Dental Health and Veneers

Dental veneers also known as porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length.

Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth. Resin veneers are thinner and require removal of less of the tooth surface before placement. You will need to discuss the best choice of veneer material for you with your dentist.

What Types of Problems Do Dental Veneers Fix?

Veneers are routinely used to fix:

Teeth that are discolored — either because of root canal treatment; stains from tetracycline or other drugs, excessive fluoride or other causes; or the presence of large resin fillings that have discolored the tooth
Teeth that are worn down
Teeth that are chipped or broken
Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped (for example, have craters or bulges in them)
Teeth with gaps between them (to close the space between these teeth)

What’s the Procedure for Getting a Dental Veneer?

Getting a dental veneer usually requires three trips to the dentist – one for a consultation and two to make and apply the veneers. One tooth or many teeth can simultaneously undergo the veneering process described below.

Diagnosis and treatment planning. This first step involves your active participation. Explain to your dentist the result that you are trying to achieve. During this appointment, your dentist will examine your teeth to make sure dental veneers are appropriate for you and discuss what the procedure will involve and some of its limitations. He or she also may take X-rays and possibly make impressions of your mouth and teeth.
Preparation. To prepare a tooth for a veneer, your dentist will remove about 1/2 millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface, which is an amount nearly equal to the thickness of the veneer to be added to the tooth surface. Before trimming off the enamel, you and your dentist will decide the need for a local anesthetic to numb the area. Next, your dentist will make a model or impression of your tooth. This model is sent out to a dental laboratory, which in turn constructs your veneer. It usually takes 1-2 weeks for your dentist to receive the veneers back from the laboratory. For very unsightly teeth, temporary dental veneers can be placed for an additional cost.
Bonding. Before the dental veneer is permanently cemented to your tooth, your dentist will temporarily place it on your tooth to examine its fit and color. He or she will repeatedly remove and trim the veneer as needed to achieve the proper fit; the veneer color can be adjusted with the shade of cement to be used. Next, to prepare your tooth to receive the veneer, your tooth will be cleaned, polished, and etched — which roughens the tooth to allow for a strong bonding process. A special cement is applied to the veneer and the veneer is then placed on your tooth. Once properly position on the tooth, your dentist will apply a special light beam to the dental veneer, which activates chemicals in the cement, causing it to harden or cure very quickly. The final steps involve removing any excess cement, evaluating your bite and making any final adjustments in the veneer as necessary. Your dentist may ask you to return for a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks to check how your gums are responding to the presence of your veneer and to once again examine the veneer’s placement.

What Are the Advantages of Dental Veneers?

Veneers offer the following advantages:

They provide a natural tooth appearance.
Gum tissue tolerates porcelain well.
Porcelain veneers are stain resistant.
The color of a porcelain veneer can be selected such that it makes dark teeth appear whiter.
Veneers offer a conservative approach to changing a tooth’s color and shape; veneers generally don’t require the extensive shaping prior to the procedure that crowns do, yet offer a stronger, more aesthetic alternative.

What Are the Disadvantages of Dental Veneers?

The downside to dental veneers include:

The process is not reversible.
Veneers are more costly than composite resin bonding.
Veneers are usually not repairable should they chip or crack.
Because enamel has been removed, your tooth may become more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages.
Veneers may not exactly match the color of your other teeth. Also, the veneer’s color cannot be altered once in place. If you plan on whitening your teeth, you need to do so before getting veneers.
Though not likely, veneers can dislodge and fall off. To minimize the chance of this occurring, do not bite your nails; chew on pencils, ice, or other hard objects; or otherwise put excessive pressure on your teeth.
Teeth with veneers can still experience decay, possibly necessitating full coverage of the tooth with a crown.
Veneers are not a good choice for individuals with unhealthy teeth (for example, those with decay or active gum disease), weakened teeth (as a result of decay, fracture, large dental fillings), or for those who have an inadequate amount of existing enamel on the tooth surface.
Individuals who clench and grind their teeth are poor candidates for porcelain veneers, as these activities can cause the veneers to crack or chip.

How Long Do Dental Veneers Last?

Veneers generally last between 5 and 10 years. After this time, the veneers would need to be replaced.

Do Dental Veneers Require Special Care?

Dental veneers do not require any special care. Continue to follow good oral hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing as you normally would.

Even though porcelain veneers resist stains, your dentist may recommend that you avoid stain-causing foods and beverages (for example, coffee, tea, or red wine).

Are There Alternatives to Dental Veneers?

Yes, alternatives to veneers include bondings and crowns. Veneers offer a nice intermediate option. Veneers may be best suited for individuals who want to change the shape of their teeth more than just a little bit — as is done with bonding — but not enough to require a crown.

How Much Do Veneers Cost?

Costs of veneers vary depending on what part of the country you live in and on the extent of your procedure. Generally, veneers range in cost from $500 to $1,300 per tooth. The cost of veneers is not generally covered by insurance. To be certain, check with your specific dental insurance company.

Source: WebMD

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How Are You Choosing The Right Dentist?

Finding The Right Dentist

It’s important that you and your family members feel comfortable with your dentist, since you’re more likely to keep your appointments and follow oral care advice from a dentist you like and respect.

A Thing To Keep In Mind

When you’re looking to find the right dentist, keep in mind dental care is very personal. So your neighbor’s or colleague’s dentist might not be the dentist for you.

Things To Consider

Here are a few things worth considering as you search:

Convenience. Is the dentist’s office conveniently located near your home or office? Do the office hours accommodate your schedule?
Insurance. Does the dentist take your dental insurance? Can you get information about payment plans and costs before procedures are scheduled?
Attitude. Is the office friendly and welcoming? Does the dentist explain procedures and treatments in a way that you can understand?
Emergencies. Is there a plan in place for emergency dental care outside of normal office hours?
Professionalism. A dentist who is a member of the American Dental Association has graduated from an accredited dental school in the United States and committed to uphold high standards of ethics.

What You Must Know

A dentist may have a degree that says DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). They mean the same thing-different schools use different terminology. These degrees apply to general dentists. A specialized dentist will have an additional certification in an area such as oral surgery or pediatric dentistry.

Dental Visit

Most people maintain their oral health with regular visits to a general dentist. A general dentistry practice focuses on taking care of your entire mouth, including cleaning teeth, preventing cavities, and evaluating your teeth and gums for signs of problems or infections. A general dentist can provide diagnostic procedures such as x-rays that are needed in preparation for specialized care such as orthodontics, dental implants, or surgery to remove impacted wisdom teeth.

Routine Procedures

General dentists often perform routine procedures such as filling cavities and also the dentist or dental hygienist provides tooth cleaning or scaling. Your dentist also serves as a troubleshooter trained to identify early signs of gum disease, oral cancer, or temporomandibular joint disorders, and can coordinate your care with specialists, such as orthodontists if you need braces or endodontists if you need a root canal.

Guiding the Patients

In addition, they provide patients with guidance and preventive health advice about how best to follow a regular oral health routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing.

Additional Information

In addition, general dentists can provide many cosmetic procedures such as tooth-whitening, dental veneers, and dental bonding. Cosmetic dentistry is not currently a recognized dental specialty, but general dentists may have pursued additional education in order to perform cosmetic procedures such as bonding, teeth whitening, enamel shaping, and dental veneers. If you’re interested in cosmetic procedures, start by talking to your general dentist. He or she can provide advice and refer you to a specialist if necessary.

When To Start Going To The Dentist

Did you know that children’s teeth begin forming before birth? As early as four months, the first primary, or baby, teeth, erupt through the gums. Knowing that, when is the best time to get the dentist involved? The answer is as soon as the first tooth appears. At this time, begin brushing your child’s teeth daily and schedule a dental appointment. In most cases, children should visit the dentist by their first birthday.

Ask friends and family and select a dentist in your area who likes children and takes care of them regularly. The first relationship your child has with a dentist can leave a lasting impression.

How Can I Prepare My Child For The First Dental Visit?

You can make your child’s first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. Tell your child in advance that someone will look at their teeth and clean them. Try showing them pictures of a dentist or have fun role-playing, acting like you or your child are the dentist. Most dentists prefer that a parent be present for the examination of any child under the age of three. Some ask the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold the young patient in their lap during the first few examinations. It can also be helpful to take your younger children along for an older sibling’s dental visit so that they can get accustomed to the office and the people. As children get older, they’re usually happy to be “grown up” and are willing to sit in the chair alone while they send their parents back to the waiting room. At the first visit, your dental professional will examine your child’s mouth for early signs of decay and other problems. He or she will also tell you many of the things you’ll need to know about helping your
child grow up cavity-free. After the first visit, be sure your child sees the dentist regularly.

How to Find the Right Dentist

Finding the right dentist for you and your family involves a combination of factors. But it all comes down to the four C’s: Competence, convenience, compatibility and cost.

First and foremost, you need your dentist to be competent, which means that he or she maintains a high level of professionalism and knows the latest treatments and developments in the dental field. To ensure competent dental care, look for a dentist who is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry. Dentists who are members of the AGD must meet requirements for continuing education and are pledged to uphold the highest standards of ethics and patient care.

A dentist may have a degree that says DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). These degrees apply to general dentists and represent the same training programs, but different dental schools use different terms.

Convenience is another important factor in finding a dentist. You’ll be much more likely to keep appointments if you choose a dentist whose office is convenient to your home or workplace. Also, look for a dentist whose office hours fit with your schedule. Do you need evening or weekend appointments? Do you have children who could see a dentist after school? These are the type of questions to consider.

Also, a convenient dentist is one who participates with your dental insurance plan. Most dentists in the United States participate with the large dental plans offered by most employers, but you won’t know until you ask. If you have insurance, your insurance company can provide a list of dentists who participate with your plan.  Take that list and ask your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations.

Next, consider compatibility. For example, some dentists are specialists in treating patients who are fearful of dental procedures, whether it’s filling a cavity or performing a root canal. So if you tend to be a nervous dental patient, ask your friends and colleagues to recommend a dentist that they like because he or she puts patients at ease. And ask a potential dentist whether he or she offers sedation dentistry, which involves treating you with a sedative via a pill, inhaled gas, or intravenous drug therapy prior to a dental procedure to help you relax.

If you have children, you may want to look for a dentist who has extra training in pediatric dentistry, although most general dentists manage a family practice and are expert at treat patients of all ages. Of course, some dentists are more comfortable and better at working with children than others. It may be worth asking other parents to help you find a child-friendly dentist, because positive experiences with dental care in early childhood can help encourage children to develop and follow consistent oral health care routines as they grow up.

Trust your instincts: Is the office clean and neat? Are your records in order when you arrive? Is there a plan in place for after-hours dental emergencies? Find a dentist who makes you feel comfortable about asking questions, and who explains treatments and procedures so you can understand them.
Finally, consider cost. Some people are very loyal to a dentist they like and will stick with him or her regardless of what their insurance does or doesn’t cover. Others give more weight to cost.

Many insurance plans cover 100 percent of the cost of at least one basic dental checkup and professional cleaning per year, and many plans cover two checkups per year. So it’s always worth the effort to find a quality dentist who participates in your insurance plan. If you need a dental procedure that your insurance plan doesn’t cover, contact the American Dental Association to find out about dental clinics operated by dental schools in your area. These school-based clinics are operated by the schools and supervised by licensed dentists. They often offer advanced procedures as well as basic dental care, often at a reduced cost.

If you have no dental insurance, you may be able to set aside money in a Flexible Spending Account through your employer to help cover a dental procedure, such as orthodontia, that you’re planning in advance.

Source: Oral B

Dental Braces and Retainers

If braces are indeed the solution for you, the dentist or orthodontist will prescribe an appliance specific for your needs. The braces may consist of bands, wires, and other fixed or removable corrective appliances. No one method works for everyone.

How Do Braces Work?

In their entirety, braces work by applying continuous pressure over a period of time to slowly move teeth in a specific direction. As the teeth move, the bone changes shape as pressure is applied.

Braces are made up of the following components:

Brackets are the small squares that are bonded directly to the front of each tooth with a special dental bonding agent or are attached to orthodontic bands. Brackets act like handles, holding the arch wires that move the teeth. There are several types of brackets, including stainless steel and tooth-colored ceramic or plastic, which are often selected because they’re less obvious. Occasionally, brackets are cemented to the back of teeth, in order to hide them from view.
Orthodontic bands are stainless steel, clear, or tooth-colored materials that are cemented to the teeth with dental bonding agents. They wrap around each tooth to provide an anchor for the brackets. The clear or tooth-colored bands are more cosmetically appealing options but are more expensive than stainless steel. They are not used in all patients. Some people have only brackets and no bands.
Spacers are separators that fit between teeth to create a small space prior to placement of orthodontic bands.
Arch wires attach to the brackets and act as tracks to guide the movement of the teeth. Arch wires can be made of metal or be clear or tooth-colored.
Ties are small rubber rings or fine wires that fasten the arch wire to the brackets. They can be clear, metal, or colored.
A buccal tube on the band of the last tooth holds the end of the arch wire securely in place.
Tiny elastic rubber bands, called ligatures, hold the arch wires to the brackets.
Springs may be placed on the arch wires between brackets to push, pull, open, or close the spaces between teeth.
Two bands on the upper teeth may have headgear tubes on them to hold the facebow of the headgear in place. (A headgear is another tool used by orthodontists to aid in correcting irregularities of the teeth; see below)
Elastics or rubber bands attach to hooks on brackets and are worn between the upper and lower teeth in various ways. They apply pressure to move the upper teeth against the lower teeth to achieve a perfect fit of individual teeth.
Facebow headgear is the wire gadget that is used to move the upper molars back in the mouth to correct bite discrepancies and also to create room for crowded teeth. The facebow consists of an inner metal part shaped like a horseshoe that goes in the mouth, attaching to buccal tubes, and an outer part that goes around the outside of the face and is connected to a headgear strap.

Newer “mini-braces,” which are much smaller than traditional braces, may be an option for some. There is another method of straightening teeth that uses removable plastic retainers that may also work when crowding of the teeth is not too severe. Your orthodontist will discuss the various types of braces with you and determine which might be the best option for your situation.

How Long Will I Have to Wear Braces?

The time required for braces varies from person to person, depending on the severity of the problem; the amount of room available; the distance the teeth must travel; the health of the teeth, gums, and supporting bone; and how closely the patient follows instructions. On average, however, once the braces are put on, they usually remain in place for one to three years. After braces are removed, most patients will need to wear a retainer all the time for the first six months, then only during sleep for many years.

How Often Will I Need to See the Orthodontist During Treatment?

Your orthodontist will want to see you about every month or so in order to make sure the braces are exerting steady pressure on the teeth. To create more tension and pressure on your teeth, the orthodontist will make adjustments in the wires, springs, or rubber bands of the braces. In some cases, braces alone aren’t enough to straighten the teeth or shift the jaw. In these situations, an external appliance, such as headgear, may need to be worn at home in the evening or through the night.
Will Braces Be Painful?

Some of the adjustments your orthodontist may make to your braces may make your mouth feel sore or uncomfortable. When needed, over-the-counter pain relievers like Motrin or Tylenol can help relieve the pain. If you always experience a lot of pain after your braces are adjusted, talk to your orthodontist about it; he or she may be able to make the adjustments a bit differently.
Does the Age Affect the Success of Braces?

The mechanical process used to move teeth with braces is the same at any age. So the benefits of orthodontic treatments are available to both children and adults who wish to improve their appearance and bite. The main differences between treatments in adults and children is that certain corrections in adults may require more than braces alone and the treatments may take longer because adult bones are no longer growing.

Can I Continue to Play Sports While Wearing Braces?

If you have braces, you can continue to participate in any sport you choose. When playing sports where there is a possibility of getting hit in the mouth, a specially designed mouth guard will need to be worn. The mouth guard, made of durable plastic, is designed to fit comfortably over your braces and will protect the soft tissues inside the mouth.

What Care Can I Expect After the Braces Come Off?

After braces are taken off, your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned. Your orthodontist may want to take another set of X-rays and bite impressions to check how well the braces straightened your teeth and to see if any wisdom teeth have developed. If wisdom teeth are beginning to come in after braces have been removed, your dentist or orthodontist may recommend the wisdom teeth be pulled to prevent newly straightened teeth from shifting.

Your dentist or orthodontist will also fit you with a retainer. A retainer is a custom-made, removable appliance that helps teeth maintain their new position after braces have been removed. Retainers can also be used to treat minor orthodontic problems. The use of a retainer is a very important part of post-braces care. Retainers, which are typically made of rubber or clear plastic and metal wires that cover the outside surface of the teeth, need to be worn all the time for the first six months and then usually only during sleep. The time frame for wearing a retainer will vary from patient to patient. The reason why a retainer is needed is that even though braces may have successfully straightened your teeth, they are not completely settled in their new position until the bones, gums, and muscles adapt to the change. Also, after long periods of time, teeth tend to shift.

Source: WebMD

 

What is a Filling?

What is a Filling?
A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives you a filling, he or she first removes the decayed tooth material, cleans the affected area, and then fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material.

By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include gold, porcelain, a composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), and an amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).

Which Type of Filling is Best?
No one type of filling is best for everyone. What’s right for you will be determined by the extent of the repair, whether you have allergies to certain materials, where in your mouth the filling is needed, and the cost. Considerations for different materials include:

Gold fillings are made to order in a laboratory and then cemented into place. Gold inlays are well tolerated by gum tissues, and may last more than 20 years. For these reasons, many authorities consider gold the best filling material. However, it is often the most expensive choice and requires multiple visits.
Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth.
Composite (plastic) resins are matched to be the same color as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco, and do not last as long as other types of fillings generally from three to 10 years.
Porcelain fillings are called inlays or onlays and are produced to order in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth and resist staining. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth. Their cost is similar to gold.

If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown, or cap, may be recommended. Decay that has reached the nerve may be treated in two ways: through root canal therapy (in which nerve damaged nerve is removed) or through a procedure called pulp capping (which attempts to keep the nerve alive).

What Happens When You get a Filling?
If your dentist decides to fill a cavity, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled with any of the variety of materials described above.

How Do I Know if I Need a Filling?
Only your dentist can detect whether you have a cavity that needs to be filled. During a checkup, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth.

Anything that looks abnormal will then be closely checked with special instruments. Your dentist may also X-ray your entire mouth or a section of it. The type of treatment your dentist chooses will depend on the extent of damage caused by decay.

Source: Colgate

Diabetes Patients Should Pay Close Attention to Oral Health

Diabetes Patients Should Pay Close Attention to Oral Health

If you have diabetes, keeping your glucose level within a healthy range and regular dental checkups are key to managing your oral health.

Diabetes can lower the body’s resistance to infection and slow the healing process. These changes affect your teeth and gums. A common oral health problem associated with diabetes is periodontal disease.

High glucose levels in saliva help plaque thrive on your teeth. Plaque is a film of bacteria that develops within hours of eating and releases acids that cause tooth decay. Plaque that is not removed can harden into tartar. When tartar collects above the gumline, brushing and cleaning between teeth becomes more difficult.

Diabetes can also reduce the body’s resistance to infection, which can affect gums. An infection of the gum tissues can lead to periodontal disease — chronic inflammation and infection of the gums. Because diabetes may compromise or impair the healing process, periodontal abscesses can develop.

If you notice any of the following warning signs of periodontal disease, see your dentist immediately:

Gums that bleed easily
Red, swollen or tender gums
Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
Persistent bad breath or bad taste
Permanent teeth that are loose or separating

It’s also possible to have periodontal disease and not have these warning signs or have different symptoms. That’s why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are so important.

Eating a healthy diet, taking insulin or oral medications as your doctor directs and advising your dentist about your condition will help you successfully manage the oral complications of diabetes.

Source: American Dental Association