Posts for: January, 2016
If you are missing one or several teeth, you are probably looking into long-term options to alleviate this condition.
If you are in the Braintree, MA, area, Dr. George Salem and Associates, PC, might be a helpful place to start.
One option that is becoming more and more prevalent is permanent dental implants.
A dental implant is a replacement treatment option in which a hole is drilled into the jawbone and a titanium implant is integrated into the bone tissue; a prosthetic crown is then attached to the implant. The permanent dental implant procedure can be done for one or more teeth.
According to the Academy of Osseointegration, a professional dental organization dedicated to education and advancement of Osseointegration Dentistry, dental implants are not only a very practical tooth replacement solution, but data suggests dental implants seem to be the longest-lasting tooth replacement procedure. In addition to improved ability to chew and speak more clearly, dental implants instantly offer more stability than standard, loose fitting dentures.
The AAO lists the following as some of the long-term advantages of dental implants:
- Dental implants take the pressure off remaining teeth by offering independent support and retention to crowns, bridgework and overdentures
- Dental implants preserve natural tooth tissue by avoiding the need to cut down adjacent teeth for conventional bridgework
- Dental implants preserve existing bone structure
- Dental implants reduce bone deterioration
- Dental implants reduce the need for subsequent restorative treatments for remaining/adjacent teeth
There are some issues to think about, however. For one, dental implants are usually considered cosmetic procedures by many insurance companies, which means some dental insurance policies will not cover the procedure. Another point to remember is that dental implants are done in more than one procedure over a period of time, often as lengthy as several months. This is because the bone tissue must completely heal before the crown can be installed. Finally, in a very small percentage of procedures, some complications can occur.
Your dentist can help you decide what’s right for you. If you are in the Braintree, MA, area, and you are looking for dental services, call the offices of Dr. George Salem and Associates, PC at 781-843-0660 or visit the website at www.drgeorgesalem.com.
Radiographic (x-ray) images are an indispensible diagnostic tool in dentistry. One of the most routine and useful types of x-rays dentists take is the so-called bitewing. Here are some things you may want to know about this common diagnostic procedure.
What are bitewing x-rays?
Bitewings reveal the presence and extent of decay in the back teeth, specifically in areas where adjacent teeth touch each other. Unlike other areas of the teeth, these contacting surfaces between adjacent teeth can’t be examined visually. Bitewings can also show areas of bone loss around teeth — a sign of periodontal disease; however, they are not taken for that purpose because bitewings will not show the complete root surface that is surrounded by bone.
Why are they called that?
The name “bitewing” refers to how the film — or sensor, in the case of a digital x-ray — is positioned in the mouth: The patient bites down on a little tab or wing that holds the apparatus in place.
How often do I need them?
This is determined on a case-by-case basis, with the goal of not exposing you to any more radiation than necessary — even the minimal amount found in a series of bitewing x-rays. Your individual susceptibility to caries (tooth decay) and personal dental history will play a major role in determining how frequently you need radiographic examination — and, for that matter, how often you need to come in for routine cleanings and exams.
Are they safe?
The safety of bitewing x-rays is best illustrated with a comparison to the regular daily radiation exposure we get every day from environmental sources, which is about 0.01 millisieverts — the unit of measure we use for radiation. A series of 4 bitewing x-rays exposes you to 0.004 millisieverts of radiation — less than half of the daily exposure. Undetected tooth decay, which can spread quickly through the softer inner layers of teeth, is considered much more dangerous!
If a bitewing x-ray shows that there is tooth decay, what happens next?
If the cavity is very small, we may be able to treat it during the same appointment. If not, we will make a separate appointment to make sure it is taken care of promptly. The sooner tooth decay is treated, the better!
A few days before the Oscars, Vanity Fair magazine asked Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris to name his most treasured possession. Was it his Tony award statuette for best leading actor in a musical? His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? The stethoscope he wore while playing teenaged doctor Doogie Howser on TV? No, as it turns out, the 41-year-old actor’s most treasured possession is… his wisdom teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. “Oddly, I still have my four wisdom teeth,” Harris said. “I refuse to let them go or I’ll lose my wise parts.”
How odd is it for a 41-year-old to have wisdom teeth? Actually, not that odd at all. While it is true that wisdom teeth are often removed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. It all depends on whether they are causing problems now, or are likely to cause problems in the future.
The trouble wisdom teeth cause is related to the fact that they are the last molars to come in, and that molars are large in size. By the time wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17 and 21, there often is not enough room for them in the jaw. Sometimes it’s because you may have inherited a jaw size that’s too small for your tooth size; and generally speaking, the size of the human jaw has evolved to become smaller over time.
If room is lacking, the adjacent molar (that came in earlier) can interfere with the path of eruption — causing the wisdom tooth to come in at an odd angle. The wisdom tooth can hit up against that other tooth, possibly causing pain or damaging the adjacent tooth. This is known as “impaction.” Sometimes the wisdom tooth breaks only partway through the gum tissue, leaving a space beneath the gum line that’s almost impossible to clean, causing infection. A serious oral infection can jeopardize the survival of teeth, and even spread to other parts of the body.
If a wisdom tooth is impacted, will you know it? Not necessarily. A tooth can be impacted without causing pain. But we can see the position of your wisdom teeth on a dental x-ray and help you make an informed decision as to whether they should stay or go. If removal is the best course of action, rest assured that this procedure is completely routine and that your comfort and safety is our highest priority. If there is no great risk to keeping them, as Neil Patrick Harris has done, we can simply continue to monitor their condition at your regular dental checkups. It will be particularly important to make sure you are reaching those teeth with your brush and floss, and that you keep to your schedule of regular professional cleanings at the dental office. All healthy teeth are indeed worth treasuring.
If you would like more information about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”