What You Need to Know About Bruxism

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you are one of those folks who regularly grind your teeth, then your condition is called bruxism. It can lead to damage to your teeth and other oral health issues.

So why do people grind their teeth? Generally, teeth grinding or clenching is from stress or anxiety and it usually occurs at night when you’re sleeping. You’re more apt to suffer from bruxism if you have an abnormal bite or if you are missing teeth or have crooked teeth.

You probably suffer from bruxism if you have a constant, dull headache or your jaw is regularly sore. Also, your loved one may hear you at night when you are sleeping and grinding your teeth. If you do think that you may have bruxism, consult with your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs. He will examine your jaw and mouth for signs of grinding and look for abnormalities and/or tenderness in your jaw and teeth.

We see some patients at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs who come in with teeth that have been fractured, loosened or are even missing because of a long-term history of grinding their teeth. Sometimes their teeth have been ground down to mere stumps. The solution? Crowns, bridges, implants, root canals, and partial or full dentures.

Additionally, health issues stemming from bruxism’s impact on your jaw can include hearing loss, worsening of TMD and TMJ, and changes in your face’s appearance.

So what can you do to stop grinding your teeth or reduce its impact?

Have your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs fit you with a night mouth guard to protect your teeth while you sleep.

Find ways to reduce your stress if that is a contributing factor to your bruxism. Depending on your personal situation, counseling for stress, regular exercise, physical therapy, and prescription muscle relaxants are some of the options you may consider.

Cut back from your diet– or cut out – foods and drinks that have caffeine. These include colas, coffee and coffee.

Skip the alcohol because you grind your teeth more intensely after consuming alcohol.

Avoid chewing anything that isn’t food – thinks like pencils or pen caps. Chewing gum can also be a problem since it makes your jaw muscles more used to clenching and increases the likelihood that you will grind your teeth.

Teach yourself not to grind or clench your teeth. If you position the tip of your tongue between your teeth while you’re awake, you’ll train your jaw muscles to relax. At night, hold a warm washcloth against your check in front of your earlobe to relax your jaw muscles.

SOURCE: WebMD

All About Crowns – the Dental Kind

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When your dentist says “you’ll probably need a crown” after examining a troublesome tooth, what exactly are they talking about and why do you need to be “crowned.” Crowns are a type of dental restoration that involves putting a protecting covering (a crown) over a tooth. There is a wide range of materials that the crown can be made from, ranging from porcelain to metals.

So what types of oral health issues call for a crown?

  • Damage to a tooth is so severe that it cannot be fixed by placing an amalgam or composite restoration (a filling).
  • The appearance of the tooth is less than desirable and the placement of a crown can improve the shape, color and in some cases the alignment of the tooth.
  • To protect a weak tooth due to decay.
  • To protect a weak tooth that has been cracked.
  • To hold a dental bridge into place.
  • To cover a dental implant.

How is a crown placed on the existing tooth?

After a careful exam, your dentist will evaluate your needs and then review your options for repairing or replacing the tooth. If a crown is the best approach for your situation, your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs will initially “prep” the troublesome tooth. This involves removing any decay and readying the tooth for the permanent crown. This may include fabricating a build-up if there is not enough healthy tooth surface left to hold and stabilize the new crown.

An impression is taken and a “temporary” crown is fabricated after the tooth is “prepped”.  The temporary crown is seated while the permanent crown is being made in the lab.  Once the crown is finished, typically 1 to 2 weeks, the patient will return to get the permanent crown cemented into place.

So what are the different types of materials used in crowns?

Stainless steel crowns are prefabricated crowns that are used on permanent teeth primarily as a temporary measure. The crown protects the tooth or filling while a permanent crown is made from another material. They are often used with children’s primary teeth. The crown covers the entire tooth and protects it from further decay. When the primary tooth comes out to make room for the permanent tooth, the crown comes out naturally with it.

Metals used in crowns include gold alloy, palladium, nickel or chromium. Compared with other crown types, less tooth structure needs to be removed with metal crowns, and tooth wear to opposing teeth is kept to a minimum. Metal crowns withstand biting and chewing forces well and probably last the longest in terms of wear down. Also, metal crowns rarely chip or break. The metallic color is the main drawback. Metal crowns are a good choice for out-of-sight molars.

Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns can be color matched to your adjacent teeth (unlike the metallic crowns). However, more wearing to the opposing teeth occurs with this crown type compared with metal or resin crowns. The crown's porcelain portion can also chip or break off. Next to all-ceramic crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns look most like normal teeth. These crowns can be a good choice for front or back teeth.

All-resin dental crowns are less expensive than other crown types. However, they wear down over time and are more prone to fractures than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.

All-ceramic or all-porcelain dental crowns provide better natural color match than any other crown type and may be more suitable for people with metal allergies. However, they are not as strong as porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns and they wear down opposing teeth a little more than metal or resin crowns. All-ceramic crowns are a good choice for front teeth.

SOURCE: WebMD and American Dental Association

 

Ditch Discolored Fillings for Natural Looking Options

Posted by LVSmileDesigns | Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Fillings From Lehigh Valley Smile Designs Can Benefit More Than Your Looks

The cosmetic reasons for replacing amalgam (often referred to as "silver") fillings may be obvious — your smile looks better without the telltale dark spots and any associated feeling of self-consciousness goes away.

People don’t realize is that if your metal dental fillings are defective or show decay, it's important to replace them. While it can be easy to forget about cavities once they're filled, the truth is that oral health threats can re-emerge as fillings weaken over time. Constant grinding and chewing will wear down any filling, and it often only takes one particularly hard or sticky food to dislodge or crack it.

Why Replace Silver Fillings?

Untreated decay may eventually lead to an infection (abscess). In some cases, replacing a metal dental filling may benefit the long-term health of your tooth.

Once the protective barrier to a cavity has been lost or broken, harmful bacteria can easily seep in and continue to eat away at the tooth. In many cases — especially those where the seal has been damaged but has not completely fallen out — tooth decay under or around the filling may easily escape notice until it reaches the point where a root canal or an extraction is necessary. Being diligent about dental visits and proactive about replacing fillings can help you avoid the unnecessary pain and expense of a tooth infection.

Silver Fillings Hide Decay

Because silver fillings are opaque to X-Rays, it’s difficult to see a cavity under the filling until they are quite extensive. Research has shown that when you’re examining a patient with silver fillings, if you don’t use any X-Rays you can see 50% of what is going on and with a full set of X-Rays you will still only see about 80 – 85% of what’s going on. So there is 15% – 20% of cavities that we won’t be able to see because the metal blocks out this damage. In some cases, this can mean the difference between getting another filling or having to have a root canal treatment.

Colored Fillings Prevent Cracked Teeth

We know from the research that silver fillings do not strengthen teeth at all. So a silver filling in a tooth, essentially acts like a wedge, and when you bite down on the filling the forces are transmitted to the remaining tooth structure.

Because the silver filling material was usually just packed in, there is no adhesion of the silver filling to the tooth, which we get with the tooth-colored materials. This adhesion means that the chewing forces are distributed over a greater amount of tooth, making the tooth about 15 – 20% stronger with the tooth colored compared to silver filling

The force of biting down with the chewing is also distributed across the whole tooth structure more evenly than it is with silver filling, meaning less likelihood of tooth cracking.

Replacement Options

The good news about getting rid of old fillings is that amalgam is no longer your only choice. As hardy and durable as this traditional mixture of silver, mercury and other metal alloys is, it has become virtually obsolete due to more discrete options such as:

·        Composite Fillings: tooth-colored bondings primarily used for the front teeth

·        Veneers: thin, porcelain, non-staining shells affixed to the front surface of teeth

·        Crowns: complete covering for damaged teeth that a filling alone cannot repair

·        Inlays or Onlays: custom composite used to replace larger fillings in molars

Strategies for Replacing Fillings

Some people will want to do everything at once and then sleep tight knowing that it’s all sorted out. Others will pick the part of their mouth that is worst and together with their dentist to break it up into sections: do the top right this year, the bottom left next year, and so on.

Your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs may recommend one particular treatment or a varied approach, depending on the number and type of fillings needed. Rest assured, however, that the choices at your disposal lend themselves to a more natural look than that of an amalgam filling.

Caring for Teeth with Fillings

Regardless of which replacement option you choose, a little extra care and attention can go a long way in protecting your investment. To extend the life of a newly restored tooth, consider making these changes to your everyday routine:

·        Brush and floss regularly to keep the tooth's surface clear of tough buildup

·        Use a mouth guard at night to avoid unnecessary pressure if tooth grinding is a habit

·        Steer clear of overly hard or sticky foods that can damage the restored tooth

·        See a dentist if you notice a bad taste or dull pain that can indicate a defect or decay

Regular dentist visits to Lehigh Valley Smile Designs can further minimize the risk of damaged filings — and help prevent the need for new ones. For questions about replacing and/or maintaining fillings, schedule an appointment with your dentist.

 

Sources: Mayo Clinic, TodaysDentistry.com