As cosmetic dentistry continues to increase in popularity, advances are constantly being made to provide new and improved methods and techniques for improving your smile. If you have long wanted a brighter, straighter smile but have always thought that cosmetic dentistry was too expensive, took too long, or would interfere with your lifestyle, talk to your cosmetic dentist about some of the exciting new options for a smile makeover to whiten and straighten your teeth.
Orthodontics is one area where great strides have been made in the past few decades. Most adults associate straightening crooked teeth with years of wire braces, but there are several new options for adults to straighten misaligned teeth in much shorter time and without unsightly traditional braces.
Invisible aligners such as the Invisalign system move teeth using a series of clear plastic removable aligners. The aligners are almost unnoticeable and are removed for eating and brushing. The Six Month Smiles system uses tooth colored bands and wires and focuses on moving just the front teeth. As the name suggests, the treatment is usually completed in about six months and the bands and wires are much less noticeable than traditional metal braces.
Porcelain veneers can be used to correct mild misalignments without moving any teeth at all. Veneers are thin, tooth colored wafers that are bonded to the front surface of the patient’s teeth. In only two or three visits to the dentist’s office you can walk out with a straight, pearly white smile.
If your teeth are already straight but just a little dingy, cosmetic dentists can use new teeth whitening techniques to achieve amazing results in just one or two treatments. These are safe, effective treatments for most patients and are very reasonably priced.
Advances in sedation dentistry have made sedation of dental patients much more common than it was in the past. For over a hundred years, sedation in traditional dental procedures was typically limited to nitrous oxide, also called “laughing gas”. In recent years, dentists have expanded the use of other sedation techniques to relax patients and help relieve dental phobia and anxiety.
Sedation techniques are also used for patients who are unable to tolerate traditional dental procedures for various reasons such as an uncontrolled gag reflex, inability to get numb with local anesthetics, or special needs patients who cannot sit quietly for more than a few minutes. In addition, sedation dentistry can be used for patients who need extensive dental work and want to get as much work done as possible in a single visit.
Although many dentists offer sedation dentistry (also called sleep dentistry), there is actually a range of sedation options and only a few dentists offer a full range of sedation dentistry. In general, the best level of sedation is the mildest level that will allow the patient to comfortably undergo dental care without pain or anxiety. You and your dentist can choose the appropriate level of sedation to meet your needs.
The mildest form of sedation is nitrous oxide which has been around for decades and many patients are familiar with. Some dentists offer a deeper level of sedation using oral or intravenous sedatives. This is called conscious sedation because even if the patient falls asleep, they can be easily awoken and respond to questions.
Unconscious sedation while the patient is under general anesthesia is the deepest level of sedation. An anesthesiologist or anesthetist will administer the sedative in a hospital operating room or surgical suite while the dentist performs the dental treatment.
If you are one of the hundreds of Americans who are missing one or more teeth, it is important to replace missing teeth to not only maintain your confident smile, but also to maintain your overall health. Missing teeth have been linked to a decline in overall health, especially in older Americans. Good oral health habits and regular preventative dental care to preserve your natural teeth is the best option, but when it becomes necessary to replace one or more missing teeth, there are essentially four options: a bridge, partial dentures, full dentures, and implants.
The goals of tooth replacement include stabilizing the remaining teeth by filling in the gap left by the missing teeth, improving the appearance of your smile, stopping bone loss, and providing a solid and stable chewing and biting surface.
Only dental implants do all four of these things well. A dental implant is implanted in the jaw bone and performs exactly like a natural tooth. A dental implant fills the gap left by the missing tooth, looks like a natural tooth, provides a sturdy chewing and biting surface, and stimulates bone growth.
A permanent bridge consists of a cap on each tooth adjacent to the missing tooth with an artificial tooth suspended between them. A permanent bridge is nearly on par with a dental implant, but it does not do a very good job of stopping bone loss.
A partial denture, sometimes called a removable dental bridge fills the space left by the missing tooth, but does not provide the same sturdy chewing surface of dental implants or a permanent bridge. A partial denture is even less effective at preventing bone loss than a permanent bridge.
Full dentures are the least effective of all the tooth replacement alternatives. They are prone to slipping which causes many wearers to be self-conscious about their smile. In addition, because of their instability many denture wearers have a hard time learning to eat solid food with dentures. They do very little to prevent bone loss which causes the denture wearer’s face to shrink over time.
Dental implants are by far the most effective tooth replacement alternative for dental patients who are missing one or more teeth. Dental implants can even serve as anchors for a denture turning ordinary dentures into a sturdy tooth replacement system.
Dental implants are prosthetic teeth attached to a base surgically implanted in the patient’s jawbone. Dental implants look and feel just like natural teeth and since they are implanted in the jawbone, dental implants stimulate bone growth through natural chewing action. They last at least 15 to 20 years and can last a lifetime if properly cared for.
Most, but not all patients are good candidates for dental implants. First, the patient must have healthy gums. Many patients with missing teeth have lost their teeth due to gum diseases which is usually caused by poor oral health due to poor oral health habits. Before these patients can get dental implants, the gum disease must first be addressed. In addition, the patient will need to commit to developing healthy oral health habits.
Next, the patient must have sufficient bone structure to allow for the implant to properly fuse to the bone. Jaw bone loss begins as soon a tooth is lost and some patients who used a bridge or wear dentures to replace missing teeth may have lost too much bone for placement of the implant. These patients will need bone graft surgery to build up the amount of jaw bone before the dental implant can be place.
Finally, heavy smokers may not be good implant candidates. Smoking makes it harder for the implant to heal after it is placed and reduces the success rate of dental implants. If you need to replace a missing tooth, talk to your dentist about whether you are a good candidate for dental implants.
If you have one or more missing teeth, dental implants are by far the best alternative for missing teeth replacement in most patients. If you are a candidate for dental implants, you should consider your options very carefully before choosing any alternative other than a dental implant.
First, replacing a missing tooth is important to maintaining your long term oral health. If a missing tooth is not replaces, the remaining teeth will begin to migrate toward the open area causing bite problems and other issues that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Missing teeth can even affect teeth in the opposite jaw.
But filling the space left by the missing tooth is only part of the solution. Natural chewing action encourages bone growth in the jaw bone and where a tooth is missing, bone loss will occur. Other tooth replacement options such as a bridge or a partial denture fill the gap left by the missing tooth, but they don’t do anything to stop bone loss. Over time, the bone loss can become significant especially if the patient has several missing teeth.
Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that also stops bone loss. Since the implant is implanted directly into the jawbone, natural chewing action stimulates bone growth in the area of the dental implant just like natural teeth.
Dental implants have a higher initial cost than other tooth replacement alternatives, but they can last 20 years or more which is much longer than dentures or a bridge. In the end, dental implants are not only the most effective tooth replacement alternative, it is the most cost effective alternative as well.
Hundreds of millions of Americans have at least one missing tooth and about 10 percent are missing all of their teeth. The problem is worse for older Americans. About 44 percent of Americans over the age of 75 are missing all of their teeth. As life expectancies continue to increase, the problem is only going to get worse.
No matter what age, replacing missing teeth promptly is important for maintaining good oral health. Tooth loss, especially the loss of numerous or total loss of teeth has been shown to contribute to health declines. The reason is most likely due to changes in dietary habit among those who lose teeth. People with missing teeth tend to eat unhealthy diets and the problem doesn’t get much better for those who wear dentures.
There are more than 50 million Americans wearing full or partial dentures and while many denture wearers do well, most have trouble learning to eat properly. Because of problems chewing with dentures, denture wearers tend to favor soft foods and avoid fresh fruits and vegetable and other nutritious foods.
The problem is that no matter how well they fit, denture wearers simply cannot exert anywhere near the chewing force that is typical for natural teeth. Dental implants are a much better alternative to dentures. Dental implants are surgically implanted in the jawbone and look, feel, and perform just like natural teeth.
Dental implants are initially more expensive than dentures, but since implants last for 20 years or more they are more cost effective in the long run. Long term denture wearers have often lost too much bone in their jaw to support dental implants, but in most cases bone graft surgery can replace the necessary bone.
Have you been putting off dental care because your treatment will take several visits to the dentist and you can’t take that much time off from work? Is your busy schedule preventing you from getting much needed dental care? If so, sedation dentistry may be the answer for you.
Sedation dentistry is commonly recommended for patients with moderate to severe dental anxiety, uncontrollable gag reflex, or special needs patients who cannot tolerate traditional dental care. However, it is an excellent alternative for patients who need extensive dental care or complex dental treatments and want to get as much work done in a single visit as possible.
Sedation dentistry is becoming increasingly popular with busy professionals and other people on the go who want to minimize the number of dental appointments. Dentists with advanced training in sedation dentistry perform dental procedures while the patient is more heavily sedated than with traditional dentistry. Oral or intravenous sedatives are used to sedate the patient.
In most cases, the patient is conscious during the procedure, but so relaxed that they will sleep through the dental treatment. The patient can be easily awakened to respond to questions if needed. The patient feels no pain or discomfort and generally remembers little or nothing about the treatment.
In some cases fully unconscious sedation is a more effective alternative. Called sleep sedation dentistry or hospital dentistry, this is a very specialized type of dental practice. Procedures are done in a hospital operating room or surgical suite with the assistance of an anesthesiologist and surgical nurses.
The patient is relaxed and comfortable which allows the dentist to work more efficiently. In addition, the patient can easily tolerate lengthy dental care allowing the sedation dentist to complete several treatments that would ordinarily have required multiple visits. You can have several cavities filled, a root canal, dental veneers placed, implants placed, and gum disease treated all during single sedation visit.
If your busy schedule makes it difficult to schedule multiple dental appointments or if you simply prefer the convenience of getting all of your dental work done in one or two visits, you may be a great candidate for sedation dentistry!
Few people look forward to a trip to the dentist, but most patients are easily able to deal with the mild apprehension that many people feel before a dental treatment. Advances in dental practice in recent years including include an increased awareness and understanding of patient jitters. Dentists have reacted to address the issue by providing comfortable, soothing waiting rooms and dental treatment rooms. Many dentists provide patients the option of listening to music or watching television during their dental procedure.
In addition, dentists have learned to reduce dental anxiety by taking the time to discuss the treatment with the patient before beginning and by using better techniques to reduce or eliminate discomfort during dental procedures. As a result, modern dentistry is much more comfortable and less anxiety provoking than it was in the past.
Since dental anxiety stems largely from prior uncomfortable experiences at the dentist combined with a healthy fear of the unknown, the rate of dental anxiety should be on the decline as new dental patients have never known anything other than modern, comfortable dentistry.
However, millions of Americans continue to suffer from dental anxiety that ranges from mild anxiety to severe phobia that prevents them from getting necessary dental care. If you are one of these patients, you will be happy to know that there is no reason to avoid dental care any longer.
Dentists have developed sedation techniques that can address any level of dental anxiety. Many dental offices that offer sedation dentistry can relieve mild to moderate anxiety with nitrous oxide or mild oral sedatives. For more severe cases, sedation dentists are specially trained to provide dental care on patients sedated with intravenous conscious sedation or even full, unconscious anesthesia. If you suffer from dental anxiety, talk to your dentist about sedation dentistry. You don’t need to avoid dental care any more.
If you are wondering whether routine dental care including checkups and cleanings are really necessary, the answer is a resounding “Yes”! While modern dentistry has a wide variety of excellent restorative dental techniques to replace missing teeth and repair damaged teeth and gums, by far the most effective dental technique is prevention.
The majority of Americans are missing one or more teeth and ten percent of Americans are missing all of their natural teeth. Missing teeth are especially prevalent among older Americans and studies have shown that tooth loss is linked to a decline in health. Tooth loss, even when addressed with dentures, leads to a poor diet and jaw bone loss.
Despite being almost completely preventable, gum disease is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults. Gum disease is caused by naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria forms plaque, a sticky substance that adheres to tooth surfaces and causes tooth decay. Brushing and flossing removes most plaque, but some plaque will harden into tartar that can only be removed with a professional cleaning by your dentist or dental hygienist.
In addition to attacking the surface of your teeth, plaque and tartar irritate the gums and cause gingivitis and gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease can result in permanent tooth loss.
Regular dental checkups and cleanings are the key to preventing gum disease. Plaque and tartar is removed and your dentist can examine your teeth and gums for signs of gum disease, cavities, and other imperfections. Any cavities or other tooth damage can be repaired while the damage is minor. Otherwise, the tooth damage can progress to the point where the tooth cannot be saved.
One of the most popular cosmetic dental procedures is the placement of porcelain veneers. Patients with yellowed or discolored teeth or moderately misaligned teeth can have an attractive smile using porcelain veneers instead of messy teeth whitening or braces.
Porcelain veneers are thin porcelain shells that are bonded to the front surfaces of your teeth. Veneers are tooth colored and can be shaped to give the appearance of straight white teeth. Placement of veneers can make a dramatic improvement in the appearance of your smile in two to three visits to your cosmetic dentist.
Veneers offer numerous advantages over braces or aligners. With veneers, the results are instantaneous. You will walk out of the dentist’s office with a straight white smile after as few as two visits. In the first visit, your dentist will examine your teeth and prepare the tooth surface to receive the veneer.
Preparation involves removing a small amount of tooth enamel where the veneer will be place. Your dentist will take impressions and X-rays of your teeth so that the veneers can be made to fit. When the veneers are ready, a second appointment will be scheduled during which your cosmetic dentist will bond the veneers permanently to your teeth.
Your attractive new smile will be complete without enduring years of uncomfortable braces or repeated whitening treatments. Because they are porcelain, your veneers will not stain or yellow like natural teeth and they should last about ten years with good care. Properly caring for your veneers requires no special techniques – just brush and floss daily and see your dentist for routine checkups like you would normally do!
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