Craig S. Karriker, DMD, P.A.- 400 South Granard Street, Gaffney, SC 29341, (864) 487-0710

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Posts for: July, 2013

By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
July 29, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
ReplaceaLostToothforLooksandforHealth

Lose a baby tooth when you're a young kid, no big deal — you'll grow another. Lose a permanent one and there's cause for concern. For one thing, tooth loss is often a symptom of an underlying oral health problem, such as tooth decay or gum disease, so it's important to identify the cause and treat it to prevent it from progressing. It is equally important to replace the tooth — not simply for the immediate impact it can have on your smile or bite, but for long-term function, esthetics and the health of the bone that supports your teeth.

The primary options for tooth replacement are fixed bridgework and dental implants. Both result in esthetically pleasing outcomes; the main difference is how each is attached. With a bridge, the replacement tooth, referred to as a “pontic,” uses the two natural teeth on either side of the gap — referred to as “abutments” — for support. The pontic is sandwiched between two other crowns, which fit over and are bonded or cemented to the teeth on either side of the gap. To ensure the companion crowns fit properly, the enamel must be removed from each abutment.

Placing dental implants, by contrast, involves working only on the affected area. The “implant” is actually a small titanium rod with spiraling threads just like a miniature screw that is carefully inserted into the jawbone as though it were a natural root. The replacement tooth, a customized crown, is secured to the end portion of the implant by way of an intermediary referred to as an abutment, which firmly anchors it in place.

Both bridges and implants are natural looking, functional, predictable, and reliable. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and based on your oral health, one may be more appropriate than the other.

If you would like more information on tooth loss and replacement, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth” and “Dental Implants vs. Bridgework.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
July 19, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
FAQsAboutCalmingYourFearsWithOralSedationDentistry

What is oral sedation dentistry? If you become frightened and anxious when facing a dental appointment or procedure, sedatives (also called “anxiolytics” meaning they dissolve anxiety), can completely transform the experience. Oral sedatives (taken by mouth) allow you to relax your mind and body so that you feel comfortable while in the dental chair.

How does anxiety affect my pain response? When you are afraid, your pain threshold is reduced. You experience a rush of adrenalin and you tense your muscles. As a result you end up in a state of heightened sensitivity. With sedation this sensitivity to pain vanishes along with your fear and anxiety.

What are some of the oral sedatives that my dentist may use? Most of the medications used in oral sedation dentistry belong to a class of medications called benzodiazepines, tried and tested over decades to be safe and effective. They are used in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and agitation. They include Valium®, Halcion®, Ativan®, and Versed®.

I'd just like to forget the experience after it is over. Can oral sedation help? Some of the medications prescribed as oral sedatives have amnesic properties (“a” – without; “mnesia” – memory). This means you will have little memory of the time in the dental chair when your procedure is finished.

What does my dentist need to know in order to prescribe the right oral sedation? We need a thorough medical and dental history, including all medical conditions you may have, and all medications you are taking — both prescription and over-the-counter (including allergies, alternative medications and even herbal supplements). We will also ask you whether you eat certain foods that could interfere with a sedative's effects.

How are the oral sedatives administered? Oral medications are either placed under the tongue (sub-lingual), and allowed to dissolve and then swallowed, or they may be swallowed whole. They are safe, effective, and fast acting. After the sedation takes effect, it will be easier to experience injections of local anesthesia if needed to numb your gums for the dental procedure.

What do I need to do before and after my appointment? Follow all directions we give you about restricting food and drink before your appointment. Until the medication wears off you may not be able to drive, operate heavy machinery or work so be sure to make arrangements to take time off and to have someone drive you to and from the appointment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to talk about any fears you may have about dental treatments. Using oral sedation, we can make sure that you have a relaxing experience. Oral sedation allows you to relax both your mind and body, and focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious. You can learn more about oral sedation dentistry in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
July 08, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
ScienceandArtPartnersinCraftingaSuperiorSetofDentures

Edentulism — the complete loss of all the permanent teeth — is a condition that affects over one-quarter of all Americans over the age of 65. For many seniors, it can be a devastating blow to their confidence and self-image. Worse, if left untreated, it may lead to nutritional problems, periodontal disease, and bone loss.

Fortunately, an affordable, time-tested treatment option is available: full denture prosthetics, or false teeth. Denture technology has changed over time, but one aspect of the process remains the same: making a superior set of dentures requires an equal blend of science and art.

To replicate the look of a patient's natural teeth, a dentist must make many choices: What size should the new teeth be? How much of them should show above the gum line? How should they be spaced? Photographs of the patient before tooth loss can help in making the decisions. We will use these, combined with clinical acumen and an artist's eye, to achieve the best aesthetic results.

But dentures not only simulate the teeth and gums they replace — they also help support the facial skeleton and the soft tissues of the lips and cheeks. Balancing the muscular forces of the jaws and tongue, they help restore natural functions like speech and eating. In order to perform these tasks properly, it is essential that they be well crafted.

At each stage of their progress, from temporary wax rims through the hard plastic resins of the final product, the dentures are carefully custom-fitted to the contours of the patient's mouth. Their bite must be balanced, meaning that upper and lower dentures come together to properly stabilize each other. This ensures that they will be comfortable to wear and will function properly.

Most people have only minor issues as they make the adjustment to wearing dentures; but for some, it's more troublesome. There are various options available to those patients, including implant-supported hybrid dentures. We can recommend alternatives based on your individual needs and preferences.

If you would like more information about dentures, 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 “Removable Full Dentures.”