Helpful Dental Information

How can I smile with confidence?

Smiling, quite simply, makes us happy. Scientists have shown that smiling for even brief periods of time, even if you aren’t in the mood to do so, can increase your feelings of happiness. The very act of smiling boosts the hormone levels associated with happiness, and lowers the levels of hormones associated with stress. These biochemical factors create a “loop of happiness” as endorphins are produced and brain signals are transmitted to facial muscles that then send a signal back to the brain, which in turn, produce even more endorphins.

But what happens when we no longer feel comfortable smiling? How does a lack of comfort with smiling, and the resulting lack of “happy” hormones flooding our brains affect us – especially in ways we might not always notice? Living with even one missing tooth has the potential to impact self-esteem and lower levels of self-confidence. While it’s easy to understand worrying about how we look with a missing tooth, or feeling like we are missing out on eating favorite foods, some of these more invisible effects can be even worse for our sense of wellbeing.

In the past, the available solutions for replacing teeth were limited and non-natural looking. The good news is that now, there are not only effective and long-lasting ways to address missing teeth, there are a wide variety of solutions to consider based on your unique situation.

Dental implants are now the standard of care for missing teeth. Better than older solutions such as dentures and other removable appliances, dental implants look, feel, and function like natural teeth. They also help prevent bone loss caused by missing tooth roots and do not require adjacent teeth to be ground down. Along with these major benefits, other important reasons to consider dental implants include:

A dental implant merges with your body
Even the best prosthesis will always be a foreign part that requires extensive care. By contrast, a dental implant is simply an artificial root, which after it heals, merges with your body and acts likes a natural root.

Dental implants preserve your facial structure
Dental implants transmit chewing forces to your jawbone. This is not the case if teeth are missing or when a conventional prosthesis has been put in place. If these forces cease, the bone may slowly recede and the shape of your face may change over time.

Dental implants not only restore your smile, they allow you to improve and maintain it
Functionality and visual appearance go together. An implant-borne restoration looks like a natural tooth - there is simply no visible difference, and special care is not required.

You can feel more comfortable talking, smiling and eating
With dental implants, palatal plates required with conventional dentures are not necessary. You will feel more comfortable talking, smiling and eating.

Dental implants are natural looking and natural feeling replacement for missing teeth
Unlike other tooth replacement options, dental implants don’t slip or click when you talk, laugh or eat. And they help keep your jawbone healthy, so your facial structure stays intact.

The decision to replace missing teeth with dental implants is not only an excellent investment in your oral health and appearance; it’s an investment in your “happiness factor” and your mental health. Dental implant therapy – a lifelong investment in your smile – is more than just a solution for tooth restoration. It can vastly improve your quality of life.

So, if you notice yourself smiling less, or feeling more and more self-conscious or frustrated to fully laugh or eat your favorite foods, talk to your dentist about whether dental implants might be a solution to get you smiling again.

How do I take care of a dental implant?

Dental implants are an excellent option and investment in overall health, and Straumann dental implants are designed to last a lifetime with proper maintenance and care. Just like natural teeth, dental implants require consistent dental check-ups and diligent oral hygiene.

Dental teams are well trained to discuss cleaning and aftercare steps to take at every stage of the procedure, from after implant surgery, to long-term care of the new teeth. By following their regimen, which includes brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings and checkups, dental implants can be successfully maintained for decades.

Post-surgical steps and tips
After dental implant surgery, it’s important to follow all of the dental team’s instructions. As healing begins, these are a few of the important topics they will discuss:

  • Swelling: Cool the external treatment area with ice or cool packs as soon as possible after the operation to help prevent pain and swelling.
  • Pain: Start taking any pain medication as prescribed.
  • Oral rinses: Do not use oral rinses in the first few hours after the operation, as this may cause bleeding. However, sipping water after the procedure is permissible.
  • Temporary restoration: The dentist may place a “healing cap” or a temporary tooth replacement. A healing cap is placed on the implant to allow the mouth to heal. Avoid chewing anything hard on the side where the dental implant was placed. This will help the dental implant to heal in preparation for the next step of the treatment.
  • Body Position: Sitting is better than lying down. Keep the head up during the day and also at night. Do not lie on the side where the implant was placed.
  • Driving: Do not drive in the first few hours after the operation. A patient’s ability to drive might be impaired by anesthetic or medication.
  • Oral Care: Do not use a toothbrush in the dental implant area of the mouth until the stitches are removed. The dentist and hygienist may recommend using an oral rinse instead of brushing the new teeth.
  • Food: Do not eat until the anesthetic has worn off. Avoid hot drinks and spicy, acidic, crunchy, or hard food for the first day.
  • Rest: Avoid alcohol, nicotine, coffee, black tea, and sports or physical exertion for the first few days after procedure

Caring for new teeth
Both the patient and the dental team contribute to the long-term success of dental implant procedures. Dental teams will prepare individual patient oral care plans, and advise on cleaning techniques specific to each treatment situation. Just like with natural teeth, dental tartar can build and cause problems for dental implants, and diligent oral care is vital to the long-term success of new teeth. Long-term care instructions include:

  • Use a soft toothbrush (change regularly) or an electric toothbrush for cleaning teeth.
  • Use cleaning aids recommended by the dental team, such as interdental brushes or irrigation devices for cleaning the spaces between teeth.
  • Brush teeth on the inside, outside, and top surfaces where chewing occurs.
  • Specific dental implant cleaning and flossing techniques may be recommended
  • Regular check-ups and preventive visits to the dentist are necessary to keep new teeth healthy.

What if a problem occurs?
Complications are rare after dental implant placement. Patients often report minimal pain or downtime, and stitches are usually removed about seven to ten days after the procedure. Straumann dental implants are thoroughly researched and scientifically backed devices; however, there may be possible side effects. It is very important to contact the dentist immediately if certain symptoms or side effects appear, such as:

  • Excessive pain on the day of the operation
  • Numbness at the dental implant site 12 hours after the operation
  • Unusual discomfort or swelling at the dental implant site several days after the operation
  • Bleeding continues after the day of surgery
  • Loss of the temporary tooth

If you have any symptoms or questions not mentioned above that become cause for concern, contact the dentist, hygienist, dental implant coordinator, or any member of the dental care team.

I’m missing all my teeth, what are my options?

Losing just one tooth can cause someone to be self-conscious and cause other problems like chewing and enjoying favorite foods. Losing all of your teeth, whether to damage, disease, or other causes, can result in serious damage to mental and physical health. When laughing, eating and smiling become uncomfortable or impossible, physical health – and mental health – suffers. The good news is that, with today’s advanced dental technology, there are multiple options for edentulous patients.

Speaking with your dentist about your teeth replacement options is the best place to start on your journey to regaining your smile. Dental professionals are trained to work with patients to discuss and recommend the best option for each individual case, which might include permanent dental implants a fixed bridge, or removable dentures.

Permanent dental implants
Permanent dental implants consist of a small post, usually made of titanium, and similar in shape to screws. Under local anesthetic, they are surgically inserted into the jawbone, and serve as the first step in the process to replace missing teeth. Once inserted, the dental implant bonds with the natural bone, acts as a substitute for the root of the tooth, and provides the base of support for the one or more replacement teeth, also known as the crowns.

One of the most effective options to restore full sets of teeth is a full-arch restoration procedure. Full-arches are a form of teeth replacement - ideal for patients that have suffered from severe tooth loss over the course of their lives - that use dental implants to recreate the functionality and appearance of a full mouth of teeth. Products like Straumann®’s Pro Arch and teethtoday® enable personalized treatment options for permanent full-arch restorations, and are able solve different clinical situations with predictable and successful outcomes. Most patients report that not only do they find full arch replacements to be secure, they provide the function and look of natural teeth that they were expecting.

Advantages

  • No slipping or clicking
  • Most similar to natural teeth
  • Long-lasting
  • Help prevent bone loss and potential change of facial structure

Disadvantages

  • Require surgery
  • Procedure may take longer than other options
  • May be less cost-effective than other options

Fixed Bridge
A hybrid solution between a permanent arch replacement and a removable denture, a fixed bridge may be the right solution for some patients. With a product such as Straumann®’s BLT dental implant, it’s possible to restore a full arch of teeth with as little as four dental implants fitted with a custom bar or splint.

This combination of components allows for proper distribution of forces of bite to strengthen and protect the permanent dental implants, while still allowing the bridge to be professionally removed and cleaned. Because of the distribution of support, a full arch can be restored with a one-piece bridge that looks great and functions properly.

Advantages

  • No slipping or clicking
  • Look, feel and function like natural teeth
  • No need for removal for cleaning
  • Cost less than full permanent arch replacement

Disadvantages

  • Require surgery
  • May require additional cleaning technique to clean underneath
  • May be less cost-effective than fully removable options

Removable Options
While permanent solutions to replace teeth are a very popular and effective means of treatment, they may not be the best solution for some patients. Certain chronic illnesses, and patients lacking the necessary bone health to support dental implants may not be good candidates for dental implant surgery. The good news is that the days of conventional dentures that might slip or click are long gone.

When treating edentulous cases, removable options represent a more straightforward approach, and do not require surgery or the additional healing time that dental implant surgery requires. As the name suggests, removable dentures can not only replace a full arch, they are easily removed for cleaning, as they are not meant to be worn 24 hours a day.

Advantages

  • Don’t require surgery
  • Less extensive than dental implants
  • Faster to complete the process

Disadvantages

  • Can be less stable than permanent dental implants
  • Takes time to get used to inserting and removing
  • Can break or be lost
  • Need to be taken out at night to clean

The options for edentulous patients are always changing and improving. In today’s works of fast-moving innovation, dental professionals are being challenged with new informed patient behavior, scientific findings, and evolving products and technologies, to find better and faster ways to help patients regain their smiles.

What are my tooth replacement options?

Dental implants are the most natural looking and natural feeling replacement for missing teeth. Unlike other tooth replacement options, dental implants don’t slip or click when you talk, laugh, or eat. They also help to keep your jawbone healthy and make sure facial structure stays intact.

There are several reasons why people lose teeth. Trauma, gum disease, malocclusion (misaligned bite), or many other reasons can also damage teeth to the point of loss. In the past, people with missing teeth were limited to options such as full or partial dentures and other removable appliances. Dental implants offer patients several amazing benefits including the ability to replace missing teeth with a long-term solution that looks and functions like natural teeth.

When a tooth is lost and not replaced, the bone that was supporting the tooth no longer has a reason to be there, so it will begin to erode. This can cause bone loss around the surrounding teeth, and can lead to damaging and losing surrounding teeth, which may ultimately lead to the eventual loss of other teeth. Although dental implant procedures involve multiple steps, replacing just one missing tooth can not only sometimes be done in one day, it can help save the other, currently unaffected teeth from future damage.

When evaluating a tooth loss, there are a few critical areas that will determine what product will be used and how the dental implant(s) will be placed.

Degree of Bone Loss
Certain conditions, such as periodontal disease, can lead to bone loss. This means there’s not enough structure for the dental implant to take hold. The good news is dental professionals can use techniques to rebuild and strengthen the area where a dental implant will be placed.

Tooth Loss Location
Some people have thinner gums than others. As a result, the metal material of a dental implant can show through like a gray shadow. This isn’t something you want, especially when replacing a front tooth. Straumann® PURE ceramic dental implants is an option in this situation that will look more like the natural color of a tooth, so they don’t create a gray shadow.

Single tooth replacement
Only have one tooth to replace and think you have limited options? The good news is that you are not alone, and better news is that you have replacement options, including Straumann’s line of dental implants, which can condense the extraction, dental implant insertion and crown connection into just one visit*. Taking action to replace a tooth as soon as possible can help ensure you have a healthy, positive, long-term outcome.

Replacing a Single Tooth

Multiple teeth replacement:
When people are missing multiple teeth but have not yet progressed to needing a full arch solution, a multiple dental implant solution is often the best and most conservative approach. This allows you to maintain some of your natural teeth and replace missing teeth with two dental implants and a bridge. Unlike partial dentures in the past, this solution is not removable. When the dental implants are placed and restored, you will have a fixed solution that functions and looks just like your natural teeth.

Multiple teeth replacement

Replacing 4 or more teeth
Losing all of your lower or upper teeth can be a very scary situation. Unlike in years past, you are not limited to removable prosthetics like dentures and partials. Believe it or not, this type of situation is not uncommon and finding the solution that is right for your can have a dramatic impact on your life in a variety of ways.

One of the benefits of newer replacement systems such as Straumann’s ProArch, is that one dental implant is not needed for every single missing tooth. Through innovations and breakthrough technology with dental implants, custom bars, and prosthetics, a full arch of teeth can now be replaced with as few as four dental implants.

Replacing or more teeth

Options for every situation
Whether you are looking to replace one or multiple teeth, Straumann offers a variety of product lines for TeethToday®, Pro Arch, and PURE to provide you with natural-looking teeth replacement. The best place to start is talking with your dentist about tooth replacement options for your unique situation.

*For patients who meet the clinical criteria for same day placement and restoration. Consult your dentist to determine if you may be a candidate for same day restoration.

What is a dental implant?

The decision to replace missing teeth with dental implants is an excellent investment in your oral health and appearance. Dental implants are now the standard of care for missing teeth. Better than older versions of crown and bridge solutions, today’s dental implants look, feel and function like natural teeth. They help prevent bone loss caused by missing tooth roots and do not require adjacent teeth to be ground down.

Technically, a dental implant is a small, but very strong post made from biocompatible metals or ceramics, and is made up of three components: the dental implant, the abutment, and the crown.

The dental implant is a small post, usually made of titanium, and similar in shape to screws. Under local anesthetic, it is surgically inserted into the jawbone, and serves as the first step in the process to replace missing teeth. Once inserted, the dental implant bonds with the natural bone, acts as a substitute for the root of the tooth, and provides the base of support for the one or more replacement teeth, also known as the crowns.

The abutment is a connector that is placed on, or built into, the top of the dental implant, and serves as the connection point and additional support for the crown.

The crown, essentially the replacement tooth, is custom manufactured to match the look, shape, and fit of the other natural teeth, and then installed onto the abutment to complete the replacement process.

Dental implant procedures generally follow a series of standard steps, and take more than one visit to complete. A licensed dental professional will first make an assessment of the patient, which includes a patient history, completion of a dental examination, and discussion of a full treatment plan. Because each patient is different, total treatment time depends on individual patients needs, medical and dental history, jawbone condition, and the technique and materials that are being used. It can be as short as a few months, or more than a year to complete more complex conditions.

The next step is the insertion of the dental implant, which done under local anesthesia. After dental implant surgery, patients need time to heal and have any sutures removed before moving onto the next phase of restoration. A temporary restoration may be placed on the dental implant at time of surgery for the healing stage.

The healing phase usually lasts between a couple of weeks and a few months. Ideally during this period the bone around the dental implant grows and integrates with the dental implant surface – a process called osseointegration. Good oral hygiene is vital in the healing stage of the treatment. Once healed, this artificial root acts as a base for fixing individual crowns, multi-tooth bridges, or an entire dental prosthesis.

Once sufficient healing has occurred, the dental professional takes an impression of the dental implant site that will be sent to a lab to produce a crown (or bridge if multiple teeth are being replaced) that is custom-fit to the patient’s mouth. Once fabrication is complete, the crown or bridge is installed.

Today’s state-of-the-art restoration products and techniques cover all patient needs – whether one tooth needs to be replaced, or all of them. Unlike other tooth replacement options, dental implants are the most natural looking and feeling, and won’t slip or cause concern during talking, eating or laughing. They have been scientifically tested and used in the last three decades by qualified dentists and surgeons worldwide. When performed by a trained and experienced dental implant dentist, dental implant surgery is one of the safest and most predictable procedures in dentistry

What is a full arch restoration?

Losing one tooth can be a trying event and can cause all sorts of problems with chewing and enjoying favorite foods. Luckily, replacing one tooth can many times be completed in one dentist visit. But what happens when multiple teeth are missing – or even all of them – on the top or bottom? When laughing, eating and smiling become uncomfortable or impossible because of a missing full arch of teeth, physical health, and mental health suffers. The good news is that, with today’s advanced dental technology, full arch restorations are not only possible; they are quite common.

In the past, patient options to replace a full arch on the top or bottom were limited to removable dentures. Removable options are still available, but full arch replacements are generally viewed as the treatment of choice because they allow the patient to fully enjoy the look, function, and feel of natural teeth. They won’t slip or click, they help to maintain facial structure, and they are the solution most similar to having a full set of natural teeth.

Permanent full arch restoration is essentially the surgical procedure to insert dental implants – normally made of titanium and similar in shape to a small screw – into a patients jawbone. Once inserted, the dental implant bonds with the natural bone, acts as a substitute for the root of the tooth, and provides the base of support for the one or more replacement teeth, also known as the crowns. The procedure can sometimes be done with as few as four dental implants, which means shorter recovery time between the initial surgery and the final crown attachment.

Full arch restorations are one of the most effective options to restore full sets of teeth, and they are ideal for patients that have suffered from severe tooth loss over the course of their lives. Products like Straumann’s Pro Arch enable personalized treatment options for permanent full-arch restorations, and are able solve different clinical situations with predictable and successful outcomes. Most patients report that not only do they find full arch replacements to be secure; they provide the results they were expecting.

While permanent solutions to replace teeth are a very popular and effective means of treatment, they sometimes are not the best solution for some patients. Certain chronic illnesses, and patients lacking the necessary bone health to support dental implants may not be good candidates for dental implant surgery.

For a patient that might not be a candidate for permanent dental implants, removable options represent a more straightforward approach, and do not require surgery or the additional healing time that the procedure requires. As the name suggests, removable dentures can not only replace a full arch, they are fully and easily removable for sleeping and cleaning; they are not meant to be worn 24 hours a day.

Aside from a lack of jawbone health, there are few reasons why a patient might choose a removable, full-arch option. They don’t require surgery, they tend to be less extensive than dental implants, and the process can be completed faster. On the other hand, the can be less stable than permanent dental implants,

they may take time to get used to inserting and removing, can break or become lost, and they need to be taken out each night to clean.

A hybrid solution between a permanent arch replacement and a removable denture that may be the right solution for some patients, is a fixed bridge. With a product such as Straumann’s BLT dental implant, it’s possible to restore a full arch of teeth with as little as four dental implants fitted with a custom bar or splint that supports a partial, removable denture.

This combination of components allows for proper distribution of forces of bite to strengthen and protect the permanent dental implants, while still allowing the bridge to be professionally removed and cleaned. Because of the distribution of support, a full arch can be restored with a one-piece bridge that looks great and functions properly.

The options for full arch restoration are always changing and improving, and innovation is assisting dental professionals with finding better and faster ways to help patients. Dental professionals are trained to work with patients to discuss and recommend the best option for each individual case and speaking with your dentist about your teeth replacement options is always the best place to start on your journey to regaining your smile.

Do you want to upgrade your dentures?

Do you currently have a removable or fixed denture that is causing you discomfort? Are you tired of having to remove your dentures at night or to properly clean them? Or, maybe you are just dissatisfied with them for another reason altogether. The good news is you don’t have to live with outdated appliances that no longer serve you. There are a variety of ways you can approach an upgrade to your prosthesis and an upgrade to your smile.

In the past, the available solutions for replacing teeth were limited and non-natural looking. The good news is that now there are not only effective and long-lasting ways to address missing teeth, there are a wide variety of solutions to consider based on your unique situation.

Advantages of dental implants
Dental implants are now the standard of care for missing teeth. Better than older solutions such as dentures and other removable appliances, dental implants look, feel, and function like natural teeth. They also help prevent bone loss caused by missing tooth roots and do not require adjacent teeth to be ground down. Along with these major benefits, other important reasons to consider upgrading to dental implants include:

  • A dental implant merges with your body. Even the best prosthesis will always be a foreign part that requires care. By contrast, a dental implant is simply an artificial root, which after it heals, merges with your body and acts likes a natural root.
  • Dental implants preserve your facial structure. Because dental implants are anchored into bone, they securely transmit chewing forces to the jawbone, which helps to maintain a healthy jaw and preserve facial structure, which is not the case if teeth are missing or when a conventional denture has been put in place. Dental implants help to keep your jawbone healthy, so your facial structure stays intact.
  • Dental implants not only restore your smile, they allow you to improve and maintain it. Functionality and visual appearance go together. When you fix missing teeth with dental implants, there will be no visible difference, which can happen with older methods. Additionally, with dental implants, time-consuming care and maintenance is not required.
  • You can feel more comfortable talking, smiling and eating. Dental implants are a natural looking and natural feeling replacement for missing teeth. Unlike other tooth replacement options, dental implants don’t slip or click when you talk, laugh or eat.

What About Cost?
When beginning the decision-making process about whether or not to explore dental implant therapy, the topic of cost will inevitably come up. Many patients begin the process assuming that the cost will be too high, but in reality, it might be surprising to learn just how affordable dental implants can be, especially when you factor in their long-term cost-effectiveness and quality of life improvement.

Dental implant treatments are customized for each patient’s specific needs, so total costs will vary. No two patients will have the same treatment plan or final cost. Your dental professional will be able to give you a cost estimate after examining you and determining the solution that’s best suited to your unique needs. They’ll explain all of the costs involved including the surgery, the lab work, the prosthesis itself, and your dentist and dental technician’s fees. Total cost also depends on how many dental implants are needed, where they are located, and the patient’s bone health. A full evaluation by an experienced dental implant expert is the best way to ensure that you are getting an accurate cost estimate for quality work.

Whether you are looking to replace one tooth or multiple teeth, there are a variety of dental implant product lines that can provide you with natural-looking teeth replacement. The best place to start is talking with your dentist about tooth replacement options for your unique situation.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss and can occur when bacteria is not removed from under the gum line and then builds up over time. If the bacteria is not removed by typical at-home care such as brushing and flossing, it can begin to form plaque, a sticky and destructive substance that forms on our teeth. If left untreated, plaque turns into a harder substance called calculus, which can eat away at your gums and bone, causing loose, and ultimately lost teeth.

There are two levels of gum disease that can affect the gums: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis, characterized by red and irritated or bloody gums, is the milder form of gum disease. Without proper treatment it can lead to the more serious periodontitis, which is defined as inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, the periodontal ligaments, and the tooth sockets.

Both types of gum diseases are fairly common among adults in the United States and both generally can be reversed, or their symptoms lessened, with effective care consisting of professional cleaning at your dental office followed by daily brushing and flossing.

Symptoms and Causes of Gum Disease
Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. Look for tell-tale symptoms if you think you might have a problem with the health of your gums. It’s also important to recognize that healthy gums are pale pink and firm. Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Bright red, purplish, or dusky red gums
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Receding gums, which can make teeth look longer than normal
  • Bleeding gums
  • New spaces developing between teeth
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • A change in the way teeth fit together when biting
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures

There are a number of factors that can cause, increase the risk of, or worsen gum disease, including:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Genetics
  • Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
  • Medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives

How Do You Prevent Gum Disease?
When caught early, gum disease can usually be treated before tooth loss occurs. But, even better than catching it early, is to prevent it altogether. Good – and consistent – at-home oral care and regular dental checkups and cleanings can go a long way to help keep your gums healthy and disease-free. Follow these brushing and flossing tips to help you get started:

Brushing Tips

  • Brush your teeth twice a day. It takes about two minutes to do a thorough job, so don’t rush through it. Don't brush immediately after eating, and don't forget to clean your tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper – tongues also collect bacteria.
  • Use the proper equipment. Use fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably. Electric or battery-operated toothbrushes also help reduce plaque, sometimes even better than a manual brushing.
  • Practice good technique. Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle and aim the bristles towards the area where your tooth meets your gum. Gently brush with circular short back-and-forth motions. Don’t press too hard – brushing too hard or with hard bristles can hurt your gums.
  • Don’t forget the backs of your teeth. It’s easy to only focus on the fronts, so remember to brush the outside, inside, backs, and chewing surfaces of your teeth.
  • Swish with mouthwash: Using a mouthwash containing fluoride can add another layer to your oral health regimen.
  • Keep your equipment clean. Always rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing. Store your toothbrush in an upright position and allow it to air-dry until using it again. Consider switching between two brushes and allowing one to dry before using it again.
  • Know when to replace your toothbrush. Invest in a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three months — or sooner if the bristles become irregular.

Flossing Tips

  • Don't skimp. Cut off about 18 inches of dental floss and wind most of it around the middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the middle finger on the other hand.
  • Be gentle. Grip the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, but don’t floss too hard. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gently rubbing motion. When the floss reaches your gum line, curve it against one tooth, making a ‘C’ shape. Don't “saw” the floss or snap it roughly into your gums.
  • Floss one tooth at a time. Use the floss to gently rub the side of each tooth in an up-and-down motion. Unwind fresh floss as you progress to the rest of your teeth.
  • Keep up the good work. If you find it hard to handle floss, use an alternative cleaning method such as a dental pick, pre-threaded flosser, a tiny brush that reaches between teeth, a water flosser, or wooden or silicone wedge plaque remover.

Keep in mind that it doesn't matter if you brush or floss first, as long as you do a thorough job – you can't always reach bacteria in tight spaces between your teeth and under the gum line with a toothbrush. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, consider resisting the temptation to use toothpicks or other objects that could injure your gums and let in bacteria. If you smoke, try to quit. Using tobacco increases your risk of gum disease and tooth loss. Other risk factors for gum disease include age, smoking, diet, and genetics. If you are at increased risk, be sure to talk with your dental professional.

Remember, you don’t have to lose teeth to gum disease. See your dentist if you suspect you have gum disease – the sooner you treat it the better.

Can I afford dental implants?

The decision to replace missing teeth with dental implants is not only an excellent investment in your oral health and appearance; it’s an investment in your “happiness factor” and your mental health. Dental implant therapy – a lifelong investment in your smile – is more than just a solution for tooth restoration; it can vastly improve your quality of life.

When beginning the decision-making process about whether or not to explore dental implant therapy, the topic of cost will inevitably come up. Many patients begin the process assuming that the cost will be too high, but in reality, it might be surprising to learn just how affordable dental implants can be, especially when you factor in their long-term cost-effectiveness and quality of life improvement.

Dental implant treatments are customized for each patient’s specific needs, so total costs will vary. No two patients will have the same treatment plan or final cost. Your dental professional will be able to give you a cost estimate after examining you and determining the solution that’s best suited to your unique needs. They’ll explain all of the costs involved including the surgery, the lab work, the prosthesis itself, and your dentist and dental technician’s fees. Total cost also depends on how many dental implants are needed, where they are located, and the patient’s bone health. A full evaluation by an experienced dental implant expert is the best way to ensure that you are getting an accurate cost estimate for quality work.

Weighing the Alternatives
At first glance, the cost of dentures or removable bridges may appear to be less expensive than dental implants. However, when you factor in the total cost of these options, they can actually run much higher than dental implants, for several reasons:

  • Initial vs. total costs. Their initial price doesn’t include the cost of replacing dentures or bridges, which may be necessary as often as every 5 to 15 years, or even more if they are lost, damaged, or broken. You must also take into account necessary ongoing maintenance costs, such as fixatives and adhesives. Dental implants are designed to last for many years, and for some, a lifetime.
  • Convenience costs. Unlike natural teeth or dental implants, dentures need to be removed every day for proper cleaning, which can be a time-consuming process.
  • Health costs. Because dental implants are anchored into bone, they securely transmit chewing forces to the jawbone, which helps to maintain a healthy jaw and preserve facial structure.
  • Social costs. Dentures can slip or click when you chew, laugh, talk or kiss.
  • Emotional costs. Dental implants restore self-confidence and reduce the stress and embarrassment of living with missing teeth.

Once you become aware of all of these factors, it becomes clear that dental implants are truly cost-competitive with other tooth replacement options over the long term. And when you also factor in quality of life and long-term oral health, dental implants clearly rank as the higher-value alternative.

What About Insurance?
Insurance coverage can be determined based on your unique treatment plan. Your dental professional will help you determine if your treatment will be covered. If it’s determined that insurance won’t cover your procedure, speak with your dentist about what options may be available. Many dental practices now offer financing and payment plans that can be paid off over time. It’s always worth a call to your insurance company to discuss whether or not your particular situation might be covered. Heath care savings plans are also another avenue to investigate for ways to finance dental implant therapy.

Replacing missing teeth with dental implants is an excellent investment in oral health and appearance, and dental implant therapy is now considered to be the standard of care for missing teeth. Although beginning the process can feel overwhelming and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. The best way to get started is to contact your dentist directly and ask about suitable options that fit your unique needs.

How do you treat gum disease?

Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss and can occur when bacteria is not removed from under the gum line and then builds up over time. If the bacteria is not removed by typical at-home care such as brushing and flossing, it can begin to form plaque, a sticky and destructive substance that forms on our teeth. If left untreated, plaque turns into a harder substance called calculus, which can eat away at your gums and bone, causing loose, and ultimately lost teeth.

There are two levels of gum disease that can affect the gums: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis, characterized by red and irritated or bloody gums, is the milder form of gum disease. Without proper treatment it can lead to the more serious periodontitis, which is defined as inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, the periodontal ligaments, and the tooth sockets.

Both types of gum diseases are fairly common among adults in the United States and both generally can be reversed, or their symptoms lessened, with effective care consisting of professional cleaning at your dental office followed by daily brushing and flossing. The first step to treat gum disease is to contact your dentist to discuss the best treatment options for your individual situation.

How to Treat Gingivitis
Treatment methods for gum disease depend upon how far the condition has progressed. While this first-stage of gum disease usually gets better or reverses after a professional cleaning, proper oral hygiene must be continued at home, or the condition can easily and quickly return.

During a therapeutic deep cleaning, the dentist or dental hygienist will remove all plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) with processes called “scaling,” and “dental root planing”. Scaling is the process of removing built-up bacteria above and below the gum line. Dental root planning goes a bit deeper and actually smoothes and cleans the tooth root to help unhealthy gums reattach to the tooth. Your dentist may need to complete this deep cleaning in more than one visit, and will most likely use a local anesthetic like Novocaine to manage your discomfort level during the procedure.

Your dentist may also discuss fixing misaligned teeth or poorly fitting fillings, crowns or bridges to help reduce the chance of plaque building up in hard-to-reach places. They may also recommend an over-the-counter or prescription mouthwash to help reduce and remove bacteria and plaque on your newly-clean teeth. Diligent home care, and twice-yearly professional cleanings will help to keep gingivitis at bay.

How to Treat Periodontitis
If gingivitis is not treated, it may lead to periodontitis, which is a much more serious level of gum disease. Periodontitis can lead to the destruction of gums, mouth bones, tissue, and teeth, and is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults.

If plaque spreads too far below the gum line, toxins can cause the tissues and bone that support the teeth to break down and pull away from the teeth and form spaces called pockets. Pockets can become infected, and if not treated, teeth may cause teeth to become loose, fall out, or have to be removed. There are several types of periodontitis, including:

  • Chronic periodontitis is the most common form and characterized by pocket formation and gum recession. Chronic periodontitis can occur at any age but is most common in adults.
  • Aggressive periodontitis is characterized by rapid loss of gums and bone destruction.
  • Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases is associated with heart disease, diabetes and respiratory diseases. This form usually presents at a young age.
  • Necrotizing periodontal disease is characterized by necrosis (death) of gum tissue, periodontal ligaments and alveolar bones, which cause lesions. It is most common in people with systemic conditions like HIV, malnutrition and immunosuppressive conditions.

There are both non-surgical and surgical treatments for periodontitis, depending on its severity. Non-surgical treatments are similar to the treatments for gingivitis: scaling, deep root planing, and prescription antibiotics. More severe cases may require surgical intervention including:

  • Flap surgery (pocket reduction surgery) is the lifting back of gum tissue and exposing the tooth roots for more effective scaling and root planing. The underlying bone may be recontoured to make it easier to clean the area around the gums.
  • Soft tissue grafts are used to reinforce soft tissue lost to gum recession. A small amount of tissue from the roof of the mouth is relocated to the gum line in order to reduce further gum loss, cover exposed roots, and improve appearance.
  • Bone grafting is done when the bone around the tooth root has been destroyed and helps prevent tooth loss by holding the tooth in place. It also promotes bone regrowth.
  • Guided tissue regeneration promotes regrowth of bone through the use of a biocompatible material placed between the bone and affected tooth. The material prevents unwanted tissue from growing so that the bone can grow back.
  • Enamel matrix derivative application is another form of guided tissue regeneration that involves the application of gel to a diseased tooth root. The gel contains the same proteins that naturally exist in developing tooth enamel. Its application stimulates healthy bone and tissue growth.

After a deep cleaning or surgical procedure, you may have pain for a day or two and teeth sensitivity for up to a week. Your gums also may be swollen, feel tender and bleed. To prevent infection, control pain or help you heal, your dentist may prescribe a pill or mouth rinse.

Your dentist may also insert medication directly into pockets that were cleaned. Your dentist will likely schedule another visit to see how your gums have healed and how your at-home dental regimen is working. Remember, you don’t have to lose teeth to gum disease. If you suspect you have gum disease, or if your dentist has diagnosed you with gingivitis or periodontitis, there are ways to treat – and in many cases, reverse – it. The best first step is to consult with your dental professional and get started on a treatment and prevention plan. The sooner you get started, the better.

How do I talk to my doctor about dental implants?

Replacing missing teeth with dental implants is an excellent investment in oral health and appearance, but it does require a degree of planning and decision-making. Although dental implants are now the standard of care for missing teeth, beginning the process can feel overwhelming and confusing. One of the best – and easiest – ways to start your journey towards smiling again is to arm yourself with some questions and begin a conversation directly with your dentist. Here is a list of questions and some initial information you can use to prepare and educate yourself to start that conversation.

1.    How do I know if I am a good candidate for dental implants?
There are criteria that your dentist will use to evaluate whether or not you are a good candidate.

2.    Can any dentist do dental implant surgery?
Both oral surgeons and periodontists are often trained to perform dental implant surgery, but you should always make sure your dental professional has gone through professional training to perform dental implant surgery.

3.    Are dental implants expensive?
Your dental professional will be able to give you a cost estimate after examining you and determining the solution that’s best suited to your unique needs and explain all of the costs involved including the surgery itself, lab work, the prosthesis and your dentist’s and dental technician’s fees. In some cases, dental implants may be more economical than dentures in the long term.

4.    Does insurance cover dental implants?
Insurance coverage can be determined based on your unique treatment plan. Your dental professional will help you determine if your treatment will be covered.

5.    What if insurance will not cover my procedure? Can I finance my dental implant procedure?
Your dental professional can discuss with you what financing options they might offer or recommend.

6.    Do I have options, or is there only one type of dental implant?
There are many solutions and product lines available. Your dental professional will help you understand and recommend different options.

7.    Can I have just one tooth replaced, or do I need to have more than one to be replaced?
Your dental professional will determine the number of dental implants required after evaluating your clinical situation. There are many options available depending on your unique situation.

8.    How long do dental implants last?
Dental implants are designed to last for many years. Following your dental professional’s instructions for home care and maintenance is critical to keeping your mouth healthy, even after replacing your teeth with dental implants.

9.    What is the dental implant process?
The dental implant process includes a few steps to complete process: diagnosis and decision-making, insertion of the dental implant, the healing phase, and finally, the crown restoration. Your dental professional will discuss each step of the process and how long each step is expected to take.

10.  How long does the whole process take?
Every patient is unique and your dental professional will be able to estimate the length of your treatment only after evaluating your clinical situation and required procedures. After the initial dental implant surgery, the healing process takes about 6-8 weeks. In this time, the dental implant reaches the stability needed for it to bear weight like a natural tooth. As always, healing times can vary depending on the individual condition and indication. After healing, the crowns can be attached.

11.  Is there a faster method rather than waiting for months?
Depending on your unique situation, there may be an option that doesn’t take months. Talk to your dental professional about your options.

12.  Is the surgery painful?
Dental implants are generally inserted under local anesthetic to help minimize discomfort during the operation. Your dental team will do everything possible to make you comfortable during the procedure minimize any discomfort post-surgery.

13.  Are there any risks when placing dental implants?
Dental implant therapy is a well-proven, state-of-the-art medical dental technique that has been scientifically tested and used for decades by dentists and surgeons worldwide. The clinical outcome of dental implant treatment is influenced by multiple variables. The following possible residual risks and side effects relate to dental implants and may lead to additional treatment at the dentist’s office:

  • Bite/mastication/phonetic problems
  • Bleeding
  • Bone compression
  • Bone damage
  • Gingival injuries
  • Hypersensitivity/allergic reactions
  • Infection
  • Irritation/inflammation
  • Longer recovery/healing time than expected
  • Loss of implant dental 
  • Loss of prosthetic components
  • Nerve damage, possibly resulting in chronic pain
  • Other toxicity reactions
  • Paresthesia
  • Dysesthesia
  • Poor esthetic outcome
  • Risk of surgical dental implant explanation
  • Risk of swallowing/inhaling small parts during the procedure
  • Trismus
  • Ulceration
  • Dental implant fracture
  • Sinus perforation
  • Swelling
  • Local inflammation
  • Bruising
  • Resorption of maxillary/mandibular ridge bone
  • Infection (including periimplantitis, periodontitis, gingivitis, fistula)
  • Minor bleeding

Note: Immediately after the insertion of dental implants, activities that demand considerable physical exertion should be avoided.

Your dental professional will discuss any risk factors that are associated with your unique clinical case.

14.  What if I decide to not do the replacement?
Missing one tooth may not seem like a big deal, but if multiple are missing, it can affect two critical areas: function (eating foods you love, proper chewing, forced to eat what you can, not what you want) and aesthetics (not being able to smile has a tremendous impact on self confidence). It is important to discuss all options with your dental professional.

15.  Are there any special aftercare measures required?
Diligent oral hygiene both before and after your procedure helps to ensure satisfactory results. Your dental professional will discuss aftercare and specific instructions for your procedure.

16.  Is there any age limitation to dental implant therapy?
It is possible to insert dental implants as soon as the jaw has stopped growing. Therefore, in young patients, dental implants can only be placed once their jawbones are fully developed. At the other end of the spectrum, there is no age limit, given of course that the patient does not display any significant medical risk factors. Your jawbone health will be evaluated by your dental professional as part of the process.

17.  Are people satisfied with the function and look of dental implants?
Long-term surveys have shown that Straumann® dental implants have very high satisfaction rates. Patients can count on reliable solutions, as Straumann makes no compromises on quality.

18.  What are dental implants made of?
Dental implants are generally made of Titanium - a biocompatible, non-toxic and well-tolerated metal. Dental implants made from titanium bond very well to living bone and have been used for decades in the medical device industry.

19.  Other areas of discussion about your dentist’s experience and choice of products can help you get more clarity. These include:

  • What products do they use to help deliver quality dental care?
  • What type and brand of dental implants does your dentist use?
  • How long has your dentist been using this dental implant system and why?
  • What kind of clinical evidence supports the dental implant system and its success rate?
  • Which dental implant brand would your dentist select for him/herself or a family member?

Do you want to learn more about dental implants or gum treatments?

Every surgical procedure carries potential risks. You should always consult with a dental professional prior to treatment. Potential risk factors may vary depending on medical or other conditions of each patient. The possibility of immediate placement and the use of a prosthetic tooth depends on many factors, such as bone presence and quality, dental history, implant location, and availability of the final restoration. Your clinician will fully describe the possible scenarios to you during consultation prior to surgery. Every surgical procedure carries potential risks. Consult your clinician to find out if dental implants are right for you.