At Summerhills Dental, our dentist and team want you to always feel confident and educated about your dental care in Las Vegas, Nevada. That is why we offer answers to frequently asked questions for your benefit. For more specific questions, we invite you to call 702-363-8655 to schedule an in-dept consultation with Dr. Cynthia Allen.
Why are my front teeth wearing, chipping and/or thinning?
There are many reasons why our teeth may thin, chip or wear including:
- Age: Natural wear and tear affects the teeth over time.
- Clenching and Grinding: Even if you do not know you are doing it, clenching or grinding can lead to wear, chips and cracks.
- Malocclusion: Misaligned teeth can cause uneven pressure on certain teeth.
- Harmful Habits: Habits like nail-biting, using your teeth to open things, chewing on ice or rapidly switching between hot and cold foods can put stress on your teeth and cause damage.
- Diet: Consuming acidic foods and drinks, sugary items or a diet low in essential nutrients can contribute to enamel erosion and tooth thinning.
- Acid Reflux: Frequent acid reflux can expose your teeth to stomach acid, leading to enamel erosion and tooth thinning.
- Trauma: Accidents or injuries to the mouth can cause immediate damage or weaken teeth over time.
Avoiding harmful habits or wearing a mouthguard at night can help prevent further damage to your front teeth. In cases where wear or damage is extensive, our dentist may recommend further treatment such as veneers or crowns to preserve your smile.
How do I repair the wearing of my front teeth?
The specific treatment to repair your front teeth will depend on the extent of the wear, the cause and your individual dental needs. Here are some common methods for repairing tooth wear:
- Dental Bonding: Dental bonding entails the application of a tooth-colored resin to repair and reshape a tooth that has been worn down or chipped, resulting in a seamless blend with your natural tooth structure through shaping and polishing. It is a conservative and cost-effective option for minor wear and cosmetic improvements but does not protect against further breaking and often does not last long. It may be considered as a temporary fix for some patients.
- Dental Veneers: Veneers are thin shells typically made of porcelain or ceramic that are custom-made to cover the front surface of teeth. They are used to correct wear, discoloration or cosmetic issues and protect the teeth from further damage.
- Dental Crowns: Dental crowns, also known as caps, are used for teeth with extensive wear or damage. They cover the whole tooth and provide both cosmetic and functional restoration. Crowns are often recommended when the tooth’s structure is compromised.
In addition to these treatments, our dentist may also recommend:
- Orthodontic Treatment: In cases where wear is due to misaligned teeth (malocclusion), orthodontic treatment such as clear aligners may be recommended to correct the alignment issue and prevent further wear.
- Nightguards or Splints: If teeth wear is caused by bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching), the dentist may recommend a custom-fitted night guard or splint to protect your teeth while you sleep. This can help prevent further wear and damage.
- Lifestyle Changes: Addressing habits like nail-biting, using teeth as tools, chewing ice or consuming excessively acidic foods and drinks can also be essential in preventing further wear on your teeth.
Why is it important to repair the wear on my front teeth?
Repairing the wear on your front teeth is important for several reasons, including:
- Preserving Natural Teeth: In some cases, the damage to front teeth may be severe enough that they are at risk of fracture or loss. Repairing them can help preserve your natural teeth and avoid the need for extraction and replacement with prosthetic teeth.
- Aesthetic Concerns: Front teeth are highly visible when you smile and speak. Wear, chipping or thinning of these teeth can significantly impact your smile’s appearance, which may lead to self-consciousness and a reduced level of confidence in social situations.
- Protection from Further Damage: If left untreated, wear and damage on your front teeth can progress over time, making them more vulnerable to additional issues. Repairing the damage can prevent further deterioration and the need for more extensive treatments in the future.
- Functional Impairment: Front teeth play a crucial role in biting, tearing and speech. Excessive wear can affect your ability to eat and speak properly, potentially leading to discomfort or difficulty in these everyday activities.
- Preventing Sensitivity: Tooth wear can lead to increased sensitivity, making it uncomfortable or painful to consume hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods and beverages. Restoring the damaged teeth can help reduce sensitivity.
- Improving Self-Esteem: A healthy, aesthetically pleasing smile can boost your self-esteem and overall well-being. Restoring your front teeth can enhance your confidence and quality of life.
To determine the best course of action for repairing the wear on your front teeth, it is essential to consult with our dentist. Addressing the issue promptly can help you achieve a beautiful smile and maintain the health and function of your teeth.
Why would my teeth shift if I never had braces?
Teeth can shift over time for various reasons, even if you have never had braces. This natural movement of teeth can be influenced by several factors:
- Age: As you age, your body undergoes various changes, including changes in bone density and facial structure. These changes can cause subtle shifts in the alignment of your teeth.
- Tooth Wear: Over time, tooth enamel can wear down due to factors like grinding or clenching your teeth (bruxism) or habits like nail biting. As teeth wear down, they may shift slightly to compensate for the loss of tooth structure.
- Tooth Loss: If you have lost a tooth due to injury, decay or extraction and do not replace it with a dental implant or bridge, neighboring teeth can gradually shift into the gap, causing misalignment.
- Gum Disease: Periodontal (gum) disease can affect the stability of your teeth by damaging the supporting structures, including the bone. As the bone recedes, teeth may shift.
- Genetics: Your genetics play a role in determining the size and shape of your jaw and teeth. If your genetics predispose you to misaligned teeth, they may shift more easily.
While minor shifts in tooth position are common and may not require treatment, significant changes that affect your bite or appearance may benefit from orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners. To safeguard against undesirable changes in tooth alignment, it is imperative to heed the guidance of our dentist, including wearing retainers, upholding good oral hygiene practices and coming in for regular exams.
How do I know if I am clenching or grinding?
Clenching and grinding of the teeth, also known as bruxism, can sometimes occur involuntarily, making it challenging to identify. Many people clench or grind without even knowing it. However, there are several signs and symptoms that can help you determine if you are clenching or grinding your teeth:
- Tooth Sensitivity: One of the common signs is increased tooth sensitivity, particularly when consuming hot or cold foods and drinks. The excessive pressure on your teeth can cause enamel to wear down, making them more sensitive.
- Jaw Pain: Clenching or grinding can lead to jaw pain, which is often felt in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) area. You might experience discomfort or aching in this region.
- Headaches and Facial Pain: Frequent bruxism can result in tension headaches, particularly in the temples or forehead. You may also notice facial pain, especially around the jawline, or tightness in your facial muscles. These symptoms are often worse in the morning.
- Damaged Teeth: Grinding your teeth can lead to noticeable wear and tear on your teeth. You might observe flattened, chipped or fractured teeth.
- Clicking or Popping Sounds: Some people with bruxism may experience clicking or popping sounds when they open or close their mouths, indicating issues with the TMJ.
- Earaches: Bruxism-related jaw muscle tension can cause earaches or pain around the ears.
- Stress or Anxiety: Bruxism is often linked to stress and anxiety. You may find that you clench or grind your teeth during stressful situations or at night when you are sleeping.
To confirm whether you are clenching or grinding your teeth, it is essential to consult our dentist, who can examine your teeth for signs of wear and evaluate your symptoms. Dr. Allen may recommend a nightguard to alleviate bruxism and prevent further damage to your teeth and jaw.
Should I get dentures or full mouth implants?
When faced with the decision of replacing all your missing teeth, you have two primary options: full mouth implants or dentures. While everyone’s circumstances vary, as a general guideline, we tend to recommend full mouth implants over traditional dentures. Let us explore the advantages and disadvantages of each option:
Full Mouth Implants Pros:
- Long-lasting and High Success Rate: Full mouth implants are known for their durability and high rate of success.
- Preservation of Facial and Jaw Bone Structure: They help maintain the natural bone structure of your face and jaw, preventing potential changes in your facial appearance.
- Natural Functionality: These implants function just like natural teeth, allowing you to chew and taste food normally.
- Permanent Fixture: Full mouth implants remain in place and do not require removal at night.
Full Mouth Implants Cons:
- Higher Cost: They can be more expensive than traditional dentures, which is a consideration for some individuals.
- Not Suitable for Everyone: Not all individuals may be candidates for full mouth implants due to various factors such as bone density or overall health.
- Cost-effective: Dentures tend to be a more budget-friendly option compared to implants.
- Non-invasive Procedure: The process for obtaining dentures is generally less invasive.
- Relatively Quick Process: Getting dentures typically involves a quicker timeline.
- Frequent Adjustments and Replacements: Over time, the bone structure in your mouth may deteriorate, necessitating frequent adjustments or replacements of dentures.
- Initial Discomfort: Dentures may initially cause discomfort, increased salivation, difficulty chewing and speech challenges.
- Removal at Night: Dentures need to be removed at night for cleaning and maintenance.
Ultimately, the choice between full mouth implants and dentures should be based on a thorough assessment by our dentist, taking into account your individual needs, oral health and budgetary considerations. Dr. Allen can provide personalized guidance to help you make the best decision for your specific situation.
Are dental implants painful?
The level of pain or discomfort associated with dental implants can vary from person to person and depends on the individual’s pain threshold and the complexity of the procedure. Most patients are surprised at how painless dental implant surgery is and consider it easier than getting a tooth extracted. Here are some key points to consider:
- During the Procedure: Dental implant surgery is typically performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area, so you should not feel pain during the surgery itself. Some dentists may also offer sedation or general anesthesia for more complex cases or for patients with anxiety.
- After the Procedure: After the surgery, it is common to experience some discomfort, swelling and mild to moderate pain. This is usually managed with over-the-counter pain medications or prescription pain relievers, as prescribed by our dentist. The discomfort typically peaks within the first 48 hours and gradually subsides.
- Individual Variations: People have different pain thresholds, so what may be mildly uncomfortable for one person could be more painful for another. Additionally, the extent of the surgery, the number of implants placed, and any complications can also influence the level of discomfort.
- Complications: In rare cases, complications such as infection or implant failure can lead to more significant pain and discomfort. It is essential to follow your post-operative instructions carefully to minimize the risk of complications.
- Healing Time: Most of the discomfort associated with dental implants subsides within a few days to a couple of weeks as the surgical site heals. Complete integration of the implant with the jawbone can take several months, during which you may experience occasional discomfort but not severe pain. With proper care and attention, many people find that the long-term benefits of dental implants outweigh any discomfort associated with the procedure.
How long will my first appointment last?
It is common for a comprehensive appointment, including a dental exam, X-rays, photos, oral cancer screening and cleaning, to take 1.5 to 2 hours. This allows our team to conduct a thorough assessment of your oral health and address any concerns or treatments that may be needed. It is a good idea to plan your schedule accordingly and arrive a bit early to ensure you have enough time for your appointment.
What insurance do you accept?
Our office accepts most PPO insurances as well as some Humana Medicare. It is important to verify your insurance coverage before seeking dental services to avoid any unexpected costs. If you have questions related to dental insurance, one of our team members will be happy to help. We also encourage you to take a look at your financial options.
What options do you have if I don’t have insurance?
Our office proudly offers an in-house membership program for individuals or families tailored to meet the needs of our uninsured patients. This plan covers preventative services including dental examinations, diagnostic X-rays, oral cancer screenings and professional cleanings. Additionally, members will enjoy the added advantage of receiving an exclusive discount on all other services rendered. For more details regarding this offer, we invite you to view our website or speak with one of our knowledgeable office team members.