My Blog

Posts for: June, 2016

By Peter Elton DMD, PLLC
June 28, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: crowns   bridges  

As your body ages, your teeth age as well. This could happen in the form of teeth lost from previous dental procedures or simple wear crowns and bridgesand tear or discolorations. However, you can revive your damaged or missing teeth using crowns and bridges. Learn how crowns and bridges can help your smile with Dr. Peter Elton and Dr. Douglas Clarke at Cedarbrook Dental in Gig Harbor, WA.

What can a crown do for me? 
Dental crowns are a versatile dental restoration with many uses. Your dentist can use dental crowns to:

  • restore the biting surface of a worn down tooth
  • support a tooth with a large filling
  • cover a dental implant to replace a missing tooth
  • secure a dental bridge in place
  • improve the appearance of a misshapen or discolored tooth
  • stabilize a broken or cracked tooth
  • protect a weakened tooth

What can a bridge do for me? 
A dental bridge fills in the gap left behind by a missing tooth. Unlike a dental implant, bridges require no oral surgery and their procedure is generally an easy one. Usually made up of three prosthetic teeth in a row, a bridge has a dental crown on either end. The crown attaches to the teeth surrounding the gap to anchor the bridge into place. Bridges are important not just to complete your smile but also to keep the teeth surrounding your gap from moving or shifting.

Crowns and Bridges in Gig Harbor, WA
Whether you require a crown, a bridge, or both, Dr. Elton and Dr. Clarke have you covered. The procedures for crowns and bridges involve preparing the anchor teeth to receive the crown or crowns. Your dentist will remove parts of the tooth’s enamel on the sides and top then shape the tooth into the correct form to fit snugly inside of the dental crown. This makes enough room for the crown and ensures a proper bond between your tooth and the crown. A dental laboratory creates the restorations themselves based on a mold of your mouth. Finally, usually at a second appointment, your dentist permanently bonds the bridge or crown to your teeth.

For more information on crowns and bridges, please contact Dr. Peter Elton, and Dr. Douglas Clarke at Cedarbrook Dental in Gig Harbor, WA. Call (253) 851-1190 to schedule your appointment for a consultation today!


A traditional root canal procedure can be a “life-saver” for a decayed or injured tooth. But while it’s usually the best course for a damaged adult tooth, variations of the procedure are advisable for a new permanent tooth in a child or young adolescent.

This is because the inner pulp, the focus of the treatment, plays an important role in a young tooth’s development. When it first erupts a tooth’s dentin layer, the living tissue that makes up most of the body and roots of the tooth, hasn’t fully formed. The pulp increases the dentin layer over time in conjunction with jaw development.

Because a full root canal treatment removes all of the pulp tissue, it could interrupt any remaining dentin development in a young tooth. This could lead to poorly-formed roots and a less healthy tooth. For an immature permanent tooth, then, we would use variations of a root canal treatment depending on the nature and extent of the injury, the patient’s overall health and medications they may be taking.

Our main objective is to expose or remove as little of the pulp tissue as possible when treating the tooth. If the pulp hasn’t been exposed by the decay or injury, we may only need to remove the softened decayed or injured dentin while leaving harder dentin nearer the pulp intact. If, however, the pulp has become partially exposed by disease or injury, we would then perform a pulpotomy in which we remove only the exposed tissue and then place calcium hydroxide or mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA) to stimulate dentin growth that will eventually patch the exposure site.

In cases where decay or injury has rendered an immature tooth’s pulp tissue unsalvageable, we may use a procedure known as apexification that seals off the open, cylindrical root end of the tooth. This will allow bone-like tissue to grow around the root to serve as added support for the tooth. Although it can save a tooth in the short run, the tooth’s long-term survival chances may be lower.

By using these and other techniques we may be able to save your child’s immature tooth. At the very least, such a technique could postpone replacing the tooth until a more opportune time in adulthood.

If you would like more information on treating damaged teeth in children, 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 “Saving New Permanent Teeth after Injury.”

By Peter Elton DMD, PLLC
June 06, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.

“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”

That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.

Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!

The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.

If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”