Home Health and Body What’s new in dentistry?

What’s new in dentistry?

Dental practitioners today offer a variety of oral health options to patients, ranging from simple teeth cleanings to treating sleep apnea. Some advise to get an early start on tooth care, beginning with babies. File photo

If you’ve been putting off a dentist visit, but can’t any longer, there’s still reason to smile thanks to cutting-edge technology for maintaining beautiful teeth.

At Olympia Hills Family Dental, 916 Coronado Blvd. in Universal City, Dr. Jerame Hafen said his favorite procedures are dental implants.

“They’re not new, but different techniques keep coming along – like the teeth-in-a-day option. And, it’s just so neat that nowadays, imaging puts (implants) right in the most ideal spot,” he said.

Hafen supports the procedure so strongly, he added, “I did it for my father the other day. I can screw in teeth that are amazing and function like regular teeth. It can be an answer to a prayer people may not know they have.”

One of the latest options in implant dentistry is the small diameter, or “mini” implant, for those with bone loss where the standard-sized ones would require a bone graft.

Even clients who see their tooth doctor twice a year and have good oral hygiene can develop sleep apnea. They might not think of a dentist as their first line of defense, but River City Dental Solutions offers a fixed device that fits over teeth and holds the jaw in a position to keep airways open during slumber.

“Most people consider them more comfortable than a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure therapy) unit,” said Dr. Joe Perry, and it works well for folks who can’t tolerate the apparatus.

Cosmetic dentistry can be expensive, but a new low-cost product called Snap-On Smile instantly goes over teeth, closes gaps, changes their shape, and corrects coloration.

Perry described them as a “very low-cost alternative, versus veneers,” though less permanent. They can function as a less extreme version of implants, and in some cases can attach to existing teeth. They can also stabilize dentures, especially the often more troublesome lower arcs.

One particular wearer calls Perry every Monday morning to exult over foods she has just eaten for the first time in 30 years, and terms her new fixed denture “life-changing,” he said.

His clinic is at 7300 Blanco Road, Suite 203.

River City is accredited by the Veterans Administration, and also offers a program for noninsured patients, with a small monthly fee covering preventive services and a discounted rate for all other work.

And, let’s not forget the basics. Crooked teeth do much more than spoil a beautiful smile.

Dr. Matthew Westerberg at Ivy Lane Dentistry, 1073 Ivy Lane in Terrell Hills, said uneven and crowded teeth affect cleaning, leading to periodontal disease, which he calls “a one-way street.” Untreated, it results in tooth loss, and eventually bone loss, all of which impact diet and overall health.

Orthodontic treatment should start early in life, as it’s most correctible in children and teenagers, and takes less time, but can be helpful even at an advanced age, or when the patient is suffering from other issues.

Westerberg said he’s especially concerned with assisting chemo patients.

“The side effects make it hard to eat, and dental problems and misaligned teeth just compound the problem,” he said.

At Huebner Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics, dental surgeons Olivia Bustos and Marii Malagayo said they offer restorative services to people young and old, but to start with a healthy mouth babies should begin seeing a dentist at about 6 months of age, or when the first tooth erupts.

For those who haven’t been so careful with dental hygiene and correcting misalignment, Bustos said they’ve even helped seniors in their 70s, 80s and 90s.

The practice is at 12055 Vance Jackson Road, Suite 103.

So, with all the contemporary innovations and choices in dental care, today’s dentists say everyone can enjoy a great, healthy smile.


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