Posts for: March, 2022

TreatingDecayedBabyTeethProtectsFuturePermanentTeeth

Primary ("baby") teeth may look cute and adorable, but they're a big player in your child's dental health. A primary tooth lost prematurely could eventually lead to a major bite problem.

Primary teeth fulfill a number of functions, most notably enabling young children to eat solid foods, speak and relate to people with a normal smile. But they also serve as placeholders and guides for future permanent teeth developing within the gums.

Problems arise, though, when a child loses a primary tooth early due to disease or trauma, leaving an open space on the jaw. Nearby teeth tend to drift in to fill the space intended for the permanent tooth, leaving little to no room for it when it's time to erupt. This can cause it to erupt out of position, which in turn could force other teeth out of alignment. The end result is a poor bite.

You can, however, avoid this costly outcome by either treating and preserving a decayed baby tooth, or preventing other teeth from drifting into a vacancy left by a lost primary tooth until the permanent tooth comes in.

Depending on the level of decay, treating a diseased primary tooth can include fillings, crowns or modified root canal therapy. For children at high risk for decay, a dentist may also apply sealant to the teeth to inhibit plaque buildup. Although some of these procedures can be extensive, they're often worth the time and effort to prevent a poor bite.

If, on the other hand, we eventually lose the tooth, we can still intervene by installing a space maintainer. This is essentially a loop of wire securely attached to a tooth on one side of a gap, while the other end of the loop butts up against the tooth on the other side. This prevents either tooth from migrating into the space until the permanent tooth is ready to come in.

Primary teeth may not seem all that important, but in the greater picture, they truly are. By taking care of them, you'll be doing your child's soon arriving permanent teeth a favor.

If you would like more information on pediatric dental care, 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 “Importance of Baby Teeth.”


EvenifYoureanAdultYouCanStillHaveaStraighterSmile

As you get older, you may find yourself regretting things from your youth: getting that tattoo with your (ex) lover's name; giving up on piano lessons; or, not investing in that fledgling, little company called Facebook. Here's another thing you might regret: Not having your crooked smile straightened when you were a teenager.

We can't advise you on your other life issues, but we can on the latter—stop regretting your less than perfect smile and take action, because you still can! Even several years removed from adolescence you can still straighten your smile. Age makes no difference: as long as you and your mouth are relatively healthy, you can undergo bite correction even late in life. And, you'll be joining the current 1 in 5 orthodontic patients who are adults.

Straightening your teeth—what some call "the original smile makeover"—can radically transform your appearance and boost your self-confidence. But orthodontic treatment could also boost your dental health: Misaligned teeth are harder to keep clean, so realigning them reduces your risk for dental disease.

You're sold…but, one thing may still hold you back: you're not crazy about how you, a grown adult, might look in braces. You may, however, have a more attractive option with clear aligners.

Clear aligners are a series of clear plastic mouth trays computer-generated from measurements of your teeth and jaws. During treatment, you'll wear each tray for about two weeks before changing to the next one in the sequence. The dimensions on each tray vary slightly so that they move your teeth gradually, just like braces.

Because they're nearly invisible, they don't stand out like braces. And unlike braces, you can also remove them for meals, oral hygiene, or special occasions (although to be effective, you'll need to wear them most of the time).

If you'd like to know more, visit your orthodontist for a complete exam and consultation. After reviewing your options, you may decide to bid adieu to at least one life regret—and get the perfect smile you've always wanted.

If you would like more information on orthodontic treatments, 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 “Orthodontics for the Older Adult.”


ThisTemporaryRPDCouldSustainYourSmileWhileYouWaitForImplants

Dental implants are often the ideal choice to replace missing teeth. Unfortunately, "ideal" and "affordable" don't always align simultaneously for people. Even if implants are right for you, you may have to put them off to a more financially appropriate season.

In the meantime, though, you're still missing teeth—and perhaps some of them are right square in the middle of your smile. What can you do now, even if temporarily?

The solution might be a flexible removable partial denture (RPD). These newer types of RPD fit somewhere between the lightweight "flipper" and the more traditional rigid plastic appliances often made for permanent use. The flexible RPD is made of nylon plastic (technically known as a super-polyamide), which although lightweight, is highly durable.

Super-polyamides change their shape under high heat, a characteristic dental technicians take advantage of by injection molding heated material into flexible denture bases, to which they then attach the replacement teeth. Like other RPDs, a flexible RPD is custom-designed for the individual patient to match their jaw contours, as well as the types and locations of their missing teeth.

Flexible RPDs also differ from other RPD types in how they stay in place. While the more rigid RPD depends on metal clasps that grip to some of the remaining natural teeth, a flexible RPD uses finger-like extensions of the nylon material to fit around teeth near the gum line where they're difficult to see. As such, the flexible RPD is both comfortable and securely held in place.

A flexible RPD, like their counterparts, does require regular maintenance. Any RPD can accumulate dental plaque, a thin biofilm buildup on teeth that causes dental disease. For this reason, wearers should regularly remove their RPD and clean it thoroughly with an antibacterial soap (never toothpaste). All RPDs should also be removed at night to limit bacterial growth.

With a little care, a flexible RPD could last for several years. It could be just the solution to buy you time while you're waiting to obtain dental implants.

If you would like more information on restoration options for missing teeth, 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 “Flexible Partial Dentures.”