My Blog

Posts for: January, 2015

By Penny Creek Family and Implant Dentistry
January 28, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

A recent episode of “America’s Got Talent” featured an engaging 93-year-old strongman called The Mighty Atom Jr. The mature muscleman’s stunt: moving a full-sized car (laden with his octogenarian “kid brother,” his brother’s wife, plus Atom’s “lady friend”) using just his teeth. Grinning for host Howie Mandel, Atom proudly told the TV audience that his teeth were all his own; then he grasped a leather strap in his mouth, and successfully pulled the car from a standstill.

We’re pleased to see that the Atom has kept his natural teeth in good shape: He must have found time for brushing and flossing in between stunts. Needless to say, his “talent” isn’t one we’d recommend trying at home. But aside from pulling vehicles, teeth can also be chipped or fractured by more mundane (yet still risky) activities — playing sports, nibbling on pencils, or biting too hard on ice. What can you do if that happens to your teeth?

Fortunately, we have a number of ways to repair cracked or chipped teeth. One of the easiest and fastest is cosmetic bonding with tooth-colored resins. Bonding can be used to fill in small chips, cracks and discolorations in the teeth. The bonding material is a high-tech mixture of plastic and glass components that’s extremely lifelike, and can last for several years. Plus, it’s a procedure that can be done right in the office, with minimal preparation or discomfort. However, it may not be suitable for larger chips, and it isn’t the longest-lasting type of restoration.

When more of the tooth structure is missing, a crown (or cap) might be needed to restore the tooth’s appearance and function. This involves creating a replacement for the entire visible part of the tooth in a dental lab — or in some cases, right in the office. It typically involves making a model of the damaged tooth and its neighbors, then fabricating a replica, which will fit perfectly into the bite. Finally, the replacement crown is permanently cemented to the damaged tooth. A crown replacement can last for many years if the tooth’s roots are in good shape. But what if the roots have been dislodged?

In some cases it’s possible to re-implant a tooth that has been knocked out — especially if it has been carefully preserved, and receives immediate professional attention. But if a tooth can’t be saved (due to a deeply fractured root, for example) a dental implant offers today’s best option for tooth replacement. This procedure has a success rate of over 95 percent, and gives you a natural looking replacement tooth that can last for the rest of your life.

So what have we learned? If you take care of your teeth, like strongman Atom, they can last a long time — but if you need to move your car, go get the keys.

If you would like more information about tooth restoration, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Crowns & Bridgework.”

By Penny Creek Family and Implant Dentistry
January 13, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dental injuries  

It can happen in an instant — your child takes a hard hit to the mouth while playing football, basketball or some other contact sport. Suddenly, he or she faces the severest of dental injuries: a knocked out tooth.

There's both good and bad news about this situation. First, the good news: the knocked out tooth can be reinserted into its socket and take root again. The bad news, though, is that the tooth has only the slimmest of chances for long-term survival — and those chances diminish drastically if the reinsertion doesn't take place within the first five minutes of the injury.

Outside of the five-minute window, it's almost inevitable that the tooth root won't reattach properly with the tiny fibers of the periodontal ligament, the sling-like tissue that normally holds the tooth in place to the jawbone. Instead, the root may fuse directly with the bone rather than via the ligament, forming what is called ankylosis. This will ultimately cause the root to melt away, a process known as resorption, and result in loss of the tooth.

Of course, the resorption process will vary with each individual — for some, tooth loss may occur in just a few years, while for others the process could linger for decades. The best estimate would be four to seven years, but only if the tooth receives a root canal treatment to remove any dead tissue from the tooth pulp and seal it from possible infection. Over time the tooth may darken significantly and require whitening treatment. Because the tooth may be fused directly to the jawbone it can't grow normally as its neighbor teeth will and thus may appear uneven in the smile line. From a cosmetic point of view, it may be best at that time to remove the tooth and replace it with an implant or other cosmetic solution.

In many ways the longevity of the tooth post-injury really depends on time — the time it takes to reinsert the knocked out tooth into its socket. The quicker you take action, the better the chances the tooth will survive.

If you would like more information on treating a knocked out tooth, 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 “Knocked Out Tooth: How Long Will a Tooth Last After Replantation?

By Penny Creek Family & Implant Dentistry
January 13, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
Your Mill Creek dentist explains who should and shouldn’t get dental implants.

With the New Year upon us, talk has turned to resolutions, and particularly if 2014 involved the loss of a tooth, you may be considering how you can improve your smile. Maybe you’ve already started doing your research, and you’re interested in getting dental implants in Mill Creek. Find out if you may be an ideal candidate for this fantastic tooth replacement treatment.

About Dental Implants

Dental implants are a long-term solution for replacing missing teeth. Unlike dentures, dental implants actually replace a missing tooth and prevent bone loss from occurring.

A dental implant consists of a small titanium post that is surgically implanted into the jawbone of the missing tooth’s socket. Over several weeks the tissue and bone around the implant will begin to fuse with the metal, making the implant a permanent structure within your mouth. Once this has occurred we will place a metal connector, or abutment, over the implant. The abutment serves to connect the dental crown to the implant.

Dental Implant Candidates

Since this surgical procedure takes several months to complete, it may not be ideal for everyone. Here are some things we consider before agreeing to perform this procedure.

Your health: We want all dental implant patients to have good overall health. This means they shouldn’t have an uncontrolled long-term disorder like diabetes, untreated cavities, or gum disease. We also don’t recommend this treatment for those with compromised immune systems and those who are currently undergoing chemotherapy.

Your habits: Are you a smoker? If so, we don’t recommend dental implants. Smoking greatly increases your chance of implant failure. Plus, smoking also impedes healing, which will significantly lengthen your course of treatment.

Your age: Implants are only recommended for adults who have missing teeth. Children and teenagers are still growing so their mouths are still developing. Until your jawbone has stopped growing, we do not recommend this treatment option.

While these are some of the guidelines that help your Mill Creek dentist determine whether dental implants are right for you, the only way to truly decide is to schedule a one-on-one consultation. During your consultation we will discuss your goals for treatment, and examine your smile to see if implants are the right fit for you. Call Penny Creek Family and Implant Dentistry today to schedule your implant consultation, and make this new year a toothsome one!