My Blog
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.”

By Phillip J Wolf DDS
March 01, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay  
RecurringSinusInfectionsCouldBeaSignofToothDecay

It seems like every year you make at least one trip to the doctor for a sinus infection. You might blame it on allergies or a "bug" floating around, but it could be caused by something else: tooth decay.

We're referring to an advanced form of tooth decay, which has worked its way deep into the pulp and root canals of a tooth. And, it could have an impact on your sinuses if the tooth in question is a premolar or molar in the back of the upper jaw.

These particular teeth are located just under the maxillary sinus, a large, open space behind your cheek bones. In some people, these teeth's roots can extend quite close to the sinus floor, or may even extend through it.

It's thus possible for an infection in such a tooth to spread from the tip of the roots into the maxillary sinus. Unbeknownst to you, the infection could fester within the tooth for years, occasionally touching off a sinus infection.

Treating with antibiotics may relieve the sinus infection, but it won't reach the bacteria churning away inside the tooth, the ultimate cause for the infection. Until you address the decay within the tooth, you could keep getting the occasional sinus infection.

Fortunately, we can usually treat this interior tooth decay with a tried and true method called root canal therapy. Known simply as a "root canal," this procedure involves drilling a hole into the tooth to access the infected tissue in the pulp and root canals. After removing the diseased tissue and disinfecting the empty spaces, we fill the pulp and root canals and then seal and crown the tooth to prevent future infection.

Because sinus infections could be a sign of a decayed tooth, it's not a bad idea to see a dentist or endodontist (root canal specialist) if you're having them frequently. Treating it can restore the tooth to health—and maybe put a stop to those recurring sinus infections.

If you would like more information on the connection between tooth decay and sinus problems, 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 “Sinusitis and Tooth Infections.”

By Phillip J Wolf DDS
February 19, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: shingles  
ACaseofShinglesCouldImpactYourUpcomingDentalVisit

Most childhood sicknesses are highly treatable and quickly fade from memory afterward. But there's one viral infection that can reappear years later, albeit in a different form and this time it might not be as forgettable. It could even impact your dental care.

Varicella, more commonly known as chicken pox, is a viral infection that mainly affects children. Fortunately, the itchy blisters and other symptoms associated with it usually clear up on their own. But the virus itself, varicella zoster virus (VZV), can remain behind and become dormant.

Fast-forward a few decades, and the child once with chicken pox is now an adult, usually over 50. In 20-30% of former chicken pox patients, the virus reactivates as a new infection known commonly as shingles.

Shingles often begins with an itching, burning or numbing sensation on the skin that develops into a severe rash. Because of its effect on surface nerves, the rash often takes on a striped or belt-like pattern on the skin. A shingles outbreak can also cause fever, fatigue and pain, the latter of which in rare cases can be quite severe.

Shingles in its early stages is also highly contagious, transmitted easily through either physical contact with the skin lesions or through airborne secretions. This is especially troubling for certain groups: pregnant women, patients undergoing cancer or other serious disease treatment, or those with compromised immune systems. For them, shingles can pose a significant risk for complications.

Because of its easy transmission, and the danger it can pose to certain groups, dentists typically postpone treatment—even routine dental cleanings—for patients experiencing a shingles outbreak, especially a facial rash. Once their outbreak subsides, those procedures can be rescheduled.

If you develop what you think is shingles, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Certain prescribed antiviral medications can ease the symptoms and hasten recovery, but they're most effective if started within three days of the onset of the disease. There's also an effective vaccination for shingles recommended for people over 60 to help avoid the disease altogether.

One other thing! If you do develop shingles and have an upcoming dental appointment, let your dentist know. Better to reschedule your visit after you've recuperated than to put others' health at risk.

If you would like more information on shingles and 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 “Shingles, Herpes Zoster.”





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