Reconstructive Dentistry Milwaukee, WI
Your oral health is complicated, involving hard tissues such as the teeth and jawbone, and soft tissues such as the gums and tongue. They all work together with the connective tissues that align the upper and lower teeth and create your bite. When all of these parts are working together a trip to Hampton Dental Associates may mean nothing more than a routine cleaning and exam, or maybe replacing an old filling.
But when things start to head south, your oral health becomes compromised. Severely decayed teeth, gum disease, alignment and bite problems — at this point all of the teeth and gums in both the upper and lower jaw may need attention. This is now reconstructive dentistry, and Dr. Richard Winter has extensive experience in its various facets. His specialization in prosthodontics and implant placement is especially helpful in the process of giving our patients back a healthy, beautiful smile.
When we bite and chew, we create a tremendous amount of bite force energy. This energy passes through the teeth down into the jawbone, and it is this energy that signals the jaw to shed old bone cells and build new bone mass to replace them. This process is how our jawbone stays healthy and strong.
When a tooth or a series of teeth is missing, this energy cannot pass down into the jawbone in those areas. The body begins to resorb the bone in those areas, causing it to lose mass. This is bone loss, and it can only be addressed by bone grafting, which may be necessary before a dental implant can be placed to replace the missing tooth or teeth. Severe bone loss can be seen in older people who have lost all of their teeth. It can appear as if their jaw is collapsing backward, and it actually is to some degree.
Bone grafting is a procedure performed to increase the amount of bone in a part of the jaw where bone has been lost. Bone may be taken from elsewhere in the body and surgically fused to the existing bone in the jaw, or synthetic bone graft material may be used.
The preferred approach for dental bone grafting is to take the patient’s own bone from the hip, tibia, or the back of the jaw. This is known as an autograft. This method promotes faster healing.
Bone grafting is usually necessary if the patient has lost one or more teeth or has gum disease. This has created the bone loss that requires rebuilding in order to successfully place a dental implant or an implant-supported denture.
Root canals are easily the most misunderstood of all dental procedures. Patients equate these to medieval torture despite the fact that modern root canals don’t hurt any more than having a typical filling placed. Patients seem to believe the root canal procedure is painful, where their pain is actually caused by the infection that has invaded the interior pulp chamber of the tooth and is impacting the nerve fibers. It is this pain that is making the root canal necessary, and the procedure will remove the pain.
A root canal is actually a tooth lifesaver, as without one the infected tooth will need to be extracted. In a root canal, a small hole is created in the top of the tooth and all of the contents of the pulp chamber on the inside of the tooth are removed. This includes blood vessels, nerve fibers, and the pulp inside the tooth. The interior of the tooth is then fully sterilized and filled with a material called gutta percha, and the tooth is sealed with a composite filling. A crown is usually then placed over the tooth to maintain and ensure strength for biting and chewing. Thanks to the root canal the patient can keep his or her natural tooth, often for the remainder of their life.
Dental implants are the ultimate reconstructive dentistry procedure as they replace missing or extremely damaged teeth with dental implants. The implant consists of the titanium “implant,” which is a screw-shaped prosthetic that is screwed down into the hole formerly occupied by the natural tooth root. Because the body accepts titanium, it then grows jawbone mass around the implant, making it fully a part of the jawbone, a process known as osseointegration. Once this is complete, a post is added to the dental implant and then an artificial tooth (crown) is attached to the post. The completed dental implant now feels and functions just like a natural tooth, and it will often last the remainder of the patient’s life.
If your home hygiene is less than diligent, plaque and tartar can make their way under the gumline. This irritates the gum tissue, a process known as gingivitis. This is the early stage of gum disease. At this point, the process is easy to reverse. Dr. Winter may need to perform some root scaling and root planing to remove the tartar and plaque from under the gums, but the gums and oral health can easily return to normal.
But if left unaddressed, early gum disease will progress as the bacteria cause more and more havoc. The gums will begin to pull away from the teeth and pockets will form. These are perfect places for more bacteria to accumulate. Now the irritation of gingivitis has moved into full-blown gum disease, periodontitis. The gums are fully receding, exposing the tooth roots, which don’t have the protective enamel that the upper part of the tooth has. The bacteria begin to attack the roots and the connective tissues holding the teeth in place, so the teeth begin to loosen and fall out. Oral surgery is now necessary to keep the patient from losing all of his or her teeth. As mentioned above, gum disease will also cause the patient’s jawbone mass to degrade. This will make the jaw appear to thin and collapse backwards.
Call (414) 464-9021 for information on any of our services.
Hampton Dental Associates is proud to offer affordable dentistry programs to help you regain your perfect smile.
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