This is a question I’m frequently asked, especially when a patient is considering a significant investment of time and money into some form of cosmetic dentistry, such as:
- Porcelain veneers
- Bonding (tooth-colored fillings)
- Porcelain crowns and bridges
- Teeth whitening
- Even Six-Month Braces
It’s a very understandable question, and the simple answer to the question, “How long will my dental work last, Dr. Payet?” is “It depends.”
Just like a car, your teeth and gums require regular care to ensure that they are working properly. Sure, you can go 10-20,000 miles between oil changes given how improved cars are nowadays, but do you really want to take the risk? Same thing with teeth……….some people go for 5-10 years with no dental check-ups and are fortunate when they come in to find no problems, such as cavities or gum disease. But it’s not many people that are so lucky!
I always remember a quote from some lecturer at a dental conference years ago telling us his response whenever a patient asks the question, and it’s really the most honest, best answer that can be given, “Clearly the teeth that God gave you haven’t lasted your entire life, and since I can assure you that my work is not nearly as good as God’s, unless you die first, the work I do (no matter how excellent) will not last forever either.”
So what can cause your dental work to fail?
- Grinding your teeth — when the human jaw clenches, it can create an amazing amount of force, and over time, enough clenching will cause teeth to crack and break.
- Acidity — anything that increases the acidity in your mouth is good for the bacteria that cause cavities in particular, including Acid Reflux, Sodas, Power drinks (Monster, Red Bull, etc), Sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc).
- A very sugary diet — the bacteria that cause cavities love sugar. High sugar content means the bacteria feed like crazy, produce acid, and the acid is what eats away the teeth to cause cavities.
- A compromised immune system — your saliva contains important antibodies that help keep the cavity-causing bacteria under control. If your immune system is knocked back due to a disease or some medication, those antibodies will be decreased, allowing the bacteria to grow uncontrolled.
- Decreased saliva (dry-mouth syndrome) — again, due to medications or illness, the amount of saliva may be decreased. With less saliva, there is less “washing” action of the teeth.
- Trauma — obviously. LOL One of my patients a few years ago fainted and fell face-first into a brick wall, shattering a front tooth. Another ran into a pole, shattering another front tooth. Clearly, if you are injured in such a way that your natural teeth would break, any dental work will break, too.
- Bad habits like chewing hard candy or ice regularly — hard candy and ice are just that — HARD! Ice, in particular, is easily as hard as your enamel and as porcelain or bonding. So if you bite down on ice frequently enough and/or hard enough, you can break your teeth and dental work.
That covers most of the major causes of dental work failing. With regular care, use of appropriate mouthrinses and toothpastes, proper brushing and flossing, regularly scheduled check-ups and dental x-rays, using a nightguard, and being aware of diet, etc, your dental work can and should last a very long time.
But always remember — my dental work isn’t as good as the natural teeth God gave you, so my work probably won’t last forever either. 😉
OK, I know that most people don’t think that going to the dentist is fun, but it sure can be a lot more interesting than it used to be for sure. The advent of digital dentistry, particularly CAD/CAM dentistry that allows us to make all-porcelain crowns in just 1 visit, is just pretty darn cool, and that’s even according to my patients who’ve benefited from it. We brought the CEREC 3D system into our office at the end of December 2007, and in that time we’re approaching our 200th CEREC crown. In the beginning, I didn’t take many pictures because I was really concentrating on learning how to make the crowns beautiful, fit well, and happen smoothly and quickly. Now that we’ve become more comfortable with the technology, I’m taking the time to really take quality photos to show off just what we can do, and yesterday just was the perfect opportunity.
This gentleman had these porcelain-to-metal crowns placed about 4-5 years ago, but he is a major grinder and started breaking the porcelain off within a year. That’s one of the potential problems of adding porcelain on to metal like that. They obviously needed to be replaced, and he drove all the way from Asheville, NC for us to do this in 1 appointment; since we clearly needed very strong porcelain, we chose EMAX, which has truly remarkable strength. Take a look and see the results for yourself after the crowns were glazed in our oven:
Obviously, the single biggest advantage for patients with our CEREC machine is the ability to have beautiful, all-porcelain restorations completed in a single visit. Here’s an example of how nice that can be. This patient had 10 porcelain veneers done about 2 years ago; due to her grinding habit, she had knocked off and broken one of the veneers. Rather than make a yucky impression and send it to the lab, while she had to wait several weeks with a temporary veneer, we made it right in the office. One visit porcelain veneer, no temporary, no second visit, and her smile was back to beautiful! See if you can guess which one was done by us on CEREC and which were done by the lab?
If need your any tooth fixed, not just if it’s a porcelain veneer, CEREC CAD/CAM can do it for you. Call our office 704-364-7069 or Request an Appointment Online.
Oh, it feels so good to finally be able to announce this, as I’ve been working on it so hard for so many nights after my family has gone to bed, but FINALLY I have begun producing some new Patient Education videos to help explain a number of options that we offer by using pictures of many similar cases.
Over the last 4 years, I have amassed a catalog of about 38,000 digital photographs of the work that we do. You can see my Photography Blog post on the subject of Patient Communication with Digital Photography for more info on how/why we take pictures of our work, but now I’m finally able to turn a lot of those photos into various video formats to highlight problems that many patients have, often without even realizing it, and to let our patients actually see what they can expect once the treatment is completed. It’s really quite exciting! We’re not talking about “stock” photography here, of work that someone else did. EVERY SINGLE ONE of the pictures that you’ll see were taken by Dr. Payet (me), and every completed procedure was performed by Dr. Payet (me) and my Team. (Hope you don’t mind me talking about myself in the 3rd person for a moment there; I was having a Bob Dole flashback after reading some political articles. 🙂
We’ll look forward to showing you these new videos when you come in!
Don’t have any of those videos in Web format quite yet, but keep an eye on our website, Smiles by Payet Dentistry, for them to begin appearing there within the next few weeks. You’ll be able to see and understand so much more easily, I promise!
In today’s world, when dental patients are increasingly savvy about dental care, but also increasingly worried that they’re being taken advantage of, developing the critical trust between a patient and our team is occasionally difficult. This is where the power of digital photography is so evident, and why I recently wrote about it on my photography blog (http://cdpayetphotography.wordpress.com), because communication is so much easier, and trust is so much easier to establish when you – the patient – see everything that we see. That’s one of the reasons that we document our work so extensively with Canon Digital Rebel XTi’s. Of course, the other reason we do is because we are proud of our work and love to show off what we can do to serve you and help you keep your teeth for your life. 🙂
Yesterday was a perfect example (although this patient has been with us for some time and we’ve already established that trust, plus she was having some pain). This old silver filling had provided many years of use for Mrs. X, but she was having off-and-on soreness and throbbing and wanted it looked at. When we took the picture and showed her the tooth, it was easy for her to understand why it was bothering her, as well as why we recommended a crown to save it; a root canal may well be needed, too, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed for her that she won’t.
Remember my last post about cracked teeth? Take a look at this tooth — SEVEN CRACKS! No wonder it was hurting. It’s almost a miracle that the tooth had not split in 1/2, to be honest.
And this is how the tooth looked after we’d shaped it for a crown (which we’ll make with our CEREC CAD/CAM system); the crack extends well below the gum line and very deep into the tooth from both sides.
If you ever have questions about the treatment that’s being recommended — ask to see pictures. X-rays are often very inadequate in diagnosing these problems. The cracks that are so evident here do NOT show up on x-rays; they’re too small.
Digital dental photography — the PATIENT’S friend.
Another exciting technology that we offer is the CEREC CAD/CAM system. Very simply put, with CEREC we are able to design, mill, glaze, custom-stain, and bond an all-ceramic crown or onlay IN JUST ONE VISIT. That’s right – no temporary crown or onlay, no second appointment to get numb, no worries about the temporary falling out. When you come in, you need the crown done, and when you leave — it’s DONE. Finito. Finished. Complete……….you get the idea. 😉
Sylvia’s case this morning, an old silver filling that had cracks in the tooth around it, new decay forming at the edges, and discomfort when biting, meaning the tooth was truly starting to crack and might have broken apart.