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Regular Exams and Cleanings
Regular exams are an important part of maintaining your oral health. During your regular exam, we will:
- Check for any problems that you may not see or feel
- Look for cavities or any other signs of tooth decay
- Inspect your teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
- Perform a thorough teeth cleaning
Your regular exam and cleaning will take about one hour. During your cleaning we will thoroughly clean, polish, and rinse your teeth to remove any tartar and plaque that have built up on the tooth surfaces.
Visiting our office every six months gives you the chance to talk to the doctor about any questions you may have about your oral health. It also offers the surest way to prevent small problems with your oral health from turning into large problems, that may be much more difficult to fix! Regular exams are offered by appointment only, so please contact our practice today to schedule your next dental exam and cleaning.
Bonding is a conservative way to repair slightly chipped, discolored, or crooked teeth. During dental bonding, a white filling is placed onto your tooth to improve its appearance. The filling “bonds” with your tooth, and because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades, it closely matches the appearance of your natural teeth.
Tooth bonding can also be used for tooth fillings instead of silver amalgam. Many patients prefer bonded fillings because the white color is much less noticeable than silver. Bonded fillings can be used on front or back teeth, depending on the location and extent of tooth decay.
Bonding is generally less expensive than other cosmetic treatments and can usually be completed in one visit to our office. However, bonded filling are more prone to staining than the alternative tooth-colored material called dental ceramic or "porcelain". One distinct advantage of bonding over ceramic, is that it is easy to repair.
A bridge may be used to replace missing teeth, help maintain the shape of your face, and alleviate stress on your bite.
A bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth, blends seemlessly with the adjacent teeth, and literally bridges the gap where one or more teeth may have been. Your bridge can be made from gold alloys, various types of high-strength ceramic, or a combination of these materials. Bridges utilize the teeth ajacent to the missing teeth for support. Therefore, the strength and longevity of the bridge is dependant on the health of the support teeth, as well as the health of the surrounding gums and bone. Thus, good dental health is imperitive for long-term sucess of any bridge!
Crowns are a restorative procedure used to improve your tooth’s shape or to prevent a tooth from fracture. Crowns are most often used for teeth that are structurally compromised by large fillings, severely worn, or have significant loss of tooth structure due to dental decay.
A crown is a thimble-shaped “cap” cemented or bonded onto a tooth and typically covers the portion of your tooth above the gum line. In effect, the crown becomes your tooth’s new outer surface. Crowns can be made of porcelain, metal, or a comination of metal and ceramic. Porcelain crowns are usually preferred by patients because they mimic the translucency of natural teeth; in some cases however, metal based crowns are chosen due to their unmatched strength.
Crowns or onlays (partial crowns) are needed when there is insufficient tooth structure remaining to resist cracking or breaking. Unlike fillings, which are applied directly in your mouth, a crown is fabricated indirectly, away from your mouth. Crowns are created in a dental lab from a custom-made tooth impression, or in some cases a digital scan of your mouth. The impression or scan is made into a 3-dimensional replica of your teeth, which allows a dental laboratory technician to fabricate your crown without the challenges and time constraints that the dentist faces while working directly in a patient's mouth. Your crown is therefore custom made to fit onto your tooth and properly bite against your oposing and adjacent teeth.
Dentures are natural-looking replacement teeth that are removable. There are two types of dentures: full and partial. Full dentures are given to patients when all of the natural teeth have been removed. Partial dentures are attached to a metal frame that is connected to your natural teeth and are used to fill in where permanent teeth have been removed. Just like natural teeth, dentures need to be properly cared for. Use a gentle cleanser to brush your dentures, always keep them moist when they’re not in use, and be sure to keep your tongue and gums clean as well.
There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth:
- Deciduous teeth ("baby teeth") don't errupt as they should
- A tooth is so compromised by dental decay that it can't be restored
- A wisdom tooth is impacted and causing problems to surrounding tissues
- For some orthodontic correction
In these instances, and many others not listed, extraction of a tooth may be the best option for overall health. The replacement of the missing tooth with a bridge or implant may be recommended in some cases.
When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, your dentist will set up a special visit for this procedure. In most cases, the procedure is very quick with very mild discomfort after the procedure is completed. More complex extractions, such as impacted 3rd molars ("wisdom teeth"), require longer appointments and typically involve a more prolonged recovery period after the procedure. In all cases, the doctor will make sure you are completely anesthestized so that their is no discomfort during the procedure. Special sedation and/or general anesthesia can be arranged for this procedure or any other procere done in the office. Just let the doctor know beforehand, so that these arrangements can be made.
Traditional dental restoratives, or fillings, may include gold, porcelain, or composite. Newer dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are typically used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important. There are two different kinds of fillings: direct and indirect. Direct fillings are fillings placed into a prepared cavity in a single visit. Indirect fillings generally require two or more visits, and is the same procedure as a crown, explained above.
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay. Fluoride treatment is generally recommended only for children and teens as they are at the most risk for developing decay. It is recommended for some adults, who are particularly prone to decay. Fluoride treatments take only a few minutes and are done as part of your regular cleaning appointments, when appropriate. After the treatment, patients may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride.
If you are missing teeth, it is almost always beneficial to replace them. Spaces created by missing teeth can cause undesirable changes to your bite, by allowing teeth to lose the delicate equilibrium between and oposing one and other. In turn, these changes to your bite can cause accelerated tooth wear, jaw joint problems ("TMD"), and sometimes discomfort. Missing teeth also cause bone loss and changes to your facial profile; these changes create a more aged appearance. Implants are a great way to replace your missing teeth and prevent these problems from occuring. If implants are properly maintained they can last a lifetime!
An implant is a threaded metal anchor that is placed into the jaw bone. This anchor usually supports a crown, a new tooth made of porcelain that looks just like the natural tooth it is replacing. There is a hidden connector between the implant and the crown called an abutment. It is made of metal or a high strength ceramic called zirconia. Implants are most frequently used to replace single missing teeth but can also be used to support multiple missing teeth, or in some cases an upper or lower denture. Implant treatment allows people who have lost one or more teeth, to smile confidently knowing no one will ever suspect they have a replacement tooth/teeth.
When multiple implants are used to support a denture, the change to the patient's lifestyle can be dramatic. Implants prevent dentures from floating or shifting. These problems, which are commonly associated with conventional dentures, can cause problems with eating, food entrapment, and loss of confidence. Although there are many ways for implants to support dentures, all of these various designs provide an improvement over a conventional denture and therefore an improvement in quality of life.
Whether you wear braces or not, protecting your smile while playing sports is essential. Mouthguards help protect your teeth and gums from injury. If you participate in any kind of full-contact sport, the American Dental Association recommends that you wear a mouthguard. Choosing the right mouthguard is essential. There are three basic types of mouthguards: the pre-made mouthguard, the “boil-and-bite” fitted mouthguard, and a custom-made mouthguard from your dentist. When you choose a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, comfortable and well-fitted for your mouth, easy to keep clean, and does not prevent you from breathing properly. Your dentist can show you how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect your smile.
If you often wake up with jaw pain, earaches, or headaches, or if you find yourself clenching or grinding your teeth, you may benefit from a "Nightguard". Most people are not even aware that they grind ("brux") their teeth, as it most frequently occurs when one is sleeping. If not corrected, bruxism can lead to broken teeth, cracked teeth, and a muriad of jaw joint problems (TMD). Bruxism is also frequently associated with a common problem called "sleep apnea"; a simple exam and questinaire by your dentist can often determine whether or not you may also have sleep apnea.
Many styles of nightguards exist. Some are available as an over-the-counter device that can be purchased at local drug stores. These are a very cost-effective way to prevent the damaging affects of bruxism but they are not intended for long-term use. They are made of a soft heat-moldable material that wears quickly. Most of these drug store nightgaurds could work effectively for a few months, but may start causing jaw joint issues since they are self molded by the patient into a random lower jaw position in which the delicate jaw joint tissue could potentially be damaged. A custom-made nightguard fabricated by a dentist, often referred to as a "splint", is made out of a highly wear-resistance plastic that can last for years or even decades. In addition, these custom made applicances are made so that the lower jaw and teeth are correctly positioned, thus protecting the teeth but also the delicate tissue within the jaw joint during nightime bruxing activity. Unlike drugstore self-made night gaurds, the custom made night guards can be re-surfaced at a fraction of the cost of a new one, saving the patient money while having the ultimate in tooth and jaw joint protection.
In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased nerve, you'd probably lose that tooth. Today, with a special dental procedure called “root canal treatment,” your tooth can be saved. When a tooth is cracked, has a deep cavity, or is somehow traumatized, the nerve tissue within the tooth called the pulp can be damaged or become necrotic (dead). If left untreated, this necrotic tissue within the pulp chamber and root canal system may become infected and an abscess may form. This abscess, which spreads to the bone surrounding the root tip, can sometimes cause pain and swelling. This is what causes a "tooth ache". When the abscess spreads from the tooth into the bone without causing any pain, it's referred to as a "chronic abscess". In this case, the patient may notice a sour taste in their mouth and sometimes a small bump on their gums that comes and goes. The bump, called a "stoma", is the exit hole for the puss eminating from the abscess within their jaw bone. If a stoma does not form, the puss simply drains into the lymphatic system of the body and the patient is typically not aware that their tooth is abcessed. However, the dentist may discover the abcess by examining routine x-rays, provided that the x-ray show the root tips of the teeth. It's probably no surprise that having any of these types of tooth related infections is detrimental to your overall health.
Root canal treatment is simply the procedure which allows the dentist to resolve the infection within the tooth. This is done by first disinfecting and then sealing off the pulp chamber and root canal system inside the tooth. Once this "cave and tunnel sytem" within the tooth is clean and filled with a soft rubber called gutta percha, the body can heal the infection outside the tooth, (within the surrounding bone and tissue), most often without the aid of antibiotics.
Root canal treatment usually involves a single visit, but may involve more than one appointment depending on whether or not there is swelling and pain that must be resolved with anitbiotics prior to the first clinical appointment. In some cases, such as when the root canal system is complex, the roots are extroidinarily long or curved, or the tooth has had root canal treatment in the past, the general dentist may elect to refer to an endodontist; an endodontist is a dentist who specializes in root canal treatment., or as the name implies, problems involving the inside of the tooth. ("Endo" means within and "dontist" means tooth doctor). In many cases, your dentist may suggest placing a crown on the tooth treated with a root canal in order to prevent the tooth from breakage. This is because the dentist must make a tunnel through the top of the tooth in order to access the pulp chamber and root canal system, and this may significantly weaken the tooth and make it prone to breakage.
Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth. It is difficult for your toothbrush to get in-between the small fissures and grooves on the chewing surface of your teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants, prevent plaque and bacteria from entering these uncleanable areas, thus preventing decay.
Dental sealants are plastic resins that bond and harden in the deep grooves on your tooth’s surface. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth and are less likely to harbor plaque.
Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth as a preventive measure against tooth decay after the permanent teeth have erupted. However, adults can also receive sealants on healthy teeth. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and your dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants last from three to five years, but it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your sealants come out, let your dentist know, and schedule an appointment for your teeth to be re-sealed.
You no longer need to hide your smile because of gaps, chips, stains, or mis-shaped teeth. With veneers, you can easily correct your teeth’s imperfections to help you have a more confident, beautiful smile. Veneers are natural in appearance, and they are a perfect option for patients wanting to make improvements to their smile.
Veneers are thin, custom-made shells made from tooth-colored materials (usually porcelain), and they are most frequently made to cover the front side of your teeth. To prepare for veneers, your doctor will create a custom mould of your teeth after minor reshaping/reduction of the enamel. This mould is made into a 3-dimensional replica of your teeth by the dental technician who will hand craft your veneers. After the veneers are fabricated in the dental lab, they are returned to the dental office for permanent bonding to the prepared enamel surface by the dentist.
When your veneers are placed, you’ll be pleased to see that they blend seemlessly with your natural teeth. If well maintained with good oral hygiene and not subjected to the damaging affects of bruxism (tooth grinding), veneers can last for decades. Over time, veneers may slowly lose their color match to the adjacent natural teeth, as teeth may naturally darken with time and the porcelain veneers remain color-stable.
Wisdom teeth are types of molars found in the very back of your mouth. They are the third set of permanent molars to form and usually begin to erupt through the gum tissue in the late teens or early twenties, but may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. Some wisdom teeth need to be removed. Here are the typical reasons wisdom teeth are removed:
- Chronic gum tenderness or infection where the wisdom tooth is erupting.
- A partially erupted wisdom tooth fails to fully erupt and therefore does not become a functional (chewing) tooth
- An impacted wisdom tooth causes damage to the roots of the second molars (pressure resorption)
- A fully erupted wisdom becomes decayed and is too difficult to properly restore due to its inaccessability in the back of the mouth
- Localized gum disease (bone loss) around a wisdom tooth due to inadequate cleaning
One of the most common justifications for extracting wisdom teeth that is completely false, is that "wisdom teeth cause crowding of the rest of the teeth that are already erupted". There's not a single scientific study to justify this claim. If you'de like to know more about this topic, read this article on our blog.
Wisdom teeth are usually removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the roots have not fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense. These two factors can make extraction easier as well as shorten the recovery time.