The hidden cost of missing molars

The hidden cost of missing molars

“I’m only missing a back tooth, you can’t even see it!” The real problem with tooth loss isn’t just aesthetics, it’s the subsequent bone loss. The alveolar bone, which surrounds the teeth, requires regular stimulation (piezoelectric effect – tiny stresses transmitted via the tooth) in order to stay healthy. Without such stimulation the bone will gradually be lost. It is a process of the body to take bone from where it’s not ‘needed’ to where it is needed. Studies have proven that a lost tooth can result in a 25% decrease in bone width in the first year alone, and will continue to decrease in subsequent years. As bone loses width and height, gum tissue also gradually decreases. Ability to chew and to speak can be impaired. The more teeth lost, the more function is lost. Bite collapse can occur when only some of the back teeth, which support the height of the face, are missing. This can cause the front teeth to be more stressed, squashed or pushed forward. Severe bone loss will also result in uncomfortable dentures or the inability to wear one at all. Fortunately, there is way to keep tooth loss from becoming bone loss: it’s the dental implant. Because the implant actually becomes fused to the living bone, it will continue to stimulate the bone and prevent loss. Molars, in fact, are usually the first teeth to be lost. Dealing with that first missing molar will help maintain the integrity of the jaw and the structures they support. Read here for an in-depth discussion on the benefits of dental implants and facial collapse. Photo...
Small procedure, big benefits – what is “crown lengthening”?

Small procedure, big benefits – what is “crown lengthening”?

Help! I recently broke a tooth at gum level when I bit down on an olive stone. I am worried that I might lose it. Can it be saved? Please come and see us as soon as possible! Crown lengthening is a common treatment procedure used to expose more tooth above the gum line where a tooth has broken at, or near, gum level. In order for your dentist to make a restoration such as a composite filling or a crown, sufficient healthy tooth has to be exposed above the gum line so that a restoration can be securely bonded. Crown lengthening is a surgical procedure that can be carried out using local anesthesia. Numbing is the same as numbing a tooth for a filling. Tiny little incisions are made inside the gum-line, both cheek and tongue side and the gum is teased open like a little flap. A minor amount of bone is then sculpted away from the tooth to “lengthen” the tooth surface, and this is where this treatment procedure gets its name. The gum is then replaced against that tooth leaving no open wounds, therefore, healing is quick and uneventful. Self-dissolving sutures are often used and minor anti-inflammatory drugs are given after surgery. These drugs are used for comfort and aim to reduce post-surgical swelling. This procedure should not be painful. There is the same amount of pressure and vibration as that which occurs during a typical filling.  A typical crown lengthening procedure takes about 60 – 90 minutes. Post-operative discomfort is minimal and you can go about normal activities the following day, avoiding vigorous exercise...
Chip off the white block….

Chip off the white block….

“Is it that big of a deal? It’s only a tiny chip…” Chipping a tooth means you have lost valuable tooth structure and potentially compromised the integrity of the tooth. It may be bad enough that you may need a root canal if the chip is close to the pulp containing the nerve. Better to have it checked out sooner than be sorry later! As for repairing a chipped tooth, our dentists can usually fix minor chips with modern bonding techniques using composite tooth-colored filling materials. For larger chips that involve more tooth structure, they may suggest a crown (cap) or a veneer. Composite resins are tooth-coloured. They are a mixture of a plastic-based matrix with inorganic glass filler. The glass filler gives the resin wear resistance and translucency. The ratio of plastic matrix to glass filler in composite resins can vary depending on the circumstance it’s to be used for; biting areas will require more filler for strength, and smile zones- less. We want translucent, pearly teeth, not Tic Tacs! But there are some limitations. The larger the chip, the less effective composite fillings become as a long term solution because the material itself is not as strong as the tooth structure it is replacing. The composite can also stain and dull as it ages. However, it’s a good interim material until a patient can receive a porcelain restoration, which could be a better long-term material selection. But for a child or teenager, composite resins are an ideal material choice because their upper and lower jaws are still developing. The pulp chambers containing the nerves of their teeth...
Facial collapse documented on canvas

Facial collapse documented on canvas

Artist: Waldmueller, Ferdinand Georg (1793-1865) Title: Josefine Ernst, (born Stoeger, 1757-1862), 1856 Found during one of Henry’s travels: A painting in the Leopold Museum in Vienna demonstrates the effects of facial collapse. Facial collapse is a condition that occurs when a person has lost their teeth and his or her body starts to absorb the bone that once supported those teeth. It happens over a period of about 10 years as the bone in the jaw shrinks substantially.A person who suffers from facial collapse has a significantly altered appearance and looks much older than he or she actually is. In addition to the physical toll facial collapse takes on a person, it negatively impacts health. How does facial collapse occur? Bones need proper chewing forces to maintain their form and density. The compressive and tensile forces teeth exert on the surrounding bone stimulates the growth and density of the jawbone . When a tooth is lost, the lack of stimulation to its supporting bone will thus cause a decrease in bone volume and integrity. According to credible research, 25% of bone loss occurs during the first year after tooth loss and continues, sometime to the point of fracture. A tooth is necessary for the development of facial bone, and stimulation of this bone by chewing forces is vital for maintaining its structure. This phenomenon has been ignored in the past and is currently being ignored by traditional dentistry. Dentists most often overlook facial bone loss that occurs after tooth extraction. The general public is often not educated about the anatomic, aesthetic, and functional consequences of continued bone loss. In...
Implants deliver a second chance

Implants deliver a second chance

An unfortunate incident saw all of Alison Diver’s top teeth pulled out by mistake. Stationed in a foreign country, Alison sought to have a root canal treatment for a cracked front tooth, but awoke from sedation with all her healthy teeth removed. In pain, unable to eat and ashamed of her appearance, she endured dentures which were “loose, bulky … uncomfortable”. But in a turn of events, Alison is now smiling again after having implant surgery which restored her health and confidence. Her case was documented by UK TV series Botched up Bodies. To see a recent article on her horror story, read...