By Dr. David Schlussel, DDS
I’m frequently asked many interesting questions by my patients regarding their dental care. I would like to share a few with you along with the responses I commonly give. Do keep in mind, though, that while two different patients can ask the same question, they may receive different answers, depending on their specific set of circumstances. The following are some typical answers.
Q: I’ve been told my teeth need to be extracted. Are there any new advancements that could save them? I really would like to hold on to my own teeth!
A: Bone is what holds teeth in place. Most people lose teeth due to periodontal disease, which is the destruction of the bone surrounding your teeth. In the past, when there was a significant amount of bone loss teeth were extracted because the bone support was too badly damaged and there was no chance of saving them. Today, a majority of teeth that we would have extracted in the past can be saved. A special procedure called LANAP can regenerate some of the lost bone support and save teeth previously considered hopeless. Over 25% of periodontists (gum specialists) are using this procedure in the US. We are the only providers of LANAP in Israel. You can learn more at www.lanap.com.
Q: I don’t like my smile, but I’m not sure I’m ready for extensive work. Are there simple solutions for a nicer smile?
A: There are always simple solutions. The question is, are they appropriate or adequate? Smiles can be dramatically improved with simple whitening or slight tooth reshaping. Sometimes something more involved is required, such as orthodontics or porcelain veneers and crowns. Each case has to be evaluated on its own merit. I’ve seen too many shortcuts taken that result in esthetic failures and the need for the procedure to be redone. Usually, a well-thought-out, comprehensive plan will yield the best results that will last a long time.
Q: I’ve been told I don’t have enough bone for implants, but I won’t wear a denture! Are there any new solutions for me?
A: Unfortunately, over time, bone loss occurs after tooth extraction. Coupled with the bone loss due to periodontal disease, there is often not enough bone left for implants. Thanks to new advances and procedures, under the right circumstances, dentists can replace missing bone with bone grafts. Sinus lifts for the upper jaw have become easier and less traumatic and rebuilding the lower jaw has become more predictable. With regard to sinus lifts, sometimes there is adequate bone to place the implant at the time of the sinus lift. This is done with a revolutionary procedure known as the iRaise sinus lift. Patients leave the same day with an implant and sinus lift and very little discomfort or swelling. If there is not adequate bone, then a relatively new, much less invasive, sinus lift can be performed. Both procedures are done in our office. While we can’t totally replace what was lost, often dentists can build enough bone in order to be able to place implants.
Q: Do I really need x-rays? I am worried about the radiation.
A: This is a good question and a valid concern. Dental x-rays help the dentist to detect cavities, bone loss and infections early, before they become a big problem. They can prevent root canal treatments, loss of teeth and major infections, all of which untreated could lead to much greater health concerns. In general, dentist try to take the least amount of x-rays possible, but we still need to take them.
On the other hand, radiation has its dangers and also its safe levels. Dental x-rays fall well below the danger zone. Did you know that while just standing outside in the sun for 15 minutes, or flying on a plane, you can receive more radiation than from a full set of 18 dental x-rays? There is a set amount of radiation exposure that is considered safe for radiation technicians in a hospital setting, and it would take 10,000 digital x-rays (not conventional film) in one year to reach the safe level determined for them! In the worst case scenario, a patient would need at most 40 x-rays in a year, and that is only if they had major dental problems. We at Rechavia Dental Center use the latest in digital x-ray systems which uses 90% less radiation than film thereby making the risk factor extremely low.
So don’t be afraid of them – on the contrary, they can really make a difference in keeping you healthy.
15 Ibn Gevirol Street, Jerusalem