Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S. - 220 North Washington Ave., Cookeville, TN 38501 (931)526-2613

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Posts for: July, 2012

UnderstandingTheFactorsThatCanInfluenceDentalImplantSuccess

Dental implants traditionally have a high success rate with numerous studies showing long-term success rates of over 95%. This is just one of the reasons they have been widely accepted as the best method for permanently replacing missing teeth. In fact, over-dentures, which are full dentures supported and stabilized by at least two dental implants, are now considered the standard of care by the American Dental Association (ADA) for people who have lost all of their teeth in one or both jaws. And while they have a high success rate, there are some factors that can compromise the success rates of implants.

These factors are generally divided into three categories: general health concerns, local factors, and maintenance issues.

  • General health concerns: Your general health, lifestyle, and habits can play a major role in the success of dental implants. For example, smoking, diabetes, osteoporosis (porous bone) or a compromised immune (resistance) system can all negatively impact implant healing and success. And if you have a history of radiation treatment to your jawbones, you are at a higher risk for complications.
  • Local factors: Some examples of local factors that can affect implant success include bone quality and quantity — having sufficient bone in the right place to accurately secure and locate the implants.
  • Maintenance issues: While implants are excellent high tech replacements for missing permanent teeth, they do require routine maintenance. This includes daily cleaning and continued professional care. Otherwise, implants are just like any other technically sophisticated devices — they may be susceptible to breakdown.

To learn more about dental implants, read “Dental Implants, Your Third Set Of Teeth.” Or if you prefer, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.


By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
July 17, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
HowModernDentalFillingsMimicRealTeeth

Until recently anyone who needed to repair cavities in his or her teeth ended up with a mouth full of “silver” fillings. Dental amalgam, which has a silver appearance, was the tooth restoration material of choice. Amalgam, a combination of metals including silver, mercury, and other metals, is still used — but today there are other options that mimic the original teeth they are restoring.

You may have read about some people's concerns about the mercury used in dental amalgam. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), scientific studies have found no ill effects arising from using dental amalgam in fillings for adults or children: “While questions have arisen about the safety of dental amalgam relating to its mercury content, the major US and international scientific and health bodies, including the National Institutes of Health, the US Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, among others have been satisfied that dental amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material.” Dental amalgam is still used for molars (back teeth) that must withstand heavy pressure from chewing.

For teeth that are more visible, materials that look and perform more like the original teeth — and are thus more pleasing in appearance — are now available. Dentistry is now taking a “biomimetic approach” (from words meaning “life mimicking”). The new materials — composite resins and porcelains — look like teeth because in many ways their structure imitates the biologic structure of teeth.

Composite resins are made of a plastic material (methacrylate) combined with fillers made of silica, a form of glass. They are able to bond to natural tooth structure and resemble the dentin, the inner layer of the tooth, which has a porous structure similar to bone.

Dental porcelains are a form of ceramic. They are non-metallic materials formed by the action of heat, like the ceramics used in porcelain cups and bowls. They come in a powder form that is mixed with water, shaped, and then placed in an oven until they reach the proper hardness. The end product is translucent and very hard, resembling the densely packed crystals of calcium that make up a tooth's normal outer layer, the enamel.

The old amalgam fillings required removal of tooth material to prepare a site in which they could be placed. Composite resins and porcelains can be used to treat teeth that have small or large amounts of damage to their natural substance because the materials bond directly to the remaining dentin and enamel. Thus they end up stabilizing and strengthening the restored tooth, as well as providing a natural-looking appearance.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth colored fillings. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.”


By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
July 09, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  
7FAQsAboutImpactedWisdomTeeth

“Impacted wisdom teeth.” The term alone sounds ominous. What are wisdom teeth, why do they become impacted, what is the best way to treat them? These are questions people often ask.

What are “wisdom teeth” anyway?
Your third molars, located in the very back of your jaws, are your wisdom teeth. Most people have four of them.

Why is their name associated with wisdom?
They usually begin to come in when a person is 17 to 25 years old, a time when he or she can be said to begin to reach an age of wisdom.

Doesn't everyone get wisdom teeth?
While some people have more than four, others have fewer, and some have no wisdom teeth at all. Some people have wisdom teeth that can be seen in x-rays but do not erupt (grow up through their gums) and become visible.

What does “impacted” mean?
In normal usage, the term “impact” means “influence or effect.” In dental vocabulary, it means that a tooth is affecting another tooth or a nearby structure such as gums, nerves or blood vessels. Often an impacted wisdom tooth grows sideways into an adjacent tooth instead of growing upwards to come through the gums normally. This may be caused by a lack of room in your jaw for your third molars.

What kinds of problems can impacted wisdom teeth cause?
A wisdom tooth can impact the gum tissues surrounding nearby molars, leading to infection called “periodontal disease” (from the root words for “around” and “tooth.”) They can also cause root resorption in adjacent teeth, a process by which the tooth’s roots are slowly dissolved and eaten away.

What are the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth?
Sometimes impacted teeth are asymptomatic — you feel nothing, even though damage is being done to gums and teeth surrounding the wisdom teeth. That's why it's a good idea to have regular checkups even if you are feeling no pain. Other times, impacted teeth can lead to acute inflammation and infection in surrounding gum tissues that is very painful.

Should I proactively have my wisdom teeth removed if they are not giving me any trouble?
Not necessarily but your wisdom teeth need to be evaluated. Generally speaking, however, it's better to remove wisdom teeth early, before they begin to cause dental problems. By the time a wisdom tooth starts to hurt, its neighboring teeth may already be in big trouble. In addition, younger people's wisdom teeth have undeveloped roots that make them easier to remove with fewer complications.

Contact our office for a full assessment and consultation about your wisdom teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth: To Be Or Not To Be?


By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
July 01, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   nutrition   sugar  
SugarsTheGoodandtheBad

You probably know that tooth decay results when the bacteria in your mouth release acids after consuming sugars. After you eat sugars, particularly the type of sugar known as sucrose, increased acid in your mouth begins to dissolve the enamel and dentin in your teeth, and you end up with cavities.

What are the Types of Sugars?
Modern diets include several types of sugars. Most of these are fermented by oral bacteria, producing acids that are harmful to teeth.

  • Sucrose (commonly known as sugar)
  • Glucose (released from starch consumption)
  • Lactose (milk sugar) — Less acid is produced from this type of sugar
  • Fructose (found naturally in fruit and also added to many processed foods)
  • Maltose

Recommended intake of “free sugars” is no more than 10 teaspoons per day. Note that a can of soda contains over 6 teaspoons! Soft drinks are the largest source of sugar consumption in the U.S. In 2003, for example, Americans drank an average of 52 gallons of soft drinks. Average per capita consumption of all sugars in the U.S. was 141.5 pounds (64.3 kg) one of the highest levels in the world.

Sugar substitute xylitol (which is chemically similar to sugar but does not cause decay) can be part of a preventive program to reduce or control tooth decay. Chewing gum sweetened with xylitol stimulates saliva flow and helps protect against decay.

Sugars Released from Starches
Starches are foods like rice, potatoes, or bread. When you eat refined starches, such as white bread and rice, enzymes in your saliva release glucose. However, these foods have a lower potential to produce decay than foods with added sugars. When sugars are added to starchy foods, as in baked products and breakfast cereals, the potential for decay increases.

Less refined starches such as whole grains require more chewing and stimulate secretion of saliva, which protects from harmful acids.

The Case for Fruit
Fresh fruit has not been shown to produce cavities, so it makes sense to eat them instead of sugary desserts and snacks. Dried fruit is more of a problem because the drying process releases free sugars.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about diet and oral health. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition & Oral Health.”