So – you’ve had a restorative procedure to repair damage to one or more teeth. Depending on your individual situation, that my involve a crown, bridge, a combination of those two, or dental implant surgery.
Now, you can just go back to your normal life, right?
Well…that depends on what you mean by normal. If it means going back to the same habits that led to tooth decay and damage, then the answer has to be no – not exactly. Your new tooth replacement needs good and regular care to make it last, and keep the surrounding natural teeth and gums healthy.
Crowns and Bridges
A crown may be made of ceramic or porcelain, and it fits directly on top of your damaged tooth. They are used in certain situations.
• The tooth has extensive decay, and the crown will help to prevent further damage;
• The tooth is badly cracked or otherwise physically damaged or weakened;
• There is a large filling in the tooth.
With proper maintenance, a crown can last 5 to 15 and even 20 years or more before a replacement is needed. Even though the crown surface is durable, it’s important to keep in mind that there is still a damaged tooth underneath it.
• The tooth underneath is still susceptible to decay from acids and bacteria.
• Acids can accumulate along the seal between the tooth and the crown.
• If exposed to the acid long enough, the seal can soften and allow the bacteria to gather on the tooth.
• The bacteria can eventually make its way underneath the crown and infect the tooth even more.
• In that case, the crown will have to be removed to repair the tooth, and then a new crown attached.
Long Term Maintenance
Try to space out your meals and snacks. Remember that the length of exposure to acids, plaque, and bacteria is what matters. Snacking continually through the day creates the worst environment for teeth and gums.
• Brush three times a day and floss every day.
• The space where the crown meets the natural tooth is called the margin. Using a soft toothbrush, be sure to keep that area very clean, and take extra care around this area.
• Avoid refined sugars and acids in foods.
• See your dentist and dental hygienist regularly.
Dental implants take an entirely different approach to repairing teeth. A metal (usually titanium) support is attached directly to your jawbone. A tooth replacement, or bridge, is then attached to the support in what is typically a second procedure. The bone grows over the metal support, and it becomes more and more stable over time. Aftercare is important.
Long Term Maintenance
The way the implant connects with the crown or bridge, and the intervening layers of bone and gum, is actually quite complex. A natural tooth is attached to the bony socket around it by means of the periodontal ligament. There is blood flow throughout the tooth system that helps prevent and resist infection from bacteria – a benefit the implant does not have.
• It is that much more important to remove the biofilm or plaque that develops around the implanted tooth on a daily basis. Infection around an implant can cause bone loss.
• See your dental hygienist for more frequent cleanings. This professional is a key weapon in the fight against infection. They may also use specialized instruments that help protect the surface of the new tooth.
• Watch for any changes around the seal between the gum and implant. If the implant itself ever shows visibly, it means that there has likely been an infection that resulted in bone or gum loss. Typically, it means that the fusion between the implant and bone has deteriorated.
• In that case, the implant material is quite difficult to clean, and will require a hygienist’s help.
Looking for advice on tooth replacement options? You’ll find the answer at Dr. Robert Axelrad’s Dental Office in Brampton, ON.
If you’re looking for a well-regarded and highly skilled dentist in the Brampton area, make an appointment with Dr. Robert Axelrad by calling (905)-791-3867. Visit our website to learn more about our dental services.