Learning to Biologically Grow Our Own Replacement Teeth

tooth on blueEven if you haven’t experienced tooth loss, you’re probably aware of the importance of maintaining your natural permanent teeth–especially since you only grow one set. At our Maury County dentist’s office, Dr. David Foster can help restore your smile’s beauty and function by supporting expertly-fabricated replacement teeth on one or more dental implants. Nevertheless, Dr. Foster warns that preventing lost teeth is preferable to replacing them, since even the best restorations don’t compare to your natural tooth structure. Some researchers, however, are hoping to change that and the lives of tooth loss patients by studying how to direct stem cells to become human teeth.

Understanding a Stem Cell

Stem cells are described as undifferentiated cells that have the potential to become specialized cell types. This potential creates a wide array of opportunities for the scientific and medical community, possibly allowing for the regeneration of damaged or diseased cells that may not otherwise be healed. For the stem cells to differentiate into specified cell types, such as dental cells, they require a set of instructions. In the quest to grow permanent human teeth, scientists believe they may have taken an important step by discovering a dental cell marker known to dictate the continuous growth of teeth.

Teach a Stem Cell to Become a Tooth

The mechanisms and patterns involved in human tooth growth are similar in mice, who possess incisors that continuously grow throughout their lives. Researchers at the Institute of Biotechnology in Helsinki, Finland, have decided to study this phenomenon, and have discovered that the incisors’ growth is dictated by a group of stem cells located at the base of the tooth. These dental stem cells possess a specific transcription factor that acts as a marker for dental cell growth, and researchers believe they may provide important insight into directing stem cells to grow human tooth structure.

About Your Maury County Dentist:

If you’ve lost one or more teeth already, you don’t have to wait until stem cell therapy is perfected before enjoying a mouth full of teeth again. Instead, speak with Dr. Foster about your options for effective tooth replacement, including dental implants the replace the roots of your lost teeth. David Foster, DDS is a Columbia, TN native who’s served the dental needs of patients and their families in our community since 1985. If you live in Columbia, Lewisburg, Lawrenceburg, Hohenwald, Centerville, Pulaski, or any of the surrounding communities, call us today at (931) 388 – 3384 to schedule an appointment.

FAQs About Sedation Dentistry

relaxing smileGood oral health care involves more than treating your teeth and gums; it’s about treating you as a person, not just another case. As a dedicated Columbia dentist, Dr. David Foster takes pride in providing innovative options and treatments to make your oral health care comfortable, effective, and unobtrusive to your schedule. For patients who are anxious or require invasive procedures, we offer dental sedation in a variety of forms to suit your personal needs. Today, we answer some of the more frequently asked questions about sedation dentistry and how it can significantly improve your oral health care experience. (more…)

What Your Dentist Wants You to Know About Gum Disease

lady in thoughtYou may know that gum disease is a serious concern, especially if your smile has ever been threatened by the destructive disease before. However, even though gum disease affects nearly 70% of adults under the age of 60, not many people realize exactly how destructive the issue can be when it’s left untreated. To help you understand how dangerous gum disease can be, Columbia dentist, Dr. David Foster, explores what happens when gum disease is allowed to run rampant.

Do Your Gums Appear Troubled?

Gum disease begins as a bacterial infection resulting from excessive dental plaque buildup, and as the name suggests, it infects the soft gingival tissue that surrounds and protects the lower parts of your teeth. Symptoms of the infection, which can warn you of its presence, include red, swollen, and often bleeding gums. The consequences of your gums eroding, however, may not be as immediately apparent as its symptoms. Your gums and the jawbone underneath support your teeth, and when gum disease destroys them, your smile can suffer the loss from tooth loss if it isn’t treated promptly.

Is Tooth Loss the Worst Thing About Gum Disease?

As devastating as tooth loss can be, it isn’t the only danger that can face a smile that’s been ravished by gum disease. The bacteria that lead to gum disease development are especially dangerous for their ability to incite inflammation in your gum tissue. When your gums are compromised, these germs can enter your bloodstream, and the inflammation they cause can damage more than just your gums. In fact, research has shown that the mechanisms behind gum disease can significantly increase your risk for certain systemic illnesses related to inflammation, including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory complications, and dementia in later years.

About Your Columbia Dentist:

If your gums are red, swollen, or they bleed when you brush your teeth, don’t ignore the warning signs. Instead, visit Dr. Foster as soon as possible to address early gum disease before extensive damage occurs. David Foster, DDS is a Columbia, TN native who’s served the dental needs of patients and their families in our community since 1985. If you live in Columbia, Lewisburg, Lawrenceburg, Hohenwald, Centerville, Pulaski, or any of the surrounding communities, call us today at (931) 388 – 3384 to schedule an appointment.

The Meaning of Toothaches

girl in bed with a toothacheMost people experience a toothache at least once in their lives, and the discomfort can range from mild to debilitating. Toothaches are common enough that many over-the-counter pharmaceutical products offer tooth pain relief, usually through topical application. However, a toothache isn’t an issue unto itself, and topical analgesics only treat the symptom of what may be a serious underlying condition. Learn about some of the more common toothache causes, and what the pain may be telling you about your oral health.

Most Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Accidental trauma

When a tooth cracks or breaks, it often hurts. If the damage is caused by a forceful impact, such as during a contact sport or a physical altercation, then the toothache isn’t likely a mystery. When a tooth’s main structure is compromised, the sensitive nerves and blood vessels house in the tooth’s center (pulp) are exposed to irritants like hot and cold temperatures, pressure, and bacterial infection.

Tooth decay

Although more subtle than a traumatic injury, progressive tooth decay can also expose a tooth’s pulp by slowly eating away the tooth’s structure. The main body of a tooth, called the dentin, contains small tubules that feed sensory information to the nerves in the pulp. When tooth decay settles into the dentin, the discomfort is sensed by the tooth’s nerves and can generate varying levels of tooth sensitivity.

Gum disease

Gum disease doesn’t affect a tooth’s structure, and yet the infection is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States. What starts as a bacterial infection along the gum line, known as gingivitis, progresses as gum tissue becomes inflamed and separates from teeth roots, which the gums are meant to support and protect. As gums become infected and recede, teeth roots are slowly exposed to irritation and infection. Left untreated, gum disease can destroy a tooth’s supporting gums and jawbone, leading to tooth loss.

About Your Columbia Dentist:

If your tooth hurts, don’t ignore it, or try to brave it out. Instead, visit Dr. Foster as soon as possible to determine what’s wrong. David Foster, DDS is a Columbia, TN native who’s served the dental needs of patients and their families in our community since 1985. If you live in Columbia, Lewisburg, Lawrenceburg, Hohenwald, Centerville, Pulaski, or any of the surrounding communities, call us today at (931) 388 – 3384 to schedule an appointment.

Why Would Your Dentist Extract a Tooth?

surprised girl in blue sweaterLosing a tooth to an accident can be traumatic, but being told that your tooth must be removed can sometimes be confusing. After all, isn’t the goal to retain your natural teeth by treating them when necessary? Though adult teeth were meant to last a lifetime, poor hygiene and neglect can allow issues to arise and progress that make retaining the tooth impossible, or a liability to the rest of your oral health.

Extraction vs. Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment is called for when excessive tooth decay invades your tooth and infects its nerves and blood vessels. Collectively known as your tooth’s pulp, the mass of tissues are located at the center of the tooth and is connected to its roots. In some cases, cleaning and sealing the tooth’s roots won’t be enough to save the tooth, and extraction is the only way to prevent decay from spreading further.

Trouble with Your Wisdom Teeth

Your wisdom teeth are the last, or third, set of molars to grow on your dental ridge. As they try to erupt, third molars often encounter resistance from teeth already present. Impacted wisdom teeth can push your teeth out of alignment, and lead to severe levels of discomfort until they’re extracted. Unlike your other teeth, wisdom teeth don’t require replacement when extracted. They’re removal is actually recommended in most cases to improve comfort and dental function.

What’s Next?

Except for wisdom teeth, the immediate next step after extracting a tooth should be replacing it. A dental bridge can close the gap with a lifelike replacement supported by a dental crown on either side. The crowns are bonded to the teeth adjacent to the empty space, called abutment teeth, to hold the replacement tooth steady. Preferably, a dental implant and crown can replace the tooth without disturbing healthy tooth structure. The implant is surgically inserted into the jawbone, which fuses to the implant’s biocompatible titanium surface. After your jawbone has healed, the crown can be affixed to an abutment that protrudes above the gum line, allowing the implant to support the crown in the manner that roots support your natural teeth.

About Your Columbia Dentist:

David Foster, DDS is a Columbia, TN native who’s served the dental needs of patients and their families in our community since 1985. If you live in Columbia, Lewisburg, Lawrenceburg, Hohenwald, Centerville, Pulaski, or any of the surrounding communities, call us today at (931) 388 – 3384 to schedule an appointment.

There’s Hope for Lost Teeth

older woman holding an appleWhen you lose one or more teeth, it may seem like that’s the end of the road for your beautiful, healthy smile. Though adult teeth should ideally last a lifetime, and usually do, extensive damage and dental infection still destroy some teeth, and render others too weak or disease-ridden to save. Because of their importance, much of modern dental advancement focuses on replacing lost teeth to rebuild a cosmetically pleasing, fully functioning smile.

Healthy Teeth vs. Missing Teeth

If you’re speaking about the visual aspects of your smile, then the benefits of having teeth over not having teeth may be apparent. A gapped smile is typically considered less attractive than a full one, and the loss can significantly impact your self-confidence, but a full set of teeth are also necessary for your mouth’s proper function. Tooth loss can cause the teeth that remain to shift towards the empty gap trying to take up the slack in your bite’s pressure. The roots of your teeth help keep your jawbone strong by soliciting nutrients when they’re stimulated, and losing them can inhibit the blood flow to your jaw. Even if you can’t see them, the continuing effects of tooth loss may wreak havoc on your smile long after the tooth has fallen out or been extracted.

Advanced Dental Prosthetics

Vanity may play a part in the drive to replace lost teeth, but scientists and researchers know that the quality of your replacement teeth largely dictates the state of your oral health in the future. Modern dental prosthetics (i.e., dental bridges, partial dentures, and complete dentures) are often crafted using lifelike dental porcelain, which can be precisely tinted to match your natural tooth color and layered to mimic how tooth enamel reflects light. Each dental prosthesis is custom-made to the exact specifications of your smile for a comfortable, natural fit. In many cases, Dr. Foster might recommend supporting a dental prosthesis on one or more dental implants—small root devices that surgically inserted into the jawbone, providing the support that natural roots once provided your lost teeth.

About Your Columbia Dentist:

David Foster, DDS is a Columbia, TN native who’s served the dental needs of patients and their families in our community since 1985. If you live in Columbia, Lewisburg, Lawrenceburg, Hohenwald, Centerville, Pulaski, or any of the surrounding communities, call us today at (931) 388 – 3384 to schedule an appointment.

Are Metal Dental Crowns Obsolete?

Woman taking a closer look at dental crownsFor well over 2000 years, gold and gold alloys have been the standard for dental crowns. As a restorative material, gold offered a number of advantages and, until relatively recently, no one really minded that it doesn’t look a thing like real tooth enamel. Since the mid-20th century, however, the trend has moved toward more lifelike crowns, fillings, and other restorations. Does this mean that gold crowns are a thing of the past, or does this tried-and-true material still have a place in the modern dental practice? (more…)

How to Prevent Chapped Lips

winter weatherHave you ever had severely chapped lips? They are not very pleasant, and as the winter season has been upon us for some time, your lips are certainly in danger of chapping if you do not take some precautions. The following list of tips from your Spring Hill TN dentist, Dr. David Foster, offers several strategies for preventing chapped lips, while also explaining the chief cause behind chapping. You should, therefore, find the tips informative and practical as you face the harsh winter climate for the next several weeks. (more…)

Can Regular Dental Visits Preserve Your Mental Health?

dental instruments 2We are frequently reminded of just how interconnected the body’s many systems are. A temporomandibular joint disorder, a condition that stems from strain on the jaw, can result in migraines and earaches. Gum disease increases the risks of heart disease and diabetes. Now, as it turns out, research has revealed that tooth loss is connected to poor cognition. In a study that tested almost 6,000 men and women, researchers have not only established a connection between tooth loss and mental health, but have uncovered a pattern between the extensiveness of tooth loss and the deterioration of mental health using memory and thinking tests.

The study reveals that people with the fewest remaining teeth scored the worst on the tests, while people with the most remaining teeth scored the best. Thus, you may really be preserving your mental health when you attend dental checkups with your Maury County TN dentist, Dr. David Foster, although further research has yet to reveal the exact relationship between tooth loss and declining cognitive abilities. (more…)

Restore Your Entire Smile with Your General Dentist

young woman with an excellent smileYour smile significantly influences your appearance, and as such, plays a vital role in your confidence. The health of your smile can also impact your overall quality of life; dental discomfort can be a serious distraction, and some complex issues can make it difficult to bite, chew, and speak properly. As a dedicated general dentist in Columbia, TN, Dr. David Foster enjoys seeing patients proudly show off their healthy, beautiful smiles. With impressive experience in general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry procedures, Dr. Foster has helped many patients improve or rebuild their smiles even in the midst of complex dental issues. With a customized full mouth restoration, your smile can bounce back from severe disease, traumatic injury, or an imbalanced bite that complicates your oral health.

Your Customized Full Mouth Restoration

A full mouth restoration is a combination of procedures that involves more than the health and appearance of your teeth. Before suggesting and developing a treatment plan, Dr. Foster will carefully examine your teeth, gums, jaw, and how proportionate your smile is to the shape of your face. Depending on your exact needs, your full mouth restoration may include;

  • Orthodontic treatment (braces) to straighten crooked teeth
  • Dental fillings or root canal therapy to treat infectious tooth decay
  • TMJ therapy to treat damaged or misaligned jaw joints (TMJs)
  • Dental implants to replace lost teeth
  • A combination of cosmetic dentistry procedures to optimize your smile’s appearance

Prevent the Need for a Smile Overhaul

Though skilled at restoring troubled smiles, Dr. Foster encourages you to prevent the need for extensive treatment by practicing good hygiene, and offers a number of preventive measures to help preserve your smile. At home, brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice every day (especially before bedtime) can help control the bacteria and plaque that lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Attending a dental checkup and cleaning every six months will allow Dr. Foster to keep a close eye on the health of your teeth and gums, and prescribe an effective treatment early enough to prevent complications.

About Your General Dentist:

David Foster, DDS is a Columbia, TN native who’s served the dental needs of patients and their families in our community since 1985. If you live in Columbia, Lewisburg, Lewisburg, Hohenwald, Centerville, or any of the surrounding communities, call us today at (931) 388 – 3384 to schedule an appointment.