Posts for: May, 2018
Our main focus as your dentist is to keep your teeth and gums healthy and functional. But there’s another important aspect of care — your teeth’s appearance. It’s not just a superficial concern: your smile can have a profound effect on your self-image, as well as your personal and professional relationships.
This is the realm of cosmetic dentistry: served by both specialists and general dentists, it focuses on altering your teeth’s appearance with treatments as basic as teeth whitening or as comprehensive as dental implants. The goal, however, is the same: a new, more attractive smile.
In a way, cosmetic dentistry begins with you and oral hygiene. The twin tasks of brushing and flossing to remove dental plaque not only lowers your risk for tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease, they also improve the appearance of the tooth surface. There are, however, circumstances where otherwise healthy or repaired teeth may need extra cosmetic attention due to chipping, misshape or staining. In these cases, a truly cosmetic approach may be necessary.
One approach is to cover a tooth’s blemishes. Veneers, for example, are thin, layered pieces of dental porcelain shaped and colored like natural teeth that are bonded to the outside of an unattractive tooth. In other cases, a tooth may require a life-like porcelain crown that completely covers it to gain the same effect.
Missing teeth, of course, pose a different challenge, but here there are a wide range of solutions: dental implants, fixed bridgework or removable full or partial dentures. Advancements in dental materials and techniques can produce new teeth that are so life-like and natural that they’re imperceptible from the real thing.
Â These and other measures like orthodontics can all be used to turn a smile you find embarrassing into one you’re confident to share with the world. It begins, though, with both you and us taking a good, close look at your current smile — a smile analysis, if you will.
After assessing both your current needs and your expectations for change, we can develop an appropriate treatment plan. It might be quite simple or with multiple treatment stages, but it will be the best plan for you. Through cosmetic dentistry we have the means to help you achieve a new, more confident smile.
If you would like more information on the many ways to transform your smile, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry: A Time for Change.”
If you have a problem tooth we’ve recommended removing, those “Tooth in one day” ads—a tooth removed and an implant placed at the same time—might start to pique your interest. But there are a few factors we must consider first to determine if this procedure is right for you. Depending on your mouth’s health conditions, you may need to wait a little while between tooth extraction and implantation.
Here are 3 timing scenarios for receiving your implant after tooth removal, depending on your oral health.
Immediately. The “tooth in one day” scenario can be much to your liking, but it could also be tricky in achieving the best results. For one, the implant may fit too loosely—the bone around the socket might first need to heal and fill in or undergo grafting to stimulate regeneration. In other words, immediate implant placement usually requires enough supporting bone and an intact socket. Bone grafting around the implant is usually needed as well.
After gum healing. Sufficient gum coverage is also necessary for a successful outcome even if the bone appears adequate. To guard against gum shrinkage that could unattractively expose too much of the implant, we may need to delay implant placement for about 4 to 8 weeks to allow sufficient gum healing and sealing of the extraction wound. Allowing the gums to heal can help ensure there’s enough gum tissue to cover and protect the implant once it’s placed.
After bone healing. As we’ve implied, implants need an adequate amount of supporting bone for best results. When there isn’t enough, we might place a bone graft (often immediately after tooth extraction) that will serve as a scaffold for new bone to grow upon. Depending on the degree of bone loss, we may wait until some of the bone has regenerated (about 2 to 4 months) and then allow the natural process of bone cells growing and adhering to the implant (osseointegration) to complete the needed bone growth. If bone loss is extensive, we may need to wait until full healing in 4 to 6 months to encourage the most stable outcome.
If you would like more information on the process of obtaining dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Implant Timelines for Replacing Missing Teeth.”
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!
Nature doesn't guarantee perfect smiles. Sometimes, accident or wear and tear change the appearance of our teeth so much that it's embarrassing to show them in public. At The Scarsdale Dentist in the Westchester area, Dr. Jeffrey Pike uses a material called composite resin to reshape chipped, gapped and crooked teeth in a single visit. Economical, enamel-sparing and durable, tooth-bonding resin adheres to healthy teeth, improving resiliency, size, and texture.
It's really an art
Your cosmetic dentist not only has the tools and skills to deliver a picture-perfect smile, he has the artistic eye to compliment your smile width, facial appearance and tooth shape and color. At The Scarsdale Dentist, a cosmetic dentistry consultation with Dr. Pike will ensure your smile is healthy enough for aesthetic services, and it will help you define your individual goals.
Tooth bonding in Westchester
Over the past few decades, composite resin bonding has become one of the most popular aesthetic services dentistry has to offer. What is it, and what can it accomplish for the "average" dental patient?
Well, tooth bonding is also called direct bonding or composite resin bonding. A simple, pain-free and quick smile enhancement accomplished in one visit to The Scarsdale Dentist, bonding remakes small smile flaws. Not extensive enough for porcelain crowns or veneers, these defects respond to the naturally-colored material Dr. Pike applies, sculpts, and hardens on selected tooth surfaces.
Flaws addressed by bonding include:
- Small chips
- Hairline fractures
- Gaps between teeth
- Mild overcrowding
In addition, dentists use this blend of glass and acrylic to restore decay and to install splints (permanent retainers) and other dental devices.
Dentists and patients praise composite resin for its natural appearance and durability. While not as strong as a crowned tooth, a bonded tooth will withstand biting and chewing forces for up to ten years. And, it requires less enamel removal than the crowning or veneer process does.
It begins with a light buffing of the areas to be treated. Then, Dr. Pike applies a mild etching chemical which ensures the bond between the tooth enamel and composite resin. Next, he layers on the resin, hardening each layer with a blue curing light. This additive process creates a seamless attachment between the tooth and the resin. With a final shaping and polishing, the tooth is remade.
Direct bonding helps youngsters who have chipped or fractured their teeth. Often a temporary repair, bonding allows immature tooth pulp to recede as the child grows, and then, Dr. Pike can place a permanent restoration such as a crown or veneer.
Finally, resin does not decay. However, it can stain. So if bonding is part of your smile makeover, you should have your teeth whitened first so the dentist can match the resin to the rest of your smile.
We think you'll like direct bonding. Why not contact The Scarsdale Dentist in the Westchester area to learn the details? Call today (914) 725-0707.