Airport Road Dental Associates - 3465 Airport Road, Portage, Indiana 46368 - (219) 763-2727

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If you are interested in replacing multiple teeth in your mouth or replacing compromised teeth with restorations, you may be looking at dental implants. A lot of patients like implants because they are a permanent solution and look like natural teeth.

The implant itself is made up of three parts, the fixture/post, the abutment, and the replacement crown. Some implant crowns are free-standing while others are splinted. Take a look at the difference between the two and which route would be best for your needs.

What's the Difference Between Splinted and Free-Standing Implants?

While both free-standing implants and splinted implants look like your natural teeth, the main difference between the two is that splinted implants don't have clear interproximal spaces. The material, like a porcelain, is fused between the crowns in splinted implants. With free-standing implants, each crown is its own individual unit, so you could slide a piece of floss between each unit.

Although patients may initially balk at splinted implants because they prefer individualized teeth, there are pros and cons of both options.

What's the Goal of Splinted Implants?

The main goal of splinted implants is to distribute chewing forces over a larger surface area — especially if you don't have a lot of jaw bone to begin with to take on this stress. In fact, one study found that splinted crowns were able to reduce the stress placed on an implant, abutment, and jaw bone.

Also, if you already have short tooth roots or loose teeth next to your implants, then these natural teeth need to be protected from excessive forces. Mobile teeth can be caused by bone loss, periodontal disease, or trauma. If you opt for free-standing implants, then they may not distribute forces well, which could damage loose teeth.

If you have to have short fixtures in your jaw bone, then splinted implants can be helpful since they minimize stress and maximize stability; you'll have a better chance of maintaining your bone density and improving your implant success rates.

When Are Free-Standing Implants a Better Idea?

While splinted implants do a good job distributing forces, they are ironically not great for people with bruxism. Instead of distributing chewing forces, the entire restoration can become rigid. With free-standing implants, your teeth will be better able to individually respond to bruxism forces. However, if you still want a splinted implant, then your doctor could set you up with a mouth-guard to counteract bruxism.

Do you have trouble flossing and brushing? If so, then splinted implants aren't a good idea. Because splinted implants have fused crowns, you'll have to use specialized tools to keep interproximal spaces clean. Your dentist can certainly teach you how to use these tools, but if you don't feel like you will be compliant, then it may be better to get free-standing implants so that you can stick to good hygiene habits you’re more familiar with.

What Other Considerations Are There When Making a Choice?

There are different brands of dental implants, and some brands work better with splints while others work better with single-unit implants. So if your dentist has a preference for a certain brand, then he or she may encourage you one way or the other. For instance, if an implant has an external hexagonal connection, then your dentist may prefer a splinted implant to reduce excessive forces on the implant's screw.

Another consideration is the long-term prognosis of any structurally compromised teeth you may have. Instead of needing a splinted implant, your dentist may want to use a single-unit implant and then use a bonded splint on any natural teeth that are mobile.

There's many different scenarios to consider, so reach out to us at Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for more information on dental implants.

Will the Easter bunny bring your child a basket filled with sweet treats and chocolate-covered goodies? Before the bunny (and basket) arrives, take a look at what you need to know about this spring-time holiday and your child's dental health.

What Easter Candy Should Your Child Avoid?

While you'd happily fill the Easter basket with apples and oranges, your child wouldn't agree. If you plan to add sweet treats to your child's Easter bunny bounty, you can reduce the cavity-causing effects of sugary snacks with a few smart choices.

The first step to a healthy (or healthier) mouth basket is understanding which foods to avoid. Even though all sugar-containing treats can raise the risk of dental decay, these candies top the list of the most notable offenders:

  • Gummy candies. The cute bunny- and chick-shaped gummies can stick on your child's teeth. This adhesive action gives decay-causing bacteria more time to feed and grow. As the bacteria digest the sugar, they release dental enamel-eroding acids.
  • Hard candy. Individually wrapped hard candy bathe your child's teeth in sugar as the sweet treat slowly dissolves. This feeds oral bacteria, increases dental enamel erosion, and raises the cavity risk. These candies can also chip or crack your child's tooth.
  • Lollipops. Like hard candies, hard lollipops also bathe the teeth in a steady stream of bacteria-feeding sugar. Also, like hard candies, lollipops can also cause dental damage such as chips or cracks.
  • Marshmallow treats. Easter Peeps are staples of the bunny's basket. Even though these sugar-coated marshmallow treats are holiday favorites, these sticky treats can increase the risk of dental decay.

If you shouldn't fill your child's Easter basket with gummies, hard candies, lollipops, and peeps, what can you use? Ideally, you'd choose non-food items. But if you want to give your child a holiday treat, you can select from somewhat safer options.

What Easter Candy Is Better to Include?

There is no candy that's good for your child's teeth. Any sugar-containing food or beverage can feed oral bacteria and eventually lead to dental decay. Even though limiting sugar intake can limit cavity formation, a once-in-a-while holiday-time treat isn't likely to ruin your child's smile. If you want to choose better candy options, consider:

  • Chocolate. Chocolate bunnies may have sugar, but they also melt away quickly. This means the sugar won't stay on your child's teeth as long as it would if they ate a gummy treat. Avoid chocolate bunnies, eggs, or other goodies that have sticky, caramel, or marshmallow filling.
  • Sugar-free chewing gum. If your child is old enough to chew gum (without swallowing it), a sugar-free option is the way to go. The chewing action can increase saliva production and wash away decay-causing bacteria.
  • Other sugar-free candy. Gum isn't the only treat that contains sugar alternatives. If you don't want your child to eat real sugar treats, you have options. Even though sugar-free candies don't raise the risk of decay, in excess they can upset your child's stomach.

Even though these holiday picks don't come with the same decay risks gummies, lollipops, and other similar candies do, they are still options to use sparingly. Add a few low or no-sugar treats and balance the basket with a variety of non-candy items.

What Healthy Mouth Items Can You Include?

Candy isn't the only Easter basket filler to add. Limit the sugary selections and create a balanced basket from the bunny with:

  • A toothbrush. Choose a playful toothbrush that features your child's favorite movie, TV, or cartoon character.
  • Flavored toothpaste. Compliment the character brush with a cartoon-covered flavored children's toothpaste product.
  • Milk. If your child will open their basket immediately, add a few individually sized bottles of milk. Avoid flavored or sugar-added products.

Along with these items, fill your child's basket with books, small toys, and other trinkets. Non-food goodies eliminate the sugar issue and won't contribute to dental decay.

Does your child need a routine cleaning or dental office visit? Contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for more information.

The Top Ways to Fix Dental Damage and Decay

Does your tooth have visible damage, decay, or enamel erosion? When one tooth makes it uncomfortable to smile, take a look at the healthy mouth options your dentist has to offer.

Porcelain Veneers

Dental veneers are small slip-covers for teeth. Unlike the slip-cover on your couch, these are made from a white porcelain tooth-like material. The strong, long-lasting material is shaped to fit around your tooth and isn't removable (by the patient). This option is ideal to correct:

  • Chipped teeth. Did you fall and chip your tooth or bite into something hard? A veneer will cover the jagged shard of a tooth that's leftover and give you an even, full smile.
  • Worn teeth. Do you grind your teeth? If you suffer from excessive wear, veneers can make the surface and structure of your tooth smooth again.
  • Crooked teeth. If braces aren't an option or you only have a few crooked teeth, veneers can reshape your smile without orthodontics. Even though a veneer can change the appearance of your tooth, it won't correct misalignment or serious orthodontic issues.
  • Erosion damage. The pearly white protective coating on your teeth, enamel, can wear away from age, drinking acidic beverages, and excessive care.

To place a veneer the dentist must remove some of the enamel. This makes it important to replace old, worn, or damaged veneers. Due to the enamel loss, it's typically not possible to remove a veneer permanently.

Dental Bonding

Veneers aren't always necessary to fix minor chips, damage, or cracks. If you don't need a full veneer or can't invest in this option, dental bonding is another option to:

  • Repair damage. The dentist will apply a tooth-colored composite material to the tooth and sculpt it. After the material hardens, the dentist will polish it to match the shape of the tooth.
  • Change the size. A tooth that is slightly smaller than its neighbors or causes a gap can benefit from bonding.
  • Change the shape. Damage or wear can alter the overall shape of the tooth. Dental bonding can create a smooth surface or add length to the tooth.

While dental bonding is typically less expensive than veneers, and may require less time in the dentist's chair, it's not as durable and won't resist stains as easily. Your dentist can help you to decide which option is best for your individual dental needs.

Dental Fillings

Dental decay can destroy your tooth and lead to an invasive oral infection. If decay progresses further, additional procedures may be necessary such as a root canal or even tooth loss. All things that can add to the expense of your visits! If you visit the dentist regularly for exams and checkups, decay can be caught early when it is easiest to repair. 

To treat a cavity the dentist must remove the decayed part of your tooth. After cleaning the area completely, the dentist will repair the tooth with a filling. The most common types of fillings include:

  • Ceramic. Porcelain fillings look and feel like real teeth. While these are sometimes more expensive than other types of fillings, they are durable and fairly stain-resistant.
  • Silver Colored. Silver colored amalgam fillings include a mix of metals. Even though these fillings are durable and inexpensive, the silver color is noticeable.
  • Composite. These fillings are made from plastic and resin material. Like ceramic fillings, these are tooth-colored and look natural.
  • Gold. This sturdy type of filling is extremely noticeable and expensive.

If you're not sure which type of filling is right for your dental decay or damage, talk to the dentist. The professional can help you to choose the product with the best color match, durability, and price for your needs.

Do you have dental damage or decay? Contact Airport Road Dental Associates for more information.

Flossing is a dentist-prescribed necessity, but many dental patients struggle with it. Not only can string floss be unwieldy, but the action of forcing it between your teeth may cause pain in some people. Here are some options to help you reduce pain and irritation as you develop a regular flossing regimen.

1. Sensitive Toothpaste

If you floss thoroughly, the floss can sometimes irritate sensitive gums and even sensitive teeth as you clean around the tooth roots at the gumline. Brushing with a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help lessen any soreness and irritation from both brushing and flossing.

If you use prescription strength toothpaste, talk to your dentist about switching to a sensitive version of your prescription toothpaste, such as one that contains potassium nitrate. You can also find non-prescription toothpastes that contain potassium nitrate for sensitive teeth. This ingredient helps to block nerve signals that would send pain transmissions to your brain.

2. Water Flosser

A water flosser can be a gentle way to ease into a flossing habit. Although it doesn't clean using the same modality as floss (string floss scrapes away plaque, while a water flosser simply sprays it away), a water flosser can still help reduce plaque. This can help reduce gum irritation, since plaque buildup irritates gums. Cleaner gums are less likely to be irritated and painful.

Another reason a water flosser can help is because it helps to prepare your gums for regular flossing. While flossing may be too stimulating at first for gums that aren't used to it, water flossing can help to gently massage gums, improving gum health. Healthier gums could be less likely to bleed and become inflamed when you use string floss.

3. Other Flossing Tools

In some situations, you may have pain and irritation from flossing because of the logistical issues involved. For instance, some people have difficulty controlling a piece of floss well enough to floss thoroughly yet gently. A flossing tool, such as a floss pick, can help you to get into tight spots more easily while requiring less physical dexterity.

You can also choose a floss tool designed for tight spots or sensitive gums. Gentle varieties of floss pick and easy-glide varieties are available in addition to standard floss picks.

4. Diet 

Although changing your diet won't solve all your flossing problems, it could help in some cases. For instance, take a look at your current diet. If you eat a lot of sugar and starchy foods, consider cutting down on these foods while you work on your flossing habit.

Sugar and simple starches feed bacteria, which then create plaque and tartar. Plaque and tartar can irritate your gums. So reducing the buildup of plaque and tartar in the first place can help reduce gum irritation. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any changes to your diet that you may be considering.

These are just some examples of how you can strategically manage your flossing so that it won't hurt as much. This is especially important while you're forming the habit of flossing. After all, if flossing hurts a lot each time you do it, that's a strong psychological deterrent, and pain can make it more difficult to form good flossing habits.

For more information about flossing and dental hygiene or to schedule an appointment, get in touch with Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, today. We'll be glad to help you customize your dental care for sensitive gums so you can protect your gums from disease without causing yourself pain.

The teen years are full of challenges. Stress and other issues that arise in adolescence can cause some teens to stop brushing. If your teenager has stopped caring for their teeth, consider this advice to help them get back on track with their dental health.

Set New Rules for Your Teen

Parents often feel a responsibility to set strict dental care rules for young children who are learning proper brushing techniques and struggling to stick to a routine. They may feel like teens should be capable of handling their dental care themselves. However, teens are still growing and developing on every level, and they can benefit from specific rules.

If your teen is slipping on their dental care, the first step should be establishing new rules. Let your teenager know that you expect them to brush their teeth twice per day. Set rules about flossing and swishing with mouthwash too. 

Tell your teen about the possible consequences for ignoring their dental care. Be open and honest with them about what your expectations are and why you are setting new rules. Reassure your teen that you are only setting rules because you're concerned. That may encourage them to treat their dental care seriously and address this issue in a mature way. 

Enlist the Help of a Trusted Friend 

Sometimes teenagers are just not able to talk to their parents about a problem. They may have specific reasons for no longer caring for their teeth, yet they might not feel comfortable talking to you about it. Teens may fear that parents will judge them or just won't understand. This may seem irrational if you've always been there for your teenager, but try not to take it personally.

Instead, if your teen is hesitant to discuss their dental problems with you, enlist the help of a family friend they trust. If you know someone who has suffered because of dental issues as an adult, they may be the perfect candidate to share their struggles with your teen. Encourage them to not hold back or shelter your teen from the reality of dental decay and pain.

If a teen doesn't care for their teeth, they may eventually lose them from tooth decay and gum disease. Of course, long-term consequences aren't really first on a young person's mind. However, if a trusted family friend can share their real world experience with dental problems, that may inspire them to give proper dental care a second thought. 

Keep Dental-Friendly Snacks in the Kitchen

Teenagers will grab convenient foods after a hard day at school or a tiring sports activity. Keep your kitchen stocked with convenient, dental-friendly snacks. If you have indulgent snacks in the house, keep them out of the pantry that teens use.

Some delicious, dental-friendly snacks include: 

  • Nuts
  • Raw vegetables
  • Plain popcorn
  • Sugarless chewing gum
  • Flavored rice cakes

Having healthy snacks on hand can help teens avoid foods that can lead to tooth decay. 

Reach Out for Help

Sometimes a teenager stops caring about things like brushing their teeth each day because of an underlying mental health condition. Don't panic because things can improve when these issues are addressed.  If your teen may be depressed, talk to them about going to therapy. They may be hesitant about the idea at first, but encourage them to at least try it for a month. 

A teen who gets professional help for depression has a much better chance of overcoming it. In addition to individual therapy, you may also suggest family therapy. If you suspect that your family's dynamics are stressing your teen out, family therapy may be a necessary part of overcoming the problems. It is also a great place to discuss their hesitancy with dental care.

Finally, once your teen is feeling better, they may start caring for their teeth again without further prompting from you. Contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, today to set an appointment for your teen's next dental exam and cleaning. Prioritizing their dental care on your family's schedule can help set a good example that they follow as they transition into adulthood.





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