Posts for: February, 2022

BeforeReplacingYourMissingTeethYouMayNeedOtherDentalWork

Replacing missing teeth can do wonders for a smile. And you have solid options for doing so, from a partial denture to state-of-the-art dental implants. But there might be a roadblock to your restoration plan—literally. Some of your other teeth may be in the way.

When a tooth has been missing for a while, the teeth on either side of a tooth gap will naturally begin to move or “drift” into the space. This could result in an inadequate amount of available space for a prosthetic (false) tooth.

If that happens, we'll first need to move the errant teeth back to where they belong, either with traditional braces or removable clear aligners. If we're successful, we can then proceed with the missing tooth restoration.

But before starting orthodontic treatment, there may be another problem that needs our attention first. If your missing teeth are the result of periodontal (gum) disease, your gums and supporting bone may not be as healthy as they need to be. This can interfere with orthodontics, which often depends on the gums and bone around a tooth being healthy enough to reform as the tooth moves. That may not be possible if they're still infected with gum disease or you've suffered significant bone loss.

If that's the case, it may be necessary to first treat any gum disease present and rebuild the bone. The latter can often be done by grafting bone material to the area of loss. The graft then serves as a scaffold of sorts upon which new bone can grow and accumulate. And reducing gum disease, mainly by removing bacterial plaque, allows the gums to heal and regain attachment with the teeth.

Once your gums and bone are healthy again, we can then proceed with orthodontics. After the teeth are reasonably aligned, we can then complete the restoration for replacing your missing teeth, and any other cosmetic enhancements for your remaining teeth like veneers or crowns.

The entire process may take some time and multiple treatment visits. But gaining a more attractive smile in the end is well worth it.

If you would like more information on dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.


By Brock Orthodontics
February 12, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  
DentistsSometimesUseAdditionalWeaponsintheFightAgainstGumDisease

The term periodontal disease refers to bacterial infections that target the gums. These infections typically start as inflammatory responses to dental plaque, a bacterial biofilm collecting on tooth surfaces, especially around the gum line.

Early on, we can often stop the infection and minimize damage by removing accumulations of dental plaque and tartar (hardened plaque), which tend to fuel the disease. This process, known as debridement, effectively "starves" the infection and allows the gums and other infected tissues to heal.

But if gum disease is anything, it's stubborn: An infection can continue to advance rapidly. As it does, it weakens gum attachment and causes bone loss, both of which could eventually cause tooth loss.

When it reaches this state, advanced gum disease can turn into a long-term siege of keeping the infection at bay and trying to limit bone loss. To stay ahead of it, we may turn to additional treatments besides debridement, especially for difficult-to-treat areas around the roots.

Mouthrinses. Dentists often prescribe antimicrobial agents to patients with advanced gum disease to help further control bacterial plaque buildup. The most common of these is chlorhexidine, typically in a 0.12% solution mouthrinse. Chlorhexidine is quite effective in controlling bacteria, but prolonged use can lead to tooth staining.

Topical antibiotics. Dentists may also apply antibiotic treatments, usually tetracycline, directly to affected areas. Topical applications like these are often more effective in penetrating hard-to-reach areas than manual cleaning tools. Dentists must be selective, though, in using this tool, because long-term application could disrupt "good" oral bacteria along with the bad.

Other medications. In addition to antibiotics, dentists may also use other drug treatments like chlorhexidine chips or doxycycline gel that continues to deliver effects over a long period. These "sustained release" medications continue to suppress bacteria, and are often used in conjunction with mechanical cleaning to reduce inflammation.

These additional tools can improve the overall treatment outcomes for advanced gum disease. But they must be used prudently and only in those cases where the benefits of better gum health outweigh the risks.

If you would like more information on preventing and treating gum disease, 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 “Treating Difficult Areas of Periodontal Disease.”


Orthodontics-YourPathtoaMoreAttractiveandHealthierSmile

Orthodontics—the science and art of straightening teeth—plays an important role in ideal dental health. Moving teeth to the places they should be makes them easier to clean (reducing your risk of dental disease) and improves chewing function to better facilitate digestion and overall nutrition.

Although improved health is the primary gain, orthodontics can also provide a secondary gain that can also benefit your life—a more attractive smile. In a sense, orthodontics is the original smile makeover.

Here's how orthodontics could give you a more attractive and healthier smile.

It begins with the orthodontist. Orthodontists are specialists in bite correction. They have advanced training to assess and improve the development of the jaws, the alignment of the teeth and how all that comes together to form a person's individual bite. They'll use their training and expertise to perform a comprehensive orthodontic evaluation to understand your particular bite issues before presenting you a treatment plan.

Putting the plan together. During those first exams, your orthodontist will take a lot of information—specialized x-rays, photographs and dental impressions—to acquire the “big picture” about your particular bite problems. From this, they'll develop a detailed plan for how best to correct your bite. Besides braces or clear aligners to actually move the teeth where they should be, the orthodontist may also include other specialized appliances for fine-tuning that movement.

The process itself. Orthodontists use their knowledge and skills to work with the teeth's natural ability to move in response to changes in the mouth. The orthodontist uses braces or clear aligners as the foundational treatment to apply focused pressure on teeth in the direction they need to move. The underlying bone and periodontal ligaments respond, and the teeth gradually move to their new and improved positions.

Correcting a poor bite usually takes months or even years of focused attention. It may also require the expertise of other dental professionals like periodontists, oral surgeons or general dentists for a successful outcome. But that end result is well worth the time and effort. An improved bite is an investment in better long-term health, and a new, beautiful smile.

If you would like more information on improving your smile through orthodontics, 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 “The Magic of Orthodontics.”