Posts for: September, 2017
September is National Gum Care Month. Did you know that advanced periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss among adults? Periodontal disease refers to any disease that affects the structures that hold the teeth in place, including gums, ligaments and bone. In its earliest stage, called gingivitis, the gums become inflamed. When it progresses to periodontitis, both soft and hard tissues that hold the teeth in place are affected, threatening the integrity of the teeth. Some people are more susceptible to periodontal disease than others. Here are some common risk factors:
Poor oral hygiene. Plaque buildup is the primary cause of gum disease. When life gets busy, we may be less diligent about our oral care. This allows bacteria in the mouth to form a biofilm (plaque), which causes inflammation of the gums.
Heredity: Some people are genetically more predisposed to gum disease. Look at your family history. Have any of your relatives had gum disease or lost their teeth?
Pregnancy. Gums are sensitive to hormone fluctuations, and it is not uncommon for pregnant women to experience an inflammation of the gums known as “pregnancy gingivitis.” Gingivitis — characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed easily — is the beginning stage of gum disease.
Age: The chance of developing gum disease increases with age. Over 70% of Americans 65 and older have periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This may be influenced by other diseases, medications that cause dry mouth, or other causes of plaque buildup.
Diet: Eating too many simple carbohydrates (those found in sugar, white bread, white rice and mashed potatoes, for example) is linked to chronic inflammation in the body, which increases the risk of gum disease.
Smoking: Smoking is a significant risk factor for the development and progression of gum disease. Since nicotine constricts blood vessels, smokers may not see the typical symptoms such as red, puffy, bleeding gums, so the disease may cause damage before smokers realize there is a problem with their gums.
Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes puts you at higher risk of periodontal disease. Not only can diabetes make gum disease worse, gum disease can make diabetes symptoms worse.
Our aim is not to scare you but to help you become aware of factors that can increase your risk of gum disease. Many of these factors are not under your control. However, you can do your part to prevent gum disease by staying on top of the things you can control. Let us know about any new medications you are taking, eat a balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates and other nutrients and, if relevant, manage your diabetes and explore programs that will help you quit smoking.
Fortunately, good oral hygiene and regular professional cleanings can turn early gum disease around, so if you have any of the risk factors that contribute to periodontal disease, be extra diligent about your oral hygiene routine. And make sure you come in for regular dental checkups and cleanings. If you show signs of gum disease, we may recommend that you come in for more frequent cleanings.
Whether you wish to replace a missing tooth or conceal cosmetic imperfections, various options are available for improving your smile. Dental implants and veneers are both options for improving the appearance of your smile. Dental implants serve as replacements for missing teeth, while veneers conceal and correct a variety of imperfections. Dr. Brenna Hamrick-Stotts is your Redlands, CA dentist for installation of dental implants and veneers.
Dental implants permanently replace missing teeth. Installation involves anchoring a portion of the implant to the jaw bone, which prevents the implant from ever coming loose or falling out. Dental implants are comprised of a metal implant, an abutment and a porcelain crown. The metal implant is the portion anchored to the jaw bone and serves as the tooth root. The crown sits above the gum line and functions as the replacement tooth, while the abutment connects the crown to the implant.
In addition to replacing missing teeth, dental implants offer several other benefits. Since installation is permanent, messy dental adhesives are not needed to hold the implants in place. They also look and function like natural teeth and can perform normal functions, such as biting and chewing. Additionally, dental implants can improve speech. When the gaps from missing teeth are eliminated upon installation of dental implants, tongue placement when speaking can return to normal. Your Redlands dentist can help you decide if dental implants are right for you.
Veneers are extremely thin covers for less than perfect teeth. They can conceal various cosmetic imperfections, such as stains, discolorations, cracks or chips on teeth. Veneers are often made from porcelain, which is similar in appearance to natural tooth enamel. Veneers can also be color matched to the surrounding teeth so they blend right in. To install veneers, a small bit of enamel is first shaved off the front of the tooth. Then a dental cement is used to permanently adhere the veneer to the front of the problem tooth. Benefits of veneers include:
- Concealing cracks and chips.
- Covering discolorations and stains.
- Correcting the shape of teeth that are oddly shaped.
- Smoothing out uneven surfaces on tooth.
- Closing extra space between teeth.
- Having the appearance of natural teeth.
Dental implants and veneers are excellent options for replacing missing teeth and improving the appearance of teeth with cosmetic imperfections. To find out if dental implants or veneers can benefit your smile, schedule an appointment with Dr. Hamrick-Stotts, your Redlands, CA dentist, by calling (909) 793-9711.
In real life he was a hard-charging basketball player through high school and college. In TV and the movies, he has gone head-to-head with serial killers, assorted bad guys… even mysterious paranormal forces. So would you believe that David Duchovny, who played Agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files and starred in countless other large and small-screen productions, lost his front teeth… in an elevator accident?
“I was running for the elevator at my high school when the door shut on my arm,” he explained. “The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the hospital. I had fainted, fallen on my face, and knocked out my two front teeth.” Looking at Duchovny now, you’d never know his front teeth weren’t natural. But that’s not “movie magic” — it’s the art and science of modern dentistry.
How do dentists go about replacing lost teeth with natural-looking prosthetics? Today, there are two widely used tooth replacement procedures: dental implants and bridgework. When a natural tooth can’t be saved — due to advanced decay, periodontal disease, or an accident like Duchovny’s — these methods offer good looking, fully functional replacements. So what’s the difference between the two? Essentially, it’s a matter of how the replacement teeth are supported.
With state-of-the-art dental implants, support for the replacement tooth (or teeth) comes from small titanium inserts, which are implanted directly into the bone of the jaw. In time these become fused with the bone itself, providing a solid anchorage. What’s more, they actually help prevent the bone loss that naturally occurs after tooth loss. The crowns — lifelike replacements for the visible part of the tooth — are securely attached to the implants via special connectors called abutments.
In traditional bridgework, the existing natural teeth on either side of a gap are used to support the replacement crowns that “bridge” the gap. Here’s how it works: A one-piece unit is custom-fabricated, consisting of prosthetic crowns to replace missing teeth, plus caps to cover the adjacent (abutment) teeth on each side. Those abutment teeth must be shaped so the caps can fit over them; this is done by carefully removing some of the outer tooth material. Then the whole bridge unit is securely cemented in place.
While both systems have been used successfully for decades, bridgework is now being gradually supplanted by implants. That’s because dental implants don’t have any negative impact on nearby healthy teeth, while bridgework requires that abutment teeth be shaped for crowns, and puts additional stresses on them. Dental implants also generally last far longer than bridges — the rest of your life, if given proper care. However, they are initially more expensive (though they may prove more economical in the long run), and not everyone is a candidate for the minor surgery they require.
Which method is best for you? Don’t try using paranormal powers to find out: Come in and talk to us. If you would like more information about tooth replacement, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Crowns & Bridgework,” and “Dental Implants.”