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Composite fillings – also known as tooth-colored fillings – are dental restorations designed to be inconspicuous and natural in appearance. They blend well with the teeth and appear more natural than amalgam fillings, which are darker and more easily seen by other people. Composite fillings are made of ceramic and plastic compounds that chemically bond to the teeth. They can be used to fill in decayed areas of the teeth, as well as to help repair chipped or broken teeth. Most dentists use composite restorations to treat the teeth closest to the front of the mouth, as they are more noticeable when patients smile. However, advancements in dental technology and the composition of composite fillings have made it possible for dentists to also use tooth-colored fillings on molars, which receive more wear than other teeth.
Did you know…
that composite fillings allow dentists to preserve more of the natural tooth structure? This is because composite materials chemically bond to the surface of the tooth like an adhesive. The process takes slightly longer to complete than traditional amalgam fillings, but patients can preserve more of the natural portion of the teeth while enjoying a restoration that is discreet and understated.
If you have a cavity, broken tooth, or a deteriorated filling, you may be a candidate for a tooth-colored filling. Schedule a dental consultation to find out if composites are right for you.
During your visit, your gums and teeth will be anesthetized with a local anesthetic near the site of the filling. Once the area is numb, the decayed or damaged portion of your teeth will be removed to make room for the new tooth-colored filling. A resin will be placed over the area and cured with a hand-held light for less than a minute. The new filling will then be shaped and polished before the procedure is complete.
Composite fillings are cured with light at your dentist’s office. You should be able to return to normal activity and oral care immediately after your visit. It’s normal for treated teeth to experience some sensitivity to hot and cold in the days following treatment, but sensitivity that persists beyond a week should be reported to your dentist.
Dental crowns and bridges are custom-fitted tooth prosthetics that are used to replace or restore damaged or missing teeth. Crowns – also known as caps – are fixed over the surfaces of natural tooth structures or dental implants. Bridges are used to fill in the gaps left by missing teeth and are anchored in place by the natural teeth or crowns nearest the empty space. Both crowns and bridges are non-removable and must be cemented in place by a licensed dentist. Patients who get crown or bridges to restore their smiles achieve both the function and appearance of natural, healthy teeth.
Did you know…
that the Etruscan civilization were the first to use crowns as a means of restoring damaged teeth? In fact, the materials they used – ivory, gold, and bones – were still the standard in dentistry as recently as the 20th century, when porcelain crowns were first invented. Today, crowns and bridges are customized specifically for the patient’s bite and can usually be placed in as little as one or two dental visits. With proper cleaning and regular dental check-ups, crowns and bridges can last many years, or even a lifetime.
If you have a tooth that is damaged or decayed, but still intact, a dental crown may be right for you. If your tooth is missing, but its former position is surrounded by other tooth structures, a bridge may be the solution for you. Schedule an office consultation to determine whether you could benefit from crowns or bridges.
If you are a candidate for a crown or bridge, your teeth will be reduced to ensure a proper fit. An impression will then be taken of your bite and used to fabricate a mold for the crown or bridge. If you are choosing porcelain prosthesis, its color will be matched to the natural shade of your other teeth. If a dental lab is making your crown or bridge, you may be fitted with a temporary restoration until the permanent one is ready for placement.
Your teeth will need time to heal following the crown and bridge placement process, so it is normal for you to experience some sensitivity – especially to hot and cold. Additionally, you may experience soreness in the gums surrounding your restorations, though this is usually manageable with ibuprofen and should subside within a few days.
Preventative care is a foundation of dentistry. The American Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist regularly – usually about twice yearly – for full cleanings, examinations, and consultations for potential treatment. Professional dental cleanings help remove built-up plaque that is not removable using conventional brushing and flossing. Often, dentists are also capable of identifying potential problems that patients are not yet able to see or feel. When you maintain regular preventative dental appointments, you can stave off decay and gum disease, as well as identify the beginnings of oral health problems before they become severe.
Did you know…
that Americans are less and less likely to visit the dentist as they age? Data from the Centers for Disease Control reports that only 57 percent of Americans over age 65 visited the dentist in 2010. That compares to about 61 percent adults under age 65 and about 79 percent of children ages 2 to 17. Nonetheless, it is important to visit the dentist for cleanings and exams regardless of how long has passed since your most recent dental appointment.
Yes. Even if you brush and floss after every meal and before bed, bacteria-harboring plaque can accumulate in the tiniest crevices, grooves and pits. Overtime, the teeth will begin to decay in those areas, which may result in pain and partial or total tooth loss.
Your cleaning and consultation will consist of a visible examination of the teeth and gums. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you may also require x-rays for a more comprehensive view of your teeth. You’ll also consult with your dentist about any oral health problems you may have been having or questions that you may have. The cleaning will follow, during which a dental hygienist will use special instruments to remove hardened plaque from your teeth. Finally, your teeth will be polished before your dentist discusses any treatment recommendations he or she may have for you.
In between dental cleanings and consultations, be sure to maintain good oral habits at home. This includes daily flossing and brushing after meals. It’s also important to drink fluoridated water and use a fluoridated toothpaste.
Dental implants are surgical-grade root devices that support permanent tooth prosthetics that are manufactured to last a lifetime. These artificial roots are anchored in the bone beneath the gums where they become fused into the jaw. A crown is mounted atop the implant for a long-lasting and natural looking smile. Many dentists and patients prefer dental implants because they offer the same function as natural teeth and also help prevent bone atrophy in the jaw. Dental implants may be used to replace a single missing or damaged tooth or to restore an entire smile.
Did you know…
that approximately 30 million people live with no natural teeth in one or both jaws? But more and more dental patients are opting for dental implants as a means of tooth replacement. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry reports that 3 million people currently have dental implants – a number that is rapidly growing by about 500,000 per year. Modern titanium implants were first developed in the 1950’s, but archeologists have determined that ancient Egyptians and Mayans were the first cultures to implant artificial teeth.
You may qualify for dental implants if you have missing, broken or severely decayed teeth and are in relatively good overall health. The only way of determining your eligibility for implants is to consult with an oral care provider to identify whether you have adequate bone support and healthy gums that will support the new tooth structure.
The placement of dental implants is a multi-step process that typically takes between 6 and 9 months to complete. It begins with a surgical procedure during which a titanium rod is placed where a previous natural tooth root once was. The gums are sutured shut over the implant, where is will stay for several months while it heals and begins fusing with the surrounding bone. Due to the nature of implant placement and its average procedure time of between 1 and 2 hours, you’ll be sedated and/or anesthetized for the duration of the treatment. At the conclusion of the healing period, you’ll return to be fitted for permanent crowns and have them placed.
It is normal to experience some discomfort, including bruising and swelling following a dental implant procedure. However, inflammation and pain may be managed with over-the-counter medications, hydrocodone, or codeine. You may be asked to eat only soft foods for approximately 2 weeks until the surgical site heals.
The healing time following a dental implant procedure varies from person to person. Your personal healing time will depend on a number of factors, including your age and the quality and density of your jawbone. On average, however, the healing period is approximately three to four months. You may need to limit your diet to soft foods in the days following your dental surgery. Doing so allows the surgical site to heal more rapidly, potentially reducing the time you must wait before receiving your prosthetic teeth.
Most people will experience some degree of swelling and discomfort in the days immediately following dental implant placement. This is a normal part of the healing process that will eventually subside. However, your dentist may prescribe medication to help manage pain, reduce inflammation, and prevent infection.
Oral hygiene will still be an important part of your post-op care. Even if you have no natural teeth, it is important to keep your implants and gums as clean as possible to help prevent periodontal disease and infection. Continue to care for your gums and implants even after receiving your new prosthetic teeth. This will require daily brushing and flossing, as well as periodic dental exams.
Did you know…
The longevity of your dental implants depends on your ability to care for your own oral health. While it is true that implants and prosthetic teeth are not capable of decay, they can be indirectly affected by poor oral hygiene. Periodontitis, for example, can cause gum recession and bone loss, which may cause an implant to loosen or fall out. However, a dental implant that is properly cared for can last a lifetime.
Most people experience a complication-free recovery period. However, we encourage you to contact our office if you have questions or feel that your surgical site is not healing properly. Fever or pain that worsens over time may be signs of infection and require our attention.
If you are undergoing a dental procedure or operation, you will be given a set of post-operative instructions to abide by in the hours, days, and weeks after your treatment. Following these instructions is essential to preventing infections in surgical sites, protecting restorations, and minimizing the possibility of experiencing complications. Post-operative instructions vary from procedure to procedure, but you are still sure to have some questions regarding care. Dr. Johnson will be available to answer those questions and respond to any concerns you may have.
Try to anticipate some of the questions you may have about your post-operative care and ask them prior to your treatment.
Some of the most common post-op questions include:
How should I manage pain following my procedure?
How long should I experience discomfort?
Do I need to follow any special dietary guidelines?
Is it safe for me to drink through a straw?
Will I be able to drive myself home after my procedure?
Will I need to take an antibiotic?
Will I need to return to your office for a follow-up appointment?
When will my permanent restorations be ready?
How do I care for my removable prosthesis?
Yes. Your post-operative care is contingent on you understanding everything about the recovery process and your responsibilities in caring for your surgical site.
Your dentist should allocate enough time in your consultation and pre-operative exam to listen to your concerns and answer any questions you may have. You should also be provided a phone number that you can call following your procedure to discuss any questions that may come up at that time.
Yes. Begin thinking of any questions you may have about your post-operative care, and begin writing them down. You’ll be ready to ask all of your questions when the opportunity arises without missing any important details.
Dentures are an effective and affordable way of replacing missing teeth. Composed of a durable plastic resin and sometimes porcelain, both partial and full dentures can be fabricated to look and feel natural. Today’s dentures are custom-fit to make it possible to eat foods with confidence and speak articulately. Depending on the patient’s preferences and budget, dentures can be crafted for maximum comfort and fracture resistance backed up by limited warranties.
Did you know…
that more than 60 percent of American adults are missing one or more teeth? Approximately 10 percent are missing all of their teeth – requiring a prosthetic solution that will restore function and aesthetics to their smiles. Many of those dental patients choose partial or full dentures to replace missing teeth. In fact, it is estimated that 35 million Americans currently wear partial or full dentures – a number that is only expected to rise as baby boomers begin to reach retirement.
You may be a candidate for dentures if you are missing one or more teeth and are in need of an affordable prosthetic solution. Most denture wearers find that partial and full dentures can restore much of their original tooth function – not to mention create a beautiful, natural-looking smile. To find out if dentures are right for you, schedule a consultation with your dentist.
If you have any decayed or damaged teeth that need to be removed, they will be extracted before your dentist takes a mold of your remaining gum structure, as well as the roof of your mouth. This mold will be sent to a dental lab for denture fabrication. When the completed dentures are completed, you will return to your dentist for a final fitting.
Yes. Dentures are removable prosthetics that will need to be cleaned and brushed daily. You should also brush your gums daily to prevent infections caused by bacteria. Your dentures should be kept in water when they aren’t in use to prevent them from warping. Keep in mind that it may take some time to adjust to dentures as you learn how to use the muscles in your cheeks and tongue to keep them in place. But over time, you should begin to feel more comfortable with your new prosthetics.
General dentistry encompasses a broad range of diseases and disorders of the oral and maxillofacial region. Everyone should see a general dentist for routine oral health examinations, twice-yearly cleanings, and treatment of routine oral health complications, such as minor tooth decay. General dentistry is as much about prevention as it is about treatment. Patients who visit a general dentist can expect professional oral health care, as well as education and advisement about self-care between office visits.
Did you know…
that the American Dental Association recommends that every American visit a general dentist a minimum of one time every six months? Doing so can aid in the detection of decay, oral disease and other dental health problems before the progress and become severe. If you are at risk for certain complications or have a history or periodontal disease and advanced decay, you may need to visit your general dentist on a more frequent basis. Patients who visit their dentist regularly and as recommended are more likely to retain their natural teeth and enjoy a lifetime of good oral health.
Yes. Even if you are not currently experiencing any symptoms of tooth decay or gum disease, it is important to visit your dentist for a thorough examination and cleaning. Despite daily brushing and flossing, your teeth can still accumulate tartar that can harbor bacteria. These bacteria can lead to gum disease and tooth decay if not professionally removed at your dentist’s office.
Your visit will begin with a general inspection of the condition of your teeth. If you have not been to the dentist in a while, your dentist may order x-rays. An oral hygienist will then use special metal instruments to gently scrape away tartar along your gum line. Later, your dentist will review your x-rays and discuss any symptoms you may have been experiencing. He or she will then make a recommendation for treatment (if applicable) and answer any questions you may have.
Based on the results of your dental check-up, your general dentist may recommend that you return for treatment or follow a special at-home oral care plan. You may also be referred to a dental specialist for treatment of advanced oral health conditions.
Like a bridge, partial dentures rest on surrounding teeth to fill in the gaps where one or more teeth are missing. But unlike a bridge, partial dentures are fully removable by the wearer. Partials are affordable alternatives to other types of dental prosthetics and are custom-made to blend in with each patient’s natural teeth. It takes a little time to adapt to new partials, but many people find that they reclaim much of their original function and aesthetics with partial dentures in place.
Did you know?
Partial dentures require gentle care and frequent cleaning. Once you get your new partial dentures, you’ll need to:
- Keep them moist at all times by soaking them in a denture solution when not in use
- Gently brush your dentures daily using a soft-bristled tooth brush
- Be careful not to drop your partial dentures, as they may break
- Avoid exposing your partial to hot temperatures that could cause warping
You may be a candidate for partial dentures if you have one or more missing teeth, and the space they once filled is surrounded by other teeth or permanent restorations. To find out more about whether partial dentures are right for you, schedule a consultation with your dentist.
If you decide to get a partial denture, you’ll need to visit your dentist to have metal clasps attached to your surrounding teeth and an impression made of the area your partial will fill. The impression will be sent to a dental lab, where a technician will fabricate a custom denture that includes a gum-colored base that will fit securely over your gums. A metal framework will be used to attach your new partial to the clasps on your natural teeth to ensure a secure fit.
Yes. Good oral health is still important – even if you have a few missing teeth. In addition to caring for your new dental prosthetic, you’ll also need to brush your gums and tongue twice daily to stimulate circulation and remove bacteria that could cause gum disease. Continue seeing your dentist twice yearly for exams and cleanings, and be sure to bring your partial dentures along to each visit. After a few years, you may find that your partial needs to be rebased to better fit the changes to the bone structure in your mouth.
Periodontal scaling and root planing are procedures used to treat periodontal disease. Thought of by many as a ‘deep cleaning’, this in-office procedure involves the careful removal of hardened plaque near the gum line, where harmful bacteria can grow and cause damage to both the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. The treatment starts with scaling, during which special instruments are used to scrape tartar away from the teeth and gums. Root planing follows, which is a process of smoothing the surface of the tooth’s root in order to prevent bacteria from accumulating there in the future. Finally, an antibiotic is administered to ensure that no bacteria remain at the treatment site.
Did you know…
that you cannot brush or rinse away hardened plaque that causes periodontal disease? The only thing you can do is prevent is from accumulating by using good brushing and flossing habits. Once tartar has formed, the only way to remove it is via a professional dental or periodontal cleaning.
You may need scaling and root planing if you are suffering from mild to moderate periodontal disease. Visit your dentist for an exam if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of periodontal disease, such as inflamed or receding gums, chronic halitosis, or loose teeth. If your periodontal disease is advanced, you may require grafting or flap surgery.
If you require a scaling and root planing, you’ll first be made comfortable – perhaps using a local anesthetic. You should feel little or no discomfort other than the sensation of the cleaning tools scraping away hardened plaque. Procedure lengths vary according to the extent of the disease and the areas it is located within the mouth. If your periodontal disease is widespread, you may need to spread out your treatment into multiple visits.
Yes. You’ll need to follow all instructions for antibiotic usage following your treatment. You’ll also be advised to avoid certain habits that can cause recurrences of periodontal disease in the future, such as smoking. Most patients experience little or no discomfort after scaling and root planing, although your mouth may continue to be numb for several hours following the procedure.
Root canals are valuable dental procedures used to treat and preserve teeth with badly infected roots. The pulp is the live portion of the tooth that extends into the root and contains nerve endings and tissues. When it becomes infected, patients can experience pain, swelling and even total tooth loss unless treated. Root canals remove the damaged parts of the tooth and infected root. In some cases, an antibiotic is prescribed to help prevent further infection within the tooth. The organic portion of the tooth that remains may be restored using a cap or crown that provides a natural appearance and normal tooth function.
Many patients associate root canals with pain and discomfort.
But local anesthetics and advancements in modern dentistry have made root canals highly tolerable procedures that are often no less comfortable than getting a standard filling. Upon completion, a restored tooth that has undergone a root canal will blend in with surrounding teeth – virtually undetectable to the average eye. More than 9 out of 10 root canal procedures are successful, and most treatments last many years or even a lifetime.
You could be a candidate for a root canal if decay or damage has allowed bacteria to infect the pulp inside your tooth. A root canal could also be the right treatment for you if you prefer to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible instead of extracting both the healthy and diseased portions of your tooth. For more information about root canals and whether they are right for you, schedule a dental exam and consultation at your earliest convenience.
If you decide to undergo a root canal, the first step in your procedure will involve a local anesthetic. Once your tooth root is numb, the diseased portion of your tooth pulp will be removed and potentially treated for bacterial infection. The tooth will then be sealed and filled before being restored with a crown.
It is normal for teeth to become inflamed after a root canal, potentially causing sensitivity for the first several days following treatment. However, normal brushing and flossing habits can be resumed immediately after treatment and restoration is complete.
Teeth whitening procedures are used to brighten the appearance of a patient’s smile – sometimes by as many as 5 to 10 shades in a single session. According to the American Dental Association, teeth whitening procedures have become some of the most popular esthetic dental treatments among patients throughout the country, including. Professional teeth whitening services can be performed in an office setting or prescribed for take-home use by a patient. In comparison to over-the-counter teeth whitening treatments, professional whitening uses stronger whitening agents that deliver faster and more effective results.
Did you know…
that the teeth naturally darken as we age? Furthermore, certain foods, beverages, medications and habits can contribute to a darker, yellowed, or stained smile. However, it is possible to erase years of stains in a single professional whitening session and sustain those results for many years with proper maintenance. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, professional whitening is best maintained by a combination of good oral care and take-home whitening treatments as recommended by your dentist.
You may be a candidate for professional teeth whitening if you are experiencing discoloration, but otherwise have healthy teeth and healthy gums. Schedule a consultation with a dentist to find out if tooth whitening could be right for you. Some patients, such as those who are pregnant or sensitive to whitening agents, may not be candidates for professional whitening.
Teeth whitening consists of a thorough cleaning and polishing of the teeth, with all debris carefully removed. Your dentist will then protect your gums before applying a whitening agent to the surface of your teeth. The product will be activated and left on the teeth for several minutes before being washed off with water. Your results will vary according to the natural shade of your teeth and degree of discoloration, but it is normal for patients to experience a lightening of several shades in a single visit.
It is normal to experience some tooth sensitivity following a professional whitening treatment. You may be instructed to avoid consuming highly pigmented beverages for at least 24 hours to prevent the teeth from becoming stained again. Examples include tea, coffee and wine. Depending on your results and long-term teeth whitening goals, you may also be sent home from your procedure with an at-home whitening kit for later use.
Tooth extractions are routine dental procedures used to remove decayed, damaged or otherwise problematic teeth. Dentists usually make every effort to preserve natural teeth, although sometimes an extraction is necessary. Although the procedure is performed in a dentist’s or oral surgeon’s office, it is considered surgery. Depending on which teeth are removed, they may be replaced with a dental implant or another oral prosthetic.
There are several reasons why you could need a tooth extraction.
The most common cause of tooth extractions is severe tooth decay and cavities. However, many patients also undergo extractions for impacted teeth – particularly wisdom teeth. Other causes for extraction include advanced periodontal disease, cracked teeth, and teeth that are severely malformed. Although many circumstances that require extraction are unavoidable, some could be prevented with regular visits to the dentist for exams and cleanings.
Only your dentist can tell you if you need a tooth extraction. However, you may be a candidate for the procedure if one or more of your teeth are decayed so severely that a filling or others restoration is not a possibility for treatment.
If you and your dentist decide to extract one or more teeth, you will be scheduled to return for oral surgery at a later date. You will be given a local anesthetic to prevent pain during the procedure, and you may be prescribed medications to help manage pain in the hours following your extraction. Depending on the nature of your extraction and other factors, such as whether your teeth are impacted, you may also be sedated or given general anesthesia during your procedure.
Post-operative care following a tooth extraction is essential for healing and preventing complications. You will be instructed to avoid certain foods and also keep the surgical site clean at all times. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, it is important that you complete the course of treatment to prevent infection. Finally, you may be advised to avoid smoking or drinking through a straw, as doing so may delay the healing process and cause a condition known as ‘dry socket.’
Dental veneers – also known as laminates – are used to cosmetically enhance the appearance of one or more teeth. Veneers are very thin, porcelain or resin shells that are customized for a desirable color and shape. They are bonded to the surface of the teeth to reshape broken, misshapen or irregular teeth, as well as provide a solution for discolored teeth that do not respond to traditional whitening treatments. Patients with veneers typically achieve a natural tooth appearance that is well-tolerated by the gums and also resistant to future stains.
Did you know…
that dental veneers are a conservative way of completely making over your smile? In fact, veneers are a go-to cosmetic procedure that has become popular with celebrities who want a brighter and more symmetrical smile. Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff and Ben Affleck are just some of Hollywood’s elite who have seen a cosmetic dentist for laminates. Fortunately, affordability and accessibility make it easy for anyone to get dental veneers – including patients.
Dental veneers may be right for you if you are looking for an alternative to crowns and caps. Veneers can help you if you have gaps between your teeth or teeth that are broken, chipped, irregularly shaped or misaligned. To find out more about whether dental veneers are right for you, contact a cosmetic dentist to schedule a consultation.
Before dental veneers can be placed on the teeth, the surface of the teeth must be prepared for bonding. After administering a local anesthetic, your dentist will buff away approximately half a millimeter from the surface of the teeth. You’ll then bite into a mold that will be used to form your veneers in a dental lab. When the veneers are ready, you’ll be asked to return to have them fitted, bonded and adjusted for shape and color.
There is no special care required for dental veneers, and normal brushing and flossing can be resumed immediately. Because veneers are usually placed over the course of two appointments, it is normal to experience some sensitivity between the first and second visit when the teeth have been reduced in preparation for bonding.
Many of the patients we treat come to us for the removal of multiple teeth – particularly if they are having wisdom teeth removed or preparing to get dental implants. Though this is very commonplace at our office, having several teeth removed at once is very different than having just one or two extracted. Patients should understand that multiple tooth extraction procedures are surgical in nature and will require a post-operative care and recovery period. We provide careful instructions to help minimize pain, reduce swelling and lower the risk of post-procedural complications.
Did you know…
Did you know that smoking or drinking from a straw is one of the worst things you can do after having several teeth extracted? Following a tooth removal, blood clots around the extraction site, aiding in the healing process. The sucking motion required to use a straw or cigarette, however, can dislodge this clot, causing a very painful condition known as dry socket.
While it is normal to experience some pain after having multiple teeth removed, we do our best to help minimize discomfort in the hours and days following the procedure. This may include the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications. It is also important to take any antibiotics prescribed to you, as an infection can hinder the healing process and cause pain at the site of the extraction.
We will provide you with very specific instructions for maintaining your oral hygiene after your procedure. A clean mouth helps prevent infections and expedites the healing process. You may be able to brush any remaining teeth within 24 hours of surgery. However, it will be important to rinse the surgical site several times a day to keep it free of debris beginning the day after your extractions.
There are several circumstances that may be unique to certain patients following a multiple tooth extraction. For example, some people experience nausea and vomiting in reaction to medications administered during the procedure. It is also normal for some patients to experience a slightly elevated temperature and numbness of the lips, chin and tongue immediately following the procedure. These are not reasons for alarm; however you should contact our office if any of these symptoms persist the day after your surgery.