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Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain cemented over teeth to change their color or shape. Porcelain veneers can mask undesirable defects caused by gaps, chipping, staining, injuries, discolored fillings, root canals to name a few. Veneers have a longer life and color stability than bonding.
During the tooth preparation visit, the teeth are lightly buffed to allow for the small added thickness of the veneer. Approximately a half a millimeter of the tooth is removed, which may require a local anesthetic. An impression is taken and sent to our dental lab for the fabrication of the veneers.
During the final visit to one of our Pittsburgh dental offices, your teeth are cleaned with specific chemicals to achieve a bond between the tooth and the veneers. Using a special dental cement the veneers are attached to your tooth.
Dental implants are an effective way to replace missing teeth. When teeth are lost because of disease or an accident, dental implants may be a good option. Many people choose implants to replace a single tooth or several teeth, or to support a full set of dentures. Implants are posts surgically placed into the upper or lower jawbone. They replace the root of one of more missing teeth. Dental implants are made of titanium (a strong, lightweight metal) which is well accepted by the body. Dental Implants are so well designed that they mimic the look and feel of natural teeth.
If you are in good general health and your jaw can support an implant, this treatment may be a good option for you. Your health is more important than your age. Drs. Monahan and Mele will take an in-depth health history and perform necessary testing to determine if you are a good candidate for this procedure. Regular dental visits and careful oral hygiene is essential for the long-term success of your implant.
A surgeon will surgically place the implant into your jawbone. Following the surgical procedure a healing time is required for the jawbone to grow around the implant and hold it into place. It may take up to several months before the implant is completely integrated into the bone. Then you can get the permanent replacement tooth or teeth. These replacement teeth are attached to the implant posts.
Periodontal disease is the number 1 reason for tooth loss. Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection. New research also shows there may be links between this disease and other diseases such as stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and increased risks during pregnancy. Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.
The disease is usually painless in the early stages. Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don't even know it. Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen and bleeding gums. Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque. Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria and saliva. When plaque is not removed it turns into tarter. Untreated, plaque and tarter will begin to destroy the gums and bone. Treating periodontal disease in the early stages can help prevent tooth loss.
Your dentist or hygienist uses a periodontal probe to gently measure the depth of the pockets around each tooth. When teeth are healthy, the pocket depth is usually three millimeters or less. Generally, the more severe the disease, the deeper the pocket.
Dental x-rays usually are taken to check for the amount of bone supporting the teeth. If Dr. Monahan or Dr. Mele finds periodontal disease, he or she may provide treatment or may refer you to a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease).
Once periodontal disease is brought under control with treatment, it is very important that you get dental care on a regular basis. You will need more frequent dental visits than other patients. If you follow through with periodontal maintenance care, you are more likely to keep your teeth. If you do not follow through, your periodontal disease may get worse.
More and more people today are choosing teeth-whitening procedures to reverse the effects of aging and staining from foods and/or tobacco usage. Teeth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the color of the natural tooth enamel. It is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile. Professional whitening performed by our practice is considered to be the most effective and safest method.
Drs. Monahan and Mele offer 3 types of whitening:
Root Canal Therapy
Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, large restoration previously placed close the pulp, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
The dentist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the root canal, then fills and seals the space. Afterwards, a crown will be placed on the tooth and restore it to full function. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
Tooth removal or extraction
Sometimes, teeth need to be removed due to decay, disease or trauma. Having a tooth “pulled” is called a tooth extraction.
Be sure to provide your full medical and dental history and a list of all medicines you take. This should include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements.
Bruxism is a habit of grinding or clenching the teeth. Clenching means you tightly hold your top and bottom teeth together. Grinding is when you slide your teeth together. Bruxism can happen in children and adults of any age.
Many people with bruxism wake themselves up during the night with a loud clenching or grinding sound. Sometimes the sound is so loud that other people can hear it. For other people, bruxism may be silent.
While teeth grinding may appear to be a harmless habit, it results in the physical wearing down of the tooth's surface as well as the weakening of its entire structure. Bruxism can create cracks and chips in teeth, and, without intervention, over time can contribute to a shortening of the lower face height, and a change in facial appearance.
Drs. Monahan and Mele may recommend that you wear a nightguard during sleep. Nightguards are custom made by your dentist from acrylic or plastic. The nightguard slips over the upper or lower teeth and prevents them from touching. It protects teeth and helps keep them from wearing down.
If you have lost some or all of your natural teeth, dentures can replace the teeth that are missing and improve your quality of life. With some practice, dentures can make eating and speaking easier.
Types of Dentures
Complete dentures have replacement teeth fitted into an acrylic base. The base is made to closely match the color of your gums. If you still have some natural teeth, they will be removed before your dentures are placed.
Conventional Complete Dentures
A conventional denture is made and placed in your mouth after the teeth are taken out and the tissues have healed. Healing may take up to several months. The base of the upper denture covers the palate (the roof of the mouth). When the base of the upper denture rests against your gums and palate, it makes a seal to hold the denture in place.
The lower denture has a horseshoe shape so there is room for your tongue and its muscle attachments. It rests on the gum and bone tissues of the dental ridge. Your cheek muscles and tongue also help hole the lower denture in place.
** The normal lifetime of dentures is about 5 to 10 years, but this can vary widely depending on the patient. Your gum line and dental ridge will continue to change in shape and shrink even if you do not have natural teeth anymore. At some point your dentures will no longer fit well and they will have to be remade. It is important to replace worn or ill-fitting dentures before they cause problems. You still need regular oral exams even if you have no natural teeth. During your visit, Drs. Monahan and Mele will look for signs of disease such as cancer of the head and neck. They will also check to see if your dentures fit well or if they need any adjustments.
Some patients may have the option to get immediate dentures. These dentures are made before the remaining teeth are removed. Once the denture has been made at the lab and is ready for you at your dentist’s office, the dentist or surgeon removes your teeth and the denture is placed right away. With immediate dentures, you do not have to go without teeth during the healing time after your teeth are removed. Healing can take several months. Once healing is complete, the dentures need to be adjusted or relined. Majority of cases a new permanent denture will need to be fabricated.
Implant-supported complete dentures
A complete denture may also be attached to dental implants, which provide a more secure fit. Implants are posts that are surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw. Properly placed implants make the denture stable and can help reduce bone loss.
Many patients find that implant-supported dentures are more comfortable and secure than conventional complete dentures. However, not everyone can get implants. Patients must be in good health and have enough bone to support the implants. Ask Drs. Monahan or Mele if you are a good candidate for dental implants.
Removable Partial Denture
A removable partial denture (RPD) is a denture for a replacing several missing teeth in either your upper or lower arch. An RPD can easily be taken out of the mouth for cleaning. Partial dentures usually have replacement teeth fixed to an acrylic base that matches the color of your gums. The acrylic base may cover a framework made of several durable materials. Partial dentures often have some form of clasp that attaches to your natural teeth.
Drs. Monahan and Mele may also recommend crowns, or “caps,” on your natural teeth. Crowns may improve the way a removable partial denture fits your mouth.
It takes practice to put in and take out a removable partial denture. It may feel odd or tight for the first few weeks. But in time, you should get used it. You should not wear your removable partial denture 24 hours a day. Dr. Monahan or Mele will recommend you take it out at bedtime and out it back in when you wake up. But remember that if your partial denture is out of your mouth for extended periods of time, your teeth can shift or move and then the partial denture will no longer fit.
This is a restoration that fills the space where one or more teeth have been lost. A fixed bridge is bonded or cemented into place – only a dentist can remove it.
A crown is a cover or a “cap” your dentist can put over a tooth. The crown restores the tooth to its normal shape, size, and function. A crown can make the tooth stronger or improve the way it looks. Drs. Monahan and Mele will recommend a crown if you:
Composite (tooth colored) Fillings
A cavity is a hole in a tooth that is the result of decay. Tooth decay occurs when plaque, the residue that builds up on teeth, combines with sugars and starches from food. This combination of plaque and food residue mixes with bacteria in the mouth and forms an acid that erodes tooth enamel, exposing the tooth to decay. If a cavity is not treated, the decay in the tooth will spread until it affects the nerve the tooth.
Composite fillings are tooth colored; therefore, they can be matched to the color of your teeth. It is normal to experience sensitivity to hot and cold when composite fillings are first placed, although this will subside after your tooth acclimates. As with most dental restorations, composite fillings are not permanent and may need to be replaced in the future.