Posts for: July, 2013
You've probably heard about dental implants — today's best option for replacing missing teeth; maybe you even have one or more already. A dental implant is a tiny screw-shaped metal post that sits in your jawbone and supports a lifelike dental crown. Natural teeth and implant-supported teeth have differences and similarities.
The main difference between implants and natural teeth — besides the fact that you were born with one and not the other — is the way they attach to your bone. Implants actually fuse to the bone, becoming part of it. This is a unique property of titanium, the metal from which implants are made. Maintaining that attachment is extremely important; we will discuss how best to ensure that in a moment.
Natural teeth do not ever become part of the bone that surrounds them. Instead, they attach to it via the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth), which is made up of tiny fibers that go into the tooth on one side and the bone on the other. These fibers form a sort of hammock for each tooth.
Another difference is that natural teeth can decay while implant-supported teeth can't. But that doesn't mean you don't have to worry about dental hygiene — far from it! And here's where we get to the main similarity: oral hygiene is extremely important to maintain both teeth and implants. Lax oral hygiene for either can result in bacterial infections that may lead to gum disease, and even bone loss.
The main enemy of a properly fused implant is a bacterial infection known as “peri-implantitis” (“peri” – around; implant “itis” – inflammation), which starts when bacterial biofilm (plaque) is allowed to build up on implant-supported crowns. Peri-implantitis can lead to a well-like or dish-shaped loss of bone around the implant, which in turn can cause the implant to lose its attachment to the bone. If this happens, the implant can no longer function. Fortunately, this infection is preventable with good brushing and flossing techniques at home, and regular professional cleanings here at the dental office.
So another similarity, then, is that natural teeth and implants can last a lifetime with proper care. And that's the result we're aiming for!
Imagine how different things would have been for movie star James Dean, had he not managed to replace the front teeth he lost as a youngster. According to one biography of the 1950s heartthrob, Dean's teeth were knocked out while he was swinging around on a homemade trapeze. Because his smile was restored, Dean was able to land the plumb movie roles that catapulted him to stardom.
This is perhaps the ultimate example of how a smile makeover can create new opportunities for a person. But opinion polls confirm that nearly 90% of adults feel an attractive smile is an important social and career asset. And, an almost equal percentage of adults feel that their smile could use some improvement.
Are you unhappy with your smile? Is a smile makeover something you've ever thought about? Dear Doctor magazine has come up with a great list of questions you can ask yourself to figure out if you would benefit from this life-changing experience:
- Do you avoid smiling in photos?
- Are you conscious about spaces and gaps in your teeth?
- Are your teeth making you look older than you feel?
- Have you held back a smile?
- Do you feel that your teeth are stained or too yellow?
- Do you hold your hand up in front of your mouth when speaking or laughing?
- Do you notice areas of excessive tooth wear that make your smile look older?
- Do you have little teeth and a gummy smile?
- Are your teeth crooked, chipped or crowded?
- Do you wish you had someone else's smile?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, please come in and see us. We have an amazing array of cosmetic procedures available to us — far more than what was available to James Dean in the 1950s. These options range from relatively inexpensive teeth whitening treatments to more permanent cosmetic solutions such as porcelain crowns and veneers. Together we can come up with a plan to give you the smile you've always dreamed about.
If you would like more information about what a smile makeover could mean for you, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more about smile makeovers by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Beautiful Smiles by Design.” Dear Doctor also has more on “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”