Six Reasons Why Dental Implants Might Be the Best Option

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Missing teeth can have a huge impact on a person’s health and confidence. Often, those missing teeth make it difficult to chew, which affects your diet. Facial features can change if there is bone loss in conjunction with the missing teeth. And for many people with missing teeth, their confidence takes a hit because they are so self-confident about how they look and how they eat.

Historically, dental bridges and dentures have been the primary solution to helping people with missing teeth. But the development of dental implants has provided patients with a new choice that can be a “game-changer” for a patient’s life.

Here are six reasons why a dental implant might be the right choice for you if you are missing teeth.

Prevents Bone Loss

If you replace a lost tooth with a dental implant, it will prevent the bone from starting to reabsorb because it replaces the root. If you don’t take this approach, you may eventually require a bone graft because of the bone reabsorption process. You will need to make sure that too much time doesn’t pass between when you lose your tooth and begin the dental implant process.

Enhances Your Quality of Life

Implants look and feel like your own teeth, so your quality of life is bound to be improved. Dental bridges and dentures can be difficult to take care of and wear, and dental crowns can feel and look like they aren’t natural.

Eating Is Easier – Which Helps You Be Healthier

With dental bridges, dentures and crowns, eating can be a hassle. You may have problems with certain types of foods (crunchy or sticky foods can be difficult) adversely impacting the crown, denture or bridge. If you have a dental implant, you won’t have to worry about a bridge or denture slipping or a crown coming off.  Crunchy vegies, chewy steak, sticky caramel rolls – none of them will present a problem chewing if you have implants. And since you will be able to thoroughly chew your food with implants, your digestion will improve and so will your health.

Stop Worrying

Your dental implant won’t slip or move when you chew food, laugh, cough or sneeze. They are permanently attached to your jawbone and are as sturdy as natural teeth that are healthy.

Naturally Restores Your Mouth

An implant is the best dental approach to replicating the original tooth that you lost. It matches the structure of the original tooth as close as possible and is the sturdiest and most natural looking option available.

Food Can Have Flavor

For folks who wear an upper denture, the full flavor of any food they eat is seriously reduced. With a dental implant, you won’t have that problem. You’ll be able to enjoy the full flavor of whatever food you are eating.

If you would like more information about the advantages of dental implants, the procedure to put them into your mouth, and their cost, meet with a dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs for a complimentary consultation.

Source: Worldental.org, American Dental Plan

Why Are All Mouth Guards Not Created Equal?

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Did you know that athletes who don’t use a mouth guard are nearly 60 times more likely to suffer an injury to their mouth? And did you know that the mouth guard you choose can have a huge impact on how well your son’s or daughter’s teeth are protected from a blow to the face? Losing a permanent tooth can create a lifetime of problems for a young athlete, including impacting their smile, speech, eating and self-image.

Mouth guards are designed to reduce the risk of a blow to the face injuring – or breaking – your teeth or hurting your tongue, lips, face and jaw. They generally cover the teeth in your upper jaw and are especially important for the oral health of any athlete involved in a contact sport – football, lacrosse, hockey, wrestling, rugby, and boxing. Mouth guards can also prevent injury in sports that don’t feature constant contact, like baseball or basketball.

While wearing any type of mouth guard is better than not wearing a mouth guard at all, certain types of mouth guards provide superior protection and have less impact on an athlete’s speech, breathing, and comfort while wearing the mouth guard.

So what are the three main types of mouth guards?

Stock: These mouth guards are relatively cheap and you purchase them already formed and ready to wear. However, they are usually bulky and ill-fitting and negatively impact breathing and talking. Those issues usually reduce an athlete’s performance.

Boil and bite: You can purchase this type of mouth guard at most sporting goods stores and often at drug stores or big box stores like Walmart or Target. You soften them initially in boiling water, then insert them into your mouth so that the softened mouth guard can shape itself to your mouth.

Custom-fitted: These are the best type of mouth guards because they are one-of-a-kind and made just for you. Your dentist will personally fit these to your mouth – it takes just 30 minutes for the fitting -  and the custom manufacturing takes less than a week.

Among the benefits of a custom-fitted mouth guard from your dentist are:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Clear speech
  • Enhanced breathing
  • Better protection
  • Ease of drinking
  • Customizable colors
  • Different thicknesses

Give your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs a call about making an appointment for a custom-fitted mouth guard. Your son or daughter involved in sports will thank you for protecting their mouth for a lifetime!

SOURCE: American Dental Association

8 Options for A Great Grin

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If you feel like your pearly whites need some help to enhance your smile, then you have an array of options to choose from at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs. These range from changing the shape of your teeth to closing gaps in your smile; from making them whiter to removing plaque and taking care of cavities.

Here are 8 common dental procedures that will help you have a happy, healthy smile!

Teeth Whitening

Over time, your teeth often lose their shade of white because of the chemicals in the food and drink that you consume. Lehigh Valley Smile Designs can create a customized mouthpiece tray that makes sure you’ll get the correct amount of whitening solution on your teeth when you use the tray.

Crowns

Crowns are designed to completely cover your tooth, giving it a normal appearance and shape. Crowns – also called caps – are used by the team at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs for a variety of dental problems. These range from using a crown to cover a large filling to providing a weak tooth with added protection. Crowns are also used after a root canal procedure, to cover a dental implant, or hold a dental bridge in place.

A variety of materials can be used to make a crown, including metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin, or ceramic materials. Although more costly than some other dental procedures, permanent crowns can have a long life if you take good care of them.

Bonding

If you have teeth with extra space between them, or teeth that are broken, stained, chipped or cracked, then bonding might be the answer to your dental problem. Bonding can often be done in one office visit and involves applying an etching solution to the tooth and then adding tooth-colored materials (often a composite resin) to the tooth’s surface. Bonding usually lasts for several years, but is more likely to chip or become stained vs. other restoration types.

Veneers

Veneers are usually made of porcelain and are designed to cover the front of your tooth to alter the color and shape. They last longer than bonding and give your tooth a better appearance. They are usually a bit cheaper than crowns. Veneers can help teeth that have spaces between them, are permanently stained, are chipped or worn, are slightly crooked, or are shaped poorly. When you come in for your initial visit, the dentist at  Lehigh Valley Smile Designs will take a tooth impression. On your second visit, the dentist will prepare the tooth before cementing the veneer on the tooth. The dentist then uses a light beam to harden the cement.

Enamel Shaping and Contouring

This procedure can help alter the shape, length or position of your teeth. The dentist uses dental enamel to enhance your teeth’s appearance. Reshaping and contouring often is used to correct overlapping or crooked teeth, irregular and chipped teeth, or minor bite problems. It is often used in conjunction with bonding.

Bridges

Often a dental bridge is called a fixed partial denture. It is used to replace teeth you are missing with artificial teeth and can be made of porcelain, gold, alloys or a combination of materials. Dental bridges are anchored onto other teeth after preparing them for crowns. Then a false tooth joins to the crowns and the bridge is cemented onto the prepared teeth.

Braces

If you have crooked teeth – or suffer from an underbite, overbite, or other problems with your jaw or teeth - braces are often your best solution. It can take a few months to several years depending on the severity of your dental issue. Braces can be made from ceramic, metal or plastic, with wire connecting them. The process is often uncomfortable, but the end result is worth it to many people

If the problem you need correcting is not severe, you may be able to use clear aligner trays to address your problem. This approach is more convenient and less painful, but often more expensive. But for many people, the cost is worth the outcome.

Implants

While implants can be one of the more expensive dental procedures, they are one of the best solutions to dental problems because of their permanence and stability. Many people prefer them to removable dentures (which can fall out easily). Your dentist at  Lehigh Valley Smile Designs surgically connects the implant to your jawbone. The result is strikingly realistic looking teeth that won’t lose their shade of white. There are multiple steps involved in putting in an implant, so you’ll need to visit your dentist several times over many months.

Of course, many of the solutions we’ve outlined aren’t needed if you take care of your teeth through proper oral hygiene, Be sure to brush twice daily, floss daily, and visit  Lehigh Valley Smile Designs every six months for a check-up and dental hygiene cleaning.

Sources: Worldental.org, WebMD

What You Need to Know About Bruxism

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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

Decisions, Decisions: Dentures, Bridges or Dental Implants?

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Each Option has Pros and Cons Depending on the Health of Your Teeth and Your Budget

Nearly 70% of adults aged 35 to 44 years in the United States have at least one missing tooth due to an accident, tooth decay, gum disease, or dental fractures, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. But there’s no need to go through life with missing teeth. These days, many good alternatives are available. Your missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants, bridges or dentures.

Dentures

Dentures, partial or complete, replace either the bottom arch or the top arch of your mouth. Dentures are false teeth, and although their quality has improved, they’re not ideal for everyone. If not secured with denture adhesive, dentures might slip out of place while eating or speaking, which is embarrassing, and partial dentures might promote infection and decay in other teeth if they aren’t fitted properly, which may increase the risk that you would need a tooth filling on the abutment (adjoining) tooth. That said, dentures may be the best choice for people whose gums and jaw are weak or unhealthy.

Bridges

A bridge is a dental restoration that spans an area that has no teeth and is connected to natural teeth at each end. A typical bridge consists of a filler tooth that is attached to two surrounding abutments or crowns. After completion, this bridge structure is then bonded into the mouth.

Dental Implants

Dental implants feel and function just like your natural teeth. They are permanent fixtures of titanium posts, which are anchored to the jawbone and topped with individual replacement teeth or a bridge that screws or cements into the posts.

With good oral hygiene, dental implants can last for 20 years or more without the need for replacement. Dental implants are often a popular choice for people who have only one or two teeth missing, but they can be an alternative to dentures if you have several missing teeth. As long as your gums and jaw are healthy, two or more implants can serve as a base of support for several replacement teeth.

Some Questions to Ask:

1.      How healthy is my mouth?

Your oral health is the primary factor that determines which treatments are even possible. While dentures are a viable solution for virtually everyone, dental implants are only recommended for individuals with a strong jaw and healthy gums due to the invasive surgery required for the procedure.

2.      What does my budget allow?

Because surgery is involved, dental implants are more expensive than dentures, but are a more permanent solution. A complete set of dentures will be much more affordable, but usually requires reshaping or replacement over time. If only one or two teeth are missing, partial dentures could be an alternative, and this is even less expensive.

3.      Am I willing to undergo surgery?

Neither procedure happens overnight, but dental implants do require surgery and a longer treatment period. While dentures can take up to several weeks from point of examination to impressions, molding and fitting, dental implants require drilling into the jaw and healing time for the implant to fuse with the bone. It can also take up to several months before the prosthetic is fixed onto the implant.

Initial discomfort is not uncommon for both procedures, as your mouth gets acclimated to its new teeth.

4.      How much does maintenance matter?

Dental implants require minimal care aside from regular brushing and flossing, which is a big advantage of this treatment. Dentures, however, can cause infection and decay in other teeth if improperly fitted and/or if proper hygiene is not followed. Regular rinsing, brushing and soaking dentures overnight are additional steps you will need to add to your daily routine. Other issues that often challenge patients with dentures are damaged clasps, cracks, as well as looseness due to gradual bone loss.

5.      Are the cosmetic differences that come with implants worth it for me?

While everyone has a different experience with dentures, common complaints include clicking noises, constant shifting or slipping (which can impair chewing and speech), a difference in taste, and bad breath.

Dental implants, on the other hand, restore the ability to chew and speak as efficiently as one would with natural teeth, without the bulky feeling commonly reported by patients with dentures. For those who want to get closer to real teeth in terms of form, function and comfort, this more than justifies the investment required for dental implants.

Regardless of which treatment you choose, replacing missing teeth boosts your oral health, improves your smile, and can help increase your confidence. Get further guidance and details on each procedure during your next check-up, or consider scheduling a separate appointment altogether for an in-depth consultation.

 

Sources: Perio.org, WebMD.com, OralB.com