When it comes to maintaining your smile and a healthy mouth overall, a missing tooth can interfere in more ways than one. Not only will it affect your look and potentially lower your confidence, causing you to smile less often, but it can also affect the surrounding teeth and their functionality.
Essentially, a missing tooth can lead to a weakening of the mouth structure, creating difficulties in the way you eat and speak. The remaining adjacent teeth often begin to shift overtime into the empty space, and this shifting can severely weaken your bite and leave you with aching jaws, headaches, and more.
There is a beneficial solution for these missing teeth, however, and it is in the form of a dental bridge. If you’re wondering what exactly a dental bridge is, and how many teeth it can replace, we answer these questions and more below.
What Exactly is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is essentially a synthetic (artificial) tooth attached to the adjacent teeth. These adjacent teeth serve as support for the artificial tooth, securing it in place so you can return to smiling confidently and also prevent shifting and preserve your bite.
The artificial tooth itself can be made of different materials, such as ceramic or porcelain bonded to a metal alloy. The supporting teeth on each side can be your natural teeth but are often crowns themselves.
Your dentist will use a bonding element or cement to hold the dental bridge in place, bridging the gap between teeth. Then, once the dental bridge is secured, you can return to eating, speaking, and smiling with ease and confidence.
The benefits of a dental bridge, besides the filling in of an empty space and preventing teeth from shifting, are that it can re-adjust an already affected bite and help maintain the natural shape of your face. It can also limit the risk of developing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
How Many Teeth Can a Dental Bridge Replace?
A dental bridge effectively restores a gap of one missing tooth but more commonly serves as a solution to replacing two, three, or four teeth in a row.
Any more than four teeth and the stability of the dental bridge is threatened, making it less efficient or dependable. One potential way around this is to first start with dental implants on the stabilizing teeth on each end. These implants are a good solution when a person’s natural teeth are not strong enough to hold the dental bridge in place.
To know what will work for you, however, start by consulting with your dentist to learn about the possibilities and what steps you’ll need to take to ensure a dental bridge will serve your best interests.
How Do You Take Care of a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge doesn’t require removal for cleaning, and you need not worry about it slipping, which is often the case with dentures. It will, however, need replacing at some point, usually between 5-15 years, depending on your dental hygiene practices.
Meanwhile, taking care of your dental bridge is similar to taking care of your natural teeth. Once it is secured in place, you can keep it looking and functioning at its best by following these steps.
Brush twice per day using a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove tartar and plaque that can build up along the gum line and surrounding teeth.
Floss between your natural teeth, or crowns, each day, keeping them healthy so they can continue to support the dental bridge efficiently.
Regularly clean out the area underneath the dental bridge. Since the bridge does not connect all the way down into your gum, the resulting gap can trap food particles or other mouth debris. Try using dental picks or other recommended implements to ensure you can reach the area adequately.
Schedule bi-annual dental appointments so your dentist can examine the dental bridge and supporting teeth, and also conduct a thorough cleaning of the entire area.
Other precautions you can take to maintain the life of a dental bridge is to avoid biting down on or chewing hard objects, such as ice, candy, and nuts. While dental bridges consist of strong and durable materials, like natural teeth, they can still fracture under extreme pressure.
Contact Lifetime Dental Health Today to Find Out More About Dental Bridges
When it comes to choosing the best solutions for missing teeth, dental bridges are high up on the list. With them, you can not only restore a confident smile but also protect and improve the functionality of your bite and restore normal eating and speaking abilities.
The team at Lifetime Dental Health proudly offers dental bridges for our patients to restore missing teeth and help them get back to enjoying life. Contact our Columbus office today to learn more and find out how dental bridges can work for you.
With the ever-advancing improvements and technology in cosmetic dentistry today, you have more options than ever to help create that perfect smile.
One such option to help make this a reality is dental veneers, a solution for both enhancing your appearance and protecting or strengthening your natural teeth.
What Are Dental Veneers?
Dental veneers are extremely thin, shell-like covers made of porcelain or resin that bond to the top or surface of a tooth. Depending on which material you choose, the cosmetic dentistry procedure can take as little as one day or up to two weeks to complete.
Composite resin is similar in material to that used in fillings and dental bonding. It’s a soft, malleable material that your dentist can easily work with to mold and shape the veneer to bond to your tooth’s surface. Prior to adhering, your dentist will slightly etch the tooth’s surface, so the bonding can occur more efficiently.
Porcelain dental veneers bond similarly to the tooth surface but with the added characteristic of appearing more like your natural teeth, with light reflecting in similar ways. For patients looking for a more aesthetic solution, especially for front teeth, the porcelain material for veneers is recommended.
With these porcelain veneers, the placement process is a little more complex, however, and takes longer. After your dentist prepares the surface of the teeth, you’ll need to wear temporary tooth covers while a dental laboratory creates the thin shells for long-term bonding.
Overall, dental veneers are long-lasting for up to a decade or more, which makes them a durable option for your dental needs.
What Can Dental Veneers Do for Your Teeth?
When wondering whether veneers are the right solution for you, it’s important to know what exactly they can do for your teeth. Essentially, dental veneers are designed to correct various dental issues and also enhance the teeth’ appearance.
More specifically, dental veneers can do the following.
Repair Damaged Teeth
Dental veneers can serve as a repair solution to chipped, cracked, or even broken teeth. When enough of the natural tooth remains, placement of a veneer can help repair the damaged tooth and match its shape and size to your natural teeth.
Cover Deep Discolorations and Stains
When it comes to tooth discolorations or stains, teeth whitening solutions don’t always provide the results you want or need. A better solution in these cases is dental veneers.
Uneven coloring or severe discoloration deep within the tooth itself can be corrected with these shell-like coverings and let you enjoy freely laughing and smiling in public again.
Also, what makes dental veneers such a good solution is that they can closely match the color of your natural teeth.
Reshape or Resize Teeth
Different shapes or sizes of teeth not only affect the appearance of your smile but also your chewing abilities.
Dental veneers can even out your teeth and your smile by correcting any misshapen teeth, including teeth that become too pointed or are irregular in shape as compared to the surrounding teeth. Veneers can also resize teeth that are smaller than the others.
Fill in Gaps
A small gap between your teeth, also known as diastema, can affect either the upper or lower teeth and usually occurs in the front. If left alone, many times, these gaps can cause movement or shifting of teeth.
When this happens, your teeth may become misaligned and result in the development of a bad bite. Your dentist can use the dental veneers to resize or reshape the corresponding teeth and, as a result, fill in these gaps.
Treat Tooth Enamel Loss
While tooth enamel is a tough substance, it is often worn away as a result of brushing teeth too hard, consuming a diet high in acidic foods, or by suffering with acid reflux disease. Since enamel can’t grow back, veneers offer a solution for maintaining the strength of your teeth.
Essentially dental veneers are here to help improve the overall appearance of your teeth, enhance your smile, and correct certain types of problems that can interfere with your oral health. They also allow you to keep your natural teeth while still creating a smile you love to share.
Learn More About Dental Veneers at Lifetime Dental Health in Columbus
Dental veneers are an ideal solution for many dental issues experienced by our patients here at Lifetime Dental in Columbus. If you’re looking for beneficial ways to enhance your smile and your overall dental health, contact Dr. Richard Barry and his team to schedule a consultation. We will help you determine if dental veneers are the right solution for you.
The appearance of brown spots on someone’s teeth is very common. While most people refer to such irregular colored patches on one’s teeth as spots, these brown spots can also appear as brown lines or irregular, mottled areas.
Brown spots on teeth can range in appearance from yellowish light brown to dark brown. Discoloration, while always astray from white or white-yellow, is never uniform. Sometimes the spots might be closer to the color of chocolate or coffee, and in certain cases, they can look dark brown or nearly black.
Many people have experienced this discoloration of the teeth, and it is not the fault of the person experiencing discoloration, however, it can indicate damage or tooth disease. Therefore, seeking out a dentist for professional advice is recommended.
Brown spots might also be referred to as “stains” on teeth. But not to fear, stains are not always permanent when referring to dental care. In many situations, discoloration and brown spots can be treated.
Causes of Brown Spots on Teeth
There are many factors that can lead to the discoloration of the teeth.
Food/drink consumption. Enjoying dark-colored, sugary, or starchy foods is part of life’s joys. Occasionally, consuming such foods can cause staining of the enamel. Drinking excessive coffee, tea, soda or wine can cause brown spots to appear. Foods high in sugar, such as candy or soda, and foods high in starch, such as potatoes and pasta, can also stain or chip away at the enamel. Dark berries can stain teeth and highly acidic citric juices might also damage the enamel on teeth.
Tartar build up. Plaque, or tartar, is a build-up of food particles, bacteria, and saliva in the mouth. While this build up is normal, it is typically reduced through brushing one’s teeth and flossing. These important daily habits prevent excessive tartar build up. When plaque is not continuously removed via oral hygiene, tartar can cause brown spots and discoloration. Controlling tartar buildup is more challenging if someone is having hormonal changes (like in pregnancy), has severe illness, is bedridden, has diabetes, or has AIDS.
Tooth decay. When a person is unable to prevent tartar buildup or obtains a tooth infection, tooth decay can occur. This is the process of enamel and tooth breakdown by acid-producing bacteria. Such decay can lead to brown spots and should immediately be evaluated by a dentist to prevent further damage or worse infection.
Fluorosis. Excessive fluoride can sometimes lead to brown spots or streaks on the teeth, especially in children who are under 8 years old. This discoloration is most often mild and treatable.
Tobacco products. All products containing tobacco or nicotine can lead to discoloration of the teeth. Smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, using pipe tobacco, or smoking cigars can lead to particle build-up on the teeth that can cause brown spots.
Enamel hypoplasia. Some people naturally have less enamel protection than others, which is a condition called enamel hypoplasia. A deficiency in calcium, premature birth or birth injury, exposure to toxins, exposure to viruses, malnutrition, or genetics can lead to enamel hypoplasia. If a person lacks enamel, it is easier to obtain brown spots.
Medications. Occasionally, antibiotics, specifically Tetracycline, can lead to brown spots on the teeth. Antibiotics should never be stopped abruptly and should always be finished to their full course unless an allergy is discovered. Report any medication use to your dentist, and if a medication that could cause brown spots is reported, treatment for tooth discoloration can be arranged.
Aging. As people age, it is natural for teeth enamel to age, too. Such aging can lead to yellowing, and even browning of spots on the teeth. This is a harmless cause but can be treated.
Celiac disease or other gastrointestinal issues. Some gastrointestinal deficiencies and celiac disease can cause tooth decay or damaged enamel, also potentially leading to brown spots on teeth.
Treatments for Brown Spots on Teeth
Over-the-counter whitening strips or sticks. Be careful not to overuse whitening products because they might strip enamel when overused
LED Whitening kits that use LED lights to help whiten teeth
Daily brushing and flossing of one’s teeth. This is enhanced by using whitening toothpaste and regularly replacing one’s toothbrush
Brush one’s teeth every few days with a mixture of baking soda and water, on top of regular brushing and flossing routine
Sealing and composite bonding of one’s tooth enamel
The patients at Lifetime Dental Health in Columbus, OH are welcomed at any time for the above-mentioned professional teeth whitening or stain removal treatments.
Reasons to Seek Professional Treatment
Some patients might choose to seek out professional treatment for the benefits of having experts clean or remove stains from their teeth. The dental team at Lifetime Dental Health enjoys performing this smile-restoring task for our patients.
In other cases, it is important for patients to book an appointment to evaluate brown spots that are accompanied by tooth pain or sensitivity.
While brown spots are often harmless, if a person develops any of the below symptoms, they should consider seeking out dental care. These symptoms might be a sign of a tooth infection or tooth decay:
Tooth sensitivity, especially to hot or cold foods
Malodorous or unpleasant breath
Gum irritation, sensitivity, or pain
Canker or cold sores
If you would like professional treatment of teeth discoloration, or believe you might have a tooth infection,contact us here at Lifetime Dental Health. Our team will happily assess any brown spots or answer questions about your dental health at a dental clinic appointment.
Dental hygiene is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of our overall health. Nearly 180 million Americans are missing one tooth, and an estimated 40 million are missing all of their teeth, according to the American College of Prosthodontists. There are many things to be done for damaged or missing teeth, including dental implants. Below you will learn more about what could prevent you from getting a dental implant.
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant acts as an orthodontic anchor and is made of titanium that connects to the jaw or skull to support a dental prosthetic, such as a denture, bridge, or crown.
The process in which the titanium implant forms a bond to the bone is called osseointegration. The dental implant is placed first, allowing a moderate amount of time for healing and osseointegration to occur before a prosthetic is added.
What Disqualifies Me as a Candidate for a Dental Implant?
Dental implants require a certain level of health to be maintained by the recipient. Patients are often told they are not a candidate for dental implants for several reasons such as:
Smoking increases a patient’s risk of dental implant failure. If a patient is a smoker, their dental professional will often give them a time frame that they will need to stop smoking to be considered for a dental implant.
Gum disease often goes untreated for long periods, destroying our healthy gingiva, the tooth itself, and even the bone. Gum disease must be successfully treated before a dentist considering approving a dental implant
Poor overall health
Receiving one or more dental implants is considered a surgical procedure requiring incisions and sutures. If you as a patient are not healthy enough to undergo an operation, you may be denied the procedure.
Diabetes not only affects the blood sugar of a patient, but it is a systemic disease affecting essentially all parts of the human body. A patient with diabetes must receive treatment to get their diabetes under control before they are deemed safe to receive a dental implant.
A patient currently receiving, or who has recently received, radiation therapy near the face or neck may be denied dental implant surgery due to an increased risk to the patient.
Medications, such as blood thinners or steroids, increase the patient’s risk during a dental implant procedure deeming it unsafe for the patient. A dentist may recommend the patient stop taking their current medications, if approved by their primary care physician, for a certain length of time before being approved for a dental implant.
Surgery is not recommended in pregnant females unless medically necessary. It is recommended to wait until after pregnancy to receive a dental implant.
Low bone density
Many dentists will not perform dental implants if they do not believe there is enough bone for the implant to attach to. Low bone density is the number one reason that patients are denied dental implant surgery. The dental implant must osseointegrate to the bone before a prosthetic being placed, however, when there is not enough bone density available within your jaw the implant cannot attach securely.
Rather than approve you for a surgery that is not medically safe for you, or that is beyond the skill level of the dentist of choice, they will often deem you a bad candidate. You may seek out a second opinion from a more highly trained professional.
A highly skilled, and properly trained dentist may recommend a bone graft to be considered a candidate for a dental implant. A bone graft replaces missing bone in your jaw with bone tissue from either the chin, hip, or shin, to allow new bone to grow.
A bone graft, depending on the severity, requires several weeks of healing prior to the start of a dental implant procedure. As a bone graft patient, you may require several appointments to ensure proper bone density once a graft is completed before being approved to receive a dental implant. Again, the implant may take several weeks to heal before receiving the prosthetic whether that be a crown, bridge, implant, or anchor for your orthodontic treatment.
Young patients, whose bones have not fully developed, are considered at risk for a dental implant. A dentist will not perform a dental implant procedure on a patient whose jaw is still growing. You must be an adult with a fully developed bone structure.
Considerations for a Dental Implant
To be considered for a dental implant procedure, there are many things your dentist will take into consideration. First and foremost, you must be missing one or more teeth. Your dentist will require that you not smoke or drink for a set number of days or weeks prior to the procedure to ensure there is no risk associated.
Your dentist will evaluate your bone density to ensure your jaw bone is a strong candidate to take on and be able to hold the implant securely in place. Overall, a good candidate for a dental implant is overall healthy, an adult, and has good bone density.
Over time, your teeth begin to lose their color or may become stained, from what you eat or drink such as wine, tomato sauce, and coffee. Many people believe the only way to get a bright, white smile is through expensive dental visits with professional whitening products. While professional teeth whitening at the dentist can get you optimal whitening results, there are at-home alternatives as well. Below are the best teeth-whitening products available today.
Whitening toothpaste does not bleach the teeth as professional treatment would do but rather removes the discolored surface area using mildly abrasive ingredients. Many whitening kinds of toothpaste contain things such as peroxide, baking soda, activated charcoal, and more.
Using whitening toothpaste is an inexpensive way to achieve a brighter smile as many of the most used brands are $10 or less per tube. It is important to know that the overuse of whitening toothpaste containing peroxide can permanently damage or destroy the natural collagen on your teeth.
An electric toothbrush is much more effective in comparison to a manual toothbrush at removing surface stains from your teeth. Oscillating toothbrushes are often better compared to others but can come with a higher price tag.
Electric toothbrushes range anywhere from $8 all the way to $300 depending on the brand and feature it offers. Many electric toothbrushes ranging from $20-$30 are effective in removing surface stains.
Many whitening strips are clear stips containing a hydrogen peroxide-based gel. In just a few weeks you will notice a significant difference in the color of your teeth. Whitening strips are often sold in sets, one strip for both the bottom and the top teeth.
Whitening strips are relatively inexpensive, especially in comparison to professional whitening treatment, as they are often available starting at approximately $10 and up depending on things like the brand and strength. The strips are designed to be left on for up to 30 minutes, again, depending on the brand.
Teeth-whitening strips are made both intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic whitening is the actual bleaching of the teeth to change the enamel color, most commonly with hydrogen peroxide. While extrinsic whitening uses a mild abrasive, such as activated charcoal, to remove stains from the outer surface of the teeth, making them appear more white, but not actually changing the color.
Whitening Gel Tray
Another commonly used teeth whitening practice is the use of a whitening gel tray. These gel trays yield the best, longest-lasting results of the most available whitening methods.
The tray is custom-made and fitted specifically for you by your dentist by using a mold of your teeth. Your whitening tray can be used as long as you have it, given your teeth do not significantly shift.
To use this whitening gel tray you will purchase a gel to be used at home. To ensure the life of the gel it is best kept in the refrigerator. To use the tray at home, remove the gel from the refrigerator and squirt it into the tray. Place the tray on your teeth ensuring the gel does not touch your gums. The whitening tray can be left on anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on your teeth sensitivity and personal preference. It is important that you do not use the whitening gel tray overnight as it can lead to extreme sensitivity.
Professional Teeth Whitening
A professional teeth whitening session is often performed in a dentist’s office. These visits often take longer than at-home whitening treatments, however, the results are typically better than you will receive from at-home treatments. Professional teeth whitening takes several sessions to healthily achieve a bright, white smile.
At a professional teeth whitening appointment, a high concentration of either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide will be applied to your teeth, typically several times throughout the duration of your appointment. Your dentist will often finish up your treatment using a UV light to accelerate the reaction of the whitening treatment.
Professional teeth whitening does not just change the color of the surface of the tooth. With professional whitening treatments, you can whiten your teeth from the inside out. You will see a noticeable difference in the color of your teeth with just one treatment, although it is still recommended to follow through with 1-3 appointments for optimal results.
Professional Teeth Whitening at Lifetime Dental Health
Whether you are currently whitening your teeth, or are looking into professional teeth whitening, it’s important to remember that you must keep up with routine dental appointments and good oral hygiene. It is recommended to see a dentist for a routine cleaning and a checkup every 6 months.
It’s happened to just about all of us. At your semi-annual dental check-up, you hear the words “you have a cavity.” It’s unfortunate. But it’s not a catastrophe because you know there is a fix for a cavity — a dental filling.
Ever since dentistry began, dentists have been filling cavities. In modern times, the most common filling material has been amalgam: a combination of several metals, such as silver, mercury, zinc, and copper. Amalgam has been popular for fillings for nearly a century because it’s strong, long-lasting, and much more affordable than the only alternative that was available: gold.
Now, there’s another option to an amalgam filling that’s gaining a following for a variety of reasons — the composite filling.
What are the differences between an amalgam filling and a resin filling?
When amalgam fillings were introduced, they were a welcomed option to a gold filling. A gold tooth was quite noticeable when you talked, ate, or even smiled, and the cost of a gold filling could be prohibitive. The combination of metals used in an amalgam filling, while replacing the glint of gold with a hint of silver, was more affordable by far than gold. Still, anyone who saw you would likely see them.
Enter the composite resin filling: today’s option for a dental filling that only you and your dentist need to know about. Introduced in the 1960s and continually adjusted and improved, composite fillings are made of a combination of soft, shapeable ceramic and plastic that is applied to the cavity then “cured” with a bright blue light.
Both amalgam and composite fillings do the job they’re intended to do — they fill in the “cavity” in your tooth. There are differences, however. The biggest difference between amalgam and composite fillings is visibility.
What are the advantages of a composite filling?
No one wants their smile to offer a glint of metal; whether it’s silver or gold doesn’t really matter. Still, everyone wants their fillings to be strong enough to handle the wear and tear of chewing for as long as possible. A good composite filling will definitely fit that bill, with some other advantages added on.
Advantage #1: Invisibility. Amalgam fillings are one color — silver. And silver in your mouth is noticeable, regardless of where the filling may be. On the other hand, composite fillings start out white, which by itself is hardly noticeable on most teeth. Better yet, composite filling material can be colored to match your natural teeth, which we know are never pure white. This makes composite fillings a much better choice for teeth in the front of your mouth (the ones that everyone sees when you smile).
Advantage #2: Preservation. Getting a filling means “filling in” a cavity, which is a hole in your tooth. Counterintuitively, though, we have to drill out the decay in your tooth – making a bigger hole – in order to accommodate a filling. Both amalgam and composite fillings require some drilling, but the malleability of the composite material requires less, so the maximum amount of your tooth is preserved.
Advantage #3: Sensitivity. Amalgam fillings have been around for over a century, and they work well. However, many people notice a sensitivity to temperature with an amalgam filling, and some people are allergic to the metals used. Additionally, depending on how many amalgam fillings a person has and how large they are, the amount of mercury in an amalgam filling may be of concern even though the level of mercury has been declared safe by the American Dental Association.
How can I choose between amalgam and composite fillings?
Of course, as in most situations, there is no clear winner between amalgam and composite fillings. They both do a good job of filling a cavity. There are two significant differences that you will want to consider before you make a choice: longevity and cost.
Filling a cavity should be a long-lasting “fix” because no one wants to endure the drilling and filling process any more often than necessary. When it comes to longevity, amalgam fillings are generally more durable than composite ones, lasting for 10 to 15 years if cared for. That’s why they are recommended for fillings in back teeth — especially molars — that are subjected to more of the rigors of chewing. Composite fillings last for five to seven years, so while they are an ideal choice for a filling in your smile, they are seldom the best choice for a filling in the harder-working teeth.
Filling a cavity is a “must-do” if you are to maintain your oral health. Depending on the size of the filling needed, cost can be a factor in your choice. An amalgam filling is likely to cost less than a composite filling because of the cost of the composite material, the demands of applying it, and the process of dying it to match your natural teeth. Particularly if you have an especially large cavity, or several cavities, the cost of composite fillings may be prohibitive. In addition, some dental insurance plans do not cover composite fillings at the same level as they cover amalgam fillings, or cover them not at all. You’ll want to check with your dental plan before you decide. (We may be able to help if your insurance isn’t enough.)
Composite fillings meet an important need when it comes to your appearance, though they’re not ideal for every situation. That’s why we encourage you to talk with us about your personal dental needs and how we can help you achieve the result you’re hoping for. You can contact us by phone or make an appointment on our website. We’re here to help!