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All About The (Not Royal) Crown

A dental crown is an artificial tooth that fits over the real tooth to make it look cosmetically appealing or to correct damage to the underlying structure. Crowns are very common procedures in our practice; we are expert and using these tools of the dental profession to protect your smile.

This blog will talk about the process of the dental procedure known as the crown.

Why Would I Need a Crown, Anyway?

There are several reasons for coming to our practice to be fitted with a dental crown:

  • You may have a cracked, worn down, or weak tooth that needs protecting.
  • It may be part of other restorative work, such as a dental bridge.
  • It may be cosmetic, to repair a slightly imperfect smile or to cover discolored teeth.
  • If you have a dental implant, we use a crown to cover it.

Crowns can even be used on baby teeth, in special circumstances. They are safe and relatively easy procedures to accomplish in the dentist’s chair; we apply crowns dozens of times each year.

Crowns are typically made from tooth-colored porcelain, resin, or ceramic materials. However, permanent crowns can also be made from metals like gold or stainless steel. Metal crowns do have the advantage of being strong and able to withstand biting and chewing longer than ceramic crowns. Metal crowns can be used on the back molars unless you want a silver or gold front tooth. (It happens.) Each of these types of crowns has different pros and cons – contact us to discuss your options.

The Crown Procedure

Adding a crown is normally a two-step process. The first visit typically includes:

  • An exam and x-rays to check the roots and bone.
  • If there is extensive damage, we may need to conduct a root canal first. If not, we can anesthetize the tooth and gums surrounding it.
  • The tooth set to receive the crown will be filed down on the chewing surfaces, making sure there are no sharp edges and creating a smooth surface for the crown to be bonded to.
  • Conversely, if the tooth is too worn down, we will use a filling material to increase the size of the tooth.
  • Next, we’ll use a dental putty to form an impression or mold of the tooth.
  • These visits will be sent to the dental lab where they will custom-make your crown. We’ll also color match the tooth to your existing smile.
  • Finally, we will put a temporary crown on top of the old tooth, to protect it for when the crown arrives.

Here’s what to expect on your second visit.

 

  • The dentist will remove the old crown and check the new one to be sure it’s perfect.
  • Then we’ll numb the tooth again and use a bonding agent to cement the crown on the tooth.
  • We’ll check your bite to be sure the crown fits properly and give you instructions on how to care for your new tooth.

 

Thanks to dental crowns, you too can have a clean, bright smile. Contact us to find out how these procedures can improve your life.

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Everything You Never Wanted to Know About a Root Canal

The most important thing to keep in mind if we say you need a root canal is – that we’re trying to save the tooth. That’s really the goal of a root canal. When a tooth becomes infected or is very badly decayed, the root canal is a dental procedure that will clean out the tooth, seal it, and keep it from abscessing.

This article will share all the details about root canals so if you’re ever faced with the procedure you’ll have a better understanding of the process.

What Does a Root Canal Do?

A root canal goes into the natural cavity at the center of the tooth. Within that nerve channel is a pulpy area that can become damaged and abscess. In fact, the nerve within the adult tooth is really only there to serve as a hot or cold sensor. Once the tooth has emerged from the gum line, the root is actually something that can be removed. When the root is too damaged, it will break down with decay, and if left untreated can become severely infected. The swelling that can occur can be dangers – your teeth are near your brain, after all. So we want to mitigate the risk of swelling going to the face, neck, or head. This means it’s time for a root canal.

What Happens During a Root Canal?

There are several steps that we undertake during a root canal procedure:

  • The first step is usually to take an x-ray of the tooth to see the shape of the tooth and what lies beneath the bums and into the bone.
  • The dentist will place a rubber sheet (dam) around the tooth to keep the area clean and free of saliva.
  • We usually anesthetize the area around the tooth to make the procedure more comfortable.  
  • Once you can’t feel anything, we will drill a hole into the tooth, removing all the decayed nerve, pulp, and any bacteria. To do this we use a series of small files that will scrape and clean the sides of the tooth. Don’t worry – you won’t feel this! Periodically, we’ll use water or sodium hypochlorite to flush away any debris.
  • When the tooth is completely clean, we will seal it. That may occur the same day.
  • But, depending upon the infection, we may put medication inside the tooth and wait for it to work. If we do this, we’ll put a temporary filling over the hold to keep it clean.
  • To seal the tooth, we use a sealer paste and a rubber compound to fill up the root canal. Finally, we’ll add a filling to complete the work.

One thing to note is that teeth that need a root canal are most often the larger back molars. If this is the case, it’s likely there was a large filling on the tooth or it may have cracked, causing the root to die. In these cases, further restorative work, such as a crown may be needed. We’ll cover the process for getting a crown in our next blog.

If you’re feeling any tooth or jaw pain, contact our team right away – we can help!

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How to Get Teeth Like a Hollywood Movie Star

Think of your favorite actor. Now ask yourself if their smile is the one they were born with. Chances are, the answer is, “No.”

You probably already know this. But what you may not realize is the same techniques that shaped the grins of some of the most famous people you see walking the red carpet, are available to anyone.

Preferred Family Dentistry has been performing some of those same smile makeovers on the residents of our region for years. This article takes a look at some of the most common techniques for giving you a Hollywood smile.

 

How Can I Have a Beautiful Smile Like…?

If you have a crooked smile or other tooth imperfections, it’s inevitable at some point that you might find yourself thinking, “I wish I had a smile like – (you fill in the blank).” This is normal. But modern dentistry has enabled us to achieve that smile makeover with a minimum of fuss, discomfort, and at a price that will – make you smile.

In any case, some things are worth investing in, right?

So, while your favorite Hollywood actor has a smile that appears effortless, the truth is that in many cases, straightening and whitening their teeth has taken a lot of effort. Some of the Hollywood-type cosmetic procedures that we perform include:

  • Dental Veneers that are perfect for hiding gaps or small imperfections in the underlying tooth. Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are handcrafted to fit your tooth structure and the shape of the smile makeover we’re aiming for. The veneer fits right over the existing tooth and is bonded so you can’t tell the difference between the real tooth and the veneer. We guarantee that a high percentage of Hollywood stars have full veneers that dramatically changed their smile from drab to devastatingly gorgeous. You can have the same smile!
  • Dental Crowns are excellent when a veneer simply won’t work because the underlying tooth is too worn. Crowns actually create a new tooth structure, making both a prettier and stronger smile. Crowns are particularly helpful later in life if your teeth haven’t worn as well as you imagined they would.
  • Teeth Whitening is useful if you’re fairly pleased with the overall shape of your teeth, but feel they simply aren’t as white as they used to be. Professional teeth whitening is a cost-effective, fast, and safe way to spiff up an otherwise solid smile. The process takes a few weeks, gradually whitening your teeth, so instead of showing up at work with brand new sparkling teeth, this process happens over a short time.
  • Tooth-Colored Dental Fillings are perfect if you still have a mouth full of those outdated (and unsafe) mercury fillings. Over time those fillings can begin to break down, which can create health problems. Today we have an alternative that is both safer and that is actually colored to match your teeth. Ask us about replacing any old fillings you have with composite resin tooth colored fillings.

There you have it. You can have a Hollywood smile. There’s just one thing stopping you now; pick up your cell phone and call us to discuss your options. We can help you get a TV-grade grin. What are you waiting for?

 

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What is Gum Reshaping?

Gum reshaping, or gum contouring, is perfect for our patients that are unhappy with how their smile looks. If your smile seems like it’s all gums – or all teeth – it’s possible that gum reshaping could give you the smile makeover you’ve been wishing you always had.

This article looks at gum reshaping, a standard part of Preferred Family Dentistry’s treatment options, and one that dozens of Las Vegas residents have taken advantage of.

 

Las Vegas Cosmetic Dentistry – Gum Contouring

While there are a variety of cosmetic procedures for your teeth, there is one that can actually change the look of your “gummy” smile. Gum reshaping is a contouring process for the tissue around your teeth. It has a lot of names:

  • Gum reshaping
  • Gum contouring
  • Tissue sculpting

No matter the name, this procedure is a good way to smooth out an uneven gum line. People come to Preferred Family Dentistry’s team for this procedure frequently; many times these patients have despaired of ever having a smile to be proud of.

When the gum line covers too much of your teeth, it can make them look like tiny “baby teeth.” Or, gums that are too high can give your teeth a “horsey” appearance. These issues can be caused by genetics, health problems, certain prescription medications, or periodontal disease.

 

Why Have Gum Contouring

If you’ve been embarrassed by your smile, this is a cosmetic procedure that can produce startling changes in your smile fairly quickly. However, gum contouring can also be part of a periodontal treatment regimen that is necessary to improve your health.

Gum reshaping is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure that could include adding tissue to the gums when they have receded from the tooth too far. Or, it could include the trimming of overgrown tissue that is covering too much of the tooth. 

 

What Happens During Gum Reshaping?

Some gum reshaping can be done with just a local anesthetic. The procedure is always done as outpatient work in our office, even if the patient requires anesthetic. We use a number of different tools to conduct the procedure, but you won’t feel a thing, and the procedure requires very little recovery time.

We start the process by marking on your gums how the new gum line will be reshaped. The day of the surgery, you should limit your activities, and it may take a couple weeks for your gums to heal completely. Typically, the patient recovers well from the surgery and within a month will have a brand new smile to show off. Over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol can help alleviate the minimal discomfort patients typically experience. It’s also wise to eat non-spicy foods, such as:

  • Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Pasta
  • Soft veggies
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Ice cream
  • Cottage cheese

Every procedure is individualized to the patient, so your recovery time will vary along with any other cosmetic procedures that we do in addition to the gum contouring.

Contact Preferred Family Dentistry for a confidential consultation of the cost, process, and outcomes possible when receiving any of our cosmetic procedures.

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Five Cavity Myths

WebMD did a great article recently that tried to separate some of the facts from the hype about cavities. In it, they point out that by the time they reach adulthood, most Americans have had at least one filling or some sort of corrective treatment to strengthen and repair a tooth damaged by decay. We thought it might be a good idea to talk for a moment about some of the common fallacies attached to cavities, as well as the truth about the damage they can cause.

Myth #1 – Cavities hurt.

Not always. One of the myths that may have lead to the damage from tooth decay is that many people don’t realize that they can have a cavity without pain in the mouth, tooth, or gums. In fact, by the time you’re experiencing pain, you could be working on a more serious problem such as an abscess. This is exactly why we recommend twice-a-year preventative checkups. Catching a cavity when it’s a tiny speck on a tooth is a much easier and less costly repair over waiting to have an abscess and root canal to save the tooth. Think of it this way: the longer the cavity goes, the most expensive it’s going to be.

Myth # 2 – Sugar is the only cause of cavities.

Yes, sugar is a big cause of cavities, but it’s not the only cause. Actually, any food, when stuck between the teeth, can cause bacteria and decay. If you’re not flossing every day, that means that food particles are getting stuck between your teeth. That attracts acids that can decay the teeth. Flossing, brushing, and rinsing, in that order, for about two minutes each in the morning and at night are imperative to keep a white smile.

Myth #3 – Sugar-free soda is fine for the teeth.

Sorry. Not so fast. In fact, sugar free-soda is terrible for the teeth. Sugar-free soda increases the amount of acid in the mouth. While sugar-free is always better than regular soda, which has enough sugar, literally, to cause diabetes, it still can cause a host of dental issues. Sorry! Instead of soda, try water. Water naturally flushes the teeth and gums, defending against cavities while promoting overall health.

Myth #4 – If a cavity starts, it’s going to ruin the tooth.

Not necessarily. The goal is to stop the decay. The process of filling a cavity includes cleaning out all the decayed sections of the tooth. Then we pack the tooth with an amalgam that helps strengthen the tooth while preventing further decay. While cavities don’t go away on their own a simple filling is a procedure that usually can save the tooth and prevent the decay from spreading. For teeth that are structurally unsound, there are other cosmetic procedures that we can accomplish to save the tooth.

Myth #5 – Fillings last a lifetime.

Fillings can last for 10 years or even longer. But eventually, they might need to be replaced. In older adults, we frequently see the older mercury amalgam fillings that actually can break down and spread mercury into the body. If you have these fillings, it’s probably time to have them replaced with a safer upgrade.

If you have any other questions about your teeth, please don’t hesitate to contact Preferred Family Dentistry, your Las Vegas dental experts.

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Eating for Dental Health – Best Foods to Prevent Cavities

You really are what you eat. Especially when it comes to your dental health. Preventing cavities and promoting good oral health are tied closely to the types of foods you eat. If you’re constantly bathing your teeth and mouth with sugar, your teeth will decay and your gums and overall oral hygiene will be negatively affected.

WebMD cites studies that show increased consumption of sugar is linked to an increase of bacteria in the mouth. This article looks at the best choices you should make in the foods you’re eating and how eating right can positively impact your oral health.

Top Five Foods to Eat for Oral Health

Believe it or not, good oral health starts with one simple practice: Drinking water. Water not only hydrates our bodies nearly insatiable need for liquid, but it also serves to flush away bacteria that sticks to our teeth causing tooth decay and gum disease. Studies show that fully 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests that fluoridated water is really the best medicine to maintain oral health. The fluoride in our drinking water helps our teeth stay resistant to the acid and bacteria causing cavities.

The ADA also suggests dairy products to help strengthen your teeth and bones. Dairy products have calcium and are typically low in sugar (read your yogurt label!), which make them good between meal snacks.

Lean meats, which are rich in phosphorus, are good for your oral health. Red meat, chicken, and fish are beneficial to the teeth. But, like all things, moderation is key. A diet high in red meat can cause other issues, so make sure your daily intake of these rich foods is also combined with plenty of vegetables.

Speaking of veggies, the ADA says the more you eat, the better off you’ll be. Vegetables and fruits are high in water and fiber, which not only helps your overall health; it helps in the fight to eliminate the bacteria caused by sugary foods. Chewing your vegetables carefully also helps stimulate saliva production. Saliva is nature’s best defense for keeping your teeth and gums healthier.

Finally, nuts are packed full of protein. Nuts are a great substitute if you are vegetarian, too. They are low in carbs and don’t add sugar to your diet that can lead to cavities. Like vegetables, chewing nuts can stimulate saliva, too.

Top Tips for Oral Health

Your Las Vegas dentist has another important tip; always practice good oral hygiene by flossing at least once per day. Brushing twice a day with ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and then rinsing with mouthwash will also help prevent decay. Scheduling a routine check-up twice per year is imperative, no matter your age.

A person’s oral health is irrevocably linked to their overall physical health. Even though the temptation can be strong to pick up a candy bar or a sugary drink, resist the urge. It’s simply not worth the pain and suffering that comes from ill health or a dental problem requiring more advanced treatment.

Contact us if you’re experiencing any difficulties, and as always, take better care of you!

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