Posts for: August, 2014

By James P. Watts, DMD
August 29, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: bridgework  
AFixedBridgeRemainsanEffectiveOptionforToothReplacement

If at all possible, we want to save a tooth — it’s the best outcome for your overall dental health. In many cases, we can achieve this by filling the tooth or installing a crown over it.

Unfortunately, preservation isn’t always possible if the natural tooth has been irreparably weakened by decay or trauma. Replacing the natural tooth with a life-like artificial one is the next best option: the replacement will help you regain lost function and reinvigorate your smile. Filling the missing tooth’s space also prevents neighboring teeth from drifting into it, causing further problems with function and appearance.

Dental implants are widely recognized as the best choice for tooth replacement because of their life-like qualities, durability and positive effect on bone health. Even their biggest drawback, their cost, isn’t that great an issue if you factor in their longevity — they may actually result in less dental expense over the long-term.

A dental implant, however, isn’t always a viable option. Some patients may not have enough bone mass to support an implant. Those with certain systemic diseases like uncontrolled diabetes or a weakened immune system may not be able to undergo dental implant surgery.

Fortunately, many of these patients can benefit from a fixed bridge, a restoration option that’s been used for decades. A bridge is a series of life-like crowns permanently joined like pickets in a fence. The middle crown known as the “pontic” fills the empty space left by the missing tooth. The crowns on either side of the pontic are permanently attached to the natural teeth that border the missing tooth space. Known also as “abutment” teeth, they serve as the support for the bridge.

Bridges do have one downside — the abutment teeth must be prepared by filing them down so the new crowns fit over them properly. This will permanently alter and possibly weaken the teeth. Dental implants, on the other hand, have little to no effect on adjacent teeth.

Still, a bridge remains an effective option for many people. Properly cared for, a bridge can restore function as well as enhance your smile for many years to come.

If you would like more information on bridgework as a restorative option, 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 “Crowns & Bridgework.”


FollowinVannaWhitesFootstepsandReplaceThatMissingBackTooth

As the co-host of one of America's most beloved television game shows, Wheel of Fortune, Vanna White is recognized for her beautiful gowns and her dazzling smile. However, during an exclusive interview with Dear Doctor magazine, she shared her experiences with cosmetic dentistry. “I had a bridge put in probably 30 years ago where I had a tooth pulled and there was a space,” Vanna said.

Prior to having a permanent tooth pulled, most people are concerned with what can be done to replace it. It's important to follow through and do exactly that. This is especially true with back teeth. Just because you can't see them, it doesn't mean you won't face problems if they are not replaced.

For example, did you know that missing posterior (back) teeth can lead to a wide array or problems with the remaining teeth, muscles, ligaments, joints and jaw bones? This includes:

  • A decrease in chewing efficiency that in turn can impact your diet, nutrition and overall health
  • Excessive erosion or wear of remaining teeth
  • Tipping, migration, rotation and even loss of adjacent remaining teeth
  • Painful jaw problems such as Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD)

One treatment option is to follow in Vanna's footsteps and consider a fixed bridge. This is an excellent option when dental implants won't work. And through our artistry, we can easily blend them in color and appearance with your surrounding teeth.

When implants are possible, they represent the best option. They are easily maintained and are a durable, long-lasting solution that can increase bite support.

To learn more about this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Replacing Back Teeth.” Or if you are already missing a permanent tooth, you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination. We will also address any questions you have as well as your treatment options. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Vanna White, continue reading “Vanna White.”


By James P. Watts, DMD
August 01, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
DentalImplantSurgeryisaRoutineWorry-FreeProcedure

Dental implantation is the premier option for tooth replacement available today. While acquiring dental implants does involve a surgical procedure, don’t let that deter you — with proper preparation the procedure is relatively minor and routine.

Implants are root replacements inserted directly into the jawbone to which a life-like, artificial crown is secured (strategically placed implants can also support fixed bridges or removable dentures). They’re typically made of titanium, which is osseophilic or “bone-loving”: bone will grow and adhere to the implant over a few weeks time.

Pre-planning can help minimize discomfort during and after the implantation procedure. We first conduct a radiographic examination of the site with x-rays or CT imaging; this enables us to assess the site’s bone quality and quantity. We can also create a surgical guide from the imaging to pinpoint the precise location for an implant to ensure a successful outcome.

Before beginning the procedure, we numb the area with a local anesthesia (we can also administer a sedative or other relaxation medication if you’re experiencing mild apprehension). The procedure often begins by creating a flap opening in the gum tissue with a few small incisions to access the bone. Using the surgical guide, we then begin a drilling sequence into the bone that progressively increases the size of the hole until it precisely matches the size and shape of the implant.

When the site preparation is complete, we remove the implant from its sterile packaging (which minimizes the chance of infection) and immediately insert it into the prepared site. We verify proper positioning with more x-rays and then suture the flap opening of the gum tissue back into place.

Thanks to both the pre-planning and care taken during surgery, you should only experience minimal discomfort. While narcotic pain relievers like codeine or hydrocodone may be prescribed, most often non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen are all that’s needed. We may also prescribe an anti-bacterial mouthrinse (with chlorhexidine) to assist healing.

In just a few weeks your custom-made restorations will be attached to the implants. It’s the completion of a long but not difficult journey; the resulting smile transformation, though, can last for many years to come.

If you would like more information on dental 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 Surgery.”