Essential Dentistry

 Usually, the first appointment will be a cleaning and check-up. Our skilled and experienced hygienists will take only necessary x-rays (typically bite-wing x-rays and a panoramic x-ray, other films may be taken as needed), and clean your teeth. The hygienist may give you tips on keeping your teeth and gums in good health. The dentist will then check your teeth for any problems that may be present. Any questions that you have will be addressed. Treatment options will be discussed with you. If a more thorough consultation is needed, an appointment will be scheduled for you.

 A filling is done in a tooth usually because of new decay or an older filling needs replacement. Local anesthesia is needed most of the time for comfort of the patient. The decay or old filling is removed carefully until the tooth surface is sound enough for the filling. Usually a bonded tooth colored filling is placed. Depending on the location of the filling, another type of material may be placed, including a lab constructed filling material. After the filling is placed, adjustments will be done. Typically, the anesthesia will last a couple of hours after the filling is completed. Be very careful not to bite on your cheek or tongue while you are numb! If the tooth feels high to bite on or the tooth is sensitive, let your dentist know. It may need a slight adjustment to correct the bite.

 Typically, we will have you return for your next cleaning in six months. There are those who do need more frequent cleanings. The dentist and hygienist will determine the need for more frequent cleanings based on the health of your gums, as well as the amount of build up that you have on your teeth. If we can keep the amount of build up down, usually your gums will be healthier.

Cosmetic Dentistry

 Whitening strips are a one size fits all pieces of light plastic with the whitening gel already on them. They are placed over the upper and lower teeth, and worn for about an hour per day, depending on the strength of the gel. The process can take several weeks, depending on the severity of the stain.

 Crowns are full coverage restorations that are used to cover a tooth that is likely to break, or is too broken down to be restored with a filling. They are most commonly done after root canal treatment, or when a large filling wears out. The larger the hole made by a cavity that has to be treated, the more likely a crown will be needed. Even after a filling is put in a large cavity, a tooth is more likely to break. Teeth are subjected to tremendous pressures. Crowns cover over the weakened tooth, providing strength and protecting the tooth against breakage. A broken or cracked tooth is a far more serious matter and much more difficult to treat. Crowns prevent this, as well as making for a nice smile.

 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. Veneers can be made of composite resin or porcelain.

Advanced Procedures

 This is an option for filling the space created by a missing tooth. It is formed to look like the missing tooth, and it takes its place in the mouth. The sides of a bridge use the two surrounding teeth for support, hence the name. A bridge replaces the missing tooth, both functionally and cosmetically. Bridge work is as much an art as it is an exact science. The materials used may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all ceramic material. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and/or esthetics.

 There are different types of dentures, but they share their common function. They replace teeth that have become loose or been lost due to bone loss. When bone loss around the roots of teeth is great enough to loosen them or let them fall out, it's time for dentures. Relax. No one enjoys losing their natural teeth, but you can still eat and talk regularly.

 A dental implant is an option to replace a missing tooth. In this procedure, a small titanium shaft is surgically implanted into the bone and allowed to set. The bone grows around it forming a tight connection, which additionally slows or stops the bone loss that occurs when the root of a natural tooth is missing. Once the implant is firmly set in the mouth, the dentist then works to attach the replacement tooth onto the top of the shaft. This permanent solution has the advantages over bridge work that it does not stress the surrounding teeth for support.

 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 nerve. (Regular cleanings and checkups prevent and detect problems early.) Sometimes deep restorations or trauma to a tooth may cause the nerve to be damaged to the point it needs root canal therapy also. 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.

 TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint. Temporal, as in the temple area of the skull; mandibular as in mandible, or lower jaw; joint as in where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excess muscle tension. Aside from the two bones that meet there, cartilage buffers them, and five muscles are involved in the area. If something goes wrong a good deal of trouble can result.