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Losing a tooth can be traumatic, but a dental implant can dramatically turn that experience around. Providing functionality, life-like appearance and durability, implants stand out as the premier restoration for lost teeth.

For adults, that is. An older child or teenager with a missing tooth may need to wait a few more years for an implant. The reason: jaw development. A person's jaws, particular the upper jaw, continue to grow with most growth completed by early adulthood. Natural teeth with their periodontal attachments develop right alongside the jaw.

But because an implant attaches directly to the jawbone, its position is fixed: it won't change as the jaw grows and may gradually appear to sink below the gum line. That's why we wait to place an implant until most of jaw maturity has occurred after full jaw maturity. For females, we try to wait until 20 years of age and for males, usually 21 years of age. These are guidelines as some people mature faster and some slower, so a discussion with your dentist or surgeon is necessary to make an educated decision.

While we wait, we can install a temporary replacement for a child's or teenager's lost tooth, usually a partial denture or fixed modified ("Maryland") bridge. The latter affixes a prosthetic (false) tooth in the missing tooth space by attaching it to the back of natural teeth on either side with bonded dental material. It differs from a traditional bridge in that these supporting teeth aren't permanently altered and crowned to support the bridge.

During the time before implants we should understand that the area where the implant will be placed will undergo some bone deterioration, a common consequence of missing teeth. Forces generated as we chew travel through the teeth to stimulate renewing bone growth all along the jawbone. But with a lost tooth the chewing stimulation ceases at that part of the bone, slowing the growth rate and leading to gradual bone loss.

Fortunately, the titanium posts of dental implants stimulate bone growth as bone cells naturally grow and adhere to their surfaces. Before then, though, if the bone volume is diminished, we may need to graft bone material to stimulate bone growth that will enlarge the jaw bone enough for an implant to be placed.

It usually isn't a question of "if" but "when" we can provide your child with an implant for their missing tooth. In the meantime, we can prepare for that day with a temporary restoration.

If you would like more information on dental restorations for teenagers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants for Teenagers.”

By TLC Dentistry
February 19, 2015
Category: Uncategorized
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Same-Day CrownsLearn more about same day crowns and if they are right for your smile.

If you have an infection or if trauma has damaged your tooth, then your Lexington family dentist has most likely recommended a root canal. If the trauma or damage is extensive enough then a dental crown will need to go over your tooth for additional protection. In the past, getting a dental crown meant a couple visits to the dentist before your smile was complete; however, with technological advancements we are now happy to offer dental crowns in only one visit.

What are same-day crowns?

Also known as CEREC crowns, same-day crowns are fabricated using revolutionary CAD/CAM technology, which can design and create an artificial tooth in only one dental visit.

How do same-day crowns work?

In the past, dental crowns were designed from impressions taken of your smile. With CAD/CAM technology we no longer have to fool with messy molds to get the measurements and precise shape of your tooth. Using a small, handheld camera we are able to capture 3D images of your tooth or teeth and immediately upload them to our computer.

We use CAD software to design the shape and color of the tooth, to make sure we create a crown that matches the rest of your smile. This technology creates a crown that fits more precisely, and looks more like a real tooth.

Once we have finished designing your crown, we will turn to the CAM technology to actually create the crown while you wait, after which we will fit you with it. The entire process takes only an hour.

Are same-day crowns a good option for my smile?

If you have a damaged tooth that can’t be treated with a simple filling, then a same-day crown might be ideal for you. However, if you have a crack in your tooth that goes past the gum line, same-day crowns won’t be the best course of action.

If you are interested in getting same day crowns or finding out more about this treatment, then contact your Lexington family dentist at TLC Dentistry today to schedule a consultation.

By Thompson Lee & Chalothorn
September 24, 2014
Category: Uncategorized

Without effective treatment, periodontal (gum) disease can eventually lead to tooth loss. That’s why it’s imperative to remove bacterial plaque and calculus — the main cause of the disease — from all teeth and gum surfaces. For moderate to advanced gum disease, this could require a procedure known as flap surgery to gain access to deeper infected areas.

This type of procedure involves making scalpel incisions into the gum tissue to create a flap opening. Through this opening we’re able to gain access to the deeper pockets that have formed because of the tissue detachment that occurs following bone loss. The flap opening allows for better access to the root surfaces for removal of plaque and calculus (tartar). Once we’ve finished, we then suture the flap back into place to reduce the pockets and allow the area to heal.

While effective, flap surgery is considered moderately invasive and may produce mild post-procedural discomfort. Recently, however, a specially designed laser for periodontal therapy shows promise of less invasiveness and patient discomfort than traditional flap surgery.

A laser is an intense and narrow beam of light of a single wavelength. A periodontal laser can pass without effect through healthy cell tissue (like sunlight through a window pane) but interacts and “vaporizes” the darkly pigmented bacteria in diseased tissue. The laser energy is delivered in pulses to minimize any heat-related damage to healthy cells.

The periodontal laser can precisely remove diseased tissue, even where it mingles with healthy tissue. Once it’s removed, the root surfaces can be cleaned with ultrasonic scalers and/or hand instruments. And because a medical laser seals the tissue it cuts, it doesn’t produce open incisions as with flap surgery that require suturing afterward.

Studies of post-operative recovery after laser surgery showed similar infection reduction and renewed bone and tissue growth as with traditional surgery. Patients, however, reported much less discomfort after the laser procedure. Although more research is needed, it initially appears periodontal laser treatments can effectively treat gum disease with minimal interference with healthy tissue and greater comfort for patients.

If you would like more information on the use of lasers for the treatment of gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

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