dental crowns

Your teeth are part of one big happy family, but when one of them is damaged or otherwise fails, the whole group suffers. The good news is that many instances of damage to teeth can be repaired with dental crowns, which are “covers” made from specially-designed and durable materials typically colored in a shade to naturally blend with your existing teeth.

Reasons for needing a crown vary, but some of the most common include:

  • Restoring large areas of decay that cannot be addressed with a typical filling
  • Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
  • Restoring a tooth after root canal procedures
  • Cosmetic reasons to improve a discolored tooth
  • Rebuild structural areas of an injured or cracked tooth

Caring for dental crowns

Dental crowns are incredibly strong and with the right kind of attentive care they can last many years. The best strategy in caring for dental crowns blends regular dental visits with diligent oral care at home, including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing them at least once, while maintaining a healthy diet.

Food to avoid with dental crowns

Always remember that it is a good idea to steer clear of very hard foods (no Jawbreakers) and don’t do things like chewing on ice; either of these choices could cause breakage of the crown. In addition to hard candy, other food can have a significant impact on the lifespan of your dental crowns, including nuts, sticky desserts, chewing gum, and even crunchy fresh vegetable such as carrots and broccoli.

Once the crown procedure is complete it doesn’t take much time to adjust to the feel of the crown on your repaired tooth. However, some foods can complicate the process and make your adjustment period more challenging. These kinds of food will not negatively affect your dental crown but if they make eating uncomfortable, you should at least temporarily eliminate them from your diet:

  • Soup, coffee, and other hot foods can cause some teeth adorned with crowns to feel sensitivity, especially if there was any gum recession also at play.
  • Cold foods can trigger the same painful sensitivity, so stay away from ice cream for a while.
  • Avoid sugary foods, sticky candy, and the like as an everyday rule, and always when you have a dental crown. Sugar is an express route to decay and sticky or hard foods can damage the crown.

Dental crown care tips

While the lifespan of a dental crown varies, your oral hygiene habits go a long way in extending that time frame. In addition to brushing, flossing, and rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash; be aware of and follow these tips:

  • Consider using a night guard. These guards resemble retainers to ensure upper and lower teeth do not touch, and they are also very helpful in protecting against grinding teeth while sleeping. Grinding teeth wears them down and can even cause a crown to pop right off.
  • Ditch bad habits like chewing your fingernails or ice, which can loosen a crown from its moorings. When brushing, remember to be attentive to the gumline area.
  • Some lower quality crowns are susceptible to chipping, such as porcelain-based varieties. A dentist may be able to restore a damaged crown by etching it with an adhesive to bond the crown’s composite resin. However, repaired crowns are prone to damage and are generally less durable.
  • Perhaps the most critical step in crown maintenance is keeping up with routine dentist visits. It’s easy to procrastinate but preemptive visits can help identify and remedy issues before they become serious (and expensive).

Remember, if you feel pain while chewing or biting down, immediately schedule an appointment so your dentist can investigate the cause of the problem. One common culprit is the crown sits up too high and in that case your dentist can adjust its shape and position. Other times, glue beneath the crown washes away and bacteria finds its way in to cause decay. Crowns can also fall off completely if not properly adhered.

If your crown does fall off, do not attempt to “glue” it back into place and most definitely do not ignore it and choose to simply put up with it. Use a temporary adhesive like Fixodent to keep the crown in place until your dentist can have a look.

dental implants

We are all familiar with the importance of brushing and flossing every day as well as regular dental visits for healthy teeth and a bright smile. More than pearly whites, however, diligent oral care directly impacts your body’s overall health and in fact contributes to extending your lifespan.

But certain life events or habits—smoking, damaged or decaying teeth, medical conditions—can deteriorate your teeth, gums, and facial structure as a whole. When this happens, it might be time to consider dental implants.

What are dental implants and how do I know if I need them?

Simply defined, dental implants are oral-specific medical foundations used in place of missing teeth. These implants take the place of a tooth’s natural root and support a variety of dental prostheses including crowns and bridges.

Is there a defining moment that signals a cue to opt for dental implants? In many cases, a missing tooth is the call. If you lose a tooth, the resulting scenario is more than simply the nuisance of having to dig out that corn on the cob from a summer picnic. Your teeth provide critical nutrients to your body and facial structure and without those nutrients, bone material surrounding the area of the missing tooth weakens and shrinks; potentially up to 25 percent within one year.

The short story is our bones require calcium to properly function and provide their intended support but if the jawbone is in a state of distress it will signal the body to pilfer calcium from the jaw. This is called resorption and left unchecked can cause decreasing gum size, sunken cheeks, and other sagging facial features that contribute to a much older appearance.

Dental implants are fantastic medical options that can restore a vibrant facial look and one effective procedure is All on 4 implants.

What are All on 4 dental implants?

All for one and one for all? All aboard? The name might sound confusing but All on 4 is a catchy moniker for a comprehensive dental procedure involving full arches. “All” refers to all teeth in an upper or lower set. “4” is the number of implants required to hold the arch in place. Put it together and All on 4 means a full set of upper or lower teeth anchored by four dental implants.

For example, instead of replacing several missing teeth one at a time; a dentist can place a full set all at once. Sounds like a great option, right? Let’s look at some benefits of this “all in” procedure.

Benefits of All on 4 dental implants

All on 4 dental implants bring an array of benefits for patients, the most popular being the ability to restore a full arch of teeth at one appointment. This drastically reduces the number of procedures required and cuts way down on time spent in a dentist chair.

The All on 4 method also helps limit the need for bone grafts in cases of jaw bone loss. It is of course more difficult to replace missing teeth with less bone material to work with but with only four implants needed, a dentist can be choosy in selecting the strongest existing bone without grafting.

Am I a good candidate for All on 4 dental implants?

Another great benefit of All on 4 implants is they cater to many different types of patients. Of course, people who have lost many or even all of their teeth are good candidates, as are those who need to have teeth removed for certain reasons. Patients who have suffered bone loss can also benefit greatly from the All on 4 procedure.

This procedure is also popular with patients who tend to be anxious at the dentist, even with general checkups. All on 4 requires far less surgery than multiple tooth replacements and this is good news for those who shy away from extended medical outings.

Budgetary concerns also come into play for many people and to that end, All on 4 is a very cost-effective approach for replacing and entire set of teeth.

Some people or particular situations limit the candidacy of All on 4. If a jaw bone is too weak, for instance, additional strengthening procedures might be required. A healthy immune system and overall good health are also important.

Consult with your dentist to make a sound and strategic decision.

Gum recession is a serious oral health risk

Have you noticed your gums bleeding or are they swollen and red? Perhaps you have noticed nothing out of the ordinary and feel no pain in your mouth at all. In either case, you could have the start of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease or gum recession.

Gingivitis, swollen and bleeding gums, is the early stage of far more serious oral health issues involving gums pulling away from teeth, lost teeth, and bone loss. In fact, tooth decay and gum recession are two of the most concerning threats to adult dental health.

Gum recession defined

We are lectured from an early age to always brush our teeth but do you remember lessons on the importance of taking care of our gums? We can’t have healthy teeth without healthy gums and the best way to keep gum recession at bay is diligent oral care. Once gum recession gets started, it can lead to much more dire consequences.

Gum recession is the acute inflammation of the tissue that surrounds and supports our teeth. It is a common affliction that often appears mildly as gingivitis, which consists of bacterial infections causing the buildup of plaque and tartar, and eventually inflamed gums. In the grand oral health scheme, gingivitis is usually painless and treatable but left to its own devices can turn into significant tissue damage, loose or lost teeth, and even deterioration or loss of bone structure.   

Gum recession—a critical oral health concern

Gum recession is a very determined affliction, progressing slowly but steadily and beginning as merely a nuisance. While it’s true that beet red gums swollen and streaked with blood certainly don’t look the best, the more serious issue is what comes next.

Receding gums expose the roots of our teeth, which are naturally designed to live below the gum line. Tooth roots are not protected with a layer of enamel and instead covered in what is called cementum, which when exposed quickly decays and is a fast track to cavities and sensitivity to hot, cold, and anything sweet. Even worse, without a strong foundation, teeth are likely to fall out.

What’s to blame for gum disease?

We all eat every day, several times a day and it’s inevitable that pieces of that food gets stuck in the paper-thin space where our teeth meet our gums. This location is below the gum line and it takes regular brushing and flossing to adequately remove wayward food chunks and hold back the bacteria that forms and covers our teeth in plaque. When plaque becomes well established it turns into tartar and the presence of tartar below the gum line is a bad thing, causing the aforementioned swelling and bleeding.

It is possible to slow and reverse this process with a proper brushing and flossing regime but if left unchecked, receding gums can evolve to serious forms of periodontitis.

Advanced stages of plaque become tartar and if tartar evolves below the gum line, the gums turn red, swell, and often bleed. The condition can typically be reversed with brushing and flossing but if not treated properly, can move to more serious periodontitis in which the gums actually pull away from the teeth and develop pockets. Pockets in gums are prime locations for infection and in the heat of your immune system’s fight against the issue; some bacteria might sneak away and inflict further damage to surrounding soft tissue and bones. This in turn can lead to tooth or bone loss.

Causes of gum recession

What is the cause of all this oral mayhem? Gum recession is the result of many different factors and the key to preventing the condition from taking hold, or controlling it when it starts, is understanding. Unfortunately, some people will succumb to gum recession regardless of their responsible oral care but staying aware of common risk factors goes a long way in staying ahead of the game.

Your most effective strategy to control and treat gum recession is early detection and sound oral health habits. Warning indicators for gum recession are many; pay attention to them and you can dodge unpleasant outcomes. In the meantime, brush and floss twice a day and see your dentist regularly.  

For more information on gum recession, contact Star White Dental at (951) 291-0668 or starwhitedental.com.