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Posts for category: Dental Procedures

TheProcessforanImplantMayBeLongorShortbuttheResultIstheSame

How long does it take to get a dental implant? That depends….

Really, it does! There are a number of factors that determine whether you can get a new implant tooth "in one day" or whether you'll need to wait several weeks or months after implant surgery. By far, the top factor will be the health of your implant's supporting bone.

The bone plays an essential role in both the durability and appearance of an implant. Bone cells begin to accumulate on the titanium metal post after its installment to form a solid hold that could last for decades. Positioning the implant just right within the bone also ensures the resulting tooth looks natural and attractive.

If the bone is healthy, you might qualify for the "tooth in one day" procedure in which the dentist places (or loads) a life-like crown onto the implant at the same time that they install the implant. Because the bone and implant still need to fully integrate, this is a temporary crown designed to apply less force while biting. After a few weeks, the dentist will then install the full-sized permanent crown.

Not everyone, though, has enough healthy bone to support the tooth-in-one-day procedure, or even to install an implant in the first place. A patient must have enough bone present to both support the implant and to ensure proper placement. Bone loss, a common malady for people who've lost teeth, could derail the implant process.

It's often possible, however, to reverse this situation. By grafting bone-like material into the site, a person may be able to eventually regain some of the bone they've lost, enough to support an implant. Even so, this adds time to the beginning of the process and the patient may still need to undergo full bone-implant integration before receiving any type of crown.

As you can see, how long the implant process takes can depend a great deal on the condition of the bone your dentist has to work. But regardless of the duration, the end result will be an attractive and durable implant tooth.

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 “Implant Timelines for Replacing Missing Teeth.”

WhetherVotingforaCandidateorWisdomTeethYouCanChooseWisely

During election season, you'll often hear celebrities encouraging you to vote. But this year, Kaia Gerber, an up-and-coming model following the career path of her mother Cindy Crawford, made a unique election appeal—while getting her wisdom teeth removed.

With ice packs secured to her jaw, Gerber posted a selfie to social media right after her surgery. The caption read, “We don't need wisdom teeth to vote wisely.”

That's great advice—electing our leaders is one of the most important choices we make as a society. But Gerber's post also highlights another decision that bears careful consideration, whether or not to have your wisdom teeth removed.

Found in the very back of the mouth, wisdom teeth (or “third molars”) are usually the last of the permanent teeth to erupt between ages 17 and 25. But although their name may be a salute to coming of age, in reality wisdom teeth can be a pain. Because they're usually last to the party, they're often erupting in a jaw already crowded with teeth. Such a situation can be a recipe for numerous dental problems.

Crowded wisdom teeth may not erupt properly and remain totally or partially hidden within the gums (impaction). As such, they can impinge on and damage the roots of neighboring teeth, and can make overall hygiene more difficult, increasing the risk of dental disease. They can also help pressure other teeth out of position, resulting in an abnormal bite.

Because of this potential for problems, it's been a common practice in dentistry to remove wisdom teeth preemptively before any problems arise. As a result, wisdom teeth extractions are the top oral surgical procedure performed, with around 10 million of them removed every year.

But that practice is beginning to wane, as many dentists are now adopting more of a “wait and see” approach. If the wisdom teeth show signs of problems—impaction, tooth decay, gum disease or bite influence—removal is usually recommended. If not, though, the wisdom teeth are closely monitored during adolescence and early adulthood. If no problems develop, they may be left intact.

This approach works best if you maintain regular dental cleanings and checkups. During these visits, we'll be able to consistently evaluate the overall health of your mouth, particularly in relation to your wisdom teeth.

Just as getting information on candidates helps you decide your vote, this approach of watchful waiting can help us recommend the best course for your wisdom teeth. Whether you vote your wisdom teeth “in” or “out,” you'll be able to do it wisely.

If you would like more information about what's best to do about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.”

By Phillip J Wolf DDS
March 31, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
3EmergingTechnologiesThatImproveDentalImplants

Historically speaking, implants are a recent blip on the centuries-long march of dental progress. But few innovations in dentistry can match the impact of implants in its short history on dental function and appearance.

Dental implant therapy has already established itself as a restoration game-changer. But it also continues to improve, thanks to a number of emerging technologies. As a result, implant restorations are far more secure and life-like than ever before.

Here are 3 examples of state-of-the-art technologies that continue to improve this premier dental restoration.

CT/CBCT scanning. Functional and attractive implants depend on precise placement. But various anatomical structures like nerves or sinuses often interfere with placement, so it's important to locate these potential obstructions during the planning phase. To do so, we're increasingly turning to computed tomography (CT). This form of x-ray diagnostics is the assembly of hundreds of images of a jaw location into a three-dimensional model. This gives us a much better view of what lies beneath the gums.

Digital-enhanced planning. Implant success also depends on careful planning. And, it isn't a one-sided affair: The patient's input is just as important as the dentist's expertise. To aid in that process, many dentists are using digital technology to produce a virtual image of a patient's current dental state and what their teeth may look like after dental implants. This type of imaging also allows consideration of a variety of options, including different sized implants and positions, before finalizing the final surgical plan.

Custom surgical guides. To transfer the final plan details to the actual implant procedure, we often create a physical surgical guide placed in the mouth that marks the precise locations for drilling. We can now produce these guides with 3-D printing, a process that uses computer software to produce or "print" a physical object. In this case, the 3-D printer creates a more accurate surgical guide based on the exact contours of a patient's dental arch that's more precise than conventional guides.

Obtaining a dental implant is a highly refined process. And, with the aid of other advances in dental technology, it continues to provide increasing value to patients.

If you would like more information on restoring teeth with 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 “How Technology Aids Dental Implant Therapy.”

DiamondFangsNotYourThingThereareSubtlerWaystoGetaMoreAttractiveSmile

Fashion designer and reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian recently displayed some unusual dental work to her followers on Instagram. The eldest Kardashian sister showed off her new diamond-encrusted canine teeth, which gave her the impression of bejeweled fangs.

We're not sure if this is a permanent enhancement or a temporary fashion statement. Either way, Kardashian's "vampy" vibe shows what's possible in cosmetic dentistry—with a little imagination, you can achieve a smile that gets attention.

Even if you're not channeling Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, dental enhancements need not be as dramatic as Kardashian's. Smile changes can be subtle just as well as they can be bold; and, the lighter touch is often as appealing—and life-changing—as the latter.

Here are a few ways you can make improvements to your smile in more subtle way.

Dental cleaning. Although sessions with your dental hygienist are primarily about disease prevention, a dental cleaning could also make those pearly whites look better. Clearing away dull, dingy plaque and tartar often reveals the shiny enamel beneath, especially after polishing. You can also help keep your smile bright—and your teeth and gums healthy—by brushing and flossing daily.

Teeth whitening. While a dental cleaning can help your teeth shine, you might also turn to this dental procedure to maximize your smile's brightness. We can apply a controlled bleaching solution, usually in one sitting, to help you obtain the level of brightness with which you're most comfortable: from all-out Hollywood bright to a more subdued shade of white.

Teeth bonding. Your otherwise beautiful smile has a few chips or cracks in it. We can usually repair these in just one visit with a dental bonding procedure. We use a composite resin material formed into a putty that we apply in layers to the defective area of the tooth, sculpting it as we go. Once we attain the desired shape and color for the tooth, we cure it to give it resilience. With dental bonding, your teeth can look perfect as well as beautiful.

Veneers. There are other mild to moderate flaws like heavy staining, misshapen teeth or gaps that might exceed the capabilities of dental bonding. Porcelain veneers bonded to the visible surfaces of teeth can hide these imperfections and truly transform your smile. There is some permanent tooth alteration we must perform beforehand, but otherwise veneers are only lightly invasive.

Even if diamond-encrusted canines à la Kardashian aren't your thing, the field of cosmetic dentistry is broad enough to meet whatever your expectations for an improved smile. Visit us for an assessment of your smile, and what we can do to make it even better.

If you would like more information about your options for enhancing your smile, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”

By Phillip J Wolf DDS
March 11, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: tooth decay  
TreatingDecayedBabyTeethProtectsFuturePermanentTeeth

Primary ("baby") teeth may look cute and adorable, but they're a big player in your child's dental health. A primary tooth lost prematurely could eventually lead to a major bite problem.

Primary teeth fulfill a number of functions, most notably enabling young children to eat solid foods, speak and relate to people with a normal smile. But they also serve as placeholders and guides for future permanent teeth developing within the gums.

Problems arise, though, when a child loses a primary tooth early due to disease or trauma, leaving an open space on the jaw. Nearby teeth tend to drift in to fill the space intended for the permanent tooth, leaving little to no room for it when it's time to erupt. This can cause it to erupt out of position, which in turn could force other teeth out of alignment. The end result is a poor bite.

You can, however, avoid this costly outcome by either treating and preserving a decayed baby tooth, or preventing other teeth from drifting into a vacancy left by a lost primary tooth until the permanent tooth comes in.

Depending on the level of decay, treating a diseased primary tooth can include fillings, crowns or modified root canal therapy. For children at high risk for decay, a dentist may also apply sealant to the teeth to inhibit plaque buildup. Although some of these procedures can be extensive, they're often worth the time and effort to prevent a poor bite.

If, on the other hand, we eventually lose the tooth, we can still intervene by installing a space maintainer. This is essentially a loop of wire securely attached to a tooth on one side of a gap, while the other end of the loop butts up against the tooth on the other side. This prevents either tooth from migrating into the space until the permanent tooth is ready to come in.

Primary teeth may not seem all that important, but in the greater picture, they truly are. By taking care of them, you'll be doing your child's soon arriving permanent teeth a favor.

If you would like more information on pediatric dental care, 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 “Importance of Baby Teeth.”