Posts for: June, 2016
If we could go back in time, we all probably have a few things we wish we could change. Recently, Dr. Travis Stork, emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors, shared one of his do-over dreams with Dear Doctor magazine: “If I [could have] gone back and told myself as a teenager what to do, I would have worn a mouthguard, not only to protect my teeth but also to help potentially reduce risk of concussion.”
What prompted this wish? The fact that as a teenage basketball player, Stork received an elbow to the mouth that caused his two front teeth to be knocked out of place. The teeth were put back in position, but they soon became darker and began to hurt. Eventually, both were successfully restored with dental crowns. Still, it was a painful (and costly) injury — and one that could have been avoided.
You might not realize it, but when it comes to dental injuries, basketball ranks among the riskier sports. Yet it’s far from the only one. In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are some two dozen others — including baseball, hockey, surfing and bicycling — that carry a heightened risk of dental injury. Whenever you’re playing those sports, the ADA recommends you wear a high-quality mouth guard.
Mouthguards have come a long way since they were introduced as protective equipment for boxers in the early 1900’s. Today, three different types are widely available: stock “off-the-shelf” types that come in just a few sizes; mouth-formed “boil-and-bite” types that you adapt to the general contours of your mouth; and custom-made high-quality mouthguards that are made just for you at the dental office.
Of all three types, the dentist-made mouthguards are consistently found to be the most comfortable and best-fitting, and the ones that offer your teeth the greatest protection. What’s more, recent studies suggest that custom-fabricated mouthguards can provide an additional defense against concussion — in fact, they are twice as effective as the other types. That’s why you’ll see more and more professional athletes (and plenty of amateurs as well) sporting custom-made mouthguards at games and practices.
“I would have saved myself a lot of dental heartache if I had worn a mouthguard,” noted Dr. Stork. So take his advice: Wear a mouthguard whenever you play sports — unless you’d like to meet him (or one of his medical colleagues) in a professional capacity…
What should I do if I have lost all my back teeth?
Many adults today have some form of missing teeth. Some may even be missing all of their posterior teeth. If you are in Fairfax, Merrifield, or South Riding and are looking for solutions for missing teeth, contact our Pender Dental Care dental office today. Besides their apparent role in chewing, the posterior teeth affect the overall bite and help ease some of the excessive pressure on the front teeth created by eating. Hence, they play an incredibly vital role in the oral cavity.
Dentists agree the loss of posterior teeth can lead to a wide array of consequences, even in the remaining teeth, gums, jaw muscles, ligaments, and joints:
- Loss of alveolar jaw bone and reduction of the residual bony ridges
- Eruption or extrusion of unopposed teeth
- Decrease in chewing efficiency
- Tipping, rotation and migration of remaining adjacent teeth
- Painful dysfunction of the temporomandibular joints (TMD) that unite the lower jaw with the skull
Still, if the teeth erupt too much, there may not be enough room to replace the missing teeth below them. Besides that, as a tooth moves, it changes the relationship of how the jaw bone is attached to the tooth. This change may leave the tooth more vulnerable to periodontal disease.
Obviously, then, the replacement would help deter some of these consequences — but which method is best? Dentists now recognize implants as the best option for replacing missing teeth. They have some obvious benefits: as a free-standing restoration, adjacent teeth aren't usually affected by the preparation process, and the replacements are easier to clean and can contribute to the support of the bite.
Another viable but least favorable option is a removable partial denture. Removable restorations can be difficult to wear and trap more food. Because they are moveable, they may put additional stress on the teeth that hold them in place, which could lead to loosening and loss of those teeth. These are removable prosthesis that some people might feel troublesome in taking care of the hygiene and function wise, it may not be as good as the fixed type. Replacing the back teeth is not just about unsightly gaps; there's something less apparent going on in the area of a lost tooth that can affect function, health, facial aesthetics — just about everything.
Believe it or not, in the beginning, and at the end — it's not so much about teeth as it is about bone, which needs stimulation to maintain its form and density. In the case of alveolar (sac-like) bone which surrounds and supports teeth, the necessary stimulation comes from the teeth themselves. Teeth make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other throughout the day.
I believe you can now see the importance of replacing missing teeth, seen or unseen. Excellent options in dental implants or bridgework are worth looking into and discussing with your dentist.
We at Pender Dental Care, your Fairfax dentist, Merrifield dentist, and South Riding dentist, are excited to help replace your missing teeth in a comfortable and caring atmosphere.
Waiting is part of life for a teenager: waiting to get a driver’s license, to graduate high school or to leave home and stretch their wings. A teenager with lost teeth may also need to wait until they’re older to obtain dental implants.
The reason arises from the differences in how implants and natural teeth attach to the jaw. Although natural teeth may seem rigidly set in the bone, they’re actually held in place by an elastic tissue between them and the bone known as the periodontal ligament. Tiny filaments that attach to the teeth on one side and the bone on the other hold the teeth in place, but also allow the teeth to move gradually in response to mouth changes.
A titanium implant post doesn’t have this relationship with the periodontal ligament — it’s attached directly to the jaw bone. Over time the bone, which has a special affinity with titanium, grows and adheres to it to form a durable bond without an attachment to the periodontal ligament. Because of this the implant can’t move like a natural tooth.
This is extremely important for implant placement because the jaws in particular won’t fully develop in most people until their late teens or early twenties: the upper jaw in particular will tend to grow out and down. Natural teeth accommodate to these changes, but the implant can’t — it will appear to retreat into the jaw. The gum tissues surrounding the implant also won’t conform to the continuing growth and may appear receded.
The best approach is to choose a temporary replacement option until the jaws and other facial bone structures have finished growing. One example is a bonded bridge in which we use a bonding agent to attach a bridge of artificial teeth to teeth on either side of a missing tooth — bonding won’t permanently alter them as with a traditional bridge. Once the jaws have finished growing, we can remove the bonded bridge and install the more permanent implant.
Ask any teenager: waiting can be hard. But with dental implants, waiting until the right time will help ensure the attractive result is a permanent one.
If you would like more information on dental restorations and teenagers, 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 “Teenagers & Dental Implants.”