My Blog

Posts for: December, 2016

By Hillis Family Dental
December 27, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants   crowns  

If you've lost a tooth, you have a number of options for replacing it. Perhaps the best choice in terms of lifelikeness and durability is a dental implant.

All implants have the same basic architecture: a titanium metal post imbedded in the jawbone to replace the root; and an abutment, a metal collar that links the post with a lifelike porcelain crown. But implants can vary in how the crown attaches to the abutment and post — either cemented to the abutment or screwed through the abutment to the post.

Either method will permanently secure the crown to the implant. But there are advantages and disadvantages for each.

A screw-retained crown may better facilitate any future repair that might be needed. For a skilled dentist it's a simple matter of removing the screw and then the crown from the abutment. There's less risk of damage to the implant during repairs or crown replacement. Many dentists also prefer screws for crowns placed at the same time they're installing the implant post (a procedure called immediate loading).

The screw access hole, however, could pose a cosmetic problem. Although we can cover it over with tooth-colored filling, it may still be noticeable and unattractive especially for a tooth visible when you smile (in the smile zone). There's also the possibility the porcelain around the access hole could chip.

By contrast, cemented crowns have a smooth, unbroken surface and are aesthetically ideal for smile zone teeth. But the cement could interact poorly with gum and bone tissue in some patients, causing inflammation and possible bone loss.

And unlike screw-retained crowns, cemented crowns are difficult to remove for implant repair. We may have to drill through the crown to access the screw between the abutment and the post, and then repair it cosmetically if we use the same crown. Again, the final result may not be quite as visually appealing.

In the end, it will depend on the implant's location, how your body reacts to the cement or your dentist's preference. In either case, though, you'll have a tooth replacement that's functional, life-like and able to endure for many years to come.

If you would like more information on dental implants, 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 “How Crowns Attach to Implants.”

By Hillis Family Dental
December 23, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dental emergency  

Don’t ignore a true dental emergency. Seek treatment right away and know how to handle the situation.

A dental emergency often arises when you least expect it, which can elicit panic and horror on the sufferer. But before you lose your dental emergencyhead, it’s important that you know how to best handle a dental emergency if it happens to you. Our St. Peters, MO dentist, Dr. Amanda Hillis, offers up some tips for what you should do if this situation arises.

First and foremost, if you are dealing with any of the issues below you need to seek medical attention right away from our St. Peters emergency dentist:

  • Broken/cracked tooth
  • Dislodged tooth
  • Knocked-out tooth
  • Bitten cheek/tongue
  • Toothache
  • Lost dental work
  • Broken braces
  • An abscess

These are all serious dental issues that require immediate care in order to preserve the health of your smile. For many of these situations, time is critical and the sooner you come into our office for treatment the better. Of course, there are some things you can do, before you head to our office, to help ease any symptoms you may be having:

  • Try a commercial pain reliever: If you are experiencing pain and swelling you may want to take an OTC medication, like ibuprofen, which can target both symptoms temporarily. If anything, it can at least ease your symptoms until you make it into our office.
  • Ice away the pain: By applying a wrapped ice pack to the side of your face where the injury is, you can also reduce inflammation and pain. Wrap the ice pack in a towel before applying to the skin and hold it there for up to 10 minutes at a time.
  • Stop the bleeding: If you bite your tongue or cheek and it’s bleeding apply a clean towel or gauze to the area and apply pressure for about 10 to 15 minutes. If the bleeding doesn’t go down or if it actually gets worse, give us a call. We will advise you as to whether you should come into our office or head to your local emergency room.
  • Protect nearby gums and soft tissue: If a wire has sprung off your braces it may be likely to cut your gums or cheeks. To prevent an injury from happening, use the eraser end of a pencil and carefully try to push the wire back in. You can also apply orthodontic wax, which you can buy at your local drugstore, to the end of the pointy wire.
  • Handle teeth carefully: This is particularly important for a knocked-out tooth. Always handle a tooth by its crown and never its root, which can further damage it. If the tooth is fully knocked out, try and rinse it off with water and then place it back into the socket. If this doesn’t work, hold the tooth between your gum and cheek and head right into our office immediately so if we can save the tooth.

Don’t let a true dental emergency catch you off guard and, remember, you can rely on your emergency dental specialists at Hillis Family Dental in St. Peters, MO for the care you need.


Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates knows how important it is to present your best face to the world — and one of the most important features of that face is a beaming smile. But there came a point when she noticed something was a little off. “I've always had good teeth, but it seemed to me as I was getting older that they weren't looking as good,” Kathy explained in a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine.

That's when she decided it was time to take action. Kathy had orthodontic treatment when she was in her fifties, and she keeps her smile bright with tooth whitening treatments. She uses a kit provided by her dentist with a safe, effective whitening solution.

Of course, a bright, healthy smile looks great anywhere — whether you're on the red carpet or “off the grid.” And you don't have to be a Hollywood star to have professional whitening treatments. In fact, teeth whitening is one of the most popular and affordable cosmetic treatments modern dentistry offers.

The basic options for professional teeth whitening include in-office bleaching or take-home kits. Both types of dentist-supervised treatments offer a safe and effective means of getting a brighter smile; the main difference is how long they take to produce results. A single one-hour treatment in the office can make your teeth up to ten shades lighter — a big difference! To get that same lightening with at-home trays, it would take several days. On the plus side, the take-home kit is less expensive, and can achieve the same results in a bit more time.

It's important to note that not all teeth can be whitened with these treatments. Some teeth have intrinsic (internal) stains that aren't affected by external agents like bleaches. Also, teeth that have been restored (with bonding or veneers, for example) generally won't change color. And you can't necessarily whiten your teeth to any degree: Every tooth has a maximum whiteness, and adding more bleach won't lighten it beyond that level. Most people, however, find that teeth whitening treatments produce noticeable and pleasing results.

What about those off-the-shelf kits or in-the-mall kiosks? They might work… or they might not. But one thing's for sure: Without a dentist's supervision, you're on your own. That's the main reason why you should go with a pro if you're considering teeth whitening. We not only ensure that your treatment is safe — we can also give you a realistic idea of what results to expect, and we will make sure that other dental problems aren't keeping you from having a great-looking smile.

How often does Kathy Bates see her dentist for a checkup and cleaning? “I go about every four months,” she noted. “I'm pretty careful about it.” And if you've seen her smile, you can tell that it pays off. If you would like more information about teeth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered” and “Teeth Whitening.”