All posts by Flawless Dental

What Are Dental Implant Abutment?

When it comes to dental implants, most people are familiar with the implant itself and the crown or bridge. But there’s one part of the ensemble that doesn’t often get discussed: the abutment.

The dental implant abutment is a small object usually made of titanium or zirconia that acts as the connection between the dental implant and the crown or another dental restoration. Not only does it serve as a connection, it also helps shape the gums in a healthy and esthetically pleasing way around the dental restoration. The materials used for the abutment can affect strength and aesthetics, so careful consideration is taken when choosing the right abutment for the job.

Often a dentist might choose to use a healing abutment right after implant surgery in order to cover the hollow center of a dental implant and promote healthy gum development. This abutment won’t attach to a dental implant but would still serve a crucial role in proper healing.

A dentist may opt for a custom-made abutment to specifically match the anatomy of a patient. This is especially important in areas that are very visible in the mouth during smiling, ensuring the crown looks like it’s emerging seamlessly from the gums.

Another consideration a dentist will have is to decide whether to cement the crown directly to the abutment or screw it on. There are pros and cons to each method such as screw holes in the crown potentially weakening the structure of the crown or the potential of excess cement causing inflammation of the gums.

Abutments come in all shapes and sizes, but you can count on your dentist to have the training to choose the right one for your given situation.

What Causes a Gummy Smile?

While a gummy smile can just be a result of a person having too much gums, there are a few other issues that could be going on that make a person’s smile appear gummy. Here are a few other reasons why someone’s smile may appear gummy:

Improperly erupted teeth – If someone’s teeth erupt improperly, they could end up with only part of their teeth showing, while the rest are hidden by the gums. When this occurs a procedure called crown lengthening is used to remove some gum tissue in order to reveal the teeth underneath.

Short teeth – Some people naturally just have short teeth due to genetics, or the teeth have shortened due to wear. In such a case removing gums could be harmful. Instead a patient can be treated with dental veneers and crowns that cover the original tooth and display more appealing gum to tooth proportions.

Short upper lip – Most people have lips that cover most of the gums even when smiling. If someone has a short upper lip, however, they could appear to have a gummy smile, when, in fact, their gum to tooth proportions are completely normal. In such a case the patient will have to undergo lip surgery in order to correct the abnormality.

Hypermobile upper lip – Some people don’t have very visible gums until they smile wide, at which point their upper lip extends further up than it does for most people. As with short-lipped people, these people will have to undergo lip surgery in order to correct the abnormality.

Long gums – For some people their smile is gummy because it’s actually too gummy. People with this condition grow longer gum tissue than most. These people undergo a treatment that’s similar to people with teeth that haven’t erupted properly. The procedure, called gum contouring, involves cutting back the gum tissue to achieve better proportions.

If you have a gummy smile, you can ask your dentist for options treatment options and work with them to find the right one for you.

What is Peri-implant Disease and Signs You Might Have It

As dental implant treatment became increasingly popular, dentists started noticing that some dental implant patients were experiencing inflammation of tissue around their implants. This inflammation is what dentists call peri-implant disease. Dentists responded quickly to these findings, identifying factors that could put patients at risk for these peri-implant diseases, and developing treatments.

What is peri-implant disease?

Peri-implant disease is broken down into two categories: peri-implant mucositis and peri-implantitis. The diagnosis of peri-implant mucositis is used when the inflammation is only in the gums around the dental implant, but the bone is not affected. When the infection becomes worse and the bone levels and quality around the implant start to deteriorate, that’s when the diagnosis changes to peri-implantitis.

What are risk factors associated with peri-implant disease?

The risk factors are the same ones that cause disease in natural teeth. Dental implants require similar care to natural teeth, so brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings are essential to keeping implants healthy. Other factors associated with peri-implant disease are smoking, diabetes, and having periodontal disease before the implants were put in.

What are signs you might have peri-implant disease?

The symptoms for peri-implant disease are similar to those of gum disease, such as red, tender gums around their dental implants and bleeding during brushing. When any of these symptoms exist, it’s time to contact your dentist in order to catch the disease early before it’s too late.

What’s the treatment for peri-implant disease?

In the initial stages of the disease, scaling and root planing, combined with antibiotics, could be enough to treat the infection and save the implant. But as the disease progresses and bone levels around the implant begin to deteriorate, it may be necessary to have oral surgery in order to regenerate the bone at the site of the implant.

If you have any signs of redness, sensitivity, or bleeding at the site of your dental implant don’t hesitate to contact your dentist in order to stop the disease as soon as possible.

What Your Bone Type Could Mean For Dental Implant Treatment

“It depends.” That’s probably an answer you will often hear if you’re considering getting dental implants. This is because there are so many things to consider when placing a dental implant.

One of the many considerations that your dentist needs to take into account before placing a dental implant is what type of bone you have at the implant site. Here are the four types of bone and what they can mean for your treatment.

Type 1 – This type of bone is very hard and dense. An implant placed into this type of bone will be very secure from the start. Since the bone is so dense, however, there aren’t as many blood vessels at the site. This means that the bone will have a harder time healing around the implant. It could be 5 months before the final abutment and crown are put in.

Type 2 – This type of bone is still fairly dense but isn’t as dense as Type 1, but what it lacks in density it makes up for with greater vascularity. An implant placed in this type of bone can be restored with an abutment and crown in as little as 4 months.

Type 3 – This type of bone is quite porous and could take up to 6 months to heal.

Type 4 – This type of bone is also very porous. When a patient has Type 4 bone, they often need augmentation procedures in order to improve the quality of the bone. Sometimes a dentist will place multiple implants to support the restoration in order to distribute the load on multiple implants instead of just one.

Whatever type of bone you have, it’s best to have a clear dialogue with your dentist to understand the steps of treatment. If you’re considering dental implants, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Oral Health and Posture

Ever catch yourself slouching at school or work? Not sitting up straight is not only bad for our back alignment, but it is also known to affect our oral health.

In general, good posture is seen as “when the head is supported by the vertebral column which in turn is supported by the pelvis, legs, and feet.” In terms of bad posture, however, our heads are constantly being tilted forward, throwing off our “natural center of gravity,” leading to constant stress on the muscles “of the neck, shoulder, and lower back.” Because of this, there is said to be a direct link between head posture and bite, teeth contact, and, ultimately, jaw pain.

It is said that the “maintenance of head posture depends on the interaction between gravity and the balance of the muscles that stabilize the head.” Our teeth are the ones that generally give us the stability of keeping our head posture on track, so if it is all thrown off, our bite will be affected the greatest. Most of the “compensations that occur are at the TMJ joints, the vertebrae, or surrounding tissues.” TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunctions most often occur when we “alter our head and neck posture.” If altered, our muscle functions will decrease causing possible “cervical spine disorders.” If we do not learn to fix these problems, however, they will continue to occur and cause even more issues later on in life.

How does one go about changing a habit that they do not even realize they are doing most of the time? First off, if you are experiencing head, neck, or jaw pain, contact your dentist to see if it is linked to how you’re holding your body up on a daily basis. After assessing your posture, you will be treated accordingly and shown correct ways to fix your posture. Also, a “dental splint” could be issued for “postural and muscle abnormalities” that are causing your individual pain. This, hopefully, will reduce the amount of pain the individual is facing and help to ensure that future issues do not arise.

When one thinks of incorrect posture, the first thing that comes to mind probably is not how it would affect their oral health. However, if someone’s posture is unbalanced, it can create much pain and inflammation. It can even be known to “rearrange the position of teeth and facial muscles.” No one wants to experience these damages to their mouth, teeth, and smile, so contact your dentist immediately if you are experiencing any symptoms such as these and they will put you on the right path to a pain free, perfect posture life!

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Signs Your Enamel May Be Eroding

As you may already know, enamel is the hard substance that makes up the surface of the tooth. This surface can erode if someone has an acidic mouth, grinds their teeth, or brushes too hard. But how would you even know if your teeth are eroding? Luckily there are several signs that can indicate that the enamel layer on your teeth is eroding.

Sensitivity – Do you notice your teeth being more sensitive to cold, hot, or sweets? These could be signs that the enamel is wearing down and the nerves in the teeth are less protected from these changes in temperature in the mouth.

Discoloration – While some tooth discoloration is just a result of surface stains on the teeth, sometimes discoloration can be a result of the second layer of the tooth being more visible. Underneath the enamel layer there’s the dentin layer which is softer and darker, giving teeth a yellowish appearance if the enamel gets thin.

Jagged tooth surfaces – If you’re grinding your teeth, or if acid is eating away at your teeth, the surfaces start to get rough or form minor pits, cracks, and grooves. You would probably be able to see these or feel them with your tongue.

If you have any of these symptoms, and certainly if you have all three, schedule a dental appointment to ensure the erosion doesn’t get worse.

Which Toothpastes Can You Trust?

With what seems like a million different kinds of toothpaste stocked on the shelf, it is important to know which ones you can safely use and trust. There are many factors that can determine your toothpastes such as the brand, whitening properties, and of course, price. Here’s what to look out for when choosing the brand of toothpaste that’s  right for you.

Toothpaste Credibility
Flashy claims for a beautiful smile are not always truthful. When choosing the right toothpaste for you, the first thing you should look out for is an American Dental Association (ADA) seal approval somewhere on the toothpaste.

The Science Behind Whitening Toothpastes
A whiter smile may be what you hope for when using your brand of toothpaste, but it is not always guaranteed. In fact, toothpastes that claim to be whitening don’t usually whiten your teeth much at all. Whitening toothpaste can appear to whiten teeth slightly by removing surface stains, but whitening toothpastes can’t change the natural color of your teeth or lighten a stain that goes deeper than a tooth’s surface.

Does it Contain Fluoride?
When choosing a toothpaste, the most important ingredient to consider is the amount of fluoride within the tube. Fluoride prevents tooth decay, strengthens enamel, and keeps plaque off your teeth.

Price
Interestingly, there is such a thing as paying too much for your toothpaste! An Australian study reviewed 17 of the country’s most popular toothpastes to find that, despite varying prices, most of them did the same job cleaning teeth. A good toothpaste will be under $10, and usually at a value-pack price so you get more for your buck!

Talk to Your Dentist
Certain factors can come into play when choosing the right toothpaste for you. For instance, those with highly sensitive teeth, gum disease, and so on. However, nobody knows your oral health better than your dentist, so it’s best to consult them about your toothpaste options if unsure.

Canker Sores: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Ah, canker sores. These tiny, painful bumps are a nuisance at best and totally debilitating at worst. A nasty enough canker sore in a particularly inconvenient place can leave you eating nothing but mashed potatoes and milkshakes for a week. While that sounds pretty delicious in theory, the pain of the canker sore definitely is not! So, what makes these tricky sores appear, and how do we rid ourselves of them for good? We did our research.

A canker sore is essentially just an ulcer in your mouth. Typically, they’re small, whitish bumps with an inflamed red border. They can be caused by bacteria, a cut inside of the mouth, or elevated levels of stress. Often, they’ll appear when the immune system is already compromised, so if you notice them pop up while you’ve got the sniffles, you know why.

Preventing canker sores is sometimes difficult, as they are unpredictable and, to a certain degree, inevitable. However, if you’re someone who finds yourself getting canker sores a lot, it helps to note when you’re seeing them. After eating certain foods? During times of extreme stress at work? While you’re already feverish? By identifying what factors tend to make you susceptible to sores, you can take active steps to try to avoid them.

If you are suffering from a canker sore, there are several topical gels available on the market to numb the pain and speed healing. A canker sore shouldn’t last more than a week or two, so if it feels like it’s been hanging around longer than that, consult your dentist or doctor.

Breastfeeding and Cavities

Many pediatric health experts have confirmed that if a mother can manage it, “breast is best” when it comes to feeding their babies. While the American Pediatric Association recommends breastfeeding for up to a year, a recent study confirms that breastfeeding much longer than that can lead to dental problems for young children.

In a published research study, 1,129 Brazilian children were evaluated by dentists at age 5. Of those children, the ones who had been breastfed for more than 2 years were found twice as likely to have severe cavities. What’s the correlation? It seems to have a lot to do with what time of day children are breastfeeding. Typically, babies breastfeed whenever they want, without much of a concrete schedule. When baby teeth begin to come in, it can be hard to clean these teeth between feedings, since they can be somewhat sporadic. 

Breastfeeding up to 24 months is probably okay for children. After all, there are dental benefits associated with breastfeeding too. For example, babies who are breastfed are less likely to have their teeth grow in crooked. Just make sure if you continue to breastfeed your children after 24 months that you’re consulting regularly with their dentist, and you’re helping them to practice good oral health habits.

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What Parts of the Mouth Do People Usually Forget to Clean?

While the old adage states “Brush only the ones you want to keep”, we definitely don’t condone that behavior. Not only do we recommend cleaning all your teeth, here are a few other areas of the mouth that are often overlooked.

Tongue – Like all other parts of the mouth, the tongue can accumulate debris and bacteria. While typical brushing can clean the tongue to some extent, if you really want to clean your tongue you may want to use a tongue scraper to really do it right.

Gums – One of the areas that is missed most during brushing is where the teeth meet the gums. It’s important to brush the area at a 45 degree angle to reach all the spaces properly. Be mindful not to brush too hard, as you don’t want to cause gum recession.

In between the teeth – Most people still don’t floss and as a result miss cleaning a large percentage of their tooth surface. It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to floss regularly.

The back teeth – Researchers found that the top back teeth are the ones most likely to have plaque on them. Be sure to take your time with the back teeth, brushing and flossing to get the entire surface of the teeth.