Cleaning/Prevention

Professional Dental Cleanings:

Professional dental cleanings, known as dental prophylaxis, are performed by registered dental hygienists. During the cleaning, the hygienist will remove tartar and plaque, and then polish the teeth to remove any remaining stains. The proper removal of both tartar and plaque is essential to dental health and requires the specialized tools and training that dental hygienists provide.

Tartar, professionally known as calculus, is hardened plaque that sets firmly to tooth surfaces both above and below the gum line. Left in place, it causes serious damage to dental health. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth. Almost invisible to the naked eye, this growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva produces toxins that inflame the gums, initiating the beginning stages of periodontal disease. With both of these forming on your teeth all the time, professional dental cleanings are an essential element of dental disease prevention.

Screenings for General Dental Health:

Following your dental cleaning, the hygienist and the dentist will go through a series of general diagnostic screenings for a variety of common dental problems:

  1. Tooth Decay: All tooth surfaces are checked for weaknesses and decay with special dental instruments.
  2. Oral Cancer Screening: The face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, and gums will be checked for any signs of oral cancer.
  3. Gum Disease Evaluation: The gums and bones around the teeth will be checked for any signs of periodontal disease.
  4. Examination of Existing Restorations: Any fillings, crowns, or other existing restorations will be checked for problems or concerns, ensuring that they remain fully functional.

On your first visit, the dentist will perform a comprehensive dental exam to assess the current condition of your teeth and their supporting dental structures. You will then be asked to return for regular check-up exams to help implement and maintain your individualized dental health plan. Regular check-up exams cover three primary areas:

  1. Professional Dental Cleanings.
  2. Screenings for General Dental Health
  3. Periodic X-Rays & Regular Diagnostic Evaluations of X-Rays

Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest and most advanced technology. This is used by dentists to ensure the most clear and accurate diagnosis is achieved.

This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a secure computer.

This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged to help the dentist and dental hygienist detect and properly diagnose issues.

Digital x-rays reduce radiation by 80 to 90 % compared to the more traditional dental x-rays.

Fluoride is the most effective agent available to prevent and treat tooth decay. Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally present in almost all food and water in trace amounts. The benefits of fluoride have been well knows for over 50 years and are supported by many healthcare and preventative healthcare studies.

Fluoride Treatment Helps to Improve:

  • Deep pits and fissures on the chewing surface of the teeth
  • Exposed and sensitive areas of root surfaces
  • Poor dental hygiene practices
  • Over intake of sugars, alcohol and other common irritants
  • Advanced stages of tooth decay

Please keep in mind: fluoride alone does not and will not prevent tooth decay! This is one component part that our practice utilizes to treat and foster: “Ultimate Oral Healthcare.”

What are sealants?

Dental sealants are a form of preventative treatment that is used to help prevent or slow down the development of caries. They are plastic coatings are placed on the chewing surface of the teeth, which are generally the molars or premolars. These teeth are the most susceptible to caries because due to the anatomy of the tooth, food particles get stuck in the fissures of the tooth. When food accumulates in these areas, plaque forms and attacks the enamel, causing a cavity to form. The plastic coating of the dental sealant helps prevent the food from being stuck in the fissures of the tooth.

When are sealants placed?

Dental sealants are first placed when the first permanent molar is erupted. The dental sealant will help protect the permanent teeth of children to help prevent the formation of cavities. These sealants can also be placed on adults that are at high risk for forming dental caries. Sealants last for many years, but new ones can be placed when the old sealants have worn down.

 

General Dentistry

What are dentures and partial dentures?

Dentures and partial dentures are removable dental appliances that are used to replace teeth that are missing. Full dentures offer artificial teeth to those that have lost all of their teeth on either the upper or lower arch of their mouth. Obtaining a denture will restore function and appearance to those who have lost all of their teeth. Dentures allow many patients to eat, speak and improve the appearance of their mouth. Partial dentures are recommended for those who have not lost all of their teeth and have some teeth remaining. The partial denture will consist of artificial teeth that will replace missing teeth and metal clasps that clip on to remaining teeth to help hold it in place.

The process of obtaining dentures and partial dentures

When you and your dentist have decided what option is best for you, your dentist can help you get started. If complete dentures is the option for you, the dentures are created once your teeth have been removed and your gums have healed. Due to this reason, this process can take several months. During the healing process, a set of immediate dentures may be given to you so you do not have to be without teeth. In both complete denture and partial denture treatments, several impressions will be taken so that dental laboratories can get a sense of the shape of your mouth so they can create custom dentures for you. Several appointments will be made for you to come back to your dentist to try on the dentures in order to ensure that your dentures are made to fit you properly. During your final appointment, you will receive your final finished denture so you can get your beautiful smile back.

After receiving your final dentures, your dentist will provide you with special instructions on how to maintain proper hygiene and also how to clean your dentures.

What is a root canal?

Root canal therapy is a treatment used to save a tooth when the tissue, blood vessels and nerves inside of a tooth have become inflamed. In order to save the tooth and remove the pain, the dentist will need to remove infected and diseased tissue to help clean out the infected area. The canal inside is then medicated to allow the surrounding area to heal.

Reasons a root canal may be performed

  • Deep decay
  • Infections at the tip of the root or inside the tooth canal
  • Cracked, broken or injured teeth

Generally, but not always, a crown will need to be placed after the root canal treatment is complete in order to protect the tooth from any further damage. Sensitivity after the procedure is generally experienced by many patients and subside when the tooth has healed. When your treatment has been completed, your dentist will provide you with special instructions on how to care for your newly treated tooth.

Dental implants are recommended for those seeking a permanent solution to missing teeth. They are designed to look natural while also giving you the ability to have stable function of natural teeth. Dental implants are surgically placed into the mouth by inserting a titanium anchor into your jaw. After the anchor is placed, the bone will heal (about 6 months) around the titanium and hold it into place. When your dentist thinks you are ready, they will place your custom made artificial tooth into the anchor.

Dental implants are not recommended for everyone. In order to be eligible to receive implants, you must have enough bone structure to support the implant, free of chronic illnesses and must ensure that you will maintain proper oral hygiene to care for a new implant.

What are composite fillings?

Mouth fillings are the most popular method of restoring teeth. There are many types of materials that can be used for fillings such as amalgam and gold. Composites fillings are a popular choice because they match the color of teeth and look natural. Composites are not only used to restore decayed teeth, but they may also be used for crack or broken teeth, stained teeth, and teeth that have been worn down.

How are fillings placed?

Fillings are very common and can be done in one visit to the dentist. Once anesthesia is applied, the dentist will begin removing decay from the tooth using a dental drill and clean out the decay area. When all the decay is removed, the dentist will prepare and shape the area so that the filling material, such as composite, can be placed. Once the filling has been placed, the filling will be shaped and the tooth will be polished so it can look as natural as possible.

After first receiving a filling, many patients become temporarily sensitive to hot and cold foods. When the tooth becomes used to having the filling, the sensitivity will subside.

A tooth that is severely damaged may need to be removed. A surgeon who specializes in surgeries of the mouth (oral and maxillofacial surgeon) or your dentist can remove a tooth.

Before removing your tooth, your dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will be removed. A stronger, general anesthetic may be used, especially if several or all of your teeth need to be removed. General anesthetic prevents pain in the whole body and will make you sleep through the procedure.

After the tooth is removed, you may need stitches. You can gently bite down on a cotton gauze pad placed over the wound to help stop the bleeding. The removed tooth can be replaced with an implant, a denture, or a bridge. A bridge is a replacement for one or more (but not all) of the teeth and may be permanent or removable.

What To Expect After Surgery

In most cases, the recovery period lasts only a few days. The following will help speed recovery:

  • Take painkillers as prescribed by your dentist or oral surgeon.
  • After 24 hours, rinse your mouth gently with warm salt water several times a day to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Make your own salt water by mixing 1 tsp (5 g) of salt in a medium-sized glass [8 fl oz (237 mL)] of warm water.
  • Change gauze pads before they become soaked with blood.
  • Relax after surgery. Physical activity may increase bleeding.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Eat soft foods, such as gelatin, pudding, or a thin soup. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as healing progresses.
  • Do not lie flat. This may prolong bleeding. Prop up your head with pillows.
  • Avoid rubbing the area with your tongue.
  • Continue to carefully brush your teeth and tongue.

After the tooth is removed, you may need stitches. Some stitches dissolve over time, and some have to be removed after a few days. Your dentist will tell you whether your stitches need to be removed.

Why It Is Done

Removing a tooth is necessary when decay or an abscessed tooth is so severe that no other treatment will cure the infection.

What are porcelain fixed bridges?

Porcelain fixed bridges are non-removable appliances that are placed on teeth to replace a tooth that is missing. Porcelain bridges are made to match the natural color of your teeth and help fill in the gap where a tooth is missing. Bridges are essentially two crowns that that anchor an artificial tooth in between. The two crowns are cemented onto the teeth surrounding the missing tooth to help anchor the artificial tooth into place (abutment). The artificial tooth (pontic) is in place of the missing tooth to fill in the gap and allow your teeth to look natural.

The process of getting a porcelain fixed bridge

When you and your dentist decide that a porcelain fixed bridge is the right option for you, the dentist will begin preparing the two teeth that surround the missing tooth. The teeth are prepared so that two crowns can be placed in order to support the artificial tooth. Several impressions will be taken in order for the dentist to determine the size of the crowns and artificial tooth. Once the impressions are taken, they are sent to a dental laboratory where your bridge will be made. Setting a bridge generally takes two dental visits to complete. Once the dental laboratory has made your bridge, the dentist will cement the crowns into place.

Porcelain fixed bridges are very durable and can last a very long time when they are well taken care of. Your dentist will give you special instructions on how you can keep your bridge clean through brushing and flossing.

What is a porcelain crown?

A porcelain crown is a tooth shaped cap that is used to help replaced teeth that cannot be restored using the traditional filling. They are generally suggested for patients who have had severely decayed or damaged teeth. Porcelain crowns match the color of teeth to give a natural appearance. There are many other types of crowns such as gold or silver, but porcelain crowns are most popular because they give the most natural look.

How are porcelain crowns placed?

When you and your dentist decide that getting a crown is the right option for you, the dentist will shape the tooth in a shape that enables him or her to place a crown. Depending on the damage of the tooth and how much tooth structure is present, the dentist will either shape the tooth or build up the tooth in order to support the crown. Several impressions will be taken so that a dental laboratory can custom make a cap for your tooth. While you wait for the dental laboratory to create your crown, your dentist will create a temporary crown for you that will be replaced when your final crown is finished. When the crown is finished by the dental laboratory, the dentist will try on the crown to ensure that the fit and bite are correct. The porcelain crown is then cemented to your tooth to give you a beautiful and natural appearance.

With care, porcelain crowns can be very durable and have the ability to last a long time. Your dentist will give you special instructions on how you can keep your crown clean with brushing and flossing so that you can help your crown last for years.

Although receiving a crown can take two visits to complete, if your dentist uses CAD-CAM technology such as CEREC®, they may be able to offer you a crown in one visit. Consult with your dentist to see if this is an option for you.

durability of porcelain crowns helps them to last many years, but they may eventually need to be replaced.

What are Porcelain Inlays and Onlays?

Porcelain Inlays and Onlays are restorative fillings that are made using different materials such as porcelain, gold or composite. Porcelain is often the most popular because it mimics natural tooth color. The porcelain is custom created to fit into the prepared tooth cavity and cemented in. Porcelain on its own can be very brittle, but when porcelain is bonded to tooth structure, it becomes very strong and durable.

Due to the durability of porcelain inlays and onlays, they may be recommended for patients who have more severe decay that cannot be repaired by a traditional filling. Generally, teeth that are broken, have severe decay or have fractured fillings are recommended to receive a porcelain inlay or onlay.

What is the difference between inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays are both made at dental laboratories. Therefore, the process generally takes two visits to complete. Porcelain inlays are used in place on traditional silver or composite fillings. They are placed into the prepared tooth where a filling would be placed. Onlays are also known as “partial crowns” and they are caps that help protect the chewing surface of the tooth that has been damaged. Both inlays and onlays last for a very long time and provide patients with beautiful results, but they may eventually need to be replaced.

 

Cosmetic Dentistry

Tooth Whitening is a popular procedure done to brighten your smile. First, speak with your dentist to see if whitening is a good option for you. Depending on the type of discoloration that is present on your teeth, whitening may or may not be effective. Common reasons for teeth discoloration result from using tobacco, staining from food or drinks and poor oral hygiene. Tooth whitening is most effective on surface stains. Although whitening is helpful for the appearance of teeth, it is not permanent and stains may recur over time.

There are many types of whitening that can be done and the most common type is a gel-solution that can be applied directly to the surface of the teeth. This type of whitening can be done at a dental office or at home. At a dental office, the dentist will put a whitening agent on the teeth that is activated by a light or laser. For whitening at home, the dentist may recommend that you wear a whitening tray containing the whitening agent for several hours a day till you reach the shade you desire. Whitening toothpaste may also be purchased to help remove staining on the enamel.

What are veneers?

Veneers are thin shells that are custom made to go on front teeth. Porcelain veneers are sculpted out of porcelain by a dental laboratory in order to fix the appearance of teeth. Veneers can help correct crooked teeth, severely stained teeth, chipped teeth, teeth with gaps and etc.

The Veneer Process

Because the placement of veneers is a irreversible process, consult with a dentist to see if porcelain veneers is the right choice for you. The placement of veneers is generally a two-visit process that requires the dentist to prepare the teeth by removing some of the enamel to ensure that the veneer fits and looks natural. An impression will also be taken to determine the size and shape of the veneers. This impression is sent to a dental laboratory where they will create a custom porcelain veneer. During your second visit to the dentist, the veneer will be placed by bonding it to the existing the teeth to give you a beautiful smile.

Taking Care of Your Veneers

After receiving veneers, you must maintain great oral hygiene. Your new porcelain veneers should be treated like normal teeth and your dentist will give you special instructions on how to brush and floss your new veneers.

 

Specialty Treatments

  • Occlusal Guards
  • Athletic Guards
  • Frenectomy
  • Laser Treatment for Pocket Reduction
  • Laser Treatment for Destruction of Lesions