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Dental Implants: Advantages, Risks and Aftercare

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Dental implants are probably the best (and certainly the most popular) method for replacing damaged or missing teeth -- but they are not always suitable for every person.

Before opting for dental implant surgery, the pros and cons should be discussed in detail with the dental specialist who will perform the operation. This includes the likelihood of a successful outcome.

But what are dental implants exactly? Are they better than dentures? How do they look, feel and act? What are the benefits and risks? Do they require special treatment or care? Read on…

What are Dental Implants?

An implant is a permanent fixture consisting of a titanium or metal screw that is embedded in the jawbone and to which a crown (false tooth) is attached. The metal screw replaces the root of the missing tooth -- while the crown is shaped and coloured to match the surrounding teeth.
The result is a natural-looking tooth that is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.

Preparation

Depending on the size, location and number of teeth being replaced, a number of dental specialists may be required in the preparation process including a periodontist, prosthodontist and ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist.

This team will:

  • Review medical history with specific attention to existing medical conditions and prescriptions.
  • Conduct a detailed oral examination including X-rays and 3D imaging.
  • Construct model replicas of the teeth and jaw.
  • Devise a treatment plan for the surgery and aftercare.

Controlling pain during surgery is done with local or general anaesthesia. The method will depend on suitability, the extent of surgery being undertaken and a patient's preference.

Implants or Dentures?

One of the biggest advantages of dental implants over dentures is their natural look and feel. Once fitted, it is virtually impossible to distinguish a dental crown from its neighbouring natural teeth.

Unlike removable dentures, dental implants are permanent fixtures anchored to the jawbone -- and cannot slip or fall out. Implants are also easier to clean and maintain than dentures. They require no special cleaning materials but are simply brushed along with the rest of the teeth.
Chewing, eating and talking are not an issue with dental implants as they are solidly locked into position -- unlike dentures which can slip.

Many Benefits

A missing, misshapen or damaged tooth is not just unsightly but can also signify poor dental health. While dentists prefer to save a tooth, this is not always possible -- and dental implants are the next best thing.

Implants have many physical and aesthetic benefits including:

  • Reducing possible bone loss around the base of the missing tooth or teeth
  • Preserving the health of adjacent teeth, gums and jawbone
  • Maintaining the stability of nearby teeth
  • Making chewing and eating less troublesome
  • Being colour-matched to existing teeth
  • Being long lasting
  • Allowing for a confident smile and increased self-confidence
  • Restoring physical appearance
  • An added benefit of dental implants is that they cannot decay or develop cavities – as they are artificial teeth.

Few Risks

No tooth replacement system is ever perfect (at least not yet) and dental implants do have some risks -- although these are few, and the exception rather than the rule.

The main risks are:

  • Possible accidental damage to adjacent teeth
  • Possible oral tissue damage
  • Possible nerve damage
  • Possible infection around implant
  • Possible Implant failure

The first three risks are minimal and can normally be attributed to a novice or inexperienced surgeon -- while infection is always a risk in any dental or medical procedure.

Implant failure is an infrequent occurrence -- and is rare as patients are thoroughly screened and tested for medical or dental conditions that may result in the procedure failing.

Dental Implant Procedure and Timeline

Whether having a single or multiple dental implants, the procedure is basically the same:

  • Damaged tooth is removed and the site cleaned
  • Jawbone density is tested and bone grafting carried out (if required)
  • Metal (or ceramic) post is inserted into the jawbone
  • Time is allocated for new bone growth and the implant site to heal
    *Abutment (to which the crown will be attached) is attached to the post
  • Dental crown is fixed to the abutment then trimmed to a finish
    * In many cases the abutment is already attached to the post thus avoiding this surgical procedure.

Depending on the number of dental implants being fitted, and the complexity of the procedures, it can take months to complete the entire process with much of the time spent in healing and new bone growth.

After-Effects

Because it is an invasive surgical procedure, there can be some after-effects. These are to be expected and can include one or more of the following:

  • Swollen gums and face
  • Bruised gums and skin
  • Localised throbbing or pain
  • Minor bleeds around and under the implant

These are normal reactions and can usually be treated with antibiotics or pain medications. If symptoms persist, however, the operating dental surgeon should be informed immediately.

Conclusions

Dental implants are the best and most effective method of replacing missing or irreversibly damaged teeth. Implants look, feel and act like natural teeth. Dental implants also have the added bonus of requiring no special cleaning or attention once set in place and are durable and long-lasting.

Many people prefer them to dentures. In many cases, a few dental implants can make dentures more secure – so it’s a win-win. Talk to your dentist, and learn if dental implants have a place in your dental care.

Sources

https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/when-dental-implants-are-the-right-choice/

https://healthable.org/5-things-to-know-before-getting-dental-implants/

https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/are-you-a-good-candidate-for-dental-implants/

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/what-to-know-about-dental-implant-complications-risks

https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/top-tips-for-caring-for-your-dental-implants/s/

https://www.oralb.co.uk/en-gb/oral-health/life-stages/adults/how-to-clean-your-dental-implants

https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/can-your-dental-implants-become-crooked-or-discolored-over-time/

https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/can-you-get-professional-teeth-whitening-if-you-have-dental-implants-or-dentures/

Laser Dentistry in the Modern Practice

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Lasers (an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”)
Lasers have been used in dentistry since the early 1990s and are now almost standard equipment in a modern dental practice.

Originally lasers had a somewhat limited use in dental procedures but, over the past decades, their use (and usefulness) has expanded considerably.

A dental laser works by emitting light in a focused beam and this narrow beam is used to scan and sterilise as well as shape, reform or remove tissue and even bone.

The laser either cuts or vaporises the tissue or bone it contacts and replaces the need for scalpels, drills and other cutting surgical instruments. Today laser dentistry is usually associated with teeth whitening but it is also extensively used in treating many common dental issues including:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease

Many dental experts consider laser dentistry to be more effective, efficient and comfortable than more traditional methods and the use of lasers has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) although the American Dental Association has yet to follow suit.

Two Laser Types

Depending on the individual case a dentist will use either a soft tissue or hard tissue laser or very occasionally both.

Soft Tissue Laser - This type of laser is used for minor treatments where no cutting is required. Typical uses include treating gum disease, killing oral bacteria and activating the regrowth of damaged tissue. It is also used to seal blood vessels or nerve endings that may have ruptured during the procedure. The laser also promotes faster healing than other dental techniques with many patients reporting little or no pain after the procedure.

Hard Tissue Laser- When it is necessary to cut through or reshape teeth a stronger laser is required and a hard tissue laser will be used. The powerful beam can easily cut, trim and shape harder material and is also useful for dental repairs.

Most Common Uses

Soft tissue lasers are used for gum conditions and problems with oral soft tissues while a hard tissue laser is reserved for heavy-duty treatment. Which type of laser is used will depend on the individual case but these are the most common uses of lasers in a modern dental practice.

Gum Disease. A laser is used to destroy harmful bacteria on and under the gums as well as those in infected gum pockets.

Tartar Removal. Using a laser rather than dental tools to remove tartar is easier, more effective and less stressful.

Tooth Sensitivity. A laser can seal holes in the tooth's root which is the principal cause of tooth sensitivity.

Root Canal Infection. Infections of the root canal can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss but laser treatment can prevent and treat these infections.

Filling Preparation. A laser can be used to clean debris and bacteria from the inner tooth in preparation for a filling.

Nerve Regeneration. Damaged nerve endings can benefit from laser therapy which helps with regrowth and regeneration.

Tissue Removal. Excessive soft tissue in the throat can be problematic and lead to sleep apnoea. Lasers can remove unwanted tissue to reshape the throat and improve breathing.

Denture Adjustment. Poorly fitting dentures are often due to underlying tissue which can be removed or trimmed with a laser.

Tongue Frenulum Correction. The frenulum is the piece of skin that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Issues with the frenulum can lead to speech impediments, problems with breastfeeding and tongue-ties. Lasers can be used to remove or restructure the frenulum in order to treat such conditions.

Gum Reshaping. Overgrown gums make the teeth look unnaturally short but excess tissue can be removed and the gums reshaped using laser dentistry.

Muscle Treatment. Muscle issues that impair the function of the tongue and lips are candidates for laser treatment.

Pain Relief. Cankers and cold sores can be uncomfortable and even painful. Laser treatment has been shown to help with pain relief from these conditions.

Preparation Work. Hard tissue lasers are often used to roughen the surface of teeth or remove portions of tooth enamel in preparation for tooth bonding or restorative work.

Teeth Whitening. Laser technology is used to speed up the whitening process after a bleaching agent has been applied.
Apart from the practical uses, laser technology is also commonly used in a modern dental practice as a diagnostic tool. Lasers can be used to:

  • Remove samples of soft tissue for biopsy.
  • View the interior of gums and teeth in detail.
  • Detect possible decay and the formation of cavities.

Pros and Cons
No system is ever perfect or without criticism and this is also true of laser dentistry. While many professionals are in favour of laser treatment, and view their use as a positive technological advancement, others remain (as yet) unconvinced.

Pros
The benefits of laser treatment over traditional methods include:

  • Reduced necessity for anaesthesia
  • Less bleeding after procedures compared to regular dental equipment
  • Minimal pain or discomfort
  • No need for drilling (which many patients fear)
  • Usually faster healing times than with traditional dentistry
  • Creation of a sterile environment reducing the risk of infection
  • Less invasive procedures than with drills or probes
  • Preservation of more of the healthy parts of a tooth or gums
  • More accurate results with minimal damage to healthy gums or teeth

Cons
To counter the positives there are always some negatives. These include relatively minor issues such as:

  • Lasers cannot be used on teeth that already contain fillings
  • Lasers are not an option for common procedures like filling cavities in awkward positions or for the removal of crowns or fillings
  • Dental drills may still be required for finishing purposes after laser treatment
  • Laser treatment does not totally eliminate the use of anaesthetics

It should also be noted that laser treatment can be more costly than traditional methods and this should be take into consideration when contemplating a dental procedure.

Safety Concerns
Because radiation is used in laser treatments there have been questions asked about the safety of using this technology. Dental lasers are perfectly safe when used by trained practitioners which is (or should be) the case in a modern dental practice.

Protective eye wear should always be supplied and worn during treatment but it is also important to have trust and confidence in the operator's training, qualifications and experience. It is advisable to discuss any upcoming treatment with the dentist who can answer any questions about the procedure and remove any concerns regarding potential risks involved.

White Spots on Gums: Causes, Symptoms and Cures

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White spots or patches appearing on the gums can have a range of causes -- and the symptoms and cures will depend on the diagnosis.
Generally speaking, there are four dental conditions that can result in these patches or spots developing. Some are easily treated with medication while others will need the attention of a dentist or oral specialist.

The four main culprits that cause white patches or spots are canker sores, oral lichen planus, oral thrush and leukoplakia.

Canker Sores

Causes - The precise cause of canker sores remains unclear but experts suspect that bacteria, improper diet, oral irritation or injury and even stress may all be contributory factors.

Symptoms - Often referred to as mouth ulcers, canker sores are round or oval shaped with a red edge and have either a white or yellowish centre.

Cure - Most minor cases of canker sores will generally clear up within one to two weeks without treatment. More persistent cases will need to be discussed with a dentist who may recommend a mouthwash or an over-the-counter medication.

Oral Lichen Planus

Causes - As with canker sores, there is no exact cause for oral lichen planus but experts believe it may be an autoimmune reaction to oral infections or injury to the teeth. Other possible causes include an autoimmune disorder or reactions to medications or certain materials.

Symptoms - Oral lichen planus causes inflammation of mucous membranes in the oral cavity which can cause white lace-like patches or red swollen patches to appear. These sores can sometimes peel or blister and be accompanied by burning sensations or pain. In some cases, there can also be discomfort or slight pain when speaking, chewing or swallowing.

Cure - There is no cure for this chronic condition but it can be controlled with proper treatment. This focuses on healing any sores or lesions and relieving any pain or discomfort.

If white spots on the gums are the only issue, then treatment may not be necessary but more severe issues may require the use of topical numbing medications for pain relief or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

Oral Thrush

Causes - Also called oral candidiasis, the condition occurs when an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the mouth allows for the growth of the candida albicans fungus. This imbalance can be be caused by a number of factors including:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Diabetes
  • Diseases such as leukaemia and AIDS
  • Vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy
  • Certain medications may also reduce the amount of good bacteria in the body.

Symptoms - Oral thrush is typified by the presence of raised sores which are cream or white in appearance and have a soft cheese-like texture.

Cure - Treatment is aimed at preventing the fungus from spreading -- but the underlying cause must also be explored to prevent a recurrence.

Many topical medications including tablets, lozenges and mouthwashes are widely available and a dentist or doctor can recommend which may work best on an individual basis.

Leukoplakia

Causes - Another cause of thick, white spots or patches on the gums, the inner cheeks, in the mouth and (occasionally) on the tongue is leukoplakia. Like other dental issues that cause white patches, the exact cause is unknown but the use of tobacco products and the excessive intake of alcohol are the chief suspects.

Symptoms - In many ways leukoplakia is very similar to oral thrush with symptoms including patches or spots that are:

  • White, grey or grey-white in colour
  • Thick to the touch or slightly elevated
  • Coarse or hard in texture

Although leukoplakia patches are generally painless, they may be sensitive to heat, touch, irritation or spiced food.

Cure - Treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause. Smokers will be encouraged to quit or cut down as will heavy drinkers.

If the condition is caused by irritation from rough teeth or ill-fitting dentures, this issue will need to be resolved. If the root problem cannot be rectified, it may be necessary to have the patches surgically removed by a dentist or oral specialist.

A Reason to Smile

In the vast majority of cases white spots and patches are nothing to worry about -- and will either clear up on their own or are easily treatable. It should be noted, however, that some very isolated cases of leukoplakia can be an early indication of cancer.

White or cream spots are most common but occasionally the lesions may be red in colour (called speckled leukoplakia) and these may be cancerous growths.

Pre-cancerous leukoplakia is called dysplasia which can be mild, moderate or severe. Severe cases are most likely to develop into cancer and the diagnosis will determine the best course of treatment.

Whatever the size, shape, colour or location of white patches or spots they should never be simply ignored and always brought to the attention of a dentist or doctor.

As is the case with any physical ailments, it is good practise to keep the teeth, gums, tongue and mouth in the best condition possible by following a good dental health regimen and scheduling regular appointments with a dentist.

Sources:
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321454

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/mouth-sores-and-infections/white-gums

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-leukoplakia

Help Your Child Feel Good About Dental Visits

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Visiting a dentist for the first time can be confusing and even slightly frightening for some children. This is why parents should begin to prepare them for what they can expect.

Indeed, fostering healthy teeth and gums at an early age is the best way to avoid problems in the future.

Here are three effective strategies to embrace:

  • Always answer any questions that your child may have.
  • Play a game of dentist at home.
  • Explain why dentists are important as well as some of the procedures that will be performed.

"Your child will likely have some questions or even concerns about going to the dentist."

Read more here:
https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/preparing-your-child-for-their-first-trip-to-the-dentist/

Are Dental Implants Suitable for Everyone?

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Dental implants are a secure and permanent way to replace missing teeth. Many people prefer them to dentures. This is because the implant is fixed into the jaw.

The crown on top of the implant replaces the missing tooth and will match your existing teeth. However, your dentist will need to make sure that you are a suitable candidate for dental implants.

Key takeaways:

  •  There must be sufficient bone in the jaw in order for the implant to be successfully inserted.
  •  Any other cavities, decay or gum disease should be treated prior to having dental implants.
  •  Smokers should quit or refrain from smoking or using tobacco.

An experienced dentist can assess your smile and check if dental implants are the best solution to replace one or more of your missing teeth. If you would like more information about dental implants, talk to your dentist today.

More:
https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/are-you-a-good-candidate-for-dental-implants/

Factors Increase the Risk of Gum Disease

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Periodontal (gum) disease affects millions of individuals from all walks of life. This is why properly caring for our teeth and visiting the dentist on a regular basis are so crucial.

However, it is just as important to appreciate some factors that may increase your chances of developing this condition. Here are three examples:

  • Those who smoke or use chewing tobacco are at a higher risk.
  • Genetics can play a role, particularly a predisposition to diabetes.
  • Taking certain medications may lead to dry mouth.

"Having a family history of gum disease may make you more likely to get the condition."

Learn more about gum disease here:
https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/are-you-at-higher-risk-for-gum-disease/

What Is Tooth Resorption?

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Once the inner or outer layer of a tooth deteriorates, your body may start the process of resorption – when the body absorbs damaged tissue. Without treatment, the tooth can continue to weaken and become more prone to injury, cavities and infection. However, your dentist has some treatment options.

 

Key takeaways:

- Root canal therapy may be used to remove damaged or infected tissue from the inner tooth.
- Gum surgery and fillings are sometimes needed to repair minor tooth and root resorption.
- Once a tooth has been treated, a dental crown may be used to restore a tooth and prolong its life.

Extraction of a tooth is usually the last resort. As symptoms are not always obvious, it is important to maintain regular check-ups with your dentist to monitor your oral health and to have X-rays if necessary to maintain your beautiful smile.

Read the full article here:
https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/how-is-tooth-resorption-treated/

Tips To Help You Manage Dry Mouth At Night

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Dry mouth can affect the quality of your sleep and cause discomfort. If it isn’t treated, it could also damage your teeth and gums. Here are some tips to help you manage it.

Key takeaways:

  • Ensure you drink at least 4 glasses of water every day.
  • Limit your intake of salty foods, especially before bed time.
  • It can be helpful to reduce your caffeine intake and avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes.

If you’re on medication, talk to your dentist to see if the drugs could be causing dry mouth.
Read the full story here: https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/how-do-i-address-dry-mouth-at-night/

Preparing for a Tooth Extraction?

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After a tooth extraction, it’s important to follow your dentist’s advice on self-care. Your dentist will also advise you on tooth replacement options sooner.

Key takeaways:

  • Make sure you have soft foods such as fish, soup, yogurts and oatmeal for the days following an extraction.
  • Avoid eating immediately after the extraction and until the anaesthetic wears off.
  • Don’t drink anything hot or use straws after the procedure.
  • Fever, severe pain, nausea and vomiting are signs you may have an infection following an extraction.

"Bone preservation is when your dentist ensures the tooth socket remains intact to save space for a tooth restoration, such as a dental implant, following the extraction."

Read the full story here
https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/what-to-know-before-a-tooth-extraction/

What Causes Tooth Loss?

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The principal reason why teeth fall out (or have to be extracted by a dentist) is basically a failure to take proper care of teeth and gums.
Brushing and flossing daily (and properly) will prevent dental issues such as gum disease and tooth decay. Both of these can result in tooth loss -- but there are other factors which can determine how healthy our teeth and gums are including:

  • A poor diet with too much sugar, leading to tooth decay
  • Use of tobacco and tobacco products
  • Excessive use of alcohol

Another common cause of tooth loss is injuries to the teeth -- which can best be avoided by using a protective mouthguard while participating in sporting activities.

Learn more at https://yourdentalhealthresource.com/top-causes-of-tooth-loss/

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