Family Dentistry of Ocean City
Robert W. Yaskin, D.M.D. LLC
421 15th Street
Ocean City, NJ 08226
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Most people think of bone as rock-solid, but it's actually a living tissue that's constantly changing. This has significant implications for your oral health, general health, and appearance — if you are one of the 70% of Americans missing at least one tooth.
Throughout the day, your top and bottom teeth make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other. These small stresses are transmitted though the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth) that supports each tooth in its socket like a hammock. Think of it as a gentle push on the hammock, which causes the tooth to gently bump the underlying bone. The bone then builds up in the spot that's receiving stress to counteract it. This constant remodeling of bone is what allows bone to stay healthy and strong.
When a tooth is lost, the bone does not receive that gentle stress. It reacts by literally melting away. Sometimes this happens fairly quickly — in a matter of months. After the tooth-supporting bone is lost, the jawbone itself begins the same process of deterioration. This could eventually change the shape of the face, as the distance from nose to chin can decrease — even if only a few back teeth are missing. The results aren't pretty. But the good news is, there's a way to prevent all this.
Dental implants, which function as substitute tooth roots, actually save underlying bone when teeth are lost. They do this because they are made of titanium, which fuses to the bone in which it's set, stabilizing it. The implant is topped by a realistic-looking crown, which replaces the part of the missing tooth that was visible in the mouth. Together, they look and function just as your natural tooth did.
If you are missing a lot of teeth, implants can also be used to anchor bridges or even removable dentures while providing that same bone-saving benefit. And when you consider that they are so durable they should never need replacement, implants are a great investment.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
Your self-image has a lot to do with how you feel about your appearance — and particularly your smile. If you are unhappy with the way you look, cosmetic dentistry may be the answer to your problems.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry: A time for change.”
If you like soft drinks and carbonated colas, beware. Acids in these drinks may be dissolving the minerals in your teeth — a process called chemical erosion. And don't think that natural fruit juices or sports and high energy drinks are any better than sodas. They also contain acids that dissolve the surface enamel of your teeth. Once your enamel is lost, it is gone forever. It cannot naturally recover.
Sadly, teeth in children and teenagers — an age group most likely to drink large quantities of soda and juices — may be more easily eroded by acids. These youngsters have not had long-term exposure to fluorides which harden tooth enamel and protects them from acid erosion.
The Difference between Erosion and Decay
Chemical erosion is not the same as tooth decay (cavities). In chemical erosion, acids in your mouth react directly with minerals in the outer enamel of your teeth. In the case of tooth decay, bacteria in dental plaque (a bacterial film that forms on your teeth) utilize the sugars in the drinks and produce acids that attack your teeth.
After Acidic Exposure, Wait 30 Minutes to an Hour before Brushing
You may think that the solution to chemical erosion is to brush the acidic solution from your teeth as soon after drinking them as possible. But tooth brushing immediately after can actually accelerate chemical erosion and make it worse. After they are bathed in an acidic solution, minerals in the tooth surface become partially dissolved. Brushing at this time may brush away the affected layer. If you wait a half hour to an hour, your saliva will have time to neutralize the acids and harden the tooth surface by adding minerals back into it.
Drinks Less Likely to Cause Dental Erosion
Instead of drinking colas and sports drinks, stick to water and/or milk, which have the added benefit of supplying calcium to help add minerals back to the tooth surface.
If you must sip on juices or soft drinks, try to do so only at mealtimes. This is preferable to drinking them all day long, which leaves your teeth constantly bathed in an acid solution. Avoid swishing the drinks in your mouth, and sip them with a straw to reduce contact between acidic drinks and your teeth.
Twenty-first Century techniques can create a replacement for a missing or damaged tooth that looks exactly like a natural tooth and actually fuses with the bone of your jaw. How does this amazing technology work? Test your knowledge on these questions.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is actually a replacement for the root of a tooth. In the natural tooth, the root is the part of the tooth below the gum line that is suspended in the bone by ligaments that attach the root to the bone. An implant is a root like substitute that is directly attached to the bone by a process referred to as osteointegration. An implant crown is then attached to the implant and is the visible part that we see above the gum tissues.
What is a modern dental implant made of?
Most are made of titanium. This metal is not rejected by the body and in fact fuses with the bone in which the implant is anchored, making it extremely stable.
How long do implants last?
A successful implant can last a lifetime. Factors that can affect an implant's success are smoking, certain drugs, osteoporosis, a history of radiation treatment, or a compromised immune system. We will evaluate all your conditions of dental and general health before deciding on an implant for you.
What makes the crown look like a real tooth?
The new crown looks real if it matches the shape and color of adjacent natural teeth. Its appearance also depends on what we as dentists refer to as the emergence profile (the way the crown seems to emerge from the gum tissue).
What is the function of a temporary crown?
A customized temporary crown can allow details of color, shape, and emergence profile to be worked out during this “temporary” phase of treatment. It can also test whether the tooth will function correctly for speech, biting and chewing. After these details are worked out, the temporary crown can be used as a blueprint for the permanent one.
What is the first step to getting a dental implant?
Make an appointment with us for a full assessment, diagnosis, and plan for placing the implant and crown.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any additional questions about dental implants. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants, Your Third Set of Teeth.”