Posts for category: Dental Procedures

WantToBuyaDentalCrownTheKingofRockandRollsIsUpforSale

Although Elvis Presley left us more than four decades ago, he still looms large over popular culture. It's not uncommon, then, for personal items like his guitars, his revolver collection or even his famed white jumpsuit to go on sale. Perhaps, though, one of the oddest of Elvis's personal effects recently went on auction (again)—his gold-filled dental crown.

It's a little hazy as to how the "King" parted with it, but the crown's list of subsequent holders, including a museum, is well-documented. Now, it's looking for a new home with a starting bid of $2,500.

The interest, of course, isn't on the crown, but on its original owner. Dental crowns weren't rare back in Presley's day, and they certainly aren't now. But they are more life-like, thanks to advances in dental materials over the last thirty years.

Crowns are an invaluable part of dental care. Though they can improve a tooth's cosmetic appeal, they're more often installed to protect a weak or vulnerable tooth. In that regard, a crown's most important qualities are strength and durability.

In the early 20th Century, you could have utility or beauty, but usually not both. The most common crowns of that time were composed of precious metals like silver and, as in Presley's case, gold. Metal crowns can ably withstand the chewing forces teeth encounter daily.

But they simply don't look like natural teeth. Dental porcelain was around in the early days, but it wasn't very strong. So, dentists devised a new kind of crown that blended durability with life-likeness. Known as porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns, they were essentially hybrids, a metal crown, which fit over the tooth, overlayed with a porcelain exterior shell to give it an attractive appearance.

PFMs became the most widely used crown and held that title until the early 2000s. That's when a new crown leader came into its own—the all-ceramic crown. In the decade or so before, the fragility of porcelain was finally overcome with the addition of Lucite to the tooth-colored ceramic to strengthen it.

Additional strengthening breakthroughs since then helped make the all-ceramic crown the top choice for restorations. Even so, dentists still install metal and PFM crowns when the situation calls for added strength in teeth that aren't as visible, such as the back molars. But for more visible teeth like incisors, all-ceramic usually stands up to biting while looking life-like and natural.

For a star of his magnitude, Presley's crown was likely state-of-the-art for his time. In our day, though, you have even more crown choices to both protect your tooth and enhance your smile.

If you would like more information about crown restorations, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Dental Crowns.”

Same-DayImplantsOfferanAttractiveSmileThroughouttheProcess

With traditional implant methods, it could take months before you can enjoy your new replacement tooth. That's usually not a big deal for a back tooth that's mostly out of sight. It's a different story, however, for a highly visible front tooth—the extended time without a tooth can be embarrassingly uncomfortable for some.

There is, however, another option, one you may already have seen advertised: same-day tooth replacement. In effect, you receive the implant and a life-like temporary crown in a single dental visit.

During the conventional process, the dentist surgically installs the titanium implant post into a prepared channel in the jawbone. Once it's properly positioned, the dentist then sutures the gum tissue over the implant. This protects the implant while bone cells grow and attach themselves to the post to give it a strong and durable hold within the bone.

But now dentists have developed another method to help address the appearance problem posed by teeth that are more visible. With this method, the dentist affixes a temporary crown onto the implant post immediately after installing it. The patient thus walks out the same day without a missing tooth gap and a full smile.

This is a welcome alternative for people desiring to maintain an attractive smile throughout the implant process. But it does have one major qualification—the patient's underlying jawbone must be relatively healthy and supportive of the implant. If not, the implant may require a longer period of bone growth before and after surgery to fully secure it. In those cases, it may be better to use the conventional method.

As we've already noted, a "same-day" crown isn't the permanent one, especially with single tooth implants. That's because the implant still requires bone integration over several weeks to achieve full durability. For that reason, this initial crown is made slightly shorter than the surrounding teeth to limit its encounter with biting forces generated by daily chewing, from which those forces would likely damage the implant at this stage.

After completion of the bone integration stage, the patient returns to swap out the temporary crown for the fully functional permanent crown. The "same-day" crown has served its purpose—providing the patient a seamless full smile throughout the implant process.

If you would like more information on "same-day" implant restorations, 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 “Same-Day Tooth Replacement With Dental Implants.”

ARoutineDentalProcedureSavesThisMLBStandoutsBrokenTooth

During this year's baseball spring training, Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton got into a row with a steak dinner—and the beefsteak got the better of it. During his meal, the Gold Glove winner cracked a tooth.

Fortunately, he didn't lose it. Buxton's dentist rescued the tooth with a dental procedure that's been around for over a century—a root canal treatment. The dependable root canal is responsible for saving millions of teeth each year.

Dentists turn to root canal treatments for a number of reasons: a permanent tooth's roots are dissolving (a condition called resorption); chronic inflammation of the innermost tooth pulp due to repeated fillings; or a fractured or cracked tooth, like Buxton's, in which the pulp becomes exposed to bacteria.

One of the biggest reasons, though, is advanced tooth decay. Triggered by acid, a by-product of bacteria, a tooth's enamel softens and erodes, allowing decay into the underlying dentin. In its initial stages, we can often treat decay with a filling. But if the decay continues to advance, it can infect the pulp and root canals and eventually reach the bone.

Decay of this magnitude seriously jeopardizes a tooth's survival. But we can still stop it before that point with a root canal. The basic procedure is fairly straightforward. We begin first by drilling a small hole into the tooth to access the inner pulp and root canals. Using special instruments, we then remove all of the infected tissue within the tooth.

After disinfecting the now empty spaces and reshaping the root canals, we fill the tooth with a rubber-like substance called gutta percha. This, along with filling the access hole, seals the tooth's interior from future infection. In most cases, we'll return sometime later and bond a life-like crown to the tooth (as Buxton's dentist did for him) for added protection and support.

You would think such a procedure would get its own ticker tape parade. Unfortunately, there's a cultural apprehension that root canals are painful. But here's the truth—because your tooth and surrounding gums are numbed by local anesthesia, a root canal procedure doesn't hurt. Actually, if your tooth has been throbbing from tooth decay's attack on its nerves, a root canal treatment will alleviate that pain.

After some time on the disabled list, Buxton was back in the lineup in time to hit his longest homer to date at 456 feet on the Twins' Opening Day. You may not have that kind of moment after a root canal, but repairing a bothersome tooth with this important procedure will certainly get you back on your feet again.

If you would like more information about root canal therapy, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment.”

By Jeffrey Mason, DMD
February 20, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Dental Implants  
AnImplantCouldFailifSupportingStructuresBecomeDiseased

From an appearance standpoint, it might be difficult to tell a new dental implant and crown from a natural tooth. There is, however, one big difference between an implant and crown from a real tooth, one which could impact an implant's longevity: how each attach to the jaw.

A natural tooth is held in place by a tough, but elastic gum tissue called the periodontal ligament. The ligament lies between the tooth and the bone, extending out tiny fibers that attach to both. This holds the teeth firmly in place, while also allowing the tooth to gradually move in response to mouth changes. It also facilitates the delivery of infection-fighting agents to protect the teeth and gums against disease.

By contrast, an implant is imbedded in a prepared channel shaped into the jaw bone. Over time, bone cells grow and adhere to the titanium surface, which serves to fully secure the implant to the jaw. The periodontal ligament doesn't attach to the implant, so it relies solely for stability on its attachment to the bone.

Thus, although highly durable, implants don't share the properties real teeth have because of their connection with the periodontal ligament. They don't move dynamically like real teeth; and more importantly, they lack some of the disease-fighting resources available to natural teeth.

So, what difference would the latter make? Implants aren't composed of organic material, and are therefore unaffected by bacterial infection. The problem, though, is that the gums and bone supporting the implant are susceptible to disease. And, because an implant lacks the defenses of a real tooth that the periodontal ligament provides, an infection within these tissues could quickly undermine their support and cause the implant to fail.

To avoid this and protect the longevity of your implant, it's important that you practice daily oral hygiene. You should brush and floss your implant to clear away disease-causing plaque from the surrounding tissues just as you do natural teeth.

Your dental provider will also include cleaning around your implants during your regular visits, albeit with different tools that are more protective of the implant and crown surfaces. During these visits they'll also closely inspect the tissues around the implant for any signs of infection and initiate prompt treatment if necessary.

If you would like more information on taking care of your 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 “Dental Implant Maintenance.”

By Jeffrey Mason, DMD
January 01, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental care  
ProperDentalWorkCareWillExtendTheirLongevity

Modern dental restorations are not only more life-like than past generations, but also more durable. Today's fillings, crowns and bridges can last for years or even decades.

But that doesn't mean you can set them and forget them—they all require some level of maintenance and care. Here are 3 common restorations and what you need to do to make them last.

Fillings. Whether traditional dental amalgam ("silver") or tooth-colored composites, fillings today are incredibly strong and durable. But they do have one point of vulnerability, especially larger ones—the seam where the filling material meets the natural tooth. Bacteria tend to build up along this seam, which could lead to decay and the formation of a new cavity that weakens the filling. To avoid this, be sure you're brushing and flossing everyday and seeing your dentist at least twice a year.

Veneers. Dentists bond these thin shells of tooth-colored porcelain over the visible surface of teeth to hide chips, stains or other blemishes. But although the bonding agents we use create an incredibly strong hold, the bond between the veneer and tooth could weaken when subjected to higher than normal biting forces produced by nail-biting, ice-chewing or a tooth grinding habit. If you have such a habit, see your dentist about ways to minimize it and protect your veneers.

Bridges. Traditional bridges consist of an array of artificial crowns with those in the middle substituting for the missing teeth, while those on the end attach to the natural teeth on either side of the gap to support the bridge. Bridges can also be supported by dental implants. In either case, tooth decay or gum disease could undermine the natural teeth or bone supporting a bridge. To avoid a bridge failure, keep the areas around supporting teeth or implants clean and regularly checked by a dentist.

Above all, the danger dental disease poses to natural tissues also threatens the restorations that depend on them. Keeping your mouth free of disease is your best strategy for ensuring your dental work enjoys a long, functional life.

If you would like more information on protecting your dental work, 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 “Extending the Life of Your Dental Work.”