Posts for: May, 2014

DidYouKnowMinorToothContouringandReshapingCanEnhanceYourSmile

Some dental procedures that can beautify a smile — orthodontics or implants, for example — take months. Others take only minutes! Tooth contouring and reshaping is one of them. So just what is this remedy, and why would you need it?

Tooth contouring involves removing a tiny amount of enamel (the tooth’s outer covering) with a dental drill to sculpt a more pleasing shape and make the tooth fit in better with its neighbors. It is most often used on highly visible teeth that have minor yet noticeable cosmetic flaws.

For example, you may have a tiny chip in a front tooth, a slight size discrepancy among adjacent teeth, or extra-pointy canines. None of these issues are as serious as, say, a misaligned bite or a tooth that’s missing altogether — but they can be annoying nonetheless. If you find yourself staring in the mirror at any of these subtle yet distracting imperfections in your own smile, you may want to consider having us reshape a specific tooth or teeth.

Contouring can correct small chips, uneven tooth length, slight overlaps, and tooth edges that are too flat or pointy. We can also give teeth a more “feminine” or “masculine” appearance, simply by rounding or squaring the edges. Contouring also has a non-cosmetic use: It can be employed to adjust the bite so that the teeth come together more evenly. For example, if one tooth is just a little higher than the others, it might be subjected to more than its share of stress during chewing. This brings up another important point: We would not recommend tooth contouring if any bite imbalances could result from the procedure. And if we do determine that tooth contouring would not be the best way to go in your particular case, don’t worry — we can come up with a solution for any cosmetic issues that are of concern to you.

If you have any questions about tooth contouring and reshaping — or any other cosmetic dentistry procedures — please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How and Why Teeth Wear.”


By Gray Yallaly & Black D.D.S.
May 12, 2014
Category: Oral Health
ShaquilleONealsSlamDunkAgainstSleepApnea

You may think snoring is a minor problem, but it can be a lot more than that. Just ask hoops star Shaquille O'Neal, whose rambunctious snoring bothered his girlfriend enough for her to suspect a health problem. Her observations eventually led to Shaq's diagnosis of moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which occurs when the soft tissue structures at the back of a person's throat, including the tongue, partially close off the upper airway and prevent air from moving into the lungs during sleep. Sometimes airflow can be blocked completely for 10 or more seconds.

When air flow is reduced, blood oxygen levels drop. This leads to brief waking episodes known as “micro-arousals,” which can happen sometimes more than 50 times an hour. The sleeper might not even be aware of this, even while gasping for air. Micro-arousals prevent the person from ever reaching deep, restful sleep.

Besides suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness, studies show sleep apnea patients are at higher risks of heart attacks, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, brain damage and strokes. People with sleep apnea also have a higher incidence of work and driving-related accidents.

OSA can be treated in a few different ways. On the advice of his doctor, Shaq opted for a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, which generates pressurized air delivered through a face mask worn while sleeping. The force of the pressurized air opens the airway (windpipe) in the same way as blowing into a balloon does.

For people with milder OSA, or who find they can't tolerate wearing a mask during sleep, an oral appliance supplied by a dental professional might be the answer. Oral appliances are worn in the mouth and are designed to gently reposition the jaw and move the tongue forward away from the back of the throat. Success rates of 80% or more have been reported using oral appliances, depending on the severity of the OSA.

If you would like more information on sleep apnea, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about sleep apnea by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”


By Gray Yallaly & Black D.D.S.
May 02, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants   crowns  
WhichImplantCrownAttachmentisRightforYou

Dental implants have come a long way since their introduction thirty years ago. Unlike their predecessors, today’s implants come in various shapes and sizes that can meet the precise needs of individual patients. Crown attachment has also developed some variety.

The actual implant is a titanium post surgically imbedded in the jawbone to replace the original tooth root. The restoration crown, the visible part of the implant system that resembles natural tooth, is affixed to the implant post. There are two basic methods to attach the crown: cement it to an abutment that has been installed in the implant; or screw it into the implant with a retaining screw from the underside of the crown. In the latter case, the abutment has been built into the crown.

While either method provides years of effective service, one method may work better than the other depending on the circumstance. Screw-retained crowns require no cement and are more easily removed than cemented crowns if it becomes necessary. On the other hand, the screw access hole can be visible, although the area can be filled with a tooth-colored filling; and although rare, chips near the access hole can occur. Occasionally the screw may become loose, but tightening or replacing the retaining screw is a simple matter because of the access hole.

A cemented crown looks more like a natural tooth and so is more useful in situations where cosmetics are a factor. The cement, however, can cause inflammation and contribute to bone loss in some patients when excess cement gets below the gums. Unlike a screw-retained crown, removal is more difficult and limited.

As a rule, screw-retained crowns are normally used in areas where the screw hole is not conspicuous, such as for posterior (back) teeth. They’re also more desirable than cemented when the implant is permanently crowned at the same time it’s surgically implanted, a process called “immediate loading.”

Which method of crown attachment is best for you? That depends on the implant location and other factors we would explore during a thorough pre-implant exam. Either way, the end result will be a life-like replica of your natural teeth, and a restored, vibrant smile.

If you would like more information on crown attachment to 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 “How Crowns Attach to Implants.”