Posts for: January, 2019
Dental caries (tooth decay) is a leading cause of tooth loss. But with prompt diagnosis and care we can often stop it before it causes too much damage.
The traditional treatment approach is simple: remove all diseased tooth structure and then restore the tooth with a filling. But this otherwise effective treatment has one drawback: you may lose significant healthy structure to accommodate a suitable filling or to make vulnerable areas easier to clean from bacterial plaque.
That's why a new treatment approach called minimally invasive dentistry (MID) is becoming more common. The goal of MID is to remove as little of a tooth's natural enamel and dentin as possible. This leaves the treated tooth stronger and healthier, and could reduce long-term dental costs too.
Here's how MID could change your future dental care.
Better risk assessment. MID includes a treatment protocol called caries management by risk assessment (CAMBRA). With CAMBRA, we evaluate your individual tooth decay risk, including oral bacteria levels, the quality of saliva flow to neutralize mouth acid, and sugar consumption. We then use our findings to customize a treatment plan that targets your areas of highest risk.
New detection methods. The real key to fighting tooth decay is to find it before it can destroy tooth structure with the help of new diagnostic technology. Besides advances in x-ray imaging that provide better views with less radiation exposure, we're also using powerful dental microscopes, lasers and infrared photography to show us more about your teeth than we can see with the naked eye.
"Less is More" treatments. In contrast to the dental drill, many dentists are now using air abrasion rather than a dental drill to remove decayed tooth material. Air abrasion emits tiny material particles within a pressurized air stream that leaves more healthy tooth structure intact than with drilling. We're also using new filling materials like composite resin that not only resemble natural tooth color, but require less structural removal than other types of fillings.
Using MID, we can treat tooth decay while preserving more of your natural teeth. This promises better long-term outcomes for future dental health.
If you would like more information on new treatments for tooth decay, 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 “Minimally Invasive Dentistry: When Less Care is More.”
For chipped, stained, or slightly crooked teeth, dental veneers might be the ideal solution. These thin layers of porcelain bonded directly over the teeth with the perfect blend of color, sizes and shapes, can transform a person’s smile for a relatively modest cost.
But if the teeth belong to a teenager, veneers might not be appropriate. This is because in most cases, we’ll need to remove some of the tooth enamel so that the applied veneers won’t look unnaturally bulky. This alteration is permanent, so the teeth will require some form of restoration from then on.
While not usually a major issue with fully matured adult teeth, it could be with the developing teeth of pre-teens and teens. During childhood and adolescence the tooth’s inner pulp plays an important role in dentin production, and so the pulp chamber is relatively large compared to an adult tooth. This larger size places the pulp closer to the enamel surface than with an adult tooth.
Because of its proximity to the enamel, there’s a greater chance veneer alterations could damage a teenager’s tooth pulp and its nerve bundles. If that happens, we may need to perform a root canal treatment to save the tooth—also not an optimal situation for a developing tooth.
That’s why we need to take into consideration a patient’s age and stage of dental development first, including x-raying the affected teeth to measure the depth of the tooth pulp. If we deem it too risky at the moment, there are other ways to improve dental appearance at least temporarily. This includes whitening externally stained teeth with a bleaching agent, or applying tooth-colored composite resin material to chipped areas. We can also apply a composite material veneer that, although not as durable as traditional porcelain, doesn’t require much if any tooth alteration.
To know your options, have your teenager undergo a thorough dental examination. Your dentist will then be able to discuss with you whether veneers can be safely attempted. And be sure the dentist who may perform the work has experience performing cosmetic procedures on teenagers.
If you would like more information on restoration choices for teenagers, 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 “Veneers for Teenagers.”
Some patients have to wait years and go to many dental appointments to get the beautiful smile that they’ve always wanted. If waiting that long simply isn’t an option for you, talk to your dentist about dental veneers. With veneers, you get a big difference in the appearance of your smile with a very small procedure that can be completed in about two or three appointments. Learn more about veneers from your Gillette, WY dentist.
What Is a Veneer?
A veneer is a covering placed over the surface of a tooth to make it look more attractive, whiter and more naturally shaped. It’s commonly made of porcelain, which is a very tough and durable material that resembles natural tooth enamel. The veneer resists staining and fixes a number of common cosmetic problems, including chipping, gaps, and ridges in the teeth.
What Will Happen at the Veneer Appointment?
When it’s clear that veneers can help your smile, the next step is to get your teeth prepared for them. The preparation process involves removing a small amount of tooth enamel from the front of the tooth to make room for the veneer and ensure a proper bond. Since a veneer is as thin as a contact lens, less than a millimeter of enamel is removed from the surface of the tooth. The dentist will take an impression of the tooth so that a proper veneer can be made. At the final appointment, the veneer is bonded and shaped to perfection.
How Long Will this New Smile Last?
Veneers are a wonder of cosmetic dentistry not just because they give you a big difference in your smile with a small procedure, but also because they are long-lasting. Once a porcelain veneer is bonded, it can last for as long as 20 years—maybe even longer. It’s important to treat your veneers with as much TLC as your other teeth to keep them looking great for as long as possible.
How Do You Care for Veneers?
The veneer has a strong bond to your tooth, but you have to keep it clean and free from plaque buildup to ensure its ongoing health and resilience. Brush around all surfaces of the tooth and floss between the teeth daily. Avoid biting hot foods (or drinking hot beverages) with your veneers as much as possible and drink less sugary beverages. One of the most important things to remember after you get veneers is to keep up with twice-yearly appointments for cleanings and checkups.
Contact your Gillette, WY Dentist
Veneers can give your smile a makeover that you never imagined was possible, and it only takes one small dental procedure to make a big difference. Call your Gillette, WY dentist for a veneers appointment today.