Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being. Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop. In between regular visits to the dentist, there are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. These include:
- Brush thoroughly twice a day and floss daily
- Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks between meals
- Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste
- Rinse with a fluoride mouth rinse if your dentist advises you to
- Make sure that your children under 12 drink fluoridated water or take a fluoride supplement if they live in a non-fluoridated area
Good oral hygiene should always be practiced since the loss of a single tooth can have major impact upon your oral health and appearance. Although we will use every measure to prevent tooth loss, there are still some occasions when a tooth may need to be extracted. A tooth may need to be extracted if the following occurs. After careful examination and treatment, the dentist may advise to have a tooth extracted. Before a tooth is removed, the dentist will take an x-ray in order to understand the shape and position of the tooth and surrounding bone. Based on the degree of difficulty, we may refer you to a specialist called an oral surgeon. A certain amount of pain and discomfort is to be expected following an extraction. After a routine extraction, discomfort should lessen within three days to two weeks. If you have prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding or fever, call our office immediately.
- Severe decay
- Advanced periodontal disease
- Infection or abscess
- Orthodontic correction
- Malpositioned teeth
- Fractured teeth or roots
- Impacted teeth
Root canal treatment (also referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic therapy) is made necessary when a cavity is allowed to reach all the way to the pulp. Regular cleanings and checkups prevent and detect problems early. Sometimes deep restorations or trauma to a tooth may also cause the nerve to be damaged to the point it needs root canal therapy. Once this occurs the pulp becomes infected, and can even extend through the root tip and begin to eat away at the surrounding bone (this is an abscess). By the time the pulp is infected it must be treated, and cannot heal on its own. It can even weaken the entire immune system. This is dangerous, not to mention very painful. Symptoms that the pulp has become infected may include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain to biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, however, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problem until a checkup. A root canal is then performed to clean out the infected tooth pulp, and disinfect the canals of the tooth. The only other treatment would be to extract the tooth. Once the infection is resolved, the canal(s) are filled in to prevent any further infection. Usually a core build-up and crown is recommended for restoring a tooth that has had root canal therapy.
Orthodontics is the art of using appliances to straighten and align teeth. Most commonly it involves the use of braces to move teeth into their proper position. In this method, brackets are bonded to the teeth and arch wires are threaded through the brackets. The arch wires act as a track and guide each tooth to its proper position. There are several types of orthodontic braces available to consumers, including the more traditional metal braces, ceramic “tooth colored” braces, as well as clear plastic braces.
A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. If you have a tooth that requires a filling, the dentist will first remove the decayed tooth material, clean the affected area, and then fill the cleaned out cavity with a filling material. A filling also helps prevent further decay by closing off any cracks or spaces where bacteria can enter. There are a variety of filling materials available including gold, silver, plastic and porcelain. The dentist will work with you to determine which material is best for you. The material will depend on the extent of repair, where in your mouth the filling is needed, and cost.
Veneers are a dental procedure in which a covering is placed over the outside (visible area) of the tooth. Veneers are usually only done to the part of the teeth that are visible when talking or smiling. The procedure can be direct or indirect. The direct technique usually involves placing composite resin on the outside of the tooth using a composite resin. This method is usually referred to as bonding. The indirect technique usually involves two appointments because the veneers will be fabricated at a dental laboratory. At the first appointment the teeth are prepared, impressions taken, and the teeth are given a temporary covering. In two to three weeks the veneers are back from the laboratory, the temporaries are removed and the veneers are bonded to the teeth. The laboratory fabricated veneers are usually made using porcelain or pressed ceramic, and are esthetically pleasing. The advantage of veneers versus crowns is that less tooth material is removed.
Crowns and Bridges
Crowns and bridges are used to restore and enhance teeth that are damaged, or to take the place of missing teeth. A crown, also referred to as a cap, is used to entirely cover a damaged tooth. A crown not only gives a tooth stability but it can improve the tooth’s appearance, shape and alignment. Crowns may be used to:
- Replace a large filling when there is little tooth structure remaining
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Attach a bridge
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
- Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment
Sealants are used to fill in narrow grooves in a tooth that cannot be adequately cleaned by brushing. In some cases, the tooth structure has fine grooves or pits which accumulate plaque, not because the person doesn’t brush well, but because they’re too narrow to allow the bristles into them. These areas can develop cavities over time. To place a sealant the dentist will first clean the groove, he will then apply the sealant material that will fill in the grooves and pits making it easier to brush off the plaque and keep your teeth healthy.
A denture is a removable appliance made for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. There are two types of dentures available which include partial and complete dentures. Partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain, while complete dentures are used to completely replace all teeth. Dentures are made to resemble your natural teeth so there should be no noticeable change to your appearance. In fact, dentures may even improve your smile!
Partial Dentals – This restoration method is used to restore your smile and mouth function if all your teeth have been lost. The dentures are custom created to resemble natural teeth and are positioned into a patients mouth to take the place of where the natural teeth used to be. Complete dentures are removable and may require adjustments in order to create a proper fit with the gums and mouth. Partial Dentures – A removable partial denture is a device used when one or more natural teeth still remain. They usually consist of replacement teeth attached to a gum-colored plastic or metal base which is held in place in the mouth by either natural teeth or clasps.
Custom designed mouthguards and nightguards are made of flexible plastic and molded to fit the shape of your teeth. Mouthguards are recommended to protect the jaw and teeth during physical activity and sports such as boxing, football, basketball, or other activities where your mouth may get hit. In addition, these guards protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. Nightguards are recommended for patients who clench or grind their teeth at night as a way to protect their teeth and bite. They can be made to fit your upper or lower teeth. If you have decided a guard is right for you, the dentist will take an impression of your teeth which will then be sent to a lab to make a custom fit guard for you. For a sports mouth guard you can choose from a variety of colors and styles .
A dental cleaning is a professional cleaning you receive from a dentist or dental hygienist. Most dental cleanings take between 25 and 30 minutes. Cleanings should be performed every six months (or more if needed) to prevent excessive plaque buildup. Plaque left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay. Scaling: This is the process of removing plaque and tartar from all tooth surfaces in a variety of methods, depending on the amount of plaque and tartar. Dental hygienists traditionally perform scaling by hand. However, new and advanced technology has led to more modern methods such as ultrasonic scalers. This sophisticated tool allows dental cleanings to be performed more efficiently and in less time. To achieve best results, both ultrasonic and manual scaling methods are combined for some dental cleanings.
Bonding involves adhering a tooth colored composite resin material to your tooth. Bonding can be done to alter the alignment of the tooth, close gaps between the teeth, or for cosmetic purposes. First the surface of the tooth is roughened in order for the resin material to stick to it. A gel is applied to micro etch the tooth surface, and a primer/bond agent is applied so the material adheres to the surface. Then the composite material is placed on the tooth and hardened with a curing light. The composite resin material is then shaped and polished.
Tooth whitening is a popular procedure to make teeth whiter and brighter. Bleaching can be used to whiten stained and discolored teeth, or simply to enhance a dull smile. Either way, tooth whitening is a safe and relatively painless procedure ideal for most patients. Our office offers two methods of whitening: custom made tray whitening and professional Crest White strips. For custom made trays we will first take an impression of your teeth to create a customized clear tray that you will wear to whiten your teeth. Within a few days your trays will be ready to be picked up and we will show you how to apply the special bleaching material to the trays and go over directions. Occasional touch up treatments can be used at your convenience to maintain your new whiter smile.
A dental implant is an ideal tooth restoration for people who are missing one or more teeth as a result of injury, periodontal disease, or any other reason. A dental implant is a metal/titanium post that a periodontist, oral surgeon, or your general dentist surgically positions into the jaw. After the implant is placed the bone surrounding the implant will need time to integrate and heal. Once the healing is complete your dentist will place an abutment and crown over the implant. While implants are typically more expensive than other methods of tooth replacement, they provide superior benefits. Implants are stronger than natural teeth and generally last your lifetime. They are also a more favorable approach than bridgework since they do not depend on neighboring teeth for support. To receive implants, you need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. You must also be committed to excellent oral hygiene and regular dental visits as these are critical to the long-term success of dental implants.