Dental veneers are a popular way to improve teeth with chips, stains, gaps or other defects. They're typically made of dental porcelain, ceramic-like materials prized for their ability to mimic the texture, color and translucency of natural teeth.
But dental porcelain doesn't come in one form—a dentist can utilize variations of it to better match a patient's need. For example, one patient may need a porcelain with added strength, while another may need one that provides better coverage of underlying discoloration.
The foundational materials for veneer porcelain are glass ceramics. Also used for crowns, glass ceramics have been the preferred choice of dentists for some time to achieve life-like results. In terms of veneers, dental technicians first mix the powdered form of the porcelain with water to create a paste. They then use the paste to build up the body of a veneer layer by layer.
But while the high degree of silica (glass) in this type of porcelain best resembles the translucence of natural teeth, early forms of it lacked strength. This changed in the 1990s when technicians began adding a material called leucite to the ceramic mixture that enhanced its strength and durability.
Today, you'll also find lithium disilicate used, which is twice as strong as leucite and is quite useful when creating thinner veneers. Both of these strength materials can be pressed and milled into shape, which helps achieve a more accurate fit. Along with the underlying glass ceramic, the result is a veneer that's both durable and incredibly life-like.
Although today's porcelain veneers are far superior in durability than earlier forms, they can be damaged when biting down on hard objects. To make sure your veneers last as long as possible, you should avoid biting down directly on hard-skinned fruit, or using your veneered teeth to crack nuts or crunch ice (or any other teeth, for that matter).
But with proper care, today's veneers have exceptional longevity. And, thanks to the superior dental materials that compose them, they'll look great for years.
If you would like more information on dental veneers, 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 “Porcelain Veneers: Your Smile—Better Than Ever.”
Forty years have passed since the first reported case of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and it and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes it are still with us. About 1.2 million Americans are currently infected with HIV, with 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
The emergence of antiretroviral drugs, though, has made it possible for many with HIV to live normal lives. Even so, the virus can still have a profound effect on health, including the teeth and gums. Because of its effect on the immune system, HIV+ patients are at greater risk for a number of oral conditions, like a fungal infection called candidiasis ("thrush").
Another common problem is chronic dry mouth (xerostomia), caused by a lack of saliva production. Not only does this create an unpleasant mouth feel, but the absence of saliva also increases the risk for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.
The latter can be a serious malady among HIV patients, particularly a severe form of gum disease known as Necrotizing Ulcerative Periodontitis (NUP). With NUP, the gums develop ulcerations and an unpleasant odor arising from dead gum tissue.
Besides plaque removal (a regular part of gum disease treatment), NUP may also require antibiotics, antibacterial mouthrinses and pain management. NUP may also be a sign that the immune system has taken a turn for the worse, which could indicate a transition to the AIDS disease. Dentists often refer patients with NUP to a primary care provider for further diagnosis and treatment.
Besides daily brushing and flossing, regular dental cleanings are a necessary part of a HIV+ patient's health maintenance. These visits are also important for monitoring dental health, which, as previously noted, could provide early signs that the infection may be entering a new disease stage.
It's also important for HIV+ patients to see their dentist at the first sign of inflamed, red or bleeding gums, mouth lesions or loose teeth. Early treatment, especially of emerging gum disease, can prevent more serious problems from developing later.
Living with HIV-AIDS isn't easy. But proper health management, including for the teeth and gums, can help make life as normal as possible.
If you would like more information on dental care and HIV-AIDS, 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 “HIV-AIDS & Oral Health.”
Dental braces are used to straighten teeth and correct how teeth bite together. Traditional braces consist of metal bands around the molars, brackets bonded to each tooth and wires that extend across the front of each tooth. The wires are held in place by individual elastic bands or connected elastic bands called power chains. It is understandably much more difficult to keep your teeth and gums clean with all this extra hardware. Listed below are five ways to keep your teeth clean and healthy during the course of orthodontic treatment.
Electric Toothbrush and Water Floss
Since there are plenty of areas for bacteria to hide around braces, it helps to use tools such as an electric toothbrush and water floss. Electric toothbrushes generally do better when accessing hard-to-reach areas and take some of the work out of brushing. Some electric toothbrushes also have a timer set to ensure a full 2 minutes of brushing is achieved. Water floss helps flush out bacteria from around brackets and between the teeth and can be easier to use than traditional floss. Use your electric toothbrush at least twice a day and your water floss at least once a day.
Fluoride Toothpaste and Mouthwash
The use of fluoride is a vital way to keep your teeth healthy and cavity-free during braces. Fluoride helps to prevent cavities by strengthening enamel and by halting the demineralization process. Fluoride is added to most toothpaste and also some mouthwash. Without the use of fluoride, your teeth could be left with white areas of demineralization around where the brackets used to be. Use your toothpaste at least twice a day and your mouthwash at least once a day.
This brush looks like a thin pipe cleaner and is used to clean the tricky to access areas between brackets. Due to the archwire, it can be challenging to get your toothbrush right to the gum line between teeth. An interdental brush is positioned at the gum line between brackets and is used in a downward motion underneath the wire. Use your interdental brush at least once a day.
Frequent Dental Cleanings
Lastly, it is essential to have your teeth professionally cleaned routinely during treatment. Some certain nooks and crannies are difficult, if not impossible, to access with your tools at home. These areas are cleaned out, and the health of your teeth and gums is assessed. With braces, cleanings are recommended every 3 to 4 months.
If you have any questions about keeping your teeth and gums healthy with dental braces or know that you are due for a cleaning, please call us today to schedule an appointment.
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