When it comes to restoring both the beauty and functionality of a smile, two of the most commonly used techniques are porcelain crowns and veneers. Why? They consistently deliver beautiful, natural-looking results that are permanent and require very little maintenance. And while they have many things in common, they also have just as many differences.
Here are some facts that apply to both porcelain veneers and crowns:
- Both enable changes to a tooth's color and shape.
- Dental laboratory technicians use precise molds made by our office to hand-craft porcelain veneers and crowns.
- Both are made using high-quality dental porcelain.
- Neither respond to tooth whitening products — the color of the veneer or crown remains the same color as the day it was placed.
- Neither procedure is reversible once completed.
Here are some of their differences:
- Crowns are used to replace a larger amount of tooth structure while veneers are thin shells that are placed over the front surface of teeth.
- Veneers require much less tooth preparation (reduction by drilling) than crowns.
- Crowns allow for greater change of tooth shape, while veneers allow for more minor changes.
- Crowns are generally used to restore teeth that have lost tooth structure from decay or trauma.
- Veneers are generally used where teeth are structurally healthy and intact, but color and shape change are required.
- Veneers are used mostly for teeth that are visible when smiling, while crowns can be used to restore virtually any tooth.
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What does it mean when your dental hygienist recommends root planing? To put it simply, root planing is a method of cleaning the roots of your teeth in order to avoid periodontal (“peri” – around, “odont” – tooth) disease.
Periodontal disease happens when dental plaque, a biofilm of bacteria, is not regularly removed and begins to build up on teeth near the gum line. The bacteria cause inflammation, and this in turn causes the gum tissue to detach from the teeth. The widening spaces between the gum tissue and the teeth, called pockets, are environments in which bacteria can continue to collect and cause further inflammation and infection. Ultimately, this can lead to infection, bone loss, and loss of teeth.
Root planing is a technique designed to avoid such dire results. The bacteria, along with products they manufacture as part of their metabolism, can become ingrained in the surfaces of the tooth's root (the part of the tooth that is below the enamel). These bacterial products will form hard deposits called tartar or calculus.
Deep Cleaning Your Teeth
Of course, the best idea is to brush and floss away the plaque before the bacteria begin to build up on your teeth. If this is not done and pockets begin to form, the bacteria and toxic products are more difficult to remove in order to deep clean your teeth.
The first step is scaling. My hygienist or I will remove superficial collections of calculus. If material still remains within deep pockets, root planing is the next step. It involves actually planing the surface of the root, smoothing the surface free of calculus, bacteria, and toxins that have ingrained into the root surfaces.
Root planing is most often done under local anesthesia so that you remain comfortable while the cleaning procedures are done. The initial cleaning may be done by an ultrasonic instrument that vibrates particles off the root surfaces and flushes the pockets with water. Small hand instruments called curettes are used to finish the process. Antibacterial medication may then be used to help clear away infection from the pockets. Sometimes you may experience some tooth sensitivity to hot and cold after the root planing. If needed, this can be treated by applying fluoride to the root surfaces.
Depending on the extent of your gum disease, it may not be possible to remove all the deposits at one appointment, and it may be necessary to have multiple appointments over a few weeks to remove the remaining deposits. Often after three to four weeks the inflamed tissues have healed, leaving you with healthy gums once again.
Tooth sensitivity is an issue that can range from a slight twinge at times to downright excruciating pain. However, before we continue, understanding the cause of tooth sensitivity is helpful to both relieving and treating it.
Tooth enamel is inert in that it has no nerve supply and thus it protects the teeth from temperature and pressure changes — the main cause of sensitivity. Once it is compromised, worn thin, or exposed due to gum recession, it leaves the delicate nerve fibers within the dentin vulnerable to touch, acid, and temperature change. These nerve fibers most often grab your attention when they come in contact with heat, cold, or a “double whammy” combination of both cold and sweet. They also become sensitive to touch — even the bristles of a soft toothbrush can irritate exposed dentin.
As for the causes of tooth sensitivity, one common cause we see is aggressive brushing. Yes, too much brushing can be bad for you! To be more specific, excessive, improper brushing with a sawing back and forth motion can erode the gum tissues, expose, wear, and even groove the dentin. Another cause for sensitivity can be from the destructive process of tooth decay that eats through the enamel and into the dentin.
If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity or have questions about this condition, please contact us to schedule an appointment. Or you can learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sensitive Teeth.”
We are often asked about restorative and cosmetic dentistry procedures and the role they play in a smile makeover. We are also faced with people wondering whether or not they can benefit from treatment. For this reason, we developed the following self-assessment to help you determine whether or not cosmetic dentistry is right for you.
- Do you avoid smiling in public or for photos?
- Are you self-conscious about spaces and gaps between your teeth?
- Do your teeth make you look older than you feel?
- Have you ever held back or restrained a smile?
- Do you feel that your teeth are stained or yellow?
- Do you hold your hand in front of your mouth when talking, laughing or smiling?
- Do your teeth look old and worn down, making you look and feel older?
- Do your teeth appear short because of a “gummy” smile?
- Are your teeth crooked, chipped or crowded?
- Do you wish you had someone else's smile?
If you answered, “yes” to one or more of the above questions, then you could benefit from a smile makeover. However, that is the easiest part of the process. The next step is the one that probably matters the most — scheduling a consultation with us. During this appointment you can discuss the specifics that bother you about your smile using your responses from our self-assessment test. You can also learn about the many treatment options available for providing you with the smile of your dreams.
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Anytime you have a tooth that does not erupt (surface) correctly but rather stays submerged below the gum you have a problem. Sometimes this situation can cause significant pain, while other times it can be totally pain-free. When this occurs to a wisdom tooth (third molar), you have what is commonly referred to as an impacted wisdom tooth. This generally occurs when there is insufficient room in the mouth, and the wisdom tooth “impacts” or butts up against an adjacent tooth.
Third molars come in typically between the ages of 17 and 25, when a moderate amount of “wisdom” is supposedly achieved. Most people have four wisdom teeth; however, it is possible to have more or less. The key to not having issues generally depends upon one main factor: having adequate space for them to grow and erupt into proper position.
The most common consequence of having an impacted wisdom tooth is gum (periodontal) disease and damage to adjacent healthy teeth. This makes removing the impacted tooth so important. Another problem with impacted wisdom teeth is that they can affect other adjacent structures like gum, bone, nerves, blood vessels and sinuses. They can also become cystic, a condition in which the submerged tooth is surrounded by a closed sac or membrane that can cause possible infection and loss of bone.
We stress the importance of routine dental exams between the ages of 17 and 25 to catch problems with wisdom teeth before they start. The best time to remove a wisdom tooth is when it is not causing problems and the sooner and younger you are the better!
To learn more about the symptoms and treatment options of impacted wisdom teeth, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.” Or, you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions.
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