Regular dental check ups and cleanings are important for everyone. Even those that do a great job of maintaining good oral hygiene at home require regular dental visits. No matter how well be brush & floss bacteria ridden plaque and tartar attach to teeth and hide under the gums. If not removed plaque and tartar can cause major dental problems. Plaque and tartar cannot be removed without a professional dental cleaning. Regular dental exams and xrays are important so the dentist can identify dental disease in its infancy. Patients often say “well I’m not in pain” the issue with this statement is that by the time a person experiences dental pain the treatment needed is generally more involved and expensive.
There are two types of dental fillings: tooth colored fillings and silver (amalgam) fillings. Silver dental fillings currently are not used as often, but are still an option and indicated for certain situations. Most frequently a tooth that has a cavity is restored with a tooth colored filling. Cavities are caused by tooth decay as well as acid erosion. Fillings replace the tooth structure that is lost due to the cavity.
Periodontics is the discipline of dentistry pertaining to the gums. Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a bacterial infection that can result in damaged gums and ultimately, loss of teeth. Symptoms include bleeding during brushing, chronic bad breath, red and swollen gums, receding gum line, and loose or shifting teeth. When plaque builds up along the gum line, gums become inflamed and begin to pull away from the teeth. The early stages of gum disease are classified as gingivitis, and if caught early on, the effects of the disease can be reversed. Once the gums and bone begin to deteriorate, the damage is permanent and can only be managed, not cured, with professional treatment. Daily brushing and flossing can help prevent the onset of periodontal disease, but regular oral exams and cleanings are necessary to ensure that all plaque and tartar are removed from the teeth and that the signs of gum disease are caught before the damage is irreversible.
CROWNS, BRIDGES, AND VENEERS
A crown, sometimes called a cap, fits over a prepared tooth. Crowns provide a tooth with 360 degrees of protection. Most commonly crowns are indicated for teeth with large or multiple fillings, chipped or cracked teeth and teeth that have previously had root canals. Crowns are performed to stabilize and prolong the life of a tooth. A bridge is a treatment used to close a space where a tooth or multiple teeth have been lost. The simplest form of a bridge involves two teeth with a space in between them where a tooth was previously lost, in other words the bridge in this situation is two crowns attached by a false tooth (fills the space, thus replacing the missing tooth). Veneers are a cosmetic treatment generally performed on teeth in the “smile zone”. Veneers can improve shape, color as well as misalignment and spacing of teeth.
A dental implant is the artificial replacement of the root of a tooth. Implants are used to replace teeth and also to stabilize dentures. Implants used to replace teeth consist of three parts: the implant (replaces the root of the tooth), the abutment (acts as a “post” which the crown fits over) and the crown (fits over the abutment and gives the appearance of a natural tooth). Dental Implants are great option for replacing one or multiple missing teeth.
When teeth have been lost or need to be taken out due to gum disease and/or severe decay, our patients often ask how they can replace the tooth/teeth. Full dentures and partial dentures are a great economical solution for replacing missing teeth. Full dentures are the artificial/prosthetic replacement of an entire arch of teeth.Partial dentures are the artificial/prosthetic replacement of a few to several teeth in an arch.
Endodontics, a.k.a. a root canal is a treatment modality performed on a tooth that is infected or causing a patient tooth pain. The root canal is a procedure where the infection is controlled by removing the nerve of the tooth, medicating and sealing off the tooth. This is the process of removing a tooth or to pull a tooth out. Teeth are taken out for many reasons including: tooth pain, severe gum disease (loose tooth), severe decay, cracked teeth, infected teeth, etc. Extactions fall under the oral surgery discipline. Wisdom teeth are often extracted for many different reasons.
A chipped tooth often requires bonding. Bonding is the use of a tooth colored filling to improve the appearance of a tooth. Bonding is also done to close small spaces, seal off areas of teeth where gum recession has occurred, and cover stained teeth.
TEETH GRINDING (BRUXISM)
Many people grind their teeth while they are sleeping and evening during the day during daily activities. If a teeth grinding habit is not addressed a patient will wear down the enamel of the teeth leading to increased tooth sensitivity. Teeth Griding is often treated with was is known as a “night guard” or bruxism splint.
Young children are often afraid of the dentist. Dental anxiety is most common among patients who had negative dental experiences during their childhood. Special care is taken to make sure a child’s experience at the dentist is positive.