Posts for: February, 2019
Dental implant technology has advanced at such an astounding rate in recent years that you can now walk into a dentist's office with a problem tooth and out the same day with a new one. Unfortunately, not all dental situations allow for this possibility.
For example, you might be considering an implant many years after losing a tooth. But there's a potential problem: there might not be enough supporting bone. While an implant might still be possible, inadequate bone complicates the matter.
Because implants are essentially tooth root replacements, they require a certain amount of bone for stability and the best attractive outcome. As a general rule, implants need to be surrounded by at least 1.5-2.0 millimeters of healthy bone to support an implant. But you might not have enough if your tooth has been missing for awhile, regardless if you have or haven't worn dentures or other restorations.
That's because bone has a life cycle in which older cells die and newer ones form to take their place. As we chew or bite, the force generated travels up through the teeth to the bone to stimulate this new growth. Without a tooth the bone doesn't receive this stimulus, which can slow the growth rate. Over time the affected bone can lose its volume and density.
If we find you've experienced loss to the point your bone won't support an implant, that doesn't automatically mean this popular restoration is out of the picture. But it will require us first performing a procedure known as augmentation or bone grafting to help rejuvenate some of the lost bone.
With grafting, we place processed bone grafting material in the jaw through a minor surgical procedure to form a scaffold for new bone to grow upon. After several months this can result in several millimeters of new growth maintaining the width of the underlying bone, which in turn may be able to support an implant.
Bone grafting is quite common, often performed at the same time as tooth extraction if there's going to be a time lag before installing an implant. Even if performed later, though, it can successfully rejuvenate lost bone and make it possible for you to take advantage of durable, life-like implants.
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 Implants after Previous Tooth Loss.”
As the host of America's Funniest Home Videos on ABC TV, Alfonso Ribeiro has witnessed plenty of unintentional physical comedy…or, as he puts it in an interview with Dear Doctor–Dentistry & Oral Health magazine, "When people do stuff and you're like, 'Dude, you just hurt yourself for no reason!'" So when he had his own dental dilemma, Alfonso was determined not to let it turn onto an "epic fail."
The television personality was in his thirties when a painful tooth infection flared up. Instead of ignoring the problem, he took care of it by visiting his dentist, who recommended a root canal procedure. "It's not like you wake up and go, 'Yay, I'm going to have my root canal today!'" he joked. "But once it's done, you couldn't be happier because the pain is gone and you're just smiling because you're no longer in pain!"
Alfonso's experience echoes that of many other people. The root canal procedure is designed to save an infected tooth that otherwise would probably be lost. The infection may start when harmful bacteria from the mouth create a small hole (called a cavity) in the tooth's surface. If left untreated, the decay bacteria continue to eat away at the tooth's structure. Eventually, they can reach the soft pulp tissue, which extends through branching spaces deep inside the tooth called root canals.
Once infection gets a foothold there, it's time for root canal treatment! In this procedure, the area is first numbed; next, a small hole is made in the tooth to give access to the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. The diseased tissue is then carefully removed with tiny instruments, and the canals are disinfected to prevent bacteria from spreading. Finally, the tooth is sealed up to prevent re-infection. Following treatment, a crown (cap) is usually required to restore the tooth's full function and appearance.
Root canal treatment sometimes gets a bad rap from people who are unfamiliar with it, or have come across misinformation on the internet. The truth is, a root canal doesn't cause pain: It relieves pain! The alternatives—having the tooth pulled or leaving the infection untreated—are often much worse.
Having a tooth extracted and replaced can be costly and time consuming…yet a missing tooth that isn't replaced can cause problems for your oral health, nutrition and self-esteem. And an untreated infection doesn't just go away on its own—it continues to smolder in your body, potentially causing serious problems. So if you need a root canal, don't delay!
If you would like additional information on root canal treatment, please contact us or schedule a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “A Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment” and “Root Canal Treatment: What You Need to Know.”
Your best smile faded long ago. Can you restore it to full health and great aesthetics? The answer is yes when you come to Total Dental Care in Pekin, IL. Your dentist, Dr. Stephen Dickey, offers same-day porcelain crowns to restore damaged, decayed or infected teeth, bringing them back to life and getting your smile back on track. Receiving a dental crown is easy these days. Here's how it all works.
What is a dental crown?
A crown is a tooth-shaped jacket of premiere-grade ceramic. Tooth-colored, durable and fully covering a tooth above the gum line, a dental crown protects remaining tooth structure and helps the patient keep the tooth healthy and strong indefinitely. An in-office examination and X-rays tell your Pekin dentist if a crown is the right option for you.
What is the treatment like?
Most crown treatments involve a single tooth which has an odd shape, large crack or chip, multiple fillings or deep decay. Some procedures, however, involve root canal therapy in which the dentist removes diseased interior pulp, seals the tooth and then crowns it. Crowns also restore dental implants, today's tooth replacements of choice, and anchor fixed bridgework for patients missing one, two or more adjoining teeth.
All crown procedures involve removal of damaged enamel (done under local anesthetic) and a shaping of the remaining tooth structure so the dental crown fits properly. After this preparation, Dr. Dickey takes oral impressions, digital imprints of tooth shape.
Using this information, he designs and creates the tooth using CAD/CAM software and a chair side milling apparatus. CAD/CAM means Computer-aided Design/Computer-aided Manufacturing. Dr. Dickey tells the machine how to craft your lifelike crown.
Amazingly, the machine does it in about 20 minutes using a solid block of porcelain. When complete, the dentist does some final shaping and shading and bonds the crown over your existing tooth. That's it! You leave the office with a completely functional and beautiful smile.
Your smile is back on track
With a same-day crown from Total Dental Care, your tooth will look good, feel great and last for years. Just brush twice and day and floss daily to remove plaque and its harmful bacteria, and see your dentist every six months for a check-up and hygienic cleaning. To prolong your crown's lifespan, avoid biting hard foods (and non-foods, such as pencil tops and plastic packaging), and wear a bite guard if you're in the habit of clenching and grinding your teeth.
A crown consultation
If you have one or more teeth compromised by decay, fracture or other oral health problem, get to Total Dental Care in Pekin, IL for a consultation with Dr. Stephen Dickey. He'll tell you if crowns are the right restorations for your smile. For existing patients, phone (309) 347-7055, for new patients, contact (309) 857-7580.