Posts for: April, 2017
Some people are lucky — they never seem to have a mishap, dental or otherwise. But for the rest of us, accidents just happen sometimes. Take actor Jamie Foxx, for example. A few years ago, he actually had a dentist intentionally chip one of his teeth so he could portray a homeless man more realistically. But recently, he got a chipped tooth in the more conventional way… well, conventional in Hollywood, anyway. It happened while he was shooting the movie Sleepless with co-star Michelle Monaghan.
“Yeah, we were doing a scene and somehow the action cue got thrown off or I wasn't looking,” he told an interviewer. “But boom! She comes down the pike. And I could tell because all this right here [my teeth] are fake. So as soon as that hit, I could taste the little chalkiness, but we kept rolling.” Ouch! So what's the best way to repair a chipped tooth? The answer it: it all depends…
For natural teeth that have only a small chip or minor crack, cosmetic bonding is a quick and relatively easy solution. In this procedure, a tooth-colored composite resin, made of a plastic matrix with inorganic glass fillers, is applied directly to the tooth's surface and then hardened or “cured” by a special light. Bonding offers a good color match, but isn't recommended if a large portion of the tooth structure is missing. It's also less permanent than other types of restoration, but may last up to 10 years.
When more of the tooth is missing, a crown or dental veneer may be a better answer. Veneers are super strong, wafer-thin coverings that are placed over the entire front surface of the tooth. They are made in a lab from a model of your teeth, and applied in a separate procedure that may involve removal of some natural tooth material. They can cover moderate chips or cracks, and even correct problems with tooth color or spacing.
A crown is the next step up: It's a replacement for the entire visible portion of the tooth, and may be needed when there's extensive damage. Like veneers, crowns (or caps) are made from models of your bite, and require more than one office visit to place; sometimes a root canal may also be needed to save the natural tooth. However, crowns are strong, natural looking, and can last many years.
But what about teeth like Jamie's, which have already been restored? That's a little more complicated than repairing a natural tooth. If the chip is small, it may be possible to smooth it off with standard dental tools. Sometimes, bonding material can be applied, but it may not bond as well with a restoration as it will with a natural tooth; plus, the repaired restoration may not last as long as it should. That's why, in many cases, we will advise that the entire restoration be replaced — it's often the most predictable and long-lasting solution.
Oh, and one more piece of advice: Get a custom-made mouthguard — and use it! This relatively inexpensive device, made in our office from a model of your own teeth, can save you from a serious mishap… whether you're doing Hollywood action scenes, playing sports or just riding a bike. It's the best way to protect your smile from whatever's coming at it!
If you have questions about repairing chipped teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Artistic Repair of Chipped Teeth With Composite Resin” and “Porcelain Veneers.”
Most of us are used to the idea of just popping into the local grocery store or pharmacy to replenish our usual brand of toothpaste, mouthwash and floss when we know we’re running low on supplies. But what if re-stocking that old familiar brand isn’t really helping you as much as when you were younger? As we grow older and our teeth and gums age along with us, sometimes those old familiar products are worth switching out – often with a prescription from your dentist. But how do you know when you should opt for something new? Let’s take a look.
- Do you Have Sensitive Teeth or Gum Disease? If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity due to a receding gum line, you might benefit from prescription fluoride toothpaste. Such toothpastes have higher levels of fluoride and can help lessen sensitivity and protect exposed tooth structure no longer protected by enamel or gum tissue. Typically your dentist would recommend prescription toothpaste for you if you have significant recession, or if you have recently been in for scaling and root planing.
- Do You Get a Lot of Cavities, or Drink from An Unfluoridated Water Supply? If you get your drinking water from a well, or any other unfluoridated source, prescription toothpastes can be helpful. They’re also worth considering simply if you’re prone to decay. Excessive cavities can be a drain on your wallet, and the overall health of your mouth. Ask if there are ways (other than frequent visits to the office for repair) you can proactively fight your battle with cavity-prone teeth.
- Do You Suffer from Dry Mouth? Most over the counter (OTC) remedies for dry mouth are effective for the majority of people. However, if you’ve been using an OTC solution for some time, and are experiencing limited relief, you might want to ask your dentist if there are other options. You should also ask your family doctor to help you get to the root of the problem – which could be from medication or more serious concerns.
- Are Frequent Mouth Sores a Problem? Elderly patients and those undergoing treatment for some diseases, such as cancer, can develop mouth sores. It’s not necessary to endure this pain for days and weeks on end, so ask your dentist or physician for a prescription mouth gel like Gelclair®. Such gels work by forming a barrier that protects the nerve endings and shields them from overstimulation that can result in pain.
- Do You Suffer From Persistent Halitosis (Bad Breath)? Many people don’t know this, but there are prescription mouthwashes that can be used to help combat chronic bad breath. As with dry mouth, however, it’s important to understand why you have bad breath. If you do not have gum disease and feel otherwise healthy, there could be more serious reasons for your halitosis.
For the overwhelming majority of us, over-the-counter toothpastes, mouth washes and other dental hygiene products will do the trick just fine. Just know that your options don’t stop there and speak with Dr Payne and staff if you have any concerns.
You may not always be able to tell if your child's bite isn't developing properly. Â That's why you should have them undergo an orthodontic evaluation around age 6 to uncover any emerging problems with tooth misalignment.
Still, there are some visible signs all's not well with their bite. As the primary (baby) teeth give way, the permanent teeth erupt sequentially around ages 6 to 8. As they come in, you should notice that each tooth fits uniformly next to each other without excessive gaps or, on the other end of the spectrum, not crowded together in crooked fashion. Upper teeth should also fit slightly over the lower teeth when the jaws are shut.
If their teeth appearance deviates from these norms, they may have a bite problem. Here are 4 abnormalities you should watch for.
Underbite or deep bite. As we mentioned, the front teeth should cover the lower teeth with the jaws shut. In an underbite, the reverse happens — the lower teeth are in front of the upper teeth. It's also a problem if the upper teeth cover the lower teeth too much (often referred to as “deeply”).
Open bite. This occurs when there's a gap between the upper and lower front teeth while the jaws are shut together. One possible cause is late thumb sucking, which can put undue pressure on the front teeth and cause them to develop too far forward while forcing the bottom front teeth further backwards.
Crossbites. This kind of bite occurs when some of the teeth don't fit properly over their counterparts, while others do. Crossbites can occur anywhere in the mouth, for example the upper front teeth fitting behind the lower front teeth while the back teeth overlap normally, or the reverse (front normal, back abnormal).
Misalignments and Abnormal Eruptions. Sometimes upper teeth may align too far forward, a situation known as protrusion. Conversely, lower teeth (or the jaw itself) may come in too far back (retrusion). Because a primary tooth might be out of position or not lost in the proper sequence, a permanent tooth might noticeably erupt out of its proper position.
If you notice any of these situations with your child's teeth see your dentist or orthodontist soon for a full examination. If caught early, we may be able to take action that will lessen or even eliminate the problem.