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COMPOSITES

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   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.

				
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