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By Heritage Dental Associates, PC
March 17, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  

If you are missing a tooth you may be curious about what options you have when it comes to restoring your smile. Dental implants are in many ways the best solution to tooth loss. They are meant to be a final and complete restoration of a missing tooth. This treatment will last much longer and will be stronger than other options. Learn more about dental implants in Fayetteville, GA, from Dr. Jeff Kendrick of Heritage Dental Associates.

Better Support

The key difference between dental implants and other methods of restoration, such as bridges and dentures, has to do with the way in which they are supported. Dental bridges depend on adjacent teeth to serve as support for the tooth they are replacing. To accomplish this, these healthy teeth need to be reshaped so that a crown can be attached to them, then they will hold your new tooth in place.

Dentures depend on suction as their main method of support. These require a proper fit to perform at their best. So many of the common complaints people have regarding dentures are due to this factor. A dental implant is supported in a very similar way to your natural teeth. They use a titanium post that is permanently implanted onto the bone of your jaw, and it's onto this that your new tooth will be attached.

Dental Implants in Fayetteville, GA

One downside to dental implants is that they do require a longer initial investment of time, as the implanted post can take months to heal and fuse with the jaw bone. Implants can last a lifetime with proper care, and they don't need any special treatment when it comes to hygiene or diet, although good dental habits remain key to maintaining your smile.

If you're ready to restore a single missing tooth or a complete smile, find out if you're a candidate for dental implants. Call (770) 460-9795 to schedule a consultation in Fayetteville, GA, from Dr. Kendrick of Heritage Dental Associates.

 

By Heritage Dental Associates, PC
February 15, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
4RiskAreasThatCouldAffectYourLong-termOralHealth

Good oral health doesn't just happen. It is often the byproduct of a long-term care plan developed by a patient with their dentist. The plan's strategy is simple—stay well ahead of any potential threats to teeth and gum health through prevention and early treatment.

We can categorize these potential threats into 4 different areas of risk. By first assessing the state of your current oral health in relation to these areas, we find out where the greatest risks to your oral health lie. From there, we can put together the specifics of your plan to minimize that risk.

Here, then, is an overview of these 4 risk areas, and how to mitigate their effect on your oral health.

Teeth. Healthy teeth can endure for a lifetime. But tooth decay, a bacterial disease that erodes enamel and other dental tissues, can destroy a tooth's health and longevity. Our first priority is to prevent decay through daily brushing and flossing and regular dental cleanings. We also want to promptly treat any diagnosed decay with fillings or root canal therapy to limit any structural damage to an affected tooth.

Gums and bone. Teeth depend on the gums and bone for support and stability. But periodontal (gum) disease weakens and damages both of these supporting structures, and may lead to possible tooth loss. As with tooth decay, our highest priority is to prevent gum disease through daily hygiene and regular dental care. When it does occur, we want to aggressively treat it to stop the infection and minimize damage.

Bite function. Misaligned teeth and other bite problems can diminish oral health over time. A poor bite can impair oral function, leading to structural dental damage. Misaligned teeth are also harder to clean and maintain, which increases their risk for dental disease. Correcting these problems through orthodontics or bite adjustment measures can help alleviate these risks.

Appearance. How your smile looks may or may not be related to your mouth's health and function, but an unattractive smile can affect your emotional health, and thus worthy of consideration in your overall care plan. Improving appearance is often a mix of both cosmetic and therapeutic treatments, so treating a tooth or gum problem could also have a positive impact on your smile.

If you would like more information on long-term dental care strategies, 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 “Successful Dental Treatment.”

By Heritage Dental Associates, PC
February 08, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: wisdom teeth  

Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Sometime around the late teens or early twenties, people’s wisdom teeth start to erupt. These are the third and final set of molars. When wisdom teeth come in properly — meaning they are correctly aligned — they offer more chewing power. Unfortunately, more often than not, wisdom teeth are misaligned, crowd other teeth, and need to be removed. That's where the expertise of Dr. Jeffery Kendrick comes in. Here at Heritage Dental Associates, our team in Fayetteville, GA, are here to help!

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

It is thought that we have wisdom teeth because — back in the day — we ate a diet that consisted of more rough foods, like roots, leaves, and meat, all of which required more heavy-duty chewing power.

Reasons Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed

While there is no clear-cut rule that says every single person needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, there are certain situations where one or more wisdom teeth are causing a problem or have a strong likelihood that problems will eventually arise in the future that warrants their removal.

1. Fully Impacted Wisdom Teeth

When a wisdom tooth is “impacted”, it means that the tooth is covered by gum tissue, thereby preventing it from erupting through the gum. This often occurs when the mouth is too small to allow enough room for the tooth to emerge. Because bacteria, food, or other mouth substances can be lodged under the gum that covers the wisdom tooth, it can lead to an acute abscess, known as pericoronitis.

2. Partially Impacted Wisdom Teeth

When a wisdom tooth is partially impacted, meaning the tooth partially emerges from the gums, it almost always is advised to be removed. Because of its location in the very back of the mouth, a partially erupted wisdom tooth is more susceptible to not only decay and cavities, but also gum disease.

3. Other Reasons to Have Wisdom Teeth Removed

If you experience any of the below dental issues or changes in your dental health, removal of your wisdom tooth (teeth) may be necessary:

  • Pain at or surrounding the wisdom tooth site, including the jaw or cheek area
  • Repetitive infections
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay (extensive)
  • Tumors
  • Cysts
  • Damage to surrounding teeth

It is important to know that the decision to have a wisdom tooth removed isn’t always cut and dry. It is essential to talk to Dr. Jeffery Kendrick about the alignment of your wisdom teeth if they have already erupted, the health of your wisdom teeth if impacted or partially impacted, and your overall dental health to determine what is best for your situation. Contact our Fayetteville, GA, office to schedule an appointment today at (770) 460-9795. The team at Heritage Dental Associates is here for you! 

By Heritage Dental Associates, PC
February 05, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
UnderstandingDentalInsuranceThe3TypesofPlans

Health insurance is an important part of life, helping to even out the high costs of medical treatment. Without it, many of us would find it extremely difficult to financially weather physical illness or injury.

But many also view health insurance as frustratingly complicated, including policies that cover dental care. Regarding the latter, people often view it as medical insurance's identical twin—which it's not. While insurance for clinical services and hospitalization manages cost in a comprehensive manner, the majority of dental plans function more like a discount coupon.

The great majority of dental policies today are paid for by employers as a salary benefit to their employees. There can still be differences in policies and it's important to know what kind of plan your workplace has provided you. Here's a rundown of the three basic types of dental insurance plans.

Fee-for-Service. This is the most common dental plan in which the employee is able to choose their dentist and the insurance company pays the dentist for services rendered. Each individual policy outlines the treatments covered, as well as the percentage of payment.

Direct reimbursement. With this approach, the employer pays employees' dental bills directly out of company funds. Even so, an insurance company is often still involved, but as a paid administrator for the employer, reimbursing the dental provider on behalf of the company.

Managed care. An insurance company may also create a network of dental providers that all agree to a set schedule of fees for services rendered. These dental health maintenance organizations (DHMOs) or preferred provider organizations (PPOs) can reduce patients' out-of-pocket expenses. But covered patients can only use dentists within the DHMO or PPO network to receive benefits.

You can, of course, purchase dental insurance as an individual rather than receive it as an employee benefit. If so, you'll need to weigh what you pay out for the policy and what you receive in benefits with what you would pay out-of-pocket without it to see if you're truly realizing any savings.

Either way, understanding a dental insurance plan can be a challenge for the average person. Fortunately, most dental offices are well experienced with these plans. Your dentist's staff can be a valuable resource for helping you get the most out of your insurance benefits.

If you would like more information on the financial side of dental care, please contact our office. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Insurance 101.”

By Heritage Dental Associates, PC
January 26, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  
GumDiseaseAroundtheToothRootsCanBeDifficulttoAccessandTreat

Periodontal (gum) disease may begin superficially, but it can eventually work its way deeper below the gums to become a threat to the teeth and the underlying bone. The tooth roots are especially vulnerable to the disease with long-lasting implications to the tooth's survival.

An infection usually begins with dental plaque, a thin biofilm on tooth surfaces that harbor the bacteria that cause gum disease. The infection may eventually reach an area around the tooth roots called a furcation, where the roots branch off from the main tooth body. If the disease gains a foothold in a furcation, it could seriously erode the infected bone structure.

This often occurs in stages, commonly classified as early, moderate or advanced ("through and through"). In the first stage, the infected area exposes a slight groove in the tooth, but no significant structural loss. The next stage shows bone loss of at least two millimeters. In the most advanced stage, the bone loss now extends all the way beneath the tooth from one side to the other.

As with any situation caused by gum disease, it's best to catch a furcation involvement early and initiate treatment. As with any case of gum disease, the objective is to remove accumulated plaque and tartar (hardened plaque), which both fuel the infection. With plaque removed, the periodontal tissues can begin to heal and possibly regenerate.

It can be hard to achieve these outcomes because furcations are difficult to access. Although we may be able to clean the roots with tools like scalers (curettes) or ultrasonic equipment, we might still need to surgically access the area to completely remove the infection.

Initial treatment of furcations is often only the beginning. Someone with this level of gum disease usually needs continuous, heightened dental care and maintenance to prevent reinfection, often by an experienced hygienist working in consultation with a periodontist (gum specialist). It's also common to surgically alter the tissues around a furcation to make them easier to inspect and clean.

The best scenario, of course, is to avoid an infection altogether, or at least diagnose it before it becomes this advanced. The best way to stay gum (and tooth) healthy is to be sure you brush and floss every day, and see your dentist for cleanings and checkups at least twice a year.

If you would like more information on treating furcations, 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 “What are Furcations?





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