My Blog

Posts for: September, 2013

MakingtheRightChoicesWithRemovablePartialDentures

Removable partial dentures (RPDs) are a common replacement option for multiple lost teeth. However, they're not the best long-term option; in fact, one particular type of RPD could be a poor choice if you wish to wear them long-term.

Made primarily of plastic, these RPDs are sometimes referred to as “flippers” because of how the tongue can easily flip them out of the mouth. While some people see them as a permanent replacement for their lost teeth, in reality plastic-based RPDs are a transitional replacement — a stepping stone, if you will, to a permanent solution. They are most useful during healing following a periodontal procedure or during the waiting period after implant surgery.

However, they can pose problems to your long-term oral health if worn permanently. Because of the manner in which they fit to the gums and any remaining teeth, they tend to settle into and compress the gum tissues. If you have gum disease, they force infection deeper into the tissues. They also allow and promote bacterial plaque growth. This in turn may lead to increased incidences of decay and gum disease.

On the other hand, a metal RPD, ideally made of cast vitallium or gold alloy, fits more snugly and accurately in the mouth. They still can cause increased plaque and food retention, but if the wearer also adheres to sound daily oral hygiene practices, regular dental checkups and diligent care of the RPD, they can be used successfully for many years.

Although a metal RPD costs more than its plastic counterpart, they cost less than more permanent teeth replacements. They are lighter in weight than plastic RPDs and fit more securely to deflect the forces generated by biting.

In considering your options for replacing lost teeth, you should not view plastic transitional RPDs as a permanent solution, but rather as a temporary one until you can obtain a more permanent solution. And although not the most optimal choice, the metal RPD could be considered a more permanent cost-effective solution.

If you would like more information on your options regarding removable partial dentures, 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 “Removable Partial Dentures.”


By Mark Lukin
September 17, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  
ReducingYourRiskofOralCancer

Oral cancer is not as uncommon as people think. In 2008 an estimated 34,000 cancers of the mouth and throat were diagnosed. In order to minimize your risk of developing oral cancer, be aware of habits that increase your risk.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer include:

  • Use of smoking or chewing tobacco: Tobacco smokers have 5-9 times greater risk of developing this cancer than non-users; snuff and chewing tobacco users have a four times greater risk than non-users.
  • Excessive use of alcohol: Moderate to heavy drinkers at are 3-9 times greater risk than non-drinkers.
  • Exposure to sun: Chronic sun exposure is associated with development of lip cancers.
  • Certain viral infections such as the human papilloma virus that can cause cervical cancer in women can also cause oral cancer.
  • Compromised immune (resistance) systems that are not functioning properly can be associated with cancers.
  • Poor nutrition including diets low in fruits and vegetables can increase risk for all cancers including oral cancer.
  • Family history: People carry a predisposition in their DNA (the genetic material they inherited from their parents) for developing cancer.

Oral Cancers Can Mimic Harmless Sores

Early signs of oral cancer can mimic harmless sores that occur in the mouth such as canker sores, minor infections, or irritations that occur from biting or eating certain foods. Cancers in the lip area can easily be mistaken for harmless sores.

Early Detection is Key

It is important to have regular oral examinations to detect signs of oral cancer. Although 90 percent of oral cancers occur in people who are over 40, it is becoming more prevalent in younger people, particularly those who adopt risky behaviors: smoking, drinking and oral sex.

  • If you notice any unusual lesions (sores or ulcers), or color changes (white or red patches), anywhere in your mouth that do not heal within two to three weeks, come and see us and have it examined immediately.
  • Definitive diagnosis may require a small biopsy, the microscopic examination of a piece of tissue from the affected area.

It is important not to let a suspicious sore go unchecked. If detected and treated early, while a lesion or growth is small, survival rates can exceed 80 percent. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about oral cancer. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”


By Mark Lukin
September 09, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
TheMarvelousMini-ImplantASmallWonder

If you are at all uncomfortable at the thought of getting a dental implant, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn the truth about these marvelous state-of-the-art tooth-replacement systems — and the special role of a relatively new device, the mini-implant. So, first, let's go over some basic facts.

What's a dental implant? Basically, it's just a replacement for the root part of the tooth, the part that lies beneath the gum line. It attaches to a crown, which is a replacement for the visible portion of the tooth. But instead of ceramics or metals, implants are made of titanium, which becomes fused to the surrounding bone. When complete, implants are much stronger and longer-lasting than other methods of tooth replacement, like bridgework and dentures.

Implants are presently regarded as the best way to replace missing teeth, with a success rate of over 95%. They also help prevent bone loss in the jaw, a major goal of modern dentistry. Having one put in is an office procedure that's generally accomplished with local anesthesia, and most patients experience only minor discomfort. Standard dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, or multiple teeth. The mini-implant, which is just a miniature version of the same technology, is now playing an increasing role in many other phases of dentistry.

Why mini-implants? Because in several situations, this smaller and less expensive alternative offers a solution that's just as good — or better — than any other dental treatment. One area where mini-implants excel is in supporting lower jaw overdentures.

Many people find that lower dentures are far more troublesome than upper dentures. The movement of the tongue muscle, and the smaller area of surface contact (compared to the upper denture, which is supported by the palate) often results in a poor, loose fit, which leads to problems when eating or speaking. These problems can be solved by affixing a lower overdenture (an implant-retained denture) with just two mini-implants.

Not only do mini-implants help prevent bone loss, they also give the denture wearer increased stability, comfort, and confidence. And they do so at a price that's more economical than you might think. In some cases, the mini-implants can be placed in a single one-hour office visit, and your own denture can be modified to fit them — so you can go home and eat a steak that night!

Another area where mini-implants are finding increasing use is in orthodontics. Orthodontic appliances (commonly called braces) move teeth by exerting a light force on them, using a wire which is fixed to a solid anchor point. Traditionally, other teeth are used as anchors — but sometimes these teeth move as well! By using immovable mini-implants as the anchor points, the process is greatly simplified. Strategically placed mini-implants called TADS (temporary anchorage devices) can be used to correct both skeletal (jaw) position and dental (tooth) position problems.

Mini-implants may also be used in upper dentures and temporary bridgework.

If you would like more information about mini-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 articles “Implant Overdentures for the Lower Jaw,” “The Great Mini-Implant,” and “What are TADS?”


KidsandSportsPreventingDentalInjuryWithMouthguards

There's nothing quite like watching your son or daughter compete on the athletic field. It's a mixture of anticipation, pride — and occasionally, anxiety. Despite all the protective gear and training, kids are sometimes injured playing the sports they love. In fact, when it comes to dental injuries, teens are the most susceptible of any age group. Here's what you should know about preventing sports-related dental injuries in kids.

Of course you know that football and hockey players should always wear mouthguards, both at games and during practice. But don't forget about kids who play soccer, do gymnastics, wrestle or play basketball. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) these athletes — along with participants in about 20 other sports — also need to wear this important piece of protective gear. In fact, the ADA states that not wearing a mouthguard makes an athlete 60 times more likely to sustain dental injury!

In selecting a mouthguard, there are three basic options to choose from: the “off-the-shelf” type, the so-called “boil and bite” protector, and the custom-fitted mouthguard that we can fabricate. Let's look briefly at all three.

The first type, available at many sporting goods stores, comes in a limited range of sizes, and an unknown range of quality. It's the least expensive option, offering a minimal level of protection that's probably better than nothing.

The second type, although popular, is also limited in its protection. This one is designed to be immersed in hot water, and then formed in the mouth using finger, tongue and bite pressure. If it can be made to fit adequately, it's probably better than the first type — though it often lacks proper extensions, and fails to cover the back teeth. Also, upon impact, the rubber-like material will distort and not offer as much protection as you would like to have.

The third is a piece of quality sports equipment that's custom-made for your child's mouth (or your own). To fabricate this mouthguard, we first make a model of the individual's teeth, and then mold the protector to fit just right. Made from tough, high-quality material, it's designed to cover all teeth, back and front, without being excessively bulky. It can even be made to accommodate growing teeth and jaws. And, it's reasonable in cost.

To paraphrase the ADA's recommendation, the best mouthguard is the one you wear. A comfortable, correctly-fitted mouthguard is easy to wear — and it can help prevent dental injury, giving you one less thing to worry about. Now, if you could just get you child to keep her eye on the ball.

If you have questions about mouthguards or sports-related dental injuries, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Athletic Mouthguards” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”