Sunday, July 29, 2007

New Dental Procedure Creates Lifelike Gums

Doctors have long known how to make replacement teeth. But gums have been a different story. It's always been tough to recreate something that looks lifelike. Now a new type of material makes the perfect smile possible.,,,

"This is very new. I mean I'm literally developing this technique," says Dr. Thanos Kristallis, prosthodontist. Dr. Kristallis creates ceramic gums that attach to teeth or implants. The innovation is possible because of Zirconia, a strong ceramic that looks lifelike, unlike old metal or plastic dentures.

"It's just as strong as metal," says Dr. Kristallis. "That's a huge breakthrough in our field, which we've seen and for the last 30 years we didn't have a material strong enough."

Dr. Kristallis takes a mold of the patient's mouth, then bakes a mold to attach the ceramic gums. That's followed by painstaking work to get the coloring, texture and tint of the fake gums just right. He even adds a shine to make them look wet.

"What I'm trying to do is I'm trying to recreate nature," says Dr. Kristallis.

It takes 10 minutes to cement the new gum to the tooth. It doesn't hurt and will last up to 30 years. In a recent international dental journal, Dr. Kristallis explained the procedure could be used on a small area or the entire arch...

The new gums are ceramic, non metal, which means patients don't have to worry about allergies. There are no side effects and very little recovery time. But the procedure is expensive. It costs between $1,000 and $2,000 for each tooth attached to a gum.

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