We are a full service office offering: COMPOSITES (TOOTH COLORED FILLINGS) Until recently, dentistry has restored teeth with a silver alloy material. Although it has been a good restorative material, technology has advanced in the use of composite fillings. Composites are made of a resin-like material that bond to the tooth. These fillings are strong, stain-resistant, and natural looking. TEETH WHITENING Teeth whitening involves the placement of a bleaching solution on the teeth to eliminate stains and discoloration to brighten your smile. Bleaching is a safe and effective process that is done at home. Our at-home system should not be confused with over-the-counter products. The custom fitting, flexible plastic trays hold the bleaching gel snugly against the teeth. The length of time necessary to whiten teeth depends on the amount of discoloration and some teeth can be harder to bleach than others. Bleaching does not change the color of fillings or crowns and it is not advised if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. PORCELAIN VENEERS Porcelain veneers (also known as laminates) are tooth shaped porcelain shells adhered to the surface of a tooth. They are cast in a lab and are used to correct or camouflage severely discolored, damaged, misaligned, or poorly shaped teeth. Veneers are bonded onto the teeth and blend with the remaining tooth structure so that a natural, esthetic appearance is achieved. CROWNS AND BRIDGES When there is damage to a tooth and it no longer has enough structure to hold a filling, a crown restoration may be done. The crown (also referred to as a cap) is a dental restoration that can strengthen and restore the entire top of a tooth. Crowns are used to cover teeth that have been weakened by decay, chipped, discolored, or misaligned. Crowns may also be required after root canal treatment. The most common materials used for crowns are precious metals, porcelain or porcelain fused to metal. A crown can also be part of the attachment of a fixed bridge for the replacement of teeth. Missing teeth should be replaced to keep other teeth in their normal position, for patient comfort and ability to chew and cosmetic reasons. This can be achieved with a fixed bridge or a dental implant. IMPLANTS Teeth will drift into a space that is created by missing teeth. To prevent teeth from shifting and thereby causing further tooth loss, one option would be a dental implant. A dental implant is a titanium metal replacement for a root of a tooth that is surgically implanted into the jawbone. As the body heals for approximately six months after the surgery, the bone fuses to the implant. The implant is then used to anchor a crown, bridge, or denture. Dental implants can improve the quality of life for many people, however, x-rays must be taken to evaluate substantial bone support. Dental implants are the most natural replacement for a missing tooth. PERIODONTAL (GUM TREATMENT) Keeping your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime is possible by taking proper care of them. Gum disease, or more correctly called periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and supporting bone structure. This disease is caused by bacteria that form plaque in the mouth. In the early stage, plaque is invisible and relatively harmless. However, when left to accumulate, it can lead to harmful bacteria that grow and harden into calculus. Periodontal disease could be present even without any noticeable symptoms. The first phase is called gingivitis and is characterized by gum tissue that is red, puffy, and bleeds easily when touched with a toothbrush, floss or dental instrument. Gingivitis is the most common periodontal disease, affecting 90% of the population. Gingivitis can be reversed with proper oral hygiene consisting of daily brushing, flossing, a healthy diet, and regular visits to your dentist and hygienist. The second, third, and fourth phases consist of advancing stages of periodontal disease. This is different from gingivitis because the infection causes eventual tooth loss. The treatment is more involved at these stages, usually consisting of a special cleaning with anesthesia and sometimes gum surgery. The earlier that periodontal disease is detected and treated, the better the chance of restoring the health of your mouth and saving your teeth. ENDODONTICS (ROOT CANAL THERAPY) When a tooth is sensitive to hot, cold, or pressure during chewing it is a good indication that root canal therapy may be necessary. When a tooth becomes infected internally, the dentist will remove the inflamed pulpal (nerve) tissue. The canal(s) of the tooth are carefully cleaned, disinfected, and sealed. It may take more than one appointment before the tooth is ready to be restored with a protective filling or crown after the root canal therapy has been completed. ORTHODONTIC (TOOTH ALIGNMENT) INCLUDING INVISALIGN An orthodontic problem is called a malocclusion meaning “bad bite”. When the relationship of the jaw bone and teeth are not proportional in size or there is too much or too little space between teeth, orthodontic treatment is required. This problem can be inherited or developmental (acquired). Acquired malocclusion can be caused by thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, accidents, or early tooth loss. Many people believe orthodontic treatment is done for cosmetic reasons, however, the main reason is to improve overall health. When teeth are not in alignment it is difficult to chew food properly, have adequate digestion, and good dental hygiene. Malocclusion also stresses the jaw joints and associated muscles which can lead to headaches and migraines. Orthodontic treatment is not just for children. Many adults are now experiencing the joy of a healthy appearance. There are different techniques that can be used to achieve better occlusion. The two main methods are: bonding traditional braces (metal or porcelain brackets) to the teeth or Invisalign (custom-made nearly invisible aligners). To learn more about Invisalign click here. HEADACHE AND MIGRAINE PREVENTION Frequent headache and migraine symptoms can be associated to dental and health problems. Clenching of the teeth can interrupt sleep cycles which can interfere with the ability to have healthy interactions with others. Headache pain can also be a result of TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), an imbalance in jaw relationship and muscular contractions. Early detection can relieve headaches, muscular tension, and jaw joint popping and clicking, and improve the ability to chew foods properly. One of the treatment options for chronic headaches is the use of mouth splints such as NTI (Tension Suppression System). To learn more about NTI (Tension Suppression System). click here. Regular check ups lead to early detection of: CAVITIES Dental cavities continue to be a major reason for dental treatment. Plaque is a soft, sticky bacteria, and when left on teeth, changes into a fermentable carbohydrate and then to an acid. The acid causes cavities (tooth decay). Untreated tooth decay can spread and destroy tooth structure rapidly. Radiographs (x-ray films) are used to help find hidden areas of tooth decay usually located between teeth or along the root surface under the gums. If a tooth is decayed, it should have a filling or a crown. “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay” is rapid and severe destruction of baby teeth that occurs when baby nurses on a bottle (filled with milk, juice, or sugar based formula) for long periods of time. PERIODONTAL (GUM) DISEASE During an office exam, a measuring stick called the periodontal probe is used to detect the absence or presence of gum disease. One warning sign of gum disease is when gums bleed during brushing. Other symptoms may appear as red, swollen or tender gums, gums that have pulled away from the teeth, pus at the gum line when the gums are pressed, teeth that are loose or changing position, constant bad breath or bad taste in the mouth. Regular dental check ups and good dental hygiene of daily proper tooth brushing and flossing is the best prevention to gum disease. Please see our summary of periodontal disease for further information. ORAL CANCER The cause of oral (mouth) cancer is unknown, but several factors such as smoking, using chew (smokeless tobacco), and excessive alcohol consumption are associated with the irritants that can change the healthy tissues of the mouth. A cancer screening (exam) of the head, neck, and mouth area should be done regularly by the dentist and hygienist to check for early signs and symptoms. The exam checks for lumps, masses, growths, red or white patches, or reoccurring sore areas along the lips, gums, cheeks, palate, tongue, and throat. Cancer of the mouth may appear as red, speckled (mixed red and white), or white lesions that do not rub off. Radiographs (x-ray films) are also essential for the complete examination and detection of mouth cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, early detected cancers are highly curable through the use of surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy (the use of cancer fighting drugs). TMJ (TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT) DISORDER The temporomandibular joint is the most complex joint in the body. It permits different types and degrees of jaw movement including hinge, and gliding action. The symptoms of jaw disorder (TMD) are pain in or around the ear that may spread from the ear to the face, tender jaw muscles, clicking or popping upon opening the mouth, pain or difficulty opening or closing the mouth, a jaw that locks or gets stuck, or constant headaches and neck aches. Some conservative treatments other than surgery, include: relaxation training (biofeedback), physical therapy (including moist heat, cold compacts, and muscle massage), diet modification (eating soft, non-chewy foods), the use of drugs (muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety agents), or the use of a clenching suppression device such as an NTI. Please see the link under headache and migraine prevention for more information. PREMATURE TOOTH LOSS The two major effects of premature tooth loss are drifting or shifting of teeth, and changes in the natural structure of the face. If teeth are not replaced, facial collapse can occur. As the mouth loses its shape, the lips may appear thin and flattened and the chin may move upward and forward. The mouth becomes sunken and cracks or sores may form around the corners of the mouth. Implants, bridges, or removable partials and dentures can be made to help and improve proper function and appearance of the mouth. Prevention is key to a healthy smile NUTRITION A balanced diet consisting of the five major food groups (dairy, meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains) including essential vitamins and minerals is vital to a healthy smile. Consumption of too many sugars and starches, and snacking between meals can lead to a large increase of tooth decay (cavities). Drinking plenty of water helps to balance metabolism and flush out the mouth of any potential cavity producing foods. FLUORIDE The decline in the rate of dental decay in the general population is related to the use of fluoride. Fluorides, both systemic (taken internally) and topical (applied on the surface of teeth) increase enamel resistance to dental decay. Fluoridation can be found in community water systems, and fluorides are contained in toothpastes, gels, mouth rinses, and natural substances such as tea. SEALANTS Dental sealants (clear or white resin bonded fillings) provide a barrier in the enamel pits of teeth where the tooth brush has difficulty cleaning. A sealant penetrates the tooth enamel layer and shields the surface along chewing surfaces of molars that have deep groves and are prone to decay. After etching the tooth surface, a resin material bonds to the tooth and seals off the deep pits and grooves; like a protective plastic coating. Sealants are used only on biting surfaces of teeth and are not applied over decay (cavities). Sealants are used widely in children’s newly formed adult molars. Proper sealant placement helps prevent tooth breakdown as the tooth further matures into adulthood. MOUTH GUARDS Mouth guards offer protection from sports related injuries to the mouth and are highly recommended by the American Dental Association, American Dental Hygienists Association, and the Academy for Sports Dentistry. All mouth guards are not equal in quality, and poor fitting guards can create more injury than help. An ill-fitting mouth guard can produce gagging, and interfere with breathing and speech. Custom-fabricated mouth guards prepared by dentists are made over a stone cast, and are molded to fit only one individual’s bite. Mouth guards should be inspected periodically to determine any distortions or problems occurring through wear. Mouth guards should be cleaned and stored properly. They may be brushed with toothpaste, rinsed with mouthwash or cold/lukewarm water, and stored in a plastic container when not in use. XEROSTOMIA (DRY MOUTH) Salivary glands are important structures in the mouth that produce saliva which is needed for speaking, tasting, chewing, swallowing, and digesting. When Xerostomia (dry mouth), or salivary gland dysfunction occurs, rapid deep decay (cavities) can occur. Large doses or use of multiple prescription medications can decrease saliva flow. Radiation treatment for head, neck, and mouth cancer also increases the risk of dry mouth. Certain medical health issues such as: Sjorgren’s syndrome, viral infections, and many immune-suppressed illnesses (arthritis, lupus, and HIV) produce salivary gland dysfunction. In severe cases, along with dry mouth, dryness in the eyes and nose are also a major concern. In these cases, there is an increased risk of developing Oral Candidiasis (a sore mouth blistery mouth and tongue), and Anti-fungal agents should be prescribed. The use of fluorides and artificial saliva agents can help relieve and prevent more advanced symptoms associated to dry mouth.