Fillings: A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. The dentist will first remove the decayed material, then clean the affected area. We then fill the cleaned out cavity with either a tooth colored (composite) filling or a silver (amalgam) filling.
What kind of filling is best?
Composite (plastic) resins are matched to be the same color as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for larger fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco. They typically last up to 10 years.
Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth.
If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown (or cap) may be recommended.
Crowns and Bridges: Crowns are strong tooth-shaped coverings that are cemented onto an existing tooth or implant. Crowns are most commonly used to cover or “cap” a tooth that has been damaged by decay or to restore function on top of an implant. They can also be recommended if you experience broken or chipped teeth, teeth worn down by grinding, or discolored or stained teeth.
When a large amount of tooth structure has been lost to decay, a Crown and Build-up may be recommended by the dentist. This is also common after a patient has a root canal. A Build up consists of composite (resin) material that is bonded to the tooth to replace the tooth structure lost to decay or removed during the root canal procedure. The build-up provides a bonded base on which the crown is cemented. In some cases, a post is also used to add additional stability after a root canal.
Root Canal: A root canal is a treatment to repair a tooth that has been badly damaged by decay or infection. The inflammation or infection in the nerve can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental treatments, or trauma to a tooth. Root canals can also be used to treat cracked or broken teeth. If the decay or damage to the tooth has evolved into the nerve chamber (or pulp) a root canal is necessary to restore the tooth. The damaged tooth structure and nerve tissues are removed, and the tooth is disinfected. Once the canals have been cleaned and shaped, they are filled and sealed, preventing any further bacteria from entering the canals of the tooth. After the root canal, the tooth is restored with a filling or a crown, depending on the extent of the tooth structure lost.
Root canal treatment is usually completed in one to two visits and should be no more uncomfortable than a dental filling. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime.
Bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth. Bridges are made of the same ceramic materials and are cemented in place similar to a single crown. Just like a crown, bridges can be cemented to either a natural tooth or an implant. Gaps left by missing teeth can cause the remaining teeth to shift, which can result in a bad bite or even additional tooth loss. Bridges and crowns help prevent this from happening.
Dentures and Partials:
Dentures are replacements for missing teeth that can be taken out and put back into your mouth. While dentures can take some getting used to and will never feel exactly the same as one’s natural teeth, today’s dentures are natural looking and more comfortable than ever. Dentures are made of a flesh-colored acrylic base that is custom molded to your gums. The teeth are made of acrylic as well and are shaped and shaded according to the patient’s preferences.
Dentures can also be made to fit over implants. Implant dentures are connected to the implant with a precision attachment. Just as with regular dentures, Implant dentures should be removed daily to clean the denture and gum areas and should not be worn while sleeping. Implant dentures provide more stability, especially on the lower jaw, where dentures tend to be less stable. Dentures mounted to implants won’t shift or slip in your mouth—an especially important benefit when eating and speaking.
Partials are a removable alternative to bridges. They can be used to replace one missing tooth or multiple teeth in different areas of the mouth. Crowns may be placed on some of the natural teeth to serve as anchors for the partial. As with any denture, partials should be removed daily for cleaning.
Implants are titanium posts that are surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath your gums to become the root of a missing tooth. Once in place, they allow your dentist to attach replacement teeth onto them. Because dental implants fuse to your jawbone, they provide the most stable support for artificial teeth. If you are missing only one tooth and the adjacent teeth are healthy and do not need restorations, an implant may be the best option for replacing the missing tooth without disturbing any other teeth or having to remove an appliance daily. With proper care Implants can last a lifetime!
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that strengthens teeth, helping to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride has been shown to make the tooth structure stronger, making it more resistant to decay. It can also act to repair and re-mineralize areas in which cavities may be starting. Fluoride is found naturally in water sources and some foods in small amounts, and is also added to water in many areas. It is also found in many toothpastes and rinses. Fluoride tablets are also available for children who do not get fluoride from their water. For more information regarding fluoride recommendations, please see the following links:
Scaling and Root Planing: Scaling and Root Planing (or SRP) is one of the most effective ways to treat gum disease (Periodontal disease) before it becomes severe. Root planning and scaling cleans between the gums and teeth down to the root surfaces. The dentist may recommend a local anesthetic be used to numb the area being treated. SRP is recommended when either the gums have pulled away from the teeth or the roots of the teeth have tartar or calculus on them. By numbing the area and cleaning all of the root surface, your hygienist can remove the bacteria and calculus present to allow the tissues to re-attach to the teeth and to allow inflamed tissues to heal.
Periodontal disease has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and can also have an effect on controlling blood sugar in diabetics. Other studies have linked periodontal disease to some cancers and respiratory diseases. For more information, please go to: www.mouthhealthy.org
Occlusal Guards (Nightguards) An Occlusal Guard is an appliance worn at night to help prevent bruxism (clenching the teeth), or grinding of the teeth. It is a custom fitted appliance that is made from a semi-ridgid acrylic material, and can be worn on the upper or lower teeth. The guard works by creating a physical barrier between your upper and lower teeth so that you bite against the guard, rather than wearing down your teeth. Occlusal guards can also help to alleviate discomfort associated with Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (or TMJ) by allowing the jaw to rest in a more neutral position. Most patients are unware that they clench or grind, as it normally occurs during sleep. In some situations an occlusal guard may be recommended for daytime use as well. How long your occlusal guard will last varies greatly depending on the severity of the patients’ grinding as well as care of the appliance. In most cases, Occlusal Guards should last several years.
Clear Correct© Invisible Braces:
Clear Correct is an alternative to traditional orthodontics. By using a system of custom aligners (trays) we are able to correct a wide variety of issues. Clear Correct can treat crowding, spacing and misalignment issues as well as overbite and overjet. The aligners are comfortable, removable, and best of all, nearly invisible!
The treatment starts with impressions in our office. These are sent to Clear Correct, where they design a treatment plan customized to each patient. You wear the aligners for no less than 22 hours per day, changing them every two weeks to a new pair that will continue shifting your teeth. Each aligner applies targeted pressure to the teeth, causing them to gradually move into the corrected position. The treatment typically takes 6-18 months, but you will start to see results right away!