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Posts for: December, 2016

By Healthwest Dental Associates
December 28, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
TimingisEverythingWhenReplacingaTeenagersMissingTooth

There are good reasons, for both health and appearance, to replace a missing tooth with a dental implant or similar restoration as soon as is practical. The bone around a tooth socket diminishes the longer it remains empty, up to 25% the first year. And, of course, your smile is less attractive, especially with a highly visible tooth.

If it’s your teenager, though, you may need to wait on a permanent restoration because their jaws are still developing. An implant placed before completion of jaw development could eventually appear out of alignment with neighboring teeth.

Our biggest concern is protecting bone health at the site of the missing tooth. We can do this and encourage growth by placing bone grafts (processed minerals from another donor) that serve as scaffolds on which surrounding bone can grow. Grafts usually dissolve (resorb) over time, but the rate of resorption can be slowed for a younger patient in need of long-term bone growth.

Planned orthodontic treatment can usually go on as scheduled. The orthodontist may accommodate the tooth loss by adding a temporary tooth within the braces or other device that matches the color and shape of the patient’s natural teeth. The orthodontist will also take care to maintain the empty space for a future implant or other restoration.

A dental implant is considered the best option for a missing tooth, not only for its life-like appearance and durability, but also its ability to encourage bone maintenance. Timing, though, is essential for teenagers. As it grows, the upper jaw will tend to move forward and down. Natural teeth move with this growth; implants, though, are attached differently and won’t move with the jawbone. While the other teeth around them move, the implants can appear to shrink back resulting in an unattractive smile appearance. So waiting until the jaw has finished growing is important.

For most people, jaw growth finishes by age twenty-one for men, women usually faster, but each person is different. The dentist’s expertise and experience, coupled with comparisons of adult family members’ facial appearances, will help determine the right time to undertake a permanent restoration for the best outcome both for health and a permanent, attractive smile.

If you would like more information on treating teenagers with missing teeth, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants for Teenagers.”


By Healthwest Dental Associates
December 13, 2016
Category: Oral Health
ActorDavidRamseySaysDontForgettoFloss

Can you have healthy teeth and still have gum disease? Absolutely! And if you don’t believe us, just ask actor David Ramsey. The cast member of TV hits such as Dexter and Arrow said in a recent interview that up to the present day, he has never had a single cavity. Yet at a routine dental visit during his college years, Ramsey’s dentist pointed out how easily his gums bled during the exam. This was an early sign of periodontal (gum) disease, the dentist told him.

“I learned that just because you don’t have cavities, doesn’t mean you don’t have periodontal disease,” Ramsey said.

Apparently, Ramsey had always been very conscientious about brushing his teeth but he never flossed them.

“This isn’t just some strange phenomenon that exists just in my house — a lot of people who brush don’t really floss,” he noted.

Unfortunately, that’s true — and we’d certainly like to change it. So why is flossing so important?

Oral diseases such as tooth decay and periodontal disease often start when dental plaque, a bacteria-laden film that collects on teeth, is allowed to build up. These sticky deposits can harden into a substance called tartar or calculus, which is irritating to the gums and must be removed during a professional teeth cleaning.

Brushing teeth is one way to remove soft plaque, but it is not effective at reaching bacteria or food debris between teeth. That’s where flossing comes in. Floss can fit into spaces that your toothbrush never reaches. In fact, if you don’t floss, you’re leaving about a third to half of your tooth surfaces unclean — and, as David Ramsey found out, that’s a path to periodontal disease.

Since then, however, Ramsey has become a meticulous flosser, and he proudly notes that the long-ago dental appointment “was the last we heard of any type of gum disease.”

Let that be the same for you! Just remember to brush and floss, eat a good diet low in sugar, and come in to the dental office for regular professional cleanings.

If you would like more information on flossing or periodontal disease, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Understanding Gum (Periodontal) Disease.”


By Healthwest Dental Associates
December 02, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

Are you dealing with tooth loss? If so, find out if implants could be the right restoration for your smile.

Tooth loss can often feel rather daunting, especially if this is something that just happened to you. Luckily, our Dothan, AL dentists Dr. H. dental implantsPaul Hufham, III, and Dr. Bayne Heersink, are here to offer you many different treatment options to cater to your needs. While dental implants are an amazing restoration and have replaced countless missing teeth, they aren’t right for everyone so find out whether implants are the best restoration for you.

What are dental implants?

Implants are made to function just like real tooth roots, despite the fact that they only look like small metal posts. They are placed into the jawbone where they fuse together with bone and tissue to become a permanent and resilient foundation from which to support a dental crown. Implants can be used to replace one or all of your teeth, and, with the proper care, can last the rest of your life.

However, not everyone is an ideal candidate for getting dental implants in Dothan, AL. Find out if you are right for implants:

  • You are in good health: You will want to talk to us about any health problems you are facing before we determine whether implants are right for you. Ideal candidates will have great oral and general health.
  • You have a strong jawbone: Those who have been dealing with tooth loss for a long time may also suffer from bone loss. If the jawbone is too damaged to support a dental implant, bone grafting will need to happen beforehand to rebuild the jawbone prior to getting an implant. Bone grafting will improve the success of implantation.
  • You aren’t a smoker: Those who smoke or use tobacco products are more likely to experience implant failure than a non-smoker. So if you really want implants, you’ll want to quit smoking prior to and after getting your implant.
  • You are an adult: Children and teen’s jawbones are still developing. By placing an implant into the jawbone too early in life we could stunt its growth. This is why only adults are right for implants.
  • You are dedicated to your oral health: The health of your implant relies on you. You should be ready to properly care for your smile each and every day and you should be ready to visit us every six months for routine care.

If you want to find out if you are an ideal candidate for dental implants, then it’s time to schedule a consultation with Healthwest Dental Associates in Dothan, AL. Discover all the benefits you’ll enjoy when you get a dental implant!