Posts for: August, 2015

By Wilmington Dental Associates
August 17, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Fillings  

CavityDental decay - it's a big enemy of tooth enamel. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, 25 percent of the adult population between the ages of 25 and 44 have cavities that have not been filled.

What stops people from getting treatment? Sometimes it's just lack of knowledge about how serious tooth decay is and how many treatment options are available today to make teeth strong and healthy.

What is a Cavity?

A cavity occurs when oral bacteria, living in plaque and tartar, secrete acid on tooth enamel. The acid eventually eats through the surface and down into the inner tooth structure. This inner layer is the softer dentin and innervated and vascularized pulp. When decay goes deep into tooth structure, an infection often results, causing pain, swelling and if untreated, tooth loss.

So, it's important to catch cavities while they are still small. That's why Michael Lenz DMD, Anthony Vattilana DDS, and John Lenz DDS at Wilmington Dental Associates recommend semi-annual cleanings and examinations. The cleanings remove accumulated plaque on and between teeth and at the gumline, and the exams look for decay and other oral health problems.

Types of Fillings

The actual filling procedure takes just one appointment for a simple cavity. More complex decay sometimes requires a porcelain crown and/or root canal therapy which can take more than one dental visit.

Dentists use many different kinds of materials to fill decayed tooth structure. Cost varies, as does the aesthetic result. However, before any the dentist places any filling material, he or she first removes the damaged tooth structure with a high-speed drill. This procedure usually requires local anesthesia and leaves the patient with no or very mild discomfort afterwards.

The traditional choice for fillings has been amalgam. This combination of mercury, tin, copper and silver is strong and long-lasting, but its silver color, which darkens over time, is unattractive. In addition, some researchers question the safety of the mercury component in these fillings. Another long-standing choice is gold. Gold is exceptionally durable but the most expensive choice.

Tooth-colored fillings come in a couple of state-of-the-art materials that support tooth structure and also match the color and texture of tooth enamel perfectly. Composite resin fillings, composed of acrylic and porcelain, bond well to tooth enamel and are easily shaped to achieve good bite, fit and aesthetics.

Porcelain fillings are often reserved for larger cavities or to replace existing larger restorations. For instance, porcelain inlays fill large areas of decay on the top surface of a molar. Onlays fill molars, too, including their corners or cusps. Porcelain fillings, like gold fillings, may take more than one dental appointment to complete.

Wilmington Dental Associates: the Best in Family Dentistry

Doctors Lenz, Vattilana and Lenz want all their patients to have healthy, strong smiles that look great, too. If you suspect a cavity, contact the office right away for the best tooth repair possible. Call (302) 654-6915.

By Wilmington Dental Associates
August 17, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: celebrity smiles   bonding  

So you’re tearing up the dance floor at a friend’s wedding, when all of a sudden one of your pals lands an accidental blow to your face — chipping out part of your front tooth, which lands right on the floorboards! Meanwhile, your wife (who is nine months pregnant) is expecting you home in one piece, and you may have to pose for a picture with the baby at any moment. What will you do now?

Take a tip from Prince William of England. According to the British tabloid The Daily Mail, the future king found himself in just this situation in 2013. His solution: Pay a late-night visit to a discreet dentist and get it fixed up — then stay calm and carry on!

Actually, dental emergencies of this type are fairly common. While nobody at the palace is saying exactly what was done for the damaged tooth, there are several ways to remedy this dental dilemma.

If the broken part is relatively small, chances are the tooth can be repaired by bonding with composite resin. In this process, tooth-colored material is used to replace the damaged, chipped or discolored region. Composite resin is a super-strong mixture of plastic and glass components that not only looks quite natural, but bonds tightly to the natural tooth structure. Best of all, the bonding procedure can usually be accomplished in just one visit to the dental office — there’s no lab work involved. And while it won’t last forever, a bonded tooth should hold up well for at least several years with only routine dental care.

If a larger piece of the tooth is broken off and recovered, it is sometimes possible to reattach it via bonding. However, for more serious damage — like a severely fractured or broken tooth — a crown (cap) may be required. In this restoration process, the entire visible portion of the tooth may be capped with a sturdy covering made of porcelain, gold, or porcelain fused to a gold metal alloy.

A crown restoration is more involved than bonding. It begins with making a 3-D model of the damaged tooth and its neighbors. From this model, a tooth replica will be fabricated by a skilled technician; it will match the existing teeth closely and fit into the bite perfectly. Next, the damaged tooth will be prepared, and the crown will be securely attached to it. Crown restorations are strong, lifelike and permanent.

Was the future king “crowned” — or was his tooth bonded? We may never know for sure. But it’s good to know that even if we’ll never be royals, we still have several options for fixing a damaged tooth. If you would like more information, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Repairing Chipped Teeth” and “Crowns and Bridgework.”

By Wilmington Dental Associates
August 09, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: teeth whitening  

Transforming your smile doesn’t necessarily require complex treatments like orthodontics, dental implants or porcelain veneers. Sometimes a little brightness can mean all the difference in the world.

Bleaching (or teeth whitening) is a proven method for dealing with tooth discoloration and staining. Nearly all whitening products, whether home or professional, contain the bleaching agent carbamide peroxide or its breakdown product hydrogen peroxide. These agents effectively diminish staining deep within a tooth (intrinsic) or on the enamel surface (extrinsic), although intrinsic staining will require a more invasive office procedure.

If you have extrinsic staining you have three basic options: dental office bleaching, a retail home kit or a kit purchased from a dentist. Again, you’ll find the same basic bleaching agents in each of these versions. The difference will be the concentration: home kits contain about 10% agent by volume, while the office application will be a much higher range of 15% to 35% (which may also employ specialized lights or lasers to increase the bleaching effect). As a result, an office bleaching may take only a visit or two to achieve the desired brightness while a home kit about two or three weeks.

Whitening is a more economical route for smile enhancement of otherwise sound teeth than other measures. But there are other considerations you should weigh before undergoing a procedure. Whitening isn’t a permanent fix — the brightness will diminish over time, optimally six months to a year in what dentists call the “fade rate.” You can slow this process by avoiding or limiting foods and habits that cause staining.

If you have other dental work — crowns, bridgework or fillings — it may be difficult to achieve a tint level that matches these restorations, especially at home. And while whitening is relatively safe (as long as you’re using your kit as directed), you may experience tooth sensitivity, gum irritation or other minor oral side effects.

Before you decide on whitening, visit us first for a complete dental examination. From there we can advise you on whether whitening is a good smile enhancement choice for you.

If you would like more information on teeth whitening, 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 “Teeth Whitening.”

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