The secret to a bright, healthy smile is actually no secret at all: brush, floss and get a professional dental exam at least once every six months. Professional dental exams are all about prevention – preventing existing problems from getting worse and preventing dental problems from developing in the future. Regular dental exams make it possible to identify and treat a problem in its earliest stage – which is not only good for your oral health but also good for your budget!
There's nothing to fear with a dental exam. Your teeth will be visually examined for signs of plaque, tartar and tooth decay. Your gums will also be examined for puffiness or discoloration, which are signs of gum disease. A full set of dental X-rays may also be taken during your dental exam, to enable your dentist to see below the surfaces of your teeth. Dental exams typically end with a dental cleaning, to remove surface stains and buildup.
No matter how often you brush and floss, plaque and tartar deposits can still build up on your teeth. A professional teeth cleaning is the single most effective way to remove these deposits and prevent them from causing more serious problems in the future. While a traditional teeth cleaning involves manually scraping away these deposits with special dental tools, advances in dental technologies now give you more options for teeth cleanings.
A laser teeth cleaning, also known as an ultrasonic cleaning, is a popular alternative to traditional teeth cleanings. With a laser teeth cleaning, an ultrasonic scaler (rather than a manual probe) is used to remove deposits, kill harmful microbes and eliminate bacteria around the teeth and gums through high-frequency sound waves. Many patients find laser teeth cleanings more comfortable than traditional teeth cleanings because they are quicker, quieter and pain-free.
A deep cleaning may be recommended if excessive plaque and tartar deposits have developed below the gum line. Deep cleanings, also known as scaling and root planing, involve a two-part process: first, the stubborn deposits are removed, and then the root surfaces are smoothened. A deep cleaning helps prevent periodontal disease and restores gum tissues to a healthy state.
Digital Dental X-Rays
Dental X-rays have come a long way. Todays dental X-rays are safer, faster, more comfortable and more informative than the X-rays of years past. Digital X-rays, one of the latest and most advanced dental technologies, produce high-quality images of your teeth that can be viewed instantly by you and your dentist on a LCD monitor. Digital X-rays reduce radiation by up to 90% and provide exceptional diagnostic information to ensure that potential problems are caught in their earliest stages. Intraoral photography is another alternative to traditional dental X-rays. With intraoral photography, problems such as cavities, fractures and discolorations in the teeth are captured through clear and sharp photographic images that are taken with a 35mm or digital camera.
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer affects nearly 35,000 Americans every year. The keys to surviving oral cancer are early detection and early treatment. This starts with a regular oral cancer screening – at least once every six months. An oral cancer screening takes just minutes, is pain-free and can be performed during regular dental exams. If you are male, a regular oral cancer screening is especially critical: Oral cancer is more than twice as common in men as it is in women. Other people at high risk of oral cancer include people over the age of 60, tobacco smokers and heavy drinkers.
If your silver fillings make you feel self conscious when you smile, or it's simply time to replace them, consider white fillings. White fillings are just as durable as they are attractive! Made of composite resin, white fillings match the natural color of your teeth and are an excellent option for small to mid-sized cavities. White fillings are strong, stain-resistant and require less removal of your tooth structure than amalgam fillings.
Porcelain Dental Crowns
Although dental crowns can be made of a variety of materials, including stainless steel, gold and silver, nothing looks better than a porcelain dental crown. Porcelain dental crowns match the natural color of your teeth and are virtually undetectable by the naked eye. And because they're metal-free, porcelain dental crowns are an excellent option for patients with metal allergies. Best of all, porcelain crowns don't just look beautiful – they're long-lasting, too!
Gum Disease Treatment
Red, swollen gums are a red flag for one thing: gum disease. If you have the symptoms, you're not alone. More than 80% of adults have some form of gum disease. Fortunately, there are many effective and pain-free gum disease treatments. For gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease, treatment typically involves a thorough dental cleaning, followed by daily brushing and flossing. Advanced gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, requires scaling and root planing to remove stubborn deposits below the gum line. Laser gum surgery, a new alternative to scaling and root planing, uses beams of high-speed light to remove plaque and tartar buildup. If non-surgical methods of gum disease treatment are ineffective, a gingivectomy, or periodontal surgery, may be necessary.
Tooth extractions are routine dental treatments that help prevent more serious dental problems. The most common tooth extractions are usually wisdom tooth extractions, but your dentist may also remove a tooth if it's coming in at an angle, threatening the position of other healthy teeth or contributing to overcrowding in the mouth.
In some cases, a broken tooth may also need to be extracted, as well as teeth with significant tooth decay that cannot be treated by a root canal. Patients with advanced gum disease may be considered for tooth extractions as well. While it's our goal to do everything to save your natural tooth, in the end, removing a potentially harmful tooth can spare you time, money and discomfort.
Want to know one excellent way to combat the bothersome habit of nighttime bruxism, or teeth grinding? Use of a night guard - every time you sleep. If you think the trouble or expense of a dental night guard isn't worth it, or you aren't even entirely sure it's tooth-grinding behind what seem to be increasingly shorter teeth, headaches, jaw pain and a perturbed sleep partner, it's probably time to visit your dentist. Based on the amount of damage you may have already done and the symptoms you describe, we can determine whether a night mouth guard is right for you. The earlier you catch the damage, the better your prognosis.
Dental Inlays and Onlays
A dental inlay is a type of restoration that typically looks like natural teeth and fixes an existing tooth that is too damaged to support a tooth filling, but not so much that it needs a dental crown. It covers the chewing surface between the cusps, while onlays restore one or more fractured cusps.
Dental onlays fall somewhere in between dental fillings and dental crowns. Like dental inlays, onlays restore large cavities without having to use a crown. The dental onlay works like an inlay but covers one or more cusps or the entire biting surface of the tooth. Because of their extensive coverage, dental onlays are sometimes referred to as "partial crowns."
Both dental inlays and dental onlays are intended to repair the tooth's chewing surface, and in some cases, repair teeth with other restoration options: the dental filling, which fills a hole in the tooth, and the dental crown, which covers most of the tooth.