The Best Way To Fill Your Tooth

Can You Just Fill It?

One question that dentists are asked all the time is: “Can you just fill it?” My goal with this particular article is to answer just that question.   And the answer is: That depends on several factors. First and foremost are the needs and desires of the particular patient.  Equally important is the condition of the tooth or teeth in question.

fill

First, let me begin by explaining that nearly all of today’s tooth restorations are made of ceramic. Ceramic encompasses the materials most commonly used to restore teeth today. This includes porcelain in various forms as well as composite, commonly known as “plastic” fillings.  In our practice, metal is rarely used except in specific cases where achieving a quality bond is impossible (deep under the gum) or the strength of metal is mandatory.  Ceramic materials offer a beautiful, lifelike appearance and can be bonded to tooth structure for strength and longevity.

The choice of whether to use a composite filling or some type of porcelain restoration is dependent upon the following five conditions:

1. The size of the cavity

Composite fillings makes sense when the cavity – whether caused by decay or fracture – is less than one third the width of the tooth and takes up less than 50% of the biting surface. Larger cavities with inadequate tooth to support a filling are best restored using porcelain.

2. A cracked tooth

If the tooth is cracked, a porcelain restoration is needed to protect the tooth from fracturing.  We commonly see cracked teeth when silver fillings, especially large ones, have been in place for many years.

3. Worn teeth

Teeth which are worn can be restored with either material depending upon the extent and location of wear.   Surfaces which receive heavy biting forces require the strength of porcelain to last a reasonable length of time.

4. Root canal

Teeth which have had root canal therapy generally require porcelain crowns to protect them from breakage, as these teeth are brittle and somewhat hollow as a result of the root canal.

5. Tooth Modifications

Sometimes teeth are restored to alter their shape and or appearance. Examples are gaps between teeth, poorly aligned teeth and teeth which are restored to improve the bite.  Larger modifications require the use of porcelain.

fill

Today’s porcelains are much different from those that were used only 10 to 15 years ago. Newer technology has produced ceramic materials with exceptional strength as well as a lifelike appearance.  In addition, these materials can be used to make crowns, commonly known as  “caps”, which cover the entire tooth.

fillThey can also be used as onlays or “partial caps” to preserve solid healthy tooth structure. These onlays are beautiful and long-lasting restorations which can be less costly than full crowns.

If you have any questions about which fillings are appropriate for you, please do not hesitate to call our office at 908.359.6655 or via our website at www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com

Smile Enhancements for Healthy Aging

Earlier this month, we discussed common dental problems which affect us as we grow older and how to address them.  In this installment, we will describe three popular methods to improve both the appearance and the function of your teeth. At the end of this article, we will reinforce what we believe to be the best ways to improve the health and beauty of your smile.

smile enhancementsYou may be surprised to hear about the first popular procedure which has increased in frequency over the past several years.  Once considered only appropriate for adolescents and teenagers, orthodontics has become an excellent means for adults (even those well into their 60s) to improve their smile, take years off their facial appearance, and improve their self-esteem.  This, in turn, improves their overall outlook on life. Alternatives to the metal braces commonly seen in the past have grown in popularity as they have become more comfortable, effective and invisible.  In our office, Invisalign™ orthodontics has proven to be a discrete and successful method for adults to address bite issues and crooked teeth.  Even patients who had braces as a teenager find the system an excellent way to realign teeth which have relapsed over the years.

invisalign, smile enhancements

Invisalign™orthodontic treatment, combined with either tooth bleaching and/or bonding, can help you to achieve your dream smile, improve your appearance, help you look younger, and feel a renewed sense of self confidence.  In addition, a properly aligned bite serves to preserve your overall health and well-being.  Teeth which are not aligned and bites which are not properly balanced are much more at risk for a variety of dental issues.  These issues include tooth fractures, tooth wear, loosening teeth, gum recession, ineffective chewing ability as well as a variety of jaw, neck, and shoulder pain and headaches.

The second popular dental enhancement which has steadily gained in popularity over the last twenty-five plus years is implants. Titanium implants have evolved and become a staple in the replacement of missing teeth for those who wish for comfort, convenience, and excellent appearance. Implants can be used in a number of different ways to replace missing teeth. The simplest way, of course, is for replacing a single missing tooth. But implants can also be used to replace a series of missing teeth or even an entire arch of missing teeth. Contrary to popular opinion, the placement of implants does not involve significant discomfort and their success rate is very high.

implant, smile enhancements

There are many patients who have struggled with dentures for years. Such patients have had as few as two implants placed to stabilize their existing dentures. The benefits of such procedures are astounding for those who have struggled to eat and speak with loose plates for years. We even see patients who are about to lose all their remaining teeth in one or both arches. Such patients can have their hopeless teeth removed, four implants placed, and a set of teeth mounted on those implants all in a single appointment. That procedure is called “All-On-Four” and requires collaboration between a prosthetic dentist, an implant surgeon and a laboratory technician.  The results in these cases are life changing.

The third popular smile enhancement involves bonding or porcelain to restore worn, broken, or otherwise damaged teeth. “Bonding” utilizes tooth-colored filling material which is placed on one or a group of teeth to restore natural appearance, shape, and color. Similarly, porcelain is used in more advanced cases for those patients who wish to have the most long-lasting and cosmetic solution to their dental problems. Porcelain can be used to cover the entire tooth or limited areas of the tooth as needed in any given situation. The porcelain is bonded to the teeth which results in a very strong, cosmetic, and natural result.

Bonding and porcelain can be used to enhance smiles in a number of different ways. Teeth which have mild misalignment can be made to look perfectly aligned instantly using these materials. Similarly, problems with symmetry, proportion, color and shape can all be addressed using these materials. The next time that you are in our office, make sure to look at some of the photographs on our walls which exhibit the results gained by using these materials.

Finally, let us reiterate the best ways to ensure healthy aging at least as far as oral health is concerned.  As we grow older, we are all more prone to have decay which can sometimes develop very quickly.  It is not uncommon for adult patients to have some gum recession which results in the exposure of root surfaces.  Such surfaces are very prone to decay and must be carefully monitored both at home and in the dental office.  In addition, as our gums recede, food is more likely to lodge between the teeth creating another cause for decay developing.  Increased use of medications and other medical issues may lead to a condition of dry mouth.  Without the buffering effects of saliva, the likelihood for increased dental decay as well as gum disease is highly likely.

dental care, smile enhancements

So what is one to do to prevent an increase in gum disease and dental decay? Here are our favorite as well as most effective recommendations:

  1. Use an electric toothbrush and brush where the teeth and gums meet.
  2. Clean between your teeth with an appropriate sized tool. Large spaces require a proxy brush and smaller spaces require fluffy floss.
  3. Brush before bed!
  4. Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash especially before bed.  During this month we have been handing out Listerine Zero which is a good product found in the grocery store but any similar product which includes no alcohol can be used.
  5. Have regular checkups! This is the best way to make sure that small problems do not become big ones! In the past few years, we have seen more and more patients who have returned after extended periods with more severe problems. Regular checkups will save you money and give you more peace of mind.

In closing, cosmetic dentistry may be key to a person’s health in later life.  Here is a quote from a cosmetic dentist in Texas:

“We often hear older patients just wanting things patched up as opposed to getting something aesthetic. They may have the idea that they are not worth it, or their families have the idea that they are too old for cosmetic dentistry. This may lead to an attitude that things are ending.

“Improving an older person’s mouth can bring them more happiness and joy, not only by improving chewing efficiency, but also bringing joy back. They will want to smile more.”

If you have any questions concerning this article or any other dental questions, please call our office at 908.359.6655 or contact us via our website at www.designsfordentalhealth.com.