Natural looking dentures – is it possible?

Have you ever met someone who you immediately knew was wearing dentures? It doesn’t have to be like that. These days dentures can be made to look so natural that only the trained eye can tell that they’re not your natural teeth. How?

natural looking denturesHave you ever met someone who you immediately knew was wearing dentures? Maybe the teeth were too big, too perfect, too straight or too white? Or maybe the dentures just didn’t fit and kept dropping down or sliding around when the person was talking or eating? An experience like this is often enough to discourage anyone from choosing dentures as the replacement for lost teeth. But it doesn’t have to be like that. These days dentures can be made to look so natural that only the trained eye can tell that they’re not your natural teeth. How?

Do you really want natural looking dentures?

First of all, you need to decide whether you really want natural looking dentures. If you don’t want anyone to notice that you exchanged your natural teeth for dentures, you will need to have your dentures made to look exactly like the original teeth with all their imperfections, such as miscolorations, cracks and visible fillings. Others decide that changing to dentures is their chance to get the teeth they always wanted. Although they might be happy with their perfect, white new teeth, this change will probably not go unnoticed by their friends and relatives. Others might find it unusual too, to see such a young looking set of teeth on a not so young looking person. Still others decide to go with with a set of dentures that is just slightly better looking than the original teeth. They reason that most people are not in the habit of studying other peoples’ teeth so closely that they would notice small changes like that. Which is probably true.

How to get natural looking dentures

If you decide to go for the natural look, make sure that your dentist takes note of exactly how your original teeth look. If many teeth are already missing, bring a photo of yourself where you are smiling and thus showing off your natural teeth. This will also help the dentist see, not only what the dentures are supposed to look like, but also how the impression should be of your whole face when you are finally wearing the dentures. Dentures when worn should not be too tall or protruding, making it difficult to close your lips around them and they should not be so low that they never show when you smile. If you find that you suddenly have wrinkles around your mouth, especially at the corners is a sign that your dentures are too small or too low. If you’ve had dentures for a long time and start to experience these problems it is also a sign that your need to have your dentures refitted or maybe even changed.

The above is just a simplified introduction to achieving natural looking dentures. Your dentist will be able to give you much more advice and guidance. Hopefully, at least this article has convinced you that a change to dentures does not need to become the talk of the town. Your dentures can be made to look so natural, that only you and your dentist will ever need to know about it.

Can nanotechnology replace dental fillings?

Last week many media outlets reported that nanotechnology made a gel that can regenerate teeth and make dental fillings obsolete. Is this true?

Root canal instrumentsA group of French scientists within the field of nanotechnology recently made big headlines all over the world, when they published a study about a nanotechnology gel that could regenerate teeth. The research was by several media outlets interpreted to mean that dental fillings would soon be made obsolete by this new breakthrough in nanotechnology. It was reported that the gel could just be added to the cavity of the tooth and that the tooth would then repair itself without ever needing a filling. Is this true? Is nanotechnology really this close to replacing dental fillings as the primary treatment of tooth cavities?

The fact of the matter in this case is that nanotechnology is not about to replace dental fillings. The research was about how to regenerate the pulp inside the tooth and not the crown itself. The pulp of the tooth consists of nerves and blood vessels. It is a live tissue in contrast to the tooth enamel which consists of approximately 96% inorganic material. Sometimes the dental pulp becomes infected due to deep cavities or trauma. When the dental pulp becomes infected it will start to die and so far the only treatment of this condition has been to remove the dental pulp and replace it with a soft material called gutta-percha. After such a root canal treatment the tooth will be dead and is now weaker than before. It will often be necessary to protect the now more fragile tooth with a dental crown to prevent it from breaking or cracking.

What the French nanotechnology researchers might have discovered is a way to regenerate the dying pulp so that the tooth won’t have to die. By using a multilayered, nano-sized film — only 1/50,000th the thickness of a human hair containing a substance called alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone, or alpha-MSH the nanotechnology scientists have proved that they can fight inflammation and increase the number of dental pulp fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are the cells inside the dental pulp that regenerate the pulp fibres and are the main type of cell found in dental pulp.

Hopefully this new breakthrough within nanotechonology – which has so far only been tested on laboratory rats – will in time reduce the need for root canal therapy.

Most people have mercury in their blood – is it harmful?

A new report from the CDC shows that most people have measurable levels of mercury in their blood and urine. What are the dangers?

chemistryA new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals that scientists have found measurable levels of mercury in most of the 8500 persons who recently took part in a national health and nutrition survey. In the comprehensive research program scientists analyzed blood and urine samples in order to measure the total mercury content of the large number of participants.

The report from the CDC concluded that:

* Most of the participants had a measurable amount of mercury in their bodies.

* Mercury levels tended to increase with age.

* All blood mercury levels were less than 33 µg/L.

* Blood and urine mercury in the US population were similar to levels seen in other developed countries.

Although the mercury levels caused by dental fillings are not thought to be harmful to the human body, the CDC scientists admitted that determining what constitutes “safe” levels is still a question that needs to be researched more.

Determining safe levels of mercury exposure is of utmost importance since even small amounts of blood mercury content is suspected of causing neurodevelopmental effects in children. These effects include mental retardation, ADHD, autism and other neurological disorders.

The toxicity of mercury

There are different kinds of mercury, which are not all thought to be equally harmful to humans. Elemental mercury is found in many of the goods that we are exposed to every day such as thermometers, some light bulbs and dental amalgams. Elemental mercury is also used in industry and mining where it gets into the air when coal and other fossil fuels are burned. When we breathe in air that contains mercury vapour, elemental mercury enters our bodies.

In the body, elemental mercury usually forms inorganic compounds. Elemental mercury has not been proven harmful in small doses. However, very high levels of vapour concentrations can lead to severe lung damage, and exposure to low vapour concentrations over a long period of time can cause neurological disturbances, memory problems, skin rash, and kidney abnormalities.

Methyl mercury – the real cause for concern

The kind of mercury which causes the most concern is the kind which is called methyl mercury. Methyl mercury is formed, when microorganism in the marine environment “eat” and metabolize elemental mercury. These microorganisms and their methyl mercury content are then eaten by larger fish and other organisms and the methyl mercury is thus accumulated as it travels up through the food chain. At the top of the food chain we, the humans, are exposed to the methyl mercury when we eat fish or shellfish. Methyl mercury is especially harmful for pregnant women, because of its ability to pass through the placenta into the developing fetus where it might cause neurological damage.

Mercury from dental fillings is thus not as harmful to humans while it is in the mouth (elemental mercury) as it becomes when it ends up in the environment and is transformed into methyl mercury. As neurological defects in children continue to be on the increase however, scientists continue to study the toxicity of chemicals such as mercury and to question the existing “safe” levels of exposure to these.

“National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.”
CDC, National Center for Environmental Health, 2009.
US Department of Health and Human Services.

Why your dentist needs to know about your medicine

Why do you need to inform your dentist about your medicine and what kind of medicine is it especially important for your dentist to know about?

The dentist needs to know about your medicineMany patients forget to tell their dentist about their use of medicine. Others do not realize that this information might influence their dentist’s choice of treatment and/or the results of it. Why do you need to inform your dentist about your medicine and what kind of medicine is it especially important for your dentist to know about?

Most medicines have an effect not only on the area of your body that they are supposed to treat, but on your whole organism. Many side effects of medicine can be seen in the mouth e.g. as dryness or increased bleeding. An example of medicine that it is especially important for you to inform your dentist about is anticoagulants (or blood thinners). Blood thinners are administered to prevent blood clots, but this medicine can cause problems during dental treatment, because it makes your gums bleed more after for example extractions or dental cleanings.

Some dentists will recommend their patients to stop taking the anticoagulant medicine just before dental treatment in order to prevent bleeding, but newer research has shown that the risk of stopping the medicine intake temporarily is too high compared with the danger of the bleeding caused by the medicine.

Instead of advising the patients to halt their medicine intake temporarily, the dentist might therefore take extra precautions during and after treatment to make sure that the bleeding has stopped before the patient leaves the clinic. When choosing what kind of pain killers to recommend to the patient, the dentist should also be aware that some pain killers enhance the effect of the blood thinning medicine.

If you are in doubt about whether your medicine is important for your dental treatment, talk to your dentist about it next time you see him. In fact. make it a habit always to tell your dentist when you have started taking new medicine or if your dosage has been changed.

Scientists make first bio-engineered tooth ever!

Imagine if your dentist were able to make a new tooth grow out of your jaw! This sci-fi vision might soon be within reach…

tooth-painImagine that, instead of replacing lost teeth with bridges and implants, your dentist would be able to make a new tooth grow out of your jaw! It sounds like science fiction, but the vision might not be out of reach.

A group of Japanese scientists have recently succeeded in making the first fully functional, bio-engineered organ ever – and it’s a tooth! The key to making these ‘real’ teeth is the use of stem cells. Stem cells are special because they have the potential to develop into different tissue and organs.

It has long been the dream of scientists to make stem cells grow into organs that can be transplanted into patients in need. Previously, researchers have succeeded in making different tissues out of just one kind of stem cell. In order to make fully functioning, three dimensional organs, more than one kind of stem cell would need to be combined.

In making the bio-engineered tooth, scientists figured out how to combine two different kinds of stem cells – stem cells developing into inner and outer surfaces and stem cells developing into blood vessels and other soft tissues. The two kinds of stem cells combined into a tooth germ which was then transplanted into the jaw of mice in place of recently extracted teeth.

Already after a couple of weeks, the new tooth erupted through the gum and after 49 days, it was fully erupted. The tooth was tested as to hardness and function and was found to be fully functional and up to the standard of natural teeth.

What this new discovery will mean for the dental profession and for regenerative therapy in general is still unclear and many questions need to be answered before the technology can be used on humans. So it might still be long before you can order your own bio-engineered tooth at the dentist.

Normal dentures or snap-in’s?

Making dentures ‘stay put’ is a difficult task for any dentist. If you are experiencing problems with loose dentures, snap-in’s might be the solution. Read more here…

Normal dentures or snap-insWhy lower dentures don’t stay put

One of the great challenges when making a denture is to make it ‘stay put’. Especially a full denture in the lower jaw often has problems with retention. There are several reasons for this:

1) A denture has the best retention, if it fits around the jaw bone. The bone in the lower jaw is often too flat for this and the denture might slide around or tip on top of the gum.

2) The upper full denture has the advantage of a sort of ‘suction’ between the denture and the palate, because the denture covers the whole palate. In contrast, the denture in the lower jaw can only be U-shaped because of the tongue. As a result, the contact area between the denture and the gum is relatively small and there can be no suction between the denture and the gum.

Many people have no problems with their full lower denture, but for others the inadequate retention of the denture causes problems when speaking and chewing food. For these a ‘snap-in’ denture might be a good solution.

Snap-in dentures

The ideal conditions for a snap-in denture is, if the roots of a couple of your natural teeth (preferably the canine teeth) are still left in the jaw to attach the denture onto. But even if you have none of your natural teeth left, it is still possible for you to have a snap-in denture made by implanting titanium roots into the jaw.

Snap-in dentures and implants

The procedure of making an implant is not as complicated as it sounds. First, a little hole is drilled in the bone and a titanium screw is placed in the hole. After a few months the bone has healed so well around the screw that it is completely attached to the bone and it is stable enough to support a denture.

The snap-in concept

Whether you have natural roots of implant roots, the snap-in system works the same way: A little ball-shaped attachment is added on top of the root. On the denture is attached a little lock that fits perfectly together with the attachment on the root. When the denture is placed over the root, the attachments snap in place and the denture will stay put.

How many ‘snaps’?

Normally a minium of two original roots or implant roots are required to achieve a good result with a lower denture. For the upper denture more than two roots are needed for retention.

Teeth implants – what and why?

Teeth implants are the best alternative when you need a tooth replacement that looks and functions like a natural tooth without damaging the neighbouring teeth. But what are teeth implants and why might you choose this treatment? Read more…

Teeth implantsWhat are teeth implants?

Teeth implants are artificial roots of metal that are implanted in your jaw bone to replace missing teeth. On top of the implanted metal root it is possible to attach a crown, a bridge or a set of dentures depending on how many teeth need to be replaced. If cared for properly teeth implants can function and look exactly like natural teeth and can last much longer than most of their alternatives.

What are teeth implants made of?

The roots of teeth implants are made of titanium. Titanium is a very suitable metal for implants, because it is able to interact with the natural bone tissue in such a way that the implants become integrated into the jaw bone. This proces is called osseointegration and is a unique quality in titanium the discovery of which made implants possible. The roots of the implants are normally shaped like a screw which makes the integration very strong. Crowns attached on top of teeth implants are normally made of porcelain to make the implants look as natural as possible.

Why choose teeth implants?

Dental bridges and dentures are good alternatives to implants and will in many cases be the preferred choice. In other cases there is a wish to replace the missing teeth with something that functions and looks more like the natural teeth. This might be the case with young people who lost a tooth because of caries or trauma, and where the bone structure and surrounding teeth are healthy and sound. In these situations teeth implants are a good alternative.

Sometimes teeth implants are also used to add retention to dentures or to attach bridges onto, when there are no natural teeth that can serve as anchors. When implants are used as anchors for dentures, ‘snap-in’ buttons’ are attached on top of the implants instead of porcelain crowns. More about dentures and dental bridges here.

Regular cleaning, deep cleaning and root planning – what do they include?

A dental cleaning is much more than a superficial removal of plaque and tartar. Also, the reasons for offering you a dental cleaning go far beyond cosmetic considerations. In the dental clinic the word ‘cleaning’ actually covers a range of treatments all designed to help you maintain good dental health. This article will cover the most used terms, explain what exactly is meant by them and discuss the benefits of regular dental cleanings?

Dental cleaning for beautiful teeth

A dental cleaning is much more than a superficial removal of plaque and tartar. Also, the reasons for offering you a dental cleaning go far beyond cosmetic considerations. In the dental clinic the word ‘cleaning’ actually covers a range of treatments all designed to help you maintain good dental health. This article will cover the most used terms, explain what exactly is meant by them and discuss the benefits of regular dental cleanings?

A regular cleaning

A regular cleaning is the standard treatment when the gums and bone structure are healthy. A regular cleaning includes the removal of plaque, calculus and stain from the crown and root surfaces of your teeth. Superficial stains on the teeth can in most cases be effectively removed through regular cleaning and polishing. Not all people are equally prone to building up layers of calculus on their teeth. Your daily dental hygiene routines are a very important factor in this regard, but your diet and the chemical make-up of your saliva also plays a part. Calculus mostly builds up on the inside of your lower front teeth and on the outside of your upper molars, where your major saliva glands are situated. A regular cleaning will therefore often primarily be focused on these places.

Deep cleaning

A deep cleaning is offered when periodontal disease has resulted in loss of the bone that supports the teeth. During the oral examination your dentist will already have registered which teeth are in need of a deep cleaning. The reason that certain teeth need a deep cleaning is that the periodontal pocket which results from periodontitis is too deep to be kept clean through daily toothbrushing. It is therefore necessary to clean the pocket through professional cleaning in order to prevent the periodontal disease from worsening. Your dentist will normally charge extra for each tooth that needs a deep cleaning, since this requires extra time and effort.

Root planning

Root planning is  often combined with the dental cleaning and used in connection with periodontitis. It is a specific treatment that removes the roughened cementum and surface dentin on the root. A root surface which is not smooth is especially receptive to build-ups of calculus, microorganisms and their toxins. A root surface that needs root planning can be visible in your mouth, because your gum has receded or it can be ‘hidden’ in the periodontal pocket in the case of periodontal disease. The crown of the tooth is covered by enamel which is the hardest material in your body and thus offers a good protection against cavities. A root surface does not have this kind of protection and root surfaces that are visible in the mouth are at greater risk of developing cavities – especially if the surface is not smooth. A professional cleaning and root planning is therefore especially beneficial in this case.

Your dentist or dental hygienist should keep you updated on your periodontal status and discuss with you, what kind of cleaning is necessary in your case. It should also be possible to give you an idea of the price of the cleaning before treatment is started.

Are you considering a dental bridge?

What is a dental bridge and when is it a good alternative? How long can you expect a dental bridge to last and what factors affect the life expectancy? Find the answer to these and many more questions in this article…

Dental bridgeWhat is a dental bridge?

A dental bridge is a tooth replacement, which replaces one or more missing teeth. It is only possible to make a dental bridge if there is at least one natural tooth next to the missing teeth on which it can be fixed. If there are no natural teeth, it might be possible to make an implant as an anchor for the bridge. A dental bridge is called so, because it’s construction is similar to that of a real bridge. Just like a real bridge is mounted on solid land and extends over an empty void, so is a dental bridge mounted on one or two of your natural teeth (by capping these teeth with dental crowns) and extends over the toothless gums on either one or both sides.

Different kinds of bridges

The traditional dental bridge is the kind that is supported by a natural tooth in both ends. This is the ideal kind of bridge since the double support makes it more stable and strong.

A cantilever bridge is a dental bridge, which is only supported by a natural tooth in one end. This is normally done, when the missing tooth is the last in the row and there is no tooth further back on which to support it.

A Maryland bridge (or a resin-bonded bridge) is the simplest and cheapest way to make a dental bridge. Two metal ‘wings’ are attached to a plastic tooth and are bonded to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. This kind of dental bridge often does not last very long and is mostly used as a temporary or more economic solution.

When is a dental bridge a good alternative?

Since both the traditional bridge and the cantilever bridge requires capping of the neighbouring teeth with crowns, many dentists would not recommend a dental bridge, if your neighbouring teeth are healthy and have not previously been restored with fillings. It is a pity to remove so much healthy tooth substance, when there are alternatives. Especially with young people who have just lost one tooth and whose dental health is generally good, an implant is normally the preferred treatment, since it can last a lifetime and does not harm the neighbouring teeth.

If, on the other hand, the neighbouring teeth already have large fillings and might eventually require a capping anyway, a dental bridge would be a good solution. Your dentist will be able to give you proper advice in the individual case.

How long does a dental bridge last?

Some dental bridges last 20-25 years while others need to be changed after only 5 years. Since a dental bridge is not a cheap solution, you are probably very interested in knowing the life expectancy of a dental bridge in your case. While it is not possible to predict the lifetime of a dental bridge in each specific case, there are some different factors that play a role:

The condition of the supporting natural teeth: Cavities under the crown on the natural teeth and periodontal disease around the roots are the main threats to your dental bridge.

The oral hygiene: Your dental hygiene is an extremely important factor, when it comes to extending the lifetime of your dental bridge. Good dental hygiene will help prevent problems such as cavities and periodontal disease, which can shorten the lifetime of your dental bridge considerably.

The size of the dental bridge: A bridge replacing several teeth might break more easily than a bridge replacing only one tooth, since the distance between the anchor teeth is longer in a large construction.

The force of the bite: People have different habits when it comes to chewing and some people bite very hard. Other people are in the habit of grinding or clenching their teeth. Depending on your habits and the location of the dental bridge in your mouth, it might be exposed to more strain than it can handle in the long run.

It is always important to consider your options very well before you make a decision regarding your oral health. With the right choices and the proper care you can maintain a healthy and well-functioning set of teeth throughout your lifetime.

Dental crowns – do we really need them?

Your tooth has been doing just fine with fillings for many years, but suddenly your dentist says that you need a crown. You shutter when you hear the price. Can it be true? Why does your tooth suddenly need a crown? And does it really have to be so expensive?

Do you need a crown?Your teeth have been doing just fine with fillings for many years, but suddenly your dentist says that you need one or maybe even several dental crowns. You shutter when you hear the price of the crowns. Can it be true? Why do your teeth suddenly need crowns? And do dental crowns really have to be so expensive?

Why fillings don’t work forever

Fillings work quite well when there is enough of the original tooth substance left to fix the filling on to. A filling can normally last 10 – 15 years after which it either falls off or there are signs of dental caries starting to develop underneath or at the edge of the filling. In many cases your dentist can just change the filling to a new one. Each time a filling is changed, however, your dentist will need to remove a bit more of the original tooth in order to create a clean surface for the filling to be attached to. This is the reason that your dentist might eventually deem the amount left of the original tooth insufficient for supporting a filling. In this case, the only proper treatment alternative is dental crowns.

Different kinds of dental crowns

You can normally choose between a few different materials for dental crowns. The alternatives include porcelain crowns, gold crowns, plast crowns and a combination of metal and porcelain crowns. The prices of dental crowns range according to the material. You can discuss the different alternatives and their price with your dentist.

Porcelain crowns are normally the most expensive dental crowns and are preferred my many, because they look the most like the natural tooth.

Gold crowns are often recommended by dentists. The reason is that gold is the material that is most like the natural tooth in substance and also makes stronger dental crowns than the ones purely made of porcelain. Dental crowns made of gold are mostly used in molars because of their not-so-natural appearance.

Plast crowns also look very much like the natural tooth in color, but plast is not a very strong material for dental crowns and often doesn’t last as long as the other materials. Plast crowns should therefore mainly be considered as a temporary (and/or cheaper) solution.

Metal-ceramic crowns are made of porcelain on the outside with a metal core on the inside. In this way the natural color is combined with the strength of the metal. For molars this material makes very strong dental crowns, but for front teeth many would prefer dental crowns made of pure porcelain. The reason is that metal-ceramic crowns lack the transparency of natural teeth, whereas dental crowns made of pure porcelain are more transparent and look more natural.

Before making your decision on what material to choose for your dental crowns, you should discuss the matter thoroughly with your dentist. You might not need to choose the most expensive alternative, but the cheapest dental crowns might not prove to be so cheap in the end anyway, if the result doesn’t last or if the tooth is damaged. Take the life expectancy of the different dental crowns into consideration and also consider your own needs and expectations. Then you will surely find a good solution.