Posts for: February, 2016
Your gums can take a lot — they’re resilient and they endure a variety of abrasive foods over a lifetime. But resilience isn’t the same as invulnerability: your gums can be weakened by periodontal (gum) disease or by over-aggressive brushing that causes them to shrink away (recede) from the teeth they protect.
Unfortunately, it’s not a rare problem — millions suffer from some degree of gum recession, caused mainly by gum disease. This aggressive infection arises from bacteria in dental plaque, a thin film that builds up on tooth surfaces due to inadequate oral hygiene. Fortunately, gum disease can be effectively treated in its early stages by removing plaque above and below the gum line. Diseased gums will quickly rebound to their normal health.
Unfortunately, though, heavily recessed gums from advanced stages of gum disease (as well as those who’ve inherited thinner gum tissues and are more susceptible to recession) may not come back fully without help. This can affect the health and survival of affected teeth, as well as your appearance.
Plastic periodontal surgery can help restore these lost tissues. There are a number of procedures that can be used depending on the exact nature of the recession, and most involve some form of tissue grafting. A specimen of donated gum tissue (either from another portion of the patient’s gums or a thoroughly cleansed and properly processed donation from another person) is surgically attached to the gums at the recession site.
The graft can be completely freed from the harvest area or in some cases a part of it remains attached to receive blood supply while the rest is grafted to the site. These procedures, especially the latter, require meticulous skill and sophisticated microsurgical techniques to make an effective attachment. If the tooth root is involved, it must be thoroughly prepared beforehand through polishing and decontamination to ensure the new graft will take. The graft is sutured in place and sometimes covered with a moldable dressing for protection.
As the area heals, the tissues begin to grow around the graft, restoring better coverage for the tooth. Coupled with comprehensive gum disease treatment, this form of plastic surgery can restore new health to teeth and a transformed smile.
If you would like more information on treating gum recession with plastic surgery, 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 “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”
For people missing one, two or even all of their teeth, the consequences to oral health and overall well-being can be far-reaching. From poor nutrition to aged facial appearance to the weakening of remaining teeth and bone structure, tooth loss without replacement creates serious problems. Unfortunately, traditional replacements such as fixed bridgework and full and partial dentures come with their own sets of adverse issues.
What's the alternative? When facing extraction and tooth replacement, consider implant dentistry from Drs. Jeffrey J. and Jodi B. Johnson, your local St. Louis, MO dentists. Dental implants represent today's highest standards for effective and aesthetic tooth replacement, and over the long haul, they prove to be stable and economical, too.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth that replaces a decayed tooth, or one that failed because of injury or gum disease. Comprised of a titanium screw, metal alloy post, or abutment, and a custom-fabricated porcelain crown, the dental implant resides right in the jaw bone, affording natural looks and exceptionally stable biting, chewing and speech.
Drs. Jeffrey Johnson and Jodi Johnson may replace one tooth with a single dental implant, or several implants can support bridgework or full arches of removable or fixed dentures. Your St. Louis, MO dentists evaluate patients with oral exams and modern imaging to determine if they are good candidates for these devices. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, an organization of dentists who specialize in gum disease treatment and research, sufficiently dense jaw bone and healthy gum tissue help the success and retention of dental implants.
The Implant Procedure
Dr. Johnson places dental implants during in-office surgery usually using nothing more than local anesthesia (pain shots) to numb the area. A hole is drilled into the patient's jaw and the implant device is screwed into place. Over the next several weeks, the titanium screw integrates firmly with the bone. This melding process is called osseointegration, and it facilitates retention of the implant and also exercises and strengthens the jaw.
After the site heals adequately, Dr. Johnson attaches the metal extension post and porcelain crown to the implant. After some minor adjustments for fit and bite, the dental implant is complete. At home, the patient performs routine brushing and flossing and sees Dr. Johnson for exams and cleanings every 6 months.
Implant Success and Versatility
Implant dentistry patients all over the world testify that their dental implants look and feel as though they are real teeth. Plus, implants stay in place for years--to the point where they can be considered permanent restorations. The Academy of Osseointegration says that dental implants are more than 90 percent successful.
What about You?
If you are faced with tooth loss, or already have smile gaps, don't wait. Contact Drs. Jeffery J. and Jodi B.Johnson for compassionate expertise on dental implants and other tooth replacement options. Call their office today at (314) 427-7400.
A recent episode of “America’s Got Talent” featured an engaging 93-year-old strongman called The Mighty Atom Jr. The mature muscleman’s stunt: moving a full-sized car (laden with his octogenarian “kid brother,” his brother’s wife, plus Atom’s “lady friend”) using just his teeth. Grinning for host Howie Mandel, Atom proudly told the TV audience that his teeth were all his own; then he grasped a leather strap in his mouth, and successfully pulled the car from a standstill.
We’re pleased to see that the Atom has kept his natural teeth in good shape: He must have found time for brushing and flossing in between stunts. Needless to say, his “talent” isn’t one we’d recommend trying at home. But aside from pulling vehicles, teeth can also be chipped or fractured by more mundane (yet still risky) activities — playing sports, nibbling on pencils, or biting too hard on ice. What can you do if that happens to your teeth?
Fortunately, we have a number of ways to repair cracked or chipped teeth. One of the easiest and fastest is cosmetic bonding with tooth-colored resins. Bonding can be used to fill in small chips, cracks and discolorations in the teeth. The bonding material is a high-tech mixture of plastic and glass components that’s extremely lifelike, and can last for several years. Plus, it’s a procedure that can be done right in the office, with minimal preparation or discomfort. However, it may not be suitable for larger chips, and it isn’t the longest-lasting type of restoration.
When more of the tooth structure is missing, a crown (or cap) might be needed to restore the tooth’s appearance and function. This involves creating a replacement for the entire visible part of the tooth in a dental lab — or in some cases, right in the office. It typically involves making a model of the damaged tooth and its neighbors, then fabricating a replica, which will fit perfectly into the bite. Finally, the replacement crown is permanently cemented to the damaged tooth. A crown replacement can last for many years if the tooth’s roots are in good shape. But what if the roots have been dislodged?
In some cases it’s possible to re-implant a tooth that has been knocked out — especially if it has been carefully preserved, and receives immediate professional attention. But if a tooth can’t be saved (due to a deeply fractured root, for example) a dental implant offers today’s best option for tooth replacement. This procedure has a success rate of over 95 percent, and gives you a natural looking replacement tooth that can last for the rest of your life.
So what have we learned? If you take care of your teeth, like strongman Atom, they can last a long time — but if you need to move your car, go get the keys.
If you would like more information about tooth restoration, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Crowns & Bridgework.”