Cosmetic Dentist - Schoolcraft
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Schoolcraft, MI 49087
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Posts for: March, 2012

By David E. Habecker DDS
March 27, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
WhenTeethareLostBoneisLost

Most people think of bone as rock-solid, but it's actually a living tissue that's constantly changing. This has significant implications for your oral health, general health, and appearance — if you are one of the 70% of Americans missing at least one tooth.

Throughout the day, your top and bottom teeth make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other. These small stresses are transmitted though the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth) that supports each tooth in its socket like a hammock. Think of it as a gentle push on the hammock, which causes the tooth to gently bump the underlying bone. The bone then builds up in the spot that's receiving stress to counteract it. This constant remodeling of bone is what allows bone to stay healthy and strong.

When a tooth is lost, the bone does not receive that gentle stress. It reacts by literally melting away. Sometimes this happens fairly quickly — in a matter of months. After the tooth-supporting bone is lost, the jawbone itself begins the same process of deterioration. This could eventually change the shape of the face, as the distance from nose to chin can decrease — even if only a few back teeth are missing. The results aren't pretty. But the good news is, there's a way to prevent all this.

Dental implants, which function as substitute tooth roots, actually save underlying bone when teeth are lost. They do this because they are made of titanium, which fuses to the bone in which it's set, stabilizing it. The implant is topped by a realistic-looking crown, which replaces the part of the missing tooth that was visible in the mouth. Together, they look and function just as your natural tooth did.

If you are missing a lot of teeth, implants can also be used to anchor bridges or even removable dentures while providing that same bone-saving benefit. And when you consider that they are so durable they should never need replacement, implants are a great investment.

If you have any questions about dental implants, please contact us, or schedule an appointment for an implant consultation.

You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”


By David E. Habecker DDS
March 19, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  
TakeaNewLookatRootCanalTreatment

The term “root canal” strikes fear into many dental patients. But rest assured that this procedure is the best solution to many severe dental problems. It can be pain-free and will actually relieve pain and suffering from infections and dental injuries.

Why would you need root canal treatment? This procedure becomes necessary when the pulp, the nerve tissue on the inside of a tooth's root, becomes inflamed or infected because of deep decay, or when it has suffered a severe injury as a result of an accident or blow to the mouth. The pulp is composed of living tissues including nerves and blood vessels.

Root canal treatment may be necessary if you have a wide variety of signs or symptoms. The pain can feel sharp or intense when biting down, or linger after eating hot or cold foods. Sometimes it can be a dull ache or there may be tenderness and swelling in your gums near the site of the infection.

After trauma, the pulp of a tooth can be exposed or damaged because a tooth has fractured or cracked, necessitating root canal treatment. And the procedure is often needed for permanent teeth that have been dislodged or knocked out.

What exactly is root canal treatment? Root canal treatment is also called endodontic treatment, from the Greek roots “endo” meaning “inside” and “odont” meaning “tooth.” During the procedure, the area is numbed to relieve pain. A small opening is created in the chewing surface of the tooth and very small instruments are used to remove dead and dying tissue from the inside. The pulp is needed during a tooth's growth and development, but a mature tooth can survive without it. The canal is disinfected and then sealed with filling materials. Sometimes root canal specialists use microscopes to work at an intricate level of detail on these tiny areas of the tooth's root.

By having root canal treatment, you prevent inflammation and infection from spreading from the root of a particular tooth to other nearby tissues. Infection can result in resorption, an eating away of the root and its anchoring bone, and you could lose your tooth or teeth. So please don't hesitate when we recommend this treatment. It's not as bad as you think, and you will feel significantly better afterwards.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about root canal treatment. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment” and “Trauma & Nerve Damage to Teeth.”


By David E. Habecker DDS
March 11, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: medication   aspirin  
AspirinNotJustaHarmlessOTCMedication

We tend to think of aspirin as a harmless medication. It is dispensed over the counter and is the most widely used OTC medication in the U.S. We take it without thinking we may be exposing ourselves to risks. But in certain situations aspirin can cause dangerous side effects.

What is aspirin, and how does it work?
The chemical name for aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid. It is used to reduce mild pain, inflammation and fever. When you take an aspirin, it blocks the formation of prostaglandins, substances your body creates that are associated with inflammation. Prostaglandins cause inflamed tissues to become red and swollen, but they also serve protective purposes, such as forming a barrier that protects the stomach from the acid it produces to digest your food. That's why long-term aspirin use can sometimes cause stomach bleeding and ulceration or other health problems.

Why do cardiac patients take aspirin?
Another effect of aspirin is to prevent blood platelets from clumping together. Blood platelets are structures in the blood, smaller than white or red blood cells, that aid clotting by sticking together at the site of an injury. This effect of aspirin can cause prolonged bleeding, but it may be beneficial to people who have cardiovascular (from cardio, meaning heart; and vascular, meaning vessel) disease with narrowed blood vessels.

Aspirin can keep blood flowing in the obstructed vessels and thus prevent heart attacks and strokes; but it can also increase the risk for strokes that are caused by bleeding in the brain. Most physicians attempt to lower such risks by asking their patients to keep their daily aspirin consumption to a low dose 81 mg “baby” aspirin.

How does aspirin affect your teeth and gums?
Be sure to let your medical and dental professionals know you are taking aspirin, and how much you take. Also tell us about other OTC medications you take, including herbal medications and supplements, because they may interact with aspirin to cause side effects.

If you have been told to take aspirin because of a cardiac condition or procedure, be sure to follow your recommended treatment. Do not suddenly discontinue aspirin therapy; doing so can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Ask us if you should stop taking aspirin before a major dental or oral surgery, but do not stop taking it on your own. We will consult with your physician about your medical condition and let you know our recommendation. In most cases you can continue your aspirin therapy without causing excessive bleeding during the dental procedure.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Aspirin: Friend or Foe?


TheDifferencesBetweenOneandTwo-StageDentalImplants

The best method for permanently replacing a missing tooth is with a dental implant. But did you know that there are two main techniques for placing implants? Implants can be placed either using a one stage or a two stage surgical technique, and as their names suggests, one is performed in one step while the other requires a second surgery.

With a one-stage procedure, a healing abutment is placed at the time of surgery. An abutment is a connector that attaches the implant from the bone into the mouth and which protrudes through the gum tissues. Following a 3 to 6 month healing period in which the implant fuses to the bone, a crown is then placed on the implant restoring the immediate appearance of a healthy, normal tooth. One-stage implant systems are generally used when the bone quality is good, guaranteeing good initial implant stability. They are also used when cosmetics is not a concern, such as the back areas of the mouth.

Under special conditions an implant can be placed and a crown placed on top of it at the same time. However, this is a very special circumstance requiring ideal conditions and surgical experience as well as crown fabrication know-how. It is generally safer and wiser not to subject an implant to biting forces until it is fully healed and integrated with the supporting bone.

A two-stage procedure is typically used for replacing teeth where there is no immediate need for a cosmetic solution and when more of a margin of safety is required. With this approach, the implant(s) are placed into the jawbone and the gum tissues cover them. They are not exposed to the mouth, but stay buried and left to heal. Once healed, a second surgery is performed to attach an abutment for securing the crown in place. This approach is used when there is poorer bone quality or quantity. This may make it necessary to regenerate bone around the implant at the time of its placement. There may also be other health considerations dictating that a two-stage approach may be indicated.

Depending on your individual situation and medical status, our implant team will determine which approach is best for you. To learn more about these two procedures, read the Dear Doctor article, “Staging Surgery In Implant Dentistry.” You are also welcome to contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.


By David E. Habecker DDS
March 01, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
IsItTimeForASmileMakeover

Our office can design a customized smile for you. We will want to know what you really want changed and we will listen to your ideas, look at pictures of the kind of smile you had when you were younger, and even create computerized pictures of what you think you'd like to look like. And then, with all the modern techniques at our disposal, we'll put together a blueprint, a plan to give you the smile you want.

We will start with a smile analysis to determine your facial balance, which indicates how all of the elements of your smile currently relate to each other. These elements include much more than just the teeth, such as the shape of your face, skin color, eye color, lip form, and smile dimensions to name a few.

A detailed periodontal evaluation, which includes bone and gum tissues — the supporting structures of the teeth — will determine whether the foundations of your teeth and bite are healthy. Similar to the way you would ensure that the foundation of a house is intact before you renovate, we will make sure that your periodontal tissues are healthy and sound before we begin a smile makeover.

Modern restorative dental techniques include teeth whitening, enamel reshaping, gum contouring, porcelain veneers and crowns, or a combination of several of these procedures. In some cases, orthodontic treatment (braces) or clear aligners may be necessary to ensure that the teeth are in the best position for both the aesthetics and function of your new smile.

We will inform you of all the possible paths that can lead to the final desired outcome, and will discuss all the benefits, alternatives, and risks together with the time it will take and the finances involved. Bottom line — we'll find a way to get you what you want and need, a new smile, with improved function as well as appearance. We'll also provide instruction on all that you need to know and do to keep your new smile healthy and to maintain your investment for years into the future.

So, if you have been unhappy with your smile and would like to revamp it, call our office to learn about how a smile redesign could help boost your self-image. To find out more about the details involved in a smile makeover and to view some before and after photos, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Beautiful Smiles By Design.”