My Blog

Posts for: September, 2017

By Great Meadows Dental Group
September 22, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
DontBreakItLikeBeckham

During his former career as a professional footballer (that's a soccer star to U.S. sports fans) David Beckham was known for his skill at “bending” a soccer ball. His ability to make the ball curve in mid-flight — to avoid a defender or score a goal — led scores of kids to try to “bend it like Beckham.” But just recently, while enjoying a vacation in Canada with his family, “Becks” tried snowboarding for the first time — and in the process, broke one of his front teeth.

Some fans worried that the missing tooth could be a “red card” for Beckham's current modeling career… but fortunately, he headed straight to the dental office as soon as he arrived back in England. Exactly what kind of treatment is needed for a broken tooth? It all depends where the break is and how badly the tooth is damaged.

For a minor crack or chip, cosmetic bonding may offer a quick and effective solution. In this procedure, a composite resin, in a color custom-made to match the tooth, is applied in liquid form and cured (hardened) with a special light. Several layers of bonding material can be applied to re-construct a larger area of missing tooth, and chips that have been saved can sometimes be reattached as well.

When more tooth structure is missing, dental veneers may be the preferred restorative option. Veneers are wafer-thin shells that are bonded to the front surface of the teeth. They can not only correct small chips or cracks, but can also improve the color, spacing, and shape of your teeth.

But if the damage exposes the soft inner pulp of the tooth, root canal treatment will be needed to save the tooth. In this procedure, the inflamed or infected pulp tissue is removed and the tooth sealed against re-infection; if a root canal is not done when needed, the tooth will have an increased risk for extraction in the future. Following a root canal, a tooth is often restored with a crown (cap), which can look good and function well for many years.

Sometimes, a tooth may be knocked completely out of its socket; or, a severely damaged tooth may need to be extracted (removed). In either situation, the best option for restoration is a dental implant. Here, a tiny screw-like device made of titanium metal is inserted into the jaw bone in a minor surgical procedure. Over time, it fuses with the living bone to form a solid anchorage. A lifelike crown is attached, which provides aesthetic appeal and full function for the replacement tooth.

So how's Beckham holding up? According to sources, “David is a trooper and didn't make a fuss. He took it all in his stride." Maybe next time he hits the slopes, he'll heed the advice of dental experts and wear a custom-made mouthguard…

If you have questions about restoring damaged teeth, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Trauma and Nerve Damage to Teeth” and “Children's Dental Concerns and Injuries.”


By Great Meadows Dental Group
September 11, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

Damaged teeth are embarrassing, but modern dentistry has state of the art technology to help you deal with this issue. Dr. Nicholas restorative dentistryPapapetros, Dr. Leo Kharin or Dr. Jessica Ristuccia offer their patients dental crowns at their Bedford, MA, office to mask those unsightly teeth so you can have a beautiful smile.

Dental Crowns:

A dental crown is made out of porcelain or ceramic. Unlike veneers, however, crowns don't just cover the front of your teeth. They fit over the unattractive, decayed or damaged portion of a tooth. Crowns can even be used to replace a missing tooth when one of your Bedford dentists places a dental bridge over your gums.

The Dental Crown Procedure:

There are three steps to getting your unsightly tooth crowned:

  • Step 1: Your dentist will numb the area surrounding the tooth and begin preparing the tooth. This is done to reshape the tooth so it fits under the crown. If there isn't very much natural tooth structure to begin with, your dentist will use a filling material to build up whatever exists of the natural tooth.
  • Step 2: A crown is designed at a laboratory using impressions taken of your teeth. The impressions are taken digitally or with the use of a putty-like material and are used as a guide so that laboratory technicians can mold a crown that'll fit perfectly over your tooth.
  • Step 3: The permanent crown is cemented over the tooth using a specific type of cement or resin.

Advantages of Crowns:

Besides making your smile more aesthetically pleasing, crowns have other advantages:

  • They're used to cover restorative procedures such as root canals and dental implants.
  • They give your teeth reinforcement, therefore improving your bite and capability to chew.
  • Crowns also support fillings that have been dislocated.
  • Several crowns can be used if you have more than one tooth that needs to be covered.

Dental Care:

Improve your dental care by brushing twice a day and flossing at least once before bed. In addition to maintaining a healthy oral regimen, make sure to visit your dentists twice a year for your bi-annual examination.

For more information on dental crowns or to schedule an appointment, contact your Bedford, MA, dentists, Drs. Nicholas Papapetros, Leo Kharin, and Jessica Ristuccia, by calling their office at (781) 275-7707.


TheTimelyUseofaPalatalExpanderCouldHelpCorrectaCross-Bite

While crooked teeth are usually responsible for a malocclusion (poor bite), the root cause could go deeper: a malformed maxilla, a composite structure composed of the upper jaw and palate. If that’s the case, it will take more than braces to correct the bite.

The maxilla actually begins as two bones that fit together along a center line in the roof of the mouth called the midline suture, running back to front in the mouth. The suture remains open in young children to allow for jaw growth, but eventually fuses during adolescence.

Problems arise, though, when these bones don’t fully develop. This can cause the jaw to become too narrow and lead to crowding among the erupting teeth and a compromised airway that can lead to obstructive sleep apnea. This can create a cross-bite where the upper back teeth bite inside their lower counterparts, the opposite of normal.

We can remedy this by stimulating more bone growth along the midline suture before it fuses, resulting in a wider maxilla. We do this by installing a palatal expander, an appliance that incrementally widens the suture to encourage bone formation in the gap, which over time will widen the jaw.

An expander is a metal device with “legs” extending out on both sides and whose ends fit along the inside of the teeth. A gear mechanism in the center extends the legs to push against the teeth on both sides of the jaw. Each day the patient or caregiver uses a key to give the gear a quarter turn to extend the legs a little more and widen the suture gap. We remove the expander once the jaw widens to the appropriate distance.

A palatal expander is an effective, cost-efficient way to improve a bite caused by a narrow jaw, but only if attempted before the bones fuse. Widening the jaw after fusion requires surgery to separate the bones — a much more involved and expensive process.

To make sure your child is on the right track with their bite be sure to see an orthodontist for an evaluation around age 6. Doing so will make it easier to intervene at the proper time with treatments like a palatal expander, and perhaps correct bite problems before they become more expensive to treat.

If you would like more information on treating malocclusions, 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 “Palatal Expanders: Orthodontics is more than just Moving Teeth.”