Posts for: December, 2013
For well over a century, removable dentures have been the main treatment option for patients suffering from severe or total edentulism (loss of teeth). In recent years, however, the dental implant has been recognized as the best option because it can provide patients with permanent tooth replacement, and even more so as implant technology continues to advance.
But while permanent tooth replacement using implants offer more comfort and a better fit than dentures, they are more expensive, sometimes out of the financial reach of many patients. There is, however, one alternative for the lower jaw that blends the two options for tooth replacement into one. This alternative is known as an implant overdenture.
The implant overdenture begins just as a fixed dental implant would: we surgically implant two titanium posts into the lower jaw and allow them to fuse with the bone over time (thanks to the unique way that bone interacts with titanium). But rather than next affixing a porcelain crown to the post as we would with a dental implant, we would instead fashion a denture that fits over the two posts (hence the term overdenture). The overdenture has receiver sites that connect securely with the titanium posts to hold the overdenture in place. This ensures a snug fit with no slippage — resulting in better ability for the wearer to chew food and speak — and without the continuous need for dental adhesive. And just as with traditional dentures, you can remove the overdenture for cleaning.
It might also be an optimal solution for patients with severe issues involving bone loss or compromised teeth that make it difficult for them to support either a fixed prosthesis or a traditional removable denture.
This option does have some drawbacks: since it's still a removable denture, it can still move during meals and food can sometimes get underneath it, which can be annoying. Also, overdentures for the upper jaw require more than two implants because the upper bone is less dense; thus because of a greater number of implants, an upper overdenture is more costly than a lower one.
In the end, an implant overdenture to the lower jaw might be an optimal solution for you — financially and practically — to restore function from severe or total edentulism.
If you would like more information on implant overdentures, 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 Overdentures for the Lower Jaw.”
As life spans have increased over the last century so has the importance of maintaining good oral health. Teeth are such a critical component in good nutrition and disease protection, it’s important we do all we can to preserve them for a lifetime.
Through advances in dentistry and oral hygiene, two of teeth’s greatest enemies, dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal (gum) disease, are not only quite treatable but even preventable. The fact remains, though, that like the rest of our body, our teeth are still subject to aging. The irreplaceable outer layer known as enamel is especially susceptible to wear over time.
The normal wearing down of teeth occurs because of occlusal (bite) activity. As our upper and lower teeth interact with each other through constant biting and chewing activities, some of the enamel surface naturally wears away as we age. Our biggest concern shouldn’t be the wear itself but the rate of wear — whether it’s exceeded the normal range.
Habits that increase the frequency and rate of biting forces are the most common reason for excessive enamel erosion. Such habits include excessive tooth-to-tooth contact as when we clench or grind our teeth and tooth-to-foreign object, the chronic habit of holding hard objects (nails, pencils, pins, etc.) tightly between the teeth. Many of these habits are a response to psychological stress that can even carry over into our sleep.
The key is to minimize these effects on the normal process of wear, and to protect teeth for as long as possible. How to accomplish that goal depends on your individual circumstance: treatments could include such things as orthodontics to correct bite problems that contribute to abnormal wear, considering restoring worn teeth with new crowns or fillings, or reducing grinding or clenching with nocturnal mouth guards or some form of stress-relief therapy.
In cases where abnormal wear has passed the point where it doesn’t make sense to repair your natural teeth, all is not lost — restorations such as dental implants can help restore lost function and inhibit further erosion. Advances over the last thirty years in restoration techniques can, in effect, extend a new lease on life for your teeth. What’s more, we can also restore form — to bring back that smile from your younger years.
If you would like more information on tooth erosion and aging, 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 and Why Teeth Wear.”
If you have lost your natural teeth, you may already have heard that dental implants are the best option for tooth replacement. Unlike removable dentures or bridgework, implants actually fuse to your jawbone — providing lifetime support for a full set of great-looking replacement teeth. But you may not know that for many people without teeth, it’s possible to receive an entire set of new implant teeth in just one surgical appointment!
Here are the steps:
Initial Consultation — We will assess your existing condition with the help of x-ray imaging. CT scans allow us to see the jawbone in three dimensions, which is particularly helpful for planning implant treatment. These scans provide critical information about anatomical structures such as bone, sinuses and nerves, and help us determine the ideal location for the implants as we design your new smile.
Implant Surgery — The surgery to place implants is actually minor and routine. If you need to have any failing teeth removed, we will do that first. Depending on the quality of your tooth-supporting bone, you may need as few as four or, at most, eight implants in each jaw (upper and lower) to replace all of your teeth.
Temporary Teeth — If the bone in your jaw is healthy and strong enough, we can immediately attach temporary acrylic replacement teeth to the implants so that you can leave the office with teeth the same day as your implant surgery! Once you have fully healed, we will replace your temporary teeth with permanent ones.
Healing — During the first 6-8 weeks after surgery, you”ll need to go easy on the new teeth, avoiding chewy or tough foods so that the implants remain stationary as they complete the process of fusing to your jawbone. People generally have little postoperative discomfort after surgery and begin functioning with their new temporary teeth almost immediately.
A Revitalized Smile — When we are satisfied that your implants have successfully fused to the jawbone, we will remove your temporary teeth and replace them with your permanent ones. These are generally made of stronger, more durable materials and fit the healed gum tissues more precisely. They should feel just like your own teeth. In fact, neither you nor anyone else should be able to tell that they are replacement teeth!
If you would like to learn more about replacing all of your missing teeth with dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “New Teeth in One Day.”
Chewing tobacco is a known cause of oral cancer, yet many a Major League Baseball player has been seen walking onto the field with a round tin visibly poking out of his back pocket. That was before this year. Recognizing the influence big-leaguers have on their young fans, MLB players agreed to a new contract that limits their use of chewing tobacco and their ability to carry it around their fans. The 2012 season is the first to be played under the new rules, which were championed by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
One player who used smokeless tobacco heavily is Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. The former Padres slugger earlier this year endured 14 hours of surgery to remove a cancerous growth from the inside of his right cheek and graft a nerve from his shoulder to replace a facial nerve damaged by the tumor. This was Gwynn's second cancer surgery in less than two years.
When it comes to oral cancer, the importance of early detection can't be stressed enough. Unfortunately, this form of cancer is not usually detected until a late stage so the overall survival rate is poor, with only 58% surviving five years after treatment. Yet when oral cancer is detected while a lesion is small, survival rate exceeds 80%. That's why an oral cancer screening is always part of your dental check-up or regular cleaning appointment at this office.
During this screening we will examine your face, neck, lips, mouth, tongue and the back of your throat for any suspicious lesions (sores or ulcers) or lumps. Of course, if you notice any unusual lesions, or color changes (white or red patches), anywhere in your mouth that do not heal within two-three weeks, please come in to see us as soon as possible. And if you need help kicking a tobacco habit, we can advise you on how to get it.
If you would like more information about oral cancer, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”