Westminster, MD Dentist
Gallagher & Eden Family Dentistry
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Westminster, MD 21157
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Posts for category: Dental Procedures

AlthoughChallengingSmileZoneImplantscanAppearBeautifullyLife-Like

Dental implants have quickly become the restoration of choice for two basic reasons: they effectively restore the lost function of missing teeth and simultaneously rejuvenate the smile with their life-like appearance.

Achieving a life-like appearance, however, isn’t always a simple matter. A restoration in what we dentists call the “Smile Zone” (the upper front area that displays both teeth and the gum line when you smile) requires careful planning and technique to ensure they appear as life-like as possible.

Our first concern is whether there’s enough bone to fully anchor an implant. Bone is a living, dynamic tissue that goes through cycles of dissolving (resorption) and growth. The normal forces of biting and chewing transmit through healthy teeth and stimulate growth in the bone. When the teeth are missing and no longer transmit this pressure, the bone will eventually resorb only and not grow.

Adjacent teeth could also be affected with bone loss if the extraction was difficult and a bone graft was not placed into the extraction socket to preserve bone. This not only puts adjacent teeth at risk of gum and bone loss but can also have implications for the final smile appearance. This bone also supports the triangular tissue between teeth known as papillae which give teeth their arched appearance. If the bone isn’t adequate, there’s less hope that the papillae will regenerate.

With these concerns it’s very important to consider how the implant and crown emerges from the gums in the Smile Zone. Recent developments in implant design are helping in this regard. The design change of the top of the implant re-orients the gum tissues in relation to the implant from vertical to horizontal, which dentists call “platform switching.” This provides greater stabilization where bone mass is limited, and helps create a more aesthetically pleasing result. There are also other techniques, such as surgical tissue grafting of the papillae that can further enhance the final appearance.

Although creating a natural, life-like appearance in the Smile Zone is difficult, it’s not impossible. It’s important first to undergo a complete dental examination and profile, where we can advise you on your best options to achieve a beautiful smile.

If you would like more information on the relation of implants to the aesthetics of your smile, 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 “Implant Aesthetics.”

DidYouKnowMatineeIdolJamesDeanHadFalseFrontTeeth

Imagine how different things would have been for movie star James Dean, had he not managed to replace the front teeth he lost as a youngster. According to one biography of the 1950s heartthrob, Dean's teeth were knocked out while he was swinging around on a homemade trapeze. Because his smile was restored, Dean was able to land the plumb movie roles that catapulted him to stardom.

This is perhaps the ultimate example of how a smile makeover can create new opportunities for a person. But opinion polls confirm that nearly 90% of adults feel an attractive smile is an important social and career asset. And, an almost equal percentage of adults feel that their smile could use some improvement.

Are you unhappy with your smile? Is a smile makeover something you've ever thought about? Dear Doctor magazine has come up with a great list of questions you can ask yourself to figure out if you would benefit from this life-changing experience:

  1. Do you avoid smiling in photos?
  2. Are you conscious about spaces and gaps in your teeth?
  3. Are your teeth making you look older than you feel?
  4. Have you held back a smile?
  5. Do you feel that your teeth are stained or too yellow?
  6. Do you hold your hand up in front of your mouth when speaking or laughing?
  7. Do you notice areas of excessive tooth wear that make your smile look older?
  8. Do you have little teeth and a gummy smile?
  9. Are your teeth crooked, chipped or crowded?
  10. Do you wish you had someone else's smile?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, please come in and see us. We have an amazing array of cosmetic procedures available to us — far more than what was available to James Dean in the 1950s. These options range from relatively inexpensive teeth whitening treatments to more permanent cosmetic solutions such as porcelain crowns and veneers. Together we can come up with a plan to give you the smile you've always dreamed about.

If you would like more information about what a smile makeover could mean for you, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more about smile makeovers by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Beautiful Smiles by Design.” Dear Doctor also has more on “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”

ReplacingMissingBackTeethIsImportant-JustAskChristieBrinkley

Supermodel Christie Brinkley has a one-in-a-million smile, but she is just one of millions who have benefited from today's preferred tooth-replacement technique: the dental implant. In a wide-ranging interview, Brinkley told Dear Doctor magazine about a helicopter accident she suffered while back-country skiing.

“I fractured two molars in the back of my mouth and I had to get two dental implants,” Brinkley told the magazine. “I am grateful for the dental implant technology that feels and looks so natural.”

You might think it serves little purpose to replace a missing back tooth that was barely visible in your smile to begin with — especially if you don't spend a lot of time posing for magazine covers. But this is actually not the case. Your molars are extremely important for chewing and even for maintaining a more youthful appearance.

Dentists generally agree that losing posterior (back) teeth can have many consequences for the remaining teeth and their surrounding structures, i.e., bone and gums. If back teeth are missing, the front teeth end up bearing more stress than they were built for. And there are certain things that happen when any tooth is lost, whether front or back, that can affect function and appearance.

For one thing, when a tooth is lost the adjacent teeth tend to drift into the empty space or tip towards it. This can adversely affect your bite. Too much shifting can render a tooth basically useless and also leave it more vulnerable to gum disease.

Another complication is the loss of tooth-supporting bone that inevitably occurs when teeth are lost. When a tooth comes out, the bone under it actually begins to melt away. Since back teeth support the vertical dimension of the face, their loss can cause what's known as “bite collapse” — a reduction in facial height that becomes increasingly noticeable over time and can make you look older.

A dental implant can prevent all of these things, while providing you with a replacement that looks and feels just like the tooth you lost.

If you are interested in learning more about implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Christie Brinkley, please see “The Secret Behind Christie Brinkley's Supermodel Smile.” Dear Doctor magazine also has more on “Replacing Back Teeth.”

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
April 17, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: orthodontics   jaw surgery  
JawSurgerymaybeNecessarytoOvercomeSomeTeethMisalignments

Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of misaligned teeth, or malocclusions. The goal is to help patients achieve better long-term oral health by improving teeth alignment. Sometimes, though, the misalignment is much more involved than the position of the teeth — it may be that the jaw structure is also misaligned. In that case, the skills of an oral surgeon may be in order.

The jaws are similar in shape to the arch of a horseshoe, hence the referral to either upper or lower sets of teeth as dental arches. In a normal jaw structure, the lower arch fits just inside the upper arch when you bite down and the teeth are able to function correctly. In some individuals, though, the lower arch closes in front of the upper arch, commonly known as an underbite. If the underbite is only slight, the malocclusion can be corrected by repositioning the teeth only, as with braces. If, though, the underbite is more severe it would require a surgical procedure to realign the jaws, also known as orthognathic surgery.

Orthognathic surgery can help relieve a number of functional complications caused by jaw-related malocclusions: difficulty chewing and swallowing; chronic jaw or head pain; or sleep apnea. It can also enhance the patient’s facial appearance by correcting an imbalance between the two lateral sides (asymmetry), or by minimizing a receding chin or protruding jaw.

Its primary benefit, though, is its effect on the patient’s bite and tooth alignment. For this purpose, the orthodontist and oral surgeon work together to achieve the best result possible. In some cases, the orthodontist may perform his or her work first by moving teeth into the proper position. This sets the stage for the oral surgeon to perform orthognathic surgery to complete the correction of the misalignment.

Each individual patient’s case is different — the best plan of action must begin with a full examination by an orthodontist, and a consultation with an oral surgeon if necessary. It may require time and the expertise of two specialties, but the final result will be better health and a better look.

If you would like more information on various orthodontic procedures, 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 “Jaw Surgery & Orthodontics.”

By Dr. Patrick Gallagher, D.D.S.
April 02, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
HowardSternOpensUp-AboutHisTeeth

Is there anything that radio and TV personality (and self-proclaimed “King of All Media”) Howard Stern doesn’t want to talk about in public? Maybe not — but it took a caller’s on-air question to get the infamous shock jock to open up about his own dental work.

When he was directly asked if his teeth were capped, Stern said no. “I redid ‘em [some time] ago… I had bonding and um… veneers… over my real teeth. But I don’t get that ‘Hollywood white’ though,” he said, before adding his uncensored opinion on the subject of proper tooth shades.

As we’re sure Stern would be the first to point out, everyone has a right to their own opinion. But we’re pleased that Howard brought up an important point about veneers: They are custom-made in a whole range of different shades, from a more ‘natural’ tooth color to a brilliant white shine. Which one you select depends on what look is right for you — and that’s your choice.

In case you aren’t familiar with veneers, they are fingernail-thin coverings made of porcelain, which are bonded onto the surfaces of the teeth. This enables them to hide a number of defects — like chips, discoloration, and even small irregularities in spacing. They can also be used to lengthen teeth that seem out of proportion to the gums, lips or other facial features.

Veneers are among the cosmetic dental treatments most favored by Hollywood stars… as well as regular folks who want a dramatic improvement in their smile. Unlike crowns (caps), which generally require extensive reshaping of the tooth, standard veneers require the removal of just fractions of a millimeter of tooth surface. That makes them a minimally invasive method of smile enhancement that can make a big difference in your appearance. In fact, veneers are often a major part of a complete “smile makeover.”

Dental veneers are custom made in a laboratory from a mold of your teeth. They are designed to fit your teeth perfectly — and to be just the shade you want. When you come in for a consultation, we will discuss what you like and don’t like about your smile, and how we might improve it. Will you opt to get the brilliant “red-carpet” smile you always wished for… or go for a subtle, more natural tooth color? Only you can decide.

Howard Stern’s veneers may be the most restrained thing about him… but we’re just glad that veneers helped him get the kind of smile he wanted. You can, too. If you would like more information on dental veneers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Porcelain Veneers” and “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers.”