My Blog

Posts for: March, 2017

By Healthwest Dental Associates
March 29, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

Everyone has to face the music at some time — even John Lydon, former lead singer of The Sex Pistols, arguably England’s best known punk rock band. The 59-year old musician was once better known by his stage name, Johnny Rotten — a brash reference to the visibly degraded state of his teeth. But in the decades since his band broke up, Lydon’s lifelong deficiency in dental hygiene had begun to cause him serious problems.

In recent years, Lydon has had several dental surgeries — including one to resolve two serious abscesses in his mouth, which left him with stitches in his gums and a temporary speech impediment. Photos show that he also had missing teeth, which, sources say, he opted to replace with dental implants.

For Lydon (and many others in the same situation) that’s likely to be an excellent choice. Dental implants are the gold standard for tooth replacement today, for some very good reasons. The most natural-looking of all tooth replacements, implants also have a higher success rate than any other method: over 95 percent. They can be used to replace one tooth, several teeth, or an entire arch (top or bottom row) of teeth. And with only routine care, they can last for the rest of your life.

Like natural teeth, dental implants get support from the bone in your jaw. The implant itself — a screw-like titanium post — is inserted into the jaw in a minor surgical operation. The lifelike, visible part of the tooth — the crown — is attached to the implant by a sturdy connector called an abutment. In time, the titanium metal of the implant actually becomes fused with the living bone tissue. This not only provides a solid anchorage for the prosthetic, but it also prevents bone loss at the site of the missing tooth — which is something neither bridgework nor dentures can do.

It’s true that implants may have a higher initial cost than other tooth replacement methods; in the long run, however, they may prove more economical. Over time, the cost of repeated dental treatments and periodic replacement of shorter-lived tooth restorations (not to mention lost time and discomfort) can easily exceed the expense of implants.

That’s a lesson John Lydon has learned. “A lot of ill health came from neglecting my teeth,” he told a newspaper reporter. “I felt sick all the time, and I decided to do something about it… I’ve had all kinds of abscesses, jaw surgery. It costs money and is very painful. So Johnny says: ‘Get your brush!’”

We couldn’t agree more. But if brushing isn’t enough, it may be time to consider dental implants. If you would like more information about dental implants, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dental Implants” and “Save a Tooth or Get an Implant?

By Healthwest Dental Associates
March 16, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

Dental crowns can help your smile in several ways. They can be used to strengthen teeth that are worn down and too weak to perform dental crownsbiting and chewing functions. Dental crowns can also be used to improve the appearance of your smile by concealing a variety of imperfections, such as discolorations, cracks and chips. When used in conjunction with a dental implant, crowns can even replace missing teeth. Dr. Paul Hufham and Dr. Bayne Heersink of Healthwest Dental Associates are your Dothan, AL dentists and dental crown experts.

What are Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns are caps that completely enclose the natural teeth. Once placed, a crown acts as a protective shell for the tooth. Crowns are durable enough to function like regular teeth and can be used to bite and chew food. Crowns also look like natural teeth. They can transform your smile by concealing cosmetic problems, such as discolorations, chips and cracks. Crowns can even improve the appearance of misshapen teeth. Your Dothan dentist can help you decide if dental crowns are the right choice for improving your smile.

The Dental Crown Procedure

Dental crowns are custom made for each patient using a mold of the patient’s teeth. This ensures the crowns will fit perfectly over the corresponding teeth. A variety of materials can be used to make dental crowns, including ceramic, porcelain, resin and gold. For ceramic, porcelain and resin, the color of the finished crown can be matched to the patient’s existing teeth. Color matching helps the crowns blend in and gives them the most natural look possible. After the crowns are created, they are cemented permanently in place.

How Dental Crowns Help

Dental crowns help your smile by strengthening weak teeth and restoring normal functions, like biting and chewing. They also help by transforming your smile’s appearance. Reasons for having dental crowns installed include:

  • Improving the appearance of your smile
  • Concealing discolorations on teeth
  • Covering cracked teeth
  • Covering teeth that are misshapen
  • Anchoring dental bridges in place
  • Covering dental implants
  • Covering large cavities that cannot be filled

Dental crowns help your smile by improving its appearance, strengthening weak teeth and restoring normal tooth functioning. To have dental crowns installed, schedule a dental exam with Dr. Hufham or Dr. Heersink of Healthwest Dental Associates, your Dothan, AL dentists, by calling (334) 702-1101.

By Healthwest Dental Associates
March 14, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sensitive teeth  

While out with friends one evening, you take a bite of ice cream. Suddenly, pain shoots through your teeth. It only lasts a second, but it's enough to ruin your good time.

This could be tooth sensitivity, a painful reaction to hot or cold foods. It often occurs when the enamel in prolonged contact with acid has eroded. Acid is a waste product of bacteria found in plaque, a thin film of food particles that builds up on tooth surfaces due to inadequate brushing and flossing. Enamel normally mutes temperature or pressure sensation to the underlying dentin layer and nerves. Loss of enamel exposes the dentin and nerves to the full brunt of these sensations.

Sensitivity can also happen if your gums have shrunk back (receded) and exposed dentin below the enamel. Although over-aggressive brushing can often cause it, gum recession also happens because of periodontal (gum) disease, a bacterial infection also arising from plaque.

The best way to avoid tooth sensitivity is to prevent enamel erosion or gum recession in the first place. Removing accumulated plaque through daily brushing and flossing is perhaps the most essential part of prevention, along with a nutritious diet low in sugar and regular dental cleanings and checkups.

It's also important to treat any dental disease that does occur despite your best hygiene efforts. Gum disease requires aggressive plaque removal, especially around the roots. While receded gum tissues often rebound after treatment, you may need gum grafting surgery to restore lost tissues if the gums have receded more deeply. For enamel erosion and any resulting decay you may need a filling, root canal treatment or a crown, depending on the depth and volume of structural damage.

While you're being treated you can also gain some relief from ongoing sensitivity by using a toothpaste with potassium nitrate or similar products designed to desensitize the dentin. Fluoride, a known enamel strengthener, has also been shown to reduce sensitivity. We can apply topical fluoride directly to tooth surfaces in the form of gels or varnishes.

Don't suffer through bouts of tooth sensitivity any more than you must. Visit us for a full exam and begin treatment to relieve you of the pain and stress.

If you would like more information on the causes and treatment of tooth sensitivity, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treatment of Tooth Sensitivity.”