Q: What are my options for replacing a missing tooth?
A: By replacing missing teeth either with a bridge, partial or implant, you will alleviate the problems associated with a missing tooth. Problems such as, function during chewing will be reduced. You compensate by chewing differently and put pressure on different parts of your mouth. This can cause your other teeth to shift, creating gaps and spaces and may even cause fractures that result in additional tooth loss or the need for restorations.
Q: What are crowns and why are they used?
A: A crown is a restoration that covers (or caps) a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size. Its purpose is to strengthen or improve the appearance of a tooth. A crown is placed for a number of reasons:
- To support a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth remaining
- To attach a bridge
- To protect weak teeth from fracturing
- To restore fractured teeth
- To cover badly shaped or discolored teeth
- To cover a dental implant
Q: How do I take care of my crowns?
A: Brushing twice a day and cleaning between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners (specially shaped brushes and sticks or picks) is especially important when you have crowns. These measures remove a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. It is especially important to remove plaque from the area where the gum meets the tooth. When plaque accumulates, it can cause dental decay or gum disease. To prevent damaging or fracturing crowns, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects. It is also important to visit your dentist regularly.
Q: What causes sensitivity?
A: If your dentist has ruled out other dental problems that are causing discomfort such as a cavity, a fractured tooth or an abscess, the sensitivity may be the result of worn tooth enamel or an exposed tooth.
The dentin contains microscopic tubules (small hollow tubes or canals). When the dentin loses its protective covering, the tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to stimulate the nerves and cells inside the tooth. This causes hypersensitivity and momentary discomfort. The irritation does not cause permanent damage to the pulp.
For various reasons, dentin may be exposed when gums recede. The result can be hypersensitivity near the gum line.
Q: What does a Dentist do during a routine oral examination?
A: There are several main areas that are checked.
Checking for dental decay is important. Your dentist will check for signs of secondary decay around old fillings and decay of tooth roots, which may occur with age or due to periodontal disease.
During a dental exam, your dentist can screen for precancerous changes. Your dentist checks your neck and oral tissue for lumps, masses, growths, patches or recurring sore areas.
Oral health is integrally connected with your general health. Regular check ups are important because some diseases or medical conditions have signs that appear in the mouth.
Periodontal (gum) disease affects three out of four adults at some time. It doesn’t necessarily hurt, and you may not even be aware that you have the first stage. Regular dentist visits are essential for detecting periodontal disease.
Changes in your health:
Be sure to let your dentist know if you have any illness or medical condition or if your health status has changed since your last visit.
Q: Why do I need to have my teeth cleaned?
A: There are 5 great reasons to have your teeth cleaned:
- It helps remove many of the food, beverage, or tobacco stains that can’t be removed with regular brushing.
- It helps remove tartar, a hardened substance that makes brushing difficult.
- It helps prevent gum disease, a condition that may lead to more severe problems.
- It helps your teeth stay healthy.
- Clean teeth feel good.
Q: Why does my filling need replacing?
A: A dental filling may last for years.
owever, due to constant stress from chewing it may become worn. Clenching or grinding teeth also puts stress on fillings and tooth enamel. All of these can cause a filling to gradually wear or fall out.
A filling may eventually wear around the edges or it may pull away from the enamel, leaving a very small space between the tooth and the filling. This may allow bacteria to enter and cause decay around the margins (edges). Bacteria cannot be removed once they enter the space. Often, the damage is not noticeable until the decay reaches the nerve of the tooth causing pain.
Poor oral hygiene, an unbalanced diet, gum recession or lack of saliva can compound decay. If recurring tooth decay is not treated early, it can progress from the enamel to the dental pulp, the tooth’s living core.
Q: How can my smile be evaluated?
A: The following questions are designed to help you and your dentist identify a benefit from some cosmetic dentistry.
- When you look in the mirror, do you like the way your teeth look?
- What don’t you like about your teeth or smile?
- Do you dislike the color of any of your teeth?
- Are there spaces between your teeth? Have they been there long and are the spaces getting bigger?
- Do you have any chips or cracks on your teeth?
- Are you missing any teeth? For how long?
- Do you have any crooked teeth?
- Do you feel your teeth are too long? Too short?
- Are you pleased with the shapes and position of your teeth?
Due to advances in materials and techniques during the past 25 years, dentistry has made great gains. Today, there are many options for solving cosmetic flaws. Because of these new procedures and materials, you can have more naturally looking attractive teeth.
If you don’t like the shape of your teeth, their contours can be changed. If the color is too dark, you can try professional bleaching. Fractures and chips can be repaired with bonding, and veneers can cover a multitude of sins, including gaps, stains, poor shape, or teeth that are out of alignment. Tooth-colored fillings are used to repair decay, and there are sealants to help protect teeth.
Less visible and “invisible” braces may help make treatment possible for those who have major cosmetic concerns. The braces may be placed on the teeth so they are not visible. In some cases, treatment may be done by using a series of clear plastic removable mouthpiece-like aligners.
Because of these new procedures and materials, you can have more naturally attractive teeth.
- Veneers – thin custom-made shells that are designed to cover the front of teeth with tooth-colored materials. Veneers are used to treat spaces between teeth that are permanently stained, poorly shaped or slightly crooked.
- Tooth Whitening – also called bleaching, is a procedure that brightens teeth that are discolored, stained, or have been darkened because of injury. It can be used for teeth that have had root canal treatment.
- Bonding – a cosmetic procedure that can improve the appearance of teeth that have broken, cracked, stained, or have spaces between them. With bonding, materials are attached or bonded to a tooth surface. The process can remove stains caused from coffee, tea, tobacco or certain childhood medications and front tooth accident-induced cracks or chips. Bonding is also used to protect exposed roots from gum recession and to fill small cavities. Bonding usually lasts for years.
- Enamel Shaping – a process of shaping, or contouring natural teeth to enhance appearance. When teeth are slightly crowded or uneven, or when eye teeth appear too long enamel shaping may be used to correct the flaw.
These treatment and others can help you have a better smile. At your next appointment, discuss with your dentist your expectations and the options most suitable for you.