Posts for: September, 2014
A loose permanent tooth isn’t normal — it represents a serious threat to the tooth’s survival. There may be a chance to save the tooth, however, if we can determine the cause of the looseness and treat it appropriately.
Teeth are normally held securely in place by the periodontal ligament, an elastic tissue that attaches to both the teeth and the bone. Certain conditions, however, can disrupt this attachment. The most common is advanced periodontal (gum) disease, an infectious condition caused by bacterial plaque. It can severely inflame and damage the surrounding gum tissues resulting in bone loss. As the bone is lost, the periodontal ligament is lost as they detach from the teeth. In fact, tooth looseness may be a fairly late sign of the disease.
Another major cause is teeth grinding (bruxism) and clenching habits that result in excessive biting forces. Usually stress-related, teeth grinding and clenching generate forces on the teeth outside of their normal range. As a result the periodontal ligament can become stretched, inducing tooth looseness.
Our treatment approach depends on which condition is causing the looseness, best assessed with a thorough dental examination. If gum disease is the culprit, the main treatment is to remove as much bacterial plaque and calculus (tartar) as possible using various techniques such as scaling or root planing (accessing and cleaning root surfaces). It’s also imperative for you the patient to start and maintain an effective hygiene regimen of daily brushing and flossing, along with professional cleanings every three to six months depending on your degree of vulnerability to gum disease. Subsequent healing will stimulate tissue reattachment to the teeth.
In the case of excessive biting forces, we primarily want to reduce their effect on the teeth. Treatment can include muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory drugs, or a custom-fitted bite guard to minimize biting forces from teeth grinding during sleep. In some cases we may opt to reshape the biting surfaces of teeth through removal of small amounts of surface enamel: this will reduce the biting force by altering how the upper and lower teeth contact. It’s also possible to splint loose teeth to more stable teeth, joining them like pickets in a fence. This helps relieve the biting force on teeth with significant loss of bone support.
If you notice a loose tooth, you should make an exam appointment with us as soon as possible. The sooner we can diagnose the cause and begin treatment, the less chance you’ll lose your tooth.
If you would like more information on loose teeth, 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 “Loose Teeth.”
On his way to the top of the urban contemporary charts, the musician, actor and entrepreneur known as 50 Cent (born Curtis James Jackson III) earned his street credibility the hard way; his rise from youthful poverty to present-day stardom is chronicled in many of his rhymes. So when it came time for the rapper to have cosmetic work performed on his teeth, he insisted on doing it in his own way.
“I told [the dentist] to leave [my front teeth] a little bigger than the other ones, because I need to still see me when I look in the mirror,” he told his co-host on the New York radio station Power 105.1. “Don't give me no whole ’noter guy — I like me!”
We understand how 50 Cent feels — in fact, we think it's a perfectly reasonable request.
Cosmetic dentistry has come a long way in recent years, as we strive to meet the increasing expectations of our patients. We realize that different people have different perceptions of what makes a smile attractive — and that in dental aesthetics, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. That's why, before we begin cosmetic work, we want to hear what you like and don't like about your smile as it is now. In addition, we can also perform what is called a “smile analysis.”
This procedure doesn't cause any discomfort — but it's a crucial part of cosmetic enhancement. In doing the analysis, we look at the various parts of an individual's smile: the spacing, size and alignment of the teeth; the health and position of the gum line; the relationship of the upper and lower jaws; and the relative shape and size of the face. All of these features combine to make a person's smile unique. By looking at them closely, we can help determine the best way for you to improve your smile.
But how can you tell if the cosmetic changes you're contemplating will end up being just right for you? Fortunately, with today's technology, it's easier than ever. Computer imaging offers a chance to visualize the final outcome before we start working on your teeth; it's even possible to offer previews of different treatment options. If you want to go a bit further, we may be able to show you a full-scale model of your new smile.
In some situations, we can even perform a provisional restoration — that is, a trial version of the new smile, made with less permanent materials. If the “temporary” smile looks, feels, and functions just right, then the permanent one will too. If not, it's still possible to make changes that will make it work even better.
Whether you're thinking about having teeth whitening, cosmetic bonding, porcelain veneers, or dental implants to improve your smile, you probably have a picture in your mind of how the end result should look. Will your teeth be perfectly even and “Hollywood white” — or more “natural,” with slight variations in size, spacing and color allowed? Either way, we can help you get the smile you've always wanted.
If you would like more information about smile makeovers and options in cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry.”