Not long ago the dental bridge was the alternative treatment of choice to partial dentures for restoring lost teeth. Over the last few decades, however, dental implants have nudged bridgework out of this premier spot.
That doesn’t mean, though, that bridgework has gone the way of the horse and buggy. In fact, it may still be a solid restorative alternative to partial dentures for certain people.
A traditional bridge consists of a series of porcelain crowns affixed to each other like pickets in a fence. The end crowns are fitted onto the teeth on either side of the empty tooth space; known as abutment teeth, they support the bridge. The crowns in the middle, known as pontics (from the French for “bridge”), replace the teeth that have been lost.
Bridges have been an effective and cosmetically pleasing method for tooth replacement for nearly a century. To achieve those results, though, a good portion of the abutment teeth’s structure must be removed to accommodate the crowns. This permanently alters these teeth, so they’ll require a restoration from that point on.
Dental implants, on the other hand, can be installed in the missing space without impacting any neighboring teeth. What’s more, implants provide greater support to the underlying bone than can be achieved with bridgework.
But not everyone is a viable candidate for implants, and ironically the reason most often has to do with the bone. If a patient has suffered significant bone volume loss, either because of disease or the long-term absence of the natural teeth, there may not be enough bone to properly support an implant. Unless we can adequately restore this lost bone volume through grafting, we’ll need to consider another type of restoration.
That’s where bridgework could be a viable option for patients in this or similar situations. With continuing advances in materials and new applications, the traditional bridge still remains an effective and important means to restore a smile marred by missing teeth.
If you would like more information on dental restoration options, 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.”
The primary goal of dental care is to preserve teeth. But there are circumstances in which removing a tooth, even a relatively healthy one, could prove best in the long run.
A malocclusion (poor bite) related to crowding might fit such a circumstance. Crowding occurs when the size of the jaw is too small for the teeth coming in. With not enough space, some teeth could erupt out of their proper positions. Removing certain teeth frees up space to eventually allow braces or other orthodontic devices to re-align the teeth.
The teeth most frequently removed are the first bicuspids, located between the cuspid (the "eyeteeth" directly under the eyes) and the back teeth, and the second premolar. Removing these won't normally affect appearance or functionality once orthodontic or cosmetic treatments are complete.
Because of the mechanics of jaw development it might be necessary to perform these extractions several years before orthodontic treatment. This could create another potential problem: the time lag could adversely affect bone health.
This is because bone, as living tissue, has a life cycle with cells forming, functioning and then dissolving, and new cells taking their place. When teeth are chewing or in contact with each other they generate force that travels through the tooth roots to the bone and stimulates cell growth at a healthy replacement rate.
But when a tooth is missing, so is this stimulation. This slows the replacement rate and eventually leads to decreased bone volume. Too much bone loss could create obstacles for orthodontic treatment or a future dental implant.
To avoid this, the dentist will often place a bone graft with processed bone mineral within the empty tooth socket right after extraction. The graft serves as a scaffold for bone cells to grow upon. The graft (plus any other added growth boosters) can help maintain a healthy level of bone volume to facilitate future orthodontic or restorative treatments.
Since targeted extraction for orthodontics is time-sensitive, you should have your child's bite evaluated by an orthodontist by age 7 to see if any action is necessary. The earlier a malocclusion is detected, the more likely a more attractive and healthy smile will be the ultimate outcome.
If you would like more information on correcting poor bites, 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 “Tooth Removal for Orthodontic Reasons.”
There’s really no secret to keeping your child’s teeth healthy — good, daily hygiene habits, regular dental visits and early treatment for emerging problems. It’s a lot easier for those things to happen if your child feels comfortable with dental care and visiting the dentist. Sadly, that’s not always the case: many children develop an unhealthy fear of the dentist because the initial relationship may have been mishandled.
Here, then, are 3 tips that will help you foster a healthy relationship between your child and their dentist.
Visit the dentist before their first birthday. From a health standpoint, dental visits should begin soon after your child’s first teeth emerge (erupt) in the mouth. Visiting the dentist by their first birthday also improves the chances they’ll develop a sufficient level of comfort with the visits, more so than if you waited a year or two longer.
Choose your dentist with your child’s sense of security and comfort in mind. When you’re looking for a dentist to care for your child, think of it as looking for a “new member of the family.” It’s important to find an office environment that’s kid-friendly and staff members that work well with children. Some dentists specialize in pediatric dentistry and many general dentists have additional training in working with children. The key is a dental team that has a good, trust-building rapport with children.
Set an example, both in the home and at the dentist. Children learn quite a bit watching what their caregivers say and how they react in potentially stressful situations. If dental care is important to you personally, it’s more likely to become important to your child. And when you visit the dentist with your child, be sure to project calm and a sense that it’s routine — if you display tenseness or nervousness your child may take that as a sign that visiting the dentist is something to fear.
You want your child to learn that the dentist is their friend who’s there to help them. That lesson should begin early with the right dental team — and by making dental care a priority in your own life.
If you would like more information on dental care for your child, 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 “Taking the Stress out of Dentistry for Kids.”
Whether you've already lost your teeth or are planning to have your remaining teeth extracted, you're probably debating your denture options. Wake Forest, NC, dentist Dr. Shanean Anderson of Smile Sculptors of Wake Forest discusses the importance of denture wear and explains the various types of dentures available.
Why replacing lost teeth is so important
A full smile improves your appearance and offers a boost to your self-confidence, but appearance isn't the only reason that restoring your smile is important. Eating becomes a much less enjoyable experience after you've lost your teeth. Dentures restore your ability to eat a varied diet that provides all the nutrients you need for good health.
Although you may not realize it until your teeth are gone, teeth play a very important role in speech. Without your teeth, it may be difficult or impossible to form some words. Communicating with other people, something most of us take for granted, can become a very frustrating experience.
Which dentures should I choose?
Depending on the extent of your tooth loss, you may benefit from:
- Partial Dentures: Partial dentures are an excellent option if you've lost several teeth in a row. The dentures hook over teeth on either side of the gap in your mouth and are removed for cleaning.
- Full Dentures: Removable full dentures replace all of the teeth in your upper or lower jaw after your mouth has healed from your extractions. They're held in place by suction and must be adjusted periodically to ensure a proper fit.
- Immediate Dentures: Immediate dentures are placed in your mouth immediately after your teeth are extracted. A few weeks before your extraction appointment, you'll visit our Wake Forest office. During the visit, we'll make an impression of your mouth which will be used to create your immediate dentures.
- Implant-Supported Dentures: Your dentures are attached to a metal framework connected to implants embedded in your jaw if you choose implant-supported dentures. The dentures offer improved biting power and comfort.
Are you ready to restore your smile with dentures? Call Wake Forest, NC, dentist Dr. Shanean Anderson of Smile Sculptors of Wake Forest at (919) 825-1795 to schedule an appointment.
Restore your smile with tooth colored fillings. In addition to blending in with your natural teeth, tooth colored fillings strengthen teeth that have been weakened by infection and decay. Everyday biting and chewing functions can be painful when teeth are weak and sensitive. Tooth colored fillings restore weakened teeth so they can function normally again. At Smile Sculptors of Wake Forest, Dr. Shanean Anderson is your Wake Forest, NC, dentist for tooth colored fillings.
Tooth Colored Fillings
Tooth colored fillings are color matched to your existing teeth so they blend in without making it obvious you have dental fillings. In the past, amalgam fillings were the only option for filling teeth with cavities. Since those fillings were silver colored, they were readily noticeable to others. With tooth colored fillings, other people will not notice your dental fillings. Tooth colored fillings are made from a resin material. Once the filling is in place, your Wake Foreest, NC, dentist dries the fillings with a special light until an exact color matched is achieved.
Restoring Your Smile
Tooth colored fillings restore your smile in several ways. When teeth become infected, they begin to decay and can become weak and sensitive. Biting into and chewing food can be painful. Tooth colored fillings help restore your smile by strengthening weak teeth so biting and chewing functions can continue. Once the infection and decay are cleaned out of the problem tooth, filling the space in with a tooth colored filling prevents additional infection or decay from developing. The filling also makes the tooth whole again so normal functioning can resume.
Benefits of Tooth Colored Fillings
A major benefit of tooth colored fillings appreciated by many patients is how discreet they are. Since the fillings are colored matched to your teeth, they blend in easily and look like part of the natural tooth. In addition to the cosmetic benefit of blending in, tooth colored fillings may also be safer than traditional silver amalgam fillings, which contain mercury. There is some concern about the possible risk of mercury exposure with amalgam fillings. Since tooth colored fillings are made from a resin material, there is no risk of exposure to mercury.
Tooth colored fillings restore your smile by strengthening teeth weakened by infection and decay. Plus, they have the added benefit of blending in since they are color matched to your teeth. To schedule an appointment for tooth colored fillings with Dr. Anderson, your Wake Forest, NC, dentist, call Smile Sculptors of Wake Forest at (919) 825-1795.
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