Posts for: May, 2015

By Randall J. Bartoe, DDS, PLC
May 29, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
TomHanksAbscessedToothGetsCastAway

Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.

“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”

That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.

Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!

The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.

If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”


By Randall J. Bartoe, DDS, PLC
May 11, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
YourCrowningAchievement

Creating a dental crown that looks good and wears well is not an easy achievement. It is the result of good communication you, the patient, have with us, your dental professionals, and that we have with the dental lab that manufactures the crown. In addition, it reflects the quality of work done by us and by the lab technician.

What is a dental crown?
A crown is a dental restoration that surrounds the remains of a damaged tooth or is attached to a dental implant so that it resembles a natural tooth as it extends above the gum line. The choice of materials and appearance of the crown depend upon many factors. One is the location of the crown. If it is in the back part of your jaw, strength and wear will be a major factor. If it is in the front, a life-like appearance will be important.

What goes into making a good-looking and functional crown?
Options for crown materials include porcelain, gold, porcelain fused to metal (called PFM) and some newer materials such as “pressed-ceramic” restorations and computer-milled-ceramics.

You as the patient can have a say in choosing the crown's color and appearance. Before it is cemented into its final position, make sure you are happy with the feel and appearance of your new crown.

Gold is often chosen for crowns on back teeth because of its superior wear qualities. Gold crowns have been known to last more than 50 years. They also cause minimal wear to the teeth that they touch on the opposing jaw.

Crowns made of porcelain (a glass-like substance fired in an oven at a high temperature) look good but may be too brittle to stand the wear and forces given to back teeth. Like glass, they can fracture under pressure. But because of their lifelike appearance they make a good choice for visible front teeth.

PFM (porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns) are a good combination of the best of gold and porcelain, but they sometimes lose the stains applied to make them look natural, and occasionally they fracture away from the metal.

A provisional crown can help you make sure you are getting a crown with the qualities you want. With the provisional crown all the details are worked out ahead of time, and you get a chance to try them out to make sure the crown looks good and that you can eat and talk normally. After you give your approval on the provisional crown, the final crown will be made to match it, in longer-lasting and better quality components.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about crowns and other dental restorations. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gold or Porcelain Crowns.”