Austin Smile Creations – Austin Dentist Blog

A blog about implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, general and family dentistry and a healthy living.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry is a general term that covers many different dental treatments used to help improve your smile. But that can mean that cosmetic dentistry is a confusing topic for some. We help clarify what cosmetic dentistry can do by answering some of the most common questions we hear about treatment:

What are my options for whitening my teeth? Generally, there are two ways to whiten your teeth with professional treatment: in-office whitening or at-home whitening kits. Both treatment methods effectively lift stains on teeth. At Austin Smile Creations, we offer the convenience of customized whitening trays for use at home under the doctor’s supervision, due to its better outcome predictability and reduced sensitivity side-effects.

How can I repair a chipped tooth? – There are many options for repairing a chipped tooth, depending on the severity of the chip and which tooth is damaged. For less severe damage, it’s possible to restore a tooth to its natural appearance with a porcelain veneer or composite bonding. For a tooth in need of more comprehensive care, a porcelain dental crown can be placed. Any of these choices allows you to get a fully-restored new tooth.

If I have a lot of aesthetic smile problems, do I need extensive treatment? Not necessarily! A treatment like porcelain veneers is capable of correcting multiple flaws, such as severe discoloration, mild misalignment, cracked chipped or cracked tooth, or even teeth that are unevenly sized. However, in some instances, additional care may be required. For example, it’s always best to build a new smile on top of healthy gums, so your treatment lasts as long as possible. For this reason, Dr. Gotun may recommend periodontal therapy for patients with advanced gum disease.

What do I do for small problems like gaps between teeth, or teeth that are tipped and tilted? For mild cases of misalignment and tilted teeth, a treatment like porcelain veneers – as mentioned above – can provide a total transformation with minimal treatment. Because getting porcelain veneers requires prepping teeth and placing a thin shell of porcelain on top of them, your teeth can be re-designed to be straighter and more even.

I need to replace a whole tooth – what can I do? There are many tooth-colored and life-like options for replacing teeth. For many patients, the ideal solution is dental implant. Implants are strong and last a lifetime with proper care. However, for patients who prefer removable, or non-surgically placed, prosthetic teeth, other options include partial dentures and bridgework.

I have several decayed teeth – how can I make them look healthy again? This depends on the severity of decay on each tooth. For teeth with very small spots of decay, a tooth-colored composite filling will do the trick and leave you with a smile that looks totally natural – no metal amalgam. For moderate decay, there are onlays and inlays – pieces of porcelain (that sometimes look like puzzle pieces) which are used to replace decayed portions of teeth. In the event that there’s too much damage for a filling or an inlay/onlay, a tooth-colored dental crown can be used to restore your smile’s healthy appearance.

When it comes to helping patients get the cosmetic smile repairs they need, our office provides top-of-the-line, customized care. Dr. Gotun uses strong and beautiful tooth-colored material for all crowns, inalys, onlays, veneers, and bridges.

If you have a question about cosmetic dentistry that we didn’t answer here, contact our Austin dental office for more information.

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When You May Need Dental Surgery

Many oral health problems, when caught early, can be treated without the need for surgical intervention. There are other times, however, when an oral health problem has advanced or a dental emergency causes a need for oral surgery.

Many oral surgeries are less complex and invasive than some patients believe and are often essential in restoring your health and oral function.  You may need oral surgery for any of the following:

Extracting a tooth: Simple extractions, such as removing a damaged tooth, often don’t require oral surgery. However, more complex cases – like with impacted wisdom teeth – do mean surgical intervention. In the case of tooth impaction, surgery is needed to safely remove the tooth and prevent damage to healthy, surrounding teeth.

Replacing a tooth: When a permanent tooth has been removed because of extensive decay, or has been knocked out in an accident, replacing it is the best choice for your health. Many patients with missing teeth are now opting for dental implants, which are whole replacement teeth and include a new root and crown. The process for getting an implant involves surgically placing the new tooth root, which makes your new tooth or teeth much stronger than most other prosthetics.

Treating gum disease:  Periodontal surgery is needed when a patient’s case of gum disease has progressed and is posing a threat to the health of their teeth. For patients with deep pockets of bacteria, where the gum tissue is pulling back from the teeth, pocket reduction surgery may be recommended. Pocket reduction surgery helps clean bacteria from very deep gum pockets, and helps gum tissue re-adhere to teeth in a healthy way.

Supporting other dental treatments:  When you need restorative dental care, you may also need some pre-treatments to support best outcomes. For certain restorations, such as dental implants and fixed bridges, patients will need healthy and dense supporting tissue to accommodate treatment, which is where oral surgery can help. Patients who have been missing teeth for some time may have lower jaw bone density. In these cases, a bone graft helps build-up healthy bone so your implant can be placed securely or so you can receive a fixed dental bridge.

At Austin Smile Creations, we’re able to provide experienced oral surgery care for patients in need of wisdom teeth extractions, dental implant placement, or any necessary pre-treatments, like bone grafting. We offer advanced oral surgery with the latest techniques, including PRP and PRGF, as well as Low Level Laser Therapy, which makes these procedures much easier, speeds up healing, and eliminates pain. Contact our office today for more information on the oral surgery treatments we provide.

A Life Without Your Natural Teeth

You may have missed this video from around the web last week, but if you press play, you’ll see Danica Patrick (famed NASCAR driver and GoDaddy.com spokeswoman) exercising her funny bone in this stunt that shows the unsuspecting public what life would be like without their natural teeth.

It’s something that not all of us think about — if you brush and floss your teeth twice a day, you’re doing all you need to keep your teeth for life, right? While more people are keeping their natural teeth into later years, it’s possible to miss big problems (like tooth infections, abscesses, and signs of gum disease) that lead to tooth extraction, if you aren’t making your routine trips to the dental office.

If you do happen to need a tooth extracted, however, you won’t necessarily find yourself having to live in Danica’s new reality – liquefying your meals to make them easier to eat. Modern restorative dental treatments give patients options for keeping their ability to bite and chew – actions we take for granted, but that are impacted by the loss of even a few teeth.
These treatment options include:

  • Dental Implants – The most sturdy way to replace teeth, a dental implant can take the place of a whole tooth (from root to crown) or can be used to permanently secure a full arch of dentures. Dental implants are long-lasting and versatile in their ability to support new teeth and help patients improve their overall oral health.
  • Full and Partial Dentures – These tried and true prosthodontics are sets of replacement teeth that are either held in place with adhesive (full dentures) or are attached to a retainer-like device and replace a few missing teeth (partials). Either option helps you enjoy better aesthetics and function.
  • Fixed Bridges – Another choice for replacing one missing tooth, or a small group of teeth, is fixed bridges, which are permanently bonded in place and make use of sturdy dental crowns. Fixed bridges are another popular restoration that also improve the appearance of your smile and make it easier to eat.

Danica’s message hits home for many Americans who don’t put their oral health at the top of their priorities list. While it’s always best to keep your own natural teeth – you don’t have to live without full biting and chewing function in the event of tooth loss. Call Austin Smile Creations if you have questions about dental implants or other cosmetic and restorative solutions for replacing teeth in Austin, TX.

How to Pick the Right Dentist

Finding a dentist to provide quality dental care for every member of your family is important, especially if you haven’t seen a dentist in a while and need comprehensive care. Here are some pointers on what to look for when choosing a dentist to fit your needs:

Training and Know-How

Dentists are trained professionals who complete many years of schooling and must maintain certification by fulfilling requirements for continuing education credits annually. It’s worth asking about the extent to which a dentist is experienced and educated in the treatments you’re interested in receiving, especially if they’re specialty procedures, like prosthodontics or periodontics. Some dentists are highly skilled in multiple areas and so can be considered for a wide range of services.  It’s important to find someone who has the experience to deliver quality results.

Services that Apply to Your Concerns

Does the dentist’s list of treatments reflect what you need? Patients with young children may consider finding a family dentist with flexible hours who caters to making children comfortable while visiting their office  Other patients who need a total oral health overhaul may want to find a dental office that excels in periodontal care and restorative dentistry.

Technology

Technological developments in dentistry have provided patients with an entirely different experience – one that is quicker and more comfortable. Even replacing teeth can be done in relative comfort, thanks to advancements in the field.  If you’re seeking comprehensive treatment, consider looking for a dental office that users digital technology, dental lasers, or any other equipment that shortens treatment time, provides for customized care, and reduces the number of return visits you have to make to their office.

Reputation

Search for dentists, or look up a dentist you’re considering visiting, on Google+ Local, Yelp, and other popular review sites. Getting a feeling for how the community reacts to a dentist’s services is a good indicator of what you can expect from treatments.  For further endorsements, consider asking friends and family if they have offices they like and would recommend.

If you have questions for a dentist, call Austin Smile Creations for assistance. We provide a range of treatments, from dental implants to cosmetic dental care, to help you achieve excellent oral health.

What TMJ Disorder Does to Your Oral Health

While TMD is a disorder of the joint that connects both arches of your jaw, its effects go far beyond jaw issues. Dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint can have an impact on your oral health and your overall feeling of wellness, producing headaches and even neck and shoulder aches.

In terms of health and aesthetic of your teeth, TMJ disorder throws off the balance of your bite and causes you to constantly clench or grind your teeth, with the resulting effects on your oral health being:

Wearing down of biting surfaces – Patients with TMD often involuntarily grind their teeth, especially while sleeping. This persistent pressure on the biting surfaces of teeth causes abnormal wear and tear. Worn-down teeth eventually need to be treated with dental crowns for aesthetics and to reinforce them for improved oral function, such as biting and chewing.

Cracking or chipping teeth – In addition to worn-down teeth, TMJ disorder also causes teeth to crack and break from persistent jaw clenching. Cracked teeth require additional dental work, in the way of prosthetics (veneers or crowns) and possibly even root canals.

Diminished bite quality – Dysfunction of the jaw joints can eventually wear on cartilage and make things like biting, chewing, and even opening your mouth difficult and painful. Bad bite alignment due to genetics can also be something that aggravates TMD symptoms, making bite balance a cyclical issue for TMJ therapy.

Just about everyone has some small degree of TMD, but severe cases produce visible and uncomfortable drawbacks for dental patients. The best way to protect your oral health, and prevent the need for more complex dental care down the road, is to take a proactive approach to taking care of your TMD.

At Austin Smile Creations, we offer effective and comfortable therapies to help you manage your temporomandibular joint disorder, including treatment with splints, Botox®, and other procedures to prevent grinding and clenching of teeth. We can also help restore the alignment of your bite with non-invasive restorative dental therapies. Contact our office today to learn more about TMD side effects and how they can be treated.

What to Look for in an Excellent Cosmetic Dentist

Cosmetic dentistry is not a recognized dental specialty, which means anyone calling themselves a cosmetic dentist is not required to complete extra training or certification to use that title. Outcome for aesthetic dental treatment therefore varies widely from one dental office to another. But here’s how you can find a cosmetic dentist who is able to help you achieve your goals, and provide you with the best in cosmetic dental care:

Treatment Options – There are many dental treatments that help you achieve similar goals. For example, a fixed dental bridge can replace a missing tooth, but it won’t last as long or look as natural as a dental implant. A good cosmetic dentist will help you pick the treatment that provides long-lasting results and looks just like your real teeth.

Choices in Materials – Furthermore, it’s important that the materials chosen for your cosmetic restoration are the best for aesthetics. A porcelain-over-metal dental crown will look natural when brand-new, but tends to age poorly – showing a black line against your gums. Restorations made from solid porcelain, ceramic, and zirconia look more like real dental enamel and are just as strong as metal crowns.

Experience and Training – While cosmetic dentistry may not be a dental specialty, there are still professional development courses in dental aesthetics that dentists can take to hone their skills. You can measure a dentist’s commitment to the best in cosmetic and restorative dentistry by how many education hours they take that go beyond the minimum required to keep their license.

Recognition – Perhaps the best measuring stick for a dentist’s cosmetic treatments are how patients, and the community, respond to their care. Before selecting a cosmetic dentist, read their patient reviews on popular sites like Google+ Local and Yelp to get an idea of their treatment approach and how satisfied past patients have been.

An Extensive Portfolio – You can further your research by visiting the dentist’s website, or even their office, to view their before-and-after portfolio. Use these images to get an idea of what finished treatment has looked like for other patients. This information will help you decide, beyond a dentist’s technical qualifications, if you actually like the way they’ve treated other patients’ smiles. Check to make sure that the cosmetic dental restorations look natural and that you’d want the same look for yourself.

At Austin Smile Creations, Dr. Tor Gotun offers the best in cosmetic dental care with options like dental implants, dentures, porcelain crowns, teeth whitening, and porcelain veneers. He has even completed over 3,000 hours of continued education, which has included specialty training in prosthodontics, TMJ therapy, and restorative dentistry. For more information about cosmetic dentistry, and to view our Before and After gallery, visit our website or schedule your consultation online.

Why Dental Implants Fail: How You Can Get Successful Treatment with Dental Implants

Dental implants have a high track record of success for restoring teeth — they’ve provided significant benefits to patients looking for ways to get new teeth that are strong and contribute to improved oral health. However, as successful as implant treatment may be, there are still issues that can prevent a dental implant from doing its job.

We take care to give our patients the best in dental implant placement. Below, we’ve listed common causes of implant failure, and how our office helps patients deal with those issues:

Lack of bone density – Your new tooth, or teeth, use a titanium post as a base for stable support. That post is surgically placed and extends into bone in your jaw, where it integrates with bone and acts as a real tooth. This process is a significant factor in the success of your dental implant treatment. If you have diminishing bone density, there’s a chance that the implant post doesn’t have sufficient tissue to anchor itself.  Before recommending dental implants, we perform a thorough oral health exam where we determine the quality and density of bone in your jaw; we won’t place an implant if it won’t actively contribute to your oral health and wellness.

Poor placement – Selecting the right angle and location for surgical placement of your implant is an important part of getting a strong restoration. Placement is critical to how the final restoration will fit into its new environment between other teeth – closing gaps, having the right angulation, and following the natural patterns of the teeth are all essential. Without properly pinpointing placement, your implant could become loose or cause discomfort.  Dr. Gotun uses cone beam imaging, 3D scanning, to create a treatment plan fitted to your needs. This diagnostic imagining creates a guide for precise implant placement that greatly boosts the success of your dental implant.

Patient health habits – Inefficient brushing and flossing practices, failing to keep your implant clean after placement, symptoms of periodontitis, and even smoking can contribute to implant failure. If gum tissue isn’t healthy, or your ability to heal from treatment is compromised from tobacco use and poor oral hygiene, there is a higher likelihood that your dental implant will fail. Our office treats periodontal problems and helps manage symptoms to improve your oral health. We help you restore ideal tissue health so that you can benefit from dental implants. 

Dr. Gotun has over 30 years of experience in helping patients restore smiles with dental implants — and we can help you too. If you have questions about getting long-lasting treatment with dental implants, contact our Austin dental office to speak to our team.