What happens when you lose a tooth? In the short-run, it can certainly undermine your appearance and ability to efficiently chew and digest food. But a chain of events could also be set in motion that may cause the most harm to your appearance and health—and it all has to do with bone loss.
Our bones aren't just rigid structures providing a frame for our bodies. They're living tissue with other purposes like producing blood cells and regulating the endocrine system. Bone tissue is constantly replenishing itself as older cells die and newer ones take their place.
In the jawbone, the pressure generated by the teeth while biting and chewing travels through the roots to stimulate the growth of new bone. If a tooth goes missing, however, the bone around the tooth also loses this growth stimulus.
This can cause normal bone growth to slow so that dying bone cells aren't sufficiently replaced. The bone may then diminish at an alarming rate—a decrease in width of about 25% in the first year after a tooth loss and several millimeters in height after only a few years.
This bone loss can continue to advance, especially if multiple teeth are lost, until the jaw structure as a whole loses significant height. The bite may then collapse, forcing the front teeth to push forward. In this state, a person may not be able to adequately bite or chew food. It can also damage their appearance—their smile suffers, of course, but their entire face may also appear shrunken.
You may be able to avoid this scenario if you replace missing teeth with dental implants. In addition to their life-likeness and durability, implants can also stop or slow bone loss. This is because titanium, the principle metal used in an implant, has a strong affinity with bone: Bone cells readily grow and attach to the titanium surface and foster new growth.
But don't wait: Bone loss could eventually extend beyond what an implant can accommodate—you may then need grafting to build up the bone or consider a different type of restoration. So, speak with your dentist as soon as possible about an implant restoration for a lost tooth to help avoid significant bone loss.
If you would like more information on how tooth loss can affect your life, 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 “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
You have a tooth that looks dark and feels very sensitive. Plus, you notice a couple of sores on your gum tissue. At Cohen Modern Dentistry in Southgate, MI, Dr. Jason Cohen offer comfortable and efficacious root canal therapy. This well-respected procedure could save your tooth.
What does root canal therapy involve?
Root canal therapy also called endodontic therapy--removes inflamed and infected soft pulp from the interior of a sick tooth. Whether your tooth is fractured, deeply decayed, abscessed, or simply weak from multiple procedures, it is in danger of extraction. And, dental extraction must be a last resort whenever possible.
So, before a root canal treatment at Cohen Modern Dentistry in Southgate, MI, your dentist will look at your tooth and its surrounding tissues, X-ray it, and review your symptoms. Many root canal patients come to our office suffering from a toothache, drainage, bad breath, missing tooth structure, cracked fillings, or a whole host of difficult dental symptoms.
These patients may be tempted to extract a troublesome tooth and just be done with it. However, if you can save a tooth, you also save your oral function, smile appearance, bone structure, and more.
So, regarding your tooth, if it qualifies for a root canal, you'll receive a numbing shot. Your dentist then accesses each root canal, the slender chamber coursing down every tooth root. He removes the damaged pulp (composed of nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels), cleans the canals, and adds a sealant called gutta-percha.
A temporary crown caps off the tooth, and you go home to heal for a week or so. When you return to the office, you'll receive a brand-new porcelain crown to support, protect, and enhance the appearance of the restored tooth.
Would this procedure help your tooth?
The American Association of Endodontists says that up to 98 percent of root canal treatments succeed, and the teeth go on for years and years. Pain and other symptoms resolve, and best of all, you get to keep the tooth and avoid pulling it.
Living with your restored tooth
Once healed, expect your tooth to function well and look great. Enjoy your favorite healthy food selections, brush and floss daily, and see your dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning and oral examination.
Root canal therapy really does work
At the first sign of dental pain or other unusual symptoms, please contact Cohen Modern Dentistry in Southgate, MI at (734) 283-1263 today!
Ever have a paper cut or an irritated hangnail? They're not considered major health problems, but, boy, can they sting!
Something similar can occur in the corners of your mouth called angular cheilitis. It's also known as perleche, from the French word “to lick” (a common habit with this type of sore). It can occur at any age, with children or young adults developing it from drooling during sleep or orthodontic treatment.
Older adults, though, are more prone than younger people for a variety of reasons. Age-related wrinkling is a major factor, especially “marionette lines” that run from the mouth to the chin. Dried or thinned out skin due to exposure from cold, windy weather may also contribute to perleche.
Perleche can also develop from within the mouth, particularly if a person is experiencing restricted salivary flow leading to reduced lubrication around the lips. Poorly cleaned dentures, weakened facial supporting structure due to missing teeth, vitamin deficiencies and some systemic diseases can all lead to perleche. And if an oral yeast infection occurs around the cracked mouth corners, the irritation can worsen and prolong the healing process.
To clear up a case of cracked mouth corners, you should promptly see your dentist for treatment. Treatment will typically include some form of antifungal ointment or lozenge applied over a few days to clear up the sores and prevent or stop any infection. You might also need to apply a steroid ointment for inflammation and other ointments to facilitate healing.
To prevent future episodes, your dentist may ask you to use a chlorhexidine mouthrinse to curb yeast growth. If you wear dentures, you'll need to adopt a regular cleaning routine (as well as leaving them out at night). You might also wish to consider updated dental restorations or orthodontics to improve dental support, and help from a dermatologist if wrinkling might be a potential cause.
Cracked mouth corners won't harm you, but they can make for a miserable experience. Take steps to relieve the irritation and any future occurrence.
If you would like more information on angular cheilitis or similar oral conditions, 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 “Cracked Corners of the Mouth.”
Professional Hockey player Keith Yandle is the current NHL “iron man”—that is, he has earned the distinction of playing in the most consecutive games. On November 23, Yandle was in the first period of his 820th consecutive game when a flying puck knocked out or broke nine of his front teeth. He returned third period to play the rest of the game, reinforcing hockey players’ reputation for toughness. Since talking was uncomfortable, he texted sportswriter George Richards the following day: “Skating around with exposed roots in your mouth is not the best.”
We agree with Yandle wholeheartedly. What we don’t agree with is waiting even one day to seek treatment after serious dental trauma. It was only on the following day that Yandle went to the dentist. And after not missing a game in over 10 years, Yandle wasn’t going to let a hiccup like losing, breaking or cracking nearly a third of his teeth interfere with his iron man streak. He was back on the ice later that day to play his 821st game.
As dentists, we don’t award points for toughing it out. If anything, we give points for saving teeth—and that means getting to the dentist as soon as possible after suffering dental trauma and following these tips:
- If a tooth is knocked loose or pushed deeper into the socket, don’t force the tooth back into position.
- If you crack a tooth, rinse your mouth but don’t wiggle the tooth or bite down on it.
- If you chip or break a tooth, save the tooth fragment and store it in milk or saliva. You can keep it against the inside of your cheek (not recommend for small children who are at greater risk of swallowing the tooth).
- If the entire tooth comes out, pick up the tooth without touching the root end. Gently rinse it off and store it in milk or saliva. You can try to push the tooth back into the socket yourself, but many people feel uneasy about doing this. The important thing is to not let the tooth dry out and to contact us immediately. Go to the hospital if you cannot get to the dental office.
Although keeping natural teeth for life is our goal, sometimes the unexpected happens. If a tooth cannot be saved after injury or if a damaged tooth must be extracted, there are excellent tooth replacement options available. With today’s advanced dental implant technology, it is possible to have replacement teeth that are indistinguishable from your natural teeth—in terms of both look and function.
And always wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports! A custom mouthguard absorbs some of the forces of impact to help protect you against severe dental injury.
If you would like more information about how to protect against or treat dental trauma or about replacing teeth with dental implants, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dental Implants: A Tooth-Replacement Method That Rarely Fails” and “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”
Erasing the effects of time, genetics, or accidents on your teeth has never been easier thanks to veneers. The preferred method of smile rejuvenation in Hollywood, veneers offer the unique benefit of fixing multiple cosmetic problems at once. Your dentist in Southgate, Michigan, Dr. Jason Cohen, can tell you more about these amazing restorations.
What are veneers?
Veneers are a thin, tooth-shaped shell that your Southgate dentist attaches to the front of the teeth. They are often made from ceramic material, in particular porcelain, because of the similarity to natural tooth enamel. However, plastic-based resin veneers can also be an option for many patients. Veneers are attached to the front of the teeth with bonding cement and can last many years.
How can veneers improve my smile?
In short, veneers from your Southgate dentist can fix almost any cosmetic dental flaw. If your teeth are naturally shortened or have become worn down over time, veneers lengthen them to an aesthetically pleasing size. They can also fill in gaps or smooth out crookedness. Teeth that are resistant to traditional whitening - usually due to genetics or staining from the inside out - can be brightened as well.
How do I take care of my veneers?
The care of veneers is fairly straightforward. Since your natural teeth are still behind them, it's important to diligently brush and floss to maintain good dental health. Developing gum disease or a cavity may result in an expensive removal and replacement procedure. If you have any habits that could cause breakage, such as chewing on pens or crunching on ice, now would be a good time to curb them to avoid chipping or loosening your veneers. If you wear resin veneers, they can discolor from eating and drinking heavily pigmented foods and drinks like coffee, wine, berries, or tomato sauce.
This information is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to veneers. To learn more, schedule a consultation with Dr. Jason Cohen by calling Cohen Modern Dentistry in Southgate, Michigan at (734) 283-1263.
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