Posts for: July, 2013
Metal braces are often considered a rite of passage for teenagers whose teeth need straightening. While some teens have no problem with this, others are more self-conscious and would like a less noticeable and less restrictive form of orthodontic treatment (“ortho” – to straighten; “odont” – teeth). After all, traditional braces can sometimes require diet modification, regular tightenings can cause discomfort, and the hardware itself can irritate the inside of the mouth. All of these things can limit a teen's ability to function normally during an already difficult stage of life.
That's why many teens today are opting for removable clear aligners, which have been popular with adults for years. In this system of orthodontic treatment, transparent, flexible, plastic “trays” are custom-made to move an individual's teeth into better alignment in a step-by-step fashion. Each tray moves the teeth a little bit further, according to a precise plan developed with specialized computer software by an orthodontist, or a general dentist who has received special training. It's not available from every dentist, but we are happy to be able to offer it here.
It used to be that clear aligners were not recommended for teens for two main reasons. For one thing, because they are removable rather than attached to the teeth, it was assumed a teenager would not be as conscientious as an adult about wearing them nearly 24 hours a day, which is necessary to achieve the desired results. Now, however, clear aligners for teens have colored “compliance indicators” that fade over time. With this new tool, dentists and parents — and teens themselves — can monitor compliance and progress.
The other main problem in prescribing clear aligners for teens had been that their second molars are still growing into position. This problem, too, has been solved. Clear aligners now have “eruption tabs” that serve as space-holders for teeth that have yet to grow in.
Finally, in recent years, improvements have been made to the whole clear aligner system that allow it to be used for more serious malocclusions (bad bites). So it's actually a viable option for more orthodontic patients in general — teens as well as adults.
If you would like to learn more about clear aligners for your teenager, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also find out more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Aligners For Teenagers.”
You're planning for one of the most important days in your life — your wedding — and you want everything to be perfect. You've chosen the outfits, the setting, the flowers... but there's one more thing to think about. Is your smile just as bright as your hopes for the future? Do you wish you could improve its appearance in time for the big date?
Here's good news: You can! Depending on how much advance notice you have — and what level of enhancement you need — your wedding day smile makeover can range from a thorough dental cleaning to a full-scale orthodontic treatment program. Let's look at a few options that can help you look and feel your best on this very special day.
Getting your teeth thoroughly, professionally cleaned can help remove some surface stains and tartar in just one appointment! Depending on the level of discoloration, and how long it's been since your last cleaning, more than one session may be needed. You have this basic and effective treatment done every three to six months anyway — right? So, be sure and schedule one before your wedding!
Sometimes your smile needs more than just routine maintenance. If that's the case, there are many other options to help it look its best. Tooth whitening is a safe, effective and economical way to lighten teeth by several shades. In-office treatments are quicker and more predictable, but dentist-supervised at-home bleaching kits are also an option if you have more time.
Porcelain veneers offer a more striking and more permanent solution for discolored teeth. To get the optimum “wow” effect from this treatment, figure from two to four office visits, and a total treatment time of at least three months.
Cosmetic bonding is a great way to hide those little chips in the front teeth, or discolored old fillings in back. Using the newest high-tech materials and a dose of old-fashioned artistry, we can restore the shiny, translucent look of your natural teeth — only with fewer imperfections. After a thorough evaluation, cosmetic bonding can often be performed as a one-visit procedure.
If your smile needs even more help, don't despair — there are still plenty of ways to improve it.
Teeth that are damaged or missing can be restored by crowns or bridgework. When the roots are intact, a crown replaces the visible part of the tooth above the gum line. If the tooth is missing, a bridge is used to secure a false tooth to two abutments on either side. Properly done, these restorations may last a decade or more, and generally require two or more visits.
Dental implants are a great way to restore missing teeth. They offer a permanent, natural-looking tooth replacement with numerous advantages over other restorative treatments. Achieving these results requires careful planning and takes a bit more time. If you need tooth restoration, be sure to ask us whether dental implants might be right for you.
If you would like more information about a wedding-day smile makeover, don't hesitate to contact us or schedule an appointment to discuss your treatment options. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wedding Day Smiles.”
You experience a painful toothache that lasts for a few days, but eventually the pain subsides. Since there's no longer any pain, there's no longer anything wrong with the tooth, right?
Maybe not — the toothache may be the result of a decay-induced infection that has developed deep in the pulp of the tooth. The infection inflames both the pulp tissue and the nerves bundled in it (a condition known as pulpitis). Because it occurs in an enclosed space, the pain is even more severe.
Now it's possible for the inflammation to subside and the nerves to heal, which would explain the pain subsiding. But there is another, more likely scenario: the infected pulp tissue can no longer fight the infection and dies. The affected nerves die also, which is why you no longer feel any pain — the dead nerves are no longer transmitting a signal to the brain. The infection, however, is very much alive and continues to advance deeper into the surrounding tissues where it may eventually develop into a painful abscess.
So, how can we determine which of these two scenarios you are actually experiencing? A visit to our office for testing is the surest way to find out. The most common test involves temperature sensation, usually with the application of ice to the affected tooth. If there's no sensation, then that's evidence the nerves in the tooth have died.
If that's the case, it's important then to take steps to stop the infection's advance before it does even more damage. The most likely treatment is a root canal, a procedure that accesses the pulp from the top of the tooth, removes the dead tissue, and then cleans and prepares the root canals for filling. This procedure can usually be performed in our office, but more involved cases may require an endodontist, a specialist in root canals.
In any case, if you experience a severe toothache, please have it examined. And remember — the absence of pain after a toothache doesn't necessarily mean the problem is gone.
If you would like more information on the diagnosis and treatment of an acute toothache, 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 “A Severe Toothache.”