Woman SmilingFlashing a thousand-watt smile can not only make us look younger, studies show it actually makes us feel happier. But if you're one of the 100 million Americans who has lost a tooth or is losing teeth, you might be hiding your smile because you're ashamed of the way it looks.Well, a high-tech procedure can change all that, surprisingly, in just one office visit.
According to Dr. Richard Nejat at New York's Advanced Periodontics and Implant Dentistry, specially trained periodontists can now remove and replace teeth (even a mouthful) in just one day. The procedure is perfect for folks who need teeth extracted or wear dentures and want to kiss them good bye.
Here's how it works: A low radiation 3-D x-ray with virtual reality 3-D software captures your unique teeth structure. This x-ray is then used to pre-plan implant placement and pre-make the new teeth. Dental implants are titanium anchors that replace missing tooth roots. These anchors are placed in the jawbone to support fixed crowns that look, feel and function like natural teeth.
Traditionally, dental implants needed three to six months to heal before crowns were attached. But Dr. Nejat explains: "With this groundbreaking procedure, there's no wait needed." Patients leave the very day of their treatment with natural-looking temporary crowns, avoiding humiliating waiting periods. And Nejat adds: "It's an especially ideal option for patients who have suffered bone loss through periodontal disease - a common condition for boomers."
Make sure you choose a periodontist or surgeon who has been trained in the technique. Dr. Nejat who developed the minimally invasive computer guided protocol cautions: "You want to see a dental professional who has a lot of experience. You might also ask if you can speak with a couple of former patients and see some of their before and after cases."
Not only should the procedure be virtually painless but your new bright smile will offer pain relief for other conditions. How? Studies show smiling releases endorphins, serotonin, and other natural painkillers. Plus, those around us will be able to feel our new optimism. After all, happiness is contagious. That's why the old age "Smile and the world smiles with you," is no joke.
Robin Westen is ThirdAge's medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. Her latest book, co-authored with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is "V Is For Vagina."