Posts for: July, 2013
Do you have silver dental fillings that you wish you didn't have? Wouldn't it be nice if no one could look in your mouth and see how many cavities you had as a kid? Tooth-colored fillings may offer a solution to the problem of too much metal in your mouth. How much do you really know about non-metallic tooth-colored fillings? Take our quiz and find out.
True or false: Tooth-colored fillings are a radical new technology.
False. A variety of dental porcelains and composite resins have been successfully used in tooth restoration for many years. These materials have been designed to mimic the properties of the two major components of teeth: the hard outer enamel, and the bone-like inner dentin. Our increasing understanding of tooth structure and composition has led to better and more natural-looking filling substances.
True or false: Teeth must remain rigid under the pressure of the bite.
False. At one time, metal amalgam (silver) fillings were preferred because of their extreme hardness. But we now know that the crowns of our teeth actually flex under the forces of the bite. This discovery has spurred the development of new methods and materials to stabilize the restored tooth and reduce the incidence of premature failure.
True or false: It's usually more complicated to put in a tooth-colored filling than a metal one.
False. Regardless of which material is used, the basic process of filling a tooth is the same. The dentist prepares the tooth for treatment, removes decay, and places a filling directly into the tooth. If the filling is moderately deep, a tooth-colored filling may be set in several layers which are successively “cured” or hardened. More extensive restorations may require more than one visit, but the natural-looking results generally justify the extra time.
True or false: Regular metal fillings make the tooth structure stronger.
False. Properly securing an amalgam filling may require the tooth to be “undercut,” meaning that a greater amount of healthy tooth material must be removed. This can weaken the tooth structure, eventually leading it to chip and crack. Non-metallic fillings don't require undercutting, so more tooth structure is left intact. This more conservative treatment can result in a stronger, longer-lasting restoration.
True or false: Non-metallic (tooth-colored) fillings are safer than silver fillings.
False. While each method has advantages and disadvantages, and may not be an appropriate treatment in every situation, both methods have been deemed safe and effective by major U.S. and international science and health organizations. While there have been recent concerns about mercury in amalgam fillings, there is presently no reason to believe that it presents any cause for concern.
If you would like more information about tooth-colored fillings, 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 “The Natural Beauty of Tooth-Colored Fillings.”
If you've lived for many years with crooked teeth, you may think that your teeth will be this way forever. Believe it or not, one out of every five orthodontic patients is an adult and 75% of adults have some form of malocclusion. You're never too old to improve your smile, and here a few reasons why you should consider orthodontic treatment:
- Self-Esteem: An attractive smile contributes to your confidence and self-image, and this is important at any age. Research has shown that, logically, the better you feel about your looks, the better you feel about yourself. You might not realize it, but those crooked teeth can cause you to be self-conscious, thus smiling and talking less. Studies have even demonstrated that orthodontic treatments can enhance your career opportunities.
- Longevity: Though you can always expect a certain amount of wear and tear to your teeth from aging, properly aligned teeth will function better over time. If you are prone to gum disease, your problems can worsen with poorly aligned teeth. Not only is it more difficult to clean around crooked teeth, but we often see gum recession around poorly positioned or crowded teeth.
- Options: If you choose to explore orthodontic treatment, you will see that much has changed since you were a teenager. Instead of traditional metal braces, we can sometimes use clear or colorless braces that are less noticeable. Some braces can even be attached to the back of your teeth. You may also be a candidate for clear orthodontic aligners, which use a sequence of clear, removable and custom-fitted trays to gradually straighten your teeth.
If you're considering orthodontic treatment, you should schedule an appointment with our office, so that we can conduct a thorough examination, discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment. We'll also make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy, an important requirement to successfully straighten your teeth.
If you would like more information about adult orthodontics, please contact us for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Orthodontics for the Older Adult.”
You have probably heard a lot of people talk about TMJ disorders, but do you know what it all means? How do you know if you are suffering from a TMJ disorder?
Below are answers to some common questions about TMJ disorders.
What is a TMJ disorder?
First, we should explain that TMJ actually refers to the Temporomandibular Joint, which is the formal name for your jaw joint(s). TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorders, which is the correct name for the muscle and/or joint symptoms that commonly arise when there is TMJ pain and dysfunction. You may have heard people refer to the actual disorder as TMJ, but this name is incorrect.
When I experience TMJ pain, what exactly is happening?
Let's first understand all of the parts that play a role in your pain. The temporomandibular joints connect your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull on both the left and right sides, which makes the lower jaw the only bone in the body with completely symmetrical joints at both ends. There is a ball-and-socket relationship between your jaw and your skull on both sides, but the unique part is the presence of a cushioning disk between the two surfaces in each joint. Each TMJ has a disk between the ball (condyle) and socket (fossa), and this sometimes ends up being an especially important area when trouble arises.
So, how do I know if I have TMD?
You can never be absolutely sure, but here are some symptoms you should be sure to share with us during your examination:
- Clicking. You may experience a clicking sound in the jaw, usually due to a shift in the position of the disk inside the joint. However, if you do not have pain or limited jaw function, this symptom may be insignificant.
- Muscle Pain. The next symptom is jaw muscle pain, usually in the cheeks or temples. If the muscle is sore or stiff in the morning, this pain is usually related to clenching or grinding in your sleep. However, there are more complex muscle pains that can spread to your head and neck.
- TMJ Pain. This third symptom refers to pain actually inside one or both of your jaw joints, technically described as arthritis of the TMJ.
If diagnosed, what can I expect from treatment?
We will first need to assess the damage to your TMJ, and from there we will recommend a course of treatment to relieve your pain. Treatment may range from hot or cold compresses and anti-inflammatory medications to physical therapy or a bite guard. We may also advise you to do jaw exercises at home. In general, we will do our best to treat your issue without orthodontic treatment or surgery.
If you would like more information about TMD, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Seeking Relief from TMD.”
Are you ready to suit up for sports? Mouthguards have been called the most important part of an athlete's uniform. Designed to absorb and distribute the forces of impact received while you participate in athletic activities, your mouthguard is a protective appliance that covers and cushions your teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to your teeth, jaws, lips and gums. A properly fitted protective mouthguard is comfortable, resilient, tear resistant, odorless, tasteless, not bulky, fits well, and has sufficient thickness where needed. If you wear it when engaging in contact sports it can prevent injury, pain, suffering and years of expensive dental treatment.
Here's why athletes need mouthguards:
- Sports related dental injuries account for more than 600,000 emergency room visits each year. Mouthguards are recommended particularly for contact sports such as boxing, football, hockey and lacrosse.
- An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard. It is estimated that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year.
- Properly fitted mouthguards protect the soft tissues of the lips, cheeks, gums and tongue by covering the sharp surfaces of the teeth that can cause lacerations on impact. They also reduce the potential for tooth injury, jaw damage or jaw joint fracture and displacement by cushioning against impact — absorbing and distributing the forces that can cause injury.
- Custom-fitted mouthguards are made from exact and precise models of your teeth. They are effective, comfortable, easy to clean, and do not restrict breathing. The best mouthguard is custom designed to fit your mouth and made in our office after your athletic needs have been assessed. For a growing child or adolescent, a custom made mouthguard can provide space for growing teeth and jaws.
- A mouthguard properly fitted in our office costs little in comparison to the cost of treatment after injury. If your teeth are knocked out and are not properly preserved or replanted you may face lifetime dental costs of as much as $10,000 to $20,000 per tooth.
The American Dental Association recommends the use of custom mouthguards in 27 sports/exercise activities. Make an appointment to consult with us to find out more about mouthguards. You can also read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards: One of the most important parts of any uniform!”