My Blog

Posts for: February, 2016

By Gary W. Machiko, DMD
February 25, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

We always look forward to seeing our patients, but not all of you look forward to seeing us! If you’re one of them, don’t worry — we don’t take it personally. Dental anxiety prevents many people from seeking the care they require to restore or maintain a healthy smile.

But if dental problems are allowed to progress, they can affect not only the beauty of your smile and health of your mouth, but your overall wellness, too. Infection can travel from the mouth to other areas of the body, and dental disease exacerbates chronic health conditions like heart disease or diabetes.

Overcoming Apprehension

Fear should never be an obstacle (in the immortal words of President Franklin Roosevelt, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”). And fortunately there are some safe options for those of us who can’t get past our anxiety when it comes to dental care:

Oral Sedation. A sedative medication can be prescribed that you take by mouth approximately an hour before your dental visit to minimize anxiety and promote relaxation.

Intravenous (IV; “intra” – inside, “venous” – vein) Sedation. If oral sedation isn’t entirely effective in facilitating treatment, then a medication combining a sedative for relaxation and a pain-blocking anesthetic can be delivered through or small needle or catheter that is gently inserted into a vein. This is referred to as “conscious sedation” because you are in a semi-awake state during which you are able to respond to verbal direction. It takes effect quickly, and you can come out of it quickly. However, you may not remember much about your procedure. It is very different from general anesthesia during which you are completely unconscious.

Safety First

Dentists who offer IV sedation receive extensive training after which we must pass an exam and apply for a special permit that we maintain through continuing education. We carefully screen patients for eligibility and monitor you throughout so you can rest easy before, during, and after your procedure.

If you would like more information about sedation in dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about the subject by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”

By Gary W. Machiko, DMD
February 10, 2016
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 Gary W. Machiko, DMD
February 09, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Crowns   Bridges  

Find out if these dental restorations are the best option for your smile.

With all the dental treatments available, it can be difficult to figure out which one is best for you. Some are great if you are looking to get Bridges a brighter smile, while others will help you straighten or even replace your teeth. From the office of your Pittsburgh, PA cosmetic dentist, Dr. Gary Machiko, find out when a dental crown or bridge may be right for you.

Dental Crowns

A crown is made to look just like a real tooth and is often made from porcelain or ceramic (as well as metal, on occasion). It is also hollow so it can be cemented by your Pittsburgh dentist Dr. Machiko over a natural tooth--one that is damaged or requires an aesthetic makeover. Once cemented into place, they can preserve the tooth’s function, strength, and appearance so that your natural tooth doesn’t sustain any more damage.

Dental Bridges

A dental bridge is usually made of three or more false teeth. The two artificial teeth on either end of the bridge are dental crowns, which will be placed over your neighboring natural teeth to secure the restoration in place. The middle tooth, also known as the pontic, is the one that will fill the gap and replace your missing tooth.

Which one is the right option for my smile?

Many patients who are dealing with teeth that are significantly fractured, cracked, or decayed may be able to get for dental crowns. However, they must have enough healthy enamel left after removing the diseased or damaged portions of the tooth.

Dental bridges can also be a great tooth replacement option, provided the surrounding teeth supporting your bridge are healthy and free of decay. When crowns and bridges aren’t an option, your cosmetic dentist in Pittsburgh may recommend implants or dentures.

Have questions about crowns and bridges? Think this could be the cosmetic treatment you’ve been looking for? Then it’s time to schedule a consultation with your dentist in Pittsburgh, PA today. Call the office of Dr. Gary Machiko and get one step closer to a healthier smile.