Through the Eyes of a Dentist’s Daughter

As a dentist’s daughter, I frequently receive questions from my peers about what it means to have good oral health. I used to wonder why people believed that I would know the secrets to good maintaining healthy teeth — I’m not a dentist after all. As an elementary school student, I was the go-to dental knowledge bank. In middle and high school, the questions continued. Today, as a college student pursuing a career in dental hygiene, the questions have gotten even more abundant.

The funniest part of all of this is that, more often than not, I know the answer to people’s questions, and I love answering them!

So how do I know the answers? Often, it is because they are parts of my lifestyle; parts that began the day I was born to a dentist. While I know that sugar is not great for your teeth, eating candy is not the end-all-be-all determinant of how healthy your teeth will be. I know that flossing is one of the most important personal hygiene things you can do, despite how underestimated it may be. And trust me, I know not to bite on a lemon or open a plastic container with my teeth.

 I was never directly given a list of what to do and what not to do, but I grew up with a knowledge-bank was built by tidbits of conversations and interactions with my dad.

 I do not have the answer as to why everyone has the same set of unanswered questions about dental health, but I think that if people made maintaining good oral health a part of their lifestyle, the answers may seem more simple. Maintaining good oral health can be made into a routine that is easy to maintain. Once this routine becomes second nature, people can and will prevent so many oral health problems.

 If we create a routine, we really won’t have to sacrifice anything. We can still eat that once-in-a-while piece of candy, as long as we brush and floss every night. We can recognize that if our gums are bleeding, our bodies are telling us that we need to care for them better through flossing. And we should be aware that dentists, dental hygienists, and students love when people care enough to ask us questions.  www.joethedentist.com 

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Teeth in a day: What’s the rush?

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Having your teeth fixed with dental implants in just one day….what a great idea! Even a better marketing angle. I’ve been asked so many times why dental implants take time when they keep hearing and seeing ads for immediate teeth that I know how well the marketing works.
To be perfectly fair, the “teeth in a day” protocol does work and many patients have gone through the process successfully. However, there are several caveats that must be considered.

First of all, the “teeth” are typically denture teeth which are fixed to a series of 4 to 6 implants in a row. All of the teeth in the dental arch need to be missing or removed for this to work. The implants arranged around the curvature of the arch is what allows for the “loading” of the immediate restoration. The idea of saving any teeth in the span is not possible. In addition to removing all of the teeth, several millimeters of bone and gum tissues need to be removed to create “restorative” space.

Secondly, the bone around the teeth needs to be healthy and free of infection. Placing implants into infected areas invites a risk of implant failure. Now, some of us are already scratching our heads wondering why would anyone want to remove perfectly good teeth that are not infected.

Once again to be fair, I am a dentist and have been placing and restoring dental implants for the past fifteen years. I believe that dental implantology is one of the greatest advances in dentistry of our time. That being said, I think there is nothing better than real teeth. Saving whatever we can, within practical considerations, is our first goal. It is true that dentures are awful! Food tastes and feels foreign, speech is difficult and the feeling of physical decline is oppressive. A full arch of implants holding on to a dental bridge is a bit better. Natural teeth, even a few in the arch, if that’s all that is feasible, is the best. One reason is that teeth have ligaments that hold them into the bone. Within this ligament space lies proprioceptive nerve endings. Unlike the sensation of hot and cold, these nerves send signals to the brain regarding pressure. It is part of how we interpret what food feels like. They help us determine how hard we need to bite when we are eating. Does a hot dog feel any different a good fillet? You bet it does. Implants offer absolutely no proprioceptive feedback.

Some people have not had much luck in taking care of their natural teeth. Implants may seem like a good way to escape from the hassle. Actually, they still need attention. Each implant needs to be cleaned around the tissue where it emerges, just like teeth. When there is a bridge or denture permanently attached to them, care and time needs to be taken to get underneath and do a thorough job. Loosing a dental implant under a complicated bridge can be an expensive complication.

Dr Olson and I believe in the proper and timely replacement of hopeless teeth to maintain proper force and load distribution within the arches. We also believe in the preservation of bone and healthy teeth wherever and whenever possible. Finally, we believe in creating restorations on dental implants that look, feel and function like natural teeth in keeping with our years cosmetic dental practice.

Look to our future blogs where we will be discussing the pros and cons of immediate placement and restoration of implants for single tooth considerations.

Dr. Joseph D’Angelo

Dr. Ashley Olson

www.joethedentist.com

www.ashleythedentist.com