So you have lost a tooth? Do not fear! A bridge can be placed to replace the missing tooth – in the mouth, it’s like a bridge over a body of water, needing a solid attachment on either side of the span. The solid supports are the teeth, located on either side of the missing tooth, and the span is the missing tooth. Patients come in for the first appointment and the area is frozen (anesthetized). The teeth involved in the support of the missing tooth are prepared, and an impression or mould of the area is made which is sent to an outside lab to make the bridge. While the final structure is being made, a temporary plastic bridge is fabricated to help hold the space and allow the area to function while waiting for the permanent bridge.
At the second appointment, the new bridge is fitted and then cemented in place. Usually bridges are made of porcelain and therefore are matched to the colour of the remaining teeth in the mouth. It is not removable and overtime will feel like natural teeth.
When a tooth has had considerable destruction, as a result of decay or trauma, a “crown” is sometimes suggested. The walls of the tooth can become very thin and cracks can develop in a tooth causing it to hurt when you bite down. In order to protect the tooth, and allow you to function painlessly, a crown will be placed to cover all aspects of the tooth: this causes the biting forces to be spread in all directions, protecting the tooth from further breakage and reducing pain.
The fabrication of a crown takes usually two appointments. At the first appointment the tooth will be frozen (anesthetized), and then reduced in order to prepare room for the capping material. An impression will be made of the prepared tooth and a temporary plastic crown will be fabricated. This temporary cap will hold the space, while your crown is being constructed by a lab. Eventually, the new crown is fitted and, if all looks good, it will be cemented in place.
Your new crown may be made in a tooth-coloured porcelain, gold, or silver depending on the discussions with your dentist and your own personal preferences.
At Cornerstone Family Dentistry we have a colourist on staff to ensure you get the absolute best-matched shade to your natural tooth colour. This service is referred to as Custom Shading.
Even though we spend time trying to maintain our oral health cavities (decay) can still occur. This is usually diagnosed through a combination of visual examinations, the use of x-rays and using dental instruments that can feel for decay. If left untreated the cavity will continue to progress and become more extensive. This can lead to teeth that become abscessed or have so much tooth destruction that restoring them may become impossible.
Generally we begin to restore teeth by freezing the area. This allows us to work on the tooth painlessly. After the tooth is numb we can proceed to remove the decay using dental drills. This instrument is usually run using water and air to keep the tooth nicely cooled. Once the Dentist is satisfied that all the decay is removed the resulting hole is restored using various materials such as silver amalgam or white resin restoration. These materials can be either tooth coloured, silver or gold.
With the filling (restoration) placed the tooth will be completely functional and the cavity (decay) will no longer be able to develop.
Lasers have many applications in dentistry. A laser is a light that is emitted, and when concentrated at various wavelengths and frequencies, can be a great asset to any dental practice.
Lasers are used in the treatment of gum disease to disinfect the gum pockets that can occur and is painless and efficient. This procedure is done in conjunction with a dental scaling (cleaning) and allows the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth improving the shape of the gum and promoting better overall gum health.
Lasers are also used to remove unwanted gum tissue, which may occur when a tooth is having a difficult time erupting into the mouth as a teenager. The laser can also contour gum tissues when we are performing cosmetic work and need to make the gums more symmetrical. Additionally, lasers can also expose tooth structure that is covered by overgrown gum tissues.
Lastly, lasers are very effective in treating herpetic cold sores (ulcers) or cankers (apthous ulcers). No freezing is required and the treatment only takes a short time to complete. If we are able to catch cold sores in the tingly stage prior to their eruption, then we can sometimes prevent the cold sore from breaking out. Laser treatment does reduce the time that it takes for healing cold sores. Patients need to contact us promptly when they begin to feel signs of a cold sore developing so we can then lessen their suffering and recovery time.
Root Canal Therapy
Oh the dreaded root canal! The mere sound of the word makes people shudder with fear. But nothing could be farther from the truth. In the past, root canals have received a bad rap, but when properly performed, a root canal is no more painful than any other procedure performed in a dental office.
A tooth is made up of a number of layers. In the centre is a pulp chamber, which houses the blood vessels and the nerves that gives teeth their vitality and sensation. On occasion this area can become infected either due to a deep cavity or a crack or fracture in the tooth. If left untreated the tooth will abscess causing pain and swelling which, if left untreated, can be life threatening.
Root canals are most commonly diagnosed using a radiograph called a periapical (p.a.). When a tooth receives a root canal we start by freezing (anesthetizing) the area. Once the tooth is numb we access the pulp area, remove the infected material from inside the tooth and then fill the tooth with material that allows you to keep your tooth. A final filling is placed on the tooth and usually a crown will also be recommended. The procedure takes approximately 1-1 ½ hours and patients are fine to continue on about their daily activities afterwards.
One of the most innovative procedures that have happened in the last few decades is the replacement of missing teeth using implants. Whether you are missing one tooth or several, implants are the closest way of mimicking your actual teeth. The teeth implants are usually placed by an Oral Surgeon, Periodontist or a Dentist who has done specialty training in implant placement.
Once the tooth implant has been placed, and the bone has securely grown around the implant, a replacement tooth or teeth (crown, bridge or denture) can then be screwed into the implant. This allows the patient to function and chew with confidence, never having to worry about their teeth coming out. In the case where a denture has been elected, implants will hold dentures firmly in the mouth allowing you to eat without worry. Along with peace of mind, if you can now chew properly, you also get the best nutrition from the foods you eat, with the resulting good nutrition and good health that follows.