My Blog

Posts for: October, 2016

By Gary W. Machiko, DMD
October 23, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

A few days before the Oscars, Vanity Fair magazine asked Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris to name his most treasured possession. Was it his Tony award statuette for best leading actor in a musical? His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? The stethoscope he wore while playing teenaged doctor Doogie Howser on TV? No, as it turns out, the 41-year-old actor’s most treasured possession is… his wisdom teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. “Oddly, I still have my four wisdom teeth,” Harris said. “I refuse to let them go or I’ll lose my wise parts.”

How odd is it for a 41-year-old to have wisdom teeth? Actually, not that odd at all. While it is true that wisdom teeth are often removed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. It all depends on whether they are causing problems now, or are likely to cause problems in the future.

The trouble wisdom teeth cause is related to the fact that they are the last molars to come in, and that molars are large in size. By the time wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17 and 21, there often is not enough room for them in the jaw. Sometimes it’s because you may have inherited a jaw size that’s too small for your tooth size; and generally speaking, the size of the human jaw has evolved to become smaller over time.

If room is lacking, the adjacent molar (that came in earlier) can interfere with the path of eruption — causing the wisdom tooth to come in at an odd angle. The wisdom tooth can hit up against that other tooth, possibly causing pain or damaging the adjacent tooth. This is known as “impaction.” Sometimes the wisdom tooth breaks only partway through the gum tissue, leaving a space beneath the gum line that’s almost impossible to clean, causing infection. A serious oral infection can jeopardize the survival of teeth, and even spread to other parts of the body.

If a wisdom tooth is impacted, will you know it? Not necessarily. A tooth can be impacted without causing pain. But we can see the position of your wisdom teeth on a dental x-ray and help you make an informed decision as to whether they should stay or go. If removal is the best course of action, rest assured that this procedure is completely routine and that your comfort and safety is our highest priority. If there is no great risk to keeping them, as Neil Patrick Harris has done, we can simply continue to monitor their condition at your regular dental checkups. It will be particularly important to make sure you are reaching those teeth with your brush and floss, and that you keep to your schedule of regular professional cleanings at the dental office. All healthy teeth are indeed worth treasuring.

If you would like more information about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”

By Gary W. Machiko, DMD
October 10, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

If your teeth have some issues like cracks, chips or broken or missing teeth, you could benefit from restorative dentistry. This branch of restorative dentistrydentistry does just what its name implies: restores your smile. If you think you could benefit from restorative dentistry, you can find out more with Dr. Gary Machiko in Pittsburgh, PA.

Common Problems Solved By Restorative Dentistry
Restorative dentistry procedures often fall under other dental classifications in addition to restorative. Some common issues solved by restorative dentistry include:

  • broken teeth
  • chipped teeth
  • worn teeth
  • cracked teeth
  • missing teeth
  • decayed teeth

Restorative Dentistry Procedures 
Depending on the cause of your tooth issue, your procedure will vary. Your dentist may recommend a dental crown to restore the worn biting surface of a tooth or stabilize a tooth with a large filling, such as after a root canal. Dental veneers or bonding can repair a chipped tooth. Choosing between the two usually boils down to the other restorations the patient has, how much money they would like to spend, and other procedures they desire. Dental implants can replace missing teeth. This option is the most effective and permanent option to fill in your gaps.

Restorative Dentistry in Pittsburgh, PA 
Dentists will recommend restorative dentistry in many cases. However, before placing any restorations, the teeth should be free of any tooth decay or gum disease. In the case of these conditions, your dentist may need to perform procedures like a periodontal cleaning or dental filling.

Additionally, a strong at-home oral care routine will keep your dental restorations clean and healthy, preventing them from failure. Brush twice a day and floss at least once. Seeing your dentist twice a year for regular examinations and cleanings will keep your teeth and dental restorations alike free of decay-causing plaque and tartar and allow your dentist to catch problems with your smile early when they are most treatable.

For more information on restorative dentistry and what it can do for you, please contact Dr. Machiko in Pittsburgh, PA. Call (724) 719-2866 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Machiko today!

By Gary W. Machiko, DMD
October 08, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  

You may be familiar with a dental implant used to replace a single tooth — but implant technology can do much more. Implants can also support other restorations including total teeth replacement on a jaw.

The reason they're so versatile is because implants replace the tooth root as well as the visible crown. We use a metal post, usually made of titanium, which we surgically implant in the jawbone as a root substitute. Because of a special affinity with titanium, bone around the implant grows and adheres to it and creates a durable bond.

With a single tooth replacement (the implant's original purpose when they were introduced in the 1980s) we attach a life-like porcelain crown to the individual titanium post. But with their continuing development we've adapted implants for other applications, like using a few strategically-placed implants as a stable platform for removable dentures or fixed bridges.

We're now able to use implants to support a full prosthetic (false) dental arch. Though similar in appearance to a removable denture, this particular prosthesis is permanently joined to the supporting implants with retaining screws.

Of course, the application requires careful pre-planning, which includes making sure you have enough healthy bone to support the implants. We'll also need to determine how many implants you'll need (usually four to six for this application) and create a surgical guide to place them in the best location for supporting the prosthesis. A dental technician will then create the prosthesis to match your jaw ridge contours and facial structure.

Using implants this way has a benefit other types of restorations can't provide: they may help stop future bone loss. The jawbone life cycle depends on stimulation from the attached tooth as you bite and chew — stimulation that ends when you lose the tooth. Traditional dentures and other restorations can't replicate that stimulation. Implants, on the other hand, directly encourage bone growth and can stop gradual bone loss.

If you need some form of total teeth replacement, consider one supported by implants. You may find they'll provide an excellent long-term solution to both function and appearance.

If you would like more information on the different applications for dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.