Common Dental Issues and How to Correct Them
Proudly Serving Denver, Lakewood & nearby areas
Many people are bothered by some part of their smile. You might be embarrassed to show your teeth in pictures, you might be plagued by bad breath, or you might even suffer from frequent headaches or tooth sensitivity. Many of our Lakewood and Denver area patients are relieved to find out that many common dental problems can be easily corrected by cosmetic dentistry.
What bothers you about your smile?
- Missing Teeth
- Gapped, Chipped, or Uneven Teeth
- Stained Teeth
- Worn-Out Dental Work
- Gummy Smile
- Bad Breath
- Tooth Sensitivity
Your teeth work as a team, and when you lose a tooth, the team dynamic is thrown off, which can lead to more problems. Your teeth may drift, suffer additional wear, and even break. You even risk losing more teeth if you don’t replace teeth that are missing.
Denver dentist, Dr. Scott Greenhalgh offers several treatment options for missing teeth, including:
The right treatment for you depends on your unique situation and your personal goals for improving your smile.
Options for Replacing Missing Teeth
Dental implants are often the best solution to replace missing teeth. They are permanent restorations that function just like your natural teeth because the implant process allows for replacement of the tooth root and the tooth.
A dental bridge is an artificial tooth supported by dental crowns on neighboring teeth. A dental bridge can be a good restoration when the teeth on either side of the gap also need restoration. This makes a dental bridge a cost-effective and long-term solution. Modern dental bridges look almost as good as dental implants, but they require special care to make sure you are cleaning under the replacement tooth.
Depending on your situation, dentures may still be the right decision for you, but Dr. Greenhalgh will review all of the relevant factors with you so you can make an informed decision about your tooth replacement.
Gapped, Chipped, or Uneven Teeth
Minor crookedness in teeth is fairly common and can distract from an otherwise even and pleasing smile, especially in your front teeth. Likewise, a small chip or gap in the front teeth can detract from the beauty of your smile.
Causes of Chipped Teeth
While crooked or gapped teeth are often the luck of the genetic draw, chipped teeth can have several causes. To get the best restoration and prevent future chips, it is best to understand what caused your chipped tooth, such as:
· Poor habits (especially biting non-food objects)
· Old fillings wearing out
It's also important to remember that, left untreated, small chips become larger chips. It's a good idea to get your chipped tooth fixed right away.
Corrections (without Braces) for Gapped and Chipped Teeth
Chips and gaps in your teeth can be corrected with similar cosmetic dentistry treatments. And the good news is: if you have been suffering through the embarrassment of a gapped smile because you didn’t want braces, Dr. Greenhalgh may be able to improve your smile without braces!
Small chips can often be evened out with tooth smoothing for a proportional, even smile.
Dental bonding can correct medium-sized chips and small- to medium-sized gaps. Dental bonding requires the application of a strong, resin-like material. This process is less durable than veneers or crowns, but it’s also less expensive and requires only one visit to complete. It is a great option for patients to have completed in a day! Dr. Greenhalgh is experienced with color matching dental bonding to blend invisibly with your natural smile, and it is a long-lasting solution for patients with good, even bites.
Dental crowns can be used to reshape uneven teeth, especially when teeth have been damaged by decay. An all-porcelain dental crown can successfully treat uneven front teeth while matching your natural tooth enamel.
For larger chips or gaps, porcelain veneers can, not only improve the appearance of the teeth, but strengthen them as well. Porcelain veneers also give you the absolute best appearance possible, so if having a really perfect smile is your goal, then veneers are your best choice.
Veneers are ideal for correcting uneven, slightly crooked front teeth too. They are designed to seamlessly blend with your surrounding teeth. No one will know you have veneers. They will just be impressed with your photogenic smile.
A Comfortable Bite
Something that many dentists neglect when fixing gapped teeth is whether the result will be comfortable. After all, you used to have a gap, but now your teeth will be touching. If care is not taken, these teeth may press up against one another and result in a crowded or "tight" feeling, which can lead to soreness in the teeth or jaw.
Dr. Greenhalgh is trained and practiced in the science of neuromuscular dentistry and bite management, and he can ensure you have a precise bite that will be functional and comfortable.
Over time, teeth can become stained by dark food and drinks, like coffee and red wine. Teeth also yellow with age. But you don’t have to live with a dingy smile.
After 20 years of whitening patients’ teeth, Dr. Greenhalgh has found that Deep Bleaching™ produces both the whitest and most comfortable results.
We also offer Zoom2™ whitening, a procedure that produces dramatic color change in about an hour. Or you can choose at-home tooth whitening with a professional kit supplied from our office.
Worn-Out Dental Work
Over the years, dental restorations can wear down, especially if you have a habit of tooth grinding or jaw clenching. In some people, the bite was never correctly aligned, which causes the upper and lower teeth to continually rub or bump against each other and this will cause uneven wear.
Some dental work can become dark and unattractive. If you are seeing thin black lines near the gumline on any of your crowns, that is the crown’s metal lining or a cavity starting to show. As we age, the gum tissue slowly shrinks and recedes, and exposes the metal lining, which it previously covered.
After giving you a thorough examination, Dr. Greenhalgh can make recommendations as to the best way of refreshing your dental restorations and bringing more attractiveness to your smile, which may include all-porcelain dental crowns.
When too much gum tissue shows, your teeth look too small or short for your smile. Dr. Greenhalgh offers our patients a couple of options to achieve a more pleasing smile appearance.
Causes of a Gummy Smile
There are several causes of a gummy smile, and knowing the cause of yours will help Dr. Greenhalgh plan your treatment. Causes of gummy smiles can include:
· Poor dental hygiene leading to puffy, inflamed gums
· Excessive bone growth on the upper jaw
· A hyperactive muscle that controls the movement of your upper lip
· Certain medications, including Dilantin and Cyclosporine
How to Correct Your Gummy Smile
There are two primary treatments for a gummy smile, and Dr. Greenhalgh is experienced with both. Those methods are:
· Gingivectomy: In relatively mild cases Dr. Greenhalgh will use a soft tissue laser to safely reshape your gums by removing some of the gum tissue. You will not feel any pain during this commonly performed procedure. You will require no sutures and should see your dramatically improved results within a couple of weeks.
· Crown lengthening: More severe cases might require a crown lengthening procedure. In this procedure, Dr. Greenhalgh lifts your gums and gently removes some of the underlying tissue. After recontouring the tissue so that the tooth itself is more visible, a dental crown is placed over the tooth to protect it.
No one enjoys interacting with someone who has chronic bad breath, or halitosis, and many of us worry about having bad breath ourselves, especially on a date or in an interview. Halitosis can really affect your personal life and even your career.
The cause of halitosis, as with many oral health problems, is bacteria. Bacteria in your mouth use a chemical reaction to dissolve proteins into their component parts called amino acids. In the process, malodorous gases are emitted that produce the bad breath smell. Sinus problems and acid reflux can also cause halitosis, but not nearly as often as bacteria.
Preventing Bad Breath
The best way to prevent bad breath is by simply maintaining great oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly will help to remove some of the odor-causing bacteria that hide in between teeth and gums. The biggest halitosis trouble spot is the tongue, where most of the bacteria live. You should use a tongue cleaner as part of your brushing routine to disrupt the bacteria.
Optimal oral health requires regular cleanings at your dentist's office every six months in addition to regular brushing and flossing. This will also help prevent bad breath. If you've gone longer than six months since the last time you saw a dentist, please contact Denver cosmetic dentist, Dr. Scott Greenhalgh's office to schedule an appointment right away.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
The bacteria that cause gum disease also release nasty odors, so keeping your gums healthy is crucial if you want to avoid bad breath. Gum disease is also visually unattractive and contributes to tooth decay.
Gum disease can also increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other threatening health problems. Bacteria in the gums spreads to other parts of the body by entering the bloodstream through the cuts and sores they cause. If you believe gum disease may be affecting you, Dr. Greenhalgh will help you restore the health and appearance of your gum tissue.
Chronic and persistent headaches are a problem for millions of Americans. Some take medication and others just suffer through it. It may surprise you to learn that far more headaches are dental in origin than most people realize. For example, bruxism (teeth grinding/clenching) and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD/TMJ) can both cause recurring headaches.
Grinding or clenching teeth at night affects many people that may unaware of the problem. Bruxism can severely damage the enamel of your teeth, which should be fixed by an experienced cosmetic dentist like Dr. Greenhalgh. In addition, the strain on nerves and muscles caused by bruxism can lead to persistent headaches. Bruxism is a stress-related condition, but when the teeth fit together incorrectly, it can cause nighttime grinding and clenching.
If bruxism is affecting you, plan a consultation with Dr. Greenhalgh about mouth guards or medical procedures to stop the grinding as well as the headaches.
TMD/TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder)
Headaches may also be caused by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), which occurs when the jaw joint is misaligned. Malocclusion, a misaligned bite, puts the jaw bone in an unnatural, uncomfortable position, which strains muscles, nerves, and the TMJ joint.
The key to eliminating TMD-related pain is to bring the jaw back into alignment. This can be achieved with neuromuscular techniques to relax the jaw muscles or with cosmetic dentistry techniques to fix the maloccluded bite.
If you have sensitive teeth, you know it can be a painful problem. You may find yourself limiting your diet to avoid cold, hot, sweet, or sour foods. You may spend your money on special toothpaste and other products only to find your teeth still give you pain.
Tooth sensitivity is caused by exposure of the dentin layer of your teeth. Dentin is the layer underneath the protective enamel of your teeth. The pain is the result of a stimulus (food or drink) hitting the nerve at the center of the tooth via the thousands of channels in the porous dentin layer. The nerve then sends a pain signal to the brain.
The dentin layer can become exposed for a variety of reasons:
· Receding gums expose the dentin at the root of the tooth.
· Brushing too hard and the acidic excretions of gum disease bacteria also wear away the enamel layer, which can expose the dentin layer.
· Cavities and cracked or broken teeth can also lead to sensitive teeth. The cracks provide a habitat for bacteria to multiply, where they degrade the enamel until they reach the dentin.
Correcting Tooth Sensitivity
Depending on the cause of your tooth sensitivity, Dr. Greenhalgh may recommend several options to repair any damage to your teeth and solve your pain problem. Dr. Greehnhalgh may recommend:
· Dental crowns
· Dental sealants
· Replacement or repair of older dental work
Whatever dental problems you are experiencing, Dr. Greenhalgh can recommend cosmetic procedures to return your smile to its full health and beauty.
See the pleasing results of some of our satisfied patients in our Before and After Smile Gallery.
To learn more about your best options for cosmetic dentistry procedures to correct any of these common dental issues, please call (303) 988-9060 today to schedule your appointment with Dr. Greenhalgh. We welcome patients from Denver and Lakewood, Colorado, and all surrounding areas.