My Blog

Posts for: May, 2018

May 22, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental crowns  

Dental Crowns If you have a severely decayed, misshapen, or injured tooth, don't despair. Today's dental crowns restore a variety of dental problems, allowing people to keep their teeth for years and to avoid extraction. Your dentist, Dr. Kris O'Neill, offers CEREC same-day crowns at her Columbia, SC, dental practice. Convenient, quick, strong, and realistic, CEREC crowns revitalize and protect damaged teeth, and the aesthetic results are just beautiful.

Just what is a crown?

It's a tooth-shaped protective covering, usually crafted from lifelike porcelain. Made according to oral impressions, a crown looks, feels, and bites just like your real tooth because most of your natural tooth structure remains in place. Your dentist in Columbia only removes the decayed and damaged portions and then permanently bonds this realistic restoration in place.

Dentists choose porcelain for most crown applications because of its durability and realistic appearance. While some doctors use a dental lab for crown fabrication, Dr. O'Neil is trained in the innovative CEREC process which allows her to design, create, and place a dental crown in just one visit--all in the comfort of her office.

A crown in one to two hours?

Yes, you read that correctly. With CEREC dental crowns, your tooth will be restored, strong, and functional in just one to two hours. Here's how.

CEREC stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics. In other words, Dr. O'Neil designs your porcelain crown right in the treatment room as you relax and watch. Using special digital impressions (no messy putty or trays), your dentist tells a milling machine exactly the size, shape, and color your new crown should be. She does this with CAD/CAM software. CAD/CAM means computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing, a process which eliminates the time and expense involved in an outside dental lab.

The milling procedure takes about 15 minutes after which the doctor does a final shaping and polishing on that new crown. Then, she bonds the restoration to your prepared tooth. Usually, CEREC crowns are so precisely crafted that there's little to no need to adjust the crown for bite and fit. That's it. You have a fully restored tooth.

A final note, dentists place crowns to anchor fixed bridgework, to finish root canal therapy and to restore dental implants, making crowns very popular and useful restorations, says the American Dental Association.

Life with your CEREC crown

Expect it to last 10 years or more, but as with any restoration, you must brush twice a day and floss daily to reduce plaque and tartar. Also, Dr. O'Neill will expect to see you every six months for a complete oral examination and hygienic cleaning. These oral hygiene habits keep crowns clean and bright and spot any problems before they become serious.

Contact us

If you have a damaged tooth, a dental crown could be in your future. Why not get the best kind possible? Contact Dr. O'Neill's office staff in Columbia, SC, to arrange a consultation on CEREC dental crowns. Call (803) 988-1070.


Since their introduction over three decades ago, dental implants have evolved into dentistry’s premier tooth replacement choice. While their primary purpose is to replace missing teeth and rejuvenate a patient’s smile, they’re also regarded for another important benefit: they can slow or stop bone loss accelerated by the loss of teeth.

Like all living tissue, bone has a life cycle. Older bone dissolves and is absorbed by the body, a process called resorption. New bone forms and grows to replace the resorbed bone in response to stimuli occurring within the body. In the jaw, this stimulation comes from the forces the teeth receive when we bite or chew.

When a tooth is lost, however, it no longer transmits these force stimuli to the adjacent bone. This results over time in less new growth to replace resorbed bone, and the overall bone mass shrinks. In fact, about a quarter of the normal bone width will diminish in the first year alone after tooth loss. Other serious problems follow, like gum recession or chewing and speaking difficulties. A person’s appearance may also suffer, because as resorption continues unchecked, the underlying foundational bone will continue to shrink. As more teeth are lost, a decrease in the distance between the nose and chin may result causing the lower third of the face to become smaller in size.

Dental implants can interrupt this process by encouraging bone growth around the implant. Implants are made of “osseophilic” titanium, meaning the metal has a natural affinity with bone. After implantation, bone cells will begin to grow and attach to the titanium post. The enhanced growth stabilizes bone loss by providing stimulation to the bone as teeth once did, thereby maintaining bone levels and minimizing potential effects on the patient’s appearance.

Ironically, too much bone loss could make the installation of implants more difficult, since they require a minimum level of bone mass for anchorage. Receiving an implant as soon as is practical once a tooth is lost will minimize the chances of that occurring — and a better chance of improving bone health overall.

If you would like more information on how dental implants improve bone health, 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 “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”


If you have a problem tooth we’ve recommended removing, those “Tooth in one day” ads—a tooth removed and an implant placed at the same time—might start to pique your interest. But there are a few factors we must consider first to determine if this procedure is right for you. Depending on your mouth’s health conditions, you may need to wait a little while between tooth extraction and implantation.

Here are 3 timing scenarios for receiving your implant after tooth removal, depending on your oral health.

Immediately. The “tooth in one day” scenario can be much to your liking, but it could also be tricky in achieving the best results. For one, the implant may fit too loosely—the bone around the socket might first need to heal and fill in or undergo grafting to stimulate regeneration. In other words, immediate implant placement usually requires enough supporting bone and an intact socket. Bone grafting around the implant is usually needed as well.

After gum healing.  Sufficient gum coverage is also necessary for a successful outcome even if the bone appears adequate. To guard against gum shrinkage that could unattractively expose too much of the implant, we may need to delay implant placement for about 4 to 8 weeks to allow sufficient gum healing and sealing of the extraction wound. Allowing the gums to heal can help ensure there’s enough gum tissue to cover and protect the implant once it’s placed.

After bone healing. As we’ve implied, implants need an adequate amount of supporting bone for best results. When there isn’t enough, we might place a bone graft (often immediately after tooth extraction) that will serve as a scaffold for new bone to grow upon. Depending on the degree of bone loss, we may wait until some of the bone has regenerated (about 2 to 4 months) and then allow the natural process of bone cells growing and adhering to the implant (osseointegration) to complete the needed bone growth. If bone loss is extensive, we may need to wait until full healing in 4 to 6 months to encourage the most stable outcome.

If you would like more information on the process of obtaining 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 “Implant Timelines for Replacing Missing Teeth.”

May 02, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

Find out how dental fillings can improve a decaying tooth.

Cavities are one of the most common dental problems to affect both children and adults. While cavities are completely preventable with thetooth colored fillings proper oral hygiene, it still happens more often than you might expect. If our Columbia, SC, dentist, Dr. Kris O’Neill, recently told you that you have a cavity then you may be wondering how a cavity is treated and the damaged tooth is restored.

How is a cavity removed?

First thing is first; we need to remove the decayed enamel from your tooth. In order to do this, our Columbia general dentist will apply a local anesthesia to the gums surrounding the tooth to completely numb the area. From there, we will remove all of the decay.

What is a dental filling?

Of course, once the cavity has been removed there will be holes where the decay has been drilled away. We can’t possibly leave these unsightly holes in your teeth because it also leaves your teeth a bit weaker and more susceptible to damage over time. In order to restore the tooth, we will need to place a dental filling.

While there are different kinds of dental fillings on the market, the most popular choice is a composite resin filling because it matches the color and appearance of tooth enamel, so it blends right in with the rest of the tooth.

How is a dental filling placed?

Composite resin has a putty-like texture, which means that once it is applied to the tooth it can be shaped and molded into the holes to fill them. The process does take some time, as we will need to place the resin filling layer by layer. Each layer is contoured, trimmed and then hardened with a dental curing light before the next layer is applied until the tooth is fully restored.

How long do tooth-colored fillings last?

With the proper care, the average dental filling lasts about five to seven years. Of course, they can last longer if you maintain good oral hygiene and know how to properly care for your smile. You should also make sure you come in every six months for routine cleanings and exams so that we can check the health of your filling.

Do you have questions about getting a tooth filled in Columbia, SC? Are you dealing with a toothache or other symptoms that might be warning you that you have a cavity? If so, don’t hesitate to turn to our dental expert, Dr. O’Neill, today!


A recent episode of “America’s Got Talent” featured an engaging 93-year-old strongman called The Mighty Atom Jr. The mature muscleman’s stunt: moving a full-sized car (laden with his octogenarian “kid brother,” his brother’s wife, plus Atom’s “lady friend”) using just his teeth. Grinning for host Howie Mandel, Atom proudly told the TV audience that his teeth were all his own; then he grasped a leather strap in his mouth, and successfully pulled the car from a standstill.

We’re pleased to see that the Atom has kept his natural teeth in good shape: He must have found time for brushing and flossing in between stunts. Needless to say, his “talent” isn’t one we’d recommend trying at home. But aside from pulling vehicles, teeth can also be chipped or fractured by more mundane (yet still risky) activities — playing sports, nibbling on pencils, or biting too hard on ice. What can you do if that happens to your teeth?

Fortunately, we have a number of ways to repair cracked or chipped teeth. One of the easiest and fastest is cosmetic bonding with tooth-colored resins. Bonding can be used to fill in small chips, cracks and discolorations in the teeth. The bonding material is a high-tech mixture of plastic and glass components that’s extremely lifelike, and can last for several years. Plus, it’s a procedure that can be done right in the office, with minimal preparation or discomfort. However, it may not be suitable for larger chips, and it isn’t the longest-lasting type of restoration.

When more of the tooth structure is missing, a crown (or cap) might be needed to restore the tooth’s appearance and function. This involves creating a replacement for the entire visible part of the tooth in a dental lab — or in some cases, right in the office. It typically involves making a model of the damaged tooth and its neighbors, then fabricating a replica, which will fit perfectly into the bite. Finally, the replacement crown is permanently cemented to the damaged tooth. A crown replacement can last for many years if the tooth’s roots are in good shape. But what if the roots have been dislodged?

In some cases it’s possible to re-implant a tooth that has been knocked out — especially if it has been carefully preserved, and receives immediate professional attention. But if a tooth can’t be saved (due to a deeply fractured root, for example) a dental implant offers today’s best option for tooth replacement. This procedure has a success rate of over 95 percent, and gives you a natural looking replacement tooth that can last for the rest of your life.

So what have we learned? If you take care of your teeth, like strongman Atom, they can last a long time — but if you need to move your car, go get the keys.

If you would like more information about tooth restoration, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Crowns & Bridgework.”