Fillings are necessary to remove decay and replace the affected tooth structure. It is called a filling because new material fills the cavity created by the decay. Caught early enough, cavities can be treated easily and painlessly.
Bonding involves adhering composite resin material that is matched to the color of the tooth, to the front of the tooth. This is done to repair damage from tooth decay, to alter the alignment of the tooth, to close gaps between the teeth or for other cosmetic purposes. To begin, the surface of the tooth is roughened in order to accept the bonding. Then a gel is applied to micro-etch the tooth surface, and a primer/bond agent is applied so the resin will adhere to the surface. Finally, the color-matched material itself is placed on the tooth and hardened with intense light. As a final step, the composite resin material is shaped and polished to a lustrous finish.
The gums, ligaments, and bone around the teeth form the foundation called the periodontium. When the periodontium is not healthy, it jeopardizes the teeth, just as a bad foundation would threaten the stability of a house. Signs of unhealthy periodontium (gum disease) include: gums that are red and bleed easily, persistent bad breath, gums that are pulled away from the tooth, loose teeth, and changes in the position or bite of the teeth. If you're having any of these problems, come in and see us so we can take care of it right away. Treatment usually involves a deep cleaning or root planing done under a local anesthetic, along with antibiotics. It is important to get gum disease treated at the first sign of a problem. If it gets too severe it may require surgery or tooth extraction.
Crowns are full coverage restorations that are used to cover a tooth that is likely to break, or is too damaged to be restored with a filling. They are most commonly done after root canal treatment or when a large filling wears out. Even after a filling is put in a large cavity, a tooth may break. Teeth are subjected to tremendous pressures because the jaw muscles are the strongest in the human body. A broken or cracked tooth is a serious matter and difficult to treat. Crowns can prevent this, as well as making for a nice smile. Crowns support a weakened tooth, providing strength and protecting the tooth against breakage.
There are different types of dentures, but they all replace teeth that have become loose or been lost due to bone loss. When bone loss around the roots of teeth is great enough to loosen them or let them fall out, it's time for dentures. No one enjoys losing their natural teeth, but with dentures you can still eat and talk regularly.
The entire mouth is examined and it is determined which teeth will have to be removed and which will remain. The loose teeth are then extracted. Dentures are fitted to go over or around whatever teeth remain in the mouth, depending on the type. Sometimes implants are used to further stabilize the dentures.
There is always an adjustment period after dentures are placed in the mouth— it can take some getting used to. Once accustomed to the dentures, however, all the normal functionality and appearance of your smile will return.
A dental implant is an option to replace a missing tooth. In this procedure, a small titanium shaft is surgically implanted into the bone and allowed to set. The bone grows around it forming a tight connection, which additionally slows or stops the bone loss that occurs when the root of a natural tooth is missing. Once the implant is firmly set in the mouth, the dentist then attaches the replacement tooth to the top of the shaft. This permanent solution has some advantages over bridge work: implants do not stress surrounding teeth for support. And, should the tooth wear out, another can be easily replaced on the shaft.
Implants can also be used to support an implant bridge. This is a permanent alternative to partial dentures and has several advantages. First, there is no adjustment period because you feel only teeth surfaces, not metal supports intruding into the mouth. Second, this slows the bone loss caused by missing teeth. Third, there is no discomfort or difficulty in eating. And best of all, they don't have to be taken out all the time as dentures do.
We also offer mini dental implants. These implants are about half the diameter of traditional implants and are used mainly to stabilize lower dentures. These implants can be placed in one appointment and be immediately used. The cost is 50-70% of standard dental implants. Call for a free consult.
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is necessary when a cavity reaches all the way to the pulp or nerve of the tooth, or trauma to the tooth has caused the nerve to be damaged. Once this occurs the pulp becomes infected and can even extend through the root tip and begin to eat away at the surrounding bone (this is called an abscess). By the time the pulp is infected it must be treated and cannot heal on its own. It can even weaken the entire immune system. Symptoms that the pulp has become infected may include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain when biting, and a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes however, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problem until a checkup.
A root canal treatment cleans out the infected tooth pulp, and disinfects the canals of the tooth. The only other treatment would be to extract the tooth. Once the infection is resolved, the canal(s) are filled in to prevent any further infection. Usually a core build-up and crown is recommended for restoring a tooth that has had root canal therapy.
This is an option for filling the space created by a missing tooth. It is formed to look like the missing tooth and it takes its place in the mouth. The sides of a bridge use the two adjacent teeth for support, hence the name. A bridge replaces the missing tooth, both functionally and cosmetically. Creating a bridge is as much an art as it is a dental science. The materials used may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all ceramic material. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and/or aesthetics.
It is important that a missing tooth be replaced as soon as possible for several reasons. If not treated, the teeth surrounding the gap begin to shift inward, creating a chain reaction of misalignment. Teeth use their neighbors for support, and when one is missing, they start to "fall." As this worsens the bite changes in response to the pressure. A missing tooth can eventually result in problems with the entire jaw. The surrounding teeth deteriorate and eventually are also lost. Gum disease may become a serious problem if neglect continues.
TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint. Temporal, as in temple area of skull; mandibular as in mandible, or lower jaw; and joint as in it's where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excess muscle tension.
Problems in this area can cause:
- Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face
Dental treatments for the condition can include replacing missing teeth, moving teeth, adjusting the bite, filling gaps between teeth, etc. There is no one solution that is right for all cases. Sometimes a plastic mouthpiece is used to prevent clenching or grinding that is contributing to the problem. If untreated and taken to extremes, surgery may be required to repair a badly damaged joint.