The Benefits of Implant Dentures

If you are missing all or nearly all of your upper and/or lower teeth, dentures are generally the best option for tooth replacement. Conventional dentures are removable and form a seal through suction with your gums. A skilled dentist can create comfortable and natural-looking conventional dentures and this is a great option for many patients. However, implant dentures may be a better fit depending on your situation. These are rows of artificial teeth that are secured in place using dental implants, which are titanium posts that are surgically placed in your jaw and act as an artificial tooth root.

Here are some of the benefits of implant-supported dentures:

Support a Healthy Jaw

Losing your teeth means that the roots are no longer stimulating your jaw. This can lead to bone resorption, a process where the body absorbs bone tissue in the jaw that is no longer being used. Bone loss can change the shape of your gums and face. Conventional dentures are not as effective at preventing this because the pressure that chewing with dentures exerts on your jaw is significantly less than it would be with natural teeth. Dental implants can help prevent bone loss and support jaw health.

Eat Comfortably

Conventional dentures may slip around in your mouth while you eat. This is especially common for lower dentures since there is less surface area for them to adhere to your gums. The movement of your dentures may make eating certain foods difficult and can make you self-conscious eating around others. Implant dentures have solid support and won’t move around, so you can enjoy all of your favorite foods.

Speak More Easily

In addition to making it harder to eat some foods, dentures that slip around in your mouth can result in trouble speaking. This can impact your confidence and is often frustrating for patients. Implant-supported dentures may make it easier to talk and pronounce sounds that are difficult with conventional dentures.

Longer Lasting

Conventional dentures typically need to be replaced every 5-8 years, whereas implant dentures can last for 20 years or more with proper care. This makes them a great investment in the long run.

Smile with Confidence

We can create beautiful implant dentures that look natural. In addition to the functional benefits of tooth replacement, one of the biggest positive outcomes is the renewed confidence that many patients feel.

The Process of Getting Implant Dentures

If you are interested in getting implant-supported dentures, your dentist can go over the process in detail. We will work with a trusted oral surgeon for your dental implant surgery and will support you throughout the process. Although you will need to wait for your implants to fully integrate with your jaw bone before we place your permanent implant dentures, we can create a temporary denture so you can enjoy your new smile sooner.

Restorative Dentistry at Smith Dentalworks

At Smith Dentalworks, we can help you get your smile back. There are many options available, including conventional and implant-supported dentures.

Call today to schedule an appointment to discuss implant dentures.

Using a Dental Implant for Tooth Replacement

Losing a tooth can have a serious negative impact on your oral health and self-esteem. Luckily, modern dentistry makes it possible to restore your smile. There are two main options for the replacement of a single tooth: a bridge or a dental implant with a crown. A bridge attaches to the two natural teeth on either side of the gap, whereas an implant is placed in your jaw with the crown on top of it. Although dental bridges can be a good choice, dental implants have the added benefit of preserving the health of your jaw.

More information on tooth implants:

What is a Dental Implant?

A diagram of a tooth, showing where the tooth root, which a dental implant replaces, is
The structure of a healthy natural tooth

A dental implant is a titanium post that an oral surgeon places in your jaw bone. It acts as an artificial tooth root. The root, as shown in the diagram above, is the portion of the tooth below the gum that extends into your jaw. The implant itself does not look or function like a tooth, so it is often paired with a crown, which is a synthetic tooth made of porcelain.

The Process of Getting an Implant and Crown

The first step in the tooth replacement process is a comprehensive oral exam, including X-rays. Your dentist will then create a customized treatment plan and will go over the process with you. The implantation process is performed by an oral surgeon, who will place the titanium post in your jawbone. If you have been missing this tooth for a long period of time, a bone graft may be necessary first to create strong enough support for the implant. Your surgeon and dentist will discuss this with you if the procedure is necessary.

Before your dentist can create and place a crown, the implant will need to fully heal and fuse with your jawbone. This is called osseointegration and generally takes several months. It may be possible to be fitted for a temporary tooth replacement during this time.

After you are done healing, your dentist will take an impression of the abutment, which is the portion of the implant above your gums, and the surrounding teeth. They will then create a custom porcelain crown. This tooth replacement is incredibly durable and looks natural. It can be cemented or screwed onto the abutment, giving you a beautiful new smile.

The Benefits of Dental Implants

A dental implant has many benefits, including:

Helps Prevent Bone Loss

When you lose a tooth, your jaw is no longer being stimulated by the root. Over time, your body may resorb the bone, causing nearby teeth to shift and possibly changing the shape of your face. An implant stimulates your jaw and helps prevent this.

Looks and Feels Natural

The combination of an implant and crown looks like a real tooth. It also makes it easier for you to eat and speak and doesn’t slip around like other types of restoration.

Long-Lasting

With proper care, a dental implant can last a lifetime. The crown will usually need to be replaced after 10-15 years, although this depends on where it is placed. Crowns in the front of mouth typically last longer than those in the back.

Smile Restoration by Smith Dentalworks

Pairing a dental implant with a crown is an excellent choice for single tooth replacement. At Smith Dentalworks, we can help you replace your missing tooth or teeth so you can eat, speak, and smile confidently.

To discuss getting a dental implant and/or crown, contact us today.

In-Office Membership vs. Dental Insurance

At Smith Dentalworks, we want to help you improve and maintain your oral health. We accept a variety of payment methods and are happy to assist you in determining the best way to pay for your treatment. While we are an insurance-friendly practice, we also accept patients who do not have insurance. To help reduce the cost of your care, we offer an in-office membership plan. This plan has many benefits compared to dental insurance and may be a better choice for your needs.

How Dental Insurance Works

When you have dental insurance, you pay a monthly premium for access to coverage. The plan will typically pay for basic preventive treatment and a portion of other necessary care. This will often be subject to limitations and restrictions. Additionally, there is usually a waiting period before you can take advantage of benefits for major procedures and there are limits for how much the insurance company will pay. This may include a yearly maximum and caps on lifetime benefits per tooth.

How Our In-Office Plan Works

When you sign up for our membership plan, you pay $250/year per adult (15 years and older) or $200/year per child (14 years and under).

The plan includes the following each year:

  • Two professional cleanings
  • Two dental exams
  • Necessary X-rays
  • One emergency exam if needed
  • Two fluoride treatments for patients who are 14 years old or younger

Additionally, you get 20% off all in-office procedures.

Benefits of Membership vs. Dental Insurance

Some of the benefits of our membership plan compared to insurance:

Easy to Understand What’s Included

With dental insurance, it can be difficult to determine what is and is not covered. This can be frustrating if you are trying to plan your treatments. Our membership plan includes the preventive care mentioned above, plus a 20% discount for any care you receive in our office. This is the same for all types of procedures, so it’s easy to understand.

No Waiting Period

Because insurance often includes a waiting period, you may need to wait to get coverage for necessary treatments. This can have a negative impact on your oral health and addressing a problem sooner rather than later is usually the best option to avoid additional damage. Our membership plan does not have a waiting period, so you can start taking advantage of the benefits right away.

No Annual Maximum

Certain restorative procedures can exceed your yearly maximum for dental insurance. This leaves you responsible for 100% of the remaining cost. This is in addition to your deductible for any portion of the treatment that your insurance does cover. An in-office membership with Smith Dentalworks doesn’t have a maximum.

No Exclusions for Pre-Existing Conditions

Most dental insurance plans include exclusions for pre-existing conditions. This means that if you were missing a tooth when you signed up, you will not be able to take advantage of coverage for any restorations. In some cases, this also applies to teeth lost during the waiting period. When you sign up for our in-office membership plan, there are no pre-existing condition exclusions to worry about.

Covers Cosmetic Dentistry

It is rare for dental insurance to cover cosmetic dentistry unless it is related to necessary restorative treatment. The 20% discount included with our membership applies to all types of procedures, including cosmetic dentistry. If you’re interested in teeth whitening, veneers, or any other option to improve the way your smile looks, our plan can help make the cost more manageable.

Work Directly With Your Dentist

When you use dental insurance to pay for treatment, you may need to work with both your dentist and the insurance company to determine what is and is not covered. If you have questions, it may be difficult to determine who can help you find the answers. We are always happy to help whether you use insurance or our membership, but in the case of our in-office plan, there’s no need to work with a third party. All considerations related to your treatment and payment can be handled in our office.

Sign Up for Our In-Office Membership

If you are looking for a way to reduce the cost of your dental care without insurance, you should consider our in-office plan. The benefits are easy to understand and there are no maximum, pre-existing condition exclusions, or pre-authorization requirements.

You can sign up online or call our office for more information about how our plan is a great alternative to dental insurance and if it would be a good option for you.

 

What Bruxism Is and How We Treat It

Bruxism is when you clench or grind your teeth unconsciously. Occasional grinding is common and not usually a cause for concern, but if your bruxism is more severe it can cause serious damage. If you tend to grind your teeth at night, this can also interrupt your sleep and impact your health.

More information about bruxism and possible treatments:

Types of Bruxism

There are two main varieties of teeth grinding: awake and sleep bruxism. Both of these can be caused by stress. Grinding your teeth during the day can also be a habit when you are concentrating. Nighttime bruxism often occurs with other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Sleep-related bruxism may also have a genetic link.

How to Tell If You Grind Your Teeth

Many people who grind their teeth while sleeping do not know that they are doing so until a loved one hears the noise at night or a dentist notices signs of damage. However, there are some warning signs you can watch for. If you usually wake up with jaw pain or have a constant, dull headache, it may be due to teeth grinding. A dentist can confirm whether or not there are any visible signs.

The Effects of Teeth Grinding

One of the acute effects of grinding or clenching your teeth is tooth pain. This can start minor and progress to a severe toothache if left untreated. You may also notice increased tooth sensitivity, pain in your jaw muscles and temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and even fracturing of teeth. Additionally, bruxism can reduce the longevity of any crowns, bridges, or veneers.

In the long term, persistent grinding can shorten your teeth. This is both a cosmetic and functional issue. Severe wear can deteriorate the structure of your teeth and even cause tooth loss or resorption of the bones in your jaw over time. This condition also disrupts your sleep which can lead to fatigue, lower immunity, and other health issues.

Treatment Options

Awake Bruxism

One of the most effective treatments for daytime teeth grinding is reducing your stress level. You can ask your doctor or dentist for recommendations if you aren’t sure where to start. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is also beneficial. You should also try to be aware of when you grind your teeth and, if you catch yourself doing so, place your tongue between your teeth to relax your jaw and stop the clenching.

Sleep Bruxism

Reducing stress and avoiding caffeine/alcohol consumption are also helpful for nighttime teeth clenching. In this case, a mouth guard is a good option to minimize the amount of damage that can occur. The best choice is to be fitted by a dentist for a custom occlusal night guard. The options you can find in your local drug store may worsen TMJ problems.

Struggling with Teeth Grinding?

If you are having problems with grinding or clenching your teeth, Smith Dentalworks can help. We can discuss your options with you to find treatment solutions that protect your teeth. We want you to have a beautiful, healthy smile and are here to guide you through the process of improving and maintaining your oral health.

If you have daytime or nighttime bruxism, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

How We Clean and Sanitize Our Dental Clinic

At Smith Dentalworks, we have always stayed up to date with the latest sterilization protocols to protect everyone who enters our dental clinic. Following recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and other trusted organizations allows us to ensure that we are practicing dentistry as safely as possible. As we reopen, this is more important than ever.

Here are some of the ways that we clean and sanitize our clinic:

New Methods

For the most part, we are either continuing our existing safety protocols or enhancing them to provide additional protection. There are some new methods that we are also implementing. This includes adding medical-grade high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to all operatories. We also have new procedures for dentist appointments that include social distancing policies, symptom screening, and virtual appointments when possible.

Existing Protocols

There are many actions that we have always taken in order to sanitize our office.

These include:

Hand Hygiene

Hand washing and other aspects of hand hygiene are some of the most important factors in reducing the spread of harmful microorganisms. We have always taken this very seriously and our team follows strict protocols for when and how to wash their hands.

Sharps Safety

Safely disposing of sharps reduces the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. We continue to follow CDC guidelines for sharps safety.

Sterilizing Instruments

When possible, we use single-use products and dispose of these safely after use. If this is not an option, we use an autoclave to sterilize all instruments and devices using heat.

Enhanced Procedures

Along with the sanitary measures we have always taken, we are enhancing or expanding some of our existing protocols.

These include:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) helps keep our personnel and patients safe. Our existing guidelines include wearing gloves, masks, and eyewear. We have added face shields, head coverings, and longer gowns.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is available throughout the dental clinic. We have added more locations for added convenience and ease of use.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Cleaning and disinfecting the office has always been a priority. We use hospital-level disinfectants that have been registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In addition to operatory areas, we have expanded our cleaning and disinfection to cover even more surfaces throughout the entire office.

Minimizing Aerosols

Minimizing the spread of aerosols is especially important due to COVID-19. We have reviewed our procedures and technologies to further protect our patients and team. We are using additional High Vac intraoral and extraoral suction devices during aerosol-producing procedures.

Safe and Trustworthy Dentistry

Our priority is ensuring your safety, comfort, and wellbeing while supporting you in improving and maintaining your oral health. Although we are making some changes to how we operate, this principle remains the same and will continue to guide our decisions. We look forward to treating you in the safest way possible.

To schedule an appointment at our dental clinic, contact us today.

What to Expect from your Dentist Appointment

We hope this post finds you all healthy and safe. At Smith Dentalworks, we love what we do, and helping care for our patients brings great joy to our lives. The health and safety of our team, patients, family members, and community have always been a priority. During the current situation regarding COVID-19, we have been closely following recommendations from a variety of trusted organizations. These include the American Dental Association (ADA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As we reopen for patients, we want to give you a better idea of what you might expect from your dentist appointment with our new safety protocols in place.

What You Can Always Expect From Us

Certain aspects of our care have not changed and this includes our commitment to you as a patient. You can always expect informative, innovative, and individualized dental care from our team. During your dentist appointment, we will work hard to make you feel comfortable and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that fits your needs. Whether it is your first visit or you are a returning patient, you can trust that you are in great hands.

Changes to Dentist Appointments

To keep everyone in our office and community safe, we are making some changes to how we handle dental visits. If you have an appointment scheduled, we will discuss these new procedures with you directly before you come into our office. We are also happy to answer any questions you may have.

Some new expectations for your dentist appointment:

Virtual Dental Care

When it is appropriate, we will schedule a virtual appointment with you. If you are not sure whether coming into our office or meeting virtually is best for your situation, let us know and we will discuss your options with you.

Screening for COVID-19 Symptoms

To reduce the risk of exposure, we will be pre-screening all patients before they visit our office. We will ask about any potential symptoms or high-risk behaviors and there will be an additional form you must complete before your appointment. In addition to asking these questions before your appointment, we will screen you for symptoms again when you arrive and will take your temperature with a no-touch infrared thermometer. This process is non-invasive and quick. If your temperature is above 100.4℉, we will reschedule your appointment. Our team members will undergo a similar screening process each day.

Waiting for Your Appointment

When possible, we will ask you to wait in your vehicle. When we are ready to begin your examination, we will call you and let you know. This minimizes the number of patients in our clinic at one time. If you do need to use our waiting room, we have rearranged this space to maximize social distancing. We also encourage you to wear a face mask.

Who Can Enter the Office

We ask that no one besides you (the patient) enters the office. The exceptions to this are if you are the adult guardian of a minor patient or you are an adult who requires a caretaker.

Minimizing Aerosols

If you are having any aerosol-producing dental work done, we will be using additional High Vac extraoral and intraoral suction devices.

Enhanced Dental Office Safety

Smith Dentalworks has always followed procedures to keep you safe, but we have added even more protocols during the current situation. These include additional personal protective equipment (PPE), enhanced total office sanitation and disinfection, and using medical-grade high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in all operatory areas.

Safe Dentistry

We want you to feel comfortable and trust that you are safe when you visit our dental office. If you have any questions about what to expect from your next dental visit, please let us know.

To schedule a dentist appointment, contact us today.

How to Fix Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth are more than just a cosmetic concern. They can have a large impact on your dental and oral health. This is because they can make it harder to properly clean your teeth. This could potentially contribute to tooth decay. Misaligned teeth can also affect your bite, which can cause increased wear to your enamel or strain on your jaw. Straightening your teeth can improve your self-esteem and dental health.

Here is how we can help you fix crooked teeth:

Initial Visit to Our Dentist Office

During your first visit to our office, we will take digital X-rays and will examine your teeth to identify any misalignment. We will also check for other oral health problems that may need to be addressed. Dr. Smith will discuss her recommendations with you during this visit and we will create a plan for how to move forward with your dental treatment. This will depend on how crooked your teeth are and if there are any additional concerns.

It is our goal to make sure that you are completely informed when it comes to your dental care. We will explain each step so you understand the process before we begin straightening your teeth. We can even use digital technology to show you what your new smile will look like after your treatment is complete.

Invisalign Clear Aligners

For adults with crooked teeth, Invisalign is a great treatment option. This allows you to straighten your teeth discreetly with clear aligner trays that you can remove to eat, brush, and floss. Dr. Smith is a preferred Invisalign provider, so we can help you determine if this is the best orthodontic treatment for you.

How Invisalign Straightens Crooked Teeth

Clear aligners are designed to fit tightly to your teeth. Every two weeks, you will switch the aligner so that it continues to tighten and move each individual tooth into alignment. The length of this process varies and the average treatment time for an adult is 12 months.

During this time, you will come into the office every few weeks to make sure the treatment is progressing as planned. This takes less time and happens less frequently than visits for braces since you do not need to visit the office every time you change aligners.

Other Options to Straighten Your Teeth

If Invisalign isn’t a good match for your needs, there are other options we might recommend. For a misalignment that is purely cosmetic and very minor, veneers can give you a new and improved smile. If you have severely crowded teeth, we may recommend tooth extraction to create more space. We would pair these extractions with other orthodontic treatment to align your remaining teeth.

Get a Beautiful, Healthy Smile

A beautiful smile can make a huge difference for your confidence and how you interact with others. In addition, your oral health impacts your overall health. Making positive changes, such as correcting crooked teeth, is an excellent step to take to improve your wellbeing. At Smith Dentalworks, we offer compassionate and comfortable dental care. This includes preventive as well as restorative and cosmetic treatments.

If you are ready to transform your crooked teeth into a new, healthy smile, call us today.

All About Our Dental Laser

At Smith Dentalworks, we are committed to providing our patients with comfortable dental care using the most innovative treatment options available. One example of the technology we use in our office is the Solea®️ Laser. This unique tool can replace the outdated drill in many procedures and makes dentistry pain-free. When we use our dental laser, there is often no need for anesthetic. This allows us to complete your dental procedure in the most efficient and comfortable way possible. 

More information about laser dentistry at Smith Dentalworks:

How Our Dental Laser Works

The Solea Laser is a type of carbon dioxide (CO2) laser. It produces a beam of powerful infrared light by running electricity through a tube filled with a gas mixture that contains CO2, nitrogen, hydrogen, and helium. This excites the nitrogen molecules, which then transfer energy to the CO2 molecules. As the gases release energy, the system produces a beam of invisible light that is reflected by a series of mirrors that increase its intensity. Galvos, which are computer-controlled motors, move the mirrors to optimize the energy of this light beam based on the type of tissue that the laser is cutting. This can include enamel, gum, or other soft and hard tissues.

This laser system emits a beam with a wavelength of 9.3 microns. This makes it different from previous dental lasers which produced a 10.6 micron beam that was only effective on soft tissues. By contrast, the wavelength of the Solea Laser is near the peak absorption of hydroxyapatite. This is a mineral composed of calcium, phosphorus, and oxygen and is the major component of tooth enamel. When the enamel absorbs the energy from this laser beam, it vaporizes and creates a clean, precise cut. As a result, we can use the Solea Laser for both hard and soft tissue.

Pain-Free Dental Care

Our dental laser makes anesthesia unnecessary for 95% of procedures and 98% of patients feel no pain at all. Most patients say they feel a slight cold sensation which is similar to eating a snow cone. The laser also cauterizes soft tissue as it cuts, significantly reducing and often eliminating bleeding. There’s no uncomfortable vibrations or loud noises like there would be with a drill. This innovative tool makes pain-free dentistry a reality. 

Another benefit of anesthesia-free dentistry is that we can complete your procedure more quickly. This means that you can get back to your daily routine in the shortest amount of time possible. Because we don’t need to use a dental anesthetic, you also won’t leave the office with a numb mouth and you can go back to eating and drinking normally after your procedure.

How We Use Our Dental Laser

At Smith Dentalworks, we use the Solea Laser for a variety of soft-tissue and hard-tissue dental procedures.

These include:

  • Filling cavities
  • Frenectomies and tongue-tie surgeries
  • Periodontal disease treatment
  • Gum contouring
  • Oral surgery

Comfortable, Convenient Laser Dentistry

The Solea Laser makes dentistry painless and quick. It is effective and safe for children as well as adults, so your whole family can enjoy the benefits of this unique technology.

To learn more about our dental laser or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

The Benefits of Solea Laser Dentistry in Oro Valley, AZ

Imagine visiting a dental office that doesn’t use drills for many procedures, where most treatment is pain-free without the need for dental anesthetics and that frustrating numb feeling? Welcome to Smith Dentalworks, located in Oro Valley, AZ!

How can it be possible to do dental procedures without drills or numbing anesthetics? With the Solea dental laser! Laser dentistry has been in practice in the dental world for over 50 years; however, the Solea Laser takes things to the next level. Here are some benefits of Solea Laser dentistry in Oro Valley, AZ.

Quicker Healing Time

Because a dental laser uses concentrated light and heat, it also seals and sterilizes the treated area. This allows for a more efficient and easier healing period than surgical procedures used in the past that required stitches.

Treatment for Both Hard and Soft Tissues

Dentists use most dental lasers for treating soft tissues like your gums. The Solea Laser is capable of performing procedures on both soft and hard tissues like:

  • Gum contouring
  • Dental fillings
  • Oral surgery
  • Periodontal treatment

This allows us to use the dental laser for many more types of procedures giving our patients the many benefits the laser provides.

A More Streamlined Process

The Solea Laser can replace the drill in many types of procedures, which means we also don’t have to use numbing dental anesthetics. Because of its precision and accuracy, the dental laser can also complete many procedures faster.

Overall, using the Solea Laser for dental treatment provides our patients with a more comfortable and efficient process.

The Cure for Dental Anxiety

If you’ve spent time away from the dentist due to fear or anxiety, we encourage you to contact Smith Dentalworks in Oro Valley at (520) 505-4422 to learn more about how the Solea Laser can help you have a more comfortable experience.