Preventive Dentistry

Checkups

We highly recommend that you see a dentist at least twice a year for a check-up and cleaning. This allows us to find problems you may not be able to see or feel yourself. These regular check-ups prevent such problems from becoming a larger issue down the line. We can also detect the beginnings of tooth decay and provide a treatment plan to resolve it before it is too late, or harder to deal with. Patients with gum disease and patients who have a predisposition or tendency to get cavities or plaque buildup may require more frequent visits.

When you come to our practice for your routine visit, you will receive a cleaning; tooth polishing, and prevention and care instructions. The cleaning will remove any plaque buildup around your teeth, which gathers over time, especially in hard to brush or floss places. If not physically removed by a dentist or dental hygienist, plaque can lead to cavities or disease. Regular removal of this plaque is the only way to prevent later problems. While daily brushing and flossing are necessary, they just aren’t enough.

During your checkup, recommendations will be given based on your examination and any needed digital x-rays. Digital x-rays can help a dentist determine if there are any problem areas that need to be addressed and lets him see below the surface to anticipate issues. Your checkup is also the time to address any pain or problems you have been experiencing. Be honest with us about your issues with dry mouth, chewing, swallowing, sleeping, breathing, or other oral irregularities. The sooner these are addressed, the faster it can be taken care of.

Prophy (Cleanings)

Take advantage of your dental benefits and get regular teeth cleanings. Some plans have low or no copayments/coinsurance for dental cleanings and oral exams. You will be saving money in the long run and helping to protect your oral health and avoid costly and extensive procedures and the result will be a whiter, brighter smile!

Dental cleanings can remove built-up stains from coffee, tea, wine and tobacco and leave you with fresh breath and polished teeth.

Night Guards

A high percentage of our population grinds or clenches their teeth at night, often not even aware they are clenching or grinding. Bruxism (teeth grinding) is the third most common sleep disorder in both adults and children. People who clench their teeth often do it all day, without realizing it, and often experience no pain at all. Others can experience a variety of symptoms such as migraines, neck aches, gum recession, toothaches and facial pain.

Some may do this consciously during the day, but it is a larger problem at night while you sleep. Grinding your teeth can damage enamel, wear down teeth, cause jaw pain, or irritate your gums. The noise from teeth grinding can also disturb your spouse’s sleep if loud enough. 

If you grind your teeth you should consider a night guard. The night guard, which is very similar to a mouth guard worn by athletes, provides a barrier between your top and bottom teeth while you sleep. All night guards are custom fitted for comfort and to allow for proper breathing. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth and have the night guard created by a dental lab. Night guards are very durable and can be used for up to 10 years. 

There are also some things that you can do to try to stop teeth grinding. You can train your jaw to be free and easy rather than clenched. Refrain from chewing gum or on other objects like pens. You should also avoid alcoholic drinks and drinks with caffeine, as these can increase the likelihood you will grind your teeth. If you suspect you might be grinding your teeth at night set up an appointment with us today.

Reasons for a Check-Up

It isn’t always clear for parents to determine if their child requires an orthodontic solution. There are however, a few signs or habits that may indicate a need for a check-up, no matter the age:

    • Losing baby teeth at too early or late a time
    • Difficult when biting or chewing
    • Breathing through the mouth
    • Sucking on one’s finger
    • Sucking on one’s thumb
    • Jaws that shift or make noises
    • Misplaced, crowded or blocked out teeth
    • Teeth that do not meet or meet abnormally

  • Jaw and teeth out of proportion to the rest of the face
  • Biting of the roof of the mouth or the cheeks

If you are concerned that your child or teen may have any of the above symptoms, contact us today and schedule an orthodontic consultation.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry can help if you have stained, broken or uneven teeth. It is different from orthodontic treatment that straightens your teeth with braces or other orthodontic devices. Procedures for cosmetic dentistry include:

  • Bleaching to make teeth whiter
  • Repairing spots with fillings that match your teeth
  • Filling cavities with tooth-colored materials
  • Reshaping teeth to match the other teeth
  • Closing gaps between teeth
  • Covering broken teeth with porcelain crowns

Tooth-Colored Restorations

If a natural-looking smile is important to you, your dentist can now repair and restore your teeth with tooth-colored fillings, inlays, onlays, crowns and veneers that when placed look just like your teeth.

Most fillings back in the day were made with a metal mixture, leaving visible, dark colored spots on your teeth. These have been used for hundreds of years to treat tooth decay and fill in cavities. However, a more modern approach gives you a filling that mirrors your own teeth and feels more natural from day to day.

Also known as a dental filling, a tooth colored restoration is a way to help stop tooth decay from causing sufficient damage to warrant a tooth having to be pulled. It’s important that fillings are placed soon after detection of the decay to stop any further damage to the tooth and surrounding gums.

Made of a complex composite of plastic and zirconia/silica, tooth-colored restorations bond to your tooth, helping prevent any filling leaks or chances of any cracking or breaking of the tooth. Many patients feel more comfortable and confident with these tooth-colored restorations because they look and feel like your actual teeth. When you smile or open your mouth wide, you can barely notice the filling, if you can see it at all.

Tooth-colored restorations also function like your natural teeth and are ninety to ninety-five percent as strong as a healthy tooth whereas silver fillings are only forty to forty-five percent as strong. As you chew, talk, or feel the filling with your teeth, you will likely not notice a difference between the tooth with the filling and the surrounding teeth.

When your decayed tooth needs more than a filling but less than a crown to repair it, your dentist will use either an inlay or an onlay to bring your tooth back to a healthy state. In this case, there will be more of the composite material exposed on the surface of the tooth, making a natural-looking compound even more important.

Composite Inlays and Onlays

An onlay, on the other hand, extends beyond the rim of the cusp, going over the tooth cusp or involving more than one cusp. Onlays are used when the cavity or damage reaches one or more cusps of the tooth or teeth. This often involves reconstruction of the cusp, which has been worn or broken away.

If the cavity or tooth damage is more severe, effecting more than the area within the cusps or just beyond, it may be necessary to have a crown placed. However if it is confined, a less invasive onlay or inlay may be used.

Composite inlays and onlays are made of a combination of plastic and zirconia/silica, which is bonded to the tooth. They are tooth-colored in appearance and actually strengthen the structure of the tooth by up to seventy-five percent, and because of the composite materials from which they are made, they can last up to thirty years.

Unlike a traditional filling, inlays and onlays are created outside the mouth. Their shape is formed and hardened. Then it is adhered to the tooth, allowing precise shaping and design. Traditional fillings are placed in the tooth and then allowed to harden there. The other benefit of working outside the mouth first is that dentists can ensure that the composite used to create the inlay or onlay matches the color of your natural teeth. This gives a seamless transition between your teeth and the restoration, giving you a more comfortable, confident smile.

See Smile Gallery for an example of a combination of composite and veneer.

Dental Bonding

In a way, you can think of bonding as a simplified version of a veneer or a crown. Dental bonding may not be able to withstand the kind of abuse that a veneer or crown can, bonding is a versatile solution that works well in a variety of situations. Bonding improves the aesthetics of your teeth, as well as strengthens teeth when damaged or overly exposed.

Bonding is a process where tooth-colored resin material is used to repair chips and cracks on teeth as well as to change the shape of a tooth or to close gaps between teeth. It can also be used to repair a decayed tooth or to fully restore badly damaged teeth. It’s called bonding because the resin is literally bonded to the surface of the tooth. The resin that is used is matched closely with the color of your teeth so that it looks exactly like your natural teeth when the process is done. In this way, it’s a simple, comfortable solution for minor damage or discoloration to the teeth, restoring individual teeth to a natural look and feel.

The procedure typically takes from thirty to sixty minutes per tooth and begins with slightly roughening the surface of the tooth and applying a conditioning liquid. Then the putty-like resin is put on the tooth surface and molded to create the desired result. Once the tooth repair or correction is done, a special light is used to harden the resin and bond it to your tooth. Bonding materials usually last from three to ten years before needing to be touched up or replaced.

Dentists generally choose dental bonding for places with minor damage, especially on the front teeth. Because front teeth don’t experience as much direct pressure as molars, they are a good option for bonding, which tends to be just a bit weaker than other restoration options. Also, because it’s a minor process, it’s a good option for places of minor concern, where aesthetics are the greatest issue.

Enamel Shaping

Think of enamel shaping as the opposite of dental bonding. In much the same way, it’s a simple, quick, non-invasive option, which improves the look and feel of your teeth, and your overall smile. It doesn’t involve implants or surgery, just a quick reconstruction to bring more confidence to your smile.

Also known as contouring, enamel shaping is a process that can be used to fix minor problems in the shape or texture of your teeth such as small chips or pits in a tooth’s enamel or even irregular or uneven teeth. These small irregularities may bring you discomfort when your tongue, cheeks, or lips rub against them. They may also harbor plaque and tartar build up and be a haven for cavities. If visible from your smile, they may cause you to be less than satisfied with your smile.

During the enamel shaping process, your dentist will use a sanding disk or fine diamond burs to sand your tooth or teeth to remove any roughness or pits or to slightly reshape them. This is similar to the root planing or polishing procedures you are used to at every dental check up. Once your teeth are smoothed and/or reshaped, they will be polished to finish the process.

Because the process is simple and easy to get done, be sure to talk with your dentist about a chip or other irregularity that has been bothering you. You may find that enamel shaping is the quick solution you’ve been waiting for and you can start smiling just a bit wider and brighter.

Invisalign®

Invisalign® is essentially an invisible way to straighten your teeth without the use of traditional braces.  The Invisalign® system employs a series of clear, removable aligners that move your teeth, over time, to give you the smile you always dreamed of. Invisalign® is very versatile, helping to correct a wide range of dental and orthodontic issues such as over-crowded teeth, widely spaced teeth, overbite and underbite.  These situations can contribute to gum disease and wearing of teeth, as well as painful jaw and joint problems.

Veneers

If you aren’t happy with the look or feel of one or more of your teeth, veneers may be an option for you. Designed to mimic the enamel of a tooth, veneers are one of the most natural-looking options for teeth restoration.

When you think of a veneer, imagine wafer-thin shells. It’s small, thin, and in the shape of the surface of the tooth. Veneers are most often made from porcelain or ceramic. When ready to be placed, they are bonded to the front surface of a tooth to cover teeth that are discolored, stained, chipped, cracked or even misaligned or have gaps between them. In this way, they bring consistency and completeness to your smile.

The placement of veneers is a three-step process. Your dentist makes impressions of your teeth and then creates a mold of the way your teeth will look once the veneers are placed. The resulting mold is sent to a dental lab where the veneers are created for your individual teeth. Once the veneers are returned to your dentist’s office (typically in five to ten business days), your dentist uses a special cement to apply the veneer to your tooth or teeth. Once the veneer is placed and both you and your dentist are happy with the way it looks, a special light is used to harden the cement and permanently attach the veneer to your tooth.

Veneers are made in a tone and translucency that either matches your surrounding teeth or to whiten and improve the looks of your teeth. Veneers typically last for five to ten years and do not require any special care, just brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist.

See Smile Gallery for an example of a combination of composite and veneer.

Teeth Whitening

Everyone wants a brighter smile. If you’re noticing discoloration or a lack of brilliance that you want to see, bring it up at your next dental check up. Your dentist can help you determine if your teeth and gums are healthy enough and good candidates for teeth whitening. You can also work together to determine which whitening process will give you even, natural looking results.

If your dentist determines that teeth whitening is a good option for you, in-office whitening will give you almost immediate results. In-office teeth whitening or bleaching usually consists of the dentist applying a layer of protective gel over the gums, where they meet the teeth. A bleaching substance is then applied to the teeth and a light may be directed to shine on the teeth to speed up the process. Depending on the severity of the discoloration, the process may need to be repeated over a series of weeks. Some dentists may prescribe follow up teeth whitening trays and gels. Crafted by your dentist in office, these treatments can be done at home over the span of three days to two weeks.

Depending on the health of your teeth and the reason for the discoloration, teeth whitening or bleaching may not be best option for everyone. If the discoloration or stains on your teeth will not respond well to whitening, your dentist will have other options that will work best for you.

See Smile Gallery for an example of ZOOM in office whitening.

Orthodontics

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an initial orthodontic evaluation at the first sign of orthodontic problems, or no later than seven years of age.

At this young age, orthodontic treatment may not be vital, but close examination can determine the best time to begin orthodontic treatment.

It is never too late to have a complimentary consultation.

Full Mouth Rehabilitation

The need for full mouth rehabilitation may result from teeth that:

  • Were lost due to trauma or decay.
  • Were fractured or injured.
  • Have been severely eroded from bruxism (teeth grinding) or long-term acidic erosion (from acid reflux, food or beverage).


With full mouth rehabilitation, for site restoration, a bone grafting procedure is done to restore the jawbone to its previous shape. Restoring your facial bone structure is important for function and looks. Dental implants require the bone to be as close to its original measurements and position as possible. The jaw and facial bones support surrounding muscle and skin and without the support of that underlying bone, your face can look prematurely aged.

See Smile Gallery for an example of a Full Mouth Restoration.

Crowns and Bridges

Crowns and bridges are often permanent restoration options for damaged or diseased teeth. Unlike a denture, they often cannot be removed and are anchored to the teeth around them. When teeth are missing or are too far damaged they can not be easily fixed, bridges or crowns are necessary for both oral health and cosmetic purposes.

Crowns and bridges fill in gaps in your mouth. Without them, your teeth may have a tendency to shift and come out of alignment. Crowns and bridges keep your teeth in place and prevent potentially avoidable disease or damage.

Crowns and bridges also encourage brighter, more confident smiles, by filling gaps. Often made of a tooth colored compound, crowns and bridges are made to look like your surrounding teeth and keep your mouth as natural as possible.

A dental crown becomes necessary due to a weakened tooth because of decay or fracture. It can also be used for cosmetic purposes. A dental crown is placed by first grinding away the damaged or diseased tooth so that it is smaller. A crown or cap is then placed over the tooth and secured. This keeps your tooth from becoming further damaged or diseased and functions like a tooth, allowing you to continue with every day activities naturally and comfortably.

If you are missing one or more teeth, your dentist may suggest the use of a fixed bridge and dental crowns. Since the gap left by a missing tooth can cause the remaining teeth to shift or move, it is important for your oral health to replace the missing tooth or teeth, and fixed bridges are one of the solutions for doing so. Bridges consist of a pontic (artificial tooth) and crowns, which are ‘caps’ that go over the teeth on both sides of the bridge and serve as anchors to stabilize the bridge. Traditional bridges are usually made from porcelain fused to metal or ceramics.

Dental Implants

If a patient is finding that removable dentures are irritating or frustrating, dental implants can also be used to secure partial or full dentures. Instead of attaching an artificial tooth to the abutment, the dental plate or partial is fitted with an O-ring or Locator™ that snaps on to the abutment. This gives the dentures a semi-permanent, locked-into-place feeling.

Once the screw is placed, an abutment is fastened to the implanted screw and an artificial tooth is attached to the abutment that protrudes from the gum. Once the artificial tooth is placed on the abutment, it looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth. This is a great option for those who are concerned about the feeling of removable dentures, especially while eating or drinking. Because dental implants are designed to function like natural teeth, they allow patients to continue life as normal.

If a patient is finding that removable dentures are irritating or frustrating, dental implants can also be used to secure partial or full dentures. Instead of attaching an artificial tooth to the abutment, the dental plate or partial is fitted with an O-ring Locator™ that snaps on to the abutment. This gives the dentures a semi-permanent, locked-into-place feeling.

For a partial denture, as few as one implant may be needed and for full dentures, it will take two or more implants to securely hold the prosthesis in place. Your dentist can determine how many you will need and what will work best with your mouth and your lifestyle. Implant-supported partials or dentures function just like normal teeth, allowing you to bite and chew just as you did with your permanent teeth, but the dentures can still be removed for cleaning.

See Smile Gallery for an example of a Dental Implant.

Dentures

When you have several teeth missing from different areas of your upper or lower jaw, a partial denture can restore your biting and chewing abilities as well bring back a beautiful smile and retain the shape of your mouth. Partial dentures can be either fixed or removable and can be designed to use adjoining teeth as support or be secured by dental implants, which are titanium screws that are permanently placed in your jawbone. A full denture is needed if all of your teeth have been extracted, and the prosthesis that replaces your teeth, can be conventional removable dentures or implant-supported dentures.

See Smile Gallery for an example of Compete Overdenture Implant.

Removable Partial Dentures

If several teeth are missing in either your upper or lower jaw, a removable partial denture that is either supported by adjoining teeth or by an implant can be used to replace the missing teeth thus giving you the ability to chew more naturally, keep your remaining teeth from moving into the space left by the missing teeth, ensure proper jaw alignment and support the structure of your face.

Removable partial dentures are a secure, healthy option for patients who are missing a series of teeth somewhere in the mouth. Although removable, they are anchored in the mouth, making it easy for you to talk, eat, drink, and go about your every day life, with confidence.

However, because partial dentures are easily removed for brushing and cleaning, you can be sure you are keeping your surrounding teeth, gums, and mouth as healthy as possible. Take out your partial dentures to clean them and brush your teeth, and remove any food particles and then put it back in to maintain your confident smile. Your dentist will be able to recommend best practices for cleaning your dentures and which products will work best. Your dentist will also let you know how long you will need to wear the dentures per day.

A removable partial denture is either held in place by clasps that hook on to adjoining teeth or by securing to the abutment of a titanium screw that is implanted in your jawbone. Either option will require some practice on your part as you get used to taking your dentures out of your mouth and putting them back in. Have your dentist practice with you before you leave the office and then give yourself time at home to get used to it.

Complete Dentures

When all of your permanent teeth need to be extracted from either your upper or lower jaw because of decay, bone loss, periodontal disease or trauma, complete dentures are created to replace your missing teeth. Simulating your natural teeth, complete dentures will allow you to eat, drink and smile with confidence. Apart from small additions to your oral hygiene routine, dentures are a carefree dental option that allows you to get back to your regular life.

Your dentist may need to remove some of your teeth to prepare your mouth for complete dentures. After the extraction, you will receive a set of immediate dentures, so everyone goes home with teeth. Because your gums are likely to change during the healing process, these dentures may need to be adjusted or relined.

Over time, dentures can loosen because of the loss of gum tissue and jawbone that deteriorate when they no longer have tooth roots to keep them stimulated. Your dentist may recommend the use of dental products to keep them adhered to your gums. This will keep them in place and comfortable while you are eating and other every day activities.

An alternative to the adhering products is to have your dentures secured with implants that are placed in your jawbone and through a process called osseointegration take the place of a tooth root. Although your dentures will still be removable this allows you to secure them in place. Many patients find this to be a more comfortable option.

In either case, your dentures are easily removable for cleaning. Your dentist will discuss with you how best to clean your dentures. It’s important that you use the products they prescribe, particularly denture cleaners, rather than toothpaste. Although dentures are made to simulate your teeth, they are not made of the same substance and need to be treated differently.

See Smile Gallery for an example of Complete Dentures.

Periodontics (Gum Disease)

Preventive Periodontics or Periodontal Treatment

Periodontal Disease, or gum disease, is a serious infection in your gums that is mainly caused by bacterial plaque that is constantly forming on your teeth. When plaque isn’t removed by brushing, flossing and regular dental cleanings, it can turn to tartar—a hard substance that can only be removed by a dental office. When left in your mouth, plaque and tartar can cause inflammation of your gums, which can develop into infections below the gum line causing the gum to separate from your teeth creating pockets that become infected and can even fill with pus.

As the pockets deepen and the disease becomes more pronounced, bone and gum tissue are destroyed which can ultimately result in tooth loss. Periodontal disease is stealthy, usually giving no or very few signs of its existence. Regular dental checkups can detect periodontal disease at even its earliest stages. Since periodontal disease is created by plaque and tartar buildup on your gums, good dental hygiene is a must in preventing gum disease.

Along with good daily oral hygiene habits, regular visits to your dentist for checkups and professional cleanings involving scaling and root planing that will remove plaque or tartar buildup, will help keep your gums healthy and free of periodontal disease and infections.

Scaling and Root Planing

The key to oral health is regular cleaning and removal of plaque and tartar build up. This starts with daily oral hygiene routines, which includes brushing and flossing.

However, even with good daily oral hygiene, some plaque still remains in your mouth and over time it can harden and becomes tartar (also known as calculus). If tartar is left in your mouth, it will cause periodontal disease or gum disease. Tartar can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist with a process called ‘scaling’ where either ultrasound vibrations or a manual tool called a scaler are used to remove tartar from the portion of your tooth that is below the gum line. When you go in for regular cleanings, usually twice per year, your dentist will scale each tooth on all sides, and between the teeth, to remove tartar build up, especially in the most difficult places to reach. If you are particularly sensitive, your dentist may temporarily numb your teeth and gums so the cleaning process isn’t uncomfortably painful.

Since plaque and calculus love to grab onto rough surfaces of the tooth, once the built-up tartar has been removed from your tooth, the rough or irregular surfaces are smoothed away with a process called ‘root planing.’ This process is used to prevent periodontal disease, reverse any early signs of gum disease and to prevent any existing periodontal disease from spreading.

These common techniques are the first, most basic step in preventing periodontal disease. If you regularly keep your dental check up appointments, where the dentist uses scaling and root planning, you are likely not to need further, more invasive treatments.

Endodontics

The American Dental Association recognizes Endodontics as a specialty with the study and treatment of the dental pulp. We focus is on the care of the inner portion of the teeth. They perform root canals and treat diseases of the dental pulp and nerves inside the tooth. If the dental pulp becomes injured or diseased, endodontic treatment is required in order to save the tooth.

Root Canal Therapy

The space within the root of each of your teeth is called a ‘root canal,’ and within that canal there is dental pulp that consists of soft tissue, nerves and blood vessels. Tooth decay or trauma can cause damage to your dental pulp, which results in infection that if left untreated can spread to the bone around your tooth, resulting in the loss of the tooth. To save the tooth, your dentist will first remove the dental pulp and then the area that held the pulp is cleaned and shaped to hold a specialized filler material that will protect your tooth from any more infection and reduce any sensitivity of the tooth. Once the root canal is cleaned, filled and restored, your tooth is capped with a crown that protects the mended root canal and looks and functions like a normal tooth.

Oral Surgery

An oral surgeon focuses on injuries and defects related to the functional esthetics of the face, mouth, teeth and jaw area. Oral surgeons are the dental specialists you would find for dental concerns such as keeping teeth, overcoming congenital growth issues, controlling serious oral disease and treating trauma-related damage.

An important note, when surgery of the face is involved, a cosmetic dentist should also be consulted. Some patients may also wish to consult with a plastic surgeon.

Biomimetic Dentistry

When you hear the word Biomimetic, consider the two parts of the word – Bio meaning life and Mimic meaning to copy. Biomimetic dentistry is an alternative to many dentistry techniques in an effort to treat reconstructions as natural teeth and keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy. This approach considers the natural shape and structure of each tooth and makes determinations based on keeping it intact for the long-term. Again, consider the term biomimetic and remember that the field is an effort to mimic biology in every reconstruction.

Biomimetic dentistry tends to be less invasive than older, traditional models of dentistry. For instance, a dentist may look for alternative methods, such as bonding or veneers, rather than grinding down a tooth to place a crown. When invasive procedures, such as root canals, are unavoidable, biomimetic dentists strive to remove as little as possible, while maintaining the health of the tooth and comfort of the patient.
Biomimetic dentists keep in mind the goal during their procedures – to keep teeth looking, acting, and feeling like teeth. They let the function and aesthetics of the tooth drive their decisions.

Biomimetic dentists tend to be less invasive and save their patients money in the long run.

Laser Dentistry

Laser Dentistry uses an instrument called a laser that generates a very concentrated, narrow beam of light. As the laser is applied to the tissue, changes are brought about, thereby assisting in removing or reshaping the tissue, destroying bacteria, etc.

Lasers have been used in dentistry since 1990 and are a very useful treatment that is considered safe and effective for a large variety of dental procedures. The laser is often used in tandem with other dental instruments.

Here is a list of just some of the cases in which lasers can be used:

  • Helping expose a partially erupted wisdom tooth
  • Reducing discomfort cause by canker and cold sores
  • Removing excess muscle attachment that prevent proper mobility
  • Removing tissue for biopsy
  • Treating the gums in the case of gum disease
  • Reshaping or removing gum and bone tissue
  • During teeth whitening to help speed up the procedure

The benefits of using lasers include reducing the need for anesthesia and drills in some procedures. They are more precise and help reduce bacteria and bleeding during dental surgery.

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