Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Waterpiks are fun!

Ever since I got braces put on in September, I have been using my waterpik every day.  It's the only way I know how to get rid of all the "schmutz" that gets stuck on the braces.  Remember how you would take a water gun and squirt it in your mouth on a hot summer day?  Well, a waterpik is nothing more than an automatic water gun.  My routine is: I eat, I waterpik, I brush my teeth.  And I must say that I have done a pretty good job of keeping the bathroom clean from all the mess that can be made with one.  The mirror has never looked cleaner in front of the sink! ;)

My 7 year old son recently got a palatal expander placed to fix the cross-bite he has on his back teeth.  He, too, is using the waterpik and loves it.  He has so much fun having water go all over the mirror and the sink counter.  One day he went to go use it, and it wouldn't turn on.  I checked the fuse and turned it back on.  Well, he had left the waterpik turned on.  The bathroom all of a sudden had a nice water feature.  A couple of walls got a nice rinse, and water was everywhere.

So, if you wear any kind of orthodontic appliance that you cannot take out of your mouth, you should be using a waterpik.  It will help decrease the amount of plaque in your mouth, which will mean less cavities. It will make brushing your teeth much easier.  Moms, Dads, can it be a bit messy? Yes.  Would you rather have a slightly messier bathroom mirror or a child with a higher chance of having cavities?

Can you use a waterpik if you don't have braces?  Of course!  Some patients unfortunately don't floss for one reason or another (dexterity issues, they don't like to do it), but they will use a waterpik instead.  A waterpik doesn't replace flossing completely, but it does help.

If you have any questions.please don't hesitate to contact us to learn more about using a waterpik.

Monday, March 10, 2014

What is an implant?

"How does an implant work?" I get asked this a lot when discussing treatment options with my patients. Simply put, an implant is a titanium screw that is placed into your jaw to replace a broken or missing tooth. Implants have become a routine and predictable service that dentists can offer their patients.  Before implants were used, the other options to replace a missing or broken tooth were to make a bridge (a non-removable option that was made by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the missing/broken tooth), make a partial denture to replace that one missing tooth, or do nothing.
Used with permission from BIOMET 3I

In the image to the right you can see how an implant mirrors a tooth.  The left part of the picture shows a natural tooth, with the white outer layer enamel, and the darker underlying dentin.  This picture also looks like how a dentist would shave a tooth down to make a crown for a tooth; by removing the enamel, and leaving a plateau of dentin in the middle to allow for the crown to fit over it.

Now, when an implant is placed, it replaces the root of the tooth only.  In order to replace the rest of the tooth (the crown), the dentist and the lab need to fabricate a restoration that replicates the natural tooth.

The dental implant crown, as shown in the picture, can be either be one piece (a screw-retained implant crown) or two pieces (a cement-retained implant crown).  The dentist and the lab will work together to determine what is the best way to restore the tooth based on each specific situation.  No matter which option is selected, the restoration will fit snugly with the implant, and it will at some point be held together with a screw that connects the restoration to the implant.

If the restoration is one piece, the crown sits directly on top of the implant, and is held in place by a screw that tightens the crown to the implant; a screw-retained implant crown.  No cement is used to hold the crown in place like it would if it was being placed on a tooth.  A hole is made through the middle of the crown when it is being made by the lab to allow the dentist to tighten the crown to the implant with the screw. Once the crown is fully seated and tightened, the dentist will place a bonded filling to cover the hole.

If the restoration is two pieces, the abutment replicates the plateau of dentin that remains on your tooth when you have a crown; and the crown sits on top of the abutment.  The implant screw is used to tighten the abutment to the implant, and the crown is cemented onto the abutment just like a crown is cemented onto a tooth; a cement-retained implant crown.

Implants are a great option for many patients. It allows me to offer an opportunity to replace a missing or broken tooth that minimizes affecting other teeth that can become compromised by placing a bridge, and it doesn't have to be removed nightly like a partial denture.  Besides replacing missing teeth, implants can be used to help stabilize dentures; but that's a topic for another day.

If you think you need an implant, and you want to find out more, please contact our office to set up an appointment for a consultation at your earliest convenience. 973-543-6666 or info@mendhamdentist.com.