Posts for: May, 2016

By Clark J Wright, DMD, PA
May 28, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

Let’s say you’re traveling to Italy to surprise your girlfriend, who is competing in an alpine ski race… and when you lower the scarf that’s covering your face, you reveal to the assembled paparazzi that one of your front teeth is missing. What will you do about this dental dilemma?

Sound far-fetched? It recently happened to one of the most recognized figures in sports — Tiger Woods. There’s still some uncertainty about exactly how this tooth was taken out: Was it a collision with a cameraman, as Woods’ agent reported… or did Woods already have some problems with the tooth, as others have speculated? We still don’t know for sure, but the big question is: What happens next?

Fortunately, contemporary dentistry offers several good solutions for the problem of missing teeth. Which one is best? It depends on each individual’s particular situation.

Let’s say that the visible part of the tooth (the crown) has been damaged by a dental trauma (such as a collision or a blow to the face), but the tooth still has healthy roots. In this case, it’s often possible to keep the roots and replace the tooth above the gum line with a crown restoration (also called a cap). Crowns are generally made to order in a dental lab, and are placed on a prepared tooth in a procedure that requires two office visits: one to prepare the tooth for restoration and to make a model of the mouth and the second to place the custom-manufactured crown and complete the restoration. However, in some cases, crowns can be made on special machinery right in the dental office, and placed during the same visit.

But what happens if the root isn’t viable — for example, if the tooth is deeply fractured, or completely knocked out and unable to be successfully re-implanted?

In that case, a dental implant is probably the best option for tooth replacement. An implant consists of a screw-like post of titanium metal that is inserted into the jawbone during a minor surgical procedure. Titanium has a unique property: It can fuse with living bone tissue, allowing it to act as a secure anchor for the replacement tooth system. The crown of the implant is similar to the one mentioned above, except that it’s made to attach to the titanium implant instead of the natural tooth.

Dental implants look, function and “feel” just like natural teeth — and with proper care, they can last a lifetime. Although they may be initially expensive, their quality and longevity makes them a good value over the long term. A less-costly alternative is traditional bridgework — but this method requires some dental work on the adjacent, healthy teeth; plus, it isn’t expected to last as long as an implant, and it may make the teeth more prone to problems down the road.

What will the acclaimed golfer do? No doubt Tiger’s dentist will help him make the right tooth-replacement decision.

If you have a gap in your grin — whatever the cause — contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation, and find out which tooth-replacement system is right for you. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dental Implant Surgery” and “Crowns & Bridgework.”

By Clark J Wright, DMD, PA
May 13, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmj disorders  

It’s estimated that between 10 and 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic jaw pain and disability. Healthcare providers refer to it as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), a group of conditions characterized by pain and limited function with the jaw joints, as well as related muscles and tissues.

People with TMJD often experience popping, clicking or grating sounds when they move their lower jaw. The more serious symptoms, however, are severe pain and limited movement of the jaw. The causes of TMJD haven’t been fully substantiated, but it’s believed to be influenced by a person’s genetic background, their gender (most patients are women of childbearing age), their environment and behavioral habits. This uncertainty about the underlying causes has made it difficult to improve treatment strategies for the disorder.

One promising area of research, though, is suspected connections between TMJD and other health problems. In one survey of over 1,500 TMJD patients, nearly two-thirds indicated they had three or more other chronic conditions. Among the most frequently named were fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and sleep disturbances.

We’re not quite sure how or why TMJD might be linked to these other conditions, but further study is underway. Researchers hope any knowledge uncovered could lead to advances in our ability to diagnose, treat and prevent TMJD.

Until then, the more traditional treatment approach remains the best course of action: medication to relax muscles and relieve pain; thermal therapies using hot and cold compresses during flare-ups; and physical therapy. Switching to softer foods temporarily may also give jaw muscles a rest from over-activity. Although jaw surgery is an option, we should consider it a last resort after other therapies have proven altogether ineffective in relieving pain and restoring function.

If you suspect you have TMJD, please visit a medical doctor first. Other conditions could mimic the symptoms of the disorder and would need to be ruled out first. If the diagnosis is TMJD, you’re not alone. You can receive information, support and updates on the latest research by visiting the TMJ Association at

If you would like more information on chronic jaw pain, 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 “Chronic Jaw Pain and Associated Conditions.”

By Dr. Clark J Wright
May 06, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  

Root canals have an undeservedly bad reputation. People often joke that they would rather do anything than undergo a root canal. The truth is that this common dental procedure offers an excellent way to save an at-risk tooth and usually isn't any more uncomfortable than getting a filling. Your Venice, FL, dentist, Dr. Clark J Wright, explains how a root canal can help your smile.Root Canal

Root canals prevent tooth loss

Root canals are usually performed if the pulp at the center of a tooth becomes inflamed or infected. An infection in your tooth can be particularly dangerous if the bacteria enters your bloodstream. When bacteria travels to your heart or brain, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Extracting the tooth is one way to remove the inflammation or infection, but it's a drastic solution to the problem. During a root canal, your Venice dentist removes the infected pulp, which allows you to keep your tooth.

Root canals keep your smile strong and healthy

A missing tooth not only affects your self-confidence but your oral health. Thanks to your root canal, your smile won't change. After tooth loss, your jawbone may begin to shrink because it's no longer being stimulated by your tooth roots. Eventually, a weaker jawbone can lead to the loss of other teeth and facial sagging. When your tooth remains in your jaw, you don't have to worry about these unpleasant consequences.

Root canals put an end to your pain

An infection in your tooth can be very painful. In addition to a severe aching or throbbing, you might experience swelling in the gum around the tooth, fever, tenderness or trouble chewing. After your root canal, your pain will subside, and you'll be able to chew without pain again.

A root canal can improve the appearance of your tooth

Discoloration due to a large filling or tooth decay can mar the appearance of your tooth. After your root canal, you'll probably receive a crown to protect your treated tooth. Crowns completely cover teeth above the gum line and hide any cosmetic issues.

Are you concerned that you might need a root canal? Call Dr. Clark J Wright, your Venice, FL, dentist, at (941) 493-5923 to make an appointment. Preserve your smile with a root canal!

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