Posts for: November, 2015
It’s a common problem for denture wearers: after years of a comfortable fit, your dentures now seem to be uncomfortably loose. The reason, though, may have more to do with bone loss than the dentures.
Bone is a living tissue with a life cycle — it forms, it ages, and it eventually dies and dissolves (resorbs). It’s replaced with new bone and the cycle repeats. Additionally, the forces generated when we bite or chew are transmitted from the teeth to the jaw, which helps stimulate new bone growth. When the natural teeth are missing, however, the bone no longer receives this stimulus. Resorbed bone isn’t replaced at a healthy rate, which leads over time to bone loss.
Denture construction can also contribute to bone loss. The denture palate rests for support on the bony ridges that once held the teeth. Over time the compressive forces of the dentures apply damages and reduces the volume of gum tissue and eventually does the same to the bone. Combining all these factors, the reduced gum and bone volume will eventually alter the denture fit.
There are a few alternatives for correcting loose dentures. One is to reline them with new plastic, as either a temporary fix performed during an office visit or a more permanent relining that requires sending your dentures to a dental lab. Depending on the rate of bone loss, a patient could go through several denture relinings to accommodate ongoing changes in the jaw. At some point, though, it may be necessary to create a new set of dentures.
A third alternative that’s becoming increasingly useful is to incorporate dental implants into the denture design. Implants can of course be used to replace individual teeth, but a few strategically placed implants (usually of smaller dimension) can serve as a support platform for a removable denture. This relieves some of the compression force of a traditionally worn denture and can slow bone loss.
If you’re having problems with your denture fit, call us for an appointment. We’ll help you decide on the best alternative to improving the fit and making your dentures more comfortable and secure.
If you would like more information on refitting loose dentures, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Loose Dentures.”
Most people think of root canal procedures as the epitome of a painful dental experience. In reality, the opposite is true- root canals are often one of the most effective ways to relieve dental pain. If you have severe tooth pain, pain on chewing/biting, gum swelling or pain, or pain that lingers after eating, a root canal could be the path to healing and comfort. Read on to inform yourself about when root canals are appropriate, what the procedure is like, and where to get more information and help.
If the hard outer enamel layer of your tooth is significantly damaged (from either trauma or decay), germs can gain access to the soft inner ‘pulp’ tissue, which contains the nerves and blood supply. When an infection results, swelling and inflammation occurs and the tooth and gums can become extremely painful, especially when trying to eat. This is when a root canal procedure can make a huge difference.
The first step in a root canal procedure is the administration of a local anesthetic, just like having a cavity filled- consequently, the procedure itself does not usually cause pain! Once the area is numb, your dentist will make or enlarge the hole in the enamel to allow access to the pulp. Any infected or dead tissue is removed, and the infection is cleaned out thoroughly. The result space is filled with a combination of bio-compatible plastic and an adhesive substance, making a form-fitting and supportive inner structure. The hole in the enamel is then filled just like a standard cavity. However, if the enamel is majorly damaged, the tooth may need to also be crowned.
Should I seek treatment?
If you have dental pain, it is always a good idea to seek a professional consultation. If you have pain as described above, it could be even more important. If left untreated, a tooth infection can spread and require more invasive and advanced interventions, such as complete tooth replacement and antibiotics. Prompt treatment will ensure your pain is minimized…so call the caring professionals at the office of Dr. David Kahn and Dr. John Pergolizzi. Located in Ringwood, NJ, their staff will make sure you are at ease and that you receive only the best care. Reach them at (973) 835-3900 for more information or appointments!
Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.
“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”
That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.
Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!
The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.
If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”