Examination and Diagnosis
The examination is the discovery and evaluation of any disease or abnormality that can effect you health. This is the first step of dental care. The examination includes:
Review of your health and dental history.
Screening for oral cancer and other diseases.
Visual and tactile exploring of the oral structures to detect dental decay, periodontal disease, and other abnormalities.
Xray examination is used to find any diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues that otherwise cannot be seen. This can be in the form of intra-oral digital xrays, panoramic digital xray, or 3D Conebeam CT. It can detect damage to oral structures not visible during a regular exam. If you have a hidden tumor, radiographs may even help save your life. An X-ray examination may reveal: areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings); infections in the bone; periodontal (gum) disease; abscesses or cysts; developmental abnormalities; and some types of tumors.
Evaluation of temporal-mandibular joint (TMJ) and the surrounding muscles and tissues which may include biometric analysis.
Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and unnecessary discomfort.
Prevention is the best medicine! Our primary preventive treatments are cleanings, fluoride, and sealants.
Teeth cleanings (or dental prophylaxis) is highly recommended on a regular basis -- for the routine cases, every six months. The cleanings involve the removal of buildups of plaque, tartar (calculus), stain, and other debris. If left in place, these irritants can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, an unsightly smile, bad breath, and other problems. Scaling involves the removal of the tartar with sharp instruments or ultrasonic scaling devices placed on the teeth and slightly under the gums. Then using a rubber cup on a dental handpiece, a sand-like abrasive polishing paste removes stain and plaque. The hygenist will throughly floss all the teeth. Sometimes, a medicated rinse is used to further eliminate bacteria in the mouth or desensitize teeth. Regular visits with the hygienist combined with recommended homecare of brushing and flossing will leave you with a healthy mouth, fresh breath, and dazzling smile.
Fluoride is naturally occurring element. It is found in rock, soil, air and all vegetation because fluoride is a naturally abundant substance in the earth's crust. Fluoride is nature's answer to tooth decay.
Fluoride helps prevent cavities when fluoride makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay. Fluoride will combine into the tooth structure to make enamel more resistant to acid attack. Fluoride is toxic to bacteria by stopping the bacteria from producing the acids that cause tooth decay Fluoride use can also encourage remineralization or replace minerals in the tooth surfaces that have been demineralized or broken down by bacterially produced acids which can help in repairing early decay or damage before it causes a cavity. Fluoride reduces enamel solubility. This process of incorporating minerals such as fluoride and calcium into the teeth can also help decrease tooth sensitivity.
A fluoride gel or foam will be applied to your teeth. The fluoride treatment will take about 1 to 4 minutes. The dental hygienist will probably tell you not to eat or drink anything (including water) for 30 minutes after the fluoride treatment.
A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth—premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.
Thorough brushing and flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from the smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by "sealing out" plaque and food.
Sealants are easy for your dental team to apply, and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then 'painted' onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. A special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
When a tooth loses most of its natural tooth structure, you may need a crown to cover a tooth and restore it to its normal shape and size. A crown can make your tooth stronger and improve its appearance.
It can cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn't enough tooth left. It can be used to attach a bridge, protect a weak tooth from breaking or restore one that's already broken. A crown is a good way to cover teeth that are discolored or badly shaped. It's also used to cover a dental implant.
If we recommends a crown, it's probably to correct one of these conditions. Our primary concern, like yours, is helping you keep your teeth healthy and your smile bright -- literally, your crowning glory.
A bridge is a dental appliance that replaces one or more natural missing teeth, thereby "bridging" the space between two teeth. Fixed bridges are cemented into place on the abutment teeth (the surrounding teeth on either side of the space) with the pontics (the false teeth) between them. Unlike removable partial dentures, fixed bridges cannot be taken out of the mouth by the patient.
Fixed bridges not only replace missing teeth but also correct an altered bite, improve your chewing ability and speech, safeguard your appearance, and prevent the collapse of your facial features that can cause premature wrinkles and age lines.
If left unfilled, this space can cause the surrounding teeth to drift out of position and can cause teeth and gums to become more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease that can cause further tooth loss.
If you've lost some or all of your natural teeth, whether from periodontal disease, tooth decay or injury, dentures can replace your missing teeth and your smile. Replacing missing teeth will benefit your appearance and your health. Without support from the denture, facial muscles sag,making a person look older. You'll be able to eat and speak—things that people often take for granted until their natural teeth are lost.
There are various types of dentures. Removable partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which are connected by metal framework. The partial is held in place by clasping the remaining teeth with metal arms or by attachment devices such as o-rings or precision attachments. A conventional full denture is made and placed in the patient's mouth after the remaining teeth are removed and tissues have healed which may take several months. The denture stays in place by suction and/or denture adhesive. An immediate complete denture is inserted as soon as the remaining teeth are removed. The dentist takes measurement and makes models of the patient's jaws during preliminary visits. With immediate dentures, the denture wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period.
A variety of oral surgery procedures are available from our office; however extractions of teeth are the most common surgery performed. Extraction involves the complete removal of a tooth from the mouth. Some extractions may require cutting into the gums and removing supporting bone and/or cutting the tooth into sections prior to removal.
One of our main goals is the prevention of tooth loss. All possible measures are taken to preserve and maintain your teeth because the loss of a single tooth can have a major impact upon your dental health, speech, biting, chewing and appearance.
However, it is still sometimes necessary to remove a tooth. Here are some of the reasons a tooth may need to be extracted:
For your comfort, we utilize local anesthetics and nitrous oxide sedation. If intravenous sedation or general anesthsia is necessary, then we refer to oral surgeons.
Periodontal (Gum) Therapy
Periodontal diseases (also known as gum diseases) are infections of the gum and bone that hold the teeth in place. If left untreated, periodontal disease are progressive and may lead to tooth loss. It is often painless. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque, an almost invisible film of bacteria clinging to the teeth and gums, creating chronic inflammation and infection which destroys the supporting bone and gum tissue attachment. The unremoved plaque can harden to form tartar (or calculus). The only way to limit the disease-causing effects of tartar is to have your teeth cleaned regularly by the hygienist.
The best treatment is prevention. If gum disease is diagnosed, the treatment depends on how far the condition has progressed and how well your body responds to therapy over time. Scaling and root planing is provided here in our office which may be combined with laser treatment. The advanced cases may require periodontal surgery. Although some minor periodontal surgery is offered in our office, most extensive situations are referred for treatment to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in the treatment of periodontal disease.
Composite resin fillings are a mixture of powdered glass and plastic resin, and can be made to resemble the appearance of the natural tooth. They are strong, durable and cosmetically superior to silver or dark grey colored amalgam fillings. The composite resins are light-cured photopolymers. Once the composite hardens completely, the filling can then be polished to achieve maximum aesthetic results.
Besides the aesthetic advantage of composite fillings over amalgam fillings, the preparation of composite fillings requires less removal of tooth structure to achieve adequate strength. This is because composite resins bind to enamel and dentin via a micromechanical bond. Conservation of tooth structure is a key ingredient in tooth preservation.
Root Canal Therapy
Underneath your tooth's outer enamel and within the dentin is an area of soft tissue called the pulp, which carries the tooth's nerves, veins, arteries and lymph vessels. Root canals are very small, thin divisions that branch off from the top pulp chamber down to the tip of the root. A tooth has from one to four root canals.
When the pulp becomes infected due to a deep cavity or fracture that allows bacteria to seep in, or injury due to trauma, it can die. Damaged or dead pulp causes increased blood flow and cellular activity, and pressure cannot be relieved from inside the tooth. Pain in the tooth is commonly felt when biting down, chewing on it and applying hot or cold foods and drinks.
Because the tooth will not heal by itself without treatment, the infection will spread, bone around the tooth will begin to degenerate, and the tooth may fall-out. Pain usually worsens until one is forced to seek emergency dental attention. The only alternative is usually extraction of the tooth, which can cause surrounding teeth to shift crookedly, resulting in a bad bite. Though an extraction is cheaper, the space left behind will require an implant or a bridge, which can be more expensive than root canal therapy. If you have the choice, it's always best to keep your original teeth.
A root canal is a procedure done to save the tooth by cleaning out the diseased pulp and reshaping the canal. The canal is filled with gutta percha, a rubberlike material, to prevent recontamination of the tooth. The tooth is then permanently sealed with possibly a post and/or a porcelain crown. This enables patients to keep the original tooth.