Posts for: February, 2019
About one-quarter of people have teeth that never developed. While most of these congenitally missing teeth are wisdom teeth, they can also include premolars or lateral incisors (the teeth right next to the two front teeth, the central incisors).
Missing teeth can have an adverse effect on smile appearance. But that’s not all: because each type of tooth performs a specific function, one or more missing teeth can lead to bite problems and disruption of dental function. In the case of missing lateral incisors, the canines (eye teeth) normally positioned beside and toward the back of the mouth from them may begin to drift into the empty space and grow next to the central incisors. This can result in greater difficulty chewing and a smile that “doesn’t look right.”
To correct this situation, we must often first attempt to orthodontically move any out of place teeth to their normal positions. This re-establishes the space needed for the missing teeth to be replaced, which we can then restore with prosthetic (artificial) teeth. If the permanent restoration of choice involves dental implants, we’ll usually need to wait until the completion of jaw development around early adulthood. In the mean time, we can use a retainer appliance to hold the teeth in their new positions with prosthetic teeth attached to fill the empty space for a better smile appearance in the interim.
The real issue is timing—beginning orthodontic treatment when appropriate to a person’s oral development, as well as completing the implant restoration when the mouth has matured sufficiently. There are other considerations such as bone volume, which may have diminished due to the missing teeth. At some point we may need to consider grafting to build up the bone sufficiently to support dental implants.
This all may entail a team approach by various specialties like orthodontics, periodontics and implantology. Working together and coordinating within a timely schedule, a mouth and smile marred by undeveloped teeth can be transformed.
If you would like more information on treating smiles with underdeveloped permanent 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 “When Permanent Teeth Don’t Grow.”
While orthodontists can effectively correct most poor bites (malocclusions), some can be quite complex requiring much time and expense. But there's good news—we often don't have to wait on a malocclusion to fully develop if we catch it in time. Thanks to interceptive orthodontics, we may be able to intervene much earlier and eliminate or reduce the degree of difficulty with treatment.
Interceptive orthodontics is a group of techniques and devices used in early childhood to help deter a possible malocclusion. Here are 3 ways this approach could make a difference in your child's bite development.
Guiding jaw growth. On a normal-sized upper jaw, the permanent teeth usually have ample room to erupt. Not so with a smaller jaw: incoming teeth become crowded and may erupt out of alignment or too close to each other. Orthodontists often use a device called a palatal expander to aid an under-sized jaw in its development. The device fits along the roof of the mouth between the teeth and applies gradual outward pressure on them. This encourages the jaw to widen as it grows, thus providing more room for erupting teeth to come in properly and decrease the chances of obstructive sleep apnea in the future.
Reshaping and repositioning jaw bones. An overbite can occur when the jaws aren't properly aligned, often due to poor muscle and bone development. This is where devices like the Herbst appliance are useful. Its hinge mechanism encourages the lower jaw to grow further forward. The jaws can thus develop in a more normal way, minimizing the development of a malocclusion.
Maintaining space. Primary ("baby") teeth are important for dental development because they help guide future permanent teeth to erupt properly; they also keep nearby teeth from drifting into the intended space. But when a primary tooth is lost prematurely due to disease or trauma, the space can become vulnerable to this kind of "drift." With a simple mechanism called a space maintainer we can hold open the space created by a prematurely lost primary tooth until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt.
These and other techniques can help stop bad bites from developing in young children, minimizing or even eliminating the need for future orthodontic treatment. That means a healthier mouth for your child and less impact on your wallet.
If you would like more information on interceptive 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 “Interceptive Orthodontics: Timely Intervention can make Treatment Easier.”
Dental implant technology has advanced at such an astounding rate in recent years that you can now walk into a dentist's office with a problem tooth and out the same day with a new one. Unfortunately, not all dental situations allow for this possibility.
For example, you might be considering an implant many years after losing a tooth. But there's a potential problem: there might not be enough supporting bone. While an implant might still be possible, inadequate bone complicates the matter.
Because implants are essentially tooth root replacements, they require a certain amount of bone for stability and the best attractive outcome. As a general rule, implants need to be surrounded by at least 1.5-2.0 millimeters of healthy bone to support an implant. But you might not have enough if your tooth has been missing for awhile, regardless if you have or haven't worn dentures or other restorations.
That's because bone has a life cycle in which older cells die and newer ones form to take their place. As we chew or bite, the force generated travels up through the teeth to the bone to stimulate this new growth. Without a tooth the bone doesn't receive this stimulus, which can slow the growth rate. Over time the affected bone can lose its volume and density.
If we find you've experienced loss to the point your bone won't support an implant, that doesn't automatically mean this popular restoration is out of the picture. But it will require us first performing a procedure known as augmentation or bone grafting to help rejuvenate some of the lost bone.
With grafting, we place processed bone grafting material in the jaw through a minor surgical procedure to form a scaffold for new bone to grow upon. After several months this can result in several millimeters of new growth maintaining the width of the underlying bone, which in turn may be able to support an implant.
Bone grafting is quite common, often performed at the same time as tooth extraction if there's going to be a time lag before installing an implant. Even if performed later, though, it can successfully rejuvenate lost bone and make it possible for you to take advantage of durable, life-like implants.
If you would like more information on dental implants, 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 “Dental Implants after Previous Tooth Loss.”
Damaged and missing teeth compromise personal appearance and oral function. Fortunately, the professional team at Myers Family Dental in Augusta, GA, has customized solutions to strengthen and complete smiles. They offer both E-Max ceramic and zirconia crowns to restore decayed and cracked teeth. Also, they deliver durable and lifelike bridgework to span smile gaps. Read on to learn how Drs. Alan and Eliza Myers keep smiles bright and functional.
What is a dental crown?
Your smile goes through a lot. You and your dentist work hard to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss; yet sometimes, the damage is inevitable. That's where dental crowns come in.
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cover made of realistic porcelain, a material known for its strength and beauty. In particular, the dentists at Myers Family Dental in Augusta place E-Max or zirconia crowns which are renowned for their exceptional durability and lifelike texture and color.
To place a crown, we must first remove any old filling material and cracked enamel. Then, the dentist shapes the tooth so that it can accept this above-the-gum-line restoration. Oral impressions and X-rays give the dental lab specifics on shape and color. When the crown is ready, the restoration is adjusted as needed and bonded in place with a strong adhesive.
Crowns can extend the life of an ailing tooth indefinitely. They avoid needless extractions and keep adjoining teeth in place. Typically, a crown lasts about ten years, but with good care, your E-Max or zirconia restoration could serve you even longer.
In addition, crowns complete root canal therapy, restore dental implants and also anchor fixed bridgework. In short, dental crowns are versatile and highly successful restorations.
What is fixed bridgework?
A dental bridge does what its name implies—it bridges, or spans, a gap created by missing teeth, one or more in a row. Composed of pontic (ie artificial teeth) anchored to an adjoining abutment or any natural teeth with crowns, fixed bridgework supplies excellent smile aesthetics and restores the natural functionality of biting and chewing.
Just as with a single crown procedure, Dr. Myers must take X-rays and oral impressions to formulate instructions for the dental lab. The dentist also prepares the supporting teeth to receive their crowns. When ready, bridgework is cemented in place and adjusted for proper bite.
Crowns and fixed bridgework both require diligent brushing and flossing to keep the crown margins free of toxic plaque and tartar which lead to decay and gum disease. Semi-annual cleanings and check-ups are also highly recommended.
A complete smile
Who wouldn't want that? If you're missing teeth or have a tooth weakened by decay, injury, or other circumstance—don't wait. Come to Myers Family Dental for a crown or bridgework consultation. We know you'll be pleased with the results. Call today for your appointment: (706) 738-7742.