Dentist Blog

Posts for: August, 2015


You’re considering dental implants and you’ve done your homework: you know they’re considered the best tooth replacements available prized for durability and life-likeness. But you do have one concern — you have a metal allergy and you’re not sure how your body will react to the implant’s titanium and other trace metals.

An allergy is the body’s defensive response against any substance (living or non-living) perceived as a threat. Allergic reactions can range from a mild rash to rare instances of death due to multiple organ system shutdowns.

A person can become allergic to anything, including metals. An estimated 17% of women and 3% of men are allergic to nickel, while 1-3% of the general population to cobalt and chromium. While most allergic reactions occur in contact with consumer products (like jewelry) or metal-based manufacturing, some occur with metal medical devices or prosthetics, including certain cardiac stents and hip or knee replacements.

There are also rare cases of swelling or rashes in reaction to metal fillings, commonly known as dental amalgam. A mix of metals — mainly mercury with traces of silver, copper and tin — dental amalgam has been used for decades with the vast majority of patients experiencing no reactions. Further, amalgam has steadily declined in use in recent years as tooth-colored composite resins have become more popular.

Which brings us to dental implants: the vast majority are made of titanium alloy. Titanium is preferred in implants not only because it’s biocompatible (it “gets along” well with the body’s immune system), but also because it’s osteophilic, having an affinity with living bone tissue that encourages bone growth around and attached to the titanium. Both of these qualities make titanium a rare trigger for allergies even for people with a known metal allergy.

Still, implant allergic reactions do occur, although in only 0.6% of all cases, or six out of a thousand patients. The best course, then, is to let us know about any metal allergies you may have (or other systemic conditions, for that matter) during our initial consultation for implants. Along with that and other information, we'll be better able to advise you on whether implants are right for you.

If you would like more information on the effects of metal allergies on dental implants, 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 “Metal Allergies to Dental Implants.”

By Murphy Dental Group
August 15, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

In real life he was a hard-charging basketball player through high school and college. In TV and the movies, he has gone head-to-head with serial killers, assorted bad guys… even mysterious paranormal forces. So would you believe that David Duchovny, who played Agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files and starred in countless other large and small-screen productions, lost his front teeth… in an elevator accident?

“I was running for the elevator at my high school when the door shut on my arm,” he explained. “The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the hospital. I had fainted, fallen on my face, and knocked out my two front teeth.” Looking at Duchovny now, you’d never know his front teeth weren’t natural. But that’s not “movie magic” — it’s the art and science of modern dentistry.

How do dentists go about replacing lost teeth with natural-looking prosthetics? Today, there are two widely used tooth replacement procedures: dental implants and bridgework. When a natural tooth can’t be saved — due to advanced decay, periodontal disease, or an accident like Duchovny’s — these methods offer good looking, fully functional replacements. So what’s the difference between the two? Essentially, it’s a matter of how the replacement teeth are supported.

With state-of-the-art dental implants, support for the replacement tooth (or teeth) comes from small titanium inserts, which are implanted directly into the bone of the jaw. In time these become fused with the bone itself, providing a solid anchorage. What’s more, they actually help prevent the bone loss that naturally occurs after tooth loss. The crowns — lifelike replacements for the visible part of the tooth — are securely attached to the implants via special connectors called abutments.

In traditional bridgework, the existing natural teeth on either side of a gap are used to support the replacement crowns that “bridge” the gap. Here’s how it works: A one-piece unit is custom-fabricated, consisting of prosthetic crowns to replace missing teeth, plus caps to cover the adjacent (abutment) teeth on each side. Those abutment teeth must be shaped so the caps can fit over them; this is done by carefully removing some of the outer tooth material. Then the whole bridge unit is securely cemented in place.

While both systems have been used successfully for decades, bridgework is now being gradually supplanted by implants. That’s because dental implants don’t have any negative impact on nearby healthy teeth, while bridgework requires that abutment teeth be shaped for crowns, and puts additional stresses on them. Dental implants also generally last far longer than bridges — the rest of your life, if given proper care. However, they are initially more expensive (though they may prove more economical in the long run), and not everyone is a candidate for the minor surgery they require.

Which method is best for you? Don’t try using paranormal powers to find out: Come in and talk to us. If you would like more information about tooth replacement, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Crowns & Bridgework,” and “Dental Implants.”

By Murphy Dental Group, PLLC
August 05, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: crowns  
Dental CrownsA porcelain crown can restore good health and strength to your teeth, giving you the confidence to smile and eat freely again. It’s one of the most common cosmetic treatments offered at dentist's offices across the country. In advance of your next appointment at Murphy Dental Group PLLC in Milton, MA, educate yourself about porcelain crowns and how they can improve your smile.
The "Anatomy" of a Tooth
To understand how a crown helps a tooth, it's helpful to first understand the anatomy of a tooth. There are four main layers or parts: the enamel, dentin, pulp and root. The root is the part of the tooth that keeps it firmly embedded in your jawbone. As long as the root is healthy and strong, you can add a porcelain crown to the tooth that will effectively replace the enamel. In some cases, a root canal by your Milton dentist may be necessary to thoroughly clean the pulp and fill it with a plastic material called gutta-percha before a crown is placed.
The Structure of a Porcelain Crown
When you think of a crown, you probably think of something that’s designed to fit over another object (like a hat on your head). A dental crown is a piece of hard, white porcelain material that is shaped so that it will fit snugly over a re-shaped, rooted tooth. When bonded, the crown covers the entire area that is visible above the gum line.
How Crowns Help Improve Your Smile
A porcelain crown betters your smile in two ways. For one, it strengthens the outer surface of your tooth, so that you can chew and talk normally. Second, the porcelain material can be created to mimic your natural tooth color, size and shape, so the crown fits in perfectly with the surrounding teeth. It is extremely durable and normally lasts for decades before a replacement is needed. Some people maintain their crowns for as long as 25 years.
Get Crowned at Murphy Dental Group
If you're convinced that a crown is what you need to restore your smile, call (617) 696-3900 today to schedule a visit with our qualified Milton dentists. Dr. John M. Murphy and Dr. Patrick J. Murphy at Murphy Dental Group are accredited members of the American Dental Association and Massachusetts Dental Society who are committed to helping patients with quality dental care.