What are composite fillings?

Dental fillings are the most common method of restoring teeth. There are many types of materials that can be used for fillings such as amalgam and gold. Composites fillings are a popular choice because they match the color of teeth and look natural. Composites are not only used to restore decayed teeth, but they may also be used for cracked or broken teeth, stained teeth, and teeth that have been worn down.

How are fillings placed?

Fillings are very common and can be done in one visit to the dentist. Once anesthesia is applied, the dentist will begin removing decay from the tooth and clean out the decayed area. When all the decay is removed, the dentist will prepare the area so that the filling material, such as composite, can be placed. Once the filling has been placed, the filling will be shaped and the tooth will be polished so it can look as natural as possible.

After first receiving a filling, many patients become temporarily sensitive to hot and cold foods. When the tooth becomes used to having the filling, the sensitivity will subside.

What is a porcelain dental crown?

A porcelain dental crown is a tooth shaped cap that is used to help replaced teeth that cannot be restored using the traditional filling. They are generally suggested for patients who have had severely decayed or damaged teeth. Porcelain dental crowns match the color of teeth to give a natural appearance. There are many other types of crowns such as gold or silver, but porcelain crowns are most popular because they give the most natural look.

How are porcelain crowns placed?

When you and your dentist decide that getting a crown is the right option for you, the dentist will shape the tooth in a shape that enables him or her to place a crown. Depending on the damage of the tooth and how much tooth structure is present, the dentist will either shape the tooth or build up the tooth in order to support the crown. Several impressions will be taken so that a dental laboratory can custom make a cap for your tooth. While you wait for the dental laboratory to create your crown, your dentist will create a temporary crown for you that will be replaced when your final crown is finished. When the crown is finished by the dental laboratory, the dentist will try on the crown to ensure that the fit and bite are correct. The porcelain crown is then cemented to your tooth to give you a beautiful and natural appearance.

With care, porcelain dental crowns can be very durable and have the ability to last a long time. Your dentist will give you special instructions on how you can keep your crown clean with brushing and flossing so that you can help your crown last for years.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a very serious dental disease that affects many people. It is caused by bacteria from plaque formations on the teeth. In the mouth, there are constant plaque formations on the teeth, but when the plaque formations become severe, the body’s immune system will try to fight the bacteria from plaque. This causes inflammation in the gums that results in swelling and bleeding, which are early signs of periodontal disease called gingivitis. In severe forms of periodontal disease, the bacteria will go under the gums and begin to damage the bone that supports the teeth and cause the teeth to become loose.

Other health risks of periodontal disease

There have now been studies that have shown a connection between periodontal disease and other health concerns. These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Increase risk of stroke
  • Premature births in pregnant women

What can you do?

If you suspect that you may have early signs of periodontal disease such as gum disease due to inflammation and bleeding gums, make an appointment to consult with your dentist. At early stages, the process of the disease can be reversed through a cleaning or deep cleaning and proper oral hygiene maintenance. Maintaining good oral hygiene through brushing and flossing and regular visits to the dentist can help periodontal disease from occurring.

What are Extractions?

An extraction is the removal of a tooth from the mouth. Extractions are performed for a variety of different reasons. Tooth decay that has damaged enough tooth structure to prevent anything from saving the tooth is the most frequent indication for extraction of a tooth. Extractions of impacted or problematic wisdom teeth are routinely performed. Usually, when you lose a tooth, it is best for your oral health to have it replaced. Missing teeth can affect your bite as well as your ability to speak and chew. Their loss can increase the burden on your remaining teeth and cause extra wear on teeth, headaches, and muscle pain in your jaw. Of course, losing a tooth can affect your appearance as well.

The good news is that, most of the time, we can replace that missing tooth without too much trouble!

What is root canal therapy

Root canal therapy is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that would otherwise die as a result of infection or decay that has progressed far enough to reach the tooth’s nerve. Preserving the tooth is ideal because it eliminates the problems that a gap in the dental structure creates for the surrounding teeth—problems that quickly become more and more costly and inconvenient over the course of time.

In this root canal procedure, the pulp of the tooth (the living tissue inside) is removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials that restore the tooth to full function. Root canal therapy is a highly successful treatment that usually lasts a lifetime, and, thanks to modern advancements in dental medicine, the procedure is far more comfortable than it has been in the past.

There are a number of signs that suggest root canal therapy may be necessary:

  • An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Severe toothache pain
  • Swelling or tenderness

What can this procedure repair?

  • Decay that has reached the tooth pulp
  • Infections or abscesses that have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip
  • Injury or trauma to the tooth

How is this procedure done?

Root canal therapy can often be done in one appointment, though more appointments may be necessary. It is normally performed by a dentist or an endodontist, a specialist in root canal therapy. At your appointment, the dentist will numb the tooth and place a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. The dentist will then create an access opening on the surface of the tooth, allowing for the placement of a series of root canal files. The pulp, nerve tissue, and any bacteria or tooth decay that may be present are then removed with specialized dental tools. After a thorough cleaning, the dentist will seal the tooth with a permanent filling, though a temporary filling may be necessary if additional appointments are required to properly clean and repair the tooth.

Once the root canal procedure is complete, the dentist will place a temporary crown on the tooth to protect it from breakage. Your regular dentist can then fit the tooth for a permanent crown that will return the tooth to its full, natural function.

What kind of follow up care should I expect?

Many patients find that their tooth is sensitive to heat and cold immediately following root canal therapy. This is temporary, and it will subside once the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed. The dentist will provide you with care instructions after each appointment throughout the process. It is also important to remember that good oral hygiene at home, combined with regular dental visits, are the very best way to secure the health and beauty of both your natural teeth and any dental restorations you may have. As with all restorative treatments, teeth restored through root canal therapy can last a lifetime, but may have to be retreated due to new infections.

Dental emergencies are quite frightening and often painful. Prompt treatment is almost always required to alleviate pain and to ensure the teeth have the best possible chance of survival.

Sometimes teeth become fractured by trauma, grinding or biting on hard objects. In other cases, fillings, crowns and other restorative devices can be damaged or fall out of the mouth completely. If there is severe pain, it is essential to make an appointment with the dentist as quickly as possible. The pain caused by dental emergencies almost always gets worse without treatment, and dental issues can seriously jeopardize physical health.

Types of Dental Emergencies and How to Deal with Them

Avulsed (knocked out) tooth

If a tooth has been knocked clean out of the mouth, it is essential to see a dentist immediately. When a tooth exits the mouth, tissues, nerves and blood vessels become damaged. If the tooth can be placed back into its socket within an hour, there is a chance the tissues will grow to support the tooth once again.

Here are some steps to take:

  1. Call the dentist.
  2. Pick up the tooth by the crown and rinse it under warm water. DO NOT touch the root.
  3. If possible, place it back into its socket – if not tuck it into the cheek pouch.
  4. If the tooth cannot be placed in the mouth, put the tooth into a cup of milk, saliva, or water as a last resort. It is important to keep the tooth from drying out.
  5. Get to the dentist, quickly and safely.

The dentist will try to replace the tooth in its natural socket. In some cases, the tooth will reattach, but if the inner mechanisms of the teeth are seriously damaged, root canal therapy may be necessary.

Lost filling or crown

Usually, a crown or filling comes loose while eating. Once it is out of the mouth, the affected tooth may be incredibly sensitive to temperature changes and pressure. Crowns generally become loose because the tooth beneath is decaying. The decay causes shape changes in the tooth – meaning that the crown no longer fits.

If a crown has dropped out of the mouth, make a dental appointment as soon as possible. Keep the crown in a cool, safe place because there is a possibility that the dentist can reinsert it. If the crown is out of the mouth for a long period of time, the teeth may shift or sustain further damage.

When the dentist is not immediately accessible, here are the steps to take:

  1. Apply clove oil to the tooth to alleviate pain.
  2. Clean the crown and affix it onto the tooth with dental cement. This can be purchased at the local pharmacy.
  3. If the crown is lost, smear the top of the tooth with dental cement to alleviate discomfort.
  4. DO NOT use any kind of glue to affix the crown.

The dentist will check the crown to see if it still fits. If it does, it will be reattached to the tooth. Where decay is noted, this will be treated and a new crown will be made.

Cracked or broken teeth

The teeth are strong, but they are still prone to fractures, cracks and breaks. Sometimes fractures are fairly painless, but if the crack extends down into the root, it is likely that the pain will be extreme. Fractures, cracks and breaks can take several different forms, but are generally caused by trauma, grinding and biting. If a tooth has been fractured or cracked, there is no alternative but to see the dentist as quickly as possible.

Where a segment of tooth has been broken off, here are some steps that can be taken at home:

  1. Call the dentist.
  2. Rinse the tooth fragment and the mouth with lukewarm water.
  3. Apply gauze to the area for ten minutes if there is bleeding.
  4. Place a cold, damp dish towel on the cheek to minimize swelling and pain.
  5. Cover the affected area with over-the-counter dental cement if there is no way to see the dentist immediately.
  6. Take a topical pain reliever.

The nature of the break or fracture will limit what the dentist is able to do. If a fracture or crack extends into the root, root canal therapy may be the only effective way to retain the tooth. In the case of a complete break, the dentist will usually affix the fragment back onto the tooth as a temporary measure.

Dislodged/loose teeth

When a tooth has been dislodged or loosened from its socket by trauma or decay, it might be possible to save it. If the tooth remains in the mouth and attached to the blood vessels and nerves, there is a good chance root canal therapy will not be necessary.

It is important to call the dentist immediately to make an appointment. In the meantime, use a cold compress and over-the-counter medications to relieve pain. The dentist will reposition the tooth and add splints to stabilize it. If the tooth fails to heal, root canal therapy may be required.

If you have questions or concerns about dental emergencies, please contact the office.

Dental sedation is a technique that can be used when a patient suffers from dental anxiety or dental phobia. We are happy to offer a number of solutions for our patients to make their dental visit as comfortable as possible.

Sedation dentistry techniques enable patients who might otherwise avoid the dentist, to receive dental treatment necessary for a healthy smile. Depending on the extent of the anxiety or phobia, varying degrees of dental sedation can be utilized as described below.

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous Oxide sedation, also known as “laughing gas” is commonly used to make treatment more comfortable. This sedation is inhaled through a mask that allows you to breathe in the medication and induces a state of relaxation. Local anesthetic will be administered in conjunction with nitrous oxide to eliminate pain.

Oral Sedatives

This medication can be given to a patient the night before a dentistry procedure or 30 minutes to an hour prior to the dental appointment, depending on the severity of the anxiety. Oral sedatives do not provide pain relief, so an injection of local anesthetic will also be administered.