Dental Services at Hammer and Van Zant Family Dentistry

Dental Care in Elizabethtown KY

Smile is in Style in Elizabethtown KY

At Hammer and Van Zant Family Dentistry, we offer a range of comprehensive dental services to patients of all ages. Doctors Hammer and Van Zant have the skills and knowledge necessary to provide every patient with the care they need and deserve. With a warm and welcoming environment, our patients feel comfortable and can ask any questions they may have about their dental procedures.

Services we offer include, but are not limited to:

E4D® CAD/CAM One Day Ceramic Crowns

We are very proud and excited to be Elizabethtown and Hardin County's first E4D Dentist® CADCAM Dental Office! We know our patients want the very best in dental care, but that their busy schedules make their time very valuable. E4D Dentist® CADCAM Crowns are very high quality crowns made in our office by our high end E4D Dentist system. In the majority of cases, we no longer have to send our crowns to out of town dental labs to be made. This means that in most cases you do not have to wear an annoying, unsightly temporary crown for weeks while your crown is being mailed or sent out, made, and then sent back to us.

Now you no longer have to travel to Louisville, Lexington or Nashville for this service. Call us today to schedule a visit to see if one day crowns are right for you.

One day CAD/CAM technology and one day milled ceramic crowns and restorations have actually been around for a number of years now predominantly in larger cities. Many people may remember seeing David Letterman's video of his personal trip to a New York City dentist to have a one day ceramic restoration done a few years ago on the David Letterman Show.

This technology has continued to evolve and in the last few years the E4D Dentist® system was introduced and has quickly found widespread demand in dental offices in major markets around the country. It is the first cad/cam system to use a true laser cad/cam scanner to obtain a digitally scanned impression. (Often, this means no more need to gag and drool for several minutes while holding a mouthful of that nasty, messy impression goop). It is capable of producing very high quality ceramic restorations in the dentist office rather than having to send them to an out of town dental lab to be made in the same way at the dental lab using the same technology on their machine. (This often means no need to wear an annoying disgusting temporary crown for weeks while the crown is being picked up, made in the same way at an out of town lab, and then delivered or mailed back to the local dental office, and in many cases it entirely eliminates the need for a second trip back to the dental office for an appointment to actually get the crown).

The downside of the E4D Dentist® system is that it requires a very large capital investment on the part of a dental office to purchase the system itself, to fund the very large start up/ set up costs, and for the high cost of the several days of special training that is required for the dentists and staff members, most of those days being spent at the state of the art training center, E4D University, located in Dallas, Texas. Many practices in larger cities have already made the move to cad/cam dental technology, but like so many other changing technologies, the switch is proving to be far slower and more gradual in Kentucky.

We are so excited and proud to be one of the very first dental offices in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to offer the E4D Dentist® system to our patients. We are the very first dentist office in the Fort Knox, Elizabethtown, Radcliff, Hardin County, Kentucky and surrounding area to do so. We realize that the area has changed profoundly in the last few years. The area has seen tremendous growth and development and has even been recognized as a metropolitan area of it's own. The people in our community are quickly learning to expect much more from our shopping areas, dining choices, recreation facilities, education, and health care facilities without the need to travel far outside of our great community.

Who would want to rely solely an old style analog telephone, analog television, or instamatic or 35mm film camera today? How about old style low quality image dental film x-rays that must be hand carried or mailed without scratching the image off of the film rather than today's extremely lower radiation digital x-rays that can be emailed in high quality picture file formats in an instant for insurance purposes or to a new dentist after a cross country move or to a highly trained specialist at a university in an instant for a most highly qualified second opinion?

High quality, gentle, fast, convenient, and affordable digital cad/cam dentistry in the Heartland of Kentucky? Dental services tailored to fit today's busy schedules and demands, yet affordable and still eligible for the same dental insurance assistance that regular old school crowns would receive to help us in today's tougher economy. All of this here at home? You betcha! We are working hard to provide our area with the highest level and quality of dental care and services that our patients want and deserve and are quickly learning to expect!

Periodontal Therapy

Periodontal disease is just that, a disease, in fact, it is a disease that effects us far beyond the damage it does by destroying the gum tissue and bone that surrounds and supports our teeth. The problem is that the bacteria that find a safe haven in a person's infected gums and bone is able to easily get into our blood circulatory system and infect all of our body. They can reach infect our vital organs and even our blood vessels themselves as they are being circulated throughout our body.

The idea that periodontal disease is associated with many systemic diseases first became a topic in the news about ten years ago. In the early part of 2013 the concern heated up because it had been reported that there was now strong epidemiologic evidence that periodontitis provides an increased risk for future cardiovascular disease. Periodontitis is now regarded as a risk factor along with other risk factors (hypertension, obesity, tobacco use, etc.).

There is also an association/relationship between periodontal disease and many other systemic illnesses, (heart disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cognitive impairment, cancer, and adverse pregnancy outcomes to name a few).

How patients feel about this and whether they want to step up to today's higher standards of periodontal disease management and periodontal therapy will probably vary greatly. Just as some people choose to ignore the health risk factors hypertension, obesity, and tobacco use, several will choose to ignore the risk of having periodontal disease as well. There are many people that never see the doctor, and probably never have their blood pressure checked. There are also people today that continue to smoke despite all the reported risks.

We believe that there is so much scientific evidence out now supporting the idea that periodontal disease is probably a large risk factor to our good health, it is our ethical responsibility and professional duty to raise the bar on what is acceptable in our patients' periodontal health. About ten years ago, I was told that my 135/92 blood pressure was just "pre-hypertension." I was told at that time that there was no need for me to be on any high blood pressure medicine or care. I was told to get a little more exercise. A year or so later the acceptable guidelines for blood pressure changed. I was told that I DID have high blood pressure, and I was placed on blood pressure medicine. I would not dream of not taking my blood pressure medicine today. I would also have been very upset with my medical doctor today had he not informed me of the change in the standard of care for blood pressure and made the very appropriate changes in managing my blood pressure.

We know that the vast majority of our patients today WANT to know about this, and to know what is available in modern dental and periodontal care today to do about it. If we treat periodontal disease at the old standard of care, and tell you that gingivitis and 'early periodontitis' is really not that bad and OK to "just watch", we are just like your physician today telling you that smoking is OK, just cut back some (there was a time not that many years ago when smoking was regarded as "OK"/not a health risk).

Not at all surprising, dental insurance will often not fully cover today's higher standard of periodontal therapy and treatment. Just like they often don't cover tooth colored composites and ceramic crowns. Dental insurance most often covers only the most basic standard of treatment: silver fillings, metal crowns, not porcelain, partial dentures, not implants. Fortunately, periodontal therapy is usually not very expensive. Many patients who elect to have today's higher standard of periodontal care and therapy will spend less on this treatment than they do on their hair and nails.

We are very committed to staying up with today's standard of care!

Laser Bacterial Reduction (LBR) In Periodontal Therapy

The oral health/systemic health connection has been theorized and suspected for around the last 100 years. Still, research and supporting scientific evidence for this theory has been greatly lacking until the last few years, and especially this past year or so.

Today, there is still no proven causal relationship between periodontal disease and other systemic diseases, but there has been a flood of recent scientific studies and findings that strongly support an association/connection between periodontal disease and many systemic diseases. This is not to say that eliminating or preventing periodontal disease will eliminate the chances of ever developing other diseases, and doing so now may not improve the lives of those who already have these diseases.

At this time, we should think of periodontal disease as a large health risk factor just like smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure. When we have periodontal disease, the bacteria involved in our gum disease enter our blood stream and in our blood stream they are able to freely travel throughout our entire body to our other vital organs and organ systems. The very same bacteria that originate in our body when we develop gum disease are now being identified in other diseases. The idea is that periodontal disease is providing a source of these bacteria. The amount of these bacteria in our blood stream is referred to as our bacterial load. The new standard of dental health care goal is to try to eliminate or at least greatly minimize that bacterial load stemming from our periodontal disease.

The diode dental laser is a commonly used and very effective modern device for use in periodontal therapy procedures aimed at reducing our systemic bacterial load stemming from periodontal disease. The American Dental Association has recognized these services and it has adopted new procedure codes for these periodontal laser therapy procedures and dubbed them "Laser Bacterial Reduction."

Unlike the old hand scaling and root planing procedures alone, the laser light kills the bacteria and it breaks up the bio film that we now know the bacteria live in inside our gum pockets. Scaling and root planing do remove calculus/tartar but they do not kill the bacteria and they do not disrupt the bio film layer so the bacteria are able to quickly regroup after scaling and root planing and to continue the higher bacteria load in our blood streams. Because the diode laser more effectively kills the bacteria and breaks up the bio film living in the gum pockets around our teeth, it helps to decrease our periodontal disease and our blood stream bacterial load more effectively than dental scaling and root planing alone.

Dental laser therapy is usually mostly pain free procedure requiring no or fairly minimal anesthesia. It IS NOT a surgical periodontal procedure. Like all periodontal treatments, procedures, and surgeries these are not ever definitive one time procedures. Managing our periodontal health through diligent effective home care and continued professional management and care with your healthcare professionals is always required to avoid future regression and the return of periodontal disease.

Advantages of Laser Dentistry

The Waterlase® laser system, from Biolase Technology of Irvine, California, is a revolutionary dental tool that uses a patented combination of laser energy and water to perform a variety of dental procedures with fewer shots and less anesthesia. Approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for use in many kinds of dental work – from fixing cavities to preparing teeth for crowns, performing root canals, and even putting in implants – the Waterlase® laser is being used by thousands of dentists worldwide.

Studies have shown that Waterlase Dentistry™ can be less traumatic than the drill. The combination of laser and water provides a quick and unique cutting action that is precise and gentle, so it preserves healthy tooth or gums around a cavity or diseased gums. “It’s an approach called minimally invasive dentistry.” says Dr. Van Zant, “The idea is to fix the diseased part of your tooth, gums, or bone without damaging adjacent healthy tissue. Waterlase Dentistry gives us a big advantage in providing excellent clinical care with maximum patient comfort.”

Dental treatment provided using dental lasers costs no more than regular dental treatment using dental drills. Dental fillings and procedures done with a dental laser are covered by dental insurance no differently than the same procedures when they are done using the dental shots and a dental drill. There are no special added fees when we are able to use a dental laser.

Dental Implants

Dental implants and the dental restorations that they support can in some cases be stronger and more durable than other restorative alternatives, such as crowns and bridges that are cemented into place, or dentures that are removable.

Implants can in some situations offer a more permanent solution to tooth loss. Dental implants do not get cavities as do natural teeth and in some situations they can provide a more stable foundation for both fixed bridges and removable denture restorations. Although there are many restorative options for replacing missing teeth, today's dental implants are often considered to be among the most functionally effective and durable options.

Could dental implants be right choice for you?

Since the dental implants are placed in the bone, patients must be beyond adolescence, after the bone has grown and developed. Some medical conditions, such as active diabetes, cancer or periodontal disease, may require attention and treatment before the implant procedure can be performed, and can keep the patient from being a candidate altogether.

Patients will first need to have their teeth and gums thoroughly examined and their bone density and quantity evaluated. This will often involve X-rays and computer tomography scans (CT scans) to determine that there is sufficient bone structure for placing the implant(s), and exactly where the implant(s) should be placed.

The condition of a patient's oral tissues, oral hygiene, personal habits, and their commitment to following aftercare instructions all play a role in determining the most appropriate dental implant treatment plan for that patient. Some patients with insufficient bone or gum tissue may require bone or soft tissue grafts and/or the use of small diameter implants (also called mini implants).

If a patient considering a dental implant is a smoker, that patient should quit before undergoing any dental implant procedure because smoking can significantly the risk of implant failure. Patients taking immunosuppressant medications, or having an immunodepressive disorders are usually also at a much higher risk of implant failure and may not be candidates for this procedure.

What are the success rates for dental implants?

Dental implants are among the most successful procedures in dentistry today. There is no guarantee that a dental implant procedure will be successful, but studies have shown a five-year rate of success of 95 percent for the lower jaw implants and 90 percent for the upper jaw.

What are the risks?

Dental implants can fail for a number of reasons, but the cause is often related to a failure in the osseointegration (fusing of the implant to the bone) process. Dental implants may break, the site in which they were placed may become infected, or the crown restoration on top of the implant may become loose.

Poor oral hygiene can lead to peri-implantitis (severe gum disease around dental implants),which is very similar to the development of periodontitis (severe gum disease that develops around natural teeth). Dental implants and implant restorations are not susceptible to cavities the way natural teeth are.

When can implants be done and how long do they take to be done?

Typically, conventional implants can take a period of months from the date of their initial placement into the bone until the date that the work is completed be it a bridge, crown, or attaching denture. The majority of this time is required to allow the implant enough time to osseointegrate with its new surrounding bone.

Sometimes dental implants can be immediately placed into the locations where teeth have been extracted. When this approach is possible, it can shed months off the treatment time associated with dental implants because the osseointegration process is accelerated.

Mini Implants

These narrower implants may best serve patients who desire a more stable upper or lower jaw denture or partial denture. Narrower implants may also be useful for replacing small teeth and incisors, or to fill in a missing tooth space that has become narrow over time area and does not provide enough room for a conventional large sized implant.

What are the differences between Conventional and Mini Implants?

  • Mini Implants are approximately half the width of Conventional Implants.
  • The mini implant is not fully submerged when it is placed, and may be ready to be used right away.
  • Should a mini implant failure occur, its small size (close to that of a toothpick) means that its removal will most likely be much easier, and that grafting after a the removal of a mini implant is usually not necessary.
  • Mini implants are significantly less costly, often less than half the cost of conventional implants.
  • Mini implants are solid and in one piece (as opposed to hollow, multi piece, with a center screw).
  • The minor surgery required to place a mini implant is much less invasive, does not require any incisions, and only minimal numbing (anesthetic) is usually needed.
  • Post operative pain following mini implant procedures is usually minor and most often it is easily controlled by just taking over the counter pain medications.
Digital X-rays

Digital radiographs offer a way to capture dental images through a sensor that processes the image onto a computer screen. Digital x-rays can provide greater comfort than traditional x-rays and greatly reduce exposure to radiation. Four digital radiographs are about equal to one "paper" x-ray.

Digital x-rays, like digital pictures, can be adjusted for exposure factors, magnified for better viewing, enhanced with color to aid in diagnosing, and since they are digital images, they can be e-mailed to insurance companies, other attending doctors, and to patients after they have moved should the need arise.

Digital x-rays are much more eco-friendly in that they do not require the large amounts of water that film x-rays do to process (develop), they save on plastic and paper waste, and they do not require the toxic chemicals that are used in developing film x-rays that end up being disposed of in our city water and sewage system.

NTI Splint

The NTI splint is an anterior splint used for TMD patients. This tiny mouthpiece can reduce the force of jaw clenching during sleep and the frequency and intensity of some types of headaches. The NTI has been reported in literature as having the potential application of helping to treat patients affected by migraine headaches.

Intra-Oral Camera

Intra-oral cameras can produce accurate images of your teeth and the supporting structure. This allows you, your dentist and a dental technician that might be involved in your treatment, to see tooth defects. Intra-oral cameras also help you to learn more about dental hygiene practices, including where to focus on brushing your teeth.


Dental porcelain or ceramic veneers are custom-designed shells of tooth-like ceramic material that, when applied over the surface of a tooth, can cover worn tooth enamel, uneven tooth alignment or spacing, and chips or cracks.

Dental ceramic veneers fall into the category of cosmetic dentistry because they create a bright, white smile with beautifully aligned, shapely teeth. Even better, the translucent ceramic quality of today's veneers provides a more natural look than what's been available in the past.

Today's ceramic veneers can often be ultra thin, often requiring little or no grinding on the teeth and often not requiring dental anesthesia.

Regardless of what causes unattractive teeth, dental veneers may solve most or even all of your cosmetic dental issues, including:

  • Worn enamel: Over time, the thin, hard white substance covering your teeth (enamel) may become worn, dulled, and discolored. Such wear and discoloration may be natural or the result of a genetic predisposition; however, it is often a result of your habits (soft drink, tea, or coffee consumption, smoking, medication use, etc.).
  • Wear and tear: Teeth naturally wear down as people age. Aged teeth are more likely to have chips, cracks or a generally uneven appearance.
  • Genetics: Certain people may be born with abnormal spacing between the teeth that grows wider as they age.
  • Uneven teeth: Uneven teeth can result from tooth grinding or general wear and tear.

Invisalign takes a modern approach to straightening teeth, using a custom-made series of aligners created for you and only you. These aligner trays are made of smooth, comfortable and virtually invisible plastic that you simply wear over your teeth. Wearing the aligners will gradually and gently shift your teeth into place, based on the exact movements your dentist or orthodontist plans out for you. There are no metal brackets to attach and no wires to tighten. You simply pop in a new set of aligners approximately every two weeks, until your treatment is complete and you achieve the confident smile that you've always wanted. The best part about the whole process is that most people won't even know you're straightening your teeth.

To learn more about the Invisalign system, click here.

Rotary Endodontics

Rotary endodontics,"root canal" treatment is done by the dentist using a special electric motor powered hand piece to do the cleaning and shaping. The precision electric hand piece takes less time to do the procedure and it is much quieter and mostly vibration free. This makes the procedure shorter and much more comfortable for the patient.

Digital Dental Office

Our office is proud to be a nearly “paperless” dental office. While switching over to computers has been a profound change for many of us in our office, and it has been especially hard on those of us in our office that grew up with black and white local broadcast television (remember the old rabbit ears antenna?) and 45 records and 8 track tapes.

As we have transitioned over to the new digital world, we have found it to be amazingly better than our old school dental office. Digital x-ray images can now be blown up on a monitor screen to reveal never before seen detail with amazing clarity and can be emailed when needed in a split second. Insurance forms are now generated, filled out and emailed to the insurance company automatically. Much faster and much more accurate filing of insurance and other paperwork is making our office much faster and more efficient in providing you, our patients, with faster and more accurate insurance handling. Computerized/ digital methods of providing dental treatment is decreasing the number and length of appointments needed for dental treatment. Laser scanning is taking the place of many older impression procedures, and 3D Cad/Cam milled ceramic and zirconia crowns that very closely resemble real natural teeth have in most cases taken the place of those old ugly gold, silver, and porcelain with metal crowns that caused patients to have to wait for weeks with a nasty annoying temporary crown while a dental laboratory made their metal or metal and porcelain crown. Endodontic (root canal) procedures are now routinely done using precision rotary nickel-titanium digital systems in a much more pleasant manner and with a higher rate of success than the old multi appointment root canal procedures. Naturally esthetic tooth colored filling materials have replaced the old dark tarnishing mercury silver alloy fillings of the past.

Sure, it can be intimidating to see computers replacing the old ways of doing things, but in dentistry, like medicine and everything else in the world, technology will carry us into an exciting future ahead. Unfortunately, it has created a tremendous burden for dentists, and other healthcare professionals to constantly be investing their time and money in taking new classes and training to keep up with all of the changes. New knowledge and technologies constantly help us to better care for and serve our patients, but it can rapidly run us over if we don't constantly work hard to keep up with it. A century ago, the industrial revolution brought us horseless carriages which quickly evolved into the modern automobile and the first airplanes which quickly evolved into the commercial airlines of today, and Alexander Graham Bell's first telephone which has evolved into our smart cell phone of today. all should leave no doubt that our world is quickly changing and that we can ill-afford to not change with it. In 2012, many insurance companies have mandated the conversion to electronic processing of insurance "paperwork'. Yes, the old paper way of doing things is quickly going the way of the old pony express. I'm sure, back at that time, many people thought the pony express could never be replaced by wire communication.

We've made the choice to embrace the rapidly expanding world of dental knowledge and technologies. We always work hard and patiently, to very carefully sift through all of that new knowledge and technology, separating the wheat from the chaff, to provide only the best, safest, and most proven of the wonderful improvements in dental treatment and care for our patients.