Posts for: April, 2022
Porcelain crowns are most commonly used to protect and support teeth damaged by disease or trauma. Today's highly advanced crowns are more effective than ever—and more life-like and attractive.
For instance, dentists often install a crown for a tooth that's endured long-term decay. It's often necessary for a dentist to remove significant portions of affected dentin of a decayed tooth over time, which weakens its overall structure. By crowning the tooth, a dentist can both protect it from further decay and provide it structural support. For similar reasons, dentists routinely place crowns after root canal treatments.
To fulfill their role in preserving and strengthening teeth, crowns must be made of durable materials. For this reason, earlier generations of dentists often turned to crowns composed of precious metals like gold or silver, which could withstand daily chewing forces. But these metal crowns did have one downside: Other than shape, they little resembled real teeth.
Crowns later became more life-like around the middle of the 20th Century with the advent of a type of crown composed of a metal shell encased with a tooth-colored porcelain layer. Marrying functionality with aesthetics, these porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns became quite popular and reigned supreme until the early 2000s.
At that time, advances in dental porcelain led to the emergence of the all-ceramic crown. The effort had started a full decade before when dental labs began adding a material called Lucite to porcelain to give it strength. With further improvements, these new porcelain materials, which no longer required metal for durability, soon displaced PFMs as the most commonly installed crown.
Today's dental patient now has more crown choices than patients in previous generations. Especially useful for visible teeth (those in the "Smile Zone"), an all-ceramic crown now enhances rather than detracts from a tooth's appearance. Metal and PFM crowns haven't gone away either—they're often used with teeth that encounter heavy biting forces like molars, and which are not as noticeable.
With more choices, patients no longer need sacrifice their appearance to protect their teeth. You can now preserve a troubled tooth—and still maintain an attractive smile.
If you would like more information on restorative dentistry, 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 “Crowns & Bridgework.”
With traditional implant methods, it could take months before you can enjoy your new replacement tooth. That's usually not a big deal for a back tooth that's mostly out of sight. It's a different story, however, for a highly visible front tooth—the extended time without a tooth can be embarrassingly uncomfortable for some.
There is, however, another option, one you may already have seen advertised: same-day tooth replacement. In effect, you receive the implant and a life-like temporary crown in a single dental visit.
During the conventional process, the dentist surgically installs the titanium implant post into a prepared channel in the jawbone. Once it's properly positioned, the dentist then sutures the gum tissue over the implant. This protects the implant while bone cells grow and attach themselves to the post to give it a strong and durable hold within the bone.
But now dentists have developed another method to help address the appearance problem posed by teeth that are more visible. With this method, the dentist affixes a temporary crown onto the implant post immediately after installing it. The patient thus walks out the same day without a missing tooth gap and a full smile.
This is a welcome alternative for people desiring to maintain an attractive smile throughout the implant process. But it does have one major qualification—the patient's underlying jawbone must be relatively healthy and supportive of the implant. If not, the implant may require a longer period of bone growth before and after surgery to fully secure it. In those cases, it may be better to use the conventional method.
As we've already noted, a "same-day" crown isn't the permanent one, especially with single tooth implants. That's because the implant still requires bone integration over several weeks to achieve full durability. For that reason, this initial crown is made slightly shorter than the surrounding teeth to limit its encounter with biting forces generated by daily chewing, from which those forces would likely damage the implant at this stage.
After completion of the bone integration stage, the patient returns to swap out the temporary crown for the fully functional permanent crown. The "same-day" crown has served its purpose—providing the patient a seamless full smile throughout the implant process.
If you would like more information on "same-day" implant restorations, 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 “Same-Day Tooth Replacement With Dental Implants.”
Health insurance is an important part of life, helping to even out the high costs of medical treatment. Without it, many of us would find it extremely difficult to financially weather physical illness or injury.
But many also view health insurance as frustratingly complicated, including policies that cover dental care. Regarding the latter, people often view it as medical insurance's identical twin—which it's not. While insurance for clinical services and hospitalization manages cost in a comprehensive manner, the majority of dental plans function more like a discount coupon.
The great majority of dental policies today are paid for by employers as a salary benefit to their employees. There can still be differences in policies and it's important to know what kind of plan your workplace has provided you. Here's a rundown of the three basic types of dental insurance plans.
Fee-for-Service. This is the most common dental plan in which the employee is able to choose their dentist and the insurance company pays the dentist for services rendered. Each individual policy outlines the treatments covered, as well as the percentage of payment.
Direct reimbursement. With this approach, the employer pays employees' dental bills directly out of company funds. Even so, an insurance company is often still involved, but as a paid administrator for the employer, reimbursing the dental provider on behalf of the company.
Managed care. An insurance company may also create a network of dental providers that all agree to a set schedule of fees for services rendered. These dental health maintenance organizations (DHMOs) or preferred provider organizations (PPOs) can reduce patients' out-of-pocket expenses. But covered patients can only use dentists within the DHMO or PPO network to receive benefits.
You can, of course, purchase dental insurance as an individual rather than receive it as an employee benefit. If so, you'll need to weigh what you pay out for the policy and what you receive in benefits with what you would pay out-of-pocket without it to see if you're truly realizing any savings.
Either way, understanding a dental insurance plan can be a challenge for the average person. Fortunately, most dental offices are well experienced with these plans. Your dentist's staff can be a valuable resource for helping you get the most out of your insurance benefits.
If you would like more information on the financial side of dental care, please contact our office. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Insurance 101.”