Dental Tips Blog


Dentures and Bone Loss

Even though tooth loss is almost entirely preventable, there is a surprisingly high rate of tooth loss in the United States.  About 25% of Americans over the age of 65 are missing all of their natural teeth.  There are many causes of tooth loss including accidents, injuries, and cancer, but the primary cause of tooth loss is gum disease and poor oral health habits.

The implications of tooth loss are far more than just missing teeth.   Once a natural tooth is lost, bone loss in the jaw begins.  The natural chewing action stimulates bone growth in the jaw and when teeth are missing, this stimulation and bone growth ceases.

Dentures are the most common tooth replacement option, especially for older Americans but dentures do not stimulate bone growth.  In fact, the pressure on the gums from dentures increases bone loss, a problem that is made worse when dentures are worn day and night.

As bone loss continues, the person’s jaw shrinks and their face begins to collapse.  Dentures can replace the missing teeth, but cannot halt the progress of the shrinking jawbone.  Dentures need to fit tightly to minimize problems with eating and speaking, but as the bone shrinks the dentures will loosen and need to be adjusted.  As time goes on, the problem gets worse and more frequent adjustments are necessary to maintain a good fit.

Dental implants are a better solution for missing teeth because  a dental implant takes the place of the tooth’s root.  When an artificial tooth or a denture is attached to the dental implants, the chewing action stimulates bone growth just like natural teeth and prevents bone loss.

If you have dentures and are concerned about bone loss talk to your dentist about dental implants.


Most People Are Good Candidates For Dental Implants

Posted in Dental Implants

Millions of older Americans experience the loss of most or all of their teeth.  In fact, about 25 % of those over the age of 65 have no natural teeth left and most of these Americans rely on dentures to replace their missing teeth.  Dental implants are another option for replacing missing teeth, but only a small percentage of older Americans have chosen to go with dental implants.

One reason is that many patients are under the impression that they are not a good candidate for dental implants. They may not have sufficient jawbone for placement of dental implants, or they may be heavy smokers or have untreated gum disease.

The reality is that most patients can be good candidates for dental implants, even if they are not a good candidate today.  A good candidate must have sufficient jawbone to support the implant.  Patients who have had missing teeth for years, even if they had a full or partial denture, may have suffered too much bone loss to be a current candidate for dental implants.

However, in most cases an oral surgeon can build up sufficient bone mass with a bone graft.  The bone graft procedure is done in the oral surgeon’s office and is an effective way to build up bone in your jaw so that it can support an implant.  Once the procedure is completed, the bone will be allowed to heal for six to eight months before the implant can be placed.

Untreated gum disease is another reason why a person may not be a good candidate for dental implants.  However, once the gum disease has been resolved, most patients can move forward with dental implants.  Your dentist will explain your treatment options for gum disease.

Finally, smoking has been shown to reduce outcomes, but it does not necessarily exclude you from consideration as a candidate for dental implants.  If your oral and overall health is otherwise good, you may still be a good candidate.  Your dentist can help you reduce or stop smoking or help you understand the risks to your dental implants presented by smoking.


Basic Information About Dentures

Posted in Dentures

It is estimated that about 25% of the American population over the age of 65 have lost most or all of their teeth.  Of these older Americans, over 90% will turn to dentures to replace their missing teeth.  Dental implants are a better solution for missing teeth for many reasons, but the majority of older Americans rely on dentures primarily due to the lower initial cost.

Dentures are a removable prosthetic replacement for missing teeth.  Full or complete dentures replace all of the person’s teeth and partial dentures replace some of the missing teeth.  Complete dentures can be upper dentures, lower dentures, or both.

Standard dentures generally take four to eight weeks to be made.  Rather than wait for their dentures, many patients opt for immediate dentures.  These are made ahead of time and are ready when your teeth are removed.  Immediate dentures help in the healing process and eliminate the waiting period before the dentures are ready.  However, immediate dentures are more expensive and need more adjustments in the first few months than standard dentures.

Dentures are held in place by suction.  Dentures must fit properly to achieve good suction.  After getting dentures, your jawbones will begin to recede and the shape of your gums will change.  As this happens your dentures will need to be adjusted for a good fit.  Denture adhesives can help slipping dentures, but regular adjustments are the best solution for holding dentures in place.  Dentures are removed at night for cleaning.

It takes a few weeks for most new denture wearers to get used to their dentures. They may be a little uncomfortable at first and it will take awhile to get used to eating with dentures. Experts recommend starting with soft foods and gradually returning to your normal diet.

Speech can also be affected.  Some words may be difficult to say properly with your new dentures.  Practicing these words out loud can help resolve any speech issues.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Dentures

Posted in Dentures

Over 30 million Americans have dentures and the number is expected to continue to climb.  Especially among older Americans who are missing all or most of their teeth, dentures are the most popular tooth replacement option.  If you are considering dentures, you should understand the advantages and disadvantages before you make a decision.

Dentures are a removable prosthetic device that replaces your missing teeth. Dentures rely on suction and a tight fit around your gums to stay in place.  A well made, properly fitting set of dentures can provide you with an attractive smile and for most patients, are a vast improvement over a mouth full of decayed, damaged, and missing teeth.

Dentures can provide fast relief from years of tooth pain and discomfort, difficulty eating, and being self conscious about your smile.  You will be able to smile with confidence and with some practice, you should be able to eat a normal diet.  In addition, gum disease and tooth decay has been linked to overall health problems.  For many patients, the best option for resolving chronic oral health issues is by replacing their remaining natural teeth with dentures.

Dentures are durable and can last five to ten years or longer with good care.  However, due to natural changes in the person’s gums, new dentures are usually needed by this time to help ensure a comfortable, secure fit.

One of the primary drawbacks to dentures is that they can slip or become loose.  This can make eating a speaking a challenge.  It takes a few weeks to learn to chew properly with dentures and some patients have a hard time learning.  Even in the best cases, denture wearers cannot cannot bite down with anywhere near the pressure of natural teeth.

In addition, the fit of the denture changes over time due to changes in the patients jawbone and gums.  These changes affect the fit of the denture and require adjustment by a dentist.  Some patients also find dentures to be uncomfortable and to cause problems with their gums.  Finally, dentures do not stimulate bone growth and denture wearers will experience bone loss in their jaw that can affect their appearance.


Dental Implant Procedure

Posted in Dental Implants

Dental implants are a safe, reliable dental procedure for replacing one or more missing teeth.  A dental implant is essentially an artificial tooth root that is permanently implanted in the patient’s jaw bone.  Once the dental implant is in place, it can be used to anchor a single prosthetic tooth, a bridge with several teeth, or even a complete set of dentures.

Placement of dental implants is a surgical procedure that is accomplished over the course of several months.  First, your dentist or oral surgeon will evaluate whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.  If there is insufficient jaw bone for placement of the implants, bone grafts may be necessary and any periodontal disease will need to be addressed before placing the implant.

Next, the implant, a small titanium anchor, will be surgically placed in the patient’s jawbone.  Implants can usually be placed using local anesthesia.  Some patients may be more comfortable oral or intravenous sedatives.

After the implant is placed, the site will be allowed to heal for several months which allows the implant sufficient time to fuse to the bone.  Once the implant site has fully healed, your dentist will use the implant to restore your missing tooth or multiple teeth.  For a single tooth, a post (called an abutment) is screwed into the implant and a crown is glued to the abutment in a manner similar to placing a crown on a natural tooth.

If several adjacent teeth are restored, the process is similar to placing a permanent bridge.  The bridge consists of a metal frame that supports the artificial teeth.  At each end of the bridge is a crown that is cemented to an abutment which has been screwed into an implant.  If the implants are to anchor a set of full dentures, special posts will be threaded into the implants and the denture will be snapped into place on these posts.


Are You a Good Candidate For Dental Implants?

Posted in Dental Implants

Dental implants are a prosthetic device that serves a similar function as the roots of natural teeth.  Dental implants are titanium alloy anchors that are surgically implanted into a patient’s jawbone.  Once the implant is in place, a post is threaded into the implant and a crown can be cemented to the post just like a crown is placed on a natural tooth.  Multiple implants can be used to anchor a bridge and full or partial dentures.

Most patients are good candidates for dental implants.  One of the most important considerations is that the patient has an adequate amount of bone in their jaw for placement of the implant.  If the patient has been using dentures or been missing teeth in this area for some period of time, they may have lost too much jaw bone and it may be necessary for an oral surgeon to build up the amount of bone using bone grafts before the implant can be placed.

In addition, good candidates for dental implants will have healthy gum tissue free of periodontal disease.  Gingivitis and gum disease should be addressed prior to placement of dental implants.  Also, heavy tobacco users may experience poorer outcomes.  Tobacco use impairs the healing process at the site of the implant and may cause the implant to fail to heal properly.

Young patients may not be good implant candidates because their jawbones are not fully formed yet.  In addition, pregnant women may want to delay placement of the implant.  Finally, good overall health will improve outcomes.  Patients with chronic health issues may not be good candidates for dental implants.

Your dentist or oral surgeon will evaluate your case and let you know whether or not you are a good candidate for dental implants.



Sedation Dentistry Helps Soothe Dental Anxiety

Do you get anxious before visiting the dentist?  Are you tense and have trouble relaxing during even the simplest dental procedures?  If so, you are not alone.  The majority of dental patients experience some level of dental anxiety.  In the past, there was little relief available to address dental anxiety other than a whiff of nitrous oxide or “laughing gas”, but advancements in modern dentistry have made suffering from dental anxiety a thing of the past.

Most dentists now offer some form of conscious sedation to help relax patients and relieve dental anxiety.  The result is not only a better dental experience for the patient, but also better dental care. Dentists now understand that relaxed, comfortable patients are easier to work on.  They can do higher quality dental work in less time when the patient is comfortable and relaxed.

Conscious sedation is available orally or intravenously.  Oral conscious sedation is more common because it is easier to administer and because patients generally don’t like needles.  Some dentists prefer intravenous sedation because the level of sedation is easier to control than with oral sedatives.

As the name implies, with either oral or intravenous conscious sedation the patient is always conscious throughout the procedure.  The patient may be drowsy and will sometimes fall asleep during the procedure, but can always be easily awoken and can respond to questions.  Even though the patient is conscious, in most cases they will not remember having the procedure.   Most patients express surprise at how quickly the dental procedure seemed to have been completed, even if it actually took hours.

If you are ready to experience comfortable, stress free dental care, talk to your sedation dentist about conscious sedation.  The days of dental anxiety are over.


Dental Implant vs. Bridges for Replacing Missing Teeth

Posted in Dental Implants

Replacing missing teeth is important for many reasons in addition to the aesthetic considerations. Unless a missing tooth is replaced, other teeth may shift position and cause bite issues and other problems such as excessive wear and even headaches in some patients.  Shifting teeth can also lead to oral health problems such as gum disease and tooth decay.  In addition, the natural chewing action stimulates the growth of new jawbone tissue.  If several adjacent missing teeth are not replaced, bone loss can occur.

Dental implants are an excellent alternative for replacing missing teeth that have many advantages over other options for replacing missing teeth such as fixed bridges. Unlike other tooth replacement options, dental implants do not rely on support from adjacent teeth.  For example, placement of a bridge to replace a single missing tooth requires reshaping the teeth on either side of the missing tooth.

A bridge is essentially two crowns with a prosthetic tooth suspended between them.  To place the bridge, the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth are reduced in size to allow the crowns to be placed on them.  The result is that to replace a single missing tooth, two healthy natural teeth are permanently compromised.

With a dental implant, the healthy adjacent teeth are not affected.  The implant is surgically implanted in the jawbone, and a post is screwed into the implant.  Cementing a crown to the post completes the restoration and leaves the adjacent teeth intact.  The implant and crown looks and feels just like a natural tooth and should last a lifetime with proper care.

If you need to replace missing teeth, your dentist can explain your tooth replacement options and help you decide if a dental implant is the right choice for you.


Dental Implants For Anchoring Dentures

Posted in Dental Implants

Even thought tooth loss is almost entirely preventable, millions of Americans have missing teeth.  Missing teeth is particularly widespread among older American.  It is estimated that more than 20 million Americans over the age of 65 are missing all of their teeth.  For generations, dentures have been the primary tooth replacement alternative for older Americans who have lost all or most of their teeth.   Approximately 90 percent of those suffering from full or nearly full tooth loss have dentures.

As anyone who has dentures knows, dentures can be a lot of trouble.  They can slip, become uncomfortable to wear, and are accompanied by the taste of dental adhesive.  Denture wearers can have difficulty eating leading to dietary changes that adversely affect the person’s health.  Dentures can also cause speaking problems which cause the person to lose self confidence and avoid social situations.

Dental implants can make a world of difference for denture wearers.  Dental implants are titanium alloy anchors that are implanted in the patient’s jawbone.  In many cases dental implants are used to anchor a single replacement tooth, but they can also be used to anchor dentures firmly in place.

For denture wearers, instead of replacing each individual tooth with a dental implant, two to four dental implants are placed in the jawbone and a special type of denture is attached to the implants.  The result is a full set of teeth that are as secure and functional as natural teeth.  The patient can chew and speak with confidence and the chewing forces help stimulate bone growth in the jawbone.


Root Canal Facts

Posted in Root Canals

Root canals are one of the most misunderstood and dreaded dental procedures.  Many patients avoid having a root canal because they don’t understand the value of the procedure and they believe that root canals are uncomfortable and painful.

This is unfortunate because root canals are an important dental procedure that can save a patient’s natural tooth and avoid having to extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant, bridge, or some other prosthetic device.  In addition, although the procedure takes longer than placing a filling, a root canal should be a comfortable, painless, anxiety-free experience.

A root canal refers to the area in the middle of a tooth that contains the pulp, nerve, and blood vessels.  When a tooth is damaged by extensive tooth decay, a crack, or throught some type of trauma, bacteria can seep into the root canal and cause an infection.  Left untreated, the infection will spread, destroying the tooth which will then need to be extracted.

During root canal therapy, the dentist gains access to the root canal by drilling a hole in the tooth.  The nerve, pulp, and blood vessels are removed and the root canal is cleaned, disinfected and sealed.  A cap is usually placed to protect the tooth and the root canal from further damage. An adult tooth can survive without the nerve and blood vessels and with ordinary care the tooth should last for the patient’s lifetime.

Improved techniques combined with advances in technology have made most dental restoration work virtually pain free, including root canal therapy.  In addition, most modern dentists offer some form of sedation such as nitrous oxide, oral sedatives, or intravenous sedatives to eliminate anxiety and to enhance patient comfort.  Talk to your dentist about your options for painless, anxiety free root canal therapy.


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