You made the decision to get a dental implant, and now you are thrilled with the results! Your smile looks great and your self-confidence is through the roof. Dental implants placed by the Chapel Hill dental implants dentist look and feel so much like your real teeth, you may forget that you still have to protect it from damage.

How Does a Dental Implant Work?

A dental implant consists of a very small titanium post capped off with a dental restoration. The post is surgically placed in the jawbone and will eventually integrate with surrounding bone and tissue.

The dental crown is the visible replacement for your missing tooth and is attached to the implant. Once the process is complete, you will end up with a fully functioning replacement tooth.

Protect Your Dental Implant from Damage

The implant itself is stable and will remain in place permanently, but it’s important to remember that the visible part of the unit is a dental crown created by the Chapel Hill dental implants dentist.

Just like any other dental restoration, the crown can be damaged if not cared for properly. You need to protect it from breakage and avoid biting down on foods like nuts or hard candies that can crack, chip, or loosen the crown.

Grinding your teeth can also cause the crown to become damaged. If you grind your teeth, you should let your dentist know so that we can suggest options to protect the restoration from damage.

How to Clean Your Dental Implant

You can care for your dental implant by brushing and flossing normally, just as you would your natural teeth. Be sure to schedule regular dental exams and cleanings with your hygienist and dentist so that your implant can be checked periodically to make sure that it remains in good condition.

If you have questions about your dental implant or restoration, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We will be happy to schedule an appointment to check the condition of your implant to make sure it is functioning properly.


When It’s Time for a Dental Crown

by Dr. Diane Hourigan

When something goes wrong with a tooth, there are a lot of ways that dentists can approach the problem. One of the most common procedures to repair and restore damaged or decaying teeth is the dental crown, and at the office of Dr. Diane Hourigan, we certainly do our fair share of them.

If you’re new to the concept of dental crowns, however, don’t fret! The procedure is a fairly simple one that can restore the integrity of your tooth and ensure that further problems don’t affect your oral health in the future.

What Is a Dental Crown?

The easiest way to explain a crown is that it serves as a sort of cap for teeth that no longer look or function the way they are supposed to. They are a tooth-shaped cover that slides right into place to improve your smile and/or return functionality to whatever tooth had previously been broken, cracked, or damaged.

There was a time not that long ago when these types of dental problems resulted in extraction, but today dentists can complete this relatively painless procedure quite easily, leaving patients in Chapel Hill with dental crowns rather than gaps in their smile.

Do You Need a Dental Crown?

Should you experience any of the following, there’s a good chance that a dental crown is in your immediate future:

Your Teeth Have Weakened

Should you ever end up with a crack in your tooth, there is a good chance that the tooth will eventually split, causing unsightly damage and a great deal of pain. A crown can cap the tooth and keep it together so that crack doesn’t get any worse and you never have to experience the pain that would come from a more dramatic split.

You’ve Had Too Many Fillings on a Tooth

Fillings are a great fix for minor issues with cavities, but if you’ve had fillings multiple times on multiple sides of the same tooth, that can compromise the tooth’s integrity. A dental crown can hold everything together.

You Need to Replace a Missing Tooth

If you have received a dental implant to replace a tooth, you will need a crown to cover the implant. Since crowns look and feel like real teeth, your friends and family will never even know the difference.

You’ve Had a Root Canal

During a root canal, dental surgeons will remove the damaged root, but that procedure can put enough strain on the tooth that a dental crown is necessary to cover the brittle tooth.

Your Teeth Are Crooked or Stained

If you’ve got an especially unattractive tooth, either because it’s severely discolored or crooked, a crown can cover the offending tooth and make it as aesthetically pleasing as the rest of your smile.

If you believe that a dental crown might be the answer to one of these problems, give us a call here at the office of Dr. Diane Hourigan, and we will be happy to diagnose the issue and get you on the right path toward the tooth restoration you need.


Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. All of us suffer from bad breath from time to time, especially in the morning. Some common reasons for bad breath include:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Tobacco Use
  • Prescription medications
  • Medical conditions

Your Chapel Hill general dentist wants you to be informed about the reasons for bad breath and how to eliminate it. While there may be a medical reason for chronic bad breath, there are some easy lifestyle changes you can make to minimize the risk.

Don’t smoke: While there is a multitude of reasons to quit the bad habit of smoking, one of the more obvious ones is to devoid yourself of the smell externally (clothes and body) and internally (your mouth).

Don’t eat foods with strong odors: Avoid onions and garlic, especially before or during an important business meeting or other event where you need to interact with others. Onions and garlic leave a strong odor because they contain elements that make their way into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs until you finally breathe them out.

Do floss: Flossing isn’t only necessary for your oral health to prevent cavities, but it dislodges food particles that would be otherwise stuck between your teeth, trapping bacteria and causing a distinctive odor.

Do chew sugarless gum: If you can’t brush your teeth immediately after eating, try rinsing out your mouth with water or chewing sugarless gum about 20 minutes after mealtime. Chewing stimulates saliva production, which combats bacteria and cavities that lead to bad breath.

Chronic breath is not only unpleasant, but it may also be an indication of a more serious problem like periodontal disease. Please call your Chapel Hill general dentist to arrange an appointment. You may be surprised that’s all that’s needed is a thorough dental cleaning to refresh your smile.