My Blog

Posts for: December, 2016

ToothinOneDayProceduresRequireSpecialAttentionforSuccess

You've seen the ads for obtaining a new tooth in one day with a dental implant. Those aren't exaggerated claims — you can leave the dental office the same day with a new tooth that looks and functions like the old one.

But the dramatic marketing aside, there is a bit more to the story. Same day tooth replacement isn't appropriate in every situation. And even when it is, there are risks for failure.

We can minimize those risks, however, by focusing on certain goals during the three distinct phases in the process: removing the natural tooth; placing the metal implant into the jawbone; and affixing the visible, crown.

It's crucial during tooth extraction that we avoid damaging the socket bone that will ultimately support the implant's titanium post. If the socket walls break down it could set up future gum recession or cause us to abort the implant procedure altogether that day.

When placing the implant, we want to focus on achieving a strong hold. Due to its special affinity with titanium, bone cells gradually grow and adhere to the post to firmly anchor the implant in time. But since we're immediately loading a crown rather than allowing the bone to fully integrate first, we need to ensure the implant has a secure hold from the get-go. We can only achieve this with precise placement based on careful examination and planning, as well as adequate bone.

Even so, the implant still needs to integrate with the bone for a lasting hold, and that takes time. Even with normal biting forces the implant risks damage during this integration period. That's why we place a temporary crown a little shorter than the surrounding teeth. Those adjacent teeth will take the brunt of the biting force and not the implant.

Once the bone has fully integrated, we'll replace the temporary crown with a permanent one the proper height proportional to the other teeth. Even with the temporary crown, though, you'll still have a life-like tooth the day we removed the older one.

The key to success is planning — first determining if you meet the criteria for a same-day implant and then mapping out and carefully executing each succeeding step. Doing this will ensure your same-day implant is a success from day one.

If you would like more information on same-day tooth replacement, 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 “Same-Day Tooth Replacement with Dental Implants.”


By Legacy Dental Care
December 22, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: jaw pain   tmj  

Find out more about this painful jaw condition and how it can be treated.

Are you concerned that your jaw pain could be the result of a TMJ disorder? Our Woodbridge, VA dentist, Dr. Sowmya Punaji, is here to tmjprovide you with answers to questions that you might have about your condition.

What is TMJ disorder?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects your lower jaw to the bone of the skull. This joint makes it easy to speak, chew or even yawn. Of course, if you have a TMJ disorder, then there are problems with the joint, the jaw itself and/or the surrounding muscles.

What causes it?

Most of the time it isn’t possible to pinpoint the direct cause of a TMJ disorder but sometimes injuries to the jaw or the surrounding muscles can lead to this problem. Conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can also cause TMJ disorders. Serious grinding or teeth clenching can also place too much pressure on this joint and lead to issues.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms associated with this condition include,

  • Popping or clicking when opening the jaws
  • Jaw pain and soreness, particularly when opening the jaws
  • Limited or painful movement in the jaws
  • Stiff jaws, particularly in the morning
  • Headaches
  • Teeth grinding or jaw clenching

If you are experiencing these symptoms then it’s time to visit our Woodbridge general dentist right away for an evaluation.

How is it treated?

Sometimes a TMJ disorder will go away on its own and sometimes patients just need some conservative lifestyle changes and care in order to reduce symptoms. Icing the joint, taking over-the-counter pain relievers and doing daily jaw exercises can help improve symptoms. Finding ways to manage your stress can also help take pressure of these joints, particularly if you grind or clench your teeth.

Sometimes we will recommend wearing an oral splint while you sleep to protect your teeth from wear and tear and to take pressure off the joint if you grind your teeth at night. More serious treatment options include corticosteroid injections, arthrocentesis and arthroscopic surgery.

Legacy Dental Care in Woodbridge, VA prides itself on providing the very best in dental care. If you are dealing with jaw pain and are looking for effective care, then give us a call today.


By Legacy Dental Care
December 16, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: orthodontics   retainers  
ARetainerHelpsYouKeepYourNewSmileAfterBraces

Moving your teeth to a more functional and attractive alignment is a big undertaking. You can invest months — even years — and a lot of expense to correct a bad bite. But all that effort could be for nothing if your teeth return to their original positions.

The very aspect of dental physiology that makes orthodontics possible can work against you in reverse. Your teeth are not actually rigidly fixed in the bone: they're held in place by an elastic gum tissue known as the periodontal ligament. The ligament lies between the tooth and the bone and attaches to both with tiny fibers.

While this mechanism holds the teeth firmly in place, it also allows the teeth to move in response to changes in the mouth. As we age, for example, and the teeth wear, the ligament allows movement of the teeth to accommodate for the loss of tooth surface that might have been created by the wear.

When we employ braces we're changing the mouth environment by applying pressure to the teeth in a certain direction. The teeth move in response to this pressure. But when the pressure is no longer there after removing the braces or other orthodontic devices, the ligament mechanism may then respond with a kind of “muscle memory” to pull the teeth back to where they were before.

To prevent this, we need to help the teeth maintain their new position, at least until they've become firmly set. We do this with an oral appliance known as a retainer. Just as its name implies it helps the teeth “retain” their new position.

We require most patients to initially wear their retainer around the clock. After a while we can scale back to just a few hours a day, usually at nighttime. Younger patients may only need to wear a retainer for eighteen months or so. Adults, though, may need to wear one for much longer or in some cases permanently to maintain their new bite.

Although having to wear a retainer can be tedious at times, it's a crucial part of your orthodontic treatment. By wearing one you'll have a better chance of permanently keeping your new smile.

If you would like more information on caring for your teeth after braces, 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 “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.”


By Legacy Dental Care
December 08, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
SuccesswithDentalImplantsDependsonAttentiontoDetail

Dental implants are all the rage. And why not — not only are these tooth replacements life-like and highly functional, they have an amazing 95% ten-year success rate.

Some of that success is due to their unique design. Technically a root replacement, an implant's metal titanium post is surgically placed in the jawbone, where bone grows and adheres to it over time. This creates a strong connection that stands up well to the forces created by biting and chewing.

But there's more to their longevity than design. Success also depends on a careful, planned process that begins long before surgery.

It starts with a detailed oral examination to determine the best placement for the implant. Besides regular x-rays, we may also perform CT scans to create a three-dimensional view of your jaw. With this we can locate and avoid nerves, sinus cavities or other structures near the implant site.

The examination also helps us determine if you've experienced any bone loss, a normal occurrence after tooth loss. Implants require an adequate amount of bone to achieve the best position. A good position ensures future bone integration and the best appearance result.

The same attention to detail extends to the actual surgery to place the implant. We fashion the site to receive the implant by sequentially drilling larger tapered channels until we achieve the right size fit for the implant. During drilling we avoid overheating the bone, which could ultimately weaken and damage the implant's stability.

We'll also need to provide protection for the implant while it integrates with the bone. In most implantations, we do this by suturing the gum tissue over the implant. We take a different approach with a “Tooth in a Day” procedure where we attach a crown (the visible portion of the tooth) right after implant surgery. In this case we'll install a crown (which is actually temporary) that's a little shorter than the adjacent teeth. The natural teeth around it will absorb the forces produced while chewing and not the implant crown.

Focusing on these and other factors will greatly reduce the risk of implant failure. Paying careful attention to them helps ensure your new smile is a lasting one.

If you would like more information on dental implants to restore your smile, 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: A Tooth Replacement Method That Rarely Fails.”