Posts for: July, 2012
When it comes to restoring both the beauty and functionality of a smile, two of the most commonly used techniques are porcelain crowns and veneers. Why? They consistently deliver beautiful, natural-looking results that are permanent and require very little maintenance. And while they have many things in common, they also have just as many differences.
Here are some facts that apply to both porcelain veneers and crowns:
- Both enable changes to a tooth's color and shape.
- Dental laboratory technicians use precise molds made by our office to hand-craft porcelain veneers and crowns.
- Both are made using high-quality dental porcelain.
- Neither respond to tooth whitening products — the color of the veneer or crown remains the same color as the day it was placed.
- Neither procedure is reversible once completed.
Here are some of their differences:
- Crowns are used to replace a larger amount of tooth structure while veneers are thin shells that are placed over the front surface of teeth.
- Veneers require much less tooth preparation (reduction by drilling) than crowns.
- Crowns allow for greater change of tooth shape, while veneers allow for more minor changes.
- Crowns are generally used to restore teeth that have lost tooth structure from decay or trauma.
- Veneers are generally used where teeth are structurally healthy and intact, but color and shape change are required.
- Veneers are used mostly for teeth that are visible when smiling, while crowns can be used to restore virtually any tooth.
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Yes, dental x-rays are a safe and vital tool we use for measuring and monitoring your oral health. We feel it is imperative to ensure that our patients have the facts — especially when it comes to their oral healthcare. This is why we want to respond to this important question about the safety of dental x-rays.
We want you to know what they are, how they are used, what makes them a safe and effective tool, and why they are so important to dentistry and your health. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, in fact, just like natural daylight, except they have a much shorter wavelength. And because they are a form of ionizing radiation, they can easily penetrate bodily tissues without causing any harm when used properly. The reasons we use them are obvious; they help us literally see what is unseen. For example, they enable us to see bone structure and roots of teeth among other things, and are commonly used for diagnosing tooth decay. Furthermore, today's x-ray machines and other image capturing techniques are so sophisticated and sensitive that the amount of radiation required for diagnosis is almost nothing when compared to what you get from the background radiation present in everyday living. In fact, the average single digital periapical (“peri” – around; “apical” – root end of a tooth) film is equal to 1/10 the amount of everyday natural environmental exposure. These facts make it clear that dental x-rays are completely safe and, thus, are nothing you need to be concerned about.
If you engage in frequent air travel, you have probably experienced pain in your ears and sinuses related to pressure changes. The pain is caused by “barotraumas” (from baro meaning pressure — also the root of the word “barometer” — and trauma meaning injury) and is also called a “squeeze.” Divers also sometimes experience this discomfort or pain.
The cause of barotraumas is air pressure (or water pressure, in the case of divers) on the outside of your body that is not equal to the pressure inside your body. Normally when pressure outside your body changes, your organs such as your blood, bones, and muscles transmit the changes equally from outside to inside. Some structures in your body, such as your middle ear spaces and your sinus cavities (spaces in the facial bones of the skull), don't transmit the pressure as well because they are filled with air and have rigid walls. The maxillary (upper jaw) sinuses are pyramid-shaped spaces in the bone located below your eyes, on either side of your nose.
You have probably tried to stop such pain in your ears by yawning, chewing, or moving your jaw back and forth. These maneuvers, called “clearing,” allow air to move from the back of your throat into your ear canals so that the pressure can equalize. Similarly, your sinuses have small openings near their lower borders, so that you can clear pressure changes within them. If you have a head cold or flu and the membranes lining your sinuses are swollen and inflamed, they may close off the openings and make it difficult to clear these spaces. This can sometimes lead to intense pain.
Because the lower walls of these sinuses are adjacent to your upper back teeth, these teeth share the same nerves as the maxillary sinuses. This sharing sometimes causes pain felt in your back teeth to be perceived as pain in the sinuses, or vice versa. Pain felt a distance from its actual stimulus because of shared nerves is called “referred pain.”
Be sure to make an appointment with us if you experience pain in any of your teeth. Any defect in a filling or tooth can allow air to enter the tooth. It could be referred pain from your sinuses, or the result of pressure changes on trapped air within a filling or a tooth. Such pain, called barodontalgia (from baro meaning pressure, don't meaning tooth, and algia meaning pain) is an early sign of injury in a tooth.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth and sinus pain. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Pressure Changes Can Cause Tooth & Sinus Pain.”
If you've lost one or more of your teeth due to tooth decay, trauma, gum disease or a failed root canal, there are a variety of ways that our office can help you to restore your smile and increase your confidence. Crowns, conventional bridges and dentures aren't your only options for replacing missing teeth. Dental implants, surgically placed below the gums, are another alternative for replacing missing teeth.
Getting Started: If you would like to explore the option of having dental implants to replace one or more teeth, you will first need a comprehensive exam. The ideal candidate for implants is in good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support an implant. Smokers and those with uncontrolled chronic diseases like diabetes may not be good candidates for dental implants because healing may be impaired or slow. In addition, dental implants aren't appropriate for children or teens until their jaw growth is complete.
The Process: Dental implant surgery can be performed in our office using either a local or general anesthetic. The implants actually replace tooth roots; they are placed into the bone surgically. Generally made of commercially pure titanium, this metal has the remarkable ability to fuse with the bone as it heals forming a union known as osseointegration (“osseo” – bone; “integration” – to fuse with). This process takes two to six months depending upon many factors of which bone quality is the most important.
The next step is to place an abutment (a small connector) which attaches the implant to the crown. The crown is the part of the tooth that is normally seen in the mouth above the gums.
Assessment of your individual situation and deciding if dental implants are right for you takes knowledge and experience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding dental implants. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants: Options for Replacing Missing Teeth.”