacteria. Temporary fillings will be removed on subsequent visits. If the tooth is still weak after the pulp chamber and canal are filled, a metal or fiber-reinforced resin post may be used to reinforce the tooth. Finally, the area is permanently sealed, and a gold, porcelain-fused-to-metal, or ceramic crown usually is placed over the tooth to reinforce its structure and improve its appearance
Tissue inflammation in the area may cause some discomfort. This usually can be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers. Aftercare includes maintaining regular visits with your dentist, brushing for two minutes twice a day, flossing once a day, and avoiding chewing hard foods with the treated tooth.
On rare occasions, new infections may occur. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including an undetected crack in the root of the tooth, a defective restoration, or the breakdown of an inner sealing material. In these cases, additional follow-up and treatment may be necessary.
The only alternative to root canal therapy is extraction of the infected tooth. This can eventually cause the surrounding teeth to move, which may result in a bad bite that ultimately requires an implant or bridge. It’s always best to keep your original tooth if possible, and root canal therapy allows you to do so.