Lasers have transformed our everyday lives, especially in healthcare. These intense beams of light of a single wavelength have revolutionized all manner of diagnostics and treatments, from general surgery to cosmetic therapy.
Dentistry has also been influenced by the laser revolution. Here are just a few of the areas where they’re growing in use and popularity.
Early disease detection. Laser instruments can take advantage of “fluorescence,” the tendency of bacteria to “glow” when exposed to certain wavelengths of light. This is proving more effective in detecting early tooth decay in pits and fissures (very tiny areas in a tooth’s biting surface) than traditional needle-like probing instruments called dental explorers. Newer lasers can now detect the same fluorescent qualities in soft tissues, which may reduce the detection time for oral cancer and make the difference between life and death.
Dental caries treatment. Lasers have become an alternative to the dental drill in treating teeth with dental caries (decay). Although with larger cavities lasers are somewhat slower than the conventional drill, they truly shine when it comes to early enamel caries and small cavities because they can be quite precise in the amount of tooth structure they remove. This feature allows them to be less invasive than a dental drill.
Periodontal treatment. Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection caused mainly by bacterial plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) that have adhered to tooth surfaces. Lasers are emerging as an alternative to conventional periodontal (gum) surgery to treat voids or spaces below the gum line called periodontal pockets that have formed because of gum tissue detachment as supporting bone is lost. With their ability to target and destroy infected tissue without damaging nearby healthy tissue, lasers can achieve similar outcomes as traditional techniques but with less tissue damage and discomfort to patients afterward.
Research and development into laser technology continues to perfect these and other applications that promise to make dental procedures less invasive and more comfortable for patients.
Every year dentists place over 5 million dental implants for lost teeth, often removing the problem tooth and installing the implant at the same time. But getting a “tooth in a day” depends on a number of health factors, especially whether or not there’s adequate bone available for the implant. Otherwise, the implant’s placement accuracy and success could be compromised.
Bone loss can be a similar problem when a tooth has been missing for a long period of time. If this describes your situation, you may have already lost substantial bone in your jaw. To understand why, we need to know a little about bone’s growth cycle.
When bone cells reach the end of their useful life, they’re absorbed into the body by a process called resorption. New cells then form to take the older cells’ place in a continuous cycle that keeps the bone healthy and strong. Forces generated when we chew travel through the teeth to the bone and help stimulate this growth. But when a tooth is missing, the bone doesn’t receive this stimulus. As a result, the bone may not replace itself at a healthy rate and diminish over time.
In extreme cases, we may need to consider some other dental restoration other than an implant. But if the bone loss isn’t too severe, we may be able to help increase it through bone grafting. We insert safe bone grafting material prepared in a lab directly into the jaw through a minor surgical procedure. The graft then acts like a scaffold for bone cells to form and grow upon. In a few months enough new bone may have formed to support an implant.
Bone grafting can also be used if you’re having a tooth removed to preserve the bone even if you’re not yet ready to obtain an implant. By placing a bone graft immediately after extraction, it’s possible to retain the bone for up to ten years—enough time to decide on your options for permanent restoration.
Whatever your situation, it’s important that you visit us as soon as possible for a complete examination. Afterward we can assess your options and hopefully come up with a treatment strategy that will eventually include smile-transforming dental implants.
Dental crowns offer an excellent way to repair damaged teeth or improve the appearance of your smile. Edison, NJ, family dentists Drs. Saul and David Frechtman of Frechtman Family Dental of Edison share some information on crowns and explain how you can benefit from these versatile restorations.
What are crowns?
Crowns, also called caps, cover your teeth on all four sides. Their hollow design allows them to easily slip over your teeth after the teeth have been shaped and reduced in size. Crowns are usually made of materials that closely resemble tooth enamel, such as porcelain, ceramic, resin and porcelain-fused-to-metal.
Crowns prevent dental disasters
It's an awful feeling to bite into a sandwich and realize that a tooth has broken or crumbled. Although your teeth are normally very strong, they can weaken if you have a crack, received a root canal or have a very large filling. Fragile or brittle teeth can also be inherited or may become a problem as you grow older.
Adding a crown to an at-risk tooth prevents your tooth from breaking or falling apart. Once the crown is in place, it absorbs the strong biting forces you produce when you chew, which protects the tooth underneath.
Fractured teeth are easily restored with crowns
Crowns not only protect fragile teeth, but also restore teeth that have already broken. Fractured teeth affect your appearance and make chewing an unpleasant or difficult experience. Before you receive your crown, we'll make a mold of your teeth in our Edison office to ensure that your new crown looks right at home in your mouth. You'll go home with a temporary crown and return to the office in about two weeks to receive your permanent crown. After it's in place, you'll be able to chew normally, and no one will suspect that your tooth was ever damaged.
Crowns offer cosmetic benefits
Do you have a tooth that doesn't quite blend in with the rest of your smile? The problem isn't uncommon. Fortunately, it can be corrected by topping the tooth with a crown. Crowns are often used to improve the appearance of crooked, twisted, pointed, discolored, bumpy or short teeth.
Could your smile benefit from a crown? Call Edison, NJ, family dentists Drs. Saul and David Frechtman of Frechtman Family Dental of Edison at (732) 548-8600 to schedule your appointment.