When it comes to health-related decisions, you are likely to have questions about specific procedures. Dentist Asheville, Dr. Phillips and Dr. Schmitt spend as much time as patients need to explain procedures and proper preparation and post care. Over the years, we’ve had many patients ask us about how to alleviate various problems. Here are just a few.
“I lost a tooth. Is it worth replacing? If so, what’s the best way?”
Keep in mind that every tooth holds a place of importance. Not only are adjacent teeth necessary to keep neighboring teeth in position, the same is true for upper and lower teeth. Upper and lower teeth meet each other at a similar height, creating an ideal chewing surface. When you fail to replace a missing tooth, it leaves the teeth around it more susceptible to problems. In fact, when you lose a tooth, the tooth next to it is at greater risk of being the next to go. The empty space also enables the teeth on both sides to angle inward to the open area. The likelihood of chipping, breaking or cracking your teeth is much greater since the teeth no longer connect correctly to those above or below. A partial is an economical way to fill the space, but you will sacrifice stability and dependable function over other, more stable options. There are several options we recommend for excellent stability and longevity, with some even preventing bone loss in areas where tooth roots no longer exist. While it is important to spend carefully, you should examine all options available to make the best decision for the future of your smile.
“My teeth have thinned and gotten shorter as I’ve aged. I don’t want to lose my teeth. Is there a long-term solution to save them?”
When tooth roots are no longer present in the jawbone, over time the bone begins to shrink. This bone loss leads to changes in your facial appearance that cause you to look far older than your actual years. It also causes challenges for thorough chewing of a diet of protein- and vitamin-rich foods. What you’re experiencing seems to be from years of grinding or clenching your teeth. This wears the teeth down and causes thinning of teeth. Grinding and clenching is often the result of a misaligned bite. Some people bite and clench at night without even being aware they are doing so. Depending on the extent of wear that has occurred, long-term solutions to restore a more youthful looking smile and protect teeth are porcelain veneers or porcelain crowns. Your new smile will have a natural appearance and exceptional durability. With a complete exam, you’ll learn how proper bite alignment can be achieved as well as what you can do to enhance your smile.
“My denture has lately seemed to need relines more often. Was the denture not made correctly?”
Without knowing how long you’ve worn a denture, it sounds as if you’ve worn one for quite some time. We suspect this because of the frequency needed for relines. What is happening has less to do with your denture and more to do with your jaw bone. When tooth roots are no longer present in the jaw, the lack of stimulation to the bone causes ‘resorption.’ Resorption is bone shrinkage in width and height. The pressure of wearing a denture actually accelerates the rate of bone loss. For those who wear their dentures while they sleep, this 24/7 pressure speeds up the rate of bone loss even more. When your denture was first made, it was designed to conform to the ridge where teeth once were. Once that area declines, you have less of a foundation. You’ve noticed that relines don’t last very long. To see the extent of bone loss you’ve had, look in a mirror without your denture. You’ll see how the jaw has lost mass from its collapsed appearance of the lower face. This will only become more severe over time. Dental implants could be the best treatment for you to halt bone loss and restore stability and chewing comfort. If you’ve lost too much bone to support implants, bone rebuilding procedures can be performed.
“Why would I need a prosthodontist?”
A prosthodontist is a dental specialist who, after completing dental school, receives two to three years of advanced training in the restoration and replacement of teeth in a specialty program at a hospital or university. Prosthodontists have mastered procedures that involve crowns, bridges, veneers, partials, dentures and dental implants.
Dr. Phillips has completed extensive training under renowned prosthodontic specialists and teaches as a visiting faculty mentor at Spear Education for advanced dental education. Dr. Schmitt is a board-certified prosthodontist and is an active member of the American College of Prosthodontics. Since both doctors have extensive experience in prosthodontics, this allows us to provide a more comprehensive team approach to your care.
“Isn’t once a year enough for a routine cleaning?”
Each patient in our office is on a recall schedule based on their individual need. Patients diagnosed with periodontal disease or high cavity risk should be seen and treated more frequently, usually 3-4 times a year. Patients with healthier conditions can extend their recall appointments.
“What is a dental implant?”
Implants are designed in various shapes and sizes to fit individual needs. By serving as replacement tooth roots held by your jawbone, implants recreate the strong foundation your natural teeth once had. The implanted portion is made from titanium, a biologically safe metal with an excellent success rate. Replacement teeth are attached to these new “tooth roots.”
“What is the advantage of dental implants?”
In addition to the enhanced ability to chew and enjoy all types of food, implants restore your ability to laugh and speak with confidence. Because they are supported by the jawbone, they eliminate removable teeth or dentures from slipping and moving. Loose dentures that fail or slip often lean to embarrassing and uncomfortable moments for the patient.
“How long do dental implants last?”
When your dental implants are placed, they are intended to last your lifetime. While there is potential for complications in the future, the overall success rate of the implants is excellent, the highest of any bone integrated implant such as a hip or knee.
“Are dental implant procedures painful?”
Your comfort is always a priority. During implant placement, you are comfortably sedated. For a day or so afterwards, most do fine with over-the-counter pain medications, while some say they had no discomfort. We work with outstanding implant surgical specialists who can use advanced sedation techniques to give you a more comfortable dental experience with dental implant placement.
“How much do dental implants cost?”
The fee depends upon the number of implants necessary; however, an implant is not always needed for each missing tooth. This can be determined after an examination at our office.
“How long does it take to have dental implant restoration completed?”
Some types of implants require only several visits, while others can involve several months or up to a year. Once our Ashville NC Dentist determines the treatment to accomplish your needs and preferences, they can provide specific details. For all procedures, we ensure you have replacement teeth and can enjoy your normal routine without worry.