X-RAYS X-rays produce a computer generated image using a special sensor, which allows the tooth and surrounding jawbone to be visualized. This gives the familiar black and white images that dentists use to diagnose problems. X-rays are a necessary part of the diagnostic process, and not utilizing them limits the dentist's ability to diagnose dental decay and loss of supporting jawbone supporting the tooth root.
In our office we use digital radiography, which allows us to take x-rays using significantly less radiation versus film based x-rays. Coupled with computer programs, digital x-ray technology allow us to enhance the images for better diagnosis of any dental concerns.
FILLINGS Fillings are placed within the tooth (intra-coronal) after the removal of dental decay. Currently most filled teeth are treated with bonded tooth colored composite resin fillings. Treated early enough, decay can be removed easily and filled with predictable results. If the decayed area becomes too deep, it can lead to tooth pain and/or infection, and the tooth would require additional treatment.
BONDING Bonding involves placing composite resin material that is shade matched to the visible surfaces of the tooth. These treatments are performed to repair damage to the tooth surface by decay, or to alter the alignment or size of the tooth, for cosmetic purposes.
SEALANTS Sealants are used to fill in narrow grooves in a tooth that cannot be adequately cleaned by brushing. Sealants are typically placed on molars when they first appear in adolescents and pre-adolescents to help protect the teeth until brushing techniques and diet are appropriate to help prevent decay. Sealants are placed without the use of a dental drill, and are recommended for all of our pediatric patients.
NON-SURGICAL GUM TREATMENTS The gums, fibers, and jawbone that surround the teeth roots form the foundation for the attachment of your teeth. Dentists also refer to these structures as the periodontium. When the periodontium is not healthy, it jeopardizes the teeth because supporting jawbone is lost.
Signs of unhealthy periodontium (gum disease) are as follows:
- gums that are red and bleed easily
- persistent bad breath
- gums that are pulled away from the tooth
- loose teeth
- changes in the position of teeth
With proper care, it is possible to return the periodontium to a healthy state. Treatment may involve a deep cleaning and root planing or a more frequent prophylaxis (cleaning) schedule. If the periodontium breakdown is too severe, it may need to be treated through surgery by referral to a gum specialist.
CROWNS Crowns are full coverage restorations that are used to cover a tooth that is weak and likely to break or is missing too much structure 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 area of decay or missing tooth structure, the more likely a crown will be needed. Even after a filling is used to restore a large area of decay, a tooth is more likely to break. Keep in mind that jaw muscles are strong, and teeth are subjected to tremendous pressure during use. Crowns cover the weakened tooth, providing strength and protecting the tooth against breakage.
It typically takes two appointments to restore a tooth with a crown. During the first appointment any decay is removed from the tooth and it is shaped to accept the crown. Then an impression is made of the tooth for use in fabricating a crown from the dental laboratory. Crowns are made of high-strength porcelain over a gold alloy, all ceramic material, or all gold. while the crown is at the laboratory, a temporaty crown is worn. During the second visit this temporary crown is removed. Then the permanent crown is adjusted as needed and then cemented in place.
Our office also has the newest crown fabrication technology know as E4D. This technology allow us to create beautiful and strong all porcelain crowns utilizing 3D scanning in a single appointment!
DENTURES There are different types of dentures, but they share their common function. They replace teeth that have been lost on an acrylic foundation, which rests on the gum tissue where the natural tooth use to be. Dentures are also know as removable bridges, and generally provide the most economical technique to replace missing teeth. Patients having problems with denture stability often find improvement when dental implants are incorporated into the denture for additional support.
IMPLANTS A dental implant is one of the best solutions to replace a missing tooth. The dental implant is a small titanium cylinder that is placed under the gum into the jawbone and serves as a supporting structure for a tooth replacement. This permanent solution has the advantages over the other tooth replacement treatments because it does not stress the surrounding teeth for its support.
Implants can also be used for support as part of an implant bridge. It is possible for two implants to support a fixed bridge of three or four teeth. In fact, a full removable denture can be replaced with a fixed bridge for an entire jaw with only five or six implants in some situations.
We also offer mini dental implants. These implants are about half the diameter of traditional implants and are used mainly to stabilize lower dentures. These implants can be placed in one appointment and be used immediately.
ROOT CANAL TREATMENT Root canal treatment (also known as endodontic therapy) is necessary when the pulp tissue, commonly known as the tooth nerve becomes diseased. This most often occurs when an area of decay progresses and becomes close to the pulp tissue causing an inflammation or infection. Sometimes deep restorations or trauma to a tooth may cause the nerve to be damaged as well. In these situations the pulp becomes diseased, and the infection can extend all the way through the root tip and begin to damage the surrounding jawbone. 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, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problem until a dental examination is performed.
When necessary, a root canal is performed to clean and disinfect the tooth root canals, then the canals are sealed in order to prevent any further infection. Usually a core build-up and crown is recommended for restoring a tooth that has had root canal therapy.
FIXED BRIDGES A fixed bridge is a common treatment option for replacing a missing tooth. Fixed bridgework is highly esthetic, and unlike removable dentures, they can not be removed from the mouth in normal use. The bridge uses surrounding teeth for support, by crowning them and attaching the missing teeth to those supporting tooth through the crown. Fixed bridges use the same materials used in crowns. The choice of material depends on the requirements for strength, and esthetics.
It is important that a missing tooth be replaced as soon as possible for several reasons. The missing tooth cannot be used for chewing, and if the missing tooth is visible there are esthetic concerns. If the missing tooth is not replaced the teeth surrounding the gap begin to shift inward. As this progresses, the bite changes in response. Over time this can result in problems with the entire jaw, and can result in the loss of additional teeth.
TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint. It refers to the temple area of the skull and the lower jaw where joined by its joints on each side. Additionally a cartilage capsule separates the top of jaw from the base of the skull and attached ligaments and muscles are involved in jaw function. Problems in these joints may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, excess muscle tension, stress, or soft tissue inflammation.
Problems in this area can cause:
- Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face
Dental treatments for the condition can include replacing missing teeth, orthodontic tooth repositioning, adjusting the bite, occlusal (bite) guards, physical therapy, or surgical treatments.