Silver amalgam used to be the norm when it came to materials for restorations, such as fillings. However, silver fillings do not have much aesthetic appeal to the patient and can even cause damage to your tooth years down the road. The amalgam can break down the tooth, causing a fracture and the need for a crown to salvage the tooth.
After much research, some new tooth-colored materials have been developed that are stronger, longer lasting and more aesthetically pleasing to our patients. Composed of porcelain and composite resin, these new tooth-colored restorations bond directly to the tooth, strengthening it by restoring most of its original shape. The restorations can even be custom-colored to match your teeth to help give you the most natural-looking smile possible.
These new restorations require less removal of your healthy tooth structure to place than those with amalgams and especially with new cavities. Dramatically smaller holes are needed with a tooth-colored restoration. They are also healthier because no traces of mercury are used, unlike silver amalgams.
Non-Surgical Periodontal Treatment
Periodontal Disease is an infection of the teeth, gums and the bone that surrounds the teeth, and it's the leading cause of adult tooth loss. The main cause of periodontal disease is the accumulation of plaque, the sticky film of food and bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth. If you have periodontal disease, you may be experiencing persistent bad breath, bleeding of the gums when brushing or flossing, soft, swollen, or tender gums, gums pulling away from the teeth, or loose teeth. This is where periodontal disease usually starts. This is where we will usually recommended starting with a non-surgical periodontal treatment, most commonly known as Scaling and Root Planing.
Scaling and Root Planning
The goal of scaling and root is to eliminate the source of periodontal infection by removing the plaque, tartar, and bacterial toxins from the root surfaces of the teeth below the gumline. When you have active periodontal disease, routine cleanings are not enough because they generally remove plaque and tartar from above the gumline only.
To keep you comfortable, we usually numb the area before root planing begins.
Using specialized instruments, we carefully and meticulously remove the plaque and tartar around and beneath the gumline, and then smooth the root surfaces. This removes the source of infection and helps your gums heal. As they heal, your gums will tighten around your teeth.
We may schedule scaling and root planing over several appointments. This was we can promote your comfort, check the healing, and help you fine-tune your homecare efforts.
Crowns and Bridges
A crown is a custom-made covering that fits over an original tooth that is either decayed, damaged, cracked, or even for cosmetic purposes. Crowns are made of a variety of different materials such as porcelain, gold, ceramic, or a mix of these materials.
The treatment plan for a patient receiving a crown involves:
1. Numbing the tooth to remove the decay in or around it.
2. Re-sculpturing the tooth to provide an ideal fit for the crown.
3. Making an impression of your teeth in order to create a custom-made crown.
4. Making a temporary crown out of acrylic resin and fitting it onto the tooth during the interim period while the custom-made crown is being created.
5. Applying the custom-made crown (when received from the lab) by removing the temporary crown and fitting the custom-made one onto the tooth.
6. After ensuring that the crown has the proper look and fit, we will permanently cement it into place.
Once the procedure is completed, proper dental hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing, is required to maintain healthy, bacteria-free teeth, gums and crowns. This helps in the prevention of gum disease. Given proper care, your crowns can last a lifetime.
A bridge is basically 3 or more crowns connected together in a row, used to span a place where one or more teeth are missing. A bridge may be necessary to prevent:
Shifting of the teeth that can lead to bite problems (occlusion) and/or jaw problems and the result of periodontal disease.
Bridges safeguard the integrity of existing teeth and help maintain a healthy, vibrant smile.
A root canal is a procedure that extracts decayed pulp from the central part of the tooth, reshapes the canal and replaces it with strengthening filler.
A cavity is the result of superficial decay of the enamel of the tooth. Left long enough, this decay can burrow into the deeper reaches of the tooth, causing extensive damage to tooth structure. When the damage goes beyond what can be treated with a filling, we can perform a root canal (or endodontics), preserving the tooth and retaining its original integrity; thereby, saving a tooth that in the past would have to have been removed.
The procedure involves:
Numbing and isolating the tooth.
The tooth is opened to allow for removal of infected or dead dental pulp.
The tooth is comprehensively cleaned, including any cracks and canals.
With special tools, the doctor reshapes the canals.
The tooth is filled again with cutting edge biocompatible filling material.
A temporary covering is used to cover the access opening.
Patients will need to return for a permanent restoration of the tooth.
Nothing can take the place of a healthy set of teeth, but when disease or an accident ends in tooth loss, or you have full or partial dentures, it's good to know you have some options in restoring your smile. You may want to choose dental implants if you:
are self-conscious because you have missing teeth
wear dentures that are uncomfortable for you
are unsatisfied with your removable partial dentures
do not want to have an intact tooth removed in order to have a fixed bridge placed
Implants are posts that are surgically placed in the upper or lower jaw, where they function as a sturdy anchor for replacement teeth. They are made of titanium (a strong, lightweight metal) and other materials that are accepted by the human body.
Implants are not an option for everyone. They require a considerable investment of time, involving several steps over a possible nine month period. If you are considering implants, a thorough evaluation will help determine if you are a good candidate. Because implants require surgery, you must be in good health, have healthy gums and have adequate bone to support the implant. Certain diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis or chronic sinus problems may interfere with proper healing and could prevent the bone from attaching to the implant. Smoking may also affect the stability of the implant over time. Meticulous oral hygiene and regular dental visits are critical to the long-term success of dental implants.
Tooth decay occurs when plaque breaks down sugars in food. The bacteria produce damaging acids that dissolve the hard enamel surfaces of teeth. If the damage is not stopped or treated, the bacteria can penetrate through the enamel causing tooth decay. Tooth decay weakens teeth and can lead to pain, tooth loss, or even widespread infection in the most severe cases.
Fluoride combats tooth decay in two ways. It is incorporated into the structure of developing teeth when it is ingested and also works when it comes in contact with the surface of the teeth. Fluoride prevents the acid produced by the bacteria in plaque from dissolving, or demineralizing, tooth enamel, the hard and shiny substance that protects the teeth. Fluoride also allows teeth damaged by acid to repair, or remineralize, themselves. Fluoride cannot repair cavities, but it can reverse low levels of tooth decay and this prevent new cavities from forming.
Fluoride can also help with sensitive teeth, in that it remineralizes root surfaces that can cause the sensitivity.
Although not a replacement for dental fluoride treatments, it is fortunate that many, if not most, public water sources contain fluoridated water. There are also many kinds of toothpaste, mouthwashes and even some dental flosses that contain fluoride.