Preventative Dentistry

Crowns

A crown, or a cap, a covering fitted over a carved-down tooth, is usually used in cases where the tooth has decayed to the degree that it would take an extremely large filling to repair the tooth.  Sometimes a crown is necessary when replacing a mercury-filled tooth, because the mercury filling weakened the tooth, and a fracture occurred.  Since most crowns are made in a dental laboratory, an impression of the tooth will be taken, and a temporary crown must be made and placed on the tooth while the permanent crown is fabricated.  If you need a crown and don’t want to have your amalgams removed, it is best to get a ceramic or composite crown.

Sometimes anterior (front) teeth have very large restorations that are visible. Even though these restorations were invisible when they were originally placed, they often discolor over time. These restorations can be replaced with porcelain crowns to create a beautiful smile. Using crowns allows the dentist to correct many things. Spaces can be closed, rotated teeth can be “straightened,” tooth length can be adjusted to create a harmonious smile “curve,” and exact tooth color can be chosen. Also, porcelain will not darken with time.

Preserving Tooth Structure

I try to avoid using crowns because they require a lot of tooth mutilation and because the odds of needing a root canal in the future are increased. I also try to avoid onlays.   Onlays are restorations that cover the cusps of the teeth but do not remove tooth structure down to the gum, as must be done for a crown. In effect, they are partial crowns. Instead, I try to save as much of the tooth as possible by using bondable materials. Teeth that I would have thought needed crowns or onlays in the past, I now, usually, can restore in a much more conservative manner.

Full Crown

If a “full crown” is placed, the restoration will completely “cap” or cover the existing tooth. I recommend a crown only if a tooth is so broken down that no other option is viable. A full crown is the least conservative type of restoration – a lot of tooth structure is already missing, and more must be removed to accommodate the crown. There are five types of crowns: gold, ceramic-fused-to-gold, all ceramic, ceramic-fused-to-zirconia and composite.

Onlay Options

Sometimes an onlay, instead of a crown, is a treatment option. An onlay covers the biting surface of the tooth but does not extend to the gum line like a full crown; thus it is a more conservative procedure. Onlays can be made of gold, ceramic, or laboratory-processed composite. I try to avoid full crowns whenever possible. Sometimes, when preparing a tooth for an onlay, issues relating to cracks or extensive fillings in the tooth may force me to do a full crown. Fortunately, this does not happen too often.

Root Canal Procedure

To appreciate why root canals can be so dangerous, you need to understand the process. A root canal is the removal of the pulpal tissue from the “hollow tube” within the root(s) of the tooth. This pulp is comprised of nerve, blood, and lymphatic tissue. Modern dentists have been taught to “sterilize” the canal of the tooth during the root canal procedure to ensure that bacteria are not left behind. The canal is usually packed with a latex material called gutta-percha; this supposedly seals off the canal. The underlying assumption is that, if you completely sterilize the canal before sealing it, the resulting quarantined area will be germ-free, and, thus, free from further infection. It makes sense, sounds logical, and dentists have been doing it without a second thought for years. Unfortunately, the process is at odds with the actual physical properties of teeth.  A tooth’s dentin, the material between the enamel or cementum and the canal, is comprised of literally millions of tiny tubules. These tubules exist to transport nutrients from the center of the tooth, through the dentin or cementum, to the enamel. Although we think of tooth enamel as a hard and impenetrable material, in reality it is made up of thousands of microscopic tubules. It is living tissue that does indeed allow the passage of fluids and nutrients from the saliva into the tooth and from the dentin out of the tooth.

Inexpensive Dental Implants

Dental implants offer permanent tooth replacement.  They have been an expensive treatment that not many people could pay for. Thankfully that is going to change, and now at Lakewood-Family Dental, we can deliver comprehensive dental implant treatments that you can afford.

What are dental Implants?

An alternative to making a bridge to replace missing tooth/teeth is to place one or more implants. An implant is a titanium or zirconia “screw” that goes into the bone. After the bone “fills in” around the implant, a crown is placed on the implant. The advantage of an implant is that it is not necessary to use existing teeth to support a bridge. The teeth on either side of the implant, do not need to be “cut down.”

Implant Options

You can replace your entire tooth as necessary with dental implants. Implants can stand alone to replace single missing teeth, or support larger restorations like dental bridges and All-on-4 dentures. Each one is permanently anchored into the mouth, for security and confidence of our patients’ smiles.

To find out if you’re eligible for dental implants we will need to perform a thorough exam as well as a take a few x-rays to determine the need for implants. This helps us to examine if there is enough healthy bone for the implants to be supported properly. The entire process usually only takes one or two appointments to complete, but it gives you new teeth for life.

Find out if dental implants are an option for you – call us today.