Posts for: May, 2012
Until recently anyone who needed to repair cavities in his or her teeth ended up with a mouth full of “silver” fillings. Dental amalgam, which has a silver appearance, was the tooth restoration material of choice. Amalgam, a combination of metals including silver, mercury, and other metals, is still used — but today there are other options that mimic the original teeth they are restoring.
You may have read about some people's concerns about the mercury used in dental amalgam. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), scientific studies have found no ill effects arising from using dental amalgam in fillings for adults or children: “While questions have arisen about the safety of dental amalgam relating to its mercury content, the major US and international scientific and health bodies, including the National Institutes of Health, the US Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, among others have been satisfied that dental amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material.” Dental amalgam is still used for molars (back teeth) that must withstand heavy pressure from chewing.
For teeth that are more visible, materials that look and perform more like the original teeth — and are thus more pleasing in appearance — are now available. Dentistry is now taking a “biomimetic approach” (from words meaning “life mimicking”). The new materials — composite resins and porcelains — look like teeth because in many ways their structure imitates the biologic structure of teeth.
Composite resins are made of a plastic material (methacrylate) combined with fillers made of silica, a form of glass. They are able to bond to natural tooth structure and resemble the dentin, the inner layer of the tooth, which has a porous structure similar to bone.
Dental porcelains are a form of ceramic. They are non-metallic materials formed by the action of heat, like the ceramics used in porcelain cups and bowls. They come in a powder form that is mixed with water, shaped, and then placed in an oven until they reach the proper hardness. The end product is translucent and very hard, resembling the densely packed crystals of calcium that make up a tooth's normal outer layer, the enamel.
The old amalgam fillings required removal of tooth material to prepare a site in which they could be placed. Composite resins and porcelains can be used to treat teeth that have small or large amounts of damage to their natural substance because the materials bond directly to the remaining dentin and enamel. Thus they end up stabilizing and strengthening the restored tooth, as well as providing a natural-looking appearance.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth colored fillings. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.”
For a bride, there is so much to remember when planning the wedding — invitations, a dress, flowers, the site, the caterers, the cake, the photographer — the list goes on and on. In the midst of all these things, don't let a very important piece of the plan be forgotten — your smile!
Your wedding will be celebrated every year on your anniversary and commemorated in beautiful photos at any time. It is a special occasion you, your family, and your friends will always remember. But how will you and your family look in those photos? You have an opportunity to get makeovers that will make your smiles shine radiantly, and not only in your album. Your makeover will improve your appearance, your self-confidence, and your oral health far into the future.
Start with a visit to your dentist to assess your current situation and discuss your goals and dreams. Each person's situation will be different. At a minimum you may need a professional cleaning to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy. Get started on treating any cavities or gingivitis (gum inflammation). If you haven't already, now is a great time to establish healthy dental hygiene habits including proper daily brushing and flossing.
You may feel that your teeth are discolored and need to be whiter and brighter. Your upper and lower jaws may not meet properly for the most effective biting and chewing. Your teeth may be crowded or misshapen. All these things and more can be modified and repaired with today's dentistry.
Teeth can be whitened by bleaching in the dentist's office or with products that can be used at home under a dentist's supervision.
Orthodontia may be needed to repair your bite. Today orthodontia may be done either with traditional braces, or with clear aligners. Remember that this process works slowly, so start well in advance of your wedding day.
After your teeth are properly aligned, your dental team can work on subtle contouring, overall shape and color changes for individual teeth, using techniques such as porcelain laminate veneers. Temporary veneers can be made so that you can try out your new look before the final installation.
Wedding planning works best when started early. To make sure you, your new spouse, and your family look and feel their best, remember to include smile makeovers in your plan.
Humans naturally react with pleasure to a beautiful smile. Starting with our mother's joy at seeing our first smile, we have learned throughout our lives that a smile is an invitation to a positive interaction. But are some smiles more beautiful than others? What is it that makes a smile beautiful?
As with art and music, people's perceptions of beauty differ with their backgrounds and culture. Most people respond well to an appearance of healthy teeth and gums. Some feel that teeth must be very white and bright, while others look for even alignment and proportionally sized teeth. With today's dentistry, all of these factors can be changed and enhanced.
Let's look at the components of a smile, starting with the teeth. Evenly sized, white teeth are generally considered to be the basis of an attractive smile. Chipped or discolored front teeth can be repaired by bonding tooth-colored composite resin restorations. Thin porcelain veneers can be applied to teeth that are too small, misshapen or discolored. Tooth colored fillings can be used to repair damaged or decayed back teeth, or porcelain crowns may be used to replace the top part of a tooth that has been seriously damaged. If teeth are missing because of trauma or loss due to decay, today they can be replaced by dental implants, topped with crowns that are colored and shaped exactly like the natural teeth.
Of course, if your teeth emerge from inflamed, infected gums, your smile needs improvement. Healthy teeth and gums result from good dental hygiene habits and regular professional dental cleanings and checkups. Teeth can be whitened and brightened both through home methods and in the dental office. Ask us about the options available for tooth whitening.
Another factor that goes into a smile is the relation of the upper to the lower jaw, or the bite. A poor bite is called a malocclusion. Orthodontic treatment, with the use of traditional braces or clear aligners, can move the teeth into a better bite position so that they look and function better.
Repairing parts of your smile that make you feel self conscious will help your smile in more ways than one. If you feel good about yourself, you look better. We get the process started, and you do the rest.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry: A time for change.”
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.