Posts for: December, 2017
In the early Eighties, dentists began noticing symptoms among a few patients that indicated something far more serious. They were, in fact, among the first healthcare providers to recognize what we now know as HIV-AIDS.
Today, about 1.2 million Americans have contracted the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It’s a retrovirus, somewhat different than other viruses: it can invade immune system cells and hijack their replication mechanism to reproduce itself. Untreated it eventually destroys these cells to give rise to the more serious, life-threatening disease Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Thanks to antiretroviral drugs, most HIV positive patients live somewhat normal lives and avoid the more serious Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). But while antiretroviral therapy effectively inhibits the action of the virus, it isn’t a cure — the virus is a permanent resident of the body and can still affect health, especially in the mouth.
In this regard, one of the more common conditions associated with HIV is Candidiasis, a fungal infection also known as thrush, which causes cracking of the mouth corners and lesions or white patches on the surface of the tongue or roof of the mouth. HIV patients may also experience limited saliva flow that causes dry mouth (xerostomia) with effects that range from bad breath to a higher risk of tooth decay.
The most serious effect, though, of HIV on oral health is the body’s lower resistance to fight periodontal (gum) disease. HIV patients are especially susceptible to a severe form known as Necrotizing Ulcerative Periodontitis (NUP), a sign as well of immune system deterioration and the beginning of AIDS. This painful condition causes gum ulcerations, extensive bleeding, and the rapid deterioration of gum attachment to teeth.
If you or a family member is HIV positive, you’ll need to pay close attention to oral health. Besides diligent brushing and flossing, you or they should also regularly visit the dentist. These visits not only provide diagnosis and treatment of dental problems, they’re also an important monitoring point for gauging the extent of the HIV infection.
Taking care of dental problems will also ease some of the discomfort associated with HIV. Thanks to proper oral care, you or someone you love can experience a higher quality of life.
Tooth loss dramatically changes your appearance, but it doesn't have to permanently alter your smile. Dental implants offer a long-lasting way to replace missing teeth. Our Sherman Oaks, CA, dentists, Dr. Michael Amir and Dr. Larry Hamer of SC Dental Group, explain how your smile can be restored with implants.
Dental implants replace tooth roots
Thanks to innovative dental technology, it's possible to restore your missing tooth, starting with the root. A small titanium post placed in your jaw during a minor surgical procedure serves as a replacement root. It's attached to a dental crown, a lifelike artificial tooth that will enhance your appearance and making chewing a simple process once again.
Bonding is the key to the success of dental implants
During a process called osseointegration, your new implant bonds to your jawbone. Osseointegration is the most crucial step in the entire process. Without it, your implant would wiggle and slip every time you took a bite of food. After you receive your implant, it will remain safely concealed under your gum for about three to six months while it heals and bonds to the bone. Once bonding occurs, an abutment will be attached to the top of the crown in our Sherman Oaks office. The abutment, which looks like a small screw, connects the crown to the dental implant.
Dental implants offer exceptional comfort and versatility
Unlike other restoration options, dental implants actually feel like natural teeth. Because your crown is firmly attached to the top of the dental implant, your restoration won't irritate your gums or feel awkward or uncomfortable. Implants are an excellent option, whether you've lost one, five or all of your teeth.
Implants help prevent bone loss
Tooth loss causes changes above and below your gums. A strong jawbone is necessary to support your teeth, but bone loss may occur after you lose a tooth. Without constant pressure from tooth roots, the jawbone may begin to shrink. Unfortunately, if the bone shrinks substantially, it might not be able to support your other teeth. As a result, they may loosen and even fall out. Implants ensure that the bone continues to receive the stimulation it needs and prevents this unpleasant consequence.
Do dental implants sound like a good solution for you? Call Sherman Oaks, CA, dentists, Dr. Amir and Dr. Hamer of SC Dental Group, at (818) 905-5400 to schedule an appointment.
While it may not be one of your favorite features in the dental office, the dental drill is nevertheless necessary for treating problem teeth. It’s used primarily for removing decayed or damaged structure and preparing a tooth for fillings or other restorations.
Dental drills have been used for decades and are quite effective — but they have their drawbacks. Their rotating burrs often remove portions of healthy tooth structure along with decayed material. Friction from the drill action can cause discomfort, so local anesthesia is usually needed. Drills can also emit a high-pitched machine noise that’s unsettling to many patients.
There’s a growing alternative to the drill, known as air abrasion. Although the technology has been around since the 1950s, the development of new suction pumps that capture the resulting dust from its use has made it more palatable as an option to the traditional drill.
Also known as particle abrasion, the technique uses a pressurized stream of fine particles (usually aluminum oxide, an abrasive powder) directed at teeth to wear away (abrade) the tooth’s structural surface. We can be quite precise in the amount of surface material removed, so it’s useful for diminishing stains or roughing the surface for bonding materials like composite resin. We’re also able to remove decayed material with very little impact on surrounding healthy structure, and you may not need anesthesia during the procedure.
While this quiet alternative to the noisier drill is quite versatile, it does have its limitations. It’s not that efficient for preparing larger cavities for restoration or for removing older amalgam fillings. The teeth to be treated must be carefully isolated to prevent the fine particle dust produced from being swallowed by the patient or spread into the air. High-volume suction equipment is a must or the procedure will create a “sandstorm” of particles in the room.
Still, for situations suited to it and with proper isolation measures, air abrasion can be effective and comfortable. If the technology continues to improve, the dental drill may soon become a relic of the past.
If you would like more information on procedures using air abrasion, 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 “Air Abrasion Technology.”