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

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Posts for: June, 2014

EncouragingBoneGrowthforFutureImplantsThroughSinusSurgery

Dental implants are a popular and effective restoration for lost teeth, if there’s enough bone present to support the implant. That might not be the case, however, because without the stimulation of the lost tooth, the bone may dissolve (resorb) over time. It’s possible, however, that you may need to re-grow bone in the back area of the upper jaw where your upper (maxillary) sinus is located.

Sinuses are air space cavities located throughout the skull. This feature allows your head to be light enough to be supported by your neck muscles. Inside each sinus is a membrane that lines your sinus cavities, nasal passages and other spaces. The maxillary sinus is located on each side of the face just below the eyes. Pyramidal in shape, the floor of the pyramid lies just above the upper back teeth.

A surgeon approaches the sinus through the mouth, with the objective of moving the sinus membrane up from the floor of the sinus. This is accomplished by placing bone-grafting material in the area. Over time the body uses the grafting material as a scaffold to produce new bone that then replaces the grafting material. The resulting new bone becomes the support for the implant.

If enough bone exists to stabilize an implant but not anchor it, then the surgeon can approach the sinus from the same opening that’s used for the intended implant site, insert the grafting material, and install the implant during the same procedure. If not, the surgeon creates a small “window” laterally over the teeth to access the sinus and insert the graft. The implant is installed a few months later after the new bone is created.

The procedure usually requires only a local anesthetic, although some patients may require additional sedation or anti-anxiety medication. After the surgery, you normally experience mild to moderate swelling and discomfort, about the same as having a tooth removed. All these symptoms can be managed with non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory pain medication and a decongestant for minor congestion in the sinus. We might also prescribe an antibiotic to help prevent infection.

Although this procedure adds another step and possibly more waiting time to implantation, it gives you an option you wouldn’t otherwise have — a life-like, effective replacement of your back teeth with dental implants.

If you would like more information on bone regeneration for 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 “Sinus Surgery.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
June 10, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
FiveFactsAboutTooth-ColoredFillings

For decades, dental amalgam — the common “silver” fillings found in the mouths of millions — was the best option for restoring teeth after the removal of decay. This time-tested material is still going strong, but in recent years it's had serious competition from newer restoration techniques that use tooth-colored substances to make fillings. If you've heard of these new materials and want to know more, you can start with the following five facts.

1) Filling materials must match the properties of natural teeth.

When properly cared for, teeth are strong, resilient, and superbly functional. A good filling material should mimic the strength and durability of natural teeth under biting forces. It should also last a long time in the mouth, be relatively easy to place, and be economical in cost. In the past, amalgam fillings were the best choice to do the job. But that was then.

2) Tooth-colored filling materials offer similar benefits, plus aesthetic appeal.

Composite resins and dental porcelains are tough, durable materials that have been found to hold up well under years of use. Unlike traditional silver fillings, however, they match the appearance of natural teeth quite closely. This means that even a restoration in the front of the mouth may be virtually undetectable. And who wouldn't like that?

3) Tooth-colored resins may allow more conservative treatment in decay removal.

In order to keep them securely in place, amalgam (silver) fillings may require “undercutting,” which removes more of the tooth structure. The process involved in bonding tooth-colored restorations, however, generally requires removal of less tooth material. This means a stronger base for rebuilding the tooth's structure.

4) Different treatment methods are used for different degrees of tooth restoration.

Small cavities can be treated by direct “chairside” techniques, which are very similar to the methods used for traditional amalgam (silver) fillings: in one brief visit, it's all done. When a greater volume of tooth structure must be replaced, we may be able to create a larger tooth-colored filling in a longer visit. Or, we might need to have a special restoration made to match your teeth; then, you can come back to have it securely bonded for a natural and long-lasting result.

5) Both amalgam and tooth-colored fillings are safe and effective.

Each has advantages and disadvantages in particular cases. But as the technology of tooth-colored filling systems evolves, some dental researchers have heralded the beginning of the “post-amalgam era.” Are tooth-colored fillings right for your individual situation? We're the ones to ask.

If you would like more information about tooth-colored fillings, 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 “The Natural Beauty of Tooth-Colored Fillings.”


By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
June 02, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene  
SeekingReliefFromBurningMouthSyndrome

There are some people, particularly women around the age of menopause, who experience an uncomfortable burning and dry sensation in their mouths most of the time. The exact cause of this condition, known as “burning mouth syndrome,” is often difficult to determine, though links to a variety of other health conditions have been established. These include diabetes, nutritional deficiencies (of iron and B vitamins, for example), acid reflux, cancer therapy, and psychological problems. Hormonal changes associated with menopause might also play a role.

If you are experiencing burning sensations and dryness, please come in and see us so we can try to figure out what's causing these symptoms in your particular case. We will start by taking a complete medical history and getting a list of all the medications you are taking as some drugs are known to cause mouth dryness. We will also give you a thorough examination.

In the meantime, here are some ways you might be able to get some relief:

Give up habits that can cause dry mouth such as chronic smoking, alcohol and/or coffee drinking, and frequent eating of hot and spicy foods.

Keep your mouth moist by drinking lots of water. We can also recommend products that replace or stimulate production of saliva.

Try different brands of toothpastes, opting for “plain” varieties that don't contain the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate, whiteners, or strong flavoring such as cinnamon.

Keep a food diary of everything that you put into and around your mouth (including food, makeup and personal care products). This might give us some clues as to what's causing your discomfort.

Check with us about any medications you are taking, either prescription or over-the-counter. We can tell you if any are known to dry out the mouth and maybe help you find substitutions.

Reduce stress in your life if you possibly can. This might be achieved through relaxing forms of exercise, joining a support group for people dealing with chronic pain, or seeking psychotherapy.

If you have concerns about burning mouth syndrome or any other type of oral discomfort, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation.