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These2SimpleHabitsCouldExtendYourDenturesLifeandProtectYourHealth

Once upon a time, losing all your teeth could shorten your life. Only the well-to-do could afford dentures, which were crude by today's standards. Modern dentures, by contrast, are vastly more life-like and functional and you don't have to be wealthy to own them.

Today's dentures are also more durable, potentially lasting for several years. But their longevity isn't inevitable. In fact, there are two crucial things you should do to get as much service life from them as possible: clean them regularly and take them out before you go to bed.

Although impervious to disease, dentures can still accumulate dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles. This buildup could make you more susceptible to infection from a particular kind of yeast called Candida albicans, which can cause your body's defenses to over-produce a protein call interleukin-6. This protein in turn could increase bodily inflammation linked to conditions like diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease.

To keep dentures clean, make a habit of removing and rinsing them after eating. You should also take them out and brush them at least once a day with antibacterial soap or a dedicated denture cleanser. Not toothpaste, though—its mild abrasives are too harsh for the appliance's dental materials, creating micro-scratches that can harbor plaque.

As to your second task: Wearing dentures all the time increases wear on them, as well as the supporting bone under the gums. The friction and pressure of dentures already tends to irritate the bone, causing further bone loss and a looser fit for your dentures. 24/7 denture wear accelerates this process, hastening the time when you'll need your dentures repaired or replaced.

And as with dirty dentures, wearing them all the time could harm your health. In a recent study of nursing home residents, those that wore their dentures around the clock were more than twice as likely to develop severe pneumonia as those who didn't.

Doing these two things for your dentures is simple and easy. But don't let that simplicity fool you! Following these habits could have a huge impact on both your dentures' service life and your health.

If you would like more information on denture care, 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 “Sleeping in Dentures: A Habit That Can Cause Health Problems.”

Implant-SupportedDenturesMayHelpYouAvoidBoneLoss

Although we have more replacement options for missing teeth than our forebears of a century ago, people who've lost all their teeth overwhelmingly choose dentures, a restoration that would have been quite familiar to past generations. And for good reason! Dentures have a long history of effectively restoring dental form and function.

Even so, dentures do have their weaknesses, and one in particular—they can't stop bone loss, a common occurrence after losing teeth. The forces we generate when we chew stimulate the bone in the jaw to produce new cells after older cells die off. The stimulation ends, however, where teeth go missing, which can cause replacement growth of bone to significantly lag behind and create a deficit in the bone.

What's worse, dentures may even accelerate further bone damage. The pressure they exert resting on the gums irritate the bony ridges beneath, resulting in more bone loss. The dentures' once tight fit may then become overly loose, making them unstable and uncomfortable to wear, and in need of repair or replacement.

There is a way, though, to address this weakness with dentures through dental implants. By strategically placing a few implants to support either a removable denture (overdenture) or a fixed denture, we may actually be able to slow or stop further bone loss.

As few as 3 implants might be needed to support an upper denture, which connects to them through special fittings, or perhaps only 2 for a lower denture. A fixed denture that's permanently affixed to the implants may require 4 to 6 for adequate support.

With the dentures' support shifted to the implants rather than the gums, it's obvious how these hybrid teeth replacements could be more secure. But what can they do to deter bone loss?

Implants are essentially a titanium metal post imbedded in the jawbone.  Bone naturally attracts to titanium, and will readily grow and adhere to its metal surface. Besides creating a durable bond, the relationship between implant and bone can generate new bone growth even in areas of previous loss.

An implant-supported denture can feel more secure in your mouth. More importantly, it might help you avoid further bone loss.

If you would like more information on implant-supported dentures or bridges, 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 “Overdentures & Fixed Dentures.”

WhatChrissyTeigensInaugurationNightCapMishapCouldMeanForYou

Inauguration night is usually a lavish, Washington, D.C., affair with hundreds attending inaugural balls throughout the city. And when you're an A-List celebrity whose husband is a headliner at one of the events, it's sure to be a memorable night. As it was for super model Chrissy Teigen—but for a slightly different reason. During the festivities in January, Teigen lost a tooth.

Actually, it was a crown, but once she told a Twitter follower that she loved it “like he was a real tooth.” The incident happened while she was snacking on a Fruit Roll-Up (those sticky devils!), and for a while there, husband and performer John Legend had to yield center stage to the forlorn cap.

But here's something to consider: If not for the roll-up (and Teigen's tweets on the accident) all of us except Teigen, her dentist and her inner circle, would never have known she had a capped tooth. That's because today's porcelain crowns are altogether life-like. You don't have to sacrifice appearance to protect a tooth, especially one that's visible when you smile (in the “Smile Zone”).

It wasn't always like that. Although there have been tooth-colored materials for decades, they weren't as durable as the crown of choice for most of the 20th Century, one made of metal. But while gold or silver crowns held up well against the daily grind of biting forces, their metallic appearance was anything but tooth-like.

Later, dentists developed a hybrid of sorts—a metal crown fused within a tooth-colored porcelain shell. These PFM (porcelain-fused-to-metal) crowns offered both strength and a life-like appearance. They were so effective on both counts that PFMs were the most widely used crowns by dentists until the early 2000s.

But PFMs today make up only 40% of currently placed crowns, down from a high of 83% in 2005. What dethroned them? The all-ceramic porcelain crown—but composed of different materials from years past. Today's all-ceramic crowns are made of more durable materials like lithium disilicate or zirconium oxide (the strongest known porcelain) that make them nearly as strong as metal or PFM crowns.

What's more, coupled with advanced techniques to produce them, all-ceramic crowns are incredibly life-like. You may still need a traditional crown on a back tooth where biting forces are much higher and visibility isn't an issue. But for a tooth in the “Smile Zone”, an all-ceramic crown is more than suitable.

If you need a new crown (hopefully not by way of a sticky snack) or you want to upgrade your existing dental work, see us for a complete exam. A modern all-ceramic crown can protect your tooth and enhance your smile.

If you would like more information about crowns or other kinds of dental work, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers.”

AlthoughItsOftenaLongRoadYouCanFindLastingReliefFromTMD

If you've been diagnosed with a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), you're likely no stranger to pain and dysfunction. And not just with your jaw joints: In a survey of approximately 1,500 patients, nearly two-thirds of them also reported at least three or more painful conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers continue to gather evidence of possible connections between TMD and other physical conditions. Hopefully, this research will lead to better treatments for all of them, including TMD. But until then, patients must continue to rely on established methods for reducing TMD's severity.

Although new treatments like Botox injections have been proposed and tried in recent years, the most effective still seem to be long-standing techniques that are conservative and non-invasive in nature. On the other hand, TMD surgical procedures developed in recent years have yet to deliver on their promise: In one survey, only 6% of surgery patients gained significant relief from TMD symptoms, while nearly half reported feeling worse.

It seems the best advice, should you receive a definitive diagnosis of TMD, is to start with the more conservative measures. These treatments tend to be orthopedic in nature, generally treating TMD as a joint problem. Of these, the ones most people have found effective involve thermal therapies like hot or cold compresses against the jaw, or hot baths.

Medications like muscle relaxers or pain relievers can also play a role in reducing TMD discomfort and dysfunction. And, many patients gain benefit from physical therapy massage and exercises that target the jaw muscles. Switching to softer foods with smaller bites can help patients avoid over-stressing the jaw joints while chewing.

It's also important to understand that there is no "one-size-fits-all" treatment protocol: Individual patients and their doctors may need to experiment with different therapies to find the right combination that offers the most relief. Although this can take time, it can be well worth it if the eventual combination brings long-term relief.

From this standpoint, patients should avoid surgical options unless all other methods have been tried and still have not yielded significant relief. For most patients, however, conservative TMD treatment and lifestyle or diet changes will work—with enough time and patience.

If you would like more information on TMD, 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 “Chronic Jaw Pain and Associated Conditions.”

YouMayNeedaDifferentTreatmentApproachtoClearUpThisFacialRash

We all value clear skin as a sign of health and vitality—and attractive facial skin certainly enhances a beautiful smile. So, when a rash or other skin outbreak mars our facial appearance, we may turn to an array of remedies to clear it up. But one type of facial rash doesn't respond well to these common ointments or creams. In fact, the standard approach may just make the condition worse.

The rash in question is peri-oral dermatitis. Literally "rash around the skin of the mouth," it has a red appearance as it erupts on the skin near or around the lips. The rash can happen to anyone of any age, but mainly in women 20-45. Although we're not fully sure of its underlying causes, peri-oral dermatitis may be related to the types of cosmetics and skin care we use. Incidences of it are higher in industrialized cultures with a heavy use of cosmetics.

Researchers also suspect a link between the rash and the prolonged use of steroids, an anti-inflammatory substance found in many skin treatment products. The steroid can cause the blood vessels in the skin to constrict and temporarily improve the skin's appearance. In just a few minutes, though, the rash may look worse than ever.

The takeaway here is to limit your use of topical steroids for skin ailments, especially if you're diagnosed with peri-oral dermatitis. In that case, you should stop using any topical steroid products, even non-prescription hydrocortisone and only wash your face with a mild soap. The rash may initially appear to flare even worse, but be patient, as it should begin to clear over time.

In extreme cases, your dentist can also prescribe antibiotics to help boost healing, usually something mild like doxycycline, minocycline, or tetracycline. Normally taken orally or sometimes applied topically, this antibiotic treatment can take several weeks before your skin shows any marked improvement.

So, if you've encountered a pesky facial rash that won't seem to go away, talk with your dentist. With their help, you may be able to find the right approach to relieve you of this irritating and unattractive condition.

If you would like more information on facial rashes, 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 “Rash Around the Mouth: Peri-Oral Dermatitis.”





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Bernard Dental

2411 Crofton Lane, #6 Crofton, MD 21114-1304