Dental implants are widely considered by both dentists and patients as the premier choice for replacing missing teeth. Unfortunately, implants aren’t the appropriate choice for teenagers with missing teeth.
That’s because their jaws won’t fully finish most of their growth and development until early adulthood. An implant placed too early could become misaligned as the jaw matures. The best approach for a teenager is a temporary restoration until they’re old enough for an implant.
There are a couple of good options. One is a removable partial denture (RPD), prosthetic (false) teeth set in an acrylic base that mimics gum tissue at the locations of the missing teeth. RPDs, which stay in place by way of metal clips that fit over other teeth, are easy to wear and maintain.
On the downside, an RPD can break if you bite into something too hard. They can lose their fit and may need to be replaced with a new one. And, some teens aren’t quite keen on wearing a “denture.”
Another option is a bonded or Maryland bridge, a kind of fixed bridge. We bond dental material to the back of a prosthetic tooth with portions of the material extending out from either side of it.Â We then bond these extending tabs to the back of the teeth on either side of the prosthetic tooth to hold it in place. Unlike traditional bridges, we can eventually remove it without any permanent alterations to the teeth it’s attached to.
Before we undertake a bonded bridge, though, we must make sure the gums and bone of the surrounding teeth are free from periodontal (gum) disease and are healthy and strong enough to support the bridge. We also need to be sure the patient doesn’t have a deep bite or a teeth grinding habit, which could cause the teeth to make contact with the tabs and break them.
The patient also needs the maturity to responsibly perform diligent oral hygiene: this type of bridge has a tendency to build up disease-causing plaque, so brushing twice and flossing once every day is critical. Not doing so increases the risk of tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease, which could complicate a future implant.
We can discuss these options after a thorough dental examination of your teenager. Either way, we’ll be able to restore your teen’s smile until we can undertake a more permanent restoration.
Are bleeding gums something you should be concerned about? Dear Doctor magazine recently posed that question to Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors. He answered with two questions of his own: “If you started bleeding from your eyeball, would you seek medical attention?” Needless to say, most everyone would. “So,” he asked, “why is it that when we bleed all the time when we floss that we think it’s no big deal?” As it turns out, that’s an excellent question — and one that’s often misunderstood.
First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “bleeding all the time.” As many as 90 percent of people occasionally experience bleeding gums when they clean their teeth — particularly if they don’t do it often, or are just starting a flossing routine. But if your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, it almost certainly means there’s a problem. Many think bleeding gums is a sign they are brushing too hard; this is possible, but unlikely. It’s much more probable that irritated and bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.
How common is this malady? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of allÂ Americans over age 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease — and that number increases to 70.1 percent for those over 65! Periodontal disease can occur when a bacteria-rich biofilm in the mouth (also called plaque) is allowed to build up on tooth and gum surfaces. Plaque causes the gums to become inflamed, as the immune system responds to the bacteria. Eventually, this can cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming bacteria-filled “pockets” under the gum surface. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious infection, and even tooth loss.
What should you do if your gums bleed regularly when brushing or flossing? The first step is to come in for a thorough examination. In combination with a regular oral exam (and possibly x-rays or other diagnostic tests), a simple (and painless) instrument called a periodontal probe can be used to determine how far any periodontal disease may have progressed. Armed with this information, we can determine the most effective way to fight the battle against gum disease.
Above all, don’t wait too long to come in for an exam! As Dr. Stork notes, bleeding gums are “a sign that things aren’t quite right.” Â If you would like more information about bleeding gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.” You can read the entire interview with Dr. Travis Stork in Dear Doctor magazine.
Straightening your smile is easier than ever, thanks to Invisalign, an innovative orthodontic approach that doesn't require wires or brackets. Dr. John Lynch, Dr. Frances Lynch and Dr. Sheila Lynch of Lynch Dental Center in Chicago and River Forest, IL, explain how Invisalign works.
A completely wire-free system
Invisalign uses a series of aligner trays to move your teeth, not wires. We custom design each set of trays in our Chicago and River Forest office using X-rays, images and impressions of your mouth. When you place the trays in your mouth, they apply gentle pressure to your teeth, gradually repositioning them.
One of the things people like most about Invisalign aligner trays is their appearance. Made of clear, comfortable plastic, the trays are nearly transparent and fit your teeth perfectly.
There are no complicated care routines when you wear Invisalign aligners. You'll take them out while you eat, which means you'll never have to struggle to remove tiny stuck-on pieces of food from your braces. After a meal, you'll rinse the aligners and place them back in your mouth. Oral hygiene is as simple as ever when you wear Invisalign aligners. Once you remove the aligners, you'll floss and brush as usual.
Worried about losing your trays when you take them out to eat at a prom, wedding or other event? Leave them at home! Because you'll only need to wear the trays for 20 hours a day, you can take them out when you attend special events or play sports.
Most people are good candidates for the Invisalign system. If you have a mild to moderate orthodontic issue, such as an overbite, underbite or crossbite, you can probably use the aligners. They're also a good choice if you're concerned about gaps or crowding. Invisalign offers an easy way to correct these and other orthodontic issues and is just as effective as traditional braces for most alignment and bite problems. If you're an adult, you may only need wear the trays for about a year to achieve optimum results.
Straighten your smile with Invisalign. Call Drs. John, Sheila and Frances Lynch of Lynch Dental Center in Chicago and River Forest, IL, at (312) 263-3235 to schedule an appointment.
Have you recently lost a tooth, or are you worried that tooth loss may be in your future? Tooth loss doesn't have to permanently alter your smile. Our Chicago and River Forest, IL, dentists, Dr. John Lynch, Dr. Frances Lynch and Dr. Sheila Lynch of Lynch Dental Center, explain how you can restore lost teeth with dental implants.
Why should I choose dental implants?
Bridges and dentures can replace missing teeth, but these restorations don't last forever. Eventually, they'll need to be replaced. Depending on when you get your restoration, you may have to replace it multiple times during your life, which can be expensive. Because dental implants become a permanent part of your mouth, with proper care they can last your entire life.
How do implants work?
Implants support dental crowns, bridges or dentures. Just like natural tooth roots, they reside in your jawbone. An implant wouldn't do much good if it just wobbled around in your jaw. Luckily, dental implants are made of titanium, a metal that bonds to bone. After just three to six months, the implant is completely fused to the jawbone. Once your Chicago and River Forest dentist is satisfied that your implant can support an artificial tooth or teeth, they will take a mold of your mouth that will be used to create your new crown.
If you've lost a single tooth, you'll need one implant to support your crown, but one implant per tooth isn't required if you need an implant-supported bridge or denture. In fact, one denture can be supported by as little as four implants.
Will my new dental implant feel different?
One of the things people like the most about dental implants is their natural feel. Since your new tooth is rooted in your mouth, chewing and biting feels completely natural. Slipping and irritation, a problem that can sometimes occur with dentures, is never an issue with implants. Thanks to your new implant, you'll be able to enjoy eating anything you want at your favorite restaurants.
Dental implants offer an excellent solution to tooth loss. Call our Chicago and River Forest, IL, dentists, Drs. John, Sheila and Frances Lynch of Lynch Dental Center, at (312) 263-3235 to schedule an appointment.
Most children's permanent teeth erupt on a fairly predictable schedule. Sometimes, though, one or more teeth might not develop as they should — or at all.
These absent teeth pose functional problems for chewing and hygiene, which can affect long-term dental health. But they can also have a disruptive effect on an otherwise attractive smile if the missing teeth are the upper lateral incisors in the most visible part of the smile.
You normally find this pair of teeth on either side of the upper central incisors (the two front-most teeth). On the other side of the lateral incisors are the canine or eye teeth, known for their pointed appearance. Without the lateral incisors, the canines tend to drift into the space next to the central incisors. This can produce an odd appearance even a layperson will notice: only four teeth where there should be six!
It's possible to correct this abnormality, but it will take time and expense. The first step is usually to move the teeth in the upper jaw with braces to their correct position. This puts teeth where they should be and also opens space between the canines and central incisors so we can eventually replace the missing teeth with dental implants.
But the key to all this is timing. It's usually appropriate to undertake tooth movement with braces during late childhood or adolescence. But implants shouldn't be installed until the person's jaw fully matures, usually in early adulthood. An implant placed before then could eventually become misaligned.
To accommodate the time between bite correction and implant placement, the patient can wear a retainer appliance that will keep the newly created space open. We can also attach artificial teeth to the retainer to camouflage the empty space.
It usually takes a team of a family dentist, an orthodontist and a surgeon to see this kind of “smile makeover” project through, possibly over several years. But the gains in better aesthetics and health are well worth the time and expense.
If you would like more information on replacing non-developing teeth, 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 “When Permanent Teeth Don't Grow.”
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