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Preventive Dentistry

Preventive Dentistry

Preventive dentistry involves any dental procedures or protocols that attempt to preserve oral hard tissues (teeth) and soft tissues (gums) in good health. Common examples of preventive dentistry include regular checkups, regular cleanings, fluoride treatment and fissure sealants.

We check for signs of dental disease (like cavities and gingivitis) but can also search for risk factors which may lead to dental disease. For example, a dry mouth puts you at higher risk of getting cavities. Additionally, we check for signs of oral cancer.

Regular Exams

Regular dental exams are an important part of preventive health care. During a dental exam, we clean your teeth and identify gum inflammation or bone loss. We will evaluate your risk of developing tooth decay and other oral health problems, as well as check your face, neck and mouth for abnormalities. A dental exam often includes dental X-rays or other diagnostic procedures.

During a dental exam, we will likely discuss your diet and oral hygiene habits and might demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques. Other topics for discussion during a dental exam might include:

  • Any medications you’re taking
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Consequences of tooth loss
  • Benefits of crowns, fixed bridges or dental implants
  • Use of dentures
  • Cosmetic procedures

A dental exam also gives you the opportunity to ask questions about oral health.

What your Teeth & Gums say about your Cardiac Health

Cardiologists might not check your teeth and gums, but maybe they should.  Gum disease has been linked to a number of whole-body health problems, including heart and respiratory diseases, stroke and osteoporosis.  The plaque that builds up between your teeth is very different than the plaque that builds up in your arteries.  However, toxins in the mouth can stimulate a chronic inflammatory response linked to heart disease and other conditions.  Poor brushing and flossing can play a big part in your risk of a heart attack.

Treating gum disease actually leads to healthier arteries – not just because it targets those damaging toxins, but also perhaps because managing inflammation in the mouth can reduce other inflammatory-related health issues.

Oral Cancer Screenings

We recommend an oral exam during your routine dental visit to screen for oral cancer. During an oral exam, we look over the inside of your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores and check for lumps or other abnormalities.  See additional recommendations and video:  American Dental Association Oral Cancer Protocol.

Professional Dental Cleanings

Teeth cleaning (also known as a prophylaxis, literally a preventative treatment of a disease) is a procedure for the removal of  tartar (mineralized plaque) that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing, especially in areas that are difficult to reach in routine toothbrushing.  Professional cleaning includes tooth scaling and tooth polishing and debridement if too much tartar has accumulated. This involves the use of various instruments or devices to loosen and remove deposits from the teeth.

Most dentists recommend having the teeth professionally cleaned every six months. More frequent cleaning and examination may be necessary during treatment of dental and other oral disorders.  This may dental x-rays.

Good oral hygiene helps to prevent cavities, tartar build-up, and gum disease.

See additional recommendations and video:  American Dental Association Flossing Protocol.

Dental X-rays

Dental X-rays are a useful diagnostic tool when helping us detect damage and disease not visible during a regular dental exam. How often X-rays should be taken depends on your present oral health, your age, your risk for disease, and any signs and symptoms of oral disease. For example, children may require X-rays more often than adults because their teeth and jaws are still developing and their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults. Your dentist will review your history, examine your mouth and then decide whether or not you need X-rays.  See additional recommendations and video: American Dental Association X-ray Protocol.

Dental Sealants

A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) — to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.

Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth to remove the food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by “sealing out” plaque and food.

Because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are obvious candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.

In some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child’s baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it is important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.

Applying sealant is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant to seal each tooth. The application steps are as follows:

  1. First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
  2. Each tooth is then dried and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
  3. An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
  4. The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
  5. Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.

Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. We can replace sealants as necessary.

Many insurance companies cover the cost of sealants. Check with your dental insurance carrier to determine if sealants are covered under your plan. See additional recommendations and video: American Dental Association Dental Sealant Protocol.

Custom Night Guards (when teeth grinding is a concern)

Mouth guards are coverings worn over teeth, and often used to protect teeth from injury from teeth grinding and during sports.

There are three types of mouth guards:

  1. Stock mouth protectors are preformed and come ready to wear. They are inexpensive and can be bought at most sporting good stores and department stores. However, little can be done to adjust their fit, they are bulky, make breathing and talking difficult, and they provide little or no protection. Dentists do not recommend their use.
  2. Boil and bite mouth protectors also can be bought at many sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. The “boil and bite” mouth guard is made from thermoplastic material. It is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure.
  3. Custom-fitted mouth protectors are individually designed and made in a dental office or a professional laboratory based on your dentist’s instructions. First, we will make an impression of your teeth and a mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material. Due to the use of the special material and because of the extra time and work involved, this custom-made mouth guard is more expensive than the other types, but it provides the most comfort and protection.

Generally, mouth guards cover your upper teeth only, but in some instances (such as if you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw), your dentist will make a mouth guard for the lower teeth as well. Your dentist can suggest the best mouth guard for you. An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict your breathing or speech.

If you grind your teeth at night, a special mouth guard-type of dental appliance — called a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint — may be created to prevent tooth damage.  See additional recommendations and video:  American Dental Association Custom Mouth Protectors.

Restorative Dentistry

Restorative Dentistry

The term “restorative dentistry”  refers to the integrated management of oral health problems and restoring the mouth to a functional and esthetic state.

The goal is to preserve natural teeth as much as possible . Replacing missing teeth with a dental implant, bridge, full or partial denture helps promote dental health as well. Filling in empty spaces in the mouth can help prevent cavities in the remaining teeth because odd-shaped gaps are vulnerable spots for plaque-causing bacteria to build up. Missing teeth also put extra stress on your remaining natural teeth because you don’t have as much surface area to chew with.

Some common procedures to repair, improve and enhance your teeth and oral health:

  • Composite Fillings Tooth-colored fillings that are designed to match the color of your teeth are called composites. Composites are a mixture of glass or quartz filler that provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size restorations that need to withstand moderate pressure from chewing. They are generally used on either front or back teeth.  See American Dental Association video: Composite Fillings.
  • Metal (Amalgam) Fillings Dental amalgam (metal fillings) has been used by dentists for more than a century and is the most thoroughly researched and tested restorative material among all those in use. It is durable, easy to use, highly resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive in comparison to other materials. For those reasons, it remains a valued treatment option for dentists and their patients.Dental amalgam is a stable alloy made by combining elemental mercury, silver, tin, copper and possibly other metallic elements. Although dental amalgam continues to be a safe, commonly used restorative material, some concern has been raised because of its mercury content. However, the mercury in amalgam combines with other metals to render it stable and safe for use in filling teeth.While questions have arisen about the safety of dental amalgam relating to its mercury content, the major U.S. and international scientific and health bodies, including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, among others, have been satisfied that dental amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material.Because amalgam fillings can withstand very high chewing loads, they are particularly useful for restoring molars in the back of the mouth where chewing load is greatest. They are also useful in areas where a cavity preparation is difficult to keep dry during the filling replacement, such as in deep fillings below the gum line. Amalgam fillings, like other filling materials, are considered bio-compatible—they are well tolerated by patients with only rare occurrences of allergic response. Disadvantages of amalgam include possible short-term sensitivity to hot or cold after the filling is placed. The silver-colored filling is not as natural looking as one that is tooth-colored, especially when the restoration is near the front of the mouth, and shows when the patient laughs or speaks. And to prepare the tooth, the dentist may need to remove more tooth structure to accommodate an amalgam filling than for other types of fillings.
  • Porcelain Crowns A crown is a good way to cover teeth that are discolored or badly shaped. It’s also used to cover a dental implant. See American Dental Association video: Porcelain Crowns.
  • Bridges If you’re missing one or more teeth, you may notice a difference in chewing and speaking. Bridges can help restore your smile.  See American Dental Association video: Dental Bridges.
  • Dental Implants If you are self-conscious because you have missing teeth, wear dentures that are uncomfortable or don’t want to have good tooth structure removed to make a bridge, talk to us to see if dental implants are an option for you. Dental implants are a popular and effective way to replace missing teeth and are designed to blend in with your other teeth. They are an excellent long-term option for restoring your smile. In fact, the development and use of implants is one of the biggest advances in dentistry in the past 40 years. Dental implants are made up of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body. They are posts that are surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw, where they function as a sturdy anchor for replacement teeth. Most patients find that a dental implant is secure, stable and a good replacement for their own tooth. There are generally three phases to getting an implant:
    • First, the implant is  surgically placed into the jawbone. We may recommend a diet of soft foods, cold foods and warm soup during the healing process.
    • Next, the bone around the implant heals in a process called osseointegration. What makes an implant so strong is that the bone actually grows around it and holds it in place. Osseointegration means “combines with the bone” and takes time. Some patients might need to wait until the implant is completely integrated, up to several months, before replacement teeth can be attached to the implant. Other patients can have the implants and replacement teeth placed all in one visit.
    • Finally, it’s time for the placement of the artificial tooth/teeth. For a single tooth implant, we will customize a new tooth for you, called a dental crown. The crown will be based on size, shape, color and fit, and will be designed to blend in with your other teeth. If you are replacing more than a single tooth, custom-made bridges or dentures will be made to fit your mouth and your implants. (Note: The replacement teeth usually take some time to make. In the meantime, your dentist may give you a temporary crown, bridge or denture to help you eat and speak normally until the permanent replacement is ready.)

    If you are interested in dental implants, it’s a good idea to discuss it carefully with us first. If you are in good general health this treatment may be an option for you. In fact, your health is more of a factor than your age. You may be medically evaluated by a physician before any implant surgery is scheduled.

    Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or leukemia, may interfere with healing after surgery. Patients with these issues may not be good candidates for implants. Using tobacco can also slow healing.

  • Dentures – When you lose all of your teeth, facial muscles can sag, making you look older. Dentures can help fill out the appearance of your face and profile. They can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth so that your appearance does not change much. Dentures may even improve the look of your smile. See American Dental Association video: Dentures.
  • Removable Partial Dentures Removable partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which are connected by metal framework. Removable partial dentures attach to your natural teeth with metal clasps or devices called precision attachments. Precision attachments are generally more esthetic than metal clasps and they are nearly invisible. Crowns on your natural teeth may improve the fit of a removable partial denture and they are usually required with attachments. Dentures with precision attachments generally cost more than those with metal clasps. Consult us to find out which type is right for you.
  • Root Canals Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp (soft tissue inside your teeth containing blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue) becomes inflamed or diseased.  Causes include:  a deep cavity, repeated dental procedures, a cracked or broken tooth, injury to the tooth (even if there’s not a visible crack or chip).  See American Dental Association video:  Root Canals.
Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic Dentistry

A beautiful smile is impossible to ignore. Veneers cover chips, gaps in teeth, stains, awkwardly positioned teeth and more with a polished, natural look.

While traditional dentistry focuses on oral hygiene and preventing, diagnosing and treating oral disease, cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the appearance of a person’s teeth, mouth and smile. In other words restorative, general and/or family dental practices address dental problems that require necessary treatment, whereas cosmetic dentistry provides elective – or desired – treatments or services.

Cosmetic dentistry may also provide restorative benefits. For example, dental fillings are a common procedure used to treat decayed teeth. Previously, most dental fillings were composed primarily of gold, amalgam and other materials that left visible dark spots on the teeth.

Today, dental fillings may fall into the category of cosmetic dentistry, because you can select fillings made of porcelain or composite materials that closely match the color of your teeth, thus maintaining the natural appearance of your teeth and smile. Many people may choose to have their older fillings replaced with newer, tooth-colored fillings to enhance their oral appearance.

Get ready to receive compliments on your smile – not your dentistry.

Some common procedures used in Cosmetic & Restorative Dental Practices:

  • Teeth Whitening – Correct discoloring that has occurred because of external or hereditary factors. There are many methods of whitening. We use custom-made bleaching trays that you take home. For just a few minutes each week, you can have a brighter smile. See American Dental Association video: Whitening.
  • Porcelain Veneers – Take care of gaps and stains, as well as malformed or crooked teeth with these thin, custom-made shells that cover the front side of teeth.  They are an option for correcting stained, chipped, decayed or crooked teeth. See American Dental Association video:  Veneers.
  • Inlays & Onlays – Inlays and Onlays are larger than fillings but preserve more tooth structure than crowns.
  • Dentures – When you lose all of your teeth, facial muscles can sag, making you look older. Dentures can help fill out the appearance of your face and profile. They can be made to closely resemble your natural teeth so that your appearance does not change much. Dentures may even improve the look of your smile. See American Dental Association video: Dentures.
  • Removable Partial Dentures – Removable partial dentures usually consist of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which are connected by metal framework. Removable partial dentures attach to your natural teeth with metal clasps or devices called precision attachments. Precision attachments are generally more esthetic than metal clasps and they are nearly invisible. Crowns on your natural teeth may improve the fit of a removable partial denture and they are usually required with attachments. Dentures with precision attachments generally cost more than those with metal clasps. Consult us to find out which type is right for you.
  • Bridges If you’re missing one or more teeth, you may notice a difference in chewing and speaking. Bridges can help restore your smile.  See American Dental Association video: Dental Bridges.
  • Dental Implants If you are self-conscious because you have missing teeth, wear dentures that are uncomfortable or don’t want to have good tooth structure removed to make a bridge, talk to us to see if dental implants are an option for you. Dental implants are a popular and effective way to replace missing teeth and are designed to blend in with your other teeth. They are an excellent long-term option for restoring your smile. In fact, the development and use of implants is one of the biggest advances in dentistry in the past 40 years. Dental implants are made up of titanium and other materials that are compatible with the human body. They are posts that are surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw, where they function as a sturdy anchor for replacement teeth. Most patients find that a dental implant is secure, stable and a good replacement for their own tooth. There are generally three phases to getting an implant:
    • First, the implant is  surgically placed into the jawbone. We may recommend a diet of soft foods, cold foods and warm soup during the healing process.
    • Next, the bone around the implant heals in a process called osseointegration. What makes an implant so strong is that the bone actually grows around it and holds it in place. Osseointegration means “combines with the bone” and takes time. Some patients might need to wait until the implant is completely integrated, up to several months, before replacement teeth can be attached to the implant. Other patients can have the implants and replacement teeth placed all in one visit.
    • Finally, it’s time for the placement of the artificial tooth/teeth. For a single tooth implant, we will customize a new tooth for you, called a dental crown. The crown will be based on size, shape, color and fit, and will be designed to blend in with your other teeth. If you are replacing more than a single tooth, custom-made bridges or dentures will be made to fit your mouth and your implants. (Note: The replacement teeth usually take some time to make. In the meantime, your dentist may give you a temporary crown, bridge or denture to help you eat and speak normally until the permanent replacement is ready.) If you are interested in dental implants, it’s a good idea to discuss it carefully with us first. If you are in good general health this treatment may be an option for you. In fact, your health is more of a factor than your age. You may be medically evaluated by a physician before any implant surgery is scheduled.
Children's Dentistry

Children’s Dentistry

We strongly feel that proper dental care is essential for giving children the proper foundation for a healthy life, from childhood through adolescence and beyond. Of course, teaching children positive dental habits is vital. It is best to get them accustomed to the dentist at an early age, so as to avoid any apprehension later in life.

There are many other benefits to seeing a dentist within the first years of life:

  • The First Visit – within 6 months of their first tooth, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
  • Sealants and fluoride treatments – to help prevent cavities
  • Custom mouth guards – to protect during sports

See recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry:  Educational Brochure

Dental Sealants

A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) — to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.

Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth to remove the food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by “sealing out” plaque and food.

Because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are obvious candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.

In some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child’s baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it is important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.

Applying sealant is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant to seal each tooth. The application steps are as follows:

  1. First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
  2. Each tooth is then dried and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
  3. An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
  4. The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
  5. Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.

Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. We can replace sealants as necessary.

Many insurance companies cover the cost of sealants. Check with your dental insurance carrier to determine if sealants are covered under your plan. See additional recommendations and video: American Dental Association Dental Sealant Protocol.

Custom Night Guards (when teeth grinding is a concern)

Mouth guards are coverings worn over teeth, and often used to protect teeth from injury from teeth grinding and during sports.

There are three types of mouth guards:

  1. Stock mouth protectors are preformed and come ready to wear. They are inexpensive and can be bought at most sporting good stores and department stores. However, little can be done to adjust their fit, they are bulky, make breathing and talking difficult, and they provide little or no protection. Dentists do not recommend their use.
  2. Boil and bite mouth protectors also can be bought at many sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. The “boil and bite” mouth guard is made from thermoplastic material. It is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure.
  3. Custom-fitted mouth protectors are individually designed and made in a dental office or a professional laboratory based on your dentist’s instructions. First, we will make an impression of your teeth and a mouth guard is then molded over the model using a special material. Due to the use of the special material and because of the extra time and work involved, this custom-made mouth guard is more expensive than the other types, but it provides the most comfort and protection.

Generally, mouth guards cover your upper teeth only, but in some instances (such as if you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw), your dentist will make a mouth guard for the lower teeth as well. Your dentist can suggest the best mouth guard for you. An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict your breathing or speech.

If you grind your teeth at night, a special mouth guard-type of dental appliance — called a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint — may be created to prevent tooth damage.  See additional recommendations and video:  American Dental Association Custom Mouth Protectors.